Labour Day & Beyond... 2008

It is our custom to visit Sharon's family in Saskatchewan over the Labour Day long weekend.  This year we decided to take the following week & a couple of days off and carry on from there, south through Montana & Idaho into the Hell's Canyon region and then do some riding in Oregon/Washington before heading home through B.C.

Saturday, August 30th:  Keith ~ 650km; Sharon ~ 480km.  We set out to visit Sharon's parents near Central Butte.  The day was uneventful with occasional bits of very light rain until 36km west of Swift Current when Sharon's KLR decided to die.  It behaved as though it was running out of fuel - but wasn't.  The engine would run when the bike wasn't moving, at full throttle, with a nasty sqeaky-clanky sound.  After Keith had returned to Sharon & heard the sound once, we agreed NOT to try starting it again as that sound was very bad news.  After a call to Sharon's Mom, a rescue party was dispatched to pick up Sharon & the bike & deliver them to our destination.  While we were waiting, we doubled on the back of Keith's ST3s (two-up really sucks...) to Swift Current and had something to eat.  When the rescue crew arrived at the Husky, Sharon got in with them & Keith carried on to the farm in hopes that he might get there before dark (he didn't quite make it in the light, but had no issues).  The KLR was retrieved from where we had left it on the side of the road with no difficulty and delivered to our destination with much thanks to the family friend who took 3 hours out of his day to help us!  The remainder of the evening was spent discussing the alternatives of how to get both of us AND both bikes back to Calgary so that we could swap Sharon's KLR for Keith's KLR and continue on with the rest of our 11 day vacation.

Sunday, August 31st:  Keith ~ 650km; Sharon ~ 0km.  The decision was for Keith to head back home to Calgary to get the car & trailer.  The trip was made somewhat more comfortable by the fact that we were able to unload all the gear from his bike, but it was made very UN-comfortable by the fact that it rained for the entire trip.  With the exception of having to pay inside for gas at Maple Creek and the decision to go in & thaw out at the Husky in Medicine Hat, Keith did not leave the seat of the Ducati for the 650km journey (including fuel stops in Swift Current & Brooks).  It was a matter of pull up to the pump, swipe the card, fill the tank, and go.

The stop at the Husky was almost comical.  Undressing layers of water soaked clothing in a very busy roadside restaurant, he took the last table for four so that he could spread his stuff out to drip a bit.  Both the waitress and the owner seemed very sympathetic and provided many prompt coffee refills.  The only people in the place that seemed upset with the situation were the couple that came in next.  The only table left was a tiny table near the door.  They seemed indignant that they should have to sit there when a lone guy was taking up an entire table with all his wet things.  Oh well, their problem.  They can keep driving in their dry car.

Meanwhile, Sharon stayed & visited with her parents while Keith made this journey.

Monday, September 1st:  Keith returned the 650km back to Sharon's parents farm with the car & trailer.  The defunct KLR & all of our luggage got loaded up in preparation for the return trip to Calgary.  Monday evening we enjoyed a family dinner to celebrate Sharon's Mom's birthday that had occurred the week before.

Tuesday, September 2nd:  It had rained almost the entire time from Saturday morning to Tuesday morning, so the mile long gravel road from the highway to Sharon's parents' farm was NOT a good place to be driving a front wheel drive sedan with a trailer!  Sharon's brother hauled the trailer containing Sharon's bike to the highway with his pick-up truck.  We hitched the trailer to the car & carried on home on four wheels...  When we got home, we unpacked the bike luggage, did laundry, & decided we had time for some initial exploratory surgery on the bike.

After draining the oil & finding a rather massive chunk of metal on the magnetic drain plug, we removed the engine from the bike & popped it up on the workbench to make it easier to work on. 

Extracting the engine from the frame was pretty easy, if you discount the large amount of coolant we spilled all over Sharon's legs.  Valve train is intact & in spec.  Under the left cover, the timing chain is complete, in place, and properly adjusted.

