2012 Rolling Over the 100K
Part 5 of 10
Sixes and Sevens
I don't know what it is about Alberta but every time I go through that Province I end up feeling like I've been kicked-around a bit. I was leaving BC heading towards the Alberta border when I felt something ominous was about to happen. For those of you who remember the B&W cowboy movies from the old days where stagecoach wheels reversed rotation when they were slowing down and fast-moving cumuli-nimbus clouds moved at breakneck speed across an ugly sky – the latter was all happening now right above my head. They had found me! They unleashed their thousand-gallon loads of heavy rain right on top of me. It was no co-incidence that this occurred just as I was passing the “Welcome to Alberta” sign to my right. There had to be some sinister connection. I stopped to put my rain suit on my already drenched body. There was no shelter. No respite. I had to grin and bear it as I began the long and lonely trek south to the US Border at Montana. It was going to be a long, wet, cold ride with very few, if any, gas stations.
Sixes and Sevens
I was the sole vehicle at the border and the US Border Guard looked like I'd spoiled his morning coffee. There was no friendly greeting - no smile - no wave - no nothing. He held out his hand and said “Passport”. I shut off my engine and started to dismount. He barked “Why are you getting off your bike?” “To get my passport” I said, “Its in my knapsack on my back”. “ It shouldn't be in your knapsack. You should carry it in the front pocket of your rain-suit ready to give to me!” When I handed it to him he asked “What's your licence plate number?” I told him I didn't know. He said “Do you own the motorcycle?” I told him “Yes” to which he said that if I really owned the motorcycle I should be able to tell him my plate number. I was getting a little annoyed at his interrogation so I responded by saying a little too sharply. “Well – its a BC plate with lots of sixes and sevens.” I noticed that he was now concentrating on his monitor so I quietly took a couple of steps backwards and read out loud - BC 6766! He handed me my passport and waved me on my way.
If you can close your eyes and imagine travelling through barren land where there is nothing, absolutely nothing, and then even more nothing, you would most likely be travelling the vast barren “deserts” of Southern Alberta and Montana. The lay of the land doesn't change with the political boundaries and neither does the weather. I was getting wetter and wetter and colder and colder when I saw a nice restaurant on US Route 2 just as I was approaching Chester. I pulled in. I was in dire need of a steaming hot coffee and a grilled-cheese sandwich so that's exactly what I ordered. Across from me were two young men who appeared to be in their twenties. They were speaking French. It wasn't hard to understand that they were fascinated with my Harley. I had parked it next to their touring bicycles. The older one asked me, with some difficulty, if it was my motorcycle to which I responded affirmatively in French. They were delighted. I asked them, in French, if they would care to join me and in a moment they were sitting across from me at my table. I was surprised at how well I was getting along in French and whenever I had difficulties they would switch to their broken English. They were here touring on their bicycles from the south of France. They were totally taken with my Harley and explained that Harley Davidsons were far too expensive to buy in France. Not many could afford such luxuries. We spent most of the afternoon talking about life in Canada and America and France until they had to go. As they were leaving, the taller boy came back to my table and said in his very best English “John, I really envy you riding a Harley.”