September 29th - October 4th

Table of Contents
  1. Entering the Yukon
  2. The best Hostel EVER! - Hands down!
  3. Three intriguing, beautiful women.
  4. Things always work out.
  5. Concerned for my saftey, I approached the unconcious man...
  6. 90 miles to go, about 1/4 tank of gas....
  7. Prince George
  8. Jasper, AB. Amazing.

Summary September 29th – October 4th, 2001

From Dawson City to Jasper, Alberta

September 29,30 2001 Saturday and Sunday in the Hide on Jeckell Hostel in Whitehorse, YK.

On Saturday I woke up and crossed the border into the US. I had slept out next to a rest stop on the American side the night before, and enjoyed the Northern Lights. There was no one at the border to check me in, so I read the instructions to call a number collect the next morning.

            The drive to Dawson City was nice, but not super nice. There were some pleasant vistas, and coming into town, I saw a neat little patch of fog in one of the valleys. It kind of hovered there, and said hello to itself. When I got into the “City of Dawson”, there was a fake storefront on the side of the road. It was extra cool looking. It had two buildings below. One was labeled Blacksmith, and the other was a tavern. But they were also storefronts. Behind the building, there was tourist information, which would have been on the inside of the buildings. It was an excellent little piece of architecture, because, you know everyone that sees them on the way in will stop, and look to see what’s around the other side. I really enjoyed it….  Until, I saw the sign that said “The Ferry is operated free of charge for your convenience. – Then I remembered a couple people mentioning that the ferry doesn’t run anymore, and I was quite paranoid. The further into town I got, the more nervous I got, until I started seeing a lot of cars come the opposite way.

            On the way into town, was a nice little view of the town from above, on the side of the road. When I got into town, it was quite cold. I went to the visitor center; it was closed for the season. I went to another thing; it was closed for the season.

Oh, yea I forgot to mention that I finally came to the bottom of the road, and came to the river. There, were signs instructing me to wait, and turn my car headlights off while the ferry returned to this side. It was extra small, and could fit probably 4 cars maximum. My car, and another truck were the only ones going across. The ride was maybe 7 minutes or so. It was a neat little jaunt across the Klondike River.

In Dawson City, of course everything was closed. I drove around the town a little, and stopped in some of the shops that were open, to ask what I should do if I had a little time in town. One person mentioned seeing the gold mining dredge. Two people mentioned going to the top of the mountain near town to have a look in at the city from above. One other person mentioned going out to Discovery Claim where Skookem Jim originally discovered gold. I went back to the visitor center, where they were having a meeting, and talked with a woman who was organizing the meeting. She also worked at the center during the season. She said that they were closed, but that she could help me before the meeting started.

She mentioned a couple things, but she said, “Other than that, just hang out, and talk with the locals. That’s the most fun thing to do.” – I liked Dawson City very much. It had a nice character, and the people seemed quite friendly, and a little on the rugged, hearty side.

Then I headed to the dredge, and the Discovery Claim. The dredge was neat. It was a big device that kind of floated, and panned quickly for gold. Discovery Claim was kind of small, but I looked in the creek. I didn’t bother to pan for gold, because it was so cold.

Then I headed back into town, and out of town. – I forgot to mention that earlier I ran into two people from Alaska, who were on their way to New England. I gave Rachel my name, and address and told them if they wanted to get in touch with me, that they could call and crash while in Rochester if they wanted.

I passed them on my way south to Whitehorse. The drive from Whitehorse was rugged, but beautiful. I am disappointed that I didn’t stop when I saw a few beautiful trees at the peak of their orange colors, with the sun shining directly on them, with a picturesque blue sky right behind. I didn’t stop, because I had just passed another vehicle, and passing was kind of difficult on these small back roads. So, I figured that I would have to pass them again if I stopped. I should have stopped.

I continued on into Whitehorse, and about 100km out, it started to rain. The weather changes quickly around here. It was beautiful earlier, and now starting to Rain. – After about 5 hours of driving, I arrived in town. I came in to a group of about 6 people having “Curry” for dinner. Narelle being one of them. We had a nice little dinner chat while we ate.

I then checked in, and talked with Narelle briefly. The hostel is set up very cool. The place is only about 6 months old, and it shows. Everything is very new, and decorated extra nicely. Each room is a continent, which I think is incredibly smart. Especially with the international nature of a Hostel. The hostel workers are extremely nice. They are Narelle, super nice Aussie, whom I met on the ferry from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, the main reason I stayed in the Hostel in Whitehorse. Anibell from Canada. Beautiful face, and amazing personality. Another Aussie named, Michelle, who is staying here is cute too.

Anyway the continents are the rooms, and on each bunk in each room, there are endangered species from that Continent. Or just species. I originally had Salmon from North America, but then had Bear, because the bed was better. With bear, I also get a basket to put food in the kitchen, and a basket to put food in the refrigerator. I think it was genius to set these things up this way.

Anyway, I like it a lot. I also like the town, which Narelle and I explored as we went out for a couple drinks. Most of the Bars are part of Hotels. Actually, all the ones that we went to were part of hotels. The first we went to was kind of more like a lounge. I felt like I should be listening to Dean Martin, and singing Cha Cha Cha D’amour.  We had a beer and a Martini here. Then, a couple native folks who had a bit to drink interrupted us.

One had no front teeth, and long hair. The other was his brother who had shorter hair, and teeth. Later the long hair one, interrupted us on the street, and the way he talked was interesting. He said, to know how it is to not have a job, grab on to my belt loop, and follow me around. He kind of sounded clear, veiled in a thin net of fog from the alcohol. Narelle gave me her perspective on the European tradition of having 3000 years to build up a tolerance to alcohol. Then First nations folks hadn’t had this long, so they don’t have the tolerance that Europeans do. – This made sense to me.

