Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 8- Wow is the Word

The word of today is WOW. Without a doubt, today's ride took the Redwoods out of the top spot and became my best ride ever. In fact, to give you an idea of just how good it was, my dad who has ridden thousands of miles through some incredible places said that it was his favorite ride ever, and that is saying a lot.
We left Whistler in the early morning mountain air. It was chilly, but not too bad. We got back on the 99 and headed North once more. Riding up and into the mountains was absolutely amazing. All around us, the giant mountain peaks were still covered in snow. Below the snow line, the brightest shades of green imaginable blanketed the landscape. We passed by countless mountain streams, rivers, and lakes, each one more amazing than the last. The greens and blues of the water was mind boggling. Picture the Grand Canyon, put it in Northwestern Canada, and then you might have an idea of what we rode through today. The best way I can describe today's ride was as if we were riding through the pages of a National Geographic magazine. It was that good.
Seeing the massive mountains in the background, with the group riding in the foreground made me realize just how small we are in the big scheme of things. And yet, as small as we are, we have the capacity to be aware of our place in the universe. I am humbled by, and tremendously grateful for this incredible experience.
Passing over the mountains we found ourselves in the massive valleys and open plains. In the distance, we would every now and again see a massive waterfall cascading down the side of a mountain. At times, we were the only people in sight for miles and miles, tiny little specs in a giant mountain playground.
After an amazing day of riding, we arrived in a little place called Sun Peaks. I felt like we had been transported to a little swiss mountain village. The little town looks like a small skiing village you would find in the alps, and if I hadn't just ridden in myself, I would have thought that is where I was. It really is a beautiful place, and being surrounded by lush forest and mountain greenery makes it all the more better. Just breathing this fresh mountain air is a gift, and I will be breathing deep so long as I am here.
At this point of our journey, I have been on the road for 8 days, and ridden over 2,000 miles. Just when I think I have seen the most incredible sight of my life, or ridden the best road ever, we turn the corner and discover a whole new world of amazement. Today, we make our way to Jasper National Park, where I am sure my jaw will be dropping in amazement and I will be grasping at all the words I can find to describe this adventure I am experiencing.

Day 7- From Sea to Sky

Our first full day in Canada did not disappoint. This morning Betty Boop and I wandered around Robsen street for a bit checking out this stores. After walking around for a bit. we hopped on the bike and headed over to Stanley Park. The park, think Central Park in Vancouver, was absolutely beautiful. The trees and scenery was so lush, it was areal treat walking through it. I posed up next to a big tree and spent some time studying. After all, 4 days after I return from the trip I have to take the California Acupuncture Licensing Exam, so getting some studying in on this trip is a must.
A little while later the rest of the group joined us in the park and we all had some lunch. It was a delicious meal in a great setting. After lunch we all explored the park for a little while longer, and then it was time to get back on the bikes. Back in the saddle and on the road again, we crossed back over the Lions Gate bridge and made our way north on the 99 towards Whistler.
The road whistler was absolutely incredible. as we made our way up through the mountains, the scenery just got better and better. In the distance, snow still covered the highest mountain peaks. All around us the trees and forest was an intensely beautiful shade of green, almost to the point of being overwhelming.
About 20 miles outside of Whistler, we pulled off the road to check out a waterfall nearby. It was amazing. Looking up at the falls was an incredible experience. It must have been ten stories high, and the power with with all of the water came rushing down out of it was incredible. It was the type of waterfall that had multiple levels, so the water cascaded down, exploding off of the rocks as it went, finally reaching the pool below. Just the sound alone was incredible, but when added to the fact that we were in a forrest, just a few feet from the bottom of the falls, it made the experience that much more amazing.
On the road again, we continued up the mountain towards Whistler. We passed by some mountain rivers, complete with rapids and raging waters. The blues and greens of the water as it flowed and crashed across the rocks was incredible. Just outside of town, we pulled over to see another waterfall. This time, rather than looking up from below, we were actually above the falls, looking down to where they crashed. Unlike the previous waterfall, this one was perfectly symmetrical as it aged over the edge and down to the pool below. It was another awe inspiring piece of art that only nature could create.
Just 10 minutes later, we pulled into the main village of Whistler. If you have never been here, it is a little village tucked into the base of some incredible mountains. During the winter it is an amazing place to come skiing, and was even home to the 2010 Olympic Games. After unpacking, we made our toast and gave thanks to the road Gods for another incredible journey.
It is amazing to look back over the last week and think of the incredible things I have seen and experienced. I am running out of words to describe all of this, and even words like amazing and incredible are loosing the ability to truly capture these experiences. Tomorrow, we head out to Sun Peaks, and apparently some of the most amazing riding in all of Canada. I can't wait, as I am sure we are in for another day of wonder and amazement, and even more indescribable beauty.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 6- I'm on a Boat!

