Author Archives: Ernie

About Ernie

Retired - Real Estate (property management), Insurance (claims, litigation)

Our apprehension as international criminals

Picture of Poker Creek, most northerly border port in USA

Poker Creek, most northerly border port in USA

Having heard horror stories about possible delays at the ferry across the Yukon River and crossing the border, Addie and I decided those irritations could be solved just by being first in line. The plan worked perfectly, but when we reached the Yukon Territory-Alaska border, the road was closed for paving.

After waiting an hour-and-a-half, the woman apparently supervising the paving project, said we could proceed, but gave us very explicit instructions as to where to drive. We believed we followed her instructions exactly. Maybe she gave us too much credit, believing we would figure things out as we proceeded.

We drove forward, keeping hard to the left. The only building we saw had Canadian flags on it and was situated such that a vehicle coming from the opposite direction would be on its driver side. We assumed (yeah, I know!), that we would soon come to the U.S. Customs station. We did not! Well, what the Hell, we had crashed the border, but thought we had made a clean getaway. Wrong, again! As we were enjoying a laugh about being international criminals, here a Jeep comes up behind us with multiple flashing blue lights. We decided not to make a run for it in a 6000-pound, diesel pickup truck and immediately pulled over, hands visible on top of the steering wheel. I am convinced the officer enjoyed a sexual rush when, in his most authoritative command voice, he bellowed, “You have entered the United States of America illegally! Return to the checkpoint.”

By the time we got back to the check point, another couple, following the same instructions we had, had done the same thing and been stopped by the senior officer at the checkpoint. Much to the disappointment of the officer who had apprehended us, the senior office recognized it as innocent mistakes and sent us on our way.

A note to my motorcycling friends

Picture of Motorcycles parked in from of a Dawson City hotel

Motorcycles parked in from of a Dawson City hotel

Alaska remains a popular destination for motorcyclists. Many riders are seen everywhere on all kinds of bikes. This is purely anecdotal, but it appears to me that KTM’s have gained disproportionate ground with the adventure tourer crowd. They are prevalent everywhere.

Lowe’s Mortuary, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Picture of Lowe's Mortuary, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Lowe’s Mortuary, Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Dawson City was a boomtown during the Klondike gold rush. In fact, that area is responsible for eighty percent of the gold mined in Alaska today.

Though I could not photograph it, so that it could be read, a newspaper article displayed in the window of Lowe’s Mortuary painted a grim picture of conditions in Dawson City during gold rush days.

The attached photo gallery shows several interesting artifacts from that window display including a hearse pulled by sled dogs, a horse-drawn hearse on skis, and an old set of embalming tools.

It cannot all be sunshine and bluebirds

Picture at campground in Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

Watson Lake, Yukon Territory

To spend as much time as possible in the places most interesting to us, we included some long days and distances in our itinerary. Banff, Alberta to Dawson Creek, British Columbia and on to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory was one such stretch. Having planned to camp in Watson Lake, we arrived totally exhausted and needed to be rolling EARLY for the run to Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

Besides being too tired to face setting up camp that evening and having the time required to break camp the next morning added to an already long day, we decided to sleep in the truck. This plan was certainly not ideal, but seemed to be the lesser of the evils. In fact, “sleeping” in the truck turned out to be the least of our problems.

To make a long miserable story short, we were consumed, devoured, eaten alive by hordes of voracious mosquitoes! There was no choice, we departed Watson Lake at 3:30 AM. Once we got the truck cleared of mosquitoes and cooled off, life was good except we had had zero sleep after a hard day and another hard day had begun way too early.

Beauty stumbled upon

Picture of Muncho Lake, British Columbia

Muncho Lake, British Columbia

Natural beauty and, hopefully, some good wildlife sightings are the point of this trip for both Addie and me. We did not go particularly to see Muncho Lake in British Columbia, but it was a rewarding find. The shallow water was very clear, the deeper water had a vivid green color as a result of the presence of copper.

A surprise wildlife sighting

Picture of a Grizzly by the Alaska Highway

Grizzly by the Alaska Highway

Continuing north on the Alaska highway, we sighted so many black bears and bison we stopped counting. After passing a bear on the left shoulder of the highway, we looked at each other and simultaneously said something to the effect of, “whoa, that was no black bear!” Though the day was already growing long, we whipped around and pulled over on the opposite shoulder to view at close range a brown bear (aka grizzly bear) eating clover. It was totally unconcerned about us and continued eating while we watched for as long as we wished.

Alaska Highway Mile 0

Picture of Alaska Highway, Mile 0 sign

Alaska Highway, Mile 0

Departing Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway, this is the beginning of the so-called central route to Alaska and the most popular. The other routes, western and eastern, being less-traveled, offer fewer facilities and services along the way. On my prior Alaska trip, I chose western route up the Cassiar Highway, which took me through more remote wilderness areas. An experienced motorcyclist, who had recently experienced both the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar Highway, suggested the Alaska Highway for this trip. It traverses enough wilderness and help in an emergency is much more readily available.

If you have not been to Banff National Park, Alberta…

Spectacular cliff

View from our front door

As I told a friend in a post card (remember those?), if you have been to Banff you know how gorgeous it is, but if you have not, you owe it to yourself to see it. The natural beauty is spectacular. No pictures, especially our impotent snapshots can adequately convey the beauty and the scale of the scenery.