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Friday, 13 November 2015

PART 1: CANADA & ALASKA

SEATTLE (USA) – CANADA (ASHCROFT, PRINCE GEORGE & SMITHERS)

I landed at Seattle Tacoma International Airport on 14th Sept at 5pm, and took a train (and later a cab) to Rashmi’s house, my host in Seattle. Rashmi is a biker herself and also the editor for Global Women Who Rides. She came to Malaysia last January and I took her for a ride on my bike.

The next day, Rashmi drove me to Delta Cargo to pick up GD, my bike. The process was very easy and smooth because I had applied for an EPA exemption letter from US Customs prior to flying my bike into this country. Within 1 hour, I had already hit the road. It was a nice feeling to be able to ride on US road for the first time of my life. I trailed behind Rashmi’s car and arrived safely at her place. We did some photography and it was fun.


Petrol or commonly said as gas here was sold at approx USD3 per gallon

Space Needle, Seattle most famous landmark can be seen in the pic



The next day, I woke up early as I’m very eager to start my ride. Another reason is because the northern most point for this ride is Hyder, Alaska. So, the longer I wait in Seattle, the colder it will get when I reached Hyder. After saying goodbye to Rashmi, on this day (16th Sept, Malaysia Day), I made my way to I – 5 North Freeway to start my Global Dream Ride. Rashmi had shown me the exit way yesterday, and since her place was near to the freeway entrance, I didn’t face any difficulty. The weather was fine today and Givi apparels that I’m wearing gave me the comfort. The freeway was jammed packed with vehicles as it was peak hour. Only after I had passed Everett that the traffic lessened a bit. The road condition was good, but at some parts, there were scratched lines which could slide the tires, so I must grip the handle firmly. I reached USA – Canada border after riding for 3hrs. Border crossing was very easy and I was thru in less than 10 minutes as there were not many vehicles crossing the Sumas – Abbottsford border.

Yeayyy...bear country, here I comeeee

Riding in Canada was a bliss. In terms of road condition, the quality was better than in US (at least for the part that I rode). Traffic were much less and sign boards were everywhere. The view was beautiful too. I stopped a while at Hope Visitor Centre to get information about changing money. Later I went to a nearby bank and had my USD changed to Canadian Dollars. I continued riding, enjoying the beauty of Fraser River along the way. As I made my way into Ashcroft, the view changed into barren mountains and hills which were still not less beautiful. I felt like being in another planet.




I found a place at a park to camp for the night. The site was beautiful as it was near the river, however it turned out to be a wrong place as I couldn’t sleep due to train passing the area every 20 minutes. Seriously, every 20 minutes for the whole night!!! Urghhhhh!!!



It was very cold on the morning of 17th Sept as I packed my tent and stuff into my waterproof 80L bag which Givi gave me. I really liked this bag as it was Velcro zipped typed on the top and very easy to use. It started to drizzle the moment I started my ride. It was very cold as I’m wearing the summer gloves which Givi gave me. I should hv changed to winter gloves, but it was in my pannier and I had tied my big waterproof bag on the pillion seat, therefore I will have to bring down the bag in order to open the pannier. My fingers froze as I made my way to Prince George. However, the view was again, very beautiful. Autumn had shown its colours so the pine trees which lined the hill was very colourful.




I sped at 85 – 100kmh on Highway 97. The speed limit in British Columbia, Canada varied from 40kmh (in town area) to 110kmh on double lanes highway. The fuel was sold at CAD1.60 - CAD2. The rain got heavier as I’m nearing Prince George, but I was not soaked since I’m wearing Givi Hevik waterproof riding jacket and pants. To end a freezing ride with a happy ending, I was blessed with a very beautiful rainbow.



I put up the night at a biker friend’s place. His name is Kelly, and he brought me to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner. How sweet.

TQ Kelly for hosting me :)

A mishap happened on the 3rd day of my ride. About 30kms after I had left Prince George and as I was riding on a cross wind area, I felt a hard blow to the left side of my helmet. It was soooo hard that I almost loose control of GD. I had no idea what hit my helmet as I didnt see the object, but it broke the right side of my visor. Can u imagine how hard the blow was that it could break a good quality and brand new helmet visor? Thank god that I didn’t drop my bike. I had to continue riding with the broken visor and since again it was raining today, I was shivering all the way as the wind entered my helmet. I had to stop at a rest area and took out the balaclava that I got from Givi to cover my face. The balaclava was very efficient in giving me the warmth that I desperately needed.



After riding for 379km, I reached Smithers. I navigated my way to a biker friend’s bike shop. Sam was just about to close his shop when I arrived. I showed him my broken visor and he helped to fix it. At least it will work out temporarily. Sam brought me to his house and introduced me to her wife, Sarah. This wonderful couple were so nice and friendly. That night I slept in a bus, which was also a motor home belonged to the couple.