This morning we awoke bright and early, ready to make our way into Canada. We rode the short distance from our hotel to the ferry port where we were to load our bikes on the boat and take a short trip over to Vancouver Island.
The last time I was in Canada, about 10 years ago, I took my car onto the same ferry, but in the reverse direction. I remember how strange it was driving my car onto a boat. Well, that was nothing compared to how surreal it was to ride a bike onto a boat. At times I felt almost like I was riding indoors, and through a hallway. It was another really unique and incredible experience. The boat ride itself was good, although a bit rocky at the start. Fortunately no one got sick, although there were a couple queazy moments.
Arriving on Vancouver Island a riding the bikes off of the boat was an even cooler experience. We rode right off the boat and up to a customs booth. It was the quickest and easiest customs crossing I have ever had. Once on the island, we took a quick stop over at the Empress hotel, a very snazzy old hotel from back in the day. We looked around for a bit, ooed and aahhd, and then got back on the road to go visit the Bouchart Gardens. These gardens span acres and acres and encompass a variety of garden from Japanese to Italian and everything in between. We had lunch at the restaurant there and then took a quick walk through some of the gardens. They were incredible. The colors of all of the flowers and trees was straight out of a piece of art. It didn't seem real, almost as if we were walking through a painting. We all could have stayed for hours, but we had to get back on the road to catch another ferry, this time to Vancouver.
We boarded the second ferry of the day, and the thrill was just as much if not more than the first time. Still strange. Still awesome. The boat ride was about an hour and 40 minutes, and after we arrived it was back on then bikes, and onto our hotel. From the ferry port it was just a short ride over the Lions Gate Bridge and into Vancouver. It turns out, the bridge was designed by the same guy who did the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and just like in San Fran, we hit traffic. This time however, it wasn't too bad, and we were able to make it over in no time.
After checking in to our hotel, and unloading the bikes, we met for our customary end of ride toast. Then, Betty Boop and I set off on our own little adventure. We visited some pubs, chatted with some locals, and had an all around good time. We met up with the rest of the group for dinner at a great place called The Steam-house Brewery. It was packed, and delicious, and they made some good beer too. After dinner we went to a well known Vancouver coffee shop, The New Amsterdam Cafe. It was a bit smokey, so we left and began the walk back to our hotel. A short while later, out of nowhere it began to rain. I couldn't believe it. Just hours earlier it had been quite hot, and now it was raining. Rather than take a cab, we pushed on and enjoyed the adventure of walking in the rain. We arrived back at our hotel, slightly soggy, but spirits high from a great day of riding, and our Canadian journey truly beginning.

Day 5- Over the Lakes and to the Ladies

Here we are again. The end of another incredible day on the road. We left Gold Beach, OR early this morning and shortly thereafter crossed into Washington state on one of the longest bridges I have ever seen. It was 3 miles long in fact, I know because I made sure to watch my odometer. At one point the bridge was suspended just a dozen or so feet above the water, and when looking out to either side of me it gave the impression that I was almost riding on the water itself. It was a grand welcome for what turned out to be an an incredible day.
Rather than mountains and beaches, today was a day of water and bridges. We crossed over so many various bridges, both big and small, and passed a tremendous array of lakes, bays, rivers, and streams. It was a landscape, and a beauty, I had not encountered before. The green of the Washington woods and land around us only made the blues of the water that much more incredible.
We stopped for lunch at a small diner in a tiny little town along the way. It turned out to be quite good actually, and something that is a necessary part of any road trip. We headed out once more, only this time our destination was Olympia, WA to meet up with our wives. They had just landed in seattle and were in a car headed to meet us in Olympia. The guys and I rode into the parking lot of the Red Lion hotel to wait for the girls, and not even 3 minutes later, their car was pulling up and they had arrived. The timing could not have been better.
We now had 5 more members of the BBMC with us. Mandi Lee, Roleen, Pretty, Seejay, and my lady, Betty Boop. The Canadian Caper was in full affect now. After saying our hellos and welcomes, we hopped on the bikes with our ladies and were on the road again, 10 strong.
Our journey together through the forests, and alongside the lakes of Washington was incredible. After about 2 hours riding through this incredible landscape, we pulled into Port Angeles, our stop for the night. Tomorrow, we are going to board the ferry and make our way on over to Vancouver Island, BC. A whole new country of riding awaits, and a whole new adventure begins . . .

