Subject: WanderNorth 8 - Prince George, British Columbia
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2001 21:33:26 -0700
Observations from the southernmost settlement you can drive to in the northernmost state ...
One of my idiosyncrasies is a strong dislike for
taking the same road twice in the same trip. I just don't like to backtrack.
No such luck for me getting out of Hyder ... or practically out of British
Columbia. So instead of me writing again about the same route, you can
just read the segment from a couple days ago - backwards :)
In its place I offer some collected comments from Hyder.
Hyder is unusual in several respects. It is the only
active US border crossing I've seen that does not have a US Customs or
Immigration post. When I mentioned that, someone said "What could anyone
possibly want to smuggle into here?" Got a point there. Liquor and tobacco
are cheaper on the US side (which is why there IS a Canadian post at the
border). I suppose if someone wanted to "sneak" into the US this way, more
power to them. It's about 75 miles with nary a road through hard and unforgiving
country to the nearest port you can get out of, which doesn't exactly present
an influx problem. Although from what I hear, I understand unintentional
immigration can be a problem. There was one fellow, a US citizen, who came
to visit a year or two ago, and had a minor legal matter outstanding in
Canada. Canadian Immigration would not let him back in - even to pass through
- until he settled the fine. He refused and ended up staying in Hyder for
a long, long, long time. I never did hear how it was resolved.
One other unusual aspect of the cultural mix is the money. Hyder is perhaps the only US town where Canadian dollars are the only currency used. Everything is quoted and settled in Canadian, including the US Post Office transactions - although, because they are not allowed to transact business in foreign currency, their prices are listed in "US Equivalent" amounts. (Now, if this was run the same way as the bank in Osoyoos - you would have to get US money in Canada to bring in to ... never mind.)
Right at the borderline, beside the Welcome sign, is a small stone building. The plaque on the side says it is the oldest standing building in Alaska. It was built in the late 1800s as a storehouse by the Army engineer who was assigned to survey this area. He eventually went on to build other things, and Captain Gallard was rewarded with his name on the most difficult section of Gallard Cut of the Panama Canal.
Riders came and left throughout the weekend, but by the time of the celebration dinner Saturday night, there were still about 20 folks (including Ron Ayres' wife and mother who flew in). Surprise to me, there were three people from San Francisco: myself, LDRider Will, and a young woman who just happened to wander in this weekend on her BMW F650 and had no prior idea anything was going on. Nicole was welcomed and brought into the group. She and I live about 6 blocks apart, and met thousands of miles away.
Actually, something else goes on in Hyder this weekend. Stewart, BC, holds
a rodeo that draws a decent crowd, and the cowboys and cowgirls blow off
steam in Hyder after the Saturday finals. I was warned that unless I could
sleep in a train wreck, the Sealaska Inn was not the place to stay. I did.
Anyway, the Sealaska raises some extra money to keep the rodeo spirit alive
by holding "De Udder Wet T-Shirt Contest" at midnight. Prizes are given
to the contestants by auctioning off positions for 5 judges and 1 hoser.
The hoser carries a forest fire backpack spray gun and "lubes the boobs",
as the saying goes.
I was standing at the back of the crowd, watching when the Hoser slot went up for auction. 50 do I hear 70, 75 who's got 90, 110 gimme 125 ... some guy finally bid $150 and it looked like a lock. The fine young lady standing beside me asked "You mean this guy is crazy enough to pay $150 just to spray water on some woman's breasts?" You could feel the incredulity in her voice. "Yes, it's amazing what some men will pay for, isn't it." She took a sip of her drink then said with a wicked smile, "So, then, who's really the 'boob'?" At that, the fellow beside me choked and spit beer over himself.
The contest did go on, and the shirts did come off. The event took place in the backyard patio where a walkway was constructed for the purpose such that "iden-tities" could be protected. (Hey - I only report what I hear.) Baring breasts outside at midnight in Alaska is not something I would recommend. First, there was the minor matter of the temperature being about 40 degrees from anything warm, then there were as many mosquitoes watching as patrons. After several, um, rounds of appearances, the judges decided on a tie. I think it is because they had so much beer they were seeing double ... of something that already was double. Just goes to show, you may be young only once, but you can be immature forever.
Records are made to be ....
Riders came and went. Some stayed in town for days, some for only an hour. In an earlier segment I mentioned Ron Ayres 7/49 ride which brought us all here. A couple readers not aware of the Long Distance aspect were amazed at his record. Be more amazed. On Friday night, two robust riders from Manitoba rode in to Hyder and got Ron Ayres to sign their witness form. Lee Myrah and Mike Hutsal together had just completed the 48 United States in 5 days 14 hours, then came on to Hyder, finishing in 6 days 17 hours. Not only did they better the record, the did it the long way. They started in Minnesota, made a tortuous circle, and ended in Montana - THEN rode to Alaska. Well done, guys! ... They left Hyder 12 hours later.
Brand recognition ... the good news and ...
As I was packing to leave, a young boy (maybe 5?)
in the room next door ran out to the railing and checked the bikes for
the umpteenth time. This time he turned and shouted "Dad! There's still
two and they're both A and Ws!" His father laughed and explained, A&W
is his favorite soda. Close enough. But it's not likely BMW will try a
Riding back into Canada I met a couple riders again and again. They seemed to be stopping at every gas station even though their bikes had extra fuel tanks installed for long rides. Then it came clear. They are checking out the station times for the Iron Butt. It is rumored that Hyder will be a big points bonus this year, and these guys are seriously considering adding a 3,000 mile ride to an already multi-thousand week. Even Ron told me that as he rides around Alaska, he makes an entry in his GPS every time he sees an Iron Butt Motel (picnic table at a rest stop) ... just in case. :) You go, guys.
Hyder BC37a BC37 BC16 Prince George
Sam Lepore, San Francisco