In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. ShineySideUp

    ShineySideUp Been here awhile

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    Well written - you are the envy of many of us stuck at home or in the office :D
  2. NeilW

    NeilW 2-up Adventure Touring

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    Thanks again - Brucie for being so articulate.
    I rather enjoy the pictures and the sense of experience my mind conjures from your words.
    djorzgul likes this.
  3. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 403

    Korea

    From Osaka we had opted for a 4 day layover in Seoul, South Korea, before catching the long haul flight to Canada to collect the bikes from port.

    Kyla is not so bad, but I truly hate flying. The short hop over over the Sea of Japan was horrific. Heaving turbulance and sudden drops caused nervous utterings to spread back down the rows of audibly panicked passengers.

    I'd never been so glad to touch down.

    Korea's capital doesn't greet you like Japan's does. It's very different; loud, busy, dirty, rushed. The huge cultural influence of China seeps deeply into Korea. It is immediate and inescapable. The serenity of Japan is long gone, manifested bluntly by the barrage of suitcases and shoulders as the locals push and and pry their way in and out of gaps in the crowds.

    We made our way to the hostel at the North of the City in a lively suburb that had the highest density of restaurants and food stalls I had ever seen. Within a tight 6 block area there were over 400 places to eat. You'd be hard pressed to find a business that wasnt either selling food, or cooking it for you. Our corner of Seoul has a real authentic hustle about it and no matter what time you ventured out the streets were lively. To top it all off we had arrived right in the middle of a major Korean national holiday called Chuseok, a kind of traditional harvest celebration, observed in both the North and the South.

    Amongst all these festivities, it's easy to forget where you are. From our hostel we were just 17 miles from the North Korean border. Our plan was to visit in 2 days time.

    But it wasn't to be.

    The tension between the two states is as high as it has been since the Korean War. The days around the Chuseok Festival were deemed extremely high risk for border security and on the day we arrived all excursions to the Joint Security Area and Demilitirised Zone were forbidden.

    Our visit to the DMZ was not to be.

    The remainder of our time in Seoul was largely spent eating noodles in various forms and wandering the streets of the central and oldtown areas. If I'm honest though, I can't say I was blown away by Seoul, and the irony can't be ignored that other than a few lively sweetspots about the town, Seoul is in fact largely soul-less.

    Our 4 days came and went in a flash, and in that time Kyla and I had formed a fierce rivalry at one of the local arcades where they had a basketball game. At 30p per go we killed more than a good few hours on the machine. I kid you not she beat me 21 games to 1. I tactically retired after my first and only victory much to Kyla's dismay.

    "Whatever, basketball isn't a real sport anyway." - the best defence I can muster up.

    On our 5th morning we were packed early and ready to make way for Koreas ridiculously large Incheon Airport. After 31 days without motorcycles it was finally time to make our way to Canada.

    A new country, a new continent, a whole new chapter.

    It's been a long time since I was this excited for anything, ever.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    Seoul Skyline (NOT MY IMAGE - borrowed for effect - all rights to respective owner)

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    djorzgul, roadcapDen, juno and 3 others like this.
  4. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    I reeeaaaally wish I had seen this before we got here haha

    Thank you very much!

    Thank you.

    To be honest I am not much of a photographer anyway, so I must rely on the written word to convey these visions and views.
  5. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 405

    The Vondruskas

    Before setting off for Canada we had done a bit of research on our point of entry, the Western port city of Vancouver. The news wasn't great. Accommodation options are extremely expensive, well beyond our measly daily budgets, and we were truly struggling to find a suitable place to stay in the city. Until we were reunited with the bikes it was important that we could stay close to the central public transport hubs to get about the city.

    "Can we live in the airport seating lounge without anyone noticing?" - Kyla asks.

    It was a grim prospect, but probably our best option so far.

