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Archive for 2009

September 22nd, 2009 - Vancouver, CA

The Hwy 99 was a long and twisty hell. On a bike with an oil leak, I really didn’t enjoy it one bit as I my riding pants got soaked and construction road blocks at every bend made it a 5 hour ride. The leaking oil kept dripping on the exhaust and every time I stopped, a cloud of smoke encircled me which made breathing difficult.

I got to Vancouver during rush hour and found my way toward Sarah’s apartment. Sarah was my CouchSurfing host on Friday and Saturday and she was a great one at that.

On Saturday, I finally found a valve cover gasket and oil filter and Andy offered his garage to do the operation. Andy read about my problems with the bike and called me when I was in Williams Lake and he even offered to ship the complete rear wheel off of his bike to get me down to Vancouver (I had already changed the tire by that time, but his selfless act of kindness was touching). On Sunday afternoon, we tore the bike apart once again and changed the valve cover gasket along with the tar colored oil in Andy’s garage and had a great time talking about old GS motorcycles the whole time.

My Sunday host had canceled on me and I had nowhere to go so, with Sarah’s help, I found a cheap hostel called the American Backpacker in downtown Vancouver. This place was rundown to put it politely. If I concentrated hard enough, I could do a study on rats and other small mammals in their natural habitat. But if cost only $10 and I needed a place to stay so I checked in. The only parking spot was in the back alley and as I was getting my stuff out, I noticed that there was broken window glasses all over the lot, so I put 4 different locks on the bike and started walking in. I was only 15 feet away from my bike when I heard a window shatter and saw a guy running with something in his hand and that was enough to turn around right there and go back to the bike. I moved the bike to right in front of the hostel and chained it under the light, but I still didn’t feel completely safe, so I opened the double door of the hostel and moved the bike inside in the front hall. I didn’t care what anyone would say, I was not about to move it an inch, no matter what.

Besides being a dirty place, this hostel was one of the coolest places I’ve visited in Canada. I made many friends from all over the world and had a great time.

On Monday, I managed to get a print shop to do my brochure printings. Thanks to TR Trades Production, LTD, I now have 500 brochures to pass around. Danielle Dongan, the owner of the shop, was super helpful and she even tri-folded them for me before I picked them up. Thank you Danielle, you’re a doll.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at Elizabeth’s. My new host was a cutie who rides her yellow JAZZ scooter all over town and her dream is to do the Tour de Europe on her Bicycle. An explorer at heart, she was smart and very enjoyable to talk to.

On Tuesday, I decided to do some fundraising on the rich side of the city, so I setup my display in front of the Starbucks (one of my sponsors) with the help of a pretty and very enthusiastic Persian girl named Natalie (I hope the spelling is right). Natalie provided muffin samples, a donation bucket and tables, but as the day went by, I realized that it’s hard to get a penny out of this pretentious bunch.

5 hours of begging and only $20. That has got to be a new record for me. (I didn’t see one beggar in the whole area; maybe they knew what I didn’t know!) There was a lady who bought a bottle of water for her dog while pushing her $4000 stroller and refused to throw her change in the bucket (she ate the free sample though.) I watched a parade of Lamborghinis, Mercedes, and Ferraris go by with people in them who had so much but spared so little. When you talked to them, they all bitched about the economy, like they were suffering. I suppose they used to use their helicopters to do the shopping, but now they are forced to drive their crappy Rolls-Royces. There is truth to the saying “the less they have, the more they give.”

I am leaving for Ferndale, Washington tomorrow. It will be good to get back to the States after all.

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September 17th, 2009 - On the way to Vancouver

Seven o’clock in the morning. Gib woke me up. I wanted to kill him but I was so tired I couldn’t even get out of the bed. I rolled around and listened to his gibberish for another hour until I couldn’t take it anymore and got up.

First thing, I talked to the Hotel manager and she sponsored the accommodation so I could get the bike fixed before moving out. I already missed my scheduled lecture in Prince George and also because of the delay, my Vancouver events were canceled too, so I figured I should take care of the bike at least.

