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Old 09-06-2012, 09:16 PM   #136
aDave
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Love to hear more...

I know you made it home...but I'd love to hear the last little bit of how you got there. Also love to hear your concluding thoughts on such an epic trip...

Peace and Blessings to you my brother,

Dave
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Old 09-06-2012, 10:46 PM   #137
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Thank you Dave! It now means that it isn't just me who is bugging him to finish :)
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:10 AM   #138
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Okay, okay! It's time.

The day in Chapleau started as the last one had finished: damp, dark, and cold. I gassed up just out of town and was once again warned of hoards of moose that I would inevitably have to wade through to make it to Wawa. Again, as had happened throughout my journey, the more I'm warned of wild animals, the less I see. The hour-or-so to Wawa netted me zero, zip, nada moose or other furry beast sightings.

Not that I was complaining. After Day 1's deer-induced trouser-filler, I was perfectly content to have the woodland creatures stay in the woodlands.

Besides, if I really needed to see a furry beast, the KLR had two working mirrors. By this time, the beard was in full billowing glory and could be seen peeking out the bottom of my chinbar and waving in the wind like a thatched mass of shrubbery.



Wawa. Land of big-ass Canada geese and an incredibly helpful inmate named Gord (FINNDIAN), whom I'd met on my last cross-Canada journey.

Why don't I take more pictures of people? I don't have a single picture of Gord, yet he truly made this trip possible.

Anyway, I had made contact with him a couple days prior, letting him know that I'd be in need of a chain 'round his neck of the woods and if he had one in stock at his shop, I'd love to be able to replace my worn drivetrain there. He obliged and as I rolled onto the property, I got the royal treatment. It was a Friday and his mechanics weren't around, meaning I had a spare corner in the shop I could use! Groovy.

I set to work getting greasy. As I yanked the old set off, I got a dubious look from Gord, who was fixing the electrics on a scooter of some sort (I remember it being part of a package deal that included a shed, but was it a 200cc, Gord?). I had learned from my Dad to get my money's worth out of wear parts, and this chain and sprocket set was no exception. The rollers, although still intact, would've made an excellent baby rattle and the sprockets had canted teeth that looked more ready to rip lumber than propel a 600lb contraption down the road at lethal speeds.

As I unwrapped the new chain, I came to a startling realization... Yes, it was 520, but it was a conventional chain. No O-rings... Shoot. In use, this would mean constant lubrication to ensure it didn't seize, plus the fact that although it would probably get me across the country, it'd be nearly shot by then. I mentioned this to Gord, and before I could say "incredible" he'd suggested that I pull the chain off his DR800 which only had a trip to the Soo and back (400-ish Km) on it.

With the new/used chain installed and a quick oil change using the dregs of a pail of heavy duty diesel oil, I was back and rolling. As my calculations went, this would be the last service my bike would need before making it home, and I sure hoped that I was right. We'll get to that though.

I hopped back on redbike after a gracious thanks to Gord for opening his shop (and his bike's chain) to this hairy vagabond. It was already lunch time and I still needed to put on some miles for the day.

The rest of the day was spent with cold, stiff hands and scoping out waterfalls.



North Superior was exactly how I saw it last time across: socked in with fog and casting a bone-chilling breeze across the northern shore.



I don't remember much about the mileage this day, other than a duo of Harleys doing an early-season Superior loop run. They'd passed me and then pulled over so I stopped on the shoulder to see if they were alright. They were doing fine, but their hands were a bit worse for wear. Luckily, with their air-cooled exposed V-twins, it was as simple as finding a warm cranny that wouldn't sear off flesh, and they were good to go in a few minutes.

I pulled into Thunder Bay around supper time, found some Wifi (attached to a McDonalds) and checked out what a good evening destination could be. I settled on English River, gave them a ring, and arranged for a night there. I had a couple more hours on the road to get there, so after a quick stop at Kakabeka Falls,



and another at the Continental Divide,



I chased the sunset across Northwestern Ontario.



Another day, another few hundred clicks closer to home. It wasn't that I was homesick, but I was coming to terms with how finite my time was as this dream trip inched closer to completion.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:37 AM   #139
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The next two days were probably the biggest reason why I'd lost momentum on finishing this ride report. If you remember, I lost my camera in the middle of Saskatchewan somewhere, meaning I have no pictures whatsoever of this next day or most of the one after. I'll fill you in at least a little on what happened though.

