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Old 07-10-2011, 12:04 AM   #1
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Escaping the 'Armpit of the North' - Our search for summer

Saturday, July 9

Even tho Prince George is the geographic center of British Columbia, its sometimes referred to as the 'armpit' of the province.

I'm guessing that moniker stems from the smell - we have three rather large pulp & paper mills in town, and downtown sits in a bowl. On mornings when we're unlucky enough to have a good temperature inversion, you can taste that so-called 'smell of money' in the air.

If that's what money is supposed to taste like, I'll be happy to scrape by, tyvm.

Normally, our summers are pretty decent, but this year has been absolutely abysmal so far. I think I can count the number of +20 degree days (low 70's fahrenheit) we've had on one hand, so we've been impatiently awaiting the start of our two weeks off so we could venture south in hopes of getting at least a taste of the summer we've been deprived of so far.

Here's the tentative route (depending on weather, time and whimsy)
Google Map Link

We don't have to be home til the 23rd or 24th of July, and it looks like we'll be into Trail BC around the 17th, so if the passes are open and weather is favourable, we're going to try and dip down through ID and MT to hit up the Going To The Sun road, as well.

But today, it was time to hit the road. Yes, its the beginning of the ride, but it felt a little like a chore today. We were riding from Prince George to the inlaws' house in Hope. We plan on staying there for a few days to visit family, make a trip into MEC to pick up some camping gear and then head south to Auburn for Mayhemfest on the 12th!

Seeing as how Brandi and I have driven/ridden the route from PG to Hope many many times, we didn't really do much for photos today. It was kind of grey and wet when we packed up and hit the road from PG this morning, but we were optimistic as the weather looked better to the south.

Bikes loaded and getting geared up:




Time to roll... woohoo! At least one of our housemates wasn't sharing our excitement, tho. Poor Bella... See you in two weeks, kitty!


So, first stop... fuel! The clouds were still trying to spit at us, so here's Brandi giving the weather the ol' ADV salute. FYYFF's! (that includes you, Mother Nature!)


Looks like we headed in the right direction - just a couple hours south of Prince George and we found summer! Sweeeeet! This calls for ice cream!


The bikes got no ice cream, they just got a rest in the sunshine:


We had been sitting in the shade enjoying our ice cream and Brandi was getting chilly, so she abandoned the picnic table in front of DQ to stand in the sun:


The only other stops after that were gas and pee breaks, and I didn't take photos of either, so that's gonna have to do it for today.

Tomorrow - shopping in Vancouver and hopefully catching up with another ADV couple we haven't seen in a while. More to come after the weekend!

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Old 07-10-2011, 03:46 PM   #2
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Good start ...ice cream & smiles.
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:15 PM   #3
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great pics, cool bikes! good luck on your journey!
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:31 PM   #4
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looks like a good time!

DUDE!! I lived in PG for 5 years...I know what you mean about the smell!! lol. I was a young'n, went to Gladstone Elementary up in College Heights, left for the yukon to live with my mom in 1994. My Dad still lives there - he's a school teacher at Vanway Elementary.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfgang55 View Post
Good start ...ice cream & smiles.
Given the weather we'd escaped from, I'd say the smiles were more for the sunshine than the ice cream, but the midday dessert certainly didn't hurt!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AJxr View Post
great pics, cool bikes! good luck on your journey!
Thanks! We're looking forward to hitting the road tomorrow morning... and hoping for some continued nice weather, too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinfevrr View Post
looks like a good time!

DUDE!! I lived in PG for 5 years...I know what you mean about the smell!! lol. I was a young'n, went to Gladstone Elementary up in College Heights, left for the yukon to live with my mom in 1994. My Dad still lives there - he's a school teacher at Vanway Elementary.
PG to the Yukon to NS? Damn dude... you get around! I went on a school exchange program to Kentville NS back in high school - gorgeous area out there and we hope to ride that far east one of these summers.

Thanks for reading/commenting, everyone. Update coming up shortly!
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Old 07-11-2011, 11:53 PM   #6
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Sunday, July 10

After arriving at Brandi's parents' house around 8:30, unloading the bikes and visiting for awhile, we turned in for the night and slept in. The plan for the day was to borrow Brandi's mom's SUV and drive into downtown Vancouver, pick up some camping supplies from MEC, and hopefully catch up with some friends on the way back to Hope.

Traffic wasn't too bad for a weekend and the weather was warm and sunny... we made it MEC just after they opened at 11am and were in and out quickly, rounding up everything we needed - including a matched pair of down-filled sleeping bags (our old synthetic-fill bags were just way too bulky for bike luggage), some waterproof stuff-sacks, a new headlamp, and a small tarp to use as a footprint for our tent.

