Site update 9/9 Photo update on The Road Home
Monday morning (Sept.5th) after a couple of restful nights at the Travelodge in Everett we dropped John’s trailer and Pam’s bike at Jeff’s house (Johns nephew in-law) and caught an early ferry to Whidbey Island which took us up through “Deception Pass” to Fidalgo Island then on to the main land. Words can’t do justice in describing the beauty that surrounds this area. We spent the night just south of the border so that the travel time to Canada would be a minimum. Next morning (Tuesday Sept. 6th) we were back on the main highway and up to the border crossing we proceeded to Annacis Island where we found the transport company to retrieve John’s motorcycle. Can anyone imagine how surprised we were to find out that a piece of freight that had be paid for some twenty five days earlier somehow had not arrived. After a rather lengthy conversation with a company representative and then a somewhat heated phone conversation with the person up in Whitehorse Yukon the motorcycle still did not appear (at least I felt better). Back to the border crossing only to encounter a customs officer who for some reason had to fall out of bed on what was obviously the wrong side for him (why me God). Pam, unfortunately had left her “border crossing” glasses in her motorcycle. Back in the US and a phone call to John to relay the morning events didn’t make any of us feel any better but it was a relief to let someone else have the problem now. (Sorry John) All this in such a short span of time and I don’t think it was noon but a drink would sure go a long way right now..... Spent Tuesday night at Jeff’s new house hoping to get a early start Wednesday morning (Sept. 7th) on our travels across Washington down through Yakima to somewhere close to the Oregon border. If you ever have a chance to travel Hwy. #2 East from Everett you will come to a town named Sultan, stop at the Sultan Bakery & Deli. You will have the absolute best breakfast money can buy with outstanding service and delicious home made food. Now with our belly’s stretched to the limits, we continued on Hwy.2 and made it all the way to Maryhill State Park, on the Columbia River at the southern end of the state. What a beautiful park. Trust me when I say that Washington takes a back seat to absolutely no one when it comes to their park system, they are, to describe them in one word, BEAUTIFUL. Thursday morning (Sept. 8th) after a warm restful night in the tent we woke to a wonderful clear sunny sky with not a cloud to be seen. A quick breakfast of hot coffee, nothing like yesterday’s breakfast, we took our two smiling faces and it was off to the asphalt headed towards Crater Lake area. That evening we stayed at Diamond Lake State Park, north of Crated Lake, and the pictures that we will post will be self-explanatory as to how much we enjoyed the site. Friday (Sept. 9th) we woke to a definite chill in the fresh morning air. It is difficult to explain how peaceful we slept listening to the waves slap the rocks on the shoreline not that far from our tent. You would think the soft constant sounds would be a distraction but it was the exact opposite. Quickly we packed the tent, cots, and sleeping bags, (if only we could do it that fast) and it was off to Diamond Lake Lodge for some hot coffee and toast, which turned into biscuits & gravy and eggs, hashbrowns, ham and toast, quite a switch from our original intentions.. Once again we are resting our stomachs on the gas tanks of the motorcycles to help support the very stretched organ beneath the skin. Off to Crater Lake, again the word Pam & I continue to use so often on this trip, “incredible”. What a site to view from high above on a road that one never wants to allow their eyes to wander from the pavement directly in front of you. Extreme drop-offs await motorist who are not paying attention, no guard rails are on this road anywhere and the steepness dropping down directly to the water is hard to imagine without seeing it. Traveling around the lake and stopping at the visitor center you can view the film explaining the creation of the lake from multiple volcanic eruptions and the collapse of the mountain peak to form the lake. Like I said “incredible”. After spending a large portion of the day traveling and viewing the lake we decided to stay in Klamath Falls for the evening, found a KOA with a “Kamp Kabin”, Pam’s new found form of camping. Tomorrow who knows what or where we will be, lets explore !!
Site update 9/4
Our stay in Valemount and time needed to update the web site on Thursday made it a short travel day for us. Once on the road south, we only traveled 150 miles to the town of Clearwater and set up camp in the KOA for the night knowing Friday would be a long travel day. In Clearwater was the Wells Grey Provincial Park, and a short journey up the road brought us to two of the best waterfalls we have seen yet! The first was Dawson Falls, with water spilling over lava formations in the river it looked like a mini Niagra Falls. The second was Helmcken Falls, one of the highest falls in Canada. Friday we hit the road again to travel south through Kamloops then hit the freeway to make up for some lost time. We took Highway 5 Interstate and tollway to Hope. This was a high mountain road with strong winds pushing us around and not many places to pull off for a rest. After a quick bite to eat in Hope we pushed on to cross the border south of Abbotsford in Sumas, WA. After a brief delay at the border (due to traffic, not because Pam forgot to wear her border crossing glasses and put on her bright red “lippy”) we were once again on American soil, traveling through farm country with a view of Mt. Baker to our left. We pulled into the KOA in Burlington about 8:30 just as it was getting dark. Thankfully we had reserved a Camp Cabin so all we had to do was roll out the sleeping bags on the bed and slept soundly with the cows “mooing” in the fields behind the campground. Saturday was a slow day, to catch up on laundry, and a quick ride down the road to Everett to find a hotel. Pam needed a real bed for a couple of days to give her back a much needed rest after some hard days of riding. Sunday was a day for catch up phone calls, a quick tour of Everett, a trip to the local farmers market to pick up some juicy peaches and nectarines, and planning for the trip to Vancouver to retrieve John’s bike.
