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Canada

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Thursday 23rd June – Day 19

Chicken thru the Canadian Border to Dawson – 108 Miles

First border crossing. Sweet! No worries, passports stamped and we were thru. Hello Canada!

Crap day though! Couldn’t see a bloody thing. Spent the day in Dawson catching up on the washing, blogs and charging everything as we are in a hotel room for the first time in 5 nights. We can charge computers, camera’s, i-pods etc on the bike, but it isn’t as good a charge as thru mains power.

We thought we would arrive just in time for all the action. But no. Turns out we have the dates a wee bit wrong and we are a day early. Beauty! Normally we’d be a day late. Surely a sign that our trip is blessed by the motorcycling gods (they obviously ride BMW’s).

Friday 24th June – Day 20

Poker run for Dust to Dawson (D2D) – 60 Miles

We met a couple of good old Aussie blokes, Campbell and Jock at the bike shop in Fairbanks. Unfortunately from Victoria, but otherwise not bad lads. They are doing a very similar trip to us, just 4 months shorter. With about 200 bikes, D2D is pretty small so we knew we would run into them in the pub for sure. And we surely did. They were a bit scratchy on the pool table to start, so we made them aware of the ‘pants down’ rule. If you don’t sink a ball, you have to run round the table with your pants down. Not pretty. Clint (a mate from home) goes even further and calls for the Silver Tray. I’m going to leave that one up to your imagine, but needless to say its really not pretty! Thankfully for all involved, other patrons and bar tenders included, they managed to sink a ball and avoid a good ‘pantsing’

This adventure riding is a pretty sociable hobby. It’s still a relatively new side to the motorcycling world and everyone wants to share their experiences, knowledge and the ‘best bit of kit by far’ that they’ve just installed onto the bike. A quick “G’day mate, I’m Wade” was enough to get us talking with Jim, a fellow yachtie. We rode the poker run together, and honestly, you couldn’t find a more disease riddled hand on the biggest looser of the day in Las Vagas. All 3 of us had hands infected with leprosy and were a few finger nails short. Terrible!

Needless to say we didn’t win the poker run. Not even close. The other main attraction for the day is the bike games. People ride round obstacle courses testing balance, skills etc. Wade was too busy sucking on the Sour Toe and missed registration. After a few beers, Philip just didn’t want to do it. A poor showing for the Bergalia Boys.

I’m guessing you’re wondering what a Sour Toe is, and rightly so. It’s one of those bloody weird situations that makes you shake your head and wonder how on earth this came about, and is it even fairdinkum anyway. The story goes something like this. You’ll have to forgive me as it’s a bit flimsy in parts because the guy making the Sour Toe was pretty useless. So, here we go. The Sour Toe belongs to some guy (he didn’t know his name) who had his toe severed (he didn’t know how) sometime early last century (he didn’t know when). How the toe made it from wherever it landed after it was hacked off and into a shot glass, well, he didn’t know that either. But that’s pretty much the crux of it all. For longer than living memory (well, longer than this bloke’s anyway!), this toe, nail and all, has been used in shots. The aim is to let it touch your lips. Wade chewed it. Reckoned it was spongy, and tasted like crap. Well bugger me, an alcohol soaked century old toe was spongy and tasted bad. Get out of here!

In a nut shell, D2D is a very fun, very relaxed ‘gathering’ of adventure riders. Stick it on the calendar for next year!

Saturday 25th June – Day 21

Dawson to Eagle Plains – 267 Miles (429 Km)

We rode as far north as you can in America, so we thought we should do it again in Canada. Tomorrow we pass the Arctic Circle again and head for Inevik.

I think we are getting into the swing of things. Here’s why. It now takes about half the time to pack up and leave than 2 weeks ago (Yes Casey, we really are getting faster!! I know you don’t believe it), 450km seems like a small day, and the Butt Report has become very short. See below.

“Hey Philip, does your butt hurt?”

“Nope!” Awesome!

We saw our first bear today. Technically not the first, but it was the first without a guide. We weren’t too sure how close to ride up to the cute little fella. Apparently they can run 30 mph, and if they wake up on the wrong side of the tree can be pretty angry. We didn’t get very close, but it was cool anyway!

Speaking of bears, we were going to camp tonight but thought better of it. A girl we just met woke up to brilliant sunshine this morning. Not so odd you might think in the far north, 24 hrs of sunlight and all that. Well, it was a bit odd because the sun was shining thru a hole in the tent made by a bear while she slept. Hmmmm, I think I might take a room tonight thanks very much.

Eagle Plains to Inuvik and return to Eagle Plains – 467 Miles

We had to do it. Of course we did. We accomplished it in America, now we’ve ticked the box in Canada. To give up an opportunity to pass the Arctic Circle and ride once again to the end of the road at the top of the world would be like passing up a cold beer at the end of a hot days work, or a glass of water after walking the Aussie desert for 3 days without anything to drink. You just couldn’t say no! I wonder, will the Bergalia Boys do it again in Europe?

Did it feel good afterwards? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it fun, enjoyable and a great laugh? No, not really. For Philip, easily the worst day of riding. The scenery did not match that of Prudhoe, the road was worse and for the first and last 100km (as we returned to Eagle Plains) there was a horrid cross gale. Not to the same extent as we expect in South America, but pretty unpleasant all the same. There were times when the helmet was wrenched about as if Jack’s giant had climbed down the bean stalk, confused me for him and tried to shake the meat from my bones, helmet first. If the wind kept up there’s no doubt I would have had a neck like the front row of the Wallaby scrum.

Wade dead set reckoned he enjoyed it. “Yeah, it was fun. Gave you something to do.”

Yeah, right. Fun. Fun like unblocking an in-sinkerator with your fingers and forgetting to turn it off first. Or fun like removing that damn annoying piece of toast with the closest implement to hand, a butter knife, and not pulling the chord out of the wall plug. You know what else springs to mind? I’m sure you will all heave a sympathetic sigh with this one. As fun as doing the dishes post dinner party while everyone else goes for after dinner drinks cause it ‘gives you something to do’. Mmmmmm, yeah. We’re really having fun now!

