Days 54 – 56 East Bound and Down

Vancouver, BC – Kamloops, BC – Creston, BC

As I pulled out of Vancouver, I was surprised to find myself heading North as opposed to East. Audrey’s husband Chris had given me directions to Kamloops and provided me with a more scenic route that took me up through Whistler and over the Canadian Rockies. The light rainfall from yesterday hadn’t eased much. I drove into increasing precipitation, which would soon be coupled with increasing altitude which resulted in nasty dropping temperatures.

20111004-114153.jpg

It reminded me of this old Molson Golden commercial from the early 1990’s. It was honestly one of the best commercials I’d ever seen. It had this slow guitar solo while showing these iconic images of Canada. A lone wolf howling on a craggy cliff. High boulder-strewn mountains covered in pale mist. A cold clear river gurgling beside a snow bank. And a gravely voiced narrator begins,

“In Canada, winter comes a little sooner. The water runs a little colder. The mountains loom a little higher. Some say, you can taste it in the beer. Molson Golden.”

20111004-114225.jpg

I searched for an hour for this commercial on YouTube and came up with squat. I hate getting sucked into these internet search vortexes.

The point is, driving along the Burrard Inlet and Minaty Bay out of Vancouver totally made me think of this epic commercial. I kept playing it over and over in my head. Cold rain coming down. Fog hovering just above the waterline and trapped within the pine trees lining the winding road. Moody skies promising more rain and more cold. I think the photo below will do it some justice.

20111004-114203.jpg

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. While this whole scene may have been picturesque and produced a great commercial, it was fucking miserable to drive through. I was frozen and shivering. Did I ever complain it about being too hot on this trip? I can’t remember.

When I finally got to Whistler, I downed two hot chocolates like they were tequila shots and shoved my cold hands into the linguine I ordered (it’s no biggie, I eat with my hands a lot). After warming up, I continued East, crossing over Garibaldi State Park that make up Whistler and Blackcomb. As soon I crossed over the main ridge, I entered a bright shining world of sunshine and clear skies. Apparently, each valley in the Canadian Rockies contains its own little microclimate. I was warned that while the coastal route out of Vancouver would be wet and foggy, the subsequent journey would be warm and inviting. They weren’t wrong.

20111004-114214.jpg

And then the magic of Canada began to unfold, but I can sum it pretty easily. There’s no one here. I drove for hours through gorgeous wilderness, beside incredible rivers and lakes, and I think I say maybe 20 cars over the next 3 hours. Astonishing.

20111004-114301.jpg

I even got to see my second bear! Just a little brownish guy sitting like a panda on the side of the road munching on something. I don’t like to be disturbed when I’m munching on something so I drove by without taking the photo. There is so much beauty here and amazingly, it remains so undisturbed and underpopulated. Hope it stay that way.

20111004-114248.jpg

Kamloops (which I had never heard of over prior to 48 hours ago) was a good size city, and clearly the center of commerce for the region. I pulled in just before dark, and after a shower and quick dinner in town, I was pretty bushed.

20111004-114310.jpg

The next day had me pushing south to get closer to the border before cutting east. The day’s ride seemed to fluctuate between mountain roads and long stretches of pasture. The gorgeous nature of Canada continued to reveal itself and I revealed in my new discovery of this country.

20111004-114439.jpg

As some of you know, I’ve now travelled close to 7,000 miles without a speeding ticket (and god knows I have a heavy wrist). Having a fleet-footed motorcycle, it seems almost instinctual to give a spirited flick of the wrist whenever you have the road to yourself. Well, for the last few hours I felt like I had the entire country to myself. Just as I crested over a hill doing about 95 mph, a Canadian State Trooper had me dead to rights coming the other way.

He gave a quick flick of his sirens and lights, indicating he got me. The jig was up, and I couldn’t complain. I’d had a good run and made some good miles. I pulled over, and promptly went about fishing out my license and registration. But that’s when things got weird. The cop never turned around. He wasn’t giving me a ticket! He just gave me a quick flash of the lights as if to say, “Hey there, slow down you hoser!”.

That’s it! No ticket! Just a little non-verbal warning. That’s so awesome! That’s so polite. That’s so…Canadian! I really really love this country.

20111004-114453.jpg

After a long day of riding I finally pulled into Creston, BC – a small town that is one of only two border crossings into the U.S. via Idaho. I really can’t say much about the town as I rode in on the late side and didn’t see much going on. I stayed at the Creston Hotel which was over Jimmy’s Pub so I had a quick bite, listened to some live music and went right to bed. The only thing I can say about Creston is that folks sure are friendly.

20111004-114523.jpg

When I got up in the morning, a woman parked her car near my bike and walked over to say hello. She asked me where I was from, After I told her New York, she then proceeded to tell me how New York seems really crowded, it might be OK, but she’d never want to live there, but Creston is a nice place, not too much crime, a little bit, mostly from young people, they don’t have jobs so that’s what they do, vandalism mainly, they put graffiti over the new supermarket, but there’s actually two supermarkets in Creston, a bank too, and a few clothing stores, an eyeglass store, a bakery, a sporting good store, no they closed, three schools, good schools, she went to school not far from here, by the way – anything I went to know about Creston I can just ask her, and on and on and on.

After 15 minutes, I tried starting the bike up to let her know that despite the fascinating history of Creston, I had a lot of miles to make today as well as a border to cross. All I got back was, a history of population growth in Creston over the past 10 years. I give the throttle a little goose. I flip down my visor. More on Creston electricity prices and which location one can obtain the best cellphone reception in town. Finally she tells me that the local middle school now has a new program for children with learning disabilities and mental / cognitive issues.

“Because, you know, I actually have some issues myself…”, the woman says.

Ahhhh…the light bulb went off. I’m not sure but the woman I was speaking with might have had a form of autism or Asberger’s Syndrome in which one frequent symptom is a complete inability to read any non-verbal cues from people. She was very kind but finally I said that I really enjoyed our conversation but I really had to get moving across the border.

20111004-114508.jpg

Even the people with autism in Canada are unfailingly polite.

WHAT I LEARNED / DISCOVERED TODAY:

I am completely in love with Canada. The riding was amazing. The scenery was spellbinding and haunting. And the people were every bit as polite and kind as they are rumored to be. I never planned on even entering Canada during this trip, and instead I got one of the best surprises of the Big Ride. I’m now contemplating re-entering Canada after Chicago and stopping in Montreal before heading south through the Adirondacks. Go Canada!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: