Saturday, July 9, 2016

Waiting For A Train.

Celebrating Jim's birthday with a fantastic meal is starting to turn into a thing.  Last year it was Shanghai, this year it was at Muncho Lake BC.   Once again the weather cleared and we had a great morning riding down through the northern Canadian Rockies.  

Once the mountains receded and we approached Alberta things got boring.  But we did find possibly the greatest cinnamon buns ever baked at the Testa River Lodge.  Leaving Fort St. John it seemed appropriate to take a run out the Peace River Valley past the Site C damn site.  It is an an extremely beautiful valley and a real shame that it is destined to be 50M under water in the near future.  Seeing it was Canada Day (July 1), a stop at a Canadian institution was warranted  (in Chetwynd of all places).

It was at this point that the group got separated.  No big deal, we have technology and cell phone connections.  The thing is that when you are sending email messages and satellite communications texts it helps if the other parties notice the new message blinking red LED on their phones and satellite communicators.  None the less our path crossed at a gas station in Grande Prairie and we all headed off to Route 40 and Hinton for the night.  "Hinton?", you ask.  Well if you ever looked up the price of a hotel room in Jasper over a holiday long weekend in the summer you'd understand.  The finale of this trip was a classic - down the Columbia Icefields Parkway from Jasper down to Lake Louise then across Yoho National Park and Rogers Pass to Revelstoke.

Our timing as we pulled into the parking lot at the Spiral Tunnels was impeccable;  the screaming brakes of a train coming down the hill filled the valley.  We took up our viewing positions and waited for the train. 

And sure enough the front of the train made itself around the bend and headed into the tunnel.

And a little later thst same front of the train appeared a little lower down the mountain at the tunnel exit.  The rest of the train was still snaking around the bend and into the tunnel entrance above.

One of my favourite restaurants in the world is in Revelstoke, so not to leave anything to chance I had made reservations a few days before.  And of course in the intermediate time I had had the taste of the superb Woolsey Creek Bistro's bison back ribs on my tongue - thankfully they weren't sold out when we took our seats.  In fact they had enough for five of the six of us.  And trust a Californian to find a local wine that none of the locals had ever heard of before but now intent on finding more of.  Our last morning together on this ride found us at a French boulangerie staffed by Australians in a small town in BC; where in the winter cold arctic air meets warm pacific air sucked up the Columbia River and dumps a crap ton of snow every year.  But all that snow only explains why the Australian are here.
It was here the group separated once again, this time on purpose.  Those of us that headed south had a great uncluttered ride down through the Kootenays on down to Wenatchee.

Those that headed over the Coquihalla thinking they were on that fast track home quickly found all that last day of the long weekend traffic heading hone at the same time.

Anyways, it was a great 10-days or so ride around BC with a great bunch of guys who for the most part only met up about a year ago in Istanbul.   There's still a bunch of BC that might be there later but I'm not planning on chancing anything.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

All The Jade In China...

The owner of the hotel had noticed our noisy efforts out in his front yard - and believe me the 5 of can raise a ruckus - and volunteered that the local mechanic in town was pretty good.  "Up here if you call yourself a mechanic, you better be good", I believe was his exact description of Charlie.  So first thing in the morning it was to Charlie's Place to see what he could for a broken bolt.  With some of his first words after taking a first pass at it being "Wow, that bolt is pretty hard steel", it wasn't looking good.  But he managed to get a pilot hole through and enough bite with an easy-out bit to remove the bolt.  A few minutes rummaging around the spare parts bin found an appropriately sized bolt with the correct thread count and pitch.  And Dean was happy to be on his way with the rest of us.

The morning was clear but clouding over with full on rain by the time we got to Watson Lake.  But the nice part provided some great scenery and an ever increasing wildlife count - note the 3-beaver heads in the picture below.

Up near the north end of Highway 37 is a place called Jade City, a family owned operation that mines and sells Jade.  

They even have their own reality TV show.

