Despite setting my alarm to get up early, and knowing full well that we needed to get up to get everything done, I snoozed the alarm and we woke up just after 9.30am. Bugger. I had a quick tea and breakfast then set about cleaning the cabin, while Ed packed his stuff up before coming to help me. By the time it was clean, we’d packed everything up, and turned everything off, it was 12pm. The ferry left at 1.15pm. Ed still had to go to the post office to collect his stub axle, so while he did that I darted round taking some last minute photos, and then crawled to the fuel station on the last dregs of my tank. Ed soon appeared but without the stub axle; due to Columbus Day the post office was closed. What was quite amusing is that he’d had all week to collect it, and the one day that he had chosen to do so it was closed. Typical. We hastily fuelled up the bikes then made our way to the ferry terminal. I hate rushing, however due to my terrible time-keeping I’ve spent most of my teens and adult life doing it. Always late for everything, always rushing to get somewhere. I had all my layers on and was sweating like a nun at a cucumber stall, so much so that it was fogging up my visor. We rolled in to the terminal around 12.45pm, with just enough time to get our tickets and take a quick picture for my friend Graham.
‘Skin of teeth anyone?!’ exclaimed Ed, as we pulled up to the guys in their Hi-Vis vests ready for the thumbs up to board. Everyone working at the ferry terminal was lovely and friendly, with welcome smiles and equally welcome banter. We rode on to the ferry and were directed to a little spot on the side to put the bikes, and set about strapping them down. Due to the fact that you only have to sneeze on my bike for it to fall over, I put mine up against the wall and gave the straps a few extra tugs for good luck. As we were securing all our stuff, we got chatting to a German guy who worked on the ferry. He was a lovely chap, and just happened to be a biker. He was very interested in our trip and was soon reeling off some places for us to camp and eat in Whitehorse, all gratefully received. We finally headed up top and found a seat, and before we knew it we were off.
It was a gorgeous day, which meant we could actually enjoy the scenery; Haines was lovely but it sure got more than its fair share of cloud and rain! There were beautiful mountains on both sides, all green and lush, and I lost count of the amount of waterfalls that powered down the sides, full from all the rain. We both had some food then ventured outside to get some fresh air and photos.
It was lovely being out in the sun, and being so sheltered the water was perfectly calm, as was my stomach, thankfully! It wasn’t long before the ferry docked and we’d arrived at our destination, Skagway.
As we rode off the ferry and in to town, I instantly liked the place. It had a lot of character, with western style buildings of all different colours, with other buildings in between. Being Columbus Day the town was basically closed, but we had a little ride round to get a feel for the place.
I was even tempted to stay the night, I liked it that much, but having been in one place for so long, we felt like getting some miles under our belts. After long stints of travel you feel the need to stay in one place for a few days, but after a few too many days of being in the same place, you soon find yourself eager to hit the road. Motorcycle travel is pretty self regulating like that, and I like it. We fuelled up and hit the road about 3.30pm. The sun was shining, for a whole five minutes, before it inevitably turned to rain. It was at that point that I could see how the pass could get pretty treacherous. People had warned us of snowy and icy conditions two weeks ago, but there was no sign of snow now. Just rain, rain, and yep you guessed it, more rain. Ed’s poor bike was struggling because of it, and was painful to watch as it coughed and spluttered up the inclines. Poor little Ninety. But it wasn’t long before we’d made it to the top and to some welcomed flats. We were damp around the edges but surprisingly warm, and continued happily towards the Canadian border. The scenery and landscape was so rugged and raw, and despite the rain and grey skies I really liked it, it had something about it. Ed didn’t quite agree however, and likened it to Middle Earth.
We eventually made it to the Canadian border, where we were greeted by two lovely and friendly border guards. They cleverly and impressively cross-examined us, in a friends just having a chat kind of way, and after satisfying their questions they gave us the maximum six months and wished us well. What a refreshingly pleasant experience. Ed then told them that they they were much friendlier than the US border guards that he tried to ask about our visas, to which the female guard replied ‘Well you’re in Canada now, everyone’s friendly here!’
