Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rescued

We were going straight to Salem after the rally to get new tyres but the BMW Garage was closed on a Mondays so that gave us the opportunity to visit Crater Lake. We drove along the 58 to Oakridge where we were going to take a scenic Forestry road that connected to the 126. Gertie the GPS was sending us on a straight line course up a dirt track (++and David followed it! Reminded me of driving through farmers yards in France!!++) so I stopped on a rather steep hill not wanting to go that way. The bike started to go backwards with the front wheel locked up and me paddling backwards trying to keep the bike upright. I'm not very good at riding backwards and before we were 15 yards down the hill (++to the sounds of me shouting “we're gonna go David!”++)we were over on our left side, Jill tangled in wires and petrol flowing out the carbs. See the skid marks and the petrol. Having picked myself, Jill and the bike up in that order, we noticed that the pannier rails had broken. At that moment Dan pulled up at his house across the road and asked if we needed any help. Asking if he knew a welder he replied 'yes I am'. We wheeled the bike into his garage porch and he very expertly welded the rail up. 90 Minutes later we were on our way having been repaired and watered. Great kindness was showed to us by Dan a Harley rider but nobodies perfect and his wife Becky and we are very grateful to them both.
They showed us the route we should have taken in the first place telling us about a covered bridge we would pass
and suggested a place to wild camp which was wonderful and got us started on free camping in the National Forests (no facilities of course that's why it's free) of the USA. Travel is about learning new things about the world and yourself, and Jill is becoming really good at digging a hole rather than using a flush. Just thought you might like to know that! (++Thanks David!!++)
This road was a 10 out of 10 road for a bike and we a stopped at the Cougar Dam
before meeting Murph again at a T-junction as we travelled onto Salem and the BMW garage. We chatted about our respective routes and discovered we we going in the same direction, so tentatively arranged to stay in touch and meet up for a beer (oops soda!). I had rung the BMW garage and ordered the tyres when we were in Calgary as the sizes are not kept by bike shops. I rang them again from Redmond confirming they had the tyres and that we would be there on Tuesday for fitting. On arrival they had the tyres but hadn't got us booked in to fit them and the rear tyre as the wrong size but 'only by a bit' so they said! They managed to fit us in and charged $116 for the privilege of fitting the tyres on top of $260 for the tyres themselves. I think I got the tyres in England for about £160 fitted ($240 roughly). Some things are expensive over here. Just as we were leaving the fitter (right of picture) said 'Oh you know your rim is split, I'd get that fixed' and walked back into the garage. Sure enough there was a split between 3 spokes. Having been offered no guidance as to what to do or where to get help with a split rim in a foreign country we drove off to Mt Hebo hoping that the rim would fix itself by the time we had driven the 80 miles!
We drove to the top of the mountain and set up camp above the clouds to be treated to a great sunset and a really peaceful night above the clouds. ++The sky was clear, the stars bright and we decided to get up in the middle of the night when the moon had descended to get a better look. At around 4am David got up for a pee. I stirred too, and made my way out of the tent to find David stood very close to the doorway whispering that there was an animal in the trees so to be quiet. He had wandered over to the trees for his pee and on hearing a few twigs crack made a hasty retreat back to the tent! I bet he painted a comical picture naked as a jay bird, his creamy flesh illuminated by the twinkling night sky, pointing percy in the direction of a quietly grazing bear. Needless to say we didn't stay out admiring the sky for long before scrambling back into the tent. Not sure what protection that would offer to an offended bear.++

To Crater Lake

We left Redmond early on Sunday 18th July heading south along the 372 past Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters which are both part of the Cascade Mountain range. The road was closed further up as a biker had hit a deer, the biker we heard was OK but the bike and the deer were both killed.
It was a very beautiful ride past lava flows and strange eating places full of stuffed animals. On entering the Crater Lake National park we drove straight to the camp site at Mazama Village and back into Mosquito country.

