Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 Alaska Done - Part 5 of 10

Part 5 of 10

Mothers with Cubs
Jade City
Big Mama Bisons

Mothers with Cubs

HWY 37N was the long stretch that would eventually terminate at “The Junction” the point where it meets the infamous Alaska Hwy just inside the Yukon Territory. We had almost two long days of heavy riding before we would get to that point. Shortly after heading north we were in for a rather nice treat at a place called Bell II. It had gas . It served hot coffee. There were fresh pastries if you were in the mood and the Lodge was charming. I gathered from the posters on the wall that visitors could go on scenic helicopter rides and scissoring was a real favourite during the winter time. We covered a lot of distance that day and the thing that I noticed most were the high number of black bears with cubs eating and playing in the long grass that lined the edges of the highway. I saw more black bears than any other species of animal in the area. I counted about twenty black bears throughout the entire trip. Each bear had two, three or more cubs but seldom just one. I assumed that the ones without cubs were males. They were a good distance away and they showed no interest in us at all.

Jade City

After riding for most of the morning through hills and valleys and sections of heavy road construction we came across a settlement right out of the nineteenth century. Big iron signs were posted all over the place saying “Jade City”. It was a popular place with tourists and of course we stopped to explore Jade City and to buy various souvenirs and things. Coffee was available. It certainly gave you a flavour of how things were during the old days and I couldn't help but appreciate the comforts and conveniences we enjoy now in the 21st Century. We were not alone. The main street, if you can call it a street, was lined with countless motorcycles that were parked all along each side of it. Frankly, I had never in my life seen anything quite like it. We knew that we would be seeing a gas station about 35 Kms after leaving Jade City in a place called Good Hope. What we had no way of knowing was the handwritten piece of paper that had been taped to the face of the pumps saying “Out of Gas”.

Big Mama Bison

The number of road constructions and crushed stone road surfaces were not helping our gas situation but, nonetheless, we carried on for miles in the direction of the Junction. It was not unusual after travelling rough roads for our load to shift a bit causing our bikes to get a bit off-balance now and then. This was one of those times. I pulled over to the side of the road; shut my engine off; got off the bike and I began to unload and re-secure the bags I was carrying. I was concentrating on getting it right when I felt as if someone was watching me close-by. My mental radar was working perfectly. Not twenty feet away from me stood this huge 1200 lbs Bison watching me intently. He had the ugliest face I'd ever seen in my life and I was sure he hadn't used any deodorant that morning. He reeked. I've seen too many bull-fight movies. I expected him to start scraping the ground with his front foot ready to charge but he didn't move. He just stood there. He looked far too old and ugly to charge me so I figured I should make the first move to get out of there. My Harley was between me and the Bison so I had to walk slowly towards him to get to my bike. Our eyes never shifted from each other. I very slowly mounted my Harley and started her up quietly. I let her idle so he could get used to the noise. I whispered quietly to myself “Now is not the time to run out of gas!” I slipped into first gear and very rode very slowly to get around the beast. His head turned towards me and he surprised me by walking besides me at my speed and in my direction. That's when I took the photo. Sensing no danger I quickened my pace and so did he. He broke out into a trot. I stayed with him for a little while but he decided that this was no fun anymore so he broke away from the road and went his own way.

Word Count 783

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