What a difference a month can make. Last year, we headed home about a month later in the year from this exact spot, taking the exact same route and we nearly froze to death. Well, not quite, but it was rainy and borderline freezing. It did not snow on us, but it came very close. This year the weather was perfect – not too hot and not too cold – without a cloud in the sky. We continued on along Highway 2, taking the southern route around Glacier National Park. It is so much nicer when you are not shivering and wet! We had gorgeous views of the mountains in Glacier National Park along the whole route. And the nice thing about this route – way less traffic and tourists than “The Road to the Sun.”
If you have not figured it out yet, we are on the way home now. We are getting there in a round about way, but we are getting there. We decided to shorten our trip a little bit and have a “staycation” at home before we head back to work again. We hit a lot of places on our “go back and see” list from previous trips, so we are happy with that. We have a whole list of things we want to see and do in and around Calgary that we have had no time to do, so we will tackle a few of those things for our “staycation.”
We had a nice rest at the Red Lion Hotel in Missoula. Supper last night was courtesy of the Dragon Bowl Chinese Restaurant next door to the hotel and it was fantastic. The food was prepared fresh for us and you could tell the difference.
As we headed out, there was still a smoky haze hanging over the mountains, but we were on a speedy Montana highway, and we soon drove out of it. We had to stop in Silverton, Montana at the “50,000 Silver $ Bar Gift Shop Restaurant R.V Park Casino.” It had only been advertised to us for over an hour on these huge billboards on Highway 90. Apparently, it is the largest collection of silver dollars on display anywhere and it is also the largest gift shop in Montana. The R.V. Park, Casino, and Restaurant are just added bonuses.
The day of rest was good for us. We, along with our clothes, are fresh, and ready to take on the road again. Also, the clackety-grindy sound is gone on my bike. While I did laundry, Jeremy took my motorcycle to Woodside Motorsports in the neighbouring town of Hailey, Idaho. Sounds like the mechanics were really good to work with there and they enjoyed working on something they had never seen before. They had the right tools to tighen up my chain and declared it safe. The one mechanic had to call the other guys over and show them the motorycle with the transmission like a snowmobile. An interesting angle. Maybe if we are really ever stuck in the middle of nowhere and there are no motorcycle shops, we might be able to find a snowmobile repair shop. I have seen more of those around here than motorcycle shops, for sure.
clackety grindy what is your problem now, bike? let's go to the shop
Last night was like a summer evening. I guess we are far enough South now that we are not getting anywhere close to freezing at night yet. Koira still shivered and huddled under her blanket while we packed up, but it was just to get attention, we think.
Jenny Lake was a very nice lake with the Grand Teton mountain range in the background, but we are not sure it warrants all those bus loads of tourists every 15 minutes. Maybe it was because we just saw Lake Louise before we left on our trip that Jenny Lake did not seem quite as impressive. It was still a very beautiful lake and worth the scenic loop drive. And I could not pass up the photo of “Jenny at Jenny Lake.” We need to find a Jeremy Lake now. I doubt there is a Koira Lake, but maybe a Dog Lake.
We caught a few more views of the Grand Tetons as we headed out of the park, cracking a few more jokes of course, as we went. What fun!
Thankfully, it did not get to 16 degress Farenheit last night. It was one of the warmest nights yet! And not just because I wore a toque!
Although we did not lose sleep last night due to the cold, the Yellowstone wildlife experience did not provide for a solid nights rest. In addition to the rules to prevent bears wandering into our campsite, one of the other rules that Jeremy was given when registering for our site was that we could not put up our hammock. Apparently, Elk can get caught in them. My immediate reaction was, “Yeah, like that would ever happen.” Elk won’t come into our campsite. Well, I was wrong again. Although the bears did not make an appearance, we had some Elk visitors in the night to our campground. Also, all night, it sounded like a whole herd of them was migrating past our campground. They make this weird trumpeting sound, kind of like those really annoying plastic bugles that people bring to football games and soccer games. Sometimes, they just scream too. Just before sunrise, the ducks and possible “trumpeter” swans started up too. It was quite the wildlife band at that point. I guess they do not respect the 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM “quiet time” imposed on campers.
