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Old 02-10-2013, 02:31 PM   #1
istephens OP
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Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Oddometer: 116
2012 Northern Alberta/BC-Nakusp Trip

For the past three or so years, my wife Louise and I have made a point of heading out on a 2 week or so trip, ending in Nakusp for the HU Travellers Meeting around the third weekend in August. In 2011 we did a big loop around Washington, in 2010 we did a shorter trip through Revelstoke on our way to Nakusp, in 2009 we went to Victoria for a week, and in 2008 we rode across the continent from Calgary to Montreal and back over a month.

For 2012, I had a route planned out that would take us further north than we'd ever been and we'd see the start of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC. Then we'd swing down through Prince George and work our way to Vernon and then on to Nakusp.



My wife Louise had just arrived home from a month on the road by herself on her VStrom 1000, riding from Calgary to just west of Toronto. The original departure date was planned for Aug 12, but Louise wasn't feeling well and wanted a few more days to rest, so the new departure date was Aug 15.

Day 1 - Calgary, AB - Canmore, AB
In the early afternoon, we got the bikes packed up and headed off. First we stopped at the office where our son Robert works so we could say goodbye to him and give him last minute instructions for while we were gone.


Along the way, both Louise and I had the same idea - stop in Cochrane and have an early dinner with my Dad. I called him from a gas station and we met at the local Smitty's Restaurant, where everyone knows my Dad's name! Since I had the Aerostich, I set it up in the classic pose ...


I had made a reservation for a cabin at at a off-the-beaten-path place in Canmore for the night. It was pretty rustic for sure.



Since we had already eaten dinner back in Cochrane, we just went to Starbucks for a latte, then Safeway for some water. Back at the motel, we hit the bed. Next up - off to Jasper in the morning!

The Adventures of Ian & Louise
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The Adventures of Ian & Louise
Ian M. Stephens
2009 FJR1300 Black
2008 VStrom DL1000 Silver/Black

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Old 02-10-2013, 02:45 PM   #2
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Day 2 - 16 Aug 2012
Neither of us slept too well - too hot, then cold, and it wasn't until 5am or so, that I pulled up the comforter for warmth. So we got up early, got ready, and headed off to breakfast at Craig's Wayside Diner, right next door, where breakfast was really good.

Back at the motel, we packed up and then I spent half an hour looking for the remote for the GoPro camera. I was sure I had it when we left so I kept looking. Eventually I found it lying on the bed where it had fallen out of the charging stuff bag. Now that I'd found it, I attached all the GoPro stuff to the bike and finished packing everything else. Finally we were ready to leave.


Day 2 - Canmore to Jasper - Bow Valley Parkway to Icefields Parkway

We stayed on the TransCanada Highway until just past Banff, where we turned off and rode the Bow Valley Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 1A to Lake Louise. This used to be the old highway to Lake Louise and nowadays pretty much the only traffic it gets are hikers and tourists heading to Johnstone's Canyon. And talking about tourists, there were frikkin idiot tourists doing the stop in the middle of the highway to get out and get a picture of the bear, goat, sheep, gopher, butterfly or whatever. Never mind that the bear, possibly a Grizzly Bear, might get pissed and try to eat them. Even a tour bus driver decided to get in on the non-action - stopping in the middle of road. Actually, for all the stupid tourists that get out of their vehicles to tempt fate with the wild animals on the side of the road, I cannot recall ever hearing about a stupid tourist getting eaten by a bear on the side of the road. I guess if the bear or moose or elk or whatever is down by the side of the road in the first place, it's probably OK with the people being close and staring at them.

Anyway, being on motorbikes we were able to slip through the stopped cars and carry on, eventually stopping for gas and a bio break at Lake Louise. While we were there, we started chatting with a couple riding two-up on a cruiser that they had trailered in from Saskatchewan for a few day trips around Banff National Park.

Fueled up, we headed out again, following the Icefields Parkway north - where the scenery is amazingly dramatic.