I found a carwash and washed all the oil and mud off the bike and got to work with a can of brake parts cleaner and paper towels. After half an hour of cleaning, I was able to JB weld the leak area and it held. My second task was to find a tire, but after a few calls, I found out that the closest place was 300km away and I was out of luck. While I was working on the bike, a Japanese guy showed up and took me to a motorcycle shop two blocks away and they plugged my tire one more time and didn’t charge me either. Very nice folks and the shop owner had a GS1000 that he drag raced. It was a cool bike but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me.

Wednesday morning, Gib took off early to go to the Harley Davidson dealership and said he would meet me there. When I got there, he was gone and I didn’t see him anywhere on the road either. Well, I like the solitude better anyway; that way I’m my own man.

I rode south toward Vancouver and stopped at Williams Lake to get the new tire and that’s when I met Dave Graf. Dave is the owner of New Life Cycle, arguably the biggest motorcycle shop in Canada. At first I only saw a few motorcycles here and there, but when he gave me the grand tour, I could not believe my eyes. This warehouse had over 260 complete bikes and well over 1000 bikes that have been parted out, parts meticulously organized on shelves.

A motorcycle traveler himself, Dave has been to South America four times and as soon as he found out I was heading there as well, we were in business. I switched out the old tire for a new one in his yard and he gave me a tachometer drive and cable for free so I got the tach fixed as well. He invited me to have dinner and spend the night at his house and off we went. We went through 5 giant albums full of pictures from Mexico to Argentina. Dave is a generous man who’s been involved with poverty issues in Latin America and supports many families and children south of the border. He even gave me two books to take with me so I don’t have to read warning labels off of my underwear anymore! Thank you Dave.

In the morning, we parted ways and I headed south again. I was not in a riding mood, so I stopped a million times and finally pulled over and set up my tent on top of a pass and called it good enough for the day. I will head to Vancouver tomorrow morning and will stay there for a few days. Now that I’ve missed my events, I’m planning roadside fundraisers which should be fun.

By the way, today is my birthday. Don’t bother sending me all the gifts; just make some donations so I can meet the September goal…

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September 15th, 2009 - Madness On Cassiar Highway

Teslin Lake to Prince George is 1600 km on the Cassiar highway. Cassiar highway runs through some of the most isolated regions of British Columbia and is packed with bears, glaciers, high mountain peaks and class five waters. This was the longest, wettest, prettiest and most memorable leg of my journey so far.

I left Teslin in a full blown rain storm towards Watson Lake at the junction of the Cassiar highway. I tried to find some sort of shelter after two hours into the ride, but every place I went to was closed or abandoned. My situation was pitiful and I could see the glances of dry people looking at me in awe out of their car windows the second they splashed me with more water and passed me by. I rode for 3 hours before I gave up as I couldn’t see anything and my face was tired of getting plastered with high wind and driving rain.

I stopped at a lodge called the Rancheria Lodge and parked the bike and walked inside. Every head was turned the second I walked in. I really didn’t know what shape I was in until I looked down on the floor and saw the puddle around my feet and dripping water from my chin.
The owner of the lodge, Denis Bouchard, sponsored the night and gave me a much needed warm room. Denis bought the lodge about 3 years ago and he is one hell of a nice guy. We talked for a few hours sitting in the lounge, and I showed him how to make a website for his business. While I was there, I met a native couple who were very nice and I enjoyed their company immensely.

After a breakfast of eggs and bacon, I left Rancheria in good weather and met Gib in Watson Lake. We backtracked the 30 miles to the Cassiar junction and stopped for lunch. At our stop we found out that there was a huge mudslide past Dease Lake and the road was closed until further notice.

Cassiar is usually known to be a bad road and Gib didn’t want to risk the weather and get stuck on the road so he decided to take the Alaska Highway instead. I wanted to see the Cassiar and no mudslide was going to stop me, so I said my goodbyes to Gib and went down the Cassiar with plans to meet up with him in Prince George 3 days later.

