June 22, 2013 – Well here it is – the first trip of the 2013 season! WeSTOC XVIII starts on June 25 in Sooke, BC, just west of Victoria on Vancouver Island. I’ve known the disorganizer of WeSTOC XVIII, Tim Graham, for some years, since first meeting him at the Calgary Motorcycle Show in 2006. He sells the StarCom bike communications system that my wife and I have used for years on our bikes.
WeSTOC – Western ST Owners Club – is a group of Honda ST1100/1300 owners who get together in June of every year somewhere in the west. In 2011, it was Nelson, BC and Tim invited me along even though I ride a Yamaha FJR. I had a great time in ’11 in Nelson so when Tim announced that he’d been awarded WeSTOC XVIII in Victoria and asked if I was in, I accepted right away!
The whole trip is going to be Saturday to the following Sunday – 9 days total. I’m taking 3 days to get to Victoria, then WeSTOC is Tue, Wed, Thu, departing on Friday. I’ll pick up Louise from the Victoria airport on Friday morning and ride 2-up back home with her.
Day 1’s route looked like this: Calgary to Castlegar, via Hwy 3
I’ve been looking forward to this trip for weeks ands weeks, but the recent weather and floods in Calgary threatened to derail leaving. That minor inconvenience pales into insignificance though, when compared to the impact that the flooding has had on many thousands of people in Canmore, High River, Calgary and other communities in the area. I’m thankful that neither my family nor property were affected, but I feel deep sympathy for those who’ve been flooded out.
Friday morning Louise and I went to the embankment overlooking Deerfoot Trail, (the main north/south freeway in Calgary) and the entrance to the Inglewood golf course. Here’s a couple of pictures …
On Friday, it wasn’t sure that I’d be leaving, or if I did leave, what route I’d be taking. Checking the news and weather reports for Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass area, revealed that high streamflows along a couple of rivers had undercut the edge of the roadway near Sparwood and Fernie. It wasn’t clear if it would get worse or not. Road closures outside the city on Friday morning included Highway 2 south and all the bridges over the Bow south of Calgary.
So with it looking like the route south was out, I was looking at going north to Red Deer, also experiencing flooding on Friday, then head west on Highway 11 to the Ice Fields Parkway, then go to Jasper and though the Yellowhead Pass.
By Friday night though, things in the south through the Crowsnest Pass hadn’t got worse and for the most part improved, so I got packed up. Saturday morning I packed up the bike and hit the road by 10am.
Since I filled the gas tank on Wednesday, I didn’t have to stop for gas until Sparwood, where I tried the new A&W Teen Guacamole burger – it was pretty good actually! There was a diner that Louise and I stopped at a few times near the World’s Biggest Truck, but it’s been closed or moved.
All the rivers a long the way were running very fast and very high, here are a few pics of various rivers along the way …
Traffic was surprisingly light on the highway. I thought for sure with the TransCanada being closed at Canmore that there’d be tons of truck traffic, but there were long stretches where I was the only one on the road.
I stopped for a stretch and some trail mix on the western outskirts of Cranbrook and had a little buddy come around for some bits of cashew nut. Probably wasn’t good for him, but they were only little pieces.
Then it started to rain, so I took a pic of the bike and headed out again.
Before I got to Creston, I had a rather unique bear sighting. I was following a car ahead, and as we came around a corner I spotted a large dog sized black lump hanging over the concrete barrier at the side of the road. As I zoomed past, I glanced over and saw that it was a black bear cub hanging over the barrier watching the car and motorbike go by! He was still there when I glanced back in the rearview mirror. I hope he didn’t decide to try cross the road.
I stopped in Creston for gas and spotted a herd of bikes at station, so I pulled in, thinking maybe to chat a bit. To my surprise, one of the riders was Trent Koenigbaur, co-owner of Walt Healey Motorcycles – the dealership that we’ve bought all our bikes from. He and his brother Sheldon, also there, were taking part in a charity ride over the weekend from Calgary to Creston and back. We yakked for a few minutes, then I headed out again.
By just after 5pm local time I arrived in Castlegar and rode around looking for a new more rustic (cheaper) place to stay than the Sandman Inn where we usually stay and I found the Flamingo Motel. It turned out to be a great little place, the owners Debra and Frank, were super nice, and the room, while pretty small, was very clean and comfortable. While checking in with Debra, it turns out that she used to live in Calgary, in Erin Woods, on the other side of the elementary school from us! Small world! I chatted with Frank for a bit, had a quick shower, then went to the local pub for dinner and a beer. On the way back, I got a triple venti Latte from the Starbucks in the Safeway across the street AND found a couple of muffins waiting for me in the room!
While drinking my Latte, I watched the flood news in Calgary on TV for a bit, then chatted with Louise. I’m planning to make it to Winthrop or Concrete WA tomorrow night.