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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2009, 1:36 am Thread Starter
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Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
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SF to Calgary to Vancouver to SF

I'm sitting in a Super 8 motel in Alturas, California, at the end of the first day of a 7 or 8 day ride from the San Francisco Bay Area of California, to Calgary and Vancouver. I'm on my '07 K1200GT, and my riding buddy is on a Suzuki V-Strom 650. The idea is to visit his relatives in Calgary and Vancouver, and have some fun along the way.

Here's a Google Maps of our planned route. And here's a link to my SPOT page if you want to follow along.

Today was a short day to get started, we really only had half a day for riding due to other commitments. We left SF around 2 PM, fought traffic leaving the city, superslabbed it up to Redding, then had a little fun on 299 up to Alturas. 400 miles in about 6 1/2 hours, not bad for a first day.

Getting out of SF was a drag, I got a nice picture crossing the bay bridge, but traffic through Berkeley was rotten, and we both forgot to get money ready for the bridge toll. Once we got onto 505 though the traffic disappeared, and we made pretty good time heading up I5. Stopped only for gas and a quick snack in Redding around 6, and then headed for Alturas.

I forgot how nice 299 is for the first 80 miles or so heading NE out of Redding. The road goes through some really beautiful country, has lots of elevation changes, follows a river valley for a bit, and is generally scenic and fun to ride. The rest of the way to Alturas isn't bad, there's still plenty to look at, but there's also a bunch of long straight sections through farms and grassland. We dodged a few thunderstorms today, but some wet pavement on 299 was the worst we had to deal with, it never rained on us.

A great end to the day though, we got an recommendation for dinner from the clerk at the hotel for The Brass Rail, a Basque restaurant that turned out to be surprisingly good for a little town in Northern CA. We didn't quite know what to expect, walked in through the bar and then through a beaded curtain to a fairly plain dining room and I was having second thoughts, but we decided to take a look at the menu. Turns out it's a fixed menu, choice of main dish from a couple each of beef, lamb, or seafood, and a bunch of sides that vary each day. Tonight we started with a soup of noodles in I think a beef broth, then salad, spanish rice with chicken, baked potato, and I picked the rib steak, medium rare. Wine, coffee, ice cream, and bread are all part of the deal as well. My friend is a vegetarian, so this presented a challenge, but they managed to put together a great salad, some rice, and a baked potato for him. I had plenty to eat, really more than I needed, but it was all very good, and very reasonably priced -- a real treat given we'd considered just grabbing a sandwich at Quiznos.

I'm a little disappointed with my picture taking today, but here are a few shots that came out OK. I'll try to step it up for the rest of the trip.
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Last edited by bonafidebob; Jun 14th, 2009 at 1:43 am.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 14th, 2009, 5:24 am
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Location: Snellville, Ga, USA
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Nice

Thanks for the Rewind of your ride today. Hope you post more in the next few days. Always great to get out and ride!!

Stefan
04 K1200GT

It's All about the Fun
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 2009, 1:24 am Thread Starter
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Day 2: Alturas, California to Grangeville, Idaho

We got rained on in three states today, but had an excellent day despite that. The first rain hit as we were leaving California, just a light drizzle but the drop in temperature set off the low pressure warning on my TPS system, so we took a quick break in Lakeview to add some air, gas up, and prepare for more rain.

There's a really nice section of road that runs along Lake Albert, through Chandler State Park in SE Oregon. The scale is enormous, with huge rock bluffs on one side and the lake on the other, it makes the two lane road feel like a bike path. The first attached picture is from that section.

Once past Lake Albert, 395 gets pretty boring. High plains, scrub brush and a little sand on either side, and long straights. We got rain of and on along this section, and decided to take an early stop for lunch in Burns. We drove through town thinking we'd find something on what looked like the main street on the North side of town, but it looked like they'd rolled up the sidewalks, maybe because it was Sunday. My friend wanted to get some warmer socks, so we drove back through town to the "Big R", a sort of large scale general store staffed by people who care. He says they have an amazing collection of warm socks. On the way to the Big R we noticed RJ's Drive In which had a good crowd, so we stopped there for lunch. As a bonus, the nice big overhang of the drive-in roof made a great place to park the bikes out of the rain.

RJ's was the right choice for lunch. We both started with hot coffee and a really good potato soup, and I had my standard road trip lunch: a BLT. I love BLTs on the road because they're pretty hard to screw up. This one came out great: bacon just on the edge of crispy, nice cold lettuce, meaty tomatoes, and just enough mayo to taste.

