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Day 53-62: 2-11 Sep 2008: The Cassiar Highway: a wonderful wilderness with hills, gravel, jade, wildlife… and people

Of course we took the road less travelled πŸ™‚ Highway 37, The Stewart Cassiar Highway, or simply The Cassiar Highway. All names for this infamous road, almost 1000km long, known for the lack of services, bad weather, bears and gravel patches. The latter issue had been solved we had been promised, but the other?

2nd September: Nugget City – French Creek, 58km

The adventure started sunny, but dark clouds appeared, especially on Ivana’s face when she noticed the first set of hills. “is this going to be like that for the rest of the road?” she asked. I truly did not know, but suspected that this was just the beginning…

Fortunately some nice people made our day by donating a full bag of cut-up watermelon, just what the doctor ordered as the sun had come out. Unfortunately the wind had come to and after a week of tailwind, we were not happy to have it in our face again, slowing us down.

Ivana spotted a black bear, right beside the road, I must have raced right past him on the downhill. At least that made her a bit happier and when we also found a nice deserted rest area called French Creek where we -after hanging our foodbags in the trees- could relax near a good campfire.

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1000 Americans: Guy & Megan, California

September 6, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


It was great to see how Guy and Megan used a small van for their trip. No need for a huge RV, all they needed was inside this totally rebuilt van.

Even their two bikes were on the back of the van, and -unlike the ones on most larger RV’s- they were used as they were both avid sporters, true Californians!

1000 Americans: Willy Williams, Stikine River ranch

September 5, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


Holly Eden from Dease Lake had told us to visit Willie if we had the opportunity.

Willie is one of those persons that can fill a documentary all by himself. We arrived late, uninvited but were welcome and spend hours talking about his history, present and future. We talk about the history of the Tahltan people and the fights with the other first nations.

We verbally travel from the horror stories of the missionaries taking the First Nation children away to religious experiences of his friends, fights about lands and property to sharing very personal stories and advice about love & life. He lets us sleep in the first house he built, filled with more memories.

Besides being the host for a yearly 3-day gospel music festival at his ranch, Willie organises horseback riding trips through the wilderness of the nearby provincial parks: Stikine River, Spatsizi Plateau & Mount Edizia. Every trip is different and some clients come back regularly.

Willie showed us a book from a german photographer, about the area, almost completely shot during the trips he guided. No website, no email. “How do you get your clients?” I asked him. “I don’t know, somehow people seem to find me”, he replied.

More than a week later we would meet Willie again, in Smithers where we also met his wonderful wife Grace. Thanks for letting us into your life for a short moment Willie, it will last much longer than just the few hours we spent together.

ps: To make it a bit easier to get a special adventure that might just change your outlook on life, call Willie or Grace Williams in BC: 250-771-4301. Trips can take anything from a few hours to a few weeks.

1000 Americans: Holly Eden, Dease Lake, British Columbia, Canada

September 5, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


Holly passed us when we were having lunch at Dease Lake, outside the library. She told us that we might be able to come to her place for a shower if needed, and that she would come back later that night. As it was getting cold and dark, we set up our tent behind the library, but found a note with a tasty cookie the next morning, inviting us for breakfast and a shower at her place…

1000 Americans: Claudia & Robin, Jade City, British Columbia

September 4, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people, Go green


“In dog years I’m dead” reads Claudia’s mug. Though originally from Yugoslavia, she had been living in BC for a long time. Together with Robin she runs the Jade City store (officially the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store LTD) and we spend a lot of time chatting together about Jade, BC, Canada and Mount Everest…

They give a whole new meaning to “Go Green”, as everything is made from Jade…

1000 Americans: Ariel & Claudia, Argentina

August 30, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


My Spanish is still limited, but fortunately it is a bit better than Claudia’s and Ariel’s English. “No speakin inglis”, was about it and I am not joking here πŸ˜‰

With this they had managed not only to travel from Southern Argentina to the Arctic Circle, but they were the happiest people we met so far. They were having so much fun, showed us videos and photos told us about all the marmots they saw (which upon closer inspection turned out to be ground squirrels) and how they passed the borders (with others acting as impromptu translators) and how they managed to stay in campsites for many days while only paying one: “No speaking English”!

