2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 2

16 Aug 2012 – Neither of us slept too well – too hot, then cold, and it wasn’t until 5am or so, that I pulled up the comforter for warmth. So we got up, got ready, and headed off to breakfast at Craig’s Wayside Diner, right next door, where breakfast was really good.

Back at the motel, we packed up and then I spent half an hour looking for the remote for the GoPro camera. I was sure I had it when we left so I kept looking. Eventually I found it lying on the bed where it had fallen out of the charging stuff bag. Now that I’d found it, I attached all the GoPro stuff to the bike and finished packing everything else. Finally we were ready to leave.

Canmore to Jasper – Bow Valley Parkway to Icefields Parkway

We stayed on the TransCanada Highway until just past Banff, where we turned off and rode the Bow Valley Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 1A to Lake Louise. This used to be the old highway to Lake Louise and nowadays pretty much the only traffic it gets are hikers and tourists heading to Johnstone’s Canyon. And talking about tourists, there were frikkin idiot tourists doing the stop in the middle of the highway to get out and get a picture of the bear, goat, sheep, gopher, butterfly or whatever. Never mind that the bear, possibly a Grizzly Bear, might get pissed and try to eat them. Even a tour bus driver decided to get in on the non-action – stopping in the middle of road. Actually, for all the stupid tourists that get out of their vehicles to tempt fate with the wild animals on the side of the road, I cannot recall ever hearing about a stupid tourist getting eaten by a bear on the side of the road. I guess if the bear or moose or elk or whatever is down by the side of the road in the first place, it’s probably OK with the people being close and staring at them.

Anyway, being motorbikes we were able to slip through the stopped cars and carry on, eventually stopping for gas and a bio break at Lake Louise. While we were there, we started chatting with a couple riding two-up on a cruiser, that the couple had trailered in from Saskatchewan for a few day trips around Banff National Park.

Fueled up, we headed out again, following the Icefields Parkway north – where the scenery is amazingly dramatic.

Scenery along the Icefields Parkway

Looking north along the Icefields Parkway

It seemed that almost everywhere one looked, the vista and scenery was amazing – there’s been plenty written about this highway but you really have to see it with your own eyes to truly appreciate it.

By lunch time we were pretty close to Saskatchewan River Crossing which is about halfway to Jasper from Lake Louise. Lunch was soup and a sandwich from the cafeteria side of the restaurant. This place hasn’t changed much since the 1970s I think …

Sask River Crossing Cafeteria

View SW from the Sask River Crossing parking lot

More great scenery!

Back on the road again, we continued on up into virgin territory for both of us. I had been through Sask River Crossing back in the early 1970s, with my Mom and Dad and brothers in Dad’s converted 1960 school bus. I think we had come up the highway, then headed east from Sask River Crossing through Nordegg and on to Rocky Mountain House and back home to Hanna, but I have never been north of Sask River Crossing. Well, except for the Columbia Glacier area, but that’s only a few kilometres north of the Crossing. We’ve been there a couple of times, but no further north.

Anyway, we passed glaciers on the left …

Stark rocky ridge on the right …

And mountains straight ahead …

Later in the afternoon, we rolled into Wapiti Campground, 5 minutes south of Jasper, where we set up camp.

Campsite at Wapiti

Once we’d cleaned up a bit, Louise and I went into town 2-up on the FJR to see a bit of Jasper and get some dinner at the local Greek restuarant.

The official steam engine …

Jasper Park Administration Building

Then it was off to bed and sleep …

Our home for the night

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 1

15 Aug 2012 – After a few days delay, we headed off on our big 2012 trip which eventually will take us to Nakusp, BC for the annual Horizons Unlimited gathering there.

In the early afternoon, we got the bikes packed up and headed off. First we stopped at the Bossi Construction offices, so we could say goodbye to Robert.

Along the way, both Louise and I had the same idea – stop in Cochrane and have an early dinner with my Dad. I called him from a gas station and we met at the local Smitty’s, where everyone knows my Dad’s name! Since I had the Aerostich, I set it up in the classic pose …

I had made a reservation for a cabin at at a off-the-beaten-path place in Canmore for the night. It was pretty rustic for sure.

