Canada and Pacific Northwest

The prologue…

It’s just a 6,200 mile or so ride. Deb will fly into Seattle Saturday. We will join the LSBMWR Hyder group the following Tuesday. Westcliffe, CO for is the first stop for me on Monday.  The first Tuesday is Alpine, WY. Wednesday is across the border to Fernie, BC. Thursday will be Golden, BC. Friday, back south of the border to Omak, WA, to get close to Seattle, where I will pick up Deb on Saturday. Over the weekend will be up to Vancouver, and back down to Victoria. We’ll stay Tuesday night in Forks, WA, and Wednesday in Coos Bay. Thursday, Deb and I will split from the LSBMWR group and ride to Lake Tahoe. Friday morning, Reno, to drop Deb off at the airport. I’ll then spend the next three days heading home via Nevada’s Loneliest Road in America, and on through Utah and New Mexico.

July 5, 2010 Home to Westcliffe, CO

Getting out of Texas takes a long time. I left early this morning anticipating heat and got none. In fact, it was darn chilly in the Panhandle. Not sure what the heck was up with that. I was doing 120 to 160 mile fuel stops, and kept the stop time at a minimum. Made the 690-mile trip to Westcliffe, CO in 11.5 hours. Very nice weather once I got out of the Panhandle clouds and 65 degrees.

The last time I was in Westcliffe, it was damp and drizzly, but that type of weather in the mountains is expected and enhances the experience. Today, it was very sunny, and warm.  It’s hard to beat summer weather in Colorado. The air feels crisp and the sun warms the body even as the temperature dips.

The Sangre de Cristo mountains that border Westcliffe, CO

I finished up dinner at Hoag Malone’s, had a walk about town while talking to Deb, and later Susan (our friend up in Fort Collins).  I was fueling up near the inn, and as I topped off the tank, a couple pulled up beside me with a trailer full of dirt bikes and quads.  He asked me if I was in Gartner earlier today (yes), and if I knew of the Trans-America Trail.  Why, yes I did.  So Sam Correro introduced himself, and also as the creator of the Trans-America Trail.

Whoa… how is it that I always meet interesting folks on these journeys I take? He invited me to dinner, or at least to have a drink during their dinner. We went back to Hoag Malone’s, and found that the kitchen had just shut down. So we went across the street to the Mexican restaurant, but it was closed also, according to the gentleman sitting outside.

Robert Halenda – his shop and bike in Westcliffe

He was a nice chap, and had a shop full of interesting wares, which doubled as his home.  We asked about his old GS out front, and he told us it just turned over 200,000 miles.  Since we were all into bikes, Robert invited us in to show us the BMW K1200 poster put out several years ago, and said it was his son riding the bike, Gregor Halenda .  Gregor has done a lot of work for BMW, Ducati, and others.  Robert was obviously very proud of the work his son has done, and very rightly so.

July 6, 2010 Westcliffe, CO to Alpine, WY

The morning started cool in Westcliffe at 40 degrees.  I packed up everything into Katrina, and decided to skip the free breakfast to get an early ride start.  I fired up the K12 and let it warm just a bit, rolled off the center stand, and noticed a strange light sequence on the dash.  Brake failure… oh boy.  I checked the brakes – they worked fine.  Looked over all of the line fittings.  Nothing obvious.  The front circuit reservoir was low, and was tripping the warning.  Everything in Westcliffe is still closed, so I decided to roll on to the next town.  I stayed off the brakes as much as possible, and used the engine to brake on corners.

In Salida, I found a parts store, that opened at 7:30, which was the exact time I pulled up.  That works.  Pulled off the tupperware to get to the reservoir, and while I was working on things, a man pulled up beside me and asked if it was anything serious.  “No major prob”, I replied.  We talked a while as I was finishing up things.

Ed kept me entertained while I was adding brake fluid. Turns out he rides with Malcom Smith! Go figure…

Ed is a retired forest ranger, and turns out to be a moto rider, enjoying the fire roads around Salida with none other than Malcom Smith, off road motorcycling legend and star of “On Any Sunday”.  Man, another unique day is in the making…

Coffee and breakfast, and I’m heading north again.  The air feels good, and the weather is great.  Worked my way through some great sweepers and aimed Katrina west on I-70.  This has to be one of the best interstates in the country, and you know how I despise interstate highways.  Made the best of good cell phone coverage and talked with Wes, Deb and Troy along the multi-lane.

