1976 Honda CB750 - Trip II

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The Canada Trip - 1982

After returning from my 1979 trip, I met Dave, as I explained on the previous page. We really hit it off well. We both like to ride and he certainly wasn't concerned that I rode a Honda. Many Harley riders make it a point to jeer at motorcycles that come from Asia yet don't have a problem with bikes that come from Europe. You can draw you own conclusions behind that reasoning but Dave was accepting of all bikes. As long as you liked to ride, he was more than willing to go. Before he headed back to Canada we agreed, more or less, that I'd ride up to Canada and we'd do some more riding together.

A bit over two years went by while I started a new job in a new career path, ended a relationship, and kept plugging away at a college degree by taking classes in the evenings. I was undecided as to what degree I was pursuing but after completeing my drafting program and starting to work in the engineering field I thought I might try mechanical engineering at California State University, Long Beach. It only took me one semetsre before I realized this was not the path I was going down. While I can do it, math just didn't interest me enough to make it through those classes and it didn't take me long to figure out that it was an impossible degree to obtain as a non-traditional student, that is, one who could only take vening classes. After 3-years of shift work in the army followed 4-years of the midnight in the photo lab, I just wanted "normal hours" for a while. For the next few years I majored in "Veterans Benefits"" until I decided to focus on Industrial Arts with the idea to become a high school teacher at some point.

While I was plenty busy working full time and taking 4 evening classes each semester, I still had time to ride, fell into a whole new circle of friends, and did a fair amount of traveling. I was riding my 750 every day to work which was about 15 miles each way on the San Diego freeway from Long Beach to Gardena. Traffic was as bad as one can image but I would split lanes, a legal move in California, which really saved time. At some point my boss came to me said he didn't want to lose me on the freeway and gave my keys to a company truck. I don't think I ever rode my bike to work after that. Work was really interesting as the company was involved in developing equipment to be used on geothermal projects near the Salton Sea and I was able to make a few trips there including one with my boss, Tom, in his Cessna.

Somewhere in the end of 1981 or beginning of 1982, I decided that the summer of 1982 would be the best time to ride up to Canada and meet with Dave for a long ride back. I don't remember how we communicated back then since it was before email and cell phones it was probably through the occassional call over land lines. We discussed our schedules and set a meet up date to rendezvouz in Fernie, British Columbia. In the meantime, my sister, Terry, had moved back to California and became interested in the idea of this long ride. Since I don't carry passengers, in April '82 she bought herself a Honda 550, learned to ride it, and we did a few of short rides in Southern California to get both of us ready for the upcoming jaunt.

Packing for a long trip on a motorcycle is similar to backpacking except that weight isn't as much of an issue. It was decided that I would bring my pup tent, stove, and cooking gear from my previous trips and we'd each then just have a backpack, sleeping bag and pad, and split the food between us. I tried to keep what went in the backpack to a minimum so it was only a few changes of clothes, a poncho in case of rain, my 35mm camera and a dozen rolls of film, and a bag of tools that I hoped I wouldn't need. We tried different packing configurations on our bikes until the most stable and comfortable arrangement was arrived at. For me it was placing my backpack right behind me, strapped to the sissy-bar of my rear seat, with the rest of the gear strapped on behind it. This allowed me to lean back, put my feet up on the highway pegs and have a backrest. The main thing is having everything strapped tightly to the bike so it doesn't shift around while riding, especially in the curves.

The bikes got some maintenance which included a tune up and an oil change, lubing the chains, and checking the tire inflation. While it was summer, gloves and a jacket are frequently needed, especially when riding in the morning. Another piece of equipment is the helmet. I had a Bell full-face model in which I had mounted my headphones that connected to my cassette deck so there was no question that the helmet was going with me. This was the trip on which I had outfitted my bike with tunes which you can read about that on the Pioneer KP-500 page.

While in some places, helmet wearing is required by law, I will freely admit that if it wanted required, I didn't always wear it. It's a personal choice and when there is a nice winding road with little traffic, I really did prefer to wear just my knitted toque and goggles and feel the wind in my face. The other piece of equipment that I learned to take along are those little foam ear plugs because the roar of the wind is deafening, and ear plugs help dampen that.

