Vancouver Island was just fantastic. We rode on the logging roads through the mountains and camped by beautiful lakes and rivers. We met Bruce from Pt Alberni on a KLR who tracked us down the next day to give us spare tubes, a spare tyre, a beer each and a great chat (thanks Bruce). We met Steve, from New York City (Imagine That!) on his way to live in Washington State, on his beautiful 1972 BMW 600 Boxer (with the toaster tank left in NY). What a great time the 3 of us proceeded to have. After spending a night on the beach in Tofino we headed for Salt Spring Island which is a magical place full of artists, natural beauty (Lakes mountains, beaches, forests etc) and incredible friendly people. Lisah took us on a tour of the island and we relaxed in the evening on the dock by the side of the lake. Leaving Salt Spring Isand we
accompanied Steve on his homecoming ride (via the beautiful city of Victoria) to Port Townsend in Washington State where we met his girlfriend Maya and had a great time wandering around this beautiful boating town.
Since we were in Washington State we looked up some people we had met in Skagway and what a welcome we received. Rob, Barb and Sue (and Logan) gave us an amazing weekend in Anacortes and cruising the San Juan Islands on their beautiful motorboat - Harmony Bay. Not to mention the food - Rob and Barb are some team in the kitchen.
After a quick stop in Vancouver we headed up to Whistler to catch up with Doug again and headed for Jasper and Banff. The plan was to get accross BC in 2 days. Not likely - we kept meeting wonderful people who suggested bigger and bigger "loops". Just outside Kamloops we got the first puncture of the trip. So it was out with the repair kit and compressor (Dom had rigged up a connection on one of the bikes) on the side of the road. We pushed on to Vernon that night and on arrival met Don in a Gas Station - after having a beer with him he decided his backyard was a much better place for us to camp than the local campground. He proceeded to talk us into an even bigger loop (right down to the USA border) then took the day off work to join us part of the way - Thanks Don, the loops were worth it. Although all these detours took us some 500 miles out of our way what beautiful countryside we saw. Mountains and lakes everywhere. We camped that night in Creston and woke the next morning to 2 more punctures - each of our rear tyres were flat. Dom did a fabulous job of repairing them all and never even swore once! 3 punctures in 36 hours!
We eventually made Jasper and the massive Columbia Icefield and it was just awesome. We then started
heading south for Sturgis. We took a beautiful shortcut down the Kanaskis Trail (in Alberta) then onto a rough dirt road. After about 80km of gravel road we came around a corner and there was a road block due to the fires. The only way out was the way we came. It was late at night and a group of folk from The Prairies adopted us and gave us beers to make us feel better – the medicine worked wonders.
We crossed into Montana and spent my Birthday drinking wine and eating a picnic next to a beautiful lake. Then started heading east on I90 – Sturgis here we come. In Billings we were in a Gas Station when we met a lady, Rebecca and her Grandaughter Jordan. In no time we found ourselves welcomed into their (hot air ballooning) party, drinking daquiris made on a gas fired blender (sounded like a chainsaw) and ended up staying the night (along with Rebecca, Jerry and Jordan) at Dawn and Larry's house. What amazing hospitality, we thought we were going to pitch the tent in their garden but no we were given the guest room. Larry even moved his car out of the garage so the bikes would be safe.
On the way to Sturgis we visited the Battle of Little Big Horn memorial where Custor was killed. The ride towards Sturgis was really exciting. From 1000miles away the tempo was building as we saw more and more bikes on the road by the mile. The service areas were full of bikers and everyone was in great spirits. Then we were immersed into the town (along with 600,000) other bikes. It took about 45 mins to get 8 blocks accross town but it didn't matter as we had so much to look at. There were all sorts of bikes (mostly Harleys but everything else you can imagine too) and all sorts of people. We spent the next 5 days out on the rides through the Black Hills of South Dakota - the Needles Hwy and Iron Mountain road with their tunnels and switchback bends that go around nearly 360deg while climbing steeply up the hills. The Wildlife loop where we saw deer, bison and Prairie Dogs. Mt Rushmore with its famous presidential carvings and Crazy Horse the Indian equivalent. We went out to the amazing sandstone desert formations called The Badlands and to beautiful Spearfish Canyon. Everywhere we went there were thousands of bikes and bikers.
