June – July 2020 Vacation Ride……

At the end of June, Giselle and I were supposed to ride down through the States to attend Wing Ding 42 in Springfield Missouri.  Well, that didn’t work out but we still had our vacation time booked off, so we decided to take a trip on the bike through BC and parts of Alberta.

Our plan was to ride up to Terrace, BC to visit my cousin Dan and his wife Rose.  After a couple of days there, we wanted to head over to Dawson Creek to visit some friends, and then continue on over to Spruce Grove, Alberta to see more friends.  After Spruce Grove, the plan was to ride into Hinton, through Jasper, and down the Icefields Parkway and in to Golden.  Next was a tour through the Kootenays from Revelstoke down to Nakusp, through to Grand Forks, and home…..

Mother Nature was not playing nice the week we headed out….

Our first day out, we met with members of Chapter BC-A in the parking lot at the McDonalds on Boundary and Lougheed.  Nine bikes headed out up the Sea To Sky Highway heading for the Duffey Lake Road.  The weather was fair – threatening to rain, but it held off.  Some of the crew turned back in Pemberton, some rode halfway across the Duffey and 3 escorted us all the way to Lillooet.

After saying goodbye to Gord McDonald, Niels Jensen and Doug Wilkins in Lillooet, we headed out on our own towards Cache Creek and 100 Mile House – or first night destination.

This big black cloud hovered over and just to the west of us all the way up to Clinton.  The winds were kicking up something fierce – the 1500 was getting blown all over the place.  We made it into 100 Mile House just as the storm hit.  It rained for about an hour then cleared up, so we walked down to the Red Rock Grill for dinner.

The Red Rock Grill is managed by Ashley – the lady we booked to cater our 1st Wings in the Cariboo Rally last year.  The food and service was great!  We met Ashley and confirmed she was still on for next year’s rally.  I know she will do an excellent job again next year, but we really do need to purchase a new carving knife for the young guy that served our roast last summer. J

The next morning we woke up to cloudy skies and scattered showers in the forecast.  Our plan was to ride through to Vanderhoof, BC – about a 400km ride.  The first half of the day was great – we stopped in Williams Lake for a quick breakfast at the local A&W, fueled up and headed towards Quesnel.  We stopped in Quesnel for a break, took a few pictures, fueled up and headed on up the highway.  We got wet along the way between Quesnel and Prince George, but not too bad.  We didn’t bother to stop in Prince George, as our plans were to stop there on the way back.  A few more showers and we made it in to Vanderhoof – the Geographical Centre of this great province.

It rained most of the night in Vanderhoof, but was dry again in the morning.  We had dinner at the Cozy Corner Pizzeria, just down the street from or motel, the North Country Inn – the Caesar Salad was awesome!

Day three saw us heading for Terrace.  We travelled through Burns Lake where we stopped for fuel, and Houston – home of the world’s largest fly rod!   From Houston, we travelled north through the beautiful Bulkley Valley which joins up with the Skeena River in Hazelton.  We got rained on in Houston and then again just past Hazelton.

The turnoff onto Highway 37 at Kitwanga is a must stop for me.  My daughter stopped there several years ago while on a trek to the Arctic to copy a pose in a picture I took back in 2013 when I drove up there for work.  The sign is famous…

Same sign – taken in Summer of 2013

My daughter Sandy at the same sign in 2015

We arrived in Terrace after visiting with cousins in Smithers along the way.  There were a couple of other North West Coast District members stuck in Terrace waiting for parts for their Gold Wing that had some issues on their ride a week earlier, so we invited them over for dinner with my cousin Danny and his wife Rose.

Al and Sheila Lens from Merritt came over for a feast of BBQ ribs and fresh garden veggies, and Dan’s special recipe Caesar salad…..garlic is used in abundance in his recipe!

The next day was sunny and clear!  We rode out to Prince Rupert for a picnic lunch and then headed back – about 300 Km round trip.  The scenery on this stretch of highway is nothing but spectacular!

This was the kind of riding we enjoyed – clear skies, a few clouds now and again, spectacular scenery.

The next day started out well – clear skies again in Terrace, but as we headed east back towards Prince George, things got cloudy, a bit darker, then pure agony as the rain set in just before Vanderhoof.  We rode the last 100 km in pouring rain, heavy truck traffic with almost zero visibility, and just a desire to get somewhere that we could warm up, dry off, and lay low till the rain stopped.

We checked into a cheap motel in Prince George- Canada’s Best Value Inn.  Clean, and low cost.  We hit up the restaurant next door for cheap eats and good service, and then hunkered down for some rest….

It poured rain all night and all the next day, and all the next night.  We stayed an extra night, keeping an eye on the weather reports for Dawson Creek, Jasper, and all points east.  Dawson Creek issued a flood warning.  Jasper issued a snowfall warning at higher elevations.  The road to Dawson Creek washed out, the town was under water, the highway into Jasper was washed out, and it was cold……our only option after two nights in Prince George was to call it quits and head home.

After two days and nights of pouring rain, it settled down and we had dry roads south to Quesnel.  It poured on us again in Quesnel, but we pushed on to 100 Mile House, then Clinton, then Cache Creek.  It was raining in Cache Creek and all points south so we again checked into a motel.  The next day we finally had some decent weather and headed down the Fraser Canyon towards home without incident.

We learned a couple of lessons on this trip – dress for any weather, it can change at any time.  Don’t head north before at least the middle of July – but then the mosquitos will get you if the rain doesn’t….