7-29-04  Inuvik, the Northwest Territories to Eagle Plains, the Yukon Territory

            I awoke in complete darkness, with the curtains pulled tightly across the windows.  I walked over and looked outside through the curtains.  What had been a drizzle the night before was now a steady rain and fog.  It was cold.  It was also much darker than it had been when I went to sleep.

            I checked the time: 6:30 AM.  I had slept for three hours.  I crawled back under the covers and tried to go back to sleep.  It didn't work.  I was too worried about the decaying weather and the long ride back over the Dempster to Dawson.  I decided then, that I either had to hit the road or resign myself to staying at the hotel for another night, hoping for better weather.  I went down into the restaurant and drank several cups of coffee.  After returning to my room, I checked the weather.  Things were not improving.  I packed my gear and put on my riding gear, went to the front counter, and checked out.

            Three teen-aged boys surrounded my bike when I walked out into the parking lot.  They were joking and laughing, and one said, "This is going to be my bike.  I'm buying one just like it."  I talked with them for awhile about the bike and how it served as a good, all-purpose tourer.  I told them I was from San Diego, which didn't seem to mean anything to them.  Finally, after about fifteen minutes, I brushed the water off the seat, said "goodby", and started the bike up.

            As I hit the road, I realized two things:  for the first time on my trip, I was going back the same way I came, and that I was over the top of the arc and pointed towards home.  I felt a little, well, sad....

          I didn't take any pictures of Inuvik.  I didn't have the time or the energy.    

          The road to Arctic Red River was in fairly good shape.  The rain slowed things down.  Back across the MacKenzie, one more time, and over to Fort McPherson.  I stopped for gas and coffee, taking the coffee over to a corner table at the cafe for a chance to sit and warm up.  The old grump had been replaced by an attractive, middle-aged woman who was carrying on an animated conversation with a truck driver.

            The next section of road was the bad surface with loose gravel.  It was about that time and during that stretch that the truck driver I saw at the Fort McPherson gas station got on my tail, right at a point where I could not leave my track.  He was impatient.  He stayed tight on me.  I finally saw some firm dirt on the side and pulled over to let him by.  A few tens of miles later, he was stopped at the side of the road.  I passed him, only to have him back on my ass about a half-hour later.  Again, there was no place to pull off, and again, he was impatient.  Finally, the road firmed up enough for me to move over and let him by.

            Funny, the rain lifted right at Yukon border as I left the Northwest Territories.  Clouds scattered, the rain stopped, and the road dried.  I did high speed zoom up to 70 to celebrate.  The road was in good shape.

         I took a quick stop at Arctic Circle for another shot of sign. When I got off the bike, my shoulders spasmed across my back from pushing the handlebars through the mud and gravel.  I relaxed for a few minutes until the pain subsided, and then carried on to Eagle Plains.

Arctic Circle

I arrived in Eagle Plains around 3 PM and booked a room.  I took a hot shower.  Sweet!

           The semi driver who had dogged me earlier on the road was parked in the Eagle Plains parking lot.  I walked over to him and explained why I could not move immediately out of his way but always did so at the first opportunity.  I told him about the condition of the road at the areas he had wanted to pass, and why it had taken so long to pull over.  He agreed with me.  I also asked him why after passing me the first time, he pulled over.  He had been waiting to give a tire tool to a driver approaching from the south.

            There was a solo yellow BMW headed north.  It's driver and I traded cautions and conditions.  It was raining at the Klondike Lodge where he had spent the night.  He was traveling light, and had rented the Klondike room for an additional day as a place to store his gear.

            I warned him about the rain and the treacherous road conditions to the north.

            It was still early in the afternoon, so I unpacked my clothes and hauled them down to the laundry room.  In a dull haze of exhaustion, I sat on the steps of the laundry room and soaked up the warm sunshine.  When the laundry finished, I packed my clothes back up and had dinner at the restaurant.

            At the restaurant, I met a fellow from Ocean Beach, my old San Diego stomping grounds.  OB is a unique community full of unique people.  I guess I should not have been surprised at meeting an OB'er just below the Arctic Circle.

Dempster mud

            Once dinner was done, so was I.