Monday, 22 May 2017

Spring Touring! Part 2 - Whistler to Penticton

Day 2 - Whistler to Penticton - 450 km


We both woke up with just a touch of a sore head in the morning, but after a coffee and a light breakfast, we were ready to head on the road.

Leaving Whistler was a lot easier than getting there, as we continued North on highway 99. The first stretch is to Pemberton, where I had never been before. There were some nice mountain vistas but, unfortunately, I did not take any photos. We were both waking up a bit as we rode, and it was quite cold (6° C.) so there was a bit of an urgency to keep going.

Dale taking a break at Joffre Park
We gassed up in Pemberton and then continued on the next leg toward Lillooet. This part of Highway 99 is known as the Duffy (or Duffey) Lake Road. It was a dirt road for a long time but was initially (mostly)paved in 1991 and then upgraded and completely paved in 2009. I had never been on the Duffy Lake Road but it is rated one of the best highway drives in BC and it is easy to see why.

Joffre Park view.
The highway is quite twisty with lots of elevation changes. It also has lots of breathtaking scenery that forces you to stop at times and just take it all in. There are some great hiking trails that we saw many people taking advantage of. Overall, it is a glorious ride.

Mountains from Joffre Park
Our first stop was Joffre Provincial Park (not named after the Game of Thrones boy-king, I hope) and was a spot for hikers to congregate and set out from. 

Duffey Lake View
We continued on Highway 99 North until we reached Duffey Lake. It was a beautiful lake and a perfect, almost cloudless, sky. The temperature by now had increased dramatically and we were quite warm. 

Reflected hills in Duffey Lake
A feathered friend mistakes me for Dr. Doolittle
It is interesting trying to determine if the spelling is Duffey or Duffy for the lake and the road. Apparently, there was a sapper (military engineer) named James Duffy who was surveying in the area and, in 1861, froze to death. I assume that the lake is named after him, so it should be spelled without the 'e". 



However, all of the official Government websites have it spelled with the 'e' so, there you go! Maybe someone in the government bureaucracy way back couldn't spell very well and screwed up!

Dale taking a photo near Duffey Lake
There was some traffic on the road - everything from other bikes to giant motorhomes - but it really wasn't that busy at all and, on the few occasions we got stuck behind someone, it wasn't long until a passing opportunity presented itself. 


We continued on towards Lillooet which is the end of the Duffey Lake Road portion of Highway 99. I snapped this photo of the trees and mountains as my last photo on that scenic road.

When we arrived in Lillooet, our goal was to find the winery. Fort Beren's has been running for a few years but its slick tasting room has only been open since 2014. It is the only winery in Lillooet and has a beautiful location.

For a full accounting of the wine tasting, head over to my other blog, Wine And Then Somm, and read the blog entry for Fort Beren's wine tasting.

Tasty lunch at Fort Beren's Estate Winery 
After our wine tasting, we headed outside to the nicely shaded bistro area and had a fantastic lunch. Sipping on my wine, enjoying the sunshine, and eating my sandwich, I felt that this was the pinnacle of the day!
 

The day, however, was far from over! We rode south along Highway 10 through pleasant scenery until we arrived at Lytton. There were some very nice views and some curves as well but not nearly as exciting as the Duffey Lake Road. It was a lot hotter, as well, so we did need to stop and remove as many layers as was safe to do so. 

Once we got to Lytton, we were in familiar territory. We rode down Highway 1 until Spences Bridge and then Highway 8 to Merritt, with no repeat of the near empty gas tank that Dale suffered last year when we went on this part. Still feeling nice and toasty, we then headed up the Okanagan Connector, Highway 97C.

I had been on that very highway the previous weekend and it had been very cold (1.5° C. from inside the car). However, the sun was shining and we thought it would be nice an warm on the connector. 

Not so.

As we approached the summit (Pennask Summit) it became colder and colder. Stubbornly, Dale refused to stop and add some layers and, stubbornly, I refused to stop as well, opting to crank my heated grips and seat. It was quite an experience! Happily, as we headed down the other side, the temperature began to rise again.

