1
Yellowstone National Park
2
Montana to Wyoming, Beartooth Hwy here we come…
3
Back in the USA
4
Our last day in Canada
5
Day 7:Banff Area
6
Day 6 in Canada
7
Jasper to Radium Hot Springs
8
Jasper National Park
9
Canadream
10
O, Canada

Yellowstone National Park

Today we had the chance to take our time and meander through Yellowstone and look at all the thermal pools and geysers.  Immediately south of Mammoth Hot Springs is a group of thermal pools, and a dormant geyser called Liberty Cap. This was our first walk near the thermal activity and Spencer was quick to announce his dislike for the smell. We avoided telling him that the smell of sulphur is like the smell of rotten eggs.  He already did not like eggs, so I didn’t want this to be the cause of him never eating eggs again.  (Later on in the day a sign would give away this secret info). There is also a great little drive called the Upper Terrace Loop. We again were using our helmet communicators to listen to the Gypsy Guide app, so we could hear all sorts of fun and interesting info about the area. After that we continued to the east side of the Grand Loop. Our next stop would be to take a look at the petrified tree. There is a large metal fence around it, because over the years people have been vandalizing it or stealing pieces for a souvenir. Next we stopped at Tower Junction for gas, then continued on to Canyon Village for for lunch and souvenir shopping of our own.  The kids decided on a “bag of rocks”.  Yes that’s right. A bag of rocks.  They have come to love the little displays of different rocks at gift shops where you can fill a bag with as many rocks as you can for one price.  I had been the mean mom and kept refusing to buy them rocks.  But I gave in this time because even I had to admit the rocks were really pretty, and the price was cheaper than we had seen elsewhere. Back to the road trip. Next stop was the Brink of the Lower Falls. A steep downhill hike to a viewing point were you are literally right at the edge of the top of the waterfall.  Such a mesmerizing spot to look at the water of Yellowstone River rushing over the rocks. The walls of the valley are also brightly colored in different hues from the minerals and water. Our home for the night would be the beautiful and historic Old Faithful Inn. I had forgotten how large it was (I forgot a lot about that trip 10 years ago, and I am blaming it on pregnancy brain). The inside of the Inn was made of real trees that had been shaped by nature, to make the decorative supports and handrails.  We arrived just before dark and enjoyed a dinner in the restaurant.  The power went out during our meal in the back section, and did not come back on.  As the waitress stated, “the fun of working in a building that’s really old”. The next day we explored all the geysers around the inn, then headed back west and north to find some[…]

Read More

Montana to Wyoming, Beartooth Hwy here we come…

Our 10th day of being on the road would be a day to get some miles behind us.  We needed to go over 300 miles to get to Bozeman for the night, that way we would be closer to Yellowstone.  There wasn’t any sightseeing to be done today. This area looked similar to most areas of the midwest; with large areas of crops going on plains or rolling hills. That night we scored and found a great Chinese Buffet within walking distance of our hotel. The next day we drove the final leg to Yellowstone, going in from the north entrance, and arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs around 11am.  We would be staying at the cabins there.  As soon as we drove into the area we were greeted by an elk. Our luck continued as they let us check in early.  We unpacked and unhooked the trailer. We didn’t needed any extra weight going up Beartooth Highway. We went to lunch at the Terrace Grill at the same time everyone else in the park did, but the service was fast. We made a quick stop at the visitor center and got the mandatory park sticker to add to the sidecar, then we took off, with all four of us on the sidecar. We headed east toward the Towers Roosevelt area, then into Lamar Valley.  We saw so many animals today we lost count. First there was a lone coyote who looked very sickly at first glance, but then he got more energetic like he saw some food to chase.  Next we saw a very young, I might even  say a baby bear wandering along side the road.  Then we saw hundreds of Bison in Lamar Valley.  Frank and I spent the next hour saying Tatonka every time we saw one. We continued out the Northeast entrance of the park and made our way higher and higher up the mountains. Frank and I took turns piloting the Shadow.  It kept getting colder and colder, and the threat of rain was following us a little too closely. We put all our extra layers on, and we set up the kids with jackets. We also have a system for them in very cold weather. We lay a heated vest over their laps (turn it on of course) then cover that with a fleece blanket, and they say nice and toasty warm. We got to the top, to an elevation of 10,947 feet. There was very little traffic up there, and very few bikes. The threat of cold and wet had kept people away. We are never that smart. The weather finally caught us and we put on our rain gear and headed back down. We were literally in the clouds so the going was slow. Our visibility had dropped since we were battling the cloud “fog”, rain, and the fogged up helmet visors. It is always an adventure isn’t it? We made our way back down the mountain, back into the park and[…]