Scenery along the Icefields Parkway


Looking north along the Icefields Parkway

It seemed that almost everywhere one looked, the vista and scenery was amazing - there's been plenty written about this highway but you really have to see it with your own eyes to truly appreciate it.

By lunch time we were pretty close to Saskatchewan River Crossing which is about halfway to Jasper from Lake Louise. Lunch was soup and a sandwich from the cafeteria side of the restaurant. This place hasn't changed much since the 1970s I think ...

Sask River Crossing Cafeteria


View SW from the Sask River Crossing parking lot


More great scenery!

Back on the road again, we continued on up into virgin territory for both of us. I had been through Sask River Crossing back in the early 1970s, with my Mom and Dad and brothers in Dad's converted 1960 school bus. I think we had come up the highway, then headed east from Sask River Crossing through Nordegg and on to Rocky Mountain House and back home to Hanna, but I have never been north of Sask River Crossing. Well, except for the Columbia Glacier area, but that's only a few kilometres north of the Crossing. We've been there a couple of times, but no further north.

Anyway, we passed glaciers on the left ...


Stark rocky ridge on the right ...


And mountains straight ahead ...


Later in the afternoon, we rolled into Wapiti Campground, 5 minutes south of Jasper, where we set up camp.

Campsite at Wapiti

Once we'd cleaned up a bit, Louise and I went into town 2-up on the FJR to see a bit of Jasper and get some dinner at a local Greek restaurant that looked interesting.

The official steam engine ...


Jasper Park Administration Building

Then it was off to bed and sleep ...

Our home for the night
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:54 PM   #3
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Day 3 - 17 Aug 2012 - Once upon a time, wild animals ruled these parts. Elk, wapiti, moose, wolves, cougars and so on. We thought those days were long gone, that the relentless march of civilization had pushed those magnificent animals far back into the wilds.

Well of course, if you've been in the mountains you know that's not exactly true. The various wild animals get pretty used to having man around. Sometimes we leave out food, or eliminate predators, and sometimes, provide shelter!

Young elk taking shelter

This young elk (I think it was an elk) was wandering around the eastern edge of the campground when I went to the bathroom in the morning. We passed by each other with a few yards between us, each of us giving the other the eye. At some point, maybe while I was in the bathroom, (can't quite recall now), a woman must have got a little too close or didn't give the guy enough of the hairy eyeball - and got charged by the young fella! There was some hollering and running around. No one was hurt but I suspect the woman ran back to her fifth-wheel and cowered, while the elk took refuge from the crazy humans in the cooking shelter. I tried to get as close as I could to get the picture, but he was giving me the hairy eyeball as I crept stealthily closer. So I just took the picture and backed away before he decided to take a run at me too.

Back at the campsite, we got things packed up and got ready to leave.

Ready to roll

The plan for today was to get to Grande Prairie, but at midday there was some doubt - more on that later!

So, into Jasper for some gas and then we headed east ...

Heading towards Hinton

... toward Hinton, where we'd turn north on Highway 40 ...

North on 40

Heading north, Louise and I switched places, with her leading. This doesn't happen often so when it does happen, it's worth a picture (or more) from the bike!


Louise in the lead!

At some point in the late morning, just south of Grande Cache, we spotted a plume of smoke ahead. We thought maybe it was a small fire, but when we got abreast of it, it turned out to be the ... smoke ... from a pulp mill or a saw mill or something. Whatever it was, it wasn't a fire.

Fire? Nope - pulp mill


So by lunchtime we rolled into the town of Grande Cache and stopped for gas first, then looked for a place for to eat. There was some tension as we looked for a place, which I attribute to the fact that Grande Cache has ... a federal penitentiary. I guess somehow we just couldn't shake the unconscious feeling that we could be jumped by escaped convicts at any moment.

Anyway, we found a place to eat, looked very grande and modern on the outside ...

Bighorn Grill

... but on the inside it was all early 1990s cafe diner kitsch. Decent food and service though.


No don't! I have bad hair!!


Oh well, if you must ...


To quote a famous Scottish actor, "Bad hair never looked so good!"

