Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
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Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego
Dust to Dawson 2012

After five days without the internet you get a lot to read again.

Mathias Heerwagen


Monday, June 18, east to Tok

Shortly after 11 a.m. I leave Fairbanks and head east to Canada.

Perfect weather: 21 degrees and sunshine, that’s fun. At some point I notice that I have been driving straight ahead for many minutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the odometer at the beginning, but a section between Fairbanks and Tok has to be the longest straight stretch in North America.

I haven’t even seen anything like it in the Australian outback. If I had cruise control, I could probably drive in a straight line for 30 minutes, hands-free. Suddenly I see something big floating in front of me across the street and landing in a tree. I get closer and recognize the bald eagle, can quickly snap a few photos before it swings back into the air.

It’s not quite 400 kilometers to Tok, a small town at a large intersection in the middle of nowhere. Dark clouds are brewing on the horizon, I quickly look for a campsite, pitch my tent and just a few minutes later it starts raining heavily. Everything done right again. Annoying: I pay $ 27 for the space and only have an hour of free internet – I just clicked through to SPON ….

I sit on the porch and see loads of motorbikes go by. I know one thing: It’s the Canadian, because I’ve already met in Fairbanks in the McDonalds and then again up in Deadhorse! I see him turn to a restaurant next door, wait until the rain has stopped, go over and sit down with him. We talked for over an hour and he gave me the address of his parents, who owned a ranch 30 minutes south of Calgary. I should get in touch, the parents would be happy and cook properly for me. Perfect, I have to go to Calgary anyway, because the Yamaha then has to do a 10,000-kilometer inspection and definitely needs a new rear tire.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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“The Pit”

I stop three kilometers from the Canadian border and eat three bananas. You can’t bring fresh fruit into Canada, and from what I’ve heard about Canadian Customs, I don’t want to try it either. The small border station is located at an altitude of over 1000 meters in the mountains and can be seen from afar. I drive up, the border guard comes, I pull out my papers – a few folded ten-dollar bills fall out of my briefcase right at the customs officer’s feet. That shouldn’t be an attempt at bribery now … He checks my passport and the vehicle papers, gives everything back to me and when packing the whole mess, the money falls down again. It’s getting embarrassing. weapons?

No. Alcohol or cigarettes? No. More than $ 10,000 in cash? Haha, good joke. And what doesn’t he ask for? Right, for fruit. All right, I’m in Canada. 75 kilometers later (in Canada there are kilometers and liters again, not miles and gallons) I reach Dawson and drive to the campsite, which is in the middle of the city. Around 15 bikers have already gathered in one corner. I ask if they still have a place for my tent with them – of course. We quickly get into conversation and in the evening I go to the pub with three Canadians – the two cops Matt and Carl and Jon, a weld inspector, all about my age. It’s “Loonie Tuesday”, there are “highballs” for $ 2. Means: whiskey, rum and vodka as a mixed drink for only 2 dollars…. Dangerous. At some point there will be six of us, each of us throwing two laps. Well, at the price, there isn’t a lot of alcohol in the already small glasses. Nice coincidence: I only recently read a book by Charles Bukowski (everything from him is really good, just as a tip) in which he constantly drinks vodka seven-up. Seems to be popular here, because the lady at the bar doesn’t know Vodka-Lemon, but she gives me said seven-up mix. Unlike Bukowski, I don’t like the mixture very much. does not matter.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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There is live music, we play a few rounds of billiards and drink as much as we can. The waitress later brings the drinks every three minutes (not exaggerated) and at some point we can no longer empty the glasses as quickly as they come. Enough.

We don’t stay long, almost all of them have come a long way. Jon, one of the boys, shows me a street meat stand. They don’t sell meat from animals that have been run over and then scraped off the street. It’s just a takeaway that still sells hot dogs and other items at night. I try the moose hotdog and afterwards think about whether or not to throw up for an hour. Man, i’m sick! Somehow it stays in there. Bison is supposed to taste much better, I’ll try it. Another time.


Wednesday: Around nine o’clock the heat drives us out of the tents. Who knows that it’s so hot in the Yukon Territory? We drag ourselves to a cafe for breakfast, hang out a bit and I take a few photos of the bikes that have arrived so far. The “Dust to Dawson” rally is actually not a rally, but a large touring motorcycle get-together that is mainly attended by bikers from Alaska and the USA.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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Downton hotel with the “Strip” where the games take place in the evenings.

This year is the twentieth anniversary and more than 250 drivers are registered. Utah, Colorado, Montana, Washington, California – almost all US states can be recognized on the license plates. Of course, there are a lot of Canadians here, some even from Ontario, from the east coast. A Spaniard also made it here and next to me another German who has been on tour for two years and has come up from South America. We go out to eat at the Greek and each of the $ 30 was worth it – I haven’t eaten this well in a long time. Dawson City is world famous for its Sourtoe cocktail in the Downtown Hotel.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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And it’s really real!

A real mummified toe is placed in a glass with schnapps and if your lips touch your toe while drinking it, you are a member of the Sourtoe Club. Where does the toe come from? If I got the story right, a trapper named Louie Liken tried to smuggle alcohol into the United States in the 1920s. His foot got wet and his big toe froze from the cold. Fearing gangrene, he and his buddy decided to amputate the toe.

After a good stun with their smuggled schnapps, the buddy grabbed the saw and with one blow the tough was off. They preserved him in alcohol and took him back with them. Years later he was found again, and the fun with the drink began.

