Asking for directions at the gas station

 

Wes Taylor and I had spent the day on our Kawasaki KLR650s weaving our way along the pleasant twists and turns of Highway 3A and 31 between Nelson and Kaslo. The sun was out, the riding easy and we enjoyed the introduction to our three-day adventure together.

We were walking along 4th Street in Kaslo returning from dinner and having seen the National Historic Site of the SS Moyie when I breached the subject of the day ahead.

“I think the road runs out at Meadow Creek.”

While most motorcyclists fancied the twists of Highway 31A east of Kaslo, to New Denver, Wes and I were taking the less beaten track: Highway 31 north to Meadow Creek and beyond. Most travel brochures stopped describing tourist destinations north of Meadow Creek. I suspected this was because the asphalt ran out north of the small community.

“What do you think we’ll be dealing with past there?” Wes asked.

“I’ve heard it’s a well-graded road but gravel,” I offered. I had a few other anecdotal bits of information to add, but it would be new ground. Our moods turned thoughtful as we walked towards the Kaslo Motel.

 

After returning from breakfast the next day, Wes and I set about packing up our KLRs in preparation for the ride ahead. There was a motorcycle parked next to ours, a BMW R1200GS. We soon met its owner; Dave from Nevada.

As it turns out, he had just finished riding south solo along Highway 31, the road we would be taking. We asked him how the riding was. Dave was a man of few words.

“It’s not a technical ride,” Dave told us. “It’s hard-packed gravel for the most part.”

Wes and I looked at each other and smiled. I think we breathed a little easier after hearing Dave’s brief road report, and meeting someone who had travelled the route successfully.

There was a lesson to be learned here, I think. Wes and I had kept our anxieties too much to ourselves. It was fortunate we met Dave as I think we enjoyed our morning much more having heard what was ahead. It’s not unlike asking for directions at a gas station, checking in at a tourist information booth or asking a friend you know who lives in a place you’re not familiar with. Asking alleviates anxiety about the road ahead.

Oh, and Wes and I did enjoy riding Highway 31. Very much.

(You can read the story of our ride through the West Kootenays in Zero Avenue to Peace Park )

 

 

 

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When a riding buddy is hurting

I was delighted over the weekend to hear that Wes Taylor’s surgery went well and he’s recovering in a Colorado hospital.

 

He told me by email that he’s “recovering but hurting also.” I’ve been mailing him motorcycle travel books so he can pass the time while healing. I send my riding buddy emails from time to time in between bringing my sons to activities and the latest writing jobs. I’ve been thinking about him over the weekend, sending him good thoughts.

 

For those of you who don’t know the story of how I met Wes, it begins five years ago when I was setting up my one-man tent at Meziadin Lake Provincial Park when what should appear next to me but a huge trailer towed by a pick-up truck. Wes and Nancy Taylor and their friendly dog Amber soon emerged having driven south from Alaska and we have remained friends since we were neighbours at that northern British Columbia campground. Wes was keen on Kawasaki KLR650s and I was riding one. We would soon be talking about riding together. I tell the story in more detail in Nearly 40 on the 37.

 

I was looking through my Zero Avenue to Peace Park photos over the weekend and found the above shot. It tells a particular story about when Wes and I got to ride together, two years after we met.

 

We were riding north on a cloudy August day on Highway 31 near Kaslo, the shores of Kootenay Lake not far to our right. I was in the lead and checking to see Wes was in my vibrating rear view mirror. After a minute or two of not looking, entranced by the ride and the scenery, I looked back and Wes wasn’t in my mirror anymore.

 

I looked for a place to turn around, then rode back thinking the worst. When I finally did encounter him coming at me along empty Hwy 31 we stopped, our front wheels pointed in different directions. He said over the engine that he was scouting out locations for another spot to bring Nancy and Amber to in the RV along the many gravel dips off the road into Kootenay Lake Provincial Park. Just like Wes to be thinking of the next adventure when he was on an adventure!