As we were getting back onto the bikes after lunch, Louise said she was having trouble turning the handlebars to the left. I figured that a pebble had got up inside the handlebar assembly and that it would fall out out on the road right away. Boy was I wrong.

It turns out that there are two things Grande Cache is known for, one is the federal penitentiary, and the other is ... Grande Cache Coal. The coal mine is just north of the town and it turns out that this coal mine is the reason that the town of Grande Cache exists. It's pretty a cool facility - it actually spans the highway and everything is black with coal dust! There's a coal conveyor belt that carries coal from the mountain on the NW side of the highway across to the processing plant on the other side.


Eventually Louise insisted we stop and check things out - the bike just did not want to turn to the left and the entire front fairing was vibrating. We pulled into a rest stop / garbage bin area at the side of the road and got out the tools.


After peering and poking and prodding ...

I figured out what had happened. There are two bolts to the frame that support the front fairing/dashboard assembly. Both bolts had vibrated out and fallen away, one somewhere down the road and the other bolt had fallen in between the forks and the lower triple tree assembly, binding when the handlebars are pushed left.

Since we had the one bolt remaining, Louise and I put back in, held things together and tightened it down real good'n tight.

I'd have to pick up a new bolt in Grande Prairie.

In all the miles we've put on all the bikes on the highway since 2007, this was probably the worst mechanical issue we've ever had - knock on wood. There's been some electrical stuff that failed, like Louise's push-to-talk button last year, but this was the first time I had to really break out the tools and fix something that could have stopped us.

Anyway, with the one remaining bolt tight, we chugged some water, got the gear back on, and headed on up the highway again.


We carried on, determined to find a campsite in the city of Grande Prairie. It became pretty obvious that we were getting closer to the city - the volume of traffic on the road, especially trucks, increased dramatically. I had the GPS programmed to direct us to a campsite on the edge of town. Well it turns out that the city of Grande Prairie has grown significantly faster than the GPS maps. The campground on the "edge of town" turned out to be a subdivision now! After some riding around, seeing more of Grande Prairie than we needed to, we decided to get a room for a couple of nights at a fairly new Holiday Inn back on the highway.

We found out the next day that there was a municipal campground 2 minutes farther up the highway. Oh well, as it turned out, we were better off in the hotel anyway. Our room was nice, we had a shower, then went for dinner, leaving the bikes right outside the front door.
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:58 PM   #4
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You guys are awesome adventure riders. You have covered a lot of territory. Well done. Great reports.
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:21 PM   #5
istephens OP
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Day 4 - 18 August 2012 - There were two things we wanted to do today - get another bolt for the VStrom's front-end, and ride to the Dunvegan Bridge a couple of hours north of Grande Prairie. The third thing we did today was completely unplanned and nearly ended the trip!

Riding light, we first went over to the local Home Depot to get a second bolt for the VStrom's front-end. I had gone over the night before after dinner, but I bought the wrong size.


I should have taken the remaining original bolt with me, because I wound up going back twice before I got the right bolt. With the right bolt in hand, finally, we started on putting them both back in.



With everything shipshape again, we headed north for the bridge. Along the way, I spotted this teepee in a parking lot in the midst of a bunch of industrial buildings on the edge of town.

Not sure this is original, strictly speaking

The road north was pretty straight and actually looked like it could have been east of Calgary - rolling prairie farm land. Once we got close to the Peace River valley though, the scenery changed.


That's the Peace River down there in the valley ...

and you can just see the top of the bridge on the left side.

I managed to get some pictures of the famous Dunvegan Suspension Bridge while riding up to it and across it.




Having crossed the bridge to the other side, we rolled into the parking lot of the Dunvegan Provincial Park ...


We took off the gear, well I took off my suit but Louise left her riding pants on, and wandered around some. There was a trailer in the parking lot that sold pop, hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream and COLD WATER!!! We got some cold water and it was good. I was talking with the woman running the thing and it was quite an interesting conversation.

It only looks like the trailer was in a little clearing in the woods - it actually was right in the parking lot.