    Feeling a bit lost, I sent a message to a follower of the blog, Martin, a guy who many months prior had told me he stayed in Vancouver and if we needed advice we could ask him. Really at best I was praying for a nudge in the right direction, maybe a tip on a cheap dorm, or a good part of town to look.

    But Martin was having none of it.

    If there was ever a fitting example of the unity and kindness that exists within motorcycling culture, then Martin was it.

    Keeping in mind that we are two complete strangers hailing from an online blog, Martin, and his extremely pleasant family, opened their home to us. A brave act for a working family with three kids of 14, 17, and 20. After all, I guess we could be thieves, murderers, or psychopaths. Luckily Kyla and I are none of the sort. In reality we come in the form of one depository of useless facts (myself), and another who watches animal videos at every given opportunity (the good lady).

    "You can stay with us for a few days. For free." - Reads Martins message. If only he knew how much stress, money, time and energy he had saved us.

    We arrived at Vancouver airport fairly chewed up from jetlag of the 10 hour flight. We had crossed the International Date Line and so confusingly we had technically arrived at our destination before we had even left. Take off was 3pm Friday, and landing was 10am the same day. The body clock was so far out of sync it actually made us look suspicious to border control. In my sleep deprived state the story didn't roll off the tongue quite how I had hoped.

    "Uuuhm, so we left Yester... no wait, Today, or later this afternoon in fact, to get here this morning, so tomorrow I can get my bike." - My speel to border control.

    "What bike sir?" - A suspiciously well groomed border officers asks me.

    "Oh we have bikes coming on a boat from Russia." - Not the best wording I admit.

    "OK, Im gonna have you go right over there into secondary." - He says in a condescending and authoritive tone. If only he knew of the border guards I have dealt with these last 400 days. Kyla's unflinching and emotionless response took him by surprise.

    Luckily 'secondary' took no longer than 10 minutes and we were free to enter Canada in no time at all.

    Martin took a day off work to collected us from the airport and shuffled us back to his beautiful home on Vancouvers picturesque North Shore. His eldest daughter, the exceedingly charming Emily, had given up her room and bunked up with her younger sister in order for us to stay. We were given two blow-up mattresses, fresh sheets, plump pillows and made to feel more at home than you could ever imagine.

    "You guys can join us for Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow if you like? The whole family is coming over."

    I'm not sure they realise just how much this gesture means to us. When you live your life on the road full-time as we do; living out of a tent, eating only as and when it's possible, constantly battling the elements and the beaurocracy, then acts of kindness like this are essentially life altering.

    We held out till 9pm, but we both succumbed to the exhaustion, and slept soundly.

    Finally we were in North America, and it couldn't have got off to a better start.

    Love,
    Brucie

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  6. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
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    GUESS WHAT GUYS!!!

    I just bought myself a new phone. A much more modern Samsung Galaxy Note 5. Essentially a 5 year upgrade from the Original Note.

    I should be able to access the photo uploader now, and perhaps backdate this thread with some images.
    BillUA, monsterRS, joenuclear and 2 others like this.
  7. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Welcome to North America! That is an awesome and heartwarming story about Martin and his family. Whats the plan now?
    SuperSonicRocketship likes this.
  8. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Honestly Juno, we are not sure. My plan was always to make it up to Alaska and see the North. I'm quite fascinated by continental extremes, and we already missed Nordkapp and Magadan, I really don't want to miss another one. Obviously the climate has already turned and that will force us South. I'm trying to plan out some kind of Horseshoe type shape that can have us come down the West coast and southern states before allowing time to pass so we can go North again. But thats ALOT of waiting around.

    Another problem is factoring in a route where we can go to see the North and not have to backtrack too much on the same routes. Ideally a ferry service up the West coast so we could sail one way and ride the other.

    Something like that!
    juno likes this.
  9. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    GUYS

    So I went back and tried to re-upload some of the images from Page 1. Seems to have worked ok. Could you guys maybe just have a look and see if those images are appearing for you? I knew that before a lot of you guys were saying you couldn't see the photos even though they were loading for others.

