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Monday, August 30, 2010

Mt. Baker Chapter ride to Lillooet

Lillooet Canada

Saturday August 28th, 2010 the Mt. Baker Harley Owners Group met up at Starbucks on Bakerview. Where else would you start a morning ride when Mt. Baker H-D isn’t open yet for business? Coffee!

Oh give me a cup
Or two or three
Where it brews all day long
And the beans never run out
A comfy chair
With music in the air
And a fireplace soon to come

How may I help you?

Coffee that’s what I want
Now gimme my coffee
Cause I gotta wake up
Money don’t buy everything
But it does buy a cup of Joe
Hot, cold, latte, café mocha,
Sugar, cream, foam
Caffeine, decaf
Whip, no whip
That’s what I want
6 AM till bedtime
It’s all good

Before we made the last three day ride, Larry purchased a new Harley-Davidson tour-pak rack bag for the trike. It holds our raingear, gloves, muffs, neck scarfs, sunglasses, and a place to keep the quick layers we shed or need to add when riding. It worked out perfectly and made packing the trike easier because now we just attach the bag and go, everything stays in the bag. No more looking in the garage cubbies for everything we need. No more driving Larry crazy because I have misplaced something I can’t find and I can’t ride without.

We had coffee, a morning pick me up, drew our first poker card, and we were ready to ride. Dave McNeill our lead road captain, Bob and Carole Chambers, Dave and Dawn Johnson, Shelia Bayne our sweep, Mike and Dana Snyder, Tim Tussing, and Larry and I pulled out of Starbucks at 8:00 AM headed for the border at Lynden.

The border crossing went fairly quickly with the usual questions: where are you going, how long are you staying, what are you bringing with you, how do you know these other people riding a Harley. Once we all crossed we headed north and saw hundreds of cars, headed south, maybe a mile and a half long waiting to cross into the USA to shop, visit friends, go to the beaches???? I don’t know, but we were glad we were headed north.

Whenever possible you avoid the freeways but sometimes it is unavoidable to get somewhere without using the freeway. This trip we were heading towards north Vancouver and the freeway was a better choice than the city streets, although neither option is optimal.

It wasn’t always easy to stay as a group because some drivers just feel the need to squeeze in between a group of bikes even when there is not enough room for another bike--not yielding when they should, or they think you should just get out of the way, move over, and let them in, or out, or by. As Larry likes to say “we defied death and destruction” and made it to our first pit stop unscathed physically, if not mentally. We all agreed that having heated gear was a good thing. It was only in the 40’s when we left and I’m not sure what the wind chill factor was riding down the freeway but it felt a lot like February.

The roads to Whistler have been greatly improved since Vancouver hosted the 2010 winter Olympics. Four lanes of newly paved asphalt in most places but even when the road narrowed to one lane each way the bumps, dips, and potholes were gone. The next stop was Squamish for gas.

We pulled into Pemberton a little after noon and stopped for lunch at the Pony Bar Restaurant Café. The weather had warmed up and we choose to sit on the patio rather than inside where it was a little too warm and stuffy. The portions were generous and the typical bar/restaurant foods have been given a gourmet twist. Who would have thought in the middle of nowhere you would find a unique biker friendly gourmet place to eat, but then everywhere is somewhere to someone. We drew our second poker card during lunch.

Now it was time to head to Lillooet which meant up and over highway 99 also known as Duffy Lake Road. Dave M. had cautioned anyone who had not crossed a wooden bridge that even when they are dry they are very slick and we would be crossing a number of them before we reached Lillooet. The road had twists, turns, steep grades, tight corners, hairpin turns, bumps, ruts, gouges, and sometimes these were back to back or all together in one short stretch. In about 200 feet we had rough road, gravel, one lane, a wooden bridge, and construction. Just as we crossed our 3rd wooden bridge, a car was in the ditch on its side. No one was around but we all figured it took the bridge too fast and learned a hard lesson.

