Day 7: August 26, 2018
Route: Nakusp, BC, to Osoyoos, BC
The morning sun woke me up early, around 6 a.m. Maybe it was also the excitement and trepidation of leaving Nakusp. The entire trip to Nakusp, I had been riding with Greg. Something felt calming about seeing him in front of me on the road. Well, Greg is retired. Greg didn’t have to be back to work in a week; I did. I knew this was coming, and Greg had told me I’d likely be returning home alone. Greg planned to see more of British Columbia and Alberta. My return to California would be my first long trip alone. I laid there in the tent for a while planning out my day.
Starting early the previous night, it had rained in Nakusp. The rain was welcome, as it helped reduce some of the smokiness, but at the same time I wasn’t looking forward to riding in it. My rain gear had melted back in California, and I had not bought replacements.
I packed up my camp in the cold morning air. Amazingly, the items that had been hanging on the clothesline had dried despite the rain. I guess the stand of trees around camp had provided enough of a cover that the rain couldn’t get through.
I said goodbye to Greg. He offered some encouraging words, and reminded me to ride my own ride. Greg had every bit of confidence that I could handle the trek home by myself. Greg assured me that though I would be alone, motorcyclists are never truly alone – they look out for each other. A handshake and a hug later, and I was on my way.
It was shortly after 9 when I finally hit the road, taking BC Highway 6 out of Nakusp toward Fauquier. The ride out of town was chilly, and I had to stop to put on my thermal jacket liner. Since Horizons Unlimited was over, several other motorcycles passed as I put on the liner, each one raising a thumb at me to make sure I was all right.
I arrived at the Fauquier ferry and waited in a long line of cars and motorcycles. The Fauquier ferry was different from the ferry I had taken in Washington. They did not allow motorcycles to skip the queue and go directly to the front. I ended up at the back of the ferry with another rider on a BMW. We chatted for a bit about where we were from. He was familiar with the Northern California area, and had ridden many of my “home roads.”
I rolled off the ferry behind a couple minivans and RVs, and made the climb up the Monashee Pass. As I was climbing the pass, it started raining. The rain wasn’t heavy, but it was steady. The road didn’t start getting wet until I reached the top of the pass. My riding jacket and pants did a good job on their own of keeping me dry.
The rain had an added benefit – it was no longer smoky. I had been able to see Arrow Lake while crossing on the ferry, and I was able to see the forest as I rode through the pass. The green and brown trees were a beautiful contrast to the gray skies. The reflections of the clouds on the damp pavement, added to the beauty. As I descended the pass, the highway followed Inonoaklin Creek as it wound down the hills as it flowed eventually into the Kettle River. I stopped for pictures where the road passed McIntyre Lake. I was enjoying the solitude and the natural beauty of the Monashees.
That’s one of the good things about riding alone. I could stop whenever I wanted if I saw something interesting. Greg always told me if I wanted to stop if I wanted, he had no problem waiting for me, but I felt bad doing so because I felt like I was holding him up.
I turned onto BC Highway 97 in Vernon. The rain had stopped, but the air was still cold. While waiting at a stop light in Vernon, I saw a CF-18 circle around overhead. It flew off before I could get my camera out to take a picture of it.
I continued south on Highway 97 past Kalamalka Lake and Wood Lake. I stopped in Lake Country and visited my first Tim Horton’s. It’s mass-market coffee, but everyone tells me it’s a place to stop when you’re in Canada. The coffee was good, and the sausage and egg sandwich filled me up enough to satisfy my hunger for the time being. Other customers were so nice, asking how the ride was going, and even inquiring as to where my license plates were from. Two customers seemed shocked that someone would ride all the way to Canada from California on a motorcycle.
In Kelowna, I gassed up and made a quick stop at Walmart. I had been looking for Canadian flag stickers since I arrived, but had no luck finding any. I thought for sure Walmart would have them, as they always seem to have a small souvenir section. Apparently the Kelowna Walmart was different. They didn’t have a souvenir section, and they didn’t even have Maple Leaf Flag stickers in the customization section of the automotive department. Perhaps they’d be easier to find near the border where all the tourists go.
From Kelowna, I turned onto BC Highway 33, which wound through the West Kettle River Valley. The rain picked up again through the valley, but it still wasn’t so bad that I had to stop. The scenery, once I entered the valley was amazing – green trees, reddish brown grasses, gray clouds. I stopped several times to take pictures. Highway 33 seemed to be the road less traveled, as I didn’t see as much traffic as I had on Highway 97.
It was beginning to get close to the time where I would have to think about finding a place to stop for the night. I knew there was a provincial park in Osoyoos, but when I had checked the previous day, it was almost full. Also, I didn’t want to sleep on the ground again after spending the last week in a tent. I decided to give the Couchsurfing app a try.
Couchsurfing is a website and app where hosts offer up space for people to spend the night, be it simply a couch, a spare bedroom, or a mother-in-law unit. The stays are free, as opposed to other sharing sites like AirBNB. Though staying with a stranger is not something I would typically do, I thought I’d give it a try. I made a couple requests for places in Osoyoos and would check back for my results as I got closer. I was hopeful someone would be amenable to my last-minute request.
At the town of Rock Creek, I turned onto BC Highway 3, the Crowsnest Highway, to make my final approach toward Osoyoos. Highway 3 crosses Anarchist Pass and skirts within a quarter mile of the Canada-US border in some places. Heading west toward the descending sun, I saw amazing displays of light rays piercing the clouds. Descending into Osoyoos, I navigated the tight switchbacks of the highway, unfortunately being stuck behind a slow-moving RV at the front of a long line of cars. I enjoyed the view of Osoyoos Lake on the descent.
When I arrived in Osoyoos, I checked Couchsurfing to see if I had any responses. I got one from a user named Janet. Janet had a private room with a cot available for the night. A warm, dry room and not sleeping on the ground sounded great. I confirmed my stay and told Janet I would be arriving shortly.
I made a stop at a local store, and finally found myself some Canada stickers. Border towns to the rescue!
The room was not a stay at the Ritz, just a bedroom with a camping cot, but I didn’t care. I’d be off the ground and warm for the night. Janet and her boyfriend Colin, a retired-RCMP officer, were nice people. Janet was quick to offer up a hot cup of tea, and made dinner. I chatted with them about my time on the road, and the differences in police work in Canada and the United States. After dinner, they took me to the local ice rink, where their friend Paulo works. Unfortunately, the rink didn’t have any skates available in my size, so I didn’t get to hit the ice. Instead, I got to help Paulo with some of the end-of-day ice maintenance. I didn’t get to drive the Zamboni, but I got to help Paulo measure the thickness of the ice.
I slept well on the cot, and even managed to hold onto my kidneys! Tomorrow I would say goodbye to Canada and re-enter the United States. Thanks for your hospitality, Canada. Your people and land have been beautiful.
Distance: 264.5 miles, 1402 total.