Sam fixing my visor at his bike repair shop, Eyecandy Customs Cyccle




SMITHERS (CANADA) – HYDER (ALASKA)

I said good bye to the lovely couple and Sam warned me to ride carefully as there were presence of wild animals on the way, especially bears. I stopped at the famous Meziadin Junction for some pics. I was soooo thrilled. Heyyy, I’m going to Alaska!!!



It was a freezing 330kms ride from Smithers to Hyder, Alaska. How my teeth rattled! For 150kms, I was totally alone on my lane. No vehicle behind or in front of me. As I was taking a sharp corner, suddenly THERE SHE IS! A bear by the road side about to cross the road! Less than 30m away from me! Goshhh! My knees felt like jello at the instance. Thank god I managed to avoid any collision and there’s no vehicle coming from the opposite direction. EUWWWW…that was really close.

Nevertheless, today’s ride must had been one of the most beautiful ride that I had taken. The view along the way was brightly coloured with orange, yellow, brown and green. I am soooo in love with autumn colours.



The deserted paved road deteriorated to rough paved for about 60kms. I stopped for a while at Salmon Glacier but it was very cold and no one was around. The glacier was beautiful but it felt eerie to be here all by myself, so I continued to Stewart. I crossed the border into Alaska. I was very happy. At last!!! I set my foot and GD rolled its wheels in Alaska J






This small ghost town was pretty quiet as it was Sunday. The sun was shining and it was reasonably warm. I found a camp ground and pitched my tent. Later, some RVs joined me and I had a nice conversation with the owners. Some of the RV ladies were bikers too and they gave me salmon with salad for dinner. Another lady lent me her blanket because she worried that its going to be cold that night. She’s right. Temperature dropped abruptly to minus 10’C after the sun went out. I was so thankful for the blankets.

Sambal keli DAMIA for dinner. Thanks to Abikhalid Abi

HYDER (ALASKA) – SMITHERS – PRINCE GEORGE – DAWSON CREEK (CANADA)

I didn’t sleep very well last night, not because of the cold as I had two layers of thick blankets on me, but because of worrying if bears might come to my camp site. I forgot to cook my meals at least 80m from my tent. Bears could smell it from far away and they might come in search for food. I also forgot the information that I read which said that even the T-shirt we wore during cooking must not be worn when going to sleep as this will attract bears too. It was already 10pm when I remembered and I was so reluctant to leave my tent to get a fresh T-shirt in my Givi box as it was very cold outside. This thus left me worrying and I only fall asleep after midnight. Fortunately nothing happened that night.

Anyway, after braving 2 cold nights in Alaska, I crossed the border back to Canada. There was no US immigration post at the border, only the Canadians. I need to stamp my passport prior to entering Stewart, Canada. Again, I stopped at Salmon Glacier and Bear River on route 37A to enjoy the beautiful view. This place got its name because bears love to fish for salmon at this river. While busying myself with the cam, I will press the throttle once in a while to make some noise so as to avoid any bear from coming near me while I’m busy taking pictures.



To be here and to actually riding here was a dream came true for me. All this while, I can only enjoy this view from a travel magazine. But now, I am actually riding right next to this pine forest. I am not looking from the bus or train window from a distance, but the dark forest with the wild animals in it were right next to me. I spotted another bear about to cross the road. However this time, the road was long and straight, so I managed to stop quite a distance away and let the bear passed first.

It rained again not long after that. It was very cold as I had to brave the wind chill. I didn’t have a heated grip on the bike so the chill froze me in and out. Due to this, I was shivering very badly, and without realizing, I had been putting more pressure than I should on my wrist while trying to hold the handle properly. The result later was I had a very painful shoulder and neck, with numb fingers which lost 50% sense to the touch. It was very difficult to ride in this condition. I was very relieved when I finally arrived Smithers and put the night at Sam’s place again.

The next day, I rode to Prince George, bearing all the pain which had gone from bad to worse. I stayed at Kelly’s place for two nights and took the opportunity to check the internet on what had happened to me. Through my research in the internet, I suspected that I must have had a pinched nerve and the numbness that I suffered was very similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

After resting for two nights at Prince George, with not much of improvement regarding the pain, I continued my ride. My movement tend to be very slow and difficult now due to this problem. Simple tasks such as zipping my jacket and boots were now a tough thing to do and taking so long to do it too. To make matters worse, it was a looonggg, wet and cold ride as I made my way to Dawson Creek via route 97. The colder it get, the more pain I felt. In all difficulties, I reached Dawson Creek after riding for 420kms and settled at Mile ‘0’ camp ground. It was very cold during the night that I had to sleep in the laundry room which had a sofa and was heated.