See their blog and some photos here (Spanish only πŸ™‚

1000 Americans: Bikergrrl Heather

August 29, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


Heather was on her way North, coming from Vermont. Though I only know one person in Vermont (hyperactive Joe from the Riverside Wedding, overall Great Guy) she knew him as well, guess it’s a small world after all…

She was carrying a helmet cam and almost fell over laughing when she spoke of the people she filmed and photographed on the way. Looking forward to seeing them on YouTube Heather!

1000 Americans: Scott Snider, Anarchy Farms

August 28, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people, Go green


We met Scott at the Potlatch in Champagne (see previous post here). He has a big greenhouse and grows some organic food as well; the place is called the Anarchy Farm and he is as relaxed as the name implies.

Scott was great, even when he found us in the middle of the night sleeping in his greenhouse πŸ™‚

A few weeks later, he sent us the following wonderful poem. If the Greenhouse business doesn’t work, a new career is waiting. Thanks Scott, people like you make our trip so special!


Hola Ivana and Harry K.

Off you went into our boreal summer
a bit wet you seemed
but shedding water like loons in the rain

Perhaps its your slow drift south
that drags down the cold from the north
and brings the geese to the fields

Run away, run away
urges our saner side
fly with the birds, south

But egos prevail
and we hunker in
as autumn changes colours

Stockholm syndrome with the weather
rationalized reasons to stay
as water freezes, falls from the air

And we remain, human outposts
in hostile realms, inuit, dene, and
pale intruders too enrapt to go

Too long in gaia’s breast
to survive a concrete dream
in steel wrapped hives

So blessings to haired and furred and feathered friends
on perilous journies to the sun
and welcomes waiting come spring

Stay we will amidst the ‘standing people’
and mourn the crack of frozen sap
at forty plus below

Spin those wheels, shed your sweat
on downhill coasts, and
fear those diesel dooms

So chase summer down the road you two
to flatlands flee, boreal lands depart
strange winds in yankee lands await . . .

1000 Americans: The Cooks, Alaska Highway near White River, Yukon, Canada

August 19, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


Mr Cook had a new knee, his wife just recovered from lung cancer.

‘We do not know if we make it through another winter, but we love the place’.

In winter they move South, to the lower 48.

Mr Cook gave us a big chunk of moose minced meat. ‘We are not going to finish it.’

1000 Americans: Charles & Elizabeth

August 19, 2008 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people


We were eating when an retired couple came in. They were so joyous, and clearly so crazy about eachother, it was great to see and very catchy. Charles and Elizabeth live in Las Vegas and come up to Alaska every year I think. They drive one of those huge motorhomes, but just enjoy camping out on a high spot and then watching the wildlife pass them by. They shared a large icecream and were enjoying every bite of if. As we had re-calculated our food supply after hearing that there would not be any store before Tok, about 400km away, we asked the waitress if we could buy a loaf of bread. We could, for $6.

Elizabeth went outside and came back a while later/ I left you some food on your bikes’, she said. ‘We always bring too much in our big motorhome, and you need it much more than we do!’

We thanked her and finished our meal. But when we noticed the huge bag filled with cookies, beef jerky, peanut bars and a huge jar of peanut butter, we had to get back inside and than them again, it was like cyclist’s x-mas!

‘She has been like this ever since I met her’, Charles said. ‘So generous, that it why I love her. I am not too religious, but I do believe in that you reap what you sow’. ‘Karma?’, I said. ‘Yep, that’s another way of putting it.’

Though I prefer to be totally independent, it is great to meet such generous people who know the relative value of things to different people. Even more, it is great to meet people like Charles and Elizabeth, who have been crazy about eachother for decades and still enjoy and have fun together.

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