Sunday, August 29, 2010

Towards Vancouver

Before you all rush off to Heathrow to pick up Jill, she has decided to stay for a while and after a good shower, a bit of pampering for Jill, a few big hugs and some more talking, we set off joining the 24 at Little Fort. We stopped off for lunch before joining the 97 south at 100 mile House. We were running low of petrol and as we passed one closed down petrol station after another, and all the petrol stations in my life come flooding to mind in vivid colour, we switched onto second reserve and slowly cruised into Clinton where there were 2, just like buses. My obsession with the running of the bike made me pull all the spark plug covers off, which I had done many times before and push and poke things in a very 'I know what I'm doing manner'. A small piece of metal fell out of the left top spark cap, broken off from the clip that holds it onto the spark plug, and Nancy has been running better every since. Joined the 99 and at Marble Canyon Provincial Park stopped for a tea time snooze as the temperature was hovering around the 35C mark. The 99 is a really beautiful road following a very deep canyon of the Frazer river to Lillooet where provisions were brought in a shop that had every type of tinned meat but little else. After another 25kms we came across a Forest service Recreation site called Cottonwood, that is user maintained and therefore free, beside a river. We stayed there for 2 nights in wonderful quiet solitude, going on short walks and resting. We left and carried on down the 99 to Whistler, which we looked around but found it rather a sprawling ski resort without a heart so didn't stop for any time. Further down the road we pull off and travelled the 7 kms up to the Whistler Olympic Park, that was created for the Olympics and had the Ski jumps and the Nordic sports. We were asked for a $5 a person donation to help towards the running. They still haven't worked out what they are going to do to try and recoup some of the overspend, although the lady we talked to said they had lots of ideas. As poor travellers we declined a donation, but wished them well. I'm sure that a covering of snow would do wonders for it but at this time of year it just looked like a very big scar in forested hills. The symbol was an Inukshuk
and Jill built her own
to leave behind as a lasting symbol of our friendship along with many others.
The road down to Vancouver had been upgraded for the Olympics and as we dropped down we entered Squamish Indian territory
which leads into Vancouver.

Not a lot of Jasper

Jill woke me at 0645 as she sprung out of her sleeping bag. Maybe that's why the day went pear shaped. It started as an OK day but by the time we had got on the road I was really pissed off with Jill who I had perceived as having spent the time from rising to leaving the camp site criticising my every action. We stopped at the Athabasca falls and drove along the 93a visiting Mount Edith Cavell shrouded in mist
on the way into Jasper. The time spent in my helmet had made me question why I was travelling with Jill. This was supposed to be a happy experience and I was not happy at all. In fact I was feeling downright miserable and wondering what it would be like to travel on my own. It couldn't be worse than this. I might get a bit lonely and have to cook for myself but I wouldn't have to put up with the contempt. So over lunch, after we had been shopping, I told Jill that I didn't know why I was 'dragging her around Canada'. As you can imagine the response was less than favourable and Jill went into withdrawal only mentioning that Vancouver would be a good place to fly home from. We didn't see much of Jasper or the surrounding sights that it might have to offer, but spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the bike with the intercom off travelling along the 16 and then the 5. Nancy had been running rough for quite a while. She would hit the 4000 rpm and then it felt like the engine was going to fall out of the bike. It only happened when the bike was hot and I had visions of bearings spinning inside there casings or gears chewing themselves up. I kept balancing the Carbs
but to no avail. What ever it is it ain't good. Saw a turn off to Little Hell's gate Provincial Park, which sounded a bit like our relationship at that time, so went down a gravel road for a mile to see if there was any camping but there wasn't. We drove on until we found a camp site just outside Clearwater. Some reflection was done that night and in the morning I apologised for my behaviour which Jill accepted but thought she had apologised enough for herself over the last 13 years so wasn't going to offer another one now. Welcome to the Reality bike riding show!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Towards Jasper and the Icefield Parkway.

