(2007) Banff

This could very well be the last STN planned Banff Run. I was rather disappointed by the lack of participants and, quite honestly, I could have very well just done this ride by myself at another time. But it was a chance to meet some new people and I got to take some new roads and as always, it ended up being well worth the time out on the road.

September 7~11, 2007
Total Miles: 2,033 miles, 5 days
Seattle, WA to Banff, AB
Map Link

Things rarely work out just the way they’re supposed to but that’s not always a bad thing. The 2007 edition of the Banff Run was fairly disorganized and didn’t appear that it was going to be well attended. Therefore when I couldn’t make it to the first night’s location (Whistler) I wasn’t too concerned about anyone missing me. My riding partner Doug had come to Seattle Wednesday night to ride up to Whistler with me on Thursday, but plans changed when he had to be back in Victoria on Friday. We spent the day together in Seattle and the next morning we went our separate ways into Canada.

Arrangements had already been made to meet up in Spences Bridge for lunch and I knew that I could get there in an easy 4 hours. I did the usual drone up I-5, had an uneventful crossing at Abbottsford and immediately stopped at the first clothing store I found. Doug had suggested I take the heated jacket with me but it was 70 degrees in Seattle; why would I need it? I was bringing the KLR since the BMW had some mechanical issues and I felt it better not to push the bike in its current condition. As such, the heated jacket would just be an additional draw on the already weak alternator that the KLR is equipped with. Well, I needed it anyway. It was overcast and damp and the temperatures hovered in the upper 50s. The cold went right through the layers I did have on and I wanted more. I picked up a couple of items on the clearance rack to keep me going, even though there weren’t anything like what I really needed. But I also needed to make some time so I put them on out in the parking lot and hopped onto the #3 to Hope and then directly north along the Fraser River to Spences Bridge.

I was only 15 minutes late and three bikes greeted me outside of the Inn where we were to meet. Inside I found Keith, Sharon and Doug (a different Doug) at a table, hot coffee in their hands. I asked for a hot chocolate and introductions were made all the way around. Another rider showed up just as we were finishing lunch but we were in no hurry and hung out a while longer while he grabbed a bite to eat.

The sun was barely out and it was just hinting at possibly warming up. We would meet up again in Penticton that night, or more accurately, at the Double Diamond Resort in Apex, which is just outside of Penticton. The five of us started out together, heading immediately for the road to Merritt, the #8 and still my favorite road in BC. I took the lead and ran with it, eventually noticing that only one headlight was behind me. I kept the pace going, enjoying the smoother corners and the faint warmth of the sunshine. It wasn’t until I reached Merritt that I pulled over and Doug was able to gas up his bike. We waited for the others but I figured that they must have passed by when we weren’t looking and suggested that we keep on going.

From Merritt we took 97C east, its wide lanes and fat turns reminiscent of American highways. But fluffy clouds dotted the blue sky and I was just happy not to feel the marrow of my bones chilled. Doug and I took the turn off for 5A south to Princeton and I was once again on what I consider a typical Canadian road: two lanes that roll through the countryside, following every sweep of the hill and bend in the river. A blurry mess of clouds threatened rain to the west but I gave them a harsh glare and they stayed away from my sunshine. While passing through Princeton I noticed the “entrance” to the local section of the Kettle Valley Railroad and was once again amazed at how well disguised it was, looking more like a farmer’s driveway to some outbuilding rather than a vital link that stretches across the province.

From Princeton we hung a left and road on the #3 until Doug motioned the he needed fuel again. As luck would have it, our fuel stop near Kerameos was the same one Keith and Sharon were using and we caught them just as they were finishing up. The late arrival from Spences Bridge had turned back a while ago to head back on his own, not having the time to join us for our trip to Banff. The four of us rode together to what we thought would be our final stop for the night, the resort at Apex. I had just ridden through Apex the previous month but I hadn’t taken notice of anything in particular and no one else knew exactly where the resort was so we thought it best to stick together while searching.