The road to Eagle Plains was brilliant. Loved every turn, every rise and every great change in the scenery. Unfortunalely, like the cheaper fuel prices in Anchorage, this wasn’t to last. After the ‘slight breeze’ Philip loved so much there was a 100km stretch between the ferry at Fort McPherson  and Red Cardinal where the road had so much loose gravel it was like trying to ride a push bike across a frozen pond filled with marbles. Yeah, it was slippery! There were places where it actually knocked off 10km/hr and the engine dropped 100 rpm. And dust. Strewth, was it dusty. We thought Prudhoe was bad, but the road to Inuvik made the dust there about as impressive and with as much consequence as a dry fart outside in a 40 knot wind. Really, not too much to talk about.

At one point Wade had to stop and tip out the unwanted baggage from his riding attire after failing miserably to win a game of chicken with a massive truck. He was looking good to at least tie the game with only seconds to go before the full time hooter, but in the dying moments (no, he didn’t die! It’s just an expression. You can relax again Denise!) he lost. Images of Smokey and himself splattered on the grill of the truck, like the thousands of bugs (and one bird) on our wind shields, all arms, legs, wheels and handle bars mashed into one goupy mess changed his mind.

Wade will tell you the truck forced him off the road, but what really happened was in the total dust-out after the truck passed (“I couldn’t even see the speedo”) he turned too early for the next corner and ran off the road. Smokey, true to her name’s sake of 20 years past pinned her ears back, gritted her teeth and ploughed on through the soft gravel and loose rocks to once again bring Wade home. Not necessarily in first place, but still a big winner in this game.

We were very glad for the knobby tyres, and felt pretty nervous for the few guys we met on our way back who had only just set out to conquer the north on duel purpose tyres. I hope I don’t read about you in tomorrow’s paper!

The road condition changes daily and you might get lucky. The Aussie lads we met said they did it “bloody easily.” We had a few ‘moments’. Anyone can do it, take your time and grab a set of knobbies before you go. The few hundred that costs may just save a couple of grand in repairs, and more importantly those few weeks laid up with a broken collar bone are much better spend out there doing it, out there riding.

It was a great few nights in the Eagle Plain Hotel. Great food, free pool (2 – nil to Philip, which was a massive improvement on the floggings of the last 3 weeks!) and free shuttle board (3 – 2 Wade. Booo, Hiss, Hiss). If you are not American, or have not travelled America (or perhaps Canada for that matter as we are actually in that country) you probably have no idea what Shuttle Board is. Neither did I. It’s not important. Only the score matters.

27 June – Day 27

Eagle Plains to Moose Creek camp ground – 303 Miles

Pretty uneventful day. 460 km and it feels like a ½ day. Camping tonight. Cooked a great meal of pasta, pork chops and a fried egg. Bottle of wine (wow, how sophisticated we are!) to set the mood………. For writing you idiots! Remember, I am here with Wade, not my girlfriend Rieke.

Think. That’s what there was time for today. You know how you see something and your brain recognises it as weird, funny or out of place yet it doesn’t actually register at the time. I think for us on this particular occasion it was probably the 130 km/hr on loose gravel that peeled my attention away from the sign and onto more immediate goals, like staying ‘sunny side up’.

So, back to this sign. Basically it said to put your watches 1 hr forward. We’ve been travelling a lot, so a time chance isn’t too far-fetched, but something wasn’t right either. It clicked over breaky. “Hey Stubbsie”

“Yeah mate”

“:Did you see that sign yesterday?”

“Yeah, the bloody time change. What’s that all that about?”

For me it’s weird for 2 reasons. First, for 2 days we’ve done nothen but ride north. There’s 2 factors that affect time, and north isn’t one of them! There is east, and there is west. The other thing is, for a few months a year the sun doesn’t set, then too tired from all that effort, it’s not long before it doesn’t bother to get out of bed, ever. The in between times it changes so fast who knows what time it is anyway. I tell ya, Crocodile Dundee would be buggered! It must go something like this in summer…..”Hey mum, what time is sunset?”

“Surely you must know that Little Johnny. Why, its an hour later than never.”

Honestly, what difference is an hour going to make!

Wildlife. Didn’t see much. Saw a wolf on the way back from Prudhoe, and a grizzle the day before. However, on the way down we did manage to see quite a rare species for these parts. Normally found much further south, this particular mating pair were on quite the migration. Not bad for a flightless bird! We met Allan and Athalia a wonderful retried couple from New Zealand. Typically, they needed some Aussie help.

In preparation for the rough roads ahead Allen had new tyres fitted to the car, and asked the bloke to check the spare. On the way back south, a bit of poor luck reaches out and ankle taps them. Flat tyre. No worries, at least the spare is good. Wrong. The spare is also flat. Argh crap! Mutter curses to the tyre guy that did such a great job of checking the spare. A nice German fella stopped to help, but only had a hand pump. So, like a free beer keg to a group of first year uni students, Wade was there in a flash. It wasn’t long before he repaired not only the original tyre, but the spare as well. In return they made us the best road-side coffee in history. Thanks guys! If you ever read this, please send us an e-mail and say g’day!

28th June – Day 24
Moose Creek to Whitehorse – 493 Miles 793 Km

There can only be one explanation. He’d lost control of all bodily functions during the night and crapped the bed! That was Wades first thought of the day. There just ain’t any other plausible reason as to how or why Philip could possibly be out of the tent before him and already drinking coffee. First time in a month. Could this possibly be the start of a bad day for Wade?

The goal for today was to arrive in Whitehorse where, fingers crossed, we would meet up with our old tyres. The originals had only done an easy 1400 miles, and are good for anything between 8 000 and 10 000. We posted them from Anchorage to Whitehorse when we changed to knobbies. Instead of the easy tar highway we decided to take the road less traveled. We are adventure riders after all. It was still marked as a highway mind you, but dirt. Which had me thinking, what’s the definition of a highway?