As we continued on with the light fading fast, we soon realised that we wouldn’t make Whitehorse before dark. We decided to stop in a place called Carcross, which was an odd little town and basically closed. We rode round it in search of a sign of life, and soon came across a workshop with a light on and a ‘Motorcycle Friendly’ sign outside. With nothing to lose Ed went in and casually asked if there was anywhere to stay, to which the man kindly pointed us in the direction of a campsite, just a few minutes away. With only Ed’s headlight to guide us, I was pleased we didn’t have to go far, and we happily made our way to the campsite, which of course was closed. This was actually a good thing, as closed campsite’s are generally free, and for us a barrier is never a problem as there is always a 90 sized gap for us to squeeze through. We went in and found a nice little spot amongst the trees, at which point I got off, flicked the stand down, and dropped my bike. Standard.
At least soft ground would mean a comfortable place to sleep, even if it was a pain in the arse to keep my bike upright. While Ed went and collected firewood, I scraped together what little supplies we had and rustled up some surprisingly good dinner. With flour, water, cheese, pepperoni, olive oil and seasoning, I created some rather delicious frying pan pizzas, which amazingly tasted like actual pizza. Sometimes I really do surprise myself. Just as I was wiping up the pots and pans, I stared in to the woodland with my head torch on, and saw just what you don’t want to see when you stare in to the dark; two sets of glowing eyes staring back at you.
I’m not going to lie; my heart beat faster, my hands shook, my legs wobbled, and I used Ed as a human shield. I know, I’m a terrible girlfriend. I must say I felt much better once we’d established that they weren’t bears and were probably just foxes. That didn’t mean however that I wasn’t still nervous, constantly checking over my shoulder, looking around me, waiting for the eyes to appear again, closer. We finished up and stashed our food away from the tent, before climbing in to our sleeping bags. It was then that I noticed a glowing green area in the corner of the tent, ‘what the hell is that?!’ I instantly had a flash back to an X-Files episode I’d seen in the 90’s, where there was this glowing green thing in a forest, which turned out to be insects of the paranormal variety. I then discovered on further investigation that there was a street light shining through the trees and only a little bit had got through and was hitting our green tent. What a tit. It appeared ‘the eyes’ incident had set my imagination off a bit too much and I was suddenly ten years old again. Talking of ten, it was 10pm when we went to bed, and seeing as we were going to bed so early I decided to set the alarm at 7am and see how we got on.
So how did we get on? Well we woke up at 7am and it was still dark, and raining, so we went back to sleep and didn’t wake up again until 11.30am. D’oh! Well we tried, and it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it? I must say after thirteen and a half hours sleep I didn’t feel as good as I thought I would, so I won’t be doing that again. Maybe. I got up and made coffee and breakfast, and we happily watched the squirrels running around, now one of our favourite pastimes. There were so many of them darting about and chasing each other, it was endless entertainment for us; simple things. We slowly packed our stuff up and finally hit the road around 1pm, and it wasn’t long before we came across something we didn’t expect to see; a desert. Carcross Desert to be precise, which consisted of dunes created by the tide and the wind. It was really quite fascinating.
As we continued on there was lovely scenery and mountains, and we soon came across Southern Lakes which were perfectly flat like glass with patches of emerald green. They were beautiful.
