Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sat 28 June 2014

I met a nice fellow biker in the next campsite to me. He was from P.E.I and had been on the road all June, on his big BMW. He was on his way West to Canmore for another BMW convention - I wished him safe (and DRY!) journey.

I woke early so had a quick  coffee and was on my way. 546 km to Fort Qu'Appell - piece of cake!

Once on the road, the trusty West wind started blowing me down the highway but there were an increasing number of nasty-looking cloud formations lingering around. The land is still rolling here - not the true FLAT of the Prairies. And certainly not boring!

I crossed into Saskatchewan with a quick fist-pump: Province number three! I stopped at a small roadside place called Maple Creek for gas. It was a quaint little place: unlike BC, you didn't have to pre-pay for gas - just fuel up and go inside to pay. They sold fireworks there as well - kind of a strange place to sell fireworks - out in the middle of nowhere. But they also had a diner, and I had a nice "traditional" breakfast of eggs, sausage, potatoes and toast. Then back on the road.

This DEFINITELY did not look good:
More and more thunderstorms were showing up all around me. This one moved to the left JUST enough for me to get by dry. I raced others that were looking like they were coming across my path. Definitely NOT the sunny, hot ride I was expecting in the prairies.

I did stop to smell the rape...err... canola flowers:
I did NOT stop to smell the dead moose I saw at the side of the road.

Lunch at Moose Jaw, and of course the obligatory pic of the giant moose:
Back on the road, I was dodging more thunderstorms, ready to stop at any time to get the rain-pants on at the first sign of rain.

Finally, about 20 km from Fort Qu'Appelle my luck ran out and it started to rain. On went the Plastic Party-Pants, and I rode the last 20 km into town, then to my friend's place.

Then the heavens opened.

I was SO glad to be warm and dry as I looked out the window at what was much more Vancouver weather than Saskatchewan.

I don't think I'm going anywhere tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Fri 27 June 2014
To go, or not to go.... The sun was shining when I got up, and the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms. Should I stay here another day as planned, or head out? The itch in me to GO was strong, and won out over another day with the in-laws.

In keeping with the Quest of seeing Canada, I went to Drumheller to look at dinosaur bones. On the way I saw my first oil pump:

I find it ironic that these things that pump out petroleum are powered by electricity ;)

On to Drumheller, where I went to the Royal Tyrrell Museum (I don't know why it's "Royal" except that it has a picture of the Queen in the foyer). It was indeed impressive, but I found the geology around Drumheller much more impressive. You're riding along through rolling hills and all of a sudden: "6% Hill" and you're winding down through massive bluffs of striated rock. VERY easy to imagine dinosaurs roaming there!

Then, on to Medicine Hat. It was very windy, and a very nasty-looking thunderstorm was lurking to the Southwest. But on the way I sat this:

There were about 30 or 40 of them - probably putting out about 10 MW. And they were HUGE! I've never seen one up-close before, and they were impressive.

On to Medicine Hat, the Gas City (I had an extra Zantec, just to be sure). Here I found the ONLY solar-energy plant in Canada:
It didn't look like it was running yet, but it was supposed to concentrate the sun's rays into pipes carrying water, which would turn into steam and run a steam turbine. Again, impressive!

Got a nice campsite at the Municipal Campground except for the fan for the washrooms that ran all night, and the partying girls in the next site. Tomorrow...? Maybe Fort Qu'Appell and the school friend I haven't seen since high school.

On Waving...

Bikers wave to each other. My bro-in-law says he has NO idea why, but we do. And it's not a Mr. Henkie "HOW-DE-HO!" type wave - it's low, usually with two fingers. Basically it's exactly the same gesture as a "point to the lane" lane-change signal.

There have been hundreds of discussions on this: "Harleys don't wave" (everyone riding a Harley-Davidson is called Harley ;) ), "Squids don't wave", and so on. But there are a few "rules".

First, you don't wave in town. You're too busy watching traffic and trying to avoid getting run down by the cages to worry about waving. Second, you don't wave on a divided highway. The other guy's so far away he probably won't see you anyway.

But I met one of those trikes - you know, the ones that start out as a car and then they run out of metal and say "Oh hell, I've always wanted a bike...". Do you wave at them? I say yes, since they at least are not surrounded by metal and glass.

But that does bring up a point: All the other bikes I've seen on the highway are what we used to call "barges": Big motors, full fairings, big hard bags side and back, cupholder, cruise control... Hell, why not just add 2 more wheels and call it a car?

But to each his own, I guess. I wave at the barges...

Friday, 27 June 2014

Thurs 26 June 2014

After a fairly decent sleep despite the traffic and the trains, I broke camp, loaded up the scoot and headed out to Revelstoke for breakfast. I decided it was time for the (lined) leather pants since the higher altitudes were getting a bit nippy and the sun was starting to play hide-and-seek.

This is a photo for the guy in Colorado who, after I told him where I had gone last trip, he said "sure must be nice to be back in the mountains again, eh?"

