The Big Ride – Homeward Bound (New York State)

Endings can sometimes be difficult but what I’ve learned is that experiences like The Big Ride live on.  A transformation of sorts, moving from on state to another.  The Big Ride feels like that for me.  The mileage is behind me but it lives on within me and within many of you who rode vicariously through me. That’s one of the gifts from living the dream – it’s never really over!

The final day arrived earlier this week, Monday August 10, 2015, when I rode from Rochester, New York to Ottawa, Ontario where home is for me.

Here’s a short video of me expressing how I was feeling that morning, followed by another of the ride through the scenic green farmlands of northern New York State.  I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day for the ride home.  The sky was blue and a gentle breeze danced across the fields and played with the clouds high in the sky.

And of course a few photos for your viewing pleasure.

Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride - Homeward bound

Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride – homeward bound

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I know how to get around! 🙂
Picking up my new cowgirl boots in Odgensburg,NY before heading home to Ottawa
Picking up my new cowgirl boots in Odgensburg,NY before crossing the Canadian border  and heading home to Ottawa
The Odgensburg Bridge - I love the sound of the grated steel grated bridge under my tires - looking down when you're stopped is freaky :)
The Odgensburg Bridge – I love the sound of the grated steel bridge under my tires – looking down when you’re stopped is a little freaky 🙂
My final milage
My final mileage on The Big Ride including the 3000 kilometers in the rental car in northern British Columbia  totaled 28,000 Kilometers and my butt isn’t even get sore
At home with Emma who was happy to see me return
At home with Emma who was happy to see me return

In Closing, here are a few final words that I would like to share with you.

Thank you for riding along and most of all for supporting me on The Big Ride.  It wouldn’t have been the same without you.  I hope you enjoyed the journey.  If you have a “big dream” that you haven’t been able to get off the ground, contact me – I can help you make it happen! After all, that’s why we’re on this journey called life – to live it to its fullest!

The Big Ride – When you know the end is near (The Great Plains)

After riding the incredible roads in Utah it was difficult psychologically to head out onto the Great Plains knowing that it was the ride home. I don’t know about you, but sometime endings are challenging.  It’s easy to “checkout” before actually getting to the end.  I tried hard not to do this and took in as much of the Great Plains as I possible could.  The time passed quickly and I was able to ride through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in only a few days.

I learned along the way that Kansas is the Sunflower State and not only are the fields adorned with beautiful yellow sunflowers, Black Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides.  As well, Illinois is the home state of Abe Lincoln – I stayed in his home town of Springfield, Illinois as I crossed the Plains.  The other thing I liked about the Great Plains is that it’s “cow country” and being somewhat of a carnivore…well you know what that means.

Here is a video of my ride, along with a few photos

welcome-kansas-state sign

Kansas is the sunflower state - in addition to the beautiful yellow Susan's grow wild long the roadsides
Kansas is the sunflower state – in addition to the beautiful yellow fields, Brown Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides
The ride through Illinois was expansive and it seems to stretch out ahead of me for miles and mile and miles
The ride through Illinois was expansive and it seemed to stretch out ahead of me for miles and mile and miles

welcome to Illinois state sign

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Indiana was beautiful with it's may corn fields and the soft rolling plains
Indiana was beautiful with it’s may corn fields and the soft rolling plains
I saw this crop duster at work while stopped for a break
I saw this crop duster at work while stopped for a break
Ohio was filled with wide open and expansive fields that allowed me to see forever
Ohio was filled with wide open and expansive fields that allowed me to see forever

 

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The Great Plains is cow country - when in Rome :)
The Great Plains is cow country – so when in Rome 🙂
While riding through the Great Plains I noted that many of the businesses and Rest Stops have storm shelters
While riding through the Great Plains I noted that many of the businesses and Rest Stops have storm shelters which would be a welcomed find during the tornado season!
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On the road again
A Blizzard was in order after a hot day's ride across the Plains
A  DQ Blizzard was in order after a hot day’s ride across the Plains
Group ride anyone/
Group ride anyone?

From here it means a short ride through New York State to the border and back into Canada where The Big Ride will conclude…but I’ll save that for the next post.  Until then keep smiling and enjoy the scenery – this moment will not pass by again!

The Big Ride – Natural wonders that make you wonder (Arches National Park and Colorado River, Utah)

One of the most spectacular sights I have experienced during my visit to Utah was Arches National Park located outside of the town of Moab.  The park contains over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and various rock formations and covers about 76,000 acres.  A hikers paradise for sure!

The national park is on top of an underground “evaporate” layer which is what causes the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins and monoliths which are the large upright blocks of stone.  The salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places and was deposited there over 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated.  A number of layers of sandy sediments were deposited on top of the salt and then eroded away over millions of years.  This has resulted in the arches being formed.

Here are some photos of the incredible formations and arches that I experienced in the park.  The park is truly spectacular and a “must see” when you are visiting Utah.  Add it to your list – I promise you will not regret the visit.

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The rock formations look so spectacular up against the sky - one of Natures masterpieces!
The rock formations look so spectacular up against the sky – one of Natures masterpieces!

The vegetation is sparse but full of character
The vegetation is sparse but full of character
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This is one of the arches that you can hike in to see. This one was an easy walk, however there are other more challenging trails for those who are up to the challenge
This is one of the arches that you can hike in to see. This one was an easy walk, however there are more difficult trails for those who are up to the challenge

There are several arches that you can hike into - this is one of them.
There are several arches that you can hike into – this is one of them.
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I'm note sure if you'll be able to read this, but it explains in more detail how the arches and rock formations are created
I’m not sure if you’ll be able to read this, but it explains in more detail how the arches and rock formations are created
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This looks like a dinosaur was dong a little tail painting :)
This looks like a dinosaur was doing a little tail painting  🙂

I found more dinosaur art work in one of the stone walls
I found more dinosaur art work on one of the stone walls

It's an easy walk to this arch and it's also possible to climb into the arch
It’s an easy walk to this arch and it’s also possible to climb into the arch

Look whose in the arch :)
Look whose in the arch 🙂

I love the way this tree looks
I love the way this tree looks

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While in the park I felt like I was riding in another space and time. Does it get more spectacular than this!

Walking on the "wild side"
Walking on the “wild side”

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There are hiking and walking trails throughout the park that lead to some pretty interesting places – this is one of them

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Big Blue among the natural wonders

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This is Park Avenue – the panoramic view is spectacular but hardly compares to what it looked like in real time

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This is just one of the thousands of breathtaking vistas found in Arches National Park
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And for a smile of two:

I've got a sheep by the horns :)
I’ve got a sheep by the horns 🙂

On a local laundromat in Moab
A local laundromat in Moab
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing, my visit to the park was extraordinary and one that I would definitely like to do again.  It has so much to offer those who love to hike and explore the geological wonders that have been created over hundreds of millions of years.   That through alone is staggering.

