Friday, August 14, 2015

5,500 kms cross country - 8 states and 2 provinces

The move to Victoria, BC 

 Sunday is a hot August day.  Head out of Toronto on to Sarnia.
No more TTC  - Yeah !
Stopped at The Pines park near Sarnia for some r & r.
After 3 weeks of logistics and work stress I will start over.
Will be leaving behind 1 daughter, 3 sisters, one brother and one sister in law, and a few friends and their triplets.
Gaining one very cute baby and a daughter and a son in law.
I already have a friend in the western city.
Brian has checked over the bike and tuned it up again ! After Steph and I stopped to visit my mom's grave in Maple Leaf.
My few remaining belongings are on a Greyhound likely to arrive in Victoria before I do.
 Will cross over the top half of the United states to a province I have never been to.
Sunday was fantastic with my daughter in Sarnia.
 Monday is damn hot. Drive south to Sombra for the ferry.  It is just leaving.  I chatted with a guy about Michigan.  In to Michigan about 12.30 and head west.  Made several u turns and was on the interstate for awhile. Went through Kalamazoo but many abandoned buildings.  Want to get on the lake drive. Made it to St Joseph on Michigan Lake, the final stretch in the rain. Turn on the heat in my room at Silver Beach Hotel.  It is overcast so I miss sunset over the lake. I did not see many motorbikes on my route.