Then it was back into the rain. The right gear makes a huge difference, I'm still in love with my BMW Comfort Shell suit, it really is a suit for all weather, when it rains you just close the vents and keep riding. My friend has an Olympia jacket and FirstGear pants that's he's very happy with, and he was equally well protected from the weather. But in constrast, he had to keep adding and removing layers underneath to deal with the temperature changes: 52 and rainy on the low end, and 72 and sunny on the high end. I did put on my electric vest after lunch, to ease the transition from the nice warm restaurant into the downpour outside.

We both had about 1/3 of a tank of gas after lunch, so decided to push on and break for gas a little later. Not too far along though just after an isolated gas station and museum in Buchanan we saw a sign saying next gas was 68 miles. Excellent marketing there, we turned around and gassed up. ...didn't buy anything else though, better luck next time.

Not far past there we hit the worst rain of the day, going over the top of one of the hills we got hit by a serious downpour. It was like standing in the shower in your riding suit, just buckets of water coming down, and streams forming in the road. Luckily it didn't last too long, maybe 2 or 3 miles and we were out of it. The gear did its thing and we stayed dry and comfortable. We saw plenty of other people out riding in the rain as well. Some well geared, some not so well. I wonder how the guy on the Harley wearing a leather vest, 'do rag, and little else (no glasses, no gloves) dealt with the rain? (Probably found a bar...)

We rode out of most of the rain, so we stopped at Love's Truck Stop in Ontario, OR, right on the Idaho border, to stretch, have a drink, and do some quick maintenance. I finally scraped 6 months of bug accumulation off my windscreen, and the muddy drops left by all the water coming down. The autocom headset wires came loose from my helmet somewhere along the way, I accidently yanked on them when taking the helmet off, so I took a second to get those tucked in tight and taped down.

We entered the Mountain Time Zone, and we were running a little behind anyway from the rain, so we decided to just take 95 up to Meadows, and skip the longer route I'd planned through Horseshoe Bend, Smiths Ferry, and Cascade. Route 95 was nice enough though, there's a good bit between Council and Meadows that follows a river valley up through a forest. We had small spots of rain, but barely enough to notice.

The real treat of the day was 95 along the Salmon River. Starting about 15 miles from Meadows, the road and river share a route down a narrow canyon. The road isn't all that well paved, and there's a lot of water in the river right now, so the one competed with the other for my attention. I think I watched the beautiful whitewater and waterfalls almost as much as I watched the road. The road, river, and canyon all get wider and faster as more streams join the flow, and then the sport fishermen show up. There were a couple of sections where there was an unbroken chain of pickups and campers parked along the side of the road. And it just kept going on, both the road and the river getting bigger and better; more and more buildings, restaurants, campgrounds, and people fill the canyon as it opens up and flattens out, turning into a farming valley at the end. I included a couple of pictures from the big sweepers along the valley.

Then, for dessert, the road leaves the river behind and climbs up out of the hills along Nez Pierce Historic Park. This section reminded me a little bit of the East entrance to Yosemite, where 120 ascends from Mono Lake to the park entrance. 2 lanes of big sweeping high speed turns, the kind where the yellow caution signs are posted 55 and 60. (I took that as purely advisory... my new tires are well broken in now.) I stopped just over the peak to wait for my friend to catch up, and we rode the last few miles down out of the mountains and through the grasslands into Grangeville at a nice sedate pace.

We had a good experience at the Super 8 in Alturas, so we got a room at the "deluxe" Super 8 here in Grangeville. It's a nice place, with a hot tub and covered parking for the bikes. It's raining off and on now, looks like more will come down overnight. I was surprised to find we were an hour earlier than I expected. Turns out we rode back into the Pacific time zone, you can see the sign for it next to the big concrete arch bridge in one of the pictures, which I missed because I was distracted with the camera. So maybe we would have had time for the more scenic route, but to be honest the Salmon River section would have topped it, so this way we have a little more time for dinner and relaxing.

We followed the hotel's recommendation again and ate at Ernie's Steakhouse, a short walk from the hotel. I had the prime rib, and it was as good as any I've had at high end places in California. Good salad, garlic mashed potatoes, and cowboy beans and a nice Cab made for a very satisfying dinner. David managed with a dinner salad and a couple of side dishes, he's a trooper. Tomorrow maybe we'll try something lighter, I'm feeling the effects of two big dinners in a row along with a big lunch today.

