On the Road Again Head'n to the Great White North
Summer has finally arrived in Phoenix, and according to the local weather forecast the high in Phoenix on Tuesday will reach 119 degrees. With temperatures like that, it’s time to get out of town and head to the north country where temperatures are cooler and there might actually be a little rain. The question is where should I go and how should I get there.
After thinking about it a while it seemed like the Arctic Circle would be a nice change of pace. It would be cooler and I would certainly encounter rain and perhaps a few snow flurries along the way. And obviously, the only respectable way for me to get there would be on my motorcycle. That settles it, I’m riding to the Arctic Circle on my trusty BMW.
Actually, I started thinking about a ride to the Arctic Circle while I was still in South America. I enjoyed Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica so much that it just seemed like the logical thing to do. While I was on the expedition to Antarctica, I met a member of the crew that was from Canada. I told him that I was thinking of a ride to the Arctic Circle, and he recommended I head to the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories. He said that it is beautiful, doesn’t get a lot of tourists, and the native peoples who live in the region are friendly and welcoming. It sounded like my kind of place.
Once I got back to the states I started researching routes and settled on the Dempster Highway from Dawson to Eagle Plains to Inuvik. If I can, I might even try to make it all the way to the Beaufort Sea. Check out the Dempster Highway on a map of the Yukon Territory. It’s way up there.
To get ready for another adventurous ride, the first order of business was to get my BMW serviced. I took it to the local dealership where it got a new set of tires, an oil/filter change, a couple minor repairs performed and a complete end to end inspection.
I also needed to fix my side cases (panniers). The case on the left was still held on by the wires the good Samaritans in Argentina used when I crashed on a remote section of the highway in the southern part of the country. Although the wire might have held for my ride to Canada and back, I decided to replace the case with a new one I ordered from the BMW dealership. The case on the right side of the bike also needed repairs. While traveling in Columbia a bus failed to stop at an intersection and ran into the side of my bike. Although I didn’t notice it at the time, the impact with the bus tweaked the case so that the lid would not fully close to form a water tight seal. I took the pannier to Spooky Fast Motorcycles in Scottsdale where they bent it back into shape. Spooky Fast is a great machine shop that can fabricate or fix anything.
Other than a few miscellaneous items I had to purchase, I already had about everything I needed for a trip to the Arctic Circle. All that remained was to pick a departure date, pack my things and hit the road. June 15th was the date I selected to roll out of Phoenix.
Dale, Diana, and Tom (old friends from my AGCS/Lucent days) helped me settle on a route through Banff and Jasper National Parks. From there they suggested I head northwest to Dawson in the Yukon Territory. From Dawson I will catch the Dempster Highway to Inuvik. If all goes as planned, I should be in Dawson around the 15th of July.
By the way, Dale told me to look up an old girlfriend of his in Dawson by the name of Diamond Tooth Gertie. She runs a casino in Dawson by the same name. According to Dale she's not much of a looker but has a “hell of a smile”. Just kidding ........... However, there really is a bar and casino in Dawson named Diamond Tooth Gerties. I do plan to stop there and have a beer or two.
After Inuvik, I will be heading to Alaska where I will hook up with Omar who will be riding to Prudhoe Bay. We have not settled on a location yet, but committed to meet somewhere in Alaska or Canada.
Amy, a friend of a friend, gave me some awesome suggestions for places to go and things to do while in Alaska. In total, I plan to spend about a month in Alaska traveling and seeing the sites.
For my route back to the lower 48, I will generally follow the coastline. Again, Dale, Diana, and Tom gave me some great suggestions for things to do and see along the coastline of Canada.
Once I cross the border back into the states, I will continue to follow the US coastline all the way down to the Los Angeles where I will cut over to Arizona. If I play my cards right, I will miss all of the hot summer weather but be back in time for a great Arizona fall.
My first stop was Chaco Canyon where I camped for the night and then the next day I headed to Durango. I will take route 550 to Silverton and Ouray, and will camp somewhere north of there. Other than wanting to make it to Dawson by the middle of July, I really don't have a schedule or any specific route I plan to take.