Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Okanagan Sunshine

I have a perfectly capable performance car which has been gathering dust over the past few years, preferring to maintain my stance on 2 wheels during the heat of summer. I ride my maxi-scooter (Kymco Xciting 500 Ri) around 10K kms per year. On vacations I put on over 20K kms on my Honda EX coupe, while my hobby car is usually parked in the garage. It is my second 'Vette and during the past 5 years I have only used it for 15K kms and this included a trip to Montana in 2004. Last week we packed up and left Friday morning for Pentiction


Penticton is a resort town in the Okanagan area of British Columbia where temperatures were a scorching 32C, as compared to Vancouver which averages around 20C. If you have been following my travels you will know that I often travel the backroads of the Pacific Northwest so I often encounter . . . "Cattleguards"


We are in free range cattle country where cattleguards are use to keep the cows in their own pasture(s). Often these roads wind their way through private property where the owners give their permission for you to travel provided you respect their privacy and do not take up even temporary residence on their property. (ie: camping is not allowed) . These roads are maintained by the government and used to access public areas not otherwise accessible.


I stopped on one of these cattleguards to give you an idea of what they look like. There are flat bars welded to the top of steel tubes where you align your wheels as you drive over. Often city folks don't know what to do when they encounter these and "miss" the flat areas and roll over the tubes. Cows and horses can't get a firm footing on these grids so do not venture "out of their zone" . We had to cross a few of these to finally get to the end of the road: Kentucky-Alleyne Lake, southeast of Merritt, BC

(Kentucky-Alleyne Lake, Merritt, BC)

The water is a very pleasing "Blue" colour, probably because the water is so pure that it casts the reflection of the blue skies (same as with Crater Lake). It is a peaceful place to spend some time fishing and just enjoying nature.


We travelled to Penticton for their big car show, the Peachcitybeachcruise.com It is a 3 day event. I am a car guy (just like Orin) <-- click link


Penticton is on the banks of Okanagan Lake (home of Ogopogo, the sea serpent). Lakeshore Drive is a one miles stretch of road along the beach which is used to park the collector cars. You will see all types, makes and style of cars, trucks and motorcycles.


There is nearly continuous live entertainment in the Gyro Park Bandstand, and also along the "strip" . This year they also had a collector car auction

(one mile of parked muscle cars, along the strip)

It takes a long time to walk the strip which extends from the Sternwheeler and ends on the east side at the Penticton Lakeside Casino Resort. There are thousands of people walking around and many have come from Alberta, Oregon, Washington and Vancouver Island.


Shelbys, Hot Rods, Customs, Vintage, Vettes . . . you name it and it will be here.


This is definitely a Tourist destination and the Chamber of Commerce make you feel so welcomed.


The Lakeside Resort is an upscale hotel (premium pricing) and they have dedicated parking for motorcycles. I have actually noticed an increase in advertising by other hotels chains for "motorcycle friendly" accommodations. I would suppose that in this economy they need all the business they can muster.


Yes, there are lots of interesting things to look at.

Friday evening was also the night of the Graduating class of 2009 and there was a dance at the Casino, preceeded by a parade of the Grads who where allowed to drive anything that moves to the ceremonies.

(4 seat chesterfield trailer being towed by an ATV)


They came in convertibles, tractors . . . Push, pull or drag . . .


in the event that your car happened to stall and would not start. Some spectators helped to "push" that car into the parking lot. I considered helping but decided that it was more prudent to record the event with my camera

I should also mention that Penticton is in the heart of wine country. The Okanagan valley is the Napa Valley of British Columbia. Many boutique wineries have tasting rooms and have award winning blends. We decided to stop at SUMAC RIDGE


(wine tasting)

(Sumac Ridge has won many awards, see top shelf)

(Vineyards basking in the warm Okanagan sunshine)

This was also the same weekend as the Elvis International festival


Many Elvis impersonators were in town vying for the "Best Elvis" title. We managed to catch some performances on Saturday evening.


The Okanagan is a beautiful place to spend a few days. Warmer weather than on the south coast, very little rain, hot temperatures and lots of white sand beaches.

(Westbank, BC - Mission Hill Winery on the hill in the background)

Another view of an upscale subdivison with water lots along Lake Okanagan


If you look closely you will see two pontoon airplanes beached in the lagoon. It is an area not unlike KW, FL .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Encounter with "THE BIG GUY" at Urban Wasp

Urban Wasp, (aka: Vespa Vancouver) currently has a contest underway where the prize is a brand new SYM Mio scooter. I noticed the ad in a recent edition of the Vancouver Courier. Very simple rules, contest runs to mid August, unless the scooter has already been won. You cut out the ad and exchange it for a key. The top case on the SYM is full of scooter keys and they all look the same. You get to select ONE key from the box and put it into the ignition.

(Here is my KEY)

(It has to fit here)

(The key slides into the ignition)


The moment of truth, but the key doesn't turn. I don't want to force it too much, but if it was the correct key, then I would have instantly won the scooter


The SYM Mio is a retro styled scooter sort of like a Honda Metropolitan (Jazz) or Yamaha Vino.


Doesn't hurt to have another vehicle in the garage, but I was out of luck. You only get one chance for a key.