The dude spoke kind of mystically hinting at reality, even though he appeared outwardly drunk. I could hear the truth in his words. It kind of made me sad, and think a little more about it later.

 Then we went to a karaoke bar, and listened to some people sing pretty badly. One woman however was very good. She sang some show tunes, and one song about being a ho.

Then we went back, talked for a bit, and then snuggled. I was the only one in North America.

September 30, 2001. Sunday.

            I woke up around 9:00AM, did some errands. Laundry and Groceries. Got Narelle a phone card that she had asked for. The powder detergent didn’t evaporate fully, and left white stains in my clothes where it didn’t. I was bummed. I got to talk at length with Michelle and Anibell about their different likes and dislikes. Michelle was only 21, and wanted to mush some sled dogs. She is going to be a scuba instructor in Florida next year. 

            Anibell intrigues me more every time I talk with her. Extremely sexy and beautiful. Wonderful dark eyebrows, cute Quebecois accent, beautiful European angular face. Very skinny and sexy. She is also a psychologist with her masters in Clinical Psychology.

            I went for a walk with Narelle. Then I went to the movies to see Shrek with Anibell, David, (another Canadian), and another dude whom was visiting from around town. I’m not sure why he was there. Probably just hanging out. Narelle was bummed because she couldn’t see Shrek since she was working at the Hostel. I also helped Anibell look for her poster, which she had lost while biking down from on top of the mountain. (She couldn’t find it)

            The walk with Narelle was super nice. We hiked up to the Airport, and had a great view of the city. I got a couple good shots of her, and a couple great shots of the city. It was refreshing, but slightly cold. We saw a little prop plane land. Very nice. This was the airport that the Korean Air plane was diverted to after the Attacks on Washington and NYC. Narelle was here, and said that a bunch of people went up to the airstrip, and another bunch of people drove frantically to get out of town. There were traffic jams in the streets, and people were walking everywhere she said. – A little scary.

            Then after our walk, this was after Shrek by the way, (Shrek was pretty good. Plot, story, and comedy not as good as I expected, and the story was pretty predictable), Definitely an enjoyable afternoon. We ordered a pizza. Very tasty, I whipped out the red-hot sauce that made dominos very bearable.

            Then hung out more, and showed picture to everyone, and enjoyed them much. The Northern Lights were out, and were spectacular. I actually got a couple decent shots of them, which was amazing not having a tri pod. One was just incredible, with a couple cars, and other things in the foreground, and this weird green ooze in the background. The shot is not doctored, but it sure looks like it is.

            Then two other folks checked in. Narelle was working all day, and kind of confined to the house. She put them with me, and we arranged to meet each other in Europe, with the only double bed in the place. We slept soundly.

Monday, October 01, 2001 Roadside Pulloff about 5km North of Dease Lake in B.C. Canada.

I woke up in the Hostel in Whitehorse. I again, can’t say enough about the hostel. It really was awesome. Very Very Very clean, nice decorations, nice coordination between the buckets in the Refrigerator and the buckets in the cabinets. Nice touch having each room be a continent, and each bunk in each room be an endangered species in that continent. Excellent hostel. The women were awesome too.

            In the friends section, Wherever, I write about this experience, I am going to entitle it “Three beautiful women.” – Each of the women in the hostel intrigued me in one way or another. They were all very sexy in their own ways, and were all very fun to talk with. I think it was Michelle’s eyes that hypnotize me the most about her. With Anibell, it was her beautiful skin on her European face, and eyebrows that turned me on. With Narelle it was her hair medium thickness, blonde, and sexy. If I could combine all three of these women, I would be in heaven.

            Michelle had the nicest little laugh, and she made me stumble over my words the most. When I made her laugh it was like no feeling on earth. I think as I got to know each of them better, I started to like Anibell’s mind more. She had her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and was interested in working with the First Nations people in Whitehorse. Narelle was the most fun to pal around with.

            It kind of frustrated me to be around three beautiful women all the time, because I wanted to spend time with each of them alone. Especially since I had come specifically to visit Narelle, kind of made things a little awkward when I was talking with one of the others. Michelle especially because I actually think she might have been interested in me. Anibell was immune to my charms.  Consequently, I started to like her the most in the end. I will look at the pictures later and reminisce. Women are great. Anyway,

            After I got up, I got myself together, and went to the phone to call Debra Antonelli. I told her that I would get in touch with her at 11:30 her time. When I called, she was in a meeting. So, I of course fretted about it for a while as I packed my stuff up, and got it ready to hit the road. I had most of my stuff packed. A couple dudes had come in late the night before, and were in my room too, so I had to try and be a little quiet when I was packing my stuff. It’s always a little difficult sleeping in that dorm style lodging. But, I guess that’s what you get for a Hostel. So, after I had most of my stuff packed, and my cardboard recycled, as well as some of my plastic, I decided that I would call Debra again, and then make some noodles. I put the water on, and called her.

            I was able to get through this time. So, I talked with her, kind of chatted a little, and she then told me that they had already hired another E10,000 Engineer. I was not pleased. But she of course tried to console me by telling me about other jobs that they might have. She was actually quite masterful the way she did it. Thinking back now, I guess it’s her job, but I didn’t realize how she was driving the conversation until just now.

            So, they had already hired another 10K guy. She asked me about my security background, and I told her that I had only a tidbit with that. Which of course is true. That little conversation wasn’t too bad, but it got worse. I mentioned to her that one of the other recruiters that I had spoken with in New York City had mentioned that things weren’t going too great down there, and that getting a temporary job somewhere else for 6 months to a year might not be such a bad idea. (This was my discussion with Matt K. about a week ago.) – She said there is no demand for technical people now, and that the market is flooded with all the folks that have been laid off from the dot com implosion. People just aren’t getting the salaries that they were before either. She said things like “Don’t get discouraged when you see the numbers”. Then she said, “Get a good job, and stick it out until they can pay you.” Needless to say, I was not psyched by our conversation.