Read More

Back in the USA

Our time in Western Canada had come to an end, and it was time to cross border and head back into the US. We headed to the border crossing at Babb, and were soon in Montana. We stopped for a quick picture in front of a unique sculpture of horses made out of car parts, and sign for the Blackfoot Indian Nation. Hwy 89 would take us south through Babb and St. Mary, and the entrance to Glacier National Park, also called the Crown of the Continent. This would be the first time to Glacier for all of us, and the first time we went into a National Park this year, so it was time to buy our annual pass.  The good thing about the annual pass is it is good for two people (they make you both sign the card right then) and it gets both of us in, even if we are on separate bikes. The cost is currently $80, but if you are military you are free! Off we went on the appropriately named Going to the Sun Road. We used an app called Gypsy Guide while we rode through Glacier National Park. I highly recommend this app. It uses GPS and tells you when you are coming up on important things to look at, what side of the road it is on, what the parking situation might be, and if there is a hike. It even tells you how far and how long it might take you. The app plays automatically while you drive, and it even has some neat historical facts and info about the area. It didn’t take long for us to get some great views of Lake St Mary, more glaciers, and the Red Jammers. These are the red tour buses of Glacier Park. We stopped many times to take pictures of all the views, water falls, and more beautiful scenery.  The weather was fantastic and the sky was clear and blue. Our first major stop was at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, so we could go on the hike to Hidden Lake.  Make sure you plan to do this when you visit Glacier Park.  It is a little over 5 miles round trip, but so worth it.  It is steep in some areas, with boardwalk steps and stairs, but the payoff is waterfalls, streams, beautiful scenery and there is still snow on the ground for parts of the hike.  Bonus was seeing many mountain goats and a Hoary Marmot. I had never heard of this type of marmot before, and he was quite a character. We got a great shot of him in action as he paralleled the trail for quite a while. I just need to learn how to photoshop a superhero cape on this photo! It was slowly becoming a hot day, and we were in the sun for quite a while. We hadn’t planned well for lunch so all we had was some granola bars and some carrots. After the[…]

Read More

Our last day in Canada

We had now been in Canada for a week, and had covered a lot of miles at a bit of a whirlwind pace.  It was now time to head south once again, as we needed to start the process of heading back home. We took the TransCanadian Hwy (2) for a bit, then 40 south which is called the Kananaskis Trail. This took us past the former 1988 Olympic Ski event venue, then we continued over Highroad Pass. This is the highest paved pass in canada. and it is usually closed from December to June due to snow. Today it was beautiful, sunny, with sweeping curves and beautiful trees and mountains on each side. We stopped for gas and lunch in Longview. Right next door was a local art museum and we had a nice chat with the owners about the different horse saddles they had on display.  They recommended that we stop at the Bar U Ranch, which was just a ways down the road.  I am really glad we took their advice. It is part of the Parks of Canada system, so admission was free (all parks are free in 2017 to celebrate their 150th).  We got to walk around what used to be Canada’s largest ranch. Frank took the lead and was telling the kids what some of the farm equipment was used for, but there were lots of friendly workers that would tell us about the ranch and all its workings.  We were also treated to see the giant Percherons they use on the farm. Back in the day they had 1000 of these horses working on the farm. We all tried our hand at twirling a lasso and trying to rope a hay bale cow.  We got to talking with the cowgirl that was teaching us and what a surprise, she goes to college in California, but comes back home and works on the farm during summer. Small world, aye? I had to fit that in before we left Canada.  And wouldn’t you know it, we found another set of big red chairs! these ones were easy to spot as they were right out in the open compared to the other chairs we found at the other parks we had been to. Our final stop in Canada would be at the Cobblestone Manor Bed and Breakfast in Cardston.  An unexpected and uniquely decorated place. Tomorrow we would cross the border back into Montana.  