We order whiskey and go to the table where some candidates are already waiting. Everyone wants to become a member of the Sourtoe Club. So the mummified toe lies on a little heap of salt, next to it a couple of cloths with which the body is dried off after every drink. Unfortunately it is no longer the original by Louie Liken. Seven toes have been swallowed or stolen over the years. Replacements came either from the hospital or from private donors who had an accident. The current toe is from someone who mowed the lawn with flip-flops … Anyway, there is a sign on the bar saying that whoever swallows the toe has to pay $ 250.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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So now I’m a member of the “Sourtoe” club.

I let the others go first and take photos. Everyone is allowed to pick up their toes, but before they drink, “Captain Dick” recites a line that he rattles down so routinely, as if he had uttered it thousands of times. And he has that too. It’s my turn, put my name on a list and see that I’m number 44533 in the Sourtoe club. Dick says his line, Matt takes pictures while I put on the whiskey and the mummified toe touches my lips. No big deal, I just don’t know what scares me anymore: the toe or knowing that 44,532 other people have already had it on their lips. Anyway, the whiskey will kill everything. We grab our certificates, bring them back to the tents and head back into town.

Where city is exaggerated; a quick word on Dawson. There is a paved main road, the rest of the typical checkerboard roads are gravel roads. Many houses seem to date from the times when gold diggers flooded the city.

That has its charm, especially because it’s not artificially pimped up. The paint is peeling off some houses, crooked huts are left standing, the wooden plank sidewalks often end in nothing – you walk on in the dust. The hardware store looks like it was from the 19th century, albeit with different goods. Dawson is small, has just over 1200 residents, everyone knows each other. A striking number of young women have two jobs here. Those who serve breakfast at the table in the morning are also at the table in the evening – in the casino.

The Greek waitress also serves in another shop, we see almost everyone at least three times. And since we are guys and some women are not exactly unattractive, something like that strikes us …

Otherwise the same as yesterday: pub, music, billiards, casino, can-can show – fun.


Friday: An amazing number of bikers are interested in my motorcycle, the World Crosser Edition of the Super Tenere. They sneak around the motorcycle, look at interesting details and compare them to the American Teneres. Because, you assure me, the World Crosser should be the first in all of North America – the model is not even sold here. Compared to the normal Super Tenere, some of which are here, my bike looks a lot better. Again and again I have to tell: where from, where, for how long. So far? Alone? Oh! Have fun! But it’s fun, everyone is nice, really interested and many of the bikers have already ridden sections of the Panamericana themselves or even the entire route.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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She almost got the sausage!

In the evening, the games begin on the “Strip”, the closed main street, which is lined with motorbikes on the left and right. First the classics: Slalom, as slowly as possible, the distances between the pylons get smaller from round to round. Some bikes tip over, nothing almost never breaks, no glee among the spectators. The next discipline: five tennis balls have to be thrown or placed in smaller and smaller vessels while driving slowly, the ball must not jump out. Damn difficult thing! The few who make it are celebrated loudly. Do you want to know if I’ll take part too? D rather not. Who knows, maybe I’ll put the Yamaha on its side…. No, I prefer to take pictures.

The next game: grab the sausage! The crew attaches a fishing rod to a ladder, and a Viennese sausage dangles from the string above the street. The job: take a bite! Jon and I are about to get ready when we hear that only women are allowed on the pillion seat. It’s a shame, actually. What can I say, it’s a lot harder than it sounds and gives me some very funny photos.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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How do you feel about driving with a sack over your head??

During the next game, some bikes go down or can just about be caught by the helpers. The crew sprays a cross in the middle of the street and it is important to stop as close to the cross as possible. Easy right? Not with a sack over the helmet! While flying blind, the drivers slowly approach the cross, the audience screams stop! – of course, well in front of the cross. Mean but fun.

It is well after midnight – of course it is still light – when the long-awaited stickers are finally distributed. “Dust to Dawson 2012”, slightly curved, ideal for the fender or helmet. Everyone is proud to have been there, many have already wiped the spot on the motorcycle and stick the sticker on immediately. The event dissolves, the boys and I have a beer together and at around 2 a.m. it is over for me.

Saturday June 23rd

Saturday June 23rd

We have breakfast and leave around ten o’clock, east to Whitehorse. A little more than 520 kilometers are ahead of us, the navigation system reports that I have to turn right in 180 kilometers, then the rest of the way is always straight. The sun is high in the sky almost exactly in front of us, it is a pleasant 24 degrees, the smell of fresh asphalt rises from a construction site, the iPhone plays my favorite songs – and, as so often, I think that it was the best decision, just that Book a flight and take the tour.

Panamericana 2012: On the way from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego

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Farewell in Whitehorse.

After four days in Dawson, it’s fun to be back on the road. The two boys also want to go to Whitehorse, we’ll go together, I’ll follow suit. If anyone is on the way: The cinnamon cakes in the Braeburn Lodge are amazing.

In Whitehorse we are looking for Starbucks so that we can have free fast internet again after days in the wilderness. Unfortunately something is broken – no internet. We drink iced coffee and talk for a long time, then the two boys drive on. I want to stay here for two days, edit a few photos (which is very time-consuming as my computer is too slow). The hostel is fully booked, so I’m moving to a nice campsite just a few miles outside of town. Eat, write, shower, sleep.

You can find almost 90 pictures from Dawson here:
And when you’re done with it, check out Matt and Carl’s blog:

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