I would like to leave you with a video of one of my favorite rides while in Utah which was along the Colorado river.  The canyons in the morning light as the sun was rising were breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

The last leg of my journey will be a spirited ride across the Great Plains of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana as I make my way home.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been on the road for almost three months!  It’s been an incredible experience and a trip of a lifetime!!  I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m so grateful to be living my dream out loud.  Most of all, I’m grateful to have shared it with you!

The Big Ride – Natural wonders (More from Utah)

My visit to Utah was filled with a number of great sights to see and some pretty amazing roads to ride.  If you checked out my last post you may have already viewed Part 1 of the video from Capitol Reef National Park.  I’ve broken up the ride into three parts.  Here’s Part 2 and Part 3 from what was a pretty awesome ride!

My time in Utah included a visit to Natural Bridges National Monument Park which has three natural arches all located within a couple miles of each other. The only other place in the world where such a marvel can be found is China.

The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed by erosion from water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods the streams wash against the rock walls and in time erodes the stone until the new stream bed then flows underneath the newly formed bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge’s opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the park.

Here are a few photos from my time in the park which happened to be the third “rain day” that I’ve had since leaving home on May 13, 2015 which is a marvel unto itself!

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The Park is located on Highway 95 and was designated a National Monument by President Roosevelt in 1908, making it accessible to anyone who wanted to come and see the amazing wonders of Nature.  It’s a haven for hikers!

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This is the oldest and the most delicate of the Natural Bridges located at the Natural Bridges National Memorial Park on Highway 95.  The river that formed the bridge has long since changed its course and is now many miles away from here
Owachomo is the oldest and the most delicate of the Natural Bridges located at the Natural Bridges National Memorial Park on Highway 95. The river that formed the bridge has long since changed its course and now flows many miles away from here
I love that way this rock has been formed over time
I love that way this rock has been formed over time

And here are a few more photos of my ride from Hanksville to Moab, Utah by way of the Scenic Byway (Highway 95) and Highway 191.

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I love the way the road winds through the canyon - it made for an awesome ride!
I love the way the road winds through the canyon – it made for an awesome ride!

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One of the beautiful vistas found on Highway 95, one of the Scenic Byways in Southern Utah
One of the many beautiful vistas found on Highway 95, a Scenic Byway in Southern Utah

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Another of the beautiful wildflowers found in Utah
Beautiful wildflowers found on my ride
Church Rock is quite amazing in that it stands alone in a field - It makes you wonder how it ended up there in the first place
Church Rock is quite amazing in that it stands alone in a field – It makes you wonder how it ended up there in the first place
The wind and rain continue to smooth out the many rock formations that are found in Utah
The wind and rain continue to smooth out the many rock formations that are found in Utah

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Wilsons Arch is south of Moab on Route 119 and just one of the many natural arches that Nature has carved out of the stone
Wilsons Arch is south of Moab on Route 119 and just one of the many natural arches that Nature has carved out of the stone
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Such an incredible array of unique formations can be found in Southern Utah

Local art

ATVs can be rented at a number of locations in Moab, Utah and is a great way to cehck out the area - rock climbing with 4 wheelers is very popular
ATVs can be rented at a number of locations in Moab, Utah and is a great way to check out the area – rock climbing with 4 wheelers is very popular
Local art
Local art
Enjoying one of the many excellent cafes and restaurants in Moab, Utah after a great day of touring the  amazing sites in the surrounding area
Enjoying one of the many open air restaurants in Moab, Utah after a great day of touring the area

There was so much to see and do in Utah that I’ll have one more post from the area before moving on.  Stay tuned for the final episode which will include some awesome photos from my visit to Arches National Park and a video from my ride along the Colorado River. Until then, go with the flow…it’s easier to paddle in that direction.

The picture hardly does justice to what this actually looks like in real time - vistas such as this one left me in a state of awe!

The Big Ride – When you know you know (Part 2 – Bryce Canyon, Utah)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, when I was planning The Big Ride, Utah was very high on my list.  So much so that I purchased a book on motorcycle touring of the State.

Any motorcyclist would agree that when you can combine a great technical ride that offers a few hills and challenging curves along with breathless vistas it’s a ride made in heaven!

That’s what riding in Utah was for me – a ride made in heaven.  Here’s a sampling of what I lived while in Bryce Canyon National Park along with a video of the ride through Capitol Reef National Park.

Outside of Panguitch, Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park
Outside of Panguitch, Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park
Riding through the high desert on the way to Bryce Canyon
Riding through the high desert on the way to Bryce Canyon
Riding through the Red Canyon on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Riding through the Red Canyon on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Another great photo from my ride in Red Canyon earlier in the day
Another great photo from my ride in Red Canyon earlier in the day

Here is a video compilation of a few of the lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park, a haven for anyone who happens to enjoy hiking, cycling and rattlesnake watching.  Yes I did see a Diamond Back Rattlesnake while in the park!

Bryce Canyon City is located at the park entrance and has numerous touristy spots to check out
Bryce Canyon City is located at the park entrance and has numerous touristy spots to check out
Bryce Canyon National Park is a bucket list item for anyone who loves hiking, biking, motorcycling, rattlesnake watching and more!
Bryce Canyon National Park is a bucket list item for anyone who loves hiking, biking, motorcycling, rattlesnake watching and more!

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Natural bridge Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of the many natural bridges found in Utah and are created over several millions years from water erision
Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of the many natural bridges found in Utah that have been created over several million years from water erosion

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Inspiration Point is one my favorite vistas in Bryce National Park – I can’t count the number of photos I have of this 🙂

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Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon
Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon

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Black Birch Canyon  is one of the many outlooks  in the Bryce Canyon National Park
Black Birch Canyon is one of the many outlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park

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Agua Canyon is one of the may spectacular lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park
Agua Canyon is one of the may spectacular lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park

The picture hardly does justice to what this actually looks like in real time - vistas such as this one left me in a state of awe!

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
The rock formations have been sculpted over 35 to 50 million years - a meer moment in time
The rock formations have been sculpted over 35 to 50 million years – a mere moment in time
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Tommy (left) and Richard (right) were from California and happened to be staying at the same hotel in Panquitch, Utah and as chance would have it we ended up running into each other over the course of the day while touring Bryce Canyon National Park - I hope you had a safe ride to Sturgis
Tommy (left) and Richard (right) were from California and happened to be staying at the same hotel in Panguitch, Utah and as chance would have it we ended up running into each other over the course of the day while touring Bryce Canyon National Park – I hope you had a safe ride to Sturgis guys

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Wildflowers in Utah are abundant despite very little soil in the canyons
Wildflowers in Utah are abundant despite very little soil in the canyons

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After leaving Bryce Canyon National Park on my way to Hanksville Utah where I stayed the night, I had the pleasure of riding through Capitol Reef National Park.  This was a ride that I will never forget!  The Canyon was amazing to ride.  Here’s a video of only a small part of what can only be described as a ride Divine!

