Monday, September 7, 2009

September 3 - The Good, the Bad and...Beauty

The Good: Nelson

Nelson is a gorgeous town and, do to some unforeseen circumstances, I ended up returning there (and then home to Washington) instead of following my planned itinerary. I very much look forward to spending a few days in Nelson under better, less rushed circumstances, as soon as possible.

The bridge across to Nelson and the Information Centre.

Downtown Nelson (Baker Street)

On Vernon Street, the gorgeous architecture of the old Postal building (now an Art/History museum)

A monument to Nelson's first mayor, John Houston

The Courthouse

On a more pop culture note, if you've seen the movie Roxanne, this is the street (and stump) where Steve Martin's character had a fight with a pair of obnoxious skiers

A last shot of the motel. I'd finished lubing/cleaning the chain, the oil was fine - it was time to continue my travels. Little did I know, I'd be back in town within a day...

Heading North, for a little while, overcast and a forest fire nearby

The Bad - Strong winds and rain, falling rocks

What may not be apparent from the photos taken leaving Nelson is that it was starting to rain then and that the wind was kicking up.

My goal was New Denver and about 20 miles from New Denver, I passed a town called Slocan. With the wind and the rain, I thought about stopping to wait for the weather to improve. Being so close to New Denver, I decided to press on.

A few miles North of Slocan is a spot named Slocan Bluffs, where there are steep, rocky cliffs very close to the road. Here's a photo courtesy of Dave, a very talented photographer in Nelson. His blog.

I was riding past Slocan Bluffs, persevering through the rain, when suddenly rocks started to fall. I saw a flash of rocks up to 1 foot across and larger falling and rolling on the road, looked for a way to evade them and suddenly was hit. I think a small rock hit my helmet and then the bike was sliding on its side along the ground. Or maybe a rolling/falling rock just knocked the bike over. In any case, the bike was down.

The phone booth above was my high tech communications hub for about an hour, as I worked on getting in touch with the authorities and with family back home.

  • It was fussy about reading cards, occasionally refusing to do so at all. Later, it failed utterly.
  • 411 repeatedly gave me the number for the RCMP but it didn't work the first few times I dialed it, which I was trying to do from memory while feeling kind of sick from adrenaline and adding an unnecessary "1" before the number that doomed each attempt
Eventually, I reached my family and the RCMP. As it turned out, the RCMP constable and EMTs had come upon my battered motorcycle and been looking for me, thinking that it looked beat up enough that I could be really hurt. They soon joined me at the phone booth and took my statements, the EMTs checking to make sure that I hadn't suffered serious injury. Since I hadn't, we decided that they'd wrap my wrist (which was starting to be a bit sore and swollen...likely sprained they suggested, ending up completely correct) and I'd wait to return home and check in with a doctor there.

The EMTs were technically on strike (and wearing t-shirts that said so) then proceeded to go way beyond merely checking that I was OK and obtained for me a bus schedule back to Nelson, then dropped me off at the Harold Street Cafe (visible at the center of the above picture), where I waited about 5 hours for a bus back to Nelson.

Beauty - People of British Columbia

To be honest, having the accident was a disappointment: it probably totaled a favorite motorcycle and prevented me from reaching Yoho park, which has been at the top of my "must visit" list for the past year.

On the other hand, I had walked away from a motorcycle accident that could have been very bad, with only a sprained wrist and finger and a few minor contusions. Several people commented that I must have had angels watching over me when those rocks fell and that much is very very clear. So instead of dwelling on the down side to the experience, I will be grateful for my blessings.

Further, the people of BC(*) were unbelievably wonderful and helpful, making what could have been a bleak, cold experience an amusing (if expensive) "make lemonade from those lemons" experience. I salute them with great warmth and respect.
  • the driver who saw me crash and helped me get the bike off the road
  • the other driver who gave me a ride back into Slocan and told me not to bother taking off a soaking leather jacket before getting in her car
  • while still at the site, a group of three Harley-Davidson riders stopped to see if I was OK and needed any help
  • the EMTs for helping me pull together bus information I needed to start heading home
  • the RCMP constable for being out looking for me in the rain when he saw my battered bike by the road
  • the folks working at the Harold Street Cafe and its customers, for good conversation
  • the lady on the bus back to Nelson, for more info about Nelson and other conversation
  • everyone around Nelson and the route back who had a friendly word for the strange, limping USAn
  • Dave, for letting me use the Slocan Bluffs picture on this blog entry
Really, when you're visiting anyplace in the world, two very important aspects of the experience are going to be 1) how cool the sights and experience that draw you end up being and 2) how pleasant it is to visit with the people there. The most beautiful place in the world isn't going to be pleasant to visit if the people are jerks. On the other hand, the ugliest city in the world can be fun to visit when the people are smart, fun company and have a good attitude.

So to visit a place as achingly gorgeous as British Columbia and then be able to tell people "Wait until you meet the folks there. You'll love them...the scenery's NOTHING" my opinion, that places BC in a whole other category. There's not a whole lot I can add to that, except to quote California's governor, saying "I'll be back."

(*)Also, thanks to friends and family back home: family members who found the best transportation option for getting home from Nelson, a couple friends who offered to come up and get me if I needed help getting home.


  1. When you are ready to go again, I'd love to go with ya.

  2. wow, talk about the unexpected. Glad that you came out of that one OK !
    And 'good on ya's' for all the people that helped you !