North to British Columbia

— This is the second day of a multi-day loop trip to British Columbia and northern California. —

It was a very tiring day. It started by sleeping in, getting up at 7:10 am, which is unusual for me. I dressed, then went to Charlie’s Diner next door for breakfast. If you’ve been to Enumclaw, Washington you know there aren’t a lot of dining options. The place smelled funny, like someone’s basement, but the service was friendly and the food wasn’t bad. When I walked back to my room I saw a guy wearing a BMW t-shirt, smoking a cigarette, standing near his red K1300GT with New York plates. Enumclaw is an odd location for him.

Back at my room, I packed up my stuff and was rolling out under cloudy skies and occasional rain drops at my usual 8:20 am. I decided to take secondary roads north to skirt around the morning commute on I-5 through the Seattle metro area. It probably took me the same amount of time either way as I was faced with slow speed limits, slow locals, and quite a few small towns with red lights. However, I got to see several small towns that I probably would never see otherwise so it was okay in the end.

Eventually I had to hit the freeway and I made good time as a result. With nearly 150 miles in the saddle, I needed a break. I pulled off into Bellingham and fueled up the bike and its pilot before making the last leg north to the border at Blaine. I waited about 15 minutes before taking my turn at the border. After a few cursory questions I was through and headed up to the Vancouver metro area. Then my GPS started to dick with me.

There really are no quick and direct ways to cross Vancouver going south to north. My GPS routed me on several surface streets and some major thoroughfares and they all seemed to be under construction. At one point I missed the onramp to Highway 1 so I decided to take a break and top off my gas tank. The temperature was warm enough to be uncomfortable but at least it wasn’t raining and it was mid-day rather than rush hour. Several twists and turns later I eventually got onto the correct route and began to make my way north out of the city.

I still needed to find an ATM to get some Canadian currency, however. I pulled off the highway into the small village of Horseshoe Bay figuring an ATM would be easy to find. It was crawling with pedestrian traffic off the ferries and had construction mucking every outbound junction. I eventually found my way back onto the Sea-to-Sky Highway, although it required the use of an illegal turn. Don’t tell anyone.

The mountains provided occasional “Oh, wow!” views but the slower speed limits didn’t impress me much. Fortunately Canadian drivers are fairly polite and tend to move over when passing lanes come up. The town of Squamish came my way and I took the opportunity to pull over, find a bank, and get a snack and warm beverage at a hopping Starbucks of all places. I drank my mocha outside while a Scandinavian family of five enjoyed theirs at the table next to me (I didn’t understand a single word that came out of their blonde heads). When paying for my goodies, I automatically put my coin change in the tip jar, failing to realize two of them were Loonies. That meant a $3 tip for a $7 snack! I need to remember that in the future.

I got back onto the highway without any more hijinks from my GPS and soon rolled through the resort ski town of Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It has seen a lot of high end development and looked like a very spendy town to visit. The scenery was spectacular, and I wondered if a return visit during winter would be in the cards.

I had originally intended to spend the night at Nairn Falls Provincial Park in Pemberton, but as I passed by the entrance I quickly realized it was a few miles outside of town. I wanted to be able to walk to a restaurant for my evening and morning meals (I left my stove and mess kit at home) so I decided to ride into town and see what lodging options existed. I stopped on a side street and asked my GPS to show me what was available, and I picked the first place listed, the Pemberton Hotel.

Pemberton, BC
This is the view out of my hotel window in Pemberton.

The room was tiny, barely 9′ x 9′, but the price was right so I checked in. It took me several trips but I eventually managed to get everything off of my bike and into my tiny upstairs room. The restaurant downstairs had a bar in the back so I consumed a local Russell lager, then ate two tacos (“Taco Tuesday!”) plus a green salad for dinner. I took a short walk around the block before finding a gift shop where I purchased some locally made jewelry as a gift for my wife.

Tomorrow will be the longest ride of the trip but the route is straightforward and doesn’t involve any major urban areas. I have hope that my GPS — now affectionately nicknamed “Dick” — won’t lead me astray as I pass through Hope, BC or my destination, Osoyoos, BC, but I’m not betting my life on it.

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