Category - women & motorcycling

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Our last day in Canada
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Jasper National Park
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Canadream
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Super Bloom hits Anza Borrego
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Day 19: California Here We Come!!
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Day 17 and 18: Bryce UT to Ely NV to Carson City NV. Hwy 50 The Loneliest Road in America
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Day 16: Reminds me of a Taylor Swift song…
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Day 15: Page AZ to Bryce UT
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Day 14: The Million Dollar Hwy Ouray, CO to Page AZ
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Day 13: Colorado Springs to Ouray CO

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.  

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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[…]

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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[…]

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Super Bloom hits Anza Borrego

With the epic amount of rain that we finally got for the first time in over 5 yrs here in Southern California, there was no question that we would be taking a trip to the desert to see the flowers.  The question was where… We packed up the kids and headed to Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  We decided to head out on a Friday night (in traffic of course, this is LA) so we could stay near the park and avoid early crowds in case there was no parking. That paid off in spades because we were able to get up on Saturday morning, easily find parking, and go for a hike down Palm Canyon were there is a Palm Tree Oasis and water flowing from a spring.  It was amazing to see all the different flowers in bloom. Next on the docket was lunch in our favorite town that has pie: Julian. Today’s choice was apple rhubarb.  Then we headed back to see the amazing 130 full-sized metal sculptures of artist and welder Ricardo Breceda.  The art installation is inspired by creatures that roamed this same desert millions of years ago. The artworks range from prehistoric mammals to historical characters, fanciful dinosaurs, and a 350-foot-long fanciful serpent.  Read more about it here.  These were not here the last time I visited the park, so it was an unexpected bonus for the day. And the kids were actually impressed by them too! Anza Borrego, another thing I love about California.  It is a great place to take the family, and the Visitor Center is great too. Let’s hope it is not another 10 years before we go back to visit again.

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Day 19: California Here We Come!!

  The big day had finally arrived. I couldn’t believe that it was already the last day. I felt like I had been on the road for months, yet still surprised it was already almost over. I was also a bit bummed that I hadn’t been able to spend more time getting to know more of my fellow riders. Since I was often late getting started, and slower than most of the groups, I was usually by myself on the road, and feel I missed out on more face time with people.  I had met so many amazing people on this trip, and we had become this odd family on a strange family vacation.  And I strangely wanted more of it. The main goal of today’s ride was to get to the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, to a staging area for a group photo.  After leaving the hotel in Carson City NV, our GPS took us quickly over the mountain toward Lake Tahoe.  Holy Crap did it get really cold, really fast! We were not expecting that and eventually we couldn’t take it anymore and put on an extra layer. The only thing that distracted me from the intense shivering was how ridiculously beautiful the day was turning out. Clear blue skies and sunshine, and the good to be back home in California feeling. We stopped at Donner Pass to take some pictures, but decided against having a snack. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself). We didn’t stay long though, due to a sense of urgency.  We couldn’t afford to waste time or we would miss the photo. Alisa, our rider leader had made picture time at 2:30 sharp. If you weren’t there, you weren’t in the photo. The area around Donner Pass and Donner Lake was beautiful, and it looked like we had just missed a triathlon competition, and the road closed signs were being moved out of our way. If you are ever in that area make sure to stop by the Donner Pass Memorial. There is a monument that shows how deep the snow was that fateful winter that many people died. It really is quite striking. Out next stop was for lunch at A&S Motorcycles in Roseville, where they were hosting an early BBQ lunch for us. Apparently radical temperature changes was also on the menu. (The rest of the way into bay area the temps really heated up.) I was looking forward to a break and some water. We pulled in and there were SO MANY BIKES AND PEOPLE.  Tons of motorcyclists were there to support us and some to join us on the final leg of our journey. We pulled in to park, hadn’t even turned the engines off, and people were coming up and taking pictures of us and the kids. Lots of excitement from everyone. But once again, we couldn’t dilly dally, so we ate quickly, did a little bit of socializing, then time to get moving.  We needed to[…]

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Day 17 and 18: Bryce UT to Ely NV to Carson City NV. Hwy 50 The Loneliest Road in America

