Monday, July 23, 2012

Riding with the Angels

I decided on Sunday that  I was getting too comfortable and it was time to roll again.  I visited with my cousin Rod and his partner for awhile and then headed south.   As soon as I hit 97 south, I could hear this rolling thunder coming up from behind....

Sure enough, the "loud pipes save lives crowd" of riders came up from the stern.  I moved over to the slow lane (not that there was much choice) and I could see that it was a crew of HA riders, with a couple of the lead riders wearing their colours.  They rode in tight formation 2X2.  For the next 30 or so miles, all the way  into Kelowna, we paced each other.  It was interesting to watch the reaction of the traffic, as the noise from the combined bikes was quite discernable, and traffic did open up to give them room on either end of their cohort.  While they were neither speeding or acting agressively, I could see that their riding style enabled them to make good time.  I can fully understand the pull of the group, and certainly the sound of their bikes in concert is a form of music, albeit loud and disturbing to many people.  There will be more on this later...

From Kelowna I decided to head east for a bit,  and rode throught Beverdell and Rock Creek.   I continued past Rock Creek to Midway and Greenwood.  I stopped for a hot dog in GreenWood at a funky little cafe, and watched a deer calmly munching away on the grass beside the road.  This sight of Bambi calmly munching away reminded me that this was deer country, and it was getting on to be later in the day, so I headed back west, past Rock Creek.

It wasn't too long before I was at the head of Anachrist Mountain, above Osoyoos,  and I drove into an area being devloped as high end housing acreages on top of the Mountain.  I found a great camping site on an unsold lot, with a great panoramic view of the whole valley.




Again, it was lesson time, but I was not listening to the Teacher closely enough.  It was late enough in the day that I should have set up the tent and called it a day.  I was above Osoyoos, and all the signals were there that it was a good and secure stealth camping site.  I decided to descend into Osoyoos, and  I travelled down the twisty mountain into town.  I stopped at Timmy's as I was was attempting to find some stealth camping site in town.....Hah!
I watched as two RCMP cars boxed in a lone walker on the highway, and with sirens going gave the guy the roust.  I thought that I needed to move out of town a bit, and proceeded to head out of town in  a northerly direction.

The area around Osoyoos is full of vineyards, and there was zero opportunity for camping near the side of the road.  As I neared Oliver, I began to see shadows of my youth walking and hitchiking down the road.  There must have been 40 0r 50 young kids with hair, long dresses, and dogs all heading back from Oliver to some undetermined destination.  I read them for pickers, and thought that any stealth camping sites would be taken up,  so I rolled on to Vaseaux Lake.  I hadn't been in this area in 20 or 30 years.  I was not going to pay the $16 at the Government  Provincial campsite, and I soon spotted a road which led off up the mountain side, to the south of the lake.  I travelled up this dirt road for about 3 kilometers, and after a bit found a suitable campsite.  By this time it was beginning to get dark, and with the clear sky overhead, I decided to take a risk and just sleep in my bag, without putting up the tent.  Lesson #505:  Clear skies do not necessarily mean that it will not piss down with rain in a couple of hours.  That is exactly what it did, and so between the incessent whining of mosquitoes, and the rainshowers which completely soaked the sleeping bag, I had a less than stellar sleep.

I arose and wrung myself out at first light, and by 6:00 AM I was on the road and found a Timmies on the soughern outskirts of Penticton.   I wandered around town untile I found a laundromat, where I was able to dry out my sleeping bag.  As I was leaving, I had a great conversation with a gentleman about Costa Rica.  He had spent a month down there, and he was very happy with the country,  and was planning on going back.  He said he had met two dudes from Alaska who were travelling south and who had kept to the dirt all the way.  I imagine they were doing the Trans Continental Trail.  I certainly can relate to getting off the slab, but my bike will have to lose some weight before I attempt that option when I head south.   I decided that I was going to take a dirt, gravel option out of Penticton and head in a westerly direction towards Princeton, where the ride is centered, beginning this Friday.   I thought it a good idea to have another coffee as I was fighting a drowsy day, and headed for Timmies again.


As pulled in, the guy next to me said: "I never even noticed you pull in", which I took to be a positive comment.  Dough and I ended up bsing in the coffee shop for over an hour.  He was waiting for his mom who was in the doctors office, and I was just there being a stranger in a strange land.  Doug had a strong opinion about loud bikes, and was pretty angry about the whole loud bike culture.  We talked about our lives, about women, kids, and divorces and as I have found, he was pretty candid about his world view, as people often think, (I think) that they can be honest and open with strangers who  they probably will never see again.  It was an interesting conversation.  We both agree that women are better communicators, and that it was difficult to some men to lost the macho sense of things.  We acknowledged that we both knew men who treated women like shit,and that these guys (the loud pipe guys??)  did not do our gender much good.  An interesting conversation, and the kind that I used to have in beer parlours where the problems of the world would be resolved just before I became too inebriated to remember what the solution was.  Much older now, and perhaps the setting and venue changes have helped me to appreciate the human condition and not necessarily  fret as much as I did in my former lives.

I realized that I was pretty tired from my rained out night, and the skies were darkening and rain threatened again. I headed north along the lake, and the wind was picking up a lot.  I looked around Summerland, and could not see a good campsite, nor a decent motel,so I returned to Penticton.
A quick visit to the Visitors Center and a delightful visit with Sheri and her helpful computer pointed me in the right direction for a motel.  It was time for a crash, a shower, and some more crashing.  I rationalized the expense by remembering that I had been mooching tent space for a week or so and therefore an expensive motel was okay for the night.  The little devil on my left shoulder said that if I remembered, those Angels that I had rode with the day before had absolutely no baggage on their bikes, and certainly would not have slept in a soaking wet sleeping bag on the side of a mountain in a thunder storm....so a motel was ordered up, and therein lies the end to this tale for today...we will see what a wet night in the streets of Penticton brings...

One things about motels is that wifi is part of the deal...so in the interests of planning, I think that I might venture over to Hedley tomorrow.  My friend Doug and I road the Nickelplate road a couple of years ago.  I will have to see how the rain has treated the roads, but I think that there will not be enough mud to worry Blondie.


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