Thursday, December 15, 2011

Montana here we come

I don't consider myself aggrandizing, but I do re-read my blogs to keep from repeating things. Some might wish I read them more...because I seem to have taken to the common use of some phrases that I could see turning stomachs or rolling eyes if they crept in again....

Tonight, as I was trying to remember summer...I happened upon our trip to Montana. Montana was the destination...no...truthfully....The Sip n' Dip Motor Inn was the real the destination. It just happened to be in Montana.

Let me tell you about the Sip n' Dip. This is a hotel that was forgotten in a time warp of 1960. It was built before that....but I would say it really mattered in the 60's. The hotel is pleasantly preserved. It was sparkling clean...a cute little rubber ducky....and the kind of fixtures Restoration Hardware would covet. The double bed fit snugly between two hanging end tables that had no room between the walls. The words quaint and cute came to mind as everything was just so....and just so small. Though we didn't really come for the accomodations...we came to see the Mermaids.

Walking into the bar at the inn....I had no idea what to expect. Turquoise stools, tiki knick knacks and a glass wall looking into a swimming pool were only part of the ambience. At 7:30 young ladies donning a bikini top and a tail were swimming to the ogling crowd sipping mai tai's and martinis.

Tips were taped to the glass while the mermaid twisted into an arabesque and then shot to the surface for oxygen. With lungs full and smile pasted she was back waving and moving rhytmically to her own music as the bar was taken over by Pat now, playing the same organ she had played since 1900. There were only 3 chords played for the entire repetoire of songs..or perhaps it was just one song that had many many verses.

People were loving it. What was not to love? Mermaids...cheesy music....people who were clearly tipsy trying to impress their "lady friend" by singing along with Pat.
I saw men in white pants with white shoes. (Please - if your friend wears white pants let them know they need a neutral white or beige briefs....and please let them know that they need something between them and the gabardine). I saw a few hats on men wearing cardigans and carrying a cane That used to be such a grampa thing to do except I now realize why my man wants a hat (at least he has not mentioned white pants!)

You could pick out the regulars in a moment. The one with the skin tight shirt and wrinkled cleavage, red lips and bouffant hair. The smell of hairspray made me glad there was no smoking!!

The Sip n' Dip is a piece of history that has remained mostly unchanged by time. The years have been kind and it is one of the most unique places we will ever travel thousands of miles for.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I have been chastised for neglecting my blog. Riding tonight I knew that I needed to distance myself from the same old prose that I noticed I use over and over lest I bore not only readers...but myself.

Feeling the warmth of the October sun compelled me to the road today. Plans were cancelled and I was inhaling food to get on my bike. Not 2 minutes out of the driveway and I realize I have forgotten my scarf. We head on a local ride, over the river and down through Richmond, then Ladner and east Delta.

My head clears on the road. It is cold....my left baby finger aches and my face shield is fogging up. I am smiling ear to ear. I love the invigoration...leaving my cheeks ruddy, my eyes red. I am not quite sure if I love the bravado I demonstrate at sticking it out....or if the rhythmic movement entices me no matter what the weather. I love it and that is enough for me to be sad that my insurance is soon up.

I am glad I seized this moment.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

early morning rides..

...are my favourite. Very few cars....the cool of the morning. We went over the state line into Montana very early and breakfasted in Troy. The diner was resplendent with cowboy memorabilia and the history of the area.

Leaving Troy and onto the most amazing and magnificent cattle ranches that stretch for ...I want to say miles and miles....but in fact feel like ...days and days... of ecru coloured fields that dip and sway and dot with black steer, huddled in bunches munching vegetation blissfully unaware of their fate....(had to say that...being vegetarian...) The unfolding of the landscape still leaves me in complete and utter awe....to see the dips and sways and mesas is something new...I am a kid in a candy store. I am smiling...and damn..my headphone falls out...so in the first town with an Albertson's we correct the lack of consistent music. I feel out of every element I ever could be in...a carnival across the street...and a store that is more southern than I have experienced. I visit the "washroom" and know that I am not in "familiar" territory.....but hey...being the great Canuck I have learned to be...I roll with the punches.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Grand Forks, Trail, Creston & Bonners Ferry

Very early Wednesday morning we left Penticton around the east side of Skaha Lake heading toward Hwy 3. Morning is the perfect time for a ride. No campers....few cars on the road. We stop at Happy Days donut shop in Grand Forks. Harley's dad is friendly at filling us in on the Russian heritage of the Dukabors in the Creston Valley. His Harley looks pristine..it is kept in the house since 1987...to which I know Ken is trying to get my attention. It is not happening...they can barely fit in the garage.