We were told by a few people that it’s a great ride through a beautiful mountain range. They were right! Unfortunately what they didn’t mention was how incredibly bloody slippery it becomes when it rains.

And rain it did. Bring it on! We didn’t spend all this money on awesome riding gear for nothen. What’s a little bit of rain to cool things off and settle the dust? Well, let me tell you what ‘a little rain’ is.

Philip was leading the way, and at a pretty reasonable clip. Narrowly passing a car coming the other way on a tight, greasy, off-camber, down hill corner soon changed that, which turned out to be a very good thing!  The way in which the road had quickly become a bush track made it easy to forget you were on a highway. Cresting a sweeping right hander, a steep bank on the right, an even steeper drop to the left, Philip felt a little 2 wheel slide. I would love to say drift because I think that implies I was in control, that it was deliberate. It wasn’t. “Strewth, that’s mighty slippery. I better get on the blower and let Stubbsie know.”

I look into the mirror as I begin the warning broadcast “Hey Stubbsie, you’d better watch………”

And that’s when his headlights started doing the funky chicken dance, moving all over the place. Then they were gone. It reminded me of a time back when I was a wee whipper snapper (a young kid) riding with Clint in the bush back home. He was a bit ahead (I must have crashed, again, as otherwise I cant think of how he would be in front) and somehow managed to slip and slide his way to safety on the other side of a mud hole after a blind corner. “This’ll be interesting” he thought, and pulled over to watch. Not warn me. Watch. And not one to disappoint, I headed straight into it, crossed up, tank slapped, slid out and crashed like the damn US dollar. All to Clint’s immense amusement. Good on ya Clippo! Great bloke.

But that’s getting side tracked. It’s so easy to do. I don’t know how, it just happens. I reckon its all the hours riding that allows so much time to think. See, there I go again. Side tracked.

OK, let me see. Where was i? Argh yes, that’s right. Wades crash. How could I forget! I know after posting the photo’s so long ago you are all waiting anxiously for the description. So here we go!

It was pretty funny. And because it was so soft and greasy you could back track along the wheel marks and establish the exact moment his front wheel had an argument with the back wheel and decided to file for divorce, separating from each other. You could literally mark an X perfectly on the spot Wade went from thinking “oh, this is a nice road, what a lovely corner, beautif……..OH S@$#$T!!!!!!!”

The inside 1m of the corner was clay. I hit the edge of it and was lucky. Wade rode a line 30cm in from mine, and was not. The back wheel, so sick and tyred (I know, i know. Im sorry. Its a terrible pun, but i couldn't help it) of following in the shadow of the front wheel headed off on its own. It was looking like a relatively slow, ‘low-side’ crash, which if your gonna crash is the one you want. That was until the road base changed, the back wheel gripped and propelled the bike head long into the bank, causing it to high-side, then ploughed along the drainage ditch for about 8m. They won’t have to clean out that particular part of the drain for a while!

A couple of broken mirrors were pretty much the extent of the damage. Oh, and the MSR fuel bottle for the camp stove. It had such a mighty dint that the lid didn’t fit anymore. We were impressed it didn’t puncture. Wade is fine.

29th June – Day 25 Whitehorse

The best-laid plans, all buggered! Bloody Canadian postal strike. We rock up to the tyre dealership early in the morning. Well, at least we left camp early. By the time Wade finished excavating the mud from his bike at the truck wash time was getting on a bit. Finally able to recognize Smokey for the beautiful beast she is, we set off in search of tyres.

“G’day mate, I’m Wade.”

“Oh, hello Wade. Sorry, but there’s nothen for you guys.”

“Crap! We sent that 2 weeks ago.”

Turns out the post office has been on strike for the past 10 days and they are stuck at customs in Vancouver. 5-6 working days the best estimate to get them here. Bugger. And our new helmet cameras are lost. Double bugger!

We visit the local Honda dealer, admittedly mainly to see if they have 2 mirrors that will fit a BMW, which they don’t. We do however ride away with a ‘new’ second hand duel purpose tyre on the back, and our good old worn out knobby on the front. Wade is still trying to sort out a meeting place for our tyres.

While at the shop we meet up with Canadian Darrell whom we first met in Dust to Dawson. He then arrives at our camp, joins us for beers and a fire, which he promptly made into a bonfire the likes of which Whitehorse campground has never seen before. He burns 7 holes in our brand new tarp. Argh….. the memories. Thanks Darrell!

Oh yeah, laundry day today. Clean jocks. You little beauty!

June 30th – Day 26

Whitehorse to Skagway – 260 Miles

We left Darrell after again thanking him for the holes in our tarp. At least it won’t fill up with water and tear under excessive weight.

Crossing the border we head back into America for what is a seriously beautiful ride into Haines. Well, Alaska really. I still can’t accept it’s part of America. It most definitely should be it’s own country. Haines is a great little town, and would have loved to stay the night, but there is only one ferry a day to Skagway, and it departs at 2200. We were on it.

Rode off the ferry at Skagway and into nothen. Midnight and no accommodation booked. We did the only sensible thing and joined the queue for the closest possible campsite, a mere 200m down the road. How convenient! Set up the tents and fell into a bloody marvelous sleep, still in our stinky riding gear (not the full on jackets and pants, but the under garments). Didn’t even bother to get the clothes bag off the bike.

1st July – 27 Skagway to BoyaLake – 358 Miles

Convenient the campground may have been, awesome it was not. Trucks started loading onto the ferry at 0500, and we heard every rev of the engine and every crunch of the gears. Not cool!

If the road into Haines was a magnificent, moist, dark chocolate cake with just a splash of rum, then the road out of Skagway to Carcross was the cream and strawberries on top. Just bloody lovely.

We wanted to stay and do the great train ride in Skagway. Established as a means of transport for the mines, it was cut into sheer mountain sides in the early 1930's as it follows an old river bed up into the hills. Sheer cliffs, and somehow the crazy buggers blast enough of a ledge to squeeze a railway track half way up. Amazing.

