Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by squonker, Jun 13, 2018.
Thanks Pongo. Local to where?!
Wakey wakey, rise and shine. I slept like the dead at Smurphville, and rob1313 was going to stop by at 8.20 the next morning to lead me to his shop where I was going to do an oil change. While I was farting around with the bike Nighman and northernhooligan stopped by, the latter with breakfast. I'd have put a smiley there but he only brought breakfast for two, and I didn't get any! That's ok, I had eaten at Smurph's place.
Oil change done, ready to hit the road again.
L-R: Northernhooligan, Nighman and rob1313
We went our separate ways and the next couple of hours after that were...frustrating. That's all I'll say. I'd hazard a guess that the oil change was done by 9.30 and we might have had the craic until 10, but it was probably closer to 1pm before I left town. Oh well, I managed to call my Mum, it was her birthday today and she'd have been well hurt if I hadn't done so.
Smurph had shown me a route to Airdrie that essentially followed Hwy 21 until I would turn off and detour into Drumheller for a look-see. I set off, and as I hit Hwy 21 it started to rain, heavily. Damn - again?! I stopped at a gas station there to fuel but also hoping to wait the rain out a little. While inside a woman stormed in saying that she was considering calling the police...I still don't know the full story but as far as I could make out she wanted someone to move their vehicle so that she could fuel up and the guy was refusing to do so. Her solution was to call the cops - very sad, in my opinion. You don't get your own way so you call the cops? Even if the guy was being a dick it's still no reason to waste the police's time. Some people just can't handle life. But...I may have got the wrong end of the stick and for all I know he'd threatened to shoot her.
By the time I stopped to reflect in Mirror, AB it was a beautiful afternoon. I found the strangest store, Gracie D's Antiques. It sold everything you could think of from memorabilia, to vintage, to vinyl, to brand new clothing, it reminded me of something from American Pickers. There was an Amish or some such family looking around at the same time, and when I left I noticed that they were driving a RHD car covered in stickers, towing a trailer with four mobility scooters on it. Bizarre. Here are some shots from Gracie D's.
According to the speedometer this thing could do 140 kmh!
Handy for doing those delicate little jobs on the bike. Or adjusting a pair of spectacles.
I'm sure that I spent too much time at Gracie D's, but it was such a strange place. 27c by the time I left, with a pleasant breeze. Nice riding weather
I stopped in Three Hills and couldn't really decide whether I liked the place or not. Everyone seemed to be sitting around in their idling cars and I would say that nobody seemed very friendly, other than one funny story. As I was standing by the bike having a snack, an elderly couple walked by and the lady smiled and said, "That's a nice....thing you have to ride on". I thought that was pretty funny, thanked her and she then told me that their son had one, but that they're not all the same. Very cute, I thought, and a few minutes later as I was heading out of town for the highway I saw them sitting together on a bench and waved as I passed them on my....thing to ride on.
Three Hills is a rip off, by the way - I only counted two.
I very much enjoyed the area between Three Hills and the junction with Hwy 9 where you would turn left to go to Drumheller. Here are a couple of photos that weren't taken there.
I didn't have time to go to Drumheller, friends were expecting me in Airdrie that night and it was already getting on. Drumheller would wait, and I turned right onto Hwy 9 instead, toward Beisker. (Possibly that spelling is wrong). I did see a sign to Acme, though, and I had applied for a job there a few months ago so I did detour the 12km into that village to check it out. Another place I couldn't really get a feel for. Very small, but lots of trucking going on. Lots of bikes too, but the only two I saw being ridden didn't return my wave. A couple of posh cars that seemed out of place, too.
I eventually arrived at my friends Jaeson and Nadine in Airdrie at about 7pm, late enough to be rude but thankfully I've known them for long enough that they know I'm somewhat of a free spirit and they weren't surprised or upset.
A couple of other photos from that day:
The next morning the rain was just stupid. If I didn't have a plane to catch I'd never have ridden anywhere. I quite enjoy riding in rain, but this was too much. The mist created by the rain bouncing off the highway as I rode into Calgary was so thick that had there been a 2X4 lying in the road I wouldn't have seen it. And I noticed that 19 out of 20 drivers didn't have their headlights on. Am I the only one that was ever taught to think about other people when driving?