Today, as all our mornings so far for this trip, was, you guessed it – cold. Thankfully, this morning we did not have to pack up camp first. Just get the luggage loaded up and head out.
Yesterday, we lined ourselves up to have an easy mornings ride into Yellowstone National Park. Before we knew it, we were seeing the yellow rock formations from which we can probably safely assume the park got its name. We took a few pictures at Yankee Jim Canyon, before hitting touristy Gardiner, Montana, the Northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We passed through the famous Roosevelt Arch where so many millions of Yellowstone vistors have passed under. The Arch bears the inscription, “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People,” which is taken form the legislative act that made Yellowstone the first National Park in the United States. These peoples and canine definitely intend to enjoy it.
Our start this morning was balmy compared to yesterday but still on the chilly side. Koira was not pleased with having to sit outside on the picnic table under her blanket for a second morning in a row while we packed up camp. Oh, well. Maybe it will toughen her up a bit.
We were almost ready to head out when our Montana camping neighbours we met last night had to bring over their son-in-law and his family to see “the dog on the motorcycle.” The chat session turned into a whole family send-off as they watched us gear up and asked questions at every step, even after we had put our ear plugs in. Very nice people but hard to shake off.
Well, Glacier National Park mornings are positively glacial in September. Our layered approach to our sleeping bags and our Thermarest air mattresses kept us fairly toasty overnight, but we woke up to a frost layer on our motorcycles and camping equipment. We learned a new lesson for Fall camping. Pick campsites for morning sun exposure and not privacy. We could not believe we lucked out on such a private little spot. Now we know why everyone picked those open area sites first!
We survived the frosty start but just barely. By the time we got going, our hands, toes, and paws were all frozen. It was a true test of our new heated gloves and Koira’s heating pad in her pet palace and everything passed with flying colours.
Our goal today was to ride the famous 50 mile (80 km) “Going to the Sun” road through Glacier National Park. We had heard about the fantastic scenery on this road and the challenging “hairpin” turns. It has been on our motorcycle ride “bucket list” since our first motorcycle trip in 2009, but this year we were going to do it first, rather than last, and maybe we would actually get to experience it.
Today was a day of getting back into the swing of things. We were slow getting packed and ready to head out, but it was OK since Glacier is only 324km from home. We had to explain (again) to our neighbour Bill that we had not, in fact, left yesterday and were not already back, but we were leaving this morning, the cat was staying at the kennel, and the dog was coming with us.
The gas tanks were full, the wasps’ nest freshly bombed, the doors locked and the water shut off – we were ready. We headed out of Calgary on our now-standard route, which takes us though Turner Valley, Black Diamond and Longview. Continuing south and then a quick jog over to Pincher Creek brought us to our first fuel stop, and a Co-Op supermarket. We each had a sandwich from the deli for lunch, and Koira was not impressed with the lack of french fries. I have a feeling that the meals will get less and less healthy as we progress. The fact that we are going to be camping a fair bit this trip might be the best thing for us. For supper tonight we have a boil-in-7-minutes rice dish (throw in a can of tuna), and a can of beans (with maple syrup from Quebec tankuverrymuch).
As with every motorcycle trip we have done to date, the weather on our last day of riding was wet and cold. The “Going to the Sun” highway through Glacier National Park was closed for construction, so we did not have to make the decision on whether we should risk that road today. Our other two options was to head straight North to Eureka and cross the border at Roosville or head east and take Highway 2, the lower elevation way around the most southern portion of Glacier National Park. Either of these options would involve a mountain or high elevation pass at some point with the risk of snow, the first option in Canada through Crow’s Nest Pass and the other in Montana through unfamiliar roads. We decided to try the Highway 2 option through some portions of Glacier National Park. If we were going to be cold and miserable, we might as well have some new scenery to look at to distract us from our discomfort.
Highway 2 was beautiful despite the weather and the construction and the aches and pains. We will definitely have to come back and ride this highway again in warmer, dryer weather. The mountains and glaciers were very impressive and there were a lot of fall colours to admire. Just no reds. All yellows and oranges. I can see why the Ottawa Valley attracts “leafers” in the fall. The red leaves are definitely noticeably missing in the West. And, although the weather got very close to being cold enough to snow through the higher elevation passes, the precipitation continued to be rain until we reached East Glacier. The sun actually came out a little for us here, but it was still too cold to turn off the heated gear until we got to a slightly lower elevation.
