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September 4, 2008

Belmont to Whistler

Filed under: BC 2008, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 2:26 am

The trailer emerging from its hibernation.
The trailer emerging from its hibernation.

Belmont to OR

The Airstream trailer emerged from its backyard cocoon on Wednesday night ready to head north. Prior to Wednesday’s night’s movement, the last time we moved the trailer in its backyard spot was a fiasco. I won’t relay details here, but is was the kind of story you tell that starts “You think THAT was stupid. You should have seen the time….” As these are usually only told to and by the extremely intoxicated in hope that will not be remembered the next day, I can’t in good conscious go into the details here. Let’s get just say that is the type of story that comes with scars to prove that it is true (and truly stupid). But I digress. The trailer’s midnight movement onto Ralston Ave and then into a temporary parking spot in the neighborhood was uneventful. Well, except for the post-traumatic stress induced by the memories of the last trailer movement.

Thursday morning, Nick and I departed Belmont early to head north. We dodged the early edges of San Francisco rush hour traffic and cruised into the Central Valley before the heat of the day built. The skies of the valley were clogged with smoke and the roads and restaurants were filled with firefighters recovering and resting from their battles. At times, the smoke was so bad it seemed as if we were sitting next to a campfire and the wind had shifted to blow smoke in our direction.

In the Walmart lot
In the Walmart lot

Hazy, smoky skies continued until we reached the Rogue River Valley of Oregon. We headed a little further past this point to spend the evening in a Walmart parking lot just short of Euguene. This is close to the halfway point on the drive up the BC, so there is a lot of road still to cover tomorrow. Nick reminds me that the journey will be slow. He needs to reestablish his Northern Territories and rid the World of burrowing rodents along the way. He tells me that neither of these items is a trifling matter.

OR to Whistler

We rolled out of the Walmart parking lot hopefully early enough to miss the greater Seattle area rush hour. I must have worked as the crossing of Tacoma-Seattle-Everett only took an extra hour, not the 2 to 3 extra hours it has taken the last few times through.

For the border crossing into Canada I chose to take the truck crossing just off the main Blaine/I-5 Peace Bridge crossing. When we arrived at the border, the queue was short and it looked like we would be through in no time at all. Next thing I knew, a couple of border agents spied the truck and trailer and came over to pay me a visit. They were a little curious why I needed 4 bikes. I explained that I was good, real good. I guess I didn’t look the part as they asked whether it was my intent to enter Canada. I’m not sure that I liked the tenor of that question, but turning the truck and trailer around packed in the midst of ten lanes of vehicles eagerly awaiting departure from the States was pretty much impossible to even consider. They then told me that I could ask the booth attendant where I might collect my passport. Now, that really didn’t sound very encouraging. The booth attendant took me through a long list of items, “Are you carrying in weapons? Do you have any alcohol? Is there anyone else in your party? Do you know Bill Schmelzer?” I guess I should have answered “No” to the last question as the next thing I knew I was in the inspection area undergoing a full cavity search.

The trailer and truck's cavities being searched.
The trailer and truck

OK, it wasn’t a FULL cavity search. After ordering me to take Nick for a walk, they searched the cab of the truck and trailer. I started to think that Nick had somehow arranged this whole thing get yet another chance to establish territories and hunt burrowing rodents. Somehow, in all their efforts, they neglected to search the back of the truck where most of the stuff was located. This was fortunate for a couple of reasons. First, I would still be at the border trying to repack the stuff in the back of the truck. Secondly, as I was packing the truck in Belmont, I noticed that Becky’s bike bag was really, really heavy and was beginning suspect that she had packed a couple of shielded plutonium atomic bomb cores again. I hate it when she does that.

The search was over pretty quickly with only a few broken items. Somehow the inspectors managed to ignore that I was bringing well more than my allotment of wine into the country. In the end, I figured that I got inspected because they just wanted to look in the Airstream to see what it was like. I made sure that they knew that another, much nicer Airstream would be crossing the border in a week. Scott, wear clean underwear. It’s always a good idea.

Even with the cavity search, I had plenty of time to make it to the Costco near the Vancouver Airport in time to collect Becky and Brian from their flight. We rolled through the dense-packed center of Vancouver, trailer and all, with surprising ease. Road construction on the Sky to the Sea Highway (99) from Vancouver to Whistler was still in full force. This is the third time we passed through this project. The road was seemingly improved last year, but this year it was as bad as I had seen and it was hard to tell that they had made progress. We’re looking forward to 2010 when the road will have been finished for the Olympics. We rolled into Whistler very late, dropping Brian at his room, and making camp in the wee hours of the morning.



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