Read More

Day 7:Banff Area

We were not able to hike Johnston Canyon yesterday, so that was our first stop of the day. To get there we took the scenic Bow Valley Parkway.  I am really enjoying all the signs that are in English and French, and Makayla is having fun practicing her French as she took it as an elective last year.  I love this road, as it meanders back and forth it occasionally splits in two, so your side of traffic is all alone.  It is like having your own one lane normal speed raceway through a gorgeous forest.  We get to the canyon, park and proceed to hike up. All I have to say is thank God my fear of heights and unstable things like gondolas and elevators is getting better as I age and not worse.  This trail might even be hard for some people with vertigo issues. No matter what if you are in the area you definitely need to do this hike.  Parts of the trail are attached to the side of the mountain and you are basically hanging over the water.  I kept praying that whoever designed the walkways had a good grasp of physics and planned for 2 tour buses to arrive at the same time, because there was a lot of weight on those things.  The first one had a few loose boards, so it was not confidence inspiring, but I managed.  At the end there is a cave you walk through to get blasted by the mist of the waterfall. Our next stop took us over Yoho Valley Road, which is listed as one of the most dangerous roads in the world.  I chuckled about this after we passed by the one set of hard switchbacks.  I guess some people get really freaked out by steep curvy roads, but it is by no means dangerous.  We eventually get to Takakkaw Falls, which is the second highest waterfall in Canada. The other fun thing was we found another set of those big red chairs!  We are getting good at this game! We  then needed to back track and start heading back south again to try to fit in things we had passed.  We stopped by the sprial train tunnels, hoping that a train would go by, but we were not that lucky. I also forgot to take a photo of the area, but basically it is a set of spirals of train track that go in and out of tunnels to help trains get over the steep Kicking Horse Pass (another great name). Check out the link for some cool history about the project. Our final destination of the day would be Lake Louise.  My pictures don’t do it justice, especially because of the time of day and it was a little grey.  But looking at the lake you get a sense of magic about the place I think because the color of the water is so different, I believe Willy Wonka would approve. There is[…]

Read More

Day 6 in Canada

It was time to leave Radium Hot Springs, but I must admit I kept calling it Radiator Springs.  This little town is known for its naturally-heated, mineral-rich hot pool between the walls of Sinclair Canyon. It is this canyon that reminds me of the Disney movie Cars and Radiator Springs.  We hit the visitor center before we left town, where they had some great displays and a kids area with interactive animal sounds and info.  We were even greeted by some Big Horn sheep right outside.  Thanks to the girl working the desk, we headed to a most unexpected place. The Radium Woodcarver and his strange and whimsical tree house. He does his carvings with a chain saw, feeds goats, squirrels and skunks, and has trick water features that get you wet if you try to open certain doors. Next up was the Paint Pots Hike in Kootenay National Park.  This hike takes you to an unusual orange ochre bed which was important to many Aboriginal peoples who gathered the ochre for centuries for use in ceremony and trade. In the early 1900’s ochre was mined and shipped to Calgary, where it was used as a pigment in paint. Remnants of twentieth century mining are still visible along the trail. Our final hike was up Marble Canyon to a series of bridges across a deep gorge with rushing waters.  I am noticing a trend in this area of the world.  Lots of amazing canyons that have been carved out by rushing glacial waters, each one more stunning then the last. We also found another set of the big red chairs! We stopped for a very late lunch in Johnston Canyon, and planned to hike there as well, but the weather quickly took a turn for the worse. We aborted the hike and jumped on the bikes as the wind picked up and it started to rain.  We headed south as fast as we could and made it to Banff before any heavy rain could get us.  Another great day of exploring in the books.