Without much more detailed planning, we left just after the 4th of July, heading north through Central California. I am a bit sketchy as to our exact route but remember that we went from Southern California up to North-Central California, by Mount Shasta, through the Lassen National Forest, and up into Oregon, always picking a route that had the most interesting roads. Once we got into Eastern Oregon the roads straightened out and became tedious although the wide-open scenery of the high desert is appealing. After a long day of riding, we found ourselves in Burns, OR looking for a place to camp. There really wasn't much to choose from due to the isolated nature of the place but found a campground which wasn't much more than the owner's front yard just off the two-land road we'd ridden in on. At least we were off the bikes for a rest and the weather was good.

Back on the road the next day, we got into Idaho and rode Highway 12 from Orofino, ID to Lolo, MT. This is about 160 miles, most of it along the Lochsa River, a truly wonderful road I have done several times over the years. It has lots of curves, is heavily forested, and is a motorcyclist's dream ride. I like how with roads like that it is possible to get into a rhythm of banking back and forth to the turns in the highway, leaning right and then left, with the sound of the engine adding a subtle drone while it glides over mile after mile.

After climbing up to Lolo Pass we descended out of the mountains, entered Montana and turned north into Missoula. Little did I know at the time that 9 years later I would be moving to this state. The western part of the state is mountains and forests and that was our scenery as with continued north to Kalispell and into Glacier Park. The mountain views in this park are world-class and we rode the "Going to the Sun" road, certainly one of the more popular drives in the park. However, for as great as it is, it reminded me of driving in Yosemite with RVs trying to sightsee at the same time as navigating the narrow roads and drifting out of their lane into oncoming traffic. Yikes!!! For that spectacular scenery one just has to pull out to enjoy it.

We thought we might camp in Glacier but campgrounds were full so we continued north, crossed the border into Canada, and camped at Waterton Lakes National Park with its gorgeous scenery. Our pre-arranged date to meet up with Dave in Fernie, BC was still a day or two away so we took advantage of the down time, relaxed, and did some rides around that park and saw some of the sites in the provincial park. For whatever reason, there were few people in the park, and it was great riding the roads around the lakes there without the traffic we had encountered south of the border. However, there was another kind of traffic to be dealt with as shown below on the right.

Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

Fernie, British Columbia

Dave was working on a large construction project in the port at Prince Rupert with Cliff, a friend, and they were riding down from there about this time. The overall plan was for everyone to show up on the same day, hang out a Cliff's place for a few days, and then head south, back into the states together. On the meeting day we left Waterton Lakes and headed north for the ride to Fernie, just under 200 miles.

As instructed, upon arrival we went to the The Kings bar downtown and called Cliff's number on the pay phone. I talked to Dave and he said that he and Michelle, his girlfriend, would be right over. We had some beers and Dave asked if we'd been camping along the way. I said we had, and he said that's great because the bad news was that while Cliff was gone working in Prince Rupert, his wife left him and when he returned the house was pretty much empty. The good news is that he still had the house. No problem. We'll camp there.

We stayed in Fernie for 3-4 days, or was it 5 days, and it was lots of fun. It was sort of one long party with some day rides on great roads with Dave and Michelle on his Harley and Cliff on his, I think, Kawasaki. Just north of Fernie is a popular ski area and we rode to that and Cliff took us on a variety of side roads with lots of twists and turns.

Hanging out at Cliff's we drank a few Kokanee beers which we had to buy at a provincial store. They came in short bottles in a long box 12-pack. We also drank another beer which I think might have been called "Old Fashioned" or some such thing that was high octane. The joke was that the Americans had to buy the beer because the current exchange rate favored the U.S. dollar. On the left is a picture of the coffee table at Cliff's. Kokanee bottles and an "Easy Rider" magazine. Somewhere on that table is a photo album, one of the few things that Cliff's wife left behind, that he called "The Pass Out Book." I guess there had been some pretty serious partying at Cliff's over the years and anyone who passed out got their picture taken and added to book. It was actually pretty funny when looking through it. I made sure my picture wasn't added.

