Leaving North America. Now the Adventure really begins!

Leaving North America. Now the Adventure really begins!

Tomorrow we set off to the US/ Mexican border at 3.30 in the morning as we leave wonderful California.

The last few weeks have been very memorable indeed and it was a shame our US visa had to be cut short.

We set off down the Oregon/ California Coast and experienced part of the Pacific Highway all the way down to San Francisco.
We experienced San Fran and all its different areas as we were escorted by Mr Cronin as our cycling guide.

Next it was the amazing Yosemite, hanging out with Billy as we wild camped with the locals.
Over from Yosemite we prepared for days in the desert. Death Valley, Escalante, Las Vegas, Marble Canyon, and the awe of the Grand Canyon. Never before have we ever been so vulnerable to the heat and so reliant on our means of transport to get us through these often barren lands. Most days we started the day about 4.30 am just so we were able to enjoy the cooler parts of the day for riding, otherwise we would have baked under the 47 degrees celcius heat. Did I mention scorpions and rattle snakes in the campsites?

Yesterday we experienced the glitz and glamour of Beverley Hills and Hollywood. It was a flyby tour hosted by our good friends the Tomlinson’s. Laguna and San Clemente were my favourite places as well as people watching within the high society of Orange County.

All in all the last few weeks have been amazing and here we are anxiously preparing for MEXICO. Looking forward to attending Spanish school as we live with a Mexican family in a place called Ensenada on the Baja peninsula.

Review: Starcom 1, Helmet Intercom- Get your Freak On

Review: Starcom 1, Helmet Intercom- Get your Freak On

Thanks to a very informative and patient man called Tim at Calgary Sport Touring Nick and I finally have an intercom system that works effortlessly.

Tim is exactly the kind of person I like to do business with: he asked lots of questions about what we have, what we thought wasn’t working and why; he let me rabbit on with all my theories and things we had tried and together we decided what would be the best set up for us.

We left the UK with a starcom1 advance system. Nick had a moulded earpiece and a mic for a full face helmet and I had the same mic but speakers in my helmet. None of this worked very well at all. Also relevant is that Nick’s helmet is an Arai Tour-X3 and mine is a Shoei X3-1100; both described as full face. Nick has a moulded ear piece, I don’t.

What were the problems?

  • Nick had occasional interference that obviously actually hurt.
  • Most of the time all I could hear was wind amplified and fed directly to my ears.
  • Music? Even turning off the vox (voice cut off) completely which stopped the wind cutting it out, in order to get the volume right so it wasn’t deafening Nick I could just hear the music vaguely in the background.

We stopped bothering with it.

Part of the problem is that Nick’s helmet is styled more like a motorcross one so there is a massive gap between the outer shell and his mouth (not sure how else to describe that) which means that the mic being stuck in the helmet is open to the wind; mine isn’t that much better.

I phoned Tim with the idea of ordering us some boom mic. He was concerned that they might not fit in the helmets very well and we started talking about the Starcom1 digital. Tim obviously rides a motorcycle. He also rides a motorcycle with his wife riding pillion. He and I were able to discuss all the ups and downs of the setup and after a bit of counting pennies I decided to go with his recommendation and replace the whole thing.

That was the right decision. The starcom1 digital gives you much more control so you can fiddle with setup for rider and passenger separately, and it is clever enough to deal with the external noise; the boom mics fit perfectly in both helmets.

Thank you Tim for all your help and advice!

Our new problems?

Well, I can’t yawn noisily any more because Nick tells me off, I am not allowed to sing and I have to try really hard to keep still when we are listening to music – not the worst set of problems to have!

Camera lost far from the madding crowd

Camera lost far from the madding crowd

We have been on Quadra Island for 2 nights. It is one of those places we drifted over to because we met someone and talked to them. It happens.

Quadra is beautiful. Nick and I were riding around some of the dirt tracks and paths and enjoying some of the lovely views and scenery when we realised that we didn’t have our camera any more! Disaster! We would not have lost absolutely everything but it would have been seriously inconvenient to put it everso mildly.

We retraced our steps. Last photo was taken at Village Bay Lake so we went there slowly looking at the side of the road just in case we could spot it. Nothing. We got to the lake and there were some people there, they hadn’t seen it. There was a car parked so I scrawled out a note but they got back just as I had finished writing it. They hadn’t found it.

There wasn’t that much swearing.

It was getting quite late and we hadn’t found anywhere to stay so we had to make that a priority. No camera, lots of private land with ‘No Tresspassing’ signs – it really wasn’t looking like a fairy tale ending to the day.

We had just gone up a track that ended in a spot to turn around and despondency was setting in. I got Nick to pull up next to a guy who was working on his house:

“Excuse me!” – I said – “Is there anywhere round here we can camp?”

“Hmm…nooo…” – said Jerry as we later found out his name is – “…wait, some friends of mine sometimes let people camp on their land…”

Jerry went on to explain how to get there and then changed his mind.

“I need to go down to my phone anyway. I will call them for you.”

