Saturday morning July 1st, I woke up at 5 AM (I hate it when I over sleep) and was excited to head out on the first ride of the 21st Century. After a fifty mile shakedown run the night before, I had full confidence in the Shadow.
Strong rain warnings for the day- (totally my fault... it is a cosmic law that it has to rain cats and dogs the first weekend that I put insurance and a license plate on the bike) so I checked the saddle bags for the essential rain gear and other stuff....fire extinguisher... wrenches...spare helmet.. etc. Jumping into my leathers and new Dayton "Black Beauties" (Motorcycle boots) grabbed the saddlebags and headed down stairs. I pushed the bike a couple of doors down the street so that my next door neighbor wouldn't be severely traumatised and fired up the bike. Rode through Mickey D's for a healthy breakfast of Mc something or another and watched the cops babysit some guy in the middle of Main Street who had been bothering everyone he could at McDonalds, and any one else in the vicinity. He was bare foot...without a shirt...and was rolling around on the ground there, screaming and yelling while the Police stood by patiently waiting for him to wind down a little bit or something. Boy!! some people really know how to have fun!! Me? I like to ride Motorcycles~
Six AM is a great time to go through downtown Vancouver with the exception of maybe five a.m. being better. I rarely get downtown any more, and when I do... this is a good time to do it. A great chance to see the place before it wakes up, and observe the morning creatures stirring and scurrying around. That dispensed with, I head out of town over the Lions Gate Bridge and up to the Sea to Sky Highway that goes up to Whistler, and then heads toward my destination.
Forty miles up the road at Squamish it begins to rain....while I am at the side of the road putting on my rain gear a guy on a "flying brick" slows down to see if I am okay. I catch up to him and we ride together for the next fifty miles or so until he turns at Whistler. A short wave and I carry on North. I stop for petrol at Pemberton where it is still raining and feel sorry for a friend of mine who is doing a Clown Show here at 11:00 a.m. He invited me to come and watch him and his kids perform.. but it is 8:30, raining steadily, and too small a town to kill two and a half hours in even if I didn't have any where else to go. Short conversation with a local... "What about this rain eh?" and on Canada Day too! my response was "I didn't ask for it"... nuff said, time to go. (For those who don't know... Canada Day is a day set aside to celebrate the time when Canada the Country went to England with their hat in their hand and said "Please Mum, er if it isn't any trouble....could we um, that is, if it's alright, could we have our Independence?" And we did get it.... which is why we still have the Queens picture on all our money, Government Offices, Souvenir shops... and a few other places as well. Anyway July 1st is the day we set aside to celebrate this. :^)
Turning right at Pemberton, my heart begins to beat faster. This next stretch of roadis probably the best riding of the whole trip. You star off slowly going through Mount Currie and the Indian Reserve there with a name I can't pronounce, and the first thing you notice is that there is gravel on the road... not alot... but just enough to make things interesting...and it seems to be found only on the turns. Is that weird or what? The pondering of the "what" sends a shiver up my spine. I tell myself that most likely no one actually threw the gravel in the turns, it just kinda "gravitated" there or something.... Yeah, yeah, that's it. The van I have been following pulls to the side a little to let me pass as he knows that the "fun" uphill switch backs are just ahead, but I am already past him and wave thanks anyway.Up through the twisties, I pass three other vehicles and feel a re-awakening of some "Bike Emotions" that had gone into hibernation through the long dark winter.
The Duffey Lake Road (which I am on now) is one of my favorite roads to ride, and I recommend it to anyone on two wheels. It's got miles of twisty roads, wooden bridges, lakes, wilderness campgrounds, streams and unlimited wilderness hiking....wildlife... etc... etc... nuff sed. While I wasn't going too fast, when I hit the first wet wooden bridge I came into it a little too hot and coming off the wooden deck into an immediate tight left turn. there was a car parked off to the right, and some guys in the car waved out the window like, "alright, a motorcycle!" and as I did my impression of a flat tracker staying upright through the "soft gravel" shoulder, and powering out of the turn I heard them whooping and hollering encouragement from the car. Meanwhile I was busy heading towards my intended destination...thanking my Guardian Angels, and the Good Lord above who loves me enough to give me a couple of shall we say "extremely efficient" Guardian Angels!