    It's a slow process all this retroactive uploading, so I'll probably do it in phases. Maybe by the time i'm finished the trip i'll be all caught up. Ha.
    joenuclear likes this.
  10. joenuclear

    joenuclear Long timer

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    Houston, we have pictures!
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  11. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Ha Finally!
  12. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

    Joined:
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    Dundee, Scotland
    Day 409

    Our First Thanksgiving

    Like most Europeans the only experience I have with Thanksgiving is the rare brief mention of it on American TV shows. Canada has Thanksgiving too but it's about 6 weeks earlier in the year. Prior to Martin telling us, we had no idea it was happening, nor what it actually was.

    But it's a big deal over here. It's a true national celebration perhaps second only to Christmas. Offices close, businesses reduce their hours, and families have large gatherings to celebrate with an impressive home cooked meal. Martins wife, Barb, tells me the tradional food is usually a huge Turkey. Barb had acquired one that weighed a stone and a half, a seriously impressive bird.

    Thanksgiving also had implications for us too. Although the port was operational, the administrative side of the import companies were closed for a 3 day weekend. It meant that there was nothing for us to do but to put it to the back of our minds until the coming Tuesday. Which was fine by us, as it made way for a very memorable experience. It gave us an intimate insight into the workings of a real Canadian family on this special day.

    The whole setting was so foreign, and yet so familiar, Just like you see in those American movies. Most of Barbara's side of the family had come over and in the end the feast was to feed 13 people. As I let my ears slowly tune into these gentle Canadian accents, the whole atmosphere starts to feel festive.

    The next day was the Thanksgiving Holiday Monday and Canada was still largely non-operational. We were treated to an in depth tour of the city by means of Martin and Barb having organised a day for us to be whisked about the sights of Vancouver.

    First we went for a morning family walk, in which everyone was present- even the dog and the family horse. With the encouragement of Emily, Martins eldest daughter, Kyla mounted the steed with no saddle. She looked truly terrified.

    As the family splintered off, and now in the company of just Martin, Barb and their especially charming middle daughter Nicole, we were taken to Granville Island market and harbour, then to the Stanley Park Totem Poles, past English Bay, and even to a salmon hatchery. We were even treated to the Canadian national dish - Poutine; it comes in various forms but is essentially chips, or indeed French Fries as they say here, with cheese curds, gravy and spices. It's a really dense meal, and tastes good too.

    All of this as a gift to us from the Vondruska family. They would not take a penny from us - we tried. Our protests fell flat against their adamant resolve. They had fed us, put a roof over our heads, let us sit at the family table during a special holiday, they were our tour guides and friends for life. Most importantly they let us see something that we never otherwise could have; an intimate slice of this part of the world.

    By Tuesday we were met with a dilemma, the national holidays were over, the family went back to work or school, and the city port finally opened again. Our container had landed 2 days previously, but the holiday had meant they not yet been processed. Vancouver Port was actually 20 miles South of the city. Plus we were starting to feel a touch of guilt for hogging poor Emily's room for the last 5 night's.

    It was time to get back to reality. We booked a hostel to the South of the City, Much closer to the port, and set up an HQ to get our bikes free from harbour beaurocracy.

    But first we needed some lunch.

    It's strange how life's chapters are all tied together; each day like the turning page of a book. Whilst sat in the food court of an enormous local shopping mall, we wrote a few messages to some old faces who we had traveled with earlier in the trip, whilst I rambled on about those very days back in Summer, where the sheer Chaos of Central and South Asia was now serving as a perfect dichotomy to the civility of Canada. Mid-speech I was sharply cut off by the sight of something through the crowds. A face.

    One I recognised.

    "Aah Charlie! No waaay!" - Catching the attention of my target, as well as at least 20 other onlookers.

    Bear with me.

