Out to a western island, My wife's second trip and her "Biker Stories from the Road"
I had convinced my wife to ride motorcycles and last year we took a trip out to the mountains of Montana and Wyoming.
That report and the background of how I got her to start riding can be found in that ride report here.
We had enjoyed that trip so much this year we had plans for another big ride. A few weeks before we took a long weekend trip into northern Minnesota to make sure we were ready to do it again.
We live pretty close to the center of the continent so made a couple of plans for this years big trip and they would all be dependant on the weather.
Plan 1 - Return to Jackson Wyoming and pick up where we left off on our tour of US Hwy 89 "The Parks Highway")
Plan 2 Head east and try to make it to Quebec and then head south into Vermont and return around the south of the Great Lakes
Plan 3 - Go west and travel the mountains of Montana, and BC
Plan 4 - Head south to the smokey mountains of Tennessee and the Carolinas
Last year our trip was in late September but as this years trip was to be in August we immediately threw out Utah and Tennessee due to heat and or humidity issues.
I really had my heart set on heading east and the long range was supporting it but within a few days of travel the long range forecast had changed and it looked like heading out to the mountains was the place to go.
This years trip was also going to be different in that our close friends Jim and Cindy were going to accompany us on the trip. Jim and i had completed an Alaska trip in June but this would be his wife's first big trip and her first experience with driving in the mountains.
Again Denise (my wife) was going to be sending updates back to friends an family so i used these updates to create a ride report.
So here we go, with another edition of "My Wife's Biker Stories from the Road"
Day 1, 2 and 3
Biker Stories from the Road
Back by popular demand ... Biker Stories from the Road!
We have headed west again and our ultimate destination is Tofino on Vancouver Island. This trip we have our good friends Jim (Buck) and Cindy MacDonald with us.
Day 1 August 26, 2012
Our first day we made it as far as Brandon where Garth secured us a great deal at the Royal Oak Inn ... $70 for the night and breakfast included (and not just continental breakfast but actual menu choices).
A lunch stop day 1
Day 2 August 27, 2012
Monday we made our way back to highway 2 (and then 13) and followed it along southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Assiniboia SK. We stopped in Weyburn SK and had coffee with my dear friend Yvonne and her hubbie Wayne.
The prairies are beautiful right now with all of the wheat fields shimmering gold. The harvest is on so there was a lot to see as well.
You never know what you are going to meet along these highways. Farmers will tow or drive anything anywhere. Huge pieces of machinery on the move. The southern portion of Saskatchewan is great riding ... with long slow turns and valleys. It was during one of those long slow turns ... listening to Sheryl Crow sing "I shall be me .. I shall be free" that I was doing some soul searching and reflecting when suddenly WHACK ... I am abruptly returned to reality and the fact that some juicy bug has committed suicide on my face shield. Yuck, now I am starring at yellow bug guts splattered in my direct line of vision. There is no way to clean it off and there is no way to not make the request to stop to clean it off sound whiney. Biker chicks are not supposed to be whiney! So I just played the "guess what shape the splat has made" game. Soon there was red as well as yellow!
In Assiniboia we stayed at the Wheel Inn Motel and had supper at "Andy's Buffet, Home of the Best Food in Southern Saskatchewan".
The sign boasted food from Canada, America, and Greece. The buffet ended up being Chinese, haha, and the cook is from Vancouver. How on earth she ended up in Assiniboia is beyond me. We picked up some cans of beer and sat outside of our rooms and watched the world go by. We were definitely on the main drag because the same car with a loud muffler kept going by. It was a 29 degree day.
Day 3 August 28, 2012
Morning in Assiniboia SK
Today we made our way south across the border to Montana. Lots of fields of cattle. We witnessed 2 of them on a jail break. They were running for their lives along the outside of the fence. We went through a border crossing that is not heavily used by tourists and so Garth (who was the first one up) got asked all of the hard questions and actually had to open up his side bags so that they could make sure he was not smuggling anything across. They found his fruit and confiscated his oranges ... damn ... he loves oranges! We took a break at the first town we rode into and had a coffee at "The Outpost".
The "Price is Right" was on the big screen TV so that entertained us for a bit. Upon leaving Garth spotted a truck selling vegetables so he bought a 6 lb bag of carrots. Really good Hutterite farm carrots. Every time we stopped to gas up or take a break ... out came the carrots ... "What's Up Doc"! The farther south we went the hotter it got.
Temperature reading on display was 36.5 at that time.