I made it to my friend Chloe's house in one piece, though. She had very kindly offered me the use of her garage to store my bike in when she bought a new place and I had imagined a spacious affair, maybe even a two car garage. But it was tiny, I felt bad for leaving it there and won't ask again. She says that the can fit her car in, just, but I know I'd be miffed if someone else was taking up that much space. And to top it all off my things were all soaking so I had to spread stuff out for it to dry while I was away. She even drove me to the airport. Thank goodness for good friends.
I have been writing this up over the past couple of weeks while at camp, and tomorrow I fly back down to Calgary to continue my journey. There will be a pause of two weeks while I'm riding until I'm back at work and continue the write up, but it is coming...
Great stuff. rob1313 is a great guy. Thanks for the RR.
Thanks for reading it!
Just back home from a fantastic second leg. Write-up to start in the next few days...
Love this report ! Its been 2 years since I camped in the NWT and the campsites were 25.00 they are now 39.00? I caught pike and grayling at all those falls you showed.
Valleyview ...shit hole? I worked 3 years on fire lookout towers north and south of Valleyview and it was a great place to blow off steam when I came into town a couple times a summer! 2 bars there, the zoo was the most happening of the 2. Your photos bring back many memories. Worked in rainbow lake in 1974 as a camp councilor for the town.
My bad re: the campground fee - it was $29, not $39. Still a little much, methinks!
I don't have a high opinion of Valleyview, but my perspective is as a traveler passing through and I can't say that I know the town itself. I do know that the washrooms at the Shell, which are supposed to be the best in Canada, aren't as good as those at the big gas station in High Level (can't remember what brand it is)!
I can't imagine what Rainbow Lake would have been like in '74. I was still in short shorts then
I do not remember where I took this picture!
I arrived in Calgary at 10am. Canada Day . Chloe was kind enough to pick me up from the airport - I didn't expect that - so we went for brunch in a cool diner somewhere (I don't know the city), and I was on the road shortly after noon.
It was a strange day, looking back on it. I took Hwy 22 to Crowsnest, but between Calgary and Crowsnest the skies had been threatening. Having been rained on every day on the last leg of this trip I had rather hoped that this leg might be different. It wasn't looking like it that afternoon. But I'm not used to the prairie weather and it's hard to tell what it's going to do in any one area. A storm in the distance doesn't always seem to be one affects you. A voice in my head was telling me that I knew well enough that I should pull over and put on my Frogg Toggs but I kept putting it off. Finally I decided the clouds were dark enough that I wasn't going to risk it any longer, but as I stepped off the bike the heavens opened in a deluge. In mere seconds my hair was dripping wet as though I had just got out of the shower. Also against my better judgement I hadn't packed efficiently at Chloe's and my rain gear was in a bag that was strapped down. The wind was strong enough that as soon as I undid the straps the bag was blown off the bike. I felt like an idiot, and rightly so because I had enough experience to prevent this. The temp was down to 10c too and the visibility pretty low. Not cool. Well, actually rather too cool. But definitely no fun! Eventually the rain stopped and I so did I at Frank Slide, to gather my thoughts. It was still windy, but definitely looking brighter.
Pretty sure that I took some pics at Frank Slide. When I loaded them onto Smugmug the order became very jumbled so I might miss some photos when I first post, and have to go back an add them to the relevant post later when I find them. I'll look for the Frank Slide ones now...
Soon after Frank Slide I crossed into BC. I wrote that I kept being rained on. Occasionally I'd see a patch of blue sky, but generally it was gray or black! Sometimes all at the same time. With BC comes mountains and the views buoyed my spirits somewhat, but in general I was cold, wet and tired. Not the way that I wanted to feel my first day back on the bike.
I had no definite destination for that day, but thought that Golden, BC would be a viable option. I kept pushing on, passing through Fernie, which was much bigger than I had imagined. I have always heard good things about Fernie but just passing through on the highway it seemed very ordinary. Obviously I should have gone exploring, but I didn't. There is a great band from Fernie that have come to Yellowknife to play a couple of times, Shred Kelly. You should look for them on Youtube, they're good fun.
Not sure whether that link will work or not.