So, after I got off the phone, I was extremely bummed out. Bumm Bumm bumm. I was bummed until I talked with the Anibell. She is just amazing. When a woman can get you in a good mood just by smiling – Man oh man. – Then later I went to visit Narelle at the superstore. I went and saw Michelle first. She was visibly disappointed that I was leaving. She was doing a little inventory for the store, trying to get a handle on the stock that was missing. – Joy. She remarked how messed up everything was. I think I will send her an e-mail, and say something like “Do you remember what I said to you, the first time that I talked with you.” – She will of course say “No”. – I will say, I don’t remember what it was either, but I remember that I could barely get the sentence out of my mouth. I think I stumbled over it three times, and it came out backwards in the end anyway. I will tell her that she made me stumble over my words, and my thoughts were jumbled too.

Then Narelle had a break with me, and I got a cup of Chai latte. This made me more awake, but still not in a better mood. I think it was an appropriate time to drink Chai latte. I hated waiting in line for it though. The woman was helping two people who were buying herbs and stuff. It took a good 10 minutes just to get the coffees. 

We had a nice little chat, and then hugged, and I gave her a little smooch and left. About 20k down the road out of town, I started feeling my groove again. I told myself that something else will work out, and it’s only a job. And there are tons of other opportunities out there. There are too. Maybe I will see about positions in different countries like France, or some other parts of Europe. That would be interesting to find a job that sponsored me outside of the U.S. That would be super cool. England might not even be bad either. Then I wouldn’t have language issues, and EDS is in England. That means that SUN is probably in England too.

I guess I will see how things go. Not having a job when I get back will give me time to do other things like work on websites and stuff. That will be super fun. No job to worry about, only time to work on websites and such. – I could totally spend all day long working on those. I just had a couple thoughts about doing stuff with Eric, and the other Eric, and maybe starting a consulting company. That would be a lot of fun. Plus it would be a great thing because of the people that I know in the area. My mind was just wandering again thinking about starting my own gig. It would be fun to have my friends on the board of directors. Complications… Thinking about non-disclosure agreements. I could ask Brian to look over some of the documentation. He might be able to help out a little bit in that way. Hmmm. My mind is wandering a lot again. It’s a good wandering though. I may even be back in time for the wine tour. 

So, I got in a better mood driving out of town. I also had a nice little cry listening to SHON FM. Which Is a radio station that “Chuck” Emcee’s, in his native tongue. It is awesome. They play all sorts of Old Old Old country music. I cried to listen to it, because I know that a lot of the old ways are dying. And it made me sad. Kind of like seeing a herd of buffalo in Yellowstone.

I drove more, and more, and then I lost reception. Actually the drive went pretty smoothly today. It seemed to go by fast. After hearing that I don’t have a position waiting for me in NYC, I thought I would probably stop in Madison, WI to see Lee and friends. Maybe I will see Katie in Chicago too. One never knows.

I stopped a couple times and took a few snapshots along the way. It was fun, but kind of almost cheating a little. Anyway, one time when I was pulled over taking pictures, I saw a midsize RV coming on fast behind me. I got up to speed, and stayed in front of it, but he was going about 75 too. It was funny, the places that I thought I could totally overtake him, like on the hills, he gunned it, and put the pedal through the floor and actually got closer to me.

The places that I put distance between us was on the windy downhill’s, I could corner a lot better than he could in his camper, and I definitely put distance between us in these sections. He must have had the cruise set to about 2 or 3 miles an hour faster than I did. I was going 76, so he must have been going 78, or so.  He was going faster than I was on the flats and the gradual uphills, and he eventually passed me. I was not angry in the least. If he wanted to go faster that was his prerogative. I was not however, pulling over to let him pass.

So, actually that little deadly bob passed some time. Then I got to the intersection with the Cassiar Highway. I got here about 5:15PM with 104488 miles on the car. This was near Watson Lake in the Yukon. The Cassiar goes through British Colombia. I asked some women in the place that I stopped for gasoline which route was the best to go to Banff and Jasper. They said the Alcan is faster, even though it’s longer. Because you can put the pedal to the metal. But the Cassiar is more scenic. I took the Cassiar.

About an hour into the Cassiar South, I was tooling along. Cannot use cruise control on this road, because it has too many sections that just quickly veer left or right. As I was driving along, my eyes were open, and scanning the road actively because I was concerned about wildlife. The Cassiar did not have paint, or visible differences between the shoulders, and the road itself. It was every vehicle for itself.

The Cassiar Highway was much much more isolated than the Alcan was. I went by one car, and one vehicle doing road maintenance in the first hour. On the Alcan, I was being passed, or passing by cars going the in the same direction about every 20 minutes, and in the opposite direction every 10 or so. More as I got closer to Watson Lake. Since I have been driving on the Cassiar today, this is about 237km, I think I passed by, or was passed in either direction about 5 or so. Plus, the remnants of civilization were much further between than on the Alcan. For the first part, I saw nothing but trees, lakes, and mountains for about an hour. 

I was driving along, with my eyes pealed, and holding on to the wheel with both hands. As I was rounding a bend, my eyes were drawn to something side of the road in kind of a depression. It was about 15 feet away from the highway, seemed mainly blue, and looked like a piece of garbage. It looked like garbage from the way it was out of place in all the green, and brown of the trees and grass. So, I assumed it was garbage. In the 5 seconds that I covered the distance to it, I could see that it was about 5 and ½ feet long, and about a foot and ½ wide. What I could see was mainly blue, but black at the ends.

I still had no idea as I passed by it, but a thought kind of wavered on the tip of my conscious. I could be a person. The thought was not like that, I mean that I didn’t consciously think it could be a person, but that possibility seemed to linger outside of the realm of my present understanding of the situation. That thought became reality, as I passed by the thing, and looked back. It was a person lying on its side. 

