On August 30th, the weather turned bitter and it was a cold ride to Calgary, Alberta. Luckily it was a short trip because we weren’t wearing the weather liners on our riding gear. The tread on our back tire was wearing thin and since we have to learn to do all the repairs on the bike ourselves, we were about to replace our first tire. Fortunately, we were offered some help from a man named John. He lives in Calgary with his family and he replied to a post that Rocky had placed on the website www.ADVrider.com. After entering his garage, it was obvious that he loves motorcycles and his enthusiastic stories had me wishing I had my own. It was very kind of him to help/teach us and I thought it was really cool that his wife was also celebrating her birthday that day. With the weather still cold and wet, we were very thankful to have been invited to spend the night in Calgary. It is a great feeling to be treated so well by strangers.
The rain remained by the next morning and the ride felt longer than it should have. As we reached Canmore, Alberta we were only able to get a few peeks at the mountains as we literally rode through clouds. That is when we finally decided that the weather sucked! We had an entire day to waste so we pulled over and spent it at Tim Horton’s. We were hoping the rain would stop, but it didn’t. So, we rode into Banff National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies and before it got dark, we found a great place for our tent.
The following morning we rode to the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper, Alberta. On our way, we stopped at the famously beautiful Lake Louise, but everywhere I looked was jaw dropping. The mountains were majestic, the lakes and streams were all aqua marine in color and I love the smell of fresh air. “Alberta, Wild Rose Country” is incredible but no words or pictures could properly describe it’s intensity.
Just as the sun began to set, we passed the border into British Columbia and stopped in a town named Fields, BC. It was definitely a scenery I wanted to wake up to. The morning was beautiful but during the night, a storm almost blew us away. The tent swayed viciously and at first, I thought it was a bear attack. Ironically, we fell back asleep too tired to care.
When we were in Calgary, John recommended we take a different route than we had planned. We trusted his opinion and am I ever glad. We rode through “Beautiful British Columbia” on winding roads that took us up, down and all around the mountains. These mountains were green, covered in trees and their peaks, smooth. We took ferries across a couple of lakes giving us the chance to stretch and enjoy a different type of ride. After a long day on the road, we pulled into a town named New Denver. We found a very small park on the edge of Slocan Lake and the view was breathtaking. It was a great home for the night but our morning was a rough one. As we packed up, I tried releasing the tent poles to take apart the tent. I was having a tough time but finally managed to bend the pole just enough to have it pop my front tooth with all the built up pressure. Imagine me with a missing front tooth? Haha close call, but thankfully, I still have them all. With everything finally packed, the motorcycle refused to start. A local who lives across the street, had seen our troubles and offered us a boost from his portable battery charger. Within a few minutes, the engine begun to purr. Thanks David!
We finally headed out towards Grand Forks BC to meet a local named Nancy but since we arrived late, she had to go to work and her sister Joanne greeted us instead. Nancy is a kind lady we met on www.couchsurfing.org and we were the first she had hosted from the website. When she finally made it home from work, we were pleased to meet her. We shared stories, drank wine, walked around town, and shared many laughs. Two nights later, we had to part ways. I love meeting new friends but I always feel sad to say good bye. We were on our way to Vancouver and the roads we took were a lot of fun. At times I wished I was the one steering but who am I kidding, I’ve had the best seat on this trip. I once thought I might be crazy for wanting to join Rocky on this adventure but, everyday I have been reminded by every moment passed how amazing it is to be experiencing this. I have traveled a lot in my life but nothing beats doing it on a motorcycle.
Looking for a place to take a break, we came across a town called Osoyoos. We didn’t stay there for long but I just want to mention how much we liked it there. Rocky said that it looked like a great vacation spot, I thought it looked like a great place to live. It was really pretty.
The entire ride through Canada, I don’t remember seeing any police, it must have been because they were all hanging out in BC. They were everywhere pulling over groups of vehicles. At one point, the car in front of us and about four cars behind us were asked to pull over. We weren’t sure if we were asked as well so to avoid trouble, we did anyway. As soon as we realized how many of us were waiting for a ticket, Rocky decided that the cop had his hands full so we did him a favor and left to make his job easier.
With Almeida’s original rear tire tread thinning, I had posted on a internet motorcycle message board asking for tips on changing tires. I was contacted by a couple members of the website www.ADVrider.com who were willing to help. A guy in Calgary, named John, emailed me his contact information offered to show me the ropes.
