Another long day ahead and another early start. I woke up today after using the campground outhouse last night with not one, not two but eight bug bites on my butt. Not a good sign at the beginning of the trip. Today we were taking the Campbell Highway to a small town called Ross River. It was a dirt highway nicely maintained the whole way there.
As we began early in the morning the dust was up. We had decided, because of the long distances, that we were going to ride as a group of seven today. We took off but, the dust kept us pretty far apart. The rule of thumb, when you ride with a big group is that when you don’t see the guy behind you, you stop and wait, and if he doesn’t come you turn around and figure out what happened. Brian followed me and as usual was being really slow. I stopped to wait and make sure he was okay, but as soon as he was in sight, he immediately came to a halt and turned around. In the back of my mind, I was like oh great….now what? He looked over and stared for a while. As soon as he was done, he turned back around and came riding on up, all excited! As we rode up to the group he was ecstatic. Apparently he had seen a mountain lion. We were all very jealous of his find.
(not the real picture from Brian, but what he thinks he saw)
After the commotion subsided, we were back on our way. We stopped at a small lookout for a hot lunch. Everyone got out their stoves and cooked up a warm meal.
Finally we arrived in Ross River. We fueled up
(Steve's bike at the gas station, big ole blue)
And guess who we met at the gas station (you are not going to believe it). ELVIS PRESLEY! He had also built Graceland II, where he lived with his wife. He instantly fell in love with Tracy’s enthusiasm and Tracy was now stuck. Elvis ran back to Graceland II and brought Tracy a free CD of his. Elvis really wanted us to come and check out the artwork he had done in his house and Tracy told him we were in a hurry and we’d have to stop by on the way back through town (Oh my was he a character!). Off we went, to get on the barge and cross the Mackenzie River.
We had about 60 miles to go to our camp for the night, Dragon Camp. This was the beginning of the famous Canol Road. It was a spectacular road with amazing views. As we were riding along, we encountered a sudden problem. Because of the recent lightning storms, we were in the middle of a giant forest fire (no joke!). Tracy, Brian, and Steve (the firemen of the group) discussed the situation and Tracy went up ahead to see if it was safe (if not this was the end of the road for us).
He was gone for a while as we got off our bikes and watched the fire transfer from tree to tree around us. He came back safe and we discussed it once more with the group. The consensus was to ride through it because it would be safe once at our camp, and the fire would no longer be a threat to us there. So, that’s exactly what we did.
(These pics are from our return, we did not stop in the flames to take pictures)
We rode through the flaming forest and arrived safe and sound to our beautiful camp for the night.
It was situated right on a gorgeous lake with a great picnic table and lots of surrounding fire wood. Jeff, Brian, Jeffrey, and I all went for a shower in the lake.
(proof of the Mesquito attack)
We then cooked up yet another wonderful camp dinner (Mom! You would be proud of me. I made pasta salad on the road. Miss you.).
Steve prepared the wood and lit a huge fire. It was great! Best fire so far. Not many animal sightings today, only the mountain lion and a porcupine. Still pretty cool though. Crazy that we were in a natural forest fire. Our camp was safe and by the morning there was no sign of the fire still burning. The nightly rain had probably put it out, which was good for us. Anyways we are all safe and the trip is going great. Everyone is getting along and we long the company of each other and the endless laughs we have each day. Missing the families at home. More to come.
(the toilet at Dragon Lake)
Map from today, we are still on track
Tomorrow we make our push north on the Canol Road. We will see how far we can get, we are carrying gas for up to 200 miles north (400 round trip) Wow lot of gas, there have been heavy rains, so it could be hard.