Travel

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.

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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.

NWP/IDBDR Day #5

Miles Total: 698
Miles Today: 184

Our goal today was to get to Sandpoint and stay in a hotel room. This stretch should have quite a bit of pavement, so I didn’t set any kind of alarm, figuring I could sleep in. Well, I made until 6:30a.

We started off easy today with my dad leading. We wanted to let him get used to the bike without the steering stabilizer on it. The first bit of the ride was along pavement into the town of Metaline for some fuel.

After the fuel stop we had another short section of pavement before hitting dirt again. We saw some turkeys and deer along the road today – no pictures. We also crossed into Idaho, which was marked by a post next to the road.

We decided to take the easy bypass option as we neared Priest Lake. Well, the track that we were following did not match the road we were on. Fortunately, there weren’t really many choices for us to make…just stayed on the same road and it eventually connected with the main track. I’ll bug BestRest Products when I get home and see if they want my track for that section.

Rest break before the easy part.

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All along this dirt section, there were these yellow bear identification signs. I guess there are enough grizzly bears around that this is an issue. Should make camping in my hammock more exciting going forward. Fortunately I got used to sleeping with the grizzlies on my Alaska trip. (Not…).

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When we got to Priest Lake State Park, we decided to pay the day use fee and eat at the picnic area. We paid the fee at the entrance to the park, but when we got to the picnic area, it was closed! So, we went to an overflow parking lot and improvised a picnic spot.

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While riding along today, we decided that we would take a rest day at a hotel tomorrow and watch the Seahawks game before starting the Idaho BDR. I tried to use Expedia at the state park, but had a poor connection. It was good enough for me to see that most of the hotels in Sandpoint were full.

I called my awesome wife and asked her to book a hotel for us with a good internet connection from home. She ended up getting us a room for two nights at a Casino in Bonners Ferry. I programmed the destination into my GPS and hit the go button. It ended up taking us down on some highways. When we arrived at the hotel and I checked our track, it turns out our planned route to the area cut the corner to Sandpoint, so if you are following along on spotwalla (http://tinyurl.com/zlmpeta), you will see the discrepancy.

As we were passing through Sandpoint, we stopped to pick up some tools so my dad could reinstall his steering stabilizer. And then it happened! As I was pulling out of my parking spot, the pavement jumped up and pulled my bike down to the ground…after 5 days of riding on dirt, I finally dropped my bike on a flat paved parking lot. I didn’t get any pictures, if you want to see one, you can check out my dad’s blog at https://charlessk.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/nwp-idbdr-2016-days-5-6/

The hotel room is nice, and should be a good place to rest up.

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There is a restaurant here with a view of the river.

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I ordered the Prime Rib with a loaded baked potato.

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Got some apple pie for dessert.

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After dinner, we went back to the room and watched the WSU/Boise St game. The Cougs did not have a good start, but almost pulled it off in the end. Go Cougs!

NWP/IDBDR Day #4

Miles Total: 514
Miles Today: 64

Up at 6a again today and had the same old breakfast before packing up to leave. I charged my InReach last night and noticed that the mount was loose when I put it back on the bike. So I opened up my fancy red tool tube, grabbed my tools and fixed it up. Unfortunately, this would not be the only time it was opened today…

There was a bit of mist on the lake this morning…grabbed a quick pic before we took off.

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We continued on dirt for a bit, passing through some active logging areas. There were a couple of spots where machinery had to pull over to let us by. Everyone was very nice about it.

Our first stop of the day was in the town of Northport. They had a very nice park along the Columbia river. They restrooms were well maintained and heated! There was nice grassy picnic area and a boat launch. We actually had cell phone service, so I gave my wife a quick call.

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After I hung up, a train came by…Later on, we caught up to this train again and I got some pretty cool 360 videos going along side.

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After the park, we grabbed some gas and started off toward Boundary Dam. Just after we passed the train, off in the distance, something big moved across the road in front of us. I’m 95% sure it was a bear – I tried to get some 360 video, but when I reviewed it on my phone I couldn’t make it out. Perhaps when I get home on a big monitor I’ll be able to tell. Not 5 minutes after that, there was a big grouse standing on the side of the road.

