Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Famous and Infamous Larch Tree

Famous Alpine Larch
From a distance, in the Fall season, the Alpine Larch present a beautiful golden colour. The closer we get the more dynamic the wooly hair on its contorted branches become. The needles grow on all four sides of the branch and even though it's categorized as an evergreen, it doesn’t remain that way. I’ve learnt to love this tree. And, I’ve also discovered that it was used in a very notorious way.

We drive our Ural motorbike north on Granby Road this cool October morning. We leave the hub of the small town of Grand Forks behind us. The first thing we encountered is a herd of California Big Horn sheep. Their large eyes follow the slow pace of our vehicle and their demeanor seems nonchalant about our coming upon them. The large ram places himself between us and his harem. We motor past them.  

California Big Horn Sheep

The cloud-filled sky is our canopy for the next twenty-four kilometers. We come across a grove of Alpine Larch and park the bike on a dirt road. From there we walk a few hundred meters to get a close look at the pines. Here, Frank tells me a story of the Larch Tree having been grown in Germany in the shape of a swastika.

“Back before the Second World War, around 1938 or '39, some Larch trees were planted in a forest in Germany to celebrate Hitler’s birthday either by the Hitler Youth or by the forest warden. It covered at least thirty-six meters so it’s likely it was more than one person doing it. Anyway, you could only see it from the air and when some forestry people were working in the area they spotted the trees shaped like a swastika,” Frank says.

“What about now?” I say.

courtesy of  atlasobscura.com
“Since about 1992, the forest Larch trees have been removed and solid evergreen trees have been planted,” Frank says. “And, in 1972, American soldiers found another grove of golden larches planted in the shape of swastika near a town called Hesse.”

I imagine a bloom of golden Alpine Larches planted against the stark green of their evergreen family members. It likely looked spectacular.

We motor on and stop at the fork in the road where Highway 3 heads north to the next small town of Greenwood. In a large flat field stands a herd of horses. They are a curious bunch and stroll casually to the fence line when they see us.

Curious herd of horses

Directly across from them is a linear patch of my new favourite tree.

Alpine Larch

Granby Road changes to North Fork Road and traces the Kettle River all the way back to Grand Forks. We make our way to our house and pet-sit location, step inside and welcome the warmth.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It Rides Like a Sports Car

Our Patrol
“You must enjoy the ride,” the man said.

“Oh, I do. It’s really comfortable,” I said.

“What’s it like?”

“It rides like a sports car.”

On most occasions when we are stopped with the Ural bike, my husband is approached and the conversation goes from how it was shipped in from Russia to a Canadian dealership and its capabilities in two-wheel drive. But on this chance meeting, the man seemed more interested in my version of the bike. I hopped out of the sidecar and let him look at the generous leg room. He commented on the blanket I had on its black leather seat. He agreed that it’s more comfortable for me because in the summer I tend to ride in shorts. He shouted for his wife to come out of the house to look at the bike. She advised him that they have two too many all-terrain vehicles.

“Ah,” Frank said. “This is different. The Ural is a street-legal all-terrain vehicle.”

The man laughed while his wife turned around and went into the house.

Our exploration that day took us first to McIvor Lake, a 9.9 kilometre drive from Campbell River. We tucked the bike into the shade beside a sweet Harley Davidson solo bike. We both admired its gleaming chrome. We walked a short way to view the magnificence of the lake and vowed to pack a lunch and our swim suits next trek.

From the coolness of the lake, we travelled on a long gravel road and turned right onto Miller Main. It was a great ride with trees as our canopy and the smell of pine needles wafting into my nostrils. There was a point where the trail was too narrow and so we turned back.

A few kilometres later we came upon the “Miller Creek Recreation Site” sign. We followed the path to the campsite. It’s a first-come-first-served operation. All the spots were filled and the activity at the lakefront was at full throttle. We spoke briefly to the Camp Host and learnt that it was his sixth year managing the place. We added ‘Camp Host’ to our bucket list.


Exploring on the Ural is a great way to see what you’ve got in your neighbourhood.

McIvor Lake

Miller Main

Miller Creek Recreation Site


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Eagle Point Squatters

Our Ural hauls us and our picnic lunch
On Saturday, May 31st, we set off on our Ural Patrol for destinations unknown. Our mission was to locate a free campsite on North Vancouver Island. We decided to head west from Campbell River on Highway 28 also known as the Gold River Highway. The roadway is very twisty and perfect for a solo bike; however, for the locked-in feel of the sidecar, my driver, Frank says it takes work to make all the turns. As the passenger, I enjoy the feel of movement along the road and look forward to discovering what’s next around every bend.