After that the road was fairly nondescript; tree lined and grey. I did however spot two rather sizeable grizzly bears on the verge, the larger of which stared me out the whole time before, during, and after passing it. Needless to say I didn’t stop for photos. Ed didn’t even see them, but they were quite well camouflaged against the sandy brown tree trunks. Eventually we rolled in to Whitehorse, with very frozen toes. Eager to feel them again, we made our way to McDonald’s for warmth, cheap tea and free Wi-Fi. We were in there for quite a while when we decided to try couchsurfing out for a place to stay, however our excitement turned to disappointment as we were declined left, right and centre; Graham Field we feel your pain! We admitted defeat and decided that we’d check out the local hostels instead, but were disgusted to find that it would be $68 for the both of us. ‘ow much?!’ as my dad would say in his chirpy cockney accent. We came out of the hostel feeling deflated, when an older lady walked past with a pushchair. I smiled and said hello, as I usually do, and it started a conversation. We soon got on to how much the hostel was and she was equally shocked, and said there was another one we could try round the corner, but she admitted it wasn’t very nice. She then said that if that one was still too expensive, we were welcome to camp in her front garden. Brilliant! So off we went to the other hostel, where we discovered it was $60 for a room or $40 for camping. ‘$40?? For camping?!’ No thanks. So we soon found ourselves knocking on her door. She was really lovely and called Ying, and it was actually her Daughter-in-law’s house who was equally as lovely and called Evie. They were great, and happily let us put up our tent in their front garden, directly opposite the hostel. I’m not going to lie, we felt particularly smug as we looked at the hostel from our tent, with our hard earned cash still firmly in our wallets.
We woke fairly early and I went in to the house to use the bathroom, and when I came out I got chatting to Ying in the garden. It turned out that she’d travelled all over the world, and that’s why she’d invited us to stay; she knows what it’s like. It’s interesting when you think about it, as if someone does something for you in life or on your travels, you want to pay it forward, so you end up doing good for someone else and then they pay it forward to someone else, and so on and so forth. Helping your fellow humans has such a positive and constant knock on effect, I just wish everyone could see that. She invited us in and made us tea, and even gave us some Chinese food for breakfast that she’d made for the grandchildren. It was great to chat to her and the two grandchildren kept us very entertained, running around and wanting stories read, Ying was even teaching the younger one Cantonese! She then said that we were welcome to stay another night if we needed to, which was very kind, so we thanked her and headed in to town.
I needed to write my blog, so we went in search of a coffee shop for free internet. The first one was slow and too noisy, so we soon found ourselves in a Tim Horton’s; a Canadian chain of coffee shops. I cracked on with my blog while Ed went on a mission to find a new tyre, his rear one was down to the canvas and he knew he was pushing his luck. He eventually returned with an off-road one, the only one the right size that he could locate within a five hundred mile radius. It wasn’t ideal but it would have to do. He then went off to try and convince Honda to let him use their workshop to fit it, so I wished him luck and continued hammering away at the keyboard. Shortly after Ed left, a guy came over who had been sitting in the booth next to us. We got chatting and he said that if we needed anywhere to stay, we were more than welcome at his place. He had loads of room, and also had a workshop and garage with plenty of tools to work on the bikes. I have to admit it sounded too good to be true! I explained that I’d have to check with Ed first, as he was off replacing his bald tyre.
I then proceeded to say that a place to work on the bikes would be brilliant, as we had a lot to do to them. I then innocently pointed out all of the illegal things that were wrong with them; no mirrors, no indicators, no headlight, you name it I no longer had it. I then discovered that his name was Cory, and that he was a police officer. Ah. ‘That tyre was definitely not bald officer, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with those bikes…’ I said with a cheeky grin. He laughed and said not to worry, just to make sure that we get it all sorted. Phew! Some time later and I was still there, slaving over my blog and struggling with ridiculously painful Wi-Fi. Ed still hadn’t returned but Cory did, noticing that my bike was still there and Ed’s wasn’t. ‘Is he still not back?’ he said, ‘Where did he go?’ I said he’d gone on a mission to Honda and should be back any time now. Cory then asked if we still needed somewhere to stay, so I took it upon myself to make the executive decision and said ‘Yes thank you, that would be brilliant’. He then really did become too good to be true; he asked if I was hungry and said that he’d like to take us out for supper. Amazing! I couldn’t believe it, was this guy for real? He was awesome. Ed then returned and I introduced him to Cory, told him we were staying at his, and then delivered the news that he would like to take us out for dinner. Ed couldn’t believe it either. Cory then guided us back to his house, but not before promising that it wasn’t a trap and he wasn’t just taking us to the police station!