Capitol Reef National Park was incredible to ride through - it took my breath away!
Capitol Reef National Park was incredible to ride through – it took my breath away!
Another amazing photo from the Capitol Reef National Park
Another amazing photo from the Capitol Reef National Park
On the road in Capitol Reef National Park - if you are in Utah this is a must
On the road in Capitol Reef National Park – if you are in Utah this is a must
Riding through Capitol Reef National Park - simply amazing
Riding through Capitol Reef National Park – simply amazing
A stop to admire one of the many incredible vistas in southern Utah
A stop to admire one of the many incredible vistas in southern Utah

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The rock formations are incredible  in Utah
The rock formations are incredible in Utah

If you liked what you saw here keep an eye out for my next blog as I have more to share with you from my time in Utah.  Until then play safe and enjoy the journey of life.

The Big Ride – When you know that you know (Part 1- Red Canyon, Utah)

Throughout The Big Ride I’ve felt blessed to be living my dream and for being able to share it with you.

If you have been following my blog you know that I’ve been on the road now for two and a half months.  I left Ottawa, where I live, on May 13, 2015 and I’ve ridden 20,000 kilometers so far – for my friends on the US side of the border that’s about 12,500 miles.  I still have another month of travels ahead of me and will likely put on another 6 to 8,000 kilometers.  This excludes when I left my bike enroute and drove 3000 kilometers in the rental car to visit my dad’s resting place in Northern BC – A wise decision given the forest fires at the time!

During The Big Ride I have seen and experienced some pretty spectacular and incredibly amazing things.

I’ve ridden roads with sweeping curves that were so sweet I felt completely at one with them and I’ve ridden others that were so steep and so high that I thought I was in the heavens; I’ve seen vistas with such beauty and grandeur that it literally took my breath away – nope it wasn’t the altitude 🙂 ;  I’ve spoken with individuals along the way that had lost all sense of hope of being able to live their dreams and before I left them I saw a sparkle of optimism in their eyes;  I’ve been inspired by others that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way who are also living their dreams;  and I’ve been moved by the wonderment of Life, its magnificence and amazed at how everything works out when you let it; I’ve returned to where I was raised, reflected on where I’ve been in my life and the long winding roads have provided me the time to envision what I’d like the next chapter to look like; I’ve shared precious moments with family and rekindled friendships that will remain with me forever;  and you likely won’t want to hear this but on three occasions on this  trip I have felt the wings of the Angels brush by me.

When I started planning this trip over a year ago I purchased a motorcycle touring book on Utah.  When I started reading the book it was so exciting I couldn’t put it down.  It actually kept me up at night! Over the past few weeks it was looking doubtful that I would be able to include Utah on this ride.  The weather in southern California was extremely hot and riding south in 40+ degrees celsius didn’t seem plausible.  Instead I stayed north and when I got to Salt Lake City it was a critical “go no-go” decision point for me.

As it turned out the weather in Utah shifted and was more moderate so I decided to head south to make my way to Bryce Canyon National Park over a couple of days.  I must say I was filled with excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead.

When I turned onto the highway that would take me the last few miles to Bryce Canyon, I found that I had to drive through Red Canyon – to be honest I hadn’t heard of it and the sign I passed looked like any other that I had seen along the way.  When I turned the corner and the Red Canyon came into site I was literally swept away by its magnificence.  A strange feeling swept over me and I knew in that moment that this was why I had taken The Big Ride.  This was why I needed to ride the 26,000+ kilometers that will eventually complete this trip.  I knew in that moment that despite still having a months travel ahead of me, this was what I had come to experience.  This is what would make this incredibly amazing journey complete!

A feeling wonderment flooded over me.  As I stood in awe on the side of the road looking up at the sheer beauty of the massive red peaks of stone that Nature had so wondrously sculpted over time, I could no longer contain the joyfulness within me as tears ran down my cheeks. I knew in that moment that it was okay for me to start heading home. Being in Utah allowed me to complete this part of the journey.

The following video is only a glimpse of what I’ve seen in southern Utah.  I’ll be sharing more photos and video with you in the come days but here’s what I saw that morning as I rode through the Red Canyon. Enjoy!

This is what I saw when I came around the corner when I entered Red Canyon - and it continued to get more spectacular as I went along - just wait until you see some of the photos and video from the rest of my visit to Utah!
This is what I saw as I came around the corner when I entered Red Canyon – and it continued to get more spectacular as I went along – just wait until you see some of the photos and video from the rest of my visit to Utah!

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Big Blue loved being in Utah as much as I did - she loved the ride!
Big Blue loved being in Utah as much as I did – she loved the ride!
One of the two natural rock tunnels I rode through in Red Canyon
One of the two natural rock tunnels I rode through in Red Canyon
What could possibly be more beautiful than this?
What could possibly be more beautiful than this?
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These peaks have been formed over the space of 35 to 50 million years. How incredible is that!
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Living the dream in real time

Stay tuned for more awesome photos and videos from my ride in Utah. Next up will be Bryce Canyon.  I’m betting that you will love it as much as I did!

The Big Ride – Raw and magnificence (Part 2/Videos – West coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California)

As promised, here are a couple videos from my ride along the west coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.  I hope you enjoy the flicks.

This video is of some of the coastal ride I experienced on the Oregon Coast – I fell in love with the scenic coastal route – perhaps after seeing the video you may add Oregon to your bucket list if it isn’t there already.

 

And this video includes a little “off-roading” while in Olympia Park – Joe I know this pales in comparison to your riding but I am on a cruiser 🙂

Life is here to live – enjoy the journey!

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Ride – When elegance meets beauty (Victoria, British Columbia)

If you are familiar with the West Coast and specifically Vancouver Island, you know that there are only three ways in which to leave. You can fly, take one of the ferries or if you have very strong arms you could swim…just kidding of course.

As my visit in Nanaimo and the surrounding area concluded, I made my way down island to Victoria in order to continue the next leg of my journey on “The Big Ride”. The ferry that I decided to take sailed to Port Angeles, Washington three times daily.  To take advantage of leaving on an early ferry it meant spending a day in Victoria and taking in the local sights. I know it’s hard to take!

For those of you who might not be familiar with the city of Victoria, it was established in the early 1840’s and it is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest.  It was settled by the British and is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.  When news of the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland reached San Francisco in 1858, Victoria became the port, supply base and centre for miners on their way to Barkerville, BC and other Fraser Canyon gold fields.   Victoria mushroomed from a population of 300 to over 5000 literally within a few days.  Victoria also has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s.  Much like Victoria, its Chinatown had its beginning with the  mass influx of gold miners from California.  The historic city of Victoria, which is also the capital city of British Columbia, has retained many of its period buildings. Two worth mentioning are the British Columbia Legislature Building and of course the Empress Hotel – a Fairmont classic.

There are a number of interesting ways to tour the city including double decker buses, water taxis and harbour tours.  I chose the latter as it provided an excellent way to see the Inner Harbour and the Gorge.  An excellent choice as it provided me with a new perspective of this elegant city.

Here are a few photos of my short visit to Victoria located at the southern most point on the Island.