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 4-A Different Landscape Around Every Bend

Day 4 greeted us with the best weather we have had yet. It was a sign of good things to come. We left Gold Beach and continued Northward up the Oregon coast on the 101N. The sky was clear, and finally the sun was shining. It wasn't warm, but compared to the past few days of cold and fog, it was a really welcome change.
The Oregon coastline turned out to be more spectacular than I could have imagined. Gone were the giant Redwoods of California, and in there place were the pines, firs, and other Oregon evergreen trees. The forest here is totally different, and holds its own kind of beauty. One of the most amazing things about the Oregon coastline is that the forest extends right out onto the beach, until the trees can't go any further without going for a swim.
Sometime later the forest transformed yet again and revealed a coastline of massive, undulating mountains of sand. The dunes of the Oregon coast are truly surreal, almost an alien landscape, with trees growing right up to, and even into the dunes themselves. It was truly a magnificent sight to see.
Yet again the dunes transformed into rivers and bays of gorgeous blue water glistening in the sun. We crossed an array of amazing bridges, from steel to stone, large and small. It was as if just when we got used to the environment around us, it changed and transformed again.
Lunchtime brought us into a small town called Florence, OR and a famous fish restaurant called Mo's. The view of the bay was great, and the food was pretty good as well. After filling our bellies with food and our bikes with gas, we were on our way yet again. We made a few more stops along the way for photos and snacks, enjoying every moment of the day.
One of the great things about being on a motorcycle is the smell of the environment around you. Moving through the forest, the aroma of the different trees and flowers floating in the air is incredible. It is another one of the many differences about being on a bike vs being in a car. I will say, however, that as we neared our final destination for the day, it was an aspect of riding I could have down without. You see, we are staying in Tillamook tonight, home of the world famous Tillamook cheddar cheese. Well, where there is cheese, there are cows. And where there are cows, there is . . .the smell of cows. For miles as we approached this tiny little town, the environment changed once more from coastal forest into farmland and pastures as far as the eyes could see. All around were the cows of Tillamook county, ready and waiting to do their part for the cheese industry. Ok, that may be going a bit far, but the point is there are a lot of cows here, and not much else.
All in all today was an incredible day. The riding was superb, the weather supreme, and the company good as always. Tomorrow we ride into Washington and pick up our wives in Olympia. It will be great to have them along as we make our way into Canada, and many more days filled with incredible scenery, amazing riding, and memories to last a lifetime.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 3-A Gift from The Road Gods

If yesterday provided some of the most difficult riding I have ever done, today provided the most incredible. Day 3 began in the mist of Mendocino county, as we rode along the coast steadily moving northward. Everything around us was blanketed in a light mist that would move and change as we rode through it. It was cold, but that was a minor detail compared the splendor of the morning around us.
Shortly after leaving Mendocino county, we entered into what has become my favorite ride to date. There are different kinds of people in this world that love certain environments more than others. There are beach people, snow people, desert people, and so on. When it comes to me, I am a forest person. Today was really my day. We rode through the Redwood forests of Northern California, and I am having a hard time putting words to the experience. The roads were made up of beautiful, empty, sweeping turns back and forth between the giant trees and lush green scenery. Every now and again we would pop out of the forest and onto the coast for a taste of the rocky shoreline. Winding through the Redwood trees, the oldest living beings on our planet, was a magical experience to say the least. Between the massive trees towering over us and the light mist floating through the forest, it was like being transported to a magical world straight out of The Lord of The Rings. It was truly the best ride I have ever done In my life, although something tells me I will be saying that a lot on this trip.
Our first stop for the day was at a 2400 year old Redwood that you can actually drive through. It was absolutely massive, and it was impossible to fit it into a single frame for a picture. Speaking of pictures, since the internet connections I am using are usually pretty slow, I have been unable to upload any pics of the trip. As soon as I get a good connection, I will post them up.
After the drive through tree we joined the 101 and continued Northward. We were entering into my favorite county in all of CA, Humboldt. It happens to be my favorite, not just because of the local crops, but because the forests there are some of the most beautiful and magical places I have ever seen. Almost 10 years ago I drove through here in a car and I remember how mesmerized I was then. Today was a whole other level of enjoyment and appreciation, for life, and the ability to be on the road experiencing this incredible journey.
We stopped for lunch in a beautiful little seaside town called Trinidad. We ate a delicious lunch looking out onto an incredible rocky cove on the Pacific Ocean. Afterwards, we were back on our way and almost out of California. We stopped at the Klamath River Bridge to take a picture with the Golden bears they have in front of it. There happened to be a ton of people on the bridge looking over the sides and down into the water. Some people taking a picture by the bear said there was a whale in the water. Yea right, a whale in the river. Well, he wasn't kidding. We walked along the bridge and joined the crowd of people looking into the river. I couldn't believe my eyes. Down below me in the water was a giant whale! It must have gotten lost and swam upstream from the ocean. It was circling around the bottom of the bridge, as if looking for something. Some people thought it may be looking for it's calf. As amazing as it was to see this incredible creature, it was also really sad. I hoped that it would find whatever it was looking for, and also get back to the ocean. I felt so helpless standing on the bridge looking over the railing. Here we were, 100 or so people, and all we could do was watch. We couldn't talk to it, carry it back to its home, or show it where to go. All we could do was watch. Nature truly is a powerful and mysterious thing, and I am humbled by the experience.
We continued onward, hopeful that the whale would find its way to its destination, as we were doing now. Soon thereafter we crossed into Oregon, and stopped for a mandatory picture by the Welcome to Oregon sign. Just 30 or so minutes later we reached our destination of Gold Beach, OR. It is beautiful here, and as I type this I can look out of my hotel window and see the ocean in the distance, the sound of the crashing waves echoing in the night. After yesterday's nightmarish riding, today truly was a gift from the Road Gods, and I thank them for keeping us safe today and safe tomorrow, where another amazing adventure of beauty and bewilderment surely awaits.