We ended the day at 2:30 in Havre (pronounced Have At Er ... but leave out the At) and it was 37 degrees. I don't ever remember having the sensation of sweat running down my shins before ... so gross! I stood under the shower for a very long time. We walked to downtown Havre and found a mexican restaurant and had some really great food for supper. Our waiter was a young man whose mom lives in Preston BC. He had just returned from a 3 week visit.
Tomorrow we head into the mountains and will experience one of the top 10 motorcycle rides in the world ... the "Going to the Sun Road" through Glacier National Park.
Will update you on that one later.
Hope this finds you all well. Take care. Please pass this email along.
Day 1 Map Dryden, ON - Brandon, MB
Day 2 map Brandon, MB - Assiniboia SK
Day 3 Map Assiniboia, SK - Havre, MT
Day 4 Havre to Kalispell MT via going to the sun
Today warrants an update all by itself ... what a day!
We started off from Havre in a hazy kind of morning. As we started down highway 2 it became very apparent that it was really really windy! Mother Nature was pissed at someone and she was taking it out on us! It was also alot cooler and Garth commented that a cold front was going through .. we had a beautiful clear blue sky and the wind coming from the northwest was a-howling. For the first while the wind was hitting us on the right. We stopped for a break in Chester MT at Spud's Cafe. Then our direction switched so that the wind was hitting us on the left. We stopped for gas and after swearing and cursing the wind I asked Jim if we were going to experience this wind in the mountains (like I could do anything about that or do anything different) and I was assured that we would not.
It was so windy we really never got and pictures. It was hold on to the handle bars and focus on the drive.
Highway heading to St Mary Lk
Our next destination was St Mary's Lake which is at the eastern entrance to Glacier National Park and the "Going to the Sun Road".
Once we got into the foothills of the mountains (which belong to the Rocky Mountain range) the wind was much more manageable. At St Mary's Lake we stopped at the Park Cafe.
It is a little local cafe with half a dozen tables and a constant line-up. So Garth added his name to the wait list and we headed down the road to the t-shirt store. After a 25 minute wait we got in. Their specialty is pie and Garth and Jim have taste tested the pie once before. I had a piece of coconut cream pie and it was delish! GW had pecan, Jim had banana cream and Cindy had razzle-berry (bumbleberry in Canada).
Park Caf? is rated as one of the top Road Food spots in the west http://www.sunset.com/travel/wests-b...48/page10.html
Once we were fed and watered we headed into the park, $12 per motorcycle, and the 50 mile trip which takes you over Logan's Pass at 6,648 feet in elevation.
Park Entrance pic
This "Going to the Sun Road" was dedicated in 1933. There is a rock wall which lines most of the road and was definitely laid by hand back in the 30's. It is quite amazing. We stopped at the top of Logan's Pass to visit the gift shop. Garth and Jim were on the hunt for stickers for their saddle bags.
We met many motorcycles and I almost had an incident in front of a group of them in the gift shop parking lot. I said to Garth "oh thank god that didn't turn out bad in front of those biker bitches", haha! Now we headed down the other side of the mountain range and this is where the scenery really becomes breath-taking ... and there are gaukers who probably cannot drive properly on straight stretches and here we are with them on the narrow, windy roads on the side of a mountain, yikes ... and there is also road construction, who'd a guessed!
Thank goodness we didn't have to stop on some precarious slope while we waited the half hour for the road construction. Good thing I did all that slow driving practice before we left because it really came in handy today as we crept along behind the lineup of cars and trucks.
One thing you see alot of on this road is tourist buses and they are full of grey hairs ... why you might ask ... because the park has a length limit on vehicles so it eliminates all of the monstrous RV's that grey hairs love to motor in across the great USA and thank god for that because this road was not built with them in mind! We stopped for some great photo-ops and oh yes a carrot munching break as well.
Anyone recognize the dude photo bombing the picture? He was on a KLR and it was mid afternoon on August 29, 2012
It was now coming to that part of the day when it is time to think about where we would be resting our heads that night. I think that Garth was looking forward to camping in the park but the memory of our August long-weekend motorcycle ride into Minnesota where we ran out of options and ended up camping in a very secluded campground with no food, no water starring at our neighbour campers as they roasted hot dogs and drank beer is still just to fresh to allow that to happen again, haha! So we motored out the western entrance of the park and found great accommodations at the Hill Top Motor Inn in Kalispell MT.
They even have a laundry service, a grocery store with beer nearby, and a Papa John's Pizza shop ... yahoo!
