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October 2012 Club News

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Bears, Bison and BMW

By Antoinet Glazema

Three months off work! It was early June and finally the time was here to start our big trip around the world. We had a couple of nice days in Perth with Huw and Elina.

We flew to Sydney and stayed with friends. It was great to catch up with all our friends there. We lived in Wollongong for 4 years and Ronnie worked in a Volkswagen workshop in Sydney so we caught up with all his old workmates and his 2 bosses who had sponsored him in 1998.

Camp on Vancouver Island.
On Monday the 11th of June we flew out of Sydney. The flight took 14 hours and we were very excited to finally land in Vancouver. My uncle, my mum and her partner were waiting for us. Mum and her partner had flown in from The Netherlands two days before our arrival to spend time with us in Vancouver.

The weather was beautiful and we drove around the area before we went to my uncle’s place. We could see the Rockies in the distance; still lots of snow on the peaks, hopefully it wouldn’t be too cold when we had to cross them.

The next day we picked up the 1977 BMW R100S and Ronnie checked the oils and other bits and pieces. It all looked pretty good. (Ronnie had found the motorbike on the net and we had asked my cousin if he could have a look at it and purchase it for us if it looked ok.)

Ronnie on the R100S BMW at the jetty, Tofino,
We had a great time catching up with my family and exploring the area. We took the ferry to Vancouver Island and had some very nice days there. The first night we camped near a lake and the second night we booked a motel. All very reasonable priced. Our first encounter with a bear was on the way to Tofino. Tourists had stopped to take pictures of a bear cub. When we came closer, we thought: where is mother bear? All the cars had blocked the road but we managed to get through and luckily never saw the big bear.

Black Bear.
We took the ferry back to Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) where we took the scenic road to Whistler and saw lots of bears on the side of the road. Because there is not much fish to be caught at this time of the year they just eat grass and fruits.

On our way back to Vancouver we hit a traffic jam in peak hour and it started to pour down with rain. It was so cold and I was glad to hop in the shower at my uncle’s place.

We explored a ranch on four wheelers and in a Jeep. We saw beaver dams and deer. Amazing country here. We took a helicopter flight over the area, which was another great experience. After 2 weeks we had to bring mum and Popke back to the airport and another 2 days later we left my uncle’s place to start the trip across to Toronto via America.

It was cold but sunny when we left at 8.30 in the morning. We went to Hells Gate, something amazing to see. The Fraser river is very narrow here and there is a huge amount of water rushing through this valley. They have had a lot more rain in British Colombia this spring so it was even more spectacular.

At Spences Bridge we went to the Log Cabin pub, a real bikers bar. Complete with motorbikes on display. They even do burnouts inside in front of the bar, we had some lunch there but nothing spectacular happened while we were there. Still a great place to visit though.

We kept on going and the scenery changed completely from green mountains to bare mountains. In Kamloops we stopped to boil the some water so we could have a cuppa. The weather had changed, by now it was sunny and warm. We put up our tent in a provincial park, had to pay $21 (which is the normal price in Canada for camping in a National park or provincial park) If you want to have a fire, you pay $7 extra plus $7 for firewood.

We were camping right on the Thompson River, this was flowing very fast, the mosquitoes were very annoying and there were lots of them. At 5.00 we woke up, there was a huge crash: a tree had fallen into the river. Because of the high level of the river a lot of big trees were pushed over. Along the way we had seen this already, big trees flowing down the river. And a lot of properties were flooded too.

The next day we rode into Alberta and Jasper was the next destination. We had some lunch in town and set up camp in Jasper N.P. The red squirrels are very cheeky here and very friendly. We had to watch our food.

Another creature who really likes food is the bear. In the towns and parks they have special bear lockers and bear proof bins. You can store all your food and other items with a smell (deodorant, toothpaste & shampoos etc) in these lockers.

Antoinet on the bike at Icefields Parkway.
After a good night sleep without bears we took the beautiful Icefields Parkway to Banff. It was very cold and overcast but still spectacular. We stopped to have a look at the Athabasca Glacier and had a look at Lake Louise which was not as beautiful and blue as in the brochures. Never mind, still really nice to be here.

Icefields Parkway, cold but stunning place.We camped in Banff  N.P. that night. Had a buffalo and an elk burger in the local pub for dinner, yum! Banff is a beautiful town, I really liked it. It’s surrounded by big mountains (3000 metres high).

We left early the next morning and had a look at a lake before we went to Canmore, another nice town.
We didn’t want to go through big cities so way before Calgary we turned south towards the American border. The road was amazing, no cloud in the sky and the mountains covered in snow. We stopped at the Highwood pass which is 2,206 meters high.

Later that day we rode across the border into America. We had purchased our visa’s at the border for $6 each. They need to see your passport and they need your fingerprints. You also have to fill out a form but all was easy to do.

Glacier National Park, USA.
We were now in Montana and found a place to stay in Glacier N.P. (US $20) We also bought a $80 annual national park pass. There we a lot of bicycle riders here, some of them had traveled an huge amount of kilometers to get here. I thought we had it tough . . .

The camping ground was packed with people, but we didn’t see any big campervans. They were all traveling in cars, small campervans or on pushbikes. Later we found out the overhangs of the mountains are too low to take a big campervan across. So remember this if you want to go there, it would be a shame to miss out on this road called “Going to the sun road”. They only opened the road 10 days before we got there, too much snow before that.

We ended up in sunny and warm Polson where we found a spot on the RV park (they had only 3 tent sites and about 150 RV sites) Lots of grass though for us and we had 2 nights there. We went to the Polson rodeo that night which was an experience. They are very passionate about this here and we had a good laugh when the Mutton Bustin’ competition started. A 3 year old girl won, she stayed on for 8 seconds!

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