1500 miles in 3 days, Beowulf is not feeling right

July 1, 2011

It’s been a blur.

These last 2 days I covered a lot of miles, stopping only for fuel and to sleep. I woke up from camp in Creston and ate some of my provisions, on the spot, smoothie powder in water, dried fruits and almonds. I thought I had lost my bike key… it took some methodical searching for me to finally find it in my bag, with the laptop. Phew… I started to wonder if a magpie had picked it up…

2 hours later I arrived in Cranbrook BC. I fueled up the bike then looked to fuel myself up with caffeine and found an espresso bar called “Good Coffee” and it was indeed good and they had wi-fi.

somewhere, stopped for construction on the 1 in Western Alberta

So I rode and rode, crossed into Alberta, again, it is astounding to see how much the scenery changes as you cross the “border” between the two provinces. As if by miracle, you are immediately “somewhere else” when you cross this conceptual line. The mountains started to recede in the rear view mirrors and the driving slowed down considerably as I ended up behind traffic with no chance to pass on a two lane road.

Riding behind cars is the most boring and somewhat dangerous thing as it gets sleepy. It’s almost like being hypnotized into this slow going, never ending lull. You can’t really see ahead, you are stuck in this slow train, slightly blended by the buffeting of the wind, especially behind some of the SUV’s who seem to broil the air into shreds of unruly winds. At Crow’s Nest Pass I just about had enough. I pulled off the highway and got into town… Dead’s ville. Eerily, no one was around, on the sidewalks, in the businesses… I rode around and exited back on the highway. Right down there was this pub and I saw this sign… Had to stop…

a promising sign

To my dismay the cafe’s door was locked with a sign that said : ” wil be rit back” which made me wonder about the quality of the espresso they would serve… so I went into the pub. Another typical Alberta establishment with many formerly wild life hanging on the walls. But the soup was good and the folks were quite nice.

antlered helmet

wall mounted wildlife

After lunch I went outside and I had to try again for espresso and : the door opened. I walked in and this is part of what I saw :

inside

The coffee was close to mediocre but it was so whimsical and the lady was really nice so that made up for the bad java.

one corner of this whimsical place

the ceiling

There was two kids there and one little girl wanted to see my bike, so she came out, the boy and mom in tow. The little girl climbed readily on the bike a huge smile on her face, then the boy. We said goodbyes and I was putting on my gloves when this other man who ate at the pub while I was there approached and started to talk bikes. Turns out he rides too, a Harley. It seems most everyone around these parts ride Harleys. We talked bikes for a few minutes, he wished me well and I headed back on the road.

the rest of the day was mostly about covering miles, the scenery was … well… not really stimulating. Just a series of fields, trucks, grass, canola fields, I was told Saskatchewan was boring…

one of many

Beowulf, the road

I hit Medicine Hat, (gotta love that name) around 8 PM. Found a Starbucks (for the WiFi) and checked the maps. South of town is a provincial park : Cypress Hills. I’m dying to see something and this place has camping so I headed south, about 40 some miles down the road. Suddenly, it was heartbreakingly beautiful.

I stopped. This is immense. The farms are nestled in the crooks of small hills, some over a mile from the road. All sitting on acres and acres of land. I try to imagine winter here. Tough living. Right now it’s symphonic. The grasses in hues going from green to blue with accents of gold, dancing in the wind. I feel the spirit of the land. How is it that we manage to so thoroughly kill the spirit of the land when humans concentrate their numbers somewhere? This is pure poetry.

sunset

Buffalo trail

endlessness

I arrived at the park, there is a lake there that I learn the natives used to call “the oasis in the prairie” It now bears the name Elkwater Lake. Again the people there are very welcoming. The lady at park registration desk gave me this amazing spot to camp on, near a creek and under the cover of the trees. They made fun of my appearance which is definitely grimy and buggy. The helmet has this look of centrifugal killing field for mosquitoes.. concentrated in the middle of the shield and spreading out in a nearly perfect diminishing concentric formation to the outside of the shield. Impressive.

the picture doesn't quite tell... but you can see some bugs

I got to my spot, set up the tent, ate my sardines as the sun was setting. My neighbors invited me to join their camp fire, which was neat. I LOVE campfires. We chatted for a while. Of course the topic of the Vancouver riots came up. I guess that will be the hot Vancouver topic for a while to come.

home sweet home

When I returned to my camp I got the guitar out and started to play. How cool. Last year I did not have that luxury. Now I’m never alone. I started to feel the cold air infiltrate my clothes so I went to bed.