The first 20 miles was absolute hell – gravel with potholes about the size of a basketball all over the road. The rain had turned the dirt into mud and it resembled the Dempster highway all over again. Past this section, the road turned into one of the best roads I’ve seen in all Canada with perfect asphalt and beautiful scenery. In fact, there was not a single section that was less than perfect all the away to Prince George. Gib missed out big time and I was glad that I made that call.

The first night I camped at a clearing before the mudslide and went to bed early so I could get on the road at sunrise. I woke up with the sound of the rain drumming on the tent wall at 7 am. At every break, I got out of the tent to evaluate the situation but the second I was out, the rain started again, heavier each time.

I had no book with me or anything entertaining (I had two books when I started but I gave them away after finishing them earlier on the road), so I started reading every label I could find on anything I had inside the tent. You’d be amazed how much reading material you can find around you when “tent-bound.” I read warning labels for a few hours (I must have read some of them more than 10 times) until I fell asleep again. When I woke up, the rain had stopped and it was already 1 pm. I packed up the wet tent and got on the road and surely enough, the rain started again and continued for next two days. The mudslide was clear with no wait or hassle. I passed the area in awe of what this slide brought down with it. There were trees as tall as a 3 story building and rocks weighing a few tons each. The mudslide had buried an excavator for 24 hours before they could get it out! I tried taking pictures but the crew wanted me to get out of there fast and gave me some angry looks, so I got on my way.

That night I camped at a rest area and crawled into my damp sleeping bag dreaming of warmer weather and sunshine. In the morning, I used the break in the weather and started drying my stuff in the overcast sunrays while eating a bowl of porridge standing up. The rain wasn’t as heavy when it finally started again and it started to clear up as I made my way towards Stewart and Hyder. Low clouds and fog made it hard to see the road let alone the mountains, but came a moment when the clouds lifted and there it was. Conspicuous glaciers and sky high mountains all around me with a road so twisty that I never had to go a straight line for more than 10 seconds. High canyon walls and waterfalls in every corner and the sun finally came out.

Hyder is technically in Alaska but since there are no American towns even close to it, it’s much like Canada with Canadian dollars used as currency. With population of only 25 families, it’s a pretty rustic town sitting at the mouth of Portland Canal, a 150km long fjord that runs along the southern edge of the Alaska panhandle.

When I got to Hyder, it was Sunday so everything was closed and with not much to do, so I went up and down the bumpy “street” of the town till I saw the whole town 10 times over and crossed back to Canada. The border crossing is just a formality and all I had to do was to take out my passport and as soon as he saw the blue cover he waved me in.

Being happy that the weather was finally decent, I rolled on the throttle to enjoy the twisties from Hyder to Stewart when all of a sudden I felt a little jolt and I knew I had a flat tire. I started to slow down from 60mph gradually but the bike shifted to the left and then to the right as the tire started to come off the rim. It was my rear tire that was getting shredded and I had no choice but to slow down gradually while holding on for dear life on a bike that had a mind of its own. Applying the front brake, I slowed it down to 10mph or so when I heard the rim hit the asphalt. At that speed I figured that it wouldn’t hurt that bad if I fell, so I squeezed the front brake as hard as I could and the bike stopped in its tracks, saving my rim.

I was Ok and the rim was Ok, the bead of the tire was broken but it stayed on the rim, so I pushed the bike to the side of the road and caught my breath. A pickup truck stopped and the lady asked me if I was ok. She first thought I was looking at a bear going in a wrong lane but when the bike started to shake and wander off she knew it was more than a bear. I asked her if she could get me an air compressor and off she went to find out. Seconds later, another car stopped and it was the British couple that I met earlier in Stewart while having lunch in the park and they helped me get the bike on center stand. He left me his ratcheting tie down strap so I could wrap it around the tire and give it a better seal to set the bead when I get the air compressor.

The lady with the truck showed up with a small 12v air compressor and knew it was the wrong tool from my smile. She went back again and this time showed up with a 60 gallon giant tank of air which did the job perfectly. I inflated the tire and rode back to her house in Hyder so I could fix the tire in her driveway. Sue Hickman was a God-send. Wife of the local pastor and a true Alaskan at heart, she provided every little thing I asked for to get the job done, from soap, towels, water, hammer and C clamp, to Pledge for lubrication. Without her help, I would be still sitting somewhere on the Cassiar waiting for a tire to get there. Thank you, Sue.

