Part 7 of 10
As I recall it was an awful long stretch from The Air Force Lodge at Watson Lake to Whitehorse YT. It was about 550 kms of long, winding Alaska Highway. Unlike riding down south, there were no Tim Horton's or McDonald's restaurants every 60 kms or so. Also, Gas stations were few and far between. I got the impression that some guy on a motorcycle must have ridden along the Alaska HWY and every time he was about to run out of gas he must have driven a wooden stake into the ground saying “Put a Gas Station here!” ... and they did. I was amazed that wherever we went we would come across a gas station just before we needed to switch to reserve. Somewhere along the route we came across a rather nice restaurant that served hot food and drinks complete with gas pumps outside. During our meal I was delighted to see some folks here from England on a motorcycling trip. They were very pleasant and a couple asked me when did I come over to Canada from England. I said, “Oh! It was 1960. I remember because it was just after my 17th birthday.” We wished each other well and they went over to eat at a vacant table. About fifteen minutes later the man I'd been speaking to came over with a puzzled look on his face. He said, “My wife just told me that you said you had come to Canada in 1960 when you were 17.” “Yes, that's right” I replied. “Well, that would put you at 71 years old” he said. I responded in the affirmative. “Good on you Sir. Roaring around The Yukon on a motorcycle at 71 years of age. I hope I can do the same if and when I get to be your age!” He shook my hand and wished me well. He made me feel like a million dollars. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Its not so much the riding that makes these long trips so enjoyable – its the people you meet along the way. I felt so good I decided to pet the moose for a while just before I left.
I've been to Whitehorse twice before and it always tickles me to see a large paddle-wheeler boat parked in a location such as this. It seems so “out of character” for this mostly landlocked Capital City of the Yukon Territory. With mountains to the west and south; prairie country to the east and the frozen Arctic to the north its just not what one would expect. Apart from that, I was surprised by how much the city had grown since I was last here some thirty years ago. Friends of mine living in Whitehorse once told me that this city was located in a valley and that it was not nearly so cold as one might think in the middle of winter. Its sheltered somewhat. They went on to tell me that its a well- guarded secret that those who live here didn't want uncontrolled growth and the problems resulting from urban sprawl. After looking around Whitehorse on my Harley for a while it seemed to me that someone had let the cat out of the bag - long ago.
Even though all of us had been dead-keen on riding through to Dawson City after Whitehorse the weatherman was painting a black picture over the oncoming few days. In that light it was necessary for us to weigh the dangers of travelling 530 Kms in heavy rain and possible mud slides against the thrills of a front row seat watching the dancing Can Can Girls at Diamond Tooth Gertie's Saloon while sloshing down a few beers. This was a very difficult decision. There was an awful lot hanging on what we would finally decide. For example, if we were to forego Dawson we would also forego crossing into Alaska via the Top of the World Highway. We would have to return to Whitehorse and adopt Plan B which was to go from Whitehorse to Skagway AK, a little further south. Plan B won the day. The photo of the Can Can girls to your right shows you what we had to give up. We never actually saw them. However, we heard that other riders who had tried to get to Dawson at around the same time as we had wanted to go – had had a really rough time. They had run into road wash-outs; mud and more mud and even more mud; making for a most unpleasant experience. Consequently, we had made the right choice. What would you have done?
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