Sep 26 2009

…to Home, Sweet Home


We left Sudbury this morning just after a light rain.  The roads were a little wet and our visors misted up, but the temperature was bearable at 9 degrees Celsius.  Only the tips of our fingers froze a little but it warmed up to 12 degrees Celsisus and stayed steady at that temperature for quite awhile.  I think the fact that we were so close to home kept us going, despite the chilly temperature.

Our goal was home as quickly as possible, so our only stops were for gas in North Bay and gas and  lunch in Cobden.  The kilometers just seemed to fly by but we also got to enjoy the beautiful fall colours.  The Ottawa Valley must have gotten more frost then Northern Ontario, because the fall colours were more prevalent.

Before we knew it we were at our March Road exit and driving that last stretch to home.  We got behind a slow-poke driver (possibly from Oregon?), but maybe that prevented us from getting a speeding ticket from the cop at the Carp Road intersection.  That would have been great – 13,000 KM under our belts and a speeding ticket within 5 KM of home.

And then we were home.  Ahhhh . . . what more can I say!  We had an amazing trip but home is where our hearts are, for sure.  Now, we need to start planning for next year . . .

Sep 25 2009

…to Sudbury, Ontario


Today, started out with our now customary first 100 KM in freezing temperatures.  We stopped for a warm up at Robin’s Donuts in White River – the birthplace of “Winnie the Pooh.”  We were too cold to do the photo with the Pooh statue, though, and it was overrun with tourists already anyway.

Once the sun had some strength, we started to enjoy the Northern Ontario roads again.  Its still boggles our mind, though, that we can be driving for three days in Ontario and still only be in Northern Ontario.

We drove through Lake Superior Provincial Park.  What a beautiful area!  The glimpses of Lake Superior and its rugged beaches are spectacular.  We have officially put Lake Superior Provincial Park on our return to explore list.

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Sep 24 2009

…to Marathon, Ontario


Well, the roads in through Northern Ontario are beautiful . . . when they are not under construction.  There is a lot to see and nice, gentle curves and hills to keep us alert and slightly challenged.  Northern Ontario is definitely the “Land of Lakes.”

Northern Ontario is also the “Land of Characters,” to put it nicely.  At construction section on Highway 17 before Thunder Bay, I had a truck containing three “yahoos” pass me in the no-pass construction zone and split Jeremy and I up.  They had to stop at the flagman just like Jeremy and I, so passing me did not get them any further ahead.  While we waited at the stop, the three “yahoos” decided to get out of their truck and stretch.  The driver went in front of his truck and then Jeremy, over the intercom, told me he was actually peeing on his own front bumper!  My Dad would be appalled that someone would defile their brand new Dodge Ram truck like that!  Anyway, I stayed to the left of the pee puddle when we started up again.  We thought we would see these types of characters down South – not, so.  Northern Ontario is where to see them!

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Sep 23 2009

…to Dryden, Ontario


We were a little late getting going this morning.  We were still worn out from our unexpected extended ride from yesterday.

Once we got going this morning, we discovered Manitoba was pretty flat but the trees hide it much better than Saskatchewan.  Manitoba also has just as many bugs as Saskatchewan, if not more.  I had to keep cleaning my visor every stop, but it got coated almost immediately after I started riding again.

We by-passed Winnipeg via Highway 100 and then navigated back onto the Trans Canada highway.  Before we knew it, we had crossed into Ontario and Highway 1 became Highway 17.

We stopped in Kenora, Ontario for lunch and then navigated back onto Highway 17 only to be bogged down by CONSTRUCTION!  Now, we have seen a lot of construction on our trip . . . and I mean a lot of construction . . . but it has not been worth mentioning until now.  What a mess between Kenora and Dryden.  At one point, we sat for 15 minutes in the heat and the bugs and then we still had four more stop points after that, huge dips and bumps, uneven pavement and even two stretches of gravel!  We had wanted to get a little farther than Dryden today, but after the construction and our troubles with accommodations we decided Dryden was our best bet for the night.  And, lucky us, we got the very last room at the Holiday Inn Express.  It has the Dryden city bear seal of approval . . . apparently, they frequent the dumpsters at the back of the hotel.  So far, we have not seen them, though.