It turned out to be 3 holes in a 12 inch section of the tire and I had to plug this tire 3 times to get it to stop leaking. I had to break the bead one more time since it was leaking from the rim and with help of Pledge and good air compressor, I set the bead finally to my liking with no leak.

I headed out of town right after the repair and rode out towards Meziadin Junction. On the way, I stopped in the Bear Glacier Canyon to take a picture of the raging glacial waters rushing through the canyon. I wanted a better shot, so I climbed over the road side on a little steep hill directly on top of the swirling waters down below. I was taking pictures and trying to get a better angle when the soft dirt gave out under my feet and I started hurtling down towards the washing machine hole down in the river. I franticly grabbed on to anything I could and for the second time that day, a branch sticking out of the side of the hill saved my life. I climbed back up, shaken but unharmed; thinking what the hell else could happen that day.

As Murphy’s Law says:  if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. 2 kilometers down the road, this giant black bear that came out of nowhere is in the middle of the road and stopped. I hit the brakes and stopped too. Maybe 40 feet away, he stared at me and wouldn’t go away despite me honking the horn and revving the engine.

I was in the middle of the road and turning around required getting closer to the beast, so I stayed put. He stood up on his back legs and started walking towards me. I have no idea how fast I got out the buried bear spray out of my tank bag, dropping a million things in the process, but before I pulled the trigger, he ran into the bushes 20 feet away. I wanted to get the hell out of there right then, but I had to get off the bike and pick up the stuff that I dropped earlier, so the time stood still. I picked up the stuff and got the hell out of that place like a mad man.

I had enough of mishaps, so I started looking for a bear free camp spot and I found one. I camped at the Meziadin Provincial Park next to a picture perfect lake by the same name. I was finally free of troubles after all.

I shared camp with a Canadian girl named Stefanie Peacock. Stefanie is a biologist from Vancouver Island who decided to ride her bicycle from Whitehorse to Prince Rupert. She had dark chocolate and cookies and I had black tea, so we got along.

It rained all night again and in the morning, I packed up the soaking tent and got on the road, determined to make it to Prince George that day no matter what. It was probably the longest ride of my life as I stopped to check on the patched tire every now and then and had to replace two of the plugs with new ones as they kept going into the tire and leaking air. Somewhere along the way, the engine started leaking oil from the valve cover gasket and it got worse as the day went on. It took 12 hours to cover 450 miles and when I got to Prince George, I was so tired that I could barely stand up straight. I met Gib at the Boston Pizza place and I rented my first hotel room since I started the expedition. $85 for a motel is a normal price up here, but to me it’s a waste of money that I could have put toward the cause. But I needed a dry place and there was no way in hell I was staying in that soaking tent for another night, so I checked in the Camelot Motel and sat on a soft spot after 7 days of hell. It’s 2 am here as I’m typing this blurb, and that’s all I can muster up for now…

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September 14th, 2009 - Hang in there Colonel

My Jeep rolled over twice on N. Montana Ave in Helena, MT and took two men down with it. The accident happened on Sep, 11th at around 7pm. Tim, the driver, is reportedly in critical condition and has been transferred to Great Falls for surgeries; Colonel Bruce Murphy is in not-so-good shape himself, hospitalized in the VA hospital in Fort Harrison.

I met Bruce Murphy (AKA “Colonel”) when I was living in my camper prior to my departure. A Vietnam veteran who’s like so many others that have been neglected to a degree that they don’t resemble a living thing of any sort anymore. Living out of his old camper with no electricity of any sort in an abandoned parking lot, he was as cheerful and funny as a man can get. We talked and laughed many of nights, sitting around that old parking lot talking about absolutely nothing worthwhile.