NOTE: I made up the reason for the railway line, although it seems reasonable to me. Also, I made up the date, but it looks pretty old!

At the beginning of the trip we promised ourselves not to rush, to take our time and see everything we wanted to. Already this has been broken. Compromise. The world and everything in it is a compromise. We heard the Calgary Stampede is on for 10 days starting the 8th July which sounds like a bloody good time. We both grew up riding horses, and Wades father was a bronc rider in his younger days so we decided to beat our way to Calgary and not see too much of Haines or Skagway. As good as we are, even we can’t do everything!

The plan was to put as many miles on the clock as possible so we could spend a few days in Jasper and BanffNational Park before heading into Calgary. We tried to grab a coffee and some energy food, like a Mars Bar (pretty damn tired after our crap night sleep. Thanks trucks!) at a road side café at the junction where we turn south. They closed as we pulled the key out of the ignition. Bugger! Not to worry, there’s a servo (petrol station) a mile back. That’ll do. As we take off the helmet, who should show up? Canadian Darrell ‘The Tarp’ Nieberding. Great!

Over a coffee and pie we agree to ride together for a few days. Buy some beers, but there’s no where for 100 miles to buy food. That’s cool, we have pasta and sauce, Darrell has some ‘smokeys’. Smokey’s are cheese filled sausages. Bloody good tucker!

We bust out another 150 km’s before making camp. I was doing the good old ‘head nods’ before the coffee break, but not anymore! Darrell has technology. Darrell has a R…R detector. You little beauty, now we’re having fun!!

Aialik and Smokey loved it! A chance to stretch the legs and show off what they can do. I have to say, the big Beamers are really very good on the road, even with the busted knobby on the front and 2nd hand duel purpose tyre on the back. Hanging of the side of the bike cornering was pretty interesting. I don’t think Casey Stoner would be too impressed, but it was great fun. The bikes are so fat, whoops, I mean challenged in the width department (they are ladies after all!) my arms are too short to get over the tank bag and outside the fuel tank!

A black bear wizzed by, but this was too much fun to stop. There will be another bear.

Tents were erected and a nice controlled cooking fire was underway. After a great dinner came Darrell. Darrell and the fire. Lookout! We He had logs feeding into the fire from all points of the compass, then we had a very angry site manager.

Darrell “ Hi. You coming down for that beer after all?”

“I most definitely am not! I am here to tell you this is absolutely not on!!! You just……. you can’t…. I mean this just isn’t on! You can’t go picking up wood off the ground and burning it. It’s habitat for bugs………. it’s ……… it’s dangerous. You just can’t!”

Habitat for bugs! Strewth, what about the 2 million acres of trees we just road through? That ought to be enough habitat for the little blighters. And what about the last 150 000 acres which was burnt by a naturally occurring (lightning strike) forest fire? Yep, our little effort will most definitely endanger a few species of bug, that’s for sure.

Darrell and fire. A volatile cocktail. Again, thanks Darrell!

2nd July – Day 28 Boya Lake to Stewart via Hyder – 394 Miles

The last 100 km’s into Stewart was the most scenic yet. You ride past Bear Glacier on the way, one of only 5 blue ice glaciers in the world accessible by road. It was then onto Fish Creek, which is apparently a very famous bear viewing place. Never heard of it myself. It was pretty, but we were 2 weeks too early for the salmon run. No salmon, no food. No food, no bears.

Next stop, Salmon Glacier. This was fantastic! One of those unexpected adventures (we only discovered the previous day thanks to Darrell) which really makes the trip special. You ride along the edge of a mountain, following the glacier for 10 miles or so before popping put at a great viewing platform. Gee, thanks Darrell, and this time I actually mean it!!

Another camp site. Another tent building exercise in the rain. A feed at the local pub and early to bed.

3rd July – Day 29 Stewart to McBride – 576 Miles

Underway at about 0800 for a breaky stop at Kitwanga, just a quick 200km down the road. We all thought it sounded pretty Aussie, so an appropriate place to stop.

We met 2 wonderful people over our pancakes and omelettes. The first, a lovely elderly lady who was born in Holland in 1934. She grew up in Columbia and hasn’t stopped travelling since. Even now she is driving all over Canada and the US by herself (her husband unfortunately passed away recently) visiting brother and sisters. After chatting for 5 minutes she offered us a comfortable bed and a hot shower at her home in Vancouver. 5 minutes talking to scruffy bikers and she is opening her home to us. Just a wonderful lady and a lovely, warming moment for us.

The other bloke. Well, not too sure what to tell you. He’s from Mississippi in the deep south. Riding the same bike as us, it was inevitable we start chatting. Eventually ‘the question’ pops up and he asks us where we are heading. “Antarctica mate” was Wades prompt reply.

Now, usually when you say that, even to a hardened Adventure Rider there is quite a response. “Wow, that’s brilliant” or something along those lines. This guy had nothen. After a while he says “Sorry, where did you say?”

Oh, OK. He just didn’t hear properly.

“Antarctica mate”

Another pause, this time a bit awkward.

“Yeah, where’s that?”

Bugger me! I turn to Wade, a look of disbelief crosses my face. Wade looks at me, stunned.

“You know, that big piece of ice down the bottom of the world.”

Still nothen. Darrell, who is also amazed, says “The south Pole”.

Then it happens.

“Wow, that’s brilliant! You guys have a long way to go!”

So do you buddy. So do you.

We said our goodbyes to ‘The Tarp’. Cheers mate, it was a great few days. He is heading to Prince Rupert and a trip on a ferry thru the inner passage. We were originally going there, but 300km in, then back out the same way was too much if we are to make it to Calgary. How nice could it be anyway? Pretty damn nice apparently! Later in the arvo we are told that it was voted Canada’s number 1 scenic drive. Bugger!!

To be honest, after a month we have nearly had enough of mountain views anyway. And how it could be better than the road into Stewart I don’t know. It was all medi-evil looking, and I kept expecting to see Gandolf and a few Hobits belting across the road, a fire breathing dragon hot on their heals.