And early it was. Jill was up by 0630 and we were ready to go by 0830. Retracing our path again towards Revelstoke we met some more bikers riding Harleys on the ferry who told us of places to visit and things to see. There is just so much. If we are going to make it back in 2011 rather than sometime this decade we have to be very selective. That selectiveness comes from not doing any research into what we should see more than a rough outline which usually means the National Parks. If we are meant to see something somebody will tell us about it and then we will decide if it's where we want to go. Seems to work to a point. After lovely warm weather during the meeting in the 80's, it had now started raining as we made our way up the 1 through the Glacier National Park towards Roger Pass.
On the way down there were a lot of road works and at one of these hold ups I looked in the rear view mirror to see a blue sports bike coming up rather fast before landing on it's left side with a shower of sparks. I was just about to take to the pavement as I thought it was going to wipe us out, but it came to an ungainly halt, luckily without crossing into oncoming traffic. We went back to administer TLC to the driver who couldn't hear anything we were trying to say because he had his Ipod on so loud. He had padded jeans on, that were soaking from the rain, which helped his fall and his gloves were badly ripped but no other damage. After straightening his gear lever we said our farewells and he sped off towards Calgary about 200 miles further on into the rain. Turning onto the 93 Icefield Parkway towards Jasper just before Lake Louise, the traffic calmed as no commercial traffic is allowed on this road. We had crossed a time zone from Pacific to Mountain time and lost an hour so we stopped at the first camp site called Mosquito Creek at about 1800 meters above sea level. The temperature had dropped to 2C on our way up there so the chance of any Mosquitoes was minimal. Having set up our tent we joined a group of push bikers in the communal building were they had a large fire going in the stove. The rain was pounding on the roof as Jill cooked our meal and the fire dispersed the cold outside. Having said our good nights we ran towards the tent only to find a small river trying to break it's banks and flood our sleeping accommodation, so the next while was spent on water management, ditching and culvert building before we put all the clothes on that we possessed and raped our sleeping bags around us. The night was cold but we were just about warm enough. Snow had fallen on the hills around and the bike thermometer read -1C when I got up in the morning so we gladly retreated into the shed to share again the push bikers stove over a slow breakfast. The rain had luckily stopped and the cloud base had lifted so when we set off the mountains were truly magnificent, so good in fact that we turned around after 25 miles and drove back 10 miles to see the sights from the other way. Stopping at Saskatchewan Crossing for fuel and we thought a cup of coffee would go down nicely but at $5.30 a cup we decided to travel on to the Athabasca Glacier. Having done what we shouldn't (walked on the glacier) Jill helped with the Glaciers retreat by breaking off a bit.
After we had lunch having made ourselves a cup of tea, we proceeded to our camping spot at Honeymoon Lake were a romantic night was had dressed in full thermals, cocooned in sleeping bags with only our nosed on view to each other. Camping doesn't do much for your love life!

Nakusp BMW Rally 19th August 2010

We left Peter and Carol's on Thursday morning and drove up to the top of Mount Revelstoke through the national park. There were a lot of fires raging around the Williams Lake area and the air was full of smoke as can be seen in the picture. The road is 24 kms long and climbs about 4000 ft. There were Mosquitoes the size of wrens when we got off the bike but we have learnt and Jill now has a large bag full of things to deter and if necessary kill these predators. Smelling sweetly we set off to walk around the area. Here is the fire look out.
I blame my huffing and puffing on the altitude, but sitting on the bike all day with the only activity being the need to get my leg over when we stop and start maybe doesn't help.
We then retraced our path back over the ferry and along the lake to Nakusp were the Bee Cee Beemers were having a get together. It is advertised as the best food served at any rally, so Jill was looking forward to a few days off from slaving over a hot one ring. Having signed in and paid our $140 for the 3 days we set camp with much song and dance. Would the tent be better facing the tree or over hereby the fire pit? If it was there someone else might come and put there tent up in the middle? Maybe it would be better over there? Does my bum look big in this? Just lots of questions that inflict us as human beings. Anybody watching would think we had never camped before! We met up with Bert and April later,
who we had met in McMinnville, and they moved over to us as their neighbour shook their tent with his snoring. Talking Technical with Roy and Murph
When we were here for the HU meeting I had taken Nancy for a warm up run as I was tuning the Carbs and a car had reversed out of it's parking place right in front of me. Luckily I was only doing about 15mph but even throwing out all the anchors I hit their rear wheel and the back of Nancy lifted off the ground. I didn't fall off and after checking out the bike everything looked to be OK. I have since noticed a little more front wobble at slow speeds, which has always been present but hopefully nothing of long term importance.
We had a very relaxing 3 days. Jill spent time swimming in the Arrow lakes on which Nakusp nestles.
The last Blog was downloaded and more Red pepper jam was brought from the Saturday market. I had a hair cut in Jill's expert hands. We caught up with David and Diane who we had also met in Mcminnville and were very sociable (Sorry no Picture). In the evening of the first night some early footage of Joey Dunlop racing in Northern Ireland and at the Isle of Man were shown, and on the Friday night 'The world's fastest Indian' with Anthony Hopkins was on offer, which is one of my favourite films and not just because it is about motorbikes. Prizes were given out on the Saturday night and we didn't win anything, after which we pack up ready for our early departure on Sunday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nakusp to Revelstoke

