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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

even more pictures!

i've uploaded some large size pictures... they're still smaller than the 3264 x 1832 pictures that i took them at :)

i couldn't post all the pictures since all of them take up like 5.5 gigs of space. heh.

anyhow, i've put up a few of some pictures that caught my eye and that i like for one reason or another.

more pictures!

I know some people like to look at pictures. I'm one of them.
Althought I never got to see Inuvik, the Dempster highway, nor take any pictures that way... I did manage to fire off a few pictures...

roughly 2475. can't post all of those online now can i.

I've been going through my pics because, well, some of the sights are still in my mind and they were awesome, so i wanted to see them again.

to the right you'll find the panoramic pictures link. they might look funny, but that's because they are really wide. some turned out pretty well.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The final countdown or: how i learned to stop worrying and love the road

july 2
tired. oh so tired.

This is it.. the final day i had to get home. I wasn't going to make it in time for work for the 2nd, but at least i'd be there for the 3rd.

1046 km. 650 miles. this day was going to be brutal. i'm going to need every bit of wits to get through it. all the weather reports say thundershowers along the route i'll be taking. crap. since i i didn't wake up early, i was on the road by 10:30. crap.

I say that i'll need every bit of wits because i know i'll be riding at night, one of my PIAA riding lights isn't working and it's always the final stretch that's the most dangerous of all trips. people tend to fall in a false sense of security and they get tired and bam! crash.

i'm determined to not let that happen to me today.
this was going to be a long day.

the route in the GPS said i'd be home at 9:30pm. with breaks and all i should be home by about midnight.

I rode until i needed gas and went to a denny's. i know, not the best food in the world, but it beats eating a handful of skittles and bottle of water.

I sat where i could see if someone was near the bike. hah.
The heartland scramble. pretty good actually... i felt better already.So i hit the road... and rode and rode and rode. luckily, the speed limit of 70mph isn't followed by everyone... most go way faster. a cop passed me when i was doing 80mph. heh. i guess the speed limit isn't observed in every state.

I stopped at a visitor info center near Ann Arbor, and relieved myself and had a coffee from a vending machine. this machine worked finally and the coffee wasn't half bad for being from a vending machine.

I had seen a BMG1200 GS adventure on the other side of the building so i walked out that way and started chatting with it's owner.

Meet Steven (hope i spelled it right)
He's a fellow canuck from manitoulin island. He was doing a great lakes tour while riding to his different meetings. it beats flying if you have the time. i want that job. hah.

He lived in ottawa for some time and has family there too. small world eh?

We chatted a while about this and that and since we were both heading in the same direction to the same border crossing, we rode off together.

holy crap the GPS had me switching lanes ever few miles for the different interstate exits i had to take to get to the port huron crossing. traffic wasn't exactly light either, but we managed to go at least the speed limit and not have any spills. hah.

The border crossing was one of the easiest i'd ever gone through. Standard questions, only asked for my plate and didn't even take my passport. wow.
She asked about my trip in total and i gave her my route. she was a bit shocked and asked if i'd do it again on a motorcycle. hah. of course i would!

first things first. i hadn't had a Tim Hortons coffee since leaving vancouver on what.. .the 24th? holy crap. over a week with only crappy gas station coffee. BTW, americans don't have coffee shops like canadians do. we love our coffee. yes, they have their little expresso and starbucks places, but only in major cities. If a canadian city has more than a few thousand people, there will be a Tims. if Tims invaded the states, there would be one every 50 miles along every insterstate. heh.

ahhh... tims.

Steven and I chatted a bit longer (and an old biker came to talk to us as well) and we parted ways.

Off east i went, and the weather started turning sour. light rain, but with all the traffic along tthe 401, it was a mess. I pulled over for a coffee and put on all my rain gear. i took longer than normal, but my shoulders were really bothering me. I had popped 2 advil when i got up in the morning, and i popped 2 more when i took a break. seemed to help a bit.

Since one of my forks leaked, it created 2 problems.
1) it went all over the brake so stopping is a problem
2) this changes the cornering characteristic and overall stability of the bike when both forks aren't balanced.
another problem; ever since they changed my back tire, the back brake has been real soft. maybe just an adjustment, but i know they are pretty much done.

so. no brakes. guess i have to keep my distance then.

and to my suprise, i guess all the rain washed most of the oil off my front brake, so i seemed to stop better. heh.

