Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Alaska from the Back of the Bike, Day 4

June 24

Woke up to the sound of rain on a tin roof. Lovely. Left Stewart, BC for who knows where up the Cassiar highway, Hwy 37.

Had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel for breakfast. Interesting. Duane did a bacon & egg on english muffin deal. It was cold and rainy. I layered up- not going to get cold today. We couldn't take pictures on the way back because the clouds were hanging so low over the mountains you couldn' t see anything. So glad i got some yesterday! I believe the glacier you can see from the road, the big blue one, is called Bear Glacier. I love how the evergreen look around here-- the needles hang down like long lacey fingers.

We started seeing bear almost immediately - two at a time. A black one and a brown one each time. Got pictures. Duane turned the bike around and we almost came right up on them.

Stopped at a rest stop and ate a homemade turtle we bought from the Bitter Creek Inn last night. It was soooo good. The caramel tasted like a homemade buttery praline.

We didn't go far today. Ended in Dease Lake for a late lunch and just stayed there. The roads were gravel and hard to manuvere. We met a lot of nice people along the way- everyone has stories about what is down the road, weather, conditions, bear, etc. A sweet couple in Bell 2 noticed our Aggie frog togs and struck up a conversation. They were believers. Her first husband was an Aggie. Mosquitoes are terrible when you stop for gas or picnic.

At Dease Lake, a couple from Belgium -- Karolina and Johan --talked to us a lot and showed us pictures of where they had come from. They were very fun-- always standing outside the hotel smoking (and talking) , because it was non smoking inside. Hotel wifi was pathetic, so didn't get to write and can't remember a lot from the day. It was hard to get to sleep though. The days are longer and crawling in bed at 10:00, it is still light outside.

Noreen, the hotel manager, was very kind and let us do a load of laundry, as all our clothes got wet from the rainy day, the water soaking up through the bottom of the bag. The bag sits on a little rack behind the bike. (Did i mention that we didn't bring the trailer this time, so our clothes consist of a couple of pair of jeans, a few long sleeved shirts, fleece, heated clothing, and a few other necessities?)

This beautiful plant is a fuchsia. It was at a restaurant in the most incredible hanging basket you have ever seen!
Tonight Duane gave me another sweet gift for anniversary - a LeeHee necklace that says "before i formed you in the womb, i knew you."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alaska from the Back of the Bike, Day 3

June 23

Left Prince George on the Yellowhead Highway after a nice breakfast of Belgium waffles and Sasketchiwan syrup, Canadian bacon, and fruit. Julie, our hostess, has a daughter with brain tumor, so we prayed for her at breakfast. Hope it made a difference.. I get the feeling that Canadians don’t really like Americans though. We are obviously too wasteful and not "green" enough. Tend to blame us for everything that effects North America, especially economically. She was a lovely hostess though. She composts and makes homemade bread. I think she was surprised when i said i compost and make jelly. ha

She ironed our sheets, though, and man were they amazing! Mom used to do that. Her cat, Furry, is beautiful--buff color long hair with blue eyes. Furry has a 9:00 curfew because foxes and other critters eat cats. eww.
Was rainy and chilly off and on all day, so it was uneventful until later. Julie packed us an amazing sack lunch-- ham sandwich on multigrain homemade bread with some sort of garlic butter spread. But we had to eat at an busy rest stop at the side of the highway.

At Gitwangak we saw totem poles, took pics, and headed down the Cassiar highway. I noticed along the way that the back roads are lined with wildflowers, as if they are cheering us on our journey. All kinds -- daisies, lupine, beautiful colors.

So later in the day when i was getting sleepy, Duane yells...a bear is walking across the road! Sure enough, a big one.. i woke up. Later we saw two more smaller ones. One was trying to cross the road and we spooked him. He almost ran right up beside us. I could see the panic in his eyes. The next one popped up as we were driving by and he had a flower stem in his mouth -- looked silly. Impossible to get pictures as we were whizzing by.

Beautiful drive to Stewart, B.C. on remote highway 37 north. One of most scenic drives in North America. We passed towering coastal mountains whose slopes are capped with icefields
and hanging glaciers. It is one of the only places in the world you can see glaciers from your vehicle. Blue glaciers that were visible from the road.
Water falls cascading down mountains in streaks, canyons.
So we got to Stewart and were chilled to the bone a bit. Found our hotel. Quaint and simple. Eclectic. The Ripley Creek Inn. Slate floors again, but this time, not heated.