We stopped to gas up at Peachland and I had an interesting experience. I had gassed up and was waiting to leave a busy gas station. A guy with a truck and a big boat was backing up towards me so I gave him a toot on my horn to warn him that I was there. He glared at me and asked me why I honked my horn to which I replied, "Just so you can know that I'm here."

"I saw you," he replied.

Then he muttered something about how I shouldn't be honking my horn at him as I rode off. Interesting. 

From there we road on Highway 97 towards Penticton, an easy ride on a good highway that was nice and warm as well. We stayed with Dale's mother-in-law where I had a nice bed, a great dinner, some enjoyable conversation, and a wonderful view of her back yard. 


Tomorrow, back home!






Spring Touring! Part 1 - Maple Ridge to Whistler

My friend, Dale, has been desperate to go on an long ride.

And lately, so have I!.

The weather here has been so wet and rainy all winter and spring that there just haven't been many opportunities for a nice, sunny ride.

But that changed this weekend!

This weekend was a long weekend in Canada because of Victoria Day so we decided to go for a two night trip, still giving us some time with our respective spouses. We both screamed out of school Friday and met up in Maple Ridge.

Day 1 - Maple Ridge to Whistler 170km


The weather was mostly sunny when we left on Highway 1, heading west towards Vancouver. We were travelling against the rush hour so we both sat in the HOV lane and made good time as we rode. Once we hit Vancouver, there was some traffic, especially through the North Shore (North Vancouver and West Vancouver), but it thinned out again as we cleared the Metro Vancouver area.

The scenery is pretty nice on the way to Whistler. Once you pass Horseshoe Bay and get onto Highway 99 North, the highway hugs the coastline with vistas of ocean water on one side and climbing mountains on the other. No wonder it has the moniker, the "Sea to Sky Highway".

We had no difficulties as we rode past Lions Bay and Britannia Beach. Outside of Britannia Beach, however, there was a speed trap that had snared several of the cars that had blown past us on the highway. Dale and I had decided to not push it on this trip so we just zoomed by the trap, unaffected.

Things continued to go smoothly until we reached Function Junction (Cheakumus Lake Road). A mere 8 kilometres from the village turn off, the road turned to a parking lot. Apparently this is a rather common event as the area just does not deal well with the traffic flow. We slowly lurched our way into Whistler village, but it took a while.

Once we checked into our AirBnB ($201 for a self contained room, much like a hotel room with a kitchen, queen bed, sofa bed, a little tired and old but clean and serviceable), we made our way to the Village Square. This Friday marks the beginning of GOFest, a new, weekend long, festival to mark the beginning of the summer outdoor season at Whistler. What was important for us was that 5440 was playing!

Dale and I first saw 5440 almost 20 years ago at the Arts County Fair at UBC thanks to some student teachers we had that year. After that,  we were hooked, seeing them at the Commodore in Vancouver a couple of times, a club in Abbotsford and locally in Maple Ridge, that last time being an unplugged concert a month ago.



This was a free concert and was definitely not unplugged. We had great outdoor seats at the Beacon Pub and Eattery (Beacon Burger and Truffle Fries - tasty!) and enjoyed the concert immensely. The pints of beer did not harm our mood or our overall satisfaction that night and added to the concert experience!

After we stumbled home, we slept soundly until our next ride.

Beer number ?

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sunny Sunday Ride!


Today was the first sunny weekend day in a long, long time!

I had originally made plans with my youngest but she had to work, so all of a sudden, I was free.  I decided to take a ride out to Harrison Hot Springs.

When the kids were little, we used to go to Harrison - usually just for a couple of nights. The Harrison Hot Springs Resort is a wonderful place to stay but is not inexpensive. On some of these occasions, I would ride my bicycle from Maple Ridge (about 75km) and then ride back a couple days later.

Today's ride on my BMW C600 was a lot faster and a lot less exhausting!