I could see the airport from the 401 and traffic came to a dead stop. it says that the 3 right lanes on the 401 is closed up ahead. i didn't know how far the street was closed, and didn't know how many lanes the 401 had up there. i was hoping for many.

2 and a half hours later, i got past the bottleneck. holy crap. GPS says i'll be there at 1:30 am. crap. i guess i can try to aim for 2am then.

I got into toronto at about 6:30. got out at 9. Bad traffic in the other direction as well as there was a crash and all lanes were closed. that's gotta suck.

into the night i rode, and kept my speed down to about 110-118. only faster when passing a big truck... don't want to stay beside one of those for too long. bad things happen.

at one point i had no traffic in front of me and the oncoming traffic wouldn't be blinded by my hi-beams, so i turned them on. WINK and no headlight whatsoever. damn, guess the bulb i just bought in vancouver wasn't so great. at least i had my regular lght when i turned off the hi-beam.
lo-beam and 1 PIAA riding light. great.

At a service station near kingston, i got a coffee and croisant, and went about to change out my headlight bulb to my Spare.
I took apart my headlight and looked at the bulb. hmm. seems ok, so i put in the spare. the spare didn't work on hi-beam either. CRAP. fuse must have blown.

I started working on the bike. I opened up the side toolkit, and noticed the whole thing was hanging by a loose bolt. i almost lost the whole toolkit assembly! i put in a spare bolt and tightened the other one. good enough for now.

I took off the side cover to get to the fuses. damn mosquitoes were bugging me. arg. I took out the burned fused and put a new one in. huzzah!

gassed up and knew i wouldn't be stopping until i got to ottawa. i had enough fuel to get there and it was already late. i didn't look at the time, but i wasn't so tired yet since i just had another large coffee.

uneventful until i got off the 401 and took the 416 north. no traffic ahead so i put on my hi-beam. yay!! err... wait. it popped after 2 mins. CRAP. it was foggy out so i put on my fog lights... at least that helped for a bit. then it started raining, and the fog lights were starting to blind me, so i did the only thing i could do. run lo-beams with the 1 PIAA light and slow way down. I was going about 90 km/h. that's slow for me if you know how i ride/drive. heh.

the rain didn't let up. i could barely see out of my visor as water was smeared inside the visor, combined with a bit of fog. this was hellish.

finally got into town and stopped at a Tims for another coffee and to unwind. i didn't want to take the major highway home, as i knew it would be crazy, so i took other roads to get home.

I got home and 3:30 am. that sucked. all i had to eat today was breakfast and a croisant. Coffee helps. a lot.

so here i am, safe and sound back home, thinking of the next big trip.

i didn't take note of stats like how much gas i used, how much everything cost, yadda yadda.

Here's some the GPS did for me
21,337 kms/13,258 miles total round trip distance
5 provinces gone through
1 territory toured
14 different states touched.

for those curious as to what my route was, here's a google maps view. it's not exact, but it's close enough

[edit]I had to get rid of the map here...just too big and kept crashing IE

View Map

Totally different than what i had planned in april. see it here

I learned much on this trip, and not all of it about motorcycling. so many roads out there... so much to see, so little time.

if there's one piece of advice i have for everyone, it's this; you have one life. live it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a very boring day overall for canada day

July 1st
first of all, happy Canada day!
I was glad i put my little canadian flags on the back of my bike in vancouver. The whole time i've been in the states i people always see the flags. heh.

anyhow, the affordable inn was a pretty good deal... hot shower, soap and shampoo, a clean bed, cable and wifi.

The weather didn't look that bad, but it didn't look great. I didn't put on the rain gear though and i only put on the jacket liner and the warmer gloves. for some reason my legs don't get too cold. maybe it's because they're a few inches away from a really hot engine. hah.

I learned last night that a buddy's dad from work passed away recently. Another friend's mom died a few days ago as well. Brigitte S. ( my ex's mom) was quite dear to me and passed away on July 1st 2003... i hate cancer.

