Ride Report: Day 1: Sandy, OR to Osoyoos, BC

My itinerary was aggressive from the start. I crossed the state of Washington from south to north and didn’t end my day until I’d crossed the border into Canada and finished at the Super 8 hotel in sunny Osoyoos, BC. The weather for this leg was very pleasant and didn’t get hot until I reached Wenatchee.
I went around Mt. Hood via Government Camp, then over to The Dalles via NF44. I crossed the Columbia River via highway 197, then took SR14 to Goldendale for my first stop of the day. I gassed up, ate a snack and had a bio break, then followed highway 97 all the way north into Canada.
My Garmin Zumo 220 GPS was set to ‘shortest distance’ and it took me on surface streets through Yakima and Ellensburg. A benefit of this was it routed me onto SR 821 along the Yakima River. This is a fantastic road, winding along the river valley through rugged eastern slope topography. It was the highlight of the day.
I stopped at a gas station near Wenatchee and got chatted up by four local guys, each on a different bike. They were on their way to a rally in nearby Waterville, and were interested to hear about my trip.
My border crossing was uneventful and efficient. When I checked into the Super 8 in Osoyoos, the very friendly gal at the front desk (Cindy) remembered my wallet from when I visited two years prior. It’s a topographical map made out of Tyvek, the stuff you put on the side of your house, and is sold by MightyWallet.com. It gets comments everywhere I go.
It started sprinkling shortly after I got unloaded, but I was allowed to park my bike under the front overhang, so it was a dry process. Dinner was at the A&W across the street. That’s the only problem with that particular motel — you have to walk a bit, or across a busy street, to eat anywhere when staying at the Super 8 in Osoyoos. Otherwise it’s a great hotel. (On my way back I stayed at the Best Western in Osoyoos and now prefer it. See notes later in this series.)

 

I got chatted up by another V-Strom owner, a guy from Calgary, Alberta, as I was loading up the next morning. He also owns a Yamaha FJR1300, a bike I considered buying before I chose the 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750 instead.

Ride Report: Day 2: Osoyoos, BC to Quesnel, BC

I woke up to sunshine, and after a sans protein continental breakfast at the Super 8, I stopped at Billy’s Family Restaurant in Princeton, BC about 100 kilometers up the road.
Highway 8 to Spences Bridge was the highlight road of the day. It follows a river canyon and has wonderful curves and fantastic canyon scenery. Spences Bridge is also fun, crossing the Thompson River via a one-lane bridge.
Other than the Fraser River Canyon (big!) and Highway 8 to Spences Bridge, I noticed that British Columba resembled many parts of eastern Oregon, especially the Blue Mountains. This is not a bad thing, but perhaps I expected BC to be more exotic and rugged. It’s beautiful, but my expectations were off a little bit.
I stopped at the Best Western in Quesnel, B.C. (pronounced “kweh-nell”) It was a hotel and I had to cart my luggage up the elevator to my third-floor room. The temperature outside had been climbing by the time I arrived so the air conditioned hotel was a welcomed change.

 

Dinner was in the bar downstairs. A picture of an actor portraying Judge Begbie, “the Hanging Judge” from nearby historic Barkerville, stared at me as I ate my dinner of halibut florentine. The service was nice, but the halibut was so overcooked it squeaked when I chewed it.

Ride Report: Day 7: Williams Lake, BC to Osoyoos, BC

I would be arriving in Osoyoos on a Saturday so the night before I thought it would be a good idea to check the Super 8 online and make a reservation. It’s a good idea I did so as I found out the hotel was booked solid. I noticed there was a Best Western in Osoyoos so I got on their web site and reserved a room.
When I got into town I had a hard time finding the place, so I had to search for the Best Western using my GPS. It routed me there and with a lot of heat outside, I was glad to check into my air conditioned room.

Osoyoos is kind of like the Palm Springs of British Columbia — in fact, I think that is it’s nickname — and because of recent thunderstorms, it was muggy as well as warm. After getting showered and settled in, I cleaned and lubed the chain on my bike and added some oil, then went to the attached restaurant for a wonderful taco salad and locally brewed pale ale. Four RCMP officers, three women and a man, were sitting at a table a few feet away. The guy in the group had a front hairline in the shape of a comma, and one of the gals looked like a 40 year old Boof from the movie, Teen Wolf (with Michael J. Fox).

Ride Report: Day 8: Osoyoos, BC to Sandy, OR

It was going to be a warm day so I had my gear converted to warm weather mode from the outset. After breakfast I crossed back into the United States without delay, then headed south on highway 97. This time I changed my GPS’ mode to ‘fastest route’ and it took me on SR17, a road I’d never travelled before.
A bit south of Tonasket I could see intense thunderstorms ahead and to my right. I had hoped to dodge it, as I was witnessing large lightning flashes every 15-30 seconds. Unfortunately I ended up riding right through the maelstrom. The rain came down so hard and thick it looked like snow. The rain drops were so fat and hit me so hard that they actually hurt when they struck the arms of my jacket (Aerostich Darien sans liner). After riding through it for five minutes, I emerged on the other side muggy but under sunshine. I dried out soon after.
I had a lot of wind, but despite a few light sprinkles, I made it to Soap Lake without getting dumped on again. I gassed up and after paying, the owner came out and looked at my bike and chatted with me for several minutes. I suited back up and headed down the road.
When I passed through Ephrata I experienced a similar deluge with lightning that hit me near Tonasket. Fortunately it was short lived as well. Then it got hot.
I made it onto Interstate 90 for a fast run into a sweltering Yakima, then I got back onto highway 97 southbound. The heat was oppressive but I motored on until I got to Goldendale where I stopped for gas, food, and a bio break.

