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WA & BC Motorcycle trip - September 19-21, 2005

Day 1         Day 2         Day 3

Days 1&2 | Day 3

Here's a trip that 3 of us planned over dinner at the now-burned-down Kingston Inn in (where else?) Kingston, WA. earlier this summer. The idea was to connect most of the best-rated roads from the Destination Highways books in Washington State and British Columbia into a 4 day journey through twisty roads. Our first attempt instead resulted in a great trip to Oregon because of rain. Well, summer was getting on and I was itchin' to do this trip. Unfortunately my pals couldn't make it, so after monitoring 10-day forecasts for a couple weeks, the weather window arrived.

As it turned out, I did the ride in 3 days rather than 4 on my Aprilia Falco. This was OK, as I'm drawn to riding rather than dawdling when on my own. Someday when the kids are grown and I buy a Honda ST1100, or whatever takes its place by then, my wife Deb and I will return and spend more time at the scenic overlooks. This brings up the issue of how you approach riding twisty roads on a sportbike. After riding a variety of roads, I've realized that linked, 25 to 35 mph rated curves on roads leading through traffic-less wilderness is what I like. Yeah, sweepers are great, but you're a lot more likely to get a speeding ticket at 100 mph than 70 mph when you're following the "times 2 plus 10" rule with speed limits on curves. Some of the roads on this trip indeed had many twisties, but after riding Forest service roads 25, 99 and 90 Wind River Highway around Mount Saint Helens, these roads were a tad dissapointing. Nevertheless, it was a great trip. Wore off plenty of rubber on the sides of my tires.

BC is great in that all the police seem to drive recognizable, white sedans. I talked my way out of a speeding ticket near Republic, WA by a police officer in a brown pickup truck. Brown pickup truck?! I noticed it was a police vehicle as I was passing it, and had a nice talk with the officer after I pulled over. He really liked the Aprilia, and thoroughly checked out the cockpit area with my radar detector. It seems the old adage of a radar detector ensuring your getting a speeding ticket isn't always true. I saw a total of 4 police people in BC. Two were escorting a bicycle peleton, and one was operating a speed trap outside of Squamish during rush hour.

Crossing the borders was interesting. They only asked for a drivers' license going in to Canada, but I had to show them my birth certificate coming back into the US. Welcome home eh? The Aprilia has a digital dash (except for analog tach) that can be set to metric/Celsius units or USA/Fahrenheit units. I switched over to metric after crossing the border, and when approaching the first corner rated in Kilometers/hr I realized that some recalculating was in order. Quick! Times .6! 40kph=24mph!!! Regardless, the old "times 2 plus 10" still applies, even in different units.

Morning light on my "modest" lodging in Kettle Falls, WA. Somehow I expected Kettle Falls to offer more than it did. But at least the restaurant was in walking distance to the motel, and they served beer. The pork rib dinner special was actually pretty tasty.

Sullivan lake, just east of Metaline Falls, just south of the Canadian border. This DH12 rated side road was pretty darn nice, but watch out for the heavy Forset Service police presence at the north end of the lake. Absolutely no traffic on this road.

Massive road repair on highway 31 (DH54) north of Metaline Falls. The excavator up on the hill (click picture for bigger version to see) was causing boulders to rain down on the road (thus the stop sign) while it worked. The nice stop sign lady told me the driver "rode the excavator down the cliff last year". I asked, "Same guy up there?". "Yup".

Into Canada. This is DH1, the alleged best road in BC along the east shore of Kootenay Lake. Again, I disagree with the number 1 rating. It's basically a resort area, and the road is literally lined with driveways to resorts, cabins, RV parks and stores. You just don't feel comfortable going 80 mph (48kph) here.

The ferry across Kootenay Lake. It's free and takes 35 minutes. Unfortunately they were on the winter schedule, and only running one boat. The wait and the crossing killed 2 precious hours in the middle of the day. Lunch at the adjacent restaurant was pretty good though.

The boat finally arrives. Even though the sign in the parking lot says "No priority loading for motorcycles", just ride up to the front of the line. I didn't, and the employee loading cars wondered why I hadn't. After heading north from the ferry landing in Balfour and going through the charming town of Kaslo, DH5/Rte. 31A awaited me. It was grrrrreat! A guy on the ferry with a *very* heavy Canadian accent told me about his friend who was camped by this road and witnessed many sportbike riders tearing it up. Now I know why. No traffic too!

These remarkable domed structures are in New Denver. They're actually a lodge. I wish I would have timed things so I stayed there. New Denver seemed pretty peaceful too.

I think this is the main lodge.

The pump at the gas station in Fauquier, at the Needles ferry, had Destination Highways stickers on it. It seems that more than a few motorcyclists go this way.

The ferry between Faquier and Needles. It was guided by cables, and was pretty small. Thankfully no long wait though.

A view to the north from the ferry.

Ah, DH2. Also known as Rte. 6 between Needles and Vernon. I'd rate this as DH1 personally. Again, no traffic. The pavement was a bit deteriorated in some sections, but the quality of the turns and the lack of traffic were terrific.

At the day's end I stayed at the "Tiki Village" motel in Vernon. My wife Deb and I stayed there about 10 years ago on the way up to Yoho National Park for a backpack trip. It's OK, with an OK Japanese restaurant adjoining.

Days 1&2 | Day 3