I'm thinking that if i do another ride like this next year, i'll do it for a cause to spread the word, or something like that... a ride for cancer or something. i wouldn't have the first clue how to do it, but hell, i talk to enough people when i ride, it wouldn't be hard to figure out something.

cancer sucks.

this trip isn't over and i've already started planning for the next one. heh

anyhow, back to me

I rode out of town and didn't stop for coffee or anything like i usually do.
After about 120 miles i figured it was time for food and gas.
I stopped in at a gas/restaurant place called the hearty platter (i think that's what it's called)

a stealth photo of the inside of the diner. heh

What was funny is that it was a smoking restaurant. hadn't seen that in a while. even as a smoker i'm not sure i liked it, but the place didn't stink and had good ventilation.

I ordered the long haul breakfast of 3 eggs, 3 bacon, 3 sausage and a choice of hash browns or american fries. WTF are american fries? i didn't ask. at the time i though it was just french fries and they had something against the french... kinda like they wanted to call them freedom fries at one point. i still don't know what they were. i got the hash browns.

it was pretty good... then again, how can you screw up bacon and eggs. hah.

the view from inside.The rest of the day was spent riding. no pictures because most of the time i was whipping through wisconsin at 85mph. not so safe to take pictures at that time.

I tried to stop as seldom as possible and just try to get home. it was 1047miles from the motel to home, but i was not in shape to try an Iron Butt ride.

wisconsin is pretty boring btw... then again my view is from the interstate, so it would be rather boring nonetheless.
Crossed into Illinois and headed for Chicago... that's where the GPS said i had to go.
I stopped at the rest area on the border of illinois and went to the visitor info. i wanted to score a free map and i did... I was also getting tired a bit and my shoulders were sore, so a rest was in order. they had a coffee machine there and for $0.80 you can get a cup of coffee. insert dollar bill, the cup drops, the cream and sugar go in... then nothing. no coffee came out and the little door opened. piss me off. i really wanted a coffee.

I drove for another 120 miles or so and grabbed a coffee and gas then. This was after the 1st of multiple toll booths. man they're annoying when you're on a bike.
The first one was a buck, then 1.60 and i lost count how many or how much they were.

the traffic was heavy and didn't realize what time it was. 4pm. CRAP. rush hour and i'm heading in, through and out of chicago. crap. anyone that knows me knows that i have the WORST timing. seriously i do.

it took me at least two and a half hours to get through chicago. man that was nasty. I stopped in at the Mcdonalds on the other side of chicago near the indiana border because ever since i got to chicago, i had to pee. bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic with a loaded motorcycle when you have to pee really sucks donkey butt.
It didn't help that the people here drove pretty poorly. no close calls, but i kept my distance. big city driving = agressive. small town drivers are usually just nicer.

I had to make my pilgrimage to the Castle. heh.

4 sliders, a fry and a drink. fries were cold, the drink was cold and the burgers were... well, if you've ever had sliders, you know what they are like. heh.

I hit the road and tried to keep near the speed limit of 60mph. there's no way. the trucks were supposed to go 55, and they were doing 70. the cars doing 80-85mph. seems people ignore the speed limits here. heh. Well, i kept up and set the pace at times. i don't like being behind people.

I wondered if i could make it to the middle of michigan before it got too late and too dark. it was getting real dark real fast. hmm. better look for a motel soon then. I stopped in to Kalamazoo and got a room. hmm... i thought it was 9pm, but when looked at the clock on the wall, it was 10pm. crap. i moved over another timezone again. at least now my laptop, my motorcycle and GPS all have the same time again. heh. at least my cell phone changed time automatically when it hit a new timezone.

unloaded my bags in the motel 6, and did nothing else. i'm tried. i need to be back in ottawa tomorrow, but i won't make it in time for work. I had called work earlier to make sure that i was covered for tomorrow's shift. had i not had all the breakdowns, i would have been home days ago.

ah well, one more day, 650 miles left to ride and back home i will be.
no more updates until home i'd assume... unless something bad happens. hah.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello Wisconsin!

June 30th

I got up early enough to have some continental breakfast. coffee and fruit loops. heh. it helps getting something in the gut early in the morning.