As approximately 90% of the jade that is currently mined world wide comes from this area I'm pretty certain that all the jade bought last year in China by the Silk Road group came from here.  I picked up some things appropriate for this year's ride.

After lunch in Watson Lake, which was about the extent of our time in the Yukon, we rode South back into BC.  The weather broke as we pulled up to Liard River Hot Springs providing more than enough time for some messing about in the very warm and sulfurous waters.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Breaking In A New Bike

There was 4 of us who met up in Boston Bar that Thursday night and there was still 4 of us passing through Ksan on the way North up Highway 37 two days later.

There also was in addition one straggler who planned to join up with us at Dease Lake on Tuesday night with his tentative departure from the Seattle area early Monday morning - a 1200 mile ride over 2-days.  Not only that, but Dean had already ridden up from Southern California in an equally short amount of time; through Bend Oregon because there isn't one of us who won't go the long ways when offered that opportunity.  And did I mention that he was on a brand new bike?  A 500cc Honda Swiss army knife of a motorcycle that he was shaking down in preparation of ridding next year's Globeriders Cape to Cairo trip - and yes, I am jealous.  Monday morning we were all woken up very early as a text message was delivered to our phones from Dean: "Across the border and am now in Canada".  It was 5:00AM early in the morning.

We had a beautiful day heading up Highway 37 once waking up again at more reasonable hour.

And the wildlife count escalated with every mile as foxes, martins, marmots, and more bears were passed doing whatever foxes, martins, marmots and bears do along side of the road.

After dinner at the White food shack (partially because it was supposed to be the best food in town but mostly because the Blue shack - the other food option in town - was closed), in Dease Lake we received the second message of the Dean: "In Vanderhoof for the night".  A 600 or so mile day's ride.  And with that good news we cracked open the second bottle of Scotch for this trip... there were 4 soon to be 5 of us after all.

When I was growing up in Prince George (BC), during the winter time I seem to have ingrained in my mind that a place called Telegraph Creek always had the reported coldest temperatures during the nightly 6 o'clock TV news reports.  It has been a place I have wanted to to go to ever since then.  The road to Telegraph Creek is about 75 miles of infamous uncertainty so it was with some trepidation that some in the group face the next day with.  But it was a glorious day and we all had blast even on the fresh calcium chloride being sprayed on the road to keep the dust down.

And yes we all made it all the way.

The best part may well have been at the store where we had a choice of day old rhubarb and blueberry pie or if we waited an hour, fresh out of the oven pie.  Just as I believe that week old gazpacho is better than fresh gazpacho, day old rhubarb and blueberry pie is better than pie fresh out of the oven.  And it damn near might have been the best pie I've ever had at the end of a 75-mile long dirt road, or anywhere else.

The day's ride finished behind the post office back in Dease Lake to get our bikes powered washed off of that nasty calcite stuff that can harden hard as cement.

Once showered and cleaned up it was time to check on just where Dean was - he has the same tracker technology I have.  Once determined he was about an hour away we cracked open a round of beers (in Canada the plural for beer is beers), and waited while congratulating ourselves on the day's paltry 150 mile ride.  Right on time Dean showed up so it was another round of beers all around as we oohed and aahed over the new bike - and his epic 1200 some odd mile ride to catch up with us.

After dinner (the White shack again because even though the Blue shack was open all the people were lined up at the White shack), it was back to the parking lot of the hotel to ooh and aah some more over the new bike.  It was about this time that Ken asked while pointing at a vital connection point on the new bike, "Is that bolt supposed to be loose like that?".  Turns out it shouldn't have been.  After trying to reseat the bolt using every tool we could dig out of our tool kits and positioning the bike in all sorts of comprising positions...

Someone had the bright idea to make sure that the bolt wasn't stripped.  It wasn't stripped - it was broken.  Sheared off about a half inch inside the boss on the aluminum engine block.  At that point there was nothing left do but have another beer and figure out what to do the next day.