We left Seattle on a not so typical sunny morning.  Do we really have to leave now?  The impending traffic battle was upon us, so we knew we had to hit the road sooner rather than later.  We reluctantly left the security of this awesome city to head north.  Our destination today?  Vancouver or bust!  We did have to do a small stint on Highway 5 to get to Highway 9, our preferred route, avoiding the major border crossing as well as, well, Highway 5.  Our desire to stay off the freeways found us gently rolling through the hills that bordered several small lakes.  Each lake was lined with very large homes and private docks.  If only it was sunny and warm enough to use the lake more than 2 months out of the year.  I say 2 because here it was, almost the middle of June, and we had yet to break even 65 degrees.  As much as I love the cold, a few degrees here and there wouldn’t hurt.  But there is a reason the foliage is so lush.  One must remember that.

Not 15 minutes after leaving Seattle, ol’ Mr. Jack reported through the intercom, “I have to go pee.”  Of course you do, buddy.  Pulled over at the cleanest Shell and spent 15 minutes gearing down, peeing, then gearing back up.  Okay, NOW are you ready?  Because little man, this is NOT going to happen again.  We roll most of the time fully geared up, meaning wearing our anti-smell good liners to prevent us from getting soaked by the menacing clouds.  It never rained.  We didn’t smell pleasant.  And stops like this were not helping the cause.

When you’re on a motorcycle journey with anyone under the age of, oh, say 18, there are going to be a few things that you must endure, knowing that it’s the only way you’re all going to survive.  Hours of “The Naked Brothers Band” looped through Terry and Jack’s headset while the groin crushed not so gently against the gas tank, making sure that your dozing passenger is comfortably rested against your back.  Terry has endured a lot to make sure time on the road is good for all.  Okay, maybe not himself, but it’s never all bad when you get the opportunity to go on a road trip.  I owe him one…or several.

With only a mile or 2 to go till the border, I made sure passports were handy in the top case and the head cam was rolling.  New card?  Check.  Fresh batteries?  Check.  A guarantee they won’t want us to tear down the back and bend us over?  Not so sure.  But hopefully having a little one harnessed to Terry will help prove that we’re not complete loons.  Like I said, no guarantees.  We charged forward only to be stopped by a line of cars 7 to 8 deep.  Fine.  Shut off engine.  Restart and move 3 feet.  Shut off engine.  Rinse. Repeat.  While waiting, we did have many curious onlookers asking us about our travels, including 4 dudes hanging out the windows of their truck, salivating at the idea of hittin’ the road.  Our turn!  We rolled up to the window, took off the helmets and proceeded to answer the barrage of questions.  No, we don’t have any firearms.  No, we’re not going to sell anything.  Did we have hotel reservations?  Where?  For how long?  When we told them we were probably going to camp, we got the most quizzicle look from the female (there were 2 border agents and the dude wasn’t looking too friendly).  And seriously, we got our first “eh” straight from the male agent.  No joke!  Priceless.  We finally rolled out, thankful that we got out unharmed as we spotted a GS1200 to the left, fully stripped, it’s owner no where to be found.  Oops.

Does ANYONE know why it smells like manure every 10 feet?  OH MY GOD!  The stench was nauseating and continued on for far too many miles.  Just when you thought the shit tour was over, again with the fumes.  Ugh!  Okay Sandy, concentrate on the scenery.  And the scenery did not disappoint.  The mountains spanned on either side, some still dotted with snow at their peaks.  Rows upon rows of blueberries grew along the roadside.  (Maybe the manure was for the berries, but that’s still no excuse.)  The cloud cover was less than inviting.  Very, VERY dark clouds loomed ahead and thankfully we weren’t heading east.  It was westward to the city of Vancouver, home to over 500,000 people.  Hey, it can’t be that bad, can it?