The road to Apex is a blissful little affair that scurries up the side of the mountains and twists back upon itself numerous times. Free-roaming cattle kept us alert, as did the ever-present danger of deer. However upon reaching the resort town we found a closed town. It was in between seasons and there were less than a handful of people to be seen. I asked a couple of them were to find the Double Diamond and one had never heard of it, while the other gave me erroneous directions. We split up to search side roads but to no avail. Then Keith got a message on his phone. Joe, a rider who was to meet us here in Apex, called to say that the resort was closed and he found a motel room in nearby Penticton. Well, that took care of that! We made the delightful return back down the mountain and into the bustling town of Penticton, finding the suggested motel with very little trouble. Finding Joe was just as easy. While he wasn’t at the motel, we did spy him walking back from dinner just as we were headed out. I joked with the group, saying, “I wonder if that’s Joe? Maybe I’ll ask him”, knowing full well that the odds of the first person we saw on the streets being Joe were incredibly slim. But then I spied motorcycle boots on his feet and asked him as he approached us. He was indeed Joe and had just come back from a wonderful dinner. He offered to walk back with us and talk while we had our own meal. Plans were made for the morning departure and eventually we all retired to our rooms for the evening.

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Rt 97C east of Merritt, BC

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No more rain please!

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Heading south on 5A to Princeton

I had an ambitious day planned for us with over 425 miles of twisty roads scheduled before our next stop for the night. We started by heading south to Osoyoos, then east up over Anachris Pass to Rock Creek before heading north on 33 to our first stop in Beaverdell. The Pass was miserable, as the road crews had laid down fat spans of tar over cracks in the road, creating an unstable surface to ride on in hot or wet weather. Fortunately it was neither but I still disparaged the crews for their efforts. And then I had a chance to do it in person, for we came upon the crews doing the actual work. It was just as well that I kept my thoughts to myself as I rode over miles of freshly laid tar coated with plenty of loose gravel because those thoughts were not very kind. There were some good-looking workers but that didn’t quite make up for it.

At Beaverdell the restaurant that I had been eagerly anticipating was closed. Another one a couple of doors down promised Home Cooking, which was exactly what I was looking for so in we went. Breakfast was huge and tasty and I was happy with the last-minute change of plans. After our mid-morning break we resumed the ride north into Kelowna where Doug took his leave of us for a while. His bike was not doing well with the elevation changes and he felt that given an hour and some tools he could adjust the carbs sufficiently to hoping to join us in Nelson and enjoy the rest of the ride. We left Doug behind and continued on to Vernon where we met up with another rider, Chris, who would just join us for the quick and stimulating ride over #6 to the Needles Ferry.

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Heading south on 97 towards Osoyoos

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A late breakfast in Beaverdell

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The “Big Breakfast” option

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Historic Beaverdell Hotel

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Yes, imagine the stories!

Traffic was predictably slow through Lumby but then the roads were our own. Chris, Joe and Keith were fast, taking off and rarely seen again along this stretch. I kept up with them for a bit but the KLR’s single cylinder wasn’t up to the high speeds on the straights and I gave up in trying to keep them in sight. Sharon and I brought up the rear as we pulled up to the ferry line. We chatted with Chris for the 10-15 minute wait and then he turned to go back to Vernon while we loaded onto the ferry.

The road at the ferry landing is almost too long. While the scenery is breathtaking, and the road is in great shape, there is not quite enough change in elevation and direction to really pull my attention from the tedium of the road itself. I tried to amuse myself by looking at the osprey nests up on the power poles, the sun-dappled mountains, the evidence of past forest fires and thinking about where various roads lead that branch off the main route. But once I got to the turn off at 31A I had no trouble thinking about the pavement in front of me. This stretch of road had been recently paved and that in conjunction with the fine twists and turns that it takes through lush forest slopes makes it a little slice of motorcycling heaven.

