Day 3 (July 20)
I woke up bright and early at 5:20am when a helicopter flew overhead. My breakfast consisted of a can of fruit cocktail. I was on the road at 6:35am for my earliest departure yet. Due to my late arrival I hadn't actually seen much of the terrain I was riding through until this morning. It was amazing. Rugged hills unlike anything I had ever seen. Even more than buying gas in liters this really made me feel like I was far from home. I regrettably didn't take any pictures so these low quality ones will have to do.
More about this section of Highway 99
As that second picture illustrates, this road was full of twists and turns and elevation changes. That "tunnel" is really the railroad tracks crossing the highway. These tracks and the road parallel each other along the side of the hill criss-crossing each other numerous times. Unfortunately I didn't see any trains.
I got gas at the next town called Clinton. At 191 miles since my last fill-up, I was relieved to arrive. With a 5 gallon fuel tank, my range was about 200 miles. I never ran out of gas although I got really worried once. It was 8:00 in the morning on sunday and there were only a handful of people up and about. When I stopped at the same gas station on my route home (16 days later) it was a completely different scene. It was 4:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday and I ran into some of the slowest most aggravating traffic of my trip. But for now the sailing was smooth.
I stopped at Williams Lake to stretch at a little market with a couple gas pumps in front of it. It felt good to have 175 miles in already at 10:15am. I made my first cash purchase with Canadian currency here, two bananas for 63 cents. I was sturck by how small The fruit was. I'm used to jumbo sized apples and oranges, not 3 inch diameter ones. I ate one banana while sitting on the curb next to my bike. An older man cruised by on a little electric scooter. Two more people asked me about my motorcycle and where I was going.
Later in the afternoon there were some clouds developing as I progressed. I kept eyeing the sky wondering when the rain would begin. Even though I didn't want rain I kind of wanted it to just pour so I could put on my rain gear and get the inevitable over with. I knew that once I had gone through my first real rain it wouldn't seem like such a big deal anymore and that uneasy anticipation would go away. Well my wish was sort of granted. After a few false starts the rain began in earnest and I pulled over to deal with the situation. I put a plastic garbage bag over my duffel bag only to find out the garbage bag wasn't quite big enough to cover it all. Then when I put my rain suit on (for the first time ever) I discovered that the pant leg holes were too small for my boots to fit through. I opted to "enlarge" the holes rather than take my boots off. This ended up leaving the bottom half of my calves completely exposed. The jacket performed better though even though it poofed up like a marshmallow in the wind when I rode. After I got all suited up and back on the road the rain persisted for a whopping 5-10 minutes and then the sun came out. I stopped and took off my plastic clothes since they didn't breathe and I was getting incredibly hot underneath them. I would say I got my $8.00 worth out of this rain suit but in the future I would definitely bring a better one.
Rest stops in Canada (At least in BC and Yukon) are much different than anything I've seen along I-5. They consist of a turn off from the highway with toilets, a couple picnic tables, some bear proof trash receptacles, and usually a fantastic view. No telephones, no running water, no covered areas, just the bare necessities. I would typically stop for gas and then stop to eat and stretch about 60 to 80 miles later and the get gas again in another 80 or so miles. Even though I could stretch a tank of gas out to 190+ miles I tried to keep it down to 160 miles just to be safe. At these rest stops I would have some bread and peanut butter, a handful of trail mix, and a couple pieces of turkey jerky. I went through about 1 1/2 jars of peanut butter this way.
Railroad tracks near a rest stop
Railroad tracks and a lake
I made it through Prince George and Vanderhoof and Houston and I was on my way to Smithers where I planned to spend the night. I was looking forward to ending my day early so I would have time to pitch my tent while it was light out and then actualy eat dinner (unlike the night before) and relax a bit before sleeping. I was making good progress and hoping to get to Smithers by 7:00pm when I passed a car on the side of the road. One person standing next to it waved at me with his hand in the shape of a phone (thumb and pinky out). I pulled over, turned around, and drove back to see what I could do to help. Why did I stop? Well I ran out of gas once on my other bike (Honda CBR 600) and some guy helped me out by driving to the nearest gas station and bringing back gas. I offered him money and he refused saying I just had to pass on the good deed. So that's what I did. The guy who owned the car was named Victor. He said his fuel pump had quit and he need a new one. He wanted me to call a friend of his who could bring him the replacement part. The only problem was that my cell phone had no service and the nearest town was Houston, 16 miles back where I came from. I reluctantly agreed to go back and call his friend. The more I thought about it though, the more I knew I was doing the right thing. I hoped that I would make good impression so that at least one Canadian car driver would think that maybe Americans and Motorcyclists weren't so bad after all.
Scenerey between Houston and Smithers
I got to Smithers around 7:30pm, slightly later than planned but still a pleasantly early arrival compared to 11:00pm the night before. The 8 Canadian dollars I payed to camp was my first lodging expense but it was a great bargain. The next image shows where I camped. My tent was pitched right between my bike and the picnic table. It was a beautiful area, right by a river, and the guy who ran the place came buy and personally collected everyone's money.
My campsite the next morning
Looking the other direction
Day 3 route