Part 9 of 15
Wrong Border Crossing
I was not yet ready to start my return trip back east so I made arrangements to meet Jim a few days later in Nanaimo for a bike trip up the east coast of Vancouver Island to Campbell River. Jim would be on his 750 Honda Shadow; my son Steven would ride his 750 Suzuki Katana crotch-rocket and I would ride my Harley Super Glide. It was hardly a harmonious mix of bikes but then who's noticing?
We didn't take the main Highway 19. We took Highway 19A which follows the coast all the way up to Campbell River. What a ride! It's every bit as beautiful as the coastline of North Wales. We took short rest stops at Parksville; Qualicum Beach; Comox; and Oyster River along the way. We checked-in at a small motel and we went for dinner at a nearby pub - but that was not the best that Campbell River had to offer. The best had yet to come.
At 5'o clock the next morning we woke up in a different world. This was not the planet Earth as we knew it. The early dawn sky was different. It was beautiful and serene The colours were unfamiliar to us. Wisps of yellow, blue, purple and red could be seen against an overall background of orange and grey. Dark shadows moved around diligently gathering nets and launching small boats into the ocean. Above all else, this new world was absolutely silent. Not a word was spoken. The only sounds that could be heard were the familiar sounds of whales in the far distance. This was the land of the Indian and I felt that we were intruding. Suddenly, they were gone. The three of us sat quietly on a log a good distance away from the shoreline. We didn't speak. We were in some kind of hypnotic trance. None of us had seen such heavenly northern beauty before.
Since my incoming trip from Ottawa to Vancouver had been the worst motorcycle trip of my life due to the catastrophic weather, the decision to return through the United States was an easy one. I'd take my chances there this time. Furthermore, I thought I'd travel for the first couple of days through Hope and then continue along Hwy 3 and the Crows Nest Trail through Osoyoos and Grandforks crossing down into the US just beyond Creston. I hadn't been that way before. My plan was to meet up with US Route 2 which shadows the Canadian border all the way to Sault St. Marie, Michigan.
The City of Osoyoos lies at the bottom of a deep basin and the ride downhill towards it, is equally as gorgeous as the uphill exit away from it. It's earth-shatteringly beautiful. I never expected to find one of the most beautiful cities I'd ever seen, in this part of southern BC. I re-stocked my saddlebags with two cans of Coors Lite. I stopped at a Safeway supermarket for a salad and submarine sandwich and I spent a relaxing night at a BC campground about thirty kilometers east on Highway 3. It was delightful. My tent was dry. My sleeping bag was dry. Everything I carried with me was dry. Add to that, some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world and I was next to heaven. I even thought of renaming my blog from 2010 Alaska Sunk to “The Trip from Heaven and Hell” but the next morning more sober thoughts, including my original title, prevailed.
Wrong Border Crossing
I looked at my map very carefully because I noticed two US border crossings very close together. The first one, just after Grand Forks was the wrong one. That would take me along US Route 395 to Spokane, Washington. The second one, at Creston, was the correct one. It would take me to US Route 96 to Bonners Ferry where I would then turn left on US Route 2. After riding peacefully for about an hour with no other traffic on the road I was just coming out of a long bend in the road when I saw a great big US Border sign. I thought “How nice, I think I'll cross here”. There was just me and the border guard. I recognized him as Sgt. Miller (John Duttine) from BBC's popular television “Heartbeat” Series. I told him about the uncanny resemblance but he was stone-faced and he completely ignored my attempts at friendliness. He looked at my license plate and made a note. He took my passport into his little shack and he was gone for a good twenty minutes or so. I was beginning to think that something was wrong until he came out and told me that I was free to go. I didn't bother with a “thank-you” or a “good-bye”. I figured the smart thing to do was say nothing at all and just take off – very slowly.
When I couldn't find Bonners Ferry I realized what I'd done. I'd taken the wrong border crossing which meant that I lost 200 kilometers and well over half a day's riding. Still, that was far more palatable than the prospect of having to turn around to go back to see stone-faced “Sgt. Miller” once again.