Arrived Revelstoke where we were met by Peter. Carol was away for the day on a ride out. Here is the view from their house. Peter confessed to not being able to cook so after a quick dash to the grocery store for a few bits and bobs, we cobbled together a pizza for supper and chatted about this and that.
Peter works at the local saw mill so he was gone by 6am the next day. David spent some time doing clothes washing, fixing the bike stand, and the brakes on the bike. And my job is the Blog. So I spent a few hours tickled pink as I recalled our recent adventures. Late afternoon Carol arrived home, and armed with a couple of G&T's we sat and compared 'the trials and tribulations of travelling with a man' stories.
After a lovely birthday supper of vegetarian lasagne which believe it or not the men had been out and purchased; washed down with a little vino blanco, to celebrate Carol's birthday, and lots of chat about travels, we retired.
The following day I finished the Blog, so yes folks you have me to blame for these tomes containing our adventures. David Did some washing and shopping for our hosts; and in the evening Carol conjured up a vegetarian fritata washed down with an unpronouncable chilled German sweet wine-fabulous!!

Horizon's Unlimited Travellers' Meeting

Headed towards Trail along 22a from which we headed on 22 to Castlegar. From there on to the 6 up to Nakusp where we arrived around 5pm. Got a bit wet after being caught in a downpour. We found a camping spot,
erected the tent just before it began raining again, (yes we're back in Canada) which meant we had to cook on the ground in the awning. It is always tricky cooking on the ground in the awning because the primus stove, although has three legs, can be a bit unsteady on slightly uneven ground, (I think the designers have never cooked at ground level), and I was a bit anxious it might tip or get accidentally knocked over. So I waited until David has stopped jumping around as he does when we first arrive at a camp ground, and when he was safely seated I cooked some food. Each time he attempted to jump up to do something in our confined conditions I told him to sit still (just like you do with a 2 yr old!). Unfortunately I just wasn't quick enough when he suddenly decided to leap up like a grass hopper, into the tent for something that I had said could wait until we had finished cooking, and guess what: David promptly kicked over the stove and along with it the entire contents of the pan with our meal in. As you can imagine I threw a bit of a wobbly, sat frozen as he bellowed brazenly “don't just sit there do something!!” I gave him a spoon to scoop up the food and as he did so, he asked confidently if we could still eat it!! As I shook my head in disbelief, he then enquired as if it was the most normal thing in the world, whether we had more food so that I could cook another meal!!!!!!! Assertively, I told him “No”, adding that we were eating out. So after he had cleaned up the gloop which had spread itself over a good distance of the groundsheet, we went into town for a burger!! One veg one chicken (for me) so there! (Wasn't quite like that but I will let Jillie's artistic licence stand)
Afterwards we headed off into town to the Canadian Legion where evening talks on all things to do with world motorbike travel, were being held. Around 11.30pm we groped our way back to the camp in pitch black having forgotten our torches.
Friday & Sat caught up with Murph, who was wild camping in a rest area cos he's engaged in a inner and sometimes outer debate/rant about the morals of having to pay for camping!! We talked about food and cooking whilst on the road and Murph, announced how easy it is to make a Dutch Oven in which all sorts of culinary delicacies are possible. Immediately I accepted his back-handed invitation to camp dinner at his place and eagerly anticipated his creation. Okay so he wasn't entirely enthusiastic!

David worked on bike during day, chatted to folk, attended talks on other traveller's adventures around the world; how to adapt a motorbike seat for comfort rather than looks; bear-safety (yes that's right we are back in bear country), and how not to use bear repellent (a certain German lady will inform you earnestly to spray the bear not yourself-good advice indeed); motorbike travelling-ladies only, where we talked about managing helmet hair, periods, comfort, clothing, managing men and their controlling natures, (when women are riding pillion, or on their own bike travelling with a man), so things came up like, how to be assertive when deciding where to go and how long to stay, insisting on regular pit stops (some men just don't know when to stop for a break and will ride all day), managing the budget, eating in or out, buying food. Believe it or not typically a man will show little or no interest in food production or preparation when at home. However put them on the road and suddenly, whether you buy one banana or two, rice or pasta, becomes and issue. Anything more than food as fuel sees them twitch fidget and mumble to themselves. God help you is you want to buy any seasoning as it will add too much weight to the bike!! And wait until he starts to go through your pannier to weed out the items he thinks you don't need (watch out if you have a bottle of nail-varnish or more than one hair band).
I sat in familiar territory as other women travellers recounted their 'horror' stories of travelling with a man. I felt faintly amused, but also relieved to know that David's behaviour is normal for the species, I just need to find ways of managing it, which doesn't involve lying down and playing dead! (Jill is obviously looking forward to travelling on her own!)
We also had an interesting talk guessed it...a man, on how to make a cooker using old beer cans (now I bet that has got you thinking!). I asked before the talk why one would want or even need to undertake such an activity given that most campers will have a cooker with them. And if it were for emergencies, where in the back-country one might find used beer cans to perform the task on. He looked down at me with piercing incredulous eyes, and a puzzled look on his face, as if I had asked why is the earth round; or better still why camp when you can stay in a hotel. After much harrumphing he sped off to find used beer cans! Anyway here it is.