I came to Canal Flats rather lower on fuel that I had wanted to be, and the gas station on the highway was closed. Not particularly surprising, it being a Sunday evening and Canada Day to boot. I rode into town and found gas at the grocery store. Along with a banana, some jerky and a juice.
Hmm, perhaps this photo is from Canal Flats, too.
I was tired by this point and badly needed the 30 mins or so I spent resting at the gas station. For a while I had been coming to terms with the fact that I might not make Golden that night, but around this time I decided that I was going to get there come hell or high water. I was overcome by some strange determination, looked online to see if there were any hotels available and was shocked at some of the prices being charged, which were up to $600/night. Way beyond my price range. There was one called Mary's Motel that was a reasonable $109 but it only had a 2.7/5 star rating and something stopped me from booking a room there. The idea came over me - no idea where from! - that if I had to I'd sleep under a bus or in a salt shed or something when I got there.
As I approached town the skies began to clear, and so did my mood. I pulled into town at around 9pm looking for a sign to a campground, and saw one instead to Mary's Motel. "what the hell", I thought, and stopped there to see what they would charge me, prepared for it to be more than the $109 listed online. But the woman at the front desk, who I think might just be the The Nicest Woman In the World, quoted me a lower price than that I'd seen online and I was sold. What a great place - I could park right outside my door, there was a heated pool too (not much further than right outside my door!), and that woman was so darned nice!
So I was happy. So happy that I went for a walk, took some pictures, decided that I was hungry, found some calamari and a couple of beers to go with it.
At the bar where I found the calamari and the beer two young women, one bar tending and one serving, reminded me of when I used to live in a resort town (Whistler, B.C.) when I was in my early twenties. It occurred to me that back in the day I'd have tried to sleep with both of these girls if I lived in the same resort as them, and then I became aware that neither of these girls would even have been born when I left Whistler! Gulp!
had some empties and a pool of vomit outside its door when I walked past it the next morning.
For those of us not on the party bus, the morning was promising. It had rained a fair bit during the night, but was fairly clear when I got out of bed. I'd been pooped and had hoped for a good sleep, but the hotel phone in my room rang at 6.45 and woke me up. And again at 7.15. Grrrrr. The second time I just got up.
I found breakfast at the Big Bend Cafe. I was the only one there, so service was excellent. There are all sorts of historic photos and artifacts on the walls, it's a cool place. Afterwards I went for a walk enjoying the nice weather and the fit girls in tight clothing that were out running and biking around town.
As I was walking towards the hill in the photo below I heard the most horrific sound and didn't know what was happening. Was the whole hill about give way? At the very least I expected a semi to come careering over the edge, but it was the train beginning to move - as the slack between each car was taken up it made a pretty impressive, if alarming, racket.
By the time I had finished my stroll the clouds had already begun to multiply so the Frogg Toggs went on again, reluctantly. For now, though, it was still half decent and I was riding in the mountains in BC . I had to explore some side roads to sate my thirst for going to places that I haven't been to before, and took the Cupola Main FSR - just because I could.
Having forgotten my chain saw at the motel, I had to gnaw my way through this obstacle to get this pic for you
Just after the bridge in the above photo I turned off to the right on a whim, and in no time came to a sign saying that I was on private land belonging to the Canadian Pacific Police Service. I have no idea who they are or what they do when they're home.
My main goal today was to get to Kelowna to visit an old colleague. Paul has an incurable disease and I was keen to catch up with him having not seen him for three years, so it was time to hammer down. I wrote in my notes that I had an 'AWESOME!!' ride to Revelstoke, despite one camper doing 70 km/h in a 100 zone, and another doing 65. I did see some awful driving, but nothing too too bad.
Revelstoke, at least on the highway through town is extremely busy at the gas stations and I didn't stay there a moment longer than I had to. (Revelstoke is cool downtown, though, and it's well worth the turn if you have the time). Another good ride to Sicamous, which was also rather too busy for my liking, but I did stop there for half an hour for a rest. And was rained on while doing so.
See the avalanche tunnel in the distance?
The Okanagan, where I stopped to visit with Paul.
Having spent about an hour with Paul (like an idiot I looked at my watch and figured that I needed to get a move on to make it somewhere - anywhere - that night, and a few minutes down the road realized that I had left my watch on Mountain Time and it was actually an hour earlier than I thought. That's me - smart like a horse, and hung like Einstein) I was off once again.