There's a museum/interpretive centre right at the parking lot and so we decided to take a look inside. Turns out there was a video presentation that was starting right away, followed by a guided tour of the old buildings that were still on site. The preso was kind of interesting - it went through some of the native legends and early history related the to Peace River in general and area around Dunvegan.

The guided tour was pretty interesting too. We went with a few other folks and were led through the grounds and in and out of the various buildings. Considering how old the buildings are, they are in great shape.

This is one of the oldest buildings there, the St. Charles Mission was first built in 1867 ...

In fact, it's in such great shape today that its almost livable!





There's a few more pictures of the various buildings and interiors on my Flickr site - Dunvegan Prov Park

The bridge itself is quite famous for being the longest suspension bridge in Alberta.




We made a late lunch early dinner picnic in our barefeet, then headed out on the road back to Grande Prairie. Once we got back, we decided to go to the hot tub in the pool area. After a few minutes in the hot tub, Louise jumped into the cold pool for a swim and that's when the trouble started.

She started getting chest pains that steadily got worse as the evening went on, eventually by 11pm, Louise asked me to take her to the hospital! So we climbed onto the FJR two-up and headed to emergency. We found it easy enough, parked the bike and went in to start the triage process. Normally you go to emergency and wait and wait and wait ... unless of course you present with chest pains! Or a bone hanging out. But chest pains get you wheeled right on in and hooked up to machines. So Louise was in and hooked up well before midnight.

I have some pictures of Louise on the hospital bed hooked up to machines, but she won't let me post it!

Now once the hospital has you in, they are loathe to cut you loose. They ran some tests, then waited around, ran another test, waited for the results from that, then the doctor came by and asked all the same questions the nurse and the technician asked. Now they all wrote the answers down, at least that's what I assumed they were scribbling. Maybe they were just doodling to make the doctor ask all the questions again.

Anyway, it turned out that Louise had pleurisy which is inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest that leads to chest pain (usually sharp) when you take a breath or cough. Not so serious, but it was certainly painful for Louise.

So we had some choices to make and since we had nothing else to do while waiting, we talked them through. Our original plan was to take another week going through Dawson Creek, Prince George and down to the Okanagan on the way to Nakusp. Than plan was now out the window - there's no way we could leave in the morning and carry on the trip as planned.

We could arrange to ship the bikes home and fly home ourselves.

We could ship Louise's bike home and fly her home, while I continued on alone.

We could ride straight home, taking it easy over three days.

We could ride straight on to Nakusp, taking it easy over three days.

Stay tuned for the next instalment ...
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:33 PM   #6
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Day 5 - 19 August 2012 - Since we had time and nothing else to do but wait and talk we figured out the options.

There was no way Louise wanted to ship the bikes and she didn't want to cut my trip short by heading straight home. So we figured if we have to ride 3 days to get home, we might as well ride the three days to Nakusp, then we could rest up for a few days before heading home over 2 days. So I modified the plan and figured that we could head back to Jasper, then to Clearwater, BC., then Vernon, BC, and then Nakusp.


While it looks like Louise is going to cry, she's actually just making a sad face

Finally released from the hospital at about 5am, we headed back to the hotel to sleep for as long as we could and we'd just take it easy for the rest of the day. I had already called the hotel to get the room for an extra night - turns out that the hotel had already earmarked our room for someone else, so they had to do some juggling to make everything work. I have to admit I did use the "sick wife card" to get the guy to do what I wanted - which was to not move rooms.

Later on in the early afternoon while Louise snoozed, I got bored and decided to go clean the bugs off the front of the bikes. So I popped down to the lobby and asked the front-end folks if I could borrow some rags, a bucket and some detergent.

After a few minutes of calling and to and fro, they came up with an old bucket, some rags and some detergent. There was no obvious convenient place to fill the bucket with water, so ... I filled it up in the bathroom and went on out to the parking lot to wash things up.

It was blazingly hot outside in the sun, but I did manage to get the bug guts off the bikes and they looked a lot better.

Later we had dinner at the Five Guys Burger and Fries a short walk up the road. It was the first time I'd been to one, but Louise had been to one in Calgary before and knew what to do and expect. It was a good burger, not the best ever, but pretty good. On the way back to the hotel we stopped by the Starbucks for a triple vente extra-hot latte for me and a Chai Tea latte for Louise.

Now by this time, Louise was feeling much better, still in discomfort most of the time, but only in pain if she twisted or stretched or something, so we were feeling pretty confident that we'd be ok riding on as long as we took it easy.

Day 6 loomed ahead.
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:56 PM   #7
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Day 6 - 20 August 2012 - We had done most of the packing the night before, so we had breakfast, packed up the bikes and headed out of Grande Prairie in the rush hour, which wasn't too bad by Calgary standards.

We were heading south on Highway 40 - the plan was to get to Jasper for the night where we'd camp in Whistlers Campground across the highway from the Wapiti Campground that we stayed at on the way north a few days ago.


Heading south ...


Here's the highway ahead and Louise behind me ...

This is one of my favourite shots - it was an over the shoulder blind photo while I was riding along at like 100kph - it turned out almost like I was aiming it!

Over the shoulder blind shot of Louise behind me

So we rolled down a somewhat familiar highway, seeing as it had only been a few days since we were heading north.


Some curves, but mostly straight ...

The scenery was pretty cool, not spectacular like the Icefields Parkway was, but with rolling foothills and forest everywhere it seemed very remote.

We stopped in Grande Cache for gas ...

It was still really hot, but getting cloudier …

Because we weren't too hungry we just decided to eat some trail mix and chug some water. We chatted with some other bikers on older bikes heading north to Alaska. They were just kinda winging it though, neither bike was really the kind of bike you'd think of taking to Alaska and with what they had packed on their bikes, they made our bikes with our loads look like giant enormous pack draft horses instead mules. Oh well, we'd be a hell of lot more comfortable ...

After a couple of more hours riding, we stopped for more water and bit of a break for Louise. It was getting more and more cloudy and I started to suspect that we might get some rain before we reached Jasper.

Rain?


Trail mix and water - yum yum


Bit of a "hero" shot ...

Eventually Highway 40 crossed Highway 16 – the road between Edmonton and Jasper, so we turned right onto 16 and just past the Jasper National Park gates we ran into our first bit of rain. It wasn’t very hard, not enough to make me stop and put the thumb wiper on my glove, so we just motored on. The rain stopped before we got to Jasper although it continued to sprinkle on and off.

Just past Jasper was the Whistlers Campground where we were going to camp for the night. Heading into the campsite, we found a long line up of motorhomes and fifth-wheel rigs ahead of us. By this time the sun was out again and it was pretty hot just sitting there not moving very fast. Eventually though we were up to the checkin booth, behind some folks from Ireland if I recall correctly. They asked a couple of questions about bears and elk that had me laughing out loud – silly tourists!

Anyway, we checked in and setup camp …

The tent is too big for the site!

… and shortly after, we had some “food in a bag” from MEC. Louise had brought along some spices and thank God she did, otherwise it’d be tough to finish enough of the food because it’s so so bland.



After dinner a fellow riding solo on a Honda ST1300, the Honda equivalent of my bike, came over to ask about the showers and to have a wee chat. A nice guy, he was from Vancouver Island just tooling around for a couple of days. We only chatted with him that one time, we went to bed pretty early and he was on the road earlier than us.

Before bed, though we went on a short walk around the campsite just to walk.

I have no idea what Louise is looking at here …

We had stayed in Wapiti Campground a couple of kilometres south and on the other side of the highway. There was no comparison between the two campsites – Whistlers, where we were tonight, was no where near as nice as Wapiti. Next time we come through Jasper we’ll definitely be staying at Wapiti. The main differences were in the amount of tree cover and access to washrooms – Wapiti was way better.

