[lang_all]A North American Bicycle Journey
I pedalled my way from Key West, Florida to Tok, Alaska. What I wrote in my journal is what I was thinking and feeling at the time, it’s just a reflection of who I am, my own personal opinions, my own perceptions, and written exactly as I saw the world around me at that particular moment.
Why I did it? That is what most people ask, and you know, it is not a simple answer. One of my thoughts was to really do something with my life and truly live. Experience the world around me before I shuffle off the mortal coil.
The story continues from
Pedalling to Nirvana – part 5 (British Columbia, Alberta, British Columbia, CANADA)
Yukon, CANADA – Day 113 to day 142 (July-August 1999)
Alaska Highway to Whitehorse
at Whitehorse I went north on Klondike Highway
Rode through Dawson City and took the ferry across the Yukon river
Then entered Alaska via the “Top of The World Highway”
DAY 113 – July 5, 1999
We had mosquitoes from hell this morning while trying to pack up. Patrick went and filtered today’s water supply from the river. Leaving at 9:30am, there was a hill to climb that put my left knee in a lot of pain. Crap, I need a day of rest for my knee to get better. The day has just begun and already I feel myself slipping into a bad mood. After riding about 5 miles, I find Patrick waiting for me outside the Fireside Truck Stop. My bike computer had quit working and after investigating all possibilities, I realize it must be the battery.
* 12:30pm – Patrick is probably a couple hours ahead of me as I attempt to pedal mostly with my right leg. The road is quiet and not much traffic. I saw another black bear a few miles back. The day is overcast and I’m not in the mood to be riding. Sitting beside the road, I thought of her. It seems like a lifetime away before I’ll see her again. So hard to get so close to someone so quickly and then leave. Many things can change by the time my trip is through. How will she be? Would we still want to hang out together? How would she feel towards me? Oh, how I hate the road today! I just think and think…too much! Sometimes I really hate thinking! Later in the afternoon.
Later in the afternoon, I met another cyclist going in the opposite direction. He told me there was 50cm of snow in Banff National Park. Apparently, part of the road was closed but I’m sure it won’t be closed long.
Continuing on, I soon encountered another black bear on the left side of the road. A pick-up truck pulls up with 2 native females in it, “are you all right?” asked the passenger. They were trying to block the bear with their truck. After honking, revving the engine, and almost driving over it, the bear would not be scared away. I told them I’d be ok and continued riding. They rode ahead of me about a half mile and pulled off the road. They got out of the truck coughing, as I approached. One of them told me she worked in the bush and that the bears are very aggressive this year. “57 bears were counted in the Ft. Nelson dump. They’re even eating dogs.” She said while smoking a joint.
They offered some to me but I declined. Geeez! In the states people were always trying to “save” me, now in Canada they’re all trying to get me stoned! They were very friendly and just told me to be careful of the bears. Soon I encounter 13 miles of mud and gravel. That was hell! Especially when those RV’s go flying by kicking up rocks. I have noticed that most Canadians go slow and way around you, unlike those tourists from the US in a hurry to get to Alaska.
Stopping at Contact Creek Lodge, I decided to take another one of my many breaks. At this point I hated the headwinds, I hated the hills, I hated the cloudy sky, I hated the RV’s, I hated the dust being kicked up in my face, I hated gravel being sprayed towards me as the RV’s raced past, I hated the 13 miles of road construction, and I just wanted to stop for good. I bought a Coke and a candy bar, then sat outside trying to think of a reason to continue. As I sat there an old Pick-up truck pulled up. One guy and 2 girls get out. The guy walks by and says “hello”, I said “hello” back and we began to talk. He had wild red hair and looked just a bit rough as if he had been camping for several days. A pleasant young man exhibiting a laid back, wanna hang out for awhile appearance. The 4 of us hung out and talked for a while. It was refreshing to have the conversation and it lifted my spirits a bit. It ends up that all three of them are going to Dawson City. Last year driving through, I remember thinking that it looked like a unique place to hang out, especially at the camping area across the river. “Tent City is what we call it. Some people go there to hang out for awhile and never return,” I was told. They plan on staying for two or three months, so I said I’d meet them up there. “Great! We’ll look for you and we can hang out.”
I pedalled away looking forward to Dawson City. They finished paying for the gas and drove by me waving out the window with smiles. The rest of the road was just the same as ever…up and down, up and down, up and down….Non-stop hills! And the scenery is unchanging as I continue following the Liard River. Of course this direction is going up river so there are more ups than downs.
I rode into the Yukon. I arrived at the campground services at the edge of town and Patrick is sitting at a picnic table, already in a tent site. He complained about the road too. “All day, up/down, up/down, those ____ hills.” How’s that saying go, “Misery loves company?” Well, both of us have been having a lot of bad days. And we don’t ride together so we don’t influence each other while riding. It’s just that at the end of each day we find out how the others day was. So here we are, another day of mostly misery. But I had at least one good moment….meeting those three headed to “tent city”.
I took some quarters and headed to the pay shower. As I entered, I was greeted by a 350lb, naked man, drying himself off. The worst part is that he stood there trying to have a conversation with me. I quickly ducked into the shower stall to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. He continued to talk to me while I was in the shower, “it took me three quarters and that still wasn’t enough time”. I said that I’d start with two. After a few moments, he continues the conversation….”How you makin out in there?”, to which I replied, “Well, 2 quarters are more than enough for me.” “Well, you have a lot less surface area”, he said with a laugh. Geez! I’ve never encountered someone that insists on having a conversation like this. It’s bad enough when you’re standing at a urinal and the stranger next to you starts having a conversation. I’m not much for “urinal chat” either. Ok, I’m tired and going to sleep……
Today – 87.0 miles
Total – 5324 miles
DAY 114 – July 6, 1999
No riding today, woo hoo! Time to give my knee a rest and relax for a day. I went to the “Sign Post Forest” and found the sign that Courtney and I hung last year. Using a permanent marker, I wrote on my B.O.B. trailer flag and wedged it between our sign and the post (refer to picture).
The library had free internet access so I was able to check my email and view the guest-book entries at my web site. There were some inspiring emails and guest-book entries. I’m sorry but I don’t have time to reply to everyone, but I really appreciate them. Thanks. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t share my personal journal entries, but I see now that it is what people enjoy most. This is me as I try to show the real “me”. I’m not perfect and I make lots of mistakes that hopefully I can learn from. Just because I’m on a long bike adventure it doesn’t make me better than anyone else. The only difference is that I am doing it. There are so many people trapped in routines and work that don’t seek adventure…to really live life. Many of the geriatrics I’ve worked with are basically, just waiting to die. And many have never left their hometown. We will all die, but how many will seek out to live life to its fullest? Experience raw nature, and allow their own raw emotions to flow? Even though I’ve tried hard to remain positive and keep a smile on my face, it is difficult at times. And at times, I think impossible. I guess we all need to experience some “not so good” days to help us really appreciate the good days.
Well I think I’m rambling in my journal now as I write late at night. One more thing from “The Tao of Pooh” :
“What the world thinks of me is none of my business.”
I thought that was cool when I read it :-) I say, be true to yourself and do what truly makes you happy. Regardless of what others may think. In the end, we all part this earth and I just want to make sure that I’m satisfied with my human experience, just in case I leave it tomorrow.
DAY 115 – July 7, 1999
Man, I had a lot of crazy dreams last night. There were 4 of them that I can remember. In one of them I reached Prudhoe Bay and found myself in a castle. I was racing up the stairs to get to the highest point. There was someone else with me and the two of us ran up a spiral stairway made of stone. Weird stuff, eh?!
We left the campground at 11:15am and stopped at Watson Lake Foods. I bought some more powerbars and a 2lb loaf of Dresdener Landbrot Bread. It will probably be 4 days before reaching Whitehorse and fat chance in finding a grocery store before then. These little Podunk places usually have a café’ and no groceries, just Cokes and candy bars.
1:15pm – 16.35 miles, 11.5mph avg. Stopped at Jct. 37 services. I bought a Lipton raspberry tea and a candy bar. The lady behind the counter said, “you’re biking in this heat?” Apparently, they don’t get very many 80 degree days like today.
3:00pm – 32.38 miles, 10.5mph avg. Patrick has been very upset with the RV’s that have come very close to hitting him. We stopped to take a break and decided to write on the hillside with stones like the many we have passed. It seems like most of the hillsides along the road have names and stuff written on them with stones. Patrick decided that we should write, “RV’s Suck” and I agree :-)
5:05pm – Patrick was only about a half mile ahead of me when a female shouted to me from a jeep, “Hey, you want a beer?” Without hesitation I said, “Sure”. The jeep pulled over and I met Angela, Slade, and a dog named Lady. Angela handed me a bottle of cold Kokanee beer. When the cold liquid hit my mouth it was very refreshing as I quickly downed it. The temperature is 81 degrees and VERY dry. I’m not even sweating because my sweat evaporates immediately in the dry air. The cold beer tasted very good, and as thirsty as I was, I wanted another…but thought it may not be wise with my limited water supply in this dry air. Angela and Slade were out looking for places to go 4 wheeling in the jeep today when they encountered me. They told me that the music festival will be at Dawson City on July 23rd, 24th, and 25th. There will be somewhere around 30,000 people hangin’ out there in a town with a population of 2,000. Angela encouraged me to hang out for it since it is 3 days of partying and fun, and the bands are supposed to be really good. The band “Bare Naked Ladies” were there 2 years ago. It was a great break from riding and meeting both of them. I rode away with a bit more motivation and a little buzz :-)
About 5 miles down the road I see a silhouette of Patrick standing in the road. He was taking a break but unfortunately, had no one to offer him a cold beer. Unfortunate for me is that I was getting more thirsty now and getting low on water. I really didn’t feel like making my way down to the river to filter some. So, I decided to just keep pacing myself and ride very easy today. Patrick had said it was like being in a desert with this dry air.
8:15pm – We arrive at Rancheria, which consists of a motel, café’, gas station, and a campground with a greedy owner that Patrick strongly dislikes. When Patrick paid the guy, he just pocketed the money and didn’t give a receipt, Patrick didn’t like that. Then he charged $2.00 extra for a shower. When Patrick went to take a shower it had only cold water. Boy, he was really mad now so he went back to the owner to get his money back. We could have free-camped near the river and bathed in water the same temperature.
Today – 78.48 miles
Total – 5402 miles
DAY 116 – July 8, 1999
Patrick left around 10:30am and I left at 11:15am. Just when I thought no one could possibly move any slower than me, I catch up to 2 cyclists moving very slow. Randy and Anna have been cycling now for 10 months and are on their way back to Fairbanks. I slowed my pace and rode with them to “Walkers Continental Divide”. Patrick was there talking to 3 other cyclists. One of them was cycling from Prudhoe Bay. I think his name was Jamie. Anyway, he was pulling a very overloaded B.O.B. trailer with a shotgun sticking out of it, and front panniers. Hey now, that’ll shoot out some RV tires huh? :-) Actually, he got it for the road from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks because of the Polar bears and Grizzly bears. Well, I’ll just take my chances with the pepper spray. After about an hour and a half of talking, Patrick and I started riding west again
4:00pm – 23.81 miles, 7.5mph avg. Took a break at Swift River Lodge. Headwinds all day so I just pedaled easy and listened to my walkman to help me enjoy the day.
