Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day 1 and 2. Whitehorse to 100k out.

It had been a whirlwind couple of days, getting last minute things done, buying a vehicle(Honda Element) and being excited about this trip. Also saying good bye to my daughter, who I wouldn't be seeing for three weeks, the longest we had ever been apart. My emotions were all over the place.

We were out the door early. My sister picked us up a 5 am to drive us to Naniamo for the first flight of the day. I was unusually groggy, since we had been up late finishing the last of the packing for the two and a half weeks we would be away. And watching the Canucks lose the Stanly Cup final to Boston. Grrrr. We briefly stopped at Tim Hortons for some terrible coffee and equally terrible muffins for breakfast(What is it with that place anyways, it is really bad) I couldn't make my own coffee that morning since the Bodun committed suicide the night before by jumping out of the cupboard at me, launching glass all over the kitchen.

Upon arrival at the baggage check the woman checking us in decided that she had to see our camp stove, because they can't be on the airplane if there is any fuel left over in the burner. Well trying to find a stove the size of a can of beans in two boxes filled with stuffed panniers is almost impossible, so everything had to come out. She checked it out and said it was fine, but caused us a lot of stress. Boxes were repacked and sent through the x-ray machine. The only problem was that the bike boxes wouldn't fit through it, so they had to go in the back, be opened up and checked by one of the security people. So much stress. Once it was all said and done we got on the plane for a quick trip to Vancouver. The flight takes about 15 minutes, flying over Georgia Strait, and the Gulf Islands. It is a picturesque view. The aircraft never gets to high so there is a good view the who time.

At YVR, my girlfriend managed to talk us in at the buisiness class lounge. That was cool. I was already tired from the lack of sleep and the stress of flying. Food was great for the mood, so we wondered over to our gate. I saw Gino Reda from TSN waiting at the gate next to us. That was cool. He was in town for the hockey game. I was surprised I didn't see more media there that I would have recognized.

The flight to Whitehorse was nice and calm. The views of the coast mountains were spectacular. I really enjoyed looking out the window and trying to forget we were 35,000 feet up in the air. Gulp. Once we landed and gathered our boxes, while waiting for our cab, there was a fox running around in the parking lot. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it, and thought we would see lots of wildlife. Sadly, I was wrong. A nice, older fellow with a huge case of plumbers crack gave us a ride to the hostel. This was a cool experience for me as I had never stayed in one before. We got our bikes built and bags packed quickly, and headed out into Whitehorse to get supplies. A quick stop at Canadian Tire, Marks, and Extra Foods and we were all set. We dropped off the bikes at the hostel and walked into town for dinner, to get our names on the list for dinner at Klondike Rib and Salmon BBQ, a must for anyone visiting Whitehorse. The fish and chips were the best I had on this vacation. The place had people waiting around the block to get in for dinner. A slow walk home and we were quickly in bed. I never got to experience the long Yukon nights. It was really overcast the whole time.

Morning came, some food was prepped for the road, and we set off. Looking for somewhere to eat breakfast. We happened upon Baked Cafe on Main Street. It is a happening spot. They have the absolute best scones I have ever eaten, bar none. Coffee and scones, plus some scones to go for the road. I also met Dusty there. Dusty is a little Grizzley Bear cub that followed me out of a gift shop that morning. He was my companion on the entire voyage.

It was time to go, so we followed the bike lanes out of Whitehorse, up Two Mile Hill, and found a section of the Trans Canada Trail that would give us a nice view of the city and an alternate way out of traffic. We ended up having to back track for about 1 kilometer to get to the proper road,  and off we went, on the Alaska Highway. We had a magnificent tail wind for the first 30k and we were feeling so good. The road was in good shape and without very many hills. We cruised along for a few hours, stopping every 20k for a break to stretch. We decided at around 60k to stop for a break, have lunch, set up the bug screen of the tent and have a nap. What a great idea. It was here that we met the Swedish cyclist, Edwin, who is heading to San Diego via Anchorage. So epic. We talked bear caching and he was very chatty. Soon we bid him farwell and we were on our way. About 10k after our nap, I had a near disaster. My pedal fell off. It unscrewed from my crank arm, and popped out. I was puzzled. I must not have tightened it well enough. The biggest problem was that the tread in the crank had worn off, and I couldn't get the pedal back into it. Luckily, I have had this problem with reddi-rod, so I threaded the pedal in from the back side and was able to "fix" the threads, and get the pedal back in, and cranked down tight. I never had another problem with it after that.

The rest of the day was a battle with the head wind and trying to get to the 100k mark, which was probably a little bit much for the first day. At 98k we found a road off the highway, and took advantage. We lugged the bikes down a sandy bank to get down to the road, and investigated. We were instantly swarmed by mosquitos. And lots of them. Got the tent up in record time, and sprayed the deet on really thick. It was insane. I was done, I didn't eat dinner. I helped get a bear cache up in the trees, and I went to sleep. It was a big day for us, and I drifted off with the promise of another bakery in Haines Junction, and more road ahead.....

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