Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

The Long Way Home

I really didn’t feel much like hanging in Whistler on Sunday, so I decided to hit the road and take the long long way home – heading northeast on BC-99 to Pemberton and over the mountains to Lillooet, before going down the Fraser River canyon on BC-12 and the Trans Canada, and into the US at Aldergrove.  Tony and I took this route the first time we rode the bikes to Whistler and it became our first long road trip.  It really is a very pretty and very quiet drive.  The road past Pemberton has always been more than a bit bumpy, but in anticipation of the Olympics next year they are repaving it so it was a sweet ride, like ice after a Zamboni has gone over it.      I was able to relax and enjoy it, and listen to the I-pod.  One of my favorite Canadian folk singers is Stan Rogers, and a song called “Down The Road” came on and it fit perfectly:

The sun is rising high, burning into the day.
I will say goodbye, I’ll be going away.
Brush away my doubts, what tomorrow will hold.
Feeling fine for now, going down the road.

The road up past Duffy Lake and down the Fraser Canyon is so remote though that there is no cell service – which makes it impossible to post Facebook updates, and makes one feel really out of touch and that much more alone.   I don’t feel the occasional buzz on my cell phone from texts or calls from friends.  Fortunately I was chatting with my friend Quincy online before I left and I told him the route I was taking and that if I didn’t make it back by Monday he should call the RCMP and send the Mounties out (preferably a cute Asian one with the traditional red Mountie uniform on, but I digress).  It was very warm once I got over the mountains and I stopped to drop the jacket and change into a short sleeve tshirt for the ride down the Fraser.  It was sad to see the hundreds of red needled trees as they are getting a pine beetle infestation here as well, just as they are in Utah.  And it was so hot and dry that I was afraid if I spit it would have started a fire.  I used to think the Fraser was Canada's version of a cross between the Columbia and the Mississippi and is a huge river that drains most of Western Canada however, my riding buddy and good friend Wayne is a Canuck living in the US, corrected me:  

CORRECTION: The Fraser River does not drain most of western Canada.  It drains west from the continental divide between BC and Alberta. Is it not the Mississippi/Columbia of Canada.  The Mackenzie River in NWT has that distinction.  Rivers in AB, Sask, and Manitoba drain into the Hudson’s Bay.
FACT:  The Colombia Rivers headwaters are in BC. You damn banditos Yankees keep building or built dams on the damn river. 

I stopped in the small town of Lytton for lunch before the Trans Canada (Canada 1) merged with BC-12.  It got me again to thinking what a neat ride it would be to go the entire length of the road, from Victoria BC to St. Johns, Newfoundland.  I've done "Corner to Corner" and gone almost Border to Border on US-89 -- maybe this is book #3 (assuming I ever get to writing 1 and 2.)  But a trans-Canada is brewing in the back of my mind now.

The is route home is about 160 miles further than the direct route up, and the largest town on the ride is probably Hope BC with a population of  about 8,000.  It was here I picked up cell service and was able to post some pictures of the ride over the mountains, and check email and reply to a few texts.  It really is an odd sensation not being cut loose from the electronic tether – especially when one is traveling sans companion to talk to and share things with.  I think that is why I do post so much and text my friends and send them pictures – it makes one feel less alone when traveling alone.

And apparently my “single” status is something for the US Department of Homeland Security (Sieg Heil!) to be concerned about.  Normally when I use the main border crossing in Blaine, I use my Nexus pass which allows me to bypass the lineup and questioning.  The border crossing at Aldergrove is so small it doesn’t have a Nexus lane, so I had to go through the normal questioning.  I handed the officer (wearing mirrored sunglasses like the “boss” in Cool Hand Luke), my passport and he looked it over and asked the usual “Citizenship?”  “US.” [as an aside, I thought only US citizens had US passports -- so why ask the obvious?  To see if I have a funny accent?  What happens if I said another country? -- but I digress]  “Where are you coming from?”  “Whistler, taking the long route down from Lillooet”.  “Alone?”  Now mind you this is the SECOND stupid question, AND  I’m on a motorcycle with a suitcase strapped to the passenger seat – and while I resisted the urge to say “no, Mr. Invisible is sitting on top of the bag” I answered “yes”.  “Really?”  “Yes”.  “You didn’t meet anyone up there?”  Now I have to ask what the hell kind of nosy question is that?  Is my sex life any of Homeland Security’s (Sieg Heil!) business?  None the less I answered “No.”  He handed me back my passport and sent me on my way.  I fumed about this for a few miles – wondering how in the world it’s come this, and reflected on the small army of Border Patrol agents I saw in May in Arizona and California, and how much of our freedom we’ve given up in the name of “security”.  I’ve said it before, I don’t feel all that “secure” with these mostly wanna-be cops in charge.

After I crossed I stayed on WA-9 for most of the ride towards Seattle – this is one of my favorite backroads, and it roughly parallels I-5, yet no one takes it.  This is a wonderful road through some nice small towns, and I stopped for dinner in a nice roadside joint before finishing the ride to Seattle.
So now I’ve got a week to catch up and finish a couple of work projects, pay bills, and do some stuff around the house before hitting the road again and heading off to the Sturgis Rally a week from today.


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