It seemed as if everyone with a motorcycle was out on the road today. I saw everything from big Harleys to Gold Wings to CanAms to a guy on a little 50cc Piaggio Fly. I gave the motorcyclist wave so many times, I thought my hand was going to fall off.

Interestingly, not everyone reciprocates. I can understand if you are on a curve or otherwise distracted but here's what I noticed with the non-wavers. First of all, guys wearing bright green anti-smash up jackets like me always waved. Second, most old farts waved as well. A group of around ten older bikers all made sure to return my wave. Young guys on crotch rockets, they all waved.

 It seemed that the non-wavers were the Hells Angels types with ape hangers (how could that be comfortable) or with a front fairing. Not always, mind you, but more often then not. Maybe it's because they recognize I'm on a scooter? Or because I am wearing a bright green jacket? Or maybe the just don't wave at anyone else at all?

The ride to Harrison Hot Springs was very sunny and enjoyable, It was a bit cool, despite the sunshine, and I was glad to have the heated grips to take off the edge.


Once I got there, I had to find parking. It's been awhile since I've been to Harrison (excluding the freezing cold trip last fall where Dale and I basically saw the lake and then turned back). The community has really done a nice job of rejuvenating the lakefront area and, as I drove past the many cars, I was pleased to see a dedicated motorcycle parking area which had room for six or seven bikes to angle park. There were lots of other motorcycles parked in car slots as well, most doubled up. 

I took some nice photos, did a watercolour sketch, and then headed back home. There were no near death experiences, no terrible incidents with vehicles or people, and no complaints. I did feel a bit regretful that I hadn't asked my friend Dale to come along, especially when I drove by the Sasquatch Inn - it's a great place to stop for lunch and a beer, but probably best to be with another person. 

The one issue that I did have was, after I stopped at Silverdale for gas, often when I stopped at a light on the rest of the way home, the damned check oil warning would go on again. Not every time, mind you, but enough to drive me crazy. I think another trip to Vancouver BMW Ducati is in my future.....

Despite the oil warning, it was a great ride - sunny, peaceful, and invigorating. Maybe the riding season has actually begun in earnest!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Oil light drama!


I had a terrifying experience this week. After a disgusting winter where I have had little opportunity to ride because of below freezing temperatures or torrential rain pour, I took advantage of the sunshine and was riding around after school.

I was on my way home when I stopped at an intersection to wait for a red light.

I looked down at my cluster and noticed the dreaded CHECK OIL light was on!

Just two weeks before, I had had a service done at Vancouver BMW Ducati. I had had an oil change, two new tires, and lots of checks and adjustments (to the tune of $900!). It seemed shocking that I was down on oil.

Once I was home I went through the annoying procedure of checking the oil.... on the centre stand, take of a bunch of parts, flip up the side stand, and then check. It was PERFECTLY between min and max.

What the heck?

My research online showed me that this has happened to others. Some people have added a little more oil while others have just had the problem go away on its own.

I will continue to monitor the situation.....


By the way, if you are interested in wine, I have started a new blog. It's here! 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Winter is done.... or is it?



To start things off, understand that I insure my scooter year round. On the west coast, we pride ourselves in our year round mild weather and I do ride my scooter locally a couple of days each week, regardless of the rain or fog. We don't let mere rain stop us from going outside and doing stuff!

Then, about six weeks ago, the temperatures dropped and the snow came. And stayed. And my scooter has been parked. And parked.

It has been an icy, snow covered walk to school in the morning, especially since Christmas Break ended. Although I haven't had a big spill walking this year, I have had some exciting moments as I trudged though the snow and then navigated the thick ice on the sidewalk where homeowners had neglected to shovel.

Then, wonder of wonders, the rains came! Hallelujah!

That was a couple of days ago.

Thursday, after school, I hurried home after reffing a volleyball game and suited up, hoping that the BMW scooter would start after six weeks of inactivity. I was not to be disappointed - it started with ease. I probably should get some sort of battery trickle charger but, damn, it started nicely!

