Glacier – Banff – Jasper Day #6

Well, this is going to be a fairly short entry today. We rounded the corner toward home, but still saw some pretty cool stuff.

We almost rode past the Mount Robson visitor center, but the timing worked out with our normal rest break interval, and I also happened to peek over my shoulder as we approached (and saw the mountain, which was pretty cool).

I didn’t know anything about this place until we rode through. The visitor center has some nice exhibits, you need to go downstairs to see them (I didn’t think it was marked very well).

A picture of the old man from the visitor center parking lot.

Mount Robson with the peak obscured by clouds.

Need to color correct these next two when I get home. The grizzly bear exhibit was set up so you could look down it’s throat.

Apparently grizzly bears like coffee. I don’t think my aluminum panniers would have a chance.

I didn’t get any pictures, but they had a bunch of the local gamefish mounted as well. Another exhibit explained how the Rocky Mountains were formed.

As we headed further south, we started to get in the smoke again. Just enough to obscure the views. We stopped for lunch in Blue River at the helicopter lodge. At this point we decided we were making good time and booked a hotel room in Merritt, which is about 45 miles south of Kamloops.

The stretch between Kamloops and Merritt was a little bit hairy. We had strong cross winds and I was getting pushed around a bit. There were a couple of instances where I had to slow way down. It definitely pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone – I had the death grip going…

The hotel we picked is brand new… So new that the room still smells like fresh paint. Tomorrow, we’ll eat or complementary breakfast before blasting home. We are close enough that we should be home by lunch and miss the afternoon traffic.

Glacier – Banff – Jasper Day #5

Man was our room hot last night! It got to the point that my dad had to go find the ice machine to keep his medicine cool. Didn’t have too much trouble sleeping though.

We got a bit of a late start today. We slept in late and had a sit down breakfast at the hotel restaurant. By the time we got our bikes loaded and were on our way, it was 11a. The plan for today was to ride the Icefields Parkway, which isn’t terribly long, and we had camping reservations near Jasper, so leaving late was not a big deal.

Our first stop was to see Lake Louise. It was a zoo and the parking was crazy! Fortunately, motorcycles get front row parking. 🙂

Most of the water up there is a cool blue color.

After that, it was time to hit the Icefields Parkway. Banff had most of the mountains and ice.

This is Bow Glacier and Bow Glacier falls.

Look, another glacier.

The old man taking some scenery pictures.

Even the rivers were blue.

Cool mountain… Didn’t even get off the bike to take this one.

Once you cross into Jasper National Park, you come to Columbia Icefield.

To give a sense of scale, those dots on the left side of the glacier are big tour buses.

And that was just about it for glacier. The rest of the ride north was through forested land with rigged mountains on either side, although it was not as impressive as the ride through Banff National Park.

We stopped at Sunwapta Falls Lodge for a late lunch… So late, that we should dinner.

We pulled into our campsite around 5p. The campground is huge, and the sites don’t have a lot of privacy. It does have nice bathrooms with running water.

Tomorrow we head toward home! Our goal is to get to Kamloops tomorrow and stay in a hotel so we can get an early start Thursday and beat the afternoon traffic.

Glacier – Banff – Jasper Day #4

We did not get eaten by bears last night, but it was pretty close. As we were packing the bikes this morning, a couple of park rangers came out of the bushes near or campsite. They thought we were just arriving, and wanted to make sure that we knew there were a couple of bears in the area feeding on berries. I guess we didn’t look berry-like last night.

Our start time seems to be 9a every day, because that’s when we hit the road again. It was a bit cooler out this morning, so I wore my down jacket underneath my motorcycle gear and opted for my heavier gloves.

Our first wildlife viewing came very early on in the ride. About a half mile down the road from the campground, there was a big black bear walking down the middle of the road. He didn’t seem to like is, and ran into the bushes before I could get a picture. Motorcycle don’t look like berries either…

The first half of our ride today was heading north through Alberta to Longview. This area is where the plains meet the Ricky mountains. Much of the ride looked like this picture.

Today was also eclipse day, and I brought a couple of pairs of eclipse glasses. We pulled over on the side of the highway and stared at the soon like a couple of dorks for about half an hour. At the peak, the sun was about 80% eclipsed. It never got very dark, the light just turned a bit orange.

After Longview, we cut over to highway 40 and into the mountains again. This was a very cool road to ride, with big, jagged mountains on both sides.

Panorama at one of our rest stops.

Jagged peak.

We also passed several small herds of Rocky Mountain Sheep. The largest group was blocking the road. I did a screen grab from my 360 fly from the drive by.