We stopped at Duffy Lake for a short break before heading down the canyon for Lillooet. We checked into our hotel and Dave M. made dinner reservations for our group at Dina’s Restaurant which serves Greek and Italian foods. Kickstands down it was time for cold drinks, snacks, hot showers, and time to unwind with friends sitting in the parking lot next to the bikes talking about the adventures of the day. Carole was adventurous and took a short hike to work up an appetite. I was fighting a sinus infection so I took a headache pill and crawled under the covers for a quick nap. Larry found the ice machine and joined the group.

Lillooet was originally known as Cayoush Flats and the name was changed around 1860. It became the second largest town north of San Francisco and west of Chicago due to the discovery of gold. Lillooet is mile 0 on the Cariboo Road and boasted 13 saloons and a population of over 16,000 people. It has seen several boom and bust days and was almost destroyed by fire in the 1970’s. Lillooet was also the location of a Japanese-Canadian internment camp during WWII. The economy now is based around logging, ranching, farming, and tourism.

We had our same table as last year at the restaurant and after making our food selections we went back to laughing talking and just enjoying a relaxing evening with friends. Dave pulled out the deck of cards and everyone drew their 3rd card. No one really had a sure bet and Dave was going to draw the last two cards when we got back to our hotel and then everyone could see what their final hand was.

We checked out the Lillooet Inn Restaurant across the street to see what time they opened for breakfast (7:00 AM) and then slowly wandered back up the street to our rooms. We pulled out the chairs again and Dave M. drew the final cards. Larry was the big winner with a pair of 10’s and his prize was a dual mode flashlight. Dana took 2nd place and Mike drew the first joker as a consolation prize. Thanks Dave M. for the poker game and the prizes, it was a nice extra touch to an already great weekend.

We agreed that those who wanted to have breakfast would go at 7:00 and then be gassed up and ready to ride out at 8:30 AM.

Dave, Tim, Shelia, Carole, Dana, Mike, Larry, and I started the morning off with a full breakfast or other just having toast. Coffee, tea, or milk? Everyone was loaded up and as we looked at the grey clouds, zipped up, and plugged in to ride out in the 40 degree weather; we all decided that the power of collective positive thinking and prayer would keep the rain drops away. And it did.

We headed north east towards Cache Creek for our first pit stop. Dana and Mike are leaving the group to continue their stay in Canada camping for a couple of days, exploring, and Dana had her photography equipment so I am sure we are going to see some of her extraordinary photos when they return. After they left, the rest of the group continued on to Lytton for a break and then Boston Bar for a gas stop and lunch break. Dave commented after we had eaten that he had always wondered about stopping at this little place for lunch. Dawn told him that now he knew why he had always kept on going. You never know until you do stop, and make a note, if it is worthy of stopping at again. When we arrived we were the only bikes in the parking lot and when we left it was full of bikes. Dawn and I wondered if they stopped because they saw our bikes and we led the astray. Sorry we didn’t know either, but we do now. It still wasn’t warming up and the layers were staying on.

We stopped at Lake of the Woods rest stop before heading towards Hope, Agassiz, highway 1 to Chilliwack, and the Sumas border. The sun bearing down on us as we stood talking in the small parking lot--talking had us soaking up the warmth and Shelia decided it was going to be warm and took off that heated liner. Little did we know that in just a few minutes we might not need to plug in but that liner would be a good barrier from the wind coming through the Fraser Valley. From Hope through Agassiz the two lane road was lined with cars, trucks, and trailers, wherever a fisherman could get to the river and cast a line. The salmon were running and everyone was on the banks trying to catch one.

All those Canadians who had headed east for the weekend on Saturday was returning home on a Sunday afternoon and sometimes our group was split apart. Slow going but the border wait was only about twenty minutes once we arrived. We made our last pit stop at the last gas station on the right hand side of the road in Sumas to say our good-byes before heading our separate ways home

Dave M. did his usual excellent job planning the ride, arranging rooms, meals, games, and a safe journey. Shelia was an excellent road sweep watching our backs, helping ease the group out into traffic safely, also ensuring a safe journey, and boy can that girl zip and zoom on her new bike. Thanks Dave and Shelia.

Thanks Dave, Sheila, Dave, Dawn, Carole, Bob, Tim, Dana, Mike, for going along for the ride and the great memories of our travels. Larry and I enjoyed our time spent with each of you and we can’t wait for the next ride.

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