Once again, I found myself stumbling about the forest in an early morning daze, urgently fumbling with my zipper in an attempt to relieve myself. Packed up camp and headed north. Just before the border crossing, I pulled over at what appeared to be an old water-filled gravel pit and began pulling apart the airbox. As I stuffed a small package of contraband behind my air filter, a beat up SUV came lumbering down the path. Two men and and a kid hopped out and quickly clambered down the hillside before plunging headlong into the crystal clear waters. It's hard to not look suspicious when you're elbow-deep in an airbox, but I did what I could and quickly screwed the plastics back together. I shot the shit with the newcomers for a few more minutes before they piled back into their truck and backed down the path, shortly after followed by myself. Watching the GPS, I took the very last road you could before the border and followed the narrow, winding gravel road up into the hills. I followed it until you couldn't go any further, quite literally. At the closed gate, I hung a left with a small dry-bag containing my remaining contraband and buried it all beneath a large pile of rocks. I would return on my track south to pick it up. At least, that was the plan.
Please excuse the shitty screencap
Coasting back down the hillside and onto the tarmac, I continued north and to the border. I'll admit, I was nervous. I hadn't crossed into Canada in awhile, and at my last attempt back home I was turned back as my traveling companions threw awkwardly worded jokes the guards direction. I, of course, took the blame from them as I was the only one with a record. A misdemeanor. Screw 'em. Anyhow.... So the questions were answered and passports were exchanged before I was asked to pull ahead and wait in the inspection area. Great. I did as I was told and dismounted the bike, pulling my lid clear and removing my jacket in the shade from the relentless summer sun. What was going to happen now.... I looked over at an empty kennel in the back of the inspection area, and at a large empty table just to the left. Do I start emptying my boxes now? I really didn't know.
So the guard comes out and asks a few more questions. It took all I had not to smirk at the obviously Canadian accent. As we chatted, I heard another pair of bikes pull up to the border and cut out as exchanges were made. A few minutes later, one pulled up in the neighboring inspection area, followed by the other being pushed by it's rider. Clearly, they were having troubles. I watched from afar as they began removing the plastics and seat and investigating. I heard their dilemna and suggested they investigate the battery contacts. The older man, of this husband and wife duo, contemplated for a minute and came to a conclusion. “It needs a jump. Sometimes batteries just need to be jumped.” I didn't fully agree, but I wasn't about to intervene at the time. I was still being interrogated, after all. Jumper cables were borrowed and bikes were paired up. It wasn't long before sparks were flying and the white smoke was released. The husband sighs, and they start working on a solution. They could call a friend of theirs, but that would take several hours. Would AAA work in Canada? They could push the bike back to America, after all. It's here that I stepped in and unloaded my cache of tools on the inspection table before me. They had melted the contact clear off the battery, that was obvious. So I pulled put some safety wire and bound the battery cable to the remaining lead blob, insulating it all with copious amounts of gorilla tape. That seemed to do the trick as the bike fired right up.
They marveled at the repair, and at this point even the border guard had joined us in the conversation. She mentioned having just bought this exact bike, a Kawasaki Vulcan, and how much she enjoyed it. I laughed and we went on as I packed my tools back into my gear and got ready to move on, having been cleared to do so. It was here that introductions were passed. Steve and Maureen, from Spokane as it turned out. Maureen approached me and asked where I was headed. I merely smirked and shrugged as I'd gotten used to doing. “You're not on any kind of schedule?” Again, I smirked and said “no”. She walked back to Steve and they spoke for a bit, a phone call was made and they came back just as I'd finished packing up my stuff. “We've been talking, and you're coming with us. We're visiting some friends in Nelson, and you're coming to dinner.” And that was it, my evening was planned. Nuff said.
So we went on north, I kept to the back of the pack as I'd obviously no idea where I was, or even where we were going. It was a pretty cool ride. A gas fill up and we were on the road once again. It wasn't long before we pulled into the little town of Nelson, BC. They stopped at Wal-Mart in search for a replacement battery, but couldn't find an exact fit. I assured them that the battery was the same that my KLR used, and that the replacement I had been using was, in fact, available at Wal-Mart. We decided to tackle the issue later as light was fading and we still had several more miles, now kilometers, to go. Back on the road, across a giant orange bridge, and along the coast of a fairly large lake led us to a cable ferry. The novelty of this was fairly amusing to me. I'd never been on a ferry before, and although this was a pretty small one, it still put a big smirk on my face. It's here that I noticed the Greatful Dead bears plastered along the backside of both Steve and Maureen's helmets. Good people.
So we pulled off the ferry and down the road, entering the small town of Proctor located on the isolated spit of land. A gravel driveway led up a hillside to a small white house. This is where I met yet another character, Javier. Apparently, Javier was once Steve's student and they had become quick friends. I was introduced to the whole family, including Javier's wife, Cath. These were my kind of people. Salmon was grilled, beers were passed around, and we had just a fantastic time. I couldn't believe my luck. If I hadn't been stopped at the border, I'd be bushwacking it through the woods with a jar of Peanut Butter in my pack. Instead I was drinking micro brew and eating Salmon. Fan-fuckin-tastic. I was shown around the property, which included several out buildings and barns, two horses, several dogs (one absolutely enormous german shepherd), and a private rocky beach. I took the time to snap some photos, but for some reason I never got one of any of my new friends. I was having too much fun, I suppose. Just before nightfall, another local named Jim, a true woodsman, came baja-ing out of the woods on an ATV. We quickly began chatting and maps were laid out. He suggested several routes to take me up north, and insisted that I do The Haul Road. I shrugged and nodded. These decisions are getting easier and easier to settle on. So stories were shared, and the beer kept flowing well into the night. I can't say this enough, these are some very real, good people. I've never felt so welcomed into the home of someone who, mere hours before, were complete strangers. And here they were, opening up their home to me. My god, I love Canadians. I love Canadians.......? Eventually the alcohol took effect and I stumbled through the darkness, finding my tent in the horse pasture and fell asleep.