HOMEWARD BOUND
 
  Anchorage to Beaver Creek, Yukon
Friday, July 10, 2009
6:00am to 3:30pm; Alaska time (4:30 Pacific time)
444 miles

We were up at 5:30am and out the door at 6am. We saw some beautiful country. Passed an ice field glacier that truly rivals the one at Banff. Stopped for breakfast 3 hours out of Anchorage at a town called Glenallen. The view is awesome as we are traveling down the road.

We reached Tok, Alaska about 12:30pm, and stopped for a bite and a break before we headed for the Canadian border. We reached Beaver Creek and settled into our cabin. This time we stayed at Buckshot Betty's. Of the 4 choices to stay here in Beaver Creek, by experience and other's recommendations--Buckshot Betty's is #1.

Beaver Creek, Yukon to Watson Lake, Yukon
Saturday, July 11, 2009
7:00am to 4:00pm, Pacific time
577 miles

We fell asleep around 9:30pm last evening. We were up at 6am and out the door at 7am. We were riding to Watson Lake. Within an hour we saw a moose. Very big and dark brown. Not sure of the gender, but it was a magnificent creature. Stopped for breakfast at Haines Junction. We rode long today but the scenery was spectacular. We saw a deer, and a black bear that was coming up to a camper stopped along the roadside. Whew! I was glad to keep rolling.

Arrived in Watson Lake tired and hungry. Our room is in a remodeled air force camp. Very clean and neat--mandatory to take your shoes off at the door. Separate communal showers for men and women, and separate from the showers are the separate communal restrooms. The showers and restrooms are down the hall. They are going to let us sleep together in the same room, but they had 2 twins beds pushed together. Hum.

Watson Lake, Yukon to Fort Nelson, British Columbia
Sunday, July 12, 2009
6:00am to 12:30pm; Pacific time
549 miles

Today we awoke to find we have a new grandson--Thomas Patrick Grayson--born at 3:18am weighing in at 8 lbs 15 and 1/2 oz. and 21 inches long. The picture of him is beyond words as we look at his sweet face via e-mail from his proud papa.

Within just fifteen minutes into our trip today we saw, buffalo, black bear, and a fox. The fox watched us pull up and stopped about 15 yards from the road in the cleared roadside area. He watches us for a short time until Jeff tried to dig out the camera. He then walked back into the edge of the woods where we could still watch him for a few more seconds before he disappeared into the brush. Later down the road we saw a huge moose just a few feet away!

We road into Fort Nelson, checked into our room, had lunch at Boston Pizza, gassed up, and headed North. Although it was paved most of the way, the road to the Northwest Territory was rough. The first 20 or 25 miles was a new coat of black top, but that ended and we found ourselves on as coarse and rough of a chip-seal surface as any we had been on so far. The gravel patches on the road were so potholed we had to cross them at just a couple miles per hour. At one point we saw a Jeep burning off the side of the road. There was no one there, but what an omen. Not many miles from the border we had to cross the Ft. Nelson River bridge. It looked like it would collapse at any minute. You'll need to look at the picture below to get a sense of it. We crossed the warped, planked deck, one-lane, 1,410 feet long bridge in the rain. Very unnerving. By the time we got to the border, the road surface had deteriorated down to a wet sinking gravel. We had to almost creep along the last few miles to get there, but we did it! We rode to the Northwest Territory!! 220 miles round trip from the city of Ft. Nelson to the border and back!

It was raining when we started for the Northwest Territory and the weather got worse along the way. After we reached the border and started heading back, the weather cleared and the roads dried. It was like we were adventures on a quest that were battling magical enemies that sent worse and worse problems for us to overcome (weather, road conditions, cars burning in the pouring rain, spooky bridges), but once we did, the evil powers were defeated and the sun could once again shine upon the earth. (Funny where the mind wanders on a long ride, huh?)

We were exhilarated--but exhausted at the same time. All our primary goals for this trip were now met. A bit of finality in that. Jeff saw a wolverine on the ride back to the Woodland Inn.

Fort Nelson, British Columbia to Whitecourt, Alberta
Monday, July 13, 2009
8:30am to 5:30pm; Mountain time
558miles

Jeff woke with a fever--I let him sleep while I went to get some laundry done. An hour or so later, Jeff was feeling a bit better and we were off again at about 8:30am. We soon saw a black bear.

