Monday, 30 May 2011

Getting Ready for the States

Sat 28th to Mon 30th May

Three days spent at Chris’s. We very much appreciated his hospitality. The bikes stayed in the Plywood Palace whilst we were ferried about for the weekend. Time was spent checking the bikes, doing a few modifications and the first of many oil changes.

We stopped off to see where Chris works. The houseboat in the picture which he helped to build, costs in the region of 750,000 dollars. During the season it will be rented out on the local lake for around 1500 dollars a week. As we have come to expect over here, it’s big, luxurious, with TV’s and sound systems in just about every room, Hot tubs, bars, and slides into the water etc. etc.

Sunday a day of rest. Not quite. The morning was spent hiking with Chris and friends from an outdoor club, 12 in all, and 7 km. Up and down in the country side. That means in amongst the trees here and mountains. Followed by large coffee then a large Ice cream from a dairy which makes a very nice selection of flavours. Always a job deciding which combination and you have to have two scoops and the waffle cone.

Back to the Plywood Palace and after a beer or two on the deck watching the world go by, we decided to try and clean the bikes. “Chris where is your car wash kit” answer “ I don't have any” .
So we had to make do with a very small sponge and a bucket of water with a squirt of washing up liquid. Not sure it was worth the effort as when it dries it looks a mess.

Monday I finished off modifying the panniers so the inner bags don’t get damaged by the bolts and plates holding the locks. Bob went through all his kit to see what is non essential in an effort to lighten the load!! I think he managed to jettison a pair of socks.

The washing was done so all our kit is clean before moving on. Lunch was in the local café (Granma’s & Granpa’s) where we spent several hours catching up with family on Skype answering emails and updating this.

Thanks again Chris for all your help and hospitality, hopefully we’ll see you back in the UK sometime

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Golden to Sicamous

Fri 27th May

Before setting off from Golden we had a look at the wiring on my bike to try an sort out why the heated clothing gave up on me. One of the advantages of having the same bikes and equipment on a trip like this is that you can swap bits over. Holmes and Watson quickly determined that the dual controlller appeared to be the quilty culprit. (Don’t worry Rob all your wiring is still working fine, thank you).

Our journey today was about 150 miles with nearly all of it on Highway One, the Trans Canadian Highway so the ride was pretty uninteresting. We got just about everything the weather could throw at us including sleet and snow up on ‘Rogers Pass’ and by the time we found somewhere to have a break all my extremities were numb. Bob offered me his controller for the last leg (what a kind man). I accepted purely on the pretext of double checking our diagnosis. (honestly!!!).

We arrived at Sicamous mid afternoon and pulled into Chris’s palatial abode (nicknamed the Plywood Palace). Needs a little finishing off to stop the draughts………..

Fortunately Chris has a more cosy residence to the left which we decamped to. At the moment we are here abusing Chris’s kind hospitality until Tuesday morning before moving down to the States to meet up with John Shill and Craig.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Jasper to Golden

Thur 25th May

The day started from Jasper, the beginning of the Icefield Parkway, a World Heritage Site. The road runs through some of the most spectacular scenery that the Rockies has to offer and is about 230 km through to Lake Louise.

As you can see from the photograph of bob outside of our accommodation in Jasper, the weather looked quite promising. Unfortunately things slowly deteriorated from there on.

We spent the day taking in the sights but the clouds became ever thicker and lower.

The trip, scenic as it was, would have looked much more stunning if we had been blessed with clear skies.

At lunch time we stopped at the Athabasca glacier. Even with the shots of low cloud you can imagine what this area would look like under clear skies.

Bob decided he wanted to take the snowmobile trip up onto the glacier.............

whilst I chose to walk up to its foot.........

and a picture of the local wildlife for those of you who prefer it to us (most of you, I know).

After we got to Lake Louise, we decided to carry on to Golden as accommodation would be cheaper and it would cut down on the journey time back to Sicamous and Chris’s tomorrow. By now it was around 7pm. The temperature dropped rapidly and with 50 miles to go we rode into heavy rain for the rest of the ride. Being all smug and wired up, I plugged in the heated jacket and gloves. Nothing, I checked the wires and controls, still nothing. I thought, I should have kept my big mouth shut yesterday as I slowly froze. By the time I reached Golden I was a shivering, gibbering, idiot (that’s normal says Bob).