Let me tell you about my destination....
It is the Pavillion General Store... and it is in the absolute middle of nowhere. The first time I saw it a couple of years ago, I was well past it... and there were two matching Goldwings with California plates parked out front and the store was something right out of "Dogpatch" and needed only 'lil Abner on the front porch to complete it. I made a mental note to drop in there the next time I was through there, although I was not absolutely sure where "there" was. I continued on my trip totally infactuated with this "new land" I was discovering.
The next Saturday found me back at the same exact spot on what I consider some to be some class "A" two lane "old route" remote motorcycle roads. You know the ones... long sweeping turns, not too much traffic, and the occasional ancient log cabin to break up the spectacular scenery. Kind of a high desert that stirs a longing in me for something other than the rain forest of Vancouver....anyway.....
This time I stop at the store and see the sign that says "BC's Oldest General Store ". I park in front, beside a dog that is so lazy, I believe that if you parked on his tail he would decline to move, but would choose to continue to lay there with tears in his eyes until such time as you came back and moved the bike. I believe this dog could spawn hundreds of "lazy jokes". I walked across the road to take some photos of the Store and kinda laughed because there were great big speakers on the front porch that were blasting out "Innagadadavida" by the Iron Butterfly... then "Truckin" by the Grateful Dead, and of course "Goin up the Country" by Canned Heat. I thought I had possibly missed a turn somewhere, and had entered the "Twilight Zone".
The Store was owned by a German guy and was run by some hippies who either lived in the store there, or in a bus that was parked around back. It was a great old bus,and could have been painted up all Psychedelic, I can't recall anymore... but I do remember that the whole thing was just a bit too much to take in all at once....there was only one thing to do.... I went inside.... had a long "first time" look around, bought a T-shirt, some fried chicken and Potato wedges, some post cards, and just flat fell in love with the place.... I mean where else can you buy eight track tapes these days? Eventually going outside to eat, I noticed that the scene taking place out front.... it was hilarious.
The dog was still laying in the same spot, and now there were chickens all around. One of them, a small banty came over to me begging for a taste of the chicken I was eating... I said "Buddy if you only knew".... "if you were smart, you would leave this place".... "just walk away now....keep going and don't look back!" " You must Flee Babylon now Mon!!". The chicken heeded not my warning shrugged it's shoulders and eventually went over to bother the dog. When enough chickens were over there bothering the dog, he got up and began to chase the chickens around the parking lot. The chase scene was in slow motion as the dog never went faster than a slow walk, and the chickens paced themselves just fast enough to stay slightly ahead of the dog in a scene they had obviously played out over and over for the tourists and the locals alike. After three or four minutes of this they all decided to stop, take a bow, and went back to their original routines... the dog of course went back to the same exact spot.
I have had a great time each and every I have stopped in there...talking to a European couple with a BMW touring through there on their way to the Rockies...numerous bikers too many to remember all of them.... Pilgrims who like myself, are passing through... or talking to the Indians who worked in the Store after the Hippies left. I bought some great books written about the local History of the Area... the kind of thing that you can only find in these kind of places. Last summer I learned that after trying for a long time... the Owner had finally sold the store, and it had been bought up by the Pavillion Indian Band who had bought him out a month ago, and were now running the store. The woman who seemed to be in charge recommended a good book about the "Gang Ranch" a huge Ranch here in BC, and as we talked further about the store, she said as a parting shot.... "It was ours first you know". This was last summer and I remember thinking..."whatever"~
You can see this place at:
So, where was I? oh yeah~
As I continue along the Duffey Lake Road and I am beginning to see some dry spots on the road, and I am brginning to feel encouraged by this fact. One thing I have always liked about riding a motorcycle is that you feel everything that is going on around you. The warm spots, the cold spots as you pass through them... the smell of a campfire is always a welcome aroma.... Commercial fertilizers on farm lands on the other hand, are something, that like heavy rain are something that I could well do without.... but, hey... it's all included in the ticket price.
