Western US 2015: almost last day :(

Lots of time to think but not look around.

Ontario, OR to Yakima, WA. Interstate all the way.

So, the questions was asked, “Self, what’s the difference between a long, straight, two lane road through central Nevada and a long, straight road (for the most part) from Ontario to Yakima? One has character to spare and the other – well, character doesn’t enter into it”. Honestly I had to think long and hard to provide a fair answer to that one. To be honest there is so much here that I can’t possibly put it all down without spending all night at it. To make a long deductive process short, I came up with a few interesting thoughts. Trust me, there’s tons more.

On the back road you have less traffic alright, but the nature of the traffic is significant. Folks are just as likely to stop if they suspect someone is in need. They are more likely to be engaged with the journey, not the destination. On a back road you can stop anywhere, any time even if it’s in the travelled portion of the road (we did it) as long as there are significantly decent sight lines. Pull off the freeway on the shoulder is… hazardou

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Western US 2015: day 8

“In the direction of home” edited to “heading home”.

So we looked at the weather at home next week. Not good. The thought of ending a great ride in the rain was pretty disheartening.  It never fails, as soon as we’re headed toward the barn the whole thing  goes to hell in the hand basket. Even on the Cross Canada Tour where we were on the road for 3 1/2 months, as soon as we pointed the front wheel west our thoughts were of home. Last night we had planned to head up the west side of Idaho to extend things a bit but by the morning we thought, “To hell with it. Let’s make it a straight shot”.

We headed straight north on Nevada 225 and Idaho 51 as originally planned but the rather than continuing north we hit I-84 at Mountain Home and blasted to Ontario, OR.

Along the way we again found ourselves perhaps in a fuel crunch situation (the down side of some back roads). Thankfully in Owyhee, NV we found fuel with lots to spare. A couple of things made that stop interesting. First, we sped through a 15 mph school zone and the heat nailed us. Fifteen mph? Who has a 15 mph speed zone!? We were close but I was looking for a gas station and not the signs. Honest, officer. Anyway, he was a decent sort and when he noticed my old FD ID showing I was a Battalion Chief, he extended a “professional courtesy” and just gave us a warning. Before you non-emergency folks cry “foul!!!”, that only makes up for the time that one of our Queen’s cowboys slammed me with everything he could think of because I “flashed my badge” (he noticed it in my wallet [in my lap] when I dug out my licence). Anyway, the mood changed and it turned out our NHP dude is a biker, obviously rides a Harley, so he was all friendly and full of information after that. Ride on, Brother!!! :)

Right after that, when we were at the gas station he told us to go to, Arlene suddenly had a deafening rattle somewhere on her bike. Muffler, right side for sure. A little process of elimination determined that it was a broken hose clamp securing a heat shield. By golly if the service station wasn’t attached to a hardware store (and a deli). We bought and installed a new clamp, had a meatball sub and were on our way. Gotta love Owyhee, NV.

The ride was pretty standard fare although they were laying a new gas line along the way so got to see the process from virgin ground to all buttoned up and every step in between. I know. I’m a nerd.

The best part of the whole ride was that we got to ride through rush hour in Boise, Idaho. That was really neat. The down side of not really giving a rat’s ass about time, dates and time zones is that you find yourself in rush hour when you think you’re not going to be in rush hour. :(

We hit the motel on Ontario, OR and immediately soothed our souls with happy hour – super sized!

Now that we’re doing the Interstate thing it looks like Yakima, WA tomorrow via I-84. Yet another town we know backwards and forwards.

When it’s over, it’s over. That doesn’t mean we won’t enjoy the ride from here to home. A day on the bike is still a day of independence and discovery.

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Western US 2015. I think this is day 7

How quickly things change.

