Great Alaska Adventure: Last Day in Canada (for a while)
As we left Whitehorse this morning surrounded, it seemed, on all sides by mountains, I wondered how much better the scenery would be down the road. I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The further west we went the bigger the mountains got until, instead of just having patches of snow on the slopes, the peaks were completely covered in snow. Some of the mountains we rode by today are the tallest in Canada and the Kluane National Park, which we rode in for a while, has the largest non-polar ice sheets in the world. Spectacular views, eh? You bet, eh? Right on, eh? (Still practicing my Canadian even though we leave the Dominion tomorrow.)
Most of the ride was on good or at least decent roads today, but toward the end of the ride (north of Destruction Bay to Beaver Creek) we encountered what was easily the worst roads of the Great Alaska Adventure so far. Based on my reading prior to leaving on this adventure I knew we were getting close, but this was our first encounter with serious “frost heaves,” where the road surface moves vertically several inches during the winter, leaving bone-jarring ridges or tire-grabbing depressions that tend to separate rider from seat. Even keeping the speed down to 40-50 mph, when you hit some of those dips or rises, it can shake various parts loose. From the motorcycle, too.
Marilyn, still recovering from bruised (cracked?) ribs two weeks after her parking lot fall, had a couple of pretty painful encounters with the frost heaves, but continued to motor on, impressed with the scenery if not with the road.
In addition to watching the majestic mountains, we also putted along the longest lake in Yukon Territory, Kluane Lake (pronounced klu wan ee), which stretches for 40 miles, most of it bordered by the Alaska Highway. Gorgeous riding and, since we were following a shoreline, a few twists and turns were thrown in to make the ride even more enticing.
This morning’s pie stop at a bakery in Haines Junction, 100 miles into the ride, became instead a cranberry scone/cinnamon roll stop. But tonight, dining at Buckshot Betty’s where we’re staying, I finished off the meal with a huge slice of raisin pie. I’d never had raisin pie before. It tasted a lot like raisins. Go figure.
I had wanted to stay at Buckshot Betty’s since I first ran across the name a couple years ago and made my reservation about six months ago. There are only four cabins and we’re in the deluxe model, complete with a stoveless kitchen and non-code wiring. I love it. Even has antlers over the door.
We’ve met Buckshot Betty but she’s been busier than a beaver at a woodcarvers convention and haven’t had a chance to talk much with her. She pretty much runs this place by herself, rides a little black motor scooter, drives a back hoe and welds for fun in her spare time. And bakes raisin pies, among other tasty deserts. This place has a lot more character than the Ramada Inn we were at for the previous two nights.
One final note for tonight: Tomorrow we enter Alaska and the next day Hanna is flying back home to Wisconsin to be with friends and do what 18-year olds enjoy doing. It has been an interesting experiment in cross-generational bonding.