The BC Legislature - one of the orginal historic buildings in Victoria, BC
The British Columbia Legislature – one of the orginal historic buildings in Victoria, BC
One of the many native totem poles found in downtown Victoria
One of the many native totem poles found in downtown Victoria – this one is located on the front lawn of the BC Legislature

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At the Empress Hotel – A Fairmont Classic

The Empress Hotel - one of the original historic buildings in Victoria BC and a Fairmont Classic
The Empress Hotel – one of the original historic buildings in Victoria BC and a Fairmont Classic
What would be a visit to Victoria if you didn't enjoy "High Tea" at the Empress Hotel - an elegantly rich experience fit for any Princess :)
What would be a visit to Victoria if you didn’t enjoy “High Tea” at the Empress Hotel – an elegantly rich experience fit for any Princess 🙂
The entrance to the Empress Hotel
The entrance to the Empress Hotel
An amazing ceiling in the Empress Hotel
An amazing ceiling in the Empress Hotel
a statue of Emily Carr, a renowned  Canadian authour
A statue of Emily Carr, a renowned Canadian artist who was born in Victoria, BC

There are numerous other historic buildings in the city that are rich in architectural design.  Here are a few that caught my eye.

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A little of the greenery in the "Garden City"
A little greenery in the “Garden City”
One of the many historical buildings located along the waterfront
One of the many historic buildings located along the waterfront

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Another great historic buildings in Victoria
Another great historic building in Victoria

 

Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco
Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco

Here are a few other photographs that I hope you enjoy from what was a short but very enjoyable visit to Victoria, BC.

The Inner Harbour located in downtown  Victoria
The Inner Harbour located in downtown Victoria

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One of the beautiful homes found on the Gorge
One of the beautiful homes found on the Gorge
An old trestle  that cross the Gorge that now serves as a pedestrian crossing
An old trestle that crosses the Gorge that now serves as a pedestrian crossing
Camping anyone?
Camping anyone?
This is a picture of the rock ballast unloaded by the ships that once sailed into Victoria Harbour - as you can see they were put to good use.
This is a picture of the rock ballast unloaded by the ships that once sailed into Victoria Harbour – as you can see they were put to good use.
A west coast sunset
A west coast sunset
A new friend :)
A new friend 🙂
Mermaids with musical talents do exist...but only in beautiful BC
Mermaids with musical talents do exist…but only in “Beautiful BC”

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Local native art found in the Victoria Conference Centre
Local native art found in the Victoria Conference Centre

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A local water taxi is an excellent way to get around the Inner Harbour while visiting Victoria
A local water taxi is an excellent way to get around the Inner Harbour while visiting Victoria
Another great way to see the city of Victoria
Another great way to see the city of Victoria
One of the local native totem poles in the area
One of the local native totem poles in the area
The water was rough out at the point as it was quite a windy day
The water was rough out at the point as it was quite a windy day

A windy day on the point of Vancouver Island where the city of Victoria is located

A little creative floral artwork found along the Inner Harbour
A little creative floral artwork found along the Inner Harbour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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zzzzzzzz Enjoying a short nap  on the front lawn of the BC Legislature Building
zzzzzzzz Enjoying a short nap on the front lawn of the BC Legislature Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the next leg of my journey I’ll be returning to the United States to tour the west coast of Washington, Oregon and California before starting to make my way east towards home.  I hope you’ll be joining me for the rest of this incredible trip.

 

The Big Ride – Reconnecting with the old and embracing the new

My visit to British Columbia wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Vancouver Island where I lived for a decade before moving to Ottawa.   If you have been to the Island you will be familiar with with eagles that soar high above the majestic Douglas Fir trees, the fresh scent of the cedar trees that lingers in the air and the sound of the sea as it washes against the shoreline. Regardless of the season, Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to visit and my return home to the west coast this summer was no exception.

For me, being on the Island was about taking the time to reconnect with old friends and former colleagues.  It was wonderful being back, enjoying walks on the beach, time spent at the Nanaimo Harbour and walking on the seawall, enjoying good food at some of my favourite restaurants and most of all sharing time with friends new and old.  The challenge of course was trying to fit it all.  My good friend Sue graciously allowed me to stay with her, using her place as my home-base during my visit.   Thank you Sue for your wonderful hospitality!

I also got in some great riding, including a day out on the road with Barry Switnicki.  Barry is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a senior trainer and mentor coach with Ericksons International, the college where I acquired my coach training.  Barry was one of my “distant” mentor coaches and although I had connected with him by telephone on a number of occasions I had not met him in person.  Barry lives in Nanaimo where he has a thriving coaching business, Pacific Change Mentors, and he enjoys motorcycling!  Barry suggested we connect for a motorcycle ride when I got to the Island, an offer I just couldn’t refuse – Barry, thank you for the awesome day out on the road!

The ride took us through Cathedral Grove – a majestic stand of old growth trees, located west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4.  If you’ve not visited Vancouver Island or taken the time to walk through Cathedral Grove, it’s a must do!

The forest is composed mostly of mature Douglas fir trees and ancient western red cedar. The trees are 300 to 400 years old, but some go as far back as 800 years. These older trees stand like giants with some reaching 250 feet high and trunks that measure over 30 feet in circumference. The grove of trees is one of the last stands of old growth on the Island and are survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago. The Park is protected from logging and has a wooden walkway through parts of the forest allowing visitors to experience its majesty!

Here are a few photos from my visit to the Island, along with with a short video of the ride.

The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
A working fish boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
A working fishing boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
An interesting bicycle rack
An interesting bicycle rack in Nanaimo

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Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Snagged!
Snagged!

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Trolls is a flooting restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips  on the Island!
Trolls is a floating restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips on the Island!
One of the heritage buidlings owntown Nanaimo, BC
One of the heritage buildings in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street

A few photos from the Ladysmith area

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Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC
Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC

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There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith

My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂

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Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Cooling off on a warm summers day
Cooling off on a warm summers day

When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.

The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 - It's known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store - yup you read that right goats!
The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 – It’s known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store – yup you read that right “goats!”
The notorious goats on the roof of Coombs Market
The infamous goats on the roof of Coombs Market
Inside the Combs Market where you can find a little of everything!
Inside the Coombs Market where you can find a little of everything!
The Combs Market has a little bit of everything!
The Coombs Market has a little bit of everything!
With Barry Switnicki at the Combs Market
With Barry Switnicki and the “lucky” Budda at the Coombs Market
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
I'm a tree hugger at heart
I’m a tree hugger at heart
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
I stopped in at Cathedral Grove which is located between Qualicum Beach  and Port Alberni on Highway 4.  The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 9 feet!
Cathedral Grove is located between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni on Highway 4. The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 30 feet!
Another perspective :)
Another perspective 🙂

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And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,

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A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn - the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn – the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!

And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.

Mahle House in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo - they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and is provide a quaint setting - a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.
Mahle House Restaurant in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo – they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and provides a quaint setting – a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.