Such a great ride yesterday you’d think we were going to stay on the road for a month. We were pretty stoked about heading east. Until this morning…

Nothing drastic happened. We just both got up in a different frame of mind. I had been awake quite a bit thinking about Arlene’s shoulder but there was something else. I couldn’t put a handle on it but I had a definite feeling of uncertainty. Arlene said she felt something too. Nothing like dread or anything, just uncertainty. When things like that come out of the blue we have learned to listen to our guts. Our intuition hasn’t failed us yet. As a matter of fact, my 6th sense has kept myself and others out of danger many times in the fire department over the years (not that we feel in danger at all, just emphasising how much I’ve learned to trust my senses).

Anyway, we decided to head more in the direction of home rather than away from home. That’s the cool thing about not having a schedule or destination: you’re not going to disappoint anyone if you change your mind. I had my travel agent cancel our reservation in Salina, Utah and book a spot in Elko, Nevada.  Basically north instead of east.

Since that is a bit of a lope we dragged our heels over breakfast discussing our decision and options. We saw some roads in Idaho on the map that we haven’t ridden so we felt pretty good about taking an unintended route. I hope this will encourage anyone who faces a decision to regroup and reroute to take it as a positive thing and make the best of it. And to trust their instincts. If you’re on the road already, it’s all good. If you’re not, then there’s always another time.

Anyway, we slid out of Ely on 93 north. The route was duck soup, following 93 to 229 then on I-80 to Elko. The rub was that there’s no fuel after Ely until Wells and we were going to bypass that on 229. It was going to be nip and tuck with one fill but we didn’t really want to take the long cut to Wells (especially since 229 looked interesting and we’ve done 93 to death). It was like digging into a truck load of gravel. You start off thinking “more than enough” then things gradually look a little tense, then just near the end, “No problem. What were we worried about”. We slid onto Elko with fumes to spare – probably a couple of litres. Thanks to no wind, straight flat roads (except 229) and cruise control we stretched those tanks about as far as we could – without hitch hiking. On 229 we found ourselves in varying country so were very judicious about our speed and shifting. It was worth taking 229 because it was a local back road through a long pass between mountain ranges filled with neat rancheros.

Anyway, a cake walk of a day with a good ride under our belts. Kicking back with a few Caesars, planning our route into Idaho-west tomorrow.

 

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Western US 2015: day 6

Highway 50. The Not-So-Lonely Road

Lonely Road my foot. I love this road. If you want lonely, go to Alaska.

Heading out this AM was nice at about 9:30. Very quickly we were out of town and on the real road. I had wondered why Fallon was such  large place but then a couple of F16′s ripped overhead still in take off mode. Around the corner was a sign pointing to the Naval Flight Centre. Ah Ha! Military base. That would explain the large town.

Pretty quickly we were travelling through a salt flat or some other whitish mineral. We traveled about 30 klicks to cross it. Along the way were a few of the usual road side memorials but one appeared to be an actual grave. Most were a few yards off the highway (obviously folks probably fell asleep at the wheel on this straight road) but this one was a hundred yards or more with a little picket fence, too small to keep critters out. We both talked later and agreed it was a grave site. Perhaps native in this area???

The road is in awesome condition so we were able to pin the throttle at 100K. It’s a 70 mph road but we found it’s often too rough in open country with the wind (in general, not just here). Back to it being anything but lonely. For one thing there are tons of old places to catch your eye and curiosity. Above all, the vistas are fabulous. Multiple mountain ranges stepping back in shades of blue like a Toni Onli (sic) watercolour and the colours on the ground just out of this world. The yarrow along the side of the road is a bright mustard that fades back into the endless pastel green and yellow of the sage – as far as the eye can see. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “When you’re in the desert or other flat land and you find it boring you’re either not looking close enough or not far enough away”. If you find these vistas boring you aren’t trying at all to get out of the confinement that mountains and lakes are the only things that are pretty to look at.

We pondered, “Why would anyone stop here to make a home?” when seeing an old homestead (we wonder that a lot) or the remains of a tiny town. The only thing that I can figure is – number one – water and – number two - ranching. We saw cattle grazing amongst the sage. Since there was little of anything else for them to eat I couldn’t help think that those steaks wold taste a lot like a Christmas turkey after eating all that sage. :) Anyway, pondering such things is yet another thing that entertains us on these high mountain plains with arrow-straight roads.

