Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blazing saddle.

Overlooking Osoyoos

It was a scorching morning as I prepared to leave the Okanagan Valley behind. Wildfires ranged throughout British Columbia and even as far east as Saskatchewan.  It was already well into the high 20's when I finished loading the Suzuki and left Penticton behind on the east-side road once again.  It would reach high thirties before the day was out...

I'd had several days in the lower valley, visiting family and was ready to move on to my next target, Dan in Golden BC.

Early morning heat had me looking for shade

Sure I could have just as easily headed north up the valley and connected with the Trans Canada at Sicamous, a route well know to me and considerably shorter than the direction I was using, but I've always liked traveling the Crowsnest highway #3 in southern BC.  Lightly traveled, skirting the US border, its just a more relaxing road for my senses.

I fueled up in Oliver once again, and then having cruised through Osoyoos, I'd stopped for the obligatory overlook photograph mid way up Anarchist mountain. Winding corners and smooth highway suited the torque band of the big single, the slow power pulses clearly felt through the handlebars and the seat.  Although the Savage is definitely not a "touring bike" I must admit I was enjoying my ride on her. 

Always a little cooler around water
The engine, handling and riding position are best suited to slower smooth pavement and cornering gentile bends.  I even managed to pass several vehicles that had gone by me earlier, with just a twist of the wrist.  I came very close to touching the foot-pegs down in the familiar sweepers while in the 40-90kph range allowing the engine torque to pull us along.  A few times I downshifted to third gear on a few of the tightest switchbacks but mostly fourth and fifth gear were the rule. With the tank bag attached, I can't see the low mounted speedometer nor any of its idiot lights, so I had to gauge my speed by the vibration level of the engine.  This also meant that many times I'd leave my turn blinker on for miles on end, the occasional motorcyclist swishing by me giving me the universal "blinker on" signal from either the right or left hand.

I can't say I felt lonely, although when you are ensconced in your riding gear and helmet you are alone... in fact I was quite enjoying the ride even though it would take me two days to reach Dan's place.

That of course is really the true essence of traveling by motorbike is it not.  Although the end point is important, the ride is really the destination.  Unlike driving a car, where you are separated from the elements in your own artificial environment, traveling by bike means you are a part of it.  You feel the wind, you feel the cold or the heat, bugs hit you directly rather than being crushed into a glass windshield.  The sounds you hear are those of the engine or the wind whistling through your ears, not AC/DC or Reba on quadrophonic stereo.  Riding the Savage you sure weren't going to hear the exhaust, the thirty year old stock pipe was whisper quiet.

It's certainly not for everyone although in contrast to the ride across Canada in 1975, when seeing another rider was a time for rejoicing, today hundreds and thousands have their Virago's and V Stars, their Vulcans and Ventures, the CBR/FZR/KLR's and such loaded up with an assortment of luggage taking to the country's highways and byways.

As I passed each mile I came alive more and more.  I am so fortunate to have had European parents that didn't have any qualms about letting their 13 year old son onto a motorbike and thus beginning my adventures on the road at an early age.  I was fortunate that over the years I had made it a point to buy various bikes, try various disciplines and I am fortunate in having an understanding wife who was back home in PEI looking after the cats and the homestead so I could experience the ride I'd begun so long ago.

We rode through Midway and Trail, Creston and Cranbrook and finally pulled off at one of my favorite places in the world, Wasa Lake.

It had been a brutally long ride for my body however I took the risk at Creston that I could make it the final two hundred kilometers and I did.  Stiff yes, sore definitely, tired, to the bone... but I found an overnight at the Wasa Lake Motel run by a friendly Swiss couple, where I had previously stayed on occasion and if you ever find yourself in these here parts, stay for the night.

Quaint well kept and cosy... stay awhile!

Tiny Wasa Lake in the background, what a gorgeous spot!
Wasa Lake is a pretty little camper's community just north of Fort Steele. You can walk around the entire lake as Brenda and I had done a few years earlier, the lake is shallow and warm with a sandy bottom, great for kids you see, very safe.  There is a provincial campground and plenty of picnic stops if you're only passing through.


HooDoos just prior to the east-side road into Invermere heading north.

I had a short 200 kilometer ride the following day so I didn't leave at the crack of dawn and I elected to ride the west side road bypassing Fairmont hot springs tourist area and arriving in Invermere via the back roads.

I remembered fondly passing White Swan Lake's turn-off into the Rockies that brought Judy and Dennett and myself and Beth there decades ago when the natural hot spring was just that.  Since then of course the road has been widened and there are even pit toilets, but the essence of the old hot springs still prevails.

Yep... Canada is a year older like all of us.
I reached Dan's mid day and he greeted me down at the entrance to the highway.  I rode his gravel driveway to the garage and stowed the Savage for yet another night on the road.  It was great to see him, you see he has battled with cancer recently and won the fight, brutal as it was.  I was truly grateful he'd made it through those dark times, in the years I've known him I appreciated that he was another motorcycle enthusiast but also a good friend.

Dan... two thumbs up.

It was Canada Day, we would enjoy her birthday.

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