The Great Northwest; Washington, Vancouver Island and British Columbia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TK-LA, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    Ben and I have been doing day rides and short one or two night trips since I moved out to Southern California from Boston. 12 months of riding is fantastic. I initially purchased a Suzuki GS500f because the price of a new one was in our budget and the gas mileage was good. Whenever you read about it people call it a "Great starter bike"...well, it's gotten me 30,000miles and all over the west, it can easily tackle highways and cities and, for me at least, it sits comfortably.
    Here it is on a trip to Kernville, CA
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    After trips to Kernville, (recommended, but not in summer) and Death Valley, (recommended, but not in summer) we got an itch for a bigger, more ambitious trip. Ben has family in Washington State, Vancouver Island, Bella Coola, BC and a brother vacationing in Vernon, BC so the route was obvious.

    Here's a rough estimate of our planned route: approx 2100 miles.
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    We planned and talked and planned and on July 3rd we busted ass to get from LA to our hopping off point in Vancouver WA, a nice little burb north of Portland OR. The ride up the 5 freeway BLOWS so we left at 2:00am and we trailered the bikes and took turns driving so we could get there ASAP.
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    Yeah, yeah, I'm a HUGE anti-trailer guy too but seriously, the 5 SUCKS through California. One quirk the trailer we rented had, the spare was mounted underneath so it had, literally, less than an inch clearance. This proved interesting when I drove over some roadkill.
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    The scenery got a bit more interesting as we passed

    Mt. Shasta
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    And passed by Weed
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    The 51st State, Jefferson
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    And finally into Portland and...
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    ...Washington
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    We stayed with Ben's parents that night who had earlier welcomed Jeff who had flown in from Toronto. Jeff works for CTV and rented a bike from a local area dealer. Mom and Dad greeted us with beer and a steak dinner. Not a bad end to Day 0 - Travel to WA.


    Day one, July 4th 2011, consisted of getting to Victoria, BC. Our ferry was schedule for 5:15pm so we had some time to explore the Olympic peninsula. Washington is a gorgeous place.
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    Ben and Jeff load up
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    More to come when I get the pix from Ben and Jeff!
    #1
  2. danceswithcages

    danceswithcages Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    262
    Location:
    Virginia
    Looking forward to more!

    I lived in Washington for 22 years before moving to Montana 4 years ago, and I've ridden much of what you have mapped out, with the exception of Vancouver Island. Haven't made it there yet...
    #2
  3. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    (July 4, 2011) We're all packed, geared up and ready to go. Ben's mom and dad filled us with coffee and bacon and eggs assuring that rest room stops were in our near future, but we were happy.
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    Jeff and Ben finish gearing up.
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    My load job was unorthodox, but it held!
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    We take off up the 5 freeway from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Vancouver</st1:place></st1:City>, veer off on route 12, quick gas up, and head towards the coast and more scenic roads. Here we take a quick break
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    #3
  4. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    The Olympic Pennisula is a gorgeous place. We motored along enjoying the scenery and the fresh air and suddenly, around Aberdeen, WA we see red and blue lights behind us. We pull over, confused as to why.
    The WA state trooper walks up to Jeff and starts going through the "License and registration" song and dance.

    Here's Jeff with the Statie car
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    The tool gives Jeff some BS about it being illegal in Washington State to have a GoPro mounted to your helmet because kids on crotch rockets stop traffic and do stunting. WHAT!?!?!?! So he hands him a ticket that vaguely states, "Illegal M/C helmet." Jeff, being the trooper, shrugs it off and we press on.

    Heading north on the 101 towards Forks, WA
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    And a stop at a "rain forest" trail
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    The little Forest Service Roads up there are simply gorgeous;

    Me
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    Jeff
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    We stop at one of the VERY few gas stops
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    And back on the 101 towards Port Angeles
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    After hours enjoying the clean fresh air we get a bit hungry, but one problem, lack of choices. The place we find is blah and over-priced...
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    ...but the view isn't too bad...
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    ...not bad at all.
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    #4
  5. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    After a relaxing lunch, our bellies and tanks full, we pressed on. We passed by Forks, WA, the location of those "Twilight" films. Well, Ben's a big Team Edward guy and Jeff a Team Jacob guy, so they screamed OMG and wanted to stop and take photos, but I implored them to keep going. So sorry if any of y'all wanted pix of Forks.