 

(The full account of our ride in the Kootenays, exploring historic silver towns on and off road, is in Zero Avenue to Peace Park.)

Needless to say, Wes is an adventurous fellow. And despite being in his early 70s he is still thinking ahead to the next one. I admire that. I hope in my 70s I’m still dreaming of adventure, splaying out the maps in the winter and planning the next one, whether solo, with my family, or a riding buddy.

 

As for my riding buddy Wes, I wish him a swift recovery and hope he is dreaming of future adventures as he heals in his hospital room.

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Searching For The Authentic Travel Experience

Searching for authenticity near Oban. Dunollie Castle was built by the McDougalls of Lorne in the 15th century.

 

This was a non-fiction contest entry that failed to get awarded anything. Perhaps because it wouldn’t have fit in a mainstream travel magazine (the prize awarded a successful entry). But even though it didn’t involve a motorcycle, I wanted to write a personal story about the difference between being a tourist and a traveller. What is an authentic travel experience? I struggled with this question as a young adventurer wandering through Scotland. I hope you may learn from my experience. But take my advice: don’t put on a See You Jimmy hat.

 

The Search For Scot: a Caledonian quest for travel authenticity

 

I had a shock of red hair and a horrid tartan cap on my head as I sat on a statue of a legendary long-necked water beast. Our charismatic and enthusiastic tour guide Doug took picture after picture. The cameras were lined up on top of a rubbish bin at the Loch Ness Visitor Centre, while the nineteen of us got plenty of practice shouting “Nessie”. My patience was wearing thin.

 

I may have had enough of this extroverted gamboling across Scotland, but I was also beginning to feel like a stick in the mud. Was this the real Scotland? After all, I was sitting on a plesiosaur-shaped piece of concrete and acting like I was eight.

 

Let’s go back a month to when I booked this excursion into passionate tourism.

 

I was a twenty-eight-year-old living and working in London. My contract with a television production company was about to end. What an opportunity to stretch out and see the rest of the United Kingdom, I thought. The sudden realization that I could travel was exciting. It was also a bit nerve-wracking. It wasn’t every day I got to investigate the land of William Wallace and age-old castles. The movie Braveheart had been released just a few years previous and I knew it well. Monty Python and the Holy Grail had been filmed around Scotland too. I had read Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. I wanted to get it right.

 

Previous self-guided trips into Ireland and around England had, at times, found me wandering about somewhat aimlessly. I had the freedom to do what I wanted traveling solo but lacked local knowledge. So I succumbed to my need to have a comprehensive group experience and booked a week’s guided tour of Scotland.

 

A month later, my giddy tour group was modeling the See You Jimmy hat at Drumnadrochit. This was what Doug called them. I didn’t ask as to the provenance of the term.

 

The group was made up of New Zealanders, Australians and Germans for the most part. I was the only Canadian. I had taken the train solo to Edinburgh and stayed cheaply in a shared bunk bed dorm room in a youth hostel. After a day checking out Edinburgh Castle, wandering around Calton Hill and hiking to the top of Arthur’s Seat, it was time to get down to business.

 

The bus wasn’t what I pictured. It was yellow. And small. As my fellow sightseers got on board, I took note of the various accents I heard. I seemed to be the elder of the group. Many had backpacks. Some were loudly proclaiming themselves to the rest of us. Clearly we were going to have a party. I slid a little further in my upholstered seat and stared at the tiny blank TV screen above me.

 

At first it seemed we were hitting all the stops. First off was the granular and rough-hewn tower of the William Wallace Monument at Stirling built in the 1860s to honour the Scottish hero of the 13th century. I marveled at Wallace’s broadsword, encased in glass and nearly taller than me. After that it was on to Doune Castle, where John Cleese had once shouted insults at Graham Chapman in a silly French accent. Then it was on to the solemnity of the gravesite of Rob Roy MacGregor and further into the rugged scenery of the bens and lochs of the Trossachs.