After leaving Darrell we knuckled down and went to work, trying to get some serious distance done. It wasn’t long before we were peeling off 100km sections like dollar bills in a strip club.  Over 900 km for the day. Ass? Pretty damn good! Doesn’t mean we don’t move about on the bike. You know, slide your bum across so there’s one cheek on the seat, one off. Then the other way. Maybe stand up for a bit. Just keep the blood flowing and everything seems to work out alright. I still reckon that pretty damn good. I mean, even in my luxury vehicle at home (the mighty Nissan Patrol ute) you'd have to get up and wriggle a bit every now and again.

July 4th – Day 30 McBride to Jasper

A pretty easy day in the saddle. So we took it easy. Left the camp site around 1000 after a few coffee’s, some blog writing, photo editing and a bloody fantastic HOT shower.

We anticipated a lovely ride into Jasper, and weren’t disappointed. The sun burnt off the clouds presenting the best day of the summer season so far. A couple of people told us that if you only do one touristy thing in Jasper, do the ……… lake cruise. So we did.

Just in case you think we’ve been making all the cool stuff up (lets face it, it’s all been cool so far) it’s time to bitch a bit. I worked out that the cruise boat can cram 60 people on board in a row of seating that even Easyjet and Virgin would turn their noses up at. Its 3 seats deep and divided into two isles, looking out windows that only open for every second row. The poor bugger sitting 3 deep can’t even see the mosquitoes crawling up the glass, let alone the view. There is outside ‘standing’ on the aft deck (the blunt end for all you non boatie types), but only for 10 people otherwise the nose sticks up so much the guy at the wheel cant see.

60 passangers paying $55. That’s over $3000. Each boat can do 6 trips a day. They have 6 boats, and 7 days in the week. BUY SOME BLOODY DECENT BOATS YA CHEAP MONGRELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Having said that, the lake and surrounding mountains were amazing, and worth the $50. There were several ‘vantage points’ we rode past on the way up to the lake that Wade wanted to stop at and photograph on the way home cause they were pretty spectacular. We didn’t. After the lake they were very average.

#4. UP-LOADED 11TH JULY

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5th July – Day 31

Jasper – 79 Miles

Hike Sulphur Ridge

Another one of those superb days that started without a plan. Well, that’s not entirely correct. We did have a plan, just not a very detailed one. I’d been looking forward to a hike in Jasper for the previous 2 weeks, but I had no idea where to go. Wade asked a friendly Parks Canada guy who told us about Sulphur Ridge. Sweet! We now have a proper plan.

We hiked up the track, which was nice. It was pretty steep, and only 10 minutes into it I’d decided that a run afterwards wasn’t going to be necessary. The main point of interest for me was establishing the origins of a popular saying. Ever since I can remember, if someone bought something fancy, be it a new car, bike, camera etc, if it had all the latest gadgets you’d say “strewth mate, she’s pretty fancy. Has all the Bells and Whistles.”

I knew what it meant, but where did it come from? Turns out its origins were established by hikers in bear country. There we were, surrounded by all these ‘professional’ hikers. I assumed they were professional anyway because of all the gear they had. Flash new hiking boots, outdoor hiking pants, super duper breathable yet rain proof / wind stopper jackets, fancy new day packs and even walking poles. Compared to me and Stubbsie in our jeans, running shoes and t-shirts they sure looked professional! They had everything, including…….. wait for it…… all the bells and whistles (used to frighten off bears). Hence the saying that if it comes with everything, it has all the bells and whistles. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

The view from the top was worth the hike up. The hike down was simply awesome. Wade saw a single track heading off in a different direction, but still towards the bikes. “What do ya reckon about that track mate? Should we give her a go?”

“Bloody oath. Can’t see why not. I mean, the last time we followed the road less travelled all that happened was you fell off. What could possibly go wrong? Its only bear country.”

Nothing went wrong. In fact, it all went right. We followed this goat trail along a ridge, across a mountain face of loose rock and landslides, then down thru the trees, across a creek and onto another track. The cool part was doing it by ourselves, with no one in sight. We could have been 1000 miles from the nearest person.

We established it was pretty much just a goats trail, and not the walking track because we saw a goat off in the distance, and there was goats poo on the trail. Yep, definitely a goat track. We were a bit stuck at one stage. It was bloody steep! At which point a manly goat came strutting round the corner. He was a bit surprised to see us, but after a moment of hesitation he kept on coming, making this deep guttural noise. We were’t too sure if it was a mating call or a warning. I couldn’t work out which would be worse cause the way he was looking at us (well, to be honest, I reckon he was checking out Wade, not me!) if it was a mating call it was going to be just as bad!

At least it’s a bit heroic when you can tell people the broken ribs came from a ferocious, head-butting mountain goat who saw you as a threat when you were hiking. There is nothing tough, heroic or manly about any injury sustained from an oversexed goat. Not ever.

About the time I wanted to stop filming, throw the camera over my shoulder and do what you should never do, run like crazy in a wild panic, the goat strutted on past to his calling point. He surveyed all he commanded, still calling. We left him to it. After a while we saw 4 girl sheep heading up the hill. Hmmmm, most definitely a mating call. And boy, did it work wonders! Which had me thinking, if only I could ……….

6th July – Day 32

Jasper to Banff – 215 Miles

The ride down was just lovely. Super scenery and a photo to take around every corner. Wade was in paradise! It felt like paradise too as the sun was really giving it some. The lining came out of the jackets for the first time. Yah!

We stopped at a few waterfalls and some lakes. The highlight was definitely Moraine Lake. Amazing colour and dramatic mountain backdrop. A post card picture for sure! The tropical colour is from the glacier melt. Rock flour (the fine powder that results from the ginormous pressure of the ice grinding away the rock) is so light it is suspended in the water, absorbing green light and reflecting blue. So there ya go. Learn something new everyday!

Made camp and once again a beautiful cooking fire. I knocked up a magnificent spag bol. It was massive and made a perfect breaky for the next day. 5 star cuisine round a campfire. Now this is living.