    Anywho! As we got closer to Port Angeles we passed the amazingly gorgeous Lake Crescent, WOW, the water was crystalline and DEEP.
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    And the road running along side was leisurely and smooth
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    But the road was narrow with not a lot of places to stop, so when we found one we pulled over...
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    ...right across from this neat, small, waterfall. The photo doesn't capture just how steep this hill is or how high it went.
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    Trying to get artistic at the lakeside
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    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    Well, we finally made it to Port Angeles and the ferry. There were 8 or so other bikes waiting, so we got in behind them. A couple I recognized from ADV, but forgot to get their names. When discussing our planned route they confirmed that we made the right choice by planning route 20 on the other end of the trip.

    This is them waiting to board
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    Ben and Jeff wait to board
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    And we tie down
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    And go topside to catch a glimpse of Port Angeles as we depart
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    Hey, lookit my iPhone GPS
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    Now, being the super-nerds we are we immediately take out the iPhones and iPads and start downloading pix and updating Facebook statuses. Our table on the ferry looked like a NOC.
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    We near Victoria and get some more shots of our first MC ferry ride.
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    And clear customs with out a problem...(but it was HOT)
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    #5
  6. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    Wow, if you've never been to Victoria, BC do yourself a favor and go. What a gorgeous city. We spent the first night of our trip with Ben's sister Abby in Victoria and had a few hours to look around and get some food and stop at MEC, (Canada's version of REI) and pic up some extra Jetboil fuel.
    Capital Building
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    Downtown
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    Mmmm, beer
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    Ben and Abby
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    The above pic was taken after 10:00pm and it's still pretty light outside. Being from LA it's dark long before this time.

    Ben's sister is about as nice as can be. She has a studio apartment, (that's ONE room, for those of you not used to the term), and she still offered us a place to stay. She did inform us that all three of us snored pretty good and she didn't get much sleep.

    Morning, day 2...all packed up and ready to go.
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    #6
  7. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    Now our trip really began, as far as I was concerned. Mileage-wise it wasn't too ambitious, if we were taking asphalt roads, but this day involved a bunch of dirt, albeit pretty smooth.

    The plan:
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    A quick Starbucks stop and we head out of Victoria...stopping to enjoy the vistas
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    Take some photos and...
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    ...admire my fine packing job that Ben likened to being performed by gypsies.
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    And then more gas and...
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    ...a Lake Cowichan grocer to pick up some sandwiches for later.
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    But it's always good to take a moment to assure the wives that we're AOK.
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    Then into the woods...
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    Lakeside photo-op
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    I present to you...TREES!
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    We came to a fork in the road..."Which way?"
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    Ok, fine, we'll go that way. Getting a bit dusty by this point in the trip.
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    Our intended route had this sign tacked up...
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    Nope, no way through.
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    Well, it's a good excuse to stop for lunch. This place looked pretty good.
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    So I called Jeff over...
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    ...who didn't handle the uneven rocks near the lake very well.
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    But not to worry, Ben was there with his camera...
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    As was I...
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    But enough shenanigans, Lunch time. I was so thirsty I drank a LOT of that water.
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    #7
  8. linksIT

    linksIT nOObie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    272
    Location:
    San Clemente, CA
    :lurk
    #8
  9. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    After lunch we continued on and met our first logging trucks. Interesting, to say the least.
    Just to give you a quick taste of what it's like meeting a logging truck.

    Ben was in the lead and managed to capture this series of pix. FYI: They're barreling down the road going at least 60-70 mph...if not more.
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    Then a bit later Jeff was in the lead and Ben captured his disappearing act. The fourth one, here below, is a little bit further up the road, the dust still hanging in the air.
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    #9
  10. OldPete2112

    OldPete2112 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    220
    Location:
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Excellent write up, sure nice to read other people's perspective on where you live.