Before we knew it, we were at the Port of Peigan border crossing. With only one lane open, there was a bit of a lineup at the crossing. Koira was very indignant in her Pet Palace because we did not let her out. The bike was stopped, so she fully expected to get out and explore. She was barking when we pulled up to the border agent. I could tell he was confused about where the dog was on our bike. He was looking at the front of Jeremy’s jacket and then my jacket, like we might be trying to hide a dog in our bulky rain and motorcycle gear. When he realized she was in the bag in the back, you could tell he was trying not to laugh. He did not ask about meat products or pet food, so we did not mention the tiny bit of dog food we were still carrying. He did ask for Koira’s vaccination paperwork. So, making sure we had all that paperwork with us was not a waste. It went very smoothly and they let us and our cranky little white dog back into the country. I was happy we did not have to go through the bike search again this year. It is not the search of the bike that is the pain really, as we have nothing to hide, it is having to re-pack everything again before we can head out.
It is nice to go on holidays, but it always nice to come again. We stopped for a quick lunch in Cardston, but, now that we were in Alberta, we just wanted to get home. Calgary greeted us with gray skies, wind, and cold. Ottawa used to greet us with the exact same weather. We had to turn our heated gear back on again for that last stretch. It did not matter to us, though. We were just so happy to be home safe and sound. Happy Thanksgiving!
We managed to get out the door much earlier this morning and it made all the difference for our ride today. I made sure Koira’s leash was in my back pocket this morning, so nothing stopped our progress out of town. On a bit of a whim, we decided to stop at the scenic overlook just outside of town to take a picture of the valley and the twin cities of Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston, Washington along the Snake River. We were on the Lewis and Clark trail, so it seemed fitting that we should stop and reflect on this fact. Lewis and Clark have left there mark on this entire region. Everything seems to be named after them here and probably for just cause.
Well, when we were at the scenic overlook, what do we see below us but Lewiston’s “Old Spiral Highway”. Now, Jeremy could not resist this one. It is not often we get to take a photo of a road that we are about to do before we ride it either. Jeremy got out the helmet cam for the road too. We knew it was going to be a good one… and it was! It was so good, we had to do it twice. Down and then up! After finding this unexpected treasure of a road, the rest of the day could suck and we would still have had a good day! Continue reading
Well, we were all slow pokes getting up and out the door today. I don’t know what happened but we did not get going until 11:00 AM this morning. We even had the maid knocking on the door to see if we had checked out yet. That is the first time that has happened to us on this trip. I think our stay in Sacramento spoiled us a little and broke up our packing routine. We needed the rest, though, because we have some long days ahead to try and get back to Calgary before the snow hits.
Just when we thought we were finally on our way, about 1 KM down the road from our hotel, just before the on ramp for the interstate, a guy in a car pulled up along side us with his windows down, vigorously circling his hand in the air and pointing at our motorcycle. Now, he was either warning us that there was speed trap ahead or we had something wrapped around something on our bike. Oh, yeah! I had hooked Koira to the passenger peg while we were doing our last minute preparations to ride. Thankfully, I remembered to put Koira in the bag, though! I just forgot about the leash on the peg! I must send out a thank you to that man in Bend who made us aware of my blooper. I hope he did not think we drove off with a dog attached . . . and then lost it along the way! Jeremy pulled off safely to the side of the road, I detached the battered dog leash from the peg, got back on the bike, and THEN we were on our way out of Bend. Someday we will be back to stay longer. Koira’s leash almost stayed there permanently. I am sure Jeremy could have fashioned a temporary leash out of aircraft wire if he had to, though. Continue reading
Time to hit the road again. Sacramento was amazing and so were our hosts. Thanks again, Chris and Stacey! And Mico and Sophie too!
