After an unexpected part failure on my riding partners bike, it looked like the motorcycle road trip would have to be cancelled. It was a depressing thought considering all the time and effort (and daydreams) that had gone into planning this trip. But then I thought “why not go it alone?”. It was just a silly idea….. at first. But it quickly developed into a real possibility. I mean honestly, why couldn’t I go on my own?
My planned route was this: Sunday, Horseshoe Bay ferry to Nanaimo, quick stop in Coombs, then the Oceanside highway to Campbell River. Monday, Campbell River to Port Hardy. Tuesday, 18 hour day ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. Wednesday, Prince Rupert to Terrace. Thursday, Terrace to Prince George for two nights. Saturday, Prince George to Cache Creek. Sunday, Cache Creek to home.
Upon arriving at the ferry to Nanaimo, I met a couple on their way home from Sturgis with their Harleys. Marg writes her own blog, twowheeledlife.com, which has helped inspire me to put down words of my own. They kindly offered to lead me to Coombs where I wanted to check out the goats on the grass roof. Away we went and with a wave they were gone and I was wandering the market.
Being truly alone for the first time was intimidating. The reality of what I was setting out on really began to hit me and all of a sudden the market felt very crowded. I found some lunch and took a rest before hitting the road again.
I rode the old ocean side highway up to Campbell River. It was a lovely road but not as much “ocean side” as I had hoped. Arriving into Campbell River, I found a spot and set up at Elk Falls Provincial Park. I slept much better then I anticipated and woke feeling excited to see what the day would bring me.
After a light breakfast, I hopped on the northern island highway. Destination: Port Hardy. There were moments of tension and anxiety on my ride. I stopped in Port McNeill for a snack and a rest and was overcome with loneliness. But the trip had just begun and I still had so much ahead of me.
I rolled into Port Hardy and checked in at the hostel. I chose to stay in a female only dorm room with shared bathroom and showers. This was a new experience for me. I have never stayed in a hostel before but I found the whole thing great. I took some time to explore the town and then grabbed a table on the patio of the local pub. Port Hardy is a busy place the night before a ferry and the kitchen was pretty backed up. I watched a man on a motorcycle ride up and I decided to do something I wouldn’t normally do. I approached him, asking if he’d like to join me. He did and I met Sam. He had flown to BC from Ontario and rented a bike in Vancouver to ride up the island. We talked bikes and about our lives in general, ate food and then said our goodbyes. It was nice to have company and learn about an others adventure.
Sleep did not come easy that night. As the minutes ticked on just after 4 am, I got up to get packed up and ready to go. I was showing up with no reservation and feeling nervous about being denied boarding on the ship. I got a ticket and that’s when I met another couple. These two were from Texas. They had shipped their Harley to Seattle and were riding a big loop through BC to make their way back to Texas.
We all boarded and strapped the bikes to the ship. The Queen Charlotte Sound is open ocean and the water can get quite rough. Strapping the bikes helps to ensure they will still be rubber side down when we arrive at our destination.
My lack of sleep and the stress of the early morning had left me feeling zapped. My seat (which I rented) was a comfortable recliner (lazy boy style) with a nice view off the front of the ship. I quickly drifted to sleep. I woke up to the rolling ocean, got some food in me and began a wander around the boat. The scenery was breathtaking.
After attempting to take pictures of the many humpbacks I had seen, I met a man named Eric. He was from Holland and was back packing around BC before beginning studies in Calgary. I had agreed to join the Texans for a buffet dinner and invited Eric to join us as well. The company was fantastic. The sun went down and Prince Rupert grew nearer.
When we arrived in Prince Rupert, no rain was falling. After a few wrong turns I made it to the guest house I had reserved a room at and finally had a shower and a comfy bed.
I couldn’t believe my luck in the morning! It was not raining in Prince Rupert! I checked out the quiet little town, grabbed a bite to eat and headed on my way to Terrace. I truly was blown away. That stretch of highway is the prettiest I have experienced in this province. And being on the bike made it that much more enjoyable.
I met my cousin, Brent, at the university in Terrace and followed him back to his home. We sat on his patio chatting and soon his wife Christine got home. The food was delicious. After dinner Brent built up a fire in their fire pit and we all roasted some marshmallows just like when I was a kid. It was great to catch up and spend time with them but I had a long day of riding ahead of me so it was off to bed.
Brent and Christine had both given me some good tips of worthy stops along the way so I set off with my first stop being Hazelton. This was the furthest north my trip would take me and the furthest north I have ever been in BC. There is a tall, metal grated bridge leading into old Hazelton so I stopped and snapped some pictures.
I didn’t stop again until Smithers. The highway leading into that town from the north has an excellent view of the glacier. I was tempted to pull over and snap some shots but I was feeling good on the bike. So I burned the image into my mind and carried on. I grabbed some lunch and gas in town and carried on.
Just as I’m getting back on the bike the rain starts to fall. It had been a threatening day and now the wet had arrived. I decide to see if I could out run it. Rolling through Telkwa, starting to get pretty soggy, I consider pulling over to put the rain gear on. My stubbornness wins and I watch the sky, trying to get out from under the cloud. Not much longer and I do. The wind dries me off and I continue on. The rain catches me in Houston but I out run it again, watching my mirrors as the storm chases me. Getting close to my destination there are ugly thunder heads coming at me from the east. I finally arrive at Sandy’s. My friend Steph had been kind enough to set me up to meet and stay with her mom (and her horses) for a couple of nights in Prince George.
I instantly connect with her and after I unload the bike and sit for a drink and a chat, we’re off to the barn to deal with her horses. She has 14 and runs the place all on her own. I enjoy being put to work and love being around the horses. Once the chores have been taken care of we settle down to have dinner. The clouds open and that storm I had out run finally caught me. Fortunately my bike and I are tucked away, safe and dry.
In the morning its back down to deal with all the horses. After everyone has had their breakfast, Sandy lets me grab one of her mares, Paris, and take her for a ride. It’s a lot of fun. I am so glad I had the opportunity to spend the time with Sandy. It’s pretty great having great friends!
All of a sudden it’s Saturday morning and my plan is to head to Cache Creek. I say thank you and good bye to Sandy and head out.
I find a place to camp at Juniper Beach Provincial Park. It’s a pretty little oasis, set in the desert, right along the Thompson River. In the morning I finally get to make use of my swim suit. A quick morning swim in the river and then it’s time to make my way home.
I left Cache Creek with the intention of stopping in Hope. The sky was pretty hazy with smoke from the many forest fires. And that didn’t change much for most of the ride home. Despite my body telling me it wanted a rest I pushed on through Hope. As the cities past I continued on. I just wanted to get home. I ached everywhere. But I made it.
I am so glad I decided to make this trip. I feel like a better person for it. The things I saw and the people I met will forever be in my memories. It is a bittersweet feeling to know that I will never know how they’re adventures turned out but I am grateful that they were a part of mine.