Fall Tour 2020 – Part 4, Kamloops to Nelson, B.C.

End of the trail of Day 4, Nelson, B.C. The town’s historic “Big Orange Bridge”, at the west arm of Kootenay Lake

From our “value-priced” motel in Kamloops, it’s now Day 4 of our tour. Our group has fallen into a comfortable, easy going rhythm.

Everybody is up early, fettling their motorcycles. There’s a layer of morning dew to wipe off the bikes, GPSes to be mounted, and panniers to be packed. The banter among the fellows is typical, a little ribbing at someone’s expense here, and more than a few friendly verbal jabs there. It’s the repartee oh-so-familiar among good friends.

We take a light breakfast in the lobby. Simple fare – toast, yogurt and coffee; enough calories to sustain us until we find a ‘proper’ breakfast somewhere to be determined, down the road.

Day 4 from Kamloops to Nelson will be the motorcycling ‘meat’ of this tour. We will be spending most of the day riding B.C.’s Kootenay region. This is motorcycle Mecca for motorcyclists and drivers – the heart of the best, most twisting roads in Western Canada.

We’ve been making motorcycle pilgrimages to the Kootenays, almost annually, for more than twenty years. It’s that good.

Breakfast stop at Jitter Beans Coffee House, Lumby, B.C.

We ride through Vernon, at the north end of the Okanagan Valley. All the while, I’m expecting Phil, who’s leading, to pull over at the first cafe or restaurant he sees. Breakfast is now calling, and I’m hungry.

But no, we ride through Vernon without stopping, veering east on Highway 6 and arrive in Lumby, mid-morning. We park in front of Jitter Beans Coffee House, and it turns out to be one of those little gem eateries you find by accident when traveling.

I order the Breakfast Bagel, loaded with ham, bacon and sausage (about $5.00) and it’s loaded with meaty goodness, and it’s one of the memorable meals of the trip. Jitter Beans is a cozy, rustic, eatery, and it seems busy with locals. Our little ‘find’ proves that good food doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. On road food doesn’t get much better than this. For me, Jitter Beans Coffee House makes my list of Destination Eateries.

After mid-morning breakfast, we continue on Hwy 6. Lumby to Needles and the ferry crossing to Fauquier is one of the single, best motorcycle roads in B.C. The road is relatively light, the pavement is good, and 30 km/h-posted turns are common. There’s plenty here to like.

I haven’t been on this ribbon of pavement for years and the last few times, I was heading the opposite direction. The ride is superb.

Robyn aboard his 2015 BMW R1200RT waiting to board the ferry at Needles

While waiting for the ferry at Needles, I get an email from motorcycle friends Denis and Louise, who recently moved from Alberta to Quebec. I take a quick photo of Robyn, sitting beside me, and send it to them with a quick note to say ‘hi.’

The cable ferry is part of B.C.’s highway system, and free. A very short 5 minutes later we dock on the east side of Lower Arrow Lake.

From there Phil leads us to Nakusp, New Denver, and east on Highway 31A to Kaslo – the motorcycling holy trinity of towns in the Kootenays. These are the best roads the Kootenays have to offer.

Some patience has to be exercised. While these mountain roads are twisty, there are long lengths of double-solid line road sections with no passing.

From Kaslo, Highway 31 leads us south past Balfour (a major free B.C. ferry crossing to Crawford Bay.) But we continue south on 3A to Nelson, our destination for the day.

At Nelson, our motel is located at the end of the “The Big Orange Bridge.”

We unload our bikes, and within minutes, the guys are already wiping down the bikes. Our motel is built on a formation slightly above the lake, and beneath us is tonight’s eatery, Amanda’s Restaurant. Oddly, there’s nothing to indicate Amanda’s is a Chinese restaurant.

After having had Asian food from the Curry Bowl in Fernie on Day 1, Chinese food at Golden Chopsticks in Grand Forks on Day 2, and today at Amanda’s, our 2020 Fall Tour has been informally dubbed the 2020 Chinese Food Tour.

Beef and Chinese Greens ($14.25), Amanda’s Restaurant, Nelson, B.C.

Trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle (and as an ‘antidote’ to the unusual amounts of ice cream, cheesecake and pie I’ve consumed over the past few days), I order a healthy Beef and Chinese Greens (bok choy) for supper, and the rest of the guys order Lemon Chicken, Fish and Chips and various combination dinners. Everybody walks away from the busy restaurant satisfied.

It’s the end of another fine day of motorcycle touring.

Next: Part 5, Nelson to Fort Macleod, AB

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