Saturday, 30 June 2012

Day 7: Up to Prince George

Well we were up early today and on the road by 7.45am. We had a very light breakfast and stopped in Clinton for real breakfast. Shirl and I had porridge and coffee and enjoyed the hats.

We then continued north and into the rain. The temperature dropped to 9.5 degrees which is getting pretty chilly with cold sleety rain. We were pleased to stop for lunch at Williams Lake McDonalds! Just for the wifi of course.
As we left Shirl and I noticed Diana beginning to squirm on the back of the GSA. Then they stopped - Diana had left her iPhone in the dunny at McDonalds. We pulled over to a side road and waited while the others went back.

It was quite a wait but worth it - Diana's phone had been found and handed in. They cruised back to us and we got organised to ride on. Unfortunately we were parked in some soft sand and as Shirl climbed up we lent just a little too far. Bugger! Tip over no.1!!!

Shirl and Dick lifted while I supervised (only kidding) and we finally got Ebony back on her feet. Well, wheels anyway. Those crashbars have proved their worth today.
The weather had picked up and the temperature hit 24degrees as we rolled into Quesnel. Dick was ready for a coffee so we had a quick break. Shirl and I rolled out of the car park just a little before they were ready but that was ok because I could see their headlight and twin fog lights right behind. That was great until I realized that the lights behind were actually on a Hardly Davidson. Bugger! We pulled over and waited. And waited. And then we waited some more. No Dick. No Diana. No Mella. Triple bugger. We u-turned and went back. Not still at the coffee shop either.
Not sure what to do we sent Dick a text and headed north hoping to catch them up. Then the rain started again. Not as cold this time but very fine and I was sitting on 120kph trying to gain on the Hubbards. Finally we saw them parked at (yet another) cafe and we were together again.
On into Prince George and a double bedroom motel unit and a fantastic Chinese buffet at the restaurant next door. It will be an early night tonight. Tomorrow is Canada Day - not sure what that means.
Another good day. Shame about the tip over but that's what them bars are for.
510 Kms + a bit for detours.
Cumulative: 770 Kms

Location:Prince George

Friday, 29 June 2012

Day 6: In Vancouver and off to Lillooet

Day 5 and we're on the road at last. Yesterday Shirley and Diana went to town to be tourists and Dick and I had a trial pack. Let's just say it was a trial. So much gear; so little room! We also walked up to Metrotown which is a huge shopping mall a couple of Kms up Kingsway. I bought some plates and kfs for camping and then we walked home again via the Greek Taverna for lunch and a beer.
Meanwhile Shirley had been practising going to town but not buying anything. I think they had a good time.

The plan today was to get away early and check out Whistler.

We were well laden down!

We had a great run north out of Vancouver -a little damp but very light traffic. Whistler is a lovely quirky ski resort but because of the weather we didn't see it at its best so had lunch:

And kept rolling on.

So now we are in Lollooet for the night. A lovely (but expensive) Greek dinner and now for jacuzzi and bed. More northerly travel tomorrow.
260 Kms for the day.
Cumulative: 260 Kms


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Day 4: The threesome becomes a foursome (or a sixsome?)

Another quiet day today. Shirl was due in at 215 so I took myself off to town to have a mooch before heading out on the train to the airport. The light rail system here is fantastic. It cost me $1.75 on the train into town. I went for a long walk along the waterfront. It was great - such a busy harbour. The seaplanes intrigued me, taking passengers to Vancouver Island and other places. Just a constant stream of small float planes in and out.

Also a fabulous yacht marina where obviously some of the boats were more lived in than sailed on:

Or both?

There was also a lovely children's fountain. Essentially just a flat area with water spouts for the kids to play in and dodge around.

And some amazing cruise liners with balconies.

I then took the Canada line train out to the airport to meet Shirl on her flight from Auckland. It was a little delayed but at last:

We then took the trains back to our hotel and then out for a really nice Chinese dinner. All good.
Tomorrow Shirl is going to experience going to town without buying anything while I stay at the hotel with Ebony for a trial pack. Friday we are on the road north. North ... to Alaska! :-). :-) :-)


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Day 3: a quiet day farkling

Well today was a quiet day! Dick & I got to the bikes quite early ready for some farkling and tidy ups. I went round everything that I had done at the cargo terminal yesterday and checked and re-tightened all the nuts and bolts. I then added some of the bits (farkles) that I had bought or had delivered since the bikes shipped out. It was really just the three: a Kruz throttle lock, a rear mudguard extension and the bracket for the fuel on the rear pannier. All went well except that I needed a drill to refit the WoF onto the new extension.

Just then this bloke walked by carrying a portable drill. I told him he was just what I needed and he looked at me oddly and kept walking! He then started working in his van along the car park. I thought about for a while and then went and told him that I really did need a drill! He had thought I was joking.

Then I had to go up the road to get the pannier drilled for the fuel carrier. That was all good and it all fitted well.

D & D went out for a while so I had a snooze then a walk. I had to smile though ... Just up the road is a Malay curry house. Next door a petshop. Their combined billboards read " GOODIE DOGGIE MALAY CURRY". If you had been with us in Semporna you would understand.

I then went shopping for some dinner. My cooking was a bit eclectic but we ended up with a nice vegetable platter to start then some nice (expensive!) halibut with corncobs, bok choy and courgettes. All cooked rather oddly in the motel microwave. All good!

Ah yes .... Another good day at the office.

Shirl arrives from Welly tomorrow so the gang of four (six?) will be ready to rock and roll!!!

