(24) The Wind Says Drive East
Monday September 04 2004
My time here on the west coast has been amazing and eye opening.
I have been welcomed into my friends family as one of their own and will never forget or know how to repay them for their warmth and hospitality, they really are like family to me, always have been.
Was a joy to get to know these 3 little girls, never a dull moment and always something to laugh, cry, explain, read, play & talk about with these young girls, they are amazingly sharp and intelligent, it is scary!
We went sailing, driving motorcycles, visiting, bowling (Marc's favourite sport) eating out and enjoying each others company.
While here my friend Marc introduces me to MacIntosh computers, he has been recommending Mac to me for years.
It didn't take so much pushing for me to see that Macs are far superior in most areas over PC's and Windows.
I am now the proud owner of a Mac Powerbook G4 laptop computer and have enjoyed getting to know and learn this Mac very much...Oh! and I just had to buy a 40 GB Ipod musicplayer too, I need those 10,000 songs on my fingertips when I am riding.
...and it comes with sadness to say goodbye to my friends here, it is a very nice to have the feeling of a home away from home. I look forward to seeing them all again and hope that it is sooner rather than later.
Thank you Marc, Ana & family
Monday September 20 2004
I drive east on Hwy #20 through the Cascade Mtn. Range, it is amazing scenery & landscapes, I am very happy that I chose to drive this route.
Just not too far east of the mtn. range the lanscape turnes dramatically to semi desert landscapes.
A big fruit, produce growing area with large farms and the Grand Coulee Dam to hold and supply water for these crops.
Eventually I join up to the main hwy #90 and Spokane, Wa.
I pass into Idaho and settle into a campground just outside of Coeur d' Alene, Idaho.
An enjoyable, long, sometimes very hot, (spectacular scenery) ride today.
The wind is pushing me east and towards home.
Tuesday September 21 2004
Northern Idaho is very beautiful, mountains, lakes, rivers, wild nature.
It does not take me so long before I have crossed into Montana.
I continue along Hwy #90 through Missoula, Butte, Bozeman and stop to camp at a nice little town called Columbus, Montana, just a little west of Billings.
More amazing scenery today with the Rocky Mountains always in clear view in the distance.
This is real cattle, cowboy country.
Another long day in the saddle, the community campground is very spacious and there is no charge.
Amazing to me, since I have payed for many campgrounds that were not half a nice as this, I enjoy the night, fire up my camp stove for a hot cup of tea and some pasta for dinner...it doesn't get any better than this!
Wednesday September 22 2004
I slept like a baby last night, pack camp and continue along Hwy #90 through Billings then south east through the Little Bighorn Battlefield area, I had seen this area before on another trip around USA so I give all this a miss and enjoy the day on the road.
Lovely rolling grassland hills all along the way.
I have the picture in my mind of natives on their horses riding through these grasslands rounding up bison as one of their food sources from days gone by.
I enter and drive through the north-east section of Wyoming, passing through Sheridan and Gillette, then I take Hwy #16 into South Dakota.
The reason being that it was my plan all along to stop by the Monument to Crazy Horse. I had been here years ago and wanted to see just how far they have progressed with the memorial to Crazy Horse, carved out of the side of the mtn, part of the Black Hills National Forest.
I take a campsite in Custer, South Dakota. A nice little town that has really grown in size since the last time I passed through here.
The Black Hills has very spectacular scenery and vistas, you will never forget it.
Thursday September 23 2004
As I leave Custer and drive through the Black Hills National Forest there are many large Bison (Buffalo) grazing alongside the roads.
It is my plan to get a good close up shot of one of these large steamroller type animals.
I slow down, take a close look at this gargantuan beast looking back at me and think to myself, it's ok, i think all the people know what bison look like, if he decides he doesn't like his photo taken he might put the run on me or even worse he might bulldoze my motorcycle into little bits...no camera snaps, on I go.
I take the small country hwy #385 through the flat farmland, consisting of mostly cornfields and large farms for as far as the eye can see, this is Nebraska!
I continue on this country road until I meet up with the main Hwy #80 through towns like North Platte, Lexington, Kearney, Lincoln and finally Omaha at the Iowa border.
I decide to take a cheap motel room for the night as I know the rain is coming soon, I am a day or so from home and don't want to spend my last night or pack up in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I am in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
It is so nice to have a toilet, shower, real bed , cable tv and room enough to relax in a space bigger than my tent.
981 kilometers today
The rain cometh soon!
Friday September 24 2004
I wake at 5 am.
I packed everything last night so I could get an early start this morning.
It has rained through the night, it is still dark with thunder and lightning all around.
I saw the forecast last night for today, the thunderstorms are heading this way.
I think briefly that maybe I should wait them out here, somewhere dry & warm.
That lasts for a minute, the next thing I know I am driving due east with all my wet gear on, trying to see the road in front of me.
It is raining very hard, I find that I can not sit behind all these truckers so I have tp pass them all.
It is a little interesting keeping in front of them at these speeds in this weather.