After highway 40, we started heading west on Highway 1 toward Banff and Lake Louise. This was a four lane road that didn’t seem quite as scenic as highway 40, but it was still pretty cool.

We pulled into the hotel at Lake Louise, and this is the view from the parking lot.

First hotel of the trip! Which means I got my first shower since leaving, and boy did it feel good.

We hooked up with some friends from back home for beer and dinner. Kinda cool that our schedules randomly had us here at the same time.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading up to Jasper, hopefully will get some more good pics.

Glacier – Banff – Jasper Day #2

Slept very well in the tent last night… The campground was a bit noisy until 11p or so, but fine after that. Woke up around 5a and read for a bit (“Beneath A Scarlett Sky: A Novel”).  We took our time breaking camp and didn’t actually hit the road until 9a.
We went down a couple of very cool roads right of the bat – Addy Gifford Road and Flowery Trail Road.

Didn’t get a ton of pictures today, but always manage to get one of my bike… This is at a park just past the Idaho border in Oldtown.

We stopped to visit my wife’s uncle at their place on Flathead Lake. Did not stay for very long… We got in a bit later than I expected, mostly because I forgot about the time change. We did sit out on the deck, drink a Coke, and enjoyed the view.

We finally pulled into our site at Timber Wolf Resort around 7p. They have rules about food storage and garbage to keep from attracting bears. This made is really excited to eat at our campsite… Fortunately they had s gazebo area far away from our tents. Nothing like beef jerky and peanuts for dinner, YUM!

After eating, we finally made it back to start setting up our tents as it was getting dark.

Tomorrow we are off to Glacier and Waterton… Hopefully will get more pictures.

Glacier – Banff – Jasper Day #1

Started our trip today! While I was waiting for my dad to arrive this morning, I did a Facebook live walk-around of my bike – I’d post a link, but I’m composing this offline since we don’t have internet access at our campsite. So, I’ll just post a picture of my bike in the driveway.

The first part of the ride took us over Stevens Pass – a trip I’ve done a million times. As we were descending the pass into Leavenworth, we saw a deer crossing the Wenatchee river. Unfortunately there was not a good place to pull over and take a picture.

For lunch, we stopped at our favorite BBQ stop in Cashmere.

After lunch, we topped off out fuel and continued on Highway 2 across the Columbia River. Once we climbed away from the river, we were hit with some pretty good cross winds until about Coulee City. We stopped for a quick break at the boat launch/campground at the South end of Banks Lake.

After the rest break, we continued on to Wilbur before turning North to take the Keller Ferry across Lake Roosevelt. I have to say the descent to the ferry landing was a very cool and twisty road – almost too twisty – there are several hairpin turns requiring you to slow way down, it was kind of hard for me to get in a groove. As we approached the landing, they held the boat for us so we didn’t have to wait for a round trip. I tried to take some photos while sitting in my bike with my helmet on… This one came out the best.

After the Keller Ferry, we headed toward the Gifford-Inchelium ferry. To get there we took Bridge Creek Road, which wear another awesome windy road. The problem – they was an active fire nearby and they were using this road to stage all of the equipment and firefighters. Ok, it wasn’t really a problem, there were just a couple of areas where we needed to slow down. There was also some smoke in places, but not too bad.

We weren’t (and still aren’t) sure how far until our next fuel, so we stopped in Inchelium for fuel. They only had 87 octane, I supposed one tank of regular unleaded won’t kill me. However, this is where the first bike issue came up… The fuel is not coming out of my camel tank. I just had the bike in for service yesterday and they must not have hooked it back up correctly. It is not the end of the world, my range will be limited to about 240 miles. 

After the gas stop, we hoped on the next ferry, which landed just down the road from our campsite…. In fact, here is a picture from the campground.

The campground we are at is mostly full… We only had a couple of spots to choose from. The sites are pretty open, without much privacy. We can hear the ferry go back and forth…. Not sure how late it runs. They do have some nice bathrooms though!


Miles Total: 1286
Miles Today: 97

Today we slept in – our goal was to figure out how we’d like to continue the trip. We officially decided that finishing the BDR isn’t going to happen this time for various reasons. We’ve had a great trip up to this point, and we can still get some nice pavement in before heading home.  We’ve arranged to stay with my daughter in Pullman this weekend, and then we’ll probably make our way home after that.

Here is our campsite at the Powell Campground last night.


We took a stroll down to the river to check it out, it was pretty neat.