Heaven, was languishing in a hot shower until I thawed out.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Edson to Jasper

Tues 24th - Wed 25th May

Woke up with a sore head this morning (no sympathy expected). We went out in the morning to the local Park (that's a forest in UK terms) for some exercise and fresh air

A photo of Don & Pauline outside of their front door with a couple of interlopers.

After lunch it was time to get our hands dirty and work on the bikes.

This is the workshop in the back garden (you can see less than of half of it). There is also a separate garage for the car(s) at the front.
Don was a star, both bikes were running a little unevenly and he kindly set about adjusting and balancing the carbs on both of our bikes as well as helping adjust tappets etc. In the meantime Pauline had washed all of our dirty clothing and got dinner. What can we say, just a big, big thank you. We enjoyed our stay enormously

The evening entertainment

The following day we got up bright and early with the intention of getting back to Jasper (couple of hours) and then some way down the Icefield Parkway. Well we left a little later than intended (par for the course) and then 30 miles down the road Bob stops and announces that he can't remember packing his camera (all who know Bob knows this is normal behaviour). Back to Don & Pauline's we go and find Bob's camera in the garage. It was around midday before we finally got going.

One of the most scenic areas before Jasper is supposed to be Lake Maligne with its turquoise waters so we took a 20 mile detour to have a look. Unfortunately the sun was not playing ball and the lake was mostly frozen so we didn't see it at its best.

It was late afternoon by the time we got to Jasper and decided to call it a day there.

Valemount to Edson

Mon 23rd May

The day dawned grey, cold and a bit wet. We were riding at around 3000 feet for much of the day and Bob succumbed to the illicit delights of the heated clothing straight away. It’s possibly the best bit of kit we’ve brought for this trip so ar, as the weather can throw what it likes at you, and like that old readybreak advert, there’s a warm glow all around you and riding is still fun.

We stopped at Jasper for lunch which is the start of the Icefield Parkway and goes down to Lake Louise. It is a route of outstanding natural beauty and one of the reasons we came up this way. However, we are taking a detour and heading for Don & Pauline Chapman’s home in Edson. They are old friends of Bob’s who emigrated out here last year and invited us to stay over. Apart from wanting to meet up with them, Bob wants to sort out his head bearings and Don, being a BMW nut, has all the tools.

We snapped this Caribou (Reindeer) shortly after Jasper.

Everything is outsize in Canada. The trains are huge, pull over 200 wagons and go on for ever.

Bob needs blocks on the pedals to drive the local vehicle of choice.

and if this dam is anything to go by, you don’t mess with the beavers in this part of the world either, let alone the bears.

We were welcomed with big hugs by Don & Pauline when we appeared on their doorstep and the wine flowed to the early hours.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Prince George to Valemount

Sunday 22nd May

Bob jumped out of bed before 7.30 this morning and announced "come on we've been getting up too late". I grunted and turned over mumbling something like I need a coffee.

We had a dry day today. The roads were much like yesterday for most of the way (we continued down Highway 16 from Prince George towards Jasper). However, we did spot this beauty grazing near the roadside and sat and watched him for a while.

What's your problem!

As we were passing through McBride we broke for lunch at 'Crazy Cone' with its colourful chairs and tables. It was from here that the views started to improve with snow capped mountains on either side of the valley.
Bob in the pink!

After McBride we left the main road a couple of times to do a bit of exploring but didn't come across anything spectacular. There are quite a few wooden planked bridges in this part of the world and with the tyres we are running on it is always an exciting experience. The handlebars suddenly appear to have a life of their own just like a manic ouiga board.

Bob doing his 'Easy Rider' impression

Most people, I'm sure, think a trip like this is all fun, however, the long distance travellers amongst you know it's darn hard work sorting everything out, organising accommodation, putting up tents, working out routes, cooking, washing, cleaning, bike maintenance etc. etc .............

damn who uploaded that image...

