A turn in the weather whistled a bolt of cold over my body, goose-fleshing as we journeyed towards Jasper and Banff in Canada’s Alberta province. Cold inquires at first investigated the tips of my fingers, chin and nose, feeling their sharp little claws sink in when my gums were no longer warm. What did I expect from alpine towns—amid the snow-capped Canadian Rockies—revelling in their own microclimates.
“Oh look, thar she blows.” Far out in the distance a whale blew, and a pillar of water fountained up. My eyes widened at the calm beauty. Ferrying for the best part of two days from Juneau, Alaksa to Prince Rupert, Canada became our third cruisey foray into exploring Alaska’s Inside Passage, courtesy of its Marine Highway. Taking the slow ferry gave us the flexibility to experience life and logistics as the typical family might along this coastal connection of communities: bring your vehicle, bring your dog (or “marvellous other”), and enjoy what is essentially a poor man’s cruise.
The prospect of coming home after 33,000 miles through 21 countries on my motorcycle, was a welcomed and warranted one. Taking temporary leave from living out of panniers and a roll bag for two years short of a quarter—to being lavished in comfort at my mum’s house was beyond appealing—hand washing will only get you so far. For me, Christmas could not have been made more special; I reunited with my family. I cherished every moment with my nephews Max and Ollie, who at ages 8 and 6 have blossomed into wonderful, young boys adept at keeping their Aunty Lisa highly entertained. Their innocence and energy was exhilarating as much as exhausting.
Highway 70 took us at full tilt for 360 miles from Denver, Colorado to Moab in Utah, the start of our ride home. A long day for us but it was worth the effort ten-fold. It seemed sacrilege not to take advantage of Utah’s sweet spots. Hiking up to the red rock wonders of the Delicate Arch, just one of two thousand natural sandstone arches, my heart was pounding at the top. And not because I found myself in a world where the sun gleams over a shadowy, giant world of rock. I’ve just become unfit.
Ahead of us lay open country, reddish-grey, studded with cacti. Arizona was the first place I have been for a while that turned out to look exactly like I’d pictured it. As we rode along the blindingly bright highway, I felt happy and charmed. Nestled at an elevation of over 1,500 metres amongst the State’s biggest offering of ponderosa pine forest, Prescott became our next ‘Go to’ base. Usually boasting perfect weather at around room temperature, we rode into an uncharacteristic heat wave for the autumn—amongst granite mountains and all the worthy accomplices of lakes, streams and rolling meadows. Perforated with historical landmarks, you’re hit by the rich history of the Old West. Cowboy style saloons dotted along Whiskey Row fused with the more modern aspects of the traditional town, there’s nothing not to like.