Eventually, we moved from pavement on to gravel again. The terrain was pretty straightforward and not very difficult at all. I was leading the way and came through a hairpin turn that was a little bit loose. I called back to my Dad on the intercom to see if he made it ok, just as he said he crashed. He wasn’t going very fast and was not hurt at all. I found a good spot to turn around and go help him lift the bike up. I had to take a picture before I helped lift…

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Well it turns out this was a blessing in disguise. After getting the bike up and resting for a bit, we tried to continue on our way. Immediately my dad started freaking out – his handlebars wouldn’t turn in one direction.  The issue – a couple of fasteners on his steering stabilizer had vibrated loose (it was a miracle he didn’t lose the fasteners). The crash had finally pushed it to the point of failure.

If you look at the picture below, the red piece moves with the handlebars, the black rods behind had shifted up to prevent things from rotating. If you look at the close one, you can actually see that the top is scuffed up. If this had happened at the wrong time, really bad things would result.

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Now the problem became tightening those fasteners. Normally they are tightened before the stabilizer is installed on the bike. There was no clearance to get a tool in on either side. After quite a bit of finagling, he got one side tightened up – the other side was just impossible, and was basically not threaded at all. There was so little clearance, the the fastener couldn’t even come out. So, we added a zip tie for insurance, and started toward the Boundary Dam campground. We figured at that point, I could run for tools to do a better fix, or call for extraction if needed.

Here is a pic of him on the side of the trail fighting with the fastener.

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We went very slow through the rest of the dirt section, which gave us an opportunity to chat about our options. We didn’t have the tools to do a proper fix (or did we…) for the stabilizer. The obvious solution – you can actually remove the red piece in the picture above, which essentially returns things to the stock configuration of the bike (my Dad added the stabilizer after his crash on the Dempster a few years ago).

We arrived at the campground and nailed down a spot in case we needed to spend the night. Then it was time to start taking apart the bike. Below, you can see the handlebars off and the stabilizer out.

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With the handlebars off, he tried to get access to the fastener that was still loose. After a long battle, he gave up and put everything back together. To fix the problem, you need to remove the large nut in the steering column – go back and look at the close-up picture of the dampener. The issue was that we didn’t have a tool big enough to take it off. Then it hit me – that nut looks like the same size as the axle nut on my bike, and I have a wrench to take the tires off with me. Sure enough, we gave it a try and it worked.

He really, really, really, really wants that stabilizer installed on the bike. He has had issues with head shake on the freeway when trucks pass by, and the dampener solves the problem. We decided to head into Sandpoint tomorrow and get a hotel room. We’ll take Sunday as a “rest” day, go to a store and get some loctite, and reinstall the stabilizer. It should also give us the opportunity to watch the Seahawks game.

It is about 100 miles to Sandpoint from our current location (at least following the path we are taking, we will complete the Northwest Passage). At this point it is getting to be later in the day, so we decide to camp here for the night.

I haven’t had a shower in 4 days, and my current clothes needed to be washed. So I decided it was a good time to jump in the lake and go swimming. On the way down, I noticed this sign.

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I’m not sure if I should be happy that there hasn’t been a cougar sighting in a couple of weeks, or worried because they have a semi-permanent sign to update the sightings.

Here I am in the lake.

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Here is our campsite.

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That’s about it for today!

Camping dry run before NWP/IDBDR

Well, it has been just over two years since my last post. It has been hard to write anything up after the epic Alaska adventure as everything since then just seems trivial. In September I’m going to embark on as new motorcycle adventure doing the Northwest Passage Route over to the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route. I’ll save the details of the route for a future post. This particular trip is a quick overnighter to test out new camping gear and motorcycle configuration.

The planned route was to travel from the Eastside down to Enumclaw, take highway 410 over Chinook Pass, and then take highway 12 back across White Pass before heading north again. We camped near the top of white pass.

We stopped at the first scenic outlook on 410, but there was really only a peekaboo view of Mount Rainier. But it did make an excellent opportunity to get a picture of the bikes.

There was also a sign that went into detail on the Mather Memorial Parkway.

As we cruised further down the road, we came to a lookout that had a much better view of the mountain with white river in the foreground.


One of the most scenic parts of the ride today was going over Chinook Pass. Of course, I don’t have any photos to show for it. I should have some pretty cool video, but I’m writing this up at the campsite right now and don’t have a good way to access them.
After cresting Chinook Pass, we cruised along a small river for a bit before pulling into a small campground for a rest break. It was nice to give our butts a little bit of a rest. I took it as another opportunity for some bike pictures.

Also managed to get a picture of the stream next to the campground.

We ride up to the top of White Pass to check out the campground at the summit. It was ok, but not great, so we backtracked a little to the Dog Lake Campground.

we found a site that could accommodate two hammocks, and got all set up!

