Anniversary road trip!
My wife and I celebrated our 4th anniversary yesterday, and today we packed up and headed out on the first of hopefully many two-wheeled road trips together.
Our recreational activities have always been outside and active, but nearly 3 years ago, my wife Brandi suffered a fractured T6 as a result of a car accident. Our outdoor activities like mountain biking and skiing/snowboarding have fallen by the wayside in the wake of her injuries.
We had purchased a 2002 DR650 about a year and a half prior to her accident, and it had primarily served as a trail bike. I insured the bike for commuter duty when she required daily use of our sole vehicle for her physiotherapy appointments.
I had ridden for years, but decided to take a refresher training course (seeing as I knew the owner of the school). I enjoyed the course a lot, and found myself helping some of my fellow students when the instructors were occasionally busy with other riders. Some time after the course, I was asked if I'd like to help out as an assistant instructor. That was 3 years ago.
Last summer, Brandi took the rider's training course and just recently acquired her full Class 6 BC rider's license! Yay!!!
So... enough background info, on to the trip!
I have one remaining grandparent - my dad's mother - who lives in a small town in Saskatchewan. Given her age, we try to get out and see her as often as possible. Now that Brandi has her full license, we decided to do the trip on bikes this year. Partly for the economics - much cheaper to ride than to drive our diesel-thirsty SUV - and partly for the 'adventure' aspect.
We plan to visit as many family members as possible along the route as well. Lots of riding and lots of visiting in a tight timeframe. 10 days, 3700 km. I started a 'ride prep' thread of sort in the Canadian section of the regional forums. The link for that thread is here.
Skipping ahead to today... I had intended for us to be on the road by noon. Getting shipped out of town for work for a week kinda sobtaged those good intentions, tho. It pushed back a bit of my maintenance and prep so much so that I was doing oil changes this morning before we left - while Brandi was sleeping in, I might add!
It was a little hectic trying to get everything in order, so I didn't take many pics. Hopefully I'll make up for that slow start in the days to follow. Here are the few shots I got today.
Finally... prep work all done and bike is loaded up and ready to go:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._2812876_n.jpgThe weather sucked as we left town, so there were no departure photos. We found a bit of a dry spot east of Prince George at the Purden Lake Resort. We stopped in for a refreshment break and some snacks. If you happen stop in there, make sure to grab some of the homemade peanut butter cookies...OMG! Awesome! One bite will put a silly grin like this on your face:
Not long after that break, we caught up with the heavy part of the rain we'd been chasing east out of town and pulled over to don the rain gear:
Underway again, ready for anything. Well... anything wet, anyway:
Its been pretty hot and dry in the central interior of BC lately, and recent thunderstorms have sparked quite a few wildfires. The last count I saw on the BC Wildfire site was +600 active fires. You can see evidence of their numbers in the hazy vistas:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._7152888_n.jpgThe stretch between PG and McBride is about as entertaining as chess match reruns. I got bored... started randomly snapping shots:
And an over-the-shoulder shot of Brandi following behind me:
Next rest/stretch break was Tete Jaune Cache. Mainly it was an exercise in bug scraping and visor cleaning. Also, it appears that the sugar in those peanut butter cookies has kicked in. Someone looks giddy!
And she of course insisted of getting a shot of me after I was mocking her for being on a sugar-high already this early in the trip:
That's the last of the pics for today, it got dark shortly thereafter. We rolled into Jasper as it got dark, filled up and followed a small string of cars using their headlights to see farther ahead and stayed with the leaders of that group until we arrived in Hinton for the night.
Tomorrow, Hinton to Edmonton - a short ride day for sure, but we'll be staying with family there, so it'll leave more time for visiting.
More to come tomorrow
Looks like a great start. Enjoy the ride.
Ack! My first ride report and I'm already days behind! Time for some catch-up!
Day 2 saw us leaving Hinton AB en route to my aunt & uncle's in Edmonton. A nice short ride for today.
Someone looks more than a little eager to hit the road:
Finally finished re-packing the DR - still playing around with load distribution at this point:
Helmet-head is "in", right? :evil
The road east out of Hinton...rolling into greyish skies, but no rain so far.
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._3792541_n.jpgTopping up in Edson:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._1987562_n.jpgShould be good for fuel all the way to Edmonton, now!