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And when it's hot...there's another way to cool off!  Cruising with the top down works :)
And when it’s hot…there’s another way to cool off! Cruising with the top down with my friend Sue 🙂


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Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo - It's to die for!
Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish Market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo – It’s to die for!


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Some interesting local art
Some interesting local art

From here I was Victoria bound where I spent an incredible day enjoying the sights of this historic city prior to boarding the ferry for the State of Washington.  Stay tuned for my post that will include a few photos from the area.  Until then, enjoy the moment…there will never be another like it!

The Big Ride – When expectations are exceeded ten fold! (Duffey Lake Road, BC – Highway 99)

In the past two months I have had the opportunity to ride in some pretty amazing places. Building the Duffey Lake Road into my itinerary allowed me to do it yet again and this time in my own backyard.  While living in British Columbia I had taken this road in the early 1990’s but had forgotten how spectacular it was.  This is not a road for new motorcycle riders and I would not recommend it to just anyone but if you are an experienced rider and happen to live in the area or plan on being in the area, I would encourage you to check it out.  If you’re not a motorcyclist it would be a pretty darned good ride in a car as well.  This really is one amazing ride and I’d bet that when you’re done you’ll agree with me!

If you aren’t familiar with the road, Highway 99 connects central British Columbia with the southern part of the province and is made up of a number of sections including the “Sea to Sky Highway” which is the southern section from Horseshoe Bay (where the ferry to Nanaimo is located) to Pemberton.  The highway travels along the coast of Howe Sound to Squamish and on to Whistler. From there it goes to Pemberton where the Sea-to-Sky Highway ends and Duffey Lake Road begins. This section goes on for almost 100 winding kilometres in very steep mountains where it connects with Lillooet.  In my view it is the most breathtaking section! Not only is it very challenging with the speed limit dropping as low as 30 km per hour due to the tight curves, it twists through some of the most pristine countryside you will ever see.  The highway runs through the Duffey Lake Provincial Park, alongside numerous lakes, streams and waterfalls. From there the road connects Lillooet with central British Columbia near Cache Creek just south of Clinton.

Here is a video of my what I experienced on the ride.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

In addition to the video, here are a few photos from my ride from Clinton, BC to Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry over to Nanaimo to spend a few days connecting with friends in Nanaimo and the surrounding area.

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One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels
One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.

Duffey Lake - This is just one of the many prestige lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the "Sea to Sky Highway"
Duffey Lake – This is just one of the many pristine lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the “Sea to Sky Highway”

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Loving it here!
Loving it here!


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Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffy Lake Highway - what a magnificent ride
Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffey Lake Highway – what a magnificent ride
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99

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There are s number of train tunnels along the Duffy Lake Road Highway 99
There are a number of train tunnels along the Duffey Lake Road on Highway 99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC
A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC

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Local native art
Local native art

The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC

Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler - this is definitely a young persons sport!
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler – this is definitely a young persons sport!

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In the Village at Whistler
In the Village at Whistler
Checking out the Village
Checking out the Village
Whistler Village
Whistler Village

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Near Squamish, BC
Near Squamish, BC
South of Whistler, BC
South of Whistler, BC

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To close this blog, here are a few photos taken while in Horseshoe Bay as I headed over to Vancouver Island to reconnect with friends.  I spent ten years on the Island before moving to Ottawa so in many respects it felt as if I was “homeward bound”.

Homeward bound
Homeward bound
Waiting to board the ferry Nanaimo bound
Waiting to board the ferry to Nanaimo
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I hung out in Horseshoe Bay Park while waiting for the next sailing to Vancouver Island. There is always lots to see and do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe one of these :)
My next ride perhaps…you gotta love an Audi!
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country – those are Quebec plates
A new friend
A new friend
An angel in the making...progress not perfection :)
An angel in the making…progress not perfection 🙂

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On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. Must say Big Blue was the nicest bike in the lineup :)
On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. I must say Big Blue was the prettiest bike in the lineup 🙂
Sweet
Sweet sweet…very sweet

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A beautiful day for sailing
A beautiful day for sailing

While on Vancouver Island I had the opportunity to do some great riding.  When I have the video ready for posting I’ll share it with you!  Until then, live life out load and laugh a lot!

 

The Big Ride – Stepping back in time (Barkerville, BC)

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted so in the next few days I’ll be bring you up to date on my travels over the past week.  I’ve found it difficult to find the time to blog while passing through Beautiful British Columbia as not only has there been a lot to see and take in, it’s been a time that has been spent reconnecting with family and friends.

When I left Edmonton, Alberta, I headed west towards Prince George BC to connect with my longtime friends Lynn and Ron Wahl who go back a very long way.  It was an exceptional visit which included reconnecting with their three boys Darren, Brad and Brent.  It had been 15 years since I had seen Ron and Lynn and even longer with the boys.  What an awesome time that was!

Mount Robson just outside of Jasper Park
Mount Robson just outside of Jasper Park

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Horse Lake outside of Jasper
Horse Lake outside of Jasper

From there I stopped off in Barkerville, BC which is about an hour south of Prince George and east of Quesnel through the Cariboo Mountains.   I had visited the historical “gold mining” town of Barkerville as a child.  To my amazement it has grown considerably since then and was well worth the visit.  If you add it to your bucket list I’d suggest taking two days to go through the town as I wasn’t able to fit it all in.

It’s hard to believe but Barkerville was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago and was named after Billy Barker who was among those who first struck gold there in 1861.  Barkerville became a boom town and grew overnight when others heard about Billy Barker striking it rich.  His claim would eventually yield 37,500 ounces of gold.  Now that’s striking it rich!

Before the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road, people hauled their own supplies to Barkerville, either on their backs or by pack trains. Because supplies were scarce, the prices of everyday items were extremely high. An example of this was butter being sold at $5 a pound – roughly the same price you’d pay today.  In an effort to feed those who came to Barkerville cattle were driven north up the Okanagan valley via what is now Highway 97 into Canada to provide meat for the miners and its residents.

In the beginning the town consisted of makeshift cabins and tents. By the mid-1860s, however, Barkerville had a population of approximately 5,000. Even though its population was transient and largely dependent on mining, Barkerville was becoming less of a service town and more of a real community. It had several general stores and boarding houses, a drugstore that also sold newspapers and cigars, a barbershop that cut women’s as well as men’s hair, the “Wake-Up Jake Restaurant and Coffee Salon” and Theatre Royal where live shows are still performed today.

Here are a few photographs from the historic little “gold mining” town of Barkerville.

The main street in Barkerville
The main street in Barkerville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A little water?
A little water?
Barkerville had it's own Chinatown
Barkerville had it’s own Chinatown which housed the many Chinese who came to work in the gold mines.  Chinatown grew as many opened businesses that serviced the transients who came to Barkerville to find their fortunes
One of the many beautiful historic homes in Barkerville, BC
One of the many beautiful historic homes in Barkerville, BC
There were several carts and carriages on display
There were several carts and carriages on display

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My friend Bridget Conboy would love it here...retro hats at tere finest!
My friend Bridget Conboy would love it here…retro hats at their finest!