We had intended to get down to Jasper today but were advised that with the first Bank Holiday weekend of the season for Canadians, accommodation in Jasper would be expensive and in short supply. We therefore took a slight detour and stopped overnight in Valemount.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Hazelton to Prince George

Sat 21st May

Well I suppose our luck had to run out sometime. We were woken up in the middle of the night with the sound of rain on the roof and there was still a bit of drizzle about when we set off in the morning.
I'll show you a good place for breakfast

Last night we went out for a Chinese and a couple of beers. Both were rubbish. The beer is expensive, gassy and tasteless here.

Bob on Hagwilet Suspension Bridge!

A bottle or two of decent ale would be good for Bob's mental well being, he keeps talking about giving it up.

We started by looking for some breakfast and ended up in the historic village of Old Hazelton. Breakfast was eggs Benedictine (now that‘s posh for a couple of bikers).

We rode around 300 miles today. Most of it was pretty boring straight road stuff and the views weren’t much better, not a patch on what we’ve been accustomed to over the past few days.

A bit of trivia that may come in handy in a pub quiz. The egg box was invented by Joseph Coyle from Smithers (a town we passed through today).

We got caught in heavy rain for the first time on this trip and it was also quite chilly as we were riding at around 2500 feet. Bob said at one stop“I think I’ll hook up to the heated clothing just to test it!”

“Yea right.”

Saturday, 21 May 2011

time for thank you

Well first a big thank you to all who made sure we got away on the day and also made a great occasion of sending us off at the saddlers Arms on Tuesday 3rd. May.
It was only on that Tuesday evening whilst talking with Nigel page he offered me some throw over tank bags, which I collected on Wednesday morning and Nigel spent an hour or two making them fit with appropriate webbing straps to secure them to the bike. Thanks Nigel, they are really good at keeping the items I need quickly to hand and also putting weight in the correct area of the bike.
The last week before leaving was just a bit frantic and Terry doing his tricks on the M3 didn't make it any easier. Now been away two weeks and we are beginning to settle into some sort of routine but not quiet the right one yet. We will get there soon I'm sure.
We have already changed our route to include a bit of Alaska as it is so close. Which is supposed to be worth going to especially along the road that has been recommended to us by Phil Paulson.
I think our expensive Rukka riding outfits will get a thorough testing very soon as the rain is almost every day in this part of the world and when it rains it is also cold. Although it has been a bit cold already I haven't had to plug in the heated jacket and gloves yet. Thanks indeed to Richard at Tran-am for his assistance in sorting out the Rukka outfits for us.
I'm sure Dave and I have left a lot of things for our better halves to deal with and can only thank both Ann and Carol for making the trip possible and being able to deal with all the rubbish we have left them to sort out. Having a home help is probably one essential part of traveling these days, when the ATM keeps the card or just doesn't work then home help dealing with it.
Thank you Carol.

 This is how Dave spends  a lot of his time writing and uploading the blog which is all pure fiction of course

The long journey South

Fri 20th May

Had a lazy start to the day. We wandered into the one local bar/café for breakfast which is also the famous establishment where people have been getting Hyderised since 1957.

High Street, Hyder

We had intended to drop in last night to get Hyderised ……but they had shut up shop before we arrived which was probably a good thing (search it on google if you're interested but surprise, surprise it involves drinking150 proof alcohol).

Seems Terry got here before us. He has one of the prime plots on the high street selling "Exotic Junk". Should do well!

This is as far north as we go, it’s all down hill from here. We didn’t do it all but for the record we travelled some of the Alaska Highway

We came across lots more bears, this one wasn't too friendly. Awesome is a much overused word these day but it accurately describes the terrain around this area. We spent ages watching the bears and looking at the glaciers and mountains

Bear Glacier

As we started off late and spent a lot of time stopping and looking, our progress was slow. Bob’s head bearings had come seriously loose again and in order to sort it out we called it a day in a place called New Hazelton somewhere on Highway 16.

