Friday, April 19, 2013

Uraling to Alaska - Day 13: Dease Lake and the Lost Wallet/Phone Incident

Wow, what a day.  Truly a "luck" day, given the date.  Still, I must have done something right in a previous life as it all turned out well in the end!

I woke up to a gently falling rain in Hyder, Alaska.  I'd slept nice and warm inside my tent, no water leakage and temperatures didn't get too cold, 39F is the recorded low!

Still, it was a chore to pack everything up, most of it getting wet and now sitting outside in still more rain/snow in Dease Lake, BC.  I am hoteling it tonight, but there's good reasons for it as I shall explain later.

So, I left Hyder under even cloudier skies than yesterday, the nearby mountains' bases were barely visible in the thick fog which would be my traveling companion all the way to the Bell 2 service area on the Cassiar Highway.

Funny thing, as I went through Canadian customs one more time, the agent remarked that she'd seen my photo on Tom's facebook page!   Tom, as I mentioned in the previous posting, was the Hyder resident who'd helped me out by allowing me the use of the parking lot of a building he maintains.

I rode in at times pretty thick fog and lightly falling rain all the way back to the junction of BC 37A and BC 37 which I took northbound (This is the Stewart-Cassiar Highway).

 Small Glacier

 Foggy Day

I rode on the Cassiar Highway, northbound, not seeing much in terms of wildlife and darn sure not seeing much in terms of scenic mountains as the low cloud ceiling and fog conspired to hide things from me.

The weather did clear up a bit as I gained altitude and I was finally able to get some mountain shots but still, the weather proved quite the downer.  It wasn't too cold though, from low to high 30s depending on the altitude.  I was wearing my heated vest so it was a cozy ride for me for the most part.

 As you can see, the weather cleared off and on all day long.

 I passed several lakes today, most of the still frozen and snow-covered.

Took this shot 79 kilometers north of Dease Lake, I had been riding 
towards the border with the Yukon Territory when I stopped because I 
saw something flapping loose when I looked to the left at something else.

So, the Cassiar Highway is now paved all the way to the junction with the Alaskan Highway I am told.  I will tell you that it's got frost heaved sections that make life a bit bumpy when riding.

At the last shot above, when I went to check to see what was flapping in the wind, I discovered to my horror that the zippered compartment where I had been stashing my wallet and cellphone in a waterproof box was open and all the contents were gone!

I quickly turned around and started racing back towards the Dease Lake service station where I thought initially I'd failed to secure the zippers and it had fallen out there.  It was the longest 79 kilometers I've ridden in a very long time!  As I rode, and encountered the frost heaved sections once again, I developed a theory that perhaps the zippers had come apart slowly, and soon the box fell out without me noticing.

I rode fast, in snowy conditions at times, scanning the side of the road for the box.  No luck.

I arrived back to the Dease Lake Service Station and asked the clerk if anyone had turned in my wallet and iPhone.  My heart sank when she said no.  Totally discouraged now, I walked out to the parking lot and retraced the track on foot leading back to BC37.  Nothing.

I was standing there, at the junction, when a guy in a pickup truck pulled up and rolled down his window.  I figured he was just checking on a person looking lost.  His name turned out to be Don and he was the owner of the local hotel, the Northway Motor Inn.  He asked if I was riding the orange sidecar rig and was I looking for my wallet?  

My face must have registered shock as he smiled and I recall him saying: "I'm about to make your day!"

Turns out, he wasn't the one who found the wallet and phone but it was a couple from Washington State who spotted the contents of my wallet and my phone lying scattered on the road about 7 miles north of Dease Lake!  The couple had just checked into the Northway Motor Inn and Allison, Don's wife had phoned the RCMP for them to come pick up my stuff!  Don connected all the dots when he spotted me searching for my stuff by the side of the road!

What are the odds right?

After thanking Don, I hurried over to the RCMP station which just happened to be next to the nearby hotel and met Constable Smith who had been in the act of calling my insurance company to try and get a contact number for me!  He'd been unable to unlock my phone, which survived the crash just fine due to having been in the watertight case, and had been going the extra mile and calling my insurance company to find a way to contact me!  

I got all my stuff back, to include cash and such, though both my credit cards were damaged, one was in pieces and the other's magnetic strip card no longer worked.  Thanking the constable, I then headed over to the gas station to fuel up again (that's where I discovered the magnetic strip was damaged) and ran into Carl, the driver who with his wife Dinni had seen my iphone on the road, stopped, and retrieved all the contents of the wallet!

After talking with Carl for a bit, he was refueling his truck in readiness for continuing the drive down to where they live in Wilkeson, WA, we agreed to meet in the Northway Motor Inn's lobby so I could meet his wife Dinni and thank her as well.  It had been mainly her sharp eyes that spotted my cellphone.  They had also figured it must have come off my rig as they'd spotted me on the way down as I headed North and one of the items they found was a bungee cord which had been in the storage bag.  All this they told Don, who put everything together in a split-second as he was driving out of his hotel and spotted me!

After they figured out how to enter my credit card number manually at the gas station, I went over to the Inn and met with everyone involved in saving my trip.

Don and his wife Allison, owners of the Northway Motor Inn

Carl, Dinni and yours truly after we'd had dinner together.