Now, ahead towards Lillooet it looks clear and sunny, and as I said before..I take that as an encouraging sign. More beautiful scenery until I reach Lillooet where I stop for fuel. It is now 10:15 and the town is getting ready for it's Canada Day Celebration with evidence of recent or present activity. After the pit stop I pull over to the side of the station, remove my rain gear and listen to the locals banter about this and that.There are numerous restaurants in this mining town which is similar to Winthrop Washington except that it is not so Commercialized...... I am really hungry, but decide to keep going in anticipation of some of that Fried Chicken from the Pavillion General Store... maybe a new book, or a new T-shirt... something new with a "native perspective". I take off the Shoei full face helmet with the front that flips up and strap it to the back and then remove my favorite half shell helmet out of the saddle bag in anticipation of the warmer weather. Over the bridge that spans the mighty Fraser River and turn left onto yet even more "Primo" motorcycle road.
Warm and dry now, and all alone you feel totally free and wonder how you could have forgotten this feeling over the cold dark winter months. This also helps remind you of why you stick it out over the months of darkness, cold and wet weather. The plain fact of it is that when it's sunny and warm...
This place is absolutely Beautiful !!!!!
I haven't been to the Pavillion Store since last September and I am rolling along in anticipation, thinking to myself "it should be along here some place" and then I see "the" sign that says..... Store 2 km. and I speed up a little.
When I got there I was amazed to see the store had burned to the ground...... no... not to the ground, it had burned all the way down into the basement under the ground. The only thing standing was the tall fireplace standing roughly right in the middle of the rubble. I was at once both heartbroken and angry at the scene before me. The original Trading Post that was built in 1880 is still there... but the Store that was built in the 40's (going by the year of the Automobiles and the Pickup Truck in the post card I have) was gone. This store that had been there out in the exact middle of nowhere for so long (and had even survived the hippies) was gone~
Nobody around to ask.... no story on what happened to hear.... only questions.
I walked around... took some photographs.... and then since there was nothin left to do.... I left.
Continuing towards Cache Creek, I got to Pavillion Lake and saw that there were some big black angry clouds up ahead, and I decided that I no longer needed to go this way to meet up with the Fraser Canyon... and even though it is a beautiful road, I decided to back track to Lillooet and take the back road Highway 12 to Lytton where I would link up with Highway 1 down the Fraser Canyon where you head south towards home. This is a winding twisting road that follows the mighty Fraser River from up above... it is the kind of a road that you could just meander along on for days at a time. At one point I actually stopped to rest... (a rare thing) and sat on the bank looking way down below at the muddy river rolling on-- I was sitting in a spot that was bright and sunny, but the way I had come was dark and ugly looking... and the way ahead looked almost as dark and ominous.... so I just sat and enjoyed the sunny spot above the river in the middle of nowhere, and then continued south.
At Lytton you wander through a small town and there I noticed an classic old gas station with a great big "gas" sign from the forties I bet. I wanted to take a photo, but there was a big modern Fuel truck there which kinda spoiled the shot... next time for sure. Stopping at the Esso station on the Hwy, I talked to the friendly owners there... They own this gas station in probably the hottest place in BC. She was saying that this past week it was 39 degrees celsius. She said it was so hot that she has to go outside where the wind is blowing... This was the same gas station that last summer I was talking to a young guy on a V-65 who was on his way out to Vancouver Island to stay with his folks, and who had ridden out here from New Brunswick and had been on the road for 8 days straight so far. He had owned the bike for two years, and had dropped it a couple of times 0n the way out here. He told me "it used to be real purty when I started the trip... now it's not so purty.... "but it still has big balls".