“Thank you!”

So, off we went, following Jerry. We arrived at a telegraph pole where he plugged in his phone (bit remote roudn here, it is) and made  a call.

“They are expecting you!” – he said with a smile. More thanks and a wave and off we went.

As we were pulling down their very long driveway Nick said: “If I scratch my head we are leaving.” “OK.”

We pulled round a corner and there were Allen and Jude and their beautiful property. And so we camped.

Eating our porridge in the morning, looking out over the little lake and enjoying the sunshine, Nick remarked that the little spot was just perfect. For two people who love to talk it is remarkable how much enjoyement we get from being able to camp out far from any crowds. It is such a pleasure.

We packed up and then spent a solid hour, if not longer, discussing the world politics and camping with our hosts. I loved every second – I love putting the world to rights over a good cup of coffee! Allen got us the number for the local RCMP and left their lost and found a message and Nick and I agreed that we would go to the police station and try to report the camera missing and then the plan was to put up a couple of posters – one in the ferry terminal and one in a busy looking coffee shop we saw. A quick hug to our new friends and we were off!

We were pulling into the police station and suddenly there were blue lights behind us. “Shit” – said Nick – “did I stop at that stop sign?”

The policeman in the car was smiling. “No” – I said – “I think they have our camera.”

I was right!

Martin and Chad had been given our camera which was found on one of the trails. They had looked at a couple of photos, found our website and left a message and, as they had realised the sort of trip we were on, they had even gone to the trouble of printing off a few photos and putting them up in the very places we were intending to put up out posters.

We cannot thank them enough.

We did photos, we got chatting, we followed their lunch recommendation, met them for views of the sea and a barbeque and even stayed in Chad’s 19ft trailer!

I call that a fairy tale ending.

Big thanks to everyone involved: Jerry, Allen, Jude, Chad, Martin and their families and thank you to the people kind enough to hand in the camera they found.

Village Bay Lake

 

Route 99

Route 99

Last weekend Ivanka and I went on arguably one of the best rides in the world for motorcycling

The route from Vancouver to Whistler is amazing and it is great to do it in summer and during the day as it is a road that I have only passed before during the winter months.

Consisting of 130km of winding tarmac, climbs, views, islands, glaciers, waterfalls, eagles, sunshine – all leading to one of the best outdoor playgrounds out there. Have a look at our Flickr account or gallery page for the latest images.

I salute you route 99 and the ‘Furry Creek.’

Next stop Vancouver Island and we have kayaking with Orcas on the radar..

A day in the life and saying YES

A day in the life and saying YES

We have just arrived in Vancouver and had a day yesterday where Ivanka and I did absolutely nothing.

This travelling business is amazing, we have seen great things and met wonderful people – but at the same time it is also a bit tiring.

A typical day is getting out of bed/ the tent around 7.30am. It may be raining (it usually is) and then we always prepare a coffee on our stove, followed by a bowl of porridge. After this we tend to pack up the bike and we get on the road for about 09.30am. Each start to the day is different, we always have the same things to pack away but it is often a big jigsaw to fit everything on the bike.  Plus, we may or may not have to take our food from up a tree – so it is out of reach from the lovely wildlife characters around us. We tend to have our washing line up most days too – depending on whether there is anywhere to swim – or whether we’ve washed our clothes in a stream/ campsite showers.

So each day on the road is totally different. We have a type of route in our head most of the time but we speak to other bikers/ friends we meet and then we go from there. We went to Haida Gwaii because we met Janet in Fairbanks. Then the Cassiar Stewart Highway was recommended by a bloke in Dawson City, then more recently we visited the Columbian Icefield in Jasper because Melissa said it was sometheing we couldn’t possibly miss. So we do like to say yes to most things – this way you have more to experience.

Three days ago we traveled 250 miles from Nelson to a place called Osooyos. Nelson is a rich, wet mountainous area with incredible volcanic rock features. It is home to some of the freshest powder for skiing on the one hand, then a picturesque mountainscape in the summer.  The way of life in Nelson was also something very remarkable. In the community where we were hanging out there were infact no locks on peoples doors because their homes were so remote and crime didn’t exist. Nelson was personified by hippyness.

We set off from Nelson in quite a downpour and headed for the Manning Pass and the rain just did not stop for 2-3 hours.  The rain was so hard on occasion that we were so in need of shelter but there was just nothing for us to find. So we kept on going and going in an effort to get to the neighbouring mountain range and hopefully seek some kinder weather. We both got a little wet, but considering the conditions – we got off lightly.

So eventually it did stop raining and eventually we found a great stop for coffee and a sandwich – normally we might have a lunch stop at the side of the road (tuna & tortilla, coffee). We had managed about 100 miles so far on this particular day so we had a good 150 miles in the afternoon, so we could make great headway in arriving in Vancouver the following day.  So while indoors and out of the bad weather outside we made sure our clothes did dry off, we warmed up and then we were ready to go once again.