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Heading north again to Vernon

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Rt 6 eastbound

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Looking west from the freshly paved 31A

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31A: A destination in of itself

At the end of heaven is the town of Kaslo, which then leads along the west bank of Kootenay Lake south to Nelson, our stop for the night. The last part of this road becomes tedious with incredibly slow speed limits and increased traffic and it was with relief that I pulled into a parking spot at The Hume Hotel in Nelson. Doug was with me and I knew that Keith, Sharon and Joe would be along shortly. However the hotel was booked, as were just about every other hotel in the city. There was another event in the area and we were out of luck. Apparently none of us had made reservations anywhere and we were unwilling to split one of the few remaining rooms in town for the unheard of price of $229 – and that was the “starting at” cost! Joe was nervous about not having a place to stay and decided that he didn’t want to eat until he knew where he was going to sleep that night. With a “might see you in Banff!” farewell, he took off to the south to find a room in the next town. The three of us went into the hotel’s restaurant to order dinner and discuss our options for the evening. I knew that if nothing else we could follow Joe’s lead and find a room in the next town, but we had other options as well. Delightfully Doug showed up just as we were ordering and the original foursome was once again intact.

With dinner over I called my local friend but he was still out of town. We then called Jim, a friend who lives in Castlegar, a town just an easy 30 miles away. He was home and Keith politely invited ourselves over. Jim was probably too stunned to say no and managed to have a smile on hi face by the time we pulled into his driveway. In all honestly, Jim and his family are some of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve met and I was secretly hoping that we’d end up at their house. Everyone was given somewhere comfortable and warm to sleep and we sat up and chatted for a couple of hours before turning in for the night.

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Jim greets his surprise visitors with a smile

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Why Jim couldn’t join us on the road

Jim’s bike was waiting for new tires so he couldn’t ride with us, but another local, Jeff, met up with us in Salmo to ride as far as Creston and have breakfast with us. The morning was chilly and I added yet another layer to my arsenal, wishing I had my heated jacket every day so far on this ride. Jim had loaned me a windbreaker to put on under my ‘stitch in hopes of keeping the wind from pulling the heat right out of me. It worked fairly well that morning, I’m happy to say.

Jeff led us at a fast clip up and over Salmo Pass, my KLR doing its best to keep up with the sport bikes without me feeling like I was wringing its neck. The sun was out and warm and the blue sky made a nice backdrop to the heavily treed mountains. Traffic was almost non-existent and when there was someone to pass it was easily accomplished in one of the frequent passing lanes along this route. We crested the pass and then dropped down into the Creston Valley at the foot of Kootenay Lake. A lot of businesses are closed on Sundays in BC but we were lucky to find that Grandma’s Place was open and willing to feed us. After another filling meal we bade good-bye to Jeff, as he had to actually work that day.

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Jeff tries on Sharon’s lowered KLR for size

Our group of four followed the Crowsnest further east until we reached 95A where we made a small detour through Kimberly. Keith wanted to point out the eastern end of a dirt road option that stretched from here to Kootenay Bay on the other side of the mountains. It is a route I have been interested in trying some time and it was nice to see where it started. From Kimberly we each made our own pace up along various lakes and river and through small resort towns. We were getting close to the southern entrance of Kootenay National Park and usual tourist things that go along with a recreational destination. The miles passed quickly and I enjoyed a road I hadn’t been on for years. The day had warmed up considerably and I actually thought about taking a layer off. But no sooner had I arrived at that idea than our group stopped for gas and a final good bye. Keith and Sharon would ride with us to Banff but would not be stopping once they got there. There were close to home and had been on the road for two weeks and had to get back to work the next day. It would just be Doug and I, and possibly Joe if he showed up, to end this year’s Banff Run.