Since we had already eaten dinner back in Cochrane, we just went to Starbucks for a latte, then Safeway for some water. Back at the motel, we hit the bed. Off to Jasper in the morning!


Solo To Sarnia Return Day 7

We got up and headed around the corner to Char’s Family Dining for a pretty good breakfast. With that out of the way, we got packed and loaded up the bikes.

Loading the bikes

We managed to leave the hotel by about 930am, since we had both fueled up the night before, we were on the road pretty early (for us). We made it through the US/Canada border at about 1015am, then stopped in the hot wind for a drink just up the road from the Canadian border farm house.

Back in Canada

Back in Canada!

The highway from the border to the Cypress Hills Provincial Park is … well, kinda boring in its’ straightness. I got this picture of Louise though …

Louise, over my shoulder

Later on we stopped at the favourite PetroCanada greasy spoon dive for lunch. The same waitress was working, remembered Louise from the first time we were through. I should have got a picture of her.

The PetroCanada greasy spoon in Medicine Hat

I think I might have the same lunch as before too, a toasted BLT and fries – they were good!

After a while on the road, melting in the heat, we stopped at a rest stop for a drink and some shade.

Stopped for some shade

And a nap …

Napping in the shade

It was only a quick nap though, because home was only a couple of hours more away. After a quick gas stop in Strathmore, we cruised on into the city, arriving at home at about 415pm.

Arriving home!!

Our son Robert was pretty happy to have Louise home and so were our best friends Jo and Al.

Welcome Home Louise!

6556 kms

So, after over 6500 kms riding alone over a month, Louise was home!

Solo To Sarnia Return Day 6

Today I’d arrive in Havre, where Ian was waiting for me! But first, I had to leave Glendive. Along the way I stopped at a rest stop for a break …

I arrived in Havre at about 3:30pm thinking I’d surely beat Ian to town. On the way to the Siesta Motel, where I’d be meeting him, I stopped to fill-up the VStrom’s tank at a gas station on the east side of town, then rode on up the main street to the motel.

Rolling into the parking lot, I discovered that Ian had just beat me! In fact he had just finished fuelling up his bike at a different gas station as I pulled up the pump at a gas station further east! He had parked at the motel, gone inside to check on checking in, and as he was talking to the motel manager, I pulled up.

He ran out, said “Hi!” and took some pics of me getting un-geared.

Arrival in Havre!

After a shower, which we both needed, and dressed in street clothes, we headed out for dinner. On the way Ian took a couple of pictures …

Louise and the bikes in front of the Siesta Motel

Louise in new top …

The last time we were in Havre, we had dinner at the Guadalajara Family Mexican Restaurant and we liked so much we went there again for dinner.

So he must have really missed me, as he surprised me with a wedding band that I can wear (I’m allergic to most metals, and this one is titanium). After 29 years I’m “officially” married!

Louise’s new titanium wedding band

Solo To Sarnia Return Day 4

This morning I woke up late due to me and technology not being fully compatible. I thought I turned on the alarm on my phone, but … I guess not.  Even though the start of the day was a bit of a rush, I still got away when I planned to.  I wanted to check the oil in the bike today too, since I hadn’t checked it since Monday, but there’s always been a small problem in that there is no centre stand to hold the bike upright. So I asked another motorcyclist who was getting ready, if he would hold the bike up.

“Sure no problem” He had a puzzled look on his face “You’re by yourself?”

He held up the bike and I added oil and all is good. But here is how OCD I am – I checked the oil filler cap  like 4 or 5 times during the day afraid that I hadn’t tightened it and it had fallen off.

So off I go, got through Superior/Duluth no problem, gave the voice in my head something to complain about because the exit for Highway 2 was closed so she had to recalculate again and again, meanwhile I just followed the detour signs.  She was not happy and she would get revenge later in the day.

At my first stop, to check my oil filler cap, I got a peanut butter cookie and had a chat with another customer and the lady behind the counter, they were some of first people who didn’t think it strange and scary that I was traveling all on my own.