English River was a phenomenal place to stay. Clean rooms, gracious hosts, and a very community-oriented feel. It didn't come as a surprise that they were believers and it was a boost to my spirit to be able to stay at their place and support them in their ministry too.

This day was pretty conventional up to Steinbeck, MB. In Dryden, I skipped a gas station with the expectation that another would be soon approaching, and 2km later, I was backtracking from the outskirts to the gas station I'd just passed. I thought I'd learned that lesson on my first cross-country trip, but I guess this hard head needs another lesson or two pounded into it yet.

I was hankerin' for some real Mennonite sustenance when I got to Steinbeck, but because I rolled into town at 2pm, most things were already shut down. I pulled in front of one restaurant, but they saw me coming and quickly flipped over their open sign. It was beginning to feel like a big ol' bout of rejection. Found a place to eat just outside of town at a new burger/hot dog place that was the buzz of the region. It seemed like everybody was out there, enjoying a beautiful sunny day. I chatted with a couple from Winnipeg who were out for a cruise, then took a look at my map to find some good gravel roads that headed in the right direction.

My goal in crossing the Prairies this time around was to stay off the Trans-Canada and stick to secondary highways. Further to that, if I could find gravel highways that put me in the right general direction, they took preference over pavement. The way I figured it was I'd be traveling at the same speed (100km/h give or take) on paved or gravel, but at least gravel would keep me a bit more alert and awake.

This rang incredibly true, and in my travels towards Virden, my stop for the night, I managed to find a hundred or so kilometers of joyous dirt roads. It was the right kind: graded and fast, with loose and deep sections every so often to keep you on your toes. Redbike performed flawlessly, soaking up bumps and ruts and tracking beautifully with that TKC front.

As I neared Virden, I took one more dirty detour near Oak Lake. Rains over the past several weeks had flooded the lake and unbeknownst to me turned the surrounding roads into soupy pits. Some weren't open, while the ones that were had been transformed into car-swallowing mud tracks. I distinctly remember diving into one section at 80km/h only to have my front tire nearly disappear into a mud hole. I dropped speed considerably, but kicked it into a lower gear and revved the heck out of my poor, clapped out engine to keep momentum through the sticky muck. Before the Oak Lake stretch, I looked downright presentable, but in the span of 10km, as I got to my destination, the bottom half of myself and redbike were plastered in guck.

I stayed with my cousin and his wife in their new house. They'd been there for less than a month as Tyler, my cousin, had just gotten posted to Virden with the RCMP! It was his first post and he already had stories. Pretty cool existence, and still on my horizon as the preferred career for me too.

With myself showered off and redbike making a ploppy mess of their driveway, it was time for bed. Another day in the books and a few more incredible people met and reconnected with along the way.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 10-06-2012, 09:55 AM   #140
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I think I'll start this day's report with context,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamon
Quick update:

Lost my camera somewhere on Highway 15 in Saskatchewan. I think it was after I took some pics/vid of a train outside of Hubbard... Anyway, it's gone, as are the photos from western Ontario, Manitoba, and eastern Saskatchewan, which I had not yet backed up.

I backtracked 60km (120km detour total) to the last place I stopped with a meagre hope that it'd be laying in the grass somewhere. It, of course, wasn't. A sick feeling settled into my gut and I screamed one loud profanity to nobody or nothing in particular. It was soon swallowed up by the vast sky and faded quickly under the rumbling of a nearby train.

The next 200km were bitter. Partially 'cause I'd travelled 60 of them already, but moreso because of the rain and side/headwind that swept across me. It buffeted my head like an invisible hand grasping and tugging my helmet, and by the end, I was a rag-doll, having given up all hope of resisting the wind.

Sleep came quickly on this, the most exhausting (mentally and physically) day of my trip... I'll say this, for being one of the worst days, I still am loving being out here. The prairies really spoke to me this time around. I think it's 'cause I got off the Trans-Canada.

Travis-out.

... and pick up right after the sick feeling settled in my gut.

