Great Alaska Adventure: Beautiful BC
If you went to the blog first thing this morning (Wednesday), you didn’t find a post and probably wondered why not. I’m not sure when this will get posted but probably by noon Wednesday British Columbia time (3 p.m. Orange Park time) I’ll post it first chance I get when I find a WiFi connection.
We’re staying tonight (Tuesday) at a pretty nice lodge/resort on the Cassiar Highway in British Columbia. It’s primarily a winter ski resort for people who like to helicopter to mountain tops and ski down. The resort has its own helicopters and about 40 chalets for skiers, plus saunas, massage rooms, hot tub, exercise room, dining room, bar, game room and resident dog wearing a sign that says “Please don’t feed me.” What they don’t have is free WiFi for guests. They wanted an extra $20 for a WiFi connection and I didn’t think my blog was worth that much. I can look out the window to check the weather. I don’t really care what’s on CNN even though I check it several times daily. And I don’t use Facebook much anyway.
So, even though I’m writing the blog tonight, it won’t get posted until tomorrow. For those of you whose lives now revolve around my blog, I think maybe you should get a new life. For those of you who tune in just to see if I have put the bike in a ditch yet, the answer is still no. And for those who are following the blog to see what disastrous affects it’s having on my marriage, it looks like I’m still going to have buy another anniversary present in November.
While I’m thinking about it, the blog will also be out of commission from about July 17 to July 20 or 21 when we visit our friend Linda in Wyoming whose ranch has neither cell phone service nor internet connection of any kind. It does have indoor plumbing but I think it freezes in the winter. It’s like living all the way back in the 20th century. I’ll continue to write while I’m at the ranch, but like tonight’s post, nothing will be posted until we rejoin the 21st century.
OK. So, today we spent nearly all day going south on BC 37 (The Cassiar Highway). It’s an alternative route to the eastern portion of the Alaska Highway if you’re coming up from Washington State or through Montana. As I expected, I liked the road, when I could see it through the rain/drizzle/fog/clouds. We weren’t wet all the time and the first two hours were perfect. But after our morning break at a jade shop where we spent money that may have been better spent on a WiFi connection we suited up and rode the rest of the day in rain suits and heated gear through sporadic light rain and drizzle.
But those periods when the clouds parted or at least lifted and dried up a little were beautiful. Canadian rockies all around us, some peaks sending the last of their melting snow cascading down their steep sides in hundreds of serpentine streams and higher peaks holding tightly to their snow at the top and saving it as a base for next year’s powder. As we rode south for 300 miles the trees got bigger and the mountainsides more verdant as gradual temperature increases during the spring and summer mean more growth for the forests.
The first 250 miles of the Cassiar Highway was unmarked. No white lines, no yellow lines. Several wooden surface bridges and a couple of metal grated ones. The road was just a narrow chip-seal surface, in pretty good shape most of the time, though there was some re-construction and repair evident. One two-mile section was completely torn up and it’s mini-boulder surface gave Marilyn good practice for her three-mile trip down Linda’s Wyoming ranch trail. (The first time I took a bike–my 2003 Road King–down that trail, parts literally fell off.) There was little traffic on the Cassiar and, to my dismay, almost no wildlife though we did see signs warning about moose. The lack of wildlife was probably a good thing since in many parts of the northern half, the brush grew right to the edge of the road, offering a perfect hiding place from which an angry moose could pounce on a daydreaming motorcyclist. I don’t want to meet a moose on the road, but I would have liked to see one grazing in a pond.
I prefer the Cassiar route to the one we took going to Alaska, but part of the reason for that route was to ride all of the original Alaska Highway. That has now been checked off, so when I go back to Alaska there’s a pretty good chance I’ll go on the Cassiar Highway to it’s terminus at about the mid-point on the Alaska Highway. The Cassiar Highway is much more isolated than the Alaska Highway and much less commercialized. Dozens of small lakes and a couple large ones also added to the scenic ride. Today’s road has only been hard surface, I was told, since the mid 1990s, but the Alaska Highway has been carrying truckers and tourists for 60 years and they seem to have brought a lot of dust and debris. The Alaska Highway is beautiful, but the country through which the Cassiar Highway meanders is is more pristine and isolated and the road itself is better suited for an exciting motorcycle ride with its roller-coaster hills and the occasional switchback.
Tomorrow we’ll finish the final 160 miles of the 460-mile Cassiar before heading east on one of Canada’s major east-west trans-Canada roads. Hopefully the lodging arrangements for tomorrow in Burns Lake include complimentary WiFi.