Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 18th and 19th 2013, Grande Prairie AB to Fort Nelson BC

Grande Prairie to Fort Nelson – Day 1 of my 2013 Bikers United in Remembrance Conga

Gaudin's Honda in Beaverlodge AB
At Gaudin's Honda in Beaverlodge AB
Due to a variety of things, miss Rita and I did not get to hit the road until about 1:00 pm on June 18th.
The sun had been shining gloriously all morning, but the sky was starting to darken with ominous clouds.

We headed to Beaverlodge, I wanted to get a photo of Rita with the Beaverlodge Beaver and a kind tourist agreed to snap a few photos for me.  Back on the bike we stopped in at Gaudin’s Honda, I needed to borrow a screwdriver to tighten up a couple of things that had come loose during the shake down ride to Fairview on Sunday the 16th. Alan Gaudin and his guys wished me safe journey and off we went.

I had managed to miss the big downpour that had gone through, but the road spray wasn’t dealt with so easily!

We pulled into Elbow Grease Ventures in Dawson Creek at about 3:pm and had a light lunch with Mike and he got his photo taken with Rita.  After thanking him for sponsoring me with such great cleaning products, Rita and I were off
Rita meeting the Beaverlodge Beaver
Rita meeting the Beaverlodge Beaver
again. (Mike is a Bike Magik distributor.)

The rest of the ride to Fort Nelson was reasonably uneventful, except for the wet spray being kicked up by the trucks and the frigid temperatures.  It was 38F degrees out according to the air temp gauge on the bike and it felt like there was snow in the air.  I stopped at a rest area and threw some hotshots into my Olympia jacket and a couple into my new Held gloves and continued on. 

The gloves kept my hands nice and dry, and I love the built in windshield wiper on the left index finger – a handy little contraption to say the least. It does take of a few times of poking yourself with that hard bit of rubber to remember its there and not scratch or try to rub your nose, and even with grimy road spray, the wiper works fabulously.
Mike from Elbow Grease Ventures
Mike from Elbow Grease Ventures in
Dawson Creek BC
The verdict is still out on the Olympia Jacket – I find it too short in the waist for me and the sleeves are short.
I also don’t care for how easily the liner sleeves separate from the outer when taking the jacket off. 

Some of it is probably operator issue…like forgetting to undo the Velcro at the sleeve before trying to pull your hand out.

The difference in wearing a leather jacket with zippers and a textile one with Velcro is something that takes a bit getting used to.  

The jacket is not that warm at 38F with wet conditions. At one point I stopped and put my Frogg Toggs jacket on underneath. That made a huge difference in the warmth factor.

As I cruised along I saw a rider on the side of the road, I pulled over and sure enough, Nick from Florida had run out of fuel. One of the cardinal rules of riding in the north – NEVER pass up a gas station!  
Kitchen in my room at the Woodlands

We syphoned some gas out of my tank and I put some Amsoil Motorcycle Octane Boost in his tank to help  things along.  We got him to within 6 KMs of Fort Nelson when he ran out. I flagged down a pick up and the kind gent took Nick and his one gallon jerry can (that he’d forgotten to fill) into town and brought him back to the bikes.

After fueling up we parted company at 11:30 pm – he to go pitch a tent and me to check into my room at the Woodlands Inn & Suites.

What a HOTEL!  Super friendly front desk staff, Steven, the clerk who checked me in had a wicked sense of humour and made sure I knew I could either park my bike under the canopy by a window and he could keep an eye on it or there was great parking right outside the room with a door on the outside with an entrance to the hotel right handy!

The work stattion in my room
I walked into the room and was floored; a junior suite with a fireplace, full kitchen, a huge bathroom and a separate bedroom replete with glass door. Oh and a KING SIZE bed!

The room was without a doubt gorgeous. There were lots of amenities, a 24-hour convenience store, a full gym and laundry facilities and yes, in the morning a hose was available to wash poor Black Betty off.

After a fabulous sleep, I got up, got ready and headed for breakfast.  This is an oilfield town and the portions are generous. After seeing the size of the meals people were getting I opted to eat off the kid’s menu!

I met with David Moore, the general manager and he and I had a brief chat – turns out he rides and really understands the need for riders to have the kinds of services and amenities they need.  Rita had her photo taken with David and then I was off to my next stop.
 king size bed at hotel
The king size bed
At David’s recommendation I went and met Ken from the Bear 103, and he had his picture taken with Rita.

While I was there, I ran into George Crummey and his daughter Natasha. They bought some patches as had David! 

After more photos with Rita and some hugs, I went to the Fort Nelson Historical Museum. Now, here is a place one could get immersed in!  The man who founded the Museum, Marl Brown is not only the curator and founder but he has done 90% of the restorations too!

There is too much to see in a short hour and a half, especially if Marl is there to chat with you. The stories this man has to tell are utterly captivating. The seasonal staff is very knowledgeable and friendly and very willing to ensure that every visitor has a great experience.

I fell absolutely in love with Marl who is in his 80’s and more active and with it that most 16 year olds I know. The man is a human dynamo! He happily had his photo taken with Rita and I said goodbye to him with a promise to return to capture some of this man’s amazing stories on video.  
Ken from the BEAR!
Ken from the BEAR!

At about 1pm, I got on the bike and started making my way to Watson Lake YT.  About a half hour into the ride, I ran across Nick on the side of the road, this time he was lighting a smoke and not out of fuel!!!

There was so much game out. I saw Stone Mountain Sheep, goats, moose, bear and buffalo along with a couple of caribou…it was an utterly picture perfect day. 21C, blue sky and PERFECT. 

It was the kind of day that every rider dreams of.  

The roads were in good shape until about 150 KMs outside of Watson.  There were three major construction spots. Nothing horrible though and the waits were not long at all.

Marl of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum with Rita
Marl of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum with Rita

Woodlands Inn & Suites – a brand new member of the Rider Friendly Business Association
Box 568, 3995-50th Avenue South
Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Canada V0C 1R0
Mile 300 Alaska Highway
For Reservations
Toll Free: 1-866-966-3466
Local: 250-774-6669

The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum: http://www.fortnelsonmuseum.ca

on the way to Watson Lake YT
At Muncho Lake BC on the way to Watson Lake YT