9:15pm – 67.52 miles, 85.mph avg. Arrived at Morely River Lodge. Patrick was about 25 minutes ahead of me.
As soon as I parked my bike, I was swarmed by hundreds of mosquitoes, this was the worst yet. I saturated myself with Deet, which by the way, will eat holes in bike shorts. Darn the bad luck! We built a fire, had dinner, and drank coffee with Kahlua. Most of the evenings discussion was about the stories we heard from the guy that gave us a ride to Ft. Nelson on day 109. We kept laughing and repeating those stories. We decided to send him a postcard to tell him a good bear story. I made up a ridiculous one about the black bear that chased me and hopped on my trailer as I was pedaling 30mph downhill. The bear was after the food in my trailer…and the story continues with a lot of funny, made up, stuff :-) Anyway, we had a good evening with lots of laughter.
Today – 67.52 miles
Total – 5470 miles
Avg. Speed – 8.5mph
DAY 117 – July 9, 1999
I stopped in the café this morning and read about all the fires near Dawson City in the newspaper. They said if it gets worse, they may consider evacuating the town of 2100 people. Well I hope not! I’m looking forward to the music festival.
11:30am – Hit the road
1:20pm – 24.48 miles, 13.5mph avg. I left riding very strong for the first 15 miles, then my left knee started hurting. I sat in the Manley Café’ in Teslin and waited for Patrick to catch up. He had a bit of a hangover and was riding slower today. When he arrived, I sat outside, icing my knee, for about 20 minutes.
I took it very easy riding the next 34 miles to Johnson’s Crossing. Patrick was there waiting for me and talking to that older cyclist from Montana. The three of us decided to find someplace down the road and camp together. I left riding strong and feeling better than ever. I felt so alive as I pedaled as hard as I could, speeding off the shoulder into the grass, and then back onto the pavement again. Ah, how I miss mountain biking. I was tempted to ride down in the ditch but these tires were no match for that.
When I reached a sign that said Squanqa’ Lake Campground, I waited for Patrick and the other guy to see if they wanted to stay there. The consensus was yes. Riding in, we saw the 3 Germans setting up camp. We met them in Watson Lake the day we took off from riding. They were arrogant then and only one of them briefly talked to Patrick outside the store. My “hello” was un-returned and all I got was a glare. The older cyclist with us, from Montana, met them 2 days ago and they refused to speak to him. After we set up our tents, Patrick went to get some water and found that the Germans had re-packed their stuff and bolted. Geez, what’s up with that?
Anyway, we had dinner and talked with the other guy. Of course, I totally forgot his name. One of these days I’ll be able to start remembering names :-) Well, he said that this has been the most desolate road he’s ever biked on. His route began in Glacier Park and will end in Whitehorse. After this ride, he said he could probably cycle anywhere in the world, even Siberia.
Today – 70.80 miles
Total – 5541 miles
Avg. Speed – 12.0mph
DAY 118 – July 10, 1999
The guy from Montana packed up and split very early, I didn’t even hear him leave. Patrick left at 8:30am and I left at 10:00am. It was an exceptional riding day, with a good tailwind all the way to Whitehorse. I had no knee pain since I let the tailwind and downhills do most of the work.
Arriving at Robert Service Campground, I found Patrick’s tent and set mine up in the same site. He wasn’t there and I assumed he rode his bike the half mile into town. After setting up my tent, I dropped my trailer and rode around to see what was there. I saw the Germans biking through town with still fully loaded bikes. Giving them a big smile and a wave I said “hello”, and got another glare from the big German guy with the beard. Guess they don’t wanna talk, huh? I knew I’d get that reaction, so I did it just to upset them. After an hour of riding around town and checking out some stores, it started to rain a little. When I arrived back at the campsite, I found Patrick there. There was a third person sharing our site too. Although they charge by the tent not the site. At the end of the night, someone walks around and counts all the tents too. Apparently, they had a problem with 20+ people living on one site, so they had to begin charging by the tent instead of by the site. That is something we found to be very common in Canada, people will live in a campground and work in town. It wasn’t long before Tommo arrived. He’s the guy sharing the site with us. He has been on a journey himself and has been doing a lot of hiking and camping in the wild. We built a fire, fixed something to eat, and talked the rest of the evening.
Today – 67.80 miles
Total – 5608 miles
Avg. Speed – 13.5mph
DAY 119 – July 11, 1999
I was up and out of my tent by 7:00am. Man, that is rare for me! Going in the small store in the campground, I bought a Pepsi for a little morning caffeine boost. While making my purchase, the girl behind the counter was talking about a girl from Nova Scotia that got mauled by a black bear at “tent city”. OK, I’ve heard enough bear stories. I think using common sense is an important factor, and keeping food away from the tent.
There’s a lot to do today. Grocery shopping, get film developed, update journal, buy more fuel for the stove, buy film, and buy a phone card. I bought 2 twenty dollar phone cards about…hmmm, 10 days ago? And they do not work. They were cheap looking and I should’ve known better. Since there will be a lot of photos to sort through and a lot of writing to do, I decided to treat myself to a motel room. This will be the last time until Fairbanks, and it will be nice to totally isolate myself for a while.
Looking for a cheap motel, I stopped in the Esso station. Keiran recommended the Family Hotel as the cheapest, decent motel. He also gave me the name of someone to contact once I get to Dawson City. This lady could give me some work helping to set up for the music festival, and I would get free tickets. The tickets are $60.00 each. From what I’ve heard, it sounds like this will be like the Lollapalooza of the Yukon.
I found the Family Hotel and paid $65.00 Canadian ($45.13 US) for a room. Walking around town, I noticed that a couple of places I wanted to go were closed, like the Alpine Bakery. The camping supply stores did not have the fuel my stove uses. When I went to get the film developed, I arrived too late to get it back today. So I’ll still have to wait until tomorrow to pick it up. While dropping off my film, I was overwhelmed by praises for my accomplishment in riding my bike this far. I assured her that it was really no big deal and that anyone could do it. She had gone on some bike rides to Haines and talked about how sore she was. When I was asked why I was doing this, I said that my other option would be to work. Then I told her about the screwed up healthcare system. She was shocked to find out that I am a PT and told me she was trying to get into the program in Canada. It is easier to get into a Med. School than a PT school. For whatever reason, I seemed to have inspired her and she said, “I’m not going to stop thinking about this all day.” Sometimes I don’t realize how I might affect other people with my brief encounters, but she made it apparent. I was glad that I could be some sort of positive influence.
I rode my bike back to the campground in the evening and we cooked salmon on the fire pit. Mmmmm….good dinner. The potatoes got a bit burned, and some were like charcoal, but we managed to get some good ones out of the 10 we wrapped in foil and put in the coals. It was a fun evening. A great evening! I really enjoyed hanging out and laughing like that :-)
Tommo is from England and has some similar interest as me. He is interested in reading the same books too. We traded email addresses and planned to keep in touch.
DAY 120 – July 12, 1999
Well, a day hangin’ out in Whitehorse. There seems to be a lot of cyclists, rollerbladers, and skateboarders out. The town has a lot of touristy shops and a variety of stores, so I was able to find everything I needed. Two of the largest stores, with the biggest selections, are Easy Foods and Canadian Tire. Easy Foods is a large grocery store that has a good selection of bulk foods. What they didn’t have in bulk food I was able to find at 3 Beans Health Foods. Canadian Tire is a large department store with a heck of a lot more than just tires. They have a decent camping section and were the only place in town that had butane canisters to fit my MSR Rapid-fire stove. There are three other outdoor specialty stores and a local bike shop. Oh yeah, and the Alpine Bakery for fresh bread. :-)
While investigating some of the small shops, I found Top Of The World Hemp. Inside, I was told that the Top Of The World highway was closed due to heavy smoke from the forest fires and they are still considering evacuating Dawson City.
Most of the afternoon was spent sorting through photos and getting caught up on my journal entries. Then I was back on the streets and I found Aroma Borealis, a cool little herb, spice, and tea shop. Inside I met Raven, a chartered herbalist. “Yeah, my parents were hippies” she said, referring to her unique name. Raven is like many of the Canadians that I’ve been meeting, easy going and pleasant to talk to. The shop has a large selection of herbs, teas, and spices, that are prepared and packaged on the premises.
Looking for a new tape for my walkman, I went to De JA Vu Music. Unfortunately they didn’t have “Surrender”, the latest one by the Chemical Brothers. It has the song “Let Forever Be”, which I think is a kewl song. The girl in the store directed me to the only other music places in town, one in the mall at the Easy Foods grocery store, and the other inside Haven’s Center on Main Street.
As I was walking in front of Easy Foods, I saw Patrick out front putting away his purchase of powdered skim milk and getting ready to leave. Cool, I had a feeling I’d bump into him before he left for Skagway. The Germans were there too. They were packed and ready to leave town as well. We shook hands and said “Bye” to each other. There were some good times hanging out together, and I’m going to miss some of those evenings at the end of a day of riding. Many times we shared stories of our similar pasts, wild times, relationships, partying, and rock concerts. Having a buddy to ride with has been great but now I feel like I want to be solo again.
I was finally able to find the Chemical Brothers tape at Eric’s Music, in Hougen’s Centre and then went to the Holodeck to check my email. The charge was $4.00 for 1 hour or $2.00 for 30 minutes. Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters charges $3.00 for 30 minutes or $5.00 an hour. Anyway, I enjoyed reading my email and my guestbook entries. I’m always surprised to see the effect I had on people, either in person or through my journal entries on the net. But it does work both ways. Many of the people I meet provide me with inspiration and I can usually learn something from them. I just wonder what the bloody Germans are teaching me. :-)
Last year when I saw the tattoo my friend Chris got, I started debating the issue, going back and forth on my opinions of them. During this journey, I’ve considered getting a small one as a symbol of this life changing event.
One thing I’ve previously mentioned is all of the things left out of this journal. For some reason I forgot to add some things from my days brief notations to this more complete version as I expand on my shorthand notes. There were many conversations with Dave, Andy, and Joe, that never made it. And I guess it was my slight hangover which affected my writing of that last night in Jasper.
Canadian Lingo To Know
* Right on – Said in agreement to something cool.
* Eh– said at the end of every sentence
* Rocks – If something is really cool, it rocks.
* Clicks – 1 click = 1 kilometer
* No worries – no problem, it’s ok
* Looney – 1 dollar coin
* Twoney – 2 dollar coin
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see Tommo today. He was a good man, and on a vision quest of his own. The books he’s been reading are just like the books I’ve been reading. Tommo’s philosophy about life and people mirrored some of my own. Maybe someday our paths will cross again to share our stories.
DAY 121 – July 13, 1999
As I was leaving the hotel, I got into a long conversation outside. The guy is from Kalispell, MT and writes a travel guide for the Northwest U.S. and Canada. The conversation was lasting a little while longer than I wanted but the guy was nice and he gave me one of the travel guides. It was something I didn’t necessarily want or need but, but accepted it the gift and appreciated his kindness.
Riding around town, I wanted to take a few more photos. I stopped back in at The Top Of The World Hemp to buy some more stickers for my bike. Since Canada has been a great experience for me, I decided to get the sticker that says: Canada Kicks Ass. While standing at the counter talking to Jort, Hope and Scott approached and talked to us. When they found out about my journey, they invited me to hang out with them at their beach house. 10 miles south of the Canadian border, in Washington State. I’m not sure if time or money will permit me to continue riding south along the coast, but I do have invites in Vancouver and now in Washington State. Man, I really do not want to go back to that other world!!!