    It was Charlie and Herv. Two guys who we had met in Russia when making our way to Vladivostok. They were riding a pair of BMWs around the world and had spent the last month in Vietnam and Thailand. Seeing these guys here set of a chain of seemingly impossible chance meetings in my head;

    Charlie and Herv had bumped into the French couple we crossed Mongolia with, who in turn had run into Suzanne and Roger, the English couple we met in Khazakstan. By chance those guys had all met The Icelander who we had actually run into twice on the same trip 13 months and 2 continents apart.

    But it gets stranger.

    Not even a minute previously, whilst munching into her food court burrito, Kyla had sent amessage to none other than that very same Icelander. Who was himself now on route to Vancouver too.

    And who had I just send a message to?

    You guessed it. Herv, who was now standing right in front of me.

    Life on the road is odd.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    Capilano Salmon Hatchery

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    Poutine with roast duck, fried egg, spicy salt, gravy and cheese curds

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    L ot R : Aqua the Border Collie, Brendan 14, Nicole 17, Barb, Martin, Emma 20, Mercy the horse! (incase you didn't notice)

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    Martin prepares to end world hunger
  13. juno

    juno Long timer

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    I am glad you got to experience thanksgiving. That is amazing running into those folks in a food court!
  14. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 414

    Wheels

    If the entire essence of seafreighting a vehicle across the Pacific could be compressed into a single slogan, then it would read as follows: Pointlessly Slow.

    After 23 days at sea, our ship had arrived on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and was subject to a 3 day delay. The container was finally unloaded, only to then sit in a container yard for a further 3 days. At this point we received a call to gleefully inform us; "Mr McCandless, your bikes have arrived and are ready to collect, you can pick them up as soon as I send you the Customs Manifest by email."

    'Great news' - we naively thought.

    But after 7 of my best interrogating phonecalls the email was nowhere to be seen. It was imperative that we had these customs papers, as the Canadian border police would not allow the release of the bikes without them. Our wait ticked from hours into days, taking us into yet another weekend, and yet another office closure. Luckily for us, the Vondruska family were not sick of our presence in their home, and once again dedicated their days off to keep us entertained and fed. We went to see one of Martin's Ice Hockey matches, and their middle daughter Nicoles' first football match. My suggestion that anyone who referred to football as 'soccer' over the whole weekend should be subject to European style football hooliganism, was met with only partial support from the family.

    After 5 days, and as casual as you could ever imagine, the email attachment that we so desperately needed appeared into my inbox with no accompanying message. After a brief moment of disbelief, we pounced into life. Crushing our gear into rucksacks and bolting into the streets to find a printing service to transform this vital document from a laptop screen into real paper. A series of Metros, Sky Trains, and local buses tore us a path into the skyscrapers of corporate downtown Vancouver where we would attempt to locate and face the dreaded Customs Officials. We had been told the wait could be anywhere from 15 minutes to a whole working day.

    "I hope this goes quick, I want to at least see the bikes today." - Kyla begs, during the lift journey up to the 9th floor.

    The doors to the elevator pinged open to reveal a picture perfect sight; a queue of zero people.

    We marched forward, exhausting fairly massive sighs of relief, and were met with an extremely fiesty and jobsworthy customs officer.

    "You guys are in a container with 9 other motorcycles, so i'll tell you what I told them, and it isn't good news." - Barks the 5 foot tall East Asian lady with a perfect Vancouver Accent.

    My heart sunk awaiting the bad news.

    "If you don't have the customs papers printed out, plus a document to prove insurance cover, then we can't release the bikes." - She states, with a thread of smugness.

    From her tone, it was clear to me that the other riders who were in our shared container had not foreseen such a hurdle, and they had likely approached this very desk with an honourable dose of honesty and sense of duty. They, unlike me, had not arrived with fake documents and a premeditated sack of lies to tell to any bureaucratic obstacle I may face today - or ever. I whipped out my phony policy and slapped it on her desk. Just I had done to her counterparts in Greece, Russia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, and countless other temples of red-tape.