Made it into double figures for camping. 10 nights straight. You little beauty!

7th July – Day 33

Banff to Calgary – 93 Miles

We had planned to stay longer in Banff, but the service light on the bikes put an end to that! OK, so its not 20000 km services. Its 10 000. Bugger. Luckily Anderwerks, the BMW shop in Calgary are very ‘adventure rider’ friendly. They shuffled some bikes around to fit us in so we could keep going. We dropped the bikes of Thursday arvo so they would be cold for the guys to work on the next day. Thanks guys! Really appreciate it!

We did the Johnston Canyon walk in the morning before riding into Calgary. It was nice, but nothen special. It must be a major hotspot on the tourist route because by the time we were walking back along the path it was like a free-way of retired people shuffling along taking up all the road. I tell ya what, if you’re a young bloke looking for some ‘action’ you’d better leave this place off the map!

8th July – Day 34

Calgary

Bit of a nothen day. Washing, writing, then a lot of walking round the city waiting for our bikes. It is a nice town, especially around Stampede time as all the girls show off their biggest boots, their smallest skirts and everything in between. Love ya work girls! Of course none of them had better legs than Casey or Rieke!

Back to camp and an early night. Wade found some work to keep him busy rescuing peoples tents from various bushes around the place.

#5 UPLOADED 14TH JULY

9th July – Day 35

Calgary Stampede

Calvin phoned us yesterday to re-issue his earlier invite to stay with him. He’s a great bloke we first meet on the Demster heading up to Inuvik, then again around ‘The Tarps’ fire in Whitehorse. We packed the bikes and rode into town. Even though it has only been one day off the bikes, and we were only poking down the road a bit it still felt good to be geared up and riding.

After lunch and a bit of a chinwag (a good old chat) Wade and I charged off towards the Stampede. We tried. We tried really bloody hard. We failed miserably! Reckoned we could get an entire outfit, boots, hats and all for under $50 bucks. 6 shops later, turns out the shirts alone are nearly that much. Sadly we abandoned the idea, and settled for a cool, sexy terrible straw cowboy hat. Immediately there was a marked change. Now we were ready for Stampede, and by the looks of things Stampede was ready for us.

“Hey Stubbsie”

“Yeah Mate”

“You know the difference between you and me? I make this hat look good!”

Actually, that’s a horrible lie. I don’t know if women get beer goggles or not. I assume they do cause I’ve seen some pretty hot girls leaving the club with some bloody ugly blokes. Guys ugly enough that if Mick Jagger was just an ordinary guy, not some rock god, and happened to be sitting next to them in a bar, big flappy lips and all, he’d look like a cover model for GQ magazine.

Anyway, that’s off the track and into the scrub a little bit. What I wanted to say was that with these cowboy hats we are definitely a good 10 or so. Unfortunately I don’t mean 10 out of 10 and damn fine stud stock, but rather I reckon it’d take about 10 vodka tonics before chicks started to think “Gee, these guys are hot stuff……… reckon I might like to take them home!”

Wondered about the Stampede for a few hours, and was a bit disappointed to be honest. Beer tents had a line-up longer than the TAB (a place where Aussies can go to bet on anything from horses to dogs to footy and even chook races) a few hours after the doll checks / unemployment benefits (benefits, yeah right. The TAB and the local pub benefits, that’s for sure!) have cleared. So that was crap. Then we couldn’t find too much in the way of agricultural excitement. Just a tractor pull, and believe me, seen one, seen ‘em all. Seems like the only things on offer are bloody long queues and sideshow alley, neither of which impressed us too much.

The chuck races were pretty cool. We were in the stadium now, and things were looking up. Although at $7.80 a beer, we still weren’t looking too high! They are crazy buggers, that’s for sure. To start, 4 Chucks (the wagons), pulled by 4 horses each do a figure 8 around their own course in the main arena, then it’s a race to the track, often 3 or 4 deep heading into the first corner which is only half as wide. They do a lap of the racetrack, finishing in front of the crowd. There were no crashes this night, but often there is and it isn’t too hard to see why!

There was an after-chuck show, which was brilliant. Worth the admission fee alone. Singing, dancing, acrobats, trampoline tricks and more.

Saving ourselves for tomorrow we headed home after that. What good lads!

10th July – Day 36

Calgary Stampede

Calvin and his wife Coleen packed us into the car. Destination, one of the many Calgary Stampede breakfasts. Each day several businesses put on a free breakfast of eggs, sausage, pancakes and coffee, accepting donations rather than payment in order to raise money for various charities. There’s generally a live band and it’s basically a good fun time.

Fueled with plenty of good ‘soakage’ we donned the very attractive cowboy hats and once again mustered ourselves towards the stampede. We’d done a little homework and were now on a mission to uncover some fantastic stampede events. Success! WooHooo!!!! First we found where the camp draft was happening. And guess what, it starts ½ hr after the Rodeo finishes. Amazing! Normally, according to the laws of Murphy they would be on at the same time. Then, believe it or not, immediately after the camp draft, and even in the same stadium, sheepdog trials take centre stage.

Satisfied with the days schedule, it was off to the Rodeo. We had front row seats. Even better we had a concrete wall in front to use as a shelf, nicely keeping the beers handy, yet safely out of harms way. It also allowed us to set the tripods perfectly. The ultimate however was when we were able to lean over and say “2 more beers up here thanks Mate!” No need for us to queue, we were basically royalty now! Heaven must have a section like this.

There were some very impressive times. 6.3 seconds for the calf roping, and a tick over 3 for steer wrestling. Bucking horses put on a great show, but were ridden most of the time. The bulls are mighty beasts, and conquered man far more often than not. Seems to win the bucking broncs you need a whole lot of style and technique because most of the guys make the 8 seconds. The bulls however, doesn’t really matter how you get it done, just make the 8 and you’re in the cash!

