Saturday, January 20, 2018

It is days like this I remind myself of sweeping corners and snaking yellow lines.

The drizzle is persistent, dreary with a sense of foreboding. My mind wanders back to the rumble of the motor and the ever changing smells that waft through the landscape. I hadn't noticed smells before, apart from the obvious ones that invade your nostrils - chemical plants, bakeries or fire.  The more and farther away I ride, I recognize the emanation of hay or honeysuckle, the cedar and loam that exhales from the forest floor. Distinguishing between the tang of the sea and the crispness of the mountain air. The smell of rain and the wet of leathers is embedded. A field of lavender perks my brain and as we edge toward the city I can no longer isolate scents. A soup of emissions mixed with people, restaurants and industry are like the dreariness of the rain.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

They limped home near midnight.  Headed north through the tempest that upended their truck and pointed them back our way.

They left in a flurry of activity involving welding, dehydrating food, vaccinations and insurance, a cacophony of  good byes, good lucks...and tears.

Excitement and nerves equally balanced they set off with a fabricated roof rack and make shift camp gear. They were upbeat, yet momma bears can hear trepidation. Or perhaps it is just expected when you intend to spend 180 days with someone in confined quarters, destination Panama,  with loose plans but an intrepid spirit.

Six days in and we are sitting in our sacred perch of stairs recreating the scene of their vicissitude.

The setback is discouraging. What adventurer would not be? Clearly they are bound to go where the vaccinations were required.

Plan B will be in affect shortly.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thunder, Lightning, Lakes and Desert

...that about sums up our weekend of which began innocently with a few sprinkles of rain and became a deluge that found us under tall cedars trying to keep warm.

Visors blurred, roads awash, fingers pruning...we pressed on to our motel in Nakusp. I tried to find my happy place in the memory of Westside Road and the swaying esses of the yellow line.

Drying out proved to be a weekend goal as leather, socks and gloves were saturated. Foraging at the local grocery store for comfort food and sugar and then on to try to binge watch a drama was too much for me. I lasted through the intros before I was dreaming of dry tarmac.

The next morning was only slightly brighter....I suppressed my sighs as I donned wet gear and damp boots.
I was torn between having a meltdown and sucking it up. I was cold and couldn't use heated grips because of my battery issues. The conversation in my head was colourful, and yet my resolve at knowing that irritations have a way of producing something much better than expected, I subdued the oppressive force and chose to notice the blue peeping through in the distance.

It was typical riding at that point. Traffic, passing, others passing me...nothing remarkable...and yet as my tunes kicked up, my mood lightened. We were now at the point of no return and pressing on was logical as the sky was more promising.

We roll into Nelson, a quaint town that is new to us. The classic main street is highlighted by the Selkirk mountains that envelope the town. Knowing exactly one person from there it was fate that they should emerge from their perch at a coffee shop to say hello as we are parked less than 10 meters from them.

We press on to the ferry across Kootenay Lake, lunching at the pub

And then... heaven opened and before us was the perfect groove of road for more than 70 kilometers to Creston. We could not have planned it better had we called ahead. Nothing impeded carving corners, enjoying vistas or playing cat and mouse alone on the stretch of snaky roller coaster road.

We arrived at our B&B at peace with the world, having spent all our adrenaline in tempering the bikes.

I love Creston and would have bought a building on the main street if I didn't have such a great family around me at home.
How quaint is that? And the price is less than a bachelor pad in the far outskirts of Vancouver!

Rising early we set out while the heat was still at bay. Heading towards Grand Forks then Osoyoos and finally back to our starting place of Summerland. We have a fair distance to travel full of  peaks and valleys, curves and flora that can only be described in superlatives.

The ice had not yet liquefied from the top of the mountain, and we were into road repairs on the descent to Grand Forks...the terrain was spectacular with eagles racing through currents, deer grazing and little creatures scurrying to safety.

Filling gas tanks and tea cups (yes - even in the heat), we attempt to leave Grand Forks to meet friends when the man could find no power. Having jimmied an emergency set of jumper cables out of wires and alligator clips my bike jumped his...Yes - the bike that I was having battery trouble with!!  Fate didn't take us far though and we turned around to a local supplier, found the rare 12V battery he needed and lunched at a local pub waiting for it to charge.

We were glad we were prepped with cables...even if I didn't need them!

Leaving over an hour later and in the heat of the day we were bound for Osoyoos. The ride now was about distance, though as the terrain changed to desert and scrub land it was hard not linger at the sites and revel at all that was new.

It was around now that my throttle hand was trying to find more and going 80k was a struggle. I knew I was tired and now my bike was personifying me. I struggled up hills like a marathoner on mile 25. We sputtered and geared down trying to find a sweet spot. It wasn't until I reached the
crest of the hill into the valley of Osoyoos that my machine felt back to normal and able to keep up with the man.

