Waking up

Life sometimes gets in the way.

Despite having ample opportunity to put finger-to-keyboard over the last two years, I’ve chosen not to. Blogging for me was always going to be a personal experience and reflective outlet and that’s still the case. I have been focussed over the last couple of years on building a business. Despite my best efforts, the reality is that the business has not taken off. I’ve learnt a lot in terms of my resilience, added new skills (who’d-a-thought I’d tackle Improv), built on existing strengths and got to know myself an awful lot better. The time has not been wasted.

The thing with being self-employed is to recognise when things need to change. Being able to identify what’s working, what isn’t working, what can be added and what must be dropped is essential to business and personal growth. Through good planning, trial and error and yes, failure, I’ve continually refined what I do. Picking up the bcbrit blog is actually part of that process.

My aim is to develop my creativity. Writing will be part of that development and one doesn’t improve unless one actually does ‘it’. It’s the same for photography. I will be posting far more images on bcbrit as I want to improve my photographic skills.

The site has a new purpose. I’m waking up. I’m back.

Back to reality

A relaxed breakfast, final wander around the town and on the road. Time to head for home.

1308-Winthrop-01The traffic was certainly heavier than Friday. Driving felt more pressured, I had to keep up, the pace was faster. Consequently, the ride back through the Cascades was not as enjoyable. However, the horizontal relaxed state returned at he first pit stop. At the western side of the mountain range you’ll find the North Cascades Visitor Centre and whether one is entering or leaving the range, it’s worth stopping off. The exhibits, 3D map, film show and short hikes are informative and restorative. We followed a trail to a viewing point and were totally awestruck. The Picket Range, some ten miles in the distance appeared like painted scenery in and old movie. Breathtaking and yet so tranquil. The impromptu stop had certainly restored the sense of serenity that the weekend had instilled.

A final zip up I5 and the long weekend was over. Winthrop can be a great escape in the summer. Yes, it’s touristy, but if one puts aside that view and maybe treats the town as somewhere to lodge whilst taking in the surrounding beauty , the place makes sense.

1308-Winthrop-04Although good things can come to an end, the great thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is that the good thing can be revisited easily, it’s not a one off, holiday experience. Not only that but there are also many more ‘good things ‘ just waiting to be explored. One of the aims of relocation was to change my quality of life. Some might say that an 8000+ mile change wasn’t needed to do that. In my case, swapping the built environment of Europe for the outstanding natural environment of Cascadia has been worth every mile.

 

Winthrop weekend

It’s raining but I’m not at work and I’m spending time with Lesley. Time to relax and unwind for a couple of days. I’m in the right frame of mind for that to happen, mentally relaxed, letting it all go.

First pit stop in Abbortsford. It’s already after 1pm. Hot coffee (too hot) and banana loaf before crossing the border. Using the Nexus card for only the second time and there’s a problem. We’re invited to go in to the office. It’s not a problem with me, it’s the card. After a fifteen or so minute wait I’m presented with my card. No explanation as to what the issue was. I don’t ask. Engaging in conversation isn’t really what Homeland Security are all about. We’re on our way.

It’s the back road route to Sedro-Woolley. An easy drive that reinforces the horizontal mindset. This time there had to be a brief pause at the Acme city limits sign. One of the great, smile, moments living on this continent is coming across familiar place names. Even so, travelling through the home of the creative supplier to Wile E Coyote was quite something. No sign of the factory, so I’m guessing they’ve outsourced to China.

Late lunch in Concrete. Roadside diner for the road trip experience. Serious lurid turquoise and pink vinyl chair and booth covers. The obligatory Fifties music belting out from the speaker sat atop an old jukebox. Such a shame that the jukebox didn’t work. It looked great though. BLT and coffee to fill a gap before heading on to the Cascades. It’s no scoot adventure, but it is another mini road trip.

Onwards in to the mountain range. State Route-20 is an amazing road. It winds through the mountains and it’s a truly ‘close up and personal’ experience. There are too many breathtaking moments to capture, it has to be travelled to to appreciated. This time it was by car. By bike, the curves, climbs and descents would be amazing; next time.

After some 50 miles, the transition from craggy peaks to rolling peaks occurs, it’s nearly journey’s end, Winthrop.

