April 1th, 2001
Anyway, we're not going very far : we're still waiting for the sidecar's papers, which should arrive ... very soon ! But while couch surfing or camping in Squamish's woods, between the days and diverse delays, even though we check our mail box 3 times a day, after 3 weeks we still haven't received anything, and are still around Brackendale, when we were ready to travel full speed again, our feet in the starting-blocks...

But it eventually arrives, and we can't believe our eyes : A french licence and registration plate ! At last, after 5 months of administrative struggle, we are going to be able to ride our sidecar again, and continue our travels around the world ! To celebrate that, we decide to go to the "Skookoomtchuk" hot springs, locqted in the middle of the woods after Pemberton. Vroum-vroum, the air alreeady smells different : Here we come, Canada ! Well, of course this tiny metallic noise in the engine is annoying, but Laurent has checked the valve clearance, it's OK... It's maybe a valve hitting against the piston... We'll check that when we'll be there.... But we'll actually never get there! 15 kilometres before Whislter, suddenly there's a noise like a quarter rattling in the engine, and 2 seconds later, a huge "Krrraaaaaaak" !!! We park on the side of the highway. And a couple of kicks are enough to realise that the engine is completely blocked inside. We are devastated. And now that ?!! We have hardly made 100 km since we got the papers, and now we broke the engine?... Just to perfect the scene, it's now begginning to rain...Maybe we should have chosen bicycles for this trip...! After sitting half an hour on the side of the road completely depressed, we decide to move. It seems usseless to try to do anything here, the problem seems too serious. After a few phone calls, a tow truck comes and takes us with the bike back to Squamish, to the house of Peter who is an old bikes and sidecars lover, and whom we luckily met a couple of weeks before.

Peter and his family welcome us so nicely that it's real heartwarming ! After one of Almuth's good homemade soups, Peter can't wait any more : "We'll go and see what's wrong with this engine !" In about an hour, the engine is on the workbench. Verdict : One of the bearings in the crankshaft disintegrated itself, and aluminium shavings went everywhere, damaging the whole engine. Afterwards, things go fast. We contact both Russia and the american importer, Ural USA. Who quickly replies by email : "Don't worry, we'll have you soon back on the road ! Russia replaces your engine through warranty. But if they send it to you, it would take ages, so we'll put in one of our engines, and they will replace it to us". Ten days later, we are in Preston, WA, in the Ural America premises, thaks to Derek, Uralist living in Vancouver. Of course, there are some other interesting developments, the forecasted engine doesn't fit in our gearbox, our broken engine has to be completely rebuilt... But whatsoever, on friday night, we are indeed back on the road ! And it doesn't take us long to thank everyone and say good bye... To hit the road !!

We're off for a ride around Washington... The door of the ferry which brought us from Seattle to Kingston, on the Olympic Peninsula, slowly goes down. We are the first ones to leave, before all the cars, in the midst of the powerfull and noisy Harleys. The sky is perfectly blue, the seagulls are lying around the harbour, flowers are on every tree... We drive among a number of bicycles and motorcycles, all loaded with bags for one of the first sunny week ends of May. To us, it just seems like holiday !
Separated from Seattle by a sound, the Olympic Peninsula is a beautifull wild area protected through a National Parc. It's a huge mountain range, which stops all the clouds coming from the ocean. And if the residents from Seattle maybe be thankfull for it, for an old man who had lived there all his life said he hardly ever used his umbrella, in the peninsula, it's usually pouring heavy rain all year round. Knowing that, we enjoy all the more this fantastic weather. We drive along the ocean through the rain forest, sometimes spotting one of its huge cedars. For lunch, we stop in desert beaches covered with dark sand and entangled stumps, where the only sound is the wawes crushing against the black rocks... Then the Columbia river, natural border with the neighbouring State of Oregon, brings us back in the interior lands. The road winds up and through a little canyon, and we emerge onto a desert barren high plateau with reddish dry soil. In Yakima, one of the biggest indian reservation, we come into a completely different athmosphere... Bare rocks, clumps of wild grass. In all this dry scenery, the little streams lined with lush poplars paint a stark contrast. For 200 kilometres, there is nothing but the Highway, driven mostly by huge trucks. Until the moment when we arrive in a large valley which seemes to be a mirage : acres of irriguated fields of fruit trees as far as we can see !

After a second stop in Preston, where Ural's russian mechanics, Alex and his brother, check completely our bike, we now have only one idea in mind : We're going North !!! So, we head back to Canada through the Cascade mountains and the Okanagan, and we experience once again very diverse areas : in only a few hours, we drive from a rainy humid forest to a surprisingly hot and dry valley, even going through some snow flurries on a pass.

When driveng through Squamish, BC, it just feels like home. We work 3 weeks peeling cedar logs on a log cabins yard, and off we go. Our goal, Alaska ! Rather than following the Highways, we prefer to look for smaller gravel roads, which only go through a few native villages, sometimes gathered around a combination gas-station-general-store-post-office... A fisherman's paradise, Nothern British Columbia is scattered with thousands of beautifull lakes surrounded by dark pine forests. Along these scarcely frequented roads, we re delighted to see bears, elks and moose... Confused and disorientated by these never-ending days, we are sometimes still driving after 9pm. With this exceptional luminosity, we were sure it was hardly 6 ! Even the night is not black any more... In Yukon, we hit the Alaska Highway, and meet the thousands of RVs also heading for their dream, Alaska !!!

Peter et son side BMW R75
Long Beach, Etat de Washington
Cèdre géant dans la péninsule Olympique
2 jours sous la pluie...
Sur le plateau de Yakima
L'écorçage des cèdres
Sur une piste en terre
Lac du nord de la Colombie-Britannique
Au départ de la Cassiar Highway
Le glacier du Saumon à Hyder
Canada To be continued...