I’ve learned that there are things to enjoy about curvy roads. Don’t we all know that? More recently in the last fifteen years – mainly since we have been doing long-distance tours – I’ve learned that long views and long straight roads have their attractions as well. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with these plains, their views, their opportunities for self-reflection and above all inspiration. Everywhere I look I see shapes, moods, colour combinations and textures. When I’m not busy seeing what’s what, I have come up with ideas for forms in my turning as well as titles for pieces that I have stumped me. Eureka! I thought of a title today. “Turn the Page” (Don’t ask. It’s a secret). If I write it down I won’t forget it. Don’t even ask me to explain the path that I took to get that.

Speaking of Eureka, that was our second stop today. Our first stop was Austin. We’ve been here before on our way to Winnemucca and recalled the deadly steep and winding road down into  the town from the east. Today we climbed west so that was good. We wanted to break for lunch with some grub we saved from last night. It was pretty hot in the sun so I asked the gal at the service station if there was some shade nearby. She shared a knowing glance with another patron and then they both broke out into gales of laughter. Apparently that’s like asking us if there is somewhere where it’s not raining. When they stopped wiping their tears the gal said there was a little park up the road. We found a table under a roof with a tree beside. So ya, there was shade. So there. :)

The road wound it’s way up and over several passes throughout the day, probably 8 or 10. Not big climbs, just enough to make us shift gears mentally and even literally a couple of times. The area ranges from under 6000 feet to over 6000 feet.

When we neared Eureka I noticed a couple of pickups with flags on long whip antennas. That’s a dead give away for an open pit mine nearby. The high flags are to keep the trucks from being run over by the giant haul packs (dump trucks). Eureka has a history of gold mining (duh) but when we rolled into town there was a large outcrop of  black mineralized rock beside the road. In town there was an office with “Federal Moly” on the sign. So they mine molybdenum. I know that form when I was a kid prospecting with my dad looking for “Moly”. High grade moly oxidizes black instantly when subjected to air. Little blast from the past.

Eureka is a cool old town obviously active in the mid to late 1800′s so plenty of old buildings with tons of character.

The days so far have been downright cold around 8 and we have been getting on the road about 9:30 or so (lazy asses). By then it’s only cool so haven’t even turned on the electric jackets. In an hour or so it’s nice enough to gear down to open vents and half gloves. That lasts the rest of the day. At the end of each day it’s getting pretty toasty and we’re glad to get off the road. Today was no exception and to add to our longing for happy hour we were in a road block waiting for some rock scaling just out of Ely where we are staying for the night.

We’ve been here enough that we didn’t even use the GPS to find the hotel. We’ve been here before. Biker-friendly place with casino and awesome burgers.

We briefly planned to head to Page, AZ to surprise Arlene’s cousin on their tour but between no solid info from them and motel prices in Page running in the $250+ range we canned the idea. It’s Salina, Utah or bust tomorrow. Staying on 50 probably into Colorado. Love this road. Our route is unfolding as we go. Love following the front wheel.

 

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Road trip 2015: Day5

High plains drifters, we are.

Susanville is a nice town. About 6500 folks live there. Decent motels and all that stuff. Not a bad place for a hub if riding northern California or simply as a starting point.

We were off in decent time this morning. The motel handyman had lots to talk about but not the hold up we had the morning before. It can be tough getting out of a motel in the mornings on a bike. Someone always wants to talk about the bikes. We often experience that on our own but I don’t recall anyone wanting to talk to “the gang” when we were with a group. Maybe we aren’t as intimidating when it’s just us.

