Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Road Trip Recap

Hi All. Sorry for the delay between posts but John and I just recently got back from our motorbike trip a little while ago and I have been playing a little bit of catch up to say the least. Anyway, I thought I would write a little blog entry describing the highlights of our trip and share some of our adventure with you.

Tom and John

July 29th:

-Early start from Calgary. Ride through beautiful western Alberta and British Columbia to Salmon Arm, BC.
-Awe inspiring scenery and lots of twisty roads through Banff and Lake Louise. Beautiful weather to boot.

July 30th:
-Deeper into BC. Hit some rainy weather just past Merritt as we got onto the Coquihalla Highway. This is a fantastic journey down the side of a huge mountain and takes about an hour to get to the bottom. A little windy for my tastes and a challenging day for us new riders.
-Spent the night with family in Langley and had a blast catching up with people we just do not see as often as we'd like.

July 31st:
-Spent some time in beautiful Vancouver. An incredible town.
-Being from a coastal community in Newfoundland I forgot how much I miss being near the ocean. Some thoughts were definitely formed as to the possibility of making Vancouver a permanent residence some day.
-If you get the chance to visit Vancouver be sure to check out Stanley Park and Gas Town on a sunny summer's day... No better place to be.

August 1st:
-Met up with our buddy, Brad, who was joining us for the remainder of our trip.
-Crossed the border into Washington State. A long wait at the border (nearly an hour) so if you are going through on a bike ensure you have plenty to drink especially if the weather is hot... some sunscreen would not be wasted either.
-Caught a ferry from Lynnwood across to Edmonds at the suggestion of some fellow bikers we met at a gas station in Marysville. They said it would be more scenic than simply motoring down the I5 and were they ever right. Backroads are definitely the best roads!
-Put in a long but enjoyable day and crossed the border into Oregon as we crossed what we were told is the longest single span bridge in the USA (did not confirm this though). The bridge exits into Astoria where we spent the night at a decent roadside motel and were able to convince the cook at a local pub to stay a little later and make us some dinner. She was a life saver and has some good karma coming her way.

August 2nd:
-Got on the famous Oregon Coast Highway (the 101) and headed south on our journey. This ride was incredible with coastal views the entire way. A million and one things to see and do along the way so allow yourself plenty of time to stop and enjoy the sites.
-Checked out a seal lion colony that allows you (for a small fee) to view the mammals through binoculars from a cliff overlooking one of their hangouts. You can also take an elevator some 180 feet or so straight down to a cavern where you can view even more of these incredible creatures. A must see!
-Spent the night in Coos Bay.

August 3rd:
-Heading south again on the 101. Crossed border into northern California.
-Now in the Redwood Forest area. Left the coast for awhile to ride some awesome winding roads surrounded on each side by enormously tall redwoods. Cool doesn't even begin to describe this ride.
-Actually rode through a redwood near Klamath. Not very impressive (I was expecting a bigger tree) but had to be done.
-Ended up in Garberville, which is a quaint little tourist town in northern Cal. They were hosting a huge reggae festival so there were lots of people about and great music too.

OK, Not Really

August 4th:
-arrived in San Francisco! We were hoping we would make it this far south but were not really sure we could get there being new riders and all. So, we were very pleased with ourselves.
-Crossed the Golden Gate. The view was amazing! We had heard stories that the GG was going to be very windy but we lucked out and had smooth riding all the way across.
-Checked into the Westin St. Francis in Union Square. A great hotel smack in the middle of downtown and the perfect place for those new to the City by the Bay to get a feel for the best of what this city has to offer.

August 5th & 6th:
-Spent Saturday and Sunday checking out the sights of San Francisco. Managed to cover riding the trolleys, Fisherman's Wharf, and a boat tour of the Bay. Were out of luck trying to get a tour of Alcatraz as the tickets were sold out well into the middle of the following week. Oh well! Something to see on the next trip to this amazing city.
-Scored awesome tickets to see the Giants play the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at AT&T park. This has got to be one of the nicest MLB parks. If I lived in this town I'd definitely buy season tickets. Giants won!