 

Settling in for the evening at shared accommodation in Oban, many turned to the bar to get comfortably laminated, while I convinced a few of my newfound fellow explorers to get castled. Through the mist, I walked up a nearby hill to Dunhollie, a three-story stronghold of the McDougalls of Lorne built in the 15th Century. I was standing defiantly against the precipitation at the base of the ivy-covered fortification, eyes determinedly looking west across to the Isle of Mull. This was the kind of adventure I’d wanted, making the most of the time in this place far from home. Authentic Scotland. I was getting it right.

 

As the days wore on and castles and lochs and historical facts continued to be absorbed, wittily served up by our gifted guide Doug, I found fewer explorers to join me in my evening jaunts to local landmarks. Some were heading for a wee nip of whisky, more for just a cooler or a pint. It was in Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye where I noticed a discernable change in the mood of the tour group. Even though I marched, alone and in the dark, to the ruins of Castle Moil, continuing my quest to collect photographs of castles, talk to locals outside of the hostels and gather facts and figures and legends for later retelling, I felt more and more like the odd one out. I returned to the hostel’s pub where I found my tour group mid-party, some of which had spilled out onto the parking lot. These guys were on a separate quest.

 

I had a few wee nips myself and found myself falling from the purer faith. I couldn’t stand myself. What had I done?

 

The following day I discovered the ideal hangover remedy. Sticking your pounding skull for a few seconds into the icy waters of a Scottish river will cure anything that ails you. Dipping your head in the Sligachan will also provide you with eternal youth, if I believed the tales told by our always keen and good humoured tour guide Doug. After I shook the water from my hair like an obedient terrier, we were soon trudging up a hill past grunting hairy coos to the phallic rock formation of the Old Man of Storr, partially hiding in a stubborn fog.

 

I felt in a fog of my own, somehow wanting to break free from the group, yet too scared to know how to do it. As Royal Air Force fighter jets boomed overhead, we traveled to haunted Carbisdale Castle. It happened to be Scotland’s largest youth hostel. Gathered again in a shared room, albeit much bigger than those found in previous ones, I rolled my eyes at a very audible Limp Bizkit track coming from one of the Aussies’ CD players. I gave my excuses about wanting to explore the castle to one of the New Zealanders who gave me a look of disbelief. His patience was over. He knew what I was about.

 

I was searching for Betty. The pure white image of the resident ghost would understand. Empty halls and gold chandeliers throwing reflections of light against the hardwood floors and fading landscape paintings greeted me around every turn. Where had I gone wrong Betty? I was a traveller, now I’ve become a tourist sheep. I’ve lost my way. Please help me see the right path!

 

The closest thing to Betty I found that night were white porcelain statues in the greco-roman style standing on dark wood plinths. The impassive looks on their faces had me looking inward for answers.

 

Sitting alone in a bus filled with partying revelers aimed at Edinburgh the next morning I had realized my mistake. I had been looking for the essence of travel. What I’d been confronted with were my own expectations. They were leading me to see what I wanted to see. Amidst visiting the empty fields where a blue-faced Mel Gibson once shouted encouragement at hundreds of heavily-armed extras and petting hairy coos I had expected authentic travel and been hit square in the face with my own preconceived notions of what Scotland was and not let the journey happen. The partying revelers weren’t the problem. They were taking each day as it came, so long as there were drinks to be had in the evenings. In my quest to be a traveler, I’d become a tourist.

 

One of our last stops was Drumnadrochit and Loch Ness, where I had firmly placed a shock of synthetic red hair on my head for a group photo. In it I’m distinctively crouched down in a position of defeat, a smile covering my disappointment and wish to flee.

 

After the photo event I strolled down solitarily to the edge of the loch in the soft rain and didn’t see a single creature emerge from its waters.