We got a weeny taste of 49 when we headed toward Lake Tahoe. Continuing along 345 we connected with 70 (I think) then onto the very northern end of California 49. So far we have been in the high plains – verging on desert a couple of times – but the character of 49 was an instant diversion from that. Right away we were in the mountains. The first town was Sierreville, an old town with character to spare with the mountains closing in. Too soon we turned onto 89 heading into Truckee. What a cool name for a place: Truckee. It was obviously one of the hub towns for the Squaw Valley Olympics (can’t remember what year) which is nearby. Truckee is a combination of White Rock and Whistler all rolled into one. It was time for a butt/lunch break but this wasn’t the place. We carried onto the other side of the Interstate fueled and got a lunch at McD’s since the town had no real mom and pop places anyway.

Carried on down 89 to Lake Tahoe. If we knew then what we know now we would have jumped on the Interstate and bolted for Carson City. Tahoe is  GIANT Whistler. THe whole lake perimeter. Very slow going, couldn’t stop anywhere for people. Didn’t even get a photo op along the lake.

One good thing – at least for our doubts. Of course we had a lot of shifting (read: clutching, for Arlene) and her shoulder was killing her in no time, so cancelling all of 49 was a good call. It’s even higher on my list now after this morning’s taste. My recommendation to anyone heading to this area: give Tahoe a pass unless you plan to take in any actual activities at the lake -hiking, boating and such.

We set the GPS for Carson City HD (we’ve come to a peace agreement now that I know how to control Jack’s volume) and got there without a hitch. Needed oil and our years of T shirts are actually dwindling, so picked up the oil and a few T’s there. You know, of course, that we don’t buy local Harley T shirts. The salesman pimped the new 2016 Harleys to us and they looked pretty good so had to get the hell out of there.

From there we jumped onto US50 (actually got on at Lake Tahoe) headed for Fallon NV for the night.

Very likely plan change: We heard from Arlene’s cousin Tony from the UK who is in the States on a holiday. We might be able to cross paths in Page, AZ. That’s do-able for us time-wise. We’ll see how that goes after we get to Ely, NV tomorrow night.

Tomorrow is US50 across Nevada – the Loneliest Road. We get to see the western half that we missed a couple years ago.

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Western US 2015 day four

Nothing spectacular today. Just a great day on the road.

The three firefighters we met last night were in the breakfast room. The plan was to get an early start but BS’ing with firefighters wasn’t in the plan. We sent them off with fairly detailed info n roads where they were headed in BC.

Off we went at 9:30, so not as laate as the last mornings. Weather was cold but when the going gets tough the tough turn on the electric jackets, heated grips and stereo. The highway that was quite mountainous  along with high altitude valley was today almost exclusively high plain/desert. Most was pretty decent road surface. Our destination was Susanville, CA., about a 500 km day. Not tough, just steady.

We ran onto a couple at a rest stop who had just come off CA 49, our intended route. Apparently it’s full of 15 mph corners. Arlene had a tough time with her shoulder in the mountains on 395 in OR so we felt we should consider another route. CA 49 isn’t going anywhere in the next while and there’s no sense pushing something that causes her significant pain. Not only that, she can’t react the way she should when her shoulder and neck get as tired as they did the other day.

I just about forget. Well, actually I did. Today the 395 was “the road of the exploding bird”. As has happened on occasion, a grayish, striped bird did a Kamikaze run on my bike. Sometimes they’re close and  you know they’re ok. Other times it’s like watching a home run: you know it’s going over the wall. Well, I knew this guy was done before he got to the white line. He hung up in the space between the right crash bar and the fairing lower. Arlene saw it too, then ran through the cloud of feathers from the exploding bird. Last time it was a pheasant that I had to do a bit of dismembering to get out. This guy stayed for a mile or so then finally slid into oblivion. Sometimes it’s a bug, sometime it’s a  bird. Glad I didn’t get it in the face.

Looks like we’re heading east a bit early. From here we’ll set ourselves up for NV 50 - The Loneliest Road – the day after tomorrow. Never been to Lake Tahoe. Now it looks like it’s off the list.