Onwards and Upwards to Alaska

Thur 19th May

The gods are smiling as we got to up to bright sunshine again today. No breakfast at the hotel but as if by magic, the Golden Arches appeared.
I’d swear that if I rode to the North Pole there would be a McDonalds there.

Thought you would all like to see something familiar!!!!

There was some fantastic scenery and great roads for riding again.

Bob practising his motorcycle display team routine

Still no bear photos so we thought we’d hang out with this cool dude. He was spotted in Terrace our lunch stop.

Shortly afterwards we finally got some picks of the real thing before they had disappeared back into the undergrowth. Look closely by mum's hind legs.

The big one below wasn’t bothered at all with our presence but the one above was a lot more edgy. We realised why when baby appeared from out under a rock saying "who's been eating my porridge".

Our route took us through New Aiyansh, the main settlement of the Nisga'a

If you’re frustrated with someone these guys have an idea or two on how to deal with it.

Next was our first extended period of dirt road riding, about 60 km before getting back onto tarmac.

Got absolutely covered in dust and the bike rattled and shaked so much that a bit of tightening and adjusting is required before setting off tomorrow.

We finally rode into Hyder, Alaska at around 9.30pm after 300 plus miles. It’s a one horse town and everything was closed. We spotted the local hotelier locking up and managed to get a room. We couldn’t get any food and had to persuade him to sell us a couple of cans of beer and a packet of crisps. I bet Ewan and Charlie would have got a better reception.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Sailing to Prince Rupert

Wed 18th May

Not even copious amounts of caffeine could make me human at four forty five am. We were at the terminal by 0530hrs.

It was the first sailing on the Inner passage route this year and most of the staff were new too I suspect as nobody seemed to know what they were doing.

As you can see Bob was fully alert looking for Whales and the other wildlife that is apparently prevalent along this route. I think someone must have forgotten to tell them that the new season had started as they were conspicuous by they’re absence. Not a whale to be spotted, just a few dodgy rocks sticking out of the water

Route from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert

Phil Paulson, the guy we met on Vancouver Island was also on the boat. He lives in Prince Rupert and rides a Kawasaki Vulcan 1700cc (the bikes and blokes are all big over here). He showed us the route to take to Hyder just inside Alaska and some other places to see en route. Thanks for your help Phil.

Bob must be feeling under the weather today, he chose a Sprite in preference to a bottle of beer at lunchtime. The boy is definitely going down with something serious.

The waters around here are full of floating tree trunks that have either escaped or been discarded by the loggers as worthless. Apart from the ones in the sea, the coastline is littered with them. Rumour is a B&Q lorry was spotted picking them up.

The scenery on this trip was mile, upon mile, upon mile of pine forest’ from the top of the mountains down to the water’s edge’ with just the odd settlement to break the pattern. There's certainly plenty of wood up here.

Parksville to Port Hardy

Tuesday 17th May

View from the hotel in Parksville

A luxurious overnight stop in comparison to what we have been used to and only slightly more expensive than the hostels. We had an ensuite, a Queen size bed each and breakfast thrown in.

There are a lot of references to Denman up here. I hadn’t realised that we had shipped our convicts here as well as to Australia.

This is the type of road and scenery that we travelled along for most of the day. we are now in Bear country and just in case we didn’t get to see any I thought I’d get this shot of Paddington’s dad.

In fact we saw five bears before reaching our overnight stop in Port Hardy. Sadly the first one was lying on the road having no doubt been recently hit by a vehicle. I stopped but Bob came alongside and reminded me that the mother was likely to be close by. We moved on quite quickly. The other four were near the road but by the time we had stopped and got the camera out they had sauntered back into the trees. Hopefully we’ll have better luck with the camera over the next few days

Port Hardy was a disappointment. We thought that it would be a quaint fishing port but it was more like a run down frontier town. The only place open, served overpriced, mediocre food, in little more than a hall.

Tomorrow we’re on the ferry all day from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, that’s providing we manage to wake up on time as we have to be at the terminal by 0530hrs ugh….. and don’t arrive at Prince Rupert until 2230hrs…….Night night.