Saturday, July 24, 2010

Motorcycle Ride with Gilbert -Vancouver to Harrison's

I love this ride. Vancouver to Harrison's. It's right up there with Duffy Lake Road and the Canyon Ride. Those others have more curves and scenery but this one has more nostalgia. I've done this ride so many times, alone, with biker friends, on three different motorcycles and mostly with Laura. Yesterday was the first time I'd do the ride with Gilbert , my 5 month old cockapoo./>
Gilbert, Laura and I mounted the Harley Electraglyde in Kitsilano. Gilbert didn't so much as mount as get his head ducked down like a policeman might do for a handcuffed criminal to get him going straight into the TBag box. Once in side his head comes up the middle and he's fine. He has two harness straps that attach inside the box keeping him from jumping out. Nonetheless he gets his paws out and sort of sits and hangs over the side. When we get going he likes to get as much wind as possible and looks around from the rear to see where we're going, hair blowing back from his face. The box itself is strapped to the rack on the back luggage pannier.

Traffic was light Saturday morning. Our first stop was Trev Deely. I had to ask Darren a question about my Electraglyde. I'm still figuring out how to work the stereo. Nifty little handlebar channel changers and such save you from crashing trying to work the dials. Laura needed new gloves and found a pair she loved. Gilbert needed a pee.

On the road again heading out Hastings Gilbert was fussy. The passing Firetruck got him howling in that puppy howl voice of his that had Laura and me laughing. It's kind of like Tiny Tim imitating Johnny Cash yodeling. Until Gilbert I didn't know dogs voices 'changed'. Underneath his fur he probably has boyish pimples too. Maybe our laughter offended him but after that he was so fussy barking and moving about that I pulled over to make sure he wasn't caught up in his harness. He wasn't. He was just hot and bothered. He's a real biker dog and can't stand the slow stop and start pace of city traffick.
The Barnett Highway quieted him down with it's 60 to 80 k winding sections and the wind off the Burrard Inlet./>
It was almost noon with the temperature soaring. I just thought it was a good time for MacDonald's. The Poco Golden Arches cynched the deal. I love a quarter pounder with cheese. Laura had a cheeseburger. And Gilbert loves MacDonald's. They have the best 'big paddy' a little dog could ever want. That an a glass of ice water had Gilbert ready to move in. When it was time to go he was all for staying and ordering another paddy.

Normally we'd be in Harrison's by this time. It's only a 100 k. It's the stops along the way that make it so much fun. Back on the bike we next pulled over for a fill up. The bigger 6 gallon tank cost me $20. My Roadster tank was about 2 1/2 gallons and always cost under $10. I'd have to fill up every 120 k or so. We got Gilbert a bottled water at the gas station. I forgot his folding canvas water dish but he was satisfied to take it from my hand drinking his fill. I can't get over smiling at Laura lying back in the roomy Electraglyde back seat like it was a throne chair with Gilbert's paw on her shoulder.

The traffic always thins by Mission and then it's open highway. A lot of other bikes on the road too. We were simply flying. The Electraglyde with it's greater weight is so much more steady and stable. It's a bit like driving a car really though I feel some strain in my forearms controlling the bike. I expect I'm going to bulk up some in the upper body. It's an incredibly comfortable seat something I remember from renting. The only reason for pulling over is the need to fill up on gas. Whenever I glance in the side mirrors I catch a glimpse of Gilbert having a ball of a time.

The green farmer's fields flew by then the lakes with the bullfights and ducks. We were up to the Nicomen Slough in no time, a couple of blue heron flying by. Then it was the cool of the pine forest beginning of the hills. We pulled over at the the Sasquatch Inn atHemlock Valley turn off. Gilbert was happy to have a pee. Someone had spilt ice cubes on the grass and he just lay down and played in them. Once we stopped moving we felt the heat. A couple of canned soft drinks from the liquor store quenched the thirst as other bikers mulled about and talked about bikes, the dog, the road. A nice couple on a Dyna had a real down home way about them.

"I saw your dog and just had to see how you carried him on the back. Another good reason to get a decker." he said.

"He really wants a dog," she said.

