Haines Junction
Yukon Territory,
Sun 19th Aug 1990

Dear all,

I’m camping at the bottom of the hills on the card which I’ve put in (P.S. I didn’t put it in as I’ve only got small envelopes) so you can put it on your board.

Landed last Tuesday at Vancouver at 2:45pm and rode away on the bike by 5:00pm. That was after waiting for the Agriculture Dept. to inspect the bike for mud etc. The cargo people sent me to customs with all the paperwork to get it cleared but didn’t say anything about needing Agricultural clearance. The customs man got quite angry with them for causing me inconvenience and rang them up and told them so. He came back and said he had some bad news and some good news. The bad news was that it had to be inspected but the good news was he had arranged for an inspector to go over straight away. It was nothing to do with him really – can’t imagine that happening in the U.K. Everybody here is so friendly and they leave all their camping, fishing etc. equipment outside – nobody ever touches it. If you take your helmet & gloves into a café or bar they are a bit offended that you don’t think it’s safe to leave them on the bike.

Some of the motor homes are unbelievable. They are as long as a coach and they tow a family car or 4-wheel drive truck behind just to run about in when they are parked up. Satellite dishes on the roof & every mod con you could think of. Some of these people actually think they’re roughing it & stay in a motel every few days to recover.

I decided to get to Alaska as quickly as possible in case the weather changes and then hang around until it starts to get too cold. People reckon I should have up to a month yet. The Alaska Highway is 1520 miles long but the beginning of it is 800 miles up from Vancouver. I’ve come 1800 miles so far up to last night in 3.5 days & decided to have a day off today & do the washing etc. seeing as I’m almost there and into the best scenery. Low cloud this morning & the first rain I’ve had but it’s sunny again now (afternoon). If you imagine the best bits of Scotland and the Isle of Skye but going on for 1000 miles & getting better it’s like that. A town every couple of hundred miles but they are now only a collection of houses & motels at a road junction. Plenty of petrol stations, most of which have showers and laundry rooms. The whole place is really geared up for camping.

Met an Irishman from Dublin on Wednesday afternoon. He was on a B.M.W. heading back from Alaska, it was only mid afternoon but we both decided to camp and have a chat. He’s a friend of the bloke I stay with in Limerick. Small world but you get to expect it after a while. He told me some good places to go and gave me a phone number in California where he, an Australian and an American are making contact later in the year to discuss South America down to the bottom tip towards the Antarctic. I was planning to do that some time but I don’t know when.

Met another bloke on a B.M.W. on his way home to Homer near Anchorage after going to a rally in Nevada. He rode down and his girlfriend flew down. They do thinks on a different scale over here. He gave me his address and a note to give his cousin who lives there telling him to let me stay if he’s away when I arrive. Also gave me a note for his girlfriend who works in a bar in Anchorage telling her to give me a beer and charge it to him if I call before he gets back. It’s always the same on a bike. Mind you I met a Japanese on a Honda last night and he didn’t speak English. Had to give up on that one. Went in the local bar last night to meet a few Indians. All the Yanks in their big campers avoid them because they’re always drunk or so they say (or is it a guilty conscience about pinching their land). It was just like any crowd of lads in any pub anywhere on a Saturday night. Great crowd. They actually look exactly like old pictures of Geronimo and people like that. Some of them make a living hunting still or more likely as guides on hunting parties. Met somebody today who was reporting his bear sighting – they’re all logged if you report one, this one ripped his haversack off his back. Said he didn’t realise he could run so fast. Everybody says to leave food away from your tent and bang things together to make a noise if a bear comes. It will then go away. Nobody has told me what to do next if it doesn’t go away. I’ll think of something.
All the best.
Love Steve.