There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 8

Watson Lake to Stewart – 648kms

As I mentioned yesterday, Mike, our host at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake, had suggested that we check with the Visitor Centre on road conditions and gas availability on Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37).  Given the range that our bikes can get, I planned the stops accordingly.

As it turned out, we didn’t really have much to worry about; the Petro-Canada/Food Store at Dease Lake is too big to just shutdown on account of one person, and the Bell II Lodge further south is a pretty large establishment set up for heli-skiing and firefighter support, so it’d be open for sure as well. But I had put in stops at Iskut and Meziadin Junction to help break up the trip so it didn’t seem as long a day.

After packing up the bikes, we headed back to the truck stop on the edge of town for a quick breakfast before heading out.

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I really like my MoskoMoto Nomad tank bag, maybe I’ll write up a review of it sometime …

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The Cassiar-Stewart Highway junction is just over 20kms west of Watson Lake, so for the third time this trip, we went over this stretch of the Alaska Highway. Like many of the roads here in the north, the Cassiar-Stewart Highway is a pretty long and remote stretch of road, especially north of the Dease Lake area. The road itself was narrow chip-seal with no shoulders and in many sections, no lines. The chip-seal is pretty hard on tires, so both bikes will need new tires pretty soon.

It was about 3 hours to Dease Lake. There’s an aboriginal community nearby and lots of hunting and fishing, so there was actually a lot of activity at the Petro-Canada gas station / Super A general store / Tin Rooster Deli. We grabbed a sandwich and a bio break while here, plus full tanks of gas for the bikes.

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As we went further south, the weather started to close in and eventually it started to rain. Louise managed to get the rain jacket on before getting completely soaked. After another roughly 3 hrs of riding in drizzle, rain, weak sunshine, we came up Bell II, which is a pretty cool place.

It’s a pretty upscale lodge, with a helicopter support base for heli-skiing, heli-hiking, heli-biking and forest fire fighting support, and probably a base for hunting as well. We just stopped for a stretch, gas, and water before continuing on …

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Another hour and a half, we made it to the Meziadin Junction, where we left the Cassiar-Stewart Highway and headed to Stewart on Highway 37A.

What an amazing road this is! The scenery is stunning, the road is terrific and the weather for us was excellent, no rain (rare) and rather warm. Even though by this point we were getting pretty tired, we managed to keep the bikes between the lines while gazing at multiple glaciers, dozens of waterfalls, about a dozen major water crossings, and a narrow gorge where the road follows the river between towering cliffs on both sides!

Highway 37A is only about 60 or so kms, so before long we rolled into the village of Stewart and headed directly to the Ripley Creek Inn – because I’d been here before in 2016, I knew where it was.

The Ripley Creek Inn is actually a number of buildings that have been renovated into hotel rooms, making this a pretty funky place.

Our room was right in the corner to the right of Louise’s bike – where the ladder is in the picture. There are common areas in each building, plus yards and outdoor seating … all in all, while certainly eclectic, it’s a great place to stay and reasonably priced too. At the last minute we decided to stay two nights and we were so glad we did – more on that tomorrow!

Since it was Sunday night, there wasn’t much open for dinner. The only option was the restaurant at the King Edward Hotel, so we headed there – about a 1 block walk in downtown Stewart! Just to the east of the village across the Bear River is a mountain with a glacier hanging off it …

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Dinner at the King Edward Restaurant was OK – I had a burger and Louise had chinese – when there’s not much to choose from, it’s hard to be super critical. As it was the only place open, it was busy, with all the tables occupied it kept the staff hopping.

After dinner, we went for a bit of a walk down the back of the Ripley Creek Inn and spotted some neighbourhood ducks or geese – pretty sure they’re ducks …

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With it being such a long day, we packed it in early – tomorrow we’d be sleeping in and going sightseeing!


There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 7

Whitehorse to Watson Lake – 438kms

One week gone and it was now time to turn back and head south. The means the trip is almost half over. But while discussing the next couple of days after Watson Lake, we decided to try for Stewart tomorrow. But first we had to get back to Watson Lake and check out the famous Signpost Forest! We didn’t stop at it on the way north because of the rain, but the forecast for today was for sunshine and mild temps – perfect for riding!

First we got packed, and took all the bags down to the front desk. Then we had to get the bikes out of the garage. Since the front desk clerk was alone, she had us just go down and do it ourselves. With the bikes back out front, we loaded up the bikes and prepared to go find breakfast.