Oh, and we lost the MicroSD adapter for the laptop, so no more pictures until we get home…

Sep 22 2009

…to Brandon, Manitoba


It was a chilly start to the day but not as chilly as yesterday.  Packing up the bike this morning, I found a little travelling companion on my front grill (a grasshopper).  I am not sure where he joined our ride but he is in it for the long haul now.

Much to our surprise, driving through Saskatchewan on the Trans Canada is not all that flat!  We kept expecting to see this incredible Prairie flatness that everyone talks about,  but it just did not materialize.

We stopped in Swift Current for a rest and a quick coffee.  I found another little travel companion on my bike that must have hitched a ride somewhere after Medicine Hat (a little yellow moth that had formed a perfect seal stretched across my right turn signal light).  The bugs are just coating our bikes, luggage, jackets, and visors as we ride.

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Sep 21 2009

…to Medicine Hat, Alberta


After a day of rest and relaxation with Jeremy’s Mom in Invermere (thank you again Judy for such a good visit and all those home-cooked meals!), we were ready to hit the road again.  Mother Nature must have confused the first day of Fall with the first day of winter, though.  There was frost on our bikes this morning as we were loading them up.

We definitely had our coldest ride ever after we said goodbye to Jeremy’s Mom and headed to Fernie, British Columbia.  The thermometer on our bikes said 2 degrees Celsius.  For every 10 KM/H on a motorcycle, it feels one degree cooler.  We were going 100 KM/H, so it felt like -8 degrees Celsius.  And, as we drove, it was just not getting any warmer.  In fact, it dipped to zero degrees a couple of times when we drove through the shade of the trees and the mountains.  After the first 120 KM, we had to stop in Fort Steele to try and warm up.  We could hardly get our gloves and helmets off because our hands were so cold.  And then the pain as they started to warm up!  We grabbed a coffee and a snack in the little general store and wondered around the souvenir section trying to warm up.  I could not stop shivering and then I came across the store cat, Bella, sleeping in her little bed and I petted her for awhile.  I felt better afterward – I think it just distracted me from thinking about how cold I was.

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Sep 19 2009

…to Invermere, British Columbia


We started off this morning in beautiful weather for riding yet again.  On the cool side is always better for us.  We look at our KMs less when we are not battling the heat.

Our riding today took us through the “green” part of the “Evergreen State” of Washington.  No more desert for us.  What a relief!  Before we knew it we were in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho . . . or were we in British Columbia and we just crossed the border illegally?  Northern Idaho is definitely very similar in landscape to Jeremy’s home province of British Columbia.  We knew we were getting close to Canada, for sure. 

We crossed the border at Kingsgate, British Columbia.  The Canadian border crossing agents were very nice to us, for a change, but we still had to pull over, pay a little bit of duty, and open up our luggage on our bikes for them to take a peek.  You can never be too careful with motorcyclists, I guess . . . we have a bad reputation, you know.

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Sep 18 2009

…to Spokane, Washington


Well, we did it.  We actually did a 700 KM day today.  Our bodies are complaining right now, but we covered a lot of ground today and we are within a couple of hours of the Canadian border.  We will be crossing tomorrow only a day later than we told American customs.  Hopefully, they have not sent out a search party for us already.

Our day began with a farewell to the ocean at Lincoln City.  We took one more walk out t0 the surf and took a few more pictures.  Time to start heading North-East now.

After gassing up in Lincoln City, before we knew it we were in Oregon lake and cottage country.  The trees grew over the road and everything was lush and green.  We have to say one thing about drivers from Oregon . . . they are very cautious.  If the speed limit is 50 MPH, they will go 45 MPH, maybe even 40 MPH just to be on the safe side.  We can not really complain about that, though.  It is a beautiful state with very friendly, warm people.