Oh, HELL YA it can!  Once we even got close, we hit commute traffic.  Hmmmm.  This feels strangely like the 101 in Marin.  Not cool.  We had yet to make a hotel reservation, so we pulled over into a parking lot and scanned the iPhone for a place to rest our weary throttle thumbs for the night.  The Metropolitan in downtown?  Perfect.  Thank you hotels.com!  Now the address into the GPS and we’re there in no time.  Aha, sucker!  Thought you were gettin’ off that easy!  You see, the Canada maps in the GPS were about 4 years old, enough time to COMPLETELY change some of the downtown routes and, just for our pleasure, erase some roads right off the map.  This made for a bit of an argument  between riders (via intercoms no less).  We did finally get there, unloaded and went in search of a casual meal that was close by.  Dinner?  Done.  Back to the hotel for some indoor pool time then off to bed.  Couldn’t do much with the internet as it was an ETHERNET cable that provided your online service.  Come on!  And did I mention that this city is NOISY!  I was awakened at 2 and 3AM by the sounds of racing cars and chatty people.  And it was a Wednesday!  And we were on the 9th floor!  Okay, I’ll stop with the bitching, but seriously.  I’ve stayed in plenty of major cities and the only other city to rival this noise was Barcelona (and that’s saying something).  We were going to stay 2 nights in Vancouver but we were really jonesin’ for some camping time.  Too much not-so-friendly city makes the Borden’s a little edgy.  Off to Vancouver Island we go!

The ferry ride to Vancouver Island was beautiful!  And we met some friendly Canadians who gave us scads of useful info about the island.  And just how friendly are Canadians really?  Let’s just say I never had to bend down to chalk my own bike or make sure all was stable.  Terry made some rounds on the upper deck with Jack while I sat at the workstation to write and upload pics.  After 1 1/2 hours, we arrived at the harbor, made sure our loads were cool then drove off in search of the perfect campsite.  It was getting late and we needed to get somewhere, set up camp and search for grub.  We headed to the southwest side of the island toward the town of Sooke (for all you True Blood fans, Terry and I pronounced it “Sookie”).  The owners of Sooke River Campground were nice enough to let us have a spot next to the river for one night as they were completely full the entire weekend for a bluegrass festival.  We just had to be out by 10AM the next morning.  Not a problem.  I set up camp while Terry hit the grocery store.  Mmmmm.  Roasted dogs, a side of veggies and a few shots of Jack Daniels.  Just what the doc ordered.

The owners told us upon arrival that there was a very good chance of live music at various campsites throughout the night.  Little did we know that this was a pretty major bluegrass gig and there were going to be some well known musicians joining in the festivities.  Knowing absolutely NOTHING about bluegrass, I couldn’t tell what some of those names were.  You’re going to have to trust me on this one.  We went out for an evening walk, heard some banjo in the distance and headed in it’s direction.  Out under the dueling RV awnings was a band that consisted of bass, banjo, mandolin, guitar, harmonica and other various instruments.  We sat down on the grass and soaked in the moment.  Jack was completely hooked.  We watched, chatted with some of the bands family members and eventually were approached by the supposedly famous guitar player.  He looked at Jack, grabbed him and put him in a chair.  He sat the guitar on Jack’s lap, got his fingers positioned and let him play along.  The bass player spotted Jack and turned her bass around, facing him.  He was officially a member of the group.  Guess the guy must have known Jack was a musician in the making.  Eventually, Jack peetered out (it was almost 11PM), and we headed back to camp, thanking each band member for their time and talent.  Because it doesn’t get dark here until almost 10:30PM, we found ourselves fooled quite often into thinking it was earlier than it actually was.  We literally poured ourselves into our sleeping bags, hitting the pillows mid-snore.  And speaking of pouring, it did rain that night.  Not too worry, though, as we didn’t melt and it gave the bikes a much needed rinsing off.

So I must bid you adieu for now.  I need some coffee as well as time for a shower.  There’s is more to come, I promise.  Our experience in Canada deserves 2 entries so you must be patient.  Remember, I’m held hostage by lack of electricity at the campsites and lack of WiFi almost everywhere.  Annoying but a reality I have to deal with.  Honestly, it has been nice being where technology is not.  A nice change…