stopped at Boston Bar for a "deluxe burger" at a burger joint I know... and listened to the conversation between the folks there who obviously all knew each other very well. I ate quickly and left. South of there I past two groups of riders heading the other way... The first was a group of Harley Riders who waved..... and ten miles or so further there was a group of about twenty Sport Bike riders who also waved. Raced past "Hells Gate" where you watch folks go down through there in rubber rafts while you take a tram across these class 7 rapids. The water is so violent along there that even the giant sturgeon of the Fraser are unable to make it up through there. It is an amazing place... but I have never stopped there. Down the road is a place that I really like called the Alexandra Lodge.. it is by the Alexandra Bridge which was the original bridge to cross the Fraser river when they were building the Railroad back in the 1800's. Alexandra Lodge is a great looking old building that unfortunately closed down and has been empty/for sale for the last fifteen years. The new "Super Coquihalla Highway" was opened quite awhile ago, and effectively killed highway 99 and all those little towns with historical value that were on the trail north. I was gonna stop there and just sit on the front step and rest... but there was a mini van parked out front and the door was open so I figured either the new owner was gonna try and make a go of it, or the old owner was pulling fixtures out of the place. Instead of stopping in the town of Hope (100 miles from Vancouver) and getting gasoline like I usually do, I bypassed it completely and took the turn off (Hwy 7) still along the Fraser river towards home.
On the way home I passed by the Harrison Hot Springs and was gonna stop there for gasoline. I also entertained the idea of sitting and soaking in the Hot Springs but knew that if got in there... I was just tired enough that I would never be able to climb back out again..... hmmm.... the gas station there was closed, so I rolled on and stopped for gas at some farm community gas station. The young kid who came out had a sling on his arm and when I asked him about it... he said he did it on a bike.
Coming into the town of Mission I dropped by my friend Chuck's house to see if he was home, but missed him. (he most likely was off on a ride himself) I was gonna tell him about the Pavillion Store burning down. The town had shut down the Main Street for a Canada Day Celebration so instead of driving a few extra blocks in a detour around the party, I decided to head back along Dewdney Trunk Road which is the road we we used to leave Surrey and go down to Washington with last summer when "the Ron's" were up visiting. Further on down the road I was real tired and on the very last leg of the trip.... let's just say the last 15 miles of a 460 mile day trip I ran into a severe rain storm. There was lightning... like a couple of bolts of lightning that went across the sky horizontally but never seemed to touch the ground.... and there was a heinously bizarre cloud formation that this lightning was coming out of...
it did not look friendly. (when I got home I turned on the weather channel and they said that it was a funnel cloud, and luckily it never touched down....YIKES!) all I knew was that it was blocking my way home. I didn't recall having seen a storm like that before, but figured it to be no big deal and carried on into it. About three miles down the road along the Barnett Highway... boy did I hit it! Rain that hit like a sucker punch. water all the way across the road, and a foot to a foot and a half deep in some places. There was no point in stopping to put on my raingear or even the full face helmet, but i pressed on at a slower pace. It was raining so hard though that it just flat hurt!! I thought it could even be hailing... but maybe it was just rain...but as I said... it REALLY hurt when it hit you. I saw that all the traffic had pulled over to the side of the road and I imagine were amazed at the biker who went riding past them. What an incredibly brave... (read stupid) person to be doing this... then I noticed that some of the cars had started moving again... and were following me. The scripture about the blind leading the blind came to mind... and I had to laugh because the whole thing was just too ridiculous! I realized that if I tilted the bill/visor on my helmet at a certain angle and pulled my sunglasses down a tiny bit I could see the white lines on the road and keep going.... I made it through there okay, and back in Vancouver finally, it was raining... but not like that patch back there I had just come through and I was able to plug in my Electric Vest, and head for home. Parked poor Thumper and went inside.... headed for a hot shower and had some dinner while I watched the severe storm warnings on the weather channel. Today (Sunday) I bought a new tricycle horn to replace the one that broke and got left on the sunny river bank on the way to Lytton. Still a bit tired today, but taking it easy......
Not a typical day in the life of wiLd biLL Hoover.....
but a day just the same.
If the weather is good next Saturday I believe I will head back the same way to lillooet....
anyone want to come along?
PS. did I forget to mention the parts about the Mountain goat and the deer I saw on the road to Lytton?
wiLd biLL (|8^)>
For photos taken on this ride by Bill, click here.