An Early-Fall Motorcycle Ride to Skagway

My motorcycle hasn’t gotten much use this year, as I’ve already spent about 80 days in the motorhome, far from the bike. But yesterday, I put about 350 km (217 mi) on it riding to Skagway and back.

The feel of Fall has been in the air for a couple of weeks now, and Fall colours have begun to arrive in many places.

Fall colours in the Yukon
Every bus, and most rental-car drivers, stop at the “Welcome to the Yukon” sign. The nearest bus is from a brand-new company (there have been a few in recent years) – after 15 years guiding for other people, Raymie Eatough has set up her own operation, Midnight Sun Excursions. My reason for stopping, though, wasn’t to look at the sign or buses, but to have a chat with long-time friend Jacqueline St. Jacques, who sells her handcrafted stone-and-wire jewelry here (and online at

Tour buses at the Welcome to the Yukon sign
An excellent new interpretive sign has been installed near the Welcome sign this year. It describes the Dall sheep and mountain goats that are commonly seen on the slopes directly above that spot.

Interpretive sign about Dall sheep and mountain goats
Another sign change – the “Welcome to British Columbia” sign has been moved to the parking-lot side of the highway to avoid the dangerous situation of having people crossing the highway. Actually, the sign says “Welcome. The Best Place on Earth. British Columbia. Canada”. Speaking of that sort of danger on the highway, what’s with this new fad among Asians to get their photos taken with the centre-line of highways??? GET OFF THE ROAD!

Welcome to British Columbia sign

I got an email earlier in the week from a researcher wanting to hike to the grave of Fred Whitcomb Jr., and had sent him detailed directions to the remote site. After seeing near-flood-level waters in all the lakes, though, I had to send him a follow-up note last night, telling him that the site is inaccessible except by boat now.

I haven’t shot a motorcycle selfie in a while, and this pullout at a little lake provided the perfect spot for it. The bike is a 2009 VStar 1100 Classic that I bought new to celebrate my 60th birthday – after 6 years, I still think that it was the perfect choice. When I was shopping, I was looking at older, smaller (and much cheaper) bikes. Cathy finally said “why don’t you buy the bike you really want?” – and a few hours later, the VStar was in our driveway 🙂

Murray Lundberg with his 2009 VStar 1100 Classic in the Yukon
I also went for a short hike at that pullout. The light wasn’t great for scenic shots, but the ground offered lots of subjects.

Mushroom in the Yukon
I’d heard at the “Welcome” signs that the weather turned nasty at Fraser, and stayed that way right into Skagway. It had improved a bit, and I stopped at the Fraser interpretive lookout for a few shots of a train loaded with new ties – the line must be close to having 100% new ties now.

New ties for the White Pass & Yukon Route railway
I rode into fog near Summit Creek, and it got fairly thick near the summit. The rain that I’d been told to expect never happened, though.

The new “signature wall” at the summit. Some people wonder why there’s such animosity between locals and seasonal employees. Here’s a good example – “SPM” notes his 3 summers here (all 3 years were painted 2 weeks ago), and now other disrespectful morons are joining in.

Grafitti in the White Pass
I went for lunch at the Skagway Pizza Station, and despite the fact that they were extremely busy, it was excellent as always. Then I went for a wander on the bike to see what’s new. Every now and then, seeing the ships gets me a bit wistful, and this was one of those days. That may have been partly because, 6 years ago, Cathy and I went on a particularly fine cruise in the Caribbean on the nearest ship, the Noordam. Last week, we got asked by friends to think about going on a European river cruise with them – we were going to stay close to home with the motorhome for a few years, but…

Noordam and Ruby Princess in Skagway
I keep track of the bike’s mileage by taking photos of the odometer rather than writing it down. Even with 2 slack summers since buying the RV, I’m pretty happy about having put 29,000 km on the bike with zero problems.

Despite the comments that show my frustration with some people, it was a great day. There’s nothing like putting 350 km on the bike to blow out the crap that’s accumulated between my ears 🙂

We haven’t decided yet where to take the motorhome this weekend, but looking at the weather forecast, I may be back in Skagway tonight!


An Early-Fall Motorcycle Ride to Skagway — 4 Comments

  1. Too funny!! GET OFF THE ROAD…think that would be a no-brainer, eh!! It’s like seeing people do stupid things, like feeding bears on the side of the road. Two summers ago, I ran into a guy near Nordegg, AB. He was photographing a bear who was feeding in the ditch – quite close by. I stopped and told him he was endangering the life of the bear!!! He made a rude comment and told me he was a biologist. I told him I didn’t care if he was the pope, that he was still endangering the life of the bear!! I told him that a responsible biologist wouldn’t put the bear’s life at risk. It was too funny as we were out in the middle of nowhere and he could have been a serial killer. He did eventually meander back to his vehicle tho and we drove away. I don’t even think about those things, like personal safety, when I see people putting animals at risk. I won’t even mention the things I witnessed in Jasper last summer!!! I figure that one of these days I’ll be arrested for interfering with the tourist industry that cares NOTHING for the welfare of the animals!! Anyway, that’s my vent!! I do enjoy your blog and have been following it for a long time!

    • Our wander through the Rockies this Spring resulted in more sightings of wildlife-idiots than in my entire life combined up to that point, I think – incredible. Must make park rangers nuts.

      And thanks – it’s always really nice to hear from people who enjoy what I post. Hell, I even like hearing from people who think that I’m an idiot, as long as they have a rational argument as to why they think that 🙂

  2. I like to get pictures from the road so they show exactly what I am seeing as I drive down the road. However, I always sure there is not a car in sight because I don’t want cars in the picture.
    I share your frustration with people writing on stuff. Same thing applies to carrying in trash and just dumping it along the trail. I’m all time telling my wife that I’d like to take that pop can and shove it up their you know what. 🙂