We had a little time to kill before our friends in Surrey would be home, so we hit Costco and Best Buy in Langley just to kill some time and do some shopping. Something we'd been looking out for was a splashproof/waterproof camera. I like to carry a point & shoot in my jacket pocket for shots while on the road, but the seam-sealed zippers have been a little hit & miss lately, popping open of their own accord. Also, another inmate from Kodiak Island who stayed at our house on his way to south had drowned a camera when he forgot to zip it closed in a rainstorm. Both good reasons to look for some gear that would be up to the task.

We started perusing the wares at Best Buy, narrowed down a few models that I'd previously researched online, and I hear a familiar voice, "What's happening, man?"

Turns out its our friend Paul, who is now an Apple rep for Best Buy. We just happened to wander into the store that he was recently transferred to. Paul is a guy my wife and I met years ago via a video gaming community (Counter-Strike, and yes, I know... I'm a huge geek. I'm ok with that). To add to the 'small world' phenomenon... he calls over another familiar face, Sean. Another guy from the same circle of friends. And Sean just happens to be one of the sales guys there, so he swoops in to help us pick out a camera.

So... a deal was struck, a bargain was had, some free goodies were thrown in, and we walked out with this little gem:


Panasonic DMC-TS3. Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, dustproof, etc... also GPS-enabled! So thanks Sean, for your help with the camera. It was great to run into you and Paul unexpectedly. Such a small, small world!

Next, we were off to Nikki and Ryan's new house in Surrey to visit with them and their new little boy, Liam. Apparently Liam likes it LOUD. Here he is twisting the volume knob to 11 and snapping that bad boy off:


Good thing the power was off!

A reprimand was handed down by the powers-that-be and drama ensued:


Nothing a sippy-cup wouldn't fix, so things quietened back down and we had a great visit. So great to catch up with friends that we don't see often enough. By the way... its now YOUR turn to come up to our place again, Ryan!

One more stop to make on the way home - stopping at Kerri & Simon's house in Chilliwack for dinner, a drink or two, and to catch up a little. Brandi & I met them last summer via the Tent Space thread. They were on their way north to Alaska and looked us up to arrange a place to crash. Here's a shot of them ready to depart the morning after their stay:


They've since changed modes of transport in huge way - and I don't mean just a huge change... I mean a HUGE mode of Transport. Suffice it to say that it was fairly easy to find their place. All you had to do was spot the big-assed Unimog dominating their driveway!

They're plan is to pack up, rent the place the out, camperize the 'mog and travel around with their two little furry kids, Dexter and Maggie. Sorry... no pics :( Didn't have the old camera with me and the new one didn't have a charge on the battery yet. Feel free to post a couple pictures of that monster if you see this thread, Simon!

Dinner was awesome, the company and conversation was great, and the dogs were the entertainment. The dogs had pretty much dismembered, disemboweled, and nearly decapitated this poor stuffed bunny. While we are sitting there talking, one of the dogs even managed to extract the little 'squeaker' from the toy. Apparently Maggie in particular was intent on the squeaker's ultimate demise, and this followed (sorry about the shady video... no LED light on my phone's camera):



That little episode was probably the shortest of several repeats of the same turn of events... talk about energetic! I was getting tired just watching Maggie bounce non-stop (it might have had a little to do with the wine and the meal, I suppose) so it was time to hit the road back to Hope. Good luck with your Unimog plans, guys! Be sure to stop in again if you decide to head north in that beast!

An eventful 40 min drive back to Hope, some more visiting with the inlaws and it was time to crash out again. Tomorrow, time to sort out the gear/packing situation, stiffen up the preload on the rear suspension of both bikes for the added luggage weight, and a little more visiting to take care of.

GISdood screwed with this post 07-12-2011 at 12:38 AM
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:34 AM   #7
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Monday, July 11

Another nice sunny day in Hope today! I hear its still raining back in PG and that they've actually declared a provisional 'state of emergency' due to a couple neighbourhoods being flooded out. From what I know, its only a dozen houses or so, but they (the gov't/police/etc) can't technically force anyone to evacuate unless there's been a state of emergency declared - hence the 'provisional' descriptor. I hope everyone there is ok, but hey... check out that burning ball of fire in the sky! /wanders off grinning at the sunshine

After a leisurely morning, we made plans to meet Brandi's sister-in-law and her niece and nephew for lunch. Off to the local sushi establishment! Must be good grub here as the parking lot was stuffed. Yet another reason why I love riding - more parking options!