I went for a 30 minute ride, taking the back roads to Pitt Meadows and then turning around and riding in the stop and go traffic of rush hour. The scooter performed very well and it was an exhilarating feeling to be on it after such a long absence. Yes, I know it was only six weeks, but it seemed like an awfully long six weeks!

Friday morning, I thought it would be great to ride to school on my scooter - I often ride on Friday because it is my 'lazy day' of the work week. I made sure I had my high visibility jacket on and, after warming up the engine, headed out of the underground.

Luckily, I had lots of time so I proceeded rather slowly across the parking lot in front of the condo building. When I stopped at the end of the parking lot to turn onto the street, my feet had a difficult time finding the road. I suddenly realized that the parking lot was a giant sheet of black ice! Maybe the frosty roofs of nearby buildings should have clued me in?

I continued on, figuring that the ice sheet was constrained to the parking lot. However, once I got to the stop sign at the intersection of two main roads, I realized that the main roads were icy too!

I was now half way to school - the point of no return - so I pressed on. The main road was mostly good but I was slow and cautious. The tension of riding slow but safe was giving my abs quite the workout.

When I turned into the subdivision where my school is, I again could see the sparkle and shine of black ice. I slowly made my way until I turned into my school parking lot, another giant sheet of black ice. I carefully parked, legs hanging off of either side in case I slipped, got of the bike, and headed inside.

After a full day at school, after the sun had warmed the roads, and it was time to leave, I got on my scooter and headed home.

Next time, I think I'll check the temperature (like I usually do - not sure what came over me in the morning) instead of riding out into the ice.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

First Ride of Fall- Canyon to Coke



My friend Dale had been bugging me to go on a nice day ride. He only insures his bike for six months and his time was running out. As luck would have it, I had a fairly open weekend so a day ride was just the thing.

The weather reports leading up to the ride were a bit iffy but, as Saturday morning unfolded, the weather looked fairly good and it promised to be a dry day.

We had chatted about several options for our ride including up to Whistler and then over to the Duffy Lake Road and then home but were worried that might take a bit too long and the evenings are just not that warm. The ride we had decided on was along the Number One Highway until Spences Bridge, over to Merritt and then return home.

The weather was a bit chilly when we left Maple Ridge ('F' on the map) - around 10°C. I had a T-shirt, long sleeved shirt, fleece sweater, hoodie, and my jacket with liner. I also wore my neck warmer and motorcycle shoes. And pants (AKA trousers), of course! I do not like being cold and did my best to prevent it!

After gassing up in Silverdale, we headed towards Mission, hoping to take Highway 7 to Hope, but it was closed due to an accident, just outside of Mission, in Hatzic. We turned around, headed over the Fraser, and onto Highway 1.

This part of the ride was not that exciting - it was basically slab driving with a fair amount o traffic.

Home Restaurant in Hope, BC (not my photo)

Once we got to Hope (''D' on the map), we had breakfast at the Home Restaurant. It was very much appreciated as I hadn't eaten anything yet. It also gave us a chance to warm up although, as usual when Dale and I ride, I wasn't quite as cold due to my heated grips and seat.

After topping up my tank, we left Hope, taking Highway 1 along the Fraser Canyon. There is nice scenery but we were more on the hill side than on the river side. We had talked about reversing our trip at breakfast but just forgot to do that once we got on the road!

The sun came out in places on this leg of the trip. It's an enjoyable route with not a lot of traffic and some nice curves as we rode north.

Confluence of two rivers in Lytton

Finally we arrived at Lytton. Lytton is famous for being the place where the Fraser and Thompson rivers meet. You can even see the different colours of water in the photo. The cloudy, turbid river is the Fraser and the clear one is the Thompson.


It was also a nice place to get a photo of the two of us.

When we left Lytton, Dale said that he needed more gas. There was only one gas station that we saw a sign towards and it was going the wrong direction so he decided to wait it out. We even passed a "next gas 94km" sign, Dale thinking that Spences Bridge ('B' on the map) had to have gas as it was at the junction of two highways.




As we continued along the highway, we had some wonderful views, including this series of photos that I took from the side of the road.

