We woke up early the next morning, Thursday September 27th 2012 to cook breakfast and head up to the airport by 8am. Security was a breeze. I waited with Lynne until then and walked back across the highway to my car. I watched her flight take off and snapped a pic of it going airborne. I decided then in my head I was going to try to make it back over 1500 miles (2400km) for the memorial on Saturday. I sat down in the Roo and drove. I drove like it meant something, because it did. With a tail wind through the southern Yukon I made the speedo point south for a stretch. Kilometers blurred as I explored the recesses of my mind. By 1:20pm I stopped for gas at Watson Lake and said hello to the fellow who helped me out with the tires last year on the Roo at campground Services just south of town. Back on the throttle I stopped again from 2:45-3:30 to spend some time with Bison along the Alcan. I spent 5-7pm at Liard Hot Springs- North America’s best. I had budgeted only an hour but that place is tough to pass up. The sun was setting as I moved into the Northern Rockies but I made it to Muncho Lake just after dark. I pulled the Roo down near the shore and called it a night shortly after I set up my tripod near the softly lapping waves. This is another favorite spot in the North!
The next morning I had a leisurely start getting underway just before 8am. After pausing to take pics of a pretty meadow with great clouds I filled up with gas at Toad River and stopped again not long afterwards and to gaze at one of my favorite slopes with Aspens above the river. By 9:20 I was heading through Stone mountain, a place we had planned on backpacking this year. Eventually you make your way to the east side of the Rockies and head down towards Fort Nelson. That section seemed to drag on as I had been told it’s one of the few speed traps anywhere in rural Canada. A couple people I’ve talked to in Watson Lake have been picked off by RCMP radar there. From here there is a lot of oil and gas exploration. Trucks and 1 ton pickups clog the road with traffic compared to places further north (out of tourist season). In other words you have to pass vehicles from time to time. It was super smokey when I dropped down out of the mountains but cleared out further south. At some point south of Fort Nelson it began to rain. I had my sights set on Fort St John or the turnoff to Chetwyend near there my next gas stop after topping off a bit further north. The rain came and went making for some interesting passes of semis. The cutoff on hwy 29 along the Peace River was twisty but super pretty, my favorite route through the region.
I had hoped to make it to Prince George or even Williams Lake by dark but that was not to be. A pretty sunset held back the night for a bit after crossing the Rockies again towards McLeod Lake. Stopping for a break (to recharge the Go Pro) I drove through fog and moonlight and made it to Prince George around 9pm. I drove another 45 minutes and stopped at a rest area off the highway. I crawled in the back to take a cat nap but was too amped up on adrenaline to sleep. I laid there for two hours and got back on the road before 11pm and made it to Williams lake after midnight and filled up with gas again at the husky station I often visit there. Now I knew I was within striking distance as we’ve often made big pushes home from here. However exhaustion was setting in pretty hard. I was bone tired when I stopped past Prince George but this is when the power of the mind comes in willing the body on and helping it stay alert. Finally around 4am I stopped again past Clinton BC where the Nar car threw a rod on the big push south in 2003 leading to an even bigger adventure. I laid down again right near the turnoff to Lillooet and after an hour was back in the saddle. Eventually daylight began to show itself as I sped down the fraser River. That stretch dragged on forever. Finally around 7am I made it to Hope and could feel the border. By now each stretch felt like an eternity. I made it to the US border by 8:20am on Saturday morning greeted with long lines of Canadians heading south. I pulled into the duty free to use the bathroom and had a fantastically simple entry back into the US. It felt great to be back in Washington. I called my family and Lynne surprising her I was in the US. Her mom said not to do anything rash thinking i was much further north. I replied I was already back in the states to her astonishment I made my way to Seattle and although I was in a zombie state I cleaned up at found some clothes for the memorial. I didn’t used to realize the importance of memorials until I lost the person most important to me. Then it was a big deal to me when friends made the effort to come over from Seattle. That show of support will stick with me the rest of my life!