Most kids are pretty fussy in my experience, but these two are amazing. Edamame for Grace and California rolls for Aiden... and he was even tackling the rolls with chopsticks - although it appears that at this age, using chopsticks is a two-handed ordeal:




We had a nice meal and a great visit... to keep the kids entertained while we visited with Hillary, they took turns playing 'Need for Speed' on Brandi's phone. How's this for the picture of intense concentration?




All too soon, the kids had to be shuttled off to T-ball, so we made our way outside for goodbyes... but not til after the kids got a chance to sit on the bikes, first:





I guess now we have to explain the whole ATGATT thing to them...

We decided to tour around town a little bit, checking out some of the new developments in the area. Then we stumbled on this:



Anyone recognize that bridge? What if I said "Sly crossed this bridge many times... " Would that help?

Well, the movie buffs here might know that the original Rambo movie "First Blood" was filmed in Hope, BC. Brandi's mom was actually cast as the token 'pregnant lady' extra while she was carrying Brandi! Unfortunately, her shot at fame never made it off the cutting room floor. :( There's a little more info on the bridge here.

Anyway... this little wooden one-lane bridge was being decommissioned. You can see the new concrete and steel replacement in the background. The actual deconstruction of the wood deck on the old Kakawa River bridge started this morning. The new bridge is an improvement, but its kinda sad to see a landmark like that being phased out.

Then we killed some time zipping around and checking out some of the locations where we had photos of taken of us nearly 5 years ago. This August will mark our 5th anniversary, and we were married in Brandi's parent's back yard right here in Hope. So, we zipped around trying to spoof some of the shots that we had done 5 years ago (by memory, as I don't have any of those photos on the laptop, I'll try to add them later when we return home).

So here's a few random shots...

Rocks at the Japanese Gardens:


and rockin out at the Japanese Gardens:


"Giddy-up!"


"Uh... what kind or tree is this, anyway?"


And one more before heading home for dinner:


After dinner and one last evening of visiting with the inlaws, everybody was turning in. Brandi's already crashed out, its 12:30am, and I'm off to see if I can get this mess organized for a quick load-up in the morning:



Wish me luck!
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Old 07-12-2011, 07:54 AM   #8
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Good so far.
Keep traveling!

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Old 07-12-2011, 09:14 AM   #9
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A live mobile update before the phone goes into airplane mode for the US (damn roaming charges!) The last Timmy's we'll see for a week or so:


Sent from my GT-I9000M using Tapatalk

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Old 07-12-2011, 11:29 AM   #10
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Late to the Party...

But it's always fun to party with you.

Missed you on Canada Day this year, eh?

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Old 07-13-2011, 12:59 AM   #11
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But it's always fun to party with you.

Missed you on Canada Day this year, eh?

~MAG

You didn't miss much... Brandi was out of town for work over the long weekend, so we skipped the annual bash this year. We'll just have to make up for it with enthusiasm in 2012. Mark it on your calendar now! And tell Questor to make sure and put his riding pants on this time.
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Old 07-13-2011, 01:49 AM   #12
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Tuesday, July 12

This morning the packing game begins. When we left PG, we didn't have sleeping bags and a few other supplies with us. We picked up the remaining key items at MEC in Vancouver on Sunday. We managed to get everything stuffed into the luggage we had without too much trouble, tho... and we had space to add the sleeping pads we'd be picking up at REI in Bellingham as well - but I'm getting ahead of myself, lets back up a bit...

First pic of the day was the one posted earlier from my phone at Timmy's in Mission - another angle/camera:


Shortly afterwards, we crossed the border into the US without incident or delay, pulled over again down the block to plug the headphones back in and we were on our way to Bellingham via Nooksack Drive (I think the 'entertaining road name' thing must be a theme in WA, btw).

I haven't quite got into the road-routine yet, and I forgot to attach the lanyard for the camera to the clip in my pocket, so I didn't risk dropping the new camera for the first leg of the trip. We managed to find our way through Bellingham to REI, picked up our new self-inflating sleeping pads and promptly loaded them onto the bikes. Brandi with her DRZ-SM looking more and more like an adventure bike with each added bit of gear:


And me with the DR and its ever-growing pile of luggage:



From REI it was over to Chuckanut Drive. See what I mean? Nooksack? Chuckanut? How do you NOT snicker at those!? Anyway... we stopped at one of the boat launches just to get off the bikes for a bit and to enjoy the smell of the ocean and have a snack.

Self-portrait time:



Brandi is way better at these than I am. My first attempt clipped off the better part of my noggin so I let her take over.

