Geared up Border Crossing Run

With less than a week to go, I thought it would be a good idea to swing down through the US with my bike geared up for the trip. I’m realizing that if I want to load GPS tracks and videos, I need to build the habits ASAP so I’m not starting/stopping to just get the GoPro and my GPS turned on. This also gave me a great excuse to try and sort out my US phone plan/SIM card situation and pay a visit to REI to use up my dividend & 20% discount coupon.

1:30pm: I had forgotten about some errands that needed to be done before Saturday – so this trip ended up starting much later than I had intended. Border crossing at Pacific Crossing was relatively uneventful – guard asked me why I was carrying so much gear for an afternoon at Blaine and wished me the best of luck on my trip. Continued on my way

2:30pm: Not having dinner and seeing a Jack in the Box had me hooked. Sourdough Jack Combo! Yummy, although less heavy than I remembered. Not sure if this is a good thing or not. Hopefully it’s because the portions are more reasonable and not that I’m just used to greasier portions…

But I did leave my key in the top case, didn’t bring my notebook for the restaurant, then forgot to turn on the camera when leaving. I did try turning on the camera while moving, but that didn’t work. Practice makes perfect!

3:40pm: Arrive at Walmart after some detours. Some brief reading online suggested I get a StraightTalk plan. No sim cards, quick chat with counter people suggested mixed results of swapping the SIM card out of their W418g phones. I buy it anyway and go sit at McD’s to mooch off their wifi and try to get the phone set up. No luck, and after an hour, I decide to sort it out another day and go to REI.

4:40pm: REI – They have an annual sale! So my 20% coupon wasn’t actually that useful. Pick up a ground sheet for a tent that has similar dimensions as my Tarn3, some spiffy underwear and a full price Grunge Brush just to use up my coupon.

7:42pm: Back to NVan. Border crossing was equally simple. No cars at all in my line and I barely got my helmet off before the guard waved me through.

Unfortunately, the trip wasn’t a total success. It looks like the W418g SIM is device locked… And the phone itself is locked to the SIM. Can’t actually use the phone for anything… Will have to return it and attempt to order a SIM from them directly.

Jones Lake Shake Down Overnighter

Before a big trip, it’s usually a good idea to go on a ‘shake down’ trip.   This can be as simple as going down the block to see if anything falls off, or as involved as a full blown trip  not too far from home just to see what you’ve missed.

With the trip coming up at the end of May, the original plan was to do a quick trip/loop during May-Long.  Scheduling and equipment complications meant as the week drew to a close, the other candidates had to pull out.  Having picked up a new sleeping bag and camp mat, I still needed to test my gear.  The weather forecast suggested rain, I thought it best to sneak out for an overnight trip somewhere nearby.  Jones Lake is a BC Hydro dam that just so happens to have free camping – provided you can find a spot.

6pm:  Figuring that finding a site should be a snap since it was a Thursday, I loaded up the bike, turned on the GPS and GoPro and headed out towards Hope.  I caught the tail end of rush hour traffic.  The tail roll as packed is quite uncomfortable.  Mental note to reconfigure so it’s more vertical and not digging into my back.  Getting to the base of Jones Lake was uneventful, with a stop in Sardis to gas up and pick up some snacks.

At the base of Jones Lake, I switched the GoPro into video mode and ride up the dirt road – in case I binned it, I’d have some video evidence of my shame.  With the sun setting, it was quite pretty the odd time I managed to look up.  But light was running out I had no recollection of how far I needed to go.  There was a brief thought about making it up there and not having any site to stay – but trying to come down that road in the dark quickly repressed that thought.  Next time, I won’t cut things so close.

It wasn’t so bad, aside from dodging a truck or two going the other way, I was able to find one of the camp sites.  Definitely got faster on the dirt as the ride went on – forcing myself to relax helped a lot.


Setting up camp took 25mins – same as my practice run on the front lawn.  Dinner consisted of instant noodles, bread and some pepperoni.  Cleaning up was a bit of a nuisance since I didn’t have any spare rags or paper towels.  Without a fire, there’s really not much for me to do.  Nothing to drink either – will need to pack some teabags or hot chocolate.  And without a jacket, I was quite cold – Time to tuck into the tent/sleeping bag early.

4am:  Woke up cold.   Looks like the new bag/mat aren’t quite warm enough.  I could pull out the long underwear and thermal top but decide to go for the Zippo Handwarmer instead.  I’m going to need to swap out some gear to have some more flexible options – Poofy vest also makes a great pillow if not needed for warmth.

8am:  Decent night’s rest after all the cold.  Make coffee and tear down camp.  Not sure how long this took – quite a while.  Hands were cold and not quite thinking clearly.  Trying to improve the situation with the tail roll, I mounted it first.  Unfortunately, this makes it impossible to put on the panniers.  So back down it came and had to repack.

9:30am:  Head down the dirt road.  Sky is also starting to spit – I do not want to be tackling that road in the rain!  The Multi is starting to show it’s strengths.  ABS rocks! (But I’m still as bad as ever).  Going down took a few more minutes than going up, but had to pull over a few times to let things go past.

10-11:30am:  Putter back to Vancouver.  Slight sprinkling of rain.  Rather cold, heated grips were on – and the Zippo was still putting out some heat.  Quite nice on the highway.

11:15-11:30am:  Looking for parking in DT wasn’t much fun – even with the motorcycle specific parking, the ‘best’ spot closest to my destination was taken by a car.  Fortunately, I circled enough times to watch him get a ticket!

11:30-11:45am:  Attempt to pack down enough stuff to be able to walk away from the bike and not be too concerned about any valuables.   Had a nice chat with a bicycle courier who suggested I travel through Mexico to Baja – but to make sure I had an armed escort through Mexico City.  His friend was literally whacked in the back of the head while stopped at a light.  Fortunately, he was able to ride off.   I guess there’s a reason Beacon doesn’t cover me if I cross over the border to Mexico!

Gear changes:  Bring tissue paper, paper towels, regular towels, zip-lock baggies and something warmer.

Riding:  Need more practice on loose ground.  Relax and squeeze the tank!

Blogging:  Need to figure out what to do with video/pictures.   P10(a shot every 10s) doesn’t seem to be frequent enough.  Videos are very long and need to be edited/managed somehow.  Need to wait for GPS lock before taking pictures!


Trip Planning:  No Mexico!

The First Post…

It’s always hard to decide what to write for the first post.  Might as well get it out of the way.

I was recently given the privilege of being the hired gun to open an office in Barcelona and then shut down the Vancouver one.  Unfortunately, since I am based in Vancouver, this meant dealing with not having a job.  As is often the case, this was an opportunity for a little self reflection.

Looking back on the recent years, the biggest regret was the lack of travel.  In particular, not taking advantage of living in Barcelona.  When given the opportunity to spend some time in Europe, one of the decisions was to buy the new Ducati Multistrada as a ‘Euro Delivery’, live and tour Europe and then ship it back to Canada.  Unfortunately, this grand plan didn’t actually come together – no one does Euro Delivery, work visa was never received and by the time all the plans worked out, I was travelling in the winter.

Now facing unemployment with the 2 year unlimited mileage warranty running out on the Duc, the most logical thing to do is to go on road trip – it might not be Europe, but a solo trip across the US and Canada seems to be a great way to spend a summer.