The weather is perfect. Not too hot, but the sun still warms us. We arrive in Trail, a familiar and unforgettable town. Trail has the appearance of being placed very carefully, at the bottom of a ravine with mountains surrounding it. Beauty is only disrupted by the belch of smoke from the local companies. I cannot imagine that this would be a industrial hub....it would have been a wonderful scenic destination had not the soot sullied the waters and town around it.

We press on to Creston....wide open spaces....the road looking down on valleys of farmlands, bucolic settings amidst the unspoken shame in the valley that is home to Bountiful and underage girls forced into polygamy with spiritual leaders. I crane my neck to catch of glimpse of anything that might indicate the colony.

We keep moving now, winding toward the Porthill border crossing where we are interrogated with a southern drawl that is barely understandable. It is 3:30pm and we arrive at Bonner's Ferry, Idaho....a historic town founded by Bonner to transport between Canada and Idaho across the waters. The ferry is no longer, and the town looks on its way out as well. Trying to find a restaurant proved a challenge. There was a movie theatre and a Casino, and we did eventually find food at a brewhouse....but we could have walked through town and rolled it up for all the people around.

Our hotel was quaint....YEP...floral!! But...in this case, with the king sized log bed it worked. We enjoyed our neighbour next door as we sat and swapped stories of rides and experiences on the open road. We bid adieu to our new friends as they ventured to Canada and we headed south to Montana....

Leaving Vancouver

....was a journey in and of itself. 4:00pm on a Tuesday should not be as challenging as it was. At 176th and Hwy 1 we were parked. No movement at all. Fumes encircling us and not just from the car exhausts. We tried to find that detour route that no one else knew about. There was no such trail. Instead we wound our way, joined like a magnetic train set, through rural then urban, back to the parking lot.

When we were able to travel at a speed that required a distance of 2 seconds, I was already tired of the songs on my iPod...and this was day 1 of 6!! Route 3 to Summerland was uneventful. I kept trying to calculate our arrival time, and though the beauty should have captivated me I could tell I was getting stuck.

Seeing the lights of Penticton sparkle on the lake took my breath away and suddenly the darkness felt more like a blanket than an inconvenience. My head was getting ready for the next 5 days of riding..

Coming Soon.....Tales from Summerland to Montana

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Washington State

I have the utmost respect for our neighbour to the south. Those beautiful winding roads....new tarmac....polite drivers that realize when they are plugging traffic up. We were at the border early ready for adventure. We weren't disappointed being on a familiar route....Mom's Cafe for breakfast...then off to Leavenworth.

Leavenworth could have a page of its own, for the kitchy German theme....the upscale tourist shops....you feel transported to somewhere very far away from the boarded up stores and malls, businesses and houses that lined the road along the way. Leavenworth had all appearance of thriving with people teeming through streets and stores and a line up of traffic down the strip.

We stopped without lingering...more intent on seeing a vista than a visa. Azure lakes, spectacular mountains and valleys flew by. I can't help but feel incredibly blessed at seeing the world magnified through the vast expanse.

We cool off in the shade of a tree, but by now the air is stifling. We sway with the curves through the Chelan valley and arrive in Omak as the thermometer passes 100F. I am grateful for air conditioning and water.

Omak is a nondescript border town that boasts a casino and a WalMart. Not just a WalMart....a Super WalMart. This means that the parking lot is full on a Saturday afternoon and as you walk through the store I am amazed at the overflowing superfluous chips and pop topping carts. I am ashamed we are here. I am ashamed that we have given in to the lure of a quick microwave meal.

WalMart never fails to live up to my expectations. In true form we are 3rd in line and are there for more than 20 minutes as there is a problem with a bank card...then a credit card and a cheque - or check down there. The absurdity of the wait is not lost of either one of us - this so that the purchase of 10 pounds of lard...(yep pig fat) and several cases of gatorade can be transacted. I would say only in America...but it happens in Canada too...so I will refrain. But I will say it was his idea....to find the microwave dinner.

This contest for the best "cheapest" dinner began innocently in Port Townsend. We were in a Safeway to get a few snacks when I spied vegetarian meals that looked good. Too tired to try to sit in a restaurant we purchased the meals along with snack sized ice cream for a grand total of $5 ... Ken was hooked. It really was one of the best meals I had had in a while...but since then we have tried to top it....to find the perfect meal with dessert for two of us....WalMart was our only hope.

We were slightly over on the meal....buying organic Amy's vegetarian meal....and threw in some licorice as well. That did not work.....The licorice was like corn syrup....and the dessert was inedible. I gave the meal two thumbs down. It filled us up but did not leave me satisfied - it was a WalMart experience.