The morning had been pretty uneventful. Prairie roads from Virden skirting north along the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border to hook up with a highway that'd take me west across most of the province. Plans had fallen through for a place to stay in Saskatoon, so I was destination-less, wind-swept, and hadn't found a good place to eat lunch.

I stopped in the town that I'd just backtracked 60km to get to and left my name at the local gas station in case my camera showed up... I held no hope whatsoever for ever finding it again. It was hard not to feel down as the big sky was heavy with rain-laden clouds and the ominous feeling of loss weighed down my heart even more. It sounds silly that a camera could have this much effect on my emotional state, but it was an integral part of this journey and the story-telling thereafter. I'd lost other things along the way and felt a sense of relief that I no longer needed to carry that bit of gear with me, but for whatever reason, the camera was different.

Nonetheless, I pulled out my backup and snapped a few shots to rein in my mind to the journey at hand.









Those rain-laden clouds stayed at bay, but the sweeping wind below them made my travel a battle. I longed for a warm bed but pressed on, tossed and turned and eventually indifferent to the crashing of wind against my battered head. Again I chased a sunset,



and ended up in Rosetown. I felt haggard and probably looked it too, but still tried to get a deal on a room. They didn't budge and in the end I felt defeated for even trying. I shuffled down the road to pick up a Subway supper. As it was nearing closing time, the clerk gave me the rest of his cookies he had on the shelf. I nearly broke down. I was whipped, and this small act of kindness (that really was more like tossing crusts in the slop bucket) brought me back into a state of gratefulness.

I have mixed feelings about this day. Saskatchewan did what it does. It took a bit of me away, but gave back so much perspective.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:25 AM   #141
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Thanks! Nice to hear from you :)
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:59 PM   #142
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More please...

So how did it end? Love to hear your conclusions and impressions of the trip... Thanks for writing and posting this...seriously.

Dave
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Old 12-16-2012, 09:29 PM   #143
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Heya Dave,

Thanks for the encouragement. I lost steam to finish up the last 5 days but I hope after my busy season ends (retail's a beast this time of year) I'll have a chance to write up the conclusion. My goal is to have it done by the end of the year.

Gettin' there!

Travis
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:58 PM   #144
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... The end of the year has come and gone... Let's try to get this done before a year's passed since I left.

Back to early May, 2012.

The next morning, still groggy, I left my cell phone in the motel's breakfast room, unbeknownst to me as I returned to my own room to gear up and strap the saddlebags to the ol' packmule. As I did my typical "pat the pockets" test before hopping on for another few hundred kilometres, I realized something was amiss. Returning to the breakfast room, my cell phone was nowhere to be seen. I'd made plans to meet up with a friend for lunch that day, but now had no way to get in touch when I neared my destination. Could it be that in less than 24 hours, I'd just lost two of my most crucial electronic devices?

The motel was a shabby, L-shaped, two-floor affair, and as I searched the lot feebly for that magical black object smaller than a pack of cigarettes, I grew more and more distressed. At best, I was broken. The trip was coming to a close, one of my most crucial pieces of recording equipment was missing, and now I was lost for a means to get in touch with my contacts for the day. As I contemplated my next move, a battered white work truck splashed its way through well-worn potholes and up next to me. “Any chance you lost a cell phone?” a weathered voice inquired from inside.


There's always a light. Sometimes it comes with lost things found, but other times it comes from being able to move past lost things. I was experiencing both of these lights today, and as I kicked the pig into first, I couldn't help but grin at the adventure that had almost brought me full circle back home.


Home. Now there's a novel concept. For another day, no doubt.


The skies were brighter today, the wind less offensive, and somehow, life a lot more easy. The roads were pretty simple as I carried on through rolling spring hills, and I stopped a time or two to capture pictures lost from yesterday of another one of my loves:








I don't exactly know what's so fascinating about trains. They're leashed to thick steel rails that can only carry them to finite destinations, yet they symbolise a frontiersman's thirst for new lands and better times. That, and the thundering power they create just speaks to the inner man. The one that grunts and farts without pause for consideration of those around him.


The prairies shared their bounty in the form of sloped corners,





and soon enough I was there: where I needed to be. In a small prairie town with an old friend. He'd quit his job on the oilpatch for something a little more civil: work in a grain elevator. Of course, he had to show me the sights.