Navigating chicanes on the downhill while stretching to behold the heart-stopping artistry of the symmetry of vineyards pressed against hills surrounding a pristine lake is distracting. You need to watch the road, the gravel, the person in front of you...and yet, in that moment I want to stop and breathe and take it all in.

He presses on, no photo op for social media. Instead we go around and as the sun is ebbing we press on toward Keremos and Green Mountain Road.  It is the long way, as my dad points out with a frown. "You could have saved so much time!" he chastises. A memory grazes my brain of long car rides holding my bladder or my growling stomach fighting for my real estate in the back seat with my brothers.

"The long way, the twisty way, the mountain road with no shoulder, the wild horses, the lack of signs and lines is the purpose dad."

He shakes his head, having never understood the journey was the point. Not the destination.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

white and grey

We are headfirst into the days of drear. Roads are either wet or icy and looking at the pictures from summer I long for wind and yellow lines. The grey sneaks up so fast. The sun melts on the horizon and a blanket of cloud looms, threatening ominous precipitation. When a light ekes out between, reminding me of summer, a cold wind seeps through my clothes edging out any thoughts of a winter ride.

Plan and maps for 2017 will start soon. Highlighters, google and wish lists will emerge with the hope of an early spring. The bikes are tucked away now...trickle chargers where necessary - oil changes on garage days...biker movies and stories get us through.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


He's asked me many times to come..but my love of dirt biking usually loses over time to chill..or clean the house...or make cookies. Last Sunday, with the aforementioned needing done, I cast aside any guilt or nagging feelings and headed to the end of No. 8 Road...past No Trespassing Signs and ominous warnings to arrive at dunes and a course that was rough and puddled.

The sun was shining and attempting to dry up the waterlogged land. Costumes abounded and some without much more than skivvies as the rule is you ride with one - or you take it all off. The temperature was at 9 celsius so it was obvious from the ruddy back and legs how tough the course was in the cool of fall.

We headed to the jump to catch the thrill of the land and sometimes the fall down the embankment of sand.

This day topped many...and I am so glad I came home to a To-Do list rather than miss out!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When you embark on any journey, you think you have an idea of how things will go. We often plan the landmarks and route.  We want things to be tidy, ordered and when we want them.  Life and travel rarely roll this way.

We had no idea what we were getting into, both in our wedding vows or our expedition across Canada. We had maps for both, but adjusted as necessary. We stopped more frequently for hot water and bathroom breaks...we adjusted to each other's sleep and eating habits. There were times I felt completely spent and I am more certain he did as well. Sick babies, four little ones, endless driving and juggling, pressing on past Portage La Prairie for 3 more hours onto Lester Beach...pushing on to Sudbury hungry, thirsty and depleted, agonizing over big decisions that threatened the life of our youngest, empty nest for almost a week and back to a fuller house...

We had no idea what we were getting into...but I wouldn't change a thing - and I would not want to have known, for fear and over-planning might have weakened the muscles I built at staying the course when things were hard...I might have carried too much equipment and tired sooner, or I might have opted not to start.

Marriage parallels a journey...or in our case, a Canadian Epic Adventure, 'eh!
Traveling through New York state was surreal for me. It was not unlike much of rural Canada. Roads snaking through small towns with diners and farm equipment dealers. We did hear a really thick New Jersey accent emanating from a hair-slicked back gentleman in an older cadillac with his bouffant touting companion powdering her nose (who does that anymore??) and attempting to apply lipstick on the ferry jaunt to Essex. We wanted to record his voice as it sounded out of a movie.

We press on and now head north to Niagara Falls.

Nothing could have prepared me for Niagara. Well...actually - perhaps pictures of the city could have - because when we arrive at Clifton Hill parking lot the kitch began with the dinosaurs and putting green and continued through streets of Las Vegas like attractions. I had only ever seen the falls themselves in photos. They are breathtaking, spectacular and a wonder to behold. I had no idea they were part of the theme-park. The juxtaposition could not have been more apparent.

The mist rising on the rushing cascade...the immeasurable beauty of nature in sight and sound was magnificent. Built around this wonder are spectacles so wacky and absurd, like an amusement park, I am unsettled.

The discordance disturbs me. We sure know how to wreck a place. As if the falls themselves needed something else to lure tourists. Meanwhile Norman is enjoying this to the max. He loves the cheese and tucks into tourist shops and magic stores. Although bloated in the cheese, I should clarify the falls are the highlight for him too and the boat ride around them is perfect.

We stayed in Niagara on the Lake...very touristy and with just the right amount of trendy gluten-free bakeries, bistros and organic markets to entice the tap of the debit and visa cards.

The town itself is bustling with people and although we are minutes away from one of the most amazing wonders I have ever seen, most seem preoccupied with finding the right t-shirt or taking a selfie with the horse-drawn carriage or the manicured hanging baskets in the background.

We experience our second rain-storm on the way from the falls on our last night and I am grateful that we have not needed rain-gear after Calgary.

No more words needed. This is tucked in my heart and the last picture of the most amazing journey.