The ride into the park was amazing, just as it was the last time. Tight, narrow roads led through a maze of carved rocks before opening up to a wide valley, the other side guarded by a serrated row of peaks. Traffic wasn’t a problem and I stopped to take some pictures. I also didn’t stop to take pictures, trying out some “on the fly” photos as I rode down the pavement. There is a noticeable lack of photo quality on these ones and I will probably not rely on it as a source for good photos.

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Columbia Lake from 93 towards Radium Hot Springs

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Entering Kootenay National Park

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Kootenay National Park

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Kootenay National Park

Surprisingly I saw almost no wildlife on this trip. I thought for sure that Banff would be the exception but no, not even a squirrel crossed my path here. I was disappointed, as I find that wildlife sightings are exciting because they are so unpredictable. I know that the mountains are going to be here (whether they be behind a layer of clouds is the only question), but will I see an elk? A bear? A coyote? I saw none of the above and other than Doug humoring me by playing “moose” for one of my photos, I felt a distinct lack of cooperation from the wildlife department.

We rolled into Banff and were promptly confronted with road construction. Banff is replacing their 100 year-old sewer system in one fell swoop that is taking all summer and well into the fall. This only makes sense since they can’t work during the winter but it sure made a mess for the tourists in town. We found a room at a motel at the far end of town and then sought dinner, finding it in an Irish Pub with a nice and warm interior and very good food. There was no sign of Joe; he apparently decided not to venture further north after Nelson. A couple of gift shops were still open on our way back to the motel and Doug bought presents for his family while I got a sticker for my bike. When we got back to the room we discussed various route options for the ride back. That’s when I found out that Doug didn’t have to be back to Vancouver Island until later in the week, whereas I had to be in Seattle in two days. I suggested that while it was great to travel with him that instead he take his time in getting back rather than flying along with me.

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Just outside of Banff

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Famous rock formations outside of Banff

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What can I say? The scene needed a moose

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Had to get one of the bike in there

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Construction in downtown Banff

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Gangsta Rat

The next morning I bid Doug adieu and headed for Lake Louise. The last time I was here the weather was completely uncooperative with low clouds and misting rains. This morning was crisp with brilliant blue skies. A little too crisp, to tell the truth, as it was only 37 when I left Banff. My layers helped but damn I wanted that heated jacket!

At Keith’s suggestion from the previous day, I took the slightly more scenic 1A to Lake Louise, conveniently ignoring the oppressively low speed limit in favor of making some time and not falling asleep. It was still cold when I reached the shores of Lake Louise and I was quick about getting The Photo before jumping back on the bike. I was appalled at the crowds of people gathered along the lake shore, all jabbering at each other and passing cameras among themselves. I don’t really like crowds and for some reason, tourist-based crowds disturb me more than any other. Irrational, I know, but it still made me want to get out of there all the more. Except there was this really good looking photographer… so I stood around a bit and watched him set up his camera, taking my own picture of him as he took one of the lake. Nothing to say to him and no other reason to hang around, I retreated to my bike, put in my earplugs and donned my helmet and went back into the quiet recesses of my own mind.

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Heading towards Lake Louise on 1A

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Lake Louis (it looks better on the postcards)

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Fighting the crowds at the lake

From Lake Louise I took the Tran Canada Highway west towards Revelstoke. For years I had heard people mention this road with disparaging words and I expected to find myself on some cursed interstate-type road. Imagine my surprise when instead I was thrown into another range of mountains, a couple of national parks and lots of beautiful vistas. This is the way to travel over distances quickly. Yoho National Park was full of vast mountain ranges and craggy peaks. I took many on-board shots along here, as traffic was also a hassle and I didn’t like the idea of having to re-pass someone I had just worked so hard to get around. Of course all of that passing was for naught. I ran into some road construction and not being sure if motorcycles were allowed to pass to the front of the line, I sat in my spot. It looked a long wait, so I took off my gloves and helmet and had some water and sunflower seeds. No sooner had I eaten my first handful than the traffic started to move. I barely had time to move my bike out of the way, let alone leave with the rest of the line up. I pulled over near the flagger to put my gear on and asked her if I was allowed to move to the front in the future, to which she said I could. Now I know, at least.