The next day we were on the road by 0900 (Jill is getting good at this- ++well I had to get good my life wasn't worth living otherwise!!++) and met Murph a lively Irish man naturalised to Florida, who said he had decided it was as cheap to travel as it was to stay at home and drink, so he has given up the demon booze in exchange for mind expanding adventures
then we drove around the 35 rim road. The lake was created when Mt Mazama imploded, the cone being too heavy it sunk into the space created by the expelled lava. The lake is about 6 miles across and took 800 years to fill with rain and snow. It's 1900 feet deep in parts being the deepest lake in North America and apart from having a helicopter and 2 dead people who crashed into it, it's water is very pure.
We met Adam on our way round who has been on the road for 4 and a half years.
He looked well if not a little wild. We exchanged stories and left feeling very much like novices. Anyway Crater Lake is like being on top of the world, but which bit of top am I on? It was very hot in the sun, so Jill found a way to cool off.
We left the lake around 1300 and headed towards Salem.

The Redmond Rally

Hello David here!
Like most bike rally's it was full of bikes and bikers talking about bikes. It was very hot (97F) and there were few showers and even fewer toilets. There was a sign saying there were more shower 3 miles away at a local school but I don't think many people took up that offer. On Friday afternoon 6 port-a-loos were dropped off, just across the road from where we were camping (lovely!) which helped a bit. Only we were woken at various points during the night, and most early mornings to the sound of banging loo doors. I spent time washing the bike, changing the oils and adjusting the tappets and talking bikes, while Jill did less bikey things (but not too sure what). ++ I'll tell you what I did: I sat reading my tome A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Fantastic book, but one I need to get to the end of as it must weigh about 3lbs, and we need to reduce the weight we are carrying. So time well spent I think. Oh and I cat napped. A woman of my age living rough, needs her beauty sleep!++
There was a good selection of vendors at the show, which is always interesting to look around and we both succumbed to filling our already swollen panniers some more. There was lots to keep us entertained: I won a prize at the daily draw, bands played at night, I had my towel 'nicked' while I was having a shower, ++(there is something about David's toiletries, he had his toilet bag and shaver nicked when we were in Portugal a couple of years ago. Hence he gave up shaving. I hope he doesn't give up washing!!)++
There was a good selection of vintage bikes and an English Trials. We volunteered at the Charging station for a 3 hour stint with Hope an 11 year old who took over and told us what to do; and we perfected the art of ear plugs while sleeping during cold nights.
The Closing Ceremony was a testament to all things American. Wonderful pomp and ceremony began with the National Anthem, followed by homage to soldiers in Afghanistan, the American Constitution, the rally workers voluntary and paid, and of course the very generous sponsors. The prizes donated by sponsors were astounding. When we registered, we were each given three tickets to sign and place in 3 different drums. Each day there were prize draws with umpteen gifts to give away..The big day though was the final day of the rally when an all singing and dancing BMW F800 GS was up for grabs. As you would expect, Jill absent mindedly threw away her final day ticket having won nothing the previous 3 days and sat in a state of anxiety as the number was drawn!! Any way the auditorium was pretty full of expectant and excited potential winners. But the oddest spectacle was of people leaving in droves as soon as the town where the person lived who had won the motorbike was announced, even before a name was mentioned. I think there was only the two of us left to offer our congratulations to Cathy from Bend who wasn't actually present anyway to claim her prize. Weird!!