Anyway, we crawled into sleeping bags early and slept the night away …
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:58 PM   #8
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Glad to read it wasn't anything serious with your wife. Thanks for the report and pics... Lucky man to have your wife ride with you

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Old 02-10-2013, 04:09 PM   #9
istephens OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
Glad to read it wasn't anything serious with your wife. Thanks for the report and pics... Lucky man to have your wife ride with you
Hi GB, yes I consider myself extremely lucky. Not many guys can say they share something like motorcycling with their wives, with equal passion.

I think she's pretty amazing actually. She's crashed her bike - ending up in the ditch, pulled it up onto the roadway, fixed the clutch lever and continued riding all day.

Last year, she rode by herself to Sarnia, ON from our home in Calgary - took a month altogether - then after a few days at home headed off with me on this trip.


Here she is just heading out from our home on her trip.


In Michigan on her way back.
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Old 02-10-2013, 04:38 PM   #10
istephens OP
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Day 7 - 21 August 2012 – We got up, ate our oatmeal, packed up and hit the road. We'd gassed up the night before coming in through Jasper so we were able to get rolling right away.

At the entrance to the highway waiting to turn left out of the campground, we witnessed one of the stupidest moves by the rider of a CanAm Spyder (a trike with the 2 wheels up front) that I have seen. Because there were two of us on two bikes I was waiting for a gap for both of us to roll into without going like bats out of hell. I guess I was waiting too long, because the idiot on the Spyder, two-up and wearing shorts, tshirt and flip-flops, went screaming around us on the left and whipped out onto the highway, turning left and narrowly missing getting clipped by a car coming south. Picking his sorry ass up off the highway after getting splattered was not how I wanted to start the day, so I was reluctantly glad he made it without getting smoked, but were both fervently wishing he'd get a brain.

Our goal for the day was to get to Clearwater, BC where there was a KOA Campground that I had made a reservation at. Just before the town of Jasper we took a left onto Highway 16 heading west to Highway 5 in BC where we'd head south.


South on BC Highway 5

Since it was pretty close to lunchtime and we both needed a bit of break, we stopped at Valemount for trail mix, a bio break, and some gas for the bikes.





We cruised on down the highway eventually paralleling the North Thompson River ...




I "let" Louise lead for while, and while it looked like it could almost rain any second at times, it didn't rain at all on us during the day. It did however rain late in the evening while we were at Clearwater.

Would it rain?

BC Transportation was busy fixing the highway at various points along the highway, causing the usual slowdowns ...



The flagman cometh ...

As is often the case, we had to stop for a few minutes waiting for oncoming traffic to clear past. So we took pictures of each other ...





Still stopped - see the speed on the GPS? 0.0 kph

By mid-afternoon, we reached Clearwater. First we stopped at the gas station to fill up with gas, and we had burgers at the A&W for a late lunch/early dinner. Then, after much searching and checking the GPS, we found the KOA right across the alley from the gas station.


Campsite setup

Since we were so early we had time to do some laundry, have a shower and relax reading. Also Louise wore a skirt!



Waiting for tea!

Later on we went for a walk then went to bed early. More highway tomorrow!
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Old 02-10-2013, 05:22 PM   #11
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Day 8 - 22 August 2012 - Today we were heading for Vernon, BC. It would be another easy day - only 240kms and probably about 4 hours on the road. For some reason we didn't take too many pictures this day.

First we got got packed up and then decided to have breakfast at the KOA Restaurant.



We were pretty much the only ones in there, but maybe we came after the rush ... or maybe it was this guy guarding the front entrance ...


Since we filled up yesterday when we arrived, all we had to do was roll ... wait, we decided to check the tire pressure, which turned out to take quite a while.

We had trouble with the pressure gauge, the compressor, where the valve stems were on the wheel ... seems like it took an hour to simply get four tires up to the right pressure.

Anyway, we got it figured out and headed off down the highway, towards Kamloops. At Kamloops we'd turn east and travel down the TransCanada for ways until turning south to Vernon.

There was another way that I was considering that came out to the TransCanada at Salmon Arm, but the road looked pretty twisty and might have been gravel so we decided to stick to the highway.