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Heading west through Yoho National Park

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Scenery like this continued for hours

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Construction stop on 1A

No sooner did I leave one park than I entered the next one, the Canadian Glacier National Park. This is humorous to me, as I told my co-workers that I might go through Glacier on my home from Banff, but I meant Glacier in Montana, as I had no idea that BC had one of their own. So through Glacier National Park I go, cresting over Rogers Pass that was surprising low at 4,363’. Then again, I was quite a bit further north than I am used to and the passes don’t need to be very high to encounter the rough conditions I would expect at higher passes further south. Many tunnels had been carved into the sides of the mountains along here and traffic bunched up behind slow-moving RVs and semis, passing zones very limited and by the time I got to one, I had a whole passel of vehicles to pass, not just the slow ones in front. Eventually the tunnels receded into the background and the mountains lost their icy grandeur, although they were in no way diminished. Now the “highway” was carved into the steep canyon walls and narrow lanes gave no quarter to those who attempted the descent too quickly. I was again amazed at the comparative amateur attempt at a highway system, having grown up with the Interstate system of the United States. I had always assumed that other countries would have something similar, especially a country as close in society as Canada. I was glad to be wrong.

I thought about eating in Revelstoke. It had been four hours on the road and I knew that my choices would be limited once I headed south from here. I had passed Revelstoke on the bypass and saw a couple of chain restaurants and The Frontier Restaurant. I rolled through the parking lot of The Frontier but thought I could do better in town. I was wrong and found nothing in town, so I went back to the Frontier. I went in, waited 10 minutes for someone to seat me (no signs were present) and finally had to hunt someone down to ask. I could sit wherever I like. It would make no difference where I sat apparently because no one would come to take my order. I sat there for another 10 minutes, long enough to read through the local paper, without so much as a menu, a glass of water or a welcome. I got up and left, deciding that eating was over-rated. Instead I headed south on the 23 towards the Shelter Bay-Galena Bay ferry. I assumed that the Galena Bay side of the ferry would have a small town serviced by the ferry, with gas and food available. It would be a good time for a break.

I had never been on this road before and it was definitely one to enjoy on a faster bike. Don’t get me wrong: the scenery was still fabulous, with a mountain range paralleling the road on my left on the other side of the river, and steep hills to my right. But this is scenery that doesn’t change much mile after mile, and seeing it at 40mph or 80mph yields the same results. So I chose 80mph and make tracks for the ferry, having no idea of its schedule.

I pulled up to the ferry dock behind a work pick up, a semi and an undetermined number of vehicles over the crest of the hill before me. I was tired but didn’t want to get off the bike. I didn’t want to get caught again like I did at the construction site and the bike was still comfortable to sit on, so I put the side stand down, my feet up on the pegs and my head down on my hands on the crossbar. I ended up falling asleep like that during the 30-minute wait for the ferry and it felt really good.

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Scenery in Glacier National Park (BC)

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Columbia River along 23, south of Revelstoke

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Fast times on 23

I let the pick up truck off before me, as I knew that he was running at a faster pace than I was but I made a game of keeping up with him. He did very well on the corners and kept an even speed through most of the route south to Nakusp. This stretch of road follows the east bank of Upper Arrow Lake and joins into the road I usually take when I hop on the Needles Ferry from Vernon (like I did two days ago). I had never approached Nakusp from the north but the road was predictable in its desire to mirror the lake shore and gave me wonderful views along the way. And I have to admit that it was much more entertaining than the stretch from Fauquier (the eastern landing of the Needles Ferry) north to Nakusp. Once in Nakusp I refueled and considered my options. I had already eliminated one of them by heading south from the ferry instead of looping north to Trout Lake and then taking a few miles of dirt down to Kaslo. But now I had to decide if I was going to retrace the route our group took over 31A into Nelson or instead drop straight down along Slocan Lake and come out just south of Nelson. Unfortunately the tedious section just north of Nelson was the overriding factor and I kept the bike pointed south on the #6.