One evening Dave suggested that we go swimming at Surveyors Lake, about 30 minutes from Fernie. We piled into a car, although I'm not sure who's it was, and went out to the lake but when we arrived, we were disappointed to find that the park had already closed for the night. No problem, Dave said, we'll hop the fence and just grab a swim. No one had suits so we all skinny-dipped and were having a great time until headlights came through the woods and the ranger showed up. A few of us ran to the woods and hid in the brush while Dave negotiated with the ranger who agreed that if we just left that would be the end of it. Canadians are so nice and reasonable that way. We found our clothes and the car and headed back to Fernie, laughing all the way.

The view from Cliff's living room, above. Dave chats on the phone on the right.

Back to the States

The travel plan was to head to Spokane because Dave needed a new carburetor on his bike and he wanted to have it installed there to avoid paying the duty if he had it shipped to Canada. So, we packed up our gear and four motorcycles headed south: me on my 750, Terry on her 550, Dave and Michelle on his Harley, and Cliff on his Kawasaki. We got to the border crossing at Roosville figuring that it was pretty quiet there and wouldn't take long but it turned out to be an ordeal. Unbeknownst to us, Cliff had been busted for pot a few years back and that showed up on the computer so they made ALL of us take EVERYTHING off our bikes and spread it out on the road so they could go through every inch of it. Of course, nothing was found but it took an hour or two to repack our gear.

Not far down the road, Cliff left us and headed off in a different direction as he was going to visit his sister in either Montana or Idaho. We continued south along Lake Koocanusa, a truly exceptional ride of about 60 miles with gentle curves and virtually no other traffic. Taking photos while riding is not something I attempted very often so I grabbed a couple from Google street view to show that section of the ride. I doubt that much has changed since 1982.

Along the Lake Koocanusa between Rexford and Jennings, Montana

Just outside Libby, MT

As I attempt to reconstruct our route, I am pretty sure that after we passed through Libby, MT, went west for a way, threading through the mountains, and then north to Bonners Ferry, ID before heading south through Sandpoint and on to Spokane, WA. From the border that's about 225 miles and an easy day ride.

Spokane, Washington

Our first stop was the Harley shop where Dave was told that they had the carb but couldn't get to it until the next day and, by the way, where are we staying. We said we were camping but hadn't found a place yet. He said we could camp in his backyard, gave us his address and directions, and said the key to the house was under the mat on the back porch. Wow!!! While we stayed there, Dave did a little more work on his bike.

After getting our tents set up in the backyard, we headed out for the evening's entertainment. We ended up at a bar called "Boneshakers," chosen because we could hear rock and roll playing which, as motorcyclists in an unknown town, a safer bet than country-western. It took me a few minutes to get my bike secured and by the time I got inside I could see Dave taking to the waitress in an animated way. They headed for a table and when I sat down, he said we could have one beer and then we had to leave. Why? Because we are on motorcycles. Huh? The waitress brought over a round of beer and is apologetic as she tells us that the owner just bought this place. In the past it was a rough biker bar and there had been lots of problems there, including a murder, and the city had shut it down so the new owner was trying to change its image. We explained that we were just passing through, that Dave and Michelle were from Canada and that my sister and I were from Southern California. The waitress leaves and the next thing we know the owner is there asking who is from California. I told him that my sister and I were from Long Beach. He asks if I know the liquor store under the bar called the "Executive Suite." I say, "Yes, on the corner of Redondo and Pacific Coast Highway." He says that his brother owns that place. He's apologetic about the motorcycle thing and gives us a bunch of tokens for free beers and asks a favor. He wants me to take one of the tokens and give it to his brother. I agree, and later I did. We had a good time there after all.

The next day we get to the Harley shop early and wait around most of the day until Dave's bike is finally done and he's given it a test ride. We are about ready to hit the road when the Harley shop guys invite us to have a beer with them. OK, one beer and then on the road. Right.