An entirely different mindset, where things are measured in hundreds of tons and a person can move millions of dollars with the flick of a switch. Even with all this mechanisation though, they still count on people to sort and grade minute samples of the grain that passes through these massive bunkers.



But, for one on the road, the visit was too brief and the farewells too soon. Off to Edmonton for the night!


I rolled into town a bit late, making good time on the perimeter highways before getting snarled in rush hour traffic. It was time to track down Alex, known 'round these parts as Aienan.



Hiya Alex!



After a quick stop to pick up a new camera (civilization has its advantages), a bite to eat, and a catch-up with a good man, we found our way over to a garage to do some wrenchin'.


Alex was more than happy to try the new camera out. There's something about standing around and watching people work that's just so satisfying.






After the front TKC was flipped (to even out the cupping) she was brushed down and put to bed with a few more stablemates.






The next day promised another adventure and rest came quickly for the bearded one on this night (or maybe that was just the beer).
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 01-29-2013, 04:26 PM   #145
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It was a strange feeling waking up, knowing that I was but one long day's ride from home. I'd been to Edmonton before on a bike (a Weestrom affectionately known as Burble) and there was definitely a sense of comfort in knowing if something went wrong, I could hop on a bus (or get a ride in an ambulance) and be home in less than 18 hours. On the other hand, I knew that as soon as I pulled into my driveway, that'd be the end of it. A few more days to keep the good times rolling.

Breakfast was delightfully filling: a typical eggs n' potatoes n' bacon affair with one of the largest cinnamon buns I'd ever feasted on shared between me and Alex the gracious host. It just so happened that right next door to the diner was a bike shop, with none other than redbike's name plastered across the front.


Well ain't that something.

It was time again to put miles under the tires and my destination for the day was 800km away, due south, then due west for a bit, ending up in Cranbrook, BC. The options were: A. take the freeway between Edmonton and Calgary, then further pound the slab through to Lethbridge, or B: anything but the God-forsaken freeway.

I chose B, namely the Cowboy Trail,



and was introduced to the part of Alberta I think I could stand... Yes, there were still oil rigs and rednecks as far as the eye could see (I don't actually dislike Alberta... I just think Albertans like their province more than they should.), but along the Cowboy Trail, one catches faint glimpses of the fortress-like start of the Rocky Mountains.



The mountains rise from the prairies as a foreboding black wall, appealing at a distance but seeming more and more impassable as one draws nearer. I can only imagine those chuckwagon-driving pioneers of old, after fording rivers and un-sticking mired caravans, making camp in the foothills of the Rockies. Their thoughts must've ranged from, "Well, we've come through the impossible already, what's a mountain range to frontiersmen like us?" to "That's it. I'm done."

Luckily for me, my paper maps, GPS, and Google Maps all told me that there were numerous roads through this craggy frontier. I just needed to find the start of one.

But Alberta wouldn't let me go that quickly. While riding, I nudged my sunglasses in some unorthodox method and lost a lens.



Soon after this shot, I hurled the glasses to the pavement as I rode away at a hundred clicks an hour, watching in my rearview as they blew apart and skittered shattered fragments across unforgiving asphalt. I don't know why, but it gave me an incredible amount of satisfaction to do so.

Of course, this left me without eye protection (I hate riding with my faceshield down for whatever reason), so I picked up a pair and topped off the tank in a tiny town somewhere south of Calgary. Not fifty kilometres later, cruising through yellowed grasslands, I rolled on the throttle a bit more and was met with nothing.

Redbike, for the first time on this trip, was telling me no.



As I pulled in the clutch and eased over to a soft shoulder, my heart and mind were a-churning.

Did I just get bad gas?
Has my spark plug just kicked the bucket?
How's my ignition system?
Did my carburetor somehow poop itself?

I stood blankly in stunned silence for a few minutes as I weighed my situation. The dark grey sky loomed above and a frigid breeze whipped from the north and told me to hurry my thoughts. Failures like this had happened back home in ways similar to this, but often involved a large quantity of rain (I'd seen none that day) and slower speeds (which, in Alberta, is not a consideration).