Off on a 2 lane again and headed to Utah.  I met a pair of riders at the Utah visitors center that are heading to Banff on older Wings.  Nice guys.  Had to buy some Sinclair gas in Vernal, you know, supporting the dinosaurs and all.

The roads through Flaming Gorge are spectacular, with dynamic scenery.

What is it about Wyoming and cattle drives?



I met Kevin in Kemmerer, who had taken a ride on his bike over to Wyoming from Utah to pick up a lottery card.  The land opens up in Wyoming, and it beckons to be ridden with spirit.

Riding along the border of Utah and Wyoming, I came across a small yellow trailer filled with elk and buffalo jerkey.  Had to grab some elk jerkey.  I’ll be enjoying it over the next days.

Finishing up this journal at the Bull Moose Saloon in Alpine, enjoying a Snake River Pale Ale.  Talked to Deb earlier, and I am looking forward to picking her up in Seattle.  Life is indeed good.

July 7, 2010 Alpine, WY to Banff, AB

Up at 6, and left Alpine, WY around 7 in 42 degrees. Thin gloves, no jacket liner. Cold… Stopped.  Fixed that.

There’s a lot of farm land in Idaho.  Lots…  I found a cut-off to I-15 via Hwy 48, saved a lot of time.  I-15 is long and straight. Hardly anyone on the road.

Crossed the Montana border. Where is everyone? Why is this multi-lane highway even here?  Fueled in Lima, MT – What happens here?  So different than the big city.  Nice change though to be in low pressure.

Hwy 141 brought me back to two lanes again, thank God…  Nice lake in the middle of the forest. Fuel/Rest.  Made good time today on the quiet I-15, feeling good, and great weather. Called Fernie and canceled reservation at the Raging Elk. Going almost 800 miles today to Banff and meet the Hyder group. But, where the heck is the Hyder group staying?

Roosville Crossing at Canada border. “Where you from? Where you going? First time in Canada? Pull your bike over there and stay on it. We’re going to run a few checks. OK, any arrests/convictions? OK, have a good time in Canada.”  Headed north.  Dang, scenery is getting nice. 100 KM/hr sucks…

Stopped in Radium Hot Springs for fuel. Where is internet? Found pub. Did not find internet. As I entered the pub, Trevor at bar says, “Lots of clothes you’re wearing, eh?” I explained it was cold earlier. Not here. Dang hot.  Met Keith and Sue from Fort McMurray at pub. Lots of oil up there,  they say. They ride. Common thread… While talking with them, I remembered I have Herman’s route in my computer…


See that car ahead of me? I started using it as advanced deer warning.

Off to ride again.  Entered Kootenay National Park. Dodged Deer, used car in front of me as early deer warning system (brake lights – deer…).

Stop… Took photo stitch series for panorama of Canadian Rockies. Remember that post before I started this ride?

Made it to Banff downtown. Sun is setting. Pulled computer and loaded Herman’s route in GPS. Now I know. The Hyder group is up on the mountain side at the Rimrock Resort.

Called Bo – Room 434. “Finally getting here? Been tracking you on Spotwalla. Want to sleep on the sofa?” “Why, yes”, I say. “Rise at 6, ride at 7”, is Bo’s response.  “Sounds good. Thanks, Bo-“.  Unpack, and grab a salmon salad and a brew. Armando arrives late – I greet him out front. “7 AM ride?… Uh, no thanks.”

July 8, 2010 Banff, AB to Golden, BC

5:20 AM.  What’s that light? It’s bright outside. Up, ready, pack bike. Fuel.

Hwy 1 out of Banff

Rode Hwy 1A with the Hyder group upon Armando’s recommendation.

Elk? Yes. Grizzly Bear? Yes. Nice road? Yes.

Stopped at Lake Louise for a group photo. Awesome vistas! Say goodbye to Hyder group as they were going to breakfast.  I’ll see them back on the Pacific Coast.

Rode on to Moraine Lake. Walked to ice melt falls through the forest.  Nice.  Close to glaciers, but high above me.  Cool.

Back on the main highway and on to the ice fields. But, how far is it? Fueled at Lake Louise. I have to turn around at 80 miles to make it safely back with the fuel in the tank.  I pass by a gas station at highway 11.  I could ride further now.  75 miles. Ice fields. Wow.

Never been at a glacier… Met Stan, Bus driver from Nova Scotia. Talked bikes.

A Hawaiian walked back to the parking lot with his vest of patches. Saw my Texas plate.  He’s been to Texas, and showed me his patch.