I got to the chamberlin visitor info center. they had a bunch of lewis and clark displays. I snagged a map of south dakota as well. i've been trying to collect maps, because the next trip i take in the US, i'll be mapping places where i want to go and routes to get there. not exactly planning the route, but laying out different routes.

I took this picture because what i thought were deer on the side of the road in the last few days were actually antelope! i knew they looked a bit different but the horns give it away. cool. i saw deer and antelope.

see that rabbit in the picture? i saw lots. usually roadkill though. damn big rabbits.
The fossil (replica i assume) is from a mosasaur, a 45 foot long fish. it was found on top of a ridge near here on the lewis and clark expedition.
a view of the train bridge over the missouri river. I couldn't get a picture of the car bridge with all the trees in the way.
Yup. i look pretty rough eh? i felt it. the winds were back, but not with a vengeance yet.I felt like garbage, so i ordered a garbage omelette with a side of bacon. the cheddar hash browns were good.

The menu said it had everything in it except the kitchen sink. it had lots. it was very very good. very filling.

This was in the restaurant/gas station. heh. neato.
I wasn't kidding. it's called the garbage omelete. I had forgotten where i had eaten... Well it was at Ditty's in kimball. heh.I was riding when i saw the tips of horns over the crest on the side of the road. I pulled over in the emergency lane and took a picture. heh. only stop in emergencies they say. it's in emergency i say.
Odd. fascinating. no clue why it's there. it was big. real big. that's also a pretty big hammer.

The whole scene
I'd love this on my front lawn. well, if i had a lawn.
the winds were getting worse and my neck and shoulders were starting to kill me. I needed gas so i stopped in Sioux falls for gas. From past experience if there's a town called something falls, then there's usually a waterfall nearby. Also, it's usually in a park called Falls Park.
GPS had a falls park in there so i went to where the gps told me to go.

Bingo, visitor info center at the park. That's the tower to look at the falls.
Looks like a restaurant on the other side of the river.

The falls. i'm such a sucker for waterfalls. dunno why. i'm such a girly man.

The park had many statues like this. actually, the whole town had statues all over it. it looks like an interesting city to visit. too bad i'm out of time... i'd like to spend a few days here i think.
Here's a little view of the park.
I left sioux falls and fought with the wind. there was a lot of traffic and a lot of road work, so it was an... adventure. see the picture below? it's pretty much all i saw of minnesota. I stayed on the interstate and didn't do much except fight the wind.
the picture is crooked because the wind kept pushing me around like a rag doll. i didn't want to risk any other pictures.
I needed another break... only 50 miles after the last break. that wind was a killer. I stopped off at a rest area and chatted with a couple from michigan. they were on a police harley riding 2-up. I didn't take a picture, but this is when i first met Rhonda and Pat. They thought my ride was cool. i showed them what were some neat places they should go. they were coming back from california on their first long trip. the wind was throwing the big harley around and Rhonda's neck was taking a beating too as the touring windshield didn't protect her at all.

I took off and it started getting colder by the minute and i didn't have my liners inside my mesh gear to keep me warm and dry. the clouds were looking darker to the east and it looked like rain. crap. I pulled over to a gas station and put on my jacket liner. if it was going to rain, i'd pull over and put on my other rain gear.
I heard a bike behind me and it was Rhonda and Pat again. neato. they went on a country road to try to avoid the winds, but it didn't help. they almost ran out of gas, and would have if it weren't for some farmer giving them some lawnmower gas. heh. got them out of trouble.
people in the country are nicer than people in cities. this trip has more than proved it. i'm not saying city people are nasty... but sometimes they just are.

Pat suggested we ride together, and i took him up on it. When i first met them they had t-shirts and bandana's but now they had the helmets, gloves and jackets out. heh. they got cold.

I rode with them for an hour or so at the speed limit. funny how you feel safer when riding with someone else. another thing to note is that the wind totally died down for the majority of our ride... odd.
I needed to pee and my hands were freezing. i didn't change out my gloves like i should have earlier. I passed them at one point and gave them a wave. I might be seeing them later on as we are both heading the same way. I opened the throttle up to 85-90 and blasted down the interstate. i couldn't care if i got a speeding ticket... i needed coffee and to pee.

