San Diego to Skaqway
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Day 16 - 18
New Hazelton, BC
Day 16, Thursday, June 14, 2007
No coffee in the room. Dang. The Restaurant that had the night before shown me the breakfast menu was not open for breakfast. Double Dang.
So, off we go with breakfast bars and tea. The scenery is more crowded now. More towns, closer together. Fewer lakes, smaller rivers. We still see a lot of mountainous areas, mashes, and beautiful farmlands though.
Craig pulled over in Smithers at the Polaris dealer to hunt down a fresh can of chain lube. He came out gesturing that they only had it in drums “this big” with his arms outstretched. Okay, a little exaggeration. He said they pointed him next door to a little bike shop. A few minutes later he came out with a small can of chain lube and said that we’re going to change the oil here.
The folks at the Eye Candy Custom Cycle were so nice! They even gave me coffee (how to win my everlasting friendship!) My headache lessened considerably from this one thing alone. They didn’t have a filter, but no matter, we did! It was done in no time and Craig was real happy to have the task behind us. He also commented how nice it was to be right with the bike when it gets serviced. We had a skid plate to remove and so forth, plus Craig services the bike at home. Nothing had to be double checked as he watched or helped with every step.
We kept riding past a lot of farms, one deer romping through a field of horses, one alpaca on a big farm, and lots of cows. The scenery is more level and flat, and there's one farm after another. We at lunch at the "Pan Handler" and I got a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich (I'd been craving this since we started in the rainy weather). As it turns out, this restaurant is the teen after school hangout. Geeze. All guys showing off in obnoxious ways and girls giggling about shopping. It must be the same all over. Enough of that, back on the road.
At one point Craig pulled over for a break and laid his head, helmet and all, on the tankbag for about ten minutes. Fatigue, I think. Bugs everywhere! We found an Econolodge in Quesnel and got a really nice room, with parking WAY off the street. The owner gave us a pile of old towels to clean up the motorcycle.
She told us to go to a restaurant that was about 2 blocks from the motel, so we walked. We ended up having a really nice fancy dinner for a very affordable price at Savalos Steak House. We had the special “Lamb” and it was so much food compared to normal that Craig dubbed it “Gluttony 101”.
Craig finished cleaning the ALCAN and Stewart-Cassiar Highway off the bike, while I tried knitting a sock. This was my second try at it, and by the end of the attempt I was ripping it out again. I was trying to knit something small on small needles. Not very successful. Next time I'll bring circular needles and make a hat
Day 17, Friday, June 15, 2007
Drove south through more small towns and farms, and more trucks and cars. Stopped at a Subway for a vegie sandwich, and were advised by another sport motorcyclist from Prince George (who was on his way back from riding the Oregon and Washington coast) to take Highway 99 to Whistler (my brother Rich's favorite ski spot.) Craig wasn’t planning on going anywhere near Vancouver, but something this guy said convinced him to give it a run.
We saw more bears, including a mama and two cubs on the side of the road. Wide open vistas and gorgeous high mountains, glaciers, snow and green trees! This is awesome!! And, the best twisty and steep grade road we've been on so far (except maybe Jasper.) My kind of road. Like a roller coaster! Craig didn’t think it was a great motorcycling road per say, but that it was perfect for the V-Strom… something about like “a racetrack made of railroad crossings.”
The smell of pine and cedar is gorgeous, and we even see a few deer here and there. None are darting into the road. Just grazing roadside. The grass on the roadsides is about a foot high, and lush. Good feeding for the animals. Craig and I decided this was probably why we were seeing so much. The government keeps a wide swath of mowed grass and keeps the trees and bushes at bay. It opens up the area for more grasses and a lot of sunlight. So, more animals stay near but well away from the road.
While passing through the city of Whistler (much larger than I'd anticipated) we passed a very large, lazy looking black bear, sitting on his haunches behind a concrete road barrier, chomping on grass and watching the cars go by. He acted like we were the entertainment!
We also saw 2 lighter colored bears, mama and cub - probably Grizzly Bears. We kept going past more rugged mountains until we dropped down into Vancouver. Sky to Sea. This is an astounding City on a fiord. There is a giant rock formation that looked reminiscent of Yosemite - in the middle of the city - and steep faced to the sea. We then headed east through traffic, traffic, traffic. Found a room at the Best Western, then moved to another room because the first room was a bit stinky. The desk clerk was really nice and gave us the room next door to the original, with no questions asked.
Day 18, Saturday, June 16, 2007
We left Vancouver and drove to the border. Definitely, we'll see you again Canada! What a beautiful, friendly, wondrous country! The border crossing was a fifteen minute wait.
It would have been longer, but they opened another lane next to our lane, which split our lane in half. Then, I noticed that the lane was empty, so I patted Craig on the shoulder and pointed to the lane, and he promptly went around the cars ahead of us and headed into the open lane, as I waved to the car behind us to come along! I have to earn my back seat on this trip, after all. The crossing was smooth, probably because we're on a motorcycle - how much could we buy and pack on the motorbike?
After checking a couple of places by phone, we pulled off at a dealership we saw from the freeway. At Skagit Powersports in Burlington (skagitpowersportssuzuki.com), I met "True Brit" while he was helping a dad buy 3 motorcycles, one for himself and one for each of his 2 daughters! There was also a fellow who had done many of the same routes we had traveled in the southwest, so we had fun exchanging stories of the road. Inside, Pete worked hard to find the a tire fro Craig and somewhere that could do the change that day - it took about 25 minutes, but they finally found a place that was down the road on our way.
So, back on the bike, we go to another Dealership, Everett Powersports. After pulling the tire from stock, they gave us the next cleared bay, which was essentially immediate service. Outside a charity was selling hot dogs and hamburgers and chicken sandwiches to raise money for Children with Cancer. Nice folks! The customers hanging around there were not talking much about rides, however. Just parts, parts, parts (yawn from Lisa...) and mechanical stuff. Soon enough we were on our way, but opted to cut through Seattle since we were so far south already.
Our fresh Michelin Anakee!!
Seattle was so stuffed full of cars that traffic seems too small a word. One hundred miles of bumper to bumper. It's like L.A. with narrower lanes and no lane splitting. We drove through Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia areas with drivers in cars 3 abreast so that passing was not possible. Very tough go. Finally, we reached the cut-off to the coast and got off the freeway. Ah, great scenery again!
We had no trouble finding a room in Ilwaco. We stopped in at Heidi's Inn - a very cute place. We had dinner at an McNel’s English Pub, complete with Guinness! It was a very enjoyable evening, and the walk back with the smell of ocean air was very pleasant. And, we were back in the land where it gets dark at night!
Tomorrow, we begin our meandering along the western North American continent's mid-coastline.
> Go to Day 19