While hangin out drinking coffee at a sidewalk table outside Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters, I met Manfred. We talked for a while and he invited me to join him and Jacqui for the evening. Jacqui was feeling sick and was back at the campground while Manfred hung out around town. I told him that I was planning on leaving today but was now unsure. We made tentative plans to meet at the bar that had live blues tonight.
Going back to Aroma Borealis, I decided to give Raven the latest book I read. Every time I read a new book, I find someone with similar reading interests to give it to. She invited me to tent in her back yard instead of paying the campground fees. Cool!! I rode my bike just outside of town, which is the direction I need to go, so I made a little progress leaving today. :-)
When I arrived, I was introduced to her roommate, Martha. They invited me to join them for dinner too, really cool! Man, the Canadians are good people! We were soon joined by several other people. Georgina is an Occupational Therapist that lives next door. She brought her friend Bonnie who is a Speech Language Pathologist. Wow, a complete rehab team!! I had already heard about Karen and her brush with the law before she arrived. She was drinking a little and while driving home in the middle of the night, she saw a cop. Realizing her headlights weren’t on, she tried to turn them on. Since it wasn’t her car, she ended up turning on wipers and flasher and really drew their attention to her. Since it’s light 24 hours a day, it’s easy to forget the lights in the middle of the night. Anyway, she got pulled over and given a breathalyzer test. Fortunately she only got a warning, but now she has a new nickname – Kriminal Karen. The others that showed up were Sean and Neal. The dinner was excellent, with halibut, salad, asparagus, corn, bread, and wine. Mmmm!
Wow, what an exceptional evening! Everyone was really cool and laid back with the exception of Sean. He was not the laid back type. Sean is pretty intense and speaks in a loud voice with bold, contrasting, intonations. He is a kayaker and does guided trips. I thought he had a cool idea to create a guided tour down the river which will emulate the “Green Tortoise” bus trips. What a great group of people, and a unique mix of personalities.
Today – 8.27 miles
Total – 5616 miles
Avg. Speed – 8.5mph
DAY 122 – July 14, 1999
After packing my tent and getting ready to leave, I knocked on the front door to say good-bye once again on my journey. Raven answered the door and I thanked her for all she had done. It is times like this that really enhance my journey, meeting people that invite me in to share a part of their lives as I briefly pass through.
Now I’m again alone without a riding partner to meet up with at the end of the day. The dynamics are totally changed when alone. Even riding alone during the day, you at least have someone at the end of the day to share stories with, and someone who has just done the same thing that day. At times it is good to be alone, that is when opportunities seem to open up to meet new people. But it can be VERY lonely at times. That is my biggest challenge, learning to be alone. The mental challenge is far tougher then the physical challenge. If I’m tired I can stop riding, but I cannot stop the loneliness while here in the middle of the vast wilderness of the Yukon.
* 11am – 11.35 miles
* Noticing a lady along the side of the road picking berries, I stopped to say hello. Katie was out picking wild strawberries this morning. She is a local that lives 5 miles down the road and knows all the best places for berry picking.
I hung out for about an hour indulging in a nice little treat of strawberries. Nature is smiling upon me today with flowers, butterflies, strawberries, and a very clear, warm, sunny, day.
After riding about 20 minutes, Manfred and Jacqui pull off the road to talk to me. They will be in Dawson City for awhile and I told them to check the pubs and coffee houses in a few days to find me. At the beginning of my journey, I was able to quit my caffeine habit. But somewhere along the way I began drinking more and more cokes and coffee. Now I indulge in several a day and am back to my old caffeine habit. So naturally I spend a lot of time in coffee houses, my old favorite is Vanilla-Hazelnut Latte’, now it’s Mocha with Almond flavor added.
* 8pm – stop to break and eat.
* I ate granola with water and powdered skim milk. It’s 80 degrees and VERY dry. 3 of my 5 water bottles are now empty. The landscape now is filled with fire destroyed forests.
Continuing my ride, I end up finding some signs of civilization on this desolate road. I pulled up to Braeburn Lodge and parked my bike next to the front porch area. While putting my sunglasses in my handlebar bag, I heard a female voice say “hello”. Looking up, I see a girl sitting in a chair with a small nose ring and smoking a cigarette. She’s a waitress for the café, taking a break. I was informed that other cyclists were camped here last night. Well, since I know all the ones on the road right now, that means it has to be the Germans. She verified that with her description of them. They were 2 days ahead, and now just 1 day ahead of me. I’ll be able to pass them tomorrow, no problem. She asked about my ride, and when I told her she said, “I’ve been hearing about you, you’re a legend!” No way, geez, people are starting to talk about me. After guzzling 2 – 12oz cans of Coke, I hit the road with a little boost.
It was a very quiet night all alone on this desolate stretch of road. There were not anymore cars on the road late into the night. I listened to my walkman and the techno music helped to really enhance this surreal feeling I was having. The air was very cool, smelling so wonderfully fresh and alive. It felt as if I was moving through another dimension of space and time….. ahhhhhhhh I was sooo awake and alive letting the life force all around me get breathed into my lungs and through my body. This must have been another world I entered as I had begun to feel almost weightless just floating along in the cool night.
By 1:30am I was getting tired and needed to stop. I was being thrust back into reality by some of these hills and the headwinds that are brutal. Finding the “Plume Agate Gem and Mineral Trail”, I walked up the trail away from the road and isolated in the thick bush. I pushed my bike back into the trees and laid on the ground to sleep. Without my tent and sleeping bag I felt like a wild animal sleeping directly on the dirt. By 2:30am the temperature dropped and I was very cold. I took out my sleeping bag and crawled inside to sleep.
If I really allowed myself to think about that fact that I am sleeping on the ground in the Yukon wilderness, I would kinda scare myself. In a way I was really tired and did not care if there were any bears around, but I did keep my can of bear spray clutched in one hand as I slept. My mind would play out all these scenerios of how a bear would attack me. Would he just jump on me and start clawing? Would he begin chewing and gnawing? Would he just drag me away in my sleeping bag? Would I have time to get my hand out of the zippered sleeping bag to spray him with the bear spray? I was indeed a bit fearful, all alone, off the road, in the forest, with my food close by. At least with a riding companion, you do have safety in numbers. The night was quiet and I laid there waiting to see if the morning would come. Somewhere in these thoughts, I fell asleep.
Today – 106.53 miles
Total – 5722 miles
Avg. Speed – 9.5mph
DAY 123 – July 15, 1999
I awoke at 7am to the sound of trucks on the road nearby. There had been the sound of rustling in the brush through the night, I thought of bears but didn’t really care. I was too tired to be concerned and just slept.
* 10:20am – 8.43 miles, 10.5 avg.
* I stopped at the ESSO station in the very small village of Carmacks. Bus loads of old tourists were there wearing typical tourist clothes with bright, white, sneakers. They all look the same after a while. I was dirty and smelly but that didn’t stop them from crowding around to question me. Many just don’t understand a journey like this. They are caught up with the consumerist world in which they exist. But I could see a bit of envy in the eyes of a select few. Maybe they wish they would have done something like this when they were younger, before the pressures of society forced them into their view of normality: Steady job, family, house, cars, and a pet for the kids.
* 1:15pm – 23.77 miles, 8.0 avg.
* Stopped at 5-Finger Rapids along the Yukon River. Been struggling with headwinds again today. The locals have said that 90 percent of the time the wind blows from south to north. So, I should have tailwinds all the way to Dawson City but that ain’t happenin’!! While sitting on a picnic table drinking a Coke, one of the tourists stops to talk. Linda seemed different than the typical RV drivin’ tourist. She was pleasant to talk to and wanted a photo of me with my bike. The lady at the concession stand told me the Germans camped there last night and left at noon. She said the same thing everybody else has said about them, they didn’t want to talk and appeared arrogant. But she said it may just be part of the German culture. Well, they were 2 days ahead of me and now I know I’m right on their butts.
* 6:20pm – 51.03 miles, 8.0 mph avg.
* It’s 88 degrees and very dry. My body is trained not to need very much water, so I’ve been able to go all day on 1 water bottle. I still have a headwind and the dry heat seems to be sapping my energy. The sky is very clear with a bright sun. Walking down to a small creek, I laid in the very cold water to get refreshed. Within minutes the dry air sucked the water off my body and I was completely dry again.
* 7:00pm – riding another 4.5 miles, I found the Minto campground. I drank 2 Cokes and rested about an hour.
* 9:20pm – 68.92 miles, 8.0mph avg.
* The road is soooo quiet!! There is no wind and the evening energy burst is kicking in. I’m beginning to love late night riding, no cars, no wind, and very quiet. All alone on a road in the middle of the Yukon wilderness.
* 10:15 – 78.34 miles, 8.5mph avg.
* I stopped at a small village and bought a Coke and a candy bar. An older man that looks like Brian Dennehey walks up to me and asks about my ride. It just so happens that he used to work for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR). He told me that the ADNR controls the road through Prudhoe Bay. I was given a contact name to apply for a special permit so I could bike the last 5 miles to the Arctic Ocean. He said that ARCO could still appeal it, but it’s worth a try. Wow, this is cool how these people cross my path!
* 10:50pm – I saw a grizzly cub in the trees near the road while looking for a place to camp. Stopping my bike, I stare at him as he stares at me. After a moment he takes off running, probably looking for mama. I think I’ll just keep going and find another place to sleep.
* 12:00 midnight – The evening is eerily quiet and the road is desolate agian this evening. No one out here but me. Still plenty of light so I’ll just keep going.
* 2:00am – It is now 48 degrees F. and I’m getting cold and tired. I put my bike and trailer in the ditch, then slept on the ground in my sleeping bag.
Today – 97.04 miles
Total – 5819 miles
Avg. Speed – 8.5mph
DAY 124 – July 16, 1999
I woke up at 6:45am to the sound of rustling in the bush. There were some kind of animals around, but I didn’t know what. It was a cold 52 degrees F. as I slowly woke up and put my sleeping bag away. The ditch wall was too steep to push my bike up with the trailer. I carried the trailer and bike up separately and was pedaling again by 7:30am. Stopping at Stewart Crossing, I was very hungry. I ate 2 turkey sandwiches and drank 2 Cokes. It was difficult to break away from all the people. First it was a lady from Florida that blocked me in as she kept talking to me. The first 5-10 minutes was cool. I enjoy talking to people but after that I began feeling trapped. When I was able to break free, I went out to my bike which was leaning against the wall. Within seconds I was approached by 20-30 somethings. They surrounded me like water surrounding a rock. At first I felt trapped again, but everyone was really cool. They were on a group trip through Canada and Alaska. Many nationalities were present: Scotland, England, German, New Zealand, and even 2 people from the tiny country of Luxembourg. After talking to them for awhile, I told them I’d probably see them in Dawson City. My short break at Stewart Crossing ended up lasting about 1.5 hours.
As I rode away, I encountered a hill to climb up from the river. As I began to climb I cranked up my walkman “more human than human” by White Zombie began to play. And as the intensity of the song progressed I stood on the bike and pushed hard. That has a great beat to work hard to and push against the pedals as I began to feel super human. But before the song ended I was a bit fatigued from pushing myself and pedaling hard to every beat of the song.