Still, I tried my normal method of fixing these things: grab some tools to make it look like I know what I'm doing, drain some fuel out of the bowl, and then stand there, looking like an idiot.

It took twenty minutes of standing, but eventually ol' redbike fired up as if nothing had happened. It's the one mystery gremlin that continues to show its face on that bike, but it always seems to sort itself out.

The rest of the day was sunshine and daffodils.



More sunshine than daffodils, actually.



I arrived in BC on May 8, exactly 3 months to the day of leaving my home province. I was no longer a traveller, but instead a local with a license plate that blended into the rest of 'em.



My first memory of being back in BC was that of springtime smells. I rolled through a river valley somewhere near Fernie and was met with a thick, sweet, and green aroma that can only be defined as springtime. It's the kind of smell you get when the sun shines on tender new vegetation, the kind that saturates your senses with the knowledge that winter's been kicked to the curb. It was a fitting way to return, and it reminded me that I'd successfully skirted another dreary BC winter.

That evening, I rolled into Cranbrook, caught up with a good friend, and slumbered heartily in yet another strange bed.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
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Old 01-29-2013, 04:32 PM   #146
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It is good to see you back at the keyboard as i had lost track of this one.
I am back on the KLR for the winter myself.
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Old 02-02-2013, 08:33 PM   #147
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KLRs make wonderful winter rigs. I just got finished a little fix-it job on mine as it was acting a little finicky the last few days. Let's just put it this way: when the bike stalls on the freeway in the morning and then blows a headlight/taillight fuse with 60km yet to go on the dark ride home, it's asking for some lovin'.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:04 PM   #148
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Cranbrook, BC, had been the stay-over for the night, and because I knew the riding today wouldn't be strenuous, I took in the scenery and company that Cranbrook had to offer. This first day in BC also happened to be one of the first mornings that could convince me it wasn't still winter. The sun shone and warmed the bones, so much so that I nearly had to wear shorts again! To think, Canada and shorts. If you'd mentioned that a week prior when I was freezing my fingers off in the Maritimes, I'd've slapped you and demanded an end to your tomfoolery.



New tender growth was a-sproutin',



and the morning wanderings did well to bring fresh life to a stiff-jointed ruffian. 'Round lunch time it was time to hit the dusty trail and I headed east on Highway 3. In a perfect world, it would've been nice to traverse the Grey Creek Pass, but it wasn't to be free of snow for another few months yet. Highway 3 was pretty basic. Asphalt, trees, that sort of thing. The real fun came at Creston, when I veered northward on the 3A, touted by Destination Highways (a widely-known BC motorcycle road book) as the #1 road in BC. I beg to differ for several reasons, but one specific downside stuck out to me on this trek up the lakeside pavement snake.

Highway 3A is blessed with twisties and scenery, but plagued with mild congestion and the subsequent bureaucratic speed limits that go along with it. It was a free-feeling weekday afternoon and traffic was nonexistent, so redbike beckoned me ever faster (well, as fast as a KLR can). I was cruising at a comfortable pace (which happened to be a wee bit north of the posted limit) around a medium sweeper and was crestfallen to find a member of the local constabulary trolling the road in the opposite direction. Well, needless to say I found a wide patch of gravel shoulder and waited for the cruiser to make his three-point-turn and seize his quarry.

I tried every card in my hand short of crying to see if I could appeal to the officer's sensible side, but he wouldn't have any of it. I was caught, red-handed, and there was nothing to do but face the fine. To think, after 3 months and just shy of 30,000kms on this trip, I'd be pulled over 3 days from home on one of the lovelier roads in the province. Note to self: there are much better roads in BC with much more reasonable speed limits attached.

The top of the 3A ends with a free ferry crossing (the world's longest free ferry or something of the like) over to Balfour,



and just up the road from Balfour is one of the coolest motorcycle campgrounds I've ever come across (not that I've come across that many). Every time I come to Toad Rock Campground, it's a different experience, and this evening was no exception. It was still early in the year, and as it turned out, I was the first rider in for the season. With few folks around to talk bikes, I made myself a bit o' grub, wandered the grounds, and checked out their innovative "cabins."








Whatever happened to "make love, not war?"

As the night grew dark, I grabbed a couple blankets from the storehouse (I could sing the praises of Toad Rock and Mary for quite some time) and hunkered down.