We went to a nearby bar and had a great time but, after hanging around all day, I was itching to get moving again. It was getting late and we really had no idea how far we were going or where we'd camp. Once we got moving, we made it as far as a rest area outside Othello, WA where we took care of business and decided to head a bit further west before stopping for the night. When we were pulling back out onto the highway my sister dropped her bike. We were all pretty tired and Dave, always the gentleman, pulled up and said, "We're staying here tonight." We just parked our bikes on the grass, pulled out our sleeping bags, and grabbed some sleep. Sleep, that is, until a really rowdy crowd showed up about 1am and camped nearby us. As if that wasn't enough, about 5am the lawn sprinklers woke us up, so we scrambled to get our gear packed and head out. Dave made sure he drove past the noisemakers as we left, gassing the throttle of his bike with his straight pipes right next to where they were sleeping.

We made it through the Tri-Cities and, after getting gas in Kennewick, we decided that instead of staying on the freeway we would head down the Columbia River on the northside, 2-lane highway. We were just past the last turn-off when we saw a sign that indicated "Next Services 90 miles." Uh-ho. Although my sister's bike had a range of a bit over 100 miles, we shrugged and gave it a shot. We were riding into a pretty strong headwind but it was a beautiful ride, and all the traffic was on the southside of the river on the freeway so we had the two-lane road to ourselves. It was the headwind that was the downfall though because before the next possible gas stop, Terry ran out of gas. She's been on reserve for a while so it was pretty clear this would be a problem. I remember us looking around for a container to transfer gas from Dave's bike to hers and I think he just gave up, pulled his tank, set it over hers, and opened the petcock. We got rolling again and that wind kept lashing at us a destroying any fuel economy a motorcycle might provide and it wasn't too long before both Terry and Dave had run dry. My bike had a larger tank and a better range, so I left them on the side of the road and continued on to the next town across the river, Biggs Junction, gassed up, and returned to share it with them. After we all returned to the same gas station and topped up, we continued west, staying, this time, on the south side of the river.


I've taken long rides by myself, both as day trips and longer ones, like my 7,000 mile tour in 1979, and plenty of rides with friends, either just out for a day cruise along the Pacific coast or adventures like this one to Canada and back. There are hardly any disadvantages to either, but I can cite some unique positives that attach to both.

On a long solo trek, all the stops, route decisions, and even cruising speeds are made just by myself. When I hit the road and what time I stop for the day are left to personal whim. There is also something almost metaphysical about going solo on a motorcycle that puts the focus on one's individuality and self-reliance. If something untoward occurs, it is solely upon me to sort it out but, at the same time, this all provides a great boost in self-confidence as the miles tick away. There is also something about all that time spent in one's own head for hours and hours that can be cleansing, relaxing, like a form of meditation, with the sound of the bike, the vibration, and the wind providing the mantra. On my solo rides I never took along music and this was, of course, long before cell phones, mp3 players, intercoms, and others electronic distractions. It really was about going solo.

(As an aside to this aside, on that 1979 trip, I did take along a small transistor radio that I would listen to in the evenings as I camped. I remember that the hot item in the news, a media event, was that Skylab was returning to earth that summer, falling out of the sky with predictions that some larger pieces might survive re-entry. While I wasn't concerned that it would fall on me, I was keeping my plans open in case the impact zone would be near enough to visit. Alas, it landed in Western Australia.)

As personally fulfilling as solo tours can be, riding with others has its own advantages. Of course, there is the social connection provided through a shared experience that can increase the enjoyability of the trip and it also spreads out the responsibilities. Motorcycles are not necessarily prone to operational problems but as electro-mechanical devices there are issues that can arise and the larger the riding group, the greater the likelihood that someone has expertise in that area, not to mention the tool to solve it. Then there are those times, as in the gas shortage described above, that having others along means never really being stranded alone on the roadside. Group tours can also be less expensive since camp sites can easily accommodate multiple motorcycles. And, also related to accommodations, the larger the group the greater the network of friends along the way who might offer their place for a campsite. Another aspect is that unlike a road trip with others in a car where that much familiarity can breed contempt, the road time in a group motorcycle ride is essentially solo, providing space and distance, and time to decompress.