We ate a wonderful dinner at the Bitter Creek Cafe. I had an amazing halibut dish dredged in pistachio nuts, with baby potatoes and veggies. Duane had fried halibut shrimp cakes. yummmmmm. We topped it off with chocolate panna cotta layer cake. It was sooooo good. We totally splurged, but loved it all.

A quaint anniversary dinner in an old hotel... Our waitress, Ceebraun was friendly and cute. We enjoyed talking to her. Her step mom owns the restaurant and Cee is engaged to a guy in New Zealand and just came for the summer to help out.
Loved today. Simply loved it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Alaska from the Back of the Bike, Continued

June 22
Left Whistler --took a beautifully scenic route, but slow going. The Canadian Rockies are enormous. beautiful. Where there was water, it was either rushing so fast it was blowing spray everywhere, or so still you could see the mountains reflection in it. Some places it was so deep it was a dark bluegreen.
British Columbia is beautiful.

We think people keep cheating us out of our money, though, with the exchange rates. And we have no idea how fast we are going or how hot or cold it is due to our ignorance of the metric system. :) Pretty towns everywhere - Pemberton, Williams Lake, Lilloooet -- quaint, quiet, historic. Staying at the Arbor Bed and Breakfast in Prince George, a basement apt in a private home. Our day was long. Left early. Got in at 8 p.m.

I thought the wildflowers the bear was eating last evening might be holly hocks, larkspur, or delphinium, but Julie at our bed and breakfast says they are lupine. I think she’s wrong, though. She also says the mountains are not the Rockies, but the Coastal Mts. I think she's probably right on that one.
We had a nice picnic lunch in Clinton, a little town along the way with a little park and duck pond.
Today we saw dandelions the size of tennis balls, beautiful wildflowers growing everywhere along the roads. Read Psalm 48 before we left, and kept the last verse with us as we rode...for this God is our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide even to the end.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Alaska from the Back of the Bike

I figured I’d better blog something lest I be banned from blogsville for eternity, so I found some of my vacation notes and decided to post them. Duane and I had high adventure and the sweetest blessing this year, for our 35th anniversary celebration, of taking a motorcycle trip to Alaska. Here are some o f my musings. A diary of sorts, you might say, penned along the way…mostly.

June 21
Duane shipped the bike to Seattle earlier in June, so the first leg of our trip consisted of flying to Seattle to find it. Today is Elli’s birthday. Kari called on the way to the airport so we could sing happy birthday to Elli before we forget. Asked her how old she is and she said, "i two". Our friend, Tom Riley, was nice enough to drop us off at the airport so we didn’t have to pay two weeks of parking.

Plane had mechanical probs so they got a new one from hangar and we were about an hour late. Met a guy named Brian who was flying with his cat, Cleopatra, from Florida. He tried to be subtly rude when he found out we liked George W. Bush, by saying we probably loved the movie Dazed and Confused and watched King of the Hill for our favorite show. I think he was lonely and awkward…obviously if he was traveling with a CAT, right? And he obviously had a stereotyped image of Texans. Also met a cute couple, Melanie and Sean who got married in Huntsville State Park yesterday in 95 degree temp. They were all smiles and said everything was perfect and it even got cloudy and cooler before ceremony.

Greg and Janet Beeker picked us up from airport. So nice. Duane shipped his bike to Greg's garage and he stored it for him, just because Goldwing people do stuff like that for each other. We took them to Red Robin for a late lunch and then got a late start.

Canadian border guards don’t like Texans, i think. Duane got frisked and we got detained mysteriously, and the bike searched. They asked Duane a lot of questions about having a handgun license and why he needed it. He told them he left the gun at home, but they searched the bike anyway.

Pretty cold on bike. Layers didn't help a lot this evening. Ride was pretty - mountains and glacier dug lakes. Pretty trees - i think they are ruby slippered dogwood. Lots of mauve and white and blue wildflowers. I think are holly hocks. Or delphinium. Saw a black bear outside of Whistler, eating purple delphinium. Stayed in Whistler at an Olympic village type community, the Sundial Boutique. So pretty/ great lodge and verrrrry comfy bed! The slate floor in the bathroom was heated. Nice and warm on my tootises.

Duane gave me a dogwood charm for a necklace and our anniversary. I smile as my head hits the pillow.