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Day 1
July 18, 1999
Bellingham to Cache Creek

Jan's BMW is a 1981 and a throwback to bikes that ran for a couple of hundred thousand miles if you were willing to work on them daily. By comparison, many of the newer bikes are pretty much maintenance free, but if they do break down you are pretty much out of luck until you get to the nearest dealer. With the BMW you have to maintain it every day, but at least you can. That's a comforting thought since there are no BMW dealers in the 2,200 miles between Vancouver, BC and Fairbanks.

Taking a break by the Fraser River, near Hope, B.C.

This morning it's an oil leak from the drive shaft. I've had trouble with this the past week, but haven't had the time to locate the source. I think it may be a rubber boot that's worn, but I don't have a replacement, so I'm resigned to checking and filling the drive shaft oil every morning. Luckily, the drip only requires a couple of ounces of fluid in the morning, but it's still a nuisance.

By 10am we've wound our way through the tidy farms and orderly small towns of northwest Washington State, and have arrived at Canada Customs at Sumas. I'm prepared with driver's license, vehicle registration, Canadian insurance card and ready proof that we have enough money available to see us through Canada and back into the States all information I've needed on some of my many visits to Canada over the years. But unlike many past crossings, we're only asked where we're from and how long we will be staying in Canada. Assuring the Customs Agent that we don't have alcohol, tobacco or firearms, we are on our way with not so much as a second look. I guess we must not fit the typical "biker image" anymore.

At Abbotsford we head east on TransCanada 1 for the town of Hope, the southern entrance to the Fraser River Canyon. The scenery quickly turns beautiful. As the Fraser River squeezes through the canyon, it's turbulance affords great opportunity for rafting and kayaking, but we don't have time today and instead enjoy a road absolutely made for motorcycles - at least for two-wheelers. For the next 120 miles the road is up and down, turning this way and that, as it follows the course of the river gorge. There are wonderful views, but also a 500 foot drop from the road to the river, and with a fair number of impatient drivers around us, we keep our eyes on the road. At least Jan does. She has ridden her sidecar combination less than 1,000 miles by now, and is still learning how to handle it. It is not much like riding a motorcycle, and takes a fair amount of body weight movement to move it through sharp curves, particularly to the right. Our speeds are down to 30mph on some of the worst curves, but we stay at it and make good time. Experienced from riding steadily for almost 35 years now, and since we are not moving fast, I drink in the scenery while keeping one eye on the road.

Across the Fraser River, the mountains rise to almost 9,000 feet and still show patches of snow in mid-July. I'm intrigued by the many shades of green I view, the farthest trees almost black, while the mountain meadows are a light, fresh shade, like pictures of the Irish countryside. In between are forests of Hunter green and Kelly green. Just a wonderful mix of shades of color.

By 3pm we've left the canyons of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, and in 90 degree heat and brilliant sunshine we arrive in Cache Creek, our appointed rendezvous with Eric and Julia and our stop for the night. In a day and a half, we've come about 340 miles.

I'm done for the day, tired from the sun and wind, but the BMW isn't done with me. After unpacking the sidecar (a pretty unpleasant daily chore as there is no way to lock it and it contains most of our tools, parts and supplies, as well as our clothes in short, stuff we need) I notice a steady drip of gasoline from the left carburetor. In fifteen minutes enough has run out that it's caused a small crater in the asphalt. Closer inspection reveals the in-line fuel filter has cracked and is leaking profusely. Aside from the hassle and fuel loss, I'm horrified to think of the results of this gas hitting the hot cylinder heads right below. I shut off the petcock valves and quickly fix the leak by replacing the in-line filter. I carry two spares. Hopefully a potential accident has been averted.

We catch up on old times with Eric and Julia over dinner, and plan our route the following day. We are riding are very different speeds, so we will meet for the lunch at 150 Mile House, and meet again for the night in Prince George. Randy joins us in Prince George after his five day ride north from Denver.