THESE are "mountains":

This was at Rogers Pass summit: 1426 meters (highest I've been on a bike). But the rare air was just beginning. In Kicking-horse Pass I went over the Great Divide at 1646 meters (That's just over a mile for my American readers).

Then the mountains fell away and suddenly I was in the foothills of Alberta - rolling hills instead of jutting rocks. And before too long I was in downtown Calgary, fighting the traffic to get to my in-laws.

I spent the afternoon visiting with my various in-laws, and my sister-in-law gratiously allowed me to sleep in her guest room for the mere charge of helping her move her couch. What a DEAL!

I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow - I'm planning on spending time in Calgary, but the weather says Sat and Sun are going to be crappy, so I may end up in Calgary for at least the weekend.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Wed, 25 June 2014
Today's the day! I got most of the scoot packed last night, got "the list" pretty well completed, the weather forecast looks slightly better than it did yesterday, so it's a go.

I finished packing, charged up the cellphone, netbook and Kindle, hugged my Lady goodbye, and went to the carport to get my jacket and gloves. I had left them sitting on the electric bike. The one that some asshole stole (and don't get me STARTED on how useless house insurance is!). Seems he didn't bother to take off the jacket and gloves before making off with the e-bike.

So, the nice, old-school biker jacket and gauntlet-style gloves that I've been wearing for 25 years are gone. And it's 9:30 am and I'm itching to get on the road. I could get a nice replacement online for under $200, but I need it NOW. So, off to Pacific Motorsports to buy a new jacket.

Of course, there was some kind of accident on Hy 91 and it took me over half an hr to get TO the store.

Once there, a nice Italian gentleman showed me that obviously they DON'T sell jackets to outlaw bikers with beer-guts: I'm not a BIG guy but even the XXL was a bit tight. And HEAVY! They all now have gobs of protection panels that make you feel like you're wearing medieval armour instead of a jacket. I did find one that looked and felt pretty good, and I hope it lasts 25 years because it cost over $600 (My Lady had promised me a leather jacket for my birthday and she's VERY happy about the panels, so she said she'd pay for it. Yay!).

Back home, take a few pics of me on the start of my Oddessy, one more goodbye to my Lady, and I'm off at around 11:00am, hoping to make at least Kamloops.

I'd almost forgotten how NICE it felt on the scoot. The jacket did feel like armour, but very comfortable. It wasn't too hot in the sunny weather, and when it got a bit chilly over the passes, I was glad to have it.

Riding felt good, so I just kept going. Brunch at Chilliwack, fill up at Merrit, wave at Kamloops, Sorrento... nope, not ready to stop yet. I had dinner at Sicamous and found a charming little campsite just off the hy a few miles East. Then a quick trip back to Sicamous to get some bug-juice cuz they were EVERYWHERE. Finally a bit of reading and off to bed in my comfy tent.

Monday, 23 June 2014

It's getting really close now - just 2 days to go! I've been looking at the weather and there appears to be a small window of non-rain on Wed and Thursday, so I'm going to go for it. I suspect I will get rained on while going through the mountains of BC, but the forecast does not predict sunny weather for at least a week.

 Speaking of riding in the rain: I did a test ride up to Tunkwa Lake - about a 300 km ride. It was sunny here in Vancouver, so I didn't even bother to check the weather in Merrit, or set myself up for riding in the rain. Unfortunately, the hot weather evaporated the water, which made clouds, which lowered the temp, which cause the clouds to rain down on poor unprepared bike riders.

The first rain came on the Coquihalla. It was just a shower, so first I stopped to see if it would go away. It didn't. So I got back on and rode slowly, the rain hitting my face like tiny needles (fortunately I wasn't skydiving, where you hit the pointed end of the raindrops). It was back to sunny and hot at Merritt, so I went the "scenic route" up to Logan Lake. Unfortunately "scenic route" included mountains, which attract rain clouds like ugly on a coon-dog. HEAVY rain. I stopped and took shelter under a tree, but even there it was cold and wet and the rain showed no signs of letting up. So, more slow riding, I'm stinging in the rain...

When I finally got to Tunkwa Lake, I was cold and wet, but had arrived. I set up camp - the tent easy to put up, the mattress wet but only needed a few puffs of air to inflate properly. Not content with how wet I already was, I went fishing.

Tunkwa is a very frustrating lake. HUGE rainbow trout break the surface everywhere, sometimes almost landing in your boat, but do you think they show any interest in your fly? No. Back to the tent at sunset, climb into the sleeping bag for a surprisingly comfortable sleep.

Next morning I found the new stove worked great for boiling water for coffee, and the coffee was STRONG and hot. I tried to trick the fish again, but again they were too smart for me. So I broke camp, packed everything back on the scoot and headed Southwest. The scenic highway was again looking threatening, so I ran East over to Hy 5. It was about 30 km longer, but I managed to completely miss the rain this time. Fast run back to Delta, with a commitment to install the face-shield on the helmet as soon as I got home.

 It's on my List Of Things To Do...