I made one more stop in a little gathering of buildings called “Winlaw” and gave my friend Norm in Nelson a call. Much to my surprise he was home and answered his phone. He invited me to stop by and say hi, which I readily accepted. I made my way to his house for an hour and then took my leave to continue south to Castlegar and Jim’s house. I had a windbreaker to return.

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Crossing on the Galena Bay ferry

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Apparently gas is not an option at the ferry landing

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Visiting Norm in Nelson

Jim was home when I got there and invited me to come in and make myself at home. Unabashed, I asked for how long could I make myself at home? I had effectively invited myself over yet again. Jim was kind enough not to look annoyed and he and his family fed me a wonderful dinner that night, complete with a homegrown tomato that was over two pounds!

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Serious tomatoes in Castlegar!

The consecutive long days of riding had worn me down and it was with slight embarrassment that I went to bed at 8:30 that night. I read for a while (I see that I’ll have to find my own copy of “Kon-Tiki”) before drifting off in a sound sleep.

I woke up before 6am but resisted getting up until 7, not knowing the schedule of the rest of the household. I finally did get up, got dressed and packed up my bags. I left shortly afterward, thanking everyone profusely for their recurring hospitality and encouraging them to come visit me so I could repay them in some way. Shortly after I was climbing out of the Castlegar valley and up into the cool mountain air, looking forward to the warm air that was sure to great me further south in Washington State.

The ride from Castlegar to Danville was fast and uneventful. Traffic was rare and the road was in good repair. I was blessed with another sunny day and I looked at the old railroad trestles nestled high in the hills, knowing that they were open to public use now that the tracks had been pulled up. Some day I’d get up here and ride them, but not today.

The crossing at Danville was surprisingly annoying. I think that the guard was under the expectation that it was 9/11 and everyone coming into the States was planning on blowing something up. He asked me twice where I live, probably hoping to catch me in a lie. He then asked me to open up all of the bags on the KLR and he riffled through them, poking around and shoving stuff out of the way. When he asked if I bought anything I answered truthfully, that I had bought some oil for the bike. I had to suppress some serious eye rolling when he asked me “Why? Isn’t there oil available in the States?” After a quick explanation he wished me a nice day and turned to the next sucker in line. I suppose I could have been mean and sat there repacking my bike, holding up the line, but I knew that the only ones who would care or notice would be the poor souls behind me. I pulled the bike off to the side and re-situated everything, ready for the final leg of my journey home. This was the first time I had really seen any wildlife, too, as a deer was grazing peacefully in the field behind the customs house (I always see deer here: I think they’re actually the border guards’ pets). I was also lucky enough to see almost a dozen wild turkeys along the road about 10 minutes later.

I missed a wonderful opportunity for adventure while riding south from Danville. Route 21 winds its way down a wide valley and crosses over a railroad track numerous times during this time. I noticed that the tracks were no longer there and just a naked, empty and inviting rail bed was left behind. Each time the pavement crossed I noticed that the more of the rail bed had been stripped and very slowly the thought of taking it was creeping to the forefront of my mind. By the time it hit the front and I had time to act on it, I had reached the far end of the valley and the end of the accessible tracks. I should have turned around the first time I saw the bed.

I was finally able to find lunch in Republic at a place I had never noticed before. Mel’s Diner sat in the middle of the gas station lot and should have been discovered long ago. The owner and her co-worker were extremely funny and friendly and by sitting at the counter I was able to learn all of the latest gossip of Ferry County. I had to laugh when one of the locals who had come in to chat asked if I was a lawyer. I can’t imagine a lawyer with bright pink hair. I thanked them for a wonderful mean and entertainment before getting back on the bike and heading west on Hwy 20.

