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The Americas: Heading South

A Motorcycle Diary
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Archive for the ‘Heading South’ Category

16/17 July 2019

17 Jul

The Beartooth Highway turned out to be everything we had read about, and then some. We got going relatively early and like all of the “Scenic byways” and “All American roads” this one was no less dramatic. Being the middle of summer however, what was not expected was just how cold it was when we peaked in altitude at some 3300m and we weren’t dressed appropriately in our summer riding gear. Although we only had some 350km to do the day was super slow again due to speed limits and traffic.

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Our days ride…

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So cold that Max shrunk…

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We are spending the next two nights at the beautiful Amangani Hotel just outside Jackson in Wyoming so we will be exploring Jackson and generally getting some rest.

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15 July 2019

15 Jul

Today was an entirely non descript day with nothing to really write about. We had a long day of unremarkable roads ridden mostly on motorway at high speeds to get us to our destination for the night. We are spending the evening in a beautiful town called Redlodge at the start of the Beartooth highway which runs along highway 212 from Red Lodge to Tower Junction which we plan on riding tomorrow.

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14 July 2019

14 Jul

Today was a much anticipated day. I have been talking about the “Going to the sun road” with Max since I last completed it back in 2013. It is truly motorcycling paradise and one of those roads that people come to the US just to have the opportunity to ride/drive/visit, such is its majesty! Although today was a relatively short ride of just some 350 odd km, the going was slow because of speed limits in the national park, narrow winding roads with limited opportunity to pass and quite a lot of traffic.

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We are spending the night in Missoula in northern Montana, a medium size albeit (respectfully to the locals) non descript town without much to do. To add to this, its Sunday night so everything barring the local pizzeria is closed. Dinner was therefore fast, greasy and unmemorable.

 
 

13 July 2019

13 Jul

I know that this is an oft repeated statement, but its only because we always have the best of intentions(!); so although we had planned to leave the hotel by 0700 for a relatively long 525km run, our holiday slumber and the beers of the night before got the better of us!! Eventually, at about 11am, I hauled the fat girl out of the parking garage and Max and I loaded her up with lead in our feet. Fortunately, the day was cool, windless and cloudless so it made for effortless riding. The Gods must also have been smiling because our chosen route through Kootenay national park revealed one magnificent vista after the next for the bulk of our ride and we eventually got to Waterton Parks on the Canadian/US border at about 1700.

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The local wildlife is particularly tame! Waterton Park hotel, where Jax and I stayed back in 2013 is still great with a great location set right on the lake.

It may be surprising to hear because the sense is that we are doing nothing but sitting on our fat asses all day however, long riding days take extreme physical toll on the body! Hours of sitting in an upright position absolutely hammer the shoulders, back, core and yes, the ass too! As I get older, and because I have no intention of giving up long distance RTW riding, the prospects of cosmetic ass surgery is definitely something I am going to start considering, particularly after the less than flattering remarks made by my 18 year old snot nose!

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All of that said, Max and I are having an incredible time together. Some nights we just crash, others we sit up late into the evening playing chess, shooting the breeze, discussing motorcycles and imbibing on the local craft of wherever we may find ourselves. The voyage of touring and discovering, particularly when done on two wheels continues to be awesome, and the US feels like we could keep exploring for the next 10 years and still only have scratched the surface!

 
 

12 July 2019

12 Jul

Today was a rest day. We moved hotels to the Chateau Lake Louise up the road from the Post hotel but based on the famous Lake. I was last here a little over a year ago but the view over the lake just never gets old!

Tomorrow we head for Waterton lakes on the US-Canadian border as we are heading into Montana on Sunday.

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11 July 2019

11 Jul

This morning was as expected, for me anyway! Max enjoys the benefits of youth and last nights sampling of the beer menu has had no side effects whatsoever however, I cant say the same for my old frame!! As a result it was a slow and heavy start and we didn’t leave Jasper until after 11am. The upside of the day however is that we got to ride the famous Icefields Parkway which is considered one of the most beautiful and scenic roads in the world, that traverses through the Canadian Rockies. To add to it all it was a beautiful dry day so we got to enjoy the best that this route has to offer.

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Lunch was at an obscure stop; a little roadside restaurant in the Rockies where we were asked if we were familiar with the “cook it yourself” experience? I have never been to a ”restaurant” where they sell you the ingredients and make you go stand over a grill and cook it yourself. Its not quite like fondue (before my chirpy Swiss friends jump in-you know who you are!!)! Anyway, we came to the conclusion that we were starving and lunch couldn’t be put off so we pressed on with the experience and self congratulated ourselves at the end. Compliments to the chef old chap!!

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We are spending the night at the Post Hotel in Lake Louise, a beautiful destination where we will be for the next 2 nights. Incredible restaurant and wine cellar and HIGHLY recommended to anybody coming to this part of the world!

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Considered one of the largest and most comprehensive cellars in North America. Really worth visiting if you are a wine fundi!

 
 

10 July 2019

10 Jul

Small American (and Canadian) towns, charming as they might be all tend to revolve around the same thing; malls and fast food drive thru’s. These towns serve an important purpose for trips like the one we are on as they become necessary fillers between destination points that we are ultimately aiming for. That said, for the most part we choose routes that are heavily researched beforehand to ensure that we get to see the best of a country so it will most often include iconic roads acknowledged as routes of outstanding natural beauty and these towns, mundane as they might be, often simply find themselves nestled in areas of paradise! Kamloops was no different and the route from Kamloops to Jasper where we are spending the night of the 10th was one dramatic vista after the next along Highways 5 and 16 of BC and even though the heavens opened halfway through our 500km leg it didn’t dampen the experience (much!).

