Friday, July 28, 2006

M - Rain, Rain, Rain

Well we haven't written much lately so I will start back in Montana and catch y'all up.

Obviously it was very hot, (you can tell this by reading Josh's last post I think he might have been going a bit gooey) and some of the time we couldn't keep riding. So, we found a reststop off the side of the I-90 and hid under a tree for about 3 hours. I recovered quickest when the sprinklers came on to water the grass and I ran around like my nephews would have been proud. Finally we decided it was bearable to head off at about 6pm and just as we were about to pull out another motorcyclist pulled in next to us. So we met Lee, who was from Pensilvania, but spending the summer working in Montana. Lee knew of a good place to camp, so off we went, up into some mountains to escape the heat. Lee was very helpful, with lots of info about Alaska as he had taken a trip there recently. He also convinced us that we should buy some Bear spray, a kind of super Mace which can save your be-hind if a bear decides it wants a piece of you. We had been thinking about this already, so it wasn't a hard sell. In the morning he insisted on buying us breakfast which was very nice - thanks again Lee!

So we carried on, heading towards Glacier National Park, and finally got off the dreaded I-90. On entering Montana we were dissapointed to discover that there are in fact speed limits there. They are not very limiting however, 75m/h in the day on the interstate, and now we were on a minor highway, which in California would be 55, it was 70 daytime, and 65 nightime. Trucks have their own limits which are a bit lower but they mostly ignore them. We almost never travel at the speed limit, tootaling along about 65 most of the time. So along we went, and on a really nasty bend with no shoulder there was a motorcyclist stopped at the side trying to do something around the rear of his bike. We had to go back to help, but turning around was a bit tricky with a truck blasting past at 70+ and not moving over much at all.

So we met Mike, whose chain had fallen off and was now jammed around the rear axle. We helped him shift to a safer spot and got the bike sorted out. He was also from the East coast, and was working in Montana doing forest thinning. He invited us to come and pitch our tent at his forest camp, where we met his work mates CJ and Erin. Mike had cold beer! And then he insisted on buying us dinner so we had two meals bought for us in one day.

The next day we made it to Glacier, and rode the "Going to the Sun Road" which Josh's dad had told us a lot about. It is very spectacular and I can well understand why you didn't want to ride your bycicle over there Donn! Following Lee's reccomendation we went over to Many Glacier, where the campsite was full!!! But they squeezed us in and we got to pitch our tent on a driveway. And here we met Brian, who had a guitar and a harmonica both of which he could play very well.

Josh and I were feeling like a bit of a break, so the following day we hiked up to Grimmel Glacier, and Brian joined us with his guitar. There are lots of bears in the area, so we kept a good lookout the whole way (we haven't got any bear spray yet) and Brian played songs for the other hikers who asked nicely. At the top the glacier was a bit of a let down, (it was tiny and mostly melted) but there was a herd of Big Horn Sheep. We stayed up there for a couple of hours and it was great to see Josh playing guitar again.

Then it was time to leave the states, and we crossed into Canada. We decided to go up to Calgary to check out job prospects, and I went into a few outdoor shops to ask about work. I now have a job offer that I am mulling over! Calgary is booming, so there should be no shortage of work, but finding a place to live might be harder.

Traffic is also bad as we discovered when we tried to leave. We drove up into the mountains, through Banff and Jasper national parks. A National Park Pass for Canada is about twice as expensive as in the USA but we decided to stump up the cash. Leaving Alberta, we stopped in for a couple of days in Prince George, staying with Jeff Noaks who came and helped with the building of the Mud House in Taheke. We took this oppotunity to change the oil in the bikes again. Oh and we bought some Bear Spray, 1% Capsisum with a 5 - 8m range.

Then ever more westward, finally turning north onto the Cassiar Highway. This was an important moment, as we have been saying for over two years that we were going to come and ride this road, and finally there we were.

We took a side trip out to Stewart, and crossed the Canada/US border to stand in Hyder Alaska. Then that evening at the campsite we met Harlan who was from Washington State, and he told us that there is a place in Hyder where you can view bears in the wild as they come to fish the spawning Salmon. So we caught a ride with him, and went back into Hyder. We saw two Black Bears, and two Grizzlies, one of which had three cubs. Mostly they wern't very good fishermen, but the mother bear had her technique sorted and fed her babies. There were many Bald Eagles hanging around hoping to get leftovers.

I'm out of time now, but we have made it up to Whitehorse, with only two more bear encounters, and helped only one other person at the side of the road but I will have to tell you all about that next time!


Ruth said...

Remember that purple polar fleece you brought for Charles? It has finally become something (two things actually) and I have used the pattern we brought. Will put pictures on blog later

M + J said...

Uuugh no you will need to remind me! Looking forward to the photos...