Day 4 / Sunday, June 15, 2008
In the morning, I met a group of riders on BMW R1200GS's who had stayed the night and were reuniting after they had all gone on one of Helge Pedersen's GlodeRiders tours from Turkey into China the year before. They told me I should set up a touring company in India, because people like them would love to come and tour through there. That's an idea...
That's Steve in front of the pavilion who used to be a career man, but wanted out and setup this campground aimed mainly at motorcycles. There's a real laid back atmosphere and he organizes some big rallies that are turning into mini-Sturgis events.
An outdoor stage where bands perform during the rallies and the huge campfire ring besides it.
They called it Toad Rock cause a rock nearby looks like a toad. Simple.
Today I would be zigzagging my way around lower BC, riding all the fun roads in the area, before ending in Vancouver. A lot of the fun roads followed the numerous thin finger lakes that are common in this area. I read that the retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age carved these lakes out, just like the Great Lakes.
The road from Kaslo to New Denver was a real blast to ride and that was confirmed when numerous sport bikes zipped past me, riding just like I would if I was on my Suzuki GSX-R. They must've been going around 90-100 mph but I was doing about 70 mph max and still having a blast on the DR. The thing with smaller bikes is that the thrill of going fast can be felt at slower speeds compared to higher horsepower bikes. The DR handles great in the twisties and she's fun to ride and gives me a thrill.
Being a Sunday and such a nice day too, I saw bikes of all kinds enjoying the good riding. The few that I talked with, while waiting for ferries or at gas stops were all intrigued to find out that I was riding to Alaska.
I was heading to Vancouver today taking the scenic route through southern BC's beautiful interior. Heading up to Kaslo along Kootenay Lake.
The size of the mountains emptying into the lakes was a sight to behold. There were huge lakes around every corner carved out by retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago.
And because of so many lakes, there's quite a few ferries to take. Always fun to ride a ferry on a bike and I believe they're all free in BC. Waiting to cross from Fauquier to Needles with a bunch of other bikers. Being a beautiful Sunday, I saw lots of bikes enjoying these roads. They all got quite a kick after hearing that I was on my way to Alaska from Chicago. By this time I was used to getting the "you're crazy" look.
On Route 6 heading to Vernon, BC.
In general, the more west I went, the more crowded and built-up it became. Hwy 97 from Vernon to Kelowna was like an Interstate highway, but it followed the coast of Kalamalka Lake and had enough turns in it to make it fun to ride, albeit with heavy traffic. Going further south, Hwy 33 was recommended to me, but it wasn't all that exciting. However, riding a bit of the Crowsnest Highway towards Osoyoos with its dramatic drop down into the valley made up in the fun factor.
The road from there to Princeton went through numerous fruit farms (apples, etc) in the big fertile valleys and roadside fruit stalls were common in every small town. I saw signage encouraging citizens to buy locally grown fruits instead of cheaper foreign imports, like maybe from Mexico (that I saw last year).
The view of Osoyoos in the valley below from the Crowsnest Highway, back down near the US border, heading west.
And they had some fun tight turns to quickly get down from the hills into the valley.
This is where the road becomes a party of the scenery.
Heading towards Princeton through a big valley. One thing I loved about Interior BC was the constant undulating landscape.
All these roads could be labeled as scenic highways in my view.
From Princeton, I had wanted to take this short cut through the woods on a gravel road to the main highway heading to Vancouver. The road went through two small mining towns of Coalmont and Tulameen before turning into a gravel road climbing up into the mountains. As the sun was setting, I was enjoying myself, but noticed that the speed that I could travel at (around 10-15 mph) would mean it would take more than an hour to cover the 20 miles and I didn’t want to keep my hosts in Vancouver waiting too late into the night, so I had to turn back and take the long way around on the highway. It reminded me of the road down to Batopilas in the Copper Canyon of Mexico.
As I was putting air back in my tires in Tulameen for getting back to the pavement, an elderly gentleman asked if I had just come down the dirt road from the highway. I explained that I turned back, thinking I wouldn't make it in sufficient time and he said he hadn't heard of anyone making it down that road yet this season. Oh. He said the road was closed in the winter and only occasional traffic made the trip. Sounds like a fun road, but only if more time was available.
Now this is more my kind of road. Taking a little diversion from Princeton and heading to the small town of Coalmont, where I thought I could take a shortcut to get back on the highway.
The winters are great in BC with tones of snow for skiing, but the steeps also pose a danger in terms of avalanches.
The quirky little town of Coalmont.
Another way of really saying that solicitors are not welcome.
The one block town of Coalmont. A mining town back in the day and slowing coming back to life.
The shortcut didn't look too bad. It was about 20 miles of this to the highway. I thought it was totally doable within an hour.
I figured I'd get a mug shot before I lost more daylight. But sadly, the road got rougher and rougher and I think I could've done it but I was going slower than expected and didn't want my hosts in Vancouver to be staying up too late waiting for me, so I turned around and got back on the highway.
Putting air pressure back in my tires after reaching the pavement in the remote town of Tulameen.
I think this view alone was worth coming out of my way. Heading back to Princeton.
I felt real guilty now because I knew I would be getting into Vancouver quite late and I phoned and informed my hosts who understood that I made a wrong decision about the route.
Hwy 3 from Princeton to Hope was an exciting road, especially at night. I was paying extra attention watching for wildlife since animals come out more at dusk. Hitting a deer is one thing, but coming across an elk or moose could be fatal. The highway is pretty wide in places, but it was pitch dark besides my headlight, which I found to be adequate enough without having mounted any aftermarket lights. I never plan for night riding but when it happens, it's always a great thrill, especially in the twisties.
I got on the freeway, the Trans Canada Highway and hurried into Vancouver. Just a few months back in January, I drove through here in a minivan with friends and all our ski gear, heading towards Whistler. I remembered the highway through Vancouver being quite fun to drive and it was similar on the bike with elevation change and some nice corners. I pulled in around midnight to Tracy and Claude's house in North Vancouver, just across the inlet from downtown. I apologized for being so late but being adventure motorcyclists themselves, they understood.
Next: Day 5 - 6, Vancouver to Interior BC
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