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The local Post Office
The local Post Office

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The local church in Barkerville - beautiful constructed building
The local church in Barkerville – a beautifully constructed building

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Beautiful glass work in one of the antique doors
Beautiful glass work in one of the antique doors

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Fine dining in one of many beautiful homes that have been restored
Fine dining in one of many beautiful homes that have been restored

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Anyone you know? :)
Anyone you know? 🙂
The Assayer's Office where the gold was weighed and assessed
The Assayer’s Office where the gold was weighed and assessed

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Barkerville came to like with the many actors onsite that were dressed in periodical attire
Barkerville came to life with the many actors onsite that were dressed in period attire
Another actor whom I had the opportunity to speak with - it brought the old town alive
Another actor whom I had the opportunity to speak with – it brought the old town alive
I can only imagine what this experience would have been like
I can only imagine what this experience would have been like

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I'd love to have this in my kitchen
I’d love to have this in my kitchen

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The accounting records from the Assayer's office.  I was told that gold prices today are 25 time higher in value today
The accounting records from the Assayer’s office. I was told that gold prices today are 25 time higher in value today

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One of the may General Stores on site in Barkerville
One of the may General Stores on site in Barkerville

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The "locals" enjoying an afternoon visit on the veranda outside the General Store
The “locals” enjoying an afternoon visit on the veranda outside the General Store

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A peek into the past
A peek into the past

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The local bordello was among the many old buildings that had been restored
The local bordello was among the many old buildings that had been restored

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The town well where locals would come to fetch the water needed for the many household chores
The town well where locals would come to fetch the water needed for the many household chores

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What would be a town without a local saloon where the  locals and the many travellers who came to strike it rich met to share their stories  of wow as few were actually successful in finding gold
What would a town be without a local saloon where the locals and the many travelers who came to strike it rich met to share their stories of woe as few were actually successful in finding gold

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Inside the local saloon
Inside the local saloon

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From here, I made my way towards the west coast of British Columbia by way of the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway.  It twists its way through Lillooet, the spectacular Duffy Lake Park and Reserve and beyond, winding its way through Whistler, Squamish and of course Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry to Vancouver Island.  The ride on Highway 99 was absolutely breathtaking and worthy of its own post. More to follow….I promise!

 

The Big Ride – “True north” (Historic Alaska Highway)

My trip to northern BC was truly heartfelt on many levels.  The decision to leave my bike behind in Edmonton and rent a car wasn’t what  I had originally intended but proved to be a wise decision.  It was one that that was made based on “intuitiveness” or a sense that something wasn’t right.   While enroute the Alaska Highway ended up being closed due to a forest fire that jumped the highway which prevented my return until the road reopened. Riding through the area on a motorcycle would have been an unpleasant experience.  Here’s a bit of footage from a local newspaper along with a short clip that I recorded when I drove through after the highway reopened after the fire had ravished the area.

News paper link with a video of the fire: click here

My video taken when the road reopened:

The aftermath of the forest fire that shut down the highway
The aftermath of the forest fire that shut down the highway
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Reduced visibility from smoke required that vehicles be escorted by pilot cars

Despite the forest fires in the area and experiencing smoke throughout much of northern BC, my trip up the Historic Alaska Highway was spectacular.  I had forgotten how incredibly beautiful and pristine this part of the country is.

For those of you who may not know, I was raised in northern British Columbia and lived in Stone Mountain Park as a young girl.  The park is located at Mile 392 of the Historic Alaska Highway.  The purpose of my trip was two fold.  Not only did I want to visit where I was raised, but to also visit where my Dad now rests.  My Dad left us five years ago and rests in a cemetery at Toad River, BC which is located at Mile 422 of the Alaska Highway.  Returning to northern BC allowed me to reconnect with my “true north”.

Here are a few photos of my trip to the land where it remains light throughout the long summer nights and mountain air that is filled with the sweet fragrance of  pine forests whose scent dances in the warm summers’ air.

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Tetsa River Outfitters at Mile 375 on the Historic Alaska Highway where you can find fresh homemade cinnamon buns that are made daily – now that’s worth stopping for!
Inside the Testa Outfitters general store at Mile 375
Inside the Testa Outfitters general store at Mile 375
Enjoying a fresh homemade cinnamon bun warm out of the oven!
Enjoying a fresh homemade cinnamon bun warm out of the oven!

If travelling north you need to stop here! They make fresh homemade cinnamon buns here daily at the  Tetsa Outfitters at Mile 375 on the Historic Alaska Highway

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I continued north to Stone Mountain Park where Summit Lake is located, and where I was raised as a young girl.  My father worked on the Alaska Highway when I was young.  We lived in the park and my sister and I attended a one room school with 8 other children who lived in the park which also happens to be the highest point on the Historic Alaska Highway!

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Stone Mountain Park - this was my backyard when growing up in Northern BC
Stone Mountain Park – this was my backyard when growing up in Northern BC
One of the peaks found in Stone Mountain Park, Mile 392 on the Historic Alaska Highway
One of the peaks found in Stone Mountain Park, Mile 392 on the Historic Alaska Highway
A stream that feeds into Summit Lake where I played as a young girl
A stream that feeds into Summit Lake where I played as a young girl
Summit Lake in Stone Mountain Park where I grew up
Summit Lake in Stone Mountain Park – the lake was across the road from where I grew up
Stone Mountain Park at mile 392 on the Historic Alaska Highway where I was raised as a young girl
Stone Mountain Park at mile 392 on the Historic Alaska Highway where I was raised as a young girl
This is the location where our house was when we lived in Stone Mountain Park.  The buildings were moved out of the park a number of years ago
This is the location where our house was when we lived in Stone Mountain Park. The buildings were moved out of the park a number of years ago
The stream that ran behind our house in Stone Mountain Park is crystal clear!
The stream that ran behind our house in Stone Mountain Park is crystal clear!

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The mountain creek that ran behind our house
The mountain creek that ran behind our house

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Stone Mountain Park
Stone Mountain Park
This is how to drink water from a mountain stream...slurp....ahhhh
This is how to drink water from a mountain stream…slurp….ahhhh
What an amazing place to be raised as a child
What an amazing place to be raised as a child

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Overlooking the flood plains at Mile 395 on the Historic Alaska Highway
Overlooking the flood plains at Mile 395 on the Historic Alaska Highway just north of where I used to live
Remembering when....
Remembering when….
An amazing flood plane at Mile 395 on the Historic Alaska Highway.  This was only three miles north of where I was raised in northern BC
An amazing flood plane at Mile 395 on the Historic Alaska Highway. This was only three miles north of where I was raised in northern BC
Wile columbine found while walking through the mountains
Wild columbine found while walking through the mountains
This is only a couple of miles north of Stone Mountain Park where I was raised
These hoodoo rock formations are only a couple of miles north of Stone Mountain Park where I was raised

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Beautiful wildflowers found in Stone Mountain Park
Beautiful wildflowers found in Stone Mountain Park

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The Mile 395 rock cut - just one of the many amazing vistas along the way
The Mile 395 rock cut – just one of the many amazing vistas along the way

After a memorable visit to Stone Mountain I drove north to Toad River to where my Dad rests.  Here are a few photos of the area.