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I’m selling my bike

9 Trevor's KLR650 in front of the restored CPR caboose at Midway-Mile Zero of the Kettle Valley Railway
The KLR650 rests beside a Canadian Pacific Railway caboose at the Kettle River Museum in Midway

 

 

I know this isn’t Craiglist. Nor is it a place to moan about the old days. But I’ve got some sad, perhaps surprising, news.

The motorcycle I’ve been riding for the past six years is for sale.

Yes, you read it right. The Kawasaki KLR650 that I’ve ridden all over British Columbia (into Alberta and Washington State a bit too, but who’s counting destinations?) searching for historic places while bouncing up and down on gravel roads and holding onto for dear life while taking switchbacks on FSRs to former gold towns is up for grabs.

It’s for sale. What am I doing? I’ve been sneaking into the garage not saying anything (I usually do say hello to my motorcycle…What? Don’t you?) to my KLR for days.

I’ve written notes on its solid, unforgiving factory seat that would become paragraphs in my two books. It has appeared, dusty and proud, in my  articles in Motorcycle Mojo, Inside Motorcycles, RidersWest, Canadian Biker, Rider Magazine… just to name a few.

The motorcycle has brought me to faded silver towns like Sandon in the Kootenays, to the back door route up forest service roads to park next to Mount St. Helens, to the northern extremes of Vancouver Island along unforgiving gravel, to the peaceful and rainy park at Waterton, Alberta, and led me up the Stewart-Cassiar Highway into the north of British Columbia.

Needless to say, I’m reluctant to part with this particular motorcycle.

But as I’ve recently purchased my friend Mike’s BMW F650GS (see Mike’s Bike), it’s time.

It’s time to part with an old friend who, I hope, will find a good home.

The motorcycle has been winter-stored at Burnaby Kawasaki for the six years I’ve owned it. It was bought in October 2011 from a musician leaving for Manitoba in a real hurry. I’m the third owner. It was a basic, non-modified factory model when I bought it. I added Happy Trails Teton 33-litre aluminum panniers, Happy Trails bash plate, Moose pegs, hand guards and a 16” Clearview windshield. The doohickey’s done. Also I’m including a Wolfman Explorer Lite tank bag and Wolfman Expedition Dry duffel bag as well as all the Rok Straps you’ll need to secure it. There are two Michelin T63 knobbies on, front and back, with lots of tread on (as well as an Avon rear and Bridgstone front as a spare pair of shoes).

Regularly maintained at Burnaby Kawasaki (I kept records and receipts), it was also valued by the good folks at BK at $3000. So that’s how I’ll price it.

So if you are in the market for a well-loved dual-sport motorcycle that has had its share of media exposure and still has many adventures left in it, I’d like to hear from you.

Here’s my email address: contact@trevormarchughes.ca

Don’t try to talk me out of it! Oh my my my…

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I am an Everyman

I’ve got to point something out.

I’m a stay-at-home dad. I’m a loving husband to my wife, Laura. I look after my wonderful thirteen-year-old son Michael who was diagnosed with autism when he was six. I also look after my precocious six-year-old son Marc who is actively involved in tee ball, musical theatre and loves riding his bike. I coach his tee ball team on Tuesday evenings. I’ve struggled with anxiety, sometimes depression, throughout my life. I’m an introvert. I stand at five foot eight. Sometimes getting back on a motorcycle after a time not riding scares me.

Needless to say, I’m not the stereotypical image of a heroic adventurer.

I am an Everyman.

Actually, it wasn’t me who first described me that way. It was John Campbell, the editor of Canadian Biker Magazine, when he was writing an endorsement for my second book Zero Avenue to Peace Park

His writing is framed by the iron of tireless research and underscored by the musical notes of a relentless motorcycle as Zero Avenue to Peace Park, the Journey of an Everyman, brings new life to the dusty streets and forgotten people of long ago.

I’m grateful for John’s words, which are now on the cover and early pages of my second book. He gave me an objective look at myself. Sometimes when riding into the unknown I feel pumped up, almost believing my own publicity as it were. I need to remember who I am.

