Sunday, July 10, 2011

Update July 7 - Farewell to Sandy, Ride the Sea to Sky Highway

We got up Thursday morning in the RV park in Prince George to a decent 50 degrees but dry (except for the heavy dew). Sandy got a head start and headed for Walmart and I left a few minutes later and headed down to the "NR Powersports" where Sandy had an appointment to get a new rear tire. 

After he checked in and gave them his rear tire we walked to a small cafe 3 or 4 blocks away for a nice breakfast. The cafe owner told us he had just sold his business the day before and he was going to go work up north in the oil fields. He figured he could make about $2 million in the next 5 years and then retire (he was 50ish). 

We got back and got Sandy's tire back on and loaded up and finally got on the road about 11 am. It was a long ride south on Highway 97 through Williams Lake and 100 Mile House (name of a town). The highway was much more civilized and populated than before, not as many mountains but some nice scenery. But we rode through rain and heavy rain for hours. We dodged a few of the heavy cells but got into some others. It was a long dreary ride punctuated with some really nice scenery and historic towns I wished we had time to visit. 

Here is a map of our ride today.
Long, relatively unexciting ride - 378 miles

It was late when we arrived at the junction of highway 97 and 99 where I would turn off to head southwest toward Vancouver on the "Sea to Sky Highway." The junction was about 7 miles north of Cache Creek. Sandy was continuing south through the Okanogan valley to Spokane to visit his son. 

We stopped on the side of the road and chatted for a few minutes, took a picture (10 second delay with the camera set down on the road), and departed our separate ways.

Sandy,it was an amazing run for a week and a half or more. Not sure how or when we might see each other again but it would be nice to see you and meet Jeanette and your sons. Someday I might take another trip up to the northwest and stop by to see you. If you ever get down Texas way let me know and I will show you the Texas Hill Country. 

So then I headed down the highway 99. The land had turned to an arid looking scrubby brushy country - very different from just a few miles ago north. Also it was a narrower, twisty road weaving around the rolling hills. As I continued it seemed like I was descending and the hills were getting larger and the valleys deeper. 

One sight I saw as I cruised by was a tall power pole (taller than a normal one) with a big nest perched on the top of it, and peering down at me was a large white head of a bald eagle sitting in it. Too late to get a picture - I kept going.  

After some distance ( about 40 miles) I turned into a large deep valley. There was spotty rain again and sun. I caught glimpses of the valley and it looked deep.

Here is a Google Map of the valley I was following and where the following pictures were taken.
The deep valley was to the right, but I caught this view of some sun shining on that field while it was overcast and raining all around.
At one point I saw the sun shining on a field on the other side of the large valley and there was a veil of rain falling between me and the sunny field. It was surreal! And I did get that picture!
I'll bet there was a gorgeous rainbow on the other side of that!

It became apparent after a while it was quite a canyon I was following. Finally I got a view of the river below. 


Another 10 miles or so and I came upon the Indian village of Lillooet, and the river was the Lillooet River. Interesting note in Wikipedia about Lillooet,

"Considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited locations on the continent, the area is reckoned by archaeologists to have been inhabited for several thousand years"


View of the railroad trestle below. The river was very high and very fast moving.


I did a video of this scene to try to capture the power of the river but I'm not sure it does it justice.

The few little villages and houses along the way were very poor looking, with dilapidated old houses and trailer and lots of old dead cars laying around. But the surrounding mountains were quite amazing. 

Then another 20 or 30 miles the terrain changed again to more rugged mountains covered with the pine forests, but with a defined tree line and bare rock above with lots of snow still on the tops. 

The road got narrower and twisty with some significant grades like 10 to 12%. It was an awesome motorcycle road! Except that the road was wet (with no rain in sight!) and there was dirt and gravel in some corners from cars cutting into the shoulder. Very tricky.  

The highway descended into a deep valley and the temps cooled significantly. I was down in the valley and it the pine forest - very cool and humid. 

It was getting late and I wondered where I was going to camp. I noticed the thermometer said it was 48 degrees and the GPS said I was at 4200 feet. Then there were some signs that said "Trucks use lower gear - 14% grade!" Over the next few miles I descended from 4200 feet to about 8 or 900 feet and the temperature was 58 degrees! 

I think this picture is of the Lillooet Lake as shown on the map above

After a little while I came into the town of Pemberton. Very cool, kitschy touristy kind of town. I needed gas and something to eat. I ate at "The Pony", a very trendy looking cafe. They didn't have wifi but told me to go sit outside the library down the street and use theirs (it was now about 8:30 and most everything was closed). So I went down there to check weather and email Susan. I also looked at the map and saw a provincial park campground just a few miles south so I went down and found it. 

The Nairn Falls Campground was a nice well-prepared campground with RVs and campers. I found a site and the host came around so I paid for my site. It cost $18 which was the most I have paid for any campground yet and it didn't even have any services. Somebody has to pay for all that Canadian free health care I guess.  

I found a Youtube video of the Lillooet River and the surrounding mountains, it gives a good idea of the grandeur of the area.



And here is a Youtube video of the Nairns Falls which I couldn't take the time to hike up to. Now I wished I had.



Right over the fence at the back of the campsite was a river about 50 or 75 feet below. It was very full and fast moving and made quite a roar. 

The campsite at Nairn Falls Provincial Park
This is the view of the river the next morning. Very fast current, full river, and it was LOUD!!

I talked for a while with the campers beside me. I asked them if there were bears in this area and they said yes, keep all your food put away. One of them told me that there were 4 bears killed in Pemberton just in the last week. If a bear gets into food (around a house or a restaurant) it has to be killed. It will return and get aggressive and it also might teach its cubs. I saw a billboard once a week or so ago on the Alaska Highway that said "A Fed Bear Is A Dead Bear."

Had a good nights sleep with the roar of the river in the background. 

I rode 389 miles down from Prince George which was pretty good since we didn't leave town until 11 am.

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