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Road trip 2015 Day three

Day three; Western US ride

Again with the ass-dragging in the AM! You’d think we had done this before. We planned three easy days because… well because we are just enjoying being on the road all by our little selves. Now we’re into it. Like I said, the ride starts here.

Before we started I had a good yack with a fellow at the motel riding a Gold Wing from CA heading to Victoria . Good thing, too. He had a deadline and no idea where he really was going, so basically saved his butt time-wise. No clue were he was going or how he was going to get there. Waddya gonna do?

Our ride today was to Burns, OR, down 395. I highly recommend this road!!! Started out with …. Sorry, I just gotta say this because I can’t concentrate worth a shit. There’s a couple having at it overhead in the motel here - Christ, there they go again – and it’s sure as hell distracting. TV all night’s got nothing on this.

Anyway, where the hell was I? … O.F.F S. Round two already? This guy’s a champ.

Anyway, awesome ride. Rolling plains to distant hills. Great road. Very volcanic landscape where the rock is showing. No wind, which is nice. Not cold. Not hot. Just that lazy riding along, going with the curves, rolling-on-the-throttle-out-of-the-curves kind of riding. SO awesome with two bikes in tandem as if they were one. We do that a lot when the riding is like this…. Man, life is good.

Finally! They must be having a smoke now.

Battle Mountain appeared almost out of nowhere changing the road from laid back schmoozing to full on curves and hills. Another kind of great but actually a bit of work. As it turns out Arlene was having a tough time with her shoulder. At the end of the day she figured the shifting (clutching) was giving her arm and shoulder hell. Nonetheless, she rides so well.

The road continued on like that until we reached John Day, OR. A bit of an aside: Arlene has a John Day in her family tree. She knows it’s not the same John Day but nevertheless, it’s a curiosity so has always been on the “Got to check this out” list. We had lunch there in the usual mom and pop restaurant, enjoying the local’s enjoying themselves, visiting and so on.

The town was filled (as so many have along the way) with thank-you signs for the firefighters, but here it was real. It’s been a very bad summer fire-wise everywhere in the northwest. When we left the restaurant on 395 it turned up a draw and the scene unfolded. There had been a ground fire following the draw along the undergrowth along the creek (I learned later it was caused by a lightning strike). Every house along there for a couple of miles had been destroyed - completely. One place stuck with me: truck and utility trailer, burned out completely, flat to the frames, backed up to a burned out foundation told a story of an abandoned scramble to salvage anything they could, but to no avail. I’ve seen that at a couple of interface fires (mainly the Glen Eden in Salmon Arm in the ’70′s) and know exactly what had happened. Can you imagine calling it that close and having to bail out? I started to count after a few places then gave up after 25 . There apparently had to be more than 30 homes destroyed: vehicles, houses, outbuildings, trailer homes, equipment… you name it. At least no animals like Glen Eden. I could smell the burned timber  but there was a hint of that familiar house-fire smell (all same garbage fire) that I am so familiar with, so this hadn’t happened all that long ago.  I saw one fellow standing in the middle of a completely burned out spread. Even from the road I could see the empty expression on his face. I’ve seen it before and know the look well. Man, I can’t imagine the feeling in his gut.  As we climbed up the draw we saw more of the same, then the fire obviously candled and turned to the hillsides. Finally at the top the retardant was all over the road and evident on the hillsides adjacent. They had finally got a handle on this, but too late for the homes. Both of us had that empty feeling you get when there’s nothing that you can do to make things better. We didn’t even talk on the radio to each other. Didn’t have to.  Emptyness…

Talk about an old tape. Don’t miss it one bit.

The road turned back into more of the kind of road we all long for that rises and falls, turns and sweeps and at the same time offers interesting peeks through the bush and vistas as it crests the next hill. Other than that – just another road. :) Gotta love this road. I recall reading “Ghost Rider” by Neil Pert, drummer for Rush. To make it ubber  short, his daughter and wife died very close together, escaped by riding his bike around North America and wrote about the ride. Generally the book wasn’t all that great but he vividly described riding 395 so I have been itching to check it out ever since. I wasn’t disappointed.