Snagged a shot of Brandi as I waved her ahead to take the lead:
Grey skies persisted, and the monotony of the freeway starts to set in:
And when the riding is boring, you find things to do to entertain yourself - like play with the camera!
Damn camera strap! This would have made a great shot, otherwise.
One last refreshment break by the roadside before we get into the Edmonton traffic.
More messing around with the camera - it took me about 5 tries to get an in-focus shot that didn't cut off part of my helmet or show part of the camera in the reflection, too:
The taffic got heavy not long after this, so the camera got stashed as we wound through city traffic to our destination for the evening. More of the next day's photos coming shortly!
Made it to Trail finally. We'll be here a couple days, so hopefully I can get caught up on the rr.
Well, we're in Hope tonight for Brandi's birthday - her 30th. She was born on a Friday the 13th, so staying with her family on a Friday seemed rather fitting. Happy birthday, sweetie!!!
The rest of her extended family here in Hope just left for the evening so I'm gonna try and get caught up on this RR...
Day 3 - Edmonton to Lloydminster
The original plan (hah! so much for that!) was to make it from Edmonton to Eston in a day. The late start and night riding combined with the miles we'd made so far were already taking their toll on Brandi's back so we decided to cut it short today and booked ahead to stay in Lloydminster for the night.
We managed a moderately early start out of Edmonton, and were fuelled up and on the road out of Edmonton before noon (ok.. so its early by OUR standards).
Bikes were fuelled... time for Brandi to refuel!
Caffeine FTW! (This one's for you, Amanda!)
My dad and stepmom were on their way back from visiting my grandmother in Eston while we were heading east, so we had received word from them that they were going to be spending a day camping in Mundare AB, so that's where we headed. Unfortunately, that meant staying on the the Yellowhead (Hwy 16). Whee. More boring 4-lane freeway riding.:puke1
We decided to pony up a few bucks and cut through Elk Island Park instead of staying on the main hwy to the junction north to Mundare. You can tell from the look on Brandi's face how exhilirating the ride has been so far today:
We found a bench on the beach and enjoyed some sunshine for a bit:
Then it was back out onto the parkway - BEAUTIFUL road... too bad the speed limit was 60km/h. :cry
Some more of the parkway:
And one more for good measure:
We exited the park and got onto a secondary hwy to Mundare. Now I know a lot of you have seen some of the 'larger than life' landmarks that Canada has to offer, but this is by far the oddest one that I've seen so far. Apparently this is the world's largest sausage (no man-sausage jokes, please!)
I guess the original proprietor of the local butcher shop was a rather well-respected member of the community. Some years after his passing (and the original business still bears his name) the staff and present ownership erected this monument as a memorial.
Call me traditional or old-fashioned, but I think I'd prefer a nice headstone, thanks.:1drink
And some background info to the 'erection' of this 'huge sausage' :evil
And then there was this oddity at the same site... a blue bison painted with Ukrainian easter eggs:
Seemed rather odd to me, but maybe meat isn't the only thing they smoke in Mundare.
And speaking of easter eggs - or pysankas for you hardcore Ukrainians - here's another of those larger-than-life Canadian landmarks. The largest pysanka in the world in Vegreville, Alberta:
Its fairly large, but it must be pretty light. It looked like Brandi could have held this thing up all day!
And another shot to show a little better size comparison:
After that, it was back out onto Hwy 16 to pound out some more freeway miles en route to Lloydminster:
After this shot, the weather turned ugly, so it was time to break out the rain gear and stash the camera. Day 4 update coming up shortly!
Day 4 - Lloydminster to Eston to Drumheller
We got our earliest start of the trip so far checked out and on the road by 10:00am! Which actually gave me a chance to get a 'shadow shot':
There was next to no traffic on the road, and we were able to head straight south along 'Meridian Ave' out of Lloydminster (its right along the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan, hence the name). It was a secondary route, which was nice. But being on the prairies, it was still dead-straight and boring as could be. Nice views and the 'big sky' of the flatlands is nice:
Soon after leaving town, we started spotting the first of many, many old grain elevators:
Our first rest stop of the day was in Dilberry Lake park. Found a nice isolated spot under some ponderosa pines to park the bikes while we stretched our legs:
This little fella apparently took offense to us moving in on his turf and was either being a little brave or looking for a handout:
After a nice walk around and using the facilities, it was time to gear up and get back on the bikes. Some of us have a lot more hair to try and stuff back into a helmet tho:
Almost ready to go:
Back on the road... typical prairie skyline - blue skies and powerlines:
We're definitely in the prairies now. Flat ahead of us and flat behind us:
Another fuel/snack stop in Kindersley SK:
The bikes, refuelled and ready to go:
Back out on the road for the last 40km from Kindersley to Eston:
Typical prairie traffic on the secondary roads:
And finally, we arrive at the easternmost point of our journey - my grandmother's. Here she is with Brandi and I, 89 years young and still sharp as a tack:
After spending the day visiting, it was time to hit the road again so that we didn't have to make up a pile of miles in the next couple days to stay close to our travel schedule, so away we went.