The hot tub here is very nice. I'm stuffed, relaxed, and tired now. I'll hit the sack as soon as this gets posted, my ride buddy is already snoring. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow, it's a short day mile-wise, but we're taking US12 into Montana and I've read very good things about that road, then doing a short hop up to West Glacier. We may explore a little bit more of the area if we do well on time.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 15th, 2009, 10:11 am Thread Starter
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Monday morning, raining, blah. Here's what it looks like out the hotel window, at least the bikes are dry. Looks like we'll be able to ride out of it in 40 or 50 miles, and most of US12 is clear, so that's something.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 16th, 2009, 12:55 am Thread Starter
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Day 3: Grangeville, Idaho to East Glacier, Montana

More rain today, but not all day. It took us several hours to ride out of the storm system over Grangeville, probably more like 100 miles than the 40 or 50 I predicted, but for the most part it was a light rain, and didn't cause us too much trouble.

I was a little worried pulling out of the hotel, rain and fog outside, fog in my helmet, and the road wasn't much to look at, just a not so well paved country road going through farmland. But it got better quickly, some speed took care of the fogged visor, and the road quickly started to descend into a nice river valley. The patch fog added some mystery to the views of the forested hills and river, and made for nice mellow riding, photos attached.

We gassed up in Kooskia, and the rain lightened up a bit as we got onto US12. I was excited to be on this road, and the signs saying "next gas 76 miles" and "winding road next 99 miles" had me smiling despite the weather. The first bit was along a wide flat river, with the river fog making a layer about fifteen feet above the water. The road follows the North bank of the river, and there are a couple of places where there are cables stretched across to cabins on the South bank, apparently there's limited access to that side.

The we saw one of the worst signs on a motorcycle trip, "loose gravel." They were even kind enough to annotate them with "motorcycles use extreme caution." We did, but since most of the gravel was on the shoulder, we pretty quickly picked up the pace again. ...only to be stopped at the end of a long line of cars and trucks for some road construction. The road was completely closed, actually blocked by a big pile of dirt dug from a trench crossing the roadway. We rode up near the front of the line and talked to the flag woman for a bit. She said it would only be about fifteen minutes, which seemed unlikely given the huge pile of dirt blocking the road, so we stopped the bikes and took a bunch of pictures and talked to the other people waiting. After just a few minutes we were told that they were going to clear the road so we could go through, and we watched the crew clear a lane in what seemed like record time. The backhoe operator was really cooking, he dropped down a couple of steel plates, moved a huge bin out of the way, and then cleared the way for a front end loader to move the big pile of dirt onto the other lane, and we were cleared to go. We gave the crew a big thumbs up as we rode past. They let our side go first, I think mainly because there was an oversize load (a big boat) waiting to come the other way, it looked too big to fit through the gap, but I'm sure the crew managed to get it through.

The next bit of road bore the marks of the roadwork for erosion control. They're digging trenches across the roadway to put in drainage pipes, and shoring up the river side of the shoulder with wire cages full of gravel. The trenches hadn't been fully repaved yet, so every couple of hundred yards we'd ride over a little gravel strip. Still no seriously loose gravel, but it was annoying. Then we got stopped again by another flag woman, this time to wait for a pilot vehicle. This took only a few minutes, and then we passed the finishing section where they were cleaning up the trenches and putting down asphalt.

One of the nice things about long construction stops though is that once you get through them, there's no traffic to deal with. (At least if you ride to the front of the line like we did.) So we really enjoyed the next 60 miles or so. The rain let up, more or less, and there were even a couple of patches of dry pavement. I wrung everything I could out of the dry bits, then waited for my friend to catch up when it got wet again.

One of the guys we talked to at a construction stop recommended The Lochsa Lodge, so we stopped there for lunch. It was a welcome break, just getting out of our wet gear and into some hot coffee was fantastic, and the food was good too. We even picked up some souvenirs and gifts for the folks back home/

The sun was shining after lunch, so I switched back to my regular gloves and dug out my sunglasses and we took off enthusiastically. Five miles later, nearing the Montana border, they sky got really dark so I pulled over to switch back to my heavy gloves while my friend kept going. Just as I got back on the road he came on the radio and said it was pouring in Montana. Sure enough, just as we crossed over the state line the rain came down really hard, more rivers on the roadway and standing in the shower type stuff. Didn't last long though, and the ride down into Lolo was fine.