Floodwood - Catfish Capital OF THE WORLD!

Floodwood – Catfish Capital OF THE WORLD!

So off again to Highway 39 and then onto Highway 200 and this is were the “voice” gets her first revenge – coming up to the stop she says turn right, I glance down at the screen to make sure thats what she wanted and sure enough the arrow went right, so I did too. Then the voice says, “recalculating” “turn left” – but not likely! It was a gravel road! I did a u-turn in the road at a intersection, rather proud of myself as I had to deal with gravel, sand and blacktop all in one u-turn.

Now I was on the 200 and on my way down this road was pretty deserted and the road condition was really bad.  Today they were ripping up pretty much the whole road so for the first 30 miles I had to ride on the ground down surface and stop few time for single lane traffic and for extra fun they had oiled the last bit of it.

But after that it was all new blacktop and oh … was it smooth.

A little further along and the the voice says bear right, turn right, and then you hear (imagine, actually) her laughing and she says make a u-turn, so I did ( I’m getting pretty good at them). Except this time there was the town Sheriff watching in his car, and followed me out of town where I went back onto the road I had been on. Sheriff turned of once I crossed over the town limits.

I stopped for lunch, and this is a good thing. Then got back on the road and played leapfrog with some semi’s on the way to Highway 94, where the damn voice sent me down the wrong road for one last u-turn. Eventually I made it to Fargo and tomorrow I head for Glendive and then the next day to Havre where I am meeting up with Ian for the last leg home!


Solo To Sarnia Return Day 3

So day three: it started out OK, got away about 9:30ish but was moving pretty slow with a killer headache.  As my head was feeling sensitive, I had to make a few stops to try and adjust my iPod volume. I finally got that sorted and started riding along.

Since I’ve been trying to remember to stop more, I made a first stop to take some lake pics.

Off to a good start, then I decided to stop for a snack at about 12:30 …

After snacking I decided to lay back for awhile, and … oops … fell asleep, so I took some pics of my nap spot …

My head felt better after the nap but now I was kind of behind. Except for gas stops, I basically just rode until I got to Superior. No more pics.

At one gas stop I heard thunder so on went the jacket liner to stay dry, but I think I just caught the edge of the storm and only got about 15 minutes of light showers and probably didn’t need liner.

So just a quick rant – when I started to think about this trip I decided to go ahead and purchase some made-to-measure gear that I had been thinking about for 4 or 5 years, and saving for, for the last 2 or 3.  Well what a big disappointment. I don’t know who they made it for but it wasn’t me. The jacket is huge and the liner is so small that I can’t get a extra layer underneath. When I wear the two together it’s tight and uncomfortable; and the jacket by itself is a whole other story.  When I get back I hope I can talk to them and maybe send it back for some adjustment.

Rant over.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, but my one pet peeve is cars that can’t keep a constant speed. Come on people – I’m pretty sure you have cruise control, so use it. And another thing: stop doing the passing lane dash where you do 50mph until you see a passing lane then speed up to 65/70 mph and only 2 or 3 people can get by you and then slow back down to 50mph when the lane ends and the other 15 people behind you are left frustrated.  Oops … another rant. Oh well.

Anyway, got into Superior about 4:30, went for a swim and a soak in the hot tub and all is good.  Tomorrow off to Fargo.

Solo To Sarnia – The Return – Day 2

The day started out looking kind of grey, there was a thunder storm last night and everything was wet.  This morning I had to add air to the tires, first time this trip. Getting the bike loaded and ready to go became a spectator sport with a lot of people watching and asking questions.  The maintenance guy at the hotel has a GS 1200 so we talked roads for a while, but eventually I was ready to leave and try the Tunnel of Trees road.

The road looked promising when I saw a sign saying twisty road next 20 miles – sweet! It was a very narrow, maybe one and a half lanes wide road with no centre line. First thing I noticed was that the rain last night had washed some sand and gravel into the corners, not one of my favourite things, so I just took it at my own pace.  