The next morning would bring winter's parting shots, but there's time for that story another time.

Until then, lankily yours,

Hamon, out.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 02-06-2013, 08:49 PM   #149
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I was glad I'd sharked those blankets before I bedded down. I awoke to a crispness that took me back to northern Ontario. Soon enough, from blue skies, snow pellets were falling and I thought I was in some sort of strange alternate universe. It amounted to nothing, but it still was remarkable to see the last dregs of winter as I broke up camp. Another boiled breakfast of oatmeal and tea and I was back on the road, heading north towards Kaslo, then onto New Denver, between the two towns being my favourite paved road in all of BC.


Kootenay Lake near Ainsworth Hot Springs, south of Kaslo

It wasn't prime twisty-carving weather, but it was good enough to get the ol' rig leaned over a time or two.


I normally don't stop on this stretch of paved paradise, but the tea from earlier and the frigid temperatures of present forced my hand (or should I say my bladder).

Nakusp was a blur and I stormed down one of the more bleak sections of pavement in the Kootenays, between Nakusp and Faquier, a small settlement that amounts to a gas station and a ferry landing. On the way, one more photo op and a chance to play in the dirt.



I don't have any more pictures for the ride this day... All's I know is the Monashee Pass came next, and as usual it's not a place to stop. It's a mix of relentless twisties, crappy pavement, and sudden kinks that can cast your rhythm in the dirt and your ass soon after if you're not careful. Vernon comes soon after, then Kelowna, and before you can say "Traffic" the world again closes in around you and schedules, deadlines, meetings, pollution, politics, and all the other trappings of civilisation land with it. Not that it's a bad thing: ultimately these things are necessary (I think), but it's a rattling thought to a ruffian who's been off his leash for a little while.

Oliver was my stop for the night. I've always liked it from there to Osoyoos, and I still had yet to partake in my final big trip tradition: a romantic dinner for one.

To appease the trip report gods, an offering of digitally captured grub:




A thin slip of a man joined me on the other side of the table. Not much of a talker though.


Supplied by:



As I neatly (as neat as one can with an alpaca resting between one's nose and mouth) dissected plate after delicately-prepared plate, I savoured the moment accompanied by wistful reflection. This bit of extravagance marked my departure from travel mode and back into day-to-day business. Warmed in the belly by tea and wine, I bedded down for one final night in a strange locale.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 02-09-2013, 08:04 PM   #150
Hamon OP
I just like riding
 
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: BC, Canada
Oddometer: 288
Mornin'.



Just like any other morning, I went through the routine of packing up redbike. It was interesting to take my time and appreciate the fluid motions that accompanied packing and repacking after 100 days of repetition. Even a year later, I remember the sequences like I was just packing yesterday: sidebags packed first: make sure to move the camp fuel out of the way of the food container so it'll fit just perfectly. Okay, one sidebag ready, next! Jeans tucked away and compressed, dirty socks (there are no clean ones, but the ones on my feet are less dirty) at the bottom away from everything they could contaminate. Dopp bag in last, forcing itself into the only remaining pocket of fluff left. Straps across clothes, netbook and atlas in the lid. Check. Duffel's packed tight with tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat once more. Check.

Caribou cases slid and "thunked" back into place on well-worn racks. Shall I lock 'em today? Well, I haven't in 3 months... Why start now? Duffel strapped to the luggage plate on the back, the buckles finding the same notch in the webbing they've found for months in a row. MFS (multi-functional stick) into its neat little space atop the duffel, ready for a flat tire or quick chain lube if the need arises. Sheepskin: strapped, guatemalan burro blanket: folded and ready for action. Tank bag: locked and loaded. GPS: on and mappin'.

Okay, almost there. Helmet: still fits and smells of old sneezes. Jacket: cobbled together with rubber cement, Belizian tailor's thread, Texan buckles, and positive thoughts. Pants: yes. Boots: black. Gloves: crusty with bug guts on the outside and sweat on the in. I reckon we're ready to roll.

Camera?
Shit.
Picnic table.

Turn around in the gravel parking lot and burn back to the staging area. Sometimes, Travis, you'd lose your head if it wasn't tied to your body with skin.