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Sep 17 2009

…to Lincoln City, Oregon


Our first stop today, was the giant redwoods grove just past Orick, California.  We took photos of these sleeping giants, but these trees really need to be seen in person to really appreciate their grandeur.

After the giant redwoods, we continued on Highway 101 into Oregon.  Oregon is as picturesque as California.  As soon as we crossed the border into Oregon, gas went down 50 cents too.  Another very good reason to visit the Oregon coast!

The small, sea towns we drove through in Oregon were quaint and only slightly touristy.  The bridges we crossed today through some of these small towns were truely ironwork sculputures – they could do a movie on “The Bridges of the Oregon Counties.”

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Sep 16 2009

…to Fortuna, California


We are off again!  We can not stay anywhere too long or our butts get out of shape!                                    

We started off in beautiful, crisp California fall weather.  We experienced a little rush hour traffic leaving Sacramento, but it was not too bad.  After Las Vegas, we could probably handle just about any kind of traffic that California could throw at us.

We exited highway 80 at the Napa/Sonoma exit and drove through wine country.  I could almost smell the grapes on the vines . . . maybe it was just wishful thinking.  We stopped for breakfast in Sonoma.  It took a long time to find a restaurant that was open.  I guess people/tourists in Sonoma are not breakfast people (or they are always recovering from hangovers from wine tasting the night before).

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Sep 15 2009

…to Good Times Motorsports


Today was all about getting my bike fixed so we could continue our trip.  The dealership did not open until 9:00 AM this morning so we had time to take our car rental back to Avis and then have a leisurely breakfast at The Cornerstone Restaurant.  Excellent breakfast!  We asked the Avis rep for a suggestion for breakfast and, we have to say, the locals know where the good food and good deals are!

Jeremy dropped my Aprilia off at the dealership, took a taxi back to Chris’s house, and then we waited for the diagnosis.  It was a nice quiet day, actually, and I think we even managed to reduce our sleep deficit a little.  We got a call about 3:30 PM from the dealership.  My bike was fixed and ready to be picked up.  It appears that the computer in my bike just got confused and needed re-setting/re-programming.  We are guessing it was the extreme heat on the stretch to Las Vegas and through the Hoover Dam.  The dealership did an oil change and checkup on my bike too, so it should be good until we get home again.

We picked up my bike and then went out for supper to celebrate the continuation of our trip.  We selected another one of Chris’s restaurant suggestions – Amarin Thai Cuisine.  Another excellent meal!   Chris definitely has good taste (or the same taste as us)!

Sep 14 2009

…to San Francisco, California


 With my bike secured within its mini-jail for bad behaviour for the day, Jeremy and I were free to rent a car and explore California a little more.  Today’s destination – San Francisco.

We crossed into San Francisco via the San Francisco – Oakland Bay bridge and headed for the visitor’s centre on Market Street.  We were not sure what we wanted to see in San Francisco, so we thought the visitor’s centre could give us some ideas.  Well, all we really needed to do was follow the crowds of tourists.  I am amazed at the number of tourists in San Francisco in September!  I can not imagine what it must be like during peak season . . . or maybe San Francisco is like Las Vegas – peak season is every day.

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Sep 13 2009

…to Sacramento, California


I tossed and turned all last night thinking about the 12 mile ascent to 10,000 feet from Lee Vining to the entrance of Yosemite National Park with a partially lame bike.  And what goes up to 10,000 feet must also come down as Sacramento is at a much lower elevation.  By morning, I had decided that it was just not a good idea as much as I would like to see Yosemite.  It will have to go onto our “Must Return” list with the Grand Canyon.

To get to Sacramento, we did have to cross over the mountains, but Jeremy and I found what appeared to be a less challenging, shorter route to Sacramento with Google maps.  It involved some smaller state highways, one of which wound past the entrance to Tahoe and then through the El Dorado National Forest.

