Sunday, 25 June 2017

To Tofino..... and Back! In One Day!!!


This is one for the books.

Last week my friend, Dale, and I decided to go for a bike trip this weekend. My only caveat was that we had to do it in one day.

We looked at a few different locations including the Olympic Peninsula (too far, too long) and some others. We finally decided to go to Tofino, on Vancouver Island, have lunch, and then come back.

You have to understand that not only would this be over 500 km - but also included two ferries.

We thought we'd be home by dinner.

Nope.

Dale met me at my place at 6:50am. It was a beautiful day, sunny, warm, and promised to be a great trip. We took off from Maple Ridge and, within 20 minutes, we were on the freeway.

You have to understand, Dale does not like the freeway. I don't like it all that much either but, thanks to my wine course in Vancouver, I have been taking it more often lately. I have gone from squeezing the life out of my handgrips to actually enjoying the ride a bit. Dale, on the other hand, has not had a lot of experience on the busy, fast freeway and was not exactly thrilled with that part of the trip.

Less than an hour after we left, we arrived at Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. We spent the next 20 minutes in the line and then, after paying for our ticket, loaded onto the ferry.

The nice thing about BC Ferries is, if you are a two wheeler, you make it on without a reservation. Interestingly, there were probably 30 bikes of different makes and models, all lined up on the top vehicle deck.

The ferry ride itself was a couple of hours and was fine. I had a coffee and bagel and figured that would suffice until lunch.

Arriving in Nanaimo, we all roared off the ferry (before the cars, heh - heh) and headed east.

Cameron Lake
Cameron Lake
After leaving highway 19, we got on the scenic highway 4. Our first stop was Cameron Lake in MacMillan Provincial Park. It was a very nice little stop and the weather was warm but not outrageous at that point.

The traffic was light and we could sit back and enjoy the ride. We went through Cathedral Grove, a forest of giant trees that rivals some of the Redwood forests that I saw in California. There were nice twists and turns on the highway and I really enjoyed the ride.

Kennedy Lake
Kennedy Lake
After we gassed up in Port Alberni, next up was Kennedy Lake in Kennedy Lake Provincial Park. Again, we really enjoyed this stop. It was lovely!

Somewhere around here, it became exceedingly hot. I was now just wearing my shell and I was not very positive that I would be able to stick with even that.

Wickaninnish Beach
Wickaninnish Beach
Closing in on Tofino, we took a side trip to Wickaninnish Beach along a heaved up road. The tricky ride was definitely worth it as we ventured down to the beach and enjoyed the scenery. It was definitely hot at this point. And it was at this point that I stuffed my day-glo green jacket, with all of its armour, into my top case.

The argument, of course, is that even on a quiet highway, like we were riding, you can have an accident or crash. However, we found that the temperature was in the 30s and the heat was making us groggy. Removing our jackets gave us a little bit of refreshment that kept us alert.

Speaking of refreshment, we found going both ways on Highway 4 that there were certain areas where we crossed a river or creek or went near a lake that the air cooled really noticeably. It was like someone pointed an air conditioner at us as we rode by certain parts. Very nice!

We finally made it into Tofino around 1:30 or 2:00pm.


After checking out the Farmer's Market (couldn't find a scarf for my wife), we looked for a place to eat lunch. After careful consideration (we looked at two restaurants) we selected the Schooner due to its patio and variety of menu besides fried fish.

Dale awaiting his beer and halibut burger

Ah, that was a great lunch!
We both ordered the halibut burger and it was very tasty. It was served on a brioche bun and had cole slaw, mayo, pickles and a lovely grilled halibut chuck that had some sort of cajun seasoning. It was accompanied by a mountain of fries.

Outside Tofino Brewing

Along with the meal, we split a large beer from he local brewery, Tofino Brewing, and, after we left the restaurant, we hunted down the brewery in the industrial section of Tofino (about 6 buildings). We each bought a couple of bottles to take home and then headed back up the highway, west, towards home.




Our last touristy stop was the radar hill in Pacific Rim National Park. The views were spectacular and I have included just a few of the many photos that we took there. Apparently during WW2, this was where a radar post was located to protect our fair nation from incursion!

Only bikes in the lineup!
The ride back on highway 4 was just as enjoyable although the temperature was really heating up. We stopped for some gas and an urgently needed vitamin drink in Port Alberni and, thanks to rehydration, stayed alert all the way back to Nanaimo.

We thought about going to Duke Point and taking the ferry to Tsawwassen, but, unfortunately, the last ferry from there was at 6:15 and that's about what time we arrived in Nanaimo. Luckily the ferry runs later from Departure Bay so, after about an hour wait, we took the ferry back to Horseshoe Bay.
Another beautiful west coast sunset 
It was pretty hot, even on the ferry, so we ended up on deck. I took a few photos of the setting sun - I love these photos and really enjoy painting sunsets!

After arriving in Horseshoe Bay, we took the freeway back to Maple Ridge, this time in mostly darkness. I am becoming more comfortable with the number 1 highway and this was the first time I was comfortable at night. It was a bit crazy when all the ferry traffic disembarked but traffic did thin out as we got farther away from Vancouver.

We finally arrived back shortly after 10:30 - it was a long day. Unfortunately, one of the beer that I bought (the stout! oh no!) leaked in my top case (yes, that's right, leaked!). After mopping up the beverage, I headed toned.

In future, I would probably do this ride in two days but there was certainly some satisfaction in finishing such a scenic ride in the time that we did.

Mind you, I spent most of the next day (Sunday) just lounging around the house!

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.