Great Alaska Adventure: Off the Cassiar and on the Yellowhead
I distinctly remember booking only non-rain days for this trip. I need to talk to my travel agent when we get back.
I packed the bikes in a light rain this morning and thought, “This isn’t going to be too bad. It’ll probably clear soon.” Well, the rain stopped after the first 50 miles headed south on the Cassiar Highway from Bell 2 Lodge, but the clouds lingered over and on the ubiquitous mountains for most of the rest of the day. And, just as we started the day in rain, the final 50 miles also included rain, the heaviest of the day. It wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t ride in it, but it did make for some dicey curves and some tense moments when big trucks passed us and our vision was obscured for the several seconds it took the road splash to dissipate. The other 230 or so miles today wasn’t too bad–mid-50s and occasional showers–and I enjoyed watching the wind-driven clouds curl around the mountains and rise and fall down their rocky and forested slopes.
The Cassiar Highway today, was even better than yesterday (despite the rain) because, while the scenery stayed the same (rivers, lakes, mountains) the road was better. I think it may be because we had left the land of permafrost-enforced chip seal behind and entered the land of asphalt. Far fewer road breaks, better surface, perfect for riding at a quick pace when the rain is falling on someone else’s parade. I’m looking forward to trying it again soon.
I had hoped to take in a couple of sights along the way, but between being bundled in four layers of clothes and the reduced speed of the ride, there wasn’t time for museums or visitors centers today. We had a fortuitous find in New Hazelton, BC, when we stopped for gas and lunch. I spotted a gas station through my rain-spattered faceshield and pulled in. As I fed the bikes their ration of petrol and looked up and down Main Street for a place to eat, I didn’t see much that looked promising and several joints looked like they were closed or should have been. Then I spotted a small log cabin next to where I was pumping gas and small letters on two small signs spelled out “Rob’s” “Open”. Leaving the bikes standing by the pumps, I walked over and stuck my head in the door. To my surprise, the inside was a nicely appointed restaurant with a very busy waitress and a dining room about half filled. When the answer to my request for WiFi was “Sure we do” I told the quick-footed waitress I’d be right back.
The lunch special included a hot, deliciously creamy leek soup and chicken ceasar wrap. While I warmed my insides with the soup, I posted yesterday’s blog and caught up on some e-mail. But wait, there’s more. The writing on the “Special Board” also included “Sex in a Pan” for the dessert offering. Marilyn couldn’t resist so we ordered one. Six layers of puddings, crusts, chocolate cream, strawberries and whipped topping. We moaned our way through a very big slice. We were ready for a nap and not the road, but we had miles to go and the weather at any given moment was always iffy. Lunch was a nice diversion. Next time you’re in New Hazelton, try Rob’s.
We didn’t do much after we got to Burn’s Lake. Marilyn has burned a hole in the leg of two different rain suits and I tried to find something to patch it with. No real luck, but I made a temporary fix (I hope) with a piece of material I cut from a set of (cheap) rain overboots I had bought for Hanna and some Gorilla tape to hold it in place. I think it may be sorely tested tomorrow and will let you know if my McGiver-like repair worked. It’s possible we’ll start tomorrow in the rain with temperatures flirting with the 30s. This trip has made me a FIRM BELIEVER in heated gear.
Tomorrow we stay on the Yellowhead Highway to the North Country Lodge in McBride, BC. Fortunately it’s a short day (270 miles) and I may have time to stop in Prince George to pick up what I want to repair Marilyn’s pants. The place we’re staying in tonight is no jewel, but it does have FREE WiFi so I’m going to post this now. Everyone stay safe.