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Since we’d be riding to wherever, I widened the search and we decided on the Ricky’s on the north end of the downtown area. Brekkie was edible but forgettable, and after gassing up the bikes, we headed out.

First stop was the Yukon Motel in Teslin, same place we stopped at on the way north. Whitehorse19 Day 07 - 2

We refuelled and had a quick lunch here, where the waitress pissed me off. I went to order a sticky bun a coffee after eating the BLT, and she just blew me off, and went to a few other tables before finally coming back to our table. So I changed my mind on the sticky bun, instead we just got the bill and headed out. The rest of the ride to Watson Lake was pretty nice – weather was nice, traffic was light and we made good time.

Arriving at Watson Lake at about 430pm, we had plenty of time to wander the Signpost Forest – it’s a pretty cool place – check out this link for history and more information.

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We wandered the forest for a while, then headed to the Air Force Lodge to check in. Mike suggested that we might want to check with the Visitor Info Centre to get current info on gas stops along the Stewart-Cassiar highway south, so we dropped in there before grabbing some food at Archie’s, which wasn’t as good as the first we stopped there.

Fuel range on the bikes hasn’t really been an issue. Louise’s Tiger will easily get more than 375kms, and the FJR will consistently get well over 400kms. The only reason there was concern on the trip down the Cassiar was that at this time of the year many of the operators close up shop and go hunting! Checking the map that we got from the Visitor Info place, I planned out 4 stops, all with gas – Dease Lake, Iskut, Bell II and Meziadin Junction. It also helped to break up the trip – this would be the longest single day of travel on the whole trip at 648kms.

Back at the hotel, we chatted with Mike some more and met a couple from the Netherlands, riding a Ducati 996 (with racks!) and a Honda NC700. They’d air-freighted their bikes from Amsterdam to Anchorage, the rode up to Prudhoe Bay and were now headed south to Argentina! When they asked where we were headed tomorrow and we replied Stewart at around 650kms; they replied that was so far, too far in one day! Well they had 5 months for their trip – I only have 2 weeks.

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We showered up in anticipation of an early start to the day tomorrow and hit the sack.


There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 6


Today we would be tourists! First though we actually slept in, although we both were awake around 7am. Louise wanted to do some laundry, so while it the laundry was happening, we got showered. Once the laundry was finished, we headed out in search of some breakfast. The first place we looked into didn’t have breakfast proper, rather just some baked goods and coffees, so we continued on to our second choice, the Burnt Toast Cafe.

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With breakfast done, we resolved to go visit the SS Klondike, one of the few remaining Yukon River sternwheelers. The Klondike is now a Canada National Park and is very well preserved and mostly open to viewing. We’ve been through a similar ship at Kaslo in BC – the SS Moyie – and the Klondike is pretty similar, but a fair bit larger. There’s a wikipedia page for the Klondike with links to the Canada Parks info.

It’s a walk of a few kilometres back the way we came and by this time we were getting a little thirsty, so we went back to the Baked Cafe bakery place for some iced tea and cookies before heading to the McBride Museum of Yukon History, right next door to our hotel.

After wandering around the museum – there are some pretty interesting artifacts there, and no, I was not one of the artifacts! – for a couple of hours, we went back to the hotel for a bit, then set out in search of dinner.

There was a Mexican place that I had spotted on the map that got some good reviews, so we figured we’d walk there, but the place was packed with a 1 hour wait. Here we confirmed a bit of an issue with tourism in Whitehorse – there is a serious lack of restaurants! First there was a 45 min wait for the Klondike Rib and Salmon place, and now a 1 hour wait for the Mexican place. We decided to walk back closer to the hotel where there were a few other restaurants, but neither the ambiance nor the menu appealed until we found G&P on Main. Whitehorse19 Day 06 - 35

It looked more like a pizza take-out place from the outside, but the inside was really nice and the service and food was pretty good.Whitehorse19 Day 06 - 34

We wandered a bit on our way back to the hotel, Louise took a couple of touristy pictures …

We’d be heading out back south the next day, so I called Mike at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake to see if we could get a room there again – yup, room available!


There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 5

Watson Lake to Whitehorse – 438kms

We awoke in the morning to a light drizzle outside and the prospect of more rain over the course of the morning. Today’s destination would be the titular Whitehorse, but we would have to stop in Teslin for gas, and as it turned out, breakfast too.