Before I left, he purchased my Jeep as he wanted a moving vehicle to get around. On Sep, 11th, Colonel and his friend Tim were on a beer run to town and on the way back, Tim lost control of the car on a bad road and they both went down. My good friend Joe DeLuca recognized my jeep in the newspaper 5 days later by the zip ties that he put on the trailer hitch harness when I sold him my hitch and went to the hospital to check on the guys. I feel guilty and very disturbed by what happened even though I had nothing to do with it. Tim is in pretty bad shape and according to Joe, he has little chance of surviving but I hope they both make it through. Hang in there guys…

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September 9th, 2009 - Teslin Lake, Yukon Territories

When I woke up, Stephanie was already gone, so I packed up and got on the way. I talked to Gib this morning and he is meeting me at Watson Lake on Friday. From Watson Lake, we are planning to travel together all the way to Oregon, fundraising on street corners all the way.

I covered the 170km section of the Alaska Highway to Teslin Lake and stopped at the Yukon Motel, in Teslin. Teslin Lake is one the biggest lakes in Yukon Territories and can be seen for miles while driving on the Alaska Highway. In fact, it seemed so big that I thought it would never end. It might have had something to do with the drizzling cold rain that was hitting my face, but it sure looked like the Pacific Ocean.

At the Yukon Motel, I talked to Juanita Kremer, the owner of the lodge and she generously sponsored my accommodation for the night. The Yukon Motel consists of a gas station, large RV Park, restaurant, several cabins and an amazing wildlife museum. It is a lake front property with a beautiful view of Teslin Lake. The wildlife museum is one-of-a-kind, stocked with most creatures of the north in a magnificent display setting. I am just happy to be out of the cold for the night and I’m heading to Watson Lake tomorrow to meet up with Gib.

Tonight I received an email from a guy in Guatemala named Oscar stating [sic]: “congratulation for your travel is very interesant please visit this tread this open in honor of yor travel”.

I checked out the site and emailed him back in Spanish saying thank you for his efforts and so on. He wrote me back: “Gracias a dios hablas español por que yo no hablo casi nada de ingles”.

After a few emails I got to understand the depth of the efforts these guys are putting into collecting food for poor people in Guatemala. These guys are not waiting for foreign assistance and took the matter of feeding their people into their own hands. I salute their determination and fortitude. Although they are not rich by any means, they are playing their part. Please visit this link to see their efforts: (you can use the Google translator if your Spanish is rusty like mine)

Guatemala is among the 10 poorest countries in Latin America and according to World Bank, more than 33% of the population is living in poverty. I will be visiting Guatemala in 3 months or so but in the mean time, I’m reaching out right here and now to teachers, doctors, farmers, livestock growers, … to answer my call. I can arrange for your accommodation and tools so you could teach and practice there, if even for a short period. I’m only one man and can do just so much.

They need your expertise and resources; they are a proud and willing people who just need a helping hand. Please contact me if you are willing to help however you can. I need volunteers for many different tasks and projects. Let’s be united; let’s feed a piece of bread to a hungry child. I’m begging you… please make a donation, even if not here, please go to donation page on my website and support an organization of your choice.

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September 7th, 2009 - Bock Bock

First, I’d like to thank Ronald Schulten and Sarah Olson for their generous donations.

If you go to northern Alaska, you have to visit Chicken. It is laid back, fun and in the middle of nowhere. With the population of only 27, Chicken was settled by gold miners in the late 1800s and in 1902, the local post office was established requiring a community name. Due to the prevalence of ptarmigan in the area, that was the name suggested as the official name for the new community. However, the spelling could not be agreed upon, and Chicken was used instead to avoid embarrassment. I was pumping gas when a Cessna 150 pulled in next to me and started filling up. The highway is also used as a runway for aircraft. You don’t see that in New York City.

From ,Chicken I rode southwest towards Tok to spend the night. Gib told me about a motorcycle campground named The Eagle Claw in Tok and I wanted to check it out; I also wanted to check my voicemails after 2 weeks. I got to the campground and saw a sign that said “Pick a spot, we will be around later.”