* 2:30pm – I started getting very tired, the previous 2 nights I’d had very little sleep. I set up my tent at a place with free tenting, $2.00 showers, and a small café. I decided to set up my tent and take a nap before continuing. After sleeping 3 hours in a deep sleep, I awoke to small raindrops on my face. Wow, that was a loooong nap! I slowly got out and put my rainfly on. My tent wasn’t staked since it’s always calm through the night. By now I decided to just stay and leave in the morning. My brain felt like mush, my left knee had been hurting, and I didn’t feel like riding.
* 9:15pm – The Germans rode in and set up their tent. Wow, they were about 6.5 hours behind me. Hmmmm, they must have been in stealth mode when I passed them. I peeked out my tent, smiled, and said hello. The big German looked surprised to see me and didn’t say anything. The smaller one just said “hey”. It was now clear skies and calm so I took my rainfly off and just relaxed in my tent.
Today – 56.7 miles
Total – 5875 miles
Avg. Speed – 10.0mph
DAY 125 -July 17, 1999
My Gawd, that was the worst storm I’ve seen on this trip. I woke up to a strong, howling wind, that blew my tent on its side and rolled me over in my sleeping bag. I quickly threw my panniers into my tent to help weigh it down and staked it down, fighting against the wind. It was starting to rain so I hurriedly put the rainfly on and crawled back inside. The wind kept testing the integrity of my tent. I could feel it sneaking under the tent floor and flexing the aluminum tent poles.
While drinking a cup of coffee in the café’, the smaller of the two Germans came in for hot chocolate. To my surprise, he sat down at the table with me and attempted conversation with me in broken English. After about 30 minutes of talking, I realized that these guys are alright after all. The reason they had left the other campground was because the camp host had come around to collect the camping fees and they always free camp. Of course, it won’t be as much fun now since these guys aren’t the cold, mean, Germans everybody thinks them to be. I was glad to have this conversation and actually saw this guy smile.
The Germans left at 11:00am and I left at noon.
* 1:30pm – 14.68 miles
* Headwinds and hills!! Lots of hills!! Someone said it was pretty flat from Whitehorse to Dawson City. But, as I’ve learned many times since entering Canada, Canadians have a very different definition for flat!
* I caught up to the Germans to see them loading their bikes in the back of a pick-up truck, catching a ride the rest of the way to Dawson City. The hills were too much for them, especially for the big German that is plagued with knee problems. I was also offered a ride, and yes it was tempting, but I have to do this under my own power no matter what. I’ve been continuing to have knee problems especially with my right knee now. It has occurred to me that it might be due to my slight leg length discrepancy, from that old mountain bike accident.
* Took a 5 minute break, I’m getting tired…feels like nappy time :-)
* Another quick break as I look across the vast Yukon wilderness from a high peak.
* 7:00pm – Stopped at a store at the junction for the Dempster highway. I ate a sandwich and drank a Coke while standing outside by my bike. Soon a large van pulled up and a bunch of 13-14 year olds pile out and surround me. They had just finished a canoe trip and were headed home to Dawson City.
* 9:00pm – I arrived in Dawson City, wooo hoo!! They had evacuated tent city since the bear attack and many of the tenters were in the schoolyard. I visited the pubs around town looking for some of the people I’d met previously. There was an outdoor Rave just beyond the edge of town. As I approached the Rave I hear, “Hey, it’s the cycle dude”. The young kids I’d encountered a couple of hours ago approached me. One of them, Doyle, said “Man don’t go there, it’s lame”. I figured it was still too early and thought I’d return around 2 or 3am to see what it’s like then.
As I walked back through town, I was approached by a group of people shouting something to me. I turned to see the group I’d met at Stewarts Crossing walking up to me. We chatted a few minutes and next thing I knew, Barney (the Scot) was buying me a beer in the “Pit”. I spent the evening with Barney and Anna (the Australian girl), drinking beer and sharing stories. Anna grew up on a sheep farm in western Australia. By the end of the night I found myself trading addresses with some kewl people I’ve encountered on my journey. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention Barney was wearing a kilt, true to his Scottish heritage, and getting a lot of attention. Hmmm, maybe I should have wore my bike clothes. :-)
It was very late, or early, in the AM as I walked back to my tent. As I passed one tent I heard a female voice, “The ground is sucking the warmth from my body and I have a rock up my ass”, followed by laughter.
Today – 58.75 miles
Total – 5962 miles
Avg. Speed -11.0mph
DAY 126 – July 18, 1999
I was awakened at 9:30am by a lady that informed me that all tenters have to be out by 1pm. After packing everything, I decided to go up to tent city since they are now allowing people back. Just before tent city there is a hostel which borders it. The group last night said they were staying there with a lot of “cool peoples”, as they put it. I decided to check their prices first, and while I was there, I recognized a dog that was near me. Then I heard the owner calling her and looked to see a familiar face. “Shawn”, I said. He looked for a moment and then finally recognized me as the cyclist he met almost 2 weeks ago. We shook hands and both of us were genuinely surprised to see each other. I thought, “cool, I found him.” Shawn said that he was beginning to give up on me even getting here. He also told me about the dynamics of tent city with the constant, non-stop, partying…with the trash and food strewn about the woods. The bears are already a bit confused and crazy because of the fires, and careless attitudes and food about doesn’t help. I was also informed about the amount of theft that has occurred and the hostel campground is a bit more safe. Considering all my options I figured it would be like paying for insurance to protect my gear. So, for $9.00 a night, I get: A locker, a tent site, a bathhouse to use, a shared kitchen, a and a common room. This is only $6.25 US dollars so is actually pretty cheap.
After setting up my tent and bathing, I took my laundry back across the ferry to town. While waiting for my laundry, I went to the coffeehouse next door. Inside I was greeted by Shannon. I met Shannon this morning as I was leaving the schoolyard. She was the only other tenter up and out of her tent. I had asked her where she was going, trying to find out where some free camping might be. She had no idea at that time. During the summer, this town fills up with 20-somethings that will live in tents and find work in town. Many of them come out here as sort of a journey of self-discovery. Some are here for all the partying, and some I’ve met don’t really have any direction and are just figuring out life one day at a time.
Today just happened to be the 100th birthday for the Palace Grand Theater. While parking my bike out front, I saw a black guy with dreadlocks, holding a camera just like mine. Paul is a photographer, and although he had the same camera body as mine, he had much better lenses in the professional series of Cannon. Paul was pretty cool, and after finding out about my journey, he vouched for me so I could follow him upstairs to do some photography stuff on the show stage. It was great to hang out with him and observe his technique as he photographed inside and outside the theater. While outside, Paul asked the can-can girls to pose for a photo. They thought it was unusual that I didn’t want to be in the photo. Most people get their photos taken with them, but I said that I had enough photos of me. I was talked into posing with them while Paul took some photos and then used my camera.
Filled with a bit of inspiration from Paul, I set out around town to photograph people and buildings. Out on Front street I saw Shannon sitting on the boardwalk looking bummed. She said she still had no clue as to where she was going. Her “tent-mate” was supposed to show up for her first day of work at the ice cream shop and was already 10 minutes late. Apparently, her friend was supposed to work out a place to stay today and Shannon sat in front of the ice cream shop waiting for her. Realizing that she wasn’t going to show up for her first day of work, Shannon decided to quit waiting and walk around town.
While photographing people around the park, I met Karee-Ann, Derek, and Karee-Ann’s Siberian Husky “Gypsi”. The three of them sat in the grass enjoying the bright, late-evening, sun, under a small shade tree. I encounter many people while I bike across this great continent of ours, and always feel the energy they put out. As soon as I met Shawn, I knew he had good energy and we would get along great together. Karee-Ann is another of those rare people that exudes such a positive energy force that it can captivate people. While talking to her I learned about her great Australian journey, the significance of her tattoos, her current job, and ideas of holistic healing that she wants to get involved with. An incredible person with an incredible story to tell. As I’ve said before, I find it very important to look beyond the physical person and try to see them on another level, at their soul. The body is just a vehicle for the soul. It’s like a car, you wouldn’t necessarily judge someone by the car they drive, but the person inside.
Back at the hostel campground, I ran into Sean and his tent-mate, Kevin. We decided to go for a walk, and as we were leaving, 3 girls that Sean knew walked up the gravel road to meet him. They wanted to hang out and play some music. They introduced themselves to me as Lisa, Kelly, and Yunita. Kelly had a guitar strapped to her back, and Yunita was carrying a long, round, pipe looking sort of thing, called a didjeridoo. The six of us walked down a rocky beach along the Yukon river. After about a mile or so, we stopped by an old ship wreck and sat by this old, dilapidated, wooden structure. Kevin played the guitar some and we all just hung out and shared stories.
Sean spent the previous 4 years with his own radio show. It was late night, Saturday nights from 11pm into the early morning hours. He practiced a form of journalism called “gonzo journalism”. A totally unplanned, unpredictable, broadcast performance while intoxicated from alcohol or marijuana, or both. They had call ins and would also go on the streets to talk to people. Sometimes they would smoke a joint on the air and describe what they were doing. His friend Kevin ate a can of cat food on the air and also discussed his research as an anthropology major. He told how some tribes practiced “hallucinogenic enemas”, by putting the drug in their rectum to prevent getting sick.
The name of the radio show was “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, as originally phrased by Timothy Leary.
* Turn On – Turn on to drugs, or I believe for some it could be something like meditation to “tune-in” in a drug free way.
* Tune In – Tune in to this other reality.
* Drop Out – Drop out of the reality you live in and walk your own path.
Anyway, what a great evening! I really enjoyed those wonderful people I was with. And I’m really gonna like being around Kevin. He’s always smiling and has a great sense of humor.
DAY 127 – July 19, 1999
I wandered around town today looking for photo opportunities. When I checked my e-mail and Guest-book, I found an entry in my guest-book from Shawna. I didn’t have time to read what I wrote on the day I met her and her husband. When I wrote some of that I was still a bit drunk and finished it with a slight hangover. Anyway, the thing that I thought was funny was when she mentioned her friend that would eat mosquitoes. That is something that Patrick and I had been doing, there’s always hundreds of those things swarming around us and they would even land in our soup. Sometimes I would make a small pile of dead mosquitoes that I had squashed while they were biting me, and then burn them…then they’d be a bit crunchy. :-)
Later in the afternoon, I met Olivia and Anna. Olivia had been drumming while sitting by the edge of the hill looking over the Yukon river. I introduced both of them to Sean and Kevin. And yeah, a bunch of other stuff happened today but I’ll write about it later…. if I feel like it.
DAY 128 – July 20, 1999
OK, yada, yada, yada….I’m skipping to the evening.
Kevin, Shawn, Paul, Chris, and I, sat at the dyke drinking beer for awhile. Then we went to the bar at the El Dorado Hotel, or the “ELDO” to the locals. Ten of us crowded around 2 round tables that were pushed together.
We sat and drank pitcher after pitcher, while laughter filled the air. Yunita, Lisa, Kelly, and two other guys were sitting with us as we closed the bar. Being the last ones to leave, we walked through town minus the 2 other guys. We sat on the boardwalk by the field where I tented my first night here. Jared and another guy joined us while someone began passing a joint. Soon an RCMP car passes, then immediately brakes and backs up.
The cop said, “Man, does it smell like pot here”, everyone was quiet, “You should blow the other way, it’s burning my lungs.” Then he drove away. I could feel the tension that was in the air suddenly disappear as everyone felt relieved that he did drive away.
