Category - women & motorcycling

1
Motomice Book Review
2
Penguins in New Zealand!! Oh yeah, sheep and cows too.
3
Milford Sound New Zealand
4
Haast to Cromwell New Zealand
5
Chasing the New Year with Rain
6
Adventure in the Southern Hemisphere.
7
Yellowstone National Park
8
Our last day in Canada
9
Jasper National Park
10
Canadream

Motomice Book Review

When I was a kid I remember reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I had no idea that future me would love riding motorcycles, or that one day my own kids would also be riding bikes. Now as an adult I have had the chance to travel in multiple countries and ride a lot of miles with my kids in a sidecar as we adventure around.  So, I was more than excited to get a copy of MotoMice by Paul Owen Lewis.  It was great to see another book about motorcycling.  I love the art work and the detail in every illustration.  My kids really enjoyed it, and have read it many times, even though they are a little older than the intended audience.  This would make a great book for story time with young children under age 8. The story introduces us to a variety of characters and their bikes.  I think we all know the real life versions of the Moto Mice family.  We have met some amazing people on our vacations that bear some uncanny resemblances to the Moto Mice!  Plus I have to admit I was more than tickled by the sidecar in the book. I had the opportunity to speak with Paul Owen Lewis, and we had a fun conversation about my sidecar and the adventures my kids have gone on.  I really love this simple story of how even though we all ride different motorcycles, we are all part of one big family. Christmas is coming up and I think this will make a great gift for all the biker babies and future riders in your family.  Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

Read More

Penguins in New Zealand!! Oh yeah, sheep and cows too.

Today was going to be another ambitious day of high miles and lots of activities.  While sitting over breakfast we were contemplating what was on our wish list of things to see and do, and the topic of penguins came up.  When I had been researching the trip and where to stay, I discovered that New Zealand had penguins! At breakfast Catherine got on her phone and found a penguin tour that we could take that night out of Dunedin.  It was going to be an action packed day. For most of the morning we enjoyed more green rolling hills with the local “wild” animals.  I don’t think I have talked much about all the sheep and cows in New Zealand. Fun fact: New Zealand has 6 sheep for every person, which is down from the high of 22 per person back in 1982.  That’s a lot of sheep. Not only that but New Zealanders are also out numbered by cattle. We would be gifted with another day of hills dotted with sheep and cows as we meandered our way around and headed south. Ok, back to the trip. Our first official stop would be the Curio Bay and the Petrified Forest.  180 million years ago, some trees got buried by volcanic ash, and they were gradually exposed by the ocean. You can walk down from the upper cliffs to see the strange arrangement and patterns in the ground, as well as these enchanting little mini ecosystems that are formed by water being trapped in pools.  You really had to pay attention to not walk right into these pools because the top looks like glass and their depth was deceiving.  We also got the chance to see the mermaid hair seaweed up close.  It is truly  mesmerizing to watch it slowly move back and forth as the ocean waves some in and out of the small inlet. Later we found lunch at The Whistling Frog Cafe. After another delicious meal we continued and started making our way north again.  Paul had been hinting about a destination that we might be able to see today. He wasn’t giving us any clues, but I thought I heard him say he wasn’t sure if it was open.  When we got there it was such a fun surprise.  We took a right turn onto a small gravel road that ran into a river and we showed up to the Tuapeka Ferry.  Paul waved to the ferry captain who was on the other side of the river.  He acknowledged and started to head over. Paul disclosed to us that he wasn’t sure if the ferry was running or if it would be open.  We found out that it only runs from 8-10 am and 4-6pm.  We got there about 5 min before 4pm.  Talk about great timing again! Paul for the win!  The ferry is hooked up with cables that cross the river, and uses water power to cross the river to ferry cars back[…]

