July 25, 2005 GMT
Yellowstone National Park
Welcome to the first National Park in the world YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK established in 1871.
About 640,000 years ago a massive volcanic eruption, at what is now know as Yellowstown National Park, spewed an immense volume of ash that covered all of the western United States, much of the Midwest, northern Mexico and some areas of the eastern Pacific and left a caldera 30 miles wide by 45 miles long.
This was one of the many processes that shaped Yellowstone National Park, a region once rumored to be "the place where hell bubbles up." Geothermal wonders, such as Old Faithful, are evidence of one of the world's largest active volcanoes.
As well as having all a some 10,000 gysers and hotsprings through out its 2,219,790.71 acres it is a haven for wildlife. A large buffalo (almost extinct earlier in the 20th Century) population, deer, elk, grizzly and brown bears, birds, squirrels, chipmunks all live here in 'harmony' with the perpetual Sunday drivers.
Driving through the park you have to be extremely careful of people just stopping to look at something that has caught their eye. They stop in the middle of the road, they do not pull off - it is scary.
We camped at Madison Campground for 5 nights (tent sites $US18.00/night bookings can be made at the Information Centre in West Yellowstone or at the camp ground, however they fill up very fast during peak season so get in quick). There are no showers but good wash rooms, bear boxes for your food and fire pits and tables for each site. You can get a shower at West Yellowstone or at Canyon Campground.
Yellowstone's geothermal activity is very colourful. The Midway Geiyser Basin is very striking with its red and blue pools.
Orange Spring Mound at Mamoth Hot Springs is beautiful and very unusual.
There are beautiful waterfalls, high mountain passes and Yellowstone Lake is surprising.
Whilst camping at Madison we met Warren and Craig from New York State. Craig was riding a Yamaha and Warren was on his 650 Suzuki V-Strom. Much discussion regarding the merits and quirks of the Suzuki took place as well as the modifications to our bike that Grant has made.
We also met Judy and Robert from Jackson Mississippi who ride a Harley and they were telling us of how they had an unfortunate incident some years ago on thier goldwing in Rapid City, however, the up shot of it was they made some very good friends there and asked us to look them up should we make it to Rapid City.
There are so many more people at Yellowstone that we met including John and John - a father and son riding a Triumph and Harley respectively and the Rhodes family from Gladstone in Queensland.... well they are living in the US until December this year.
Time to look at the map and move on again.
Posted by Julie Rose at 11:18 PM
American Life in the Summer Time
Crossing the Border into the US was an easy going affair although the Immigration Officers wanted to look what was in our bags. One particular officer was very interested in our route to Yellowstone and brought out maps and gave us really helpful directions.
Riding through Flathead Lake in Montana we came across a small camp ground perched on a hill overlooking the lake. That evening at the camp we were treated to a pitch fork fondue, all for free, it is an annual event and we happened to be there at the right time. Basically it was a huge barbeque that all the campers could attend, you just needed to bring a salad.
Shorty and Lorreta from Oregen entertained us for several hours in their most luxurious RV, they had driven to Alaska and were now heading home in a round about way.
Temperatures started to rise dramatically on our way through Deer Lodge and onto West Yellowstone which a most welcome change from the almost continous cooler weather we had been experiencing.
It is hard to find cheap camping in West Yellowstone, we found a camp ground for under $30 US per night! We stayed two nights to sort out a few things like washing before going into Yellowstone where camping is cheaper, but you dont necessarily have laundry or showers.
Grant met Harry, from South Carolina, a few tents down, who was riding a beautiful green and black Kawasaki cruiser.
Harry had heard about us from some Harley riders we had been talking to in Dawsons Creek, Canada. He was very keen to talk about international motorcylce riding.
It costs $US15.00 for a seven day motorcycle pass to enter Yellowstone (we thouroughly recommend that if you are going to hit a few national parks to buy the Annual Pass for $US50.00 - it will save you heaps in the long run). It really helps to go to the Information Centre before entering the park so you can get maps and use the telephone there to book campgrounds, lodges etc.
Whilst in West Yellowstone we experienced our first thunderstorm of the trip. It was HUGE! It rained solidly for about 5 hours. We stayed dry and warm inside our tent.... howver it does nothing to keep the noise out!
Posted by Julie Rose at 11:11 PM
July 02, 2005 GMT
The run across to Jasper was uneventful, both of us full of colds, that will teach us for going to Alaska! *Laugh*
Jasper is a very trendy ski village, although still remains quaint and plesant. We stayed in a Home Stay - which is like a Bed and Breakfast without the breakfast. The proprietors moved their car out of the shed so the bike could have a warm bed too!
The ride from Jasper throught the Rocky Mountains to Calgary was more foggy than rocky. It was so cold we did not even want to stop and look at the Ice Fields. It was a balmy 4 degrees celcius and there was quite a bit of rain about.
Grant was concerned about the state of the rear tyre in those conditions, though it seemed to grip quite well even though it had 25,000 kms on it. Yeah for Metzeler Tourance.
Arriving in Calagry we were met by our dear friends Brenda and Kevin (whom we had met 5 years earlier in Mexico) who looked after us for a whole week. Warm bed, Red Wine, good food. Luxury!