We prepared ourselves mentally for a long day of riding. We had 700 kilometres to cover to make it to our planned stop for the night – Bend, Oregon. We stopped in Willows, California for a rest and a quick breakfast and then we were off again, driving through miles and miles of olive tree orchards. The billboards advertising olive-tastings and freshly-pressed olive oil in Corning almost lured us away from our route, but we resisted and told ourselves we would be back someday for an olive orchard tour. We also saw another kiddy pool on the highway! Third one of the trip! This one was just a plain, blue pool. No cartoon characters. It did have the built-in slide, though! Continue reading
Today, Chris and Stacey had to work. Actually, so did Jeremy. I had a relaxing morning playing with Mico and Sophie and doing a little load of laundry. Koira sulked. She does not play when Mico and Sophie are around. She stayed close to Jeremy while he worked and I chased the little ones around the house. Ah, it is good for Koira. She does not always need to be the centre of attention. I think she got caught up on her sleep too.
We met Chris in Old Sacramento for lunch at a very cool burger joint and pub called Fanny Ann’s Saloon. We all ordered the Singin’ the Blues Burger – their famous burger topped with a slices of blue cheese. Excellent burgers . . . and not just because of the generous serving of blue cheese. The restaurant decorating was eclectic, to say the least. It was three stories of antiques and collectibles screwed to the walls anywhere there was room. They also encouraged graffiti and etching contributions from their customers. We even saw an old Ontario license plate. Now, was that someone who drove down to California and decided not to go home? I can see how tempting that might be. Continue reading
Today we got to go on a field trip to Tahoe with Chris and Stacey. We were up early and enjoyed a couple of Chris’ specialty espresso boosts before all seven of us (4 human, 3 canine) piled into Stacey’s SUV for the ride. A quick stop at Starbucks for some more caffeine, and we were all ready (and wired) for the scenic, twisty mountain roads through Eldorado to Lake Tahoe.
Last time we came through this way, we were headed from Lee Vining towards Sacramento and Jenny’s motorcycle was unable to idle properly. She was forced to ride all the way twisting the throttle slightly to keep her bike running, even when heading downhill into a 10mph hairpin turn… This ride was much more relaxing and even the falling snow was nothing to get too excited about. Continue reading
Breakfast was delivered again bright and early to our door at our inn by the sea. Today’s surprise was danishes. Yum! We were slow getting ready to go. I don’t think we really want to leave our cozy little room, but it was time to say goodbye to the ocean.
A wrong turn at the lights meant we had another chance to see the Carmel mission and downtown Carmel, and then, it was really time to say goodbye.
It was rainy but we had prepared in advance by starting out in our rain gear. We drove through Salinas and kept out an eye for Bobby McGee. No sign of him anywhere . . . still. Continue reading
Breakfast gets delivered right to our door in a little cooler at the Svendsgaard’s Inn. Isn’t that fantastic! With a newspaper and dog biscuits for Koira too. You get to unwrap your breakfast surprise! The coffee cake was amazing. I wonder what we will get tomorrow morning!
After our full breakfast and a little caffeine, we were raring to go. Well, everyone except Koira. She needed a little convincing to get out of bed this morning, but once we showed her the leash she decided she might like to see a little of Carmel. Well, explore it with her nose anyway. After the “Poodle Parade,” every corner was a sign post to be read by her nose. It was a little slow going trying to drag the dog, but eventually the “news” got old and she walked a little quicker. She even got to do a little shopping. Jeremy and I found Carmel t-shirts and Koira (Jenny) found a little sea otter toy. Continue reading
After a warm breakfast of waffles and coffee at the Bodega Bay Inn, we were off again under gray skies and promise of sunshine in the distance. We enjoyed more of Highway 1 and the beautiful scenery. We wound our way through Point Reyes and its surrounding protected area. At one point, we made a wrong turn and found ourselves riding through California cattle country. It was interesting to see cattle ranches like you might see in the mid-west and then, planted in their front lawn, a palm tree. Something in this picture does not quite belong . . .
We managed to navigate back to Highway 1 and, in doing so, passed the United States Coast Goard training centre. Now, that’s an impressive complex and extremely well-protected. It is now part of the Homeland Security initiative so it is probably a lot more secure that it used to be. We did not stop and take a picture just in case it made us look suspicious. The guards did not look like “rent-a-cops.” These guys were the real deal! Continue reading