DAY 129 – July 21, 1999
Karee-Ann shared stories with me about her great 2-year Australian journey, and I shared significant parts of my journey. Next we walked through the park to the river with her dog Gypsi, then ended up at MME. Zooms to eat.
Through the course of the evening we discussed our lives and philosophies on life. She has the same problems I have at times, finding a real person to sit and talk with. Karee-Ann said she sometimes craves for conversation with a like-minded soul. Our discussion led to our crazy dreams from distinct childhood ones we remember, to recent dreams. It was funny to find someone else that had intense childhood fears of something under their bed at night. What surprised me was when she told me she believed that soul-mates can be either same sex or opposite sex. That was an issue I had pondered and wrote about in Whitefish. As the evening progressed, I began to realize that we were mirroring each others belief system. Karee-Ann and I also discussed: oneness of the universe, Energy of the universe, deja` vu experiences, fate, destiny, and interactions with other people.
As I walked back up through town, walking on the boardwalks and down dirt roads, I thought about all we talked about. A meeting of the minds which seemed to partly take place in another reality. This made me think about my own inner self as I walked through town. There are many things about me that I wish I could alter at times. There are many talents I wish I had. Sometimes I miss that young teenager I used to be. Most of my life I’ve had this feeling inside me like there is an artist inside me struggling to break free and express himself. But how? In 7th grade it was school band and playing the trumpet, I sucked, and then later it was guitar lessons and again I sucked. Then it was high school and drawing pencil sketches while high. Lately, I’ve found some satisfaction with my photography, and some moments in my writing, as a new way to express myself artistically.
OK, time to sleeeeeeep!
DAY 130 – July 22, 1999
I slept in very late today and was sitting near the gazebo by the river when Karee-Ann invited me to join her and her 2 friends for coffee at the Sun. The four of us, Karee-Ann, Reemi, Maya, and I, sat at the table and talked for awhile. Afterwards, Maya, Reemi, and I, walked back by the river and saw Corey writing in his journal. The 4 of us hung out for awhile until we got harassed by one of the local natives. This guy is notorious for harassing tourists and transients that come through. He’s verbalized his wishes to kill all the hippies, and burn down “Tent City”. I was later informed that he was just released from the jail in Whitehorse. In general, most of the natives are friendly, but there are some exceptions like this guy.
During the late afternoon, I found Shawn and Anna together. They’re now sharing a tent together. Kevin and I put some food together and had dinner in the kitchen area. Back in town, I spoke to Grant the owner of the Smokie Shack. The Smokie Shack is a hotdog stand that also sells giant smoked sausage dogs as well as drinks and chips and sits along the boardwalk. This is my second time talking to him. I neglected to write about it on yesterdays entry. Grant is an exceptionally nice guy. Fun to talk to and an exceptional cartoon artist. He has his cartoons published in a local newspaper and does work for anyone that wants any type of designs done. Grant is quick to share much of his humor and funny little observations on life. Great little stop on the boardwalk.
DAY 131 – July 23, 1999
Last night Paul, Chris, Andie, and I, sat around a fire and talked awhile. It’s so easy to meet people here and make friends. I’ve been hangin’ out with Paul and Chris for a few days now and I just met Andie. She works at the Grubstake and said I have to try their pizza. So today, Paul and I made our way to the Grubstake and passed Andie as she was leaving for a break.
Inside, we met 3 snowboarders from the states that came here for the music fest ( www.dcmf.com ). After devouring one of my favorite foods, I went to the volunteer tent to see if I made it on the schedule. I’ve been trying to volunteer to get free passes to the music fest. The $65.00 tickets have been sold out for months and volunteers get free passes. Yes!! I’m on the schedule and have passes for all three days!! Woo Hoo!!
I began my shift at 6pm to volunteer in a concession. That was kewl!! I love that job. Standing at the window, I took the order, yelled back the order, and collected the money. Everyone here was so much fun to work with. Lou was so funny! Then there was Ali and Rosie, the 2 girls up from Vancouver to see the music fest. While I was having fun with everyone, an older, serious looking guy, that is apparently the big shot over this whole thing, approaches me and says, “Hey crazy guy, I need to talk to you for a minute”. I followed him outside to join a small group of people.
They were having a problem with security, and for some reason, thought that I could do a good job at that. Well, that sort of thing is not me. It’s no fun being the asshole that kicks people out or turns people away and stuff like that.
Anyway, it was a fun evening with good music. I completed my night by joining Andrew, Jeremy, Jared, And Carla, by their tents.
DAY 132 – July 24, 1999
I worked concession from 11:30am until 3pm today. Another fun day of working. Afterwards I wandered around the park and inside the tent. There were booths set up outside the park where people were selling everything from clothes to jewelry, and one guy, Nathan, was selling didjeridoos. He was cool to talk to and shared some of his Zen-Buddhist philosophy. Leaving the park, I ran into Sean and Kevin. “Is today the day?” asked Sean. “What?” I said. “Is this the day?” he asked again. “What day?” I asked. “Your birthday”, he said. I’ve been so focused on everyone else around that I totally forgot my own birthday. Wow, that has never happened in my life.
Well, a lot happened today. Since I am so far behind in re-writing my journal entries, I’ll let the photos tell the story for now. It was a great time at the music festival. Excellent music with everything including folk, ska, alternative rock, guitar instrumental, and even a Ukranian band. Jared, Jeremy, Jessie, and Andrew, set up their camp stove in a corner of the park and began selling grilled cheese sandwiches for $2.00 each. That was a cool idea. I also found Corey and Karee Ann in the park. Corey yelled as loud as he could across the park “buy this guy a beer, it’s his birthday!” but unfortunately people didn’t come running to buy me a beer. Corey is on a long journey of the west coast and will end up in South America. I settled myself on a spot of grass with Sean, Kevin, Lisa and Anna for most of the evening. Unfortunately the “sh!t sucker” came and sucked out the stuff out of the port a potties that were close by. That wasn’t a pleasant smell to have this big sewage truck drive near us. This was a lot of fun hanging out, mingling in with the crowds of people and seeing all the unique things happening.
So many people all gathered in one spot to enjoy the music and have a good time. Several people were getting body painting done. And Jeremy delivered a grilled cheese to me and said he wished he had a candle to put on it since it was my birthday.
What a great group of people here! And they are all from many different parts of this continent. Jeremy and Jared are from Maine and just happened to stop here and decided to stay for a little while.
How incredible it is that so many people that are on journeys somehow found themselves here in Dawson City and now at this music fest.
DAY 133 – July 25, 1999
Cool, I worked concession again today. It is quite fun working, and I’m working for free! Ali and Rosy were working again today too. They are fun to work with and Lou is a riot! She is very animated and always laughing. When I first met Lou, I immediately felt comfortable around her and she is very funny. But all good things must come to an end and my shift ended at the concession stand. I’m sure I could’ve stuck around longer but I decided to try to get into the performers lounge. Kevin was working on that side and he helped me sneak in so I could hang out with some of the bands. Way cool dude! I walked from the inside lounge area to the deck outside and recognized some of the performers I saw playing yesterday. One of them, Dave from “The Mike Plume Band”, really stands out. On stage he is very dynamic playing lead guitar. He jumps and makes gestures to the audience. Walking up to a table where Dave was seated with 2 other performers, I could barely get out “hello” when Dave said to me “check this dude out” while pointing to a picture on the front page of a newspaper. I sat down in the empty chair beside Dave and studied the photo for a second. The photo looked like a guy with short blonde hair, crazy eyes and an insane grin, being led up a flight of stairs by police. “Who is he?” I asked. “It’s a girl, man. Can you believe it?” Dave replied. Dave was freaked by the story and told me about how this chick murdered a 44 year old female physiotherapist, chopped up her body, put the pieces in boxes and stored the boxes in someone else’s garage. The body parts were discovered after they started smelling. Man that is SICK!! The photo that was taken of me sitting with the performers shows Dave holding up the newspaper and pointing to the picture of the girl. Seated at the table with me were: Dave and Derek from “The Mike Plume Band”, and Gord from “The Falcons”.
I talked to all of them for awhile. Dave and Derek have been together with “The Mike Plume Band” for 5 years. I asked how difficult it is to travel and be around each so much and they said it’s really cool. Whenever someone needs time away they just get some time alone and all of them respect each other. Dave said they will be performing in North Carolina in September:
September 2 Charlotte N C UNC 12:00 noon
September 7 Charlotte N C Central Piedmont Comm College(12noon)
September 9 University of North Carolina @Wilmington 11:30 a.m.
Sept. 11 Greenville NC East Carolina University 10:00 p.m.
Dave gave me their website: www.plumeband.com
I told him that I’ll look for them if I’m back in NC at that time.
Gord was just a little bit older with a gotee and some signs of greying but a very youthful personality. After Derek and Dave took off, Gord and I sat around and talked for a long time. He related touring around the world and performing to my bicycle journey. After touring and going home for awhile he said “normal life is a letdown”. Gord said that after I finish something as incredible as my journey, “what do you do for an encore?” Going back to the real world is kind of scary to me and sometimes I think that I never want to return and just keep travelling. But unfortunately the money will run out and I will be forced back. We also discussed many topics and found out that we had a lot in common. We traded addresses and planned to keep in touch. While discussing Dawson City, Gord said that he really liked this place and called it “a great guarded secret”. After some great conversation in the warm afternoon sun, I went on my way and told him that I’ll be back to watch them perform this evening at 9pm.
There was sincere interest in Gord’s manner. It was quite refreshing to talk to someone pretty settled in his own skin. I only wish I knew how to play an instrument so I could have a “jam session”. There are many people I’ve met, some curious with a superfical interest, others have been unkind, some sincere and concerned about my welfare. A large mix of people overall, but the ones that have a true sincere interest in exchanging thoughts and just spending time as “friends” are rare. Gord was one of those rare folks I’ve encountered on this trip, a friend that I did not know existed when I awoke this morning. Such things keep life exciting, not knowing what might happen each day makes it worth getting up every morning.
After leaving the park, I ran into Corey, Karee-Ann, Gypsi, Jade, and Kelly. Luckily, I was able to get a hold of two additional wristbands to allow access into the tent area(shhhh don’t tell anyone :) and gave them to Corey and Karee-Ann. Many people couldn’t get in since tickets had been sold out for a couple of months in advance at $65.00 each. Next thing I know we are all hanging out in the grass drinking a little tequila.
Now, I never drink enough to get drunk. Just a few shots and I’m done. I always make sure that alcohol never takes control of me, I always like to be in control. So after just a few drinks, I had just a little buzz like drinking a couple glasses of wine or a couple of beers. We sat around and talked for awhile and just enjoyed this moment while Corey talked in his Italian Mafia voice. It was 11pm by the time I made it back to the tent and unfortunately, I missed “The Falcons” play.
Karee-Ann and I walked back into the tent and watched some of the Planet Smashers, a ska band, and then back to the corner where Jared and Jeremy set up their grilled cheese cafe’. At the end of the evening Corey, Karee-Ann, and I went into the tent for the finale’. All the performers got onstage and sang Bob Dylan’s “Rolling Stone”. It was a great time, the tent was packed with people and their was a lot of energy in the air. Wow this was GREAT! I took many really good photos, but unfortunately too many to post on here.