Next morning, back on the bike fairly early, It’s 8 something AM on the bike, that means 9 something Vancouver time and here I have no idea what time it is or which time zone I’m in. All I know is that I’m up early for me. I splurged and had a restaurant breakfast which cost me all of $6.50 with coffee. Wow. That will allow me to go for hours before having to stop.

I hit the road with purpose. I crossed the Saskatchewan border within the hour later, stopped to get a map at the tourist information booth and continued on. I am going 80 to 90 MPH and most all traffic is passing me. I have not seen a cop and will not see a single one all day. I find the scenery more interesting than it was in Alberta.

I was starting to be concerned with the bike. I pulled into Swift Current and the bike feels terrible. The front end feels out of control and now the engine sounds like my plugs are fouled up, I also think that the exhaust is sounding different. I know I tend to worry too much but this does not feel good. I stopped to see if I could find a Starbucks so I can go on the internet to find a BMW dealer or some kind of bike shop. No luck. On the GPS the next coffee shop is 100 miles away. the streets are incredibly rough, bumpy and aggravating the feeling of the bike falling apart so I elected to immediately get out of town . On the highway at speed, the bike feels much better. I figured I’d get to Moose Jaw and see if I can find an internet connection out there…

No luck. It’s hot, the bike runs like crap and again, no cafe with wifi to be found. I ate a the Urban-a-Peel restaurant, which was supposed to have internet but I could not connect. All right. I filled up again. And here, strangely, you don’t have to pay for gas before you fill up… “We still trust people here” said the gas jockey… wild. Onwards I continued.

I stopped at Whitewood, another place with incredibly bumpy, pot-holed, patched up roads with multiple layers of asphalt cracked and caked to cover up roads that freeze so deeply in the winter and suffer incredibly hot summers, the roads have no chance for beauty or smoothness. I pulled into a gas station, the bike sounds like a lawn mower… I filled up, bought a licorice cigar for 35 cents and pulled in the parking lot at the hotel next door, which is just mud and holes, I can’t imagine this on a rainy day…

There were two bikers there. Two guys from New York state on a 19 thousand miles trip from New York, across Canada, up to the Northwest territories, into the Yukon and Alaska, then back down across BC and back across the northern US… They checked my front end, thought it was too tight… then asked me if I had spare spark plugs.. I didn’t. We chatted for a while and I went my way, they went theirs. Nice guys. So very American, relaxed, confident and generous.

the American adventurers

Yours truly, this is getting to be a habit... photos of me!

I figured that if I was to get help I would find it in Winnipeg as it is the biggest town for miles and miles and since the bike felt OK on the highway I might as well proceed on.

I rode straight to Brandon, filled up again and rode the last bit of road to Winnipeg. I ended up riding lying down on the tank as the weather is so windy and it’s getting cold and the vest is not quite heating enough to keep me warm in a perforated jacket. In that position I am shielded from the elements I don’t want to stop and get out the gore-tex shell, I might just run out of energy and courage to make my target so I just go, go, go… . I made it to my friend’s house at 12:40 Winnipeg’s time. That was 12 hours in the saddle for today.

who knows what kind of fun can be procured at "Whoop Up Fort"?

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4 Responses to “1500 miles in 3 days, Beowulf is not feeling right”

  1. Forrest Says:

    Haha! “Whoop Up Fort” reminds me of “Bucksnort, Tennesse”! I loved your story about the beautiful campsite. The coffee house with the bad java looked awesome inside! The outside didn’t really reflect its charming decor inside. Those pictures of the Sunset and that beautiful field were amazing. I am very relieved that you made it to your friend’s place safely. But, I’m left in suspense about your bike though! I hope that you and Beowulf will be okay! Please keep us posted on that. This is like a cliffhanger!

  2. Erika Koenig Says:

    Glad you met those harley guys! I mean for help and support with the bike!!

    Happy Canada Day Danielle, whereever you are, see my Canada Day Memory…http://www.studio217-salonunidad.blogspot.com, sending you a hug and best wishes and prayers for the journey onwards, go horsie go!

    colibri soeur [hummingbird sister]


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