Day Eleven: May 10, 2007

Northport, WA

I took the day off today to visit with Dave and Sue Chambers and reflect on the trip thus far. Around lunch Sue and I walked over to Rick and Vicky Johnson’s for a short visit with them and their son Joe. Barbara, Sue’s mom was up for a visit and ended up hospitalized in Colville with a serious staff infection. We went to see her before going to dinner at a little pub in Colville.

Over the day, I reflected on my experience thus far on the trip and several things came to mind:

Bear Camp Road: It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the second day out, I took the same route that CNET Editor James Kim took in December of 2006. I remember reading the news reports and thinking “what was he thinking taking his family out on a back country road like that?!” Having actually been there and experienced it, I now know. The road starts fine. It’s broad, well paved and is clearly a two lane highway. It just gradually gets narrower and narrower and rougher and rougher. I hate to admit it, but as someone that has had quite a bit of wilderness and survival training, I sat in judgment of Kim’s decisions — all based on the news reports. Now, having “been there — done that” I’m reminded that the news rarely tells the whole story, and I’ve vowed to come to conclusions much more slowly in areas where I have no direct experience.

Friends: Pete said it well: “Good friends salt a trip like this.” Getting to catch up with Bob Rankin, being there when Connor smoked his first cigar, riding with Pete, meeting Tim and Mrs. Moon, listening to Master Chief stories, and spending time with Dave, Sue and Barbara have really made the trip special. The people you choose to spend time with say a lot about you — because they have the biggest chance to influence your outlook on life. This has been an amazing trip – filled with people that have passion, character, and vision — exactly the influences I’m looking for. Special thanks to the Rankin’s, the Moon’s, and the Chambers for their generous hospitality!

Things happen for a reason: And most of the time we have no idea what it is. Pete mentioned the couple we meet outside of Banff, Barry and Paula. After they had driven off and Pete told me about Barry having cancer, I spent the next leg of the journey thinking about my interaction with Barry. I regretted not being able to offer him some level of encouragement until it donned on me — perhaps spending 20 minutes interacting with a fellow motorcycle enthusiast in a normal way was encouragement enough. In fact, they were probably more of an encouragement to me. Paula said they had been married 44 years and they obviously had a very positive outlook on life despite their situation. I regret not exchanging contact information with them. Had Pete and I not lingered over coffee that morning, would we have met them?

Sitting in a saddle watching the scenery go by gives you a lot of time to reflect. I’m reflecting a lot right now on the decisions that I’ve made in my life; the good, the bad, and the colossally stupid. I’m looking to learn what I can and keep making good decisions, taking advantage of opportunities as they are presented, and setting a trajectory toward the person I want to become.

Now I’ve gone and gotten all pseudo-philosophical on you. Back to the road trip tomorrow.

Day Ten: Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Valemount, B.C. to Seattle (Pete)
Valemount, B.C. to Northport (Bill)

Dry, well rested on 10 hours of sleep, and with sunny skies, we saddled up for Pete’s last leg of the journey. The only wildlife we saw today was a very large black bear on the side of the road. I rode by thinking “Sit! Stay!” It did, and we made good time to Merritt, B.C. (the “Country Music Capital of Canada”) where we had lunch, grabbed a quad espresso and split up with Pete headed to Seattle and I back to Northport to spend a another day with the Chambers.

Last cup of coffee

While this ride didn’t have the grandeur of the Rockies, it was beautiful nonetheless. About an hour and a half of the ride was down Hwy 97 beside Okanagan Lake.

Upper lake

Lower Lake

Central Valley

I’ve been thankful for many things on this trip, but after nine hours in the saddle, I was most thankful that Jeff Meehan loaned me his AirHawk air seat. It was a Godsend, thanks Jeff!

Our routes:

Pete's route

Bill's route

Day Nine: Tuesday, May 8, 2007 Update

Well, Pete has about said it all. And Bob was correct, the ride from Banff to Jasper is one of the most picturesque I’ve ever experienced. I made a trip from Denver to Banff in 1983 and fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. With every mile I can feel that love affair being rekindled.

Here are a few more of the over 100 photos that Pete and I took on the way up to the ice fields.



The bikes






Clouding Up

Just past the ice fields, it started to cloud up and spit snow. Pete convinced me to suit up for rain and it’s’ a good thing he did — just past Jasper, the bottom dropped out. That kind of riding will test you. Two hours later, when we finally found a safe place to stop and wait out the rain, we decided to forgo the remainder of the day and find a place to dry out. All the gear worked well except the gloves — after about an hour in the rain they were no longer waterproof.

After the Rain

Here is a detailed map of a trip we highly recommend you take:

Route Day Nine