Founded in the late 1800’s Winthrop sits at the confluence of the Methow and Chewuch rivers. The town become home for a number of surrounding mineral mine communities, however, transporting the minerals away from the area proved to be expensive. The town is now a tourist attraction providing cross-country skiing in the winter and biking/hiking in the summer.

Day one ended with a decent meal and a wander around town. Suitably refreshed and with Vancouver feeling like a million miles away it was time to turn-in.

 

California road trip day 1

Sometimes a road trip isn’t about the road or the views, it’s about the challenge and endurance.

Home to Albany, Oregon

The plan was quick route down, slow route home. San Francisco is 2.5 days.

That meant getting some good mileage in on day one when fresh. So, Saturday morning arrives and after a filling breakfast it’s on the bikes at 8.30, a swift fuel up and head for the US border. This was always going to be my least favourite part of the trip, meeting those nice folks from Homeland Security.

After a 20 minute bike push (note to self, air-cooled bike in long line will always end in a long push) it was time to face the questions, and with me travelling on a Canadian passport and Elliot on his UK passport, questions were bound to follow. Actually, most of the crossing experience was fairly straight forward. The ‘issue’ was on our way out. Guy on the final checkpoint collecting orange pieces of paper insisted that as I’d been in to the office area, I must have an orange piece of paper, even though I didn’t actually need one as I was Canadian. I was dispatched to the office. Fortunately the border staff in the car park had their sensible heads on, sent me back to the bike and radio’ed the orange paper guy to let me through. As usual, the absolute power that these guys have leads to some of them being the consummate jobsworth.

We rode through permanent dark clouds, happily there wasn’t much rain, and around noon it was time for fuel and lunch around Everett.  Having left kitted out for rain, we decided to remain in waterproofs. Good decision. We spent the next 110 km riding through torrential rain and gusting winds. Hard going but we kept chatting to keep the spirits up.

Time for another stop, this time near Olympia, Washington. Elliot was wet. His gloves could be wrung out, his sweater and t-shirt were sporting large dark patches from wicking water. A slow coffee break to refuel also allowed us to dry out and it was of again. We’d made good time, despite the weather. Sometimes a road trip isn’t about the road or the views, it’s about the challenge and endurance.

More rain, easily as heavy as before, then around 80 Km from Portland finally the sun shows up. This was a good chance for our rainwear to dry. Just north of Portland it’s time to stop again. Aching shoulders and neck are always a good sign that the physical limits are being pushed. Now we’re in blazing sun and gloves were duly left on the bikes to dry out.

Another 80Km and that was it, the end of day one. In to the motel, spread our kit out to dry and relax. Our bikes, Ducati GT1000 and Suzuki SV650 had performed superbly. Smooth responsive power, relaxed cruising, a real joy to ride. Tomorrow it’s another similar distance to Redding, northern California, with a Euro quarter final stop somewhere en-route.

California road trip

There was a time when I thought it might not happen. But come the weekend, California here I come.

After my 2010 road trip in to Oregon I desperately wanted to extend the bike road trip and take the Ducati to California. San Francisco was set as the destination and the plan started to come alive. Initially the road trip for 2012 was to be another solo ride, however my son invested in a Suzuki SV 650 and asked to come along. This would now be a father son adventure.

Preparation has not been without its hiccups and who’d have thought that finally getting Canadian citizenship would prove to be the issue. Put simply we’ve been subjected to Federal bureaucracy gone bad.

My sons citizenship certificate had an incorrect date of birth and that has made getting a passport somewhat challenging. Going south is easy, with dual citizenship we can enter the US on a UK passport. Getting back in to Canada, well, maybe a little more complex. After two passport office visits, MP’s office intervention, visits to Citizenship, we’ve arrived at a place where the trip is on despite the lack of a Canadian passport for my son. Smooth roads and sun beckon, San Francisco beckons time to saddle up and ride.

Again, this is what the relocation is about. The chance to experience the kind of ride that I could only dream about in the UK. The cool thing is having invested in Bluetooth bike to bike comms that interfaces with my phone I can even fire up some serious cruising music to enjoy. There are times when classic Tom Petty makes total sense. Music for highways.

There was a time when I thought it might not happen. But come the weekend, California here I come.

I intend to post each day on this trip and am looking forward to capturing the thoughts and feelings that only a challenge like a long road trip can generate. Boy I love being on the West Coast.