I will not darken the door of the Omak WalMart again! I do love the Chelan valley though...so I will be back.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Riding is more than cathartic for me. It is the machine and I becoming one as we twist and turn. I have never been, nor aspire to be cool,,,but there is satisfaction at perfectly executing turns, following the ess of the yellow line in rhythm.

I know I used to think I was a good rider. I am only discovering now that I don't know much about riding. I am confident. I am able. I understand the mechanics of riding and the bike. It is taking command of the bike I am still learning. Willing it through a narrow passage...knowing it is tight, but moving your body to move the machine an inch to the left around a mirror of a car...it is looking beyond the tight corner to see the oncoming car and knowing how to react.

Our new destination has been Steveston. The gelato is great....and the there is enough variation in the rode and route to venture..either 6 road to Steveston or through the tunnel. I can tell I am outgrowing the CRM....my throttle hand aches from trying to keep it at 80 K.....I will miss this bike. It has been good to me.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I HAVE ridden since Father's Day...and someone pointed out I was remiss in not posting to my rag on this....however, as my defense I can only say....my ride today was again....ethereal.....I know...lame....exhausting to hear again. Westham Island in Delta riding side by side...through the corners....through all the curves....side by side...and did I mention we were side by side...even at the lights.....I am sorry....I am such a nerd that completely was into the fact this might bore you...but in my little world of biking I recognize the trust it takes to ride through a corner with someone...through anything that could bring impending doom!!

Today I really felt that the bike and I were one...not me riding it...but an integral part of who I am..

I love it...so..so nerdy to say out loud...but i love the adrenalin...the rush of the wind...the beat of my heart...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

the day started gloomy. Too dismal to consider a ride through Vancouver to the mountains. We stayed in bed....and I cooked him bacon....not an easy feat for a vegetarian.

As the sky lightened we eventually sidled our way to a Show and Shine in Surrey. Lots of fringe...lots of grey.....a few rode over the grass so tenuously that I wondered of their skill on the road. They had the 1200 electraglide all decked out and they matched it perfectly....but the fear on their face on slippery grass was priceless. I might have taken a picture but I was afraid they would think I was after them. (shudder)

We walked around...talked a bit...and the man gave his piece of wood up for another guy. When I asked why he shrugged and said his bike was pretty solid....and the guy had on a motorcycho patch. I am curious why he doesn't say..."hey - that's me" to anyone. Every now and then someone figures it out. At the Yamaha dealer yesterday the guy pegged him. "ya"...he says somewhat meekly. "How did you figure that out?" I ask. "Facebook....I saw a pic on FB and knew it was you." Norman Anonymous might not remain that way.

Something I have always admired about him is that he has never had the need for someone to know the details. He has given to those in need....with no praise....he dj'd for years with the anonymous moniker....and his magazine is decades old now. He has never sang his own praises....never tooted his own horn. I have never seen him try to get attention for any of the things he has done.

Of his greatest accomplishments, I know that he has 4 amazing kids who adore him, admire him and are proud of their humble dad. I am the most blessed of all....and I get to ride with him into the sunset.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chuckanut Drive has yet to disappoint me. We had no one in front of us the entire time.....and the only damper on the moment was the cop at the very end pulling us over for a ticket. I have no idea how he could have gauged that we were doing 60 in a 40 zone. He was hidden from view and not pointing anything at us. We chew on this fact later in the day of course....after the request for $195 has already been issued.

Trying to be as optimistic as possible I note that many times we have escaped detection...and with the thousands and thousands of kilometres we ride...we truly have been fortunate. Ken concedes..though I know his attitude borders on insolence.

We amble through the farms to Mosquito Lake Road....but not before i spot another cop coming toward us. "Pull over," I urge, just to see if he is possibly going to follow us. In true form he pulls onto the deserted farm road....and letting him lead but losing sight of him means that my head is twisting and turning to spot him anywhere while the speedometer is kept within the legal limits. The stress is almost too much for the man. He admits this at one point and I think he is about to turn around. A deep sigh and some resolve and we continue on the road...with a little more thought and not quite as carefree as usual. Mosquito Lake Road ambles and bends around pristine farms, meadows hugging hills and as far as I can tell, not a lake in sight.

American flags and We the People signs are prevalent everywhere. Mentions of troops and guns are plastered on signs as well, reminding us that we are far from our home and native land...even if we are within an hour.

We head toward Mount Baker and the back and forth...left to right following bendy snakes as we climb. The vista is breathtaking. Snow....in 10 and 20 foot drifts line the sides of the roads, though the air has no hint of cold. At the apex the valley is verdant and distant.