Site update 9/1 Hyder, AK to Valemount, BC
The rain gods have struck! Since we left Hyder on Monday morning in the rain after packing up wet camp gear and rode in rain off and on. Monday night we stayed in a motel since it looked like more rain through the night. Tuesday we rode through a driving rain but when the sun came out, we chose to stay in a Provincial campground only to find our camp cots soaked! With no motels nearby, we proceeded to set up camp, covered the cots with garbage bags, and slept well. We knew we were in trouble when we woke up the next morning with moss on the north side of our bodies and our toes had become webbed. (The bad thing about sleeping on garbage bags is that the condensation from our body heat gets trapped between the plastic and sleeping bag, so we woke up to not only wet cots but also wet sleeping bags.) This was one of our favorite campgrounds. The Pruden Lake Provincial Campground had beautiful sites, paved roads, it was quiet-- well away from the noise of the highway, and it had flush toilets (always a pleasant surprise after using pit toilets for awhile!) We can only imagine how much we would have enjoyed it had we not had soaked camping gear! After shaking the slugs off of everything, we decided to pack up and look for a laundromat to at least dry out our sleeping bags. We traveled east on Highway 16 to McBride and successfully dried out our bags, then continued on turning south on Hwy 5 to Valemount. In Valemount we stopped at the local library to update the web (with good luck this time) and decided to again find a motel with what looked like impending rain. The Valemount Hotel had cheap rooms, so it rose to the top of our list... it was a clean, well kept hotel, the reason for the low rate was the railroad track across the street! Fortunately, we landed a room on the backside of the hotel so the noise from the frequent trains was minimized. This motel stop gave us an opportunity to update the web site again and our last stop will be at the library again to send the information and also get a few pictures in. The next few days our plan is to continue south and we should be back in the US by the weekend. The Tuesday after Labor Day we will hopefully complete the transport of John’s motorcycle and trailer across the border and into storage for him.
Site update 8/28 Haines, AK to Hyder, AK (and Pam learns to pull a trailer)
After a night in one of the local campgrounds in Haines, we had the opportunity to meet some of the pleasant people in Haines... deciding to find a hotel room so we didn’t have to pack up camp in the morning before catching the ferry to Skagway, we started our search for a room. Most were falling above our preset dollar limit, and in one last effort, we decided to check out a place called the Bear’s Den-- an apartment/room for rent, but they had a two night minimum stay. Dot, one of the owners, was kind enough to allow us to take the room for only one night. It was quite nice having a “place like home” to settle into, make a REAL home cooked meal, and have a nice warm bed to sleep in. Our thanks to Dot & Dave for their hospitality while we were in Haines. We were up early Wednesday morning to head to the ferry terminal for our 9:15 check in. We then waited in the chilly drizzle until they told us we could drive our motorcycles on. As luck would have it, they put us on last but promised we would be first off in Skagway. The 1 hour cruise on the ferry saved us over 300 road miles. The port of Skagway had 4 cruise ships docked and even though we were the first off the ferry, it was still not easy finding a parking spot in town. Skagway is TOTALLY TOURIST! It is filled with lots of gift shops (half of them seem to be jewelry stores) and the streets were crowded with people from the cruise lines. We grabbed a quick sandwich at a coffee shop and headed out of the crowds and into the fog. I’m sure the scenery was beautiful, or at least, what we could see in the fog was impressive. Fortunately, we were not in a hurry, our destination of Whitehorse was only 110 miles away. We were able to take our time in the fog, and after awhile the fog thinned and our sky above was just overcast. We arrived in Whitehorse safely and found the High View Campground to set up our tent for a couple of nights while we had service done on our motorcycles and picked up John’s trailer to take it back to Seattle. Much of our free time was spent in search of two new trailer tires for our trailer, but we eventually found them. The chip-seal surface on the Yukon roads has been tough on our tires! All business now taken care of, Friday morning we packed up camp and started our journey out of the Yukon. Our plan was to take the Cassier Highway south so we could make a stop in Stewart, BC/Hyder,AK in hopes of seeing the Salmon Glacier (5th largest glacier in the world) and hopefully some wildlife along the way. Friday night we had planned on staying at a Provincial Park but received a recommendation for a campground from a couple of miners we met when we stopped for lunch at Sally’s Cafe. (By the way, Sally is a man, and did he look good in an apron, but not nearly as good as Rouge in his apron at Scott’s birthday party in August-- you had to be there to appreciate it!) The recommendation turned out to be a good one, we ended our day at Moose Meadow RV Park and Campground. A little campground along the Dease River with a few small cabins for rent and beautiful tent sites along the river. Finally, an RV campground that gave the good sites to the tenters and not the people in RVs. Thinking it might rain, we stayed in one of the cabins-- a one room building with a bed, wood stove, and three-burner cook stove and small sink (no running water though). We had a very comfortable, quiet and warm night-- no earplugs necessary! Saturday, we continued south on the Cassier Highway alternately driving on good pavement, pot hole filled pavement, and intermittent sections of hard pack gravel. The gravel was sometimes very difficult to navigate and was very slippery from the rain. There were four stretches of this gravel, the shortest was about 8 miles and the longest was about 13 miles. Also thrown into the mix were the occasional open metal expansion bridge or the bridge made of wood planks. I’m not sure what promises Bob was making this time, but we safely found our way to Stewart and settled into Riverside Campground to set up our tent in the spits of rain. Sunday morning we caught up on laundry, tried to find a place that had internet service (with no luck) and all chores done, headed towards Hyder in search of wildlife and the Salmon Glacier. Once over the border, our search for wildlife was fulfilled (and not in the local drinking establishment) we saw a bear sow and her 3 cubs cross the street. A little further up the road at the Fish Creek Observation area we were able to see Salmon swimming upstream to spawn and also had the chance to watch a big old grizzly bear in action trying to catch some salmon for his afternoon meal. (All from the safety of a board walk/deck fenced in viewing area). What could possibly top all that excitement, except for a ride up the mountain on yet another twisty, gravel road to see the Salmon glacier. The view of the glacier was breath taking, and well worth the 18 mile distance to reach it. Hopefully, our picture of it will explain it all (once we manage to get it onto the web!). Tomorrow we will end our side trip and return to the main highway to continue our travel south.