This continues for about 3 1/2 hours, it reminds of earlier in June when I was down east in the Maritimes, wet and not pleasant on the bike.
I stop for fuel and into the diner for a big breakfast, ham, eggs, homefries, lots of coffee, the works and watch the rain pound down.
All the time I think to myself that if I just hang in there, keep driving east I know I will eventually get and keep in front of this weather front.
After a rare heart stopping, artery clogging, delicious breakfast I jump back into my wet gear and have a new vigour towards this weather.
Towards the Illinois/Iowa border the rain stops, the roads are dry and I thin that I might just stay in front of this weather and try to make it home, sometime late tonight or early saturday morning.
Through Illinois and into Indiana on Hwy #94.
There is a major traffic hold up here as there is contruction ahead.
This sets me back at least 1 1/2 hours, the traffic is backed up forever, I zip in and out and make my way up towards the front, another good reason to have a motorcycle!
On through Michigan, Hwy #94, 89 & 69 to Port Huron.
Somewhere around Lansing I get turned around, my mind is a little dopey and I can feel that I am a little disorrientated.
I noticed a sign saying west.
I want to go east, so I pull into a rest stop, walk around, check the map and ask a man, which way am I going?
He tells me to drive a little ways back and gives me the right exit number to take to get me to Port Huron.
I take some time to get my head focused and clear out the cobwebs.
I arrive in Port Huron, Michigan and the US/Canada border.
It is always a nice feeling to enter back into your country
I have gotten my second wind and I feel fine, not so tired, it is after midnight and very little traffic.
I decide to hump it to London, fuel up there and take the country roads up to Owen Sound. I used to visit London years ago and take Hwy #23 through all the towns & villages, I just hope I remember the way.
Owen Sound, Ontario.
It is 3 am saturday morning.
I have driven 1,734 kilometers today.
I have been on the road for 4 months.
I have driven almost 32,000 kilometers.
I have seen so much, met many, many good people.
It is always good to be/get home but I will miss the everyday experiences of new places and people.
I am not a writer, just a guy riding his motorcycle trying to find out lies around the next corner.
I cannot think of a better way to explore, see a country and its people than on a motorcycle.
If anyone has a question(s), wants/need help with anything at all, I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can.
Keep riding, be safe.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 09:05 PM
(23) Bellingham, Washington
Friday September 03 2004
We arrive at our destination and the ferry docks.
Some of us travellers have become friends, we take some photos of each other and exchange email addresses, phone numbers etc.
We say goodbye, get into our different vehicles or on our motorcycles and continue our journeys.
It is always the same when I travel, I've always been very lucky to meet up with really good people.
Sometimes we are going in the same direction or to the same destinations.
You become travelling companions and freinds.
Sometimes you keep contact, maybe once in awhile, maybe just to send a postcard, maybe never again.
I have to say that I have been very blessed to meet good friends that have for me became lifelong friends.
You go to these beautiful countries, lands, places to see and experience the beauty,
explore and experience, but it is always the people there that makes it that much more special and puts a smile on your face when you think back of a funny story or warm moment.
I have had many funny and warm memories.
Now I will visit with friends in Bellingham that I met 15 years ago in New Zealand.
The last time I was in Bellingham, Washington was 7 years ago, they had 2 dogs.
This time I visit they still have 2 dogs, plus 3 lovely little girls.
I look forward to meet and get to know these 3 new additions.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:51 AM
(22) The Inside Passage
Tuesday August 31 2004
The first night on the ferry went well.
I met and talked with a lot of other travellers on the solarium deck.
We exchange travel stories and make conversation.
There was a brief stop in Juneau early in the morning. It was quite early, I think most of the passengers (myself included) slept through that stop, after a brief stop we continue southwards.
The weather is just brilliant, sunny skies, warm temperatures and the views from the ferry are absolutely amazing.
The snow peaked mts. in the distance, the colour of the sea & sky, the sunsets, it all has to be seen with the naked eye to be appreciated.
I take many photos, keep a constant vigil with the binoculars to spot wildlife on the shores, in the sky and on the water.
The next port of call is Sitka, Alaska.
Sitka has a lot of history, the Tlingit Inians were the first inhabitants.
Next were the Russians in 1799 and then the Russians sold Alaska to the US for $7.2 million with the transfer ceremony in Sitka, October 18 1867.
It was a beautiful seaside town, there is much to see and it has a nice harbour. After a few good hours taking in the local sites we board again and continue southwards.
The ferry had a park ranger on board to give regular talks and presentations on a variety of topics from marine life, history and information about the Inside Passage.
It was all done very well.
There were also many films playing on many interesting topics about the area and the whole marine ecology.
Top marks to them.
Some of the marine life I saw were Humpback Whales, Killer (Orcas) Whales, different kinds of Dolphins & Porpoises, Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Seals, Salmon, Bald Eagles and Waterfowl/Seabirds.
I was sitting in my chair reading when they announced that a pod of Killers Whales were off the port side.
The whole solarium people more or less ran, cameras & binoculars flying to the port side.
I watched the pod(maