A Week of Work
Half a dozen short trip back and forth to the bikes had them both packed in less than 15 minutes. Well, they were only parked 10 yards from the front door of Jeremy’s apartment. We’d spent the week in northern Seattle after our South Sound Motorcycles presentation at the weekend. Our brains were frazzled. Our long-term friend Jeremy had offered us his ‘under construction’ apartment and we’d jumped at the opportunity. I needed laptop time and lot’s of it, If I were to make serious headway with layout and design of Lisa’s cookbook aptly named ‘Dirty Dining’. Jeremy had given us fair warning and under construction meant under construction, but we were glad of the water, internet and bed. A week’s worth of privacy was also worth it’s weight in gold.
Of course I haven’t finished Lisa’s book, but it is getting there and it looks great.
Playing with Cagers
On the fast I-5, the bikes had felt heavy as we played dodgems with the unaware cage-riders. I swear to god if they’re not texting whilst driving, they’re drinking Starbucks and veering into the lane next door.
It doesn’t matter how long we’ve travelled for, the idea of entering a new country or even just revisiting one, always energises us. New experiences, new opportunities, new adventure, the possibilities are endless.
At Bellingham, we slipped off the I-5, clicked down through the gears and easily pick up the 539 north. The small Aldergrove border was as quiet as we’d hoped and without fuss, we’d handed over our passports answered the usual ‘How Long do you intend to stay here’ questions. Without getting off the bike, I’d even had a laugh with the immigration officer about the fact that I clearly have no idea where I was going or how long we’d be in Canada.
Thirty minutes later and I was stood anxiously at the door of my Aunt and Uncles home, just east of Vancouver City. We’d not seen Maureen or john for 9-years when we’d last quickly passed through, before our departure to Asia. I have many skills, but staying in touch with the people I love is not one of them. I could convince myself that it’s a ‘guy thing’, but I’ve come to accept that I’m just a shitty communicator and as much as I want to that person who writes or calls every day just to say hi, chances are I never will be.
We had three wonderful, laughter-filled days. Maureen and John have not changed or even aged. If anyone has a Dorian Gray painting aging in the attic it’s these two. The 9 years vanished and we picked up exactly where we’d left off.
The fact that Maureen looks so much like her brother (my dad) brought home how much I miss my parents. With visits to the stores for last minute provisions like tactical cord and bear spray, the time flew by and all too soon it was time to adios.
On The Road North
Today had been a long one.
We’d loaded the bikes last night and had the luxury of leaving them loaded and securely parked in John’s garage, which meant that this morning we had only to secure the last few straps and click into first gear. It had been a tearful goodbye for Maureen and I’d worked hard not to join her as I got emotional saying farewell. The reality of age and that we’re getting older was hitting home.
With the last waive farewell, we headed off with a beep of the horn and a handful of throttle. We’d pit stopped at the Treo toll office and paid the $1.16 (Canadian) for the one-way crossing of the new Port Mann Bridge, that would take us over the ***river and onto the highway.
Note to self, ‘in the future figure out when the Canadian bank Holidays are, and don’t travel on them!’ The traffic was slowly than a sloth on Mogadon.
North of Vancouver and the winding smooth fast asphalt…wasn’t! The entire city, it seemed, was headed for the hills. The dramatically named Sea to Sky Highway looked more like a Costco car park as we played stop n’ go with white vans, family packed 4×4’s and one idiot in a sky blue Bentley. On the plus side, it gave us ample time to take in the stunning scenery to the west, out across the estuary and to the forest covered islands on the horizon.
Past Horse Shoe Bay and Cypress provincial park the smell of pine was delicious.
Farther north and the traffic was thinning as we passed Lions Bay, Brunswick Beach and my favourite ‘Furry Creek’. Squamish was behind us in the blink of an eye and by early afternoon we were skirting the lavish Ski resort town of Whistler. We’d been here before but under very different circumstances. In another lifetime, when I’d had money, we’d booked an apartment here and planned to celebrate the turning of the Millennia with a ski holiday. Things hadn’t gone as planned and by day four of our stay, both Lisa and I were hospitalized with Pneumonia. We’d then spent the next 3 weeks convalescing in Vancouver with Maureen and John. Ahh, good times!?!?!
What a small world?
In Pemberton we’d pulled over and kicked down our side-stands alongside a dozen or so Harleys, each one immaculately lined up in perfect symmetry to the one next to it, like dominoes waiting to fall. Sitting outside the 1 Mile Café sharing our burger I’d noticed two small bikes waiting for the light to turn at the nearby lights. The nod of a head and the waive of an arm, told me who it was and seconds later our friend Greg Hilchey and his girlfriend Lindsay were pulling up and parking.
“OK, this stalking thing is getting kind of creepy” I’d blurted to Greg with a smile as he clomped up the worn wooden stairs to where we were sitting. The line was now 40 minutes for food and that was too long for this pair who were off to hit the dirt trails east of town. We caught up and compared notes on travel and wished each well. All the usual stuff you say to friends before seeing them ride off. Although this is different. We’ve know Greg for 10-years and for as long as we’ve know him, he’s been picking our brains in preparation for his own ‘big trip’. His circumstances have changed and life’s moved on but it’s great to seeing him on his bike, with a mile wide smile smeared across his face and actually on his trip. Actually, I feel proud for him, he’s earned this, he’s needed this. Let the adventures begin!
By late afternoon we’d found a quicker pace and the curves of the Caribou Highway were coming thick and fast. “This is what riding is about” I’d shouted to Lisa, as we plummeted at speed into another series of tight corners and another valley. The last time I’d been this overwhelmed by mountain scenery was our time along the Silk Route. Imposing rock faces, towing cliffs and a winding fast moving river, all riding nirvana.
With the day fast running out we’d waived a hello to two passing riders as they headed south. Minutes later and one of them was catching and flashing his lights for me to pull over.
“Hah, I knew we’d see you on the road”, shouted Alex over the deep rumblings of his trusty hp2. We were exactly 235 miles south of Prince George and pulled up alongside the road chatting to Alex Guth of AlexyMoto fame. Alex had worked on Lisa’s F650GS a couple of years and ago and is one of the few tech’s that I’d trust to work on our bikes as though they were their own. We’d know Alex and his wife were riding up to Alaska, but honestly had expected to see them. And yet, here we are laughing out loud and getting buzzed by the traffic.
Finally, I got Lisa’s attention and made our apologies to Alex, we had to get cracking. It was 5pm and we still had 235 miles to reach Prince George. The chances of getting there before nightfall was slim and the risks of riding here at night at high.
Six miles south of Prince George and with the last of the daylight being squeezed out by the night, Lisa and I were inventing new swear words as a storm cloud broke above our heads and soaked us in seconds. We’d managed to stay dry all day and now we were cold and dripping wet. With the daylight, we’d had no chance of seeing the clouds or skyline and couldn’t plan to pull over and pull on our wet riding gear. As the seeping cold slowly made it’s way into my groin and mumbles something truly obscene under my breath.
By 10:20pm we’d negotiated the street and were pulling up into the packed car park of the Travel Lodge. It’s now 1:00am my eyes are closing and I’m done for the day. What a great day…Yeah, I know…I’m weird!