93 into Missoula is just a highway, we stopped in town for gas, and I needed to fix up my autocom. On my last long trip I routed the cable wrong and it got sliced open by the plastic under the seat, and shorted the microphone wire, at least intermittently. I did a patch job then and just twisted it around 'till it worked, then wrapped it up with electrical tape... at some point in this trip the patch stopped working so well, and I was getting a lot of crackling as the microphone cut in and out. So I did it right this time, cutting away enough insulation to see where the mic wire was exposed and putting some tape around it, then taping the whole thing up nice and tight. I got that done just as a big rain shower was coming in, and so we fled the scene and managed to avoid the rain.

We hit more construction on Hwy 93 not too long after getting off I-90. Serious construction this time, looks like they're turning it into a divided highway all the way up to Ravalli, and for only $16M Federal tax dollars, at least according to the "your taxes at work" sign we passed. Long line of cars and trucks, dirt and gravel, dusty stop-and-go riding... fun. It was really nice to get past that.

Hwy 93 goes North along the West edge of a truly impressive mountain range. The snowcapped peaks on the right challenged the thunderheads on the left for our attention. The thunderheads won when they opened up with a buckets of water tossed in your face rainstorm. I had to listen to the rain hitting my buddy's helmet in addition to mine, since it was loud enough to activate the VOX on his radio. There might have been a little bit of hail in there too, some of those raindrops actually hurt.

The rain stopped for good as we came up on Flathead Lake, and we had some nice views of the lake and surrounding area as we rode around it. It's really beautiful country up here, everything is incredibly green, the roads are good, the traffic is light, and people seem to keep their property neat and in good repair. You don't see to many cars up on blocks in the yard around here.

It was getting to be late afternoon and I was looking forward to being done for the day, so we pushed on and made it into West Glacier a little after 6. The original plan was to stay there for the night, then ride across Going-to-the-Sun road. But as we pulled into the park I saw a road sign that said the road was open to avalanche from the West, and to Jackson Overlook from the East. Uh oh. When we were planning the route they indicated it would open mid-June. We asked the park ranger and she said they'd had an avalanche, and the road was buried under 30 feet of snow. We looked into a couple of options for lodging around West Glacier, but none had WiFi, so we decided to press on and stay in East Glacier, and then head into the park as far as we could tomorrow.

US 2 curves around the South end of the park, and it's a nice ride all by itself. More river valley riding, the pavement isn't very good but the views make up for it. We came across a bunch of stopped cars and people taking pictures, turned out a mountain goat was showing off for the cameras, doing what mountain goats do, see photo. My gas reserve light came on right around then, still 40 miles from our stop, in our rush to be done for the day then get to our new destination both of us completely forgot about gas. I was down to the last little LCD bar when we got into town. It was 8 PM by then, so we went for the hotel first, but didn't see a gas station around anywhere. Asked the hotel manager and he says yeah, there's one of the far side of town, but they don't stay open all night.. only 'till 9PM. Oh, and the restaurants might be closing too. So we check in, after my friend clears the block on his AMEX card, and rather than unpack we went to gas up and get dinner.

Dinner tonight was at the only place still open, Serrano's Mexican Restaurant. Being from California, I wasn't expecting much from a Mexican place in Montana, but the food was actually very good. It's also a backpacker's lodge, so they had plenty of vegetarian options. I had a chicken dish that was perfectly spiced, hot enough to feel in my mouth but not in my stomach. We've been really lucky with all of our food stops so far, I hope it keeps up.

East Glacier is an interesting place. The main line of the Burlington Northern railroad runs through it alongside the highway. The side we're staying on is "crunchy" -- gravel roads, backpackers lodging, general stores. While looking for restaurants I rode under the tunnel to check out the other side, and it's literally the "other side of the tracks." Coming out of the tunnel you're presented with the Glacier Park Lodge, an enormous western resort-style hotel, and I swear there were people playing croquet on the well manicured lawn when I rode by. It does look like a very nice place to stay, but we're already checked in to our little AAA-approved motel.

Google Maps says we're only 215 miles from Calgary, so we'll have plenty of time to poke around in Glacier National Park in the morning, and still arrive in Calgary to visit my friend's relatives in the early afternoon.
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Last edited by bonafidebob; Jun 16th, 2009 at 2:26 am.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 17th, 2009, 12:56 am Thread Starter
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Day 4: East Glacier, Montana to Calgary, Alberta

Sun! We woke up late, still on pacific time, to bright sunshine and only a few scattered clouds. Around 70 degrees out, it's a perfect day for riding. Grab a quick shower and shave (gotta look presentable to the border guards), coffee and toaster pastries for breakfast, and we hit the road. Under the tracks to the good side of town, ride past the stately hotel and a bunch of other cabins and motels that weren't listed in the GPS, we stayed on the wrong side of the tracks, and quickly out of town.