Now we are back on the road, skirting along the wide Columbia River, but on a 4-lane freeway instead of our preferred 2-lane twisties. The memory of our course has long since left me, but my photographs provide the clue that we abandoned this road and headed south, probably when we got to Pendleton. This would put us back on the 2-lane roads that we would follow west, eventually arriving at the Pacific Ocean.

While we certainly liked road time, we did take quite a few breaks along the way, rarely riding for more than an hour or so before pulling over to admire the scenery, have a chat about the route, to stop for lunch, or stretch our legs. Riding on a motorcycle, at least the bikes we had, took a toll on the body and to relieve the sore butts, cramped legs and hands, it felt good to get off the bikes and walk around a bit. Most times that we did stop, Dave would fiddle with something on his bike. This became a running joke about how those of us on the Hondas would just ride them while the Harleys take lots of extra attention. It was that kind of friendly motorcycle-centric joking that makes groups rides fun and creates bonds between the riders.

Here are some photos from one of our stops. I am not sure where this was but somewhere in Oregon, probably southwest of Pendleton.

Me with my Honda 750

Dave with his Harley

Terry with her Honda 550

Me with my Honda 750
and Michelle on the left

We found a nice spot for our usual picnic-type lunch along a river.

Of course, when we came to a town where were Dave might find some help with his bike we'd stop. He said it just wasn't performing properly and although he was running on that new carburetor that was installed in Spokane, he was now thinking it was something other than a fuel problem and possibly ignition-related. Here are a couple photos of those stops.

As another aside, I remember doing a ride with Dave a few years before this one and his bike was balking as if it were running out of fuel. I don't remember where we were, but he pulled over to the side of the road, dismounted, and opened his gas cap, and was peering inside the tank when I pulled up. He reached into the tank with two fingers, probed around for a moment, and then started pulling out something that looked like a piece of wet newspaper. It kept coming until he had this fuel-laden glob of something. What they heck is THAT, Dave? He explained that a while back he decided that he would put an epoxy lining in his tank and that he might not have followed the instructions exactly regarding application of the primer, set times, and final coating. We were looking at that coating which had released itself from the inner tank wall and had started floating around in there, eventually clogging the fuel outlet. He laid this mess on the ground, moved it around a bit, and sure enough it had the shape of a deflated motorcycle gas tank. More importantly, it looked like it was all there. He looked in the tank and could see no other remnants of this failed experiment and before long we were back on the road.

We eventually made it to the Pacific Coast and turned south. That ride along the Oregon Coast is great as the roads are curvy and scenery is spectacular. We camped one night at Honeyman State Beach just north of Coos Bay. I remember camping there with my parents when I was much younger and exploring the dunes.

The next day we were headed south and, about lunchtime, somewhere north of Brookings, we pulled over to eat and to take a walk out on the beach. Dave, who was always fussing with his bike, asked if he'd have time to fiddle with the points cam which he suspected of being loose. Sure, we said, and Michelle and my sister headed to the beach as I pulled my camera out of my bag. Dave had the points cover off and I could hear him working on it when I suddenly heard something that can ruin a mechanic's day: the sound of a stud snapping. Yep, he'd over-tightened the stud on the cam and that's not a part that one carries as a spare and neither is it something that can be fixed with a temporary patch. I asked, "Did you just do what I think you did?" He answered in the affirmative and we did what you do at times like this: we stood there and just looked at it, letting it soak in.

There was really nothing to do but to try and find a part somewhere. We decided that he and I would head south, him on my sister's bike, to Brookimgs and see if we could find a Harley shop there. Upon arriving and looking around, we found no joy and continued riding south, ending up stopping in a little town that had a bar that looked like it might cater to Harley motorcyclists, not to get a beer, although we might have, but to ask directions. The bartender said he thought nearest dealer was south in Red Bluff, CA, a fair distance away, but the night bartender had Harleys and we should talk to him. Dave gave him a call and he said we should just come over to his house. He had a few Harleys out back and sold Dave the points cam off one of them. How lucky is that? We rode back up the coast and after Dave installed the bolt his bike started right up. It was pretty late in the day and almost dark, so we pulled the gear off our bikes and camped on the beach for the night.