Day 2-Back on track and CA cruising.

After an epic 13 hours and 367 miles, day two is complete. It was kick stands up at 7:30AM and we were on our way once again. In order to get back on track from yesterdays detour we needed to get back to the coast, so we headed northwest from King City on the G16. It turned out to be an incredible road, and an amazing way to start the day. In the distance behind us, fog slowly rolled over the mountains as we wound our way through the back country road, just the five of us and Mother Nature herself. It's moments like these that make this far more than a Canadian Caper, it's truly a Soul Ride.
A little while later we pulled into the small town of Carmel Valley, about 12 miles inland from Carmel itself. We stopped at a little coffee shop & bakery for breakfast, and it was quite good, organic coffee too. Bellies full and warm, we threw on our jackets, gloves, and face masks, and headed out to cruise once more. It was cold outside, but the incredible scenery and riding more than made up for it.
Back on track, and back on the 1N, we rode up the coast and through the forests,every turn and vista seemingly more incredible than the last. Looking to our right we would be greeted by an incredible variety of forest, the types and kinds of trees changing as we rode. To our left, the Pacific ocean, going from sandy beaches to rocky shorelines right out of The Goonies. Just past Santa Cruz we saw what I can only describe as a wall made of clouds, thousands of feet high from the ocean as far up as you could see. Thinking about it now it makes me realize just how small we are in the big scheme of things. We stopped at a beach to take a moment, soak it in, and grab some pics.
It's hard really to describe what it's like viewing nature in this way. There is a saying that goes "If you don't ride, than you don't know," and I think that it is in this context that it is most significant. You may have driven along the 1N yourself in a car, and while I agree that it's incredibly beautiful, compared to riding it on a bike it's like watching scenery pass by you instead of actually moving through the scenery yourself.
Our next stop was Half Moon Bay, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. We stopped to stretch our legs and grab a drink before heading out on the next leg of our journey. I went inside the cafe to wash my face, as I had sunscreen in my eyes that was unpleasant to say the least. It turns out that while I was inside, the rest of the guys were having their photos taken for a local blog! You can check it out at Guess the BBMC is now officially famous.
We had just 30 miles to go in order to reach San Francisco and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Our plan was to do this and then meet up with a good friend of mine for lunch just past Marin. What should have taken 30 minutes or so ended up taking us 2 hours. 2 hours to go 30 miles! It was some of the worst traffic I have ever seen, and bare in mind I lived in LA for 8 years. The only reason we were even able to get through in that amount of time was a bike's ability to go in between the lanes. And in case you are wondering, it is perfectly legal in CA for bikes to do so. Nonetheless, it is by far the most intense riding I have ever done. Because we are traveling at such a slow speed, and having to be extremely precise in order not to destroy all the cars next to us, it takes every ounce of muscle and concentration to safely and effectively get through the cars. Bare in mind, we are not riding sleek sports bikes here, they are thousands of pounds of machine, luggage, and rider. My left hand was aching after 2 hours constantly squeezing the clutch, and my whole body was sore from all the maneuvering. After such an incredible morning, it was a terrible way to start the afternoon.
We finally made it across the Golden Gate, and to be honest, I was so exhausted and stunned by what we had experienced that I barely even noticed the bridge. It was a lot of fun riding across though, especially since the traffic finally started moving. A little while later we were back on the 1N and stopped in Stinson Beach to get some lunch. We were 2 hours behind our original plan, and we realized we were in for a long day. We still had 160 miles to go in order to reach Fort Bragg, and our reserved hotel rooms. Averaging 40MPH on the coast road, that was still another 4 hours of riding,not including stops.
We saddled up, and headed out to conquer the remaining miles, BBMC style. The further we road, the better it got, and the memories and muscle pains of San Fran's traffic blew away in the wind. I was tired, there is no doubt about it, but the experience of riding up the CA coast with my Dad and some great buddies is priceless, and no traffic or time constraints are going to spoil that.
After many more miles and many more hours, the light getting low and our bodies very tired, we rolled into Fort Bragg just before the sun went down. We had been traveling for 13 hours, and had covered some of the most challenging miles of our riding careers. As we checked into our hotel, we were all exhausted in the best possible way. Today had been a mixture of beauty and battle, a real taste of the bitter and the sweet. If there is one thing that it taught me though, it's that the further we go, the better it gets. With that in mind, I'm going to bed, excited to see what tomorrow's journey through the Redwoods and into Oregon has to show us.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 1-The Journey Begins