Site update 8/23 (more pictures added to Alaskan Hwy)
Yesterday we were riding in the clouds... but let me go back in time and let you know what has happened since Homer. We spent Wednesday in Homer touring the streets, traveling out on the “spit” where all the fishing activities (charters and tours) take place. Spent an hour in the Salty Dawg a quaint little old bar famous for it’s decor and attitude, you have to see it in person to appreciate it! Then up East End Road climbing the “hill” to the skyline to check out the view of the people who live there, and I must say, it was stunning. There were points you could see the whole Kachemak Bay area including the town and the mountains across the bay. That day was finished with a delicious dinner at The Bear’s Den, a cozy little restaurant decorated with polar bear prints and icicle lights, stained glass candles on the tables and service that was wonderful. We had their Cajun shrimp appetizer and main entree of Thai Curry Seafood (fresh shrimp, scallops, and halibut) Stew and both were excellent! Thursday to Sunday were travel days...Thursday from Homer to north of Anchorage, stopped in Anchorage briefly to visit with an aquaintance (who, unfortunately, was not home) and the see the Harley Davidson dealership. Then further north to find a campsite. Our first stop at Nancy Lake Resort, Bob was sure he heard banjos playing the theme song from Deliverance. Moving on to our next potential, Willow River Campground, which had brown and black rabbits hopping all over the campground (a sure sign that bears were not a problem) and a shower facility that actually worked! We had a restful night’s stay and the next day traveled north to Talkeetna in hopes of seeing our first glimpse of Denali (Mt. McKinley). Talkeetna, they say, is the town that Northern Exposure was based on. It is now an interesting tourist attraction filled with historical cabins and buildings converted to little restaurants and gift shops and multiple companies offering tours of Denali (by air) and the back country areas. Sadly, we were unable to see Denali, due to the smoke from forest fires north of there, so rather than traveling further north into more smoke, we opted to save that sight for another trip out, and began our journey south towards Anchorage, then east on the Glenn Highway our goal destination was Glennallen. Our travels in Alaska have brought us many amazing sights beyond the beauty of nature. Included in these are “Sturgis in Alaska”, “Camp Caswell” , and the Alaskan Oil Pipeline (the pictures will tell it all). The Glenn Highway was a motorcyclist’s delight filled with twists and turns and plentiful scenery (what you could see through the haze) including the Matanuska Glacier-- an amazing sight to see in the middle of summer! Glennallen brought a night’s stay in Dry Creek campground (state park) then Friday we resumed our travels north to Delta Junction, “the end of the Alaska Highway” (until they added the section from Delta Junction to Fairbanks!). Delta Junction had timed it’s local fair to coincide with our arrival, just to celebrate our completion of traveling the Alaska Highway! So, knowing we would be “guests of honor” we went to the fair in search of some good, greasy, fair food. Alas, there was nothing on a stick!!! How can you have a fair with nothing deep fried on a stick??? So we completed our day with some Jumbalaya and chicken wings, the back to the tent for the night, knowing the next day would be a long one. Sunday, we packed up the tent in a drizzle and began the journey east on the Alaskan Highway. Delta Junction to Tok was uneventful but smoky for the first 70 miles. Stopped in Tok for lunch then continued towards the border where our crossing was uneventful and we spent the night in Beaver Creek, Yukon at a place called Buckshot Betty’s Roadhouse. This is a small restaurant in town, and she has 5 small cabins (one of which she lives in herself). The owner works a lot of hours in the summer to make a meager living, but she has clean, comfortable cabins, and serves a great homemade pizza! Monday morning began our major highway construction travels... as we continued east on Highway 1 towards Haines Junction, we came across major road construction south of Destruction Bay, by Kluane Lake. This was 20 miles of rough road covered with grease-like mud making travel by motorcycle (and pulling a trailer) a challenge. (John, you’ll be glad you missed this part!) Once beyond the road construction and after a brief stop for lunch in Haines Junction, we turned south onto Haines Highway (a road recommended to us by another motorcycling couple). As we rode, we ascended to higher elevations, rising above the treeline and into much cooler temperatures, it often seemed as if we were driving into the clouds above us. Our benefits in taking this only road to Haines, AK were: excellent road conditions, very little traffic, and panoramic views of huge, rugged mountains all around and the valleys in between. Upon our arrival in Haines, we went directly to the Ferry Terminal to see if we could secure tickets for the Wednesday ferry to Skagway (saving us from more road construction east of Haines Junction-- had we traveled back out the way we came into Haines. And the added bonus of getting to travel on the road north from Skagway towards Whitehorse.) Our mission was successful! We had our ferry tickets in hand, now a full day to take care of the web site and explore this town! Haines is a small seaport town filled (again) with fishing and adventure tours, a port for the Alaskan cruise ships, and, so far, the bartenders and wait people all seem on the grumpy side-- customer service has not been their forte-- (wonder what they do during the dark season?).
