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Border-to-Border-to-Border Insanity -- or "It could have been, should have been, a lot crazier than it was."

The plan, as of Sunday, was to get up – and, about mid-morning, pack-up the bike and roll north to Canada for the evening – and the beginning of the ride. The bag was packed. All the chargers: cell phone, notebook computer, GPS, were in the rucksack.

I’d gone, the day before (Saturday), and had my wrench change out the rear tire. I’d even, that Saturday, spent some time -- there in the shop -- mulling over the possibility that I should have him change-out the low-beam bulbs. “Ehhh… that can wait until I get home”, I rationalized-away. So, new rubber on the scoot: fore and aft.

"Ms Flame" is ready to roll through about 3000 miles of riding.

Woke-up about the usual time in the morning: o’dark-thirty, on Labor Day, thinking “What have you gotten yourself into, Kris?” “Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind?”

Can’t back out. My boy is back in San Diego from a tour in Afghanistan.

Can’t go back to sleep. Too keyed-up.

About 5:30, I grabbed the gear, made a last check of what I needed to bring, set-out plenty of food and water (the advantage of having felines: food, water, clean place to ‘do their stuff’ – and they’re good for days) for the furry-faces for the four days that I’d be gone. Walked over to my neighbor’s house (where I park the scoot), stood there, and decided that I wasn’t going to tempt fate with my first trip to Canada since 1995 – and the first land-trip since 1992. Into the trailer that I’d be leaving behind went the second one-pound bag of Landsjaegar sausage. “Just in case… don’t want to be explaining why I’m bringing two pounds of meat for an overnight stay.”

Headed north. Got to the crossing before 8:00 AM. Who is on duty but “Ms Grumpy Border Agent”. Went through the rigmarole: How long am I going to be in Canada? Why I am entering Canada? What are the names of the people (my eyewitnesses) you’re going to see? Do you have any weapons? Quick… what is your license plate number?” “Where do you live” “How do you know this person?”…. :roll:

“Go ahead”.

Decide that it would be a good idea to get some currency exchanged since I’m going to be on this side of the border until the next morning, and, as I always try to do, try to find a locally-themed (state, or in this case, province) keychain fob for the bike’s keychain.

(side note: my mechanic continues to warn me about the damage I risk to the ignition from all the ‘scrap metal hanging on the bike’s keychain’…. yadayadayada)

Of course, since it is Labor Day, and it is still early, guess what isn’t open right there at the border crossing? The ATM/Currency Exchange place.

**sigh**

Found a store near the road that serves as the next border crossing to the east of the I-5 crossing at Peace Arch that has an ATM that will dispense either in Canadian or US dollars. Got CDN $40, and decided to go find breakfast while I’m waiting to be able to check in at the motel.

About 8:30, after breakfast, I head over to the hotel in Langley. Now, I know that I’m hours early in advance of the the normal check-in time, but, I’m hoping – at least – that the staff will let me drop my rucksack and jacket off at the place while I go ride around, search for “The Obligatory Keychain” [T.O.K.], and come back later.

Of course…!”…Diana says “... you can check-in right now. The room is ready and you can come back down for the breakfast bar.” After “Ms Grumpy Border Agent”, I’m ready for a smiling person!

Bingo. The room is nice. The air conditioner is already running (it’s going to be in the high 80’s/low 90’s that day), the room is nice, and I can dump 10+ pounds of rucksack and contents on the bed, freshen-up a little, and get some juice and coffee.

Diana can’t help me with a place to get a keychain, but she loves to chat (and I don’t mind) about what I’m about to do, where I’m going, about the bike… She remarks “What a coincidence that you are staying with us here in Langley [since, well, look at my last name Gentle Readers] to start your motorcycle ride!”

Smile. “Ummm… It isn’t a coincidence. I wanted the certificate to read ‘Starting in Langley, BC’” She laughs.

Ms Grumpy Border Agent is fading even further from memory.

About an hour later, after chatting with the other folks in the lobby: a woman – whose husband is active duty US Air Force, but who is – herself – a naturalized US citizen visiting family in Canada -- travelling with two children, a young man from the States whose brother: 82nd Airborne, just got back from the sandbox, his girlfriend and her grandfather are visiting the Vancouver area, and myself: about to see my Marine, I do a little websearching for a truck stop to – hopefully - find the “T.O.K”.

Chilliwack. There’s a weblisting under truck stops for a Husky T/S in Chilliwack. That’s not THAT far. So, jump on the bike, fire-up the GPS, and it’s high-ho-down the Trans-Canada we go.

Chilliwack is a large town. It appears to be one of those classic small towns that has an older downtown – and everything else towards the highway has been built in the past 25-30 years. Nice ride out there. The GPS automatically converts the speed limits to miles-per-hour for me, and shows me what speed I’m riding at, so I don’t have to worry – too much – about documenting my visit with a citation.

Truck stop? No joy on “T.O.K”. Ask the clerk. “The visitor’s center might have what you want.” How far? He turns to friend there at the cashier's booth – ‘about 3-4 kilometers?’ “Yeah”.

Pass the mall.. think “There must be a department store, or pharmacy with gifts and souveniers, in there.”

Zellers: “Sorry. We don’t have any. You might try the card shop or the London Drugs store”.

London Drugs: “Ooooh. Let’s see. No. Sorry. You might try the Zellers store.” Oops. Already been there.

Card shop. “Have you tried the London Drugs?

**sigh** “T.O.K.” is going to have to wait.

It’s getting into mid-afternoon. I’ve got an hour ride (judging from the traffic headed west towards Vancouver on the Trans-Canada). So, I point the bike west.

But, hey. There’s the visitor’s center.

No. I’m sorry. We don’t have any keychains. But, there is a gift shop in Chilliwack that might be open – I’m not certain, since it is a holiday… but here is a map – and I’ll highlight the street that it is located on.”

I’ve got some time. So, back towards the historic part of town.

Pass a truck.

“bang!”

Bang!? Oh. What the frack?! :22yikes:

Found a place to stop. Looked at the rear tire, since it sounded like the noise came from there. I roll the bike, look at the tire. Roll the bike, look at the next portion of the tire. Now, mind you, it’s in the high 90s (F) out. It is a holiday. And, I’m guessing that there aren’t any nearby places to replace a Goldwing tire – least of all on a Monday that is also a holiday.

Fortunately, the tire pressure is fine and there is no sign of a tire aneurysm.

So, back to the hotel. Paranoid that I’ve missed something. And, I’m getting a little overheated from the temps.

Finally get back to the motel at around 5PM and decide to cool-off and take a short nap. The eyewitnesses will be coming by at around 7PM

(To be continued)
 
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