We arrived in Vernon mid-afternoon in the blazing heat and stopped at a gas station to fill up with gas, chug some water and figure out where to stay. We also happened to chat with a couple of folks going in and out.

Usually Sandman Hotels have been good, we've stayed at a few in BC now. We've also stayed at a variety of Holiday Inns and BestWesterns, but for some reason I decided to go to the Sandman.


It turned out to be in dire need of a renovation ... with a bulldozer. The folks there are nice, but the building(s) are pretty old and certainly don't fit the image of the other Sandman Hotels in the chain. The worst things? No hot-tub - just a pool; and the room was really tiny.

After showering up and unpacking, we headed off to find a restaurant for dinner, two-up on my FJR, and wound up at Original Joe's. I had spotted a Starbucks on the way to the restaurant, so we stopped for a Latte on the way back. MMMMM it was good.

Back at the hotel, we parked the bike ...

and went to sleep.

Tomorrow we would be arriving at Nakusp!
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:16 PM   #12
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Location: Calgary, Alberta
Oddometer: 116
Day 9 - 23 August 2012 - Today was going to be another relatively easy day, Vernon to Nakusp is only 194kms and should only take 3 hours. There's a ferry on the route and I like ferries! This ferry is the Needles-Faurquier Ferry across Arrow Lake on Highway 6.


We rolled out of bed, and headed to the attached Denny's for breakfast. Service wasn't the best but the food was alright. Packing up took little time and since we had got gas when we had arrived in Vernon, we just turned left on to the road in front of the hotel and road on out of town.

The first part of Highway 6 rolls through farmland and orchards along a railroad track that runs along the valley. There wasn't much traffic, but there are limited places to pass so we were forced to meander along at a leisurely pace. Eventually we started climbing into the Monashee Mountains and traffic dropped off. This is where the highway became so much more fun! Lots of curves, in trees and along the edge of cliffs - it was a really fun road.

It was this road road where I noticed Louise's increased confidence in her riding and in the bike. Usually in the curvy bits, I would race on ahead at a good pace, then slow down and wait for Louise on the straight parts, because Louise usually takes a much slower pace through the curves. Today though, as I ripped through a set of curves, I noticed Louise in mirror, not far behind me! At first I was pretty surprised, then I realized that the changes we'd made to the suspension of the bike and the thousands of kilometres she'd put on this summer already, had paid off in her vastly increased pace through the curves. Louise was really enjoying the riding too!

Eventually the highway got straighter and dropped down in elevation to the ferry ramp at Faurquier on the west side of Arrow Lake. We had passed, been passed by and passed again by a couple on a Honda GoldWing, who rolled onto the ferry right behind us.






It's a little disconcerting rolling onto a little bitty ferry next to a giant 2-trailer semi-truck! But the most important thing is to not be behind it getting off the ferry on the other side!

The rest of Highway 6 to Nakusp is a bit of a let-down after the thrill the highway was on the other side of the lake, but we took it easy and made it into Nakusp mid-afternoon, where we registered for HU Event at the sports complex. Then we headed into the campground to get to our site.


That's when the human-drama started.

Back in March, when I had registered us for the HU event, I had also emailed the Nakusp town to reserve our favourite site, and I had the email response back confirming it. We rolled into the campsite and I walked up to the office to pay-up. The new folks running things promptly informed me that the spot was reserved for someone else. I responded by informing them that I had reserved the spot in March - when did the others reserve it? The answer was July or something. So I said that a reservation made in March surely trumps one made in July? The Manager looked at me for a moment somewhat flustered, then to her credit decided - yes, a reservation made in March trumps one made in July, especially when I had proof of the reservation. She moved the other folks to some other site and I paid up through Sunday.

So with that crisis averted, we setup camp and waited to see if the VStrom guys would show up. Early in the summer, when I was on the VStrom Run to the Hills ride, I had mentioned that Louise and I were going to Nakusp and if anyone was interested in coming along, we'd be happy to share our campsite.