I highly recommend this ride to anyone transiting south through eastern Oregon. We had occasion to ride in the Baker City/Hell’s Canyon area just east of here a few years ago (uh, several, I guess) and combining the two areas would make a riding holiday in itself. I guarantee no disappointments. Tons of great roads, lots of cool history and really great little towns. You could spend a few days in the area with a couple day’s ride from the lower mainland (one if you really, really haul ass but what’s the point in that), so overall, a nice get-away within reach of home. Be advised: It’s high and can be colder than a witch’s tit at night and hotter than hell during the day. We’ve never been through central Oregon and not been cold. And hot.

We rode into Burns, OR for the night. Ran into 3 FF’s at the motel from Burbank FD on their way north. It’s cool to yack with folks you don’t know and both understand each other – really understand.

So. So far the true first day of the real ride was stunning. Arlene’s shoulder smartened up when after we were through the Battle Mountain corridor and we both enjoyed the ride from there on. Lots of mares’ tails in the sky today so we’ll see what happens tomorrow weather-wise. That usually means rain but then we won’t be here, will we. :)

The consensus during happy hour was that Susanville was the destination tomorrow. A bit of a jaunt at about 400k so we’ll have to get up early and haul a bit of ass. No worries. No wiggly bits on the map like today so should be OK. It always helps to have a bed booked at the end of along day. Takes the pressure off big time.

 

 

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On the road again: Road trip 2015

Day one and two

The plan: head south to northern California, take in the north east corner including #49 – the route of the gold seeker in of all years – 1849. Head east from there – probably #50 in Nevada – The Loneliest Road (it’s got nothin’ on anything in the Yukon and Alaska) then through Colorado and Kansas (because we’ve never ridden there yet) then on to the Dakotas (because it’s better to ride the Black Hills any other time than Bike Week) and Wyoming (because we love Wyoming). Oh ya. Then home. That’s the plan. We’ll see.

Had a late start yesterday, September 4th. Dragged our butts, forgetting that the border would take some time. Decided to take #9 from Burlington to #2 but hit a detour – lost an hour there. Cut over to 9 further south and onto #2 just in time to hit the rain. :(   This was Arlene’s second run over the summit. The first was her first big ride. Dragged ourselves into Wenatchee in time for happy hour (we’re always in time for happy hour). Bad night with the TV on all night over our heads. No problem, we’ve had worse, if you know what I mean. :)

Got a decent start this AM heading for Pendleton, OR. We had a handle on the route but decided to see of the GPS thought like we did (we like to put the motel address in so we don’t have to hunt it down at the end of the day). It had different plans so we argued at a couple of intersections. I won and it finally agreed each time but it got even in Richland, letting me know that it was damned well going to get back to it’s own &@(&@# route no matter what. No worries, just a scenic drive  through downtown Richland, WA for no good reason.

Wind!

Wind?! we don’t need no stinkin’ wind! Believe it or not most of it was at our back except for about an hour or so. Not lane-changing wind but pretty tough sledding. No tunes on that streath - just concentrating on keeping between the lines. Can’t beat the Columbia Valley for wind. Kind of like death and taxes: It’s a sure thing. I was worried about Arlene but in her classic way she relieved my fears, “After Oklahoma Nothing bothers me”. Love that gal. :) She’s one tough rider

Anyway, old routes so far and we’re now at happy hour in Pendleton. The real ride starts tomorrow on 395 south right out our front door. I don’t recall riding that road yet so looking forward to that.

 

Anyway, the bartender said I’m falling behind. Catch you tomorrow. :)

 

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Ron’s Ride

Ron Remenda.

I’m feeling kind of melancholy at the moment. September 7, 2010 our friend Ron Remenda passed away suddenly. He left us way too early but knew he was on borrowed time, having suffered a heart attack several years earlier. Ron lived his life to the fullest, enjoying the ride and the friendship of those who would ride with him. Arlene and I were fortunate enough to be among his friends, sharing the road with him for thousands of miles.