I met a magazine editor while taking photos in the tent and he wanted to talk to me. We planned to meet tomorrow morning at the Westmark Hotel where he was staying.
DAY 134 – July 26, 1999
I got up as usual, waking up in my tent listening to the strange sounds of the ravens. Some of the sounds are a deep echoed sound and there seem to be many sounds they make. Almost like a knocking sound at times. After I managed to get up halfway early, at 9am, I made it across the ferry and to the Westmark Hotel. I found Bill in the dining room area having breakfast. I joined him at his table and we talked for a little while. He was interested in seeing my photography of the music festival and of Dawson City. Bill quoted me a price for any he might be interested in, and I agreed to send some after my journey is complete.
Finding Paul, the local photographer I met on day 2 here in Dawson City, I also gave him the information so that he could submit some photos to sell. Paul and I have been exchanging lenses quite a bit during my Dawson City stay. He really likes my 20mm f2.8 lens and I like the 70 – 200 mm f2.8 lens he has. So during the music fest we both benefited by swapping lenses back and forth.
I saw Corey and he said said that he will be leaving tomorrow. WOW, that’s sudden. Barely any notice to anyone. I could only wonder what Karee-Ann was thinking. They both have been very close and I think during the summer it might have been a bit more than just close buddies. And now Corey will be departing to finish his “West Coast Chronicles”, which will end in South America. This must be tough for Corey to leave Karee-Ann. I only wish I had found more time to spend with Corey and getting to know him. Both of us are on journeys, photographing and writing along the way. He plans on writing a book after he is finished. There are some things we have in common and I will be looking forward to sharing our stories with each other when our journeys are done. We exchanged addresses and he gave me a few of his favorite photos.
While Corey and I were hanging out, Karee-Ann went on her way. Later I found her, Jeremy, Jessie, Jared, and Andrew at the Pit. We soon left to get something to eat and play pool at the Sourdough Lounge in the Downtown Hotel. Jeremy had a game called Mancala with him, and he taught me how to play this African game. Of course he kicked my butt the first time, and the second time he had only one stone more than me, a very close game.
There wasn’t much left to eat on the appetizer menu since they were out of most everything. So we ordered a couple plates of french fries and all of us pigged out on those.
In one corner, an older gentleman and his wife, Alf and Carol, sets up a a small table for the traditional “Sourtoe Cocktail”. For $5.00 you get a drink with an actual amputated toe in it. But you have to let the toe touch your lips when you drink it. Unfortunately, the toe has been accidentally swallowed on several occasions, ewwwww that is really sick!! I watched as Sheri and Tyler did the Sourtoe thing. Sheri let the toe touch her lips and Tyler actually proudly displayed the toe in his teeth(refer to photos).
There is a website for the Sourtoe Cocktail at: http://members.delphi.com/TOE2/index.html
We were going to go in the Pit, but it was too crowded and had a line waiting to get in. So we hung out in the “crack shack”. We passed the tequila bottle around for a few shots and soon Corey, Karee-Ann, Jade, and Kelly left deciding to try to get into the Pit. I stayed behind with Jeremy and talked to him for a little while. When I told him I was looking for transportation to Whitehorse to get my 16 rolls of film processed, he offered to give me a ride in exchange for gas money. Cool, now I don’t have to worry about hitch-hiking. We talked for a little while but I had to leave since I was going to meet him at 7:30 am. Wow, that is really early for me.
It was midnight as I stood waiting for the ferry to cross back over.
DAY 135 – July 28, 1999
WOW, it is really difficult getting up early! I dragged myself up and without eating and forgetting to brush my teeth, I quickly got up still dressed in yesterdays clothes, and crossed the ferry. Most people around here always wear the same clothes for days at a time and only shower a couple times a week. Anyway, I made it to meet Jeremy at “The Sun” where he was having breakfast with Andrew, at 7:45. Just a little late but he was till eating so it was OK.
On the 6 hour ride to Whitehorse, Jeremy and I really go to talk a lot. We were able to discuss our philosophies on life and differences in our beliefs on an un-emotional basis. Just like in philosophy class where you look at the objections to your point, recognize how the other person can come to that conclusion, and never let emotions get involved. He has had some philosophy courses and shared much of my beliefs except for a few points. He was shocked at some of the stuff I was saying, and the many parallels to Alan Watts. I’ve never heard of Alan Watts but he told me that I have to read his stuff.
Other than philosophy we also discussed our personal lives and what we were doing prior to our journeys. This is Jeremies first journey and he too is going to have a difficult time adjusting back to the real world. He has always been very disciplined in college and trains at least 4 hours a day. Jeremy is training to be a professional fighter. But he is a very nice guy that is very humble in his achievements. He views fighting as a sport and doesn’t confuse any of it on an emotional level. It is just an objective sport of skill and at the end he always hugs his opponent and congratulates them on their fighting, whether they won or lost to him. With his demanding class schedule in college, which he’s maintaining a 4.0 average, and his training, he barely has time for much of a social life. And now it is nothing but one giant journey of socializing and meeting wonderful people, like those here in Dawson City. He told me that he and Jared planned on visiting Montana before going back to Maine, so I gave him a few places to visit in Whitefish, such as Boogie Brown’s, and Whitefish Times.
When we arrived in Whitehorse we immediately dropped off my film at fotovision. Carla’s mom owns it so I was able to get a discount on processing. Carla is the girl we met in Dawson City with the funky pants. Anyway, afterwards we went and checked in the Family Hotel. While standing at the counter, I saw Gord through the inside window in the laundry room. Immediately, I went out and said hello, and he was pleasantly surprised to see me. We talked for a few minutes and then I told him that we would definitely be out to see him tonight.
After getting settled on our room, Jeremy tried to call Jasmine to find out what her and Carla were up to. Unfortunately he had no luck. We spent the rest of the time walking around town visiting some bookstores and shops and at 7pm picked up my photos. Back in the hotel room I began sorting through and organizing all of them. It proved to be a bit difficult putting them in order and assigning dates to all of the photos. I called and ordered a large pizza and we indulged in a vegetarian pizza and giant cokes. The cups were so large, they must have been at least one liter!
Realizing the time, we hurried to get to the Capitol, to watch The Falcons perform. We were about 20 minutes late. Going inside, the doorman informed me that I cannot take any photos. Anyway, they were playing as we walked in and when they completed the song, Gord had recognized me when we walked in and said hello to me. I waved back. When it was time for a break, Gord came over and joined Jeremy and I. He had told me that he lost a roll of film containing all the photos he took of Dawson City and the music fest. I told him that I would send him copies, he then told me that he will send me a copy of each of their cd’s and have the band sign them. Great! They went back on and played some more, and I had told him that I will give him a few copies tomorrow, after I finished sorting through them. So we planned on meeting at 10:30 am. Jeremy decided to stay for a little while and finish a game of Mancala with a girl he just met there.
Walking back to the hotel, it was a cool, wet evening. It had rained a bit earlier leaving the streets and sidewalks glowing from the reflections of street lights. The sky is getting darker now with longer nights. It was a dark blue sky as I walked down lighted streets breathing in the cool moist air. What an incredible journey this is turning out to be! So many good people in this world and the media would have the world to believe that we live in times of hatred and violence. All they focus on is the negativity, but I suppose people like to read that instead of all the good that happens. A murderer makes front page headlines, while anything that seems remotely positive gets buried in the middle or back.
DAY 136 – July 29, 1999
Jeremy and I slept in until after 10:00 am. Wow this was nice sleeping in a bed with pillows! Since I left Whitehorse for Dawson City, it has been the ground or my tent, and using my jacket as a pillow.
I could tell Gord just got up too when we met him at about 10:30. I gave him a few copies and told him that I will mail him the rest of Dawson City photos. We talked for a little while, and then Jeremy and I had to get on the road for our long drive back to Dawson City. As we were leaving we said our good-byes, shook hands, and as we were walking out Gord had said something like “friends for life”. It is so nice to meet so many “like-minded” people. And “real” people such as Gord.
Driving back to Dawson City, Jeremy and I continued with a lot more talking about everything, and I feel as if we have really gotten to know each other very well. He invited me to Maine anytime, and I invited him to visit me wherever I happen to be. On the way back, the truck hit a bird and both of us immediately felt really bad about it. I could feel the life being sucked from and animal as it slammed the window post right in front of me. A large chunk of speeding metal stole the life of a beautiful creature.
Entering back into Dawson City, both of us immediately said “we’re home”. Dawson City has become like home to both of us, with good friends and lots of great times here. Jeremy drove by the Paradise North Coffeehouse to drop me off prior to parking his truck near the “crack shack”. My mind was already putting me at the wooden table with my “bottomless” cup of coffee and finishing my photo sorting. But that thought was shattered by a sign that said “closed until Monday for kitchen remodeling”. That sucked! My favorite hangout is closed! I even wanted to get one of those “Donairs”, those are excellent!
Back at the “Crack shack”, Andrew and I played a game of chess. There is a chessboard that was drawn on the floor by a red marker, and the chess pieces are small pieces of paper that had figures drawn on them. It was a close game and I was clearly in the lead and could’ve won, mostly due to a few screw-ups Andrew made, not as much my skill. But Andrew started singing and all kinds of stuff to distract me and I ended up losing somehow. He really kicked in his thinking and clobbered me at the end.
During the game, I remember Jessie had said “Anyone have some socks I can borrow? I’ve had these on for seven days and they’re starting to stick to my feet.” Well that sums up the summer Dawson City people. The girls grow hair on their legs and underarms, everyone lives out of tents, people bathe by swimming in the Yukon river and occasionally pay to use the quarter shower if at all. No one really stinks just natural body odors that you really don’t notice since everyone sort of blends together. It is just a group of natural, organic type of people having fun in the Yukon. But unfortunate for Jessie, he had everything stolen from his tent. Even in Paradise, there are still things like that happening. Jessie is a very kind young man. He is always so quiet but never has a negative thing to say. Just hangs out with everyone and enjoys the moment. It is too bad something like that had to happen to him.
Afterwards, Jared, Jeremy, Andrew, and I went to the Pit to play pool and drink beer. After the first pitcher and a third of the way through the second, I was ready to call it a night. I left and said goodbye, then made my way back to my home (my tent).
DAY 137 – July 30, 1999
I met 2 of my previous coworkers from teh music festival this morning at the Riverside Health and Foods, to share my photos with them. After about 2 hours, we finally got through all of them and I wrote down the ones they wanted copies of so I could mail the prints to them.
I’m trying to hurry up and get caught up since I’m 2 weeks behind. There will be a lot of stuff left out, like I’ve done many times in the past too, because of time involved to rewrite this stuff from my notes.
Back at the Crack Shack, I kicked Jeremy’s butt in chess and it made me feel good since he clobbered me two times in a row in Mancala. But I did feel a bit guilty winning and knowing he lost. Especially since he had said at the beginning of the game that the first time in his life he has ever won was against Jared just a little bit ago. But that’s OK losing builds character huh :)
Well that’s all I have to say for today.
DAY 138 – July 30, 1999
I did some laundry this morning at the Laundromat beside The Paradise North Coffeehouse. Unfortunately, the coffeehouse is still closed so I couldn’t hang out in there to wait for my clothes. Afterwards, I went to MME. Zooms for lunch. Inside I found Sean and Anna. Sean got this insanely large rocky road ice cream cone. The dips were stacked so high,I questioned his ability to eat it before it began melting on the floor. So he offered some to me to help him eat it down.