I stopped off in saint charles and gassed up and got a coffee. I heard some clopping and saw a horse and buggy go down the road. cute. There were a bunch of kids at the gas station and one of them yelled something to the effect "peace out Amish"
hah! The amish are in town. neato. never seen that before. Then another buggy went by.

I heard some more clopping so i got my camera out. it was far away and moving but i got a picture finally. i had seen some Amish in Alberta growing up, but only on the side of the highway out of town, never down the main street. heh.

It started to rain lightly while i was at the gas station, so i suited back up and kept going. i wanted to at least hit the border of wisconsin before nightfall and maybe go further in and get some miles in. it was a light drizzle, but i made good time.
Emma come first. Den I come. Den two asses come together. I come once-a-more! Two asses, they come together again. I come again and pee twice. Then I come one lasta time

the above is better said by an old italian man with bad english.
yay! i crossed the mississippi river! it's pretty damn wide.

It was getting dark faster than i had hoped and i decided to stop at La Crosse, Wisconsin for the night. It's on the river bank.
I looked at some of the motels nearby, but nothing with the doors facing out, so i started looking at the outskirts a bit more. GPS said the Affordable Inn was near, so i rode over. It looked kinda sketchy and not in the best of hoods, but i took a chance. an ok room, two double beds and free wifi. sign me up.

unloaded the bike and went out for some food. only thing open it seemed (besides all the fast food joints) was Perkins. ate and headed back for blog and bed.
gps says 1047 miles left to get home. I almost feel like trying for an Iron Butt Associate ride (1000 miles in under 24 hours) but i think at this stage it would be too dangerous to try. i'm exhausted, the bike is not the in the best of shape and all it would take is one mistake and i'm toast.

Btw, happy canada day! woot. i wanted to be in canada on the 1st, but i guess that won't be happening.

might be no update until home

june 30th

it's 9am and the bike is loaded and ready to go. weather is looking good for now, but i'll see when i get on the open road.

i'll be skipping across south dakota, moving through minnesota, whizzing past wisconsin and hopefully be past chicago by the end of the night. who knows... all i know is i might not be able to update the blog until home.

wish me good weather (even though it looks crappy around the great lakes)


Monday, June 29, 2009

big fat heads, big fat tire, big fat rainbow... big fat headache.

June 29th
I left the town of Lusk, wyoming at 10. late, i know. couldn't sleep well.

right as i left town, i saw a few deer near the road. good thing i didn't ride into the night... i probably wouldn't have ridden out of it.
I'm still worried about the rear tire, but in the morning before leaving i made a list of suzuki dealerships that were on my route.

I headed north to the next town so i could get some food. I stopped in Newcastle at Donna's main street diner for some food. it was just after 11am, so they weren't serving breakfast anymore. The server offered the lunch special and since i didn't know what i wanted, i took it.

beef fajita with side salad. It was actually really good. not the fajitas i'm used to eating, but just as good when eating with a fork and knife. raspberry vinagrette to top off the salad. i needs my greens.

Heading east towards Custer, South Dakota.
Funny. I crossed t border into South dakota and the scenery changed instantly to this. trees. neato. maybe that's how they figured out the borders. hah.

it was a nice easy ride until i hit Black Hills national park. Black hills, not to be confsed with black forest ham. one is a delicious luncheon meat.
I didn't take any pictures inside of black hills because the roads are a lot more technical and twisty so i couldn't take pictures while riding. The shoulders were too narrow for me to pull over and take pictures. most places didn't have a shoulder.

I just liked the look of these rocks.

Here's the Crazy Horse memorial. yes, it's far away, but when i got closer i saw the toll booths and didn't want to pay to see it up close.
there. see it now? it's the big rock with a face in it and a hole through it. it's a work in progress. read it online for more info as to what it's supposed to look like. would be awesome if they finished it.
On my way to mount rushmore. everyone pulled over at this lookout and didn't know what they were snapping pictures of until i looked behind me. ah. the profile of a president. heh.

yay. mount rushmore. it's free to go. you just have to pay $10 for parking. that's bullshit. $10 for a car, truck, motorcycle. bullshit.
anyhow, the entrance

from the entrance.
you'll have to excuse the many rushmore pics. it's kinda neat for one, and i want my $10 worth
Here they are on top of teddy's head geting ready to put George W.'s face between teddy and lincoln.

