The day before riding out of Fort St. John, Karen Hardy, my American mom who helped me tremendously during my first long ride from Calgary to Brazil, arrived!
“It’s so nice seeing you two,” Karen said before we shared hugs.
During my first long ride, Karen rode with me in New Mexico and Texas, hosted me for my first American Thanksgiving and gave me Dude, a mustang from the Taos Pueblo tribe that she trained herself! If that wasn’t enough, she even met us at the finish line in the Barretos rodeo in Brazil.
“You’re my son, I had to come up here to make sure you finished this journey safely,” she said while we fed her horse Blue and my boys, Mac and Smokey.
The tougher than nails cowgirl drove from Washington State to ride with us during the end of this first section of my last long ride. Having her by my side to finish the northern portion of the ride was comforting and Blue helped keep my wild boys calm in the middle of cities.
On Sunday, September 15, riding Mac and ponying Smokey, with Karen riding Blue by my side, we began our ride together.
Having someone to talk to all day made everything less painful and easier. And with Blue’s calm demeanor, my boys lost a little of their wild spunk.
The only hard part was moving vehicles back and forth everyday. We would leave Karen’s truck and trailer where we started. At the end of the day, I would wait with the horses while Clara drove Karen back to the rig. After about half an hour, they would show up and we would set up camp. This ended up costing us three times what we would have spent in fuel, but it was totally worth it.
With Karen there, Clara was also able to ride with me for the first time on the journey.
“I love Mac so much,” she said one afternoon while she rode the big mustang down a small gravel road.
It took 11,000 soldiers and 16,000 civilians 8 months to build the original Alaska Highway in 1942. Nearly a century later we traveled the 2,237 kilometer highway in half that time.
Exactly 4 months, to the day, after departing Fairbanks, Alaska, I rode my mighty mustangs into Dawson Creek, British Columbia with Karen by my side.
“Wow, I can’t believe we are here… A couple months ago this moment felt nearly impossible,” I said to Karen as we trekked towards the rodeo grounds.
On a short break at a gas station at the beginning of town, the mayor of Dawson Creek, Dale Bumstead who had read about my journey, came to say hello.
“We are happy to have you here in town Filipe,” the friendly Mayor said.
The funny thing is that a few kilometers prior to arriving in town, I changed shirts and cleaned myself up using wet wipes to freshen up, “in case the mayor came to greet us,” I announced to Clara and Karen.
Sure enough, he came.
Posing under the kilometer 0 marker in the center of town I was all smiles. We had finally ridden the Alaska Highway in its entirety! We were done the most arduous section of the ride and nearly finished part 1.
Beers were in order!