We drove curvaceously for 40.9 kilometres past Elk Falls Provincial Park to a hidden obscure gravel road approximately 1 km past the Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre. We entered cautiously because of its limited markings. My son had explained to us that it would be tricky to find because you’d be travelling fast on the main highway and there are no indicators that you’ve reached the nearly invisible side road.

The gravel road was a great find for the Ural. Our Patrol loves the bumping and grinding of the logging roads on Vancouver Island. We travelled a very short distance and came upon a sign that read ‘Please Slow Down’. The narrow path opened up to a breath-taking view of Upper Campbell Lake. We parked our bike in the gravel pit and walked around to explore the terrain.

Upper Campbell Lake
“Great looking bike,” said a stranger.

“Oh, thanks,” said Frank.

From there the conversation included a question and answer session about the Ural’s origin, its year, the quality of the ride and its practical use as well as it ‘fun’ factor. We learnt both their names and I spoke with Judy about the wonderful benefits of being a sidecar passenger versus a person along for the ride on her husband’s Harley. She agreed that having a full view of all things coming toward you without cranking your neck from one side to the other is a big deal.

Bill welcomed us to Eagle Point and together, he and his wife stepped away to have their lunch. We unpacked our picnic bucket and sat facing the wind-swept lake munching on sandwiches and sipping tea. 

Afterward, we walked around the public property and said hello to some friendly folks along the way. We learnt that the campers, most of whom have large motor homes, arrive at this location in March each year to re-claim their campsite.

“We call ourselves squatters,” Bill said.

“Yah, squatters is a good name, but it’s first come first camp around here,” said Judy.

How squatters claim Eagle Point
The campsite claimers tend to the area by bringing in and maintaining outhouses, setting up a children’s play area, building ramps and docks for their boats and swimming. Many of the homesteaders set up flower pots and painted driftwood to help identify their claim. We heard the distinct sound of generators rumbling in the background hidden in the forest.

Later, we jumped back on our stead and headed down the highway. That free site was great looking but it was filled to capacity. The only available spot was on the gravel pit and we decided that although the Ural loves to play around in that stuff our motor home may not.


There are many places to explore with our Ural in this forest-filled area and lots of open logging roads to explore. As a sidecar passenger, I love the ride.

Hidden messages

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Introducing Lisa

Hello Everyone,

Meet Lisa, a new contributor to my Ural Buddies blog. Please feel free to leave a comment about her article.

Ural Motorcycle

Lisa's Ural Patrol
Brief Introduction:
Ural motorcycles are manufactured for those people calculated for those who are searching for a reliable partner for hard journeys. Ural Products first came to U.S in 1993. The Ural sidecar is a classic motorcycle that seems like it came immediately after the World War 2. However, despite its old origins, the Ural is a modern motorcycle built for the modern roads. It is now increasing day by day. The History of Ural motorcycles has a bit of a parallel with Royal Enfield. Soviet Union started producing motorcycles based on the BMW R71 after a secret deal part of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement prior to World War II. Russian manufacturer of sidecar motorcycles posted a record year for sales beat the previous record set in 2006.  Two successive years of growth in 2010 and 2011 set the company on track to see 30+% growths in 2012.  Beating the record set previous to the global financial crisis was an incredible way to end an impactful year.
Today the main products are the heavy duty Ural sidecar motorcycles designed for rough Russian roads. There are many places in Russia where poor roads, or an altogether lack of roads, make horses and URAL motorcycles necessary to transport gear.
People loved the idea for making a replacement of a classic BMW, sidecar included, for less than might pay you to add a sidecar to a Harley or BMW. 

Beaming with pride
My Experience:
I share my experience with you I need bag for my Ural motorcycle so, I visited many stores but it was not of my type and I did not like any of them. Then my friend referred me to visit  www.motorcyclehouse.com  and I purchased Luggage bag. It was one of great bag which I purchased from there and still I am using it.
When I start the trip the differences was How to handle and control of two wheels in case of three wheels. Well it is lengthy conversation by itself. There are more often than day and night in terms of handling it. Because first time I rode an Ural motorcycles with 3 tires and have to face difficulties while ridding. When I turn the Ural motorbike it seems like I am driving a car. But after my first travel I was comfortable to ride a motorbike easily. I will recommend and suggest all people to do training before you go for a ride. Because In my case I didn’t take training and start to ride at the spot. For new ones I will say you will be happier at 60 to 65mph for hours on end but no faster while ridding. Reason is that it can be danger for you. At the end I would like to say you that it is much interesting for travelling and you should take care of your motorbike.
So, it can serve you for many years. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ural Wins 1st Prize

Ural Wins 1st Prize
Our green 2007 Patrol won first prize in the sidecar category at the 5th Annual Cumberland Motorcycle Roundup.

