Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pine Beetle Damage

Pic: taken in Valemount a few days ago, of pine beetle damage to trees.
This is also an attempt to get higher resolution pictures for future blog posts.

Resting in the Sylvia Hotel

We just completed the bicycle circumnavigation of Stanley Park. Then returned the bicycles. I find it difficult to describe the sights and sounds. It feels a bit like Friday 13th in Port Dover, except the average age is a lot younger. Apparently, next week is the Gay Pride Parade. If I didn't know that, I would have sworn it was going on outside our Hotel right now.

Picture: Mary Ann resting up for the next adventure.

Burrard St Bridge

Today we rented a couple of bicycles and rode around False Creek. On the way, we stopped for coffee with the BMW rider we met in Lillooet. Then continued on around until we got to Granville Island. We went into the farmer's market, and picked up some fresh fruit for lunch. Then ate it on a shady bench outside. You can see the island in the picture under the Burrard Street Bridge. It's a great place to walk or bicycle to.

Picture: I grabbed a picture off the internet because I forgot to take one while we were crossing the bridge.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vancouver BC

Picture: The Sylvia Hotel, covered in ivy. We'll stay a couple of nights. It has all the stuff I need. Wi-Fi, secure underground parking, two TV'S, across the street from the beach, bicycle rentals, Stanley Park. Originally I planned to get a place far from the city and take the train. But since our stay in Winnipeg, I have gained an appreciation for some of the older hotels. A BMW rider we met in Lillooet suggested the English Bay Apartments. But when I phoned they had no vacancy. But my Google phone showed the Sylvia nearby, with excellent reviews. So I clicked on phone, they had a room. Then I clicked on directions for the turn by turn instructions. Next thing I knew we were checked in and walking along the sea wall. We had made it to the Pacific in two weeks.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lillooet, BC

Sometimes when two people travel together, it is difficult to find things that both like to do. Today we found a good compromise. We found a motel first, after a short ride from Kamloops. Then we got some fruit from a farm. I won't say the word "fresh", because it is used inappropriately most of the time. Plums, apricots and a 2 l jug of apple juice. Then we rode Burgie south to a lookout area that also had a bench in the shade. We looked at the view,  and ate the fruit.

Kamloops, B.C.

We are camping for the third consecutive night, next to the river. My favorite joke at the registration desk is to ask for a site with no mosquitos. Always gets a laugh and some funny responses.

The river has steady boat traffic, with loud engines and even louder stereos and screaming. I guess because it's Saturday, also there are two concerts going on at Riverside Park. One was Lauren Hill and the Fairly Odd People, doing Pop music. (Band names are as best as I can remember after eating a tequila lime ice cream at The Hot House.) The other band was Thunder Puke doing heavy metal. We were with the old people listening to pop, but could hear the deafening wail coming even louder from the other side. A young lady sunbathing on the beach nearby had the modern solution. Her iPod.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Valemount, B.C.

Picture: I am cooking supper. Mary Ann looks on, aghast. Rocky's Campground has free firewood, so I decided to teach Mary Ann how to make a full meal using only the stuff a biker would have: screwdriver, pliers, lighter, hatchet, and plastic spoons swiped from the Mt Robson Cafe. We went to the Petro Canada Super Stop across the street for a can of ravioli, a can of beef stew and two fruit cocktail cups.

In deference to Mary Ann's feminine sensibilities, I made a few changes to the routine, such as using only the clean and new tools from Burgie.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paradise Hill, Saskatchewan

Picture: OK, it's not a flattering view, but with that monster truck beside the bikes, there was no way. Actually, even without the truck it would have been a challenge. A professional photographer would have moved the bikes, maybe to the very pretty village campground, and taken the shot with the hillside as background. With me, you have to use a little imagination.

This hotel is affiliated with Rednex of Goodsoil Sk. We are at Smokin  Lens, in paradise Hill. Ironically, they have a No Smoking policy,with a hefty $150 charge for non cooperation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


,Picture of Mary Ann in her two legged chair, writing her journal at Gordon Howe's Campsite in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. NO MOSQUITOS! We have not been able to use these chairs until today, for that reason. Just saw a dragonfly zoom by, patrolling the park. Apparently they are the reason for no mosquitos.

speaking of wildlife, I found out that Pelicans live here in the summer, and in Florida for the winter.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This morning, Lost and Burgie both needed oil. So, on the way out of Winnipeg, we stopped for gas and a litre of oil. Each bike took half, and we headed for Gimli via Main St. But before we got out of the city, I was enveloped by a cloud of oil while sitting at a traffic light. It was coming from Burgie. We pulled into a side street to figure out what went wrong. Burgie was missing the oil filler cap. I guessed it was on the ground at the filling station, so I left Mary Ann, and headed back into the traffic. I think I might have missed a traffic light, by the honking I heard, but I found the plug and was back in 45 minutes. Mary Ann was nowhere to be seen. She had disappeared into a house with a vegetable garden outside, so now we had some new friends. I managed to talk and add almost a litre of oil at the same time, and even remembered to screw on the lid. Looking on the bright side, I told Mary Ann this could count as an oil change.