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Sep 12 2009

…to Lee Vining, California


Our day started out early for a mad dash through the desert that surrounds Las Vegas.  Although Las Vegas was already 30 degrees Celsius when we left just before 7:00 AM, once we got closer to the mountains outside of Las Vegas the temperature miraculously dropped ten degrees and we covered a lot of ground, stopping briefly in Beatty, Nevada (where we saw our first roadrunners and took a photo of one . . . on the road of course) and Tonopah, Nevada.  We saw lots of desert and lots of mountains.

Our string of luck with flawless performance on our motorcycles ran out just outside of Tonopah.  My bike began stalling sporadically when I released the throttle.  With the automatic transmission on my bike, I do not have any control for the shift to neutral or the idle speed.  There is definitely something wrong with my bike – we think either the transmission computer is messed up from the extreme heat or there is something wrong with the fuel supply system to the engine.  It is such a shame to be worrying about your bike when you cross the border into California.  After gassing up in Benton, California, we had 80 KM of amazing motorcycling roads to Lee Vining, California (the gateway town to Yosemite National Park), but I did not enjoy it too much as I was afraid of stalling it anytime I had to slow down for those amazing curves.  We had to keep going as there are no Aprilia dealerships this side of Yosemite.

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Sep 11 2009

…to “The Strip”


Well, we walked through “the fuss” today.  Las Vegas is like Disneyworld, but for adults, who like to gamble or shop.  If you are a shopaholic, every store you could ever think of has a presence on The Strip, sometimes even two in the same casino complex.  If you want to see a luxury item that in Canada we would only see online or have to order, they will have it in Las Vegas.   Jeremy actually had a $7000 Rolex watch on his wrist for a few seconds.  And then he had to give it back . . .

Outside we experienced the sensory overload that we thought was reserved for inside the casinos.  Las Vegas is a great place to people watch – a great big manipulated sociological experiment.  Not being gamblers ourselves, we were probably not the ideal casino guests, but we did use our free $25.00 “Grazie” credit from The Venetian in a nickel slot – it lasted about ten minutes and then we walked away.  Ha, ha!  We were probably a little anomaly on their statistics for the day.  The Venetian was beautiful (complete with a small scale canal and gondolas) and we can say that we actually stayed in the largest hotel in the world, but with the grand scale of the hotel, comes an impersonality and an assembly line feel.  Caesar’s Palace was also amazing.  The escalators were circular to be more true to Roman architecture.  We had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory in the shopping district of Caesar’s palace.  Excellent mojitos!  And the red velvet cheesecake was fantastic!

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Sep 10 2009

…to Las Vegas, Nevada


Well, we can now say what hell must feel like – 42 degrees Celsius driving across the Hoover Dam . . . but maybe I should start at the beginning.

This morning started out beautifully chilly at 18 degrees Celsius with some clouds – perfect driving weather for us.  We can just drive and drive in this kind of weather and not even looks at our odometer.  We did a quick stop in downtown Winslow, Arizona for the touristy “corner” photo opportunity and then hopped on the I-40 again to cover as much distance as we could before we needed breakfast.  We were quickly surprised by greener and greener vegetation and larger and larger trees (no more shrubbery!) even though we were still in Arizona.  By the time we reached Williams, Arizona we could almost believe we were in Jeremy’s home province of British Columbia.  Williams was even more bustling and active than Gallup, New Mexico.  As we get farther and farther west, the Route 66 towns are becoming less and less ghost-like.  We figure Williams is still a going concern because it operates a tourist train to the Grand Canyon and other excursions related to the canyon.   And no, we are sad to say there was no time to see the Grand Canyon – sorry to disappoint anyone awaiting those photos.  We are already behind schedule by about three days, so we could not afford to spare another day in Williams and we had reservations in Las Vegas.  We did take a photo of the Grand Canyon from a distance at the embarkment point from the train, though, and we have added Williams, Arizona to our list of places to which we need to come back and spend more time.

