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.