Monday, August 3, 2009 (Day 8)
Today, the weather was good. It was also the day that I left the group at Dawson City, and rode solo for 535Km to Whitehorse without the support van. I checked into the same hotel in Whitehorse, and the receptionist recognized me. I wondered why. I got a much better room this time.
Because I left the luggage to the support truck, I could only carry limited amounts on the motorcycle. I thought I would be walking through the town tomorrow, and therefore brought the pair of running shoes. I could not fit them into the saddle bags, so I used bungie cords to tie them at the back seat. Of course, about 1 hour into the journey, I realized that only the bungie cords were there. Shoes disappeared. I would be stuck with muddy riding boots for the rest of the journey. Boy scouting did not teach me bungie cord tying techniques half a century ago!
I had one near call at the gravel sections, and fortunately pulled through with my new-learned techniques. I suppose it is hard for non bikers to realize the difference of different gravel roads. The best analogy that I can think of is like skiing. The big difference between skiing on groomed packed snow runs vs deep powder. Anyway, the good news is that (supposedly) it is going to be paved roads from here on. Yippee!
The BMW motorcycle is performing well. It was a good choice to trade in the VFR for this one. It doesn’t take 1,000 Km to break in the engine as the manual says. All the other owners said no, and now I agree, that the engine really breaks in after 10,000 Km. It is now running smoother, stronger, and burning almost no oil. I think the geometry and handling of it helped me out tremendously in doing the gravel roads.
Norris’s wife, Charmaine, came to pick me up at the hotel at 6 pm. She took me to a joint that was rated number 1 by the travel advisories, in downtown. It only operates during the summer, because the building has no heating. People are lining up out the door. Most of them are tourists off the Holland America cruise ships in Skagway, doing a day trip. We waited for more than 1/2 hour. There is just nothing happening in Whitehorse, man! Why would the cruisers want to come to Whitehorse, line up and pay for semi-decent food which they can have for free and better on the ship? Charmaine had fish & chips and ice tea for $20. I had the bison rib-eye steak and a beer for $40. But Charmaine paid. I feel embarrassed. She took me back to the hotel before 8 pm.
Charmaine told me her experiences of landing in Whitehorse as soon as she arrived at Canada. The long cold dark winter drove her crazy. Her first job was with human resources with hospital staff, and the co-workers were mean to her. She was depressed. Her second/present job is with Yukon Government, something in the mining/energy resources area, at human resources department. She really likes this job, and wants to finish her contract by next summer. She wants something solid on her resume before she leaves and seeks another job. Norris left her in Nov. ’08. She has a little puppy, a car, a house (co-owned with Norris ) renting out the basement suite. So she is fairly well settled for now. She doesn’t know what she is going to do next year. She said her priority is her career, and family comes second.
Norris is my young friend, about 35 years old from Vancouver. He was a bright young man with great future. He was in NYC with the twin tower incident, and mentally very traumatized. He quit his job, left North America. He took his savings and went to Shanghai. He had enough money to live for 1 year. He met up with this Shanghaiese girl, Charmaine. He found some job, and stayed in Shanghai for about 5 years. He brought Charmaine over to Canada, and married her in Vancouver. He found a job in Whitehorse and took her there. You probably can imagine the cultural shock going from Shanghai to Whitehorse. So, she wasn’t happy. It took him almost 1 year to line up a job in Beijing. But by then she found a new job in Whitehorse, and a new boyfriend. So, she would not go back to China with him. They have separated. He is now in Beijing, and she stays in Yukon.
The GPS is great. It adds tons of confidence as far as I am concerned when travelling solo in strange land.
I saw a lot of forest regrowing under the remains of dead tree trunks from forest fires. I didn’t read the plagues identifying the different years of the forest fires.
I’ll just watch some TV, catch up with world news, and go to sleep soon.