 Tuesday  walked around St Thomas.  The sun came out as I was loading the bike at 10 am.
Head south following the lake. Today I do many u turns.  Into Indiana after 11 am.  Stay hugging the lake.  Pass through Gary which was totally left out of any restructure .  Pretty desolate looking.  Had to stop for gas and just kept my head down.  Stop for lunch at a diner.  Now I am close to Chicago.  On 20 going west but after shifting gears 75 times I decided to get on the interstate 94 claiming to be heading west, but  I ended up north of Chicago.  Had to find a west route so i got off and headed west in Northern Illinois.   Nice area but again with the stoplights every 500 yards.  Finally managed to get to Rockford at 6 pm my time but an hour earlier here, and found a Red Roof Inn.  Checked in and the
news said there is a tornado warning just east of here.  There is a large Chrysler plant in this town.  Shower and head over to Giavanni's for dinner.  This is short of my destination of Iowa today, but I was so done with driving without a clear path.
Wednesday.   Rained like crazy last night and still overcast.   Put a plastic bag inside my wet boots.   Heat out on US 20 west and spent the rest of the day on this hwy.   Stop for breakfast 25 km west of Rockford.  The north west part of Illinois is beautiful.  Hills and trees.  Got 240 kms on a tank of gas before switching to reserve.  Town of Elizabeth is pretty!  Stopped in Galena where president  Grant lived.  Cute town with historic buildings and a ski resort. Crossed the Missouri river and into Iowa.   I do not have a map of Iowa but stay on us 20 west and it works out perfect.  But all through Iowa the wind is trying to push me around and I am rained on 4 times.  But I have all my gear on, so rain is not a problem. Iowa is a farm state.  Lots and lots of corn growing.  I see threatening clouds so I stop in Fort Dodge and check into Days Inn.  Have a bath to undo the tension in my muscles.  Need to plan the route to Mount Rushmore.  Brian informed me it was in South Dakota.
Thursday.   It is 9 degrees this morning.  Leave at 10.30 when it is 12 degrees. There is a Nestle Purina plant in Fort Dodge, Iowa.  Head north on #169 until 18 west.
Stop for gas and I forget i have sunscreen thickly smeared on my nose, and  I chat with people.  The day is clear and warm.  Iowa goes on and on.  It has a few hills in the north west, and lakes that bring the tourists. Stop at A &W for lunch.  They do not have the buddy burger so I order a combo and throw out half of it.  Just too much food.    I stop in a small town for gas.  It is a self serve credit card only station.  Until I figured that out i talked to an older guy at the station.  He said if i didn't have one of the cards he would let me use his!   I got $5.40 on my card. Now 6 miles from Minnesota to the north and border of S.D.  Stop at a park just inside Sioux Falls.  This town is well signed and set out with wide roads.  I go to the tourist centre a buy our baby a tee shirt and get pictures of the falls.  Head west for miles and then north to interstate 90.  In a bit, the sheriff is directing all vehicles off the highway.  Follow the crowds on a secondary road until I reach Mitchell.  Check in at Thunderbird Lodge for $67. You can buy beer in the lobby.  Bought post cards and then go to Cattleman's Steakhouse for dinner.  Quiet night and early morning.
Friday.  Left Mitchell, S.D. after 9 am.  Got on the interstate and stayed there until Rapid city. A wasp got up my right sleeve and the sting remained on my arm for days.  Lots of bikes being trailered, and many motor homes on the hwy.  Stopped for gas in Reliance when I thought I was heading into a remote area.  A couple from New Brunswick were traveling through the US to Nanimo, BC to be close to their daughters !  They passed me twice later on the hwy.  This state has such diverse terrain.  I went over the mighty  Missouri  river (again).  Then it was uphill and vast land that seemed endless. This area of the hwy has a permanent gate arm to stop traffic from using the highway.   I saw a cowboy out in the fields.  Saw mile after mile of sunflowers growing.  Some yellow and some not. There a fields full of hay which is beautiful  and cattle roaming and some deer in small groups in the  huge fields.   A big chunk of the Dakotas is an indian reserve.   A prison bus passed me on the highway. The speed limit is 80 miles!  It is warm with my gear on. Stop for lunch in Murdo and a guy asked me about my jacket which made me realize it was on its 10th bike season!    There a a few old guys with cowboy hats on. South on #16 took me into Keystone. This 20 miles out of my way but i want to see Mount Rushmore.  A very tourist area.  I booked into the Rushmore White House as I was hot and tired. There is one of those tourist taxes here so it comes to $120 US.  Walked the boardwalk where there are "indian" shops.  There is a train that will take you to Hill City.
  • Saturday.  Awake early but shops and restaurants here do not open early and don,t even post their times.   Sky is a bit unsettled, but  only a few miles and there is Mount Rushmore!   Amazing site in real life.   The guy was in his sixties when he worked on the rock and his son finished it.   The mountains here are fascinating.  We are up about 7000 feet and it is cool.  You do feel like you are so close to the sky here. Glad i have all this gear on. Stay on #385 and it has lots of bikers and many warnings for bikers to be careful. Stop in Hill City for breakfast.  This town has a 1880 train.  There are signs that big horn sheet are on the roads.  There is lots to see and do in this area.  The camping looks great.   I travel through Deadwood.  There is an old car show going on so there is lots of traffic.  I get on #85 to Spearfish and the winds are whipping.  I remember Basil telling me to get low so I am draped over the tank bag. The road is under construction.  I am now looking for a place to stop with shelter.  I am fighting the wind and have never been this scared on the bike.  I am at an angle to cut into the wind. It feels like the wheels are going to slip out from under me and I hold on tighter!   I reach Belle Fourche and get into the first restaurant I see.  It is nice and I stay for hours.  Almost everyone comes to talk to me about the bike (still hear that it is a nice looking bike even with all my stuff strapped to it)   I am told the wind warning is in effect until dark.  So i go in search of a room for the night.  At the Ace motel for $65 plus tax.   Walk to a Shopco and even that is a struggle.  Later  walk to a chinese restaurant for dinner and the wind is settling down.
