Run to the Hills 2013 – Day 3

Sunday, 21 July 2013 – RTTH13 Day 3

The hotel room at the Nova hotel did not at all match the building’s exterior – the outside was pretty nondescript, nothing at all fancy. We didn’t take any pictures of the room, probably because Louise would not have let me – with all our stuff scattered all about, it would not have been pretty or flattering. So this picture from the Nova Hotel website will have to do:
We had one of the Junior Suites and it was actually a really nice spacious room – combo kitchen, living room, office; and a separate bedroom/bathroom.

For breakfast we sampled the hotel’s cold breakfast buffet in the lobby. I can recall the coffee, but I cannot remember what I ate. Neither can Louise.

The day started off grey and damp, and for most of the morning it would stay that way.

Trent is fairly fastidious about keeping his bike clean and polished, so much so that he endures a lot of ribbing about his Pledge obsession. So, as the rest of us finished filling our gas tanks, Trent rolled his FJR up to the car wash – saying he needed to wash the bike, it was just too filthy to go on – we were’t too sure whether he was kidding or not!

Fully fuelled, we headed out to the first stop of the day – we were headed out to Tangent Campground just west upriver of Peace River on the Shaftesbury Trail (Highway 684) to pick up Carl, his wife and a friend of Carl’s. All the way the sky was threatening rain and it drizzled part of the way. Along the way we saw a few deer fairly close to the road, so we all kept an eye out for the forest rats jumping up onto the road.

To get to the Tangent campground, we had to cross the river via the Shaftesbury Ferry. The ferry, a barge and tug, had just left so we had a 15 minute or so wait until it came back.

I’m pretty sure Dan is not pointing at me, rather he’s pointing at the ferry or something over my shoulder.

Tried for an artistic shot here, not sure how it worked …

Here’s the ferry coming back across the river towards us …

The drizzle and mist got a little heavier while we waited and while we boarded the ferry. That made a few of us a little nervous as the roadway to the ferry ramp was really just dirt, mud now, and the ramp onto the ferry itself was metal – both surfaces were rather slippery. However we all got onboard with no drama and the ferry pulled away, heading to the other side.

Since the crossing was about 5 minutes long, and it had started to rain, most of us didn’t even take our helmets off.

We rolled through the Tangent campsite looking for Carl and we found him and his crew hiding from the rain in a shelter. By this time it was full-on raining, so we all ducked inside the shelter out of the rain to discuss where to go from here. The consensus was that we’d go to Dunvegan Bridge for a tourist stop, the to Grande Prairie for lunch. We’d originally been thinking that we’d head further west to Dawson Creek, but the more medium to heavy rain was forecast to come through the area over today and next couple of days. The weather forecast seemed better further south, so we scratched Dawson Creek off, and decided to camp at a basic campsite not far from Grande Cache south of Grande Prairie, halfway to Hinton.

So plans made, we headed out of the campground and back to the ferry …

Louise wasn’t the only one with a hi-viz jacket – that’s Oso Blanco ahead of me in the line with the hi-viz jacket, as did Carl’s wife.

Rolling into Grimshaw, we stopped for a bio/snack break at the Grimshaw Information Centre.

Grimshaw makes claim to be “Mile 0” on the MacKenzie Highway heading north.

While milling around waiting for the bathroom to free up, and for guys like me taking pictures, Louise handed out her famous “Mookie cookies” to wide acclaim. Here, she’s closing up the cookie shop …

The nice lady at the Information Centre, once she realized that we weren’t a bunch of biker hooligans, offered to take a picture of the group.

Leaving Grimshaw, we next stopped for a bit at Dunvegan Provincial Park and the Dunvegan Bridge. Here we are all together in the parking lot.

I didn’t take too many pictures here, because we’d just been here the summer before where Louise and I spent most of the day wandering around the area. To see the pictures I took in 2012, check out the blog post from the 2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 4

By this time the weather was greatly improving and while not hot, at least the sun was out, so we all could take off some layers. Next up, lunch in Grande Prairie.

Carl wanted to go to a burger place that was supposed to make Fat Burger, Smashburger and Five Guys Burgers and Fries cry. A place that could only be called “Burger Heaven”. So “Run to the Hills” goes to Burger Heaven.

We managed to find a fairly photogenic part of the parking lot to park the bikes in all in a nice neat row.

The burgers at Burger Heaven were actually pretty good, it must be admitted. We enjoyed the meal, then headed back out to get on the road again. We got back to the bikes just in time to save Louise’s VStrom. The skies had cleared out and it the temperature had managed to get hot, hot enough to melt pavement apparently!

Louise’s bike was the only one that had the kickstand sink into the pavement like that. Since her VStrom has been lowered, we mounted an aftermarket Soupy’s kickstand that was adjustable. All good, except that the foot is really more like a knuckle and on soft stuff we pretty much always have to put a plate down for the kickstand to rest on. We didn’t this time obviously.

We fueled up before leaving Grande Prairie, minus a rider – one of the Edmonton guys, Oso Blanco, decided to stay with his brother in GP, while the rest of us headed south on Highway 40.

Louise and Trent behind me.

We stopped for a bio/snack break at a Rest Stop north of Grande Cache – made a nice pretty line of bikes.

Back on the road …

The group decided to stop at Grande Cache for for vittles, however there was some growling as it seems we just missed closing time for the liquor store (not that that was a show-stopper at all).

But the one thing we didn’t get at Grande Cache was … gas! That decision would come to haunt us tomorrow.

The campsite for tonight was the Pierre Grey’s Lakes Recreation Area, which was pretty, but lacked that signature “must have” amenity that Louise usually requires in a campground – flush toilets. We had to do with pit toilets – yuck. Oh well, Louise steeled her nerves and took one for the team. We setup camp, tents and hammocks, heated up some dinner and tea; then sat around a fire talking …

There was this one little critter who seemed to want to join in. It might have been our company or the conversation, but I really think it was the possibility of exotic food opportunities that kept him flitting around.

One group in our party was not having a good time. Dan’s friend and his significant other were relatively new to long distance riding and camping – they were the folks who had to duck into Canadian Tire on Day 2 for rain gear. But by now, he wasn’t feeling to well and they’d pretty much decided to head straight back to Calgary in the morning.

Louise and I slept pretty well …

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