I’m that kid who looked out from the back seat of his parent’s Ford LTD while travelling to another campground, an old and weathered tent trailer being towed behind. The Okanagan, mid-Vancouver Island, the Kootenays. That kid looked out from that back seat, observing, wondering all sorts of things. What lay at the end of that secondary road? What was the story behind that collapsing farmhouse being reclaimed by nature? Why was a totem pole raised on that spot?

I’ve been underestimated at times. Not so long ago I asked a particular company if I could use their topographical maps in my second book. Interest turned to indifference after one look at me and my beat up KLR650. Granted I may not be the most shiny and buff of adventurers.

But what I’ve done on that KLR650 may surprise you. It may have surprised that map company too if they’d not judged a book by its cover.

I’ve ridden down deep gravel roads to forestry towns, taken muddy single tracks to former gold mining communities, pushed myself to the extremities of the province’s rugged north, as my motorcycle shook and squeaked under the punishment, me at times scared, exhausted and feeling out of my league.

But underlying it all, was the desire of that kid, looking out from the back seat of that Ford LTD, to explore beyond what he knew, to get to know his home province of British Columbia better. That’s what I do. That desire still drives me.

Recently I watch the film Eddie The Eagle. I haven’t been that taken with a film in a long time. It was the story of an underdog that may not have come in first, but wanted to prove himself, have his moment, prove deniers wrong. I’ve come to think of myself as an underdog. Eddie certainly had his moment, overcoming his fears.

When I get on a motorcycle, I sometimes get anxious. Once I’m riding I feel great. Usually I feel better when riding further out of town when I can ride along with as little traffic as possible.

John Campbell published my first magazine article in Canadian Biker about my two-week two-wheeled journey into northern British Columbia along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. He suggested that a trip like that would create memories that would last a lifetime and would be the envy of many who ride motorcycles. That was in 2012. I’m still going.

Grant Johnson, who, along with his wife Susan Johnson, created the overland adventurer forum Horizons Unlimited, once encouraged me to present my talk Riding Across Historic British Columbia. I was having my doubts about presenting with a group of cross-continent overland motorcyclists at their travellers meeting in Nakusp, British Columbia. Grant told me that many motorcycle adventurers were people like me, with a desire to explore their region. He wrote Horizons Unlimited needed people like me, the Everyman, to tell their stories and inspire others to explore.

Are you an adventuring Everyman… or Everywoman?

Then you have a story to tell too.

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Mike’s Bike

 

Buying a motorcycle. It sounds great doesn’t it? I have mixed feelings about it lately.

This past weekend I bought a 2010 BMW F650GS. I’d admired this de-tuned 798cc motorcycle for a while. I had seen it close up on several occasions, as it belonged to my friend and travel companion Mike Whitfield. Mike decided recently to retire from motorcycling.

For anyone who has read Nearly 40 on the 37 or Zero Avenue to Peace Park you know how influential Mike has been to me. He was the one that convinced me to continue on my Stewart-Cassiar Highway adventure years ago. He was the one who kept reminding me about the nature of adventure. Without him I may have turned around at Prince George…but I didn’t. After that trip there were Mount St. Helens and the Holberg Road on north Vancouver Island, two adventures I’ll never forget.

So, seeing his orange GS in my garage is a bit disconcerting. It’s with pride that I’ll ride it this weekend, but…it’s Mike’s bike!

I’ve received pleasant messages of support from friends reminding me that Mike would be glad to see the BMW in good hands, in the possession of someone who will take good care of it and ride it on other adventures.

Last weekend, Mike showed me the various features of the GS in his underground parking garage. There were features that blew my mind…like a fuel gauge! When ready I took it for several spins around the garage. Some clutch-throttle control exercises. Some sudden braking. Then it was time to exit into the world on Mike’s Bike.

It was raining. Pouring. I have to admit it affected my mood.

I’m planning a Saturday ride out to Iona Beach. I keep checking the weather forecast.

