I wasn’t sure I’d make the full nearly 500 mile journey from Whistler to Prince George. Not sure of the road, the scenery and photo opportunities that would unfold in front of me, all I could do is get on the road. And leaving Whistler on the last section of the Sea to Sky Highway I was taken through scenery even more dramatic than between Horseshoe Bay and Whistler.
Flying around lakes and through smooth twisty turns, up and over slight changes in elevation the rhythm of my ride was smooth, clean and mesmerizing. As I continued to climb I looked over a valley and literally at my eye level were clouds casting shadows on the gentle scene below. It was at this time I really understood why the road was so aptly named. But before catching my next road North to Prince George, I’m treated to a quick view of the World’s Largest Chain Saw — right here in the heart of British Columbia’s logging country.
From 70 mile house I call the Apple Store while paging through a AAA lodging guide. I choose a Days Inn figuring it’d be safe shipping a computer to a more well known chain.
Pushing on I’ve decided to go for Prince George. Today will be my longest day riding yet, but I’m committed to finding a motel where I can safely receive a package from Apple.
Feeling a bit drowsy after more than 7 hours of riding I pull into a Tim Horton’s coffee shop for a quick shot of caffeine and to bundle up as the lower temperatures send chills through my bones.
His jeans were so damn tight fitting and his belt buckle proudly commanding attention, but for a guy in his 60’s he didn’t have an ounce of fat showing. He shuffled toward me in his pointed cowboy boots.
“You look like you’re dressed for a journey,” he says scanning my riding suit and Camelback valve dangling in front of my chest.
“Where you headed?”
Alaska and Prudhoe Bay, I tell him.
“You better have good foul weather gear,” he asserts while adjusting the brow of his hat upward revealing steely blue eyes. “You’re going to have snow, you know. Probably mixed with a little rain. The weather up there is changing. Watch it.”
He flips the brow downward and walks out to the parking lot with me.
I pass lakes, rivers, streams and extremely wooded landscapes and through small towns and settlements. I pull off in Hixon for fuel at a tiny general store. Older children on bicycles wave to me as I idle into the gravelly parking lot. Like many of the small fueling stop settlements along the way, these gas pumps are pages out of history. Black cylinders with white digits fly by at high speeds. There’s no glass protecting the gauges on the pumps, like a kid I tempt myself and want to rest my finger on the dial as the numbers fly and gas is pumped into my steed. But I refrain.
I pay for my fuel and power down a bottle of water. Straddling the bike a 7 year old boy rounds the corner and says, “Wait! My little brother is coming.” I pull the helmet over my head and watch as a native boy about 3 or 4 years old rounds the corner frantically peddling a mountain bike with training wheels. He flashes me a huge grin and waves.
“You guys have fun now. And be careful!” I extend my gloved hand flipping my thumb upward and then wave as I pull out of the parking lot leaving a small trail of dust until I hit the tarmac.
The beauty of driving the Northwest is the extended hours of daylight. While I know later in August the late night daylight will rapidly diminish, I’m taking advantage of it while I can. I roll into Prince George around 8pm making my way to the Days Inn.
Tired, weather beaten and anxious to wait out till the next morning for my computer I enquire as to room availability at the Days Inn in downtown Prince George. The skinny twenty-something clerk flips through some pages and peers through his thick glasses at me and says, “Yea, I got a room. Since I’m feeling nice tonight, it’s eighty-four bucks.” I swallow slowly, hesitate and suggest that maybe a triple-A rate might work more in my favor. He says that it’s normally $89 and he’s doing me a favor. Before commiting to this rate and knowing that I could find a motel much cheaper up on the access road, I call Apple and learn that the store cannot ship my computer internationally. I’d need to arrange for something in Alaska. And since I was at least three days from Fairbanks, I knew I’d fall behind in my journals and I’d have to think fast about how to find a location in Fairbanks to receive my shipment.
I blew off the “nice guy” and headed up the road to a motel that would ideally offer me a better rate. Riding through town a couple pull up next to me at a light, wave and we exchange a pair of thumbs up and on green move on.
I come out of the motel office and the couple is parked next to my motorcycle.
“We had to follow you and talk to you,” the woman confesses, “what are you doing?”
I arm to the kindness of strangers and the curiosity inspired by my loaded motorcycle and WorldRider decals. Traveling alone as I am I find that more people approach me than other smaller or larger groups traveling in packs. People offer to let me stay with them, buy me coffee or simply want to pepper me with questions stemming from their wonder and curiosity. When I share my dream and story their eyes open wide, mouths gasp and usually they’ll retort with their own dream or simply share their lament that they’d like to do what I’m doing but can’t for whatever reason. I urge these new friends to travel with me — literally or virtually through this web site.
This couple urges me to choose a hotel on a different part of town that would be safer for my motorcycle. Minutes later before the sky opens up with a twilight shower I’m checking in at the Camelot Motel thanks to the recommendation of my new acquaintances.