Finally, we arrived in Spences Bridge. Spences Bridge has many things including accommodations and stores but it does not  have a gas station. Our only recourse was to continue onto Merritt.

We took Highway 8 which was wonderful! Lots of twisties, hardly any traffic, good weather, and nice scenery. Ahead of me, I saw that Dale kept crouching forward on his bike. I thought his back was bothering him. As it turned out, his back was fine. He was trying to make himself more aerodynamic as he was almost out of gas!
Johnny's Gas Station on the Rez (not my photo)
Finally, just outside of Merritt, we stopped at Johnny's Gas Station on the Rez. Dale put in $2 worth of gas (they only had regular) and was able to make it to Merritt.

When we got to Merritt ('C' on the map), we didn't really feel like lunch so we just had a refuel and headed towards home.

From Merritt, we took the Coke - the Coquihalla Highway. It was built back in 1986 (for Expo) and was a toll highway ($10 each way) for years. It's a good highway but is so straight that it can be rather boring. We made pretty good time, though, probably because during the downhill parts we tended to go a little fast. Still, it was very nice weather, although it was quite cool again as the Coke is high in elevation.

Arriving in Hope, we thought we would try Highway 7, assuming that it was now open. Luckily there was one of the giant highway information signs that informed us that the highway was still closed. Later, we found that a VW Jetta had drifted across the line and smashed into a logging truck. Unfortunately the driver of the Jetta was killed.

With Highway 7 blocked and neither of us really wanting to take Highway 1 home, we took a parallel route from Hope to Chilliwack. It was well marked in some areas and then just disappeared so we had to make some U-turns and try a few different roads. When we got to Chilliwack (letter 'E' on the map) we finally ran out of road and decided to take the freeway.

Mission Springs Pub and Restaurant (not my photo)

It was rather uneventful from there and we decided to stop for dinner at the Mission Springs Pub. It is located in, you guessed it, Mission. They brew their own beer and we had some chicken wings and pizza to finish up the meal. The beer  was good (Big Chief Cream Ale) and we both appreciated the chance to warm up as we had become quite chilled.

One of the topics of conversation was about riding together. We both do enjoy riding by ourselves but riding together is certainly more fun, especially when you stop.

After our break, we headed home, gassing up one more time with the cheap gas in Silverdale before heading home. In all, about 580 km - total time was about ten hours including breaks.

I'm not sure if I will have many more chances for day rides this year. Although I insure all year, I mainly depend on my scoot as a commuter vehicle in Fall and Winter. We shall see what the next couple of weeks bring.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Big Guy rides the Left Coast - Day Eleven - Kelowna, BC to Maple Ridge, BC

Day 11 - 370km - 3 and a half hours


After a rest day in Kelowna, visiting my daughter, I headed home from Kelowna.

I've done this journey once before, when I had first bought my BMW, and I was looking forward to the trip.


The first part was along the Okanagan Connector - Highway 97C. I enjoyed this part as there was some wind which made it a bit exciting but not too much traffic and two lanes each was so it was easy to pass other vehicles.


The next part of the journey was along the Coquihalla Highway. It used to have a toll booth but that was removed several years ago. It is an easy riding highway although a little boring so I did find my self pulling over a couple of times to make sure I didn't do the sleepy nod on my bike. Sunshine was the order of the day as I rode along the well kept highway.

At Hope (the jinx-y place where I dropped my bike getting off it for the third time ever in a McDonald's parking lot) I continued on Highway 1, encountering some traffic, and then, finally, home.

4800 km - close to 3000 miles - in 11 days. 

So, upon reflecting, what did I decide?

Did I need to bring everything I did? It was pretty tight once I had packed everything. Did I need to pack it all?