Read More

Jasper to Radium Hot Springs

We woke up not knowing what today would bring, but boy did we have a variety of serendipitous things happen througout the day.  We first drove to Maligne Canyon, and on the way there we saw a group of 12 or so female and young elk, including what we thought were twins.  They were grazing along the side of the road eating the grass and flowers.  They were really taking their time, so we got to enjoy them peacefully moving about for quite a while. We continued on and soon learned that Maligne, which means means evil or wicked, is a gorgeous hike over 6 bridges that span a deep canyon  with water falls. We got there early enough to just miss the tour buses and tons of people, so off we went. The drive south was so much better today, and my sadness from yesterday was wiped away because it was so much clearer and we could actually see the mountains today. We took this opportunity and stopped many times and took lots of pictures to replace all the smokey ones. It really is a breathtaking view along this road.  For those of you familiar with Yosemite Valley in California, think of that but only twice as tall, twice as wide, and about as long as a third of the State of CA. Around another curvy mountain bend we saw huge group of mountain goats that kept running back and forth along the road. They seemed confused about which way they all wanted to go, and they held up traffic quite backed up for tourist to take photos. Soon we stopped to have lunch at Icefield Centre, and just as we walked into the restaurant and got in line the fire alarm goes off, and they completely evacuate the building.  (we later learned that the smoke from the grill was not going to the vent properly and it set off the alarm) We and hundreds of other tourists had to wait outside for 10-15 min while they made sure everything was OK.  When they let us all back in we basically made it almost to the front of the line, and quickly got food. We were then able to grab a table on the recently evacuated outdoor terrace. It was such a treat to sit outside in the sun, in full view of the glacier. The next thing that happened was almost a Twilight Zone experience.  I was driving the sidecar, and Frank had stopped to take a picture when all of a sudden I see a motorcycle and sidecar on the other side of the road. What really caught my attention was that it had a sidecar that opened like ours, and it looked they there were two kids!  I honked and we all waved at each other.  Then I thought we should go meet them.  Who else could be as crazy as us and travel around with their kids in a sidecar?  I asked the kids if they[…]

Read More

Jasper National Park

The to do list for today was a long one. Our ride would be from Golden to Jasper, in Jasper National park.  I have to admit that today was not a good day.  I was pretty much miserably cold all day until about 3pm.  A major cold front had come down and even with many layers on I was freezing. I thought we would warm up as the day went on, but that didn’t happen.  We stopped at one point to dig out my heavy winter gloves and our rain jackets. That helped a bit. I even rode with my face covered, which generally annoys me, but I wanted more skin covered up. I hate being cold. In addition to the cold, I really let this dark thought cloud loom over me almost all day.  The smoke from the fires was so bad that we could barely see the mountains that were towering around us.  You could make out the shape and see some snow, but there was no blue sky.  I was cranky, the kids were cranky, and I was trapped in this negative attitude about how our vacation pictures were going to suck, and I would have to keep telling everyone how there is smoke in the sky. Plus did I mention I hate being cold? Our first major stop was the Saskatchewan River Crossing, a restaurant, gift shop, lodging and gas station. We welcomed the chance to stretch walk around and go inside out of the cold. They were making fresh popped popcorn, so we grabbed a welcome snack.  I knew we would be back here tomorrow, so I did some reconnaissance in the gift shop area as the side car needed more stickers. The road we were driving on is called the  Icefields Parkway ,which is about 230km.  Fun fact about the waters from the Icefield area: they flow to three different oceans: the Arctic, the Atlantic and the Pacific. Frank was great about pointing this out to us as we traveled.  We would go over a mountain pass and not so suddenly the rivers would be flowing in the opposite direction. He always notices those type of things. The Athabasca Glacier was our next stop and it is the only glacier on the Columbia Icefield accessible by road. It is located at the Icefield Center, and it is a huge tourist destination as you can actually walk on the glacier or ride a tram onto the ice.  We opted to park and walk up the path to the edge of the glacier. There were quite a few signs warning of the danger of not exploring past the ropes or the path. One sign was especially disturbing, as it yelled the tale of a 9 year old boy who died after the area of ice he was walking on collapsed and he fell into a crevase. People tried for 3 hours to get him out, but unfortunately he succumbed to hypothermia. I am always a bit nervous when we[…]

