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.
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 !!
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.
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,