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Good eating in Republic, WA

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Pennies in the women’s room (because women have sense)

Still irritated that I hadn’t taken the railroad option I was determined to have one more last fling of dirt fun. I took a side road just past Wauconda Pass and decided to see where it went. Naturally half way up the hill I had to switch my tank to reserve, something that didn’t not instill confidence in exploring unknown and desolate dirt roads. There was nothing to fear here: the road ended at a ranch four miles in and I had to turn around and retreat to the pavement. But not before I was able to get some pictures of some cows sitting in the shade of an abandoned log cabin. What I didn’t expect was for them to all get up and walk towards me when I got off the bike. While I realize that cows are probably the least threatening of domesticated animals, having half a dozen of them approach you with determined and zombie-like steps is rather disconcerting. I took my photos and said that I looked forward to seeing them on my dinner plate some day as I rode away.

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Random side road near Wauconda

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Same road

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Stopping to check out some cows

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The cows come out to say Hi

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KLR vs Cow

I was back to civilization, if that’s what you can call Tonasket, WA. I fueled up here and again pondered my route. I could fly across Loup Loup Pass and then continue on, enjoying the splendor of the North Cascades Hwy. But then I was stuck on I-5, in possibly rush hour traffic all the way into Seattle. Or I could take Loup Loup Pass, head south through the Methow Valley and then go across Stevens Pass, which would then leave me on the east side in rush hour traffic. Or instead of Steven’s Pass I could drop down through Blewett Pass and hook up with I-90 for the last hour or so into the city. I didn’t even consider staying south on 97 all the way to I-90; that would have been pure hell. I should note that at this point my bum was sore. Too many miles for too many hours for too many days in a row were taking their toll. And my knees were clamoring for new positions and just plain getting off the bike. I needed the fastest, yet most interesting route home at this point. I chose to skip the North Cascades and go south at least to Hwy 2.

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Coming back down to Hwy 20

I still took Loup Loup Pass, but not all the way across. Despite my bum knee and bum bum, I wanted to explore a road I had seen on my map that bisected the land surrounded by 97, Loup Loup and 153. I guessed (correctly) at the turnoff and then meandered down a one-lane road for 15 miles as it wended its way through the mountains, giving me peak-a-boo views of various mountains. For most part I was tucked in among the trees and my view was limited to the turning leaves of the salmonberry and the dry pines of the open forest. It was a very pleasant road; right up to the point where it made a “T” and I had to chose which way to go. According to my map it was shorter to go right and since the rest of this section would be dirt and I wanted to get home, I chose the shorter route. Thank goodness I did; the road was soft, silty sand that gave me no confidence in the corners and it took forever for me to get back to pavement at that pace.

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Coming back down to Hwy 20

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FS 41 off of Loup Loup Pass

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Benson Creek Rd at the end of FS 41

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Almost home

Now I was back on pavement. I bombed south through the Methow Valley, renown for its beauty and its deer. I saw the beauty but I saw no deer, so the speeds were maintained and I quickly reached 97, droned south along the Columbia River for a while before taking the exit for Hwy 2. Now which way to go? I decided to forgo the potential traffic of the east side back roads and gave myself over to the soul sucking interstate. Right after I had a tasty ride through Blewett Pass.

From the point where Blewett dumped me out onto I-90 there was nothing to look forward to save my own driveway. I kept the throttle up and passed many cars. In the distance I saw the silhouette of a ride and made it a mental game to catch up with him. It took me almost an hour but I finally did it. He had the distinct advantage of being on a two cylinder machine with 950cc’s, while I was on a 650cc single cylinder. There’s a lot of difference between the two. I caught up with him and we spent the last 30 minutes rolling through right Seattle traffic before I turned off on my exit and he took his. My knees had been screaming at me for the last hour and I was only too happy to make the last few turns to my house. The GS comes out to play next time for a trip like that.

Tell me what you think! I want to know!