July 07, 2008 GMT
Canada Week 4 & 5

We almost became entrapped by the charms of the Okenagen valley and in particular that of Penticton with its lovely beaches
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mountains

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and beautiful sunsets.

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Vineyards and orchards with cherries, peaches and apricots. It also became so hot that any movement was something that needed consideration. The thermometer in the shade was hitting 40C. We did take a ride up the valley for a couple of hours, to Vernon. a small town, also on a lake shore.

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Below is a picture taken by Tasha for those male readers who are disgusted by the pictures of furry creatures and want a picture of the bike. That is the best she could manage.

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We were approached by an elderly chap as we were about to get back on the bike. He was interested to know where we had travelled from. He was at first surprised to learn that Tasha was from Ukraine, then continued chatting to her in Ukrainian.
The return journey was uneventful for us. We did stop to see if a bloke on a Harley was stranded. He was simply taking some photographs. He was wearing standard Harley riding gear, trainer, shorts and a tee shirt, topped with a cycling helmet. (Apparently the helmet law in British Columbia states the helmet must be fastened at all times, but does not specify any standard.)
We went off in search of fresh local cherries.
A bit later, we came across him again, but this time the bike was on its side in the middle of an intersection. He had picked it up before we reached him and appeared to be explaining something about dubious parentage to the driver of a pick-up truck. As there was no blood to be seen, and his lungs working fine, we slipped on by.
We enjoyed the community spirit we found in Penticton. We watched the High School end of year celebrations. Graduation/ Prom Night. The whole thing like a teen movie.
There were a lot of Moms and Dads strutting their cash with many of the kids being paraded either in open topped cars, or in dazzling power boats towed by monster pick-up trucks.
We rather enjoyed the kids who used pedal powered tuk tuk bikes.
Another outing was to what was described as a Classic Car Museum. I really think that the place should have been censured under the trades description act. There were 53 gross barge-like vehicles spread between two sheds. For the slow amongst the visitors there seemed to be three or four of each model, some with different coloured paint. By my reckoning there were two manufacturers, Ford and General motors, and about twelve different marques.
The curator asked me to sign the visitors book and write a comment. I thought that “Unique” was the most diplomatic summary . (He didn't even know what a Bugatti was!!!)

We also stayed in Penticton for celebration of Canada day on 1 July which is a big event in Canada with fireworks and a mini air show.

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Eventually, we needed to resume the journey.
Penticton to Vancouver is about 420k. We left before 8 am and had nearly empty roads for over an hour. The scenery is spectacular, with lakes and mountains in abundance. The road starts to climb through the remaining section of the Rockies. At time, the corners were becoming tight enough to enjoy, even although our BMW is hardly sporting.

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The mountains are stunning. Towards Vancouver, things become flatter and there is a long straight haul into town.
We had taken instructions from folks in Penticton as to the best way to find out hotel. Ramada Downtown Vancouver.
The web pages suggest something central, vibrant, exciting. What is omitted is that it is in an area inhabited by souls who have somewhat lost their way. No not travellers like us, but druggies,tramps and misfits. There was no parking area attached to the hotel, and the parking Valet wasn't interested in delivering the bike to the parking garage a couple of blocks away.
Yet again, the bad signage fairy had done his work. “Just ride around the block to the parkaid” This is apparently code for what you are looking for is an unmarked underground parking building, down an alley between two grand hotels. There on a steep downhill slope you will be expected to pluck an entry ticket from a machine that will disgorge its billet at knee height, if you are still sitting on the bike. This token has to be stowed before you move into the parking area. “Go anywhere on level 2” said a voice. By simply releasing my vice-like grip on the handbrake I think I would have hurtled at least as far as the higher levels of Hell itself.
However, a space was found, and I had to negotiate the unlit stairs to the surface. Oh to have been in the Plaza. They had arrows and signs and lights to show the way.
As our room was not ready, it seemed to make sense to take the bike to John Valk, Vancouver's BMW shop. This, fortunately wasn't too far away from the hotel. Natasha managed to navigate us there, and we were able to hand the bike over for a service and new rear tyre, and “detailing” (a decent cleaning)
We had been advised by Ian of FFI the freight forwarders recommended by Air Canada UK to arrange a document showing the bike had been properly cleaned to placate the Japanese authorities.
The other work needing attention was the dangerous Goods certificate. $50.00, but dealt with by phone, fax and emails.
Transport for the bike to the airport was arranged by John Valke.
“Pirate Enterprise” is a specialized operation run by a very colorful but helpful “pirate”.
Between taking calls on his mobile and telling his menopausal pit bull to settle , the bike was loaded and photographed.

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“I have never had a bike like this before. The guys with Harleys won't have seen anything that looks so hard.” Praise I think.
Natasha and I squeezed in with Pitbull grumbling on her masters lap. “Where are we going with this lot”, Well I have the address.. I Know where the airport is, lets go... what can possibly go wrong?”
It was an interesting hurtle in the huge V8 powered truck.
Eventually the freight forwarders located.. I mean what could go wrong at an airport the size of Vancouver International.
We were met by Ian, the bike measured, adjusted, mirrors removed, weighed, re checked and a wadge of cash handed over.
There was some discussion about the gel battery. It was resolved that as the bike was deemed safe in the UK, it would be safe in Canada.
I felt a bit uncomfortable having to leave the bike keys in the ignition, but was assured that it would be secure and that the panniers would not be interfered with.

We were sightseeing for a couple of days - beautiful Stanley park, Aquarium with a 3 week old baby beluga whale, a city tour on an old tram, it was overcast for most of the time but at least it did not rain.

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And now we are off to the Land of the Rising Sun....

Posted by Brendon Ball at July 07, 2008 12:55 AM GMT
 


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