This campground is a marvelous place. Clean as it can get with teepees, cabins and tent sites. There’s a steam room, an unbelievably clean outhouse, dish station, ready-cut firewood, and real flowers on the table. There was also a stove and a pot to warm up water for cleaning dishes at the station. I was the only person in the whole area and no one came around, so I made a good fire and put Brian’s moose steaks on the coals. Dinner of moose and mashed potatoes and hot chocolate for dessert capped off the night. I packed up in the morning, turned the bike’s switch to “on”, pulled the clutch in, and heard a snap.

Lots of people made fun of me for taking spare parts with me, but dammit I was right. In the middle of nowhere, I had a brand new clutch cable sitting in my saddle bag and the tools to pull off the job. I got to work and unloaded everything again since I had to remove my seat to take the tank off to replace the cable. The weather was perfect and I was amused that my preparation had paid off. The new cable was not an exact fit but I made it fit anyway.

I loaded everything back up and stopped at the cabin to pay my camping fees. I knocked on the door and waited for a while, but no one was home and there was no drop box anywhere. I remembered seeing an ad for the place at the gas station where I filled up the night before, so I went back to the station and got the number and called the owner. She was a very nice lady and even told me to not worry about the camping fees, but I went back anyway and left the money in her car. If ever in Tok, don’t miss this place.

Crossing back into Canada was a breeze and the Alaska Highway was in its best shape. I stopped in Beaver Creek for a sandwich and met two guys on BMWs. Stephane Vachon is a French Canadian who’s been living in Panama for the past 15 years, and Oliver Fecht is a German teacher from south of Munich. I walked in and sat next to them at Buckshot Betty’s. I think it was Buckshot Betty herself who was serving us since she wasn’t very nice, but the food was great.

Oliver went looking for a campground. Stephane and I went to find a hotel room for him so I could use his internet connection before I would head out of town to pitch my tent somewhere in the bush. The single bedroom was $90 but the double bed was only $69, so Stephane invited me to stay. Stephane is riding a GS1200 BMW which he bought in Florida and has been touring Canada and Alaska for a while now. He was heading back to Whitehorse, so once again I found a cool travel mate. After answering emails and updating the website, we both crashed and before I knew it, the sun came up. It was -2C outside with a good frost covering everything. The morning started cold and stayed cold well into the afternoon. We hooked up with Oliver at Betty’s and all rode south together, changing lead every now and then. I wore everything I owned and had to bust out my ski gloves since my fingers were freezing, but it was a beautiful ride.

At the Haines junction, we said our goodbyes to Oliver as he rode south for Skagway while we went toward Whitehorse. We are staying at a hotel in Whitehorse (courtesy of Mr. Vachon) as I’m writing this and will go our separate ways tomorrow. Stephane will go to Skagway and take a ferry south, and I will head for Prince George in British Columbia. Stay tuned…

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September 6th, 2009 - Top of the world highway

“People who get up early in the morning cause war, death and famine.” Bansky

I woke up late again. Dempster took a lot out of me and resting up seemed like a good idea. Let’s backtrack a day or two so when you read this post, you are familiar with the characters.

When I got back from the Dempster and met up with Gib again, I found out that he wasn’t the owner of the lodge. Gib Acuna is a Californian who’s been traveling for over a year now and decided to go up the Dempster on his Fat Boy Harley. On his way back, he asked for a job at the lodge and he’s been working there for a month now. The best way to describe this man is to say he is a “people person.” He can start a conversation with a dead tree stump if you let him. He loves candy bars (he already ate half my candy collection) and to cap it off, he is the coolest guy you’ll ever meet. Pushing 61, he still jumps around like a 5 year old and has more energy than a humming bird. After 4 days, it feels like I’ve known the guy my entire life. He offered to let me stay at his place and as I never say no, I moved in right away. He has also shared his employee meals with me ever since I’ve been here, and I’m indebted to this man greatly.