    "Oh you have insurance." - She seems dissapointed.

    "Of course I have insurance. I am perfectly aware of procedure. Could you stamp both my manifest documents please, I need to collect my goods before 5pm." - I have learned that if you are going to lie to border authority, it's probably best to do so in a manner that makes them believe you do this kind of stuff very regularly. They seem to love to pick on the novices.

    With customs document cleared we made our way to the port warehouse by ways of an overcrowded commuter bus. It had been 37 days since we handed the keys over to Yuri way back in Vladivostok. After a few final formalities at the office we were taken out to the yard where the crates and containers were cracked open and the sunlight could once again gloss over our bikes. With the creaking of a crowbar behind a large wooden panel our beloved machines were revealed to us.

    They looked disgusting.

    It was perfect, and just how we remembered. All the dents, gouges and scrapes from Asia were there as we left them. The shattered plastic from Kylas crash in Siberia. The mysterious half-foot scar across my fuel tank. I forgot how much I love these things. In the container were the other bikes that had travelled with us. 4 of them were enormous BMW's much like the models we had ditched way back 19 months ago. There was a lone bike with an Irish plate, and at the back loomed what looked to be a big KLR with a German plate. But up front sat our tiny steeds. They had weighed in at just 136kg each on the loading bill, some half the weight of the others. Not bad considering we had 90% of our luggage on the bikes at the time.

    I'd hate to think what the other guys had paid for all that weight in fees.

    We were a touch nervous as to what to expect when we turned the keys. Kyla ran round to a local garage to pick up a few litres of fresh fuel whilst I reconnected the batteries and gave the bikes a quick scan for anything out of place. Aside from the chains looking a bit dry and a missing rain cover, the bikes looked just as we had left them. We just hoped the batteries had held their charge over the month of inactivity so we could ride out of here. After all these delays, I really didn't want to wait for hours to manually charge them.

    Kylas started up like it had just been ridden yesterday. Mines took a bit more convincing, but after 3 or 4 attempts the little guy roared into life. Quite an achievement. Some other riders had arrived to collect their machines. 2 of the biggest BMWs, the 1200s', were having serious problems starting. One was dead and required a jump start, and another was turning over but not sparking into life, and required the local BMW garage to come and collect it.

    "Always buy Japanese" - Yells the container yard worker in a Vancouver Canucks cap, much to the annoyance of the rider.

    Having the bikes back reminds how much we have truly missed them. Kyla hasn't stopped grinning, and I feel like a 7 year old again.

    We are back in business.

    Love,
    Brucie

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  15. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 416

    Southbound

    Being back on two wheels is like regaining the use of your legs. We have been constrained mostly to public transport for the best part of a 5 weeks now, and aside from a brief fortnight stint in a rental car in Japan, we have felt pretty unadventurous lately.

    But now we are free.

    Not as free as we would like though. Our original plan always to head North from Vancouver to see British Columbia and Alaska before looping down to see the rest of the USA and onward to Central America. That window of opportunity to the North has long since gone. The day we got the bikes was the same day the Pacific North West of the USA and the Vancouver area was hit with a massive inbound storm and widespread flooding. We had set aside the day to work on the bikes, namely to check the valve clearances, an annoying job that luckily is only required once in a blue moon on these bikes, and to replace some fluids. It actually led to us cowering inside a Vancouver city workshop for the best part of 8 hours as the rain and wind assaulted the city like I have never known possible. The rainfall had led to a citywide flooding alert and a few of the metro stations had taken the worst of it.

    We watched the cars plough into the foot deep pool that had formed accross the road opposite us. With no option but to wait it out, we found it quite entertaining. We learned later that night on the Weather Channel that the first snow had already fallen in the mountains to the North of the city and the first signs of winter were already on the way.

    We were told that they are preparing for a bad winter up here.