And a sans-noggin look at the view:



Back on the road to enjoy the fresh salty air as we wound our way along the ocean:










All too soon, Chuckanut drive came to an end an we emerged to the flat farmland of Burlington. From here we skipped over to Route 9 and wound our way south through cottage country towards Auburn:






This road might not have been quite as scenic as Chuckanut, but the quiet rural secondary route was definitely a treat with lots of tight, decreasing-radius turns and hairpins. Far preferable to slabbing it along I5 from Bellingham to Auburn.

We stopped for fuel in Arlington and came to a depressing realization - its hard to find gas without ethanol in the states :(


Guess I'll have to bump up to midgrade or premium to make up for the difference. But hey - at least its cheaper than back home!

Once we got to the end of Route 9 around Woodinville, we had no choice but to hop onto the slab to get to Auburn in the time frame we were shooting for, so off to 405 and 167 we went.

Ugh... I don't know how ppl do a commute like that every day. Talk about a pain! So with those two stretches of necessary evil out of the way, we got checked in and unpacked at our hotel and caught a cab to the White River Amphitheater for Mayhemfest!


We upgraded to VIP access when we bought our tickets, so it was straight to the lounge... after all, membership has its privelages, right?


And the beer was decent too!


The whole day-long show started at 1pm, but we didn't arrive until just after 4. By the time we showed up, the side-stage action was in full-swing and there was no way we were getting near the stage.



We opted to take advantage of the VIP lounge and enjoy a drink or threeve (I lost count, so that's the number I'm going with).

Pretty soon, the main stage action was ready to go so we headed into the bowl to find our seats, which were a mere 4 rows above the stage-front floor area (aka 'The Pit'), which afforded some great views and shots of the show.

You know its going to be a loud show when the first band to take the stage is Machinehead




Next up - Megadeth!


Mustaine was even bringing out the double-necked axe!


Some performers have wardrobe changes... others just grab another guitar and keep shredding:


A local radio station was running a contest prior to the show, the winner of which walked away with the lead singer's guitar. Jealous!


And of course, no Megadeth show would be complete without an appearance by Vic:




After the 2nd act we bailed out for a restroom/refreshment break... and got caught in this mess:


Ah well... at least the VIP lounge was indoors! So we finished our beverages and headed back to the concert bowl for the next act, slightly dampened spirits, but still ready to rock!


3rd up, Godsmack. And WOW. Totally blew me away, what a great live performance. The energy in The Pit for the whole set was insane. Check out the maelstrom of bodies down there!


It probably had something to do with the energy the lead singer was putting into the performance. This pretty much screams "all out":


A twist to the usual 'drum solo' portion of any act - a second drum set rolled out on a platform and the lead singer jumped on to duel/duo with the band's regular drummer, amazing stuff!






Great set, and I won't hesitate to buy tickets to see those guys live again - especially if they play closer to home!

The headliner was up next - Disturbed!


These guys put on an incredible show as well. We didn't stick around for their full set, tho. We'd caught their tour for their current CD last fall and they hadn't changed their stage setup at all since then. As impressive as it was and as good as all their songs are, we thought it best to call it a night and catch a cab home. First... a few final shots I got of Disturbed:

Their backdrop was cool - hanging strands of LED's which allowed backlighting to shine through, but acted as a giant screen when lit up, themselves


Another trippy background:


And here's the epic shot of the night - the trifecta of rock concert awesomeness. Lead singer in a rock pose? Check. Pyrotechnics? Check. Guy crowdsurfing in a wheelchair? Check... wait.... WTF??



It just simply doesn't get any cooler than that.

Thats it for tonight... I think my ears have finally stopped ringing enough that I can get some sleep. Tomorrow, we're off to get Brandi some new Distanzia's swapped on in the morning then its on to Forks (stay tuned, Twilight fans!) for a night of camping out on the Olympic Peninsula. If the campsite has Wifi, I'll update more tomorrow.

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Old 07-13-2011, 03:04 AM   #13
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Old 07-13-2011, 11:31 PM   #14
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Well, we didn't make it as far around the Olympic Peninsula as we'd hoped today. We're holed up in a hotel in Port Angeles, drying out from the storm we rode through today. Of course, it cleared up AFTER we checked in.

Got some pics from today uploading as I type this... update coming up soon!
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:28 AM   #15
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All the best...

All the best, guys! Thank you for stopping by. Sorry you didn't reach your destination. I guess I kept y'all too long with my chin-wagging. Be safe out there... and post more pics!

http://69.6.236.121/photo_player_flash2.html
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