Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Things We Love: Wines & Winding Roads (Not together, of course!)

Two full days of riding (and a few bear and moose sightings later) found us just outside of Kelowna, BC.

(I promise to stop posting bear photos, soon. Really.)

While (futilely) waiting out a rain storm in Glenallen, Alaska, we had met a super cool lady rider on a V Strom, Rachel, who had invited us to stay with her in Kelowna. We messaged her, but since we were ahead of “schedule” by a week, she had not yet returned. Not to worry, though… one of her travel-buddies would be happy to put us up and so it was that we did not have to sneak into a vineyard to camp.

Rosemary has retired from a career in nursing, though she still works in hospice care from time to time. Anyone who is able to do that kind of work deserves a special place in whatever comes after this life. And immediately upon meeting Rosemary, this was apparent. Her home is lovely, but her garden is a sanctuary. And her fresh-from-the-oven scones took me to heaven.

(Our hostess busily preparing her freshly harvested cherries, while I lurk nearby ready to snatch a warm-from-the-oven scone).

(For other scone-lovers out there, I can vouch for the awesomeness of this recipe.)

Roel and I tasted through several wineries in the Okanagan region and got a really good feeling for what the area has to offer in the way of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cab Franc.

(Had a lovely tasting at Tantalus where we actually enjoyed the entirety of the portfolio they had on offer AND they are doing cool things with Riesling... we really like places that experiment and take risks, and their Reisling Lab "experiment" was yummy.)

(Everyone in the Okanagan will tell you to go to Mission Hill Winery. We quickly discovered that this is ONLY because of the lovely gardens, impressive architecture and amazing views of the valley. The wine, and the service, is unmentionable.)

With some excellent advice from Rosemary, an avid outdoors person herself, we headed off roughly in the direction of Whistler, planning to take the scenic route and camp just before reaching Whistler.

Welllll, plans-shclans… turns out the Africa Twin wasn’t up for our so-called plans…

We were thoroughly enjoying one of the most incredible roads we have ridden in the past few months (we took Route 8 to Route 1, then took the right towards Lillooet on Route 12) when all of the sudden I hear a string of curses with a ring of confusion in my headset.

Roel: &*^%%*^ I don’t know what’s going on. I’m losing power.

The power fail was intermittent, though, so he kept going. Considering we were in the middle of nowhere and had no idea how much further “somewhere” was, that seemed to be the best option.

Until we crested a hill and on the downward winding portion of that hill, which happened to only be one lane where the guardrails of which gave way to 300ft+ drops. Roel honked his horn to let on-coming traffic beware of our presence on the single lane and as soon as the road opened to two lanes again, his power completely failed.

This was one of those occasions where had I not believed in guardian angels, or motorbike angels, I would have started to believe.

A second stroke of good fortune gave way to a pull off at the bottom of the hill where a few trees offered some respite from the sun that beat down on this wind-less, barren valley.

This was a new symptom of whatever was bothering the Africa Twin: never before had it lost power mid-ride… only when the bike had been turned off, did it refuse to start again.

Roel pulled everything off the bike, gently coaxing the battery and every wire connected to it and fuse related to it to work again, and turned the key. Bingo, we were back in action. For the moment, anyway.

(Amazing to see a long-distance bicyclist *almost* as packed up as the Africa Twin.)

We made it to a small town that gave us both the hee-bee-jee-bies for no apparent reason. There were a couple of campgrounds around this town, but riding into and out of them we determined that we did not feel comfortable and decide to continue on. Just before riding out of town, two separate people, completely unasked, recommended a campground about 7 kilometers out of town and so we decided to check that out.

It was beautiful… As a community/public relations project, BC Hydro maintains several free campgrounds throughout BC and this one was lovely.

We found a perfectly shaded spot to set up our tent which was only a 5-minute walk from a cool stream that relieved our swollen sweaty feet. We got to meet some interesting fellow campers and slept sweetly under a clear sky of a million stars.

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