Kelly's 2011 Alaska Journey

Day 4 - Tuesday, 5/24

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Today started out cold. QUITE cold. At least this time I came out dressed for it. After about an hour and a half the sun broke through the heavy clouds and warmed things (including me) up. Naturally, later it clouded over and got cold again. A few times I thought about pulling out the electric clothes, but it wasn't quite THAT bad. In fact, my windshield modifications must be working- My hands should not have been able to maintain their dexterity with the cold and my "normal" gloves. Here's a question: Do you know what it means when you're casting a shadow? It means some part of you is being hit by the sun. As I head farther and farther north, that gets increasingly more important!

In one especially cold area, it was clear that it wasn't just me who thought it was bitterly frigid. There were large areas of birch trees which had their leaf buds JUST starting to burst, releasing the new leaves. These stands were definitely behind others in warmer areas. I even ran across a little lodge next to a lake. The lake was still almost completely frozen over!

Waterfall

Technology is great, but there are times when it does things you don't expect. For example, the GPS diverted me from the main road to some little bitty backroads. I briefly thought about turning back, but saw it wasn't too far until it reconnected with my planned route. So I enjoyed the little back roads, and saw some new things. And isn't that what vacation is all about? Breaking out of one's established habits and trying something new? So even though it looked as if the GPS had made a mistake, it really was fortuitous that it found a shorter (though certainly not faster) route.

Majestic
Mountains
Every time I think I know how beautiful British Columbia is, I see something else. Today it was large birch forests, waterfalls, and snow-covered mountain ranges.

Despite the overcast day, it was still amazing. The helmet camera no doubt got loads of good pictures, but I'm finding out that the job of going through 10,000 photos a day is a little daunting, particulary with the small screen of my notebook. Some scenery was so pretty that I had to stop and pull out the "real" camera.
Birch Forest

Fields of
mustard
It's no secret that I can push the boundaries of a speed limit, especially on inviting roads. But do you know how to get me to slow way down? Put up a sign with picture of a moose on it. There were a few of those, saying there were moose (and deek, elk, big horn sheep, badgers, etc.) crossing the next number of kilometers. I think it's time to put my air horn into the holder on the dashboard. With luck it won't be needed, but one never knows...

Interesting
reflection
Getting
interesting
Yesterday I found myself dragging towards the end of the mileage, but today was another matter- I felt energized at end of today's ride. The road was fun, the scenery amazing, and the thought of getting to Dawson Creek early was inspiring. With the help of friends and a local software company, I got the wireless working on my laptop. Now Verizon won't be able to take the data portion of my trip hostage. Thanks, Brady and Ken!

Many rivers
to cross
See both
sides
The hotel in which I stayed yesterday was quite nice. All the amenities I've come to expect after years of business travel. Tonight's lodging is a little more sparse, to say the least. The word "dump" came to mind, but what the heck- It'll do for a night, as long as it's clean and reasonably quiet. It's half the price of last night's hotel, but it's clear in this case you DO get what you pay for. On the bright side, it has wireless and a restaurant.

I asked some locals where I could find "poutine," and they pointed to where I'm staying! Now, poutine is the national dish of Canada (I'm not sure if that's official, or just something many say). It's a heart-stopping creation of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. As Anthony Bourdain of the Travel Channel calls it, it's a "thoroughly wonderful gastronomic trainwreck." It's not something I'll probably ever eat again, and it certainly flies in the face of my "healthy eating" direction for the trip even though I did get a salad with it. Still, it's something I've had to try. (and it tasted great, by the way!)
Alaska Highway
Mile Zero
After "dinner" I walked a dozen blocks to the start of the Alaska Highway. (Which I've always heard was the "Al-Can highway"). It's mile marker zero. No doubt I'll see the other end of it in Fairbanks. In fact, there's only a very short part of it that I won't get a chance to ride.

A small rattle on the bike has developed. It's not a bad rattle, and it's clearly not in the engine or other crucial area, but it shows something's loose. I can't imagine it getting better by itself, especially in light of all the dirt roads to come. I couldn't find it tonight. Maybe it'll get worse and thus be easier to find and correct. If it doesn't, I won't worry about it. In fact, I only heard it as I rode around town without my earplugs in.

Total riding distance today: 300 mi / 482 km   Running total: 1700 mi / 2736 km

Stay tuned...

-K

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