I kept driving. My thoughts raced. It could be a trap. It could be someone pretending to be on the side of the road, but if I go help him or her, someone might jump me from behind or something. I was a little scared. But dude, this was way way way, out in the middle of nowhere. I hadn’t seen a town since I got on the Cassiar about an hour ago, and I took a quick look at the map, and there was no visible town until Dease Lake which was about another hour away. I didn’t want to stop, but I thought to myself. What if the person is injured, and needs help. I didn’t see a vehicle in front, or behind the person, but it’s entirely possible that there was a motorcycle that had crashed that I couldn’t see. Maybe the guy had a broken leg, and needed to get to a hospital.

I thought about calling 911, but my cell definitely didn’t have coverage around here, and to wait until the next town would have wigged me out, and not really been an option. I don’t think I could stand to let this person just sleep there while I drove to the next town. – The more I thought about it, the realization came to me, that I really didn’t have an option. I had to go back. I couldn’t let this person just sit there, not knowing if he or she was ok. I had to know if they needed medical assistance. I stopped my brain at that. I would go back, see if they were ok, and then head out.

So, I drove back. I had thought about it for maybe 3 minutes before I decided to go back, so I had probably gone about a couple miles. I finally pulled up next to him. My car was on the opposite side of the street from the way it should be. I was in the left lane facing forward like I was in England or something. I put my flashers on, so on the outside chance that someone came toward me in the same direction, they would see my car. I yelled at the guy. I whistled, I yelled some more. – Nothing. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, but it was definitely a Native (First Nations person). They had long black hair, blue jeans on, and a blue jean vest over a black leather jacket over a flannel shirt. I yelled some more. Then another whistle. As loud as I could without causing pain.

Nothing. Well, I had to walk up to the person. I didn’t see a motorcycle, and it wasn’t really depressed too much from the road. Maybe a foot or so lower all the way along. I could see the other side too, and did a quick little scan to check for people hiding. I didn’t see anything. I put my keys in my pocket, checked the location of my wallet. It was in its little holder above the cigarette lighter as it usually was. I left the car running, in case I had to run back to it, and jam. I did grab my large black flashlight. It takes 4 D batteries, and could probably do as much damage as a bat could. So, I grabbed it to be safe.

I opened my door, and walked up to the person. I could see it was a guy. His shirt was open, and his chest was exposed. His hands were between his legs, kind of looking like they were in a position to keep warm. His knees were slightly bent upwards toward his body, kind of like a semi fetal position. He had a black baseball hat on that was kind of ajar. Also, old scuffed black leather cowboy boots.

I was a little nervous, but I had to make sure the guy was ok. His left hand looked like it was kind of in an awkward position, and could have been above the wrist. I yelled at him. – “Hey Buddy, are you ok?” – I saw him kind of move his arm, and I heard a grunt. “Whhsas”. – “Hey man” – Are you all right, do you need help?” I said. “Hmm, ok”, he responded barely audibly. Then he started to stir. I said, “Are you Ok?” “Yea,” and then what sounded like a question, but I couldn’t make it out.

He seemed to be ok, so I started back for my car. Since I had come back in this direction, I was pointing in the opposite direction that I was going. So, I had to turn the car around. As I did this, I watched him kind of roll over to his side. Then he sat up, and stood up. He stumbled, and almost fell back over. At this point he saw me, and it registered that I was about to drive away. – He stuck his thumb out.

There was no one else around, and I didn’t have the heart to leave the guy in the middle of nowhere. I was still nervous though. There was definitely no room for him to sit in the front seat. I rolled the window down, and stopped the car. (I had been slowly rolling away.) “Where are you going”, I asked. “This way, he thumbed in the direction I was going.” “Come on, It’s about 20 miles.” I was kind of stuck. I couldn’t leave this guy out here in the middle of the woods, but I didn’t really want to give him a ride. He walked towards the front door, but obviously since my cooler was there, there was no room.

I moved some stuff out of the way from the passenger side of the back seat, and kind of made a place he could sit. – He said, “Should I sit in the back?” “Yea, you will have to.” My tent and rope bag were on the floor. Usually if people hitch with me, I just tell them to put their feet on the stuff. – It won’t do too much damage. So, I don’t bother to move the stuff out. He tried to move it, and said “I don’t want to step on your stuff man.” – I said, “Don’t worry about it”, he started moving the tent. I put it back down, and said “It’s just a tent, don’t worry about it.”, then he got in.

He got in, closed the door, and I could instantly smell the alcohol. He must have been smashed. He smelled like an ashtray and a bar. I felt bad for him. I could tell he was drunk, from his bloodshot eyes, and slurred speech, and general mannerisms. He stuck his hand between the seats, in a gesture of acquaintance. He said “What’s your name?” I responded, “I’m Ryan”, to which he said back “I’m “Klu Sheain”. I said, “pardon me”, and he pronounced it again making a strange sound with his tongue and mouth that I had never heard before in person.

I still didn’t get it, but what I wrote was approximately what he said as far as I can recall. I didn’t ask him what it meant in English. Then the conversation started. I think I asked him where he was headed again. He said “Just 20 miles up the road on the reservation.” I thought, that’s why it probably wasn’t on the map. – If it really was just 20 miles up the road.

Then I think I asked if he was ok, to which he said “Yea”. Then he said, “I really appreciate you stopping like that.” I asked him how he got out there, and he said “I was driving with my brother, and he was all like I own the world, and this is my vehicle, so I had enough, and said let me out here.” I think I said “Wow, that’s got to take some balls just getting out in the middle of nowhere.” – He had a narrow, kind of mean looking face, with teeth that were mostly rotted, and had probably not seen a dentist in a long time. His hair was longer than shoulder length, and slightly prematurely graying on the sides. He looked at my clock and said, “Is that the right time?” “Yup” I said, “About 6:30.” “How long have you been out there”, I asked. “Probably since noon.” He responded.