    Be sure to check out the "Goats on the roof" market in Coombs, great place to stop for lunch and grab stuff for later. Enjoy the island as much as we do. Thankfully we get to live here!

    OP
    #10
  11. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    After lunch we continued down the dusty trails of Vancouver Island. I admit I was taken aback by the amount of clear-cutting on the island.
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    Let me say that I do realize that wood has to come from somewhere and that logging provides valuable jobs, but much like sausage, you hate seeing how it's done.

    So we continued on...
    #11
  12. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    Yeah, these roads were dusty, but damn they were fun...
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    Around 50 or 60 miles in and after being dusted by 7 or 8 logging trucks, we saw this warning sign...gee, thanks for the tip.
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    We pulled off to avoid another truck and the follow up van and Ben laughed and said he needed to get a pic. I guess we looked a tad dirty.
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    It was time for a break. We saw a little road going off with a little creek at the bottom. Very refreshing.
    Ben and Jeff explore;
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    And I make my way through;
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    Strike a pose...
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    I think Jeff's helmet is a bit tight.
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    Alright, enough fun, let's get to Port Alberni...Which way Jeff?
    Jeff checks his GPS

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    I just figured it out the old fashioned way.
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    Back on tarmac in Port Alberni...I was getting pretty tired...and needed a beer.
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    Between Port Alberni and Comox lake there aren't too many photos. I can't speak for Ben and Jeff but I was getting exhausted and, I have to admit, a bit grumpy. Using the Backroad Mapbooks, (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) we had located a camp on Elsie Lake and worked our way towards it. Near a fork in the road Ben remembered seeing a camp near Dickson lake, a few miles off the road we were on. I just wanted to make a decision and get somewhere and we continued towards our first destination. We took a wrong turn, just a few hundred yards, and saw our first bear and a LOT of piles of bear scat on the roads. After seeing our mistake, Jeff took a break and Ben and I went to explore. We thought we found it. Since our communication was three way and connected throught Jeff, who was out of range, Ben and I turned around to go get him. I was first around and headed down the trail until I heard Ben's horn....DOH!, he went over. PUSH! and he was back up. At that point I strongly suggested that being in the heart of bear country, we should probably all stay together or at least in communication at all times.

    We found Jeff and all headed back to the "campsite". Well, turns out the campsite was actually on the otherside of the ravine and the bridge was out. There was a nice place that we could have camped, but it was miles from nowhere and surrounded by big ole piles of digested bear food...yep, big piles. I voted "push on" and Jeff was a bit nervous about the location too...after a few moments of reflection, Ben too realized this place wasn't ideal.

    That turned out to be a great decision. We rode through more clear cutting devastation and thought we got lost, but realized we were fine and finally came upon Comox Lake. According to the map books there was camping at the northern end, but we passed a few unoccupied cabins and Ben suggested we borrow their front yards for camping. The first few we came across had steel cables across the drive, a sign the owners don't want to share. We saw another group of cabins down a steep hill and Ben shot down to explore. I wouldn't have and Jeff wouldn't have but thank god Ben did. This lakeside location was right out of a picture-book.

    Our first good view of Comox Lake.
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    Next up..."Well, this was a GREAT choice"
    #12
  13. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    What I learned on July 5, 2011.
    Well, when in doubt, listen to Ben's instincts.

    This is what he saw when he road down to explore the potential campsite;
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    While he waited for us, Ben played around with his waterproof camera.

    I guess if he was drowning you, this is what you'd see
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    Another under water shot
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    Jeff looking happy to be done for the day
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    And happy to be munching...
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    My dirty bike and...
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    ...my little home for the night
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    A campfire and a beer...good stuff.
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    Mmmm, freeze dried campfood
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    The lake was serene and relaxing as the sun went down. We had a few bugs, at first, but bugspray seemed to help. Just at twilight we saw a swarm of bats dive bombing the lake right next to us. By the time they went away there was nary a bug to be found. Later on we ventured out to the end of the dock and were struck silent by the sheer number of stars in the sky. Jeff lives in Toronto and Ben and I live in LA so our night skies are filled with light polution and we each really appreciated this.