Things I was glad to take. - The SRC system was excellent - I really liked being able to listen to some music - and to the navigation instructions - through the speakers in my helmet. I used the different chargers every night to make sure I had enough juice for everything. I had the right amount of riding gear - I used my rain pants, fleece sweater and even my rain jacket and was glad I had them. I was also very happy with my bright green jacket.  I threw in my winter gloves and I was glad to have them on the hail day. The packing bags were a great idea - the larger one was a real help in making sure I could get everything in the top case. Sunscreen was a good thing - and the day that I forgot to put it on served as an excellent reminder. Windex was a life saver - especially on the buggy day.  I'm glad I brought flip flops and runners - depending on the weather. I also was really happy to get out of my scooter boots at the end of the ride but appreciated them while on the BMW.

Things that I sort of needed - The hydration kit was ok - I kept it in the under seat compartment but I did drink from it on most breaks and, because I filled it with ice every morning, it helped make things like the cheese last longer. I used earplugs the first couple of days but, really, once I was off the Interstate, I didn't feel I needed them.

Things I didn't need but glad to take - I am glad I brought along the tire repair kit and even happier that I didn't need it. Ditto for the space blanket - it hardly took any room but was good to have. The toilet paper was not needed for its intended reason but was helpful when checking the oil. I didn't use the handy wipes but I was glad to have them just in case.

Things I didn't need and just took up room - My watercolour set was not a great idea - I'm just too tired after a long ride to put the creative effort needed for painting. The iPhone holder (looks like an X-Wing craft) was something I never used. I had pretty good confidence that the phone would stay in the holder but I just didn't want to take a chance of looking down at it instead of at the road. Besides, voice navigation was sufficient most of the time. My iPhone tripod was a waste of space since I never took it but, on the other hand, it took very little room.


App of the trip - CoPilot. I have mixed feelings concerning this app. It was usually spot on in directions and one thing it had over Siri was that it gave warnings 2km, 1 km, 500 m and 250 m away from where I had to turn. That way I didn't have to look at the map as I was riding.  It also allowed me to download the maps needed which meant it only had to connect to data for traffic updates. It also tried to vector me around traffic. I was able to select which route I wanted, thus overriding the route that CoPilot chose.

On the other hand, it occasionally took me through some interesting side routes which seemed to not make sense. Also, it would sometimes stop giving me directions, seemingly out of the blue, and when I was in more urban areas. Sometimes, due to traffic or some other reason I found my self taking a different route than I had originally planned.

I would probably stick with it until I see something better come along.


The route of my trip - I loved going down the coast and, if anything, I would try to do even more of it. That means staying on Highway 1 instead of 101 in California. I also would try to cover less ground on the coastal highway so that I had more time to stop.

Coming home through Reno and the middle of the western states was a good call. The amount of travel was absolutely fine and, although there wasn't that much to see, I made good time.

Overall it was a great trip and I was glad I had the time to do it! Now, where to for next summer?.........

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Big Guy rides the Left Coast - Day Ten - Yakima, WA to Kelowna, BC

Day 10 - 530 km - 7 hours



If yesterday was Buggy Day, then today was Insane Weather Day.

I left Yakima after a great breakfast at the motel and had a fairly early start. That gave me lots of time to cope with my day.
Beautiful view near Ellensburg, WA

It was beautiful when I left Yakima and I thought that it would be a wonderful day. Pictured above is a view near Ellensburg.

I made a brief stop at Cashmere - the same place I had stopped last year, and picked up some Aplets and Cotlets (Liberty Orchards)  - basically fruit mixed with gelatin and sugar - what's not to like! The nice weather continued as I headed north.

 It was a bit windy, though.

Now, usually I like a little wind. The wind on the Okanagan Connector, for example, creeps up on you and gives you a wind smack that certainly gets the adrenalin going. When that happens, I usually exclaim, "Whoa!" or "Wow!" and continue on, albeit with a stronger grip on the scoot.

The wind I started to encounter was stronger than that. I found myself being pushed in the direction of the wind. Instead of staying on the left or right side of the road, I planted myself right in the middle so when the wind hit, I ended up on the side of the lane, not off the road or in incoming traffic.

The wind was bad enough as I struggled with my riding (and my hands started to cramp after all of the death gripping) but then, up ahead, I saw lightning!

Ahh! I didn't think stopping was a good idea as there was no ground cover. I continued on, battling the wind, and keeping an eye on the lightning storm.