We left the Rodeo satisfied. But wait, there’s more. The Cutting of the Calves was very impressive. 3 riders, 30 calves. 3 calves have the same number, making 10 groups of 3. The team are given a number, then have to cut out the 3 calves with that number, take them to the other end of the arena and into the pen. If more than 1 calf of the wrong number cross the half way point they are disqualified. The winning time was 32 seconds. Bloody amazing.

Sheep dog trials were equally as impressive, but not exciting! After watching a few we left them to it and somehow finished up in the main beer tent. Damn, now how did that happen? Live bands, dancing girls and beer. What a great day!

11th July – day 37

Calgary to Takkakawa Falls in Yoho National Park – 130 Miles (209 KM)

I must admit, it was a pretty slow morning. But a mighty fun day yesterday. Spose you have to take the good with the bad.

After a huge breaky of eggs, bacon and pancakes we said our farewells to Calvin and Coleen. It’s a favourite part of the trip for both of us………..... wait a minute, that didn’t really come out right. Neither of us want to say goodbye! What I mean is meeting people and staying with them really makes this traveling special. Its one thing to pass thru an area, but if you can stay with the locals you get so much more.

We camped at the base of Canada’s largest waterfall, Takkakawa Falls. 254m high. Very cool.

Met Shannon and Jen, an Aussie couple with a similar outlook on life to us. Work, save, travel. They’ve finished a 2 ½ year working stint in Canada, and now reaping the rewards. Cheers for a great night. Oh yeah, and the fresh milk for breaky!

12th July – day 38

Takkakawa Falls to Kelowna – 240 Miles (386 KM)

We have this hiking sorted out. Find the cutest park ranger and ask “if you only had one day, where would you go?”

This method again steered us in the right direction as we set out to conquer ‘The Ice Line’ trail. Oddly enough we hiked up to, and a wee bit beyond the snow line. Funny that, being called the ice line trail and all. This was cool until the mighty runners let me down. What do you man they aren’t water proof? Arrrrggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!! And to make matters worse, Stubbsies 20 Euro bargain basement ‘do anything’ shoes were still as dry as when your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth as you wake up after a big night out. Nasty! Which pretty much buggers they saying ‘you get what you pay for’. Then again, the bloke who made that particular saying famous probably didn’t account for an idiot hiking through snow in shoes purpose built for running across deserts.

The slight issue was we thought it a loop trail. In a way it was, but 20km instead of 10. We had arranged to stay the night with Michael, another great guy we met in Dust2Dawson. It was a good 6 hr ride, so we needed to get going. 3 options. Go back, go forward, or go down. Neither of us want to go backwards, ever. Forward meant not seeing Mike. Looks like another day for the Bergalia Boys to go bush bashing off the trail in bear country. Oh Goodie!

It was bloody steep, that’s for sure! After a few false starts we managed to pick a path across creeks and down gullies. The problem with taking the easiest route? That is also the highway that bears and other crazy animals take. Again I had to do a mental tick-off for all our safety gear. Good boots? Obviously not. Decent clothing? Tick. Wow, one box we can tick. Beauty! We were actually OK for clothes. Not about to freeze to death. Flare to frighten away aggressive bears? No. Whistle? No. Weapon of any description? No. Bear gun (like a cap gun, only louder)? No. Right then, lets get off this hill pronto! So we did. Fortunately, if there were any bears or cougars we didn’t see them. My heart was beating pretty fast, and it wasn’t all to do with the steep terrain and frantic pace Wade had set.

It was a great ride through Glacier National Park, then down onto farming country (Hmmmmm, the smell of freshly cut hay. Lovely!) and finally along Okanagan Lake to Mike’s place. He had some friends visiting from Calgary, which meant the cars were rolled out of the garage and that was home for us for the night. At least it was dark!

We had a great night sitting out on his deck looking across the lake, drinking a nice vintage of red wine over dinner. A night cap of B&B (yeah, I thought it was accommodation too) to finish.

13th July – Day 39

Kelowna to Chilliwack, then to Agassiz– 264 Miles

Coleen cooked us a power providing breakfast of sausage, eggs and hash browns. Then it was that time again. Time to say “Thanks, that was awesome!” and move on.

Mike told us we had to stop in Bliss café, just 30 miles down the road. After discovering the morning coffee was de-caff I thought that a jolly good idea! Once again we were sitting quietly by ourselves when Pam the Peach from Peachland came up and asked about the bikes and the trip. Turns out she is an old biker herself, and was pretty much as excited about the trip as us.

I really feel like a rock star when we are cruising on the bikes. People stop us at lights, wave to us as we ride past and are always coming up and talking. Its great! Unless you really want to get somewhere, then it can really slow you down.

Arrived in Chilliwack around 1800. We are staying with Johnny, a mate of Wades from Sydney. Should be a great few days!

I’ve been waiting for a short day. Today was short. So, now its now time for:

Interesting facts that are probably incorrect and useless information.

  1. I bought a pack of knee high, one size fits all stockings the other day. A pack of four. For four dollars. Now, I’ve never bought stockings prior to this, but I reckon that’s a great price. Yesterday Wade asked to borrow a pair.
  2. Oh yeah, I also bought a packet of tampons. 18 for four bucks fifty. Also not too bad. And you think people looked at the elephant man in a strange way
  3. We have finally been re-united with our tyres and the camera gear. We broke both camera’s in about the first 2 weeks, and it’s taken until now to get the new ones.
  4. We have covered 12 500 Km. Only another 30 000 or so to go, give or take a few thousand.
  5. The first service, including new rear brake pads and a tyre change (not the tyre mind you, just the cost to fit one we already had) came to a massive $750. We have at least another 3 to go. Oh goodie.

Now, I could be wrong, but I reckon there’s a few people wondering what’s going on. Perhaps even wondering if Wade and I are batting for the wrong team, or maybe we’ve picked up a female hitch hiker with no legs, just the one arm she used to flag us down and therefore cant easily manage to shop for herself. I wish I could make up a really cool story like that, but I can’t. So here it is. The truth. The raw, naked truth.

Stockings. Our feet were getting pretty damn hot, and socks that were high enough to go above the bike boots made it worse. So we tried stockings. They are bloody fantastic, comfortable and cool. You girls are really onto something! I just hope Wade clips his nails and doesn’t give them back with a run!