Read More

Milford Sound New Zealand

Today would be on of the most beautiful days of our trip.  The night before we had checked the weather and it looked like it was safe to head to Milford Sound. We had a lot of miles to cover, and we would also be heading into some areas that were used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings.  I didn’t really do too much research, but I can assure you that even without having the exact points plotted out, the areas we would go through today were stunning and more than worthy of a movie location. For your future plans to visit New Zealand, here are the sites of some LOTR locations.  We hit it hard first thing in the morning, and made good time.  Paul rides a BMW R1150, with Catherine riding pillion, and he is a former and current racer, so he kept up a spirited pace throughout the whole day. We had read and been told that there would be a lot of tourists and tour buses, and that the road is long to get into Milford Sound.  I was expecting today to be slow going and possibly tedious.  This would not be the case, and the whole day would be an exercise in good timing,  low traffic, and gobsmacking views.  Part one,  just outside of Cromwell is a section of road that goes through the Kawarau Gorge, home of the world famous bungee jump. Lots of great twisties to start off the day. We did a lot of miles (or should I say kilometers ?) and did not stop at all except for gas and lunch. We stopped for pie in Te Anau.  Paul let us know that we would be having lots of chances to try pie over the next few days. Challenge accepted!! I have already started to fall in love with NZ pies.  I have never liked the American version we have which are chicken pot pies.  I am not a fan of that yellow gooey chicken gravy soupy filling.  NZ pies are filled with meat and cheese or other yummy goodness, but no icky heavy sauce. With tummies happy we continued on. We entered Eglinton Valley, and I imagined myself with the crew of Hobbits and Dwarves as they journeyed. The wide valley space was stunning, and there was still snow on the mountains, and views of waterfalls. Absolute heaven to look at plus the freedom of being on the motorcycles.  We tried taking pictures and video with the goPro.  Frank has mastered the feat of taking pictures with our good camera while he is riding.  We caught up to Paul and Catherine in front of a tunnel opening, already off their bike and enjoying the view, while waiting on the side of the road next to the line of cars for the tunnel.  We took some pictures and Paul said “do you want to wait around 20 min or go with the next group of cars?”  Cars from[…]

Read More

Haast to Cromwell New Zealand

Today would be another short day as we would only be heading to Cromwell.  I had recently met someone who had just been to New Zealand, and she gave me some advice on her favorite things to see here.  We would stop by the Blue Pools today and go through the Remarkables Mountain Range. The sun was out, and the sky was clear, so I was happy. If you have followed along on any of my past trips, you know that I hate being cold. We stopped at Thunder Creek Falls, which have a little pool at the bottom. This reminded me of many films and commercials where someone is at the bottom of a perfect waterfall, bathing in the pool below…so picturesque. Down the road a little further we found the blue pools. Another suspension bridge and a 15 min hike was well worth the pristine cleared aqua blue water that we found beneath a second bridge.  New Zealand really loves bridges, and loves to torture me with wobbly bridges. We soon learned that the water was extremely cold. Locals were taking the plunge, as well as a few tourists.  One gentleman from Canada exclaimed “Whew! that is brisk.  Even for Canada that is cold”.  We only put our hands in, and can confirm that the water was pretty icy. We continued south and passed by two large lakes, Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. I was loving the sun and warmer weather compared to the recent rain.  We found lunch in Wanaka, which was a super busy holiday spot with tons of people enjoying the summer sun.  The place was packed, and it took us quite a while to find parking.  Many of the cafes and food stands had lines out their doors. I’m sure everyone thought Frank and I were crazy dressed in full motorcycle gear while everyone else was in shorts and tank tops. Our final push south would take us to Cromwell.  This would be where we make use of Motostays for the first time.  It is a network of motorcyclist that host you in their home for free.  You in turn list your home as a possible place for other motorcyclist to stay. It seemed like a great way to to meet locals that knew all the details about the area and could point us in the right direction, especially all the best roads and sights to see.  We found Paul and Catherine who were located in Cromwell, and prior to the trip Paul and Frank had been emailing back and forth. He gave us a great general itinerary for the whole South Island based on how many days we had, and with that info I was able to plan out where our hotel stays would be. But last night was the last reservation I had made.  Paul told us not to make anymore reservations, because we would have to wait and see how the weather was. So the next few days, we would literally[…]

