Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Goodbye Nakusp..Hello Victoria

I rolled away from Nakusp with a good feeling about the upcoming trip.  I talked to a number of folks who have completed their trips to South America, and certainly all of them want to go back.  I had a conversation with a fellow who was leaving right after the HU rally, and I could relate to his apprehension and misgivings about all that is undone, in terms of planning.

I met some very interesting people,and my conversations with a couple were gratifying and significant, in terms of travel and meeting people and engaging them in conversation and discussions about the realities of travel, as well as the essence of why we pack up our gear and our lives and go off in all directions.

Someone mentioned that the HU gathering was cultlike, and in a sense the people who ride and travel are of a different mindset than others, in that the focus is on the open road, and the opportunities  and challenges that are inherent in this lifestyle.

I had to take a picture of this Nakusp household.  The garden was beautiful, and the wooden structure evoked a very good feeling. I hope that the house is occupied by a loving family, and that the positive vibes that the house emanates carries through to the family as well.

The Horizons Unlimited gathering is all about sharing and learning from others' travels.   Grant Johnson, the founder of the website, is demonstrating the correct way to change tires and helping us to make the process as painless as possible.  I am afraid that I could not see as much as I would have liked, and I am almost certain that down the road, I will regret  my lack of knowledge around tire changes and  fixing flats....
There were well over 200 riders attending this event, and this collection of rides is but a small portion of the bikes attending.

This was the new 2013 BMW 800GS.

A very likeable fellow from Nanaimo conducts a workshop on what to carry on your bike, in terms of extra tools, spares, and fixits.  This was  a very helpful demonstration.

This tool was built by Grant Johnson to help with the tire removal part of the flat tire process.  The notches hook into the spokes and assist with the leverage aspect of spooning the tires.

This young fellow from Seattle had just ridden to Alaska and back with his Dad.  We had some interesting conversations, and he helped me download some free maps for my Garmin system.  I suspect that I will be running into him again, as he is planning on heading for South America this fall as well.  His KLR is tricked out and ready to go, and he has a positive attitude and lots of youthful energy.

I was one of the first to get on the road from Nakusp, and caught the 8:00 AM Facquier ferry.  I decided to roll into Edgewood, to see if I could find any of my brain cells that I had left there about 45 years ago during a crazy hippy party.  I did not find any remanents of those said cells, nor did I find any memory traces of that farm, so perhaps that wild weekend was a figment of anothers' imagination...although I do remember owning a white Commer Van and filling it full of hippies one summer night.....

Edgewood looks very respectful and the coffee at the corner store was welcome and strong.   I had a long conversation with a dude who was pushing a camper van.  He complained that the women in his retirement community were only after him for sex, and that he was looking for a travelling companion who enjoyed travelling.  I comimserated with him and suggested that he could either move, or get a motorcycle.  I didn't have any solution to his sex problem, and wondered if there was an extra suite at his closed community.  They say that guys never talk about their feelings, but I think that it is a matter that strangers are more apt to share their lives, with the understanding that bikes that pass in the night will not spill the beans, so to speak.  The conversation was possibly  more meaningful to both of us than the acid-filled weekend of 45 years ago.

Because of my short term fantasy filled love affair with the waitress at the restaurant in Cherryville, I had to stop there for breakfast on the way through.  She was not there, and was probably sunbathing nude on her boat in the middle of her lake, but I managed to stay and have another great breakfast.  The poor girl who was taking her place was run off her feet with Sunday golfers, and I appreciated her efforts to keep me tanked up with coffee.

As it is my usual mind set when I ride in the Okanagan, I was experiencing lots of nostalgia on my ride out of Nakusp.  Dad and I had hunted up in this area many times, and I clearly remember unloading 14 rounds out of my 10 shot .303 in an attempt to bring down a whole deer herd on Eureka mountain.  We would leave Vernon at 4:00 AM in order to get those early morning  bucks.  Dad and his hunting buddy, Mr. G, would drag me along and I saw a lot of great country before the loggers hit the mountains and hills of the Monashee.   I decided that I would take the back road to Armstrong to pick up my gear, and I roade through Trinity Valley.  It was an eye opener for me to see the number of developed ranches and stump farms where three had only been bush and dirt roads 30 years ago.  Again, I remember driving through this road with my little daughter in a papoose style child carrier, and I am guessing that was 39 years ago.  Sigh....

I arrived at Armstrong and my neice and her family were getting organized for a family outing on the river, probably the last one of the summer.  A baby  neice arrived from Australia, and it was clear that she was  a red head, through and through.

I reluctantly headed west towards my Son and daughter-in-laws' place in Chilliwack. I stopped for gas in Falkland, and talked to the owner of this cool chopper.  He had purchased it new in 1976, and was still working on it.  What a beauty...

I decided that it was time to face old demons, and three years ago I had started out to ride the Douglas Lake Ranch.  I ended up pinning my foot under my pannier, twisting my foot badly, and essentially ruining what remained of a summer ride.  I ended up scurring to my friend Pats' place in Victoria, complete with a twisted and fat foot.  I needed to confront that ditch, and overcome any remanents of lacking confidence regarding dirt and gravel roads.  I turned up the Douglas Lake Ranch road, and climbed up onto the flats.
Soon as I was up on the plateau, I saw the old farmhouse where I had stopped three years before to take a picture of the notched construction.  I also saw the cross ditch that I had failed to navigate, too.

I said goodbye to the old house and those memories of a twisted foot, lots of ice, and a crappy Merritt motel room.  I was grateful that I had a friend who had a couch, had nursing experience, and did not fault me for riding motorcycles and harming my body occassionly.

I was a nice ride throught the remainder of the Douglas Lake Ranch, and I saw no sign of the muskeg which had plagued a friend of mine on his ride through the ranch two years ago.  Everything was dry and dusty and I was at the Merrit turnoff before I knew it.

I spent a quiet night with my son and his wife at their place in Chilliwack. They are in the throes of moving to Alberta.  This province is eating all of my children. While I understand that they need to go where the work is, I am feeling a deep sense of separation and loss as all of my children are now based in Flatberta.  I hope that they find a place where the old man is able to come and visit occassionally.  As soon as Blondie has new shoes, an oil change, and is readied for the next stage of travel, I am heading back to Chilliwack to help move their belongings to Edmonton.

I am currently sitting in Victoria while Blondie has a once over.  Gwyn, the author and moto mechanic is working on her, and I am very confident that all systems will be healthy before  I get on the road again.  I just finished a conversation with a 76 year old gentleman who has been riding since he was a kid.  Our conversation was not about his racing bikes as a kid, or about his career as a metal worker, but mainly about his formative years in occupied Holland during the Second World War.

He told me about his family secreting away three Jews in their attic for three years unbeknowest to the Nazis, and he talked about  what it was like to be sprayed with machine gun fire as he gathered firewood in the  forests as a youngster.  He spoke about a city where the family home was built in 1300, and how the basements of the homes in the city was interconnected by catacombs, and how he used to catch rats in the warrens of the city.  I could tell that as he described his trip "home" five years ago that the visit was cathartic and healing for him.  I can only imagine the terrors that war created for that generation.

Well, it turns out that Blondie will need some new wheel bearings, and possibly a new battery as well as cables, so I have made an appointment for next week, after I return from Edmonton.  It is hard work, taking a holiday....