Site update 8/16 (added photos to Alaskan Hwy page) You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world. --William Hazlitt
Now that Bob has given up his endeavors for the priesthood, our travels of the last few days have been very enjoyable. The Ferry ride from Valdez to Whittier went smoothly, and we reached Whittier to find a very small town dedicated to tourism and shipping. Next challenge, the only way out of Whittier is an old railroad tunnel wide enough to accommodate only one lane of traffic, so outgoing traffic is lined up to travel through the tunnel on the hour and incoming traffic is charged a toll and lined up to travel through the tunnel on the half hour. The railroad tracks still exist, and the road has been built up around them to allow cars to travel through. It is a challenge for motorcycles (and especially those pulling trailers) to travel due to wet, slippery conditions, and the wheel base on the smaller trailer was a challenge. Slow travel through the 2.5 mile tunnel found us on the other side, safe and ready to continue. We traveled south toward Seward and settled for the night in the Granite Creek Campground (a state park) to be consumed by mosquitoes. Monday we took the road to Seward... an incredibly beautiful mountain road. Seward is a small town filled with tourist sights and fishing charters. We ran a few errands, did a little laundry, caught up on telephone calls (first cell service since entering Alaska!) and enjoyed the views. The trip back to the campground held a stop at the Summit Lake Lodge for a couple of cold ones and bar food (you would have loved it Scottie!) then the discovery of Tenderfeet Campground behind Summit Lake, a campground filled with beautiful tent sites. Too late for us to move camp, we would have to settle for our set up at Granite Creek. Tuesday morning we packed up our gear and hit the road for Homer. It has been a cloudy, overcast day, but thankfully, no rain yet and the beauty of the country is still present. Our only regret is that with the clouds the mountains are not clearly visible, so the full beauty is missing. Our treat for the day was stopping at the viewing point on the hill coming into Homer and seeing (by telescope) a herd of sea lions lounging out in the sound... very cool! Wednesday we will explore Homer more and then Thursday will bring a travel day to Anchorage.
Site update 8/13 New life career change
Well let me start by saying that today on our way to Fairbanks I have to join the seminary. This is the only way that I will be able to pay God back, for all the things I promised I would do, if He would grant me the wish of crossing the “The Top of the World Highway” safely. What was I thinking ??? Nobody in their right mind would try this with a trailer behind their motorcycle !!! The best way I can possibly describe this 115 mile episode, is to say it was a sheer “butt puckering experience”. This washboard of a road did its very best to make my life a living hell for over 5 hours. My dentist now will have his hands in my mouth for a considerable length of time because I feel I have only two fillings that aren’t loose or cracked !!! No matter what speed I went (slow or slower) the bike seemed to go one way and the trailer the other and I have no idea which way I was going because I was just holding on. Well maybe it wasn’t that bad but it sure was not any fun.... There is a forest fire burning up in the Eagle area so there was no visibility or even a chance to get a picture from there, it is my understanding that the view is beautiful on a reasonably clear day.. We stayed in a great campground, Thompson Eagle Claw. There is nobody other than us here but they only have 6 or 7 sites. We slept in a “tepee” that is setup on one of the sites, what a kick. The evening was spent doing laundry and a wonderful meal at “Fast Eddy’s Restaurant”. It is difficult to get to bed early because the sun is still high in the sky at 10:30 at night, needless to say the morning arrives rather quickly. Well off to Fairbanks in search of the “Seminary” Hopefully we will have some pictures to add within the next few days..
