Dawson Creek to Northern Rockies Lodge
It was cold. It was coooooooooooooooooold. You get the idea. Shrinkage City. It was, in fact, A Dark and Stormy Night (Except It Was Daytime).
Up, breakfasted, and gassed, we were good to go at about…wait for it…10am. Breakfast was interesting because we met up with two other groups going our same route. We had an Air Force Lt. Colonel driving his stuff to a new deployment to Elmendorf. With his au pair. His hot, Aussie, hot, blond, hot, 20-year-old au pair. Did I mention she was hot? We called them Top Gun and Top Hun. And a single lady that had just been let go (along with her whole team, I guess) from PetSmart management. We call her “Kim” and we’re approx. 80% sure that’s her name. So she did what you do and tossed her dog in her jeep for a three-month meander from San Diego to Alaska. We overheard the waitress talking about a hot spring near our hotel for the night, raving about it. Apparently, the waitress once saw a man go into the spring in a wheelchair and afterward he was able to crawl! As a group, we decided to meet there the next morning on the way to Whitehorse.
And off we rode. It was overcast and a bit chilly when we stopped at the “Mile 0” Signpost and gift shoppe for the Alcan Highway. That was the best part of the day. We continued on for a bit and took a slight detour to an original section of the highway that ran over a wood-decked, curved bridge. It was cool, but slippery when wet to be sure.
Two or Three hours later we were a bit chillier. A lot wetter, since a steady rain had started almost immediately. And about out of gas. So, we stumbled upon the Buckinghorse River Lodge. I got some gas from their turbo-charged pump (spraying myself in the process), then joined Paul in the “restaurant.” I think there was a hot plate and a Ronco Pocket Fisherman serving as the kitchen, but they put together a half-way decent grilled cheese and tomato soup combo.
This is Paul’s first real rain riding. He was mostly prepared but hadn’t really tested his gear. I got him set up with Rain-X, and he was able to hide behind his windshield for the most part, but his new “waterproof” boots were anything but. He perked up a bit with the warm food and we hit the road again. I had intentionally stacked two long days (this one and the next) back to back in order to maximize our time up in the North. So, this was a very long day.
To make matters worse, the ride wasn’t interesting at all today. So, it was the boring landscape from the day before, plus a lot more rain, and muuuuuch colder. What had been low fifties quickly dropped to low forties, even dipping into the thirties at times. I had an electric vest, an insulating layer, and the best waterproof gear made. Between my vest and my heated handgrips, I really didn’t notice the cold at all. Paul wasn’t quite as well equipped, but at least he was dry but for his feet. The ride was really wearing on both of us.
Really, the only excitement in the first 7 hours on the road came when a guy decided to use our lane to pass the semi in front of him…while we were in it. We both slipped over onto the shoulder, and the truck cruised by us in our lane, mid-semi. Many bad words were spoken.
Paul claims he saw a bear, but I didn’t see it so it likely didn’t exist. We saw a bison or two, but Garcon! Garcon! We were promised a moose. Where is the moose? Just like the caribou, sign after sign advertised the wonder of the Local Moose. But no moose were to be found. Paul has become obsessed with finding a moose. I’m concerned, but it seems harmless at the moment.
In the last hour the rain finally cleared up and the road dried. Just in time for us to go over a (frigid) pass and down through some beautiful scenery in these low Rockies. It stayed cold but mostly dry for the last part of our ride, which was finally pretty nice.
By the time we got to our landing for the night, we were both about done. Paul talked to the clerk about staying an extra day, just in case he couldn’t face another day like today. We went to the bar and then into the dining room for dinner. The hotel is the Northern Rockies Lodge on Muncho Lake. It was built by a Swiss(?) immigrant float plane operator. He built a business flying float planes in the arctic, then built the NRL as a dream project. He nailed it. It’s all timber construction (log cabin style), and really impressive. The bar is functional and the food is great.
We met up with Kim for a drink. (We confirmed her name as Kim at this point.) Everybody survived the day and the hot spring date was on.
Not long after dinner, we were off to bed.
Starting Odometer: 35283
Daily Total: 433
Running Total: 3,163