See youse.

Day 2: Ebony and Mella have landed

Well today was to be about bikes and it was. We had three ports of call: shipping company to pick up our carnets, Customs to get approval for temporary importation and the cargo shed to pick up the girls.

It was a day of minor hiccups - the shipping company didn't open till 9.30 on a Monday morning, Customs had lost our appointment. Lots of long waits but finally:



and finally:

We had quite a lot of work to do. Windscreens refitted, topbox plate refitted, handlebars rotated to original position and battery reconnected. Sounds simple but took forever. And it was quite warm 24 degrees C.

Then we were off to the petrol station. I had not reconnected my GPS properly so we had a time on the side of the road and then it worked perfectly through reasonably heavy traffic,sound working well and hello! We were there. A couple of celebratory beers later, a pasta dinner and we out to it.

Tomorrow more work on the bikes and then who knows? A little ride? A swim? I'll lt you know.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Day 1: Vancouver

Well we made it through to Vancouver at last. What can I say? It was an interesting trip. We thought we had left for town in plenty of time but Welly was in gridlock. We got to the airport just in time - not time enough for a coffee and a fond farewell. Then the flight was 30 minutes late. Heaps of time to spare in Auckland though. Went through the cattle class check in and then met Dick & Diana for a quiet beer and a bite in the Koru.

Our flight to San Francisco left about an hour late and it was long. What else can you say? The Air NZ staff were great, tthe food was actually quite nice and heaps of legroom. I slept in stits and farts until we arrived in San Francisco.

What can you say about our welcome in San Francisco? It was crap. Over tthe top security (we were in transit!) included waiting in lines for 80 minutes, having to take your shoes off to be x-rayed and a number of officious officials relishing in the opportunity to show how important they are. Enough said. Our flight to Vancouver was three hours delayed so we had a long wait in an airport cafe sorry - no Koru!) and finally arrived in Vancouver at 8pm. Very civil. Very polite. Really pleased to see us. All good.

Next morning was Sunday 24th June. We checked out the trains and had a little tour on the hop-on, hopoff bus and a looooooong (but good) walk around Stanley Park.

Dick hiding in the bushes:

Loved the local cuisine:

And the attitude to teachers!

Tomorrow is shipping company, customs and bikes. We hope.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The plan

Since beginning this blog a number of visitors have asked me about our plan and proposed route. Well it's a bit hard to say really: it is the "Ice to Ice Tour" so clearly we plan to go from one end of the Americas to the other. Because we will be dependent on the weather (especially in Northern Alaska)  it is a bit hard to be sure about exact times and routes. However the itinerary looks something like this:

  • Canada
  • Alaska (USA)
  • Canada
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • El Salvador
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Bolivia(maybe?)
  • Chile
  • Argentina
We have just had advice from Canada Customs that our bikes have been unloaded from the Cap Vilano and are waiting to be cleared from the TDK Metro terminal, 10-480 Audley Bvld, Annacis Island. Where ever that is. 

And now to pack my bags!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Setting up the bike

I decided late last year to sell Helga (blue 2009 R1200GS) for this trip. Basically Helga had done 65,000kms in 18 months and I figured by the time we got to the bottom of South America the odo would be reading more like 130,000kms. After a lot of thinking and testing of various bikes I decided to stay with the BMW (it was a close call with the new Triumph) and bought a R1200GS Tripleblack.

We had a shakedown tour over Xmas to French Pass and then down the Molesworth Road to Hanmer and she was ready for her 10,000km service by the time I took her to Auckland for the shipment.

In that time I had fitted a few farkles to make life a bit more interesting:

  • TKC80 tyre on the front
  • aluminium panniers
  • Garmin 660 GPS (off Helga)
  • Touratech crashbars
  • Touratech cylinder guards
  • added bashplate
  • guards on potentiometer and clutch and brake fluids
  • Skene lights for the front
  • extended rear mudguard from Touratech
  • front mudguard extension
  • petrol container and bracket for LH pannier.
  • carrier for tent poles
  • sheepskin cover for rear seat
Crashbars and cylinder guards

A little tube painted in silver for tentpoles

The Skene lights

And so it begins.....

Today is Tuesday 19 June 2012. Outside it is cold, gray and sleeting. We are gripped in yet another Wellington cold spell. It must be time to go travelling.

                                          This is Ebony, a 2011 BMW R1200GS Tripleblack

For sometime Dick Hubbard and I have been talking about a little pootle through the Americas, essentailly from Pruhoe Bay at the very top of Alaska to Ushuaia at the very bottom of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. In 2010 we travelled together around Australia as a kind of shakedown tour for this - the big one. I wrote a blog here:

Dick has also written a blog for this trip:

I leave on Saturday 23 June for Vancouver. Meanwhile Ebony and her friend Mella arrived in Vancouver on Sunday on board the Cap Vilano.

                               Ebony and Mella head for BMW Auckland and the crates

The bikes left about a month ago. I rode Ebony up to Auckland through a delightful southerly storm, met up with Dick and we took our bikes across to BMW Experience for a 10,000km service, new tyres and the crating. BMW Experience provided us with two crates free of charge - crates that had been used to bring BMWs into New Zealand. Much appreciated.

We were pleased not to have to remove the front wheels. Essentially all we have had to do is to remove the windscreens, loosen the handlebar clamps and turn the bars downwards, mirrors and all, to below the level of the dash. My panniers remained on and the topbox was stowed under the front wheel. Then it was onto the Cap Vilano and away!