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Crossing from British Columbia into Alberta is a big thing for Max. The legal drinking age in the US is 21, British Columbia is 19 but in Alberta Max is legal to imbibe the local craft beers! We are spending the night at the Fairmont Jasper which is set on a beautiful lake in what is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of the world. The evening started slow after we had checked in and settled down but by midnight we had made a point of sampling all of the local craft beers and washed it down with dinner and an incredible bottle of Penfolds Grange. The thirst has been quenched and tomorrows headache will be a challenge for tomorrow!!

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8/9 July 2019

09 Jul

We spent the day of the 8th exploring Vancouver on one of their hop on/hop off buses. Beautiful coastal city with an interesting history although not a city I would choose to live in. We had dinner in Gastown, the old town of Vancouver which is incredibly quaint and the restaurant wasn’t half bad either.

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We departed Vancouver early on the morning of the 9th to head for Kamloops, a 350km ride. The west of Canada is genuinely one of the most beautiful riding territories in the world. the last time I came through this part of the world was mid 2013 and the ride of today triggered many fond memories.

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Our ride today.

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Loving being with my boy!

We are spending the night at a non descript highway side hotel although Kamloops looks sweet.

 
 

5/6/7 July 2019

07 Jul

Its been 2 years since Max and I left the bike parked up in Seattle. Today (5 July), Max and I came back to Seattle pick up the bike(s!) and to continue our journey. We arrived at 11h30 and suffered the usual bout of jet lag. We had big plans of going for dinner and a movie before falling asleep at 1800 and waking up at 04h00!

This time, we have decided to head up into Canada to Lake Louise before heading back south into Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. We collected the bike from BMW Seattle after her usual service and departed Seattle for Vancouver on Sunday the 7th on a beautiful cool morning. Riding my old air cooled 2010 always takes a little getting used to after having become accustomed to the more modern liquid cooled version I have in London, that said, within the first few miles the old familiarity sets in and she just never misses a beat. Still one of the best bikes I have ever owned!

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Our short ride to Vancouver which included a 5 minute stop at the Canadian border. Incredible efficiency!

Fortunately, todays ride was a short 200km so we got into Vancouver with plenty of time to start exploring….until we fell asleep again at 1800! Party Animals!

 
 

17/18/19/20 July 2017

20 Jul

Monday was our last day of riding. Whilst my original plan was to do a longer 500km coastal loop from Portland to Seattle in order to do some final exploring (and to prolong the riding a little more), both Max and I woke in the morning feeling lethargic and made the decision to simply press on to Seattle in the most expedient manner.  It was a short ride from Portland to Seattle where we are spending the next 4 nights at a hotel just off the waterfront. We need to start the admin process of getting everything cleaned and putting the bike into storage for the next year or two or however long until I come back to collect her and continue the journey. We will also use the time to explore a little and to close off our journey.

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Our short and final ride for this trip…

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Our Total ride over the last 3 weeks..

Seattle is a truly beautiful city. An eclectic mix of old and new mixed amongst some incredibly dramatic nature, artsy architecture, colourful characters and an interesting history. The weather however is on par with London from what I understand although we have been lucky thus far and have experienced, warm, clear sunny days. Because we so enjoyed touring Portland by Segway a few days ago, we thought it would be a nice way to explore Seattle too so on Tuesday we headed off to find who does it and then spent the next 2 hours racing around to see the sights whilst enjoying the mobility of the Segway’s. The day was capped off with dinner at the Hard Rock café followed by probably the worst movie we have ever seen (the latest iteration of planet of the apes), so much so that we left half way through.

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Some beautiful Seattle sights…

Wednesday was the day that the bike finally went into storage. The guys at Tempus detailing did an incredible job of getting the old girl cleaned up and ready for her long hibernation and highly recommend them to anybody looking for this service. This is the first time that the bike will be going into a storage unit. To date I have housed her with friends so I’m hoping that I wont next see my old girl on an episode of “auction hunters” or “storage wars”!! Max and I (co-incidentally) found ourselves right nearby a Go Kart racing circuit after dropping the bike so found it essential to go and experience the Seattle version of our current favourite pastime!! We had dinner with my old friends Bert and Margaret whom we met in Alaska in 2013 and with whom I stayed with back in 2015 when I did the trip from New York to San Diego. As always it is wonderful to spend time with these two warm and wonderful people and always leave wishing that we lived closer.

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Tucked away in her new home for the next couple of years..

Both Max and I have a feeling of sadness and apprehension as is common when finishing a trip like this, particularly when one has been on a bike as it entrenches such a sense of freedom and that anything is possible. Tonight we start the homeward trek. 11 hours for me, and a mammoth 24 hour stint for Max to get back to CT. I am going to miss this time with my boy. We have already started discussing the next trip, when it will happen and where we will head to. As far as I am concerned, it cant come soon enough.

Thank you for following us for the last 3 weeks.

Rui and Max Nobre

Seattle, USA

20 July 2017