Then the rains came. I first put in my liner as I thought that it would probably pass fairly quickly. Within minutes, the rain turned to a monsoon, and I pulled over to put on my rain pants.

While I struggled to put on my rain paints,  the rain turned to hail - thankfully not golf ball sized but still big enough to sting and lots of it! I then reached into my under seat compartment and brought out the rain jacket that I had packed for just an eventuality. The hail beat down harder and I was terribly exposed.

I got back on that scooter and slowly rode - about 20 km/hour - along the side of the highway with my emergency flashers on. I could barely see anything at all but I was extremely exposed and there wasn't anywhere to wait out the storm on the side of the road. I had to keep on doing my slow ride.

Some time later (it could have been five minutes, it could have been fifty minutes), I came upon a town - sorry, I can't remember which one - that had a couple of restaurants. The McDonald's was closed to walk-in traffic but the Subway, part of a supermarket, was open. It was packed with people and, after I had ordered a sandwich, I was stuck standing up and eating beside the napkin dispenser as there were no seats. However, it was dry and warm and that's what I needed at that point.

Finally, the rain started to let up and I continued to make my way north.

Drag racing in Tonasket



By the time I got to Tonasket, it was better weather! There I saw a short drag racing demo right on the highway! They had closed about three blocks of the main highway and drag race cars were slowly burning up their rubber. I watched for a bit while I refuelled and had a nice chat with an old-timer (with a very long beard!) about my BMW.

I continued on north until Oroville - the last stop before the Canadian border. After making a small purchase at the duty free store, I headed to the border - with a line up of two cars! The border guard was quite friendly and it took all of two minutes to get through.

From the border was the last two and a half hour blast up highway 97 until Kelowna.

Fun fact - did you know that the highway in the US is called highway 97 and is still called highway 97 in Canada? That's interesting! I don't think that it is that common! Usually the name changes over the border. I wonder how the two countries could agree to that - maybe there is hope for NAFTA continuing, after all!

View from Brian's patio near UBC Okanagan

I arrived in Kelowna and met up with my daughter who was house sitting for a relative. I took this photo from the balcony before we sat down to a nice dinner and some story telling on my part of my trip.

One more day - then back to Vancouver!






Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Big Guy rides the Left Coast - Day Nine - Klamath Falls, OR to Yakima, WA

Day 9 - 600 km - 8 hours


Today was Bug Day. I had so many bugs on my helmet, on my windscreen, in my gloves, in the vents of my helmet… It was horrible!

At the start of the day I wore my jacket without the liner because it was a sunny day and I thought it would be quite warm. Unfortunately it was about 18 or 19° C. but with the wind it was actually quite cool and I got a bit chilled in the morning which surprised me. 

The Whistlestop farm - lots of plants and flowers but, alas, no cheese!
An interested llama at the Whistlestop farm
At one point I thought I'd hunt down one of the exciting things that I saw on the highway - the Whistlestop farm and florist, which I had hoped would sell cheese - but when I got to a farmhouse it only sold flowers. I took advantage of the time to have some  of my last bit of Hilman cheese and was welcomed by a llama which observed me very closely as I nibbled away. 


Off I went again and the next stop that I made I actually overshot. It was P.S. Ogden Rest Stop and I thought, "Meh, I don't need a rest," so I kept going . Mere seconds later I crossed a fantastic canyon which broke up the otherwise extremely flat land.  I went back to the rest stop and took a closer look. 

Bridge over the Crooked River - bungee jumping, anyone?

Another bridge over the Crooked River.

Hang on to your dog, or else they might plunge into the canyon!

In the middle of all these flat fields was the The Crooked River canyon and it is amazing! It was definitely worth the stop and, what's more, people were bungee jumping off a famous bridge (the Crooked River High Bridge) built in 1925 - now closed to traffic but open to pedestrians) overlooking the canyon that was built many years ago.

There was a warning sign about the cliff - also reminding people to watch their pets - dogs have been known to run right into the canyon.