We decided to ride to Lolo for lunch and then make our plan for the afternoon ride/campground. On our way to Lolo, my dad decided he wanted a hamburger for lunch. We cruised through Lolo and didn’t see any good candidates, so we continued on to Missoula which was 8 miles further up the road.

The first task in Missoula was to find gas before my dad’s bike went dry again, after driving all the way through town with no luck, we finally gave up and did a search on the GPS. My dad really wanted a Red Robin burger, and he found a Red Robin in his GPS – we still had issues finding it. After driving all around a mall, we were about to give up when we spotted it.

At lunch, we decided that we would head back to the same campground as last night. That would put us in striking distance of Pullman and to allow us to go south for a bit on highway 95 which has some cool areas south of Lewiston.

On our way out of Missoula, we got caught in the traffic jam from hell. There was road construction between Missoula and Lolo and the light timing in town kinda sucked. It was a move 10 feet forward and turn off the motorcycle for a bit. We were in that mess for about 45 minutes.

I was leading the way back when I spotted a sign for the Lolo Creek Campground. I missed the turn, but called back to my dad to pull in and check it out. I went down the road a bit, turned around and missed the turn AGAIN!

I turned out that there was a good spot for us, so we decided to spend the night here.


Tomorrow we’ll start making our way to Pullman. The Lolo Corridor section of highway 12 should be a spectacular ride. If we have time, we’ll head south on 13 to Grangeville. We’ll try and make a loop out of Old 95/White Bird and the new highway 95. Lots of twisties!


Miles Total: 1190
Miles Today: 103

I actually slept pretty well last night, even though logging trucks were going by all night long, or at least every time I woke up for a little bit. It only got down to 32 degrees, so a bit warmer than the last couple of nights. We took our time breaking camp, and were still out by 8:30a. My bike started this morning – no battery issues! That’s because we had jumper cables and a full jump start battery pack.

The first leg this morning was on pavement and there were nonstop logging trucks…so I took a picture.


The first stop of the day was Pierce, Idaho to top off my dad’s tank, we didn’t want a repeat of yesterdays gas debacle.


Out of Pierce, we were on pavement for a bit…when we transitioned to dirt, a whole bunch of turkeys ran in front of me. The roads were pretty easy all the way up to the Lolo Motorway. When we got on the actual Motorway, we were greeted by this sign.


The early part of the motorway was fairly laid back gravel/dirt roads with occasional rocky sections and hill climbs/descents. As we moved along, the trail got a bit more difficult. More ruts, more loose gravel/rocks. Here we are at our first rest break.


Along the motorway, there were occasional signs that discussed the history of the area. We tried to pull over and read all of them.


and then it happened…Going down a fairly long descent with a few ruts and rocks, and had a nasty section of loose, large rocks in the middle. I powered through it ok, but I have to say my butt tightened a bit while I did it. Once I made it to the bottom of the hill, I waited for my dad to catch up. I waited and waited and waited, and then I figured he must have fallen along the way. So, I turned around to look for him. Of course he crashed right in the middle of the nasty section. There was no good place for me to stop, so I had to power on by. I couldn’t find any place close to park my bike, so I went back through the nasty section again, and found a spot to park a couple of hundred yards down the hill.

I grabbed my camera and walked up the hill to see how I could help – it was way worse than I could have imagined. He took the bike into a culvert that was almost as deep as his bike is tall. There was no way we were going to get it out without assistance.






Fortunately, my dad had made a bike rescue kit, just for this situation. I almost think he did this on purpose just to test it out – there happened to be a tree on the opposite side of the road in perfect position to pull the bike out.  The rescue kit consisted of some climbing rope and pulleys to get a 6:1 advantage, and some prusik knots to keep the bike from sliding forward when we rested. It still took nearly an hour to get it pulled out.

Here it is on the road again – you can see the rope going across the road to the magic tree.


After that ordeal, we pulled over at a dispersed campsite to grab some lunch and recover.


Once we were going again we passed the “Smoking Place”


We kept motoring along and around 2:00 or 2:30, we came up to a sign that showed we were only half way through the motorway. When my dad saw that, you could hear the disappointment and fatigue in his voice. The sign also showed an alternate fast way down to highway 12 (which is a cool pavement ride in itself). I gave him the option of bailing early and he took it.

One the way down, we discussed how we’d like to proceed. It is going to take a long time to finish the BDR if we can only get in 75 miles of dirt at a time. At this point, I think we are going to reroute to some nice twisty pavement for a few days. Then go visit my daughter in Pullman and catch a football game. Don’t know for sure yet, we are going to sleep on it and decide in the morning.