Today was an easy day. A hundred or so clicks before I was expected in Princeton mid-morning, so I took for the gravel and tried to get myself lost. After treed corners and a small gap through the hills, the other side welcomed me with meadows and flatland. Aw, heck! I've been on this road before, 'cept last time was at night in the pitch black, headlights too-bright against kicked-up dust, partiers abundant in rambunctious clusters, and a young bear with the literal poop scared out of him by a two-wheeled alien craft. In the daytime it wasn't quite so daunting.



Hopped on the back road to get me into Princeton and since I was still ahead of schedule, I rolled off the road and sat for a moment to reflect along the Similkameen River. The mood was contemplative and melancholy as I relayed ramblings into an always-listening GoPro lens. As I peacefully wrapped up my monologue, I stood up, realizing the entire time I'd been sitting on an ant hill. There goes my high horse again.

Pulled into the gas station parking lot a bit too early (story of my life). Waited around, topped up the oil, and watched as the first of the riders started to show up. Two of the quick'uns rolled in first and I was again met with familiar faces, this time from much closer to home. They were kind enough to want to accompany me back into the Fraser Valley, but secretly I think they were just waiting to pick up the pieces when redbike would inevitably explode 50km from home.

As the normal bike talk commenced ("Your bike's too dirty." "Your bike's too clean."), a brownish-black turd-like object appeared in the distance. With that dated square headlight and sewing machine whirring, I knew it could only be one: Dad had shown up on the ol' K75! As he wheeled up, parked ever-so-carefully (typical Dad) and stepped off, he was assaulted in a bear hug from a very bear-like son. It's hard to put into words the peace and completeness of that moment, knowing I was home again even if there were still hundreds of miles to put on yet that day.





With one more rider, Ernie, rolling in with Dad, the 5 of us queued up and hit the road. It was a marvelous day for riding and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.









As we neared within a half hour of my parents' home on a rode I've driven hundreds of times and ridden dozens, Mt. Cheam, the mountain I grew up under for the first 17 years of my life, began looming ever nearer. Familiar farmlands whizzed past on both sides, the train tracks that I'd walked across for years in my elementary school days appeared on my left, and then it was the final stretch. Police station on the right, the old church on the left, driveway, the unmistakable crunch of that gravel and the apple trees now in tender green leaf.

This time, the bear-like son got assaulted by a mama bear.





And I was home.

To reiterate from that day:

I think it'll take a day, week, or month or two for the feeling of home to settle back in my bones. Maybe a few days of not having to make mileage or pack all my gear onto redbike will do it, or maybe it'll just be getting back to the daily routine of work that will help me regain some semblance of normalcy.

Normalcy.. I realize how skewed a perspective of normal I have right now. Normal to me is being in a different climate at the end of the day than I was at the beginning. It's having all my necessities in 100L of storage on a two-wheeled contraption, yet knowing full-well that life will go if it's all lost in the blink of an eye. Normal's bracing myself against the elements, clenching my teeth and tensing my muscles to keep out the cold. It's meeting new people with a grin on my face and joy in my heart, hoping to hear their story and perhaps tell a bit of mine.


I hope I can retain some of my newly learned perspectives of "normal" as the weeks and years go on, as routine becomes normal once more: when the memories of this adventure are shrouded behind increasing layers of work, stress, lasting friendships (travel is not conducive to these), and other such trappings. The carefree smile, the jumps for joy, the "WHOOP!"s a'plenty inside my helmet: these I will try to hold onto for the trying times.


For now, I'm home. Tomorrow, redbike gets a much-deserved bath and after that, maybe reality sets in.


And that's how the story has ended. Work's come back, I'm sure my blood pressure's up again, and I'm back onto the quest for my dream career. I still think fondly of the moments along the way: the border crossing at Tecate, the marvelous twisties through Michoacan, the Guatemalan highlands, the Caribbean, crawfish in Louisiana, lobster in Maine, the colourful houses of the Maritimes, Newfie kindness, Northern living, prairie beauty, and the welcome home of the mountains.



When again will the wanderlust return? I can tell you this: it never left. It'll only be a matter of time and logistics until I'm at it again.

Until then, however,

Hamon,



and redbike,



out.
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Two wheels and half a brain.
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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