We were not sure when the VStrom guys would be arriving, so we were surprised to see Smurf and Pops roll in on their VStroms not long after we had arrived ourselves. They'd been riding around BC, Washington, and Montana and had a short trip from Toad Rock campsite, a couple of hours south of Nakusp.


That's Pops, and Pops' and Smurf's 2 hammocks

Later on at dinner, Big-Dan and Rob arrived, Dan on his VStrom and Rob on a Honda Varadero. They had some drama themselves - on the way out from Calgary, Rob's chain broke, so a trip back to Calgary to get a new chain was needed, then the two of them decided to take a shortcut over the mountains from Invermere to Crawford Bay - which is a barely maintained two-track gravel/dirt road. Back at the campsite, it was dark so the guys put their tents up by headlight.


By evening, we were all registered, had eaten, started drinking and it was all good fun.
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The Adventures of Ian & Louise
Ian M. Stephens
2009 FJR1300 Black
2008 VStrom DL1000 Silver/Black
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Old 02-10-2013, 06:50 PM   #13
istephens OP
FJRian
 
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Oddometer: 116
Day 10/11 - 24/25 August 2012 - Friday and Saturday were spent taking in seminars, checking out local restaurants for breakfast or just hanging out relaxing at the campsite.

There were a total of seven bikes in our campsite ...

and three tents (later four), and two hammocks.

Later on Friday, a seventh traveller joined us, a young fellow, Andrew, arrived on Friday evening and we invited him to pitch his tent on our site.

A couple of the better seminars were on packing and road meals by a couple that rode to South America on a Russian Ural sidecar rig. There was also a sort of motorcycle gymkhana skills test. One was slow speed race where the last one to cross the finish line won, and the other was a keyhole competition, where each rider rode into a circle, turned and came out again, and after each round the circle got smaller.

Rob and I decided to enter, he on his Varadero and me on the FJR. Now the FJR is a great bike but against the VStroms and BMWs, it was just too heavy and awkward to compete. In the slow speed race, I was doing good until the finish line where the front wheel slipped and I had to put my foot down - I was out. In the keyhole race I did better, making it to the third round where the front wheel, again, slipped a bit outside the circle - I was out, again. Against other FJRs I would have done OK. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Rob was a close second, but finished behind a small ancient, but beautiful, old BMW naked bike.

After dinner on Saturday night, six of us headed down to the lake just to watch the water ... and watch Smurf go for a chilly swim in the lake.


For lunch one day we found the Woodfire Pizza N' More - a Germanic pizza place where the food was excellent. For breakfast a couple of mornings we went to the Broadway Deli and Cafe, where the food was really good as well.

It was a lot of fun hanging out with the VStrom guys - it really changed the complexion of the event for us and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year!
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The Adventures of Ian & Louise
Ian M. Stephens
2009 FJR1300 Black
2008 VStrom DL1000 Silver/Black
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Old 02-10-2013, 07:06 PM   #14
Cal
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Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Calgary
Oddometer: 747
Thanks for reporting on a great part of the world! Your wifes vstrom looks like it does not have much ground clearance does she have any problems with scraping? The reason I ask is I have looked at buying one but I am to short for the 650 and 1000.
Thanks again
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Old 02-10-2013, 07:29 PM   #15
istephens OP
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Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Oddometer: 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cal View Post
Thanks for reporting on a great part of the world! Your wifes vstrom looks like it does not have much ground clearance does she have any problems with scraping? The reason I ask is I have looked at buying one but I am to short for the 650 and 1000.
Thanks again
Hi Cal,

Louise is rather short at 5'4" or so. Her VStrom is running a Progressive 465/RAP Shock that is 1" shorter than the stock shock and we lowered the front shocks in the triple trees to keep the geometry correct.

It's only going to be a problem when really cranking it into curves otherwise no problems. She never bottomed out in 2012, and I can't recall whether or not she scraped the pegs in the twisties.

There was no way she could safely ride, well stop actually, her VStrom 1000 without lowering the suspension.

You might be able get away with simply using longer dog-bones.

Hope this helps.

Ian
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Ian M. Stephens
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2008 VStrom DL1000 Silver/Black
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