At this point I was still concerned that he might take something out of the car, so I figured the best way to counteract this was to offer him something, so he wouldn’t have the need to steal it. I said “Are you hungry?” “Yea, kind of”, he said. “There are some granola bars in that grocery bag if you want one.” “I think he maybe felt a little embarrassed, and said “No, that’s allright”.

“Do you smoke?” he said. I said “No”, “I can respect that.” “OK then, I will wait until I get back to light this up.” As he fumbled around with a butt that he had behind his ear. He seemed to be jittery, and kind of kept patting himself down looking for something. I didn’t know what he was doing. I hoped, but thought it less likely from his smell, that he was looking for a gun in his jacket. He could have totally been doing that. “I really appreciate you stopping like that, most people would have just driven on by.” “Most people would have ignored it.”

“How did you see me?” – I told him my experience of looking at him as I drove past, then turning back. I didn’t tell him that I thought he looked like a piece of garbage at first. I said I thought it was a tent at first. I said, “What do you think about the World Trade Center attacks?” I said. That’s B.S. what happened man, there was like 20,000 people that died. I can totally respect the U.S. for talking with those other nations. I mean you gotta hit ‘em back. Like Bang. I can totally respect that. But, not about the killing of babies. That’s the only problem I have with that. I love babies; I got some of my own. But I can respect the U.S. bombing or whatever they are gonna do.

I said, “Yea, I think he is under a lot of political pressure to retaliate. “Yea”, he said. “That’s B.S. what happened.” I think I mentioned something like I thought the death toll was closer to 6 thousand in NYC. We talked back and forth. I asked him how many children he had, and he said “Oh, a lot, I got kids in Whitehorse, Terrace, Kitiwake, Good Bay, etc. “ I said wow, spreading your seed. “Yea, that’s what the bible says, but I might have gone a little overboard.” I really appreciate you stopping like that, man, not too many people would have done that.

He again asked if my clock was right in the car, and repeated a couple other things about respecting the U.S. for going to talks with other nations about solving the problem. Then he repeated the 20,000 figure that he said before. It seemed like he hadn’t heard what I said a couple seconds before. Cest’ La Vie. He thanked me again, and shook my hand, and said he really appreciated it.

Later he asked me if I had any grass (I think he said grass, maybe weed) – I told him no too. He seemed surprised when I told him I don’t smoke. I must have it stapled on my head or something. Later he put his hand forward between the seats, and had showed me a bottle of some kind of liquor. “This is the crap that we drink.” The label said “47”, or something. It looked like a cheap Jack Daniels. A little darker too. Maybe along the lines of Black Velvet or something. I think I said “Oh”, when he showed me. A couple times in the car, I thought he might pass out again, so I tried to keep the conversation moving.

He repeated himself a couple more times. He looked at his watch, and said “Wow, it’s already quarter to 7,” then “I really appreciate you picking me up like that.”  Then “I can respect the U.S. for having talks, that’s B.S. what happened.”

Finally we came to a beautiful lake called Good Hope Lake. It was in the middle of some extremely impressive mountains with snowcaps on top of them. I really cant explain the scene, except that it reminded me of kind of the first time in the Rockies, but after driving through Colorado for several hours. Very impressive, although the weather was poor it was raining. He said “You can let me off anywhere”, I said “You name it”, “Right here is good”. I pulled over, and he went to shake my hand again. Then he got out, and stumbled off.

It made me sad. I prayed for him and his numerous children. I suppose I took a couple risks there with my personal safety. I was a little scared at a couple points, but things worked out ok.

Anyway, after that I drove for quite a while more. It got darker, and I found a good rest stop place around 8:00PM, after a good stretch of 5km of dirt road. A little beyond the rest area is a nice little area to park in with a picnic table along what seems to me Dease Lake. It’s nice. I am going to go explore it now. Then I will head to bed. It’s 11:30. I have been typing for about 3 hours. 5 pages is a lot I guess. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2001 (Approximately 1km along “North Road” west of Topley, B.C. along the Yellowhead Highway.)

I woke up in along a beautiful lake, used the rest area which I had parked near, and drove into Dease Lake. It was a small little “Along the Road Town”.  I actually don’t remember too much about it at all. My habit of purchasing gasoline on these back roads is different than it would be along a major thoroughfare. There are only gas stations about every 150 miles, so at every gas station I pretty much have to fill up. Usually I end up getting a little bit below ½ tank. So, in Dease Lake, oh… Now I remember, I filled up; I think it was 30 dollars or something. That’s Canadian of course.  It was a Gas Station / Grocery store combination. There was a little sign on the pumps that said please note the amount, and pay the cashier immediately. No Exceptions!

            So, I filled up, drove up to the store, mostly to get out of the way for other people filling up, because I wanted to get some groceries too. I walked in and asked the actually Vietnamese woman working if I could get some groceries, then pay. She said fine. I walked around, bought milk, OJ, a cucumber, and a banana. The milk had an older date than some other stuff that the guy was bringing out to restock with. I wanted to swap, because the carton didn’t feel too cold, and of course the date was less fresh. So, I wanted to wait until he had restocked the milk, so I wouldn’t have to deal with him, but he was taking too long, so I went up and asked if I could swap the milk carton for one of the ones he had. He said “fine”, and I walked to the cashier to check out.

            I bought my stuff, went to my car, loaded it up, went back to the washroom to wash my hands, then back to my car to have breakfast. The generic raisin bran that I bought in the last town I was in was actually the first Raisin bran that I have had that had too many raisins in. My stomach actually hurt after eating it, and it consequently didn’t taste too great.