Wednesday, September 3rd:  We put Sharon's lowering links (& side stand) & wheels (more street oriented tires) on Keith's KLR & got everything all packed up to be able to leave in the morning.  In the process we also decided to leave the camping gear at home for the remainder of our abbreviated trip.  We both enjoyed the lighter loading on the bikes - and as it turned out, most of the nights were too cold to have wanted to sleep in the tent anyway!!!  Once we had everything ready to leave again, we both agreed it made no sense to leave home so late in the day, so we finished the diagnosis on Sharon's KLR.  Progressing along with the removal of the right side cover we found many metal shavings, but not the culprit.  Pulled the head & found the piston intact.  Pulled the cylinder & found the rings intact.

Progressed along to removing the timing chain assembly to split the case & found the culprit!

The rear left outer counter balance shaft bearing failed!  We completed the case splitting and found no other issues, besides copious amounts of metal from the disintegrated bearing cage & various burnt & damaged balls from the bearing.

With diagnosis of the problem complete, we covered all the parts with rags and carried on with our vacation!

Thursday, September 2nd: ~ 640km.  Calgary, AB to Sandpoint, ID.  We got a bit of a later start than intended.  After an uneventful day we finally managed to track down a cheap, clean room at the K2 Inn in Sandpoint where the lady recommended Eichart's Pub for dinner.  It was very local & very good!

Friday, September 3rd: ~ 590km.  Sandpoint, ID to Council, ID.  We headed south on the 95 to the #3 where the road got interesting with some good stretches of twisties, and headed east to St. Maries where we continued to head south.  We turned off on the P1 at Kendrick (where there was no fuel...) which turned out to be a great little twisty road and our first un-previously known by us road of the trip.  We got back onto the #12 at Orofino & went south to Kamiah where we found a good Mexican lunch (very late lunch - you might say early dinner...) & then on to Kooskia. 

We took the #13 south to Grangeville and the 95 south to New Meadows & Council.

At New Meadows we saw some other motorcyclists stopped for a break.   We nodded a hello, but they didn't seem particularly friendly, so we had our rest and then carried on.  One of them had an interesting piece of luggage.

We found a $45 room at the Starlight Motel in Council.  This little visitor was sunning himself on the door frame while we were packing up in the morning.  You don't see many of these where we're from!

Saturday, September 4th: ~ 575km.  Council, ID to Spokane, WA.  We took the 95 south from Council to Cambridge for breakfast.  Enroute, a State Trooper passed Sharon with his lights on & pulled in behind Keith.  So, Keith pulled over & Sharon headed on about 5km down the road & pulled over to wait.  Keith got a warning for going 75mph in a 65mph zone - and he had been clocked just completing a pass!!!!  Unfortunately, the officer also wanted to know where we were going and called in our plates & description so that if we were caught speeding on the road to Brownlee Dam there was to be no leeway on the speed limit.  Now, on many roads that may be OK, but the Brownlee Dam road is signed at 25mph, which is OK for a truck and camper, but mind numbing on a motorcycle.  The trooper then pulled in behind Sharon where she was stopped and informed her that he'd been pointing at her to pull over too.... he was either lying or didn't realize her head was *higher* than the roof of his car & she couldn't SEE him pointing...  However, he seemed intent on lecturing motorcyclists rather than ticketing - which IS a good thing!!!  We were told we were riding way too fast & that the 71 is a terrible road "full of corners" {no kidding?!?!?!}.  He left & we carried on to a nice breakfast in Cambridge and enjoyed the 71 at speeds near the legal limit.  Once into Oregon we took the road that goes north, with a side trip to the scenic overlook, and then on to Joseph for a light Mexican lunch.

We proceeded from Joseph north to Enterprise and north on the #3.

A great road with bits of twisties following along canyons carved in the Earth.

We stopped for a short break at a little spot beside the bridge over the Grande Ronde River & chatted with a couple on a Harley who told us of another good road for sport bikes which we took later.

After Clarkston, we went east on the 193 until it ended & became something else which we followed along Lower Granite Lake, nice sweepers.  Then the road climbed out of the valley with some great twisties.