Long stretches of desolation abound, be sure to watch your fuel and know you can make it to the next known stop. Take snacks and lots of water.-Sister’s Centennial Ride Guide Book This is the first sentence, or I guess I should say the gentle warning in our guide books.  Highway 50 in Nevada has it’s claim to fame written on the signs you see along the way. “The Loneliest Road in America”  So that is what we are up against for two days.  Our guide book even says: Get gas wherever it is available. Stations are far apart. Very Straight Stretches interrupted by mountain passes.  There were multiple sections where we would crest a mountain pass or go around a curve to see what seemed like an endless line that disappeared at the horizon, like someone had painted it on the ground in front of us, just to taunt us. “Look how much farther you have to go, then when you get there, you have to go even farther”   It was very lonely. It was very desolate. There was a good 400 miles of hwy 50 in Nevada, that make Nebraska and Kansas look like they are overpopulated metropolitans. We would drive for an hour and see nothing. Then there would be a dirt road with a sign noting a town in that direction, 68 miles.  What?  Who lives out here? I often wonder what drives someone to live so far away from the rest of civilization. Maybe it’s because it is not so civil…who knows.  Either way that is one hell of a commute to get to the grocery store.  Nevada did a smart touristy/marketing thing and they have this cute little booklet they call the HWY 50 Survival Guide, and you collect stamps like a passport, to the locations along Hwy 50. then you mail in the card and get a certificate and prize.  Makayla was all over that. Near the Nevada Utah border, we made a stop at Great Basin National Park, and they have a separate area and visitor center for the Lehman Caves. We were going to take a cave tour but all the tours were sold out for the day.  Apparently there was a cave convention staying in Ely, NV. I admit I wasn’t expecting that. I guess there is a convention for everything. So no luck on the cave tour, but we got our first stamp in the passport book. Every now and then you will see small signs indicating that this road used to be the Pony Express. I learned that it only around for 18 months.  Other notable stops along the way included the famous shoe tree near Middlegate, NV. The fact that there is a huge tree out in the middle of nowhere is isn’t odd enough, people hang shoes on the tree. apparently it is a well known tree.  I only  heard about it that morning, but no one could tell me why the shoes.  Stopping for[…]

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Day 16: Reminds me of a Taylor Swift song…

In the 1980’s I loved Debbie Gibson. She wrote and sang her own songs, and played piano. So I have to admit that if I was a young teen today, I would probably love Taylor Swift. ( I am not saying I don’t like a lot of her songs now…but that’s not the point…)  Before this cross country trip started, I joked with a few people that this trip kind of reminded me of some lyrics of a Taylor Swift song.  “It’s either going to be fantastic, or it’s going to go down in flames!”  I took creative license and changed the line ever so slightly. I did not know that today the part about the flames would actually come true. The four of us were all going to ride together on the Shadow and sidecar and go to Zion. Frank and I had been to Zion before but were not able to hike the Narrows, so we were looking forward to it today. We got up, had breakfast, and got our gear on, and hopped on the bike, with me driving. I drove literally 10 feet out of our parking spot, when all of a sudden smoke starts coming up from between my legs. (Hold your comments to your self, I did not have a case of Montezuma’s Revenge, or some new STD…it was worse) It took me half a second to realize this was bad, and I hit the kill switch. We both jump off and Frank yanks off the left side plastic cover to find flames and more smoke coming from the area above the battery. Frank is trying to put out the flames, I run around and start yanking the snaps off the sidecar cover, and yelling to the kids to “get out now!”.  Makayla, my little bookworm, was already engrossed in a book and oblivious to the possible danger. While I yelled at them to get far away and sit on the nearby grass, Frank was desperately trying to prevent our ride and it’s full tank of gas from bursting into flames. I think I heard him yell for someone to bring a fire extinguisher.  I found out later that one of the other riders actually punched the glass case to get the fire extinguisher out of the case to bring it over to us! How amazing is that? I am surrounded by super women on this ride. The good news is that Frank was able to stop the flames without the fire extinguisher. The problem was that over time the wires leading to the positive side of the battery had been rubbing on the metal frame of the motorcycle, and it wore off the protective cover.  We are guessing that the extra weight of both of us on the bike seat caused the wire to get pinched down on the metal and caused a spark. The red plastic cover over the battery terminal melted, and the wire harness completely broke. Fortunately I travel with[…]