We reached Gimli quite easily, it's only about 90 km. The town is full of people because there is a beach here. So we sat near the beach listening to a live band playing Hank Snow and Buck Owens, drinking ice pop from Robin's Donuts.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fort Gibraltar

We walked all the way to Fort Gibraltar  in 90 degree heat and when we got there it just closed as we arrived. I took a few outside pictures and we walked back to the hotel, stopping first at the smoothie bar at the Forks.

The Forks market reminds me of St Jacobs, only open all week. Mary Ann doesn't like it because they sell a lot of junk. I like it because they sell bobble head Wonder Woman dolls. I need one to put on the top of the trunk in an attempt to further distinguish myself from the crafty Mounties.

Saint Boniface

Picture of Saint Boniface cathedral, burned in 1968, a new church was built in the ruins.

We have been walking around the city center, it's very pleasant even in this heat. The bikes both seem secure, the parking lot is patrolled by security.

Winnipeg has been great, but some other places were not As good. Thunder Bay had a stretch of construction with a wet slippery base overlaid with large rocks. Burgie nearly fell twice. And a driver pulled out in front of us, requiring a hard application of the brakes. And with all our hi visibility gear and high beams, too. Speaking of hi visibility, some drivers think we are cops, and refuse to pass on the highway until I wave them on. But when it happened on the busy four lane Trans-Canada, I needed a solution, so I tied a rag to the top of my luggage. I figured no cop would ever have a towel flapping around back there, but still some drivers were suspicious. Those Mounties must be very tricky people.

Coming out of Atikokan, we were told that there was a gas station on the road to Fort Francis. But after 40k, and no gas,Mary Ann asked someone, and he said there was no gas until FF. So we had to turn back to Atikokan. Then after going back, I did see some gas pumps in front of a shack at about 50k. I would not have wanted to stop there anyway.

Still in Winnipeg

This picture is from nipigon Ontario. All my pictures last night are on the camera and I can't figure out how to transfer them yet.

So last night we walked from our hotel to "The Forks". It is a park at the corner of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.  Maybe six outdoor pubs or restaurants, a market, a marina, a pedestrian bridge, thousands of people, water taxis, bicycles. No cars (free parking evenings and weekends). No mosquitos. I saw no panhandlers, no police. OK, I did see one Indian that could have been drunk because nobody is that friendly when sober. From what I saw, I don't know why Winnipeg gets a bad rap. And with all this, Air Canada stopped allowing air crews to stay downtown, because it was "unsafe". Maybe that policy has already been rescinded.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Winnipeg

We are at the Norwood hotel.
Picture: Mary Ann loading up the luggage cart with all our crap. We were camping two nights in a row in 30c temperatures, in a tent rated for-40c. On Wednesday night in Atikokan, we also were fighting mosquitos.  In hindsight, we were not in a real tent site. The caretaker came by in the morning and told us he had never seen anyone camp in that spot before. I guess that explains why the picnic table had rotted to pieces.

The next night in Warroad, Minnesota, was better. No mosquitos and more breeze near Lake of the Woods.

The border at Rainy River was pleasant. I got a "Happy belated birthday" when my passport was returned.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Phone post 2

Trying to get  upright picture of bikes in garage at home.

Posting from my phone

This is my luggage

Getting Ready for the Grizzlies

Of all the ways to die I think I would most prefer not to be eaten by a Grizzly bear.  This morning the CBC news showed a bit of an online documentary about Grizzly bears.  It is only available online because it is interactive.  It was made with the assistance of the National Film Board (of Canada).


I watched it, and I can see why it would win awards. It helped prepare me for the trip because we are going to be crossing Grizzly bear country a few times.

Grizzlies live mainly in the Rockies I think, but even though I have crossed the Rockies maybe 10 times, I have never seen one except in a zoo in Penticton.  Actually, that was a "safari park", and probably is not there any more.  In this "park", the animals were kept in by chain link fences.  The Grizzly charged us humans who were standing outside the fence watching, and we all ran away.  I don't think any of us trusted the fence to hold when the Grizzly rose up and grabbed hold of the fence and shook it. I would estimate, the one I saw was 12 feet tall.  But it says on the Internet that a Grizzly appears to a human to be about twice the height it really is.  So maybe the bear was really only 6 feet tall.  In that case I don't want to meet the tallest Grizzly ever recorded, which was 12 feet tall, and I guess would have looked about 24 feet tall.