Heading towards Calgary, the clouds became increasingly dark and the air much cooler. We pulled into Blackfoot Motorsports in a frigid, drizzling rain. After picking up a new Pirelli Scorpion, we followed the directions entered into the GPS and arrived with John waiting for us in his driveway. Pulling into his garage and seeing seven or eight motorcycles, including a KTM 990 Adventure, we knew we were in good hands.
After getting the tire changed, Paula and I washed up and headed out for her birthday dinner — all-you-can-eat sushi. John had offered us a place to stay for the night, so we finished up dinner and headed back to his place in the rain.
The next day was just a cold and rainy as the previous. Nevertheless, we loaded the Almeida up with our gear, thanked John and said our good-byes, and headed towards Banff. Arriving in Banff after enduring a bitterly cold rain, we found a Tim Horton’s to camp out at for a while to rest, dry off and get warm. We waited for several hours for the rain to stop. It didn’t. After about five hours of sitting, we decided to find a place to stealth camp. We found a suitable location on the outskirts of town, set up camp and endured a long, cold night.
We awoke the next morning to some breaks in the clouds that had been overhead for the past few days. The day was spent riding along the Canadian Rockies – to Lake Louise, Bow Lake, and up to the Athabasca Glacier. The scenery was awesome. The sun shared the sky with the clouds, and the temperatures cold, especially while riding. With nightfall quickly drawing upon us, we pulled off the side of the road to camp just outside the town of Field, British Columbia, a picturesque town of approximately 300 people situated along the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
We were awoken in the middle of the night to a fierce thunderstorm. I was sure that the tent would be blown apart by the winds, but I was too tired to care, so I shut my eyes and went back to sleep.
Coming down in elevation the next morning, the sun began to shine and the temperature began to rise. We followed the route John had made up for us through Golden, into Revelstoke, and down along Upper Arrow Lake where we had our first ferry crossing. We continued along twisting and winding roads and beautiful scenery, and stopped just before sunset. We camped out in the park next to a lake in the small town of New Denver along the edge of Slocan Lake.
The next morning, the bike refused to start. My initial guess was that the battery was drained from charging all of our electronics the previous day, even though it was while Almeida’s alternator was turning. The several attempts of fire up the engine were in vain. The battery just didn’t have enough juice to crank the starter motor. Luckily, a neighbour, just across the street from the park where we were camped, heard us trying to start the engine and offered his assistance and his battery charger. After about fifteen minutes on the charger, I tried the to start the bike and the engine immediately fired up. We thanked our new friend, David, for his help, I put the bike in gear and we headed towards Grand Forks, British Columbia.
In need of a rest, a shower and a friendly conversation (Paula and I get sick of each other after several days with just each other), we decided to give couch surfing another try. We contacted a lady named Nancy who agreed to host us for a night or two. We arrived in Grand Forks, and were let into Nancy’s apartment by her sister, Joanne, who lived across the street. Nancy worked at a local pub, and wouldn’t be arriving home until later that evening. We were surprised at how trusting someone could be to let strangers into her home without ever meeting them. Nancy finished work and arrived home at around 10pm. We sat at her kitchen table and talked about everything under the sun as Paula and I polished off a bottle of red wine that Nancy had opened up for us. Tired and tipsy, we took our last sips of wine and hit the sack.
In the morning, Nancy cooked us a tasty organic breakfast, and took us out for a cup of Joe at her favourite coffee shop in town. She offered great stories of her travels around the world, a bit about the history of Grand Forks. Many of the residents of the town were descendants of the Doukobors, a group of pacifist Russian immigrants that settled in the area at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The remainder of the day was spent exploring the town and enjoying its sunshine.
We left Nancy and Grand Forks the next morning. From there, we made a beeline for Vancouver, stopping only twice. Our first stop was a great little town in Southern B.C., called Osoyoos. Riding down into the valley and into the town, it felt like we were in the wine country of Southern California. The buildings were Mexican-style with stucco facades, and the landscape seemed out-of-place for British Columbia. Our next stop was Hope, British Columbia, where the first Rambo movie was filmed. I had hoped to get a photo taken on the bridge during the arrest scene of the movie, but was disappointed after learning that it had been torn down a few months earlier.
We rode into Vancouver and hit, what seemed like, every red light before finally arriving downtown at my friend’s apartment. Vincent, a good friend from Taiwan, greeted us and took us up to his apartment for some much-needed R&R.