Saturday 24th June 2017
I wanted to see something of Washington and a few people told me of the Grand Coulee dam. Who am I to ignore the locals. I rode through some beautiful farm land and after a few hours I arrived to see the largest concrete structure in the US, or so I’m told. Either way it is a seriously impressive sight and I am pleased that I had a focal point to my journey.
I hadn’t booked anywhere but I knew of a motel about 50 miles East of the dam so I rode straight there. Typical, when I arrived it was closed for the season. I had no phone signal so I chose the nearest McDonalds to borrow their Wifi. And It was only another hour away in a town called Chewelah. I rode through the small main street only to find that McDonalds had closed down 4 years ago. Just a minute away from where it used to stand was a motel so not all was lost. As I booked a room I was told that there was live music just down the road. Perfect.
My day had been a day of miscalculations and the night would continue on the same vain as when I arrived at the venue to listen to this singer he was packing his stuff away. I now had tasted beer so therefore I wanted more so a short walk to the Oasis bar.
There I met a lovely couple called Matt and Victoria. They introduced me to three player pool and then showed me another bar called the Sportsman Bar and Grill. A great place with a cool atmosphere made even better by the people I met. Heather and Rich owned a hotel called the Chewelah Creek Inn and invited me to stay at a cool rate. Robbie who offered to take me to a hash farm but never backed up the offer. Chrissy the brilliant bar maid who not only was attractive but kept a firm hold over the rowdy guests and the guys who indulged my passion for pool. The kind of place that welcomes a stranger therefore it goes on my top bar list.
Sunday 25th June
I woke feeling a little delicate but I wasn’t going far. I took Heather and Rich up on their offer and moved to their hotel. Rich gave me room 5 at a great rate and I settled in quickly. The best thing about their place is that it is right on the creek and the sound of the water sooths even my head that day. I met them and a few of their friends and we sat out by the water just relaxing. A nice place and a good memory.
Monday 26th June
A big milestone today as I planned to crossed in to Canada. It’s things like this that make me nervous as I remember the problems I had getting my visa and the warnings on the EPA letter regarding my bike. I was wary that I was taking a bike out of the country where I had it insured and didn’t know if my break down cover would be valid in Canada. After all it’s a big place, bigger than America with about a tenth of the population. And I now found out that my mobile phone doesn’t work there. I will truly be alone on these roads. It made me think that I had better take it easy.
The border couldn’t have been easier. I made a small error and road up to the booth instead of stopping just before and the guard took great pleasure in pointing this out but after a quick look and stamp of my passport I was ushered through. For anyone doing a similar crossing in to Canada I would go through Laurier on the 395, I was the only one doing so and it is so simple.
I rode to Penticton and booked a room, I want to visit my wife Beanie’s cousins in Delta so Penticton was a perfect choice.
Just down the road from my motel was Bar One. I took a walk and found some great company in the form of Steve x2 Stuart x2 John x2 and some others. Yes they all seemed to have the same name. But they were top guys and I really noticed the difference in culture. Their humour was sarcastic like us Brits and I felt at home.
I messaged Teresa (my wife’s cousin) to let her know that I was on my way but the timing wasn’t perfect so I was see them on my way back through to Washington.
Tuesday 27th June
This change of plan actually worked out for me as I was already on highway 97 which is a fantastic road which runs north to Prince George where I rode to Williams lake. I had been worried about this part of Canada as I had read that fuel is hard to come across as is accommodation. There was absolutely no need to be concerned, yes it’s not highly populated but with a small amount of planning I found no issues at all.
Wednesday 28th June
From the 97 I switched to the trans Canada Highway at Prince George and rode to Houston, about 330 miles. Although I met no one I will still have a good memory as this route is deeply beautiful. I had to stop regularly just to take pictures. But my main aim was to get to Stewart which lies on the Canadian side of the Alaskan border.
Thursday 29th June
Leaving the Trans Canada Highway I took the 37 north and really noticed a change in the environment. Far less signs of human life and far more signs of animal life. I also noticed that I wasn’t alone in my quest for Alaska on a motorcycle. Where as I normally see ten bikes per day I was seeing that per hour. At least if anything went wrong I would have someone to help me out.
I had booked a room at the Stewart Mountain Lodge which sounded like a place I would be comfortable. It was Ok but not what I expected, more of a converted office than a lodge but it will do for tonight. The border and my last state to visit was 2 miles away but tonight I was going to relax and concentrate on that goal in the morning. The local bar served nice food and had a free pool table, this will do nicely. But I couldn’t take advantage as I had used up all my energy and had to leave at the silly hour of 7.30pm. On my way out the barmaid told me that they run the hotel and I could get a room with a kitchen for a little more than I paid for the office. Tomorrow I will be switching.
Friday 30th June
7 months and 4 days after starting my journey I rode in to Alaska. Hyder is basically a ghost town and it doesn’t even have any border control but I took my picture of the last state sign and rode further in to Hyder. There is a viewing area for black bears and I stopped there took some pictures and started chatting with Cliff and Toni. They were a couple from Portsmouth who were doing their own tour and just great to chat to. I noticed that conversations amongst fellow travellers fascinate me and I like to listen to all the stories and adventures.
We made plans to meet in the evening but I walked in to the bar and a wave of tiredness came over me so I couldn’t stay. I think it is more that I have achieved my goal and mentally I am allowing myself to relax that made me feel like this. But over all I have an amazing feeling of achievement, and I actually feel impressed with myself as the trip has been far harder than I could imagine. This sense of achievement is just what I was after and I truly think the experience has made me a better person, time will tell and Beanie may not agree but we’ll see.
Saturday 1st onwards
Canada day came and went with fireworks. I saw my first wild Black Bears, absolutely loved that experience.
I have made arrangements to see Katherine Skipper who is doing a similar trip to me in Oregon which is on route to LA where I am meeting Bill (Rasher) Allen and riding Route 66. So I now have a purpose again and I don’t feel tired, it’s so odd how your mental state effects your physical.
I met up with Stephen, Teresa (beanie’s cousins) and their daughter Michelle but not before the amazing Honda packed up. It has done so well but the stator which is an issue with this bike went bang and I had not electricity. I was carrying a spare one but it’s not a job you want to be doing by the side of the Trans Canada Highway. After being ignored by hundreds of bikers (so much for the biking brotherhood) I was finally helped by three groups. One in a Toyota, one in a Ford pickup and one in a Dodge Ram. I have to admit that since then any biker who waves gets ignored. It made me realise that most people who ride a bike haven’t experienced a break down as they assume that someone else will stop. Shame on you Canadian bikers. Lucky for me I am resourceful but not everyone is that prepared.
I rode back in to Washington which was harder than leaving it. No complications but big queues and my old Honda didn’t like it, the stop start drained the battery and I had to get a jump start from the border guards.
Seattle didn’t make me fell welcome with a journey full of accidents adding 3 hours on to my journey. But I’m staying at a great hotel called the Quinault Sweet Grass Hotel on the coast with a great seafood restaurant next to my hotel so those memories soon get forgotten. I was also welcomed by Duchess, good staff make a place and she is the ideal front desk person.
I have just over two weeks before I meet Rasher and I am looking forward to spending time with my mate. Not as much as I am looking forward to being back in the UK but I will enjoy being part of his trip all the same. I hope to visit some of the friends I made a long the way.