From Kelowna I headed over the pass towards Merritt, and holy cow was that ever a ride! The weather in Kelowna was pretty good, I'd have even lost the Frogg Toggs if I hadn't by now suspected that the rain was going to follow me for the whole trip. It was a good job that I decided not to, though, because I rode for an hour in heavy rain with the temp dropping down to 5c. Holy moly. There were some fantastic photo ops of a windmill farm up on the summit but I couldn't stop and get my camera out in that rain. It was a bitch because the speed limit there is 120 km/h and although I couldn't see well enough to safely do that speed, I also didn't want to go too much slower and end up as someone's hood ornament.
What a ride. I made it to Merrit and found a cafe to sit in and gather my thoughts - the first of which was that I was buggered if I was going to ride any further that night. I googled hotels in town and found one for $54 . As inmate Smurph told me, I'd have to make the most of every bug for that price! But never underestimate how cheap I can be...I booked it, and then rode around looking for Voght Street. It isn't a very big place so it couldn't take too long to find it...or so I thought. In the end I had to admit defeat and get Siri to guide me in, it turns out that Voght Street was the only one I hadn't looked at because it was the one I'd been sitting in the cafe on when I booked the room.
Eventually I found the Sportsman Motel and the rather unhappy lady that would give me a room key in exchange for some money. I walked to a hotel advertising Chinese food for supper. It then rained all evening until I went to bed. Damn weather!
I woke up way too early, couldn't get back to sleep so I took a shower and got up. Sunshine - bright sunshine! Holy moly, I wasn't used to this . On with the shades and off towards town for something to eat...
...And by the time I was walking back from breakfast there was already 75% cloud cover. Dammit! Shades off, Frogg Toggs on. Again.
Outside the hotel next to mine was a Goldwing, I walked over and checked it out. Crazy! Reverse, navigation, a CD player, CB radio and no doubt much, much more. A far cry from my KLR! Perhaps one day, when I'm very very old.
The Sportsman Motel. $54 for the night!
I was keen to stay off the big highways and having studied the map the night before, had decided to take a back road from Merritt to Spences Bridge, Hwy 8. That turned out to be a wise choice, it's only a short road (about 70 kms, I think), but it's scenic, remote and very empty. I really enjoyed it, pretty much had the entire thing to myself.
I was going to say that I hadn't stopped to take many photos along that particular road, but clearly that would be a lie.
Highway 8 spits you out into Spences Bridge, and I stopped there briefly to take some pics at a car yard.
It rather reminded me of American Pickers, too.
I put these on my bike, but it woodn't go...
From here I had no choice but to take the 'real' highway towards Vancouver. I'm sure that I must have driven through the Fraser Canyon before, but I was blown away by the views. The photos really don't do it justice, but it was hard to keep my eyes on the road. I'd pull over and just stare, saying, "Fuck! FUCK!!". Wow.
I stopped in Lytton for fuel, waiting for this on the way into town:
Some of these trains are a mile long. If you find yourself waiting like this, you might as well pitch your tent and prepare to camp :)
Thankfully I didn't have to wait more than a few minutes. There is only one gas station in Lytton and it features in a previous RR when I went from Victoria, B.C. to Williams Lake, B.C. utilizing as many dirt and back roads as possible. The back road from Lytton to Lillooet, especially if you take the Paradise Valley detour, is awesome. It took a great deal of self control not to pull out of the gas station in the Lillooet direction.
But I had an appointment, had told friends in Sidney, B.C. that I'd be there to visit them that night. So I headed toward the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Once I was on the Trans Canada the ride was all about staying alive, it's fast and busy through Chilliwack, Abbotsford etc. I stopped in Hope (where the original Rambo movie was filmed) for gas, and soon afterwards found myself passing Jamie Davis' yard. Then I stopped in Abbotsford to rest and rehydrate before making a final push for the ferries.
The bad news: I arrived just as they were loading the 3pm ferry. The ticket attendant told me to go to the front of row such and such and wait, and I soooo nearly made it on. The good news: As I was waiting, engine running in the hope that I'd make it on, another bike pulled up just behind me. I didn't even turn around until I knew for sure that I was wasn't going to make that boat, but it meant that neither did the other bike - which turned out to be ridden by a cute French girl, with whom I struck up a conversation.