These signs on the prairies made me laugh. You could see the beginning and end of these curves coming for miles, yet they still post these signs 'warning' you of the curve ahead:
More grain elevators at one of the rest stops we took, and the name of the town struck me as amusing as well:
Heading west to Drumheller, the sun beginning to dip towards the horizon ahead of us:
More big skies filled with poofy clouds:
An old abandoned homestead along the side of the road:
The patchwork of colours and crops were interesting. There were a lot more canola fields than wheat this time than I recall seeing in the past:
We stopped for a bite to eat in Oyen (tried to find a room here, but everything was booked up, so we settled for a meal and then pushed on to Drumheller). The convenience store we stopped at for fuel had these 'tenants' in their sign:
The sun continued to set in front of us as we continued west:
As the sun set, the bugs got INSANE. We each had a damp cloth tucked under our tank bags so that we could clean our visors intermittently as we rode. I was wiping mine every 2 minutes at the very most, otherwise it was nearly impossible to see through the smear of guts. This is what the front of Brandi's bike looked like when we got to Drumheller:
Day 4 had been a long one for us - over 650km. Time to crash and get some rest.
Day 5 - Drumheller to Invermere
We slept in as late as we could at the hotel this morning, hoping to get as much rest as we could after the late day on the road yesterday. Also, we figured we had a pretty short day ahead of us, today. We figured wrong.
We did stop at Horseshoe Canyon for a photo along the way, tho...
Not far out of Drumheller along Hwy 9, we ran into some construction. At first it was just milled pavement in prep for resurfacing. Then the pavement was gone and it turned into this:
Needless to say, we didn't make it very far in this slop. We were only about 200 meters in when I started thinking "Screw this, we're turning around and taking a secondary route around this mess" when I looked in the mirror to see Brandi going down.:eek1
Luckily we were only crawling along at about 5km/h by then, and she managed to stay clear of the bike as it dropped. I still get pretty concerned with any kind of fall she takes with her back injury. She seemed to weather it pretty well, and we backtracked into Drumheller to take a break, wash the bikes off, and plan a route around the construction.
Here are a couple shots of the DRZ after I picked it up and got it turned around:
"I tried!" :
Back at the carwash:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._6898727_n.jpgFinally... leaving Drumheller. Again.
Brandi stretching out a bit as we keep piling on the miles:
So after a lengthy detour, we finally make it into and through Calgary. Originally we had intended to stay with a friend here, but we wanted to push on so we grabbed a quick bite and hit the road. The flat prairies quickly gave way to the rolling foothills of the rockies:
http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._4691610_n.jpgOur first roadside stop out of Calgary was populated with gophers. They were fairly brave, looking for a handout...
...until you moved. Then they'd haul ass for their burrows:
We stopped for gas in Canmore and avoided Banff altogether, wanting to continue putting on miles rather than fighting with tourist traffic in town. Here's a shot of Mt Rundle between Canmore and Banff:
And Castle Mountain off in the distance, opposite where we would veer west off the Icefields Parkway towards Radium and on to Invermere:
The light failed soon afterwards and we tried to follow vehicle traffic when we could. Most of them were doing +120km/h, tho... so when we were alone on the road we were sticking to speeds more like 70-80 km/h. There were TONS of deer on the roadsides, so we were taking it slow and steady. Another late night getting to our destination and we crashed out almost immediately. Looking forward to staying put somewhere for more than a few hours at a time.
Day 6 - Invermere to Trail
We got up and snagged some free continental breakfast from the hotel lobby, loaded up the bikes and got ready to roll again. Looked like we were in for another beautiful day on the road.
