On day three of my last long ride, Clara and I found refuge in an RV Park.
“I used to have horses back in the lower 48… we would love to host you and your ponies,” the big fella behind the counter said.
For $35 American dollars we got a spot to park the motorhome and build our small corral for the horses in the empty parking lot. There must have been over 30 spots with water and electricity hookups for motorhomes and trailers. In a few weeks, it would be full or close to full every night as tourists made their way up the Alaska highway on their summer vacations. Still early in Spring, we would be the only ones here tonight.
“Ok I’ll be back soon,” Clara said before she drove back to Fairbanks to pick up my friend Eric Forsyth.
Eric, one of my best friends from high school, is a professional photographer and loves to travel. He once rode a bicycle, with another childhood friend, from Bolton, Ontario to Tofino, BC. So when I invited him to travel with us for a portion of the journey, it was an easy sell! Eric was also one of my biggest supporters from day one. Before I had any of the sponsorship to leave on my first Long Ride from Calgary to Brazil, he helped me by taking photos, filming and putting together a sponsorship package to sell the project.
I waited for about 2 hours in the empty parking lot, a cold wind blowing from the West, while the horses grazed in the nearby lawn. I walked around kicking rocks while Smokey and Mac took short steps, their hobbles preventing them from going too far. Just before I went to put them into their corral, figuring Clara and Eric were close to arriving, I decided to let the boys graze a little more by our lot. Holding onto their lead ropes, I let them eat the tall grass patch near a water tap—a big mistake.
While I held onto Smokey’s lead, he became frightened at a strange noise and shot his head up. The lead went up right where the tap was connected to the white pipe and in a split second broke the valve off.
“Smokey you idiot,” I said furiously while water shot up towards the sky in a large stream that made both horses want to run off, scared.
I managed to hold onto them and quickly placed them into their corral before figuring out what to do next. While I scavenged the property for the main water line, Clara and Eric pulled in.
“So good to see you brother,” Eric said while we shared a tight hug.
“Good to see you brother, now help me, we have a big problem,” I said back when we separated.
After having to wake up the old fella who owned the place, we managed to shut off the water. He did not look happy. I promised I would help him fix the tap in the morning and pay for the damage.
“How is Toronto brother,” I asked Eric, finally relaxed with a cold beer in hand.
While we got caught up, Eric took his bike out of a large box and reassembled it.
“Can’t wait to ride with you tomorrow,” he said when “old wise grey bike,” the nickname we ended up giving the thick bicycle, was finally in one piece.