Mike's Place

The next day opened another adventure of this ride. The guys who lived in the other half of the duplex where I lived had a friend named Mike they had gone to high school with. Mike was a character, sort of your quintessential hippie, a bit flakey but a super-nice guy, fun to party with, and would do anything for you. I never knew Mike to have something one would describe as a "job," him being more of an "entrepreneur." Well, Mike was staying at a place in Northern California, outside Garberville, as a "caretaker" on a "farm." He had told us that when we passed through that area we should stop by for a visit. Being that his place was off-the-grid his only means of contact was by radio-telephone and, rather than give us directions to his place, we were supposed to stop at a certain bar just outside of town and give him a call.

We found the bar, sort of hidden away by itself outside of town, and gave him a call. About 20 minutes later he showed up in his 140 Volvo and said we should just follow him. I remember thinking it a bit weird how he didn't want to hang around the bar and have a beer, but we headed down the highway a ways before turning off on a dusty, gravel road. I was behind him with the other two bikes following me, but we all kept falling back because the dust was so bad we could hardly see where we were going. I finally stopped to check on the other two and they were no longer behind me. Mike came back and said he'd go look for them. I sat there on the side of the road, pretty much in the middle of nowhere surrounded by forest. A car came along with a couple hippie-looking guys in it and they nodded as they passed. A few minutes later they came back down the road and pulled over and ask me what I was doing there, not if I needed help. I explained the situation, they nodded to each other, and headed on their way again. Eventually Mike comes back with the other bikes and we follow him to his place.

To get to his house we had to get off the gravel road and head down his "driveway" which was a really, really steep, rutted, dirt two-track. I've ridden off road plenty, but I was a bit concerned about going down it on a big street bike. Michelle got off Dave's bike and he made it down the hill. I followed and kept my bike upright. My sister wasn't too keen on it so Dave road her bike down. The place we stayed was really nice. It was more than just a cabin in the forest, actually a pretty nice house and although spare inside, there was plenty of room for all of us.

A bit later, Mike later took us down to the "farm" which was located a bit of a hike away. This really was a beautiful location and, evidently this piece of property was fairly large. Once we got near the bottom of the hill, we saw the cabin Mike had told us about. It had started out as an old travel trailer and the cabin had been built, little by little, around it.

The "farm" was located on the lower part of the property. I'm not even sure it was on the property since it was all just forest except for this one cultivated patch that was fenced to keep the deer out of it. I am certainly not making any judgements about what was going on here as it was pretty well known that this was California's largest cash crop, that Garberville was the locus of it, and now, about 40-years later, attitudes and laws have changed dramatically. Learning about this aspect of agriculture was as interesting as it was educational.

The Ride Back

We talked about when we would leave and I was for heading out the next day because we still had two road days ahead of us to reach Southern California and, since I had to get back to work a day or two after that, I wanted a buffer or recovery day. Dave and Michelle elected to stay another couple days while my sister and I headed out on our own the next day.

The rest of the trip was quick and uneventful. We went south on Highway 101 and got as far as somewhere near San Jose after dark when we pulled over, both admitting we were too tired to continue on. Since we had stopped at a highway construction site, we figured that was as good a place as any and stayed there for the night. The next day we did the long ride back to Long Beach.

It was great trip, lots of fun, with lots of memories.

As a coda and a "what ever happened to" moment, what did ever happen to Mike? Well, after his time of "farming" he got caught up in the "Rajneesh movement," led by the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from the big commune in Rajneeshpuram, near the town of Antelope, OR and, as many/most of the adherents did, Mike transferred all his material possessions to the Bhagwan. I heard this from Mike himself about a year or so after we'd visited him. He showed up at my place and was wearing all maroon colored clothing: shirt, shorts, socks, shoes. He proselytized a bit an gave me a Bhagwan newspaper to read. After that, I've never heard from Mike again. Of course, the Bhagwan got himself deported and then died in India. Rajneeshpuram, without its leader, dissolved.

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Updated January 2021.