We finished our wonderful day sitting outside eating pizza, enjoying a cold beer watching the world go by.
Tomorrow we head back into Canada via Creston BC and a loop of Kootney Lake!
Until later ... take care all. Please pass this along.
Day 4 Map Havre, MT - Kalispell, MT
From Creston we decided to take the #1 BC motorcycle route which goes up the east side of Kootenay Lake to Kootenay Bay where we caught the ferry across Kootenay Lake to Belfour.
It was an amazing ride but there was lots of traffic and we passed many many motorcycles.
We stopped at Destiny Bay where we finished off the carrots. 50 miles of highway all along the waters edge ... it was so cool ... up and down and windy! The ferry ride lasted for about 40 minutes and the ferry is big enough to carry fully loaded wood trucks and transports.
They allowed us to come right up to the front so we had a perfect view of the passage and all of the beautiful homes and cottages along the shoreline.
Once off the ferry we motored into Nelson BC. What an absolutely beautiful part of interior BC! We stayed at the Villa Motel just before the bridge that goes into downtown Nelson. The full moon and lights of the city all shone and reflected into the water and it was very picturesque as we sat out enjoyed a beer and watched the world go by. The Villa offered a continental breakfast but little did we realize that it didn't start until 8 and then we found out that Nelson doesn't have a Tim Horton's (it has been declared a heritage city so new development like Tim's is not allowed) so we got the heck out of Nelson and sped 30 minutes down the road to Castlegar where we got confused by the entrances and exits and ended up at McDonald's, haha! After breakfast we were on a big push day to make it to Hope. The ride was incredible with several mountain passages, steep climbs and steeper descents. At one point we were going down at 350 ft per minute!
Of course all of this with long weekend traffic ... I don't think there is anyone left in Vancouver for the weekend. We made our way through Osoyoos, where we stopped at a fruit stand and bought MacIntosh apples, peaches, cherries, and grapes.
We stopped in Princeton where Garth continued his search for the best pie ... apple at Billy's Family Restaurant (Jim figures that this one ranked 2 so it must have been darn good).
We cruised into Hope where Garth had pre-booked rooms at the Swiss Chalet Motel (run by an Asian fellow who just couldn't do enough for us and our motorcycles).
Such cute little duplex cabins.
Cindy and I felt pretty darn good about our day but we were very happy to have it end. We walked down to Joe's Restaurant for a bite to eat. Tomorrow we head into Richmond for Garth and Cindy to get tires changed and then the ferry over to Vancouver Island. Stay tuned folks ... more adventure to come!
Take good care and please pass along.
Day 5 Map Kalispell, MT - Nelson, BC
Day 6 Map Nelson, BC - Hope, BC
Clinton BC to Stettler, AB
I just have to tell you about our supper in Clinton! It all starts with us needing to do some laundry. The man who owned the motel we were staying at (looked an awful lot like George Carlin) told us that just up the street there was a laundry service. So we packed up and decided to walk. Well we walked for what we thought was too long a time so Garth went across the street to the local grocery store and asked a little Chinese woman about the laundry service and I think she got insulted because she said to him with arms flailing ?no raundry service, no raundry service?.
Turns out that the only laundry service in town was at the RV park and that?s where the story begins! It is quite the place. It belongs to Michael and Angelina and they have not only an RV park but an ?All you can eat Barbeque?. Michael has white hair that is shoulder length, slicked back over his ears and hanging long down his back ? oh with one little braided rat tail behind his left ear. His menu is simple with only 6 or 7 meat choices that he barbeques. The rest is set out underneath a tarped over deck.
His has 3 slow cookers, a hot plate with 2 pots on it and a freezer chest that he has modified to hold his salad bar. There are a selection of tables and picnic tables, signs, lights and a few items for sale (like a rocking chair and an old ceramic crock pot). Satellite radio is filling the space with country music ? actually the Willie?s Roadhouse channel. The laundry service is just off of this tarped in deck. Once we had our laundry going we made our way over to a table. Michael introduced us to the menu and then began hassling us (in a sarcastic, old buggar type way) to make up our minds as to what we were going to eat. He directed us to a cooler, around the corner, that we could help ourselves to a cold drink. He said ?help yourself because I am not going to serve you because then you can?t complain about the service?. So onto his barbeque went the meat that we ordered. When it was done he slapped it onto a plate and said come and get it. We then worked through the buffet part and when we left a lid off or put a spoon in the wrong place man did we hear about it. Garth inquired about having a beer and Michael told us that he didn?t have a liquor license but we could go across the street to the local liquor store and buy some to drink with our supper. His food was all made by hand and most of the ingredients came from his garden. He also served up an amazing dessert. A homemade brownie, topped by berries picked by the local first nation?s women up on the mountain, all topped by homemade blackcherry ice cream. It was soooo good! For the two of us the bill came to $36.00 and it was worth it just to meet this Michael character.
