Where: Chester Lake, Alberta

Total Distance: 9.5 km

Having two kids really changes the types of adventures that fills your weekends, however, we decided as a family to test our stamina with a short yet rewarding hike up to Chester Lake.

One of us is excited

One of us is excited

The route is well marked and easy to follow.  The hike is a decent ascent up to Chester Lake, where we planned to have a picnic.

Chester Lake Hike

The route up is a wide easy trail and offers little views until you reach the top.

 

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Once at the top the scenery is spectacular and well worth the “climb”:

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At the top is Chester Lake.  We were running short of time, but there is the option to hike around.  There is also a fork to head up to the elephant rocks.  We did not go, but it is highly recommended and only a few hundred meters further.

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We stopped for a picnic and relaxed before heading back.

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Halfway was almost 4.5km, yet it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes due to the frequent stops with the little ones.

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The way down has an option to branch from the main trail, it is the same distance, but provides a bit of change from the route up.  Overall, it was a good hike for kids and well worth the trip.  The drive back to Calgary we stopped in Canmore and had dinner before driving home.

Heading back to Calgary was anti-climatic, I’d already been reunited with Ash and had a blast with buddies at the wedding.  The ride back from Penticton felt more like a choir, but it was perfect day and easy ride back.  Ryan stayed in the Okanagan for a few more days so I was solo back into town.

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Last border crossing:

 

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Overall it was a great trip, loved every minute of it, even the multiple breakdowns – all part of the trip.  It felt good to get back home and integrate back into the daily grind knowing the next big adventure is just around the next corner.

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Home sweet home.

 

My buddy Terrence and his now wife Tara were getting married in Naramata.  I was stressed about making sure I made it there in time, and we rolled in with a day to spare.  The wedding was in a beautiful winery on the Naramata hill overlooking lake Okanagan:

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Out of my smelly moto gear and into an equally hot black suit.  My hand was permanently seized in the throttle position:

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Final picture of Ry and I on this trip:

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Wedding house guest:

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Another house guest, not part of the dinner service:

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I’d say its fair to say Ry had a good time at the wedding:

 

 

 

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We spent a day touring vineyards and soaking up the sun at the beach.  It was great to unwind, and meet back up with Ash.

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I dont have a lot of pictures posted of people we met and hung out with along the way.  I try to ensure I have peoples permission before I post their picture, not sure how many people want to immortalized on my blog without the ability to take their picture down should they want to.

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Willie bought me a beach towel knowing I was packing light and showing up to Penticton without one – thanks buddy!

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I woke up before dawn to try to make it to Penticton early enough to meet Ash as she was driving in with my buddy Willie from Calgary.  Ryan planned on sleeping in, spending the day in Seattle and heading up in the evening.  It was the first time we split up since leaving Calgary weeks ago.

The morning was brisk and I decided to take a secondary highway through Washington state, instead of the main freeway.  The sun came out, the scenery was stunning and I was feeling great.

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I was in no rush and soaked in the empty country road cruising just below the speed limit (which was a rough estimate since my bike speedometer was only in km/hr)  I passed a ranger station and the speed limit dropped, it road was empty and I slowed down to about 50-60km/hr, however passing a ranger station was about 40km/hr.  I didn’t think anything of it until I spotted red and blue lights flashing in my rear view.

I pull over and figure I couldn’t be that much over and will get a trooper inquisitive about my trip, a slap on the wrist and sent on my way.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  He struts over and I have my helmet off in preparation to talk to him.  He tells me I’m speeding, then looks down and notices I have a ipod on my tank bag.  The earphones were not in my ear (as I pulled them before he walked over), but he asks if I was listening to them when I rode by.  Being honest I said yes (in actuality I had the earphones in for noise reduction, but no music playing).  He tells me that it is illegal to listen to earphones on a motorcycle in Washington State.  I apologize and tell him I’ll put them away.  He takes my license and walks off.

At this time I’m still in a great mood, feeling the cool mountain air and not another car on the road.  He comes back and hands me two tickets, one for speeding and one for listening to my headphones.  I tell him I’ll pay for the speeding, but that I just finished 6,000 miles on my bike and didnt realize this jurisdiction doesn’t allow headphones, asking for a break on that ticket. (I actually asked the border guards in Montana and they told me its fine and recommended the best headphones to use while riding).  He says no, and tells me to sign the back of the two tickets.  I told him before I sign I want to understand what the process is to fight the ticket, he takes it back, writes ‘SERVED’ on the tickets, slaps them on my bag and walks off.

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I’m left feeling gutted, the trooper was completely rude and totally took the wind out of my sail.  As an ambassador for Washington he really soured my experience.  I was polite, respectful and generally in a good mood when stopped.  I left pissed off, more about the cloud he cast on my day than the $500 in tickets he left me with.  What I also didn’t realize is that when he served me he left my license on my tailbag with the tickets.  I scooped up the tickets but didn’t see my license.  I was flustered and didn’t notice he had not returned it.  My license would fly off somewhere down the highway.  Which was great because I was pulled over the last day of my trip and because I didn’t have my license received a ticket.

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Trying not to let the rude trooper experience get to me I moved on trying to salvage the day.  The scenery was stunning and eventually I was back in a good mood.  I was also really happy with the choice to take the highway less traveled.  It was almost worth the $500 in tickets the State of Washington managed to pry from my depleted wallet.

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It actually felt good to hit the border, knowing I was meeting back up with Ash and a number of my good friends at my friend Terence’s wedding.