Pullman was hosting a WSU football game so there were no rooms between there & Spokane.  Once in Spokane we found a (closed) Visitor Info Centre where a friendly pedestrian directed us to downtown and assured us that our motorcycles would be safe in the area.  We found a $59 room at the Rodeway Inn, and the lady at the desk also assured us that our motorcycles would be safe.

We had a more expensive (Calgary prices) dinner at the Steam Plant Grill that evening, it was excellent and is on our list to go to again some time.  The decor is quite interesting as it is the remnants of the inner workings of the old steam plant which, until the 1980's, supplied steam heat for the downtown buildings of Spokane.

Sunday, September 5th: ~ 425km.  Spokane, WA to Coleville, WA.  We got a late start in Spokane and it seemed that everyone in town was headed out for Sunday Brunch!  We finally found a tasty breakfast at a steak house and then headed west on the 291.  It wasn't a fast road, but it had some enjoyable sweepers.  We then headed north on the 231 and west at Springdale to Hunters and north to Kettle Falls for gas.  West on 20 through Sherman Pass to Republic for lunch then north on 21 to Curlew and east.  Another nice road with some tightish sweepers.  We then headed back south on the 395 and east on the 20 to Colville.  We found a room at Benny's Colville Inn after checking out a room at the Selkirk Motel which was rather weird and didn't appear to have been vacuumed recently...  The lady didn't seem too keen on renting it out anyway, so this resulted in a slightly longer walk to the Acorn Saloon & Feeding Station where we shared nachos & had a few drinks.

Monday, September 6th: ~ 555km.  Coleville, WA to Cranbrook, BC.  We somehow went south on the 395 out of Coleville instead of east on the 20.  We enjoyed a very neat little road near Arden and then made our way back onto the 20, back to Coleville, and found the road that headed north that we had originally intended to be on.  It was a road of nice sweepers with a few twisties thrown in that dumped us out at Northport where we got our last cheap US gas of the trip.  (The sign in the gas station said that the day's price converted to $1.16CDN/litre and that was one of our most expensive fuel stops down there!  Just across the border the price was $1.359/litre.)  We had a very easy border crossing at Waneta declaring 5 Corona & 2/3 of a mickey of Vodka without taking off helmets or even sunglasses.  We rode the 22A to the 3B to the 3 to Castlegar where we took Pass Creek Road to the #6 to New Denver for lunch.  We enjoyed the 31A to Kaslo for the last time in 2008 and got to the Kootenay Lake Ferry with 1/2 hour to wait, excellent timing when you consider it's on the winter schedule!  We met a guy on a Tiger from Edmonton who then followed us south to Creston.  There was a lot of gravel on the road at Kootenay Bay and a car had collided with a trailer in the middle of a curve somewhere along the lake, but people were out alerting traffic so we got past that without a hitch.  We stopped for the night in Cranbrook where the manager at the Lazy Bear convinced himself to rent us his last non-smoking room (a TRIPLE) for much less than the going rate.  We walked to the Apollo Restaurant for a tasty pizza.

Tuesday, September 7th: ~ 425km.  Cranbrook, BC to Calgary, AB.  After breakfast at the "fancy" hotel next door we set out for the last leg of our trip home.  We fueled in Radium and added the heated grip wraps to the bikes.  20km north we realized that we were not going to avoid the storm cloud we had one eye on, so we stopped and donned full rain gear.  Within 2km the sky opened up on us!  40 km of HEAVY rain was followed by a variety of rain showers all the way home from there.  We tried to stop in Canmore for a coffee, but our favorite coffee place had closed at 1pm due to lack of staff...  We didn't feel like heading into the downtown area to find something else, so headed on to the Husky at Dean Man's Flats.  We arrived at about 5 after 2 to discover the restaurant closes at 2pm in the winter...  The cashier in the gas station let us drink our coffee at a table in the restaurant to warm up.  We wired Keith's heated gloves for the final wet stretch home.

All-in-all, we had a good trip, despite the broken bike and the rainy finish.  In the 6 days in a row that we spent on the bikes we put on 3215km.