After getting the bikes all packed up in light rain, we headed out for breakfast. Our host,Mike, had mentioned that Archie’s, where we had dinner the night before, was a good breakfast place, and we saw breakfast items on the menu. However when we rolled up to Archie’s, it was closed until 11am – it was 830am or so and there was no way we were going to wait.

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So we proceeded down the highway to the gas station at the edge of Watson Lake, fueled up and headed out in the rain.

After rolling along for some time, Louise finally accepted “defeat” and asked to pull over to put on her heated jacket. We stopped at a rest stop where the rain had petered out to a light mist and we both pulled out our heated jackets to put them on. The temperature was hovering at about 6-7 deg at this point.

Now warmed up, we continued heading northwest through the low mountains, and the skies slowly cleared. By the time we reached Teslin, it was mostly sunny and had warmed up to 18 deg!

We stopped at a viewpoint just before the famous Nisutlin Bay Bridge, which is the longest bridge on the Alaska Highway, and features the metal grated surface, which is pretty sketchy on the bikes.

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A few minutes later we were at the Yukon Motel in Teslin, where we topped up the gas tanks, then parked and had an unhurried lunch/breakfast. Lunch included a most excellent cinnamon bun …

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There was a fellow biker stopped here too, from Washington state. He’d come up from just outside of Watson Lake where he was camping in the rain, about an hour ahead of us. He’d come up the Cassiar Highway and was heading to Fairbanks on a BMW GS1200. He’d also had a couple of FJR1300s in the past, so we had a bit in common.

The Yukon Motel has a couple of tame critters on display …Whitehorse19 Day 05 - 11

We arrived at Whitehorse about 330pm or so, found the hotel, got checked in, unpacked and got changed. My hair was bugging me in the helmet something fierce the last couple of day so I thought I’d get a haircut here to see if that would help. With the help of Google Maps, we found a place, but they were close to closing and wouldn’t take a walk-in. We found another place a short distance away and I was sat right down. Sadly it turned out to be one of the worst haircuts I’ve ever had – shaved on the sides, and left longer on top, Oh well, the difference between a bad haircut and good is about 2 weeks, so I’ll get it fixed up later.

A little while later we headed out for dinner. At breakfast in Fort Nelson a couple of days ago, we had been chatting with the guy at the next table, and among other things, he’d suggested that we should eat at the Klondike Ribs and Salmon restaurant in Whitehorse. It turns out that it’s only a couple of blocks from the hotel, so headed there. So did a lot of other people at there was a 45 minute wait! Eventually we were seated and while I had the ribs, Louise had fish & chips – both were excellent. Dinner was finished off with a nice tasty pecan pie.

Back at the hotel, we moved the bikes to the underground parking at the hotel and spread the tent out to dry.

By this point we were pretty tired so we turned in for the night.



There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 4

Fort Nelson to Watson Lake – 513kms

When I checked the weather forecast last night it said cloudy and mild, and in fact the morning started that way as we showered and got packed up.

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But by the time we rolled off to the gas station, the skies were clouding up in the east and the west. When we left town after a pretty decent breakfast at the Fort Nelson Hotel cafe, it was starting to sprinkle.

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Now as I sit here in the hotel room at the Air Force Lodge in Watson lake, it’s lightly raining outside.

In spite of the rain it was a pretty good day – one of the bigger days in terms of mileage, some quality time in a hot springs pool, and some wildlife spotted!

As I said, the sprinkles of rain started pretty much as we left Fort Nelson. A ways down the road, as it got heavier, we stopped to put on rain gloves and another layer. Before we reached Muncho Lake for our gas stop it had rained hard, rained lightly and in parts the sun shone. But my God the scenery was fantastic! We crossed over a pass from one side of a ridge to the other, in rain and weak sunshine, but the views caused both Louise and I to utter “wow” multiple times.

Eventually we reached Muncho Lake where the clouds broke and sunshine came out, warming up to 20 deg. We fuelled the bikes, had a bio break and a snack, before heading up 30 kms or so to the Liard Hot Springs.

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The rain held off while we made our way to the hot springs, and the temperature was comfortable. After parking the bikes we walked the boardwalk to springs and enjoyed the steaming hot water for almost 45 minutes.

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The rest of the run north was somewhat tiring, but we were looking forward to stopping for the night at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake. Once we crossed in to the Yukon, the clouds closed in and it began to rain, again.

