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!