Saturday, May 30, 2009

Day 10 - From Dawson Creek, BC to Ft. Nelson, BC via the World Famous Alaska Highway!






Day 10– Saturday, May 30, 2009
Start: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada
End: Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada
Trip Miles Today: 278
Total Trip Miles: 3732

Got up early once again, but at least this time it was intentional. I wanted to go back to downtown Dawson Creek and get some more pictures of the Mile “0” stuff without traffic of rush hour like last evening.

At 6:00am Saturday, I'd have to say that Dawson Creek is pretty quiet! I managed to get the pictures I wanted under a perfect blue sky and that great early morning light.

Just before 7 AM it was off to Fort Nelson, BC – about 280 miles distant.

First of the day, just after crossing the Peace River was in Fort St. John for gas. This came only about 40 miles down the road, so about 240 remained to Ft Nelson. Up here one has to keep good track of gas stops and distances as gas stations can be very far apart! At this point I’m still treating the bike as a 200 miles max. vehicle (though I can go further if I really need to and get into a serious gas save mode.)

As the pictures indicate, it was a pretty morning but cold (low 40s) and very windy/gusty! In fact it was so windy at times that I had serious questions about my abiliy to stay in my own highway lane. Also, at one point I stopped to take a picture and had doubts about keeping the bike upright even while I was standing over it!

The first 100 miles or so of this route is just rolling foothills. However after a time can, once again, begin to see snow capped peaks to the west and the hills/valleys become steeper.

Commercial activity in this area continues to be dominated by forestry and gas/oil production.

This portion of the Alaska Highway in mostly very good condition. Most importantly there were no construction diversions save a very short stretch near Fort St. John
Traffic is not so heavy but there are lots of trucks and campers on highway. And, no doubt due to the wind, one camper off the highway, and upside down! Fortunately no injuries.

Sometime shortly after leaving Fort St. John I saw my first moose (actually 2) . I noticed 2 big cows at left side of highway about ¼ mile away. As got closer they crossed the highway from left to right about 150 yards in front of me and immediately disappeared into the tree line. A moose is a pretty big animal and somewhat ungainly (ie ugly). I had no more moose sightings today but I anticipate more further down the road.

I stopped for gas a second time in Pink Mountain – that gave me enough to get to todays destination, Fort Nelson. Pink Mountain was my first stop at the prototypical Alaska Highway gas station. It had a dirt parking lot, sold no brand anyone ever heard of, had regular only, and took cash only. By this time it was still dry, still windy , but sky out in front changing, and not for good.

As I rode I was actually very comfortable with heated gear but annoyed a bit by something irritating me in left abdomen-just a little scratchy feeling. At the time I thought it was some plastic ty wraps that I had used to secure the connector to my heated vest. After being annoyed long enough, I decided to stop to fix the problem and to have a snack before I got into the (obviously coming soon) rain. The snack (a banana pilfered from hotel lobby this am) was timely but the scratchy “thing” was more ominous – the first mechanical failure of the trip. The scratch was from a broken wire in the heated vest connector that was sticking me in stomach. Also, it turns out that the heated vest controller module, which lives in my jacket pocket was partially melted. Obviously this was some sort of failure involving a dead short. I'm Lucky I didn’t run the battery dead on bike. Perhaps the strangest part of the story is that the vest was still working. However, I decided to shut it off and put it away for diagnosis later. Of course, with the heated vest now gone it almost immediately began to rain and, at the same time,got considerably cooler. The temperature was now back to the same low 40s that it had been when I started the day 6 hours earlier. Without the heated vest these temperatures are tough! Tomorrow I will probably have to probably really layer up, stop more often, and just generally man up.

I arrived at Ft. Nelson shortly after 2. I found it a bit more developed than when here last in 1995. Unlike 1995, when I stayed in a shack of a motel with a black and white tv (and no telephone) I am staying in a very nice new Super 8 with internet, satellite TV and all!

I'm off to Watson Lake, in the Yukon Territory, tomorrow. It's about 330 miles distant, directly through the Canadian Rockies via a very scenic route. I anticipate that it will be raining when I leave but during the morning hours I should pass through the frontal activity that is bringing this rain. Once on the other side it is expected to warm up considerably and be excellent weather for several days. Looking forward to riding in the warm once again!! Thanks for checking in today!

You can see more pictures from today and from the entire trip by going to http://jackb1.smugmug.com/

The 2009 Ride to Alaska for The Austin Hatcher Foundation is supported by
RevZilla Motorsports at RevZilla.com and by Hermy's Cycles in Port Clinton, PA

2 comments:

  1. Jack, I love these pictures and updates. First thing every morning I have my coffee while I log on to check your progress, look at the pictures, and follow along with Google Earth, Microsoft Streets & Trips, and MS Virtual Earth. Also Accuweather.com to check the conditions you’re heading into. I am very envious, yet at the same time, awed with respect at this solo adventure you’ve undertaken.
    Back here on the east coast the weather was perfect for riding today (Saturday). However my wife and I spent the day babysitting our very healthy 6 yr old granddaughter. After reading about the Austin Hatcher Foundation (http://hatcherfoundation.org/) I’m almost ashamed to say how much I’ve taken for granted and how fortunate I am to have healthy children and grandchildren.
    So along with your most excellent updates and pictures, I also thank you for making me aware of such a great organization as the Austin Hatcher Foundation.
    Keep riding strong Jack! Hopefully the Heated Vest will be the extent of any mechanical issues.

    Paul Farrell
    Westfield, MA

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  2. Paul, Thanks for the encouragement. My greatest hope in all this was to use my adventure as a lightning rod, and to draw attention to the Austin Hatcher Foundation and all the good things that they are doing. There are many good people doing wonderful things in this world and I feel very strongly about being able to "give back" when we are able - whether it's to The Hatcher Foundation or the thousands of other worthy causes. Sounds as though you feel much the same and for that I am thankful. Enjoy the ride! Jack

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