Sunday, September 9th, 2012 several of us rode to the Canyon Alpine restaurant near Boston Bar to share memories of Ron. The run up the canyon was one of Ron’s favourites and all of us had been there with him on several occasions. All good memories from those rides. Some were lunch rides, others were the beginning of longer rides. It felt good to be with some of those friends again.

The gang minus Mike.

I often recall Ron tutoring me in the subtleties of leading a group and his advice has served me well over countless miles. I couldn’t help thinking of him several times as I led the group on Sunday. I hoped that he was there with us but somehow the lead position seemed a very lonely place that day, so much so that I commented on that to Arlene that evening. At times I felt detached and that it was really Arlene in #2 and Mike riding tail that kept the group together. I wanted Ron to be in my rear view mirror but he was not.

…and one with Mike.

I miss “The Little General”, perhaps more now than when  he was first gone. The good part is that Arlene and I both remember the great times – the special times that are shared when you’re on the road. Good times that inspired Mike to laughingly say after Ron’s sage advice on how to use the night latch to hold the motel door ajar, “Ron puts the ‘Ho’ in Hotel”. :)

I like Arlene’s farewell to Ron; “RIP – Ride in Peace, Ron”.

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Epilogue: Wraping it up

A couple of weeks ago (July 20, as I recall) we pulled in the driveway like it was a stand-up homer. We came from Vernon but had a good long stop at my sister’s in Merritt making the last leg was relatively short so weren’t road weary at all. The kids were having a smoke (grrr) on the deck so we had a welcoming committee. Fifteen thousand klicks and seven weeks after hitting the road. Although it was shorter than we had planned, we were happy with our ride and glad to be home. No regrets for coming home early and no feelings of regret for not being away longer. Must have been a good trip.

From Cranbrook we rode to Grand Forks where we stayed at the Western Traveler Motel – our favourite in G.F. The next morning our usual breakfast stop on the way out of town was out of business so we rode to Greenwood for breaky. There’s some nice restaurants there now, a long way from the rough and tumble town I remember from ’65 when I worked in Grand Forks. We trucked on through on the Crow to Rock Creek where  we turned north on 33 to the Okanagan to visit my ex-brother and sister-in-law.

We had a great visit there and overnight stay then on to Merritt to visit my sister and brother-in-law for lunch on the way home. We expected rain so covered the packs with the rain gear at the ready before we left. We weren’t disappointed. As we descended into Merritt we saw “The Black Wall” so stopped to gear up well ahead. A couple of bikes passed us earlier then we passed them, gearing up in some semi-serious rain, just in time to be late. They got a big smile from us and a toot on the horn as we passed, dry as a bone: tough titty, suckers! The viz was down to about a quarter mile or less when we pulled into Merritt, so were pretty happy to have a coffee stop lined up.

After a couple of hours the worst had passed so we headed out again. Unfortunately it got pretty wet again but at least just ordinary heavy rain rather than a thunderstorm. By the time we reached Hope we were shedding our rain jackets in hopes the rest would be OK – and it was.

Home again, safe and sound, another notch in the riding belt. Twenty nine states, 4 provinces and 15,000 klicks. Not bad. Although Arlene has ridden some pretty serious rides so far, this was a dandy. She – both of us – rode through some terrible conditions: unbelievable heat for days on end, long distances, longer days, rain and thunderstorms up the wazoo, almost completely unmanageable wind – but enjoyed some of the most incredible sights, sounds, people and places not to mention experiencing a culture quite different than our own – Y’all. We saw only one other gal on the whole trip who was actually touring and that was right here in BC.  We did see some day-trippers but most gals were passengers only. I don’t think there are many riders out there who would tackle what Arlene did. Include highlights like riding the Senora Pass, Death Valley and the Tail of the Dragon to the list and it was a ride that’s hard for almost anyone to meet or beat. That’s my gal. :)

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