Our descent takes us back through the esses and a view of waterfalls from melting snow. The moment is great, although I can feel myself in the mode to clutch, brake and throttle. I am not entirely bored as a passenger....but I crave the thrill as you dip from side of side.

The valley is peaceful, cows lowing, a deer hopping through grass...bison huddled together at a fence. The dale seems frozen in time....time of yesteryear with cars strewn through the acres...washtubs....trailers. There is no hint of this century. It could be the 80's...

Heading back toward home there is the comfortable meandering through the backroads. Our adventure is done before two and we are brought back to reality of the now....dishes neglected, laundry and a game to fret over.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Had I known years ago how much I would love the adrenalin rush of the wind in my face...it would have happened decades ago. I love it.....I really and truly love it. It could not have been a more idyllic day. For some reason cars were banished from our routes and we were able to enjoy twists and turns through bucolic settings along 264th in Aldergrove. I am such a nerd that I actually was singing about how much I love this place....living in Vancouver takes my breath away.

Riding is ethereal. I can't help but smile. I love that I don't have to think about gears...it all comes natural now. Look to the left and right - more throttle to catch up to him. He is on the Pan today and the swagger is there. Left hand on his hip on the straights....gliding around the curves....mmmmmm...'The swagger......nuff said.

Mountains in their majesty...winding tarmac...the flicker like a filmstrip of the sun amidst the trees. Could it possibly get any better? I think not!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wow!!

Three layers of pants, five layers on tops and I feel and look like a black Michelin Tire guy. Before we even got to the first stop sign my knees feel wet and cold. We are off flying down to the highway.

I am sure of a few things. Although I am sensitive and a pushover….I know how to dig deep and suck it up….even when I can't see one glimmer of brightness in the sky. I also know that no matter how bleak a situation seems…there is probably something spectacular I would miss if I stayed in bed.

Abbotsford's Harris Road was the first joy wending through little curves and out toward Harrison. These are familiar properties and landmarks. It amazes me how little has changed...cars still parked...abandoned tractors...a majestic bald eagle in a tree I have seen many times before.

The rain is easing up and we are on the way to Harrison....in the Hemlock Valley area. When we veer right to get to Highway 7 I take note of Hawkins Pickle Road. What a name!! I want to live on that road. We are creeping toward Hope and Highway 7, enjoying the beginning of the ride and drying out.

Next we are in Boston Bar, stopping at a cheesy somewhat dilapidated diner that Ken thinks is cool. We miss the May Day parade that is just a little south of the Diner, but which we see a few participants pass. The parade lasts only a few minutes....a shadow of yesteryear when apparently the celebration went on for days. It seemed the most exciting thing was the lights from emergency vehicles.

We are back on the road, and we in edging around familiar twists and turns and watching for rocks as we head from Lytton to Lillooet. It is a beautiful ride dodging rocks the rough narrow roads....we see a bear cub part the trees but as soon as he hears the engine retreats. It is great riding now as there are few cars on the road to slow us down. We get to Lillooet and are on the Duffy Lake route. Now the road cuts a swathe through the mountainous terrain....Cayoosh Creek curving beside the road. We are alone with the tarmac, twists and breathtaking views of waterfalls, trees and crags. We stop for a picture with the snow by the road and cannot resist a snowball fight. The air is filled with the sound of running water and the sun is beaming on us, enough to kiss us with warmth.

I am in my head, thinking how most of the world is missing out on this - where the earth and sky feel like they are one....and we are invading, but only to pass through. As we wend and wind through to Pemberton and the humanity begins to surround us again, we see houses that could be condemned resplendent with Canuck Jerseys and flags. It is nice to see the rally of spirits.

Volvos and skateboarders are prevalent as we near Whistler. The mountains are full of snow, and even as the sun seems to remind us that summer is close, the snow beckons to the die hards to ride.

The next morning we head for home...but the thing I think I enjoy about my man is he doesn't always stick to the script. We were planning breakfast in Squamish, but wound up meandering through a mostly deserted, tree-lined road of gentle twists, that took us somewhere new...We breakfasted in Brackendale after the detour. It was satisfying to find another road less traveled....and distracting.

From Brackendale it was smooth bends and curves south on the Sea to Sky.....cautious, not for the road as much as for speed traps. The view is spectacular...islands dotting the azure blue water mirroring the sky. Looking out I cannot help but feel completely content with the world.

And to think I might have missed this but for a few moments of rain....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

yup it' s raining

...and we are leaving....and not just the spitting kind. This is the rain that gets you wet from running to a car....where you can stay warm and dry. twenty eight years ago it was scorching hot...today I cannot even see Richmond from the office window. Wish us luck...