Walked up to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier. Gasped for air.  Plenty of wind, though, and cold. This mountain area is the only place in the world where there are three continental divides, Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic.  Stood there in awe for a bit, and headed down.

Turned back on Hwy 93. Breathtaking vistas everywhere. Just point camera and randomly shoot. Great temperatures, sunny sky, lots of ice!

Going down in elevation – need fuel at Lake Louise again? Wow, great mileage. Go for Golden, BC. Dang, more road construction. Hot. What’s up with that?

Rode into Golden and fueled. Entered address of Kicking Horse Hostel in GPS. Discovered that no street names exist in GPS for Canada cities. Dang. Asked around. Vague directions. Try to find Station Ave. Asked again. Hear that Mary’s Motel is good. Fine. Done.  Checked in, showered and did laundry.

Used Katrina as an expensive German clothes line to dry my shirts.

I’m hungry. Golden Taps Pub downtown sounds good. Sandwich. Fernie Pale Ale. Might as well support their economy since I canceled my reservation there.

It’s open mic night for bands. Even a couple from France with accordions. That’s different, and great. Tired, but I want to write this up.  Grab my thoughts on 4 napkins with a borrowed pen.  Heading for USA tomorrow. Getting closer to picking up Deb on Saturday.  Good night…

July 9, 2010 Golden, BC to Omak, WA

Sleeping well… What’s,,, that,,, music?  Oh, my alarm…  Dang, morning came soon.  Oh, yeah… I got in bed late…  No problem, it’s a great route ahead today.  Good incentive to getout of bed.

The scene of the fun last night.

Packed up and rode out of Golden west on Hwy 1, the Trans-Canada Highway.  The locals here seem to know where the Mounties patrol.  They pick up speed and drop in places.

Rode through Glacier National Park of Canada.  Lots of ice up there, eh?  Beautiful views and a very good road.  Tunnels let the snow and avalanches go right over the road.

That’s a lot of ice… Glacier National Park of Canada

Revelstoke looks like a good spot for a rest and breakfast.  Nice-looking historic downtown.  I found a coffee shop, and asked about breakfast.  The friendly lass served me coffee, but pointed me across the street to get a breakfast panini.  I did so, and enjoyed it sitting in the very comfortable morning air, enjoying the beautiful British Columbia scenery all around me.


Headed out of town, and south on the lightly-traveled Hwy 23 towards the Galena/Shelter Bay ferry.  Remember the locals?  I followed along…  As I neared the ferry landing, a long line of cars started shooting north.  Good sign, since I was only 2 KM away from the lading.  The ferry would be there.  Long line… hopefully I’ll get on.  I get waved on, and one car/trailer behind me is the last.  Nice trip across the Columbia River.

On the other side of the river, once we get past the trucks that got off of the ferry first, the pace quickens.  Remember the locals?  I’m just taking their queues.  Hwy 23 south of the ferry is full of high-speed sweepers on good pavement.  Feels good. The water below keeps coming back as the trees thin a bit on the shore.

I picked up Hwy 6 at Nakusp.  More sweepers, and then the turns tighten.  I came across one section of road that was so fun, i did it twice.  Video here…

Kept rolling south to the border.  More questions… Many more than the Canadians, eh?  Searched my top case.  I must look pretty shady with my unshaven face.  On through the border crossing, and back in the US of A.  Hwy 21 is nice just south of the border in Washington.

Made it into Omak, WA.  Not much of a reason to stop here other than a bed and good air conditioning.  That’s a good thing, since it’s 103 degrees.  This town is, how do you say… well, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum of where I have just been up north…

Tomorrow, Seattle to pick up Debbie.  Woo hoo!

July 10, 2010 Omak to Seattle

Had a relatively short but nice and twisty 250-mile ride via Hwy 2 over the Cascades today to pick up Deb and head to Seattle for an overnight stay.

There’s a nice looking lady that looks to need a ride…

It’s good to be back with her again after 6 days on the road. We strolled the Pike Place Market and had dinner on the waterfront, with a stop at the original Starbucks. Lots of music on the streets here.

The LSBMWR Hyder group made it to Hyder today, and have probably been hyderized by now…

Tomorrow, another border crossing and on to Vancouver.

July 11, 2010 Seattle to Vancouver

Deb and I walked over to where Katrina spent the night, loaded her up, and worked our way out of the Seattle bustle towards Canada.

