Travel

Fall Tour 2020 – Part 5, Nelson, B.C. to Fort Macleod, AB

Roadside fruit stands abound in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. Walker, whose BMW R1200GSA shown here, insisted we stop so he could buy fresh peaches

It’s early morning in Nelson. As usual, the crew have loaded their bikes, , set their GPSes, and are geared up, and ready to roll.

We’ve decided to find breakfast ‘on the road’, and ride south on Highway 6 to Salmo and connect with the Crowsnest Highway 3, the major east-west highway in southern B.C. Just before we leave the motel, Walker ensures we are “required” to stop “somewhere” along the highway at one of the numerous local fruit stands where farmers sell direct-to-public the season’s harvest.

Like every morning, we’re starting our ride in very cool, smoky conditions. But it’s nice to be on the motorcycle at speed with the wheels and suspension soaking up road imperfections. I continually marvel at the Honda’s technological brilliance, just as I did with my previous ’07 Gold Wing. I mentally compare the new DCT Tour Gold Wing to my previous BMW R1200RT, and put on my ‘To Do’ list a short comparison of the two bikes on the website at some point soon.

A short 1-1/2 hours later, we arrive in the small town of Creston for breakfast at the Buffalo Trails Coffee House, a favourite eatery Robyn and I ‘discovered’ some years ago. It’s on the main road through town.

I have their Breakfast Pannini, toasted Italian style bread with a fried egg, thick pieces of bacon, ham and cheese, and with coffee, a perfect breakfast for me.

Nothing says “Fall ride” like the seasonal pumpkin harvest
The colour of the Fall season in the Okanagan Valley

After a superbly satisfying breakfast, Highway 3 leads us eastbound. Somewhere near the edge of Creston the sides of the highway are populated with an abundance of fruit stands.

Dutifully, Phil pulls into the parking lot of one of them, and we meander into the open air shops. The bins are full of fruit and produce, and I see Walker making a beeline for the peaches. The peaches are BIG, and packaged 4 to container, and I’m surprised they’re so expensive, $3.99/lb, then think, farmers need to earn a living too.

At the back of the store I find a wall lined with jars of homemade jam of various flavours, and grab 2 jars of peach – one for Ingrid, who loves peaches, and another for a family member’s 91st birthday. It’s a nice little momento of the tour.

It’s scenic riding east through Cranbrook, Fernie, Crowsnest Pass, but tends to be busy with traffic. It’s a part of B.C. we’ve ridden dozens of times, and while mountainous and enjoyable, because it’s so familiar, it has become a ‘transit’ stage to Fort Macleod where we’re scheduled to overnight.

Fort Macleod is a town with historic importance to Alberta and Western Canada. It was founded in 1874 by the North-West Mounted Police, the predecessor to Canada’s national police force the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Today, tourism plays an important part of the town’s economy, and it serves as a refueling and meal stop for travelers.

At our motel, our hosts say they’ve been busy business-wise, despite the COVID pandemic and business lockdown earlier in the season. Apparently there are construction crews in the region building a wind farm, and much of the town’s lodging has been solidly booked with regularity.

Johnny’s Restaurant, Fort Macleod, AB

I ask our motel operator for a restaurant recommendation. She identifies herself as being of Korean origin, and recommends “Johnny’s.” It’s in town and requires that we ride there, something we’ve tried to avoid. After a day on the bike, we try to find eateries within walking distance of our lodging.

We’re suprised to discover Johnny’s is a Chinese-style restaurant, but one with a difference. While the vast majority of Chinese restaurants are small, family-run businesses, Johnny’s proudly proclaims it has a “Certified Chef” and inside, we find Johnny used to practice the culinary arts in the employ of CP Hotels. That’s impressive in anybody’s books.

The “COVID” Tour of 2020, aka “The Chinese Food Tour”

Somewhere along the way, our 2020 Fall Tour became casually called the Chinese Food Tour. On Day 1 in Fernie, our food was from the Curry Bowl and Asian; Day 2 in Grand Forks, supper was at Golden Chopsticks, Chinese food; Day 4 supper in Nelson was at Amanda’s Restaurant, Chinese food; and today, Day 5 we find Johnny’s is a Chinese restaurant.

Johnny’s Restaurant, Fort Macleod, AB proudly proclaims Johnny is a “Certified Chef”, unusual for a small town Chinese restaurant
Shanghai-style noodles from Johnny’s Restaurant, Fort Macleod, AB

Most of the gang order one of the typical ‘combination dinners.’ I order a Shanghai-style noodle dish, which satiates my regular craving for noodles of any kind.

Phil (L), Walker (R) and Robyn (background), Fort Macleod, AB

The ‘deal’ at Johnny’s is the Apple Pie special with a warm rum (?) sauce, which those who had it say was outstanding and better than my (only) $1 dollar less expensive Banana Cream Pie.

Interestingly, the majority of locals who were dining at Johnny’s ordered HUGE bowls of Wor Wonton soup (vegetables, broth and meat filled Wontons, a Chinese style dumpling.) I make a mental note to return some time to Johnny’s for the soup.

Back at the motel, our motel operator comes out of the office to explain that due to COVID restrictions, there is no continental-style breakfast as there would be in normal circumstances. Instead, she says there are bottles of juice, water and packages of refrigerated food in lobby’s cooler, and we should pick up items now for eating tomorrow morning.

Mentally, today, Day 5 of our 2020 Fall Tour, is the end of the ride. Tomorrow, Fort Macleod to Edmonton, is a pure transit day mostly on a 4-lane divided highway.

Thinking that tomorrow will be a drone, I reign my negativity in and think, “Who knows what surprises tomorrow might hold?”

Next: Conclusion, Fall Tour 2020: Part 6, Fort Macleod to Edmonton

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