  • Sunday.  Up early and pack up and head to a diner for  breakfast.  On hwy 212 by 8 am.  Into Wyoming for 33 kms and then into Montana.  There is no posted speed limit as the road is straight and clear and fenced.  This is where you could  open up your ride.  I do 100 kms an hour ! I am stopping for pictures a ridiculous amount of times.   My right shoulder is killing me anyway so i stretch when stopping.  But it starts to warm up and i relax and the ride is great.   Stop in Broadus for gas because there is not much out this way.   Go through an indian reserve and the landscape is amazing, but the settlements are rough looking, with  garbage in the yards.  I saw three young  native men walking on the highway.  Stop in Hardin for gas.  Then again in Billings for lunch.  An hour on the interstate and then get on 89 north.  This is a fantastic road.  I will stay on it to Great falls when I stop just before 8 pm tonight.  Again my 13 litre tank makes me nervous so i head into White Sulpur Springs for gas.  It is a 24 hour station. There is a slight cloud of smoke in the area.  Back on 89 which has some construction and some beautiful brand new pavement.  Now in a mountain range.  At one point it was all i could do to keep it at 80 klm to get up a hill.  Pass a ski resort and then stop in Neihart for a picture of the mountain.  Later I find out this is a scenic Montana road. I see some people wearing air filters.  There are few wearing helmets though.   I stop at the first motel and check in for $65.  Change and head out for dinner.  A bartender admits that this state has strange liquor laws, so i have to go to a second pub for a beer.  He also thinks I have an accent.   Walk back and drop into bed.
  • Monday  awake early and a good weather day is forecast.  Check out by 8am and find a nice coffee shop downtown.  Drive north on the 89  and stop in Choteau for a break. There is a museum with a stage coach and a dinosaur. There are times where there is no one else on the road, but it is again so interesting out here.  I saw loons and bison. In Montana there a mandatory check stops for any water craft.   A bit further up is a sign that says construction ahead, motorcycles make alternate route.  I should have made a new route.  My new grey hairs were earned on the 5 mile stretch of construction, where it went from jagged concrete to rough road to loose gravel to hell, !  I kept saying   we can do this (the bike and i)  and clutched the handlebars and geared down and rode it out.  But it was hard.   Then there was pavement!  Thank who ever. Stopped in Browning for gas. The west on 2 into Whitefish where i stopped for lunch.    This is all mountain region so there are times you go in the wrong direction for a bit. stay on #2 which is very hazy from the fires.   I start to worry when there is a guide truck and we pass a dozen fire personnel  in mountains.  I drive faster.  But it is still so amazing.  Pass through the Rockie mountains of Montana.   At 5 pm the sun comes out as i get out of the smoke and i am in Libby.  Forge ahead and soon in Idaho.  Did not yet see a potato. I have gained another hour.  In Bonners Ferry i find a really cute motel with a whirlpool that i desperately need for $85 .  Ride out for snacks with NO gear at all.  It feels so nice.  After the hot tub and a chat with the owner i get the best sleep with the pillow top bed and absolute quiet.  This is the last stop in the US of A.
  • Tuesday.  Awake at 6:30 shower and go for continental breakfast.  Nice seating in this great inn.  Packed up and headed up  # 95 and then hwy 1 into Porthill. Filled up with gas at US $2.90 per gallon.   This is the easiest border crossing I have ever made.  Only one other car and i was questioned very little.   Now in BC for the first time in my life.  When i could stop safely, i got  pictures.   In Creston I head west on #3.  Will stay on this the rest of the day.  Canada really does have safer roads.    But it is very smokey here and there is a campfire ban.   Stop in Castlegar and get a map from the visitor centre.  Then lunch at an Indian restaurant.   Now in the Paulson pass.  There are logging trucks travelling slow on uphills and rather fast on downhills.  But there are lanes for those trucks when their brakes fail. (???)   Christina Lake is virtually covered in smoke.   Grand Forks is quite the tourist town.  Entering Osoyoos, BC in a valley you have some amazing views and two hairpin turns.  Posted at 20 kph. A little way on you can see where there was a fire.  The trees are just stumps and the hills are burned.  Stop for gas in Princeton.   It is sometimes cold in the upper Rockies and then quite warm in the valleys.  But these Rockies are the most magnificent thing I have ever seen and it just keeps getting more beautiful!   Getting cold and tired so I turn in to Hope, BC.  There are 6 stations to recharge your Tesla or other EV.  What a cute town.  It turns out that Veronica had stopped in this town just two hours before I arrived. 
  • Wednesday.  Depart Hope early and head west on the transcanada.  Speed limit is 110  Stop in Chiliwack to get to Scotiabank. Get gas before getting back on the highway.  Abbotsford for lunch.  Pretty houses here. Then a section of all kinds of fruit and wineries.  You could smell the apples.   Have to drive through Surrey to get to the ferry.  Miss the turn off and am on 99 south into Whiterock.  A nice man originally from TO gives me directions back.  He says Whiterock has great beaches.  Now through the construction and at the ferry.  Arrive 40 minutes before departure.  Nice terminal with food and tourist items.  My bike and  I are $44.  I meet a woman rider on a BMW with her small dog travelling in a custom tank bag.  She has travelled from Fort Wayne, NWT (?)  The captain announces orcas ahead and we see two pods. Arrive on the island right on time.  Head south for about 40 minutes and I find Janet's apartment.  Drive into Victoria and  ask for directions to  Verons hotel. A friendly young man, Nickolas, introduces himself, asks about my bike and googles directions for me.  The odometer now reads 95,000 klms.
  • VICTORIA, BC     is a beautiful small city.   With the ocean air you get the right amount of iodine and there are almost no insects here.   The restaurants are plentiful and the people really are friendly. Lots of cruise ships in the harbor and many boats and yachts.   The stores are unique and Chinatown is clean.  Just need one more daughter here to make it perfect.  

    Wind in S. Dakota

    Keystone, SD