I continued on driving at a great pace and enjoyed passing trucks and semis! I am still getting the hang of exactly how fast I can go when I'm passing and I did unfortunately 'thread the needle' a couple of times when I overestimated my speed or underestimated the oncoming vehicle but there was nothing ever really that close - really.

I stopped for lunch at a small town called Moro which had a couple of cafés and one gas station and some scattering of houses. I thought, instead of going to Subway or McDonald's or somewhere boring for lunch, that I would try somewhere local and I was happy with his with the result. 

The young lad that served me was probably a high school student and he was very polite. I ordered a half of a sandwich that I could build myself because I didn't feel like having a hamburger or hotdog and the sandwich was quite tasty and went well with my Diet Coke. The person cooking might have been his dad but another person came into the café at the time so I didn't get a chance to ask him.

Stonehenge war monument off in the distance

The next stop I made was one that I had read about. It is the Stonehenge Memorial – an actual Stonehenge made of concrete – that is war memorial. It was built between 1918 and 1929. Unfortunately I could only see it from far away on the highway and couldn't figure out how to visit it without making a massive detour. Unfortunately the bugs and oppressive heat (as opposed to the morning cool) deterred me from exploring. It had warmed up considerably during the day. The temperature had risen from around 18° C. to  35°C.  and when I finally got into Yakima it was 40°C.

Hard to see, but there are literally hundreds of wind turbines in the distance.
What other very cool thing that I don't think photos do justice to was the wind power farm I went through. There were literally hundreds of wind turbines at one point, which was very impressive, but when I passed closer to one, it was kind of creepy as they are so large! 

The CoPilot app decided that I should go onto Main Street in a suburb south of Yakima and go along Main Street through that town and all the way out to the other end of Yakima for some reason. Possibly the freeway was busy or traffic was bad or CoPilot just has a weird sense of humour but I did eventually make it to the Best Western Motel.

The Best Western was a 'plus' hotel which means that it was probably the nicest hotel I stayed at on the trip. The room was big with a separate seating area, a desk with a nice office chair, a fridge, a microwave, a good modern TV, king size bed, nice clean bathroom… it was overall a great room. So, of course, I forgot to take a photo of it.....

I was happy to make use of their pool after I checked in. There was a family there (which is absolutely fine) but they were the noisiest family I've ever seen or heard!  The pool was an indoor pool so that with all of the kids screaming it actually hurt my ears! Also I noticed that the dad had a ice bucket full of bottles of beer by the pool - maybe to help him cope with his own kids screaming! I left the pool, ears ringing, a bit sooner than I would have liked.

Next up was figuring out dinner. I found what I thought was the Yakima Thai Restaurant on my map app so I decided to walk there despite the heat because it's great to get the legs stretched every night. I managed to cross the highway without getting killed and ended up walking into basically a ghetto area looking for the restaurant. I followed Siri's instructions exactly and I ended up in a vacant lot beside two sketchy looking drug houses. I was not happy and at that point I thought, time to bail and get out back to the main highway, which I did. 

What's missing here?
I walked the other way up the highway and found a Chinese restaurant. You could tell that it was not an authentic Chinese because -  number one, I didn't see a Chinese person there - not even cooking and number two, there was not a chopstick in sight! I decided to order some prawns, sweet-and-sour pork and almond chicken. I was kind of surprised when all three were deep fried and the only difference was the different sauce on each one. I ate what I could and then left the rest because I just couldn't eat all that deep-fried food. The accompanying rice tasted like some sort of nasty Uncle Ben's rice rather than true Asian rice so I left that behind as well. I hate being wasteful with food but I can't take it with me on the scooter and, to be quite honest, it's just too much food for one serving.. If I tried to eat it all I would feel ill afterwards.

The restaurant did have a very nice girl who served and a very nice woman who I chatted with who I assume was the owner. They were very lovely people.

Tonight would be my last night in a hotel and while it had been fun staying in different motels /  hotels I was looking forward to talking to somebody else besides my iPhone in the evening. Sorry, Siri, you're just not that much fun to talk to!