8-05-04  Hudson's Hope, British Columbia to Quesnel, British Columbia

            "...weather slightly unsettled but improving."  HAH!

           So what was different about today’s run?  Nothing… it rained ... again!

            I left Hudson’s Hope in a slight drizzle and fog, not enough to slick up the highway.  I was comfortable in my liners and rain gear, and with the garbage bags flapping and slapping on my feet.  The road took me up through the rolling hills of the Peace Mountains.  I had not gassed up after yesterday’s short runs, and I decided not to gas up at Chetwynd, figuring on enough range to make it to Mt. Le Moray.  Chetwynd looked to be a lumber town.  The road passed a huge processing plant on the north side.

           At Mt. Le Moray, the gas station was closed.  Oh, well, the next gas was at McLeod Lake, still well within my range.  While on my way to McLeod Lake, I stopped to photograph a beautiful waterfall (Bijoux Falls).  I spent some time clambering on the rocks around the falls looking for shots, and almost slipped off a wet rock into the water.

Bijoux Falls

            I pulled back onto 97 and saw a black hump on the side of road.  I dug on the brakes.  A head popped up, and then the bear stood up on its hind legs, looked at me, and sniffed as I came to a stop.  I unzipped the tank bag and fumbled for the camera.  The bear dropped down and stood back up, watching me.  As I dismounted, the bear scurried away.

            Just a note:  while all of this was going on, the bike was still running and I was going over in my mind comparisons between the acceleration of a KLR versus the acceleration of a pissed-off bear.  Given the KLR's modest power, it would have been an interesting race, if the bear had so chosen.

            While photographing the falls, 2 bikes went by, One was a silver BMW.  I caught up with the BMW at McLeod Lake, getting gas.  The bike had California plates.  The rider was from San Francisco, riding a BMW 1150GS.  He’d also hit rain most of his trip.  He was meandering, killing some extra time before he had to return home.

            He finished gassing and started the engine.  It was a smooth-sounding engine.  He popped into first and began rolling.  The bike killed; he did a rolling restart.  I pointedly looked away to avoid embarrassing him.  Something like that only seems to happen in front of an audience.  A couple miles later, I saw the same bike pulled over to the side of the road.  I coasted by to check if he was OK, and then saw a second bike, a Harley.  I stopped and shut down the KLR to talk.  The Harly driver was from Tennessee and owned small bike shop.  Every year, he shut down his shop for a month and hit the Alcan Highway.  We talked about gear, especially rain gear.  He started laughing when he saw my feet.  I didn't blame him:  I looked like a cartoon duck in those bags.

           “You know what you need?”, he asked.  I looked at his boots, manure-shoveling, gum-rubber, muck boots.  “Spend 12 bucks for rubber boots.  Rubber is the best for any type of rain.”

          "Do you wear them over your riding boots?"

          "Nah, I just take off the riding boots and put these on right over my socks."

           At Prince George, I saw a bank at the side of a parallel service road.  I rolled into the parking lot, shut down the bike, and got off.  There was a security guard standing in the doorway, talking to a customer in the entryway by the ATM .  As I unhooked my helmet strap, the strap snagged on the Velcro of my jacket.  I was struggling to remove the helmet as I went through the door.  Behind me, I heard a "Sir... sir?"  Two bank employees at a nearby table began laughing.  One said, “You shouldn’t walk into a bank like that.”

            I said, “It’s stuck.”  I got the Velcro separated from the strap and removed my helmet.  I felt a presence and turned around.  The guard was right behind me, looking mighty worried.

            At the teller window, I traded in my paper money for souvenir loonies and toonies (Canadian $1 and $2 coins) for my friends' kids.  After completing my transaction, I rolled the bike a couple of parking spaces over to the front of the windows of the restaurant next door and went in for lunch.  As lunch was ending, the rain began.  I drove to a nearby gas station, gassed up, and buttoned up.  On the road, the rain kept getting worse.  It began standing on the roadway, and spray from oncoming trucks washed into me.

            I kept moving around 65 mph in the tire tracks.  There were occasional meanderings from hitting pools of water.

            My goal was to reach Williams Lake for my overnight stay.  There was a sign about 5 miles out from Quesnel:  "Comfort Inn – Jacuzzi."  By then my garbage bag boot protection had failed and water was running out over the tops of my boots.  The sign said the hotel was next to the RCMP station in Quesnel.  As I stayed on the 97, I saw the town center pass by me to my left.  With no real directions, I remained on the 97 but turned in towards town at the last possible exit.  The hotel was right at the turn.  I walked into the lobby, oozing water, boots squishing, leaving large puddles on the floor with every step.  I apologized for the mess and booked a room.  As soon as I had my gear stowed, I pulled on my swimsuit and hit the Jacuzzi.

Quesnel hotel

            While in the water, I was joined by young guy working for paving company.  He was away from his wife and kids and had been in the hotel for over a month.  He was interested in bikes and was going to take a basic motorcycle safety course and the advanced course.  He liked the Kawi Zed 1000, but figured it was too much bike for his first ride.  I recommended the KLR; he was more interested in a sports bike.

            We were joined by three more riders, all steered in by the rain and the “Jacuzzi” sign.  We soaked.  The neighbors on my left drove Harleys; the neighbor on my right, a pickup truck, but he saw the KLR and stopped to look at it.  He has and loves his Motoguzzi.

            The group estimate was that I was still 10 hours away from the border.

            I bought more garbage bags from the 7-11 across the parking lot.  I hoped they fitted and hoped they lasted.  My boots would not be dry in the morning.

            The rain was supposed to continue.  My gear was beginning to get wet, including my journal.  From now on, the journal would be ziplocked into a baggie to protect it.  The constant rains were diminishing the water resistance of my tank bag.

           I don't know how many miles I rode that day, but it was one of the shortest days I had put in.  Simply, I had had enough.  Enough of the rain, enough of my squishing feet, enough of water dripping down my neck.  Enough.