Motorcycle Trips


To the Shushwap

At the end of July I left from Lanigan, Saskatchewan, where I was working for the summer, for Salmon Arm, BC to visit my parents. It was a good time to visit them as there was family there from England, as well as one of my sisters that I havn't seen for a while. I was lucky to get a few extra days off work, still, it would be a couple days travel either way, for a day to visit. Whatever, one of the nice things about a motorcycle is the trip is half of the fun.

A little chilly, mind you. After days and days of hot weather, the morning I leave it turns cold and rainy. Plug in the electric grips and vest, zip up the Aerostitch suit, and away I go.

Quickly the weather improves and the trees disappear, turning into real praire scenery west of Saskatoon. Always interesting for someone born and raised in the bush like me.
JN –rolling country otherwise all the way, pretty much, not a lot flat in Saskatchewan, apparently. Very few trees however south of Kindersley on, just those that were planted around towns and farmsteads.

JN –lots of grasshoppers as well south of Rosetown on. Luckily they seem to fly low and ended up on the boots rather than the visor.

The sand dunes south of Scepter were kind of neat, something I wanted to see. A little bit of the Sahara (or Rajastan, etc) in the middle of Saskatchewan.
JN –surprisingly large and well done museum in Scepter, at the entrance to the sand hills.
JN –sand area is mostly made up of colonized dunes, so not Sahara-like until the very center. Still a memorable landscape, very abrupt hills and valleys, brown vegetation with the odd green tree. Reminded me of Africa.

The ‘free’ sand dunes are quite big.

JN –fighting the way through the sand on the roadway going in to see the sand hill dunes. 1st gear for 20 km, fishtailing all the way. 30 km/hr on the gravel road going in seemed unbearably slow and unstable going in, a piece of cake afterward.

Made it across the border to Alberta and camped in Medicine Hat, well tired out.

As soon as I get over the Crowsnest Pass into BC the temperature turns hot and will stay at 30 to 35 degrees the rest of the way. BC is having its second driest summer in 100 years, and the air is blue with smoke from forest fires, the remnants of one such fire I see at the side of the road at Osoyoos. The towns along the border seemed to be mainly involved with mining and forestry before tourism and retirement got to be so big. One of the big trucks used at the coal mine at Sparwood is on display.

The change in temperature meant it was time to change to shorts under the Aerostitch, and loose the heated vest. Up and down, one 60 km/hr corner after another, passing a surprising number of cars and campers broken down in the heat. The scenery turns from endless evergreens to hills covered with brown velvet, studded with the occasional green tree, beautiful in the evening light. Pass numbers of inviting campsites and B&B's, decide that I could spent a long time exploring here. Note that at least five out of six bikes touring here are Harleys, decide that maybe the economy in BC isn't that bad after all.

Nonetheless press on, and coming down into the Okanagan valley at Osoyoos enter the land of vineyards and orchards. Follow the road winding along the side of the valley in the dusk of the evening, which eventually turns dark as I hit the built up areas of Kelowna and Vernon. This is not quite as fun, as I am tired by now and the traffic and dark corners of the two lane highways are wearing me down. In retrospect this would have been a good time to stop. However, almost there, soo.....keep going and finally arrive!

However, after finally making it to the end of the Okanagan and arriving in the Shushwap some time after midnight, I couldn't find my parents house in the dark! So sure was I that I knew the way that I didn't ask for directions from them, and in the dark, with the trip addled head I had, I could not find them for the life of me. After hours of thumping my motorcycle all around the various lakes and roads of the area, I eventually gave up and slept (quite well) in my bike suit on a thermarest in a gravel pit. The family found this quite hilarious when I finally found them in the daylight.

Where I should have been. Nice little cabin thing the parents have going, on the shores of a small lake.

My sister Karen and her partner Doug, dropping in to haul her Airstream back up north.

Kevin and Andrea on holiday from England. A bit of a Canadian experience for them, eh. Devastated when Andrea sums up my masters project as "You're working with poo, arn't you?!"

Headed back after a night at the parents. The scenery all through BC is impressive, especially for a flat land boy like me.
Hook my choke on with the tank bag after fueling up, a Harley rider comments with interest 'thats not your usual Yamaha' after it starts with more than its usual thump and bang.

Banff was as spectacular as always.

Stopped in at the restaurant where I used to wash dishes back in the winter of '85-86. Originally moving to Banff so I could ski, the fact that I could live cheapest in the youth hostel exposed me to all manner of foreign travellers and fueled the travel bug originally....anyway, nice to see the old place again and talk to some of the people there. Apparently the restaurant had started around when I did, and I am one of the 'originals'! Time does fairly fly by.

Stayed at Calgary for the night, and then drove home via the badlands at Drumheller.

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