The roads around and into Glacier National Park are, well, they're very scenic, and mostly paved, but suffer from occasional gravel patches, slumped sections, and tour busses. So we took it easy and enjoyed the scenery.

We entered Glacier twice. (Well, three times if you count West Glacier yesterday.) The first today at Two Medicine, which is just a short road to a little alpine lake. Nice enough, there was still snow on the ground by the lake, but not really spectacular. Then we went in again at St. Mary Lake, taking the Going to the Sun road as far as we could up to the Jackson Glacier overlook. This bit was spectacular, to be sure, see the pictures. Traffic was light, but we still took it easy and enjoyed all the wonderful views around every turn. Wildflowers are blooming all along the road, very pretty. I'm still disappointed we didn't make it all the way through, but that just gives me an excuse to come back some day.

We wanted to get to Calgary by mid-afternoon, so we headed back out and took the main roads. I say this because I'd considered a slightly more westerly route that went along the foothills, but again, something for next time.

The border crossing was simple enough. Take off our helmets, show our passports, answer some questions about alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, and we're in. Welcome to Alberta. So far my impression of Alberta is that it's got a lot of flat. I know Montana is supposed to be big sky country, but I think Alberta has it beat. Aside from maybe some windmills off in the distance, there was very little skyline for most of the ride, just faintly rolling grassland and row after row of white fluffy clouds in the sky.

I switched the GPS to metric, just to get in the spirit of things. (That way I knew how many KM/hr over the posted limit I was doing...) And suddenly the Australian voice I chose fit that much better. (It's a lot of fun to hear her butcher the Spanish names in California.)

We made great time, I listened to music to break the monotony between passing the occasional car. Gassed up at a "gas bar" in Fort MacLeod, hmm, gas prices are 99 cents per liter, and it's around $0.88 US for $1.00 CA, so that makes gas... um... oh hell, it's just a few gallons, I'll look at my credit card statement later. I think it works out to be more expensive than the US, but not by all that much. Gotta remember the paper in my wallet is no good here, but they take credit cards everywhere.

About an hour out of Calgary the sky was looking pretty dark. At first I wasn't worried, and a little rain would be just the thing to get the bugs off my visor. But then we saw some lightning, and more lightning, and then the wind picked up, and the rain started coming down HARD. So we pulled into a truck stop, parked next to the pumps where it was covered, and went in for coffee and a late lunch. Met a really nice guy on a Goldwing hauling a trailer, he was on week 11 of a sort of random drive around the Western half of North America, turns out his son is doing a start up in Mountain View, so we talked to him about some investors we know, the industry in general, blah blah blah. It's a small, small world.

Sandwiches done (I had a BLT of course, a little too much mayo but otherwise passable), and thunderstorm mostly passed, we got back on the road in a light rain. We had rain off and on for the rest of the ride, but that was only and hour or so. Traffic in Calgary was kind of bad, some of the lights were out due to the storm, but we arrived safe and sound.

The rest of the day was spent visiting my friend's relatives. They're all very nice. Dinner at Smuggler's Inn, a nice steakhouse (naturally), I was still kind of full from the late lunch so stuck to soup and salad bar, but I had a taste of prime rib -- good stuff. One of my friend's cousins gave us a little driving tour of Calgary, nice town, I could spend more time here. We're staying at another cousin's house, great little place that's been in the family since my friend was a toddler, and I don't think has been redecorated since then -- it actually works pretty well, the 70s are back, baby! Or were recently enough that... well, whatever, it's a great place.

Looks like we're going to split the trip to Vancouver into two days, make a late start tomorrow, stay overnight somewhere in the mountains, then try to arrive early afternoon the next day. It's only 1100 KM, which we could do in a day, but this way we can take it easy and visit a little more on each end. That means we'll get to Vancouver, um, I think it's Tuesday today so that would be Thursday, I guess. One of the things I really like about motorcycle trips like this is that the world gets quickly left behind. At dinner in Grangeville we were talking about some stuff that happened just before we left... felt like several days ago... but it was noon the day before. Once you hit the road everything else kind of drops away. The journey takes over, and yeah, it's very rewarding.

