Day 33 CCR: Leaving Canada, the North Cascades and a Hitchhiker
The ride across Canada has officially ended now that the border crossing back into the USA has been accomplished. This was a busy day, beginning with an early start, a ferry ride, a border crossing, a trip through the North Cascades, and picking up a hitchhiker.
I wanted to catch the 7:00 a.m. ferry from Vancouver Island back to the mainland because I wasn’t sure how long the border crossing would take and also because the next scheduled departure was 9:00 a.m. I wanted to get an early start to have more time to on today’s trip to eastern Washington. We left our hotel a little before 6:00 a.m., made the short ride to the ferry terminal and were the first motorcycles to board the ferry. I spent much of my time on the early morning ferry watching a few of the more than 200 “Gulf Islands” get smaller and smaller as we slowly chugged to the mainland terminal at Tsawwassen. I hope one day to return to Vancouver Island, just as I want to return to most of the places we visited in the past 29 days.
I spent my hour and a half on the ferry eating the sack breakfast provided by our hotel (The Waddling Dog, by the way) and taking pictures of beautiful scenery on a beautiful morning. I also thought about the many places we visited during more than three weeks in Canukia and of the VNCs (Very Nice Canadians) who made the trip special. Fortunately, many of them are in the blog so that when my memory goes I’ll still be able to remember them.
While I was anxious to start riding today, I also wasn’t in any hurry for the ferry to dock. The slower it went, the longer my stay in Canada would last. But, on schedule, the ferry pulled into the terminal at 8:30 and within minutes we fired up the V-Twins and rolled onto hard pavement and the road out of Canada.
The nearest border crossing was only about a 30 minute ride from the ferry terminal and by 9:00 we were in a short line of automobiles waiting to be cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Fifteen minutes later it was my turn. I was pleasantly surprised that the agent examining my documents and asking the routine questions was friendly–other experiences have involved rude and surly agents. A warning sign posted at the crossing said all fruits and vegetables had to be declared, as well as any purchases made in Canada, so I fessed up to the two bananas I bought on the ferry with the last of my Canadian coin and the two t-shirts I bought at Harley dealers. The agent asked to see the fruit secreted in my saddlebag and said if they didn’t have proper stickers on them they would have to go in the trash. Fortunately mine were adorned with proper stickers, and he allowed me to enter my home country schlepping two non-contraband bananas. That was a good start to my return to my native land.
One of colorful things I saw repeatedly for the last week or so was a flower I couldn’t identify even though I had seen them in North Carolina. I finally stopped and my trusty plant identification app told me it was “Common Foxglove.” It may be common, but it’s uncommonly beautiful when it grows by the hundreds along the highways, especially in moist climates. At any rate, now that I know what it is, here’s how colorful it was:
I knew the ride across Washington would involve going through and over the North Cascades, a section of the Cascade range that extends from northern California to southern Canada. But I had never ridden through them and didn’t know quite what to expect. A road sign along the way, however, said “Welcome to the American Alps,” and that gave me a pretty good clue of what lay ahead.
Since I was unable to ride the Icefields Parkway in Alberta this trip, I have to say that today’s ride may have been the best–or at least the most scenic–of all the rides on this trip. Snow covered mountains, glaciers, waterfalls–this ride had it all. I stopped repeatedly to add to my photo documentation of this trip, knowing that any picture I took wouldn’t truly reflect the incredible beauty all around me. But here are some of them:
Astute readers remember that earlier in tonight’s blog I mentioned a hitchhiker. Normally I don’t pick up hitchhikers, for a number of very good reasons, the most important being that I don’t have room on a fully loaded motorcycle. But I saw this one in a ditch by the side of the road and knew I had to stop. I scooped her up and placed her carefully on my bike. But no matter how hard I tried to get her to warm up to me, she never did. She was cold. Very cold. So I dumped her.
Tomorrow the ride continues across Washington and into Idaho. I’m getting closer to home but the CCR blog continues and I’ll keep posting until I get back to North Carolina.