Road trip Days 5 & 6 – best laid plans & all that (Calgary to Nelson – 612 km; Nelson to home – 643 km)

The only thing you should ever expect in life is the unexpected. For example, I expected to be in Duluth today. But I am unexpectedly home instead.

We couldn’t find a simple or straightforward answer to the speed wobble in Scott’s front wheel, short of “remove side bags”. But it’s pretty hard to do a two week road trip without luggage, so that was hardly a workable solution. There likely is a way of fixing this – there has to be; I’ve seen lots of KLRs with hard cases – and once discovered it may even be fairly straightforward, but for now it seemed best to cut our losses. I would ride home, while Scott tries to work through the problem. Maybe we’ll try again in a couple months’ time.

Once we reached that decision, the rest of Monday was devoted to resting, recreation (at the Hop & Brew), and getting myself sorted for the early return to the west coast. None of which is worth going into in great detail.

Tuesday morning, I woke early, dressed & finished packing my bags. I had coffee with Scott, then loaded up the bike and set forth. I got about 25 km when I realized I’d left behind the 2 gallon Rotopax gas can I’d borrowed from Colin for the trip. If it were my own gas can, I’d have picked it up next time I was there. Or Scott could bring it out with him. But as it was a loaner, the only option was to go back and fetch it. Luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad heading back into downtown, at least by Vancouver standards. I fetched the Rotopax, said so long to Scott a second time, and headed south again.

I lived in Calgary for nearly 20 years, but the southwest of the city still confuses me, especially the areas that have been added since I left, nearly 25 years ago. Needless to say, I somehow missed the turn I needed to take to get on the 22x, and found myself, after several twists and turns, on Macleod Trail, several miles south of Anderson Road. By this time I’d been on the road for close to an hour, between backing and frothing and wandering around subdivisions meant to defeat navigation with the endless similarity of their street names and housing styles. I was getting hungry, so I stopped and had breakfast at a regrettable corporate diner, which shall remain nameless, mainly to protect my dignity. The best I can say for it is it didn’t make me sick.

It was nearly 11 a.m. by the time I reached the city limits, and I did eventually reach my chosen route, Hwy 22. I stopped for gas in Longview, and hopped back on the bike. To say the route is windy is like saying Donal Trump has positive self esteem. I spent most of the time being buffeted by cross winds and head winds (but never a tail wind) that seemed intent on pushing me off the road. Good thing it wasn’t an exceptionally windy day.

Eventually I reached Hwy 3, and turned the bike west. Into the wind, of course. I stopped to stretch and drink some water in a little town just west of Frank, home of the Hillcrest Mine disaster, in which nearly 200 miners were killed by an explosion that ripped through the mine, as well as the site of deadly landslide, which killed 90 people. If you like mass graves, there are two in the Crowsnest Pass.

I hopped back on the Valkyrie, as I like to call her, and continued my westward journey. A fellow biker passing in the other direction tapped his helmet near the edge of town, and I managed to slow down just in time to see the speed trap I would surely have been caught in without the warning. That was about as eventful as the day would be from there. I rolled into Nelson a little before 6, having booked a room at the Best Western there.

I unpacked my bike, showered and changed, and walked up and down the main street of the sleepy mountain town. Not much happening on a Tuesday night. None of the local restaurants caught my eye, so I opted for the one attached to the hotel. It had had some good reviews, apparently all from staff. I had the worst steak sandwich it is possible to imagine for dinner. The service was very good, though, so there’s that. I walked around a little more after that, then went back to the hotel to watch mindless TV and fall asleep early.

In the morning, I went to a breakfast place that I like in Nelson, called the Vienna Cafe. It’s attached to a very good used bookstore called Packrat Annie’s. The food is simple, but well prepared, and the jam you get with your toast is homemade. It’s also much less expensive than most other breakfasts in town, so if you find yourself needing breakfast in Nelson, you know where to go.

I still had plenty of gas from the day before. After Longview, I’d filled up in Cranbrook, and I’d emptied the Rotopax into the tank when I got to Nelson. I got back on the highway, and rode to Grand Forks before stopping for gas again. There was none of the usual feeling of adventure about this ride. I was just trying to get home as quickly as possible. From Grand Forks, I rode until I got to Princeton, where I had a burger at the DQ, and gassed up again. Then there was a brief stop in Abbotsford, just to get out of traffic for a bit, before completing the journey home.

It wasn’t how I expected or wanted this trip to go. It wasn’t how Scott did, either. But shit happens. Plans change. On the plus side, Adele now has next week off, and we’ll head over to Vancouver Island for a few days to visit my cousin Jan and her husband Chris. And, as I said earlier, maybe we’ll try again in September, if the bike can get sorted, and I can get the time off.

One thought on “Road trip Days 5 & 6 – best laid plans & all that (Calgary to Nelson – 612 km; Nelson to home – 643 km)

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