Saturday, July 3, 2010

Alaska Ride, Day 20

Most of us are too young to remember Route 66 before the Interstate system killed it off. But having traveled across the Alaska Highway through Alaska, Yukon, and now British Columbia, I get the sense of what Route 66 was like.

The Alaska Highway is a two-lane road through vast expanses of wilderness, where wildlife are plentiful, the scenery is amazing, and most towns you drive through are so small you may not realize you drove through a town.

Without the Alaska Highway these towns would have never found prosperity, or perhaps would have never existed altogether. As it is, the people who live in these towns all service the travelers in some shape or form. Either they're road crews working on the pavement, or they work in the restaurants, hotels, and gas stations.

If you travel by car, it seems there's a sizeable town every 300-400 miles, sizeable enough to offer a choice of motels, restaurants, and services. Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, Tok, all seem to be spaced out this far. And then in between, are smaller towns, with less than a 100 residents, but just big enough to offer one gas station and cafe.

Fort Nelson Hotel and Cafe, Fort Nelson, BC

For the motorcycle rider, perhaps 300-400 miles is just fine. But there are also plenty of campgrounds along the way. In Yukon, the government provides campgrounds off the side of the road, simply for road-weary travelers. In British Columbia, they provide them as part of provincial parks, featuring some kind of beautiful mountain range, lake, or river.

But the constant construction along the Alaska Highway, the stretches of gravel road, the bumpy frost heaves, can deter some folks from heading out this way.

Today, the Alaska Highway is not what it was decades ago. It's already been rerouted from its original route. The old bridges that used to cross over rivers have been abandoned in favor of easier crossings miles away. I don't know for sure, but it's possible some towns have already died due to this rerouting.

I wonder if someday the governments of British Columbia, Yukon, and Alaska will attempt an improved highway, perhaps with four lanes, rerouting it through lands that make for easier maintenance. Maybe a new superhighway that will encourage more people to come out, and could spell the demise of these towns that depend on the Alaska Highway.

You can even find sex along the Alaska Highway

As for today, I waited for Mike and Paul to reach Fort Nelson. Last night they opted to cut the ride short due to the massive rainfall, and set up camp somewhere. I opted to continue on to Fort Nelson and check into a room. As it turned out, they arrive here at 11:30am, and around 12:00pm we took off for Dawson Creek, BC.

My ride was only 280 miles into Dawson Creek, though Mike and Paul probably did close to 480 miles. Actually, I'm not sure what happened to Paul. Somewhere along the way today, he dropped out. Mike and I are not sure exactly where. We waited up for him for about 30 minutes, but he never showed up. We figured he stopped at an indian casino that was along the way for a game of poker.

Dawson Creek is not really much better of a town than Fort Nelson, just much larger. It does have a downtown area, but it's dead, really dead. We checked into a really cheap motel (if you consider $90.00 a night really cheap), took in a dinner and some beer.

Dawson Creek, BC is known as "Mile Zero" along the Alaska Highway.

Mike called it a night at that point, but I wanted to go to another bar. I went to a place called "Sola's Bar & Grill", which is attached to a Super 8 Motel. I learned earlier that this Super 8 Motel charges $130.00 for its cheapest room. And this Super 8 Motel is no more nicer than any other Super 8 Motel in the United States.

I asked the bartender why rooms in Canada are so freaking expensive. All she could tell me is that $130.00 a night for a Super 8 Motel is par for the course here in Canada. I told her that Super 8 Motels in the USA are typically $60 to $80 a night. That absolutely blew her mind. As it turns out, everything is cheaper in the USA.

Also, the exchange rates for US Dollars and Canadian Dollars are pretty much even right now.

Basically, it's just that Canada charges way much more for their rooms just because they can. Probably because Americans like me are so gullible.

Or maybe it's a way to make prostitution impractical.

It rained off and on today on the Alaska Highway

Alaska Highway east of Fort Nelson, BC is a lot of straight road

Lots of cool graffiti on the restroom walls at Sikanni Chief gas station

You definitely don't want to hit a sasquatch, it's best to slow down.

There's still a lot of wooden bridges around these days,
But how many curved wooden bridges have you seen?

Almost three weeks of riding in Alaska and Canada makes a motorcycle filthy

In Canada, a Miller Genuine Draft is listed under "Imported Beers"

In Dawson City I lost my warm weather riding gloves,
I back-tracked my route and found one of them on a gutter.
I found the other one about a mile away.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome photos, Steve! I especially liked the one of the graffiti on the bathroom wall ... whoever wrote that could be considered something of an old-school motorcycle blogger!


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)