            Anyway, I stomached it, and was on my way. I stopped often along the way and took pictures of the beautiful landscape. The road was in good shape, so I made pretty good time. At one point, I came to a flagger where they were doing construction. The flagger said, “The pilot car will be back in 20 – 25 minutes.” “Oh, I said”. I then decided to head back down the road I had just come a little bit, and take some more pictures. I told the guy my plan, and he said, “The thing is, 20 – 25 minutes is just an estimate, she could be back in 15 minutes.” “OK, I’ll be back in 15 minutes.”  - I only wanted to go back about ½ a km.

            So, I drove back, took some picks, then came back to the flagger. It took about 10 minutes. I offloaded some pictures, and then the pilot car came back, and showed us the way through the stuff. At first I didn’t think it was necessary. But then, when we started driving in the opposite lane, and construction vehicles were passing us in the right hand side, I thought Ok, We need this.

            This was just one little event that happened. Mostly driving, taking photos, driving. Etc. I did see black bears three times today though on the Cassiar. The first one was a large independent male in a ditch on the side of the road. I turned a corner, and ½ way around, he was right there. Had he been in the road, I would have hit him, and probably had a bad accident.  I was following behind a pickup truck with a motorcycle in the back of it. She saw it too, and told me when I saw her later in a gas station.

            I stopped further down the road at a rest area and took some shots of the lake and mountains surrounding. It was right before the last “Red and white” checked driving section on the map. Red and white means that the road is dirt. I was concerned it was going to suck, but it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was going to be. The pickup with the bike was nowhere to be seen. I was heading down a hill, and I saw a black object on the right side of the road in the distance. When it moved, I knew it was a bear. I slowed down, and whipped out my camera.

            I put it in video mode, and started shooting. The bear was small, I thought possibly a juvenile. It crossed the road in front of me, and walked into the grass on the other side. My thought that the bear was a juvenile was confirmed when I saw the Mother in the grass that the bear walked next to. I had already stopped shooting, because there was a poor line of site to the bear. Once I saw the mother, and turned the camera back on, they were both in the bushes out of site.

            I had been noticing the mileage markers, and had decided earlier not to take the hour drive into Hyder. The tour book mentioned that the best thing in Hyder were the bars. I decided to avoid it and it’s sister town in B.C. Stewart. – However, when I was driving, I had been thinking that my next stop for gas would be at Stewart. – I thought this town would certainly be big enough to have fuel. – I forgot it was 65km off the main road. When I realized this, I looked at the map, which had indicators of GFL for gas food and lodging at specific places on it. The junction of 37 south, and the little spur for Stewart and Hyder, I think its name was Katzlin, or something. It didn’t have a “G” next to it, nor did the next junction called Cranberry junction. The nearest gasoline to Katzlin junction was about 90 miles away.

            I had missed the last gas stop, because I was distracted because of the bears. Now, I was about 40 miles south of it, this was too far to go back. My tank indicator was a little less than ½ full. I could make it 90 miles from now, but I still had a while to go to get to the Junction. – I didn’t know how long though. – The further I got down the road, the less and less gas I had in my tank, and the more and more the needle worked its way towards ¼ tank. At first, I was confident I could make it to the next gas station indicated on the map, without having to take the side trip to Stewart. The further I got along, the less confidence I had that I would make it the 90 miles. I went back and forth with myself, on tempting fate, and just trying to make it, without going to Stewart, but the closer I got to it, the more I thought I will have to head into Stewart and fill up.

            Then, to my surprise and delight, I came to the junction, and there was a gas station there. I was able to fill up, and was happy not to have to head into Stewart. I also talked with the woman who had the truck and motorcycle. She had just bought the Harley Davidson; I think it was a classic, maybe a softtail. She was working on a salvage operation between Tok and Fairbanks reclaiming the Old, old Alaskan Pipeline. She was doing very well on this project, and said that she would probably net 300,000 dollars next year. – I am not sure if that was her company, or her specifically. I think probably her company. – Anyway, she was thinking about just motoring around next year with her boyfriend after she finished working. I thought that was grand. She had only put 100 miles on her hog, and was psyched to drive it around Phoenix when she got there. She had a 100-gallon tank in the bed of her pickup which was on top of the regular tank. She put 140 dollars in Diesel fuel in her truck. She said she could drive 1500 miles on one tank. That’s a big friggen tank. She and I talked about the bears and stuff. She kept talking. She was nice, but kind of chatty. She had two dogs in her truck too. The woman attendant in the gas station came out twice to see where she was putting the gas. I think she was slightly concerned that she was stealing it, or maybe just curious.

            So, then I moved on down the road in a better mood, and saw three black objects on the right hand side of the road. A Sow Black bear, and her two cubs. – Lot’s of bears in the woods today. – Anyway, I kept driving, and driving and driving, and driving. I drove from about 10:00Amish to about 8:00Pmish tonight. I think probably at least an hour and ½ of that was stopped getting gas, or going to the washroom, or taking pictures. So, I guess I drove about 8.5 hours today.  That’s a whole lot.

            I am tired now. And will sleep soon. I finally got to the Yellowhead, and it was much smoother than the Cassiar, but it was much more populated, and had a lot more traffic on it. I guess one takes the good with the bad. I drove on it, filled my gas tank, took some pictures, then stopped, and looked for a place to park for the night. Now I am here, and I am going to bed. Good Night. 

Wednesday October 3, 2001 Firehall parking lot in Jasper, Alberta, Canada.

            I woke up cold around 7:00AM. I didn’t really want to get in the front seat to turn the defrost on, and defog the condensation on the windows. So, I turned the car on, and turned the defrost on, and crawled back into my bedrolls. I waited for the car to warm up and defrost the windows. It took about 30 minutes or so, until the temperature in the car was comfortable.

            Then I drove down to the rest stop, had breakfast, and used the bathroom. I washed my face, but the water was cold, and it didn’t feel super clean after I washed it. – I didn’t feel like washing it again though, because it was super cold.