The road wasn’t extremely twisty with mostly gentle curves, but it did have a few 90 degree turns, with some going uphill.  I did pretty well until on one of the 90 degree turns I met a car that decided to drive into the corner before trying to turn, I’m pretty sure my pannier just missed his front end. I had to stand the bike up and then lean it back into the corner, and then remember to breath. The rest of the road was okay but as I was coming out of one of the last corners there was a tree down across 3/4 of the road, I avoided that and decided that I would stop at Cross Village at the end of the road for a break.

I decided to have lunch at the Leg Inn in Cross Village.

It gets it name from all the stove legs that go around the top of the building.  The decor was pretty interesting with lots of wood carvings and interesting things, and the food was pretty good too. They specialize in Polish food so I had a cabbage roll, and it was pretty good.

After lunch I took some more pictures and headed back to the bike.  When I had parked I looked for a spot that would be easy to get out of and nothing was around me.

When I came back I saw that I had started something.

After leaving Cross Village I headed for the I75, I was starting to think that the voice in my head was just playing with me with all the turns onto little roads but eventually I came to the Mackinac bridge.

Today was really windy and they had speed restrictions on the bridge for big trucks and motor homes, so my luck I was behind a motor home doing 20mph and to make for more fun the had closed down the right lane so I had to ride on the metal grating in high winds at less than 20mph behind a motor home that couldn’t maintain a speed.  Fun times, when I reached the other end I decided to take a break and breath, so a nice lady took my picture with my bike.

The rest of the ride was slow, as there was construction on US-2 for pretty much the whole distance I had to travel it, so I pulled into Munising at about 4:30ish and day two is done.

Off to Superior tomorrow.

Solo to Sarnia – The Return – Day 1

Today I left my sisters’ in Sarnia to start heading home.  I left about 8:30 and Trish, Jessica, and Rachel helped me get the bike out and pack, and were my send off party. We all managed to hold it together pretty well, Trish tells me the water works started after I left, and I found out if you cry in your helmet the microphone gets really soggy.

After a quick stop for gas I headed over the Blue Water Bridge, and having a Nexus card, the border crossing was really quick because they have a special lane just for Nexus holders.

Once across, I headed through Port Huron and took some back roads to Bay City – this is a place I’d like to come back to and explore the amazing old victorian houses. I’d just like to stare at them for a while – creepy huh?

Anyway, after Bay City I got spit onto the I-75 for about 150 miles, even though it is a major highway the scenery was pretty nice with lots of trees and the road even has some curves.

So today I tried to stop more and I think I managed to stop 3 or 4 stops, not including lunch – yes I actually stopped and ate real food. Well maybe not real food, I had a salad at McDonalds, but I stopped. So now that I am stopping I’ll have to work on taking more pictures.

After all the stopping and eating and then some more small roads I arrived at Harbor Springs my destination for the night.  Why Harbor Springs you ask? Well two set of bikers that I talked to on the way down told me that I have to ride a road called the Tunnel of Trees, one of the best roads on the peninsula so as I have been getting bored of straight roads I’m here to try the twisty road. Any body who knows me will be surprised at this as I’m not a fan of really twisty roads, but man these roads have been really straight and my tires are going square so tomorrow it’s the Tunnel of Trees.

Today was a meh day of just riding to get somewhere, I enjoyed the riding, but I was really down about having to leave Trish, Manny, Jessica, and Rachel. I tried to steal their dog Jelly Bean as she fit in my top box, but they found her, and so I had to leave without any of them.  Besides Buttercup would have missed the pup.

Run to the Hills 2012 – Day 4 (July 22, 2012)

July 22, 2012 – By 10am or so most of us had gotten up, had coffee and breakfast, then got packed up. Most of us were heading home, but there were a few lucky dogs who were continuing to ride around. There was a pretty large contingent heading back to Calgary that were ready at the same time so we headed out together.

After, gassing up at Pincher Creek, we continued on up to Highway 22 (AKA the Cowboy Trail) …

… to Turner Valley & Black Diamond. Instead of taking the usual and boring route from here to the city, a smaller number of us took some backroads north to 22X and then on to home.