Read More

Canadream

“I knew we could always count on bikers!!” The title of today’s post is Canadream because summer vacation season is in full swing, and everywhere we go there are rental RV’s that say Canadream.  So you too can rent an RV and take your dream trip across Canada.  The other reason Frank got the idea to travel Canada this year is because it is the 150th Anniversary of Canada and they are celebrating with free admission to all Canada Parks.  The only unfortunate thing is there are major wild fires in multiple locations in the area so the visibility and air quality is terrible.  You will be able to see in the pictures how hazy a lot of the vistas are, and how the tops of the mountains are literally blocked by smoke.  That is the only bummer so far about the trip. We woke up, hit Tim Hortons of course, fueled up the bikes and got ready to head up the mountain in Mt Revelstoke National Park, which is a sweeping zig zag road. I stopped to get pictures of the town below, and you can barely see the snow topped mountains across the way.  Once you are up at a parking area,  you can take a shuttle or hike up to a series of trails that take you to an old fire lookout station at 6300 ft. It is an interesting sight to see snow and flowers just feet away from each other. We dropped back down into town, grabbed some sandwiches to go, and started our way toward our next destination which was Golden, BC. The Trans Canadian Highway took us into Glacier National Park of Canada.  We stopped for a picnic lunch at Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is a trail that passes beneath soaring ancient hemlocks and old growth cedar forests. There were giant ferns that made the area look like a fairy book story land.  We also found two Red Chairs from a program Canada has to help promote people getting out and discovering the parks and great outdoors. We finished out the afternoon with a very steep downhill climb to Bear Creek Falls.  We were a little leary about going down at first but the exhausted folks walking up said it was worth it. Tons of moss covered fallen trees alongside this curvy, up and down and stair filled short hike. Again I kept expecting to see a little gnome house or secret door in a tree. I was beginning  to think maybe Canada was a dream… then at the bottom we were greeted be a water fall with so much force that there was wind and a heavy mist that started to soak us. The kids loved the mist but it was hard to keep the camera dry for photos. When we came back up to the parking lot, there was a group of people asking around for a pipe or tube, but not explaining that they needed gas. No one was able to[…]

Read More

O, Canada

It has been a year since out epic cross country trip with the Sister’s Centennial Ride.  Frank has spent some time scheming to take us on a trip in Canada.  We know the kids won’t stay small forever, so if we are going to do another big trip it is now or never.  We flew into Seattle to save two days of driving and had the bikes shipped up. Frank found a guy that delivers motorcycles from various cities between Seattle and San Diego a couple of times a week, so it worked out great. Our delivery guy meets us at the hotel in Seattle, and the bike is dead coming off the trailer. Frank says the battery was dead  when they loaded it.  So from Seattle border  to the crossing, every time we stopped the bike needed a jump start. Luckily we travel with this portable charger we got at Costco. We also have some friends that love theirs, which is a different brand. At the border crossing at Sumas, we got gas and Frank called a couple stores looking for a new battery.  We drove about 20 min into Canada and stopped at a shop in Abbotsford and bought a new one.  Yay, the bike starts now!  Hopefully that will be the last mechanical issue for the trip. We had a yummy lunch while we were in town and then hit the road on the Trans Canadian Highway. Today would be a day of high milage to get into Canada as much as we could.  (We passed through some beautiful areas that I was unable to get pictures.) Canada has some great names for their cities.  My favorite of the day was Chilliwack! Day 2: Another day of amazing scenery but less miles to cover.  We decided to enjoy the morning with a ride on a steam locomotive, the Kettle Vally Steam Railway in Summerland.  The valley it runs along is stunningly picturesque, and the volunteers on the train really make the whole experience.  After that the Highway paralleled a series of large lakes that seemed to go on for hours they were so huge.  We passed through Sicamous, the houseboat capital of Canada.  My second favorite name of the day was Revelstoke, which sounds like it should be in a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings novel. That would be our stop for our second night. Fun fact of the day: We had never been to Tim Hortons before, we ended up going there for breakfast two days in a row.  Not only was the food good, they get bonus points for having outlets and phone chargers all over the place. I was so impressed I took a picture.  It’s the little things that make a difference, aye?    

Read More

© 2016 MotorcycleMama.org