Tampons. Now this is neat. An Aussie bloke put Stubbsie onto this, and it works a treat. I tell ya, you guys keep reading this blog and you’ll learn a thing or two. Basically, if its been raining all day, or you are lazy like us and cant be bothered to fetch little sticks to start the fire then you soak the tampon in fuel, place it on the bottom of the fire with the string trailing. Light the ‘fuse’, crack a beer then sit back and watch that fire go! It burns for ages. You Little Beauty!!

Until next time, goodbye for now.

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#6 UP-LOADED 17th JULY

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14th July - Day 40

Agassiz – Repair and maintenance day

Johnny works in a tattoo shop Chilliwack where we first went to meet him, but lives in Agassiz, about 20km down the road.

Finally! A bit of a sleep in. This holiday stuff can wear a bloke out!

The main object for the day was to try and increase the range of our bike-to-bike communications by extending the aerial and mounting it by the handle bars. The unit is mounted under the fuel tank where the ABS normally is, which we think is reducing effective range. We opted not to have ABS fitted to the bikes because if something goes wrong you need the BMW computer to re-set them. Not cool in Central and South America where you could be a couple thousand km from a BMW dealer. This fitting of the new aerial is pretty technical. A job for Wade. The other, rather less ambitious goal was to clean the pre filter filter, and the pre filter filter filter. Yep, there’s more filtering going on here than for the internet in a computer room with a class full of year 10 students! Not a technical job. A job for Philip.

It was a very cruisie day, and quite pleasant. Even better, after about 3 weeks I’m finally up to date with the blog. Yah!

15th July – Day 41

Agassiz – More R & M (see above for definition)

Stubbsie finished off Aialik (the radio) and moved onto the helmet cameras, barely able to keep his excitement in check after waiting so long. My technical job for the day? Try and make our BMW enduro boots waterproof. I wasn’t too happy when my feet started swimming during the first rain. Soggy feet just aren’t cool!

Having said that the rest of the gear, which is all BMW is AMAZING! I’ve never been so brand coordinated. Top to toe in BMW. The winter gloves are especially good, and I’d even advise a Harley rider to go grab a pair cause the flack he gets from his mates will be worth the warm, dry hands ten fold, unless of course they chuck him out of the club, cut off his beard with blunt scissors and scratch the Harley badges off the bike. Then maybe not. Anyone riding a decent distance should go and buy the Rally 3 suits and the winter gloves. They are great. Get a different pair of boots.

Helmet cameras. Did I mention there were a few issues? Actually, it all started last year when Wade first set them up. Right out of the box one was broken, which he soldiered back into working condition. A week into the ride, Wades helmet fell off the bike as he was climbing on board Smokey, and the cable pulled out the back of the camera. One down. Bugger. A week after that my display screen starts to flicker, then says no signal. We plug my camera into Wades display / recording unit and guess what, still ‘no signal’. Two down. Bugger. Bugger.

Wade ordered 2 new cameras, but because of the rotten Canadian postal strike they didn’t arrive in time for us to collect them in Whitehorse. Then they were lost in customs. Finally, finally we meet up in Agassiz where Johnny lives. All excited, Stubbsie plugs the first camera into the display unit, and see if you can guess what comes next…….. no signal. Arrgghhhhhhh!!!!!! What do you mean no signal? He asks for mine, and when I hand it to him I notice the screen has cracked. A month of bouncing in the pannier over rough roads was just too much for it. I’m guessing it lost a fight with an angry, run-a-way frying pan, which was annoying to say the least. I’m sure my dear mother would have even gone so far as to say “Sugar!” Me. Well, I cant really print exactly what I said.

Wade used some parts from one unit to get the other working, and yep, you guessed it. My ‘broken’ camera works just fine. Now, what are the chances of both units crapping out at the same time? At least we have one up and running, and another unit on the way.

16th July – Day 42

Agassiz to a camp ground on the way to Whistler – 147 Miles (236 km)

Johnny loaded up his KTM 990 with some duel purpose tyres and off we went for a 2-day, scenic ride. It was great to ride for the sake of riding, and not just to get to the next town. Normally the KTM is a massive bike, but next to ours it looks like a miniature poodle squatting under a great dane.

First stop was Hope, a small town famous for the filming of Rambo - First Blood, and chainsaw sculptures. All I can say is the sculptures were good. The town needs to let go of Rambo and look for something cool. Or just let go of Rambo, it’d still be better. In this particular case, something is not better than nothen!

It was a fabulous road, one bend flowing into the next. Enjoying the riding so much, we buzzed past an Elvis café. Whoops! Screeeeccchhhhhhhhh! Elvis was of no interest, but coffee? Now that’s a different story. I had way too much blood in my coffee stream, so a top up was vital.

It was actually pretty cool, and worth a stop if you ever go to Hells Gate along the Fraser River, north east of Vancouver. 43 years of devotion to Elvis collectables. Crazy!

We camped right on the river, and for the first time ever we took some bear precautions. Washed up after dinner, then dumped the left overs for breaky 150m up the road. Bear smart. Look at us go!

17th July – Day 43

Back to Agassiz – 245 Miles

A great ride to day. Beautiful winding, flowing roads. Stopped in at Whistler where at least every second person was Aussie. Seems all Aussies overseas work in a bar in London, work on yachts or are in Whistler. Commonly all 3, although rarely at once!

It rained on the way back, and yes, my feet were still wet! Not like an Olympic swimming pool, more like a toddlers blow up pool, but still crap none the less. Any advice from anyone?

Back to Johnnies and re-pack the bike for an early start to cross the US border. A bit of a re-shuffle, with plenty more stuff into ‘deep storage’. No more heated vest, no more long undergarments, just shorts and t-shirts for the next 5 months. You little beauty! Love’n the extra room in my panniers. Not so keen on the extra weight in the yellow bags up high. See, as I said before. Life is nothen but a compromise.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 23:30