Part 1 of 10
The Box Man
I'd tried this trip once before in 2010 leaving from Ottawa and it took seven straight days of heavy rain; a collapsed Trans-Canada Highway; uprooted railway lines; a sea of mud and the Declaration of a State of Emergency from the Premier of Saskatchewan together with my poor, limp, water-soaked and battered body to give it up as a bad idea. This time, however, I was determined to make it to the Yukon Territory and the State of Alaska come hell or high water - or die trying. Well, I'm still here and I'm proud to tell you that I made it successfully notwithstanding being somewhat weather-beaten and just a little bum-sore. The awesome scenery; the animal life; the mountains and the sparse, barren beauty of the far north made it well worth the effort. I would like to acknowledge and thank my two English cousins Shirley Sidlow of Atherton and Lesley Gee of Lowton for volunteering to track and monitor my progress from across the pond and for generous doses of encouragement and support.
A loud low-frequency whine suddenly erupted from my Harley Davidson motorcycle after making a routine stop at an intersection in Squamish, BC. I hit the kill-switch instantly; put her on her side-stand and looked for oil-leaks underneath. There was nothing. Everything was clean and dry. I even checked my dip-stick and my oil indicator warning light. Everything looked fine. I wasn't very good mechanically with bikes and I had no idea what might be wrong but what I did know was that I was supposed to take this bike to Alaska and the Yukon in less than six weeks time. I was divided in my thinking. How could she let me down like this just before my long trip – and – thank God she broke down now and not in some remote location in No-Man's-Land at night-time. The Harley dealer told me that my Cam Chain Adjusters had failed which in street language means that she'd suffered the human equivalent of a major heart attack. The next few days were difficult. Do I fix her? Do I cancel my trip? Do I take my Yamaha Virago instead? What on earth do I do now? I decided to get her fixed-up again. Within a week, and after a very expensive repair bill she was ready to ride again. However, would she be able to take the punishment of a Yukon / Alaska trip of over 5000Kms? ....I guess I was going to find out.
The Box Man
I couldn't get a straight answer from anyone about whether or not there were going to be enough gas stations to see us through the whole trip without running out of fuel. More importantly, it was simply not possible to get advance information about whether or not a gas station was going to be out of fuel which was often the case in the far north. Since I was not prepared to get out of gas and stranded in grizzly bear land I took the precaution of buying two safety approved one-gallon gas containers to carry with me. The next challenge was how to carry them on the Harley. I built a wooden box exactly the right size to hold a large zippered cooler bag and the two gas containers. Perry Dyck, an artist and friend of mine designed and painted the box with an attractive design saying – Long Way Up! Everyone was so impressed that he earned the honorary title – The Box Man.
Word Count 604