Fall Tour 2020 – Part 3, Grand Forks to Kamloops, B.C.

Grand Forks, B.C. Phil (seated) supervises the morning work gang, Doug, Walker and Robyn as they load their bikes

Morning in Grand Forks greets us with another cool, overcast day. It had rained, or more likely, drizzled a few hours earlier. It’s overcast again, and smoke continues to envelop us.

The start of Day 3 and the group has fallen into a well practiced rhythm – up early in the morning, wiping down dew that may have collected on the bikes overnight, and begun selecting the right combination of gear to don for departure after breakfast.

The only eatery available within walking distance is the A & W a block away. COVID restrictions means there’s no dining in available. We line up with masks on and socially-distanced, order breakfast and sit at the still damp outdoor tables.

Phil leads the way on his BMW R1200RT and we ride west to Osoyoos, the charming small town at the southern tip of B.C.’s Okanagan Valley, renown for wine and fruit production.

In Princeton, B.C., every restaurant in town is closed due to COVID. Billy’s Family Restaurant on the highway is where we break for lunch

At Princeton, Phil peels the group off the highway into town. It’s lunch time. We cruise down main street, which is busy with cars. The first restaurant we chance upon is closed. COVID strikes again.

We continue down the street, eyes peeled for any kind of eatery. We finally park to huddle. What to do? As the group chats, I walk over to a micro-brewery and ask for recommendations on a lunch place. The woman makes two suggestions, which I report to our Group Leader et al.

Within minutes, we find that the recommendations are are bust. Both recommended restaurants are closed.

Phil heads back to the highway an there’s Billy’s Family Restaurant, an establishment that some of this group had dined at earlier in the season. Nobody had remembered the restaurant.

At lunch, the restaurant seems busy and I ask the server how business has been since businesses opened up after the COVID lockdown. “Busy”, she replied, just as every server has responded in every eating establishment we visited.

“Comfort” stop and refueling in Merritt, B.C.
Our posse, intrepid motorcyclists (L-R) Robyn, Phil, Doug and Rod. (Missing, Walker, who was probably in the store buying stuff)

From Princeton we ride north to Merritt. It’s warmed up enough for us to strip out our jacket liners, and it’s freeing to rid one’s self of our heavy, cold weather gear.

Merritt is a convenient refueling and refreshment stop for us. From our start in Grand Forks this morning, we’ve ridden 336 km. That’s short of Rod’s and my ’18/’19 Gold Wings’ normal (without getting panicky) 400 km touring range and sooner than the BMW RTs/GSA with their even longer touring range. With the warmer temperature, we need to re-hydrate and it’s a good time to get off the bikes and stretch our legs.

Our destination for the day is Kamloops. It’s a relatively short riding day. and after a short, ‘scenic, sightseeing ride’, we find our ‘quaint’ motel next to the highway.

Kamloops is bustling; it’s the largest and busiest city we’ve visited since the trip started. Our short riding day means we’ve arrived by mid-afternoon, and the guys quickly fall into their end-of-day routine. Unpack the panniers, and start wiping down the motorcycles.

It’s an eclectic bunch of retired friends. In their former work lives, they were a master electrician, a maintenance supervisor for industrial processing machinery, a successful businessman, and successful professionals.

These guys know what hard work is and the value of a dollar. And each is riding what is arguably a motorcycle that’s best-in-class and expensive. That, their enthusiasm for motorcycling, and pride of ownership means that end of day cleaning of their machines is a standard routine. And the unstated peer group pressure is high. Do you REALLY want to be the only one with a grime encrusted bike in the morning?

Supper in Kamloops turns out to be conveniently next door at Harold’s Family Restaurant. My expectations are low. Harold’s doesn’t look like anything special. I’m wrong.

A popular 1960s-era dish Chicken Parmagiana, was a surprising, nostalgic ‘hit’ for me
In summer, when you're near B.C.'s fruit farming Okanagan Valley, peach pie a la mode is the savvy traveler's choice
When anywhere near B.C.’s fruit farming Okanagan Valley, peach pie a la mode is good choice

I order the Chicken Parmigiana ($19.50), a ‘classic’ dish seemingly from the 1960s, and a surprisingly large chicken breast, cheesy with tomato sauce arrives. It’s a flashback to another decade, but suits my palate that evening. Peach pie a la mode ($5.50 + $1.99) is my treat for the day.

At the end of Day 3, we’ve ridden some 1,300+ km, and it’s all been good.

Next: Part 4, Kamloops to Nelson, B.C.

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