I then went inside to use the washroom, couldn't have been gone more than 5 minutes and when I came out there were about ten bikes parked there!
What a glorious day for a ferry ride
My friend Jaki and her two boys only live 5 mins away from the ferry terminal. I hadn't seen them in two years, since they drove to Yellowknife to visit me. That was where I was scheduled to pitch my tent that night, and I was happy to be back on the island.
The morning weather was simply purrrfect. Jaki had texted a few weeks ago and said that she keeps seeing her friend Heather ride her bike past her (Jaki's) house, and she was all keen for a ride - would I take her? She'd even borrowed all the gear from Heather. Now I'm no Einstein, but if she just wanted a ride on a bike she could have asked Heather, right? So she got suited up and we rode Willis Point Road and then Gowland Todd. The latter is an insane road and well worth riding if you're visiting the island.
Then it was Jaki's son Oliver's turn. I've known Oliver since he was 5, he used to ride around in the tractors with me and even at that age was very trustworthy around machinery. I remember the very first time he ever rode with me I was baling and there was a problem with the baler. I told him not to touch any of the controls while I went out to fix the problem, and sure enough he didn't. When we were harvesting and I was driving a silage truck (his favourite because it was the biggest machine), I'd throw on the jake brake and accuse him of farting. I'd say, "Oliver!" with a pretend look of disgust and he'd throw it right back at me. "BEN, it was you!!" Oliver didn't have the proper gear so we just went to the back of the farm and back.
And then I was off again. The main goal of this entire trip had always been to go camping with my best friend Simon and his family. Every long weekend Simon, his wife and three daughters and their dog Charlie go to a campground in the Cowichan Valley and when I lived on the island I would always ride up to join then for a night or two. I'd set up my tent in their spot (they have a trailer) and it became a tradition. Charlie would even recognize me as I pulled up before I had taken my helmet off it happened for so long, and when I moved away I missed camping with them more than anything else. Now I had the opportunity to do so again . I had arranged this all with Simon beforehand, but the parents had kept it as a surprise for the girls. They had all arrived the day before and I had told Simon I'd be there that afternoon.
The best way from Sidney to the Cowichan Valley? Via the 'Renfrew Loop'. Head to Victoria, then Sooke, and Port Renfrew. In Port Renfrew, cross the bridge and either turn left to ride gravel to Mesachie Lake or turn right to ride an old logging road that has now been paved to Lake Cowichan. Once you're beyond Sooke the riding is just fantastic. I used to do this loop several times each year but had forgotten just how awesome it was. A superb twisty biking road with stunning views of the west coast. I didn't even stop in Port Renfrew to check out the new gas station in town, just took a right and then another one after the bridge. I was becoming excited about seeing Simon and his family again, and I had a great ride but it was bloody hot, around 30c, and in Lake Cowichan I had to stop and rehydrate. I made it to the campground at 4pm to a lovely welcome and felt right back at home.
Here's my route for this leg of the journey from Calgary.
I just found some pics of the Port Renfrew area...
I think that this one is from when I stopped to rehydrate in Lake Cowichan
I spent the next few days hanging out with Simon and his family. I agreed with Simon and Tammy (his wife) that I wouldn't post any pictures of the kids, but I did get one of Charlie.
Here's the campsite:
A couple of years ago I was in England with a girlfriend and we went to Devon to visit family. I wanted her to experience a Devonshire Tea so we stopped for one, and both thought that the tea we were served was phenomenal. I asked what it was and was told that it was Myles Tea. A trip to the village supermarket produced a box which has long since been finished. Simon and Tammy had been in Devon a couple of months ago and Tammy had brought me back this:
I love my tea!
We all went swimming in the Chemainus River, we had ice cream, the kids taught me how to play card games - Uno and Kings In The Corner. The six of us played Four Square, Tammy's parents came to visit, it was freakin' warm (33c in Duncan when we went for supplies), and the adults drank beer around the campfire. It was great, but I did miss riding. We also went to Stoltz Pool, the Mile 66 Trestle, Skutz Falls (super lame), and Marie Canyon.
