As you may know I have just completed logging geocaches in each county in Montana. There is a master challenge cache that you have to find and log after you have done each county. It is located in Chester in north central Montana. I thought logging this final cache would give me an opportunity to tour a little in B.C. and Alberta, Canada and get some caches up there. In anticipation of this quest I had obtained a passport last winter. So early Monday morning, July 21st I set out on that mission.
|And here he is|
It was a beautiful day, a little cool in the morning but very warm by the time I reached Bonners Ferry. My first Canada geocache was a rubber rat hidden in a guardrail. I stopped for lunch at a beautiful little lake near Moyie, B.C. I arrived at the Fernie Super 8 around 4 p.m. and got settled. Fernie is a beautiful little town of about 5,000. It is a little different in that it is kind of a resort without the usual glitz. It has fabulous ski areas and is also a mountain biking mecca. The mountain biking probably limits the glitz, especially in the summer.
|Down but not out|
|Ryan loads me up|
The next morning was beautiful and I got an early start on the road north toward Sparwood. Just past Sparwood the highway turns east over Crowsnest Pass. I had just begun to ascend the pass when my low fuel light went on even though I had less than 45 miles on a full tank. Shortly thereafter the engine quit. When I turned it off and back on it acted like a dead battery. I checked the fuse on the heated grips thinking that may have shorted something out (since I had installed them myself) but it was OK. I had no idea what to do but fortunately I was in cell phone coverage. So I called a Triumph shop in Caldwell, Idaho, because I knew and trusted some of the personnel there. The mechanic said it sounded like a charging problem which was not encouraging. As I was on a hill I followed his advice and tried to roll start it to no avail. As I was rolling down the hill I noticed a sign that said “Rest Area 400m”. What a lucky guy I am. I rolled into the rest area and the first person I talked to had some jumper cables. She gave me a jump and the bike started immediately and ran for about a minute. It wasn’t a big surprise. When the electrical output gets so low the fuel injection and other electrical components automatically shut down.
|Crowsnest Pass Rest Area|
Next I called my insurance company (Progressive). What I’m about to tell doesn’t take much time to tell but it takes a lot of time to happen. Of course, being in Canada did not make things easy for the insurance company. They did some searching and found a shop in Pincer Creek, the direction I was heading, and Fernie, where I had been. The Pincer Creek shop was backed up but the one in Fernie said they would give me some priority and try to help me. The next mission was to find a tow back to Fernie. The insurance finally located one in Fernie but they would pay for only 15 of the 40+ mile tow. I had arrived at the Rest Area around 9:30 a.m. and got away around 1:30 p.m.
|The good guys|
I arrived at Ghostriders Motorsports about an hour later. They are a Yamaha and Honda dealer but they treated me like a long lost uncle. First they checked the charging system and determined that the stator (like a magneto or alternator on a car) was bad which I suspected. Next began a phone search to locate one. The closest Triumph dealer was in Calgary which they called and I called my pals in Caldwell. We couldn’t find one anywhere and it looked we would have to get one shipped from England which could take two weeks.
As it was getting late Bruno, the sales manager, got me to a hostel for about $31 per night as opposed to the $124 I had paid at the Super 8. It was similar to a dormitory and there were three double bunks in my room. I just had one roommate, Jesse, who was traveling west on a mountain bike trip from Lethbridge.
At this point I was thinking I would have to leave my bike there. There was no transportation out of Fernie to the US. I figured I could thumb the 30 miles or so to the border at Eureka, MT, and then on down to Kalispell to catch a bus. However, my internet search could find no bus service out of Kalispell, Whitefish or Columbia Falls. Kathy finally came to my aid and found a service out of Kalispell that would go to Missoula for a Greyhound connection. You may not believe it but I was quite stressed. [To be continued]