with all the parking money they made, you'd think they'd clean up the rubble below.
The dude who designed mount rushmore. this bust was sculpted by his son. neat.
The hall of flags i believe

i don't look too thrilled do i. actually, it was just so damn bloddy hot and i had the sun in my eyes.
the ampitheatre
i got an ice cream. i got an ice cream, your daddy's on welfarei left mount rushmore. if the price was a bit lower i wouldn't mind, but i thought $10 was kinda steep. all the other monuments in the park are either by fee or parking fee. capitalism at it's best.
stopped at the side of the road for this picture. it was free.

the clouds were looking rather... mean and even though it said sunny today in the area, it looked like rain. sure enough as soon i got into Rapid city, it started pouring. i have my mesh without liners and a full face helmet on. the gear dries fast enough and the helmet keeps water out of my face. I stopped in to a gas station for some coffee, and looked at the back tire again. The tire was still good for now, but wouldn't last long. it's ok to ride without treads, but not in the rain. I called the local suzuki/honda/victory place and said they could probably put a tire on, and put me through to parts. on hold for 7 mins so i hung up and rode over instead.

as luck would have it, they had 2 tires that could fit. a dunlop 555(?) and a metzler me880. w00t. i love the Me880. over to the service department and they can take the bike in the next 1/2 hour. great! they asked if i wanted anything else looked at, since they saw the fork seal leaking and the oil leak at the jugs. They think it's just a gasket for the jugs, but they didn't know if they could do the fork today and if they had the seals. I just got them to put the new rear tire on for now. the rains came and went while i waited for the tire to be installed.

I left the Shop (it's called Rice Honda) and instantly got hit with massive crosswinds. these were the real dangerous kind. my neck still hurts from the crosswinds. at least it wasn't raining. The speed limit was 75mph, but i couldn't go much faster than 60. nasty stuff. scary stuff.

I stopped almost every chance i could because it was so hard to ride in that stuff.
at one reststop along the way i took a picture of this thing. a concrete teepee?

later i stopped at a gas station and had a couple of hot dogs... a regular and a buffalo meat hot dog. The regular one was better.

i was about to get back on the bike when i spotted this guy. never seen a prarie dog/marmot/gopher thing in this color. neato.

there wasn't just one, there were about 6 or so.
these two popped out of the hole you see behind them, and started wrestling. cute to watch.

you can see a bunch here.

nom nom nom
this guy kept looking at me, then eating. heh.

at the next rest stop, there was a huge rainbow. well, like they say, you have to always follow the rainbow.

the weather was clear behind me, but looked real nasty towards the rainbow.
hmm. it's a bow. it comes out with rain. crap. i'm gonna get wet, and with the crosswinds to boot.

more rainbow
I left the rest spot and wondered how much longer i could ride. i was hoping to stop at around 9:30 so i could get some miles in. it was about 8pm now. good. another hour and a half to go. the odd thing was that the crosswinds were gone and i could now make up some speed.

I rode for about 5 mins and the road was becoming wet. I pulled over at an overpass and got off the insterstate and put on my jacket liner and my rain pants and rain gloves. good to go. I could still ride fast in the rain, just not as fast.

i could still ride for another hour or so.

WRONG. about 2 mins after putting on my rain gear i passed the timezone. it was now after 9pm. crap. I didn't know if i should hole up in the next town, or make up some miles and make the next one. the rain was starting now, but it was just a light rain.

shortly after the heavy crosswinds were back. This is not good. all decided, i'm shacking up in the next town.
The next town is Murdo. a few motels in town... 2 chain motels, and a few other smaller motels. I opted for the days inn. door on floor level, free wifi and looked reputable.
also to note, when i entered the town of murdo, the rainbow was a full semi-circle, and one end was basically at the days inn. heh. always follow the rainbow. what a sight the semi-circle was.
I went out in search of food, but everything closes at 10pm. vending machine food will have to do.
so that's where i am now. i'm beat. the wind knocked the crap out of me today. i'm hoping for better weather tomorrow.