From watching the documentary, I would guess that it is very important not to surprise a Grizzly with cubs.  Because they may charge you even if you are on a motorcycle.  So when we go through Yellowstone park on our motorcycles, I am going to take advantage of the hundreds of free mobile Grizzly bear deflectors called Winnebagos.  You just follow one of these deflectors down the road, and it will clear the road of Grizzlies for you.

Picture: Damage done to car by Grizzly  http://izifunny.com/2011/11/16/grizzly-wants-to-be-a-car-driver..html

Mike and Keri Go East

I found a blog written by Mike and Keri as they ride a scooter east across Canada, from Vancouver to Ontario, in 2008.  There are several noteworthy features of their trip.  They are both on the same scooter.  I mean one scooter, not the same type of scooter.  Next, this scooter is 49cc. Finally, they are also packing camping gear.  Not just a tent and sleeping stuff - cooking equipment and food as well.  And finally, to make sure they don't have it too easy, this trip takes place in September, not the middle of summer.

If you are interested, as I was, you might want to check it out at here:


You will see they did it in 11 days, while Lost and Burgie have set aside 15 days do do basically the same thing from east to west.  Obviously, we are not in a hurry.

I found it interesting to see how they had packed everything on the bike, what mechanical problems they had (if any). Looks like our trip could be a piece of cake by comparison, but we are not kids any more, so I could argue that we need more comfort.

Picture: Pulled over by the cops, Mike has his licence suspended, so Keri takes over the driving.  I guess a with a scooter under 50cc.  you don't need a special drivers licence.  Very useful.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

D minus 7 and Counting....

We are now one week from our planned departure date.  I am in the final stages of planning,  Mary Ann is just starting to get her stuff ready.

One of my jobs on the todo list was to buy a $40 "USA Roaming Combo" for my Koodo smartphone.  But maybe there is a better way.  I have decided to wait until I get to the USA and buy a SIM card with a prepaid "Pay as You Go" plan.  The SIM card simply pops into my phone and turns it into a T-Mobile phone. The Koodo USA Roaming Combo reduces the price of each megabyte of data from $3 to $1.  So if I used a total of 30 megabytes of data in the USA my total cost would be $70, with the plan, $90 without.  But sometimes I use more than 30 megabytes.

My new, and I hope better, plan is to buy a T-Mobile SIM card in the USA. T-Mobile sells the Samsung Nexus S (this is my phone, which has an unlocked SIM card), and according to the T-Mobile web site, I can get a US-based SIM card for $6.99, and a prepaid plan for $2 per day.  Which means each day I use the phone I am charged $2, giving me unlimited calling and data at 2G speeds.  No mention of a minimum, so I will ask for $30 to start.  That plan suits my kind of use better, as I don't have incoming calls on my old number, and even if I needed incoming calls I would simply give out my new phone number by email.

Another job on my list is packing the tire pump. I will spare you the horror stories of gas station air pumps. So I have to choose between my big floor pump, or my tiny emergency tire pump.  The emergency pump is difficult to use, so I wanted to bring the floor pump.  But I discovered a new type of pump I have never seen before.  It is a slightly larger compact pump that converts to a floor pump, and even includes a pressure gauge.  It's called the Filzer Mini-Zee pump for $28, and I bought one at Mountain Equipment Coop in London (where I get a lot of my camping stuff).  The only tricky part is that the locking lever on the nozzle is "up" for locked and "down" for unlocked, which is the opposite of every pump I have ever had for the last 40 years.  But apparently this is the new standard, as it's the same system on the floor pumps sold at Canadian Tire now.  Anyway, the Mini-Zee was able to easily pump up my motorcycle tire from 30 to 40 psi. And of course the built in gauge makes it very convenient to use - but it's so small I need reading glasses.

Now we're heading back one last time to MEC in London for some pants, T-shirts and socks.  I know we can get all those things in Kitchener, but Mary Ann wants a pair of womens' zip-off cargo pants to pack for the trip.  (Long pants that have a zip-off section to convert to shorts).  They used to sell those in Kitchener, but apparently they have gone out of style for women and so they are only sold now at adventure outfitters. Now even Mark's Work Wearhouse doesn't carry them, and we used to shop there a lot for this type of stuff.  They have renamed themselves as Mark's (dropping the Work Wear House) and have moved more into fashion clothing, which I suppose has a better profit margin.  By next year, I hope we will have an MEC store in Kitchener. Once you get used to shopping somewhere, you are kind of addicted.

Now that I don't need to carry a huge floor pump, I decided to also leave behind my equally huge folding camp chair, as they were both to be packed together.  Instead I got another Alight Monarch camp chair.  Two of those chairs pack into about half the space of one big folding camp chair.  They only have two legs, and you can fall out of them sideways, and backwards if you're not careful. But if you can stay upright, they are comfortable for hours.