Miles Total: 1087
Miles Today: 191

Got up this morning and it was cold, cold, cold! 26 degrees was the low last night. Here is the proof – notice the frost on the windshield.


Here is a picture of the whole bike with frost on it.


We got all packed up and ready to go. It was still below freezing, so I got out all of my heated gear and hooked up the controller. I went to start the bike, and it wouldn’t start! The engine was turning over, just not starting. This is a known issue with the model year for my bike – I believe you need to bug the shop about it and they will swap out the battery wires to something bigger. The solution in the field is to wait until the bike warms up enough to start. We tried doing that, but I was a bit impatient and ended up killing the battery with all of my start attempts. No problem – my dad has a jumpstart battery with him. We pulled it out and it wasn’t charged! Fortunately we were staying at a campground and found some help with jumper cables.

Now we had a dilemma – our next camp was likely to be very remote at high altitude, so it would be cold and we would not be passing through any towns. We elected to slab it out to town to buy some jumper cables, and then head down to Pierce on pavement to make up for the time we lost. I have to admit I was very grumpy until we stopped for lunch…

We stopped at a park in Boville for lunch. Had my usual jerky and nuts that I picked up from a gas station. Made a quick call to my wonderful wife who gave me a bit of a pep talk which made some of my grumpiness go away.


The pavement route really wasn’t that bad – we had a couple of nice twisty roads. One thing you need to remember – if you have a small fuel tank, you have to pay attention to the gas stations, otherwise you’ll be filling your tank from backup bottles.


After our little fuel stop, we cruised into Orofino to an actual gas station and filled up both bikes (plus the spare bottles). The goal for tonight was one of a couple of campsites just short of Pierce – they only showed up on one map and not the GPS, so we were a bit nervous.

The first site we looked at turned out pretty nice, so we are staying here (Campbell Ponds).


Tomorrow we are going to do the Lolo Motorway!


Miles Total: 896
Miles Today: 198

We start the Idaho BDR today! Starting in Bonners Ferry, we woke up in our hotel room to a cold foggy morning.


So, we went and got some breakfast from the hotel restaurant, but things didn’t really warm up or clear. The plan was to head down to Clark Fork and skip most of section 8, before heading south into Wallace. Since this was quite a bit of highway riding, decided to put on my heated jacket.

It was my turn to be an idiot when starting today. We got down the road and my heated gear was having an issue, so I pulled over to reset the controller. After moving on again, I realized that I hadn’t strapped my helmet…had to pull over to fix it.

We fueled up in Clark Fork and I pulled my bike forward from the pump so I could go into the store and buy some snacks. As I was taking my gloves off, the bike started to fall over – not sure if it was too steep of a slope…Fortunately I was right there to catch it.

Just out of Clark Fork, a couple of whitetail deer jumped out in front of me and ran along side for a bit. They were tiny, which is probably good for them because there were hunters everywhere today.

The ride to Wallace was not as scenic as the other days up to this point, mostly a ride through the forest. We did go along a cool ridge, and along a couple of creeks, but those sections didn’t last for very long.

We stopped for lunch at the top of a ridge.


There were hunters everywhere along here. Every wide spot had a truck or a camp set up.


Random rest stop before we got to Wallace.


The road south of Wallace had much better views. We spent quite a bit of time following along a river. We made it most of the way to the town of Avery and are staying in the Telichipah campground. We couldn’t find a single site that could accommodate two hammocks, so we each took our own.

Here is my spot.


Here is my dad’s.


My hands are getting cold – it is already in the low 40s, I think it is gonna be a cold one tonight!


Miles total: 698
Miles today: 0

Rest day today – just a short post. Still only slept in until 7:15a. We hung out in the hotel for a bit this morning before heading over to the restaurant for brunch. We had 1/2 off coupons for the Sunday Brunch Buffet.


After breakfast, we reinstalled the steering stabilizer on my dad’s bike. Took us just over an hour. In this picture, you can see the blue loctite oozing up from the fasteners that were causing the issue.


Once the stabilizer was installed, it was time to go inside and watch the Seahawks game. While the game was going, it rained a bit, so we picked a good day to skip riding. The Seahawks come up with a last second win as a bonus!

We spent some time planning our ride tomorrow. We are just going to cruise down to Clark Fork and head into section 7 of the Idaho BDR. The dirt section just north of Clark Fork has some washouts that are supposed to be manageable but may require walking the bike through. Don’t really feel like dealing with that. The northern most part of section 8 doesn’t look too exciting – we’ve already been to the Canadian border on this trip. There is a campground between Wallace and Avery that we’d like to make – we’ll see how things go.