We're up North now, passed the 45th parallel a while ago, and I think right now there's only about 5 hours of night time. It's 11 PM and it's just getting dark. Looks like we're in for more rain tomorrow, scattered thunderstorms again, but the day after tomorrow should finally be nice. Well, today was nice, actually perfect, up until the last hour.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 18th, 2009, 12:42 am Thread Starter
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Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
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Day 5: Calgary, Alberta to Merritt, British Columbia

Weather! We rode through a tornado today... well, technically it was a gustnado or gust front tornado, in that it was pretty weak and didn't extend to the clouds, but there was some debris swirling in it. I saw it just before it crossed the road and hunkered down, caught a chunk of shrubbery on my shoulder but didn't get blown around too much, my friend got pushed over a lane. ...but I'm jumping ahead.

We checked the weather and it looked passable, scattered thunderstorms through the mountains but we're getting used to that, so we left Calgary mid-morning. It was very nice when we left, clear skies and 70 degrees. We're taking the Trans Canada Highway (1) all the way to Vancouver, and it's 4 lane divided across the plains, so we had some nice views on the way to the mountains. Going into the Canadian Rockies was fine too, and the weather held out so we made good time.

It started raining on us just as we entered Banff National Park. We were planning on stopping for lunch and maybe seeing Lake Louise, so we got a park pass, we're still not quite sure if that was strictly necessary. It's an odd setup, the park entrance is sort of like a toll stop on a freeway, only there are park rangers at the little booths, and there's a lane that doesn't stop at all, apparently for people who are just driving straight through. It's self selection though, and the park pass was about $20, and unlike the US national parks no one ever asked for our receipt.

The mountains are amazing, even through the rain. I've ridden across the Colorado Rockies a few times, and I don't remember them seeming to be quite so large. Even so we didn't really go very high, maybe 5000 feet at the top of the pass. It rained off and on, never really that hard, and the temperatures stayed in the 60s.

We stopped for gas in the town of Banff, it looks like a nice place, definitely a resort town. Then we stopped again for lunch at Lake Louise, at The Mountain Restaurant. I had good fish and chips, and my friend tried the chef's special soup: beet soup with cabbage, which he liked. He was cold so I let him use my electric vest, I was doing fine with the magic jacket, but it looked like the rain was getting worse so I added a long sleeve shirt to help keep my arms warm, and switched to the heavy gloves.

After lunch we rode up to the chateau at the actual lake. It was raining again by then, so we didn't hang around too long, I just rode up the pedestrian path a bit to take a quick picture, then we got back on the road. There's a lot of construction along here, they're widening the road to 4 lanes all the way through, and we go caught up in a couple of flag stops. The sun came out again around when we left the park and started down into Golden, and we were out of the construction, so I had a little fun on the sweepers. Coming into Golden I saw a herd of mountain goats walking along the shoulder, there had to be at least a dozen, with the curly horns, but there wasn't an opportunity to take a picture and they had gone by the time my friend came by.

We stopped at a state of the art visitors center in Golden, looks like they're gearing up for the 2010 Olympics, both with the construction and the merchandising -- they had a bunch of official Olympic logo merchandise available. It was, I must say, an extremely nice visitors center, with extremely nice bathrooms.

Then back on the road, again with good weather: warm and dry. Rogers pass in Glacier National Park was beautiful, and going through the tunnels reminded me of the road into Geneva from southern France. After this we were more or less out of the mountains, at least the seriously rugged mountains. The terrain changed to something more like Northern Idaho, lots of lakes, lots of trees, lots of river valleys. We got back into the rain here, again on and off, but still made good time in very light traffic.

I was starting to feel fatigued when we got down around the lakes, near Sicamous, and wanted to stop for a drink and a rest, but we didn't really find anything there, so we rode on to Salmon Arm, but it started raining just as we pulled into town so we rode on again. 45 minutes later we got to Sorrento and it was sunny, so we stopped at Home restaurant, part of a chain. There really weren't a lot of options in Sorrento, and the coffee was hot. It's sort of a Denny's type place, with enormous portions. I was eying the pies when we came in, but after eating their lasagna I was stuffed, I should have gotten a salad and gone for the pie. My friend was liking the electric vest, he got rid of an extra layer because it was working so well. The controller isn't working quite right so it doesn't really go off, but he's managing by just unplugging it if it gets hot.

The interesting weather started around the time we got to Kamloops. We could see the really dark clouds over the mountains, but our route takes a big turn South, and I was hoping we'd miss it. That's when we got hit by the gustnado. We talked about it on the radios and considered pulling over, but again it didn't look that bad so we actually sped up a bit to try to make the turn. Big fat drops were starting to fall as we started to climb up out of Kamloops, and they sky was very very black. It was like the sun had gone down, though sunset was still 3 or 4 hours away; streetlights were on, and my dash lights came on. Then we saw a couple of flashes of lightning, both cloud to cloud and cloud to ground. Then the rain started really coming down. And I mean hard, solid rain. Forget standing in the shower, this was more like someone turned a hose on us, and the temperature dropped to the low 50s.

