Great Alaska Adventure: Final Backtrack Day
Today’s ride looked vaguely familiar. Deja Vu? Only backwards.
Whitehorse to Watson Lake was a lot like Watson Lake to Whitehorse, but we did mix it up a little bit and I noticed some things today that I didn’t see the first time by, a little more than two weeks ago.
One of things that stood out today was that this was the only ride I can remember in the past three weeks that didn’t have serious road construction. One bridge repair at the very end of today’s ride and the very beginning of the first trip through, but other than that there was no fresh chip seal and the road was in pretty good shape most of the way. I wonder why I didn’t notice that the first time.
The scenery was, of course, the same and looked, for most of the day, like the picture to the right. Beautiful, but after some of the truly striking scenery we’ve ridden through, I think I’m becoming inured to just plain beautiful. Show me something that knocks my socks off. Show me raging rivers. Show me 15,000 foot peaks. Show me a moose in the middle of the road. If the weather cooperates tomorrow and the next day, I think my socks will become part of the chip seal. I’m looking forward to actually riding in the mountains along some up and down twisties and I think the Cassiar Highway will accommodate. Unfortunately the weather may be a little damp tomorrow and that could slow the ride down considerably.
When I checked the weather for today’s ride it said “Whitehorse 20% chance of rain” and “Watson Lake 20% chance of rain,” so I felt pretty good. But of course the weather forecast didn’t say anything about the 275 miles in between. If it had, it would have said “In between 100% chance of rain.” We didn’t have a lot of rain today, but we did ride in light to moderate rain for about 40 miles.
When we stopped in Teslin for gas and pie (see picture to left) I decided to check out another local museum, this one dedicated to George Johnston, who was a Tlingit entrepreneur who captured much of his First Nation in the 1920s on film and who brought the first automobile to the area in 1928, despite the fact that there were no roads. He had it shipped from Whitehorse to Teslin via the Yukon and Teslin rivers and used frozen 60-mile Lake Teslin as his primary road. He also built a five mile road through the wilderness (which later became part of the Alaska Highway) so he could sell rides to people in his village as a taxi cab. The museum, like others I’ve visited this trip, helped flesh in my skeletal understanding of one part of the First Nation and what life was like in the Yukon during and just after the gold rush at the end of the 19th century. I was asked how I find places like this. It’s usually just a matter of slowing down a little (literally) and seeing what small towns have to offer. If you stumble on enough gems in your travels, you’ll have a wealth of memories.
Today’s museum showed a positive outcome of the confluence of First Nation and Anglo-European cultures. Johnston accepted the changes, knowingly recorded them on his Kodak, and profited from them as well. Sometimes, such as when the confluence reeked of alcohol or land grabs, the results have not been good. But it’s all part of history.
Going to bed early tonight because we’re going to try to an early start tomorrow on the 310+ mile day through mountains on a secondary road. Expect it to be beautiful, but tiring.
I haven’t written about Marilyn lately. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do that. She’s hanging in there and enjoying most of the trip. Her ribs are still sore from the fall four weeks ago but continues to improve. A Harley rider from Boston we met in Whitehorse who listened to our story of the Great Alaska Adventure called her courageous. She is.