It was our coldest day of the trip at 43 degrees. We stopped about 150 miles out for some hot tea and breakfast. It was overcast and 100% humidity in spots. We arrived in Dawson Creek and found the "0" mile signpost for the start of the Alcan Highway. We stopped for a photo op or two.

It appeared that our motorcycle's power brake system went out. We have a warning light that says "Brake Failure" and greatly diminished braking power. It must have been on the road to the Northwest Territory. Well, the road to the Arctic Circle broke the fork seal didn't it? Anyway, we do have brakes--just not normal brakes. We were driving on prayers and when we needed them the power brakes kicked in.

We arrived safely in Whitecourt, settled in and got some supper. Tomorrow we are headed towards Edmonton where there is a BMW dealership. I hope they don't faint when they see the bike--filthy does not begin to describe it.

Whitecourt, Alberta to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
7:00am to 4:00pm; Mountain time
464 miles

We rode into Edmonton and got to the BMW dealership shortly after they opened to see if they could fix the brake system on the bike. We were up most of the night as Jeff's fever returned with body aches. The fever broke early this am. We made it to Edmonton safely--another-thank you, God.

The Argyll BMW took us in right away and in an hour accessed and fixed the problem. Some dirt had gotten onto the rear brake switch and set off the "Brake Failure" sensor. Wonder where we picked that up :). We were back on the road and headed to Saskatoon.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Bottineau, North Dakota
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
7:15am to 3:46pm; Central time
448 miles

We were up and out at 7:15am. We had another waning light that lit up on the bike this morning, but it didn't seem to affect riding, so we will continue until we can figure out what this problem is.

The rain system that kept us wet most of the last few days moved out of the area to the northeast and we were traveling southeast. The winds weren't as bad as yesterday either and we made good time. We stopped in Weyburn, Sask. for gas and breakfast where we met Russ, another BMW rider. Jeff asked him about the warning light and Russ brought in the manual for his bike, a newer and slightly different model than ours. His manual said it was either the ABS system or a burned out brake light. We checked the lights and they indicated the brakes and turn signals OK, so maybe we can get by with no ABS, or maybe something is different with what the warning light means for his bike than ours. We had about 80 miles before we reached the US border. We made it through customs and through the last stretch to Bottineau North Dakota.

Jeff Googled the warning light problem after we checked into our hotel and read that the computer on our bike compensates for a burned out bulb somehow so it looks like it is OK when it isn't. You have to take the bulb out to see if it is blown. Sure enough it is burned out. Jeff went to a nearby auto parts store, got a new bulb and we were good to go.

Bottineau, North Dakota to St. Cloud, Minnesota
Thursday, July 16, 2009
7:15am to 4:00pm; Central time
469 miles

Today is John, our oldest, 32nd birthday. We are headed home and have one more night on the road. We stopped in Grand Forks for gas and breakfast. Ran into yet another biker riding a Concourse and chatted with him while we ate.

We arrived in St. Cloud, MN. Settled into our room and called John to wish him a happy birthday. Took a walk around the hotel; the river behind the hotel is the Mississippi, but it is very small compared to a few miles down where it grows to the large river that we are used to seeing. We are not too far from the source of the Mississippi.

St. Cloud, Minnesota to Berwyn, Illinois
Friday, July 17, 2009
7:15am to 4:00pm; Central time
492 miles

Home today. can't wait! We stopped in Tomah, WI for lunch and again in Belvedere, IL to hook up with Sam to see when we can see that sweet little grandson.

The bike was surprisingly not as dirty as we thought it would be, mostly because we ran it through so much rain on the way home that a lot of the bugs and dirt got rinsed off

Typical gravel road
Another view of the gravel road
Matanuska glacier postcard
Air Force Lodge
Behind the Air Force Lodge where more neat buildings
Bear next to the road
Bison next to the road
Tourist photographing bison next to road
Bear cubs
The Northwest Territory
Ft. Nelson River bridge near the Northwest Territory
Signpost at mile "0" in Dawson Creek
 
Mississippi river in St. Cloud
Dirty bike at the end of the trip-back view
 
Front view
Front tire is pretty worn
 
Side of the bike
Odometer at the end of the trip: 63341
 
Our grandson, Thomas Patrick Grayson, was born while we were on this trip
 

 

 


 

Follow the links below for more pictures and narrative of our trip

Intro page for our Alaskan trip

Berwyn to the Alcan Highway

The Alcan Highway to Alaska

Fairbanks and the Arctic Circle

Denali

Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula

Homeward Bound

Route Map

Ride Planner's Notes

 

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