8/14 Sunday Well God must have decided I wouldn’t do that much good for the church, in the cloth. He sent us south to Valdez instead of to the Seminary in Fairbanks... With all the fires going on to the north we thought our best course would be to get some fresh air and clear skies.. We left Tok and within about 75 miles the sky had cleared and there were snow capped mountains off in the distance.. We took the “Tok Cutoff Highway” down through Gulkana and Glennallen to the “Richardson Highway” which then took us south to Valdez. Driving past both the Worthington Glacier and Thompson Pass, and feeling the temperature drop was very satisfying because it was a record setting hot day. Once again it is so difficult to put into words the beauty of the mountains, numerous waterfalls and magnificent views. One area that stands out in our minds was following the Copper River where we could view the snowcapped Drum and Sanford Mountains through a telescope provided at the rest area. The waterfalls just as we entered the Valdez valley are incredible. We spent the night in a RV/campground right in the heart of town because we were planning on taking the ferry across to Whittier, a 5 1/2 hour trip, in the late morning, which is where we are as I pound on these keys. We went standby on the ferry, because it was full for vehicles, but as luck had it there was a little space still available. The entire harbor area was socked in with fog this morning and now that we have been underway for two hours it is starting to lift. We hope to find a campground close to Whittier, spend the night, and on to Seward tomorrow. We are now going past the “Columbia Glacier, which is the size of Los Angeles, it deposits over one million pounds of ice a day into the Prince William Sound, so I hope the Captain is on the lookout for all the larger chunks. The only way this could be better, is if John was here with us...
8/11 Bad luck strikes the Alaska Tour
Tuesday morning started out well, early start, sunny skies, good riding, then 90 miles up the road just 20 miles short of Carmacks an accident happened. In an effort to avoid a collision, John reacted by laying his motorcycle down on it’s right side. We are sad to say that John, although OK now, fared worse than the motorcycle. With the help of a Snap-On tool truck driver, John was taken to the Carmacks medical center and was found to have a fracture in his right leg. He was then transported by ambulance to the Whitehorse Hospital and eventually by air to Harbor View Hospital in Seattle where an orthopedic surgeon could better take care of him. Surgery was performed late Wednesday morning, and we have not yet heard the outcome of that. Jan was going to fly to Seattle Wednesday afternoon and their plan was to return to MN sometime on Sunday. We are sure he would appreciate any calls or e-mail with well wishes. We will miss him greatly as we continue on our tour to Alaska. We are wishing you a speedy recovery John! Wednesday morning was utilized to make arrangements for storage and shipment of John’s motorcycle and trailer back to the US. The early afternoon took us out of Whitehorse and back to Carmacks to pick up Bob’s motorcycle and stop by the medical center to thank them for their good care of John. We then continued our travel north on the Klondike Highway to Stewart’s Crossing and camped for the night. It seemed funny to not have that third person to keep track of on the road... and the road was less traveled and there were fewer towns along the way. Thursday morning we slept in, planning to drive only to Dawson City (~110 miles) to explore the town and spend the evening relaxing. We arrived in Dawson City about 1:30p.m., and knowing Fairbanks was another 400 miles away (over 100 miles of this on twisting hard pack gravel roads) we opted to get a room in town over camping on the other side of the river (a ferry boat ride away). We look forward to crossing over the river tomorrow, traveling the Top of the World Highway and crossing the border into Alaska. Depending on how the ride between Dawson City and Tok are (road conditions), we will stay somewhere between Tok and Fairbanks Alaska tomorrow. Wish you were here John!
Site update 8/8 What happened to the last week?!!!
Finished up the weekend at Scott & Ronda’s celebrating with family & friends. The ice water wake up was a blast with all the guys (Pam & Cynthia & John stayed behind on the rocks to capture the event on film) jumping off a 35 foot cliff into the river below-- how invigorating! The rest of Sunday was spent relaxing and visiting and eating more. Monday brought a half travel day, our destination was Kamloops to see if we could get routine service for John & Pam’s bikes on Tuesday morning. Our thanks to Robin at the Kamloops H.D. for sneaking us into a very busy schedule and taking care of our faithful steeds! Then we were back on the road headed for the start of the Alaskan-Canadian Highway. Travel for the next few days was uneventful, the scenery in central and northern B.C. is similar to northern Minnesota, only everything seems bigger... trees seem taller and forests are never ending, foothills and valleys are ever present. Lakes are plentiful, some areas have fields of grain, other areas are set up for cattle grazing. We followed Highway 97 north to the city of Prince George staying in private or Provincial campgrounds along the way. After Prince George, we continued on Highway 97 through the city of Chetwynd to the city of Dawson Creek and the start of the Al-Can Highway. After a few pictures to document the start of our new adventure (after all, this is the road we had all been reading about for months) we left Milepost 0 with our Mileposts Guidebook in hand and ready to stop for anything. Travel continued north on Highway 97 with lots of twists and turns, hills to climb and descend, and metal bridge decks to be navigated. A few stops for gas along the way, including Buckinghorse River where you could get a free shower with purchase of buffet dinner (we would have jumped at this deal, but had just had something to eat). Fortunately the weather held only blue skies and sunshine for us...so all travel was pleasant. Friday evening was spent in the Tetsa River Provincial Park (milepost 365) on a campsite next to the Tetsa River. Saturday’s highway travels took us to Stone Mountain, Muncho Lake, and a road filled with twists and turns and wildlife (Big Stone Sheep and young moose-- none of them any too concerned about moving for the oncoming traffic. Further road hazards came in the form of a small buffalo herd blocking the highway (reminiscent of Custer Park in South Dakota). We allowed them to clear the road at their own pace (didn’t want any of them to fall in love with our cycles) and continued down the road. Saturday night was spent in Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park (milepost 496) and after a filling meal of Chef Lucky’s Chili we took our tired old bodies down the wooden path to soak in the springs. It was now an effort to drag our relaxed and limp bodies back to the campsite to retire for the night. The night brought rain, and a damp morning of breaking camp. A few miles up the road to Buffalo sausage breakfast at Coal River then on the road again for our first day in and out of rain northwest through Watson Lake and a stop at the “Sign Forest”-- a stop near the visitor center with signposts and city signs from around the world. Road hazards this day included road construction and a burning RV motorhome and attached trailered auto and a few Big Stone Sheep. We continued west on Highway 1 over the Continental Divide to Teslin and a night’s stay in the Nisutlin Trading Post & Lodge. The owner’s recommendation for a good dinner was Mukluk Annie’s Salmon Bake-- actually, he recommended the ribs, so we tried both (they were OK) A good night’s sleep and all you can eat breakfast (again at Mukluk Annie’s) and we were on the road for a short day to Whitehorse (~150 miles). We thought it would be best to spend the day checking out the sights in Whitehorse and updating the website since it has been a week. (Darn, another night in a hotel... I was really looking forward to setting up a wet tent in the drizzle!) Tomorrow we will resume our travels, changing our direction to north and following Highway 2 (The Klondike Highway) to the city of Dawson eventually to The Top of the World Highway into Alaska.
Site update 7/30 Happy Birthday (to be!) Scott
Oh Canada! Your beauty and people are incredible, ay?
We arrived at Toad Rock Campground on 7/26 after another beautiful ride experiencing scenery that just keeps getting more interesting! (After a while, words begin to fail to capture the raw beauty. Hopefully the pictures will convey some of what we are experiencing!) Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground is located north of Nelson, B.C. on the west side of Kootenay Lake. Bob had read about it in one of the motorcycle magazines and suggested that we stay a few days there on the way to Scott and Ronda’s place. The owners, Steve and Mary, are fabulous people. They have a wonderful sense of humor and philosophy about life. The site was great - complete with hot showers, party pavilion and even a three hole golf course which they will have to explain. Included with the price for camping was protection from bears provided by the three dogs Desi, Lucy, and Little Ricky (well, Lucy provided most of the protection). From there we went on beautiful rides over two days including to Scott and Ronda’s place at Christina Lake and even across the border to restock our supplies. On that trip we followed the Columbia River into the US to a local Wal-Mart and then traveled back up the other side until we stopped at the duty free liquor store for party essentials. We dropped everything off at Scott and Ronda’s place and returned to Toad Rock but this time on the east side of Kootenay Lake where the road is rated highly for motorcycling. To get across to the west side we took a free ferry which is actually part of the Hwy 3A system. The trip across the lake was wonderful with a cool breeze and outstanding views. Later that night we enjoyed Steve playing the guitar - especially the John Prine songs! The next day we said our good byes and received some last minute future border crossing advice from Mary. She even gave Pam her special rhinestone sunglasses that she uses whenever she does a crossing. Pam will have to explain the rest! We arrived on 7/29 at Scott and Ronda’s place and met several of their friends plus the rest of the Harris clan. Later that day we went on a boat ride and observed some locals doing cliff jumping while we were taking a quick swim to cool off. While on the way back, Rouge demonstrated his wake boarding skills (plus his persistence!). He even blessed us with his trademark “moonglow” just before he took some air (and water!). The night was spent around the fire telling stories that even if half are true are hard to imagine as being true! This morning we are off to a special spot where they perform a “ice water wake up” ritual. Another interesting Canadian experience!
Site update 7/25 Happy Birthday to John!