The afternoon was equally as spectacular as the morning but in the afternoon we headed towards a totally unique type of landscape and something very special for Canada. The landscape became drier and drier so eventually we arrived in the city of Osooyos and it greeted us with the best sunshine of our trip so far! This place was almost desert like as we entered into this colossal valley with a series of mountain road switchbacks. I think Ivanka would have had better views than me on the way down the mountain side as I concentrated on every inch of tarmac on these sweeping mountain bends.. Great riding!!!

As it was approaching 5pm it was decided that this was where we were going to stay for the eve. We camped in a lakeside campsite among a busy tourist centre, we set up camp, had a run and a swim, then it was curry and Quinoa for supper – one of our favourite dishes on our camping stove. That night we made phone calls to Natalie in Vancouver – Ivanka and Natalie used to work together a few years ago in London. Now Natalie has moved to Vancouver.

It was great to be sleeping in the tent once again as this is what we are now used to. The other day I commented to Ivanka that it looked like a bit of a pit as we sleep among our helmets, motorcycle clothes and other stuff. But in fact, the tent is treating us very well and on most occasions I prefer the firmness of the campsite floor rather than a soft bed.

It gets dark about 10 and that is when we head indoors.

Tonight there was no need to protect ourselves from the wildlife as we were in busy site with no wildlife nearby.. The only predator tonight was a kid wondering round the campsite who tried to walk off with our camping lamp – naughty!

It’s now time for lights out.

 

The image on this post is courtesy of our friend Janet. It is a fox on her bird table in Fairbanks, Alaska which is quite unusual – normally it is the squirrels that’s on there. I don’t think the fox will out fox Janet.

Goodbye to Smithers in BC, Canada

Goodbye to Smithers in BC, Canada

Ivanka and I have just had a great week after we met Shari, Brent and the kids on Haida Gwaii – then we followed them home to Smithers…

Dancing Queen Moves on the Dalton Highway

Dancing Queen Moves on the Dalton Highway

Video Diaries Part 1 – Footage on the way to Deadhorse/ Arctic Circle

Video Diaries Part 1

Haida Gwaii – Remote Adventure Motorcycling on Canada’s most Westerly point.

Haida Gwaii

White sandy beaches, nature at it’s best and great people – Discovering a place we never knew existed!


Recently Ivanka and I returned from the Island of Haida Gwaii, the most northerly island off the coast of British Columbia – located just a Ferry ride away from rainy Prince Rupert. To be honest, not the best of times to visit the island as it rained and rained and rained – but we met some fantastic people along the way which made the trip a great mini adventure.

We met a couple of groups of people. First there were the gents from Lancaster/ Yorkshire who were on a fleeting visit to the island.. They’d hired a couple of bikes further south and were on a whistle stop tour of all the BC sites so they were only on the island for 1 night. We met them on a slippery muddy road at the north of the island near Old Massets and on the way to the Blow Hole off the Tow Road.. The lads could have been a double act with the witty banter and innuendo. The highlight of their trip so far was when a woman asked if they would like her stuffed beaver!! How lucky were they – ha ha! Guys – I hope you have an amazing time kayaking with the Orcas…

After this we met a group of families who all met at Smithers in BC.. It started with freshly baked Cinamon buns in the remotest of bakeries and then from this point on they invited us to their Canada day, we enjoyed crabbing with them the following day and it made our stay on Haida Gwaii a superb one.  Ivanka and I consequently visited Smithers in BC, enjoyed helicopter rides, went to ‘locals’ bbq’s and got a real taste for what living in this part of BC was all about.. Hopefully see you all again in August??!!

Deadhorse in Alaska. Through the Arctic Circle and along the Dalton Highway

Deadhorse in Alaska. Through the Arctic Circle and along the Dalton Highway

What a journey the first few weeks has been and probably the most challenging motorcycling I have ever done. For 8 days Ivanka and I had to negotiate thick mud, blizzards, gravel, bears, oncoming trucks and this was about a 1,000 mile round trip… It feels great to get back on the tarmac I must say!

As I sit and write this post we are in a library in Fairbanks where we have been kindly looked after by Janet and Rob. They offered us a place to stay when we bumped into them on the road and so we are now crashing in their lovely camper van just outside of Fairbanks.

To date we managed to get the bike out of customs rather swiftly with no problems whatsoever.. then after this we headed north through Eagle River outside of Anchorage and we headed for the Chena Hot Springs outside of Fairbanks. Here we had a couple of days to get used to the 24 hr daylight hours, we hung out in the hot baths and then we hit the road up to the Artic Circle.

Our first two weeks has been incredible. For ‘out of towners’ even camping in the artic wilderness where you know bears are roaming is a challenge. There was the night when Ivanka made me go out side and push the bike away from the tent because we had food in it.. and there was the rustling of the tent and she thought there was a predator outside. All was ok – I fought the bear off and we then went back to bed..

People have been amazing and generous too.. Everyone is super friendly.

This is all for now as I am running out of time. When I get back to the computer I want to give you more information about what the road on the Dalton Highway was actually like – one of the best things I have done for a while!!

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