August 7th:
-Left San Francisco via the Bay Bridge to Oakland. Brad and I left a little early as we wanted to take a detour through Yosemite National Park. John stayed a little later in S.F. as he wanted to spend a little more time with his girlfriend, Andrea, who joined us for the weekend.
-Yosemite was one of the highlights for me on this trip. Incredible scenery with woodland roads, lakes, mountain passes. You name it and it had it.
-Met up with John late in the evening at South Lake Tahoe.

August 8th:
-Short ride for today as we were only going as far as Reno Nevada.
-Took our time and rode around west side of Lake Tahoe. A picturesque ride with cool homes, shops, boats, etc., to check out along the way. A nice ride!
-I was expecting Reno to be a little larger having been to Las Vegas a few times but I was surprised by how small a place it was. Anyway we managed to have a good time despite the fact that I ran into some bad luck at the blackjack tables. Fortunately Brad and John faired better than I.

zero speed

August 9th:
-John left early as he had to motor east back to Toronto to meet family, who were showing up for a visit on August 16th. He was going to stick to interstates so as to make good time.
-Brad and I left Reno and road to Elko, Nevada. Talk about a hot day! Definitely need to make sure you stop regularly to hydrate or you could be in trouble.
-In Elko we went for what was promised to be the best steak in Nevada... it wasn't.
-Checked in early as we were both tired... a little too much fun in Reno the night before perhaps?

August 10th:
-Headed north out of Elko and road through some cool "desert like" areas in northern Nevada and southern Idaho.
-I was surprised how flat and straight most of the roads were in Idaho. I was even more surprised when I got a speeding ticket from a state trooper. He was pretty good about it though and commuted my ticket down to an easier to take fine. Further proof that speeding does not pay.
-Made it as far as Idaho Falls where we spent the night. Nice little city although we saw very little as we were tired from a long ride in hot weather.

August 11th:
-A short ride to Jackson, Wyoming. We arrived early and this gave us some time to check out this cool town.
-Definitely catering to tourists with its wooden boardwalks and quaint, old fashioned stores. Jackson is a great place to check out. The people are friendly and the overall atmosphere is fantastic.
-Check out the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon if you are ever in town.
-Spoke to John and he is having some bike trouble. His KTM is not starting and it appears the many elevation changes we have experienced may be the culprit. My bike (Yamaha) is working fine though. Weird.

August 12th:
-Left Jackson and passed through the Grand Teton National Park and then onto Yellowstone.
-Yellowstone was cool though I liked Yosemite better as it made for more exciting bike riding.
-Saw Old Faithful do its thing and have the pics to prove it. It was cool to see so iconic a landmark in person.
-Exited through the north gate of Yellowstone into Montana. Hit some bad weather all the way to Bozeman where we spent the night.
-John seems to have his bike working and is making good time back to Toronto.

August 13th:
-Wanted to get back to Calgary so we motored all the way through Montana. I found the entire state very windy with strong side gusts, which are not favoured by bike riders.
-Made decent time and managed to get back to Calgary by 8pm after an 830 km day... talk about saddle sore! My body needed about two days to recover from that marathon.

August 16th:
-John made it safely back to Toronto in time to see his family. This was a relief as it is always a good idea not to ride alone but it had to be done and he made it back in one piece.
-He plans to ride his bike back to Newfoundland to store it in his father's garage for the winter. I guess it is in his blood now as it is mine.

Looking back, the trip was all we expected it to be and more. We saw some great sights, shared some great laughs and became better, more confident riders to boot. I'd recommend it to anyone. A road trip on a bike is different from one in a car. I cannot quite explain it but there is more of an adventure feel about it. It requires more planning and more of a commitment.

Let me sum all this up by saying life itself is an adventure. Do what makes you happy and push your comfort zone from time to time.

Ah well. Back to work and getting launched. Keep an eye out as we will be releasing the site very soon.

Till next time!
Tom and John


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