            Then I started driving. I took pictures, and drove, and stopped, and took pictures, and started and drove, and stopped and took pictures, etc. etc. Around noon, I arrived in Prince George. I had lunch, and then strolled into the Visitor Centre. I talked with an Australian woman, who was working there for a while about what was interesting to do in town. She gave me the scoop. She said a couple parks were nice, and a museum was interesting. I enjoyed talking with her more about traveling. We talked about Alaska, and the working Visa that she got, since Canada lowered the visa age to 30 years old.

            This means that I can get a visa for three years before I turn 30. I think that’s neat-o. She also said that she thought that the age to get a Visa to work in England was also 30. I think that sounds interesting. The only things she couldn’t get with her visa were health care, and childcare and stuff. – No biggie I suppose. I will have to see what’s available, and what I can do with it, what countries, etc.

             England wouldn’t be too bad, but wouldn’t be my first choice. It would however, be a good bouncing off point, I mean everything pretty much in Europe is pretty much close to everything else.

            Ireland might be possible too. Hmm. I will see when I get back to Rochester.

She and her husband got the visas for three years, and she hadn’t had too much chance to travel, but she had seen Jasper and Banff, and been to Prince Rupert. She very much wanted to go to Alaska. I told her that the Ferries would be grand for her to take, but she said that it would cost 700 dollars with their 18-foot camper. Kind of expensive. I enjoyed talking with her. She had a nice accent. As do all Australians.

Then I drove to the little park in the middle of town, which was on top of a hill, and tried to get a good view of town. I couldn’t there were trees all around the outside of the park, and I didn’t really get all that good of a view. It was reasonable though, and I took a couple pictures.

Then I tooled to the first park, and went inside to use the bathroom in the “Exploratorim”, where I met Natalie. I used the washroom, and came back out and ended up talking with Natalie, who was working the desk for about 30 minutes. She was a student taking correspondence courses at a University south of Prince George. The reason was because the local University didn’t offer any of the courses that she wanted to take. She was very interested in the environment and Forestry. She was reading a book on Ecology, I think. She had bright blonde hair, perfectly clipped eyebrows, wonderful bright white teeth, had a little dimple in her chin, and kind of big blue eyes. She was slim, and I would estimate 110 – 115 lbs. I think she was about 5’ 5 or so. When she talked, her eyes opened wide, but she was certainly pretty. Her mannerisms were relaxed, and she seemed comfortable talking. We talked about politics, traveling, hiking, the lower 48 states, what she wanted to do, what she did, what the museum was about, etc.

She was drinking quite often out of a mug that I thought was coffee. But she said it was hot water. I wondered if she was drinking out of it, because she was nervous, or because she was thirsty. She said she usually drank hot water, because she was cold at the reception desk. But today, she said it was warm, which was unusual. The sun was blazing in the windows, and I imagine heating things up. She said people down the hall were cool, so there must be something wrong with the heat / ventilation.

After she was done with her mug, she started on her large bottle of water. She ignored a couple phone calls during our conversation, and then they rang back, so she had to answer them. – She said “Olla”, to a couple. I assumed that she knew the person that showed up in caller ID. One of them was her female lunch date for sushi.

We talked for a bit, and I convinced her to take some pictures of her. I think I got a couple that were ok. One I can see her nice bright white teeth. I think I may use that one on the web. I had been thinking about a way to hang out with her later, but I guess I wanted to know when she got off, or I actually wanted her to leave now, and just stroll around with her. If I was going to stay in Prince George that night, I definitely would have had no problem asking her out. As it was, I just said goodbye. I of course exchanged e-mail addresses with her, and gave her my website.

Remember to be bold in the future. – Especially with women. Be bold young man. Be Bold. So, I thought about it for a while, drove around town, then started driving east. I drove got gas, took pictures, drove, got gas, stopped took pictures, etc.  I should have gone back to the museum, and asked her what she was doing later. – At least I wouldn’t have regretted it.

The light was great in the afternoon, and I got some nice shots, before the sun went down. As I came into Jasper Park, Mt. Roberts was one of the first things I saw. It was quite impressive. Now I am in Jasper. I went to a local pub, and had about 1/3 of a beer while watching the Calgary / Ottawa Hockey night in Canada game. 1/3 the way through the beer, I was sleepy, so I decided to go for a walk around town. It was dark, but mild out. Jasper seems kind of like Vail Colorado. Kind of neat, but quite touristy. I will take a look tomorrow during the day to see what I think. Maybe ask at some of the bike shops about some of the riding in the area. I am typing super fast right about now. Sometimes, I get in these zones, where I can super fast type. It’s better, when there is light, because then I can look at the keyboard. Now, I am just winging it, and am not positioned ergonomically, so, I can feel the keys less.

Alright, Good Night.

Thursday October 4, 2001 Railroad Parking lot off Main Street in Jasper, Alberta Canada. (Across the street from the Dead Dog)

            I woke up, and did the car warm up thing. This has become kind of necessary in the mornings now, because it is getting so cold. They said it’s going to be minus 6 degrees Celsius, which is approximately 21 degrees Fahrenheit. I will write the conversions down, because I have them right here.

Temperature in C = ( Temperature in F – 32 ) * .556

Temperature in F = Temperature in C * 1.8 + 32

Again, I go back to my statement that I made a while ago, to some friends slightly in jest. I am going to run for president on the platform of converting our system of measurement to Metric. It’s stupid that the United States, the most powerful country in the world is still using a ridiculously stupid system like we are.

            Then I went to the information centre, and got some information about day hikes. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I also got information about backcountry permits. I really thought the woman that worked there was beautiful, and just wanted to talk with her more. – She was more interested in helping people though than talking with me. She was from Nova Scotia, and had a nice, slightly Welsh accent. It was hypnotic. So was she. I love, just love women.