    Bed time...
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    So, this is my set up. Inexpensive, but decent quality tent, air mattress (with electric pump) small pillow and a decent sleeping bag.
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    The sun comes up, but Ben and Jeff sleep in, so being an early riser I use the time to take some photos...
    #13
  14. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    Morning came and I awoke early and kept myself occupied;

    The view from the campsite
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    Breakwater log
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    A nearby cabin in the early sun
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    A sunny cove...not a bad way to wake up.
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    Another perspective
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    The dock, from below
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    Spider
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    A new little buddy.
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    And they still sleep...Ben...
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    ...and Jeff.
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    Ben slowly wakes, and shoots me relaxing by the fire.
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    I cough and break sticks and finally get them up and about. We pack and get the Jetboil going for coffee. Ben takes a little time to enjoy the view.
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    But we have some miles to cover, so we gear up,
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    And take a last look...
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    #14
  15. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    We get all packed up and head up the hill,
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    coming across a gorgeous deer...
    Ok, we didn't get a good pic, but that's him there in the middle.
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    After getting off the dusty trail near Comox Lake we enter Courtenay, a lovely little town about mid-island, and stop at a coffee shop. I see they had iced coffee and WiFi, so while Ben makes some calls Jeff grabs a muffin and I grab a coffee, and we use their internet connections.
    For some reason, we didn't take many photos. All I got was an iPhone self portrait...
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    ...and an iPhone pic of my tire. I was mesmerized how dirty it was.
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    Leaving Courtenay we headed north along the Island Highway that hugs the coast. Quite a scenic drive, but we didn't get much in the way of pix. Just a few of us trying to reconnect our Scala's
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    About halfway to Telegraph cove we stopped for lunch at cute little cafe' that was one woman, four small tables and serve yourself drinks. Very good, very casual and she had a big old dog that kind of lumbered around.

    The only shot we got was of us leaving.
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    Several times over the past few days we had bragged about the weather...we were reminded that we were in the Great Northwest. It wasn't anything bad, but we put on the raingear anyway.
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    Our final destination was Port Hardy, but we swung by Telegraph Cove. Kind of a Disney-esque version of a VC Island town, but cute.

    Ooh, Choo choo
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    And Ben, being the doting hubby, picked up some trinkets for Missy
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    .......
    #15
  16. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
    Today's Route
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    On the way out of Telegraph cove we got a glimpse of the logging operation..
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    Then up route 19 and we made it.
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    Our ferry was in the morning, so we reserved a cabin at the Bear Cove resort...not bad.
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    We each took turns taking showers to wash the muck off, had a quick bite in Port Hardy, grabbed some beer then spent the evening relaxing.

    Hey, is that our ferry?
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    Nope, too nice.
    THAT is our ferry.
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    No need to go full gear for the half mile ride to the ferry.
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    There's where we'll be spending the next 13 hours on our way to Bella Coola.
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    We board and tie everything down.
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    And off we go...
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    #16
  17. VanIsland Rider

    VanIsland Rider Intrepid Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    154
    Location:
    Victoria BC Canada
    Great job on your ride report and so glad you had a good time here on the island. Be safe and I am looking forward to seeing the rest of your report.
    #17
  18. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
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    The 13 hour ferry ride from Port Hardy to Bella Coola is just filled with gorgeous scenery and amazing wildlife. It was a bit gray and cloudy, but thankfully no significant rain or rough seas.

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    Ben used the time to check the maps.
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    Yes, Everyone loves Ducktape
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    During the trip we saw wh<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">ales</st1:place></st1:country-region> and porpoises and snow capped mountains and stunning vistas. We met some interesting people from different parts of the world and ate too much and had a couple of beers. We arrived in Bella Coola late at night, around 11:00pm, and proceeded to Ben's brother in law's cabin, having to make our way through a couple of Horse paddocks. We met Mike and his "bear" dog that&#8217;s gentle as a kitten to people, but will face down a Grizzly without hesitation. It was unnerving, in the middle of a ebony black night, to hear him race off into the woods barking and growling.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    #18
  19. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
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    Day 5 of our Adventure began when we awoke in the very cool cabin Ben's sister had built here in Hagensborg. 14 inch thick walls native wood and mortar. We rolled up our sleeping bags and were welcomed by Mike's mom and a pot of coffee and warm loaf of Banana Bread. SWEET!!!