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Day 15: Page AZ to Bryce UT

Yesterday was one of our longest days, today would be one of our shortest.  Again our goal was to get up early and try to beat the heat.  We drove over the “I hope you are not afraid of heights bridge” that leads out of Page. (OK it has a real name, Glen Canyon Bridge) My picture doesn’t do it justice. It really is a deep canyon, and I am sure some people get the heebee jeebies going over that bridge. Frank and I went our separate ways not too far out of town.  He decided to go down a dirt road. I decided I didn’t want to bounce around excessively, so we stayed on the hwy, with the plan to meet up in Bryce. Let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone intended for that Shadow, the sidecar or the trailer to go off road. The kids and I kept moving and eventually stopped just north of Kanab at Moqui Cave. A total tourist trap, but we all loved it.  The name comes from Moqui (or Moki), which some archeologists believe to be an ancient tribe in the Anasazi-Hopi area at an unknown time period. It was rediscovered by white settlers in the 19th century, and served as a speakeasy in the 1920s during Prohibition. In 1951, the cave was purchased by Laura and Garth Chamberlain, who opened a tavern and dance hall the following year. Garth played professional football for the Pittsburg Steelers in the 1940s, later he also worked as a stunt double and extra in many western movies that were filmed in the UT area. He rehabilitated the cave and started collecting fossils and artifacts from his travels.  It currently has 3 big rooms, one that displays all the old bar decor and posters and memorabilia. a second room has a large display of ultraviolet fluorescent rocks, this was the favorite for the kids. Spencer now has a favorite rock, Atomic Slag, from West Virginia.  It glows bright neon green under UV light. That was a fun little stop. We met up with Frank, had a quick lunch, then on to Bryce canyon. We hit the Bryce Canyon visitors Center, then went for a hike down the trail to the bottom of the canyon. We had been here once before almost 16 years ago, but did not have the chance to hike to the bottom of the canyon. So glad that we did this time. Again, pictures don’t do it justice. We did the Queens Garden Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. We were staying at Ruby’s Inn, and they were also celebrating their Centennial, what a coincidence. After hiking we were really looking forward to a quick dunk in the pool before dinner. What we got was a swim in the worlds coldest pool. It was like torture, I tried to swim a couple of laps, but my jaw was literally chattering from the me being so cold. Hot tub time. Then I dared Spencer to jump back in to the pool[…]

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Day 14: The Million Dollar Hwy Ouray, CO to Page AZ

We had a long day ahead of us, as this would be one of our longest days at over 330 miles, as well as a day with the most dramatic landscape changes, and variety.  Our plan was to get up early, have breakfast and get going.  The city of Ouray looks like a little town you would find in the Swiss Alps.  I was bummed we were only there for a short time. We departed, surrounded by the Colorado Rockies,  and it was cool and, are you ready…it started to rain. We donned our rain gear and hit the steep turns leading out of town. The San Juan Scenic Byway (US Route 550), more frequently referred to as the Million Dollar Highway, offered lots of steep and tight, twists and turns through red mountains and craggy peaks as it took us down through the town of Silverton, where we saw the old remnants of a mining company. In Durango, we actually got to see a steam locomotive.  At first when I saw the blackish smoke I thought a diesel truck was spewing up ahead. Then there was more and more, and it looked like something was on fire in the middle of the road. We finally got closer and saw that it was a train going down the track. I bet that was quite a sight to see back in the day, as that monster spewed black smoke coming down the line.  We grabbed some sandwiches and continued our ride to Four Corners. We made a quick stop at Mesa Verde National Park to look at the Visitor’s Center. The kids were tired and did not want to go drive up to the Indian cliff dwellings, plus we had a lot of miles to go, so we moved on. That will be a great place to visit when we come back! The weather got warmer, as did the colors of the landscape. By the time we arrived at the intersection of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico the desert heat was sweltering. We took the obligatory photo of us in 4 states, and looked around at all the vendors selling indian jewelry, pottery and art.   The temperature really started to heat up, and we needed to find some water to get our cooling vests wet. There are only port a potties at the four corners site, so we took off in search of the nearest gas station or anything. Luckily it was not too far we were able to gas up, get water and Gatorade, and dunk the cooling vests for the next leg of the journey. In the parking lot we chatted with an Indian man who was admiring the sidecar. He warned us about driving on the 160, to be on the lookout for horses and cattle.  We went less than a 1/4 mile when we see 2 horses sauntering across the highway without a care in the world. Once again we had great luck with the[…]

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Day 13: Colorado Springs to Ouray CO

Today’s journey took us away from Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak, and led us over another high peak, Monarch Pass, at 11312 ft.  The sidecar rig chugged up that big hill pulling the weight, but we made it. The ski lift there was running to take summer visitors up for hiking and biking, but we kept moving on. We made sure to stop at the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, National Park. Very dramatic cliff views similar to the Grand Canyon.  The type of lookouts that give you a hint of vertigo when you are at the edge holding onto the rail. More twists and turns brought us to Ouray, the “Switzerland of America”. I must admit that driving through town was not easy. The road was tilted down to the right, so I had to really fight to keep the bike going in a straight line.  We finally arrived at the Twin Peaks Lodge, a picture postcard setting, and this hotel even had its own hot springs. The swimming pool was like heaven. We are already talking about coming back here. An absolutely gorgeous spot to relax and do nothing…or ride your motorcycle. Now that Frank is with us for the rest of the trip home, we should have some more photos. It is nice to have your own personal photographer help document the trip.  

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