I started looking for a place to stop, an overpass or tree or something, but there really wasn't anything available, guard rails at the side of the road, and visibility wasn't really that great. I cracked my helmet just to get some raindrops coming down the inside to wash away the condensation. I knew we'd ride out of it in a couple of miles, so we just followed the tail lights of the car in front of us. After about 10 minutes of this we got a break and the rain scaled back to just a regular downpour, and the clouds thinned out so we could see better and go a little faster. I saw a sign that said something like "Mountain weather conditions changeable, use extreme caution" and laughed out loud -- the sign should have been about 5 miles back!

We were still climbing though, and there were still some grey spots coming up. Going over the high point, I think at about 5400 feet, we got hit again with a really hard downpour, and this time the temperature dropped even more, down to 42 at the low point. Then the hail started... ouch ouch ouch. But we could see sunny blue sky ahead so we just pressed on, it's not like standing at the side of the road in a hailstorm is any more fun than riding in one. And sure enough, as we started to descend we rode out of the storm and into a beautiful 65 degree evening.

We had talked about stopping for the night here in Merritt, so we pulled into a gas station to fill up. We were both pretty awake at this point from the last wild hour, and considered riding on to Hope which was about an hour away, but I standing at the gas station I was starting to feel a little cold, and recognized that the energy we had was just an adrenalin rush from the tornado, lightning, and hail, so we got a room at the Super 8 in town (why break a trend.) They had everything we wanted: a roof for the bikes, breakfast, wifi, and a hot tub! I stripped out of my gear as fast as I could, sent a quick message home saying I was OK, and then headed straight for a hot soak -- it felt really good. Now I'm beat, time to sleep.

We're still about 3 hours from Vancouver, so it'll be an easy day tomorrow. Our plan is to spend an extra day there so my friend can visit his family. I might ride up to Whistler and back while he visits, it's supposed to be a nice ride. Then we'll try to make it back to the bay area on Saturday and Sunday.
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Last edited by bonafidebob; Jun 18th, 2009 at 12:51 am.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 19th, 2009, 12:07 am Thread Starter
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Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
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Day 6: Merritt, BC to Richmond, BC

Short ride today, and uneventful. The only remarkable thing was that we didn't get any rain, mostly sunny and mostly warm for the whole day. We pulled out around 9 and got to Richmond a little after noon.

We made the right decision to stop at Merritt last night. The road from Merritt to Hope is more winding mountain road, and it wouldn't have been much fun when we were tired last night. Also if we'd done it last night, then there wouldn't have been much at all interesting about the ride today. This way the first hour or so at least offered some nice views. Shortly after leaving Merritt we passed another caution sign and I managed to get my camera out in time, and apart from one other shot coming down a valley it was also a bad picture day.

Hung out in Richmond and Steveston today. Walked to a nearby Irish pub for a late lunch (I had another BLT, toast wasn't quite crisp but otherwise good), then I fell asleep on the couch reading the latest BMW Owners News while we waited for my friend's family to arrive. Had decent fish 'n chips for dinner in Steveston on the water. I'm eating a lot of BLTs and fish 'n chips this trip.

Tomorrow my friend is going to spend the day with his extended family. I'm going to take a ride up to Whistler for lunch and explore the area a little, it's not far and it's supposed to be a nice place, then try to book a massage for the afternoon.

Had some trouble getting the pictures for today, Windows (Vista Business) refused to recognize my camera, or my iPod, or my thumb drive. Rebooted, powered off, swapped ports, uninstalled drivers, nothing worked. So I booted into linux and copied the photos off my camera there. Curiously, after switching back to Windows everything worked perfectly again -- I guess I just needed to make it clear what would happen to Windows if it didn't behave itself...
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 20th, 2009, 12:22 am Thread Starter
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Mountain View, CA, USA
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Day 7: Whistler, BC day ride

Today was our down day, so I slept in, had a late breakfast, and took the bags off the bike for a short ride up to Whistler, only about 100 Km from here. Good weather, overcast but not actively raining, 60's the whole way.

I rode through downtown Vancouver on the way up, just to take a look around. It's a nice city, more cosmopolitan than I'd expected honestly. Lots of construction, repaving, closed lanes. They're really gearing up for the 2010 Olympics here, I rode past the Olympic Oval on the way into town, and passed a bunch of signs on the freeway for the locations of various events, athlete housing, etc.