Folks, the above people I met through the unlucky happenstance of losing my wallet and cellphone, while traveling in a different country, were the highlight of the day and probably of the whole month!

Carl is retired from the National Park Service, where he'd been stationed as part of the Mount Rainier National Park unit.  He ended his career managing the trail teams that play the important role of maintaining the park's trails, having worked his way up from seasonal worker and up the ranks!

I had dinner with them, and he told me of his life's work which he enjoyed (how many people can say that eh?), Dinni told me about how they'd made the trip to Sealy, Alaska over about five consecutive Februarys as that's Carl's time off; to build a cabin there near her sister.  Dinni also has a sister (Corrine R.) in Boulder, CO (again, what are the odds of that?) who's a hard core bicyclist, who in her 50's had just completed a ride in South America all by herself, one of many foreign countries rides.

Carl and Dinni also told me of their travels, how they'd seen the hundreds of Tundra Swan in Swan Haven in the Yukon Territory, and of their favorite motel in Fairbanks, the Golden North.  I hope to be able to find and visit these places.  Dinner over (and they refused to let me pay for it, such good Samaritans), we headed back to the hotel and chatted some more with Allison and Don, the proprietors.

Stories were told of other guests they'd helped out and of interesting travelers they'd met over the years.  The Northway Motor Inn is the kind of place weary travelers like me are fortunate to find.  Like I told Don, I was fated to spend the night here, so I could not only meet him and Allison but also the saviors of my trip, Dinni and Carl!

Oh, and such a great Inn that Allison and Don run, when I asked him about the town's laundromat, he told me it was closed already but no problem!  Just use the inn's laundry room's dryer to dry my wet clothes from yesterday!  Is that service or what?  Really, if you're on the Cassiar Highway, consider using their place, their  inn is not the soul-less corporate run motel so prevalent these days.  The stories they told us, showed they care about their guests and their experiences at their inn.

What a day huh?

My profound thanks to Dinni and Carl for their sharp eyes and actions on the road.  My thanks as well to Don for his quick thinking and Allison for her assistance with the RCMP!  I truly was fortunate today to meet them, even though the way it happened was a bit on the stressful side for the time it took me to ride back the 79 kilometers back to Dease Lake!

I would buy a lottery ticket but I think I used up all my luck for the foreseeable future today!

Previously: Uraling to Alaska - Day 12: Houston to Hyder, AK


Bob and Sharon said...

Wow someone is watching out for you
Ride safe bob&sharon wasilla

redlegsrides said...

Bob and Sharon, you ain't just whistling Dixie!

RichardM said...

What a story. I saw that you had turned around and headed back to Dease Lake and was wondering what happened. I figured that you would be getting to the Alaska Hwy this evening. I'm enjoying the photos and wish I was down there as well. A beautiful route worth taking. If you think the frost heaves there are bad, wait 'til you get to the section around Beaver Creek and the AK border.

I'm glad everything worked out and I will let you know when things arrive here.

Andy & Laura said...

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11). We are praising God for His care and protection of you yesterday and are trusting in Him for your continued safety while on the road.

Laura & Andy

redlegsrides said...


The frost heaves I've gone thru so far aren't too bad, except for the unmarked ones! My lower back was hurting but losing the wallet/phone promptly made me forget my back pain! You're the second to warn re the section near the AK border, will try and slow down accordingly if safe due to traffic.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks Laura and Andy, I must have a guardian angel riding with me in the sidecar.

Geodoc said...

Small world Domingo - Wilkinson is a small town just a couple of miles from Enumclaw!

Unknown said...


You have a lucky Angel on your shoulder.

I have also had a few scares with missing wallet and keys. We were in the Cdn Rockies and had left Valemont BC in the morning and headed towards Jasper, AB. We were on fumes because we did not fill up the night before and we left early in the morning. The gas stations were all closed so I thought we had enough gas, but it was running on empty for a long time before we found the station (in Jasper) and when I went to get my credit card out to gas up, it wasn't there . . .

what a great story ! and you got to meet new friends too

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

I don't think you are going to see a whole lot of traffic at this time of year. What is it now, a dozen or two per day?

SonjaM said...

See, I told you, the world is full of good people. What a great turn of events. I am very happy for you!

Richard said...

What a nice story to hear. In the midst of such tragic news on the Boston and Texas fronts it is good to see that good people are out there trying to help.

BeemerGirl said...

What an amazing scenario! My heart would have been in my throat if I had lost those items. I'm so happy they made their way back to you and you encountered some wonderful people that made that happen.

GF said...

I feel like jumping on my bike and go after you :-) I'm jealous, I want to go back so badly. Planning on going back in 2014.
Glad you found your stuff.

redlegsrides said...

SonjaM, yep, finding folks so willing to help is good for the soul.

Richard, heartily agree....

BeemerGirl, truly was I fortunate that day.

George F: at the speeds I am going lately, you probably could catch up....get the bike ready!

Gary France said...

Fantastic story. As you said, what a day! People are mostly good and so I am glad you met two really good ones. Carl and Dinni - if you do read this, you have our thanks as well!

BMW HACKER said...

Refreshing to still find honest folks about....actually there are more than most realize!