After nearly two years in the making, The Canadian Caper has begun! Let me start off by saying that if today is any indication of how the rest of the trip is going to be, then I am in for the journey of a lifetime.
It all began this morning at 7am in San Diego. My dad and I left the house on our bikes, me on a 97 Harley Davidson Fatboy, and him on his 2008 Harley Davidson Road King. 10 minutes later we met up with the rest of the San Diego crew, Chochem and El Breker. As you may have guessed, these are there biker names. My dad's is Cedric, and I go by Woodstock. So, crew together we headed out to meet Chappy, our 5th and final rider, in Malibu. We hopped on the 5 north, made it through LA on the 405, skipped over to the 101 N, and coasted on into a little breakfast spot called The Old Place. Chappy's bike was parked outside and waiting for us. We were also joined by The Doc, Biggie, and D. It was a great breakfast, and a nice treat to have our guests along as well.
After stuffing our faces with fritatas, steak and eggs, and flapjacks the size of a small house, we got back on the bikes to continue our journey northward. All 5 of us now united and going strong, we continued up the 101 N. As per usual in LA, there was a tremendous amount of traffic. This made the next 60 or so miles somewhat unpleasant, but hey, it happens. Sometime after Santa Barbara we stopped in a little place called Buellton to get some coffee and stretch our legs. A short while later we were back on the road and a little after San Luis Obispo we cut west and got onto the 1N.
Cruising up the coast was absolutely incredible. The roads were beautiful, and the scenery was gorgeous as well. We stopped in a little town called Morro Bay to get a snack and drink something warm, as the ocean breeze put quite a chill in the air. Warmed and refreshed, we set out for the last 20 miles of today's journey to a town called Cambria where we where planning on spending the night. I say planning, because for this part of our journey we don't have any hotels booked. Well, as luck would have it, there were no vacancies available, so we decided to drive a little further and see what we could find. That "little further" ended up being another 100 MILES more! Yup, thats what I said, 100 miles more. Rather than our already long day of 350 miles to Cambria, we ended up doing a total of 465 miles and ended up in a place called King City, at the Keefer's Inn. I cant tell you just how excited all of us were at the fact that we finally found a place with rooms. If you have never ridden before, than it may not seem like a big deal, but let me tell you, 200 miles on a bike is a pretty good days ride, and 465, well lets just say thats a whole different ball game.
As tradition would have it, me and the boys drank a toast to the Road Gods for keeping us safe today and safe tomorrow. Bodies and spirits refreshed with some drinks and a few pieces of delicious Biltong, a South African style of beef jerky, we headed across the parking lot to the only restaurant around, to get some dinner. That was an adventure all its own. There was only one waiter, and some sort of private party going on in the back, so service was not exactly quick. When dinner finally did arrive, we scarfed it down and fed our well worked bodies. It was good enough, although after more than 12 hours and 400 miles of travel, I'm sure we would have eaten just about anything. And that brings us to now. I've used up most of my remaining energy on this blog, so it's time for me to get some sleep and prepare for another day of incredible riding with the boys of the BBMC. For the next 4 days, we will be heading up the CA coast, up through Oregon, and into Washington where we will pick up our ladies who are flying in to meet us for the rest of the trip. Stay tuned, we are just getting started, and the best is yet to come. . .