They're doing a lot of work on the road up to Whistler as well, about 1/3 of it was under construction with a 50 Km/h speed limit and slow trucks. The other 2/3, however, was fantastic. Wide divided 4-lane freeway that's all freshly paved, with big sweeping turns that run between sheer granite rock faces and the water, and there's something interesting around every corner. There's a lot of water running now, so even little creeks were full, and Shannon Falls was amazing to see.

On the way up, just when the road opened up, I followed a bright yellow RX-8 for a while, he was very enthusiastic about the road. Then an oncoming rider gave me the tap-on-the-head signal, and he was suprisingly urgent about it. A couple of corners later I saw why, there had to be a dozen motorcycle cops on the road. They were exiting the freeway when I came around the corner, and they went across the overpass and started heading back into town. I gave 'em a big wave, but no one waved back. I eventually caught up with the RX-8 in construction traffic, but he pulled off around Squamish.

Then I got to follow a Whistler police car for the last 30 Km or so into Whistler. It was all construction though, and backed up, so no real loss of fun. Had a great bento box at Sachi Sushi in Whistler village, then took a little ride around the town before heading back.

Getting through the construction on the way back didn't seem to take nearly as long, and I had a little fun when the road opened up. I stopped for gas at a Husky station in Squamish, and saw a yellow RX-8 at the station. Talked to the driver when I went in to pay and sure enough, he was the same guy I followed up. We agreed it was a fun drive. I followed him back for part of the ride as well, but he ended up falling behind because it's a lot easier to thread the K1200GT through moderate traffic.

I avoided downtown on the way back, traffic looked pretty bad, and so I got to see more of the suburbs of Vancouver and Richmond. Nothing really special, the usual sprawl and strip malls, the bridges are interesting, and there's enough elevation to get some nice views of the city.

Tomorrow we're going to try to get out early to have an easier time at the border, and then make it down to Southern Oregon before we stop for the night.

Didn't take a lot of pictures today, I was having too much fun riding, but here are a couple to give you the general idea.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2009, 10:08 am Thread Starter
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Day 8: Richmod, BC to Coos Bay, OR

Lots of freeway today. Decent weather, scattered showers and 56-65 degrees all day. Not really a good motorcycle day on the whole, at least not 'till the end.

Started with a short ride to the border, then a 40 minute wait at the checkpoint. We stopped the bikes and pushed them most of the way, traffic wasn't moving too fast, and watched the line jumpers get yelled at by the border guards. Just as we got up to the front another guy on a bike rode up, had bypassed the entire wait, and he pulled in right behind us. He got a serious earfull from the guard "why'd you cut in line?" "why are you in such a hurry?" etc. He got turned back, and we didn't stick around to hear the end of it, but somehow he made it through the checkpoint before we did -- apparently cheating pays off. No problems at the border, same questions about alcohol, tobacco, and firearms.

Uneventful freeway riding for a while, then we got stuck in a traffic jam near Olympia. 20 minuntes of stop and go and we decided to get off the freeway and get some lunch, found a decent Japanese place, Kobito Japanese Restaurant in a strip mall next to the airport. Looks like the Olympic Air Museum was hosting an air show, we saw what looked like a C-17 Globemaster doing near 90 degree banked turns over the strip on the way into lunch, and then on the way out a Kaman HH-43 Huskie was doing passes over the audience, that's an interesting machine to look at.

Back on the freeway we made good time down I5 and through Portland and most of the way down the state. By the time we got off the freeway we were pretty beat, so we looked for a dinner stop. Ended up at Reel Sportsman Pizza for dinner. The waitress wasn't as dumb as she looked -- hey, that's what she said -- she did get our complicated pizza right at least, and it was decent.

The rest of the ride to the coast was the high point of the day. Highway 38 is a great road, recently repaved along most of it, with just a few spots still under construction. It follows the Umpqua river towards the ocean, and the clouds cleared and we got a little sun right at the end. There was a marshy section that's apparently home to a her of elk, we passed several and stopped to take a couple of pictures of some.

We'd hoped to get at least to Coos Bay today, and maybe farther if we were ahead of schedule, but it was just around 9PM when we got into town so we decided to call it a day. We called a bunch of hotels and ended up at the Red Lion, a very nice place for the price, it was actually a couple of bucks cheaper than the Motel 6 next door, and a heck of a lot nicer.

Trying to get an early start today so I can make it home before my daughter's bedtime, it is Fathers Day after all.
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