It’ll take a while to get used to riding Mike’s Bike. It’s a bike packed with memories of riding alongside my riding buddy…certainly for Mike who has ridden the GS all over the world.

It’s time to create some new memories.

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No Matter Where You Go There You Are

My blog has been quiet for awhile. My apologies. I was on holiday.

This was no ordinary holiday. If you’ve followed what I do at all you’ll know that I usually try to travel to an historic part of British Columbia when I go away. Where was I?

I was on a cruise ship off the coast of Florida.

Again, if you know me this may seem a bit of a departure. It was a family holiday that had been initiated almost a year ago. I certainly had trepidations about going into the United States at this time in its political history. I had worries about bringing my children into a situation that could prove disturbing.

In the end, we witnessed no civil unrest. We were allowed to pass without incident through the international border.

This gave me some comfort. Some. If anything, this made me concerned about a different matter.

What about those that couldn’t pass without incident through the border?

I realize that entering another country is a privilege. It is not a right. That is why we as travellers need a valid passport. But I couldn’t help but feeling a bit sheepish about my position all the same.

Once on board the immense vessel, I couldn’t help but feel, well…a little confined.

Now don’t get me wrong. This had nothing to do with the service. Like I had been led to believe by countless accounts of cruise ship travel tales from family, friends and acquaintances over the years, the staff were tremendously helpful. They made every effort, whether they were serving my family in the restaurants or making up the stateroom, to ensure we were comfortable and confirm my family and I were enjoying ourselves.

Let’s put it this way: I’ve decided I’m not a cruise person. There were several reasons for this.

The small living space. The fixed itinerary. The fact no passengers, despite being all in the same boat, to coin a phrase, said hello. I think that most of the ship’s guests brought their own views from home with them. There were no new ideas or cultures to understand. The off-ship visits were quite pleasant and on well-trodden paths.

What I couldn’t help but thinking after awhile was: this ship has quite an international crew!

This was a part of the cruise I found interesting. Our principal server at dinner was from Mumbai. Our secondary server was from Manchester. The manager of one of the restaurants was from Istanbul. As points of origin were shown on nametags, I began looking at them. South Africa, The Philippines, Jamaica. As I spoke more with the crew and got to know them I felt as though I had travelled, but that sense certainly hadn’t come from my fellow passengers.

I’m not sure if I would go on a cruise again. To be clear, this conclusion had nothing to do with the level of service, which was thoroughly wonderful. But the style of travel doesn’t appeal to me very much. I suppose it comes down to the old saying: no matter where you go there you are.

The kids had fun though.

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Of Pontiac wagons and tent trailers

One Sunday a month as I was growing up in Victoria, my parents would get my brother and I into our 1974 Pontiac Astre Wagon. Our destination was Crofton, a pulp mill town just east of Duncan, where my grandparents lived. The process for my parents of getting my brother and I into the Pontiac was different for each child. He fought tooth and nail, thinking the hour and change sitting in that back seat to be a fate worse than death. Oh, if only the wagon’s wood grain paneling could talk. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait, not only to see my grandparents, but for the journey to get underway. I didn’t even need a colouring book.

Goldstream Provincial Park went by. We ascended Malahat Drive to the view over Mill Bay. We passed the colourful shop facades of Whippletree Junction. We descended toward the billowing stacks of Crofton’s mill. I couldn’t wait to see them, and imagine their stories. Why was there a road there? Why was that mill there?

Similarly, when the family later acquired a Coleman tent trailer we cheekily named Herb after the bespectacled character in Burger King commericals (don’t ask, it was the 1980s), I couldn’t wait to hit the road in my parents’ 1985 Ford LTD as we towed Herb behind us. My parents took us all over British Columbia on camping trips. We’d travel up and down Vancouver Island, park lakeside in the Okanagan and explore the Kootenays. I loved it.

I would watch the world go by from the back seat, wondering about the story behind that farmhouse gradually collapsing as it was being reclaimed by nature, or why there was a gravel road there (where did it lead to?) or why there was a collection of eclectic shops away from any town whatsoever. It fascinated me.