Then I went to the Eldo to finish sorting through all the photos and writing captions for them. When I got bored with that, I walked to the dyke and found Jeremy and Jessie sitting there in the grass hangin out with some others,and Jeremy’s dog Hobbs.
I ran into Jared, Karee Ann, Jade and Kelly. They all fixed chicken burritos and rice. They gave me a plate with a burrito and a big pile of spicy rice, that was really good. Afterward, I worked on Karee Ann’s back and found a couple misaligned vertebrae. Just a little rotated on one segment and with a little mobilization followed by a deep tissue massage with trigger point therapy, she was good as new. Good trade for a meal… “Will work for food”. Later, I found myself sitting on the back steps of a building near the crack shack with Jared, Jade, Kelly, and Jessie. Jared didn’t like tequila so he drank his pint of whiskey while the rest of us passed a bottle of tequila around. It was a big bottle, I think a 40 ouncer. It was intended to last for 2 nights in a row, but the girls got outta hand with it and so the bottle continued to be passed around. Jeremy appeared with a couple friends and said they were all going up to the dome to watch the sunset. The group said screw the dome we have a great sunset right here. “Sunset over the crack shack, what more could you ask for?” We sat there as they drove away to watch the midnight sunset and watched as the sun sank behind the crack shack. By the time we finished the bottle Jeremy was back and one of the girls with him took the last swallow of tequila from the bottle.
Then all of us made our way to the Pit. I was fine sitting down but as soon as I stood, wow! I knew I had too much! That is something I hadn’t allowed to happen since the “tequila night” summer ’95 during PT school. A night that my classmates may never forget, unfortunately :) Poor Jay having to clean up his kitchen floor after someone threw up on it, oh that was me. Good thing it was after everyone was gone and only Jay and Mark were around to witness it. By the time I made my way into the Pit I was really drunk. Geeez why did I let this happen again. I was having fun initially. Andrew was onstage playing his guitar and singing, so I took many photos of him. I remember feeling myself not in total control and seemed to be fading in and out of control over what I was doing. When this started happening I was smart enough to realize I should leave before made an ass out of myself. But before I could do that I remember screaming really loud “woooooooooooo hoooooooooooooooooo” after Andrew finished playing one of his songs. And that was yelled as loud as I could possibly yell it, I’m sure people outside could hear that one. Man that is something I have never done in public since I really don’t like the sound of my voice, it is not a good screaming kind of voice. OK well now I gotta go, I remember getting ready to say goodbye and somehow my drunken self fell down down to the concrete floor. Jeremy was laughing at me and it was soon after that when I decided to go home.
Wow what a fun evening at the Pit, or was it? I don’t remember riding my bicycle back and crossing the ferry. But I do remember making my way to the common room and finding Shawn, Kevin, and Anna hanging out in there. I talked to them for a long time and babbled a bit. By the time they were ready to sleep I was now a part of the sofa and for the life of me could not find the energy to make it to my tent. Shawn went and got me a glass of water and got my sleeping bag from my tent to bring me. He covered me up and I slept.
DAY 139 – July 31, 1999
I am sick today!!!!!!!
Waking up on the sofa in the common room, the warm, bright sun was making me even more sick. I managed to get up, take my sleeping bag back to my tent, and very slowly I made my way to Shawn and Kevin’s tent. This is a feeling I had told myself a loooong time ago I would never let me feel again. If only I could vomit maybe I could feel better. Needing to talk to someone and make some sense to my clouded memory of last night, I proceeded to wake up Sean and Kevin by sitting on the ground throwing small chunks of dirt on their tent. Shawn got up but Kevin wanted to sleep longer. I moved very slowly as Sean walked toward the bathhouse and talked to me. He reminded me of some of the things I was talking about which was nothing really. Mostly I talked about how I was hoping I didn’t make an ass out of myself at the Pit and lose the respect of my friends there. While he went inside the bathhouse I laid on the cool ground like a dog. The shade and cool dirt soothed me and made me feel a bit better. I was feeling very miserable and knew that this day was going to be a waste. All I wanted to do was go back in time and cut myself off on the tequila so I wouldn’t allow myself to get drunk. Sean and I talked for quite awhile, rather he was nice enough to keep me company in my misery. Soon, I made my way back to my tent and slept most of the day.
In the early evening I talked to Andy and was feeling well enough to go through some photos with him. Andy is a tall, thin, lanky guy with long hair and a goatee. He was working the door at the Pit last night and assured me that I wasn’t that drunk “just groovin'”. I had been debating on whether I should end my journey now, but Andy strongly encouraged me to continue. I thought that after my Dawson City experience, there was nothing else to look forward to on the road to Prudhoe Bay. And since my knees had been hurting again, I was ready to catch a ride to Whitehorse and fly home. The day I rode with Jeremy to Whitehorse both knees began hurting for no reason at all about 2 hours into the ride. It became excruciating and I couldn’t figure it out. I had done nothing to cause it except the fact that my legs were stuck in one position riding in a vehicle. And last night I was woke up with excruciating pain in both knees during the night.
Anyway, I gave Andy some of the photos I had of people dancing in the tent at the music fest. He was in most of the photos I took. Andy was all over the place just groovin’ out there on the dance floor. Sean and Kevin were both great in encouraging me as well. Man I felt lucky to have these guys to hang out with that had a sincere interest in me and my journey. Both of them promised to keep in touch with me. They were going to use a computer in the office to follow my journey after I left and threatened to tell a bunch of lies in my guestbook. So if they sign it and say a bunch of unbelievably crazy stuff about me, don’t believe it :) They are very funny and I’m gonna miss them when I leave.
So my mind is made up, I will leave on Monday after I mail my journal entries and photos when the post office is open.
DAY 140 – August 1, 1999
I woke up early feeling refreshed. Since I had PLENTY of sleep yesterday, it was no problem getting up early. Now I had to go find everyone else and make sure I see Jeremy and Jared before they leave today. I went across the ferry and made my way to the crack shack. Inside everyone was sound asleep except Jeremy, who was not there. So I took off looking for Jeremy and Hobbs. They were nowhere to be found so I decided to go to the Sun to write in my journal and try to get caught up while I waited for everyone to wake up. The waitress inside said that I had just missed Jeremy by 5 minutes. Oh well, I decided to stay anyway to do a little writing and drink some coffee. After about an hour I saw Karee Ann come in and sit at a table with some other girls I hadn’t recognized. I briefly said hello and questioned her on my state of Friday night at the Pit. She didn’t seem to think I was that bad, so I guess I am just putting myself through undue mental anxiety over being a little drunk. I left and headed to the crack shack to see if everyone was up yet. Approaching the crack shack, I found Jeremy outside with his dog Hobbs. Again I had to ask about my condition on Friday night since some of it is not in my memory. He just laughed at me and said “if your not drunk and falling down in the Pit, you don’t blend in with everyone else.” Jeremy had wondered what happened to me yesterday and I had told him of my miserably sick day. Then we went into the crack shack where Jeremy proceeded to wake everyone up by saying loudly “Alright rise and shine, time to get up!” Everyone was moving very slowly, moaning and not wanting to get up at all. After everyone finally got up, I was able to talk to everyone and they were cool about Friday night. So I guess was thinking I made an ass out of myself when I was just having a good time. The only thing that bothered me was what I could not remember all the details. But It’s all good. I had an excellent time from what I do remember and it was like a huge release. But one thing I will try to make sure I never do again is get that drunk. I have too much respect for other people to allow myself to get totally drunk. A couple of drinks are OK or just hanging out and not drinking is OK too, but there is not much of an excuse for some to get drunk, it’s not worth it.
Well this is it!!!! Jeremy and Jared packed everything up and was ready to leave. They are also giving Kelly a ride home in BC. Wow, I’m going to miss them. I was just getting to know them and now they are on their way. Everyone exchanged hugs and off they went in Jeremy’s Toyota pickup truck with a camper shell and a canoe on top. Since leaving Maine, Jeremy and Jared have been driving with a flag attached to their canoe that says: “Coast to Coast Promoting Peace”.
After they left I went to Peabodies Photo to drop off the roll of film I used on Friday night. Then I rode around and found Kelly in the field by the school. She had locked the keys in the truck and was waiting for Yunita to arrive with keys to get in. Soon, Yunita and Lisa arrived and then Kelly had to leave for work. The 3 of us sat in the grass and Lisa gave me a Reiki treatment to both my knees. Then I gave her a treatment consisting of c-spine mobilizations, traction. It was a very hot day, hotter than yesterday, and the sun was very bright. We decided to go get some ice cream. Lisa went to drop off a rented movie and was going to meet Yunita and I at Mme. Zooms.
Sitting in Mme. Zooms, Yunita and I both indulged in frozen yogurt cones. After about 30 to 40 minutes we realized that Lisa was not showing up. I said that she must have seen Sean somewhere. Lisa and Sean have a thing now and Sean and Anna are still good friends. It is a bit crazy how people come up here and meet and fall into relationships so very quickly. It is happening all around and some probably happen too quick and might be based on infatuation or just some lonely people needing someone. A lot of people here are on journeys and just exploring themselves and the world around. What a great place to hang out and meet people that may end up becoming “friends for life” as Gord put it.
Walking to Front Street, Yunita and I found Lisa with Sean and Jeremy on the boardwalk hangin’ out in front of Maximillians. There is an ice cream shop there too and man there sure are a lot of ice cream cones being sold today. People are everywhere walking around with a cone in their hand. What a hot day it is today in the Yukon.
Later in the evening, Lisa drove Shawn and I up to the dome. I hadn’t been up there and this will be my last night here in Dawson City. Tomorrow will definitely be my departure date, no matter what. We arrived up there about 9:30pm and the sun was still too bright for any evening shots and in the wrong place for any good photos of the town from here. Mornings are better for photographing the city from up here. I wish I would’ve known that before, I would’ve got up here in the morning on another day to take some photos. We hung out and I took some photos of the town and tried to figure out how to take a photo of me on the dome.
Corey had taken a photo of himself as silhouette in front of the setting sun with a bright orange sky. That was a cool photo and it inspired me to try a similar shot. I took some photos early with a white sun before sunset and then we waited.
I was waiting for Sean to come up from down the hill where he was sitting with Lisa. “Hey Wade I’m naked” I heard and turned to see Sean dancing around naked. Shawn looked like Robin Williams in the movie “The Fisher King” when he was dancing naked in Central Park. At the same time I saw a busload of tourists coming up from the other side of the dome quickly approaching while Sean danced naked. I almost didn’t want to warn Sean but for some reason I did and he got dressed just in time as the bus turned the corner. The tourists walked up on the dome while I had my camera set up with the timer to photograph myself. They walked right in front of my a camera, about 20 of them, and just looked at me. One guy laughed at me and said “you didn’t want to take any photos anyway.” The dome was now crowded with tourists, ahhhhhhhhhhh I hate tourists!! It was so nice and peaceful up here with just us and now them. But they soon left and Sean and I engaged in some highland games. We started with a log toss. It was a very large heavy log that was difficult to pick up, let alone throw. I beat him in distanced on throwing the log. Then we tried to throw a huge and heavy rock. I started and overran the stick from where I was supposed to throw. “Practice try” I said and then did it again. He went and beat me by a few feet. We had one more event as a tie-breaker when a lady came up with her dog and then we soon forgot about our game. The sky got very cloudy and the wind picked up. Kelly drove up on her break from work bringing Yunita and Jeremy with her. All of us stood on the dome hangin out when Kelly lost her nose ring. Everyone searched to no avail. Another small bus came up with some tourists and between them and the wind we were getting a bit crazy. When Kelly, Yunita, and Jamie were driving away, Sean mooned them from the dome and that drove all the tourists away. Cool alone again up here! By this time we realized there will be no way to get any photos of the sunset since the sky was filled with clouds. Sean was getting a bit crazy and told me to bash his head in with a rock right now.
