Midnight Sun

Day 11 – Tuesday, July 7

We are in Alaska – finally! I’m sitting here at our camp table, it’s almost one in the morning and it’s still light out. You know in theory that Alaska summer days are long, but it’s a different thing to experience it. And as I sit here, it’s hard for me to keep in mind how late it is. Even more amazing is that I can hear wolves howling not too far in the distance.

Today we rode from Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon province across the border into Tok, Alaska. The Yukon is wild just as you’d expect. The word Yukon solicits images of burly men, dog sledding and panning for gold – and and it’s not without cause. Gold panning has gone high tech though, and when passing glass lakes you see the occasional dredging pump strategically placed by some hopeful.

A hundred miles into the ride today we started getting warnings from people that the road up ahead would worsen. Armed with our BMWs, that news, plus seeing a bike coming from the direction we were heading covered in mud, was enough to elicit smiles on our faces.

James and I had just finished a break and were heading back out when construction brought us to a halt. Waiting for a pilot truck to take us through the construction area several people on bikes and locals in cars hopped out to chit chat. This is normal in these parts. No matter where you stop you talk to fellow travelers or locals, everyone passing stories of where they’ve been and where they’re heading. There aren’t a lot of people out this way, but the roads are frequented by motorcyclists and other adventure seekers. Yvonne, the self-proclaimed artist of Destruction Bay who talks to us like old friends issues us a stern warning about the road ahead and tells that just a few weeks ago a motorcyclist fell prey to the poor road conditions and never made it home.

Of course this was cause for concern – you never want to hear something like that. With it in mind we take extra care as we continued on beyond the construction and hit a good patch of road and picked up the pace a bit. This was still the Yukon and the speed limit was 90 kilometers per hour – so something like 45 mph. On big open road that’s really hard to do on a motorcycle – trust me on this. So we were cruising along, just a bit faster, when a Mountie (called this even though he’s in a pick-up) coming from the other direction flashes his lights and pulls us over. James and I look at each other. This could get expensive for not one, but two bikes. The tall gentlemen comes along side us and asks if we understand kilometers and if we knew how fast we were going. He didn’t make us sweat it for long and kindly told us early on that he would just be giving us a warning – a lucky break. He and his wife used to ride, he said, before kids came along. Genuinely concerned he too shared the story about the fallen motorcyclist, gave us each a formal warning, and telling us to be safe sent us on our way.

We took it easy through gravel patches and frost heaves and kept waiting for the really bad part. It never came. Matter of fact, what was a nightmare for many was just getting to be the fun part for James and I. A quick peak at the forks indicated that sure, we’d used just about all our suspension travel on some of those roller coaster-like frost heaves, but there was nothing to get distressed about. Frost heaves? What frost heaves?

We finally made it back to the border and in to Alaska. It was a relief to see speed limits and distances in recognizable measurements. Ninety miles into the border we rolled into Tok and at the first campsite we checked who do we find but our lost travel buddy Brad. He had traveled the same roads earlier and jokes about having been jealous of us and our BMWs as he was bottoming out in thuds over the frost heaves.

Time for a good night’s sleep.

From Pics – day 11-13

From Pics – day 11-13

From Pics – day 11-13

From Pics – day 11-13

Our new friend Brad

From Pics – day 11-13

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