When I started giving my “Riding Across Historic British Columbia” presentation last year at Horizons Unlimited CanWest in Nakusp, I tried to remember what had started my interest in B.C.’s history. The above is what I came up with.

I’ve discovered I’m not alone. At my presentation at Vancouver BMW Ducati in November 2016, Dave told me about how he too had travelled with his parents in a tent trailer, developing an appreciation for the South Chilcotin, where his family had roots, and many other places in the B.C. interior. To hear this was fulfilling; I wasn’t the only one who had developed a love of travel and appreciation of exploring the province’s history via camping tent trailer style.

I still see tent trailers at campgrounds when I’m camping solo or with my family, some of the same vintage of our family’s old Coleman. I hope that, in those tent trailers, are a new generation of adventuresome kids that are developing an interest in their home province…its places, people and history.

My question is: What would wood paneling say if it could talk?

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A Watched Pot Never Boils

The flu is no fun, believe me.

Back at it.

One thing that happens when you stop looking at your inbox is things start to happen in your absence. There are some new things to report.

I’ve tried my hand at book reviewing. B.C. photographer Chris Harris makes me look like a novice when it comes to exploring historic British Columbia. His book British Columbia’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast: a photographer’s journey was a privilege to review. Thanks to Alan Twigg, publisher of BC BookWorld and Richard Mackie, editor of The Ormsby Report, for sending me his book to review.

Here’s a look at the review:

http://bcbooklook.com/2017/02/24/94-draft-noah-has-nothing-on-chris-harris-ark/

Thanks to Motorcycle Mojo for publishing “The Coast to Kootenay Connection” in their March 2017 issue. The photo above is the one I took in Midway to start work on gathering material and notes for the article. Here’s the link to the online version…

http://www.motorcyclemojo.com/2017/02/kettle-valley-railway/

Also, I’ve just heard some exciting news about where I can develop Riding Across Historic British Columbia. I’ll let you know as that develops. Of course, I’ll be returning to Horizons Unlimited CanWest in Nakusp to give a presentation with some updates from the past year, some of which have yet to come. I’ll be riding up to the Likely and Quesnel Lake area in July with the Greater Vancouver Motorcycle Club to see what so many have recommended to me. Barkerville is one of those historic places in B.C. that is long overdue for me to experience. I can’t wait to see it.

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When is a story not a story?

 

I had asked a veteran of the Vancouver motorcycle scene for an interview. So far, so good.

The experienced gentleman got back to me and was willing to do the interview and be part of the story. I got approval to do the story from the magazine I’d pitched it to. Yes! But the motorcycle manufacturer that this gentleman has worked for asked for something unprecedented in the time I’ve been writing freelance stories for motorcycling magazines. They wanted approval of the final product, control over the story I was going to write, final say on whether it was published or not. So far, so bad.

So, let me get this straight. I would have to go and do an interview, one I was very much looking forward to as I would hear this gentleman’s stories relating to me the history of motorcycling in British Columbia, but I might be wasting my time as the motorcycle manufacturer he has worked for could turn it down after I’d written it. If that were to happen the story, indeed the interview that coined it, would never have happened. Oh yes, I almost forgot…and I wouldn’t get paid.

So I had to turn the respected expert down for the interview. Neither he nor I had been trusted. It was very disappointing.

When I was at CBC Radio occasionally I would have to turn interviews down for the same reason, from people who wanted the publicity, but didn’t seem to give me the benefit of the doubt and wanted control over what I was going to write. To those people I respectfully must say: I am not a division of your corporate communications department.

I’m a freelance writer trying to get a story accepted by a magazine. The magazines I’m pitching stories to generally don’t go for the former employer of an interview subject getting editorial control. Just sayin’.

So it’s back to the drawing board on Monday.

If any freelance writers out there have experienced this, let me know in comments. I’d be curious as to how you fared.

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