I crossed the Columbia River back into Oregon via highway 197, travelled south to Tygh Valley, then followed a forest service road past Wamic and Rock Creek Reservoir where I joined highway 35 at White River. The air was pleasantly cooler at this point, and it was just a matter of time before I was on highway 26 over Government Camp and down into Sandy and home. By the time I reached my house I had travelled 450 miles, a new personal one-day riding record.

Osoyoos, BC

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

I woke up just as the valley was getting light, but chose to go back to sleep. I kept my window open all night since my room had no air conditioning. The sound of the stiff breeze (wind?) and occasional rain outside didn’t bother me at all. I awoke again at 6:00 am but chose to stay in bed; I never fell back asleep.

I was the only diner in The Local — as the restaurant downstairs was called — as I ate breakfast. My waitress had a British accent and was very curious about my travels. She was jealous when I mentioned my eventual destination of California.

The sky was slate gray and spit occasional rain drops while I loaded up my bike. I fueled up at the gas station behind the hotel and then set off, following Dick’s directions. 15 miles outside of town it spontaneously changed its mind and told me to make a U-turn and head back to Pemberton. Once in town, 30 miles later, I decided to ignore the GPS for the time being and work my way back to the main highway the old fashioned way. Once I saw signs for Lillooet I knew I was on the right track. Dick agreed with me.

The rain began to come down fairly hard at this point. The road surface was broken and uneven, further slowing my pace. Eventually the road became a series of bumpy, narrow, tight switchbacks up into the rainy mist. The clouds and rain enveloped and concealed the mountains which I knew surrounded me. The road continued to climb, eventually cresting a pass at over 4,400 feet elevation. The rain never let up.

The road from Pemberton to Lillooet, BC
The road from Pemberton to Lillooet, BC

The scenery was rugged and remote, and other traffic was almost non-existent. I rode cautiously. Despite the foul weather, I was truly enjoying the experience. My impression of British Columbia so far was very favorable, comparing it to some of what Oregon and Washington have to offer, yet in a significantly more dramatic way.

The rough road and nasty, wet weather slowed my pace but the skies began to brighten just as the views became even more awe inspiring. The river gorges deepened and the mountains that surrounded them got taller and steeper. I stopped for a self-portrait, then continued onward. Soon I was descending into the dry and warm oasis of Lillooet.

Lillooet is a meteorological anomaly, getting sparse amounts of annual precipitation and unusually high temperatures compared to surrounding areas. The sun was shining and I quickly dried out by the time I rolled to a stop at an Esso station in town to fuel up. I used their facilities and wolfed down a candy bar, then answered the clerk’s question, “Are you from this country?” It was an odd query considering she appeared to be from India or perhaps even Pakistan, based upon her appearance and accent.

I got back on the road and as I was leaving town I could see dark clouds ahead and the beginnings of rain on my face shield. I pulled over and put on my waterproof glove covers. Within thirty-seconds it began to rain. Lillooet said, “See you later!” with a wet send-off.

After reaching the northernmost part of my trip in Lillooet, I began to ride south through even more dramatic scenery and topography. It became immediately obvious why that route has green dots next to it on the map (“scenic route”). The road rose and fell along the eastern shore of the surging and roaring Fraser River. “Mighty” was the word that came to mind as I caught glimpses of it’s seething torrent, roiling and the color of coffee with cream. I could see whole trees flowing with the swift current. Local news reports confirmed the Fraser was in an unusually high water event, the highest that late in the season since the 1920’s.

I eventually reached the small town of Hope, where the Sylvester Stallone film, First Blood, was filmed, one of my favorite movies. I recognized a few parts of town but the rest was unfamiliar. I pulled into a busy gas station to fill up, then noticed a homey looking diner sharing the same lot. I parked my bike in front and went inside The River Cafe. Seating was scarce so I had to sit at a dirty table. My lunch of halibut fish and chips, along with a delicious mocha, was well worth the wait. I managed to get geared up and back on the road just in time before the rain returned.

I left Hope and caught Highway 3 eastbound. The road was four lanes as it took me past the Hope Slide, a massive land slide that killed four people. Now a view point marks the location. After cresting the pass the rain let up and I had a lot of riding under mostly sunny skies to dry me out. Passing through Manning Park, the road remained at fairly high elevation almost the entire route eastward. Bouts of showers still pestered me from time to time just to keep things interesting.

The road was wide and has fast sweepers but something odd happened every time I came upon some tight twisties. Whenever tight curves came up, I always got stuck behind a slow RV, car, or tractor trailer crawling along. As soon as things got straight again, I would have the road to myself. It was if some power in the universe was conspiring to keep me from getting sideways. Without ever being able to really carve it up, I found myself in Osoyoos and the end of the day’s ride.

The sun was shining when I arrived and the temperature was the warmest of the entire trip so far. I fueled up, then crossed the street and checked into the Super 8 hotel. Cindy, the front desk clerk, was very welcoming and friendly. She had a very thick Canadian accent too, which I thought was odd considering the close proximity to the U.S. border.

I unloaded my gear and took a much needed shower. Upon Cindy’s recommendation, I walked the five blocks down the main drag to Smitty’s Family Restaurant for a dinner of veal parmesan, side salad, and Pellar Estates merlot, a local wine. I wore shorts and sandals and still felt a little warm. The walk back to the hotel was pleasant and it was good to get off of my ass and onto my feet.

Once back at my room I got some Loonies from the front desk and went to the guest laundry downstairs to wash a load of clothes. The rest of the trip should be dry, and will likely involve much warmer temperatures, so I wanted to make sure I had plenty of clean clothes for the duration. Riding in hot weather really stinks up your gear much faster than cold-weather riding.