DAWSON CREEK – HINTON – JASPER – KAMLOOPS

Today is Eid Adha day or also known as Eid Qurban. Back in Malaysia this is a festive season celebrated by Muslims, but here I am, all alone at Mile ‘0’ camp ground. Theres no celebration or delicious food, but a wet and cold day ahead of me, with lots of pain on my neck and shoulder. Honestly, I shed some tears thinking of my kids whom I left back home. Anyway, after taking a deep breath and remind myself that this is my choice, I packed my camping gears.  The pain made everything difficult and slow. To compress my sleeping bag into its cover and to tie my bag on the pillion seat took forever.

Before leaving Dawson Creek, I sought out the famous zero mile stone land mark to pose for some pics. This place is actually the beginning of Trans Alaskan Highway. Normally over lander will start from here heading to Alaska. But I’m doing it reverse way.




My destination for today is Hinton via route 43 and 40. Finally today the sun shone, but the wind was strong as I rode in the open field of Alberta. Wheat had been harvested, so theres not much to see in the prairies.




I had no idea that after Grand Prairie, there’s no service or rest area at all for 200kms and I had already used half tank of my fuel!!! Thank god that my FZ150 is a fuel save motorbike or else, I might ended up with a dry tank. And because of that too, I created a new personal record for riding without stopping at all for 5.30 hours before taking a short break at Grande Cache. I almost dropped the bike while trying to park it at the petrol station, due to the chill and exhaustion.

Even though the road was good in Canada, I can’t ride fast due to the load I’m carrying and because of the wind chill. The faster I rode, the colder I felt. It was a very exhausting ride today, plus the pain that I'm bearing. Finally, I reached Hinton and I pitched my tent next to a nice local’s house.



It rained again all night till the next morning.  I waited until 10am, but since the rain didnt show any sign that it will stop, I had to get moving. It was no fun at all to pack my tent under the drizzle when its really cold and all the stuff were wet. The cold burnt my fingers but I had to stand the cold burn and keep packing everything slowly until everything was done. It took me 1.30 hrs to pack everything & tied them on the bike.

You might wonder, why did I opt to camp? Why didn’t I get a cheap motel room? Well, I had no choice but to camp because this country is very pricey. Depending on place @ town, the cheapest room cost CAD70 = approx RM230 per night (you cannot get this price at popular tourist attractions, it will be more). A tent space at a paid camp site is CAD15 – CAD25 = approx RM100. I’m not rich nor did I have big money in my account. But I do have a big dream. That is to see the world. So, for people like me, camping is the only option as I am not traveling for a week or two but for one whole year.

My ride continued to Jasper National Park. It was nothing but wet wet wet ride all the way. Nothing much of Rocky Mountains can be seen as it was covered in thick mist. However I do managed to see antelopes and moose while traversing Jasper National Park, but it was raining, so I didnt stop for pics. I put up the night at Blue River Camp Ground.


Rocky Mountains covered in thick mist

Its a bit warmer as I head south to Kamloops the next day, so it was not as freezing. However the wind was quite strong at certain places. For the past few days, I had put on another layer of Givi rain gloves on top of my Givi winter gloves to avoid wind. This helped a bit.

The view was soooo beautiful at Clearwater all the way along the river to Kamloops. It was hard for me to focus my attention on the road.


I stayed at Greg’s place in Kamloops. Greg was also a biker but he was out for moose hunting. He left his key in the mail box. How nice of him to help a biker friend whom he had never met.


KAMLOOPS – SEATTLE

Today will be my last day riding in Canada as I’m heading back to Seattle. As advised by Amber (Greg’s friend who dropped by to check on me last night), I postponed my ride to 10am as the road will be frosty in the morning. It seemed that the locals here had to check the weather forecast every day because the weather changed very fast. Amber was right, as I could still see traces of frost while riding on Trans Canadian Highway to the border. Border crossing to enter US took a little bit more time as it was Sunday and there were more vehicles on the road. However, I didn’t face any problem to arrive my friend, Rashmi’s place at Seattle.







12 comments:

  1. Wow.. amazing... semoga selamat dan berjaya.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Terbaekk kak Nita...keep it up!! Jaga diri...

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow... ingat dah bersawang blog kak anita..sekali bukak rupanya dah ada adventure baru...!
    cemana nak tengok update2 terkini trip ni?
    apapun..blog ni banyak memberi inspirasi kepada sya untuk mencuba sesuatu yang baru
    all the best kak anita..

    ReplyDelete

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