Laura and the girl talked about dogs and kids for a while.

Then a few more bikes pulled up and joined in the standing around easy going every biker welcome crowd.

"I had an Electraglyde but I traded it in on the Ultra. It's a lot heavier. The electraglyde was more maneuverable but the Ultra rides smoother on the highway," he was telling me as his girlfriend stood beside her own Sporty.

We headed up for the winding road through the hills stretch before the road opened up in the flats of farmland around Aggassi.
Coming into Harrison's and pulling up to the Executive was a rush. At $15 extra for Gilbert they're pet friendly. Our favorite the Bungalo Cabins was booked all summer. The Hotel and Spa claims it's pet friendly but charges an extra $100 for a pet. "That's why I've never seen dogs there." said Laura.

I remembered having my old dog with me when I rented a cabin there for my mom and dad's visit a decade or so back and they certainly were more 'pet friendly' then.

We like the Executive. We found it on another overnight motorcycle ride out here. It's right across from the public hot springs pool and just a few more steps to the malacon. The restaurant and room service are great. They have safe underground parking for the bike too.

Checked in with our stuff in the room and Laura and I changed to bathing suits we headed for the beach. Laura showed Gilbert she'd brought along his new rooster sqeaky toy so he was happy.
The dragon boat race competition was on with all the gaudy dressed participants walking about with life jackets and paddles. The town was packed like Mardi Gras. Gilbert was in heaven with the increased number of dog butts to sniff. Dogs aren't allowed on the beach where the majority of toddlers and families hang out but down at the far end where the boat launch is there's a section of sandy beach that's very dog friendly.

Laura settled in with a book while I took Gilbert down for his first swimming lessons. I walked out in the freezing water and stood while he barked at me for a bit but certainly showed no sign of joining me. I personally wasn't keen on swimming in the cold water either. So I walked back, picked up Gilbert and brought him in with me, held him by the harness and let him get paddling propulsion and watch him shoot back to the beach. He'd fallen in the water before and escaped to shore. Now he was adept at dog paddling to shore. I was pleased and didn't push it. For now Gilbert can swim in one direction.

A half dozen other dogs joined him and he was a running fool trying to hang out with everyone from the St. Bernards to the Labs. He ran into the water with them but didn't continue on when they started swimming. He was happy as a lark with the companionship though. Even got to playing ball with one Sherpherd Chow that dropped his ball just so Gilbert would pick it up. Gilbert would bring the ball to me and I'd throw it for Shepherd chow to swim out and fetch. There's no end to the way ball dogs will go to enlist ball throwers. Their ingenuity is only surpassed by frizbee dogs.
When I finally went swimming myself and felt how cold it was I figured maybe Gilbert just needs warmer water. I dove in and swam in one direction myself.

Soaking wet Gilbert rolled in all the dirt he could find so I had to take him back to the water, wash him off then carry him up the to grass for us to go.
In the hot sun it was no time before he was fluffy again. We walked along the malacon and met with all the other dogs bored with their owners and glad to hear from Gilbert all about the goings on of all the dogs down at the other end of the beach.

Back in the room I continued reading Off Track by Alice Griffiths. It's a delightful fantasy romp with great characters and classic adventure. It's on my iPhone. Laura has a paperback. Gilbert was settled into his squeaky toy. It wasn't long before I napped.

Room service steak and prawns and a tv detective series was all I could handle after that. Laura took Gilbert for his evening constitutional and I slept like a dog till 6:00 am. I used to have a different meaning for 'slept like a dog', now I think it means slept soundly with very early morning wakening.

This morning we jogged around the lagoon. This was mercifully interrupted by other dog 'walkers' when Gilbert had to circle and wrestle and behave innappropriately canine while I had those pleasant morning chats with other dog walkers. Without the dogs you could tell us by the frumpled thrown on clothing and that 'couldn't sleep in' and 'haven't had coffee,yet' look.

Now while Laura and Gilbert nap I'm going over to the pool to 'take the baths'. When I get back Laura will be ready for breakfast. I just fed Gilbert a little Cesar wet dog food package but Gilbert will be ready for breakfast nonetheless. He's not one to miss any meal.

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