We had a very nice twisty ride through Larrabee State Park south of Bellingham.  Stopped for a bit there, and had a few calls with Wes and Laura before we lost our cell coverage in Canada.

The crossing took a while, with a bit of a stack-up, but the lady letting us in was friendly and efficient.  Worked our way through farm land southeast of Vancouver, and then through the freeways to downtown.

We stayed near Stanley Park and the West End at the Blue Horizon

It was obvious who had one the World Cup final by the Spain fans celebrating all over the city.

Walking the streets was and interesting study of people, and we literally stumbled upon the scene of the Winter Olympics at the convention center.  The Olympic torch was massive, and made of glass to resemble ice with the flames atop it.

The sun sets late up here, and illuminated the cosmopolitan landscape with a warm light.  We enjoyed it on our balcony, halfway up the thin and tall hotel building, with only 8 rooms on each floor and corner windows in each.

July 12, 2010 Vancouver to Victoria

We saw several eagles along the bay to the ferry

I misjudged the distance from our hotel to the ferry to Victoria.  But, it was a nice ride, even if in the city, and we were treated to eagles flying beside us at the bay.

We caught the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria.  They had a very effective method of parking motos, with the bike parked on the side stand, and strapped down against a rear wheel stop.  The ferry ride across the channel was relaxing, smooth and cool. Once on Vancouver Island, we rode the short section from the ferry landing to our stay for the night, Helm’s Inn in Victoria.  Unpacked the bike, and immediately started exploring the very interesting Old Town.

We first stopped down on the inner bay dock at Red Fish Blue Fish for some Salmon tacos and Cod fish and chips.

There are many businesses and pubs related to Irish and Scottish culture.  Had a good time in the Irish Times, first watching Australian Football, and later listening to the sounds of Tom Hooper playing the guitar and harmonica.

July 13, 2010 Victoria to Forks

We had so much fun walking around Victoria, and figured out that we have more to see.  We will have to return once again to Victoria.  We had a good breakfast at the locals cafe, Blue Fox.

We decided to grab an earlier ferry to Port Angeles to arrive earlier in the day.  We had a good time waiting at the landing, getting to know border patrol agent George, who is a moto rider with a good sense of humor.  He kept telling us he wasn’t supposed to get in pictures, but kept posing… go figure.

The ferry ride from Victoria to Port Angeles went through 8-foot swells that made some passengers sick, and tipped over aF800GS in the car deck. I ran down to secure my bike against a truck, and found the Italian’s GS almost tipped over. I ran upstairs to find Bruno, and he was sick. He said he did not care, and I told him I would secure it. No prob.

The movie, Twilight, is big in Forks.  Very big.  Everywhere you look in the small town is a reference to Twilight.  Back in Dallas, once folks heard we were staying in Forks, Deb had to start taking orders for souvenirs. We roamed the town looking for scenes where the movie had been filmed.

At Forks, we met the Hyder group rolling in.  Visited a bit, but retired to the rooms quickly due to the late hour and long ride on Thursday.

July 14, 2010 Forks to Coos Bay

Quick night of sleep, and an early start down Hwy 101, The Pacific Coast Highway.

Riders split for miles, and converged again in Astoria for lunch on the Columbia River mouth.  The pilot boat was running back and forth to large ships making their way inland.

What a thrill of a ride, and a beating at the same time. There was heavy traffic on two lane roads, and then many 45-mile zones through the towns. But the section just north of Florence was exhilarating, with many technical twisties and high vistas over the ocean.

Coos Bay

The evening sun was setting with a very bronze attitude.  It was nice with the silhouettes of the high sand dunes, with birds flying through the warm light.

July 15, 2010 Coos Bay to Lake Tahoe

Our room had a nice view of the water in Coos Bay.  Deb and I split from the Hyder groupto work our way over the mountains, and on to Lake Tahoe, in prep forher flight out of Reno Friday.  This morning, the fog had rolled in, which was fitting for the area we were in. I had heard bikes starting earlier while I gathered things to pack back on the bike. When I opened the door to take some bags out, all other bikes were gone, except for Armando and Paula’s, of course.

Their clocks run a bit slow, and they are having a great time rising late, exploring everywhere possible, and arriving late in the evening.  Note the Do Not Disturb hanger in the picture, and especially note the keys still in the door…

Deb and I rode east from the coast on highway 42 through the fog. It was chilly, and got colder as we gained elevation over the mountains. But the fog filtering the light through the trees was beautiful. We followed a couple of riders through the sweeping turns, and waved our greetings when we finally passed them.