On the road out of Invermere around Windermere Lake:
Columbia Lake on our left as we continued south:
Watching the Rockies fade away in the distance behind us:
Brandi stretching her legs as we coasted down the hill into Kimberley for lunch:
The lower we got, the hotter it got... but it was time to stop for lunch:
Another roadside rest stop in the shade, stretching out legs and giving our road-weary butts a break from the stock Suzuki seats (even with the gel pads, I can see a couple aftermarket seats in our future):
One thing thats made these kind of road trips a little easier for Brandi is her new helmet. She picked up this Icon Airframe in carbon fiber and its really helped the neck strain she experienced with her previous helmet. Icon's literature said the XL version of this helmet is 3.1lbs. Her helmet is an XS, and I'm pretty sure its a hair under 3lbs.
We pressed on, traffic was getting a little thicker as we went through some of the orchard towns with the weekend approaching. We stopped at a fruit stand in Creston for a refreshment break:
Some of the sunflowers they had planted out on the roadside:
And back on the road to Trail - not far to go, now:
One more pass to climb up and over before we arrived at our destination for the day. It started to get pretty chilly here and we had to stop near the summit to add a layer before continuing, but it quickly warmed up again as we descended down the other side:
More awesome sweepers as we rolled through old mining towns like Greenwood:
That was it for pictures for today... traffic got thick as we approached trail, and it was too damn hot to stop for photo ops. It was 38 celsius when we got to downtown Trail.
Loving your RR brand new to the site and this is my first post if that means anything
My wife will be taking her safety course next month and we are hoping to spend our anniversary next summer riding from southern Ontario to Halifax and then home again. She's never ridden anything 2 wheeled that didn't have pedals (She just bought an 09 ninja 250) so her safety is a huge concern of mine so i can only guess how u felt when u turned around to find she put it down.
Have a great ride and will be following along from my comfy chair
P.S. Tell your wife she is a gorgeous woman and happy birthday, your a lucky guy to have her and love the tatts my wife has a few big ones
Sure enjoying this
You two are sure having a lot of fun and enjoying this special first of a kind of a trip for the two of you.
Congrats to all the "goals" you have achieved on this trip and may I add, that pic of Brandi's bike with all the "mud/gumbo" would pass for a similar shot after completing the haul road to Prudhoe Bay.
Thanks for sharing. I will try to share the special 'toast' Vermin and I had on the pack trip to all those that help return CACK to the lower 48, one being you two.
Nice report :thumb
One more day on the road tomorrow, then its home again at last! I don't have wifi here at my dad's, so the final updates to this RR will come once we get home and unwind a bit. Thanks for waiting!
Home, at last!
Back home in Prince George... yay! :D
Back to work for now... booo! :puke1
I'll try to get this report wrapped up in the next day or so. We arrived home yesterday around 5pm to find JediMaster hanging out in our driveway chatting with our friend that was house/pet-sitting while we were away. JediMaster (Adam) is on his way back to Vancouver via Jasper/Banff and the southern interior of BC to meet a friend and is taking a day at our place to get caught up on some bike maintenance and laundry, etc.
So if I have spare time between catching up on housework and listening to some of Adam's road tales, I might get this wrapped up tonight. Considering I have a nice selection of cold beer in the fridge and a Brit crashing at my place... I wouldn't put money on anything productive getting done tonight.
First... a few replies:
00nothing - Welcome to the asylum! And I'm flattered that your inaugural post was on my first ride report. With any luck, you and your wife will be taking your own similar journey in the not-too-distant future. That 250 is a great starter bike and I'm sure she'll do fine AND have a blast on it. Good luck and ride safe!
rob1313 and SHAG - Thanks for following along!
Gale B.T. - The trip certainly was a lot of fun. Even though it was a fair bit of wear and tear on Brandi with her back injury, she awoke eager and excited to hit the road every day (as a few pictures attest to!). We'll definitely be working towards doing some longer trips in the future, but most likely on rides that are a little more well-fitted for highway travel. Not sure how much dirt-adventuring we'll be doing - the risk of a fall that would lay her up for days on end is just too great, I think.
As small a part as we played in returning Cack to Vermin (a hot meal and an escort out of town for Thomas, basically) I still grin when I read back through those old posts and see the pictures of that day-glo beast rolling through northern BC. That was my first in-the-flesh exposure to the ADV community and it most likely will never be forgotten. My thanks to Vermin, Cack, and all her surrogate pilots for being the muse that inspired more than a few ADV'ers, including myself, to hit the road or help out a fellow rider on their journey.