    The following day was far from perfect conditions, but after 13 days stuck in Vancouver it was time to move on regardless. With Northern routes truly out of the question, and Eastern routes described as boring even by other Canadians, we took our only remaining option and jumped onto Route 99, making the short 22 mile trip down to the American border.

    The wind howled in a fairly fierce headwind, and paired with the mist and drizzled it should have been a horrible ride, but the fact that we were back in the saddle more than made up for it all. Nothing could have dulled the feeling of being back on the road.

    Onwards to what will likely be one of the largest chapters of this whole story; the USA.

    Love,
    Brucie


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  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 419

    USA

    The land border between Canada and the USA doesn't in any way resemble the borders we were used to in Europe or Asia. We took a major border on Route 99 to a crossing called the Peace Arch. A large gate monument dedicated to the long and peaceful history between the USA and Canada. Whilst distracted by the roadside monument I noticed a sign that I wasn't expecting yet.

    'Welcome to the United States of America'

    "That was easy." - Kyla giggles to me through the comms kit.

    We arrived at the first border post and had prepared our various Canadian exit papers to show the details of the motorcycles and various things pertaining to the shipping documents - but something was amiss. The badge on the shoulder of the border guard read 'United States Homeland Security'.

    "Uuuh... Is this the Canadian exit post?" - I ask.

    "No sir, this is American Border Control." - Replies the guard in his imposing authoritative dress code.

    I guess we are so used to travelling through the nations of the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Indian Sub-continent, where the long histories and bad relations mean that there are usually two very distinct border points; An initial post to stamp out of one country, you are then led into a large no-mans land, and then onto a second post to be stamped into the next country. No such process existed here. I wonder how Canadians keep tabs on who leaves?

    The Americans gave us a real rough time on entry. The initial guard was pleasant enough but he had to put us into a mandatory secondary inspection which involved speaking to a man who I can only describe as truly desperate in his attempts to squeeze every last drop of authority out of his border control badge. He quizzed us with ridiculous scenarios pertaining to property ownership, intentions of illegal work, and of course, every border guards favourite intrusion; the whereabouts of Kylas upbringing and how she came to attain a British Passport.

    Initially I had granted the guard full and detailed answers, but as the conversation progressed I soon relegated him to not much more than worthy of a shrug of the shoulders and a nod of the head. With nothing left to try and trip us up with, he made some accusations about his beliefs that we actually intended to live and work in America, and that he thought we were not planning to leave. He claimed that the honus was on us to prove otherwise, and that he had the power to deny us entry if he so wished. We both started to lose our temper.

    "So, you think I would embark on a round the world trip, travelling the longest possible route to the USA on a dirt bike, in order to sneak into the country to work for half the wage i'd get had I never left home?" - I say whilst gesturing towards the queue of other would be immigrants and tourists.

    He made us wait for hours, seemingly for no reason. Eventually he went on a lunch break and we had to restart the entire process again with a new guard. This guy couldn't have been more different had he tried. After a brief 10 minute chat he had us fill in a single emergency contact form and be on our way.

    "Have a great time, stay safe, and I wish I could come with you." - Said the new guard.

    Just like that. No visa, no ESTA, no interrogation. Amazing how a friendly face can turn your whole day around.

    We got back on the road, which had now switched by name to Interstate 5, and headed South into our first American State of Washington. The difference between the States and Canada is quite blunt. America is rougher; the roadsides less well kept, the buildings a little older, and the road a little bumpier. During the storm the previous day the Canadian roads were clear again within a few hours, but here there was still lay some large puddles and pools across the road.

    The ride gave me some time to ponder the subtle differences between Canada and America. It's undeniable that the sheer mass and depth of American culture has obviously had a profound effect on Canada and it's development. We only got to know Canada by means of a single city, and even then it was a hugely diverse metropolis where half of the population were seemingly of East Asian descent - at times barely felt Canadian at all.

    I really don't know what to expect from America, but I know this; I am immensely excited to travel this country and meet it's people.