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Arriving at about 6pm, Mike greeted us at the door to Air Force Lodge.

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What a fantastic place and our host Mike was extremely easy to talk to – he had a ton of stories as well some pretty good reno skills. the whole Lodge was rebuilt by him, from an old WWII air force barracks from the old airport that had been chainsawed in half to move it.. This was easily the cleanest place we’ve been to. Mike has his guests take off their shoes at the front door, and that really helps keep things clean and it was pretty nice to be able to walk around in socks or bare feet. The interior was setup barracks or dorm style – each individual room had a bed and little desk, the showers and washrooms were communal facilities just down the hall. The internet was a bit weak though as was the LTE cell connection, so this report didn’t get loaded right away.

There’s no eating facilities on sight though, so we had to run into town to get dinner, we actually did that before we unloaded the bikes. Mike recommended Archie’s, just across from the Signpost Forest, so that’s where we headed. We both had a delicious burger and I had an Apple Pie, then we headed back to the Lodge, unloaded and had a pretty good nights sleep.

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Now for the wildlife report. The past three days were somewhat lame for wildlife spotting, with only a deer and 2 elk spotted. However, here are the numbers to date:

  • Deer: 1
  • Elk: 2
  • Bear: 1
  • Bison: hundreds, well dozens anyway
  • Crows: hundreds
  • dead skunk road kill: 4

Today we saw our first bear in the ditch north of Muncho Lake before the Hot Springs – he was drinking from a stream. We also saw literally dozens of free range bison – singles, small groups and a couple of larger herds. These bison are pretty huge animals, and they looked healthy enough!

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Stay tuned for Day 5!


There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 3

Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson – 453kms

As I said in yesterday’s blog, we’d probably be packing the tent this morning in the rain and that’s exactly how the day started. You can’t really see it in the pictures, but the rain was was light but steady right up until we hopped on the bikes and pulled out.

It rained pretty much all night with a few breaks and both Louise and I slept on and off. Louise I think had a bit better sleep than I did because she had earplugs in!

We had three things on the agenda for the morning before heading out on the highway: breakfast, fuel, and the Mile 0 monument. Last night I had a look on the internet for the best breakfast place in Dawson Creek and more than a few sites agreed that Le’s Family Restaurant was the best. So we went there as soon we had everything packed.

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Le’s is a pretty small place, really just an a-frame shed tied into the end of a motel, but the food was good. However the server sure had better things to do than work the tables – zero personality.

Next up was gas, just some random PetroCanada, then on to downtown Dawson Creek for a couple of pictures at Mile 0!

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The curse is officially lifted!

Just outside of Dawson Creek, there’s stretch of Old Alaska Highway that runs for about 10k and goes over the old Kiskatinaw Bridge – for more information on the Kiskatinaw,  check out this webpage: Tourism Dawson Creek – Kiskatinaw Bridge.  I’ve had this bridge on the “list of things to see in the North” for sometime now and I talked Louise into taking the detour to see it.

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It’s a timber bridge with wood planks for the deck, which in the rain, was a bit slippy.

By this time the rain had started up and got steadier and heavier as we left Dawson Creek. Thankfully it never got to the downpour stage, but it was wet all the same. It wasn’t so bad until we got to areas of construction, where it turned into a dirty sandy slime that coated the bikes, our gear, our suits and our helmets. By the time we reached Wonowon (located at mile 101, get it?), we had to pull over and clean up the helmets so we could see again.

Eventually the rain let up once we reached Buckinghorse River Lodge, about halfway between Dawson Creek and Fort Nelson. The picture below shows the delivery end of the gas station …

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… and this picture shows the business end.

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There are three containers on skids; one not really in the picture but on the left of the picture above is diesel fuel; the one that Louise is stepping out of with the credit card machine and activation machinery; and the third which is labeled AFD, which is the gas. The process is you go into the “booth”, insert your credit card, which activates the pump for the gas. then you go out to the corner of the other container, turn on the pump and fill your tank(s), making sure to shut-off the pump when you’re done. Then you go back to the booth to get a receipt.

The Buckinghorse River Lodge Cafe had a lunch special – BLT sandwich and Bean & Bacon soup with endless coffee or tea, all for $9.95! Possibly the best meal deal so far!

The skies finally started to clear and it warmed up over the course of the last 160kms to Fort Nelson, all the way to 21 deg! We were going to camp again, but we’d used up a lot of batteries during the previous night, and we both wanted a shower so we opted for a super-cheap motel – the Shannon Motel. Not great, but not too bad.


