North: The KTM Summer of Adventure – 14: Air Force Lodge, Watson Lake, YT

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The Air Force Lodge is a restored 1942 pilot’s quarters so there’s an austere military sense to the place, right down to shared washrooms and showers assigned to each gender – don’t let this deter you.  The Air Force is clean, hypo-allergenic, efficient, social with a large common area table around which guest congregate and mingle.  The rooms are simple, furnishings sparse, the beds comfortable.  At $65.00 a night for a single the Lodge is cost effective and above all it is hugely motorcycle friendly.  That’s largely down to its operator’s history. Walking through the door, Michael has already identified Indestructible Sam (as I’ve nicknamed the 990 Adventure) as a KTM by sound.

Before I know it Michael is flipping through the guest book, “We had one of these through a month ago.  Not many of them come through.  Always the GSs like Long Way Round.”  It turns out to be a rider I know through both ADVRider.com and OneWheelDrive.Net.  The north is a small world it seems, and I’ve been catching hints of a mobile “adventure riding community” tied together by word of mouth and riders looking out for each other.

No shock that Michael remembers the bike, motorcycling seems to run deep in his blood since riding east-to-west across Canada at the age of 15 with his father.  That was on a Suzuki GS250.

“It was all we could afford.  We didn’t have gear like now,” Michael explains in a friendly North German accent, “ we had plastic bags over our shoes and they kept melting on the pipes.”

The trip proved a formative experience for Michael, leading to a true love of Canada and a massive change in his life. Michael’s father, prior to passing away from cancer, asked his son what he really wanted to do with his life.

“I’d always wanted to move to Canada,” a huge statement for a man with a successful career in Germany, “I sold everything, cars, houses, everything, to come here.”  One can only admire that sort of decision and the pride Michael carries for his chosen country and the Yukon.

There is a freedom here to do as you will, a lack of regulation that requires responsibility for your own actions and a level of self-reliance not seen in more densely populated areas.

“You need to be a bit of everything; plumber, mechanic, electrician…  The power still goes out in the winter, and often people don’t notice.  I like the winter,” says Michael gesturing around the common area, “you get to do other things.  This winter I will build a plane.  You couldn’t do that in Germany.”

I’m hard pressed to think of any other place where such statements seem so natural.

 
Thanks to:
KTM: http://www.ktm.com/KTM-com-Ready-to-Race.1.4.html 
Alpinestars: http://www.alpinestars.com 
Tourism Yukon: http://travelyukon.com

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