            Then I got back to my car, and didn’t feel like reading the hiking stuff, so I went to the Internet café, and downloaded my e-mail. Then I pointed the smtp server at the one they were using, and sent a couple e-mails. One to Doug, one to the girl in Prince George.

            Then when I was done, and paid, I went back to my car, and thought about what to do. I thought there might be some mountain biking around, so I went back to the info centre, and asked about that. They had a couple trails locally that were approved for mountain biking. None of them really fit my criteria. So, the girl said to go to the local bike shop to ask there. This wasn’t the girl I talked with earlier. She had kind of a broken crooked nose, and was going to Tibet in 10 days to live and work. She was going to do it kind of under the table, and not telling Canada that she was there. – I thought that was a little sketchy. But, the adventure sounded great, and like something that I would be a little scared to do. She had friends there, who already set her up with a job and stuff, so that was a total bonus.

            At the bike shop, they recommended some of the same trails that the Info Centre’ recommended. But they gave a better description than the centre’ did. I decided on the Saturday Night Lake Loop Trail. It was 27.4 km, about 20 miles, and was rated “difficult”. – I got my bike together, and put my biking clothes on, and went to tighten my seat post clamp, and it broke off. I was pissed, because I had just gotten it in Anchorage. So, I rode to the bike shop and got another one. Then I cruised back to the trailhead.

            I started riding, and the first part was nice, not too rooty, and kind of hard packed along some beautiful lakes. – Then after a while, it really started to suck. The roots were way annoying, and so difficult in some parts, that I couldn’t ride at all. So, I walked it. I wonder if I have just started to suck more on the bike in recent years, or the trails have just become rootier. Because I don’t remember this much of Mountain biking not being fun. So, about ½ to ¾ of the ride wasn’t too much fun, and I was either struggling with riding, or I was walking the bike up a steep section. The rest of it, a very even sloped backside was a nice little rush. It was a fairly technical singletrack downhill on the rear side of the loop. The sections that were fun were hardpacked, and very fast. Lots of tight little corners, and lots of maneuvering around obstacles, mostly rocks. In a couple sections, it was very steep, and rocky, and I mostly skidded. In the fast fun sections, it was kind of traversing a cliff. I tried to keep my weight on the uphill side, because if I had fallen on the downhill side, it wouldn’t have been fun. I probably wouldn’t have died or anything, but it wouldn’t have been fun at all. I might have even fallen in a lake. -  My left knee really hurt for most of the 2nd half of the ride. It still hurts now. I think I really did some damage. It has been three months since I hit it in Darien Lake, and at least two weeks since I bailed riding in Anchorage.

            The original injury didn’t hurt too much, nor did the bail in Anchorage, but since then it has killed. I would totally get it looked at when I get back, but I don’t have any health insurance. Major suckage. Maybe I will see if I can talk with Ann, to see how much it is. Maybe I only owe 250 dollars or something. I will look at what it is, and see how much it costs. At least it’s not something debilitating. I mean it sucks, I just hope that me not going to a doctor now isn’t screwing up anything worse. I guess I will take it easy on the rides / hikes / etc. on the way back. Too bad, I am in Hike city now in Banff / Jasper. One of the best places in the world to Hike / bike / etc.

            The weather was incredible today, and is supposed to be beautiful tomorrow too. I am going down the “Icefields Highway” tomorrow to head to Banff. Then I will jam to Calgary from there. Don’t know if I will make it to Calgary tomorrow. Possibly. It would only be 6 and ½ hours if I went non – stop. But, being in Jasper and Banff, I will want to make many stops.

            So, I got back from the ride, after about 3 hours. It would have taken me less, but it sucked. Actually, you know, it didn’t suck; I just don’t have appropriate equipment to ride on really rooty rides like that. In order to enjoy that stuff, you really need a full suspension bike. – I have a hard tail.

            Then, after the ride, I put my bike in my carrier. I found out the best way to put it in. And, I am reasonably sure that I can get it in without shoving and pushing like I did before at the drop of a hat now.

            I put it away, felt like eating Ramen, but had a pbj, and then I decided to check out the Minette hot springs. I drove out; it was like 50 miles from Jasper towards Edmonton. I got some incredible views along the way. The sun was just right on some of the mountains, and some of the reflections on the lakes were just spectacular. Then, I got to the springs. It was 5 dollars, and the woman convinced me to get a quarter too to pay for the locker. I should have gone with my instinct, and not gotten one. –

            The hot springs were pools, fed by the hot water from the earth’s core. They were actually pools thought. Not too exotic. The lifeguards had to stand which really impressed and surprised me. There were Dall Sheep all over the place, outside. I sat in the one spring, and then went to the other which was about 103. Fahrenheit. One guy got out, and had to sit down. He was light headed, and was close to fainting. He didn’t though, and they got the wheel chair for him, and gave him a little glass of juice to put some sugar back in his system. Then they wheeled him away. I talked to some folks from Alberta, and some from Florida. The guy from Canada had a little inferiority complex as many Canadians do about the United States. But he was nice enough.

            Then, after an hour, I got out, and took a shower. Then talked a bit more with the dude from Florida, and then came back here. I got groceries at the IGA, and then Shrimp Chowder (too thin, and too cold), and some chips and salsa. Chips good, salsa too hot. At the Dead Dog Pub and grill. I also drank water. – I talked with some regulars, who were a few drinks along, and then came out here to type. I will now drive to a gas station, or maybe to the public toilets, and then to find a place to park and sleep. I am tired. Tomorrow Calgary Tally Ho.

            Oh, almost forgot. Did I mention the Bull Moose I saw the other day? – Well, I saw a Large Black bear that stood on its hind legs as it saw me. It must have been 8 feet tall. It was huge. + What’s worse, is that it’s cub was in the tree closer to me. – Bad spot to be in. But, they were only black bears, and I’m not even really afraid of them anymore. I have seen so many of them.  I just yelled at it, and kept on riding. It got out of the way.