Today was a day to socialize at Urban Wasp as it was their open house. I had only planned to stay an hour or so, have a small snack and refreshment. A group of us had gathered by the front counter to talk when I heard a voice from behind ask "I'm Dave Dixon and I wondered if my scooter was ready"

I immediately turned around and said "Hi BIG GUY"

I also mentioned to others that "Hey, the small scooter BIG GUY is here"

Of course they don't have a clue what I am rambling on about. I am talking about DAVE who also has a blog titled Big Guy, Small Scooter ( <--- click link )

It's always nice when you have a chance to meet up with a fellow blogger. One more thing to check off my "to do list".

(The BIG GUY, aka: Dave with his Vespa LX50)

I knew his Baby was sick and he had made an appointment weeks ago for service. I didn't realize that today was the day he was going to be here.


Lucky thing nothing serious was wrong with his scooter. It just needed a minor check up and normal maintenance

(preparing for take off)


Dave is finally on his way back to Maple Ridge, BC


I moved further down the lane and caught this last glimpse of Dave before he rode out of sight


I was happy to have finally met Dave (The Big Guy) and hoping that he will be able to attend one of our summer rides.

I am also a little disappointed that I didn't come home with a Brand New SYM Mio, but my key didn't fit. They told me that I could keep the key . . . and I was wondering whether it would fit one of these in the back lot


I wonder if they would notice if one went missing . . . ?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Astoria - Megler Bridge: Astoria, Oregon

Quote from Wikipedia:

"The Astoria-Megler Bridge is a continuous truss bridge that spans the mouth of the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington, in the United States. The span was the last segment of U.S. Route 101 between Olympia, Washington and Los Angeles, California.[1] It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America."

"The bridge is 21,474 ft (6,545 m) in length[4] and carries one lane of traffic in each direction. The main span is closest to the Oregon side and measures 1,232 feet (376 m) long.[2] The bridge was built to withstand 150 mph (240 km/h) wind gusts and river speeds of 9 mph (14 km/h).[1] As of 2004, an average of 7,100 vehicles per day use the Astoria-Megler Bridge.[5] Designed by William A. Bugee, construction of the cantilever truss bridge was completed by the DeLong Corporation, the American Bridge Company, and Pomeroy Gerwick.[6]

Pedestrians are prohibited from the bridge[7] except during the annual bridge walk called the "Great Columbia Crossing".[8] Bicycles are permitted on the bridge in both Oregon[9] and Washington.[10]"

We are heading northbound on Hwy 101 and finally get a glimpse of "the Bridge"


We have travelled over this bridge before and whenever some one mentions the name Astoria then images of this bridge comes to mind


It is the longest 3 truss continuous span bridge in the world which spans Oregon and Washington states over the Columbia River.


There is but a single lane in each direction and pedestrian traffic is forbidden, but bicyclists are allowed


There is a long cloverleaf to access the main span and heading northbound you are to maneuver over to the left lane


Eventually we are trapped within the confines of its steel structure


This bridge is approx 6.5 kms (~ 4 miles) long, and Washington State beckons on the opposite side of the Columbia River


It seems like a long way to the other side, but I am sure nothing like the Great Ocean Highway which spans the Mainland southbound towards Key West, FL


When you finally arrive on the Washington side you are greeted with this directional sign


I am sure that this was an engineering marvel when it was completed in the 1960's

City of Bay Ocean, Oregon:

I am sure that I have mentioned my love for "places Lost" . This includes Ghost Towns and places from the historic past. A few years ago we noticed this sign on the 3 Cape Loop which is just West of Tillumook, OR. It is an interesting story of a city which failed and was swallowed by the Ocean during violent storms. There are pictures of the City on the "web" and its history makes for interesting reading. I will leave it to you to do further research if you are interested. There is nothing left except a park which is accessed by a rough dirt and gravel road.


Spotted: interesting Coffee Pot near Arlington, WA:


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Home, safe & sane

I stole this title from Sharon (has a nice ring, doesn't it) . We travelled nearly 3,000 kms on our 6 day adventure, some roads familiar and some new. The weather was mostly good, some minor rain and we ran into some thunderstorms while approaching Bend, OR and when we arrived in town we noticed a lot of snow on the ground. On the news they had a surprise Hail Storm which we had just missed but we had heavy rains from Pineville. We missed one turn due to highway construction and did not notice the sign for Pendleton so continued onward towards the Gorge and found a gem of an alternate route Hwy 37. Upon our return I have had a flurry of activity which included retrieval of my scooter which was waiting for a new rear tire so things are not yet back to normal.

The balance of todays entry will be some photos taken during the past couple of days, in no particular order.

(Oregon Coast, just south of Cannon Beach)

(Bridge at Newport, Oregon)

(Battered California Sea Lion look, Jack "r" on the right)

(Harley Riders from Kansas, north of Florence, OR)

These bikers started at the Canadian Border and plan to head to Mexico

(Cannon Beach)

(another view: Cannon Beach)

(Seaside, Oregon)

(window front, Seaside, OR - for Jack "r" without skin)

(Beach: Lincoln City, OR)

(Patterns: Lincoln City, OR)

(Lincoln City just north of "D" street)

(Seagulls enjoying being on the beach at Lincoln City)

(just south of Oceanside, OR)

(Spotted: Pole Dancer for Jack "r")

(Sunset at Lincoln City, Oregon)

It's good to be away, and it's also good to be back at home.