Doug Grosjean's
Alaska Trip Report

June 1999

Day 18; Tuesday, June 15th, 1999
Start: Orange Valley Area, British Columbia
End: Prince George, British Columbia
109 Miles

A perfect day, not a cloud in the sky as I load the bike; and then head east to Prince George, British Columbia.

I arrive in Prince George around noon, and grab a bite to eat at a Burger King along with the rest of the lunch crowd. At this point I'd swear I was back in the States. The cultures are so similar, as I look around and see Star Wars paraphernalia, McDonalds, Wendy's, Taco Bell, a Ford dealer, a GM dealer, etc; everything pretty much the same as back home in Ohio.

I'm hoping to hook up with Dave and Cheryl here in Prince George, some 'net friends that I met via a woman V-Max rider down at Deals Gap in October of 1998 - long story; we've never met in person. They've been aware of my carbon-fibre electric vest project for quite some time, have answered surveys for me and e-mailed back and forth with me on the project, and I'm looking forward to meeting them in person.

But after lunch, people are still working, including Dave and Cheryl. I need to kill some time, so I head over to the local shopping mall, get my film developed, wander around the mall a bit, grab a soft drink, write and mail some postcards home, etc. I sort of like the enforced down time, it's a nice break from the bike, and relaxing.

I have Cheryl's work number, but I'm not able to get in touch with her at work, she took a long lunch. So after my film is developed, I head over to the Prince George library and start reading an issue of Cycle Canada magazine.

In the magazine, there's an article talking about the hot springs down in the Banff area, and one particular hot spring that's waaaay off the beaten path, down a dirt road, a 4wd road actually, undeveloped, nude, and sort of along my intended route. Wonder if I can find that one? Hmm. I'm about to Xerox a copy of the article, when a computer becomes available for my use.

So I check my e-mail, and then call Dave. By now he's home, he offers to come and meet me and I can follow him back to the house. I give him a description of me, and a short time later we're on our way back to his house.

We put my BMW into their garage. Dave and Cheryl offer me the use of the washer and dryer, the shower, and a spare bedroom for the night. Wow! I unload my clothes from the bike and get my laundry started.

Then Dave and I relax in the back yard, drinking iced tea, sitting around in lawn chairs, and enjoying the late afternoon weather. The sky is blue, it's T-shirt temperatures, the iced tea's perfect, and the conversation excellent. We talk about the prototype vest - I show him the individual carbon-fibre heating elements, taking it apart and putting it together again, wadding one of the fabric heating elements into a ball and then handing it to him to look at before re-installing it inside the vest liner. Due to it being so nice out, nobody volunteers to test it.... Then we talk about Alaska, the ferry, BMWs, Concours, British Columbia, riding styles, dragging pegs or not dragging pegs, whitewater kayaking, children, parenting - we're nowhere near running out of subjects when Cheryl calls us in for supper.

So we eat supper, talking about motorcycles some more, along with travel, mountains, kids, home, Canada, the States... Then supper is over, I toss my clothes in the dryer, and Dave and I head back out to the lawn to talk some more while Cheryl goes to visit a friend.

We take up where we left off, looking at the Alaska trip pictures, more on kids, comparing the Concours to the BMW (I really like the Concours, having racked up lots of miles on a couple air-cooled Kawasaki fours), how we each ended up on the bikes we have, the subtle cultural differences between Canada and the States, politics, work, personal fulfillment.....

Hard to have any bad feelings about the world today, when people will open their home and make welcome someone they've never met before, like this. I end up feeling sorry for all the people whose opinion of the world is shaped only by what they read in the paper and see on the evening news - the world is so much bigger and better than that!!

An interesting thing about traveling without Joe - I'm only as alone as I want to be. People drift in and then out of my trip, adding to the overall experience. Sometimes, it's just a few words between two strangers at a fuel pump or scenic overlook, other times it's a long conversation over supper in a restaurant about darn near anything. Lonely? No, not ever; not at all.

Also bit by bit, I'm feeling more and more like a vagabond. No particular schedule, ride 100 miles or 500 miles each day, just heading in an easterly direction and eventually I'll get home. Someday, maybe in a week or so, not really knowing until that morning what route I might take, and even after that being open to change.

And then Cheryl comes back from visiting her friend, it's late and time for bed. I fold and repack my now-clean clothes before climbing into bed - but in the spare bedroom is that same Cycle Canada article, about the hot springs - coincidence? Hmm.

I read a bit, and then fall asleep.

Doug Grosjean
Pemberville, Ohio