Calgary to Redmond

It's been a while since we updated 'cos we have been out of internet access, doing things like 'wild camping' but finally here is the next instalment. Hope you enjoy hearing about our travels and adventures. I think we have both finally settled into it and I have to say I am having the time of my life (and it has nothing to do with the menopause!!).
We managed to drag ourselves away from the comfort of the house and by 09.00 we were on the road heading back up towards Banff. The weather was warm as we left, but gradually became really cold and we found ourselves biking towards thunderously black clouds hovering over the mountains. We just managed to get all our wet weather gear on at the side of the road by a sign warning of wolves, wolverines and bears, when the heavens opened up and we were deluged. Along with the rain came the wind as we travelled down the 93, 95 and the 3. We sheltered at a picnic area whilst we had our usual picnic lunch of cheese, bread and tomatoes.
At Fairmont Hot Springs, the wind still raging, we stopped to get a free map of British Columbia from the tourist office, but they did not have any and charged $6 for what they did have. So we declined. As we arrived, we came upon a bit of a local stir as a tree at the side of the road had been blown over in the wind. It had only just happened. Luckily the driver of a truck parked beside it, had noticed that the tree looked a bit unsteady, and had just moved his truck further away, as the tree came down across power cables.
But nothing lasts forever and gradually as we crossed the border into the USA, and Idaho, the weather miraculously changed, and we got out of our wets and basked in some sunshine. Crossing the border into the US was as they say 'a piece of cake'. The border guard, a biker himself checked our passports and visa, and gave us lots of advice about where to visit and waved us on our way.
Mountains gave way to rolling mounds of farm country. We had been told that we could get into the bike rally a day before it formally opened so we decided to have a long day on the road to get in the miles. At about 19.00h we found a Motel where the owner regaled me (David was wisely sorting out the bike outside), with stories of 'huntin' shootin' an' fishin' and how he came to be in the Motel business ,and making huckleberry jam, which he gave us a jar of an is very yummy indeed. Eventually installed, we nipped across the road, bought some soup and nibbles and had a picnic in our room, before falling into bed. By the way the room was dark, musty, and questionable clean, but I guess any port in a storm!
The following morning, we hit the road bright and early, well about 0830 (I hope you are all proud of me!!), another long day through rolling farming landscape, down the 95 and then the 12 and 14 brought us to a remote green oasis island camp-ground, the Crow Butte State Park in the Columbia River.
It felt odd in some ways being out of the mountains and bear country. But not to be outdone, bears were to be replaced by rattlesnake warnings. We were mischievously informed by the park warden that he had not killed any rattle snakes so far this season, and that last year it was over twenty! After we sweated putting up the tent and embarked on our usual one-ring wonder (now what was it-ah yes chilli and rice) a fellow biker who was camping in his RV came over and gave us a couple of ice cold beers-what a delight I can tell you.
Later that night we heard what sounded like a really loud TV. We decided to go and investigate to find that someone had set up a huge screen, near his tent, and lots of campers had brought their chairs over to watch an outdoor movie in the warm night air! Adds a new dimension to camping.
Another early start we motored past the John Day Dam (who is John Day?) We turned on to the 97 and Redmond, arriving about 1400, setting up camp on the quiet zone, next to Bil from Medford Oregon who was very proud of his deck, Pat from New York State and Don from Colorado. They do travel some to their rally's.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2 More days in Calgary

We didn't do much the next day but catch up on the blog, rest and watch the T.V. On Sunday it was family day at the Stampede and if you arrived before 0900 you got in free otherwise it was about $14 each, so we got up early and joined most of Calgary on our tram to the stampede grounds to look at everything that we hadn't seen on Friday, which included Indian Dancing video
Stock dog (sheepdog) trials, Jill enjoying the fair and finding a Plaque in the Grandstand.
Came home early to pack up for our departure tomorrow towards Redmond and the BMWOA rally.

Stampede Friday 9th July 2010

We arrived back in Calgary to meet Bev and her 2 children on the corner of the block that her house was on. It was so amazing to be able to stay. Bev is a real star with a very big heart. Thank you Bev. Here she is posing when she came round later that day. What a gal.
The house is just round the corner from the tram and Safeways. Everything we need in a block! We did all our washing and prepared for the big day tomorrow. Bev had invited us to a club down town but we were too pooped by the time we had everything ready.

Day started with the parade. A 3 hour procession around the streets of Calgary. There were a lot of horses in the parade so the Local cleansing department joined in.



Not going to say much about the rodeo just click on the videos below to see what happens.

Calf Roping

video

Bucking Broncos

video

Steer Felling

video

Bronco Freestyle

video

Cowgirls Race

video

Bull Riding

video

Kids Wild Horse Riding (trying)

video

All the bucking animals have a strap around their backs that make them buck. The 2 No.8 cowboys that do the rounding up (Very skilled and a pleasure to watch) unclip the belt and the animal then becomes quite calm. Not too sure about the ethics of that practice.

While they were having a half time break there was the Indian hoop dance

video

The Rodeo ended at about 1600 and the evening entertainment wasn't starting until 1945 so we looked around and then came back to the house for some food before returning for the Chuck Wagon racing.

video

What then followed was a show of sensory overload. The stage, known as Queen Mary was towed in and set up. It was now getting dark so I haven't got any good pictures but there were dancers, singers, flying people, flying drummers, motorcycles zooming around inside a ball, motorcycles doing somersaults from ramp to ramp, girls bouncing off planks of wood, Michael Jackson tribute, smoke, volcanic fire bursts and, I almost forgot, fireworks!

We got back to the house at 0200 and fell into a fitful sleep afraid that the sky might fall on my head.

Saturday, July 10, 2010