We also met Peter and Carol who invited us to stay with them in Revelstoke, an offer we instantly took up and looked forward to. Peter and Carol have travelled extensively around the world and we were eager to hear their stories and pick up some tips.
Sunday. I declined a ride out to see Murph's camp, heading off instead to the beach and a swim (the first of the trip) on the banks of the Columbia River Basin.
It was just **x!** breath-takingly freezing, but splashingly wonderful and cooled and hydrated my dry and ageing scales a treat.
Sunday night Murph wriggled out of cooking us dinner using a Dutch Oven, and found us inviting Murph around for a camp dinner, where we fed him couscous and veg with virtual reality chicken,
and he brought some ice for water, which I declined unless he had tucked away some gin and tonic with a slice of lemon (to which he castigated me for teasing him (he is on the wagon) and for reminding him how good it tastes); he also fed us home made apple pie, which he had sweet-talked his way into at the local cafe, where he spent his days chatting up the girlies!
Spot the apple pie to the top of the photo, and the cooker made of two beer cans in the middle-it has a candle perched on to-all mod cons you know. And if you try real hard you will be able to smell a patchouli incense cone too!! Another thing David complained added to the weight on the bike. (If Jill has incense and candles hiding in her pannier what else does she have!)
Monday morning, we did a bit of internet work outside the Tourist Office in Nakusp, using their free internet access, before departing across the ferry where I relaxed David chatted with the ferry engineer, a fellow bike enthusiast about sprockets and dip sticks or similar (Actually it was about lipstick colours and nail varnish remover!)
before heading towards Revelstoke.

Towards the ancient Redwood forests of Northern California.

And so on Thursday 5th August, we travelled towards the ancient redwood forests of northern California, where some trees are two/three thousand years old, and sadly also where as much of 96% of these magnificent giants has been felled. Down 99w to Eugene then 5 to Grants pass, it was a long day's riding. At around 8pm we decided to stop at a Motel 6 for the night. The restaurant nearby had just closed, and the only other option within strolling distance was a fast food bar. Principles tucked firmly in our pockets, we dived into chicken burgers. Beggars can't be choosers!
Friday delivered us to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park down 199, where we set up camp, before heading off along Howland Hill Road and Stouts Memorial Grove to hug some trees.

Saturday and more tree hugging along the Simpson Reed Trail and Peterson Memorial Trail. It is hard to describe the quiet majesty of the ancient Redwoods. Standing amongst them there is an eerie sense of magic and mysticism. They manage to cushion extraneous noises, so that you feel you are being held in a vacuum of peace and tranquillity. Although many trees were felled they are now protected. And it is amazing to see how fallen trees become nurseries for new growth. Apparently the germination of a new Redwood is more successful on a decaying stump/trunk.
Sunday we broke camp then headed off to Bil and Barbs at Medford, back in Oregon via a rest stop where this cute police car was parked outside and a pass with magnificent views. Along the 199 we then turned off onto Dryden and Williams a forestry road, before joining the 238 up to Medford. We met Bil at the Redmond BMW bike rally and he had invited us to stay with him and his wife. where we spent the night sitting in the garden or yard as the American's call it, (but is it five acres so not one of our slated courtyards the size of a postage stamp!). It was a little piece of heaven as wind chimes gently tinkled, the pet cats and dogs frolicked on the grass, the only mosquito in the whole of California homed in on me and bounced about my skin in gleeful delight, and we were treated to a wonderful food fest. I know I always go on about food. Well I like food. I must given that I have gained two stones since meeting David 13 years ago (is it that long???). And it is difficult to get enthused when cooking stir fry's every night on one ring, so when we get invited to stay with people and it is always a taste bud tickler!
We had home grown yellow squash, potato salad (to die for-and Barb wrote out the recipe for me!!!) sweetcorn, garlic bread, cucumber, baby beets, fresh fruit! We ate like we would never see food again! We admired Barb's water-colours, and Bil showed us all his toys. American's and indeed Canadian's have lots of big toys, so we had a tour of his RV's x two, (recreational vehicles), fishing boat, motorcycles, farming machinery and their collection of raw and polished semi-precious stones from the Nevada Desert, where they prospect for opals amongst other things!
Sunday we were forced to have light fluffy, home-made blueberry pancakes for breakfast, with butter and maple syrup. We would of course rather have had our usual gruel but as guests we didn't want to disappoint our hosts!!
We tore ourselves away from third helpings (well I did, I have to watch my waistline-David is past the point of no return-he has no waist any more), and departed mid morning, but not before Bil and Barb presented us with a gift of an fire opal they had found on one of their prospecting trips. It is truly exquisite and a very, very generous token of our time together. Once again we have been delivered into the hands of kindness.

