2010 Alaska Sunk – Part 14 of 15
It was the Weather!
It was the Weather!
I would have no doubt made it to Alaska had it not been for the catastrophic weather conditions in the mid-west and the temporary collapse of the Top of the World Highway between Toc, AK and Dawson City, YK. Even though I had some initial reservations about whether or not I could travel the vast distances from gas station to gas station I had planned to buy a spare container of gas and fasten it to my bike after leaving the American Ferry at Whittier.
I posted the best photos I had at the time to illustrate the severity of the catastrophic weather I had encountered in the vicinity of Maple Creek, Sask. Following my trip, I received some photographs showing uprooted railway lines caused by the storm. The photos were taken during the same time that I was caught there. They illustrate the damage done very effectively.
My trip almost didn't happen at all because the CAA told me that there were no Canadian or American Ferries from Prince Rupert BC to Anchorage Alaska. I found an American Ferry the next day leaving Prince Rupert BC to Whittier Alaska on July 5, 2010 – exactly the time I wanted to be there. Whittier is a half-hour ride from Anchorage. They also dumped a box of travel books on me that I didn't request and really didn't want. The few that were applicable to my trip I took with me. They turned into bricks of stone after the first rain storm. I was not able to make a claim on my trip cancellation insurance because I was not able to satisfy their requirement for a Doctor's note substantiating my condition. Where on earth would I find a doctor in a 300 kms radius of no-man's land during a state of emergency declared by the Premier of Saskatchewan? CAA insisted that I'd simply had a changed of mind. They did, however, treat me to a PDF file of 30 or more pages of fine print explaining the nuances of their policy. I was in no mood to read it.
- Don't be cheap – spend more money!
- Make a list of the things you think you need to take with you. Then, tear the list in half and throw one-half away. Remember, your passport; driver's license, ownership and insurance papers are the basic essentials. Put your credit card at the top of the list!
- Always use your credit card to buy gas (you almost have to these days). Your monthly credit card statement reminds you of the places you've visited, and when. I developed the habit of always double-checking to make absolutely sure my credit card was in my wallet before leaving each gas station. You should do the same! I adopted this habit after noticing that my credit card was missing after getting gas in Montana. I did the twenty-mile trip back to the gas station only to find my credit card in my pants pocket instead of my wallet, where it should have been.
- Get well-dressed. Buy an expensive rainsuit that will keep you reasonably dry in inclement weather and leak-proof saddlebags if you don't already have them. Buy a heated vest and gloves. Buy leather chaps to cut-out the wind. Buy good quality leather boots (Reference: Item 1)
- Don't plan on camping every night. Stay at good hotels or motels especially when the weather looks bad. Some hotels offer a “free” buffet breakfast with your room. This is a good deal because they don't mind at all if you take some extra food with you that might serve as your lunch and/or supper. That has been my experience. (Reference Item 1)
- Resist the inherent temptation to ...“Get There!” Stop to smell the roses along the way! Don't turn your trip into an endurance marathon. Plan no more than 600 kms per day and take a half-day or more to explore a new town or village whenever if you feel like it.
- Take lots of pictures unless you still carry a Kodak Brownie - God Forbid. Digital cameras are great because you can simply take as many pictures as you like and just erase the ones you don't like. You are going to lose twenty minutes or more by stopping to take a picture of something. Live with it! - you may never get the chance to see it again.
- Don't be shy! Walk up to other travellers and start talking to them. You never know what nice people you meet along the way. If I didn't do that – I wouldn't have a blog to share with you. Opening a conversation with other motorcyclists is especially easy. All you need to say is ...“Nice Bike!”
I'd promised my grandkids a picture of me with a bear. Although I had seen two great big live grizzly bears on my trip, one in Alberta and one in BC, they wouldn't accept my invitation to stay still while I set my camera on time-delay so I could stand beside them. It might have been because I'd mumbled it softly under my breath. However, when one promises to do something for his grandkids – dangerous or not - not doing it is not an option.
See Papa with a black bear in the photo. What a way to finish this blog – me with a buddy and a smile... I'd call this a happy ending! ….Wouldn't you?