On Saturday, August 10, we travelled south from Campbell River 55 kilometres to Cumberland. The village was celebrating bikes, the people who ride them and admire them. The evening before, Frank had buffed up the Ural with a light wiping of its most dominant parts. We paid ten dollars to register for the Show & Shine and were surprised to be awarded the 1st place ribbon.

“I’ve never won anything,” Frank said.

“Let’s take this ticket over to the raffle table and see if it’s a winner,” I said.

We won a helmet.


Bike with matte finish
That morning we arrived at 9:30 a.m. and enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee and conversation at The Wandering Moose Café. Frank stayed with the bike as I explored up and down the main street set up as the exclusive domain of motorbikes and vendors. The most prominent bike was the Harley-Davidson while the least well known was our Ural. There were bikes covered in spectacular air-brushed paint, matte finish, leather and duct tape. There were people of all shapes, sizes and ages covered with tattoos. The atmosphere was electric with fun-loving energy. The bright sun set up every bike as a showpiece.

Friendly, chatty chap
As I meandered through the bikes, I stopped at one of the Hells Angels booths. The young man behind the table explained he was working toward getting his first patch and so he was doing community service.

“I’m looking after this booth all weekend and then I hand in my hours,” he said.

“Is the Hells Angels like a gang, where you have to kill somebody to get in?” I asked.

“No! It’s not like that. We’re an organization like any other. There are rules like any other club. Like, you have to have a valid driver’s license and own a motorcycle,” he said.

I looked over the merchandise he was offering but couldn’t see myself wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a Hells Angels cartoon graphic.

Sweet pink ride
I had many conversations that day, all about bikes. I told as many ladies as I met that another way to enjoy the road was as a monkey in a sidecar. The ladies who owned their own solo bikes nodded their head politely. Bikers like the thrill of controlling the speed, destination and conditions of the ride.

Bikers will spend thousands of dollars on decorating their ride. There were several custom air-brushed bikes, one was covered in leather, lots decorated with skulls and women’s body parts and some just plain and simple.

Please enjoy the video and let me know if it was worth the wait.

video




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sunday Mystery Tour

Too steep for me
Our initial destination was Cranberry Lane, a secondary road 37.5 kilometres south of Campbell River. We didn’t make it there. The shortcut route had a creepy grade. The sandy hill was too steep for my liking.

“I’m not going up that dumb thing,” I said.

“Aw come on, Honey, we can do it,” Frank said.

I scrunched up my face at him and shook my head no. He laughed and pointed to the hill that now had a doe and her two sweet fawns scrabbling down it. The loose terrain put their skills to the test.

Pig ornament basking in the sun
We motored down a paved road and stopped in a few places to take photos and enjoy the funky features of driveways. We were called over by a rancher who was keenly interested in the Ural. Frank explained the cool features of the bike including its two-wheel drive capability and the reverse feature. The Harley-Davidson owner confessed that he would never consider going on any of the logging roads on his solo bike.

“The Ural's made for logging roads and more. I call it a street-legal ATV,” Frank said.

We motored along and found an exquisite river running under a wooden bridge. It's called the Authur Mayse Side Channel. We dismounted and enjoyed our packed lunch perched on an outcropping of boulders. Kids and dogs swimming in the water entertained us. We spotted an otter scrambling through the rocks and took pleasure in the rumble of slow traffic passing over the bridge. Afterward, we strolled down a walking path and came out the other side at Cottage Lane. When we returned to our bike, we were greeted by folks interested in its history. Everyone loves the Ural.

We love it when our plans don’t come together. It's a ♫ Magical Mystery Tou.

My Sidecar View



For the Love of Bridges

Walk-about Trail

Cottage Lane





Saturday, July 27, 2013

Go Fly a Kite!

Kite flying is great fun. We purchased several while we were in China and had an old-timer there show us the ropes. Running and pulling on your kite is over. You stand in one position, hoist the kite into the air and voila, it’s airborne.

Families and friends attended the kite-flying event in Parksville, BC. We arrived in our Ural and grabbed more attention than usual because Frank wore his kilt under his chaps. He loves the freedom of the kilt and will go through most lengths to wear it.

In the field, we flipped our kites into the air and set them on the wind currents. I have a little one that looks like a penguin and Frank’s is a large red squid. We’ve invested in long cords and can send our kites so high that they are nearly unrecognizable.

Back at the bike, we answered questions about its origin, mileage, maintenance and overall enjoyment. I encouraged the ladies to talk to their husbands about giving up their solo bike so that they can enjoy the comfort of a well-padded seat and the open expanse.

Ural riders have a style of their own.


The red dot is Frank's red squid.



Ready for lift off.