Tomorrow is breakfast at the Fort Nelson Hotel, cinnamon buns at Toad River, and the Liard Hot Springs, before calling it a day at Watson Lake in the Yukon!

There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 2

Hinton to Dawson Creek – 461kms

Well, it’s raining. I’m sitting here in our tent, posting this while tethered to my iPhone, listening to the rain on the outside of the tent. But the great thing about today is that we finally beat the Dawson Creek curse!

Louise and I tried to get to Dawson Creek back in 2012 – there’s a ride report here on this blog I think. Louise got pleurisy and we never made it then. A few years later a group of us had Dawson Creek in the plan, but on account of weather, we headed south instead. Louise had a trip that included Dawson Creek in the planning for last year, but it didn’t happen. It had become a bit a joke between us and some of our friends that there was a curse on Louise regarding Dawson Creek.

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The morning in Hinton was beautiful – warm sunny and after getting gas and a forgettable breakfast at the Husky House, we headed north on Highway 40 to Grande Prairie where we were planning to have lunch with our friends Carl and Marilyn.

Louise got a rare picture of me here before we pulled out …

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Just under halfway there is the town of Grande Cache – we stopped there for a bio break and to top up the gas tanks. The highway is pretty rough most of the way – with many potholes and the right side of the road is slowly slipping into the ditch.

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The skies in Grande Cache looked somewhat ominous, but there was no rain at all, and the temperature was pretty much in the mid-20s all afternoon.

As we got closer to Grande Prairie, the highway was pretty torn up on the sides due to construction and the speed limit was up and down from 100kmh to 50kmh, then back to 100kmh again. That made the drive a bit slower, but the good thing was that there was light traffic going north.

I had messaged Carl, while stopped at Grande Cache, that we’d meet him at the Holiday Inn in GP. Little did I know that there are two Holiday Inns in GP – the one I meant was the Holiday Inn and Suites at the junction of Highway 40 and 43 on the west, but what I said was Holiday Inn Express, which is on the other side of town. And that’s where Carl was waiting for us. I called him and got it figured out and within a few minutes, we’d hooked up for lunch at the Old Trapper pub. The food was ok, the server was nice, but she had a voice that made one want to scream!

Carl snapped this picture of us as we were leaving …

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The ride to Dawson Creek was uneventful and we arrived in good time, found the campground and set up for the night.


Just before the rain started, we boiled up some water for a coffee, a hot chocolate and a snack and as the rain started up, we retreated to the tent to call it an early night.

So today there is no more curse of Dawson Creek, although it’s going to be a rainy night and we’ll be packing the tent wet I expect. Oh well – it’s all part of the adventure!

There and Back – The Whitehorse Adventure – Day 1

Cochrane to Hinton – 496kms

Louise and I left this morning on our first trip in a long long time. This time we’re going to head up to Whitehorse, Yukon, via the Alaska highway from Dawson Creek north, then back down the Cassiar Highway on the west side of BC through Stewart/Hyder and back home.


Should be just about 5000 kms total.

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The first days plan was to get to Hinton, via Highway 22 north and then 16 west. We had planned on getting away by 10am but we finally pulled away by about 1115am – par for the course though! First stop was the Shell station just north of Cochrane to top up the tanks.

Next stop was a bio break at Sundre …

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We stopped next in Drayton Valley for gas and a bit of a food at Timmies. Louise had soup, while I had a brekkie muffin, butter tart and cookie washed down with a smoothie and a coffee!

Highway 22 north of Drayton Valley pretty much all the way to the junction at Highway 16 was under construction, with a kilometre or so of no highway – just dirt/gravel. Louise road the same stretch a month or so ago and it was raining then making that section a bit sketchy at that time. It was dry this time so going through on the FJR wasn’t too bad.

For a few hours the GPS on both bikes said we’d arrive at the motel in Hinton at 5:56pm and I’ll be darned if we arrived in the parking lot at 5:56pm!

We got checked in by Jong at the office, who was a really nice guy and headed up to the room. For bikes trips, I would much rather stay at motels than hotels, for the simple reason that usually you can park right in front of the door! That makes unloading and loading so much easier.

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After getting the bikes unpacked and changed, we walked down the road to Mr. Mike’s for dinner.

Pretty good first day! Looking forward to Day 2.