    We try to strike our most woodsy pose.
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    We do break out the rain gear. It's cloudy and misty with hints of rain.
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    All packed up and ready to go.
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    And took of quick pic of the view...of course, this doesn't really capture the majesty of how it really looked. That thin streak is one of the numerous waterfalls that lined the mountains around Hagensborg.
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    And we headed down Route 20 the Chilcotin-Bella Coola Highway towards "THE HILL".
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    The scenery along the road was quite nice.
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    Another stop to look at the river
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    Sadly, the Atnarko-Tote Road was washed out. If you're ever up here, this is where you see the Grizzly Bears catching Salmon
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    And just past that: "THE HILL". This gate is closed when the snows are deep or the road is washed out. The Hill is a steep section of road that the residents of Bella Coola valley had to fight for. They even paid for the engineers themselves and built the first CAT Trail. The steepest highway in Canada, it's narrow and dirt and has grades up to 18%.
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    Sign at the top for trucks
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    Pix from THE HILL
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    That thin strip, way down, is where we've come from
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    This blue sign marks where the two crews met and officially opened this stretch of road.
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    And we continue down Route 20 the Chilcotin-Bella Coola Highway...
    #19
  20. TK-LA

    TK-LA SoCal Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    573
    Location:
    Southern California
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    We stopped along the road for some photo-ops, but the mosquitoes were VICIOUS, so we moved fast.
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    BEAR!!! Yes, that black blob is a bear that lumbered across the road, our third sighting of the trip.
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    COWS!!! These suckers were everywhere.
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    About lunchtime we came upon the Nimpo Bakery, (and towing, tire repair and auto repair)
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    It was a cute, small place run by two ladies who cooked right there in front of you.
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    Jeff enjoys his Strawberry-Rhubarb pie
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    More random shots of day 5.
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    Old timey gas station in Tatla Lake. The proprieter of this establishment was an old school cowboy. He looked about 80 and looked as if he could whoop all three of us without breaking a sweat. Great guy, though. He gassed us up and had his rag at the ready to ensure not a drop of gas would fall on our bikes. He suggested we check out the Chilcotin Lodge in Riske Creek. He told us how him and the misses stay there whenever they go into Williams Lake.
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    Oooh, SCENIC!
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    Before Riske Creek we saw a dirt road on the maps that shot off the highway. This photo makes it look pretty smooth, but it had a lot of patches of very slick mud. We pushed our way through the smaller patches, but then we came upon a stretch that was at least a few hundred yards of muck. Our street tires didn't fare very well and we begrudgingly turned back.
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    With the dropped bike count at Jeff - 2, Ben - 2, Tim - none, a slick patch of mud brought me closer to a three way tie. Down I went, the only actually moving drop of the trip. But before Ben or Jeff could get their cameras out or run over to help I muscled the little GS500 back onto its feet. The only evidence is a few pix I took later.
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    This mud was that thick, sticky goopy kind, so thick that it actually threw off the balance of my front tire.
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    After this little incident we found the Chilcotin Lodge. As we pulled up Ben accidently hit his horn and the owner came out to greet us. We were swarmed by mosquitoes!! DAMN!!! And for some reason they loved Jeff. I looked at him at one point and there were at least 5 or 6 on his forehead alone.

    She informed us that rooms were $110/night and if we wanted to camp we could set up our tents out back. I needed a room! But, alas, they had no cell phone or WiFi coverage and we pushed on to Williams Lake.

    Now, I know Ben really wanted to camp that night, and I feel bad for pressing the issue, but I think after he and Jeff settled in their rooms, took hot showers and enjoyed a frosty beverage or two on the patio, they were secretly happy we got the rooms.

    As we parked at the hotel, I did realize my vision wasn't very good the past couple of hours. AHA! That's why.
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