Leaving Sturgis we headed back west via Devils Tower, an amazing rock jutting straight out of the ground that was the USA's first National Monument and is a climbers Mecca, to Cody. From Cody, we rode the Chief Joseph and Bear Tooth Passes - amazing roads that wind up and down the huge mountains. On the Bear Tooth Pass we met 3 Aussies, John, Ron and Phil, who have shipped their bikes over from home for Sturgis and Milwaulke. With these guys we camped in Yellowstone National Park for the next 2 nights and enjoyed the mountains, lakes, geysers and heated rivers that make Yellowstone so famous. On the first nights camping we had sat down for dinner when a massive bison/buffalo wandered right through the campground. He was literally 2 metres from where we sat but no one was giving up their dinner.
We rode through the Grand Teton National Park's huge mountain range then headed south through the corner of Idaho into Utah, swimming in the incredibly blue, Bear Lake on the way. In the south of Utah we hit Canyon country and were blown away with the rugged beauty of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park and slept a night in a Tipi.
Just outside Zion we met a group of guys from New Orleans for an entertaining evening of story swapping then headed for the Grand Canyon. Wow - it's huge. In the Grand Canyon, Sam from Swansea (Wales) joined us and played the harmonica while the sun rose.
From the Grand Canyon we rode to Monument Valley and once again watched the sun rise between these wonderful rock formations that jut vertically out of the ground and are just amazing. It´s easy to see why the Indian people hold this place in such mystical regard.
We rode through the beautiful desert to four corners where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet, then on to Mesa Verde where the ruins of old Indigenous settlements have been uncovered. Some of the structures are entire villages that have been built in dry stone walling. These structures are still largely intact and sit on tiny ledges half way up shear cliff faces. There isn’t one or two but dozens of these dwelling places that date back to 800 years ago.
We then continued through the west of Colorado and it was such a pleasure to see some greenery again after the stark beauty of the deserts. We then crossed back into the east of Utah to visit Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.
In Canyonlands we drove along the top of three distinct levels. It is called the Island in the Sky and from there we looked down onto a plateau that has been created by a layer of hard rock that wasn’t weathered, then down into the gorge and Colorado River on the third and lowest level. The three levels are at massively different heights and are separated by shear cliff faces. Being at such different altitudes they have completely different climates and hence different plants and animals. Once again the entire area is coloured red so it makes for spectacular viewing.
The Arches National Park is a serious of amazing rock formations that have been heavily weathered to form natural arches. Most of the arches involve walking to view them and we had a wonderful early morning hike to visit some of the more famous ones. It was great fun playing underneath them and taking photo’s.
We then rode back into Colorado and rode along the wonderful Ridge Road that makes up the Colorado National Monument. Combine magnificent scenery with twisty roads up and down mountains and through tunnels and you’ve got Colorado. It was just a pleasure.
We had quite an amazing experience while in Colorado. We pulled into a tiny town called de Beque at about 9pm one night. We met a chap, Don, who was stood by the side of the road where a temporary shelter had been set up. We got chatting to Don asking if there was a campsite nearby. He was helping set up the corrals for a mustang (wild horse) exhibition that was happening over the weekend. He was chatting away to us about the horses when Roby arrived. Roby is the president of the Mustang Association and was to stay out with the horses over night. They suggested we pitch the tent under their shelter and spend the night with Roby. Well, what an experience it was. Roby is one of those older guys who is full of wisdom and insight. He shared the most wonderful stories with us, from Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (He has a photo of himself as a baby sat on Butch Cassidy’s lap) to rounding up wild horses, to saving mistreated dogs and the help he has from his neighbors and friends. We hung around the next day and saw the horses in action and left town in the afternoon feeling very lucky to have spent time with Roby and his friends.
We went down to Leadville and back to Copper Mountain where we stumbled on Super Moto Racing. This is a wonderful type of bike racing where the track combines motorcross jumps with gravel road and sealed track. It was great to watch.
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is just beautiful and when we were there we had to pull into the visitor center as it was raining so hard. We met some people who gave us the advice; “Wait until the weather clears as it is snowing up ahead”. Snow in the middle of summer while England and Ireland are having a heat wave. What’s going on? Luckily the hot chocolates in the restaurant were great. We waited it out and continued over Camerons Pass at higher than 10,000 feet.
We bid goodbye to the mountains and headed east. The following day we did 700 miles from Colorado across Nebraska and Iowa to Wisconsin. It was about 105 Fahrenheit and flat the whole way. We were on our way to Milwaukee and the Harley Davidson 100 year anniversary party.
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