Friday, May 27, 2011

There are a few things in this world that take my breath away. The smell of my newborn babies, the Cascade Loop, Duffy Lake Road, my husband of 28 years and a pristine black Motoguzzi. So, when my man suggested we ride together on the Cascade Loop...me ride the Guzzi....my heart skipped a beat. His confidence in my skills bolstered any fear that might creep in. Yes...ego is involved in this one. Everyone...I mean everyone notices the Guzzi. It could be the lines...it could be that even a poser could actually look cool on it. I have never been, nor claim to be, nor aspire to be cool. But....I have to admit...for someone who has to stand up straight to reach five feet, and weighing a lot less than the bike....to be able to maneuver it through terrain that I am in awe of will be my challenge over the next few months.

First I need my full license - which does not qualify me to ride...but will at least give me credos on paper. Then I will need to learn the configuration of the gears. The Guzzi is Italiano...it needs to be massaged....rocked....cajoled in a whole new way to the next level. As he explains this...and his own confusion with which gear, I know that it will take getting used to. But - that is about it....it will take getting used to. I have started in naivete and pregnant learning to ride....from there I learned you don't need much gas when you are riding a trials bike - you just need skill and teeth....and the last few years have taught me you need a pair for a lot of things in life. I really want to learn that Guzzi.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There are a few things I am not sure I have what it takes. One of them is embarking on a journey, laden down, in the midst of rain. Now - I am no wuss...I have been through plenty of showers with little complaint. I have ridden through buckets on a dirt road that was slippy and I never once suggested we crawl back to our friends campsite. I have experienced cold so numbing that my fingers hurt for a few days. It just seems difficult to don rain gear at the beginning of the adventure. Having it happen in the midst would work. So....cross your fingers as apparently at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, I will be on that bike - rain or shine. That means I better find what it takes according to the weatherman and a certain navigator.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Once I am on the road, wind in my face...I remember what I love. I love that everything feels so close...the sky...the water....I love the rush of adrenalin...and the peace of the backroads. The smells are also vivid. Freshly mown grass, honeysuckle blooming, exhaust fumes from the truck ahead...each triggering something deep within.

You barely hear sounds over the din of the motor. Especially with the RD beside or in front of me. The whine of the motor drowns out anything I might hear.

We did a few of the familiar routes yesterday. River Road, both Richmond and Delta, Marine Drive in White Rock..Colebrook Road. All my training grounds. Even the rain did not deter my enthusiasm at being in my head and on the road. I can't explain exactly what it feels like. I have tried to those whose queries are somewhere between curiosity and condescension. I have never thought an artist need explain their love of colour or texture. Nor a fashionista need not justify the love of fabric.... but if it is anything close to the euphoric feeling of freedom mixed with fear, that keeps me safe....I know I understand the passion of others.

I have always loved passionate people.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

They are out again.....

...the maps....strewn across the desk...so I will notice. Opened in his hands as he is coming to find me......"this looks like a great ride...." and he is off to his happy place, imagining the road less traveled. There is no mock within me. I am grateful for the man that goes to this length...how could I not be?

I have yet to be disappointed by a ride. In fact to relive them always brings amazing memories...I feel so incredibly blessed that I have seen the beauty that surrounds me. Dawn breaking over mountains and valleys leaving Omak...Desolation Sound and the amazing waterfalls and spectacle of it all in the Cascades..the Sunshine Coast would be a story in and of itself.....mountains that are so close I am in awe of their majesty on the Duffy Lake Road - not to mention the rest stops along the way with the Eloha bubbling and drowning out the world..the Okanagan with the smell of apple blossoms and sage so vivid that the aroma is locked forever in my mind. These are but a few of the thousands and thousands of kilometres we have traveled...

The maps are out..searching again for adventure....thx honey......I will pack light as usual.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The sunshine beckoned us to venture on the Guzzi. Some call me adventurous, others question my sanity, as did I when I could no longer feel my fingers. Was it spectacular though to ride through agrarian roads with memories of the distant path in barely more than a tee-shirt? It was. To drink in the fresh dusting of snow on the panoramic mountains, to see the sparkle of frost on the trees and ponds was ethereal. Although my fingers have yet to recover, my heart was restored to the appreciation of all that we have within our grasp. Two eagles on the top of a tree, resting and enjoying the scenery are among the sights that take my breath away. The wide open sky - the bare trees reminding me that death means birth, and cold thwapping against my cheeks, invigorating me. We return, numb and cold in bones and alive and refreshed in spirit. Spring is just around the corner!! Bring it on.....