Back in May of this year three people went missing on Vancouver Island on the same day. Two were sailors that had just returned from a trip to Panama. They moored their boat in Ucuelet, paid for a months moorage, are on camera walking out to the highway with their duffel bags (presumably to catch a ride), and that was that...Until a woman out walking her dogs a few weeks later found 'human remains', which have since been identified as the two sailors. The DEA is currently assisting with that investigation, which I think makes it pretty obvious what they think went down.
But the same day, on the road from Lake Cowichan to Duncan, a third man disappeared. His work truck was pulled over on the side of the road, engine running, all his personal possessions in the vehicle along with a quantity of blood. He hasn't been seen since, but there are signs up everywhere - and I mean everywhere - in the area.
I just found these pics which I think are from the morning I left Golden.
I had planned to leave on Saturday afternoon and ride just a few minutes away to Cobble Hill to spend the night with friends Jon and Katie. That morning I went to move the bike with a view to loading it up later in the day and realized that I had a flat in the rear. Hmmm. Mitas E-07 Dakars have a very tough sidewall and I really would prefer not to have to fix it myself if I could help it, inconveniencing Simon, Tammy and the girls in the process, so I began making calls. There are two motosport places in Duncan, one had no mechanic that day and the other said that they were swamped. I called a place in Ladysmith who said that they'd do it, but they suggested that I call RE Cycle in Chemainus. And I'm glad that I did. They were waiting for me when I pulled up and I was on the ramp within 2 minutes. Well, not me, the bike. They were all cool people there, they deal mostly with Harleys and cruisers but were more than accommodating to me. Tire fixed, I met up with the gang back at the campsite and we went to visit Tammy's parents before going for a swim in the Chemainus River. I think it was around 5.30pm that we said our goodbyes (I always tear up when saying goodbye to these folks, they're the only friends that I am close enough with to consider them, and be considered by them as, family). I've known Simon for something like 22, 23 years and Tammy since she came on the scene shortly after that. I've known all their girls since they were born and think of them as my nieces.
And so it was off to Cobble Hill. I've known Jon for eons too, since '97, and I remember his 40th birthday. He just turned 60 which makes me feel very old. His daughter also happened to be visiting and she was only 4 or 5 when I first met her. Scary. We had a good catch up and I was off reasonably early on the Sunday morning with a few things to do before I flew back home that afternoon.
Job #1 involved a quick stop in Mill Bay, where I was approached by a woman who noticed the bike and said that her husband was on a bike trip in India as we spoke and was having the time of his life. She was thinking about buying a weestrom in the fall.
Job #2 was to go to Simon and Tammy's house and take advantage of the fact that their driveway was empty to wash the bike in. I have had my KLR since new in 2005 and I don't think that I've ever washed it. I've power washed it on the farm a few times but that's it, and it sure isn't going to win any awards. But it looks better the way that it is, whereas the Strom appreciates a spar treatment every now and then, I think. Out with the bucket, some soap and the garden hose and in not much more than an hour the difference was considerable.
All cleaned up and ready to go again
From there I nipped into the neighbourhood grocery store for some Branston Pickle (the original, not the shite they sell in Yellowknife), and while there picked myself up a punnet of blueberries. Mmmm, blueberries - you have to be a millionaire to afford them in YK.
Job #3 was to take the scenic route to my friend Mikey's house, where I was going to leave the bike when I went back to work. Mikey has lots of room and I often take advantage of it, I used to keep my semi there too between ice road seasons. He wasn't home but had given me instructions as to how to get into the barn and where exactly to put the bike.
It appears that he's been collecting lawn tractors, I'll have to ask him about that.
When I texted him the above photo to let him know that I had been there, he asked whether he could wear my boots. On his ears (his idea of being funny)! I said sure, but take a pic and send it to me, I need something to jerk off to, and for possibly the first time ever Mikey was lost for words
And that is that, leg #2 of the journey complete. I leave camp tomorrow and fly back down to the bike for another leg of the trip on the weekend. I'll be back to post it up in a couple of weeks
Outstanding! I've stayed at your motel in Merritt. More please.
Great pictures and story!
Thanks Cowgirl I arrived home last night from an absolutely fabulous stint on the bike . Updates to come starting later this week...