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Folding Mountain close to Toad River, BC on the Historic Alaska Highway
Folding Mountain close to Toad River, BC on the Historic Alaska Highway

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Toad River, where my Dad rests
Toad River, where my Dad rests

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Where my Dad rests in northern BC
Where my Dad rests in northern BC
The view from my Dad's resting place
The view from my Dad’s resting place

While visiting in the north I stayed at the Northern Rockies Lodge located at Muncho Lake, which is a fresh water mountain lake that is seven miles long and runs along side of the Historic Alaska Highway.  The resort was nestled in the mountains next to the lake and was an incredibly wonderful place to spend a couple of nights while visiting the area.  Here’s an idea of what it was like.

The Northern Rockies Lodge where I stayed while at Muncho Lake, BC.  The lodge offers excursions to remote fishing lodges accessible only by air...something new for my bucket list!
The Northern Rockies Lodge where I stayed while at Muncho Lake, BC. The lodge offers excursions to remote fishing lodges accessible only by air…something new for my bucket list!

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Inside the Northern Rockies Lodge at Munch Lake
Inside the Northern Rockies Lodge at Munch Lake
The Historic Alaska Highway runs along side of Muncho Lake which is seven miles long
The Historic Alaska Highway runs alongside Muncho Lake which is seven miles long
Local decor found at the Northern Roackies Lodge where I stayed
Local decor found at the Northern Rockies Lodge where I stayed

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Muncho Lake, BC
Muncho Lake, BC
The north end Muncho Lake
The north end Muncho Lake
A great view of the seven mile long Muncho Lake in northern BC
A great view of the seven mile long Muncho Lake in northern BC

While staying at the resort I took advantage of the fact that the owner, Urs, also operates a small flight service that provides his guests an opportunity to see this amazing area by air.  My flight was about a half hour in duration and can be described as being simply amazing and incredibly spectacular!  Here’s a few aerial shots from my flight over the lake and the surrounding area.

Getting ready to soar!
Getting ready to soar!
Munch Lake taken from the plane
Munch Lake taken from the plane
One of the many beautiful mountain views from the plane
One of the many beautiful mountain views from the plane
An arial view of Muncho Lake
An aerial view of Muncho Lake
Looks how's flying high!
Look who is flying high!
An aerial view of the Rockies
An aerial view of the Rockies
The aerial vistas left me breathless - what an amazing experience this was!
The aerial vistas left me breathless – what an amazing experience this was!
Another incredible vista from the plane
Another incredible vista from the plane
An aerial view of the Northern Rockies Lodge where I stayed while at Muncho Lake.  Check it out if you are in the area!
An aerial view of the Northern Rockies Lodge where I stayed while at Muncho Lake. Check it out if you are in the area!

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Here is a shot of the original Historic Alaska Highway, the second reconstruction of it and the road today
Here is a shot of the original Historic Alaska Highway, the second reconstruction of it and the road today
Another great view from the plane
Another great view from the plane

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On board
On board
Urs is the owner of the Northern Rockies Lodge and pilot who took me up on what was one very awesome fight
Urs is the owner of the Northern Rockies Lodge and the pilot who took me up on what was one very awesome fight

A trip north would not be complete without a visit to the Liard Hot Springs located at mile 495 of the Historic Alaska Highway.  It’s one of the few remaining hot springs that remains in it’s natural state compared to many that are pumped into a concrete pool.

The Liard Hot Springs, one of the few natural springs in BC
The Liard Hot Springs, one of the few natural springs in BC

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Here are a few additional photos from along the way.

Wild herds of buffalo roam freely around Muncho Lake and the Liard Hot Springs
Wild herds of buffalo roam freely around Muncho Lake and the Liard Hot Springs
A young buffalo hanging out with the herd
A young buffalo hanging out with the herd
Now this is one big buffalo!
Now this is one big buffalo!

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Now that's one big trap...ouch!
Now that’s one big trap…ouch!

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Great northern decor - a real cutie :)
Great northern decor – a real cutie 🙂

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Toad River, BC
Toad River, BC

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Mountain sheep along side of the road
Mountain sheep along side of the road
Indian Head Mountain north of Fort Nelson BC on my way to up the Historic Alaska Highway
Indian Head Mountain north of Fort Nelson BC on the Historic Alaska Highway
Kledo Creek north of Fort Nelson, BC
Kledo Creek north of Fort Nelson, BC

From here I’ll be going south to pick up my bike in Edmonton, with a stop in Dawson Creek to visit family and friends that I wasn’t able to see on my way up the highway.  From Edmonton, I’ll be heading west to Prince George and then to Vancouver Island, connecting with more friends along the way.  For me, that’s what this leg of the trip is all about – “true north” indeed!

The Big Ride – Stepping back in time (Fort Nelson BC Heritage Museum)

As you know from my past blog a part of my trip north included a stop in Fort Nelson, BC, one of the towns where I was raised.  You might wonder what there would be to do in a little northern town like that?  Well that’s what I would like to share with you in this blog.

After checking into my room at my friends motel, Kacee Northern Suites, I went up the road to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum where I was reconnected with Marl Brown, the curator of the museum and the Fort Nelson Historical Society.  What an amazing experience that turned out to be!

Marl lived only a few blocks from the street where I was raised and at that time he already had a fine collection of antique automobiles.   In addition to his collection, he was an individual that was well known throughout the community for his love of the past, his fine sense of humour and his beard.  Yes, his beard!  If you’ve lived in the north you know about Trapper Days or what we called a Rendezvous.  Marl Brown was the long time champion of the beard growing contest and to this day he is still referred to as “The Mad Trapper”.

A tour of the museum revealed an incredibly rich history that encompassed the construction of the Historic Alaska Highway, memorabilia collected from the local townsmen and of course Marl’s awesome car collection.  To say that there were thousands of exhibits would be an understatement!

Here is a sampling of what I found most interesting during my visit to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.

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My visit to the Fort Nelson Museum was amazing.   If you have an opportunity to stop in it's well worth the visit!
My visit to the Fort Nelson Museum was amazing. If you have an opportunity to stop in it’s well worth the visit!

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When was the last time you saw one of these?
When was the last time you saw one of these?

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Nice curls on this one!
Nice curls on this one!
Finding this at the Fort Nelson Museum was a real remember when! One of my first jobs as a student was at the Alcan Theatre.
Finding this at the Fort Nelson Museum was a real “remember when!”  One of my first jobs as a student was at the Alcan Theatre.