The lineup was short and easy to pass through.  Years ago Americans and Canadians could pass through each others borders with nothing more than a drivers license.  Those times are done and moving back and forth requires passports and security screening.  Its too bad that two countries with such a longstanding friendship have one of the most controlled and regulated borders.

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Oh Canada

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BC has one of the most modest border signs I’ve ever seen.

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I rolled into the place we rented which was right on the lake in Pencticton.  I love the Okanagan and was looking forward to spending a few days relaxing before wrapping up the trip.

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Was an easy ride into Seattle, but stopping along the way and getting a late start we knew we would likely arrive at our destination in the dark yet again.

First stop was in Portland, great city

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Finally arriving in Seattle late and grabbing a place close to the highway.

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The plan was for me to wake up early and head out to Penticton to meet my girlfriend (as she came out a bit early not knowing my schedule).  Ryan was going to sleep in and meet me there later that day.  Was the first time we were going our own ways, we had become quite familiar with our routine and it signified the eventual end of our trip and getting back to the realities of life.

I woke up in the morning and started hitting the phones, calling any motorcycle parts shop I could find online.  We were in a remote area of northern California, but there is a lot of off road motorcycling and I was optimistic I would find a shop that had a replacement clutch cable.  I phoned by buddy John for some advice on the part I would need and how to replace it.  After calling around the closest place I could find was in Portland a full days ride away.

Being very discouraged I decided to try some of the local shops.  Leggett was a small town, but had a number of mechanics and motorcycle shops.  The first shop had no Kawasaki KLR parts, but said they could fabricate a clutch cable if I was out of luck.  The guy at the next place I tried didn’t think they had any, but went into the back to dig around.  He came back out with a fist full of clutch cables.  “What model is yours?”, he asked.  “2003 Kawasaki KLR 650”.

He digs around a and pulls one out “KLR 650, you’re in luck”.  I was elated, the cable was around $10.  Amazing how such an inexpensive part can stop you dead in your tracks.  Lesson learned to carry an extra clutch cable next trip.  We rip back to the gas station my bike was stored at and get to work.

A guy walked out who was in a band and we chatted for a while.  His tour bus broke down at the gas station a few weeks ago and they were waiting for parts to come in before they continued their tour.  Nice guy, helped me work on my bike, but I think he was bored as sin being stuck out here in the forest.

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Once replaced we were on our way through the Redwood Forest.

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Made it into Oregon (the picture was taken the day after on the way out, forgot to get one on the way in)

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Our destination for the day was the Sand Dunes in Oregon.  Its a vast expanse of powder soft sand that you can go offroading in.  We rented quads and played in the sand all afternoon.

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Back on the road we had killed much of the day by fixing my bike and playing in the giant sandbox.  We wanted to see how far we could get in the day, but were making good time to be in Penticton for the wedding.

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Back on the road we bumped into a father son group from Calgary.  They were on a trip down to San Francisco and back – first father son trip for them, super nice guys.   He was on the newer KLR and was curious how mine held up.  Aside from gussling oil, eating batteries, and snapping clutch cables it was perfect!

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We rolled into Newport in the early evening and grabbed a place to sleep for the night, finishing the night off with a great meal and beer.

 

Heading north out of SF we cross the iconic golden gate bridge.  I remember crossing this a kid, sitting in the back of our Volkswagen Westfalia camper.

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One last chance to say bye to San Fran, one of my favorite cities.

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I actually prefer the ride north of San Fran over the south coast along Big Sur.  The weather is a bit cooler, scenery just as stunning and half the traffic.  The weather was contrasting with periods of heavy fog and clear sunny blue skies. So far it was a perfect day.
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For some reason I love stopping at crazy roadside attractions like this.

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The day was ending and the sun was heading down.  The Pacific Coast highway takes a turn inland towards Leggett and connects with the 101.  This stretch is a windy road through the redwood trees.  It was completely back out, and the stars filled the sky.  The road was damp and fill of leaves and other rain forrest related debris, but the ride was amazing, one of the best stretches of the trip.  We pull over at the junction to 101 and reflect on the amazing ride we just had.  We had about an hour ride to Eureka where we had planned on staying for the night.

This map of the road inland does not do it justice, but shows just how twisty it is:

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Ryan pulls out and merges on the 101, it was late and there was little to no traffic out.  I pull in my clutch, put the bike in first and as im easing the clutch out i head a pop and the bike lurches into first gear.  I grab at the clutch and its completely limp – the clutch cable snapped.  I’m not stuck in first gear with no functioning clutch.  If I stop the bike its going to stall and I’ll be dead in the water.  With light traffic and being in the middle of nowhere I decide to hammer the bike into the higher gears and just try to ride the rest of the night without a clutch.

About 10 minutes into this we pass a desolate gas station with a refueling truck pulling out on the highway.  I slow down and try to gear down behind him but im forced to crawl to a stop and the bike stalls.  Its completely back out and im stuck.  I pop the bike into neutral and push it over the the now closed gas station.  All the lights are off and no one is around.  I wait about 10 mintues for Ryan to come back after he figured I was no longer behind him.

I see where the cable snapped and try to tie it together and make a manual clutch, but it just doesn’t feel safe and doesn’t seem to work.  In the end we decide to push the bike behind the gas station, leave it there for the night and double into Leggett for the night.  As we push the bike behind the gas station we are confronted by an angry supervisor who runs the gas station and the small attached campground.  He agrees to let us leave the bike there (like he had a choice) and said it “should” be there in the morning.

We double into town, grab a room at the local motel and crash for the night.  I start to worry if I will be able to find a repair or parts shop in such a remote area, and hope this doesnt cause us to miss the upcoming wedding.