    Our ride south was bluntly cut short by the tail-end of the same storm that had hit us in Vancouver. Conditions were truly terrible, it was getting late, and we were both starving to death in the saddles. I spied a KTM garage at the roadside so we pulled aside in hopes to pick up some oil for a long overdue oil change, and perhaps ask for some advice on where to stay. We crept inside, dripping from the deluge, and instantaneously struck up a friendship with Tony, a New Yorker who had moved out West with his Irish wife, and was working there at what turned out to be Mt Baker Motosports. The meeting really made me appreciate again the benefit of sharing the native language with the locals for what was the first time in this trip. We chatted for over an hour about our journey to America, what routes to take, where to go, when to there, and what to eat. After finally succumbing to hunger we said our goodbyes to Tony and the team, and took off into the nearby city of Bellingham to indulge into the greatest American pastime of all;

    Checking into a cheap Motel and eating so much fried food you think you are going to die.

    Love,
    Brucie


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  17. juno

    juno Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2014
    Oddometer:
    1,979
    Location:
    Jupiter
    Welcome to 'Murica Brucie and Kyla!!!
    That is a great story about getting the bikes through customs and into the States. Don't forget, it is the United STATES. What makes it interesting here is the different laws, attitudes, geography and such which makes each state a little different from the next one. Maybe it won't be so noticeable at first but for us natives we learn to appreciate the differences.
    Each state line is clearly marked, even in most remote areas. Typically you will see an immediate difference in the road, signs and license plates of course. Even the state and local law enforcement vehicles and uniforms change, though you will see there is a basic similarity to them all. Don't hesitate to ask any of them for directions, help or suggestions for as a rule they are all very helpful and will be very curious to hear about your journey.
    Speed limits, helmet laws, taxes on food, fuel, items and services change at every state line.
    I suggest you announce yourselves in the Regions forums of this forum. The titles may seem a little confusing at first but you will learn the odd titles actually fit the area.
    For instance, you have just entered 'The Pacific Northwet' which you have already experienced first hand.
    Check out the 'Tent Space' thread for places to stay and besides announcing your arrival in each region, look for local rides and events going on.
    Enjoy them all and be safe!!!!!
    dwj - Donnie likes this.
  18. jml141

    jml141 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2016
    Oddometer:
    224
    Location:
    Leland, MS
    Welcome to the USA! I'm still waiting on you in the MS Delta!
    dwj - Donnie likes this.
  19. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire Just this guy...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    405
    Location:
    Spokane WA
    While in Washington, it may be worthwhile to purchase a Discovery Pass. For US$30, you have free access to all Washington State parks, forests, and other recreational lands. One pass is good for two vehicles, though I’m not sure if two at the same time. This does NOT cover camping fees at State Parks (but will cover entrance), but will allow you to stay at Department of Natural Resources camps. There are a number of these throughout the State. My GF and I just stayed at a couple out on the Olympic Penninsula, and highly recommend the Lyre River Campground near the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Some aren’t nearly as nice, and the services vary.

    Keep in mind that the federal lands, such as the National Parks are a totally different system. If you’re going to be in the US for a while, consider an America the Beautiful Pass. US$80, definitely covering two people, covers entrance fees to any National Park, Forest Service rec areas, BLM grounds, Fish and WIldlife refuges, and the like, for 12 months. It again doesn’t cover camping fees, which will vary widely from free to $40 per night, but does get you into the places you’ve read/heard about like Yellowstone.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions, especially about Washington State, though you will get tons of support through posting here as well. Hope to meet up if our paths cross.

    Welcome to America!
    We fry cheese!
    djorzgul likes this.
  20. Scheffy

    Scheffy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    116
    Location:
    The Majestic Pacific North Wet
    Just saw you guys are on this side of the border now - congrats! Looking forward to hearing your impressions of this ridiculous country. Hoping you didn't actually die from foie gras-ing yourself with chicken nuggets... but then again, I guess there are worse ways to go.