He had a lovely house that he normally shared with his wife Doreen, but she was on holiday so it was just him and the dog.
He showed us to our room with a proper bed, then took us out for dinner as promised. See, not all strangers are mentalists! Dinner was delicious and we felt very spoilt; we normally have to choose the cheapest thing on the menu but Cory insisted that we have what we want, it was a real treat. And if starters and mains weren’t enough, he then asked us if we like chocolate, to which we replied, ‘yes, as long as it’s not American chocolate!’ He paid the bill then made a call and ordered a surprise dessert, which we went and picked up from Boston Pizza. But we didn’t get to indulge for a few hours, as we went back to Cory’s for a drink and his friend Tom came over for a little while. Tom then left and I got to have a go on Cory’s massage chair, which I have to say was particularly enjoyable. So much so that I had a good half an hour on it and eventually went back for more. After being suitably shaken and pummelled, it was about 10pm when we got to have our mystery dessert, which in a word was AMAZING!! I’m not normally that fussed on chocolate desserts, but this was something else. Chocolate Explosion, aka Death by Chocolate, aka worth getting fat for! Yum.
We woke up around 8.30am after a good night’s sleep, and joined Cory for tea and coffee. There was a show on the radio called Trader Time, and still eager to find a proper road tyre for 90, Ed called in a request. It was a bit of fun and we kept our fingers crossed but we never heard anything back. Next on the list of things to do was to retrieve Ed’s stub axle that he couldn’t collect from Haines post office, 250 miles away. This is where Cory really excelled himself. He knew Patty from Radioshack in Haines, so gave her a call and asked if she could pick it up, to which she kindly said yes. Ed phoned the post office to let them know that Patty would be in to collect it, and they said they needed a fax confirmation, so Cory took Ed to his friend’s house so they could send the fax. He then he made a call to one of his friends who is a truck driver and does runs between Haines and Whitehorse, and it just so happened that he was doing one in the next hour. So about six hours after the first call to Patty, Ed had the stub axle in his hand. Amazing. Even the postal service couldn’t have got it to us that quick, and it’s their job!
Cory then continued to be a legend, with no ulterior motive, other than wanting to help us. While I was busy writing my blog; he helped Ed fit the new tyre, took him to get some ply wood and helped make some guards to stop the panniers rubbing on the shocks, helped repair Ed’s pannier with wetsuit glue, fixed the hole in our tent bag, and glued the dowel in the pole that was loose. And if that wasn’t enough, he also gave us an MSR whisperlite stove, some dry bags and pocket knives, and a compass! Cory had been brilliant and appeared to be naturally awesome; when we said we wanted to do something to pay him back, he said ‘You don’t need to do anything for me, just pay it forward and help someone else’. Incredible.
And just when we thought he couldn’t get any better, he proceeded to make us dinner; home made moose burgers with all the trimmings, followed by chocolate covered blueberries; which were far too moreish. And after being suitably stuffed, we went and watched Family Guy together, all snuggled up under blankets before our eyelids beat us and we all hit the sack. What a day, what a guy.
We got up early, well it was early for us, and had tea and coffee while I discovered much to my delight that Canadian Nutella tastes just as good as English Nutella on hot toast; nom nom nom. Ed finished up with his bike and I tidied all our stuff up, before loading it all on to the bikes ready to leave. Cory was off to Vancouver to meet his wife, so we had to move to a new temporary home which had been kindly sorted out by a lovely guy on Facebook by the name of Greg. He’d stayed at a B&B out of town when he did his trip, and upon reading a post I’d written looking for somewhere to stay, he’d arranged with the owner to take us in. So all packed up, we said goodbye to Cory; we couldn’t thank him enough. And off we went on our next mini adventure, albeit only fifteen miles away.