The 1st of July was Canada Day and to celebrate Brenda and Marilyn prepared a traditional Turkey Feast - normally a Thanksgiving or Chirstmas fare, but was put on especially for us. Brenda and Julie had many an email over the years about the Turkey Dinner!
A highlight of the meal (appart from the experimental frozen turkey) was a delicious little thing called Turnip Puff. It is so yummy and makes excellent left overs. Brenda uses her Mums recipe.
Brenda and Kevin took us to the Calgary Tower. It is really neat! From the tower you can survey the entire area and see for miles, on a clear day the Rocky Mountains are spectacular. There is a glass floored section that feels extremely odd to stand on. For people that know Julie well enough, you would know her dislike of heights.
Calgary was a good base to head out on a few day trips. One day we went out to Lake Louise and Banff in the Rocky Mountanis. The scenery is very beautiful. It is very exciting to ride towards the mountains from Calgary as they appear out of a flat prarie landscape and continue to grow in stature and detail the closer you get.
We were also able to take in the Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump site. This is really interesting place. For thousands of years the local Indian people would heard buffalo to this site and run them off the cliff, killing them for food and hides etc. It is a very well preserved site and well worth the visit.
Whilst in Calgary we celebrated Julies Birthday... very early! Well why not, she announces it for months in advance anyway!
Sadly we left our Calgary friends for the Lussier Hot Springs in the White Swan Provincial Park.
These natural pools are set in as stunning location. You sit beside the rushing 'cold' river in a warm bath temperature pool watching the water run by. (Thanks Kevin for the suggestion!).
To get there you need to travel on a gravel road for aobut 20km's. It is a good road but you have to watch out for the shear drop offs and the logging trucks!
The wild flowers were out in abundance. Red, pink, yellow, white, blue and purple painted the medows and the scents were delicous and sweet.
After relaxing around the hot springs we headed to Creston where a lot of fruit is grown, we spent time cleaning and re-oiling the air filter and eating peaches and cherries during the warm days.
We used this time to clean the air filter, which was filthy!
It was time to say good by to Canada with thoughts of a more extensive trip in the future.
Posted by Julie Rose at 11:53 PM
North to Alaska
After passing the Emerald Lake we stopped for a breakfast/brunch/lunch at Carcross where we met Jo and Graham on a BMW from New Zealand who were traveling with Mark and Lisa, also on a BMW from New Mexico. They had just gotten off the ferry from Skagway and we spent some time chatting with them and getting the low down on the ferry trip we were to make in the next few days.
The ride down to Skagway is one of the most stunning and awesome roads we have been on so far.
Canadian/Alaskan Boarder - Klondike Highway
The Canadian/American border is high in the Continental Divide mountains where snow and ice is still abundant, even for summer. We did a short hike thought the alpine high country enjoying the clean air and crystal clear water from snow melt before continuing on the rapid descent to the coast, and Skagway.
Skagway is a really neat little tourist town preserved in the Gold Rush theme, specifically for the numerous and grand Alaska cruise ships, however there is a fabulous little restaurant called ‘Stowaway Café’ that serves huge slabs of fresh halibut! One serve is enough for two! (Thanks Lynn for our dinner.)
Once the ferry tickets were secured we waited at the terminal until boarding where we met Howard and Alan from California who were traveling around Alaska on the BMW and Gold Wing respectively. We had such a nice time talking about travelling and motorcycling... as you do!
Waiting for the boat
We spen two nights and a day on the boat and the weather had turned very cold and it was quite windy on the water.
Julie in the Wind!
The journey from Skagway to Prince Rupert (known as the "Poor Mans Alaskan Curise") took in beautiful scenery and rugged isolated coastline of the Inside Passage. We were able to see some humpback whales swimming along side the boat and glaciers high up in the mountains.
Grant rugged up for the Alaskan Summer?
After disembarking from our 'cruise' we continued on to the small town of Kitwanga wher we met some cyclists that were riding from Alaska to Vancouver. the Group included Eduardo and Michael who were good friends and we all talked about our favourite subject.... MEXICO as Eduardo lives in Mexico City it was good to get information about that part of our trip to come. Eduardo also owns a BMW and maybe we will hook up and go for a ride together.
The ride to the Mezidan Junction is a little tiresome as it is all managed forests and swamps and you are boxed in by trees and do not get to see much scenery, however once you turn off on to the 37A - the road to Stewart, things change dramatically.
From Highway 37A
The road winds its way past high mountains with glaicers topping them, along the Bear River, past the Bear Glacier and through a tight little canyon.
Just on the other side of the boarder, three kilometres from Stewart, there is an even smaller town called Hyder.
There are no paved roads in Hyder but there are fantastic restaurants! The people in our campground in suggested we go and eat at 'The Bus'.
The Bus is a famous seafood restaurant attached to the 'Alaskan Premier Seafoods' outlet and began around seven years ago. If you are in this neck of the woods go see Diana and get the story (www.hyderalaska.com).
At breakfast we met Al and Lorene from Ohio who got us very excited about heading over that way to the National Museum of the Untied States Airforce in Dayton Ohio, but we will have to see... after all we made it to Alaska and that was not in the plans!
Leaving Stewart it was back to Kitwanga for two days of rest before doing a few long runs, one throught the Rocky Mountains.
It was now time for us to continue on to Calgary.
Posted by Julie Rose at 06:39 PM