 

A picture of the lake

So, how are the experimental things working out so far? Kind of mixed…

I’m using a galaxy tab 2 to process my media and author this blog post. I’m encountering way to many issues and will likely go back to using my surface pro.

I tried using a small Sawyer squeeze filter to purify water and it was way too slow, I’ll be bringing my pump along for the actual trip.

The wolfman soft luggage seems to be working great and the bottle holsters are nice – keeps the water (and my cg lower). I do need to rethink how my stuff is organized in the panniers.

That’s about it for now…

Alaska Ride – June 29th, 30th – Days #35, #36

Ok, It’s been a couple of days since I finished the trip and haven’t updated the blog for completeness. We cruised home on the last couple of days and really didn’t spend much time sightseeing. The “take a break every hour” method of riding helped make the longer days go by much faster.

We decided to spend the last night camping so we could have one last campfire on the trip. We initially stopped at Goldpan Provincial Park. The sites were right on the Thompson River, but were sandwiched between two sets of railroad tracks. We opted to move on to the campground – Skihist Provincial Park. This was a much nicer campground – it was set back from the highway quite a bit. The railroad tracks were far away. The sites were a good size with a good amount of space between them.

I’m not used to many things back at home. There is night here! After having no darkness for so long, night seems a bit strange. There is way more traffic. We probably saw more cars between the border and Seattle than we did the rest of the trip, and we weren’t even riding through at rush hour.

I got exactly one night in my bed before heading out on the road again. Our hardwood floors are being refinished and several of our carpets are being replaced. So it is off to Montana for a week or so in the RV – normally, I would blog the trip, but I’m just going to relax on this one.

Once I get home, I’ll start processing pictures and videos. I’ll make some new posts with all of the good ones (and maybe some not so good ones).

Alaska Ride – June 28th – Day #34

Did not get much sleep last night. I set my alarm for 4a, and then crawled in bed. Then I realized that 4a Alaska time is 5a BC time, which was our arrival time in Prince Rupert. I wasn’t going to get up in time! Turns out, they came on the loudspeaker 45 minutes before our arrival time and woke everyone up. Plus we were late getting into port, so my alarm would have been ok anyhow.

Getting off the ferry was not a big deal, except for the loser who would not merge lanes with me while going into customs (3 lanes merged down to 2). I finally yelled at the guy and he let me in. The customs officer actually asked to see my bear spray – fortunately it was pretty easy to reach.

Today was a long day of riding, about half of which was in the rain. Our goal was to get to Vanderhoof (about 360 miles). We ended up getting all the way to Prince George (about 450 miles). We were taking short breaks every 60 minutes, which really helped us stretch the miles. We should be able to make it home on the 30th.

The ride itself wasn’t super exciting, we’ve covered most of this ground before and it isn’t the greatest scenery to begin with. We did see our first deer of the trip (if you don’t count Caribou) and we saw another black bear.

Didn’t take any pictures today – we were in cover lots of ground mode. We’ll see if I get any tomorrow.

Alaska Ride – June 27th – Day #33

We are still on a boat! Slept pretty well last night – I cheated and took a couple of Advil PM to make sure. Rolled out of bed and went upstairs to the cafeteria for some breakfast. French toast, sausage, apple turnover and a root beer (everyone needs root beer at breakfast).

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The boat ride today was a bit less interesting than yesterday. Not as many mountain views, with the weather deteriorating as the day progressed. Yesterday the views were spectacular and different. Today was like cruising around the San Juan Islands all day – probably cool and unique for many people, but sorta ho-hum for me. We did stop at several ports, but we were behind schedule so they strongly encouraged people to stay on the boat, so we did.

Between eating at the cafe’, getting healthy food from the vending machine, and soda from the pop machine, I managed to get some quality nap time in. Also spent a good amount of time reading on the Kindle. I had a good enough data connection to connect to my slingbox while in Ketchikan – got to see the last out of the Mariner’s game. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to sleep at a decent hour tonight as we have an early start tomorrow.

Assuming the boat gets back on schedule, we’ll be landing at Prince Rupert at 5 in the morning. We are organizing our things so we can make a fast getaway when the time comes. We only have access to the bikes while the ship is docked. We are at Ketchikan right now and my dad is frantically figuring out what he needs to bring down with him. I’ve got it a bit easier – I have my small pannier and tank bag in the room. I can fit all my crap in those and bring them down in the morning.