Read More

Chasing the New Year with Rain

It rained all night at Franz Josef Glacier.  We checked out the weather forecast and it was going to be heavy rain all day.  We decided to just hang out and try to wait it out. The normal checkout time was 10am, so we asked the manager if we could stay till 11 or 12, and he gave us the OK.  He said as long as we left before his cleaning staff at 2pm, because he did not want to clean the room himself!  We took advantage of the the hotel having a laundry room, and after I bothered the other guest for coins, I managed to find someone who had change for a NZ $20 bill. We started the laundry and walked to find breakfast in pouring rain.  As we turned the corner we saw the big group of motorcyclists that we had met at the lunch two days earlier. They looked completely soaked, and I hoped their gear was more waterproof than it looked. We all waved in recognition, and Frank and I took shelter in a cafe for breakfast.   We went back, finished laundry, and packed up.  It was still only noon, and the rain was not letting up. We then went to the West Coast Wildlife Center to kill more time.  They take injured animals, rehabilitate them and release them back out into he wild. We learned a lot about the different native Kiwi birds and their predators.  I learned about the Stoat, which I had never heard of that before, but is very similar to a weasel. The stoat is the biggest threat/predator to the Kiwi bird. The center also had a big room that simulated night time, so we had a chance to see Kiwi birds up close in a pretend habitat. We were not allowed to take pictures, so unfortunately I have no way to prove that we saw the Kiwi Birds. We also met the Tuatara, not a lizard, but it sure looks like it.  They are great at being completely still. For a long time.  A really long time.  I know, we waited for a really long time. Did I mention it was raining outside?  After we had our fill of all things Kiwi, we decided to hit the road even though it was still raining.  We had reservations in Haast, which we originally thought we would cancel because it was not that far down the road.  But we were glad to have the stop in Haast so we would have a short drive in the rain. We were heading south and the rain was heading north, but it was really coming down, and we were in heavy rain for about two hours. We stopped by Fox Glacier, but decided against the 20 min walk as it was pouring. Finally, as we got closer to Haast the rain stopped and the sky cleared. We made a stop at the Salmon Farm and cafe, to take a stretch and snack break.[…]

Read More

Adventure in the Southern Hemisphere.

About 20 years ago, Frank and I almost went to New Zealand.  He was in Australia for work and I joined him for vacation.  Our plan was to do 2 weeks in Australia, then go to NZ.  However, it was winter there at the time, so we decided to go to Fiji instead.  Not a bad substitute at all, but we have talked about going to NZ ever since.  Well we had finally accumulated a lot of frequent flier miles and decided that we could use them on a big trip, and we bit the bullet and made the reservations almost a year ahead of time.  We talked about the possibility of bringing the kids, and maybe even shipping the sidecar over.  But the planning stages of this trip escaped us so quickly that we did as much research as we could but never found anything that would work in terms of shipping our own bikes over. This would also be the longest trip we would go on with out the kids. After lots of research, Frank found Circle NZ, and it’s owner Clive Chapman.  He would set us up on two Suzuki VStrom 650’s.  After a few emails back and forth, they showed us how right everyone is about how friendly Kiwi’s are.  They have a Christmas tradition of going over to a friends house, and when she found out that Clive would be picking up 2 American tourists from the airport on Christmas day she told him to invite them over.  We were just the right amount of curious and crazy and joined over 15 strangers for Christmas! Plus it was perfect timing as we were starving, and they had a feast that all of them contributed to. The other bonus was that Clive and his wife Kasha allowed us to stay in the separate quarters that Kasha’s parents live in as they went on holiday for a few days.  Amazing hospitality and great conversations.  I was already starting to learn a lot of fun new words.  My favorite of the day was “Suckee do”.  That is what our host calls the air vent over the stove that “sucks’ the air out. My VStrom was equipped with 3 hard bags, Frank’s had a hard top box and the soft side bags are SW Motech, and I think I really like the design idea of those bags.  They are waterproof, and the top rolls down just like most dry bags.  This is useful if you need to add stuff to the bags later, like for food or souvenirs or an extra pair of boots… We headed out on Tues Dec 26th, Boxing day in NZ.  very grey and cold morning and about a mile down the road it started raining for real, and we pulled over so that Frank could but on his rain gear.  As we continued I realized that my pants were not covering my boots.  I had brought my water proof ICON Raiden Adventure suit and[…]

Read More

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

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

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

© 2016 MotorcycleMama.org