Friday 7/22 through Monday 7/25
How quickly time flies...Friday we rode to Banff (the city) to see what it had. As usual, the scenery along the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) was spectacular. It was a peaceful, scenic ride with top speed of only 60 km (36-40 mph) and removed us from the hectic pace and tailgaters of the Trans Canadian Highway. Banff is a quaint little town filled with tourist shops, stores, and restaurants. The morning was spent catching up on web updates and e-mails, then after a quick lunch at a diner we did a couple hours of touring and picked up a few supplies for dinner. The highlight of Banff was the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a beautiful stone building (almost castle-like) perched on a hill above the Bow River. Later that evening, the highlight was Chef Lucky’s Spicy Picante Goulash. Saturday was a low-key day of intermittent rain showers and we chose to hang out at the base camp all day, catching up on cribbage games and solitaire, reading, and relaxing in general. Sunday was also a day filled with intermittent rain showers, but we decided to get out of camp and do some local touring, with a trip to Lake Louise, a tiny village which consisted of Sampson’s strip mall and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel--a very large and impressive building. We then rode north towards Field to see the Spiral Tunnels at Kicking Horse Pass. These are railroad tunnels built into the mountain (similar to the shape of a clover leaf turn on a highway) to prevent trains from derailing while traversing a very steep grade down the mountain. Our last stop of the day before returning to base camp was at Takakkakaw Falls. A short detour (13 km) from the highway, these falls are one of the highest in North America--and an incredible site they were! (We are told that Takakkakaw is the Cree word for “magnificent”) We then returned to our rain drenched campsite for another evening of relaxation and planning for the following day. Which brings us to Monday, John’s birthday, and packing up the campsite (how did all that stuff fit into the trailer in the first place?) and traveling out of the Banff Park into the Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. The scenery in this park once again did not fail to amaze us. From lush evergreen forests to mountains to fire devastated areas of the forest, it was again an amazing site to behold. As we descended into the town of Radium (home of Radium Hot Springs) the highway passed through tunnels of rock. After a leisurely lunch on the patio of Back Country Jacks in Radium, we traveled a little further south to Invermere where we settled for the night in a hotel to catch up on hot showers, soaking in a whirlpool hot tub, and laundry. Tomorrow, we plan to travel to Nelson, BC where the “Toad Rock” campground (exclusively for motorcycle travelers) awaits us. [Pictures have been updated in Banff/Jasper, Waterfalls, and Base camp]
Site update 7/21
Monday 7/18 through Thursday 7/21
Our apologies for not updating the website sooner, but unforseen difficulties (John thinks it was the volume of hits on the website that we did not anticipate) the website crashed. Monday after leaving our wonderful hosts, the Harris family (Jay, Cam, Angie and Blake “roar”) we ventured across the windy prairie to Calgary. It was difficult to leave as they were such gracious hosts, but we look forward to seeing them again along with Cynthia at the end of the month at Christina Lake. Calgary brought us back to the reality of the hectic pace of city traffic. Once past the Olympic ski jump we were headed for Canmore. We spent the night in Canmore and left the next morning for Banff and Jasper National Parks planning to arrive at our campground early before all the sites were taken. Once in Banff park the scenery was spectacular! We arrived at our destination, Waterfowl Campground, only to find that the campground was about 1/3 full...we had our pick of sites. We spent the next couple of hours unpacking and setting up tents and canopies. We now have base camp established! As the night unfolded, we gave up on external insect repellant and chose internal repellant (whiskey) to ward off the unwelcome visitors. Wednesday, after a somewhat sleepless, cold night in the tents (5 degrees Celsius) we donned our warmest clothing and headed for Jasper. The first hour on the Icefield Parkway was one of the most beautiful drives we have experienced so far. Mountains, glaciers, lakes, wildlife and blue skies kept us lost for words to describe our surroundings. It was simply beautiful and magnificent. We only hope our pictures adequately capture the images we were viewing. The second hour on the way to Jasper, we made mental notes of places we wanted to further explore in the next few days. Jasper is a quaint little town, our first stop was at the information booth, our second stop was at the post office (Bob wanted to make sure his picture was not hanging on the wall) where we received a recommendation to eat at Papa George’s Restaurant (sorry Scottie, no bar food). The lunch buffet was excellent with Curried Pork soup, an incredibly fresh salad and sandwich bar and desserts made by the Queen’s staff. God save the Queen! After replenishing our food and liquor supplies, we experienced the first “real” rain of the trip. A mountain thunderstorm complete with driving cold rain and wind gusts. We are thankful that our Aerostich rain gear worked well, the rain was short lived, and after 20 miles in rain the road started to dry and we were again in blue skies for the remainder of the trip back to base camp. After a light snack and nice warm fire, we were more adequately prepared for the cold of the night and slept soundly. Thursday brought a return trip north towards Jasper to explore the areas we had mentally noted. Athabasca Falls was our first stop. The tumultuous waters of the falls were breathtakingly beautiful. Our next stop was briefly at Mt.Kerkeslin where we saw wonderful vistas and a couple of Rocky Mountain sheep. Then on to Sunwapta Falls for more tumultuous waters. We continued south with periodic stops to take pictures, view scenery, wildlife, more waterfalls, and make friends along the way including Denise, a teacher from Hinckley, MN who was kind enough to take a group picture of us (thank you Denise). From there we continued back to base camp stopping at Saskatchewan River Crossing for dinner and to update the website. Tomorrow, look out Banff...here we come!
Site update 7/16
Thursday “Glacier Park Travels”
Well lets start by saying that there are some thoughts that should never be acted on! We can kind of share the blame with Doug Brooks for his insight on a wonderful(?) hike he told us about. In Glacier Park there is a Lake Avalanche that you have to see he told me. Well what I failed to realize at the time was that he was in his early 40s, and we have nearly 20 more years on him. In all honestly the hike was great, the falls back in the mountain were beautiful and the lake was cool clear water to soak our feet in. Not so surprisingly the hike back was a piece of cake knowing that each step brought us that much closer to our means of transportation. On the return trip to the campgrounds we stopped at a area on the Mc Donald river to observe the cascading water over a set of falls on its journey to Lake Mc Donald. After leaving the falls we decided to stop at the Lake Mc Donald Lodge, another wonderful experience, just so many unbelievable sites too see in the park. We ended the day by riding to Kalispell to replace a couple of personal supplies and a early supper at Mooses Saloon, once again thank you Scottie for your recommendation on another tasty “bar food” adventure. Back at the campground the evening was finished with a soft fire and hard liquor what a wonderful day....