Here's hoping we can make a loop through Pagosa Springs sometime soon, or at least meet you out on the road somewhere. Take care and thanks for following along!
On with the show!
Day 7 - Trail to Osoyoos
We spent the evening of our arrival into Trail just visiting with my mom and stepdad, then went to a local restaurant for dinner (on a sidenote... I just realized I completely brain-farted on the food pic front - DOH!). It was a pretty early night for us. Having been riding in the heat of the Kootenays, we were beat.
We were up reasonably early the next day, but we didn't plan on leaving Trail til around 4pm on Day 8, so we took the dogs down to the park to play for a bit and to get some fresh air before it got too hot out.
This is Zoe:
Zoe was the second dog that I wound up getting for my mom & stepdad. Zoe's predecessor - Zeke - was an Akita/Lab cross that passed away about 7 years ago. His passing was pretty hard on my stepdad, and mom was uncertain if he'd want another dog. Eventually, she started looking for a new puppy, and had me check the local SPCA as often as I could. She had been browsing the SPCA website and saw that the PG shelter had a litter of Husky/Border Collie puppies and asked me to go see if any of them caught my eye.
This wasn't a hard choice at all. "I'll take THAT one."
I think I'm drawn to dogs that have different eyes... for the record, here's our youngest - Bruno, as a puppy:
I think I see a trend...
Anyway, after picking Zoe up and getting her some toys, a crate, food, and more toys, it was going be several weeks before we could make the trip to Trail to hand Zoe off to her new family. Eventually my parents made the trip halfway into Hope and we met at Brandi's parents' house. When my stepdad (Dave) met Zoe, it was puppy-love at first sight:
I seriously think she thinks she's a person, and she's often way too smart for her own good - pretty common with collies, I gather.
And here's mom and Dave's second adoptive furry kid, Sheila:
Sheila is a purebred miniature Australian Shepherd. Its not clearly evident as she's laying down, but she's an amputee. Her right front leg had to be removed and she had some extensive shoulder surgery to get her to a point where she was able-bodied again. Her previous owners had a large horseshoe-shaped driveway well off the main road where they lived. One day, a vehicle pulled in their driveway then realized it was the wrong house. They quickly backed up and did a 3-point turn to get back out to the road and ran Sheila down in the process without stopping.
Her original owners footed the bill for her treatment and doggie-physio to get her up and about again, but she's changed homes a couple times prior to finding her place with mom, Dave and Zoe.
After a little more visiting and an early dinner, it was time to hit the road again, so it was up the hill through Rossland, past Red Mountain and heading for the Nancy Greene Summit on Hwy 3 West:
We stopped a couple times as we gained or dropped elevation to add or remove a layer as necessary, and to shuffle up the playlists a bit. Its amazing how quickly 8gb of music will go stale. :eek1
The only downside of travelling west late in the day - staring at the sun. A couple times we had to simply pull over and wait for the sun to dip beyond the horizon before continuing. The glare was THAT bad, but the sunset was rewarding:
Yet just when we thought the sun had set, we'd round a bend and crest a hill and there it was again, glaring down on us:
It was a constant shifting of sun and shade as we wound our way through the valley towards Grand Forks:
And every now and then, the clouds would lend a hand to our burning retinas:
The valley opens up and flattens out a bit once you get through Grand Forks, so we pulled off to the side of the road to watch the sunset again before proceeding:
Eventually we were able to carry in the shade of the hills, with the glow of the sunset illuminating the opposite side of the valley:
One last parting look at the sunset as we start the winding descent into Osoyoos:
We got checked in, unpacked, showered and headed to the restaurant on the 2nd floor of our hotel for some day-before-Brandi's-birthday dinner and drinks. As luck would have it, crab legs were on special. SOLD!
Awww.... she's so dainty!
"Om nom nom..."
We were the last table in the restaurant prior to closing, and I guess it was customary for the last guests to receive some complimentary dessert wine. Tasty stuff, but DAMN did I crash hard when I got back to the room. I'm guessing the bottle of Pinot Blanc we shared over dinner might have had something to do with that as well, tho ;)
That was it for Day 7. More to come later!
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