The next morning we woke to clouds and the chance of rain. Our destination of Jasper had a 70% chance of rain while going through to Kamloops and beyond looked better. So we back tracked a bit and went the Kamloops route which took us to Revelstoke and Rogers Pass.
Still on the search for the best pie Garth noticed a sign for ?Pedro?s Pie, the best pie in BC? at a fruit and veggie stand outside of Salmon Arm. So in we went.
All they had was bumbleberry pie that could be served and eaten right there and then. The rest were full pies for sale. So Garth and I gave in and man it was delicious. And Pedro turned out to be a young Mennonite girl, haha! At Revelstoke we stopped at a Denny?s for soup. It had started to spit when we were getting ready to leave so we prepared with our rain gear and it was a darn good thing because by the time we got up to Rogers Pass it was pouring and dark. We pulled into Rogers Pass to look for stickers and pins but there wasn?t any. It rained for about another ? hour and just long enough for the 4 tunnels that we had to go through with slippery wet entrances and exits. The temperature dropped to 4.0 degrees.
Beautiful scenery but way to damn scary in the slippery rain to pay close attention to it. Initially we thought we would find a campground for the night but after it being so wet and cold we took the first motel room we came too in Golden BC.
At supper we were noticed by a guy who was all alone at an adjacent table. He had been travelling on his motorcycle as well that day and had seen the four of us. He said that he felt sorry for Cindy and I driving in that awful weather. He was on his way to Rocky Mountain House and then Grande Prairie. He had a few great motorcycle stories to share. (The rider was OldMedic on this site. Here is a link to his blog http://oldmedic2012tfc.blogspot.ca/ )
He was finishing his ride after going in the Three Flags Classic rally http://sc-ma.com/rides/three-flags-classic-tour/route
Today (Thursday) we started our day in the fog. We sat it out for as long as we could in Tim Horton?s but had to get going. It was cold so we pulled out the electric jackets and the smart wool socks! The electric jackets are one of man?s best inventions (to a motorcyclist that is, haha) because they make a tremendous difference on a cold day.
We left Golden and headed east. We passed through Yoho National Park and the Kicking Horse Pass? again 3.5 degrees! The fog broke and we rode into a beautiful clear blue sky. The scenery was amazing.
We gassed up in Lake Louise and spoke with a guy who had just come down from Jasper and he told us that he left Jasper in rain and hail ? thank god we didn?t take that route! From Lake Louise we turned onto highway 93 the Icefields Parkway.
A secondary highway with the most breathtaking scenery ever ? as Cindy eloquently said ?it was full of wow?s and wowee?s?.
We eventually hit the Saskatchewan River Crossing and then turned onto highway 11, the David Thompson Highway.
We stopped in Nordegg for lunch and we were served beef noodle soup which ended up being chicken noodle soup (it was good) and of course ? wait for it ? pie!
We stopped in Rocky Mountain House and at a gas station I encountered a young first nation?s man who was interested in my motorcycle and where we had travelled (he had clearly been drinking) and when I headed to the ladies room he wished me a good trip ? took my hand and kissed it! Good grief!
We were out of the mountains, into farm/ranch land and a much faster pace on the highway.
We roared through Red Deer AB where the left lane of the 2 lane highway was so slanted that there was no way I could have stopped safely on it. Pulling into Stettler I spotted a Boston Pizza and knew that I was going to convince the gang to break the number 2 rule of this trip (no eating at chain restaurants) because I really really really wanted spaghetti! Even if I had to blind fold Garth and drag him there I was going to eat spaghetti at BP! (Garth agreed to the blindfolding ? but that is another story for another day, haha!).
There has been a real lack of wildlife sightings on this trip. We have seen a coyote, 2 antelopes, 3 mountain goats, an injured black bear, our grey whale (and other ocean companions ? but they don?t really count because we actually went out to find them). We were on some pretty secluded highways today and we thought that we would see some wildlife but ? 3 deer and a goose ? that is it. Pretty sad.
Sept 5 Clinton to Golden BC
September 6 Golden BC to Stettler, AB
Tomorrow our goal is Swift Current, approx. 567k.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for more later.
Hope all is well. Please pass this along.