We made our way on the 234, 237 and 42 to Coos Bay, and followed the 101 over Astoria Bridge into Washington. I (Jill) wanted to go along the coast. Being a Piscean I needed a sea fix after so long inland. We followed the amazing Oregon Dunes with lots of people playing with their Sand Rails and ATV's. But it was really cold ,55ºF and we were back to wearing lots of layers. The Oregon coastline is really beautiful but reportedly mostly cold and grey-can you imagine! I always thought California and southern Oregon would be bathed in sunshine. Not so. Some folks actually like it cold and grey rather than the 90ºF heat 5-10 miles inland. Bonkers!!
We camped in a National Forest Park, somewhere near Florence (not in Italy), where during a gale a large tree had recently fallen across the hosts RV a few weeks before barely missing her and two friends. Pretty much all camp-grounds have a fire pit on each pitch and for around $5-8 you can buy a bundle of wood. So with a little help of some fuel (petrol) courtesy of the camp-ground host, we lit a fire and cooked supper. Probably vegetarian chilli out of a tin!
On Monday we departed along the coast, determined to see it through. Heavy fog/ mist cold persisted. It was hard to believe that just a few miles inland it would be around 90ºF. Not sure why we were subjecting ourselves to this.
Long days ride up 101 then 6 to Chehalis where we stopped at the Relax Inn which was a bit pricey at $80 plus tax but was very plush for us. Went next door for food. Meat menu apart from garden burger which David had. And I ordered pork. I envisaged a nicely broiled (grilled) fillet but was presented with a deep fried bread-crumbed pork escalope x 2!! I could only face one (sorry pig!). It took it's revenge: I had indigestion and constipation for a week!!
Tuesday: We had free internet access so did some email catching up and departed around 1200. Headed along the 12 to White Pass where we stopped for a picnic: crackers, cheese, tomato, crisps: a feast!
Headed along to Yakima, 24 and 243 to Wanapum State Park where we camped on the Columbia River

Beautiful night sky.
Wednesday headed along Interstate 90 then 283, the 28 to 17 to Coulee City having stopped at the Dry Falls which are amazing and if running today would dwarf Niagara Falls.
Met Steve and Tammy on their BMW, in the car park and who took a photo of us on the bike, and later emailed it to us, which was a really nice gesture as we don't get many photos of us together, let alone on the bike. We all agreed to meet up in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. Don't you just love these chance encounters!
Drove on 155, high desert,
alongside Baker Lake to Grand Coulee Dam. Stopped on the way for a picnic lunch: had a tiff about where to stop. Now this might seem a minor issue but in a land of magnificent scenery, David is apt to stop in car parks, behind 20 foot walls, in the cold shade, when just across the road is a view across a valley, the sea, a river or lake. Muttered and grumbled and headed towards the Dam
where we went on a tour which took us into the third set of generators-fascinating! For all those engineers amongst you here is the low-down

Afterwards, we headed up the 155 to Colville Indian Agency where we took a small road towards towards Inchelium and camped for free, at Twin Lakes on the Indian Reservation.
It was very quiet and as night fell, we were serenaded by Coyotes talking to one another across the valley. The night skies here are amazing and we have seen so many shooting stars.
Thurs 12th we rose bright and early (yes even me) and we dashed towards Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting at Nakusp, taking the ferry to Gifford which crosses Columbia River,
joined the 25 to Northport where we had decided to stock up on groceries in a small store before getting into Canada, because it was likely to be cheaper. Girding our loins we headed over the border where we were asked whether we were carry guns, drugs and apples!! Apparently there is an apple maggot that the Canadians are trying to avoid migrating across the border, as it destroys apple crops.