Friday “West Glacier to Waterton to Lethbridge”
The morning arrived way too quickly and we had a fair amount of gear to pack before we could get on the road. Once again on the Road to the Sun up over Logan Pass on our way to Waterton/Glacier Park to see The Prince of Wales Hotel. Once again a unbelievable site too see, the view thru the lobby out onto the Waterton Lake and the surrounding mountains is just so incredible. It seems like I keep saying the same thing over and over but it is just so incredible the sites we have seen on the trip, and it is only the 1st week, can it continue to impress us ? Leaving Waterton our next stop will be Lethbridge and meeting up with the “Leader of the Harris Clan”. The wind never stopped the entire distance to Lethbridge (130 km) roughly 75 miles for us that don’t know the conversion. Arriving and seeking out information on the Hog Rally was rather confusing but once again we continue to surprise ourselves on the little knowledge we have but the great luck that keeps moving forward. Meeting Jay Harris was a definite pleasure, he welcomed us into his home, fed us and treated us almost like long lost distant family members, thank you Jay, son Cam and his wife Angie for the wonderful hospitality... Cynthia, you would be more that proud of the terrific meal Jay, Cam, and Angie prepared for us this evening. Today opens up new exploration for us on the Lethbridge area and the Canadian hospitality. “God Save the Queen”
Site update 7/13
Travel in Glacier Park
Chef Bob, also known as “Lucky”, continues to impress. Whether it is something needed that he keeps pulling out of his trailer like a magician’s magic hat or something that he concocts as a gourmet delight. After one of the best breakfasts to date we took off for Glacier park. Immediately after entering the park gates we were greeted by several deer - what a park system! We then embarked on the “Going to the Sun” highway. As the name implies, it was both beautiful and also character building - what looks awe inspiring up ahead also has a scary side when one looks over the edge. That is not a good thing when riding a motorcycle as the bike tends to go where one looks! But since we are now writing about it that means that we made it up, over (not the edge!) and back to home base. During the journey we saw beautiful glacier fed lakes, many waterfalls, five Rocky Mountain sheep, weeping walls of water spilling over the road - which kept us alert - and views which just can’t be described. This is one of the most beautiful parks. It’s rugged and unspoiled. Just sheer beauty. Surprisingly, traffic was good - slow and respectful, except for those on the outer edge that tended to want to drive over the center line in our lane! We decided to go to East Glacier and visit the lodge that some say started it all - the Glacier Park Lodge. It was build in 1917 by James Hill as a destination point for his Great Northern Railroad. Creation of the National Park followed shortly thereafter (We’re sure that there was no political influence!) While now getting older, it was beautiful. The lobby is huge with three story timbers, still with original bark, supporting the roof that had three sections of glass exposing the sky. The view to the outside was of mountains. We had lunch there imagining what it must have been like in the “old days”. Quite a moment to remember! While we have been gone a few days, in some ways the trip has now started. What led up to this moment has been great but the scenery and wild life that we saw today is on a whole different level. What is intriguing is that what lies ahead of us will probably be even more impressive. “Bring me that horizon!”
Site update 7/12
Travel to Glacier National Park 7/9 to 7/12
Started the trip off right on Saturday with an overnight stay at the Upton Cabin on Lake Amelia. Thanks to Jacob & Jesse for taking us swimming and playing horseshoes with us. Left early Sunday morning for the long flat ride to Minot, ND where we met up with our travel companion “Doc”. We spent the night there and traveled the next day through the rolling hills west of Minot towards Havre, MT where we spent our second night. The country was more beautiful than we anticipated with blue fields of clover (or alfalfa--we are still trying to figure out which) and with golden wheat fields. The closer we got to the mountains, the more beautiful it became, and the ride was incredible. We are composing this part of the journal from the KOA near the west entrance to Glacier National Park. Surrounded by tall pine trees and a mountain directly in front of us for inspiration, we will be here for 3 days exploring Glacier Park and it’s lakes and trails. We are looking forward to riding on the Going to the Sun Road. Our campsite consists of a single room Kamp Kabin enhanced with the camping essentials brought along in the two motorcycle trailers to provide all the comforts(?) of home. Camping doesn’t get much easier with a heated swimming pool and hot tub, wireless internet service, hot showers and flush toilets. Still, there are plenty of people here with RVs that have air conditioning and TVs in them (why go camping?). Camping here is considerably different than the camping at the Freedom Rally in Algona, IA. In conclusion, the sky has been blue, the clouds have been few and the roads have been great. We hope for more of the same until the next time we update the website. Sorry, no pictures yet...we have been traveling long days and not taking many pictures. We are sure in the next few days to have some!