Vancouver to Brandon

On Tuesday 30 June I left Vancouver with Alethia and Elizabeth heading north to Spirit River, some 1’263km or 14 hours 38 minutes away. It was quite the drive. Me on the bike, the girls in the truck. Between lack of cell phone service, misunderstood communication, and running out of gas, it was quite a stressful journey. We went north Tara’s wedding, Alethia’s sister. Finally, we made it to Grande Prairie only an hour late for the stagette.

I joined the boys for the stag the following evening. Most of the night was spent in Showgirls, the local strip bar. I’ve never seen so much cash thrown at women in my life. I reckon the guys spent at least $150 each that night. It was quite an experience. The girls have magnets they use to collect the coins after their show. I was quite impressed, I haven’t seen anything like that in Bangkok.

Tara and Josey were married on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. Sunshine from morning till night, light rain in the small hours. The ceremony and reception was beautiful. Here’s a photo the bride and groom cutting the cake.

Tara and Josey cut the cake

After the wedding we spent one night in Grande Prairie then parted company. Alethia and Elizabeth went back to Vancouver and I headed east to Edmonton. It rained, rained and rained some more on my ride to Edmonton. I spent a day in Edmonton with Chris and Jess, thanks guys. Jess was off work sick so we hung out in the house most of the day. I went out to try and buy some gloves, otherwise I spent the whole day in front on the laptop, avoiding the rain.

My road trip really began when I left Grande Prairie. I was on the road alone, with no-one to see and nowhere to be. I started to feel the freedom of the open road. I started taking my time, riding more slowly, stopping more frequently. Aside from the hammering rain, the riding was very pleasant.

From Edmonton my next stop was Saskatoon. Here’s a Bessy against the Saskatchewan horizon.

Bessy in Saskatchewan

A self portrait of me suited and booted.

Suited and booted

In Saskatoon I stayed with Gina for a couple of nights. We had some fascinating conversations. Gina is the gardener at a hotel in Saskatoon. Here she is tending to her flock.

Gina at work in the gardens

After staying at Gina’s I was invited to spend the weekend with Thomas and his family at their cabin. Laura, Thomas’s mother, throws one fantastic party. There were 8 of us in total and Laura had brought and prepared enough food for a small army. We were very well fed, I had a wonderful weekend.It was at the cabin I found out about the Ness Creek festival. More on the festivals later.

I took Laura for a ride on the motorcycle. She said on her 50th birthday she decided to try 50 new things, and having done that, she was well into her second 50. It was her first time on a motorcycle and we hit 100km/h, one more for her list.

Here’s the sun setting over the garden at the cabin.

Sunset over the cabin

There was a magnificent rainbow over the neighbouring cabins.

Rainbow over the cabins

While riding in Saskatchewan I saw a sign that said “Point of Interest 1km”. In keeping with my new leisurely pace, I stopped to check it out. I was expecting something of natural beauty, or a building perhaps. No, this is the point of interest.

Canadian point of interest

If you look closely, it’s not just a parking space, there is also a plaque.

Point of interest up close

I forget that modern Canadian history is somewhat shorter than Scottish history. It seems Canadians are interested in any type of history, no matter how trivial. The plaque says something along the lines of “a buffalo crossed the road here in 1806”. Fascinating point of interest!

It was clear at the wedding in northern Alberta that this was oil country. Young men, big trucks, lots of cash, not much to do. This scene is typical of the Alberta and southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba landscape.

This be oil country

My route across Canada followed the Yellowhead highway to Saskatoon. Most of the way the highway is flanked by a train line. Occassionally I saw seemingly endless trains of one sort or another. Every so often the train line would be punctuated by a towering grain elevator. These serve as the local hubs of the rural grain industry. Farmers deliver and sell their grain to the elevators to be slowly hauled to the sea for export.

I saw this train from a distance and stopped to catch a picture. I tried pacing a train and it seemed to be travelling around 50km/h. A little too fast to run and jump aboard I think.

Endless Canadian train

After leaving Saskatchewan my next stop was Brandon, Manitoba. I was in Brandon to meet family. I knew their names from Christmas cards containing Canadian calendars. It was great to meet them in person. Here’s Mary, Kathy, Andy and I at Clear Lake.

Visiting Clear Lake

Young Andy lives on a farm outside Brandon. I’m told he was excited about a younger cousin arriving from Scotland. Their last Scottish visitor was in his seventies! He was kind enough to share his trampoline.

Callum and Andy on the trampoline

I took both Mary and Andy for rides on the bike. Andy seemed to have a blast, he told his parents he wants his own motorbike.

Mary on a motorbike

After Brandon I went back to Saskatchewan for a couple of weeks and two festivals. I’ll post more on them later. Now I’ve been back in Brandon for a week hanging out with family and doing various bits of motorcycle maintenance. I’m very grateful to Kathy and Mary for their wonderful hospitality and to Mary’s husband Dan for the use of his workshop. I think I’ll leave Brandon tomorrow continuing eastwards. I’ve been invited to Prince Edward Island, so I might make it all the way to Nova Scotia. I’ll be interested to compare the so-called new Scotland with the original.

I feel like I’m on the road now. I still have one client to maintain during July and August, but otherwise I’m not working. I look forward to the complete freedom to drop off the grid for weeks at a time come September. Bring on full retirement. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Vancouver to Brandon”

  1. Great post Cal. It sums up the beauty of travelling by motorbike. Feeling the elements and the smells of every inch of your journey, staying and meeting real people and when you reach a destination not having the hassle of organising taxi/bus/train tickets.

  2. Hi,

    I live in Brasil and 3 years ago my wife and i went to Canada to see friends living on North Vancouver. We rented a car and went untill Rockies – Banff, Peyto Lake and other places wonderfull.
    i like to travel by motorcycle too, for uns that live in Brasil, a trip of motorcycle in Canada is very dificult, because the weather.

    Congratulations by your trip.

    bes regards

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