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I remember Stella's Motel as a kid
I remember Stella’s Motel as a kid while living in Fort Nelson

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Nice
Nice

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The curator of the Fort Nelson Historical Society, Marl Brown
The curator of the Fort Nelson Historical Society, Marl Brown – nice beard!
One ring-a-dingy....two ring-a-dingys :)
One ring-a-dingy….two ring-a-dingys 🙂
The curator, Marl Brown in his glory!
The curator, Marl Brown in his glory!
All of the vehicles at the museum are operational!  Now that's impressive.
All of the vehicles at the museum are operational! Now that’s impressive.
Yes this one runs and was on the road earlier this week when the curator of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, Marl Brown turned 83...he took it out for a ride with his brother!
Yes this one runs and was on the road  recently when the curator of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, Marl Brown turned 83…he took it out for a ride with his brother!
This car is 109 years old - the curator Marl Brown started it up while I was visiting the museum!
This car is 109 years old – the curator Marl Brown started it up while I was visiting the museum!
Marl Brown starting up his 109 year old Model A
Marl Brown starting up his 109 year old Model A

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One of the many cars in a very fine collection at the Fort Nelson Museum.
One of the many cars in a very fine collection at the Fort Nelson Museum.
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And of course…what collection could possibly be complete without a couple of motorcycles!

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This was only a glimpse of what I saw at the museum.  There was a lot more to see including multiple outbuildings with artifacts that are far too numerous to mention.  In closing, I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.

From here I am northward bound and my journey continues to be amazing…even with four wheels under me instead two.

The Big Ride – The gift of remembering when (Dawson Creek, BC)

Being back in western Canada is all about visiting family and friends.  My first stop was in Edmonton where I spent a few days visiting my sisters Phyllis and Lori, along with other family members, such as my favourite niece Shirley.  The stop also included installing new tires on my bike and having it serviced at one of the local Harley dealers….and yes they have “oil field” service rates…ouch!

From there my intention was to ride  just south of the Yukon border, where my Dad rests.  Given the current situation with a number of major forest fires in the area I reluctantly left my bike in Edmonton in safe keeping at my sister’s and instead rented a car to make the trip.  In hindsight it was a wise choice as I’m currently in norther BC and the Alaska Highway is closed to the south of me preventing my return – stay tuned as that’s another post!

This is what I looked like after leaving my bike in Edmonton - but with the forest fires and road closure it was a wise decision!
) This is what I looked like after leaving my bike in Edmonton – but with the forest fires and recent road closure it was a wise decision!

When I left Edmonton I headed north to Dawson Creek, BC where you can find the start of the legendary Alaska Highway.

The Historical Alaska Highway was built during World War II as a way of connecting Alaska with the rest of the United States in a joint effort to protect both Canada and the US after the invasion of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese. The highway begins in Dawson Creek, BC and continues into Alaska via Whitehorse in the Yukon. It was built between 1942 and 1948 and originally was about 2,700 km (1,700 mi) in length. Since that time the road continues to undergo constant reconstruction and is now just over 2200 km (1,400 mi) long. The legendary highway was known for being a rough, challenging drive, however it is now paved and continues to be straightened.

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The Historic Alaska Highway Mile 0 sign in Dawson Creek, BC
The Historic Alaska Highway Mile 0 sign in Dawson Creek, BC
Dawson Creek - Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway
Dawson Creek – Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway
Dawson Creek Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway where I started my career with Service Canada (formerly CEIC)
Dawson Creek Mile 0 on the Historic Alaska Highway – It’s where I also started my career with the Federal Government

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The Art Gallery in Dawson Creek
The Art Gallery in Dawson Creek is located in the “retired” grain elevator

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While passing through Dawson Creek I returned to the location where my career with the Federal Government began over 34 years ago!

I worked here for a very short period in 1980 when it was Cargill Grain - I left to start my career with Canada Employment and Immigration Commission aka known today as Service Canada.
I worked here for a very short period in 1980 – at the time it was Cargill Grain – I left my employment there to start my career with Canada Employment and Immigration Commission which today is known as Service Canada
This is where my career with the Federal Government began more than 34 years ago.  It was then the  Dawson Creek Post Office and housed the Canada Employment Immigration Commission - in those days aka the
This is where my career with the Federal Government began more than 34 years ago. It was then the Dawson Creek Post Office and housed the Canada Employment Immigration Commission – aka the “UIC Office”
If you were ever at the Employment Insurance Office in Dawson Creek this would be familiar to you - and it makes where my career in government began more than 34 years ago!
If you were ever at the EI Office in Dawson Creek this would be familiar to you and is where my career in government began!
This is where my career with the Federal Government began.  It was the former location of the  Dawson Creek Post Office and office for the Canada Employment Immigration Commission - also known as the Employment Insurance Office - it's now and arts centre.
Having recently retired from the Federal Government after an amazing 34 year career, it felt like I had come full circle by  returning to the  location where it all began.
To complete the circle, I visited the current location of the Service Canada office in Dawson Creek - I know I'm biased in saying that I like the former location better :)
To complete the circle, I visited the current location of the Service Canada office in Dawson Creek – I know I’m biased in saying that I like the former location better 🙂

During my quick stop in Dawson Creek I did a drive-by past the first house I owned.  Yup…it’s a little cutie.  It was nice to see that its owners have taken care of her over the years.

This was the first house I owned - I was a proud home owner at 23 years of age - and I'm still feeling grateful  :)
This was the first house I owned – I was a proud home owner at 23 years of age – and I’m still feeling grateful 🙂

I didn’t have much time for visiting on my way up the highway so I’m looking forward to connecting with a few folks in Dawson Creek  on my way back to Edmonton where I’ll be picking up my bike.

When leaving Dawson Creek, I deviated from the beaten path and followed the historic route where the original highway had once been  in order to visit the first “curved” bridge of its kind which spans the Kistatinaw river located at “Mile 21” on the Historic Alaska Highway.

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Kiskatinaw Bridge – Mile 21 on the Historic Alaska Highway – This curved bridge was the first of its kind when built in 1942.

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Kiskatinaw River and Campsite  - Mile 21 on the Historic Alaska Highway - home of the curved bridge!
Kiskatinaw River and Campsite – Mile 21 on the Historic Alaska Highway – home of the curved bridge!

From here I traveled north towards Fort Nelson where I spent a number of years while growing up.  This took me over the Alaska Highway, through Pink Mountain and beyond.

A stop in Pink Mountain...wildlife galore :)
A stop at Pink Mountain…wildlife galore 🙂
Outside the Fort Nelson Laundromat owned by my friend Cheryl
Outside the Fort Nelson Laundromat owned by my friend Cheryl
An artistic touch outside of the laundromat in Fort Nelson - nice touch Cheryl!
An artistic touch outside of the laundromat in Fort Nelson – nice touch Cheryl!
Snugglying wildlife in Fort Nelson
Snuggling wildlife in Fort Nelson

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Feel the grip :)
This place has quite the bang! 🙂

My visit to Fort Nelson, BC was filled rich with memories and is worthy of a post unto itself so stay tuned for my upcoming blog.

Until then be safe and remember that when you smile at life it smiles back at you!