Great Alaska Adventure: Wet, Windy Welcome to Canada
I’ve said repeatedly that this trip was an adventure not a vacation. Today proved my point, again. Wind and rain made the day’s entry into Canada a rather unpleasant and extremely tiring ride. From the time we left Kenmare, ND, to the time we finally got to Saskatoon 11 hours later we rode through the second worst wind I’ve ever driven in (Wyoming was the worst) and the worst Marilyn has ever driven in. We were headed north-northwest today and all day long the wind blew 25-35 mph out of the west.
Those who know me fairly well, know that I’m generally left leaning and today I leaned left for 300 miles trying to keep the Ultra Classic beast on the road. Both Marilyn and I ended the day with sore left wrists from compensating for the wind and keeping the bikes from being blown off the road to the right. And our gas mileage dropped from 42 mpg to 36. And Canadian gas is $5.50 a gallon.
While the first 200 miles was windy and dry, the next 150 were windy and wet and cold. We survived, of course, and we have a story to tell when we regale everyone with our adventures, but, trust me, it was not fun. One day into Canada and Marilyn got to try out her new heated gear. It worked, but it took about 50 miles of driving in the wind and rain before we could find a Saskatchewan town with paved streets and a gas station where we could adjust our gear to the worsening weather. I have to say, though, that the guy who ran the convenience store took pity on three bedraggled wayfarers and gave us coffee on the house. Canadians as a group, I discover every time I ride here, are very friendly people.
I mentioned in the first paragraph that today’s ride took 11 hours and those who are paying attention are thinking, “Wait a minute that’s only an average speed of 31.818181 miles per hour. How slow were they going?” Well, we were riding a few kilometers per hour below the speed limit of 100 out of due regard for the wind and rain, but we also had to stop at the border crossing for about 20 minutes as the Canadian Border Patrol dutifully made sure we were neither terrorists nor money launders nor arms smugglers, asking us where we were going and why and how long we were going to take doing it and what my 18-year-old granddaughter did when she wasn’t traveling on a motorcycle. By the way, check the ribbon on Marilyn’s helmet Biker Braid during our stop at the border crossing to see evidence of the wind. (Biker Braids could also be sold as Biker Anemometers.)
And the wind was beating us so bad that when we stopped in Canada for the first time for coffee and donuts (and apple fritters and cinnamon rolls and raspberry filled donut holes) we lingered longer than a normal break warranted. And we did the same thing at lunch, after which we spent additional time donning rain gear for the impending deluge. And of course there was the break to re-arrange gear in the packs when the wind (have I mentioned the wind) ripped the cover off my T-Bag Dekker Bag in the driving rain and sent it sailing across the Saskatchewan prairie toward Manitoba.
Hanna’s entry into the world of international travel was certainly memorable and she kept her spirits pretty well, despite getting a little chilled before we could find a place to pull over and adjust gear. She had to put her camera away early because of the rain, but I really liked this shot she got of iron wheat.
The Trouper-of-the-Day award goes, as it always does, to Marilyn who, despite continued sore ribs from her fall a week ago, revived sufficiently during our final stop to add her heated jacket liner and gloves to her precipitation-friendly ensemble for the final slog to Saskatoon. And she’ll be ready to go again tomorrow when more rain but a little less wind is predicted for our two-wheel trek to Edmonton. (Heather and Hilary: You have a pretty incredible mom.)
When we reach Edmonton tomorrow we have a non-travel day scheduled to see some sights and relax a little.
“I can’t wait to get on the road again.”