An overlander's account of South and Central America by motorbike - the trusty Suzuki DR650. Within are great travel tips and hints (2011).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Oh! Canada!

Some houses at the end of my street

So somehow, my Aussie butt survived the Canadian winter, and apparently it was only a mild one at that!  There were a couple cold snaps with the coldest getting to -48 Celsius with wind chill!  In this temperature you can only be outside for brief moments!  Unlike the spontaneous combustion everyone loves, here it's spontaneous destruction where plastic items tend to freeze and shatter!  When you walk outside in the morning in minus 20 the inside of your nostrils freezes!  Take a snow dump however is still enjoyable! And writing you name in the snow with urine...always fun!

I was transportless when I arrived, as I'd just ridden north from the southern most point in the Americas in Chile/Argentina and my engine died in Fox Creek, 200 km outside of Grande Prairie (where I now temporarily live).  I spent the winter working for New West Pipelines Ltd (NWP).  A pipeline/facility construction and maintenance company.  A great place to work too.  I met up with a couple Aussie's I hadn't yet met and started working at NWP with them.  Winter is a busy time in the oil patch as everything is frozen and accessible. 

Fuel gas pipeline (usually 2 inch) to power the plants, and a sour gas production line (anywhere up to a few feet diameter, but most of ours were 4 to 12 inch).  Sour gas means it is toxic, containing H2S, a lethal gas when inhaled.  One guy died from it in a nearby town when I was in GP working.

For the first few months we did 'integrity digs'...digging up pipeline where a smart 'pig' (device that is sent through the line) has found corrosion in the pipeline wall.  We have to cut this section out and replace it to prevent leaks etc.

We also did some facility work, aka bolt up.  Lots of flanges, valves and pipe!

The area is also a huge logging area!

Another integrity dig, with the welder's truck in the foreground and the weld preheat truck and trailer behind.

Frozen Bear Creek and a raven.

My work partner Larry cookin lunch Canada style!

One of the many Cats our company owns and uses to dig.

A few weeks of -20 and below froze the condensation on my window.

Another integrity dig, a much larger project.

An EMS (Emergency Medical Service) vehicle outside the servo.  These vehicles are at many big projects..just in case.

A small facility my partner and I and a crew setup.  Now coming into spring, this site was a right sh1tshow!!!  The muddy was the stickiest heaviest mud ever making walking 15m a marathon event!  The graders and bobcats came in on the last day and cleaned it up...convenient!

Our work truck...that I managed to bog.  Everything was frozen...apart from this 1 sink hole I happened to park on while loading up gear!  Coming into spring now, the snow and permafrost is beginning to melt.

She's saying...oh yeah, how youuuu doin ;)

The Aussie's I was living with went on their own trip south.  I rode off with them on the first day

Leaving our home at Ranchlands.

How to park a DR650 in winter without a sidestand!

We managed to find camp the first night at a gorgeous snowmobile camp! 

It was freezing cold and we could even sleep inside!

Some sledders rocked up in the morning...20 or so of em!

Ready for day 2.  I split with the boys as it was a very plain road and my grip warmers weren't working.  The further I rode, the further I had to ride back home in the freezing cold, while they got to relief in warmer southern weather!


Heading back to GP now.

A coyote scoping...

From the inside of my original engine.  The crankshaft main bearing blew out into the engine...

The bearing done in...

Throwing the engine timing out and bending all 4 valves

You can see where they bottomed out on the piston!

I began training in Grande Prairie at Ronin Warrior Athletics, the best MMA gym Grande Prairie has to offer.  Great training partners, no assholes and a sensational and very knowledgeable coach.  The coach has several King of the Cage belts as well as being a 7th degree black belt in Bujinkan Budo Taijitsu.

A couple lads sparring and a couple lads taking her easy.  I began training for a fight the day after my birthday in late April.  There were 6 or so of us due to fight in King of the Cage in Grande Prairie.  A couple guys got injured weeks before the fight.  1 bloke who was cutting weight for a 155 fight lost his opponent and took a catchweight fight at 150 but missed weight by a few pounds (after cutting 11 lbs in the sauna) and wasn't allowed to fight due to difference in fighter weight.  Another lost his opponent and 2 replacements and the promoters couldn't get me an opponent.  I trained and cut weight until the night before the weighins (still hoping for an opponent) when I started eating normally again...very disappointing!!!

2 guys from our gym ended up fighting and both won!!  Amazing fights.  Colton won by triangle, and Jerry won by TKO due to punches!

Coach with Colton.

Colton and the lovely ladies.

The main event.  The guy in the foreground holds the welterweight belt but decided to take a fight in a weight class below him (not putting his belt on the line), was overweight by 12 lbs...and LOST!  He wasn't very popular.
Doing some tubing on the hills at Nitehawk nearby.

I finally bought another Suzuki DR650 for $3000 in GP and rode it around all winter.  The costs to repair my engine were to be $4400 or more and I needed spares anyway!

This was the last snow for the season.  Everything had already melted then we woke to this surprise drop one day!  This day was the first day I dropped my bike all winter, including riding in a blizzard!  I had to ride to training and was stopped at some lights.  I took off on green and had done a complete 180 before dropping it at the top it off, my training partner's girlfriend saw it happen and let him know!

I moved houses and now have a garage to store my bike!

This fella was defiling our front lawn!

My roommates Malamute bitch had crossbreed pups.

Pretty cute!  Was great to see babies again!

Using my 2nd hand DR I bought in GP to recomplete my original DR, thus keeping my VIN number for paperwork so I can go home with it.

Nessie...with a repainted yellow frame.

I took a ride west to get to Kanuoso falls.  Along a long dirt section I lost my wolfman fender toolbag with $200 of tools in it.  I doubled back to search only to have carburetor troubles and ran low on fuel.  I didn't make the falls, and managed to use a new friend's dad's tools in Tumbler Ridge nearby to clean the plugs to get home!  That was after waiting on the road to get more fuel!  Bugger!

A yoga instructor friend showing how it's done in Canada's outback!

Some lovelies at One Island Lake.

A cabin next to my mate's (Colton from above) on One Island Lake.

Next door neighbour's yard and gorgeous flowers!
I did manage to see the northern lights a few times!  Gorgeous, but photos do no justice!!  Even saw them on the way to site for work one morning!

Gorgeous sky and Orion in full glory

Try my best to stay upright and glorious!  I can't skate...hence the ladies ready to stop my inevitable fall.

Keep an eye on your chain guides!  Eventually the will wear thing...and your chain may start eating your swingarm!  Your chain links will show signs of this too...flattening and shiny bits.
Next I plan to head north to Alaska!  I hope your own adventures are keeping you fulfilled.  Keep traveling and living life.  Don't forget there are others in this them when they need it.  Until next time!