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Sep 9 2009

…to Winslow, Arizona


Before you ask: No, we have not stood on the corner yet.  We are saving that for tomorrow.

You may have noticed we missed a posting.  There was nothing to post yesterday as we did not move from Albuquerque.  We had a sick day.  We are bound to have a day or two of those in a four week period.  Maybe the timing was good as the weather was extremely hot yesterday in New Mexico and we probably would not have gotten very far anyway.

We were feeling better this morning so we headed out nice and early.  The weather was beautiful!  Overcast and a chilly 18 degrees Celsius!  Just like home!

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Sep 7 2009

…to Albuquerque, New Mexico


(I see that I couldn’t even upload this Albuquerque post before somebody made the Bugs Bunny crack…)    🙂

We got going a little late this morning, but we knew we would be picking up an hour when we crossed into the Mountain time zone, so we were not too concerned.  We are on vacation after all.

We followed Route 66 as best as we could out of Amarillo today, stopping to take a quick photo of “Cadillac Ranch.”  I think “Bug Ranch” was better, but that is just my opinion.  We tried to stay on Route 66 for a little while but portions of the road were closed and we kept ending up on detours that brought us right back onto the I-40.  We decided to just take the I-40 today and exit at some of the key Route 66 towns and see what we could see.

We crossed the border into New Mexico around noon today after battling the Texas winds to start battling the New Mexico winds.  We should be thankful for the wind, because it kept us a little cooler.  The landscape seemed to change again for New Mexico, even if the wind did not.  For all you Monty Python fans out there, the “Knights Who Say Nee!” would love New Mexico – there are shrubberies as far as the eye can see!  And did you know New Mexico had mountains?  We were not expecting to see mountains yet.

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Sep 6 2009

…to Amarillo, Texas


Our “kicks” began today on Route 66.  Heading out from Clinton, Oklahoma, we followed Historic Route 66 through Foss and on to Canute.  We discovered almost immediately that there are just as many closed businesses on Route 66 as there are in Tennessee, but the closed businesses on Route 66 have more interesting signs.  You can still imagine the glory days of Route 66 even though the remnants of the once bustling towns and businesses are very rundown and boarded up.  The road itself is in varying states of disrepair, with some of the stretches still the original concrete but with grass beginning to sprout through the surface.  We also discovered that it is very difficult to stay on Historic Route 66 without being sucked on to the I-40.  Even when we were on the I-40, we could still see Route 66 running along side of the interstate.  The “EZ 66 Guide for Travelers” that we bought from the Route 66 Museum in Clinton is coming in very handy, though.  It was not just a gimmicky, tourist trap book.

We weaved on and off Route 66 and the I-40 driving through Elk City and Sayre and finally crossing the border into Texas.  From Route 66, we were able to stop and take a photo of the great expanse that is Texas.  Amazing!  As Jeremy said, you would see your dog running away for days.

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Sep 5 2009

…to Clinton, Oklahoma


Today started out with fog as thick as pea soup.  We decided to wait until it burned off a little before we headed out since being visible is so important when riding.  Well, by check out time at the hotel, there was still some fog but better than it had been.  We decided a short ride might be in order today, since yesterday had been a long haul in the heat and we had already lost a half a day of riding with the fog.  We were both feeling a little achy and battered from a week of riding, so a day of rest was probably a good idea.

We rode for about an hour and half today to get to Clinton, Oklahoma, home of Oklahoma’s rendition of the Route 66 Museum (every state that has a portion of Historic Route 66 in it had a museum we could stop at about the highway).  The land around the I-40 was beautiful.  The soil is a bright, rich, red colour in this area of Oklahoma.   Quite striking against the backdrop of the green and yellow colours of their crops.  And, once again, everything was as neat as a pin.  They really live their motto of “Keep our land grand.”

We crossed over the South Canadian River!  We are not sure how it got its name, but it was a little surprise for us.  It is not a pretty river.  Quite muddy with a sandy bank.

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