June 30th, 2003.-- 49 months and 97,000 miles later...
our 50th country, and Beautiful BC
-- Story by Erin --
Friday, June 20th: When we arrived at the border
we immediately went to the US Customs office to sort out my Carnet de Passage for the
motorcycle. According to Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) guidelines to terminate the
carnet (and thus get our money back), I had to have a US Customs agent confirm that I had
indeed re-imported the bike back into the US and have him sign and stamp the last page of
the carnet. Well, officials in the US are no different than they are in other countries.
On the upside they recognized the carnet immediately. On the downside they didnt
want to listen to what I wanted and went about trying to stamp "in" one of my
souches (coupon). This is like treating me like a foreign citizen temporarily importing a
vehicle. It took several minutes of me explaining to the agent and his supervisor that
what I needed was for them to sign the specific page at the end (which by the way is in
English and very clear) that it is now back in the US permanently. Boy, youd think I
was trying to teach them advanced calculus by the way they reacted to me. Well, in the end
the agent signed the form in the back AND stamped "out" my souche------go
figure! Hopefully the CAA will accept this and release our bond.
Just across the border in Canada is Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver. And, here lives
world travelers Grant and Susan Johnson. Many of you know them either from their
presentations at BMW rallies, encountering them on the road, or from their very popular
and useful website www.HorizonsUnlimited.com.
We met Grant and Susan 5 years ago at the BMW rally in Missoula, Montana and they were
some of the travelers who inspired us to do this trip. Now, we were going to see them
again and have lots to share and catch up on! Its sort of like the story about the
Belgian guy we met in Morocco at the beginning of our trip who we couldnt really
communicate with because we didnt speak a common language. Three years later we
bumped into the same guy in Argentina and then spent 3 days together sharing stories and
communicating just fine together in Spanish! Grant and Susan greeted us with open
arms (and yummy Nanaimo bars!) and we all stayed up way past our bedtimes (with the help
of chocolate and sugar) that night talking.
Saturday, June 21st: The day started out rainy and so we used the morning to
sit around and chat some more. In the early afternoon the weather cleared and we took the
Skytrain into Vancouvers Gastown district. This is the old gas-light district
of the city and very charming. The Skytrain is perfect because you can sightsee from the
elevated train tracks, and admire the huge mountains and scenic harbor which encircle this
cosmopolitan city. It just happened to be Jazz Festival time in Vancouver as well and we
enjoyed listening to (free) jazz bands on two different stages, along with entertaining
street performers, cute little boutiques and cafes.
Sunday, June 22nd: Caught the BC Ferry to
Victoria, Vancouver Island. The ferry takes a very scenic passage through many small
islands before docking just a short way from downtown Victoria. Several passengers said
often seen are pods of Orca whales in these passages. Although the sun was shining, the
sky was crystal clear it was not our day to see them.
Living in Victoria are our old friends Cindy and Dan who we met on the road in the
Northern Territory of Australia. Together with Anke and Jan from Germany, we all traveled
together off and on down through Western Australia to Perth. They were waiting for us with
big steaks on the grill and homemade wine! It was great to catch up with them and check
out their bikes (Cindy has a new, totally geared out DR 650).
Tues, June 24th: Chris and Simi came to town the night before for a BBQ with
Cindy and Dan's biker friends. After breakfast this morning with C & S, Chris
and I booked ourselves on a whale watching tour. After a 1-hour, high speed ride in
a zodiac-type launch, we found 2 of the 3 pods of Orcas that live in these waters.
The boat was positioned directly in their path and the massive twin engines were cut
off. As we bobbed up and down in the gentle waters, the great creatures swam towards
us in groups of 2-3. The massive dorsal fins sliced towards us, submerging at the
last moment below our boat. The most exciting times were when they breached the
water -- jumping straight up out of the water, then falling down on their sides, creating
a huge splash! Of course, getting the timing right and snapping a photo of this was
impossible -- a video camera would have been better. After all 44 mammals passed by,
we repositioned the boat further down the channel, as the parade came by for a second
pass. It was an incredible experience!
Wednesday, June 25th: We bid farewell to Cindy and Dan, and took the ferry
from Nanaimo back to Vancouver -- these island passages are definite eye-candy. Two
hours after riding off the ferry, we arrive at Whistler ski resort. The resort seems
as alive in the summer, as it does in the winter. As we rested under a tree, we
watched dozens of teen-agers walking past, coming off the mountain snowboard camp.
Thursday, June 26th: A beautiful ride through the southern Rockies of
British Columbia. to Revelstoke, where we met Carol, another RTW traveler who just
returned home after a 1-year trip with her husband Peter. Carol works with the local
tourism board, and gave us good advice about camping/routes down to the US border.
Jazz Festival in the Gastown section of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Susan & Grant Johnson
Modeling the styling
cold weather / safety gear for whale watching (no life preserver required)
Watching the Orcas parade past
Coming up for a look-see
Lunch-break on a small ferry approaching the Canadian Rockies.