Onward to Watson Lake

My phone rings. It’s George at Trail’s End BMW in Fairbanks returning my call. I called George at Trail’s End BMW this morning and inquired if I could use his shop as a shipping address for my computer coming from Apple.
“Now read it back to me,” George insisted after giving me his address. “No that’s two one two,” interrupting me as I was following orders. “Now, when’s it going to be here? Wednesday?”
“No, George, I think it’ll get there Monday.” I assured him.
“Well, okay. I’ll hold it here until you arrive.”
Feeling comfortable about my next three days riding the Alaskan Highway, or Alcan as it’s also known, I woke up the next morning with plans to make it to Watson Lake by evening.

To Watson Lake

With an early start I was more than anxious to get out of that dump of a motel which quite possibly is a haven for drug dealing Alaskan Highway workers, travelers or transients. I just don’t know.
THe ride out of Fort St. John going North slowly climbs and transcends from boreal forest to more mountainous. It starts getting nippy and I try to bear the cold with the gear I have on because every second counts. It’s funny how I’ll put myself through some unbearable pain just because I’m too lazy to stop or simply I don’t want to lose time since now I’ve set myself an appointment to meet George at Trail’s End BMW to claim my computer before the close of business on Monday.
I spot a couple motorcycles pulled off at a gas station/general store and decide that I gotta get my winter gloves and consider another layer.
“I rode it about five years ago,” Gene admitted, as he was hard-wiring an electric vest connection to his friends Suzuki. Tall and stocky with salt and pepper hair Gene rode with his friend Dave from Minnesota. I pulled my electric vest out of my dry bag.
Gene was riding a BMW RT1100 and Dave on a Suzuki TDM 850. We exchanged topics of motorcycle, gear, accessories and the road ahead when I looked down at Dave’s rear tire.
“You might want to pick up a new tire when you get to Anchorage,” I said concerned by the lack of tread. You’re not going to make it back to Minnesota on that.
Dave looked at this tire and contemplated the thought. “We’ll see,” he said.
These guys were on a tight schedule and they said they hoped to make it to Whitehorse or the border by that evening. I ran the calculation through my head and figured that would be anywhere from 750 to 1,100 miles or more.
“You guys are on a much more aggressive schedule than me. I take my time, take pictures and take in the experience.” I explain my riding philosophy.
Some riders calculate the success of their ride by the number of miles covered. And while there are some areas where it’s best to let the miles tick by so that you can get to the part of the ride you wish to slow down and enjoy. But we’re sitting at the most scenic part of the wilderness area that surrounds the Alaskan Highway. I hoped to get to Watson Lake which at nearly 600 miles was already a bit aggressive for my riding.
Already new friends I bid them farewell figuring I’d see them on the road North somewhere.

With my electric vest on and connected I figured best to fill the tank with gas and do a quick restroom pit stop before riding North. With my business done I threw my leg over the motorcycle and did a quick check. That’s when I realized my wallet was missing. You’re probably thinking this trip is about Allan’s absent mindedness. But fearing full panic I carefully checked all my pockets, the ground beneath the bike and on top of the luggage. Nothing.
Perhaps I left it at the counter inside. I hobbled my way back into the store. No luck. Then I cruised into the bathroom. I looked by the sink, on the floor. Nothing.
Then I looked into the toilet. Floating proud and clean was my wallet. Good god. I had paid for my gas and used the bathroom while wearing my helmet. In my panicked ‘look for my wallet’ state I removed the helmet and that’s when I discovered my wallet as a floaty in the john.
I do have a set place for the wallet. But sometimes it hangs a out a bit so I have to be careful to make sure the velcro closures on my jacket secure the wallet in place. This time I was a bit lax.
With all my receipts, cash, credit cards and idea soaking wet, I quickly pulled the important papers out and set them in a mash bag to dry as I rode north.
Yeah. Like that did any good. Just a few miles up and the rain started coming down. And down.
Fort St. John, BC to Watson Lake, YT
Moving Average: 56.4 mph
maximum Speed: 81.6 mph
Moving Time: 9:48:15
Miles Traveled: 552.9

4 replies
  1. CK
    CK says:

    Stop that absent minded professor stuff, you’re making me nervous! Actually the good news is that you qualify for field trials using the latest RFID products. First, the Pentagon has approved Dog ID Chip technology for use in (literally) troops in Iraq. You’re a warrior, right?
    Next, your disposable key problem: I figure with McGiver’s help it wouldn’t be much trouble to change out your BMW ignition key/switch for a slick Lexus unit that never needs to leave your pocket: Just hold your mouth right and she’ll fire up from forty paces.
    So, next time you leave your keys dangling in your cases, or have that unmentionable floaty problem, NO WORRIES, just Flush and Gas It!
    Carry on,

  2. Allan Karl
    Allan Karl says:

    CK – You’re right. I think I’m in need of McGiver and his bag of tricks. But let’s get the RFID hooked up and active and we’ll be connected – worldwide.
    I might be the absent minded biker here. who knows?

  3. Glenn Heitsmith
    Glenn Heitsmith says:

    My wife loses everything, especially wallets and keys. We’ve been married 18 years and if I could have a nickle for each time either item’s been lost–or at least reimbursement for my time righing the wrong–I’d be a rich man.
    Thanks be to God for the kindness of human beings. There was the time in Norwalk, CT when she left her wallat atop the car. Donna was shopping and being without pockets–women are always wearing things without pockets–she was carrying her wallet and purchases to the car. So she sets the former atop the car to open the door. And there it sat as she drove off. Until entering I-95 where it fell off at the entrance ramp. Some guy from Bridgeport found it and we drove over to his place to pick it up. He refused a $20 so we mailed him a restaurant gift certificate.
    Then there was the time a year ago when she apparently left it in the shopping cart after buying groceries. Gotta a call a week later from the Ludlow, VT police dept. saying someone had turned it in. Said they found it along the side of the road in Chester some 15 miles away. No way we were there. Money missing but everything else seemed intact.
    To reduce the agravation factor, I keep all credit card company contact data in one location. Say the word and I can have most cards cancelled within an hour or so. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a first name basis with the folks at MasterCard. Yes, I know of the services that will do this for us, but we’re kind of do-it-yourselfers up here in Vermont.
    Microchips sound fine. Velcro is good. A big chain from your beltloop works best for truckers and some bikers. My advice: conosistency. Just do the same thing each time you switch off the ignition and get off your bike. Same goes for making purchases. Say to yourself, “Now I’m taking my wallet out and I want to make sure I put it back when I’m done. Last time I had to fish it out of the toilet. I don’t want to have that happen again.” Works for me–most of the time.
    By the way, enjoy your ride.

  4. Airhawk1
    Airhawk1 says:

    I can relate to the lost wallet story. I discovered that mine was amiss as the toll booth operator asked for his $5.00 for my exit off of the NY Turnpike on my return trip from Americade. I wasn’t as lucky as Alan, though. My wallet flew off of my FJR saddlebag 70 miles back at the last gas stop that I had made that night.
    I was fortunate to have been able to negotiate my way off of the Turnpike and into a hotel for the night without 1 penny, credit card, or any form of identification whatsoever. I guess that being a sales person by trade does have redeeming value after all.


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