Gib had a master plan to build a motorcycle park right at the gate of the Dempster highway, with campsites next to the river, mechanic shop, food service and entertainment! His idea was a brilliant one and the location he had in mind was unbelievable. You can’t go a meter on the Dempster without relying on the Klondike River Lodge, and he wanted to pitch his idea to the owner of the lodge. I helped him prepare his business plan, make a PowerPoint presentation, and we worked on the details for a long time. When “show time” came, he nailed it and the great news is: starting in May of 2010, there will be an amazing motorcycle campground at the base of the Dempster highway with full support, from tires to towing and rescue. He is the right man to do it and I’m sure it will be successful. I’m designing his website, logo, and taking care of the computer stuff while he does his construction. I wish him the best of luck.

I also met the owner of the lodge, Ross Weitzel. Ross is an interesting sort of guy who does his business on a hand shake. Up here in Yukon, there are no lawyers or legal complications, you shake the man’s hand and your word is your contract. He sponsored my lodging and my meals throughout my stay and reimbursed my camping fees. I liked the place to begin with, now I like it even more. The cook’s name is Brian and being a long time biker, he feeds me every night and supplies the beer while we talk all night and he has more stories than you could imagine. One hell of a nice guy.

The most revolting encounter I had was a conversation with a guy named Mario who was dating Christy, one of the waitresses. Mario is a German who moved to Canada some years back and is a farmer in Whitehorse, Yukon. He asked me what was all the world hunger stuff about and as I was explaining, he said something that I will never forget. “What happens after we feed everyone and no one is hungry? They are going to want more, they would want to eat beef, they would want a motorbike, and they would want a house. I am not ready to give up what I have so they can get what they want. It’s a cruel reality but that’s how it is. They have to be poor so we can be rich.” Is it the ignorance or the arrogance or both?

Brian marinated two moose steaks for me to take along for dinner and after exchanging numbers and emails, I finally got on the road. First stop was Dawson City and I got aboard the ferry to cross the river. Top Of The World Highway starts from the river bank and goes all the way to Alaska. It’s a gravel road with occasional potholes and some paved patches. The road was OK and the scenery beautiful, but to be honest, I didn’t see much of it as I was cold and the wind blew so hard I could barely keep the bike upright. I concentrated on the road and zipped through for hope of lower elevations.

At the American border, the drama started. At the border crossing, I stopped at the red light. I put both of my feet down and put the bike in neutral and as I raised my head, I noticed the border patrol man in his shack waving at me, so I took it as a sign to go to him. I covered the 20 feet or so and stopped at his window and turned the bike off.

He asked why I ran the red light and didn’t wait for the green light. I told him that he signaled me to come over and so I did. He said that he was signaling me to stop. I told him I was already stopped and there was no need to signal me to do so. The conversation went on and on as to who was right, so I finally asked him straight up “what is it you want me to do?”

He said to go around and come back to the light again and wait till it was green, then approach him. I’m getting pretty pissed off at this point but I did what he wanted. I crossed into United States and came back into Canada and stopped at the light again. On green, I approached the window and this time he asked me why I didn’t stop at Canadian Customs while I was turning around! I told him that I was instructed to turn around and come back to him and that he didn’t tell me to stop at Canadian Customs. He looked at me and said: “You people don’t have a stoplight in your country?”

That’s when I blew up and said: “Well I’m an American and we do have a goddamn stoplight in our country. We also have another thing called Freedom of Speech and expression. Watch me exercise it for you now: Go F*** Yourself.”

There was a silence and his eyes were starting to open up, so I went on by telling him that he turned me around for no reason and I don’t care if he’s going to let me in Alaska or not. I will write a complaint letter to the Department of Homeland Security and will see it through to the end. He looked at me for a second or two, then asked for my passport very firmly calling me ‘Sir’. I thought to myself that he was going to rip the bike apart but to my astonishment, he stamped my passport with a big caribou stamp and said “No hard feelings. We are just testing our new light system. Have a good day.”

Warning: You should never tell a man to go f*** himself if he is the only one with a gun in the middle of nowhere! I got lucky; do it at your own risk.

All in all, I enjoyed my stay in the Yukon and met some amazing people. Yukon with little over 30,000 in population is still a wild place. Hope it stays that way…

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