Deb figured out how to drink coffee on a motorcycle.  That made her day.  We picked up interstate 5 south of Roseburg, and actually enjoyed it, as it twisted through the hills and passes. At one of the fuel stops, I saw I missed a call from Tom, and checked his voice mail. He left the MOA rally grounds this morning in Redmond, OR and saw from our SPOT locators with his mobile app that we were on similar paths.

Reno was hot, but the ride up to Lake Tahoe was cool, in more than one way.

Photo credit Tom Oliver

Tom was low on the ground, shooting photos as we rolled into the inn at Lake Tahoe.  We later had a great meal on the patio at Austin’s Cafe at high altitude under the tall pines.

Tom and I will ride together for the next few days as we make our way home. I’m dropping Debbie off tomorrow morning at the Reno airport. I have really enjoyed her company riding over 1,300 miles from Seattle up to Vancouver, Victoria and down the Pacific Coast Highway through Forks and Coos Bay to Reno.

July 16, 2010 Lake Tahoe to Salina

We awoke this morning under the sweet-smelling pines of Lake Tahoe, packed the bikes, grabbed a quick breakfast and made our way down the mountain to the airport while Deb finished her coffee in the twisties (yes, that is correct). Dropped Deb at RNO, gave her a big kiss, and Tom and I rode east towards the heat.

We crossed Nevada on Hwy 50, “The Loneliest Road in America”. It is an interesting ride with many dynamics, hot lower altitude dry scrub, and multiple 7,000 foot passes with cooler temps and sweeping turns.

Yes, that is a shoe tree…  We turned off of 50 onto 722 for a twisty diversion through the hills and mountains near Austin, NV.  It was a pleasant road, but fairly rough. Stopped in Austin for a tasty burger and iced tea.

Slots at the convenience store…

In Ely, we ran into 4 Taiwanese girls touring around Nevada who could speak very little English. They were very friendly, and got a thrill out of sitting on our bikes, snapping many photos.

There’s a 30-hour Iron Butt rally starting in Ely Saturday. We figured that something was going on by the looks of the bikes rolling down the street and pulling in beside us.

The Utah sunset was remarkable this evening. It lasted for 30 minutes in various spectacular lighting arrangements, including rainbows from rain that was not making it to the ground.  Tom and I are in Salina, UT this evening after 587 smiles, as Voni says… The shower and air conditioning feels good.

July 17, 2010 Salina to Sipapu

7:00 AM… Grab a quick breakfast at the motel, fuel up and head out on I-70. Highly recommended interstate, if you have to do interstates. Long sweeping curves, and spectacular Utah sandstone landscape. We split from the interstate at Hwy 191, and made our way down to Moab for a fuel/rest break.  Talked with Hans, fuel truck driver and fellow moto rider.

On to Colorado through the interesting red slick rock, farm land, and through Durango for a stop at Kip’s Grill in Pagosa Springs. Watched the sprint finish of today’s Tour in the grill. Saddled up, fueled and made our way down through the mystical Hwy 64 in northern New Mexico to Chama.

Over the mountain through refreshing summer showers and down to Taos in magical light. Up to Sipapu in cool mountain air to the lodge, where we have had a very tasty dinner served up by a take-charge, friendly and spunky waitress. The sounds of the stream below us is relaxing, and the hummingbirds are way too busy. Tomorrow… back to the Texas furnace, but home to my lovely wife and family.

July 18, 2010 Sipapu to Home

Tom and I packed quickly in Sipapu and decided to ride first and eat breakfast later to get an early start on the 660-mile return to North Texas. It was in the low 40’s as we descended out of the mountains. At the first fuel stop past Mora, we shed the long sleeve shirts and liners for the prep to enter the Texas furnace. We had a friendly ginger kitten that seemed very comfortable with the motorcycles.  The temperature rose after noon into the 100’s in Texas and stayed there for the remainder of the ride. We downed cold drinks at each fuel stop and refilled the hydration systems to keep the fluids in while on the bike.

Almost 12 hours after we left Sipapu, Tom waved goodbye as he turned off for his home in Frisco, and I rode further east to my home.

I rolled into the garage, shut down the KRS, and heard the sounds of our border collie, and laughing from my son (Wes), his girlfriend (Rachel) and Deb. It’s good to be home after the ~6,200 miles through some spectacular scenery in North America.

What a ride…


Tracklog (with photos)–20100706


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