We left and later in the night Sean, Lisa and I sat in the Sun and had shared a seafood platter for dinner. It was during our meal that I told them that from now on when I feel a bit crazy and insane like Sean was earlier, that I’m going to say that I’m feeling “domed”. They laughed and agreed it was an appropriate term to use. My fortune cookie was blank and when I got another to replace it, it had some trivial useless saying. I forget what it said but something about a phone call I think.
By the end of the night I found myself standing around the small pickup truck with a camper shell on it that Yunita and Kelly live out of. It was Sean, Lisa, Yunita, Kelly and me standing around talking. Kelly gave me a fortune she had gotten out of a fortune cookie that said “Your life will be happy and peaceful” to replace the one I got earlier… that was so kind. geez I’m gonna miss all of them. Afterwards Sean and I walked back and caught the ferry back to the hostel campground.
DAY 141 – August 2, 1999
It was very early in the morning when Kevin came to my tent and woke me up, 7:30 am I think. He wanted to make sure he saw me before I left. I was soooo tired and could barely talk, let alone get out of my tent. The force of gravity had increased 10 times under my thermarest and I could not move. We talked briefly and I was still in somewhat of a dream state as I spoke into the real world from the dream world. Somehow, I managed to get my arm lifted and shook hands through the tent door. Kevin is such a terrific guy, and I know I probably keep saying stuff like this in my journal, but I’m gonna miss him.
I got up very late and had a lot to do today. First I went to Peabody’s and picked up the roll of film I dropped of yesterday along with all the reprints I had done. Sitting in Paradise North Coffeehouse (YES they’re open again!!!!), I went through the photos I took of Andrew last Friday night at the Pit. Wow I really do not remember taking at least half of these photos!! geez how did I ever take these shots and get Andrew framed in the shot. Man I do not remember taking most of these! But luckily, they turned out great :)
Jessie soon joined me at the table in Paradise North, but soon got bored as I was working furiously trying to organize all the reprints for all those that wanted them. After a couple of hours, I was getting really burned out on this and just wanted to get on the road. I finally got them sorted but seemed to be one short on negative sets. There should be 20 and I counted 19 but just threw everything in a box to be mailed and hoped that they were in there somewhere and will find them when I get home. I really hope I didn’t lose a set since there are some that I want to get blown up and make prints out of on each of these rolls. Somehow Dawson City found a very creative photographer in me and I still cannot believe I took some of these photos. Hopefully, I can sell some prints to help recoup some of the expense of this journey.
I am soooo far behind in everything right now. My journal entries are waaaaay behind, but at least I have all the brief highlights written for each day and all I have to do is rewrite them. There is no time for writing when my time is so consumed by all these really kewl people :) All I have to do is get up, cross the ferry and walk into town. There will always be someone I see that I know, the day just unfolds as I just flow with all the events and mostly just live in the moment for that day, just like most others here in this town. I don’t even have to look for anyone, I always seem to see anyone I want within 2 days. There has never been 2 days in a row I didn’t see a particular person. But I never did see Manfred and Jacqui. Last I saw them they left me on the side of the road heading toward Dawson City and then about 20 minutes later passed going in the other direction. I thought they had forgot something. Jacqui had said that she would like to see me in Dawson City and wished that her brother there had a phone. I had told them that I would be easy to find either in a pub or a coffeehouse. Apparently they never made it to Dawson City????
Going to the post office, I mailed off all my photos and negatives home and sent what journal entries I had to be posted on the net. Inside, I saw Jamie and Ceinwen, unfortunately I didn’t have much time here to get to know Ceinwen and only was around Jamie on a few occasions. Both of them were very much the fun, quick witted partyin’ types. But this was it and Jamie and I talked for a little bit and then I was on my way.
Finding Karee Ann at the pool with the kids she watches for daycare, I gave her the copies she wanted of photos and also gave her Andrews copies to give him. Karee Ann has some excellent ideas for a retreat to provide holistic and alternative therapies. When she completes her 4 year degree she plans on studying oriental medicine. This is great, meeting all these people on my journey so we can all share knowledge and exchange ideas. Just like meeting Scott and Donna in Eureka Springs and the many others along the way. Wow, what a great journey I’m on. This is something I will definitely have to do often in my life, if not once a year. Maybe not to this scale, but some kind of journey.
I was headed to the general store when I saw Andrew, Jade, and Jessie at the Paradise North Coffeehouse. Andrew gave me his address and a “twoney” for the prints I had got for him. Even though I told him not to pay me, he felt like he should and I appreciated that. We shook hands goodbye and I was off to finally get on the road. Quickly I made my way through the general store and bought some stuff and then went back across the ferry.
Shawn was not at the campground, Anna said he went to see Yunita. Darn! She was going back across and I asked her if she would ask him to come over before I left. It was getting very late and I really had to pack everything to leave today. It was after 5 PM when I finally got ready to leave. Kevin gets off work at 5 and I waited for him to arrive. By 6pm I realized he must have got delayed in town and could no longer wait. I almost took the ferry back across to find them, but that would kill at least another hour of time and I really had to get some miles in today. geez I hope they don’t think me a jerk for not even seeing them before I left. But I know they will understand that I really had to get going.
Wow this is it!!! I’m leaving my new home :( Goodbye Dawson City and all of those great friends I’ve made. Some of the best times of this journey are here, and in my life. For overall experiences, Dawson City by far exceeds all other places I’ve been on this continent. Whitefish was an exceptionally wonderful experience, but Dawson had so many great people and experiences. I’ve never laughed so much than here.
Ugh, uphill!!!! My bike was creaking and squeaking with all kinds of new noises. So much extra weight now and this grueling uphill. I moved very slowly up “The Top of The World Highway”. After a few miles I took my last look at Dawson City and a couple of photos. Continuing on, Dawson City leaves my sight and I pedal with mixed emotions again. It was great to be pedaling again, but I really didn’t want to leave. The uphill continued on and on and on and on.
Finally after 11.73 miles at 4mph, I reached an area with my first small downhill before continuing uphill even more. It was getting late, my left knee was hurting and I was tired. So I found an area off the road and parked my bike about 200 feet from the road and slept on the ground in my sleeping bag.
DAY 142 – August 3, 1999
I woke up at 5 am and moved around slowly. For breakfast, I fixed a bowl of granola with water and powdered skim milk in it. This seems so isolated out here with barely a car going by and the landscape is so vast that I can see forever.
Riding slowly, I wanted to just take it easy on my knees and really experience this giant vastness around me. Sun beaming across the landscape- warm brightness enveloping my body, gravel road turning below my wheels. Alone I ride, alone I exist, quiet and peaceful in the silent air, I lost myself.
As I approached an area called Castle Rock, I found myself sitting in a ditch near Castle Rock and for some reason I felt so complete. As I sit here writing these words in my journal, this whole experience feels unreal. Words are difficult to describe what I’m feeling and “seeing” now. It is almost as if I’m on drugs or hallucinating. The real feels unreal, this remote area of wilderness feels like a 3-dimensional painting I’m in.
My thoughts carried me back through all the experiences on my journey and the last influence of people in Dawson City. They helped me see other aspects of myself as I’ve been trying to re-define who I am in this world. That special place encompassed many great emotions for me and many other great souls on journeys of their own. Many I have neglected to write about, what incredible people they were. It was as if everything else was preparing me for Dawson City and now here I am, sitting in the middle of absolutely nowhere on the top of the world.. :-)
I came to the conclusion that here I exist, and here I need only to remember that I am alone, was born alone and will die alone. This journey is not for those reading on the internet who are following me, it is not to boost my ego by some sort of accomplishment. It is my journey exploring inner space. Why ride the bicycle, why not sit in a cave for many months? What is real, what really matters? I know not. It is not the finding but it is the seeking that matters.
Why keep riding? Maybe I should catch a ride with a pick-up truck. This journey to me is over as I experienced a surreal moment along the road, almost as if it was an out of body experience as I looked down upon myself from high above and seeing the small speck of me in the vastness of this universe. I could continue on to Prudhoe Bay, but why? This journey feels so complete now and I have found many pleasures along the way. But fortuna’s wheel is always turning and eventually I will find myself at the bottom again. This is the price I must pay for pleasure, but I’m happy for it, the sweet price of pain for pleasure. The more misery I endured, the more I could appreciate all the good things along this journey. Misery and pain are compulsory and evokes emotional responses that are in a sense good. Good in that it is raw and at times and uncontrolled release of tension and anxiety that makes me feel reborn once I’ve endured it. Something most of those driving by in RV’s may never understand.
Most of them live more along these lines:
*work to make money
*make money to spend on needless wants and desires
*spend to fulfill an empty short-lived happiness
*go in debt to buy more things to make one happy(or impress others)
*live to work, a slave to a consumerist society
*consumerism = stress = sickness
*die and never truly find happiness through materialism
On this journey I have found myself more at peace with myself when I wasn’t searching for it. Like that day riding in Kansas when I first experienced a close connection to my bike and the world around. It was that day I learned to “let go” and just be. It isn’t always easy, but now I know I’ve experienced it and can continue to find those special moments in time.
Pedaling along, I allowed my consciousness to float through the timeless space here and travel across mountain ranges, inside hidden mountain lakes, soar through the clouds, and zig zag through the small trees around me to eventually catch up to myself from behind and really enjoy being me. I yelled “Woo Hoooooooooooo” at the top of my lungs and began singing in my awful singing voice and loved it. It was just me and cars were scarce and I was at one with everything.
What an incredible experience and I only hope I can return and live a much simpler life and able to now laugh at myself when I make mistakes, realizing that is a part of life. I remember seeing Andrew able to laugh at himself when he either said something really screwed up or did something stupid. People that can laugh at themselves and realize that we need to let things go, and move on to cherish each moment are admirable. Dogs have always been admired by me by their ability to constantly live in the moment and love their owners unconditionally. I miss having a dog for a companion, maybe I’ll look for one when I get to Alaska.
One thing about this stretch of road, there is no water along the road. This highway runs very high up for many miles where the trees no longer grow. There are no streams or water sources. My 4 bottles of water and my 1 Nalgene bottle that were full leaving Dawson City, were now down to one bottle with about one fourth of water left in it. The day had been very hot and dry, 32 degrees Celsius( about 90 degrees F I think). Normally I would never have any type of canned food with me, but I had bought several cans of Tuna while I stayed in Dawson. Now I had one can with me. In an effort to save water, I opened the can of tuna and drank the water out, then made a tuna sandwich for a late afternoon meal.
Luckily, the border was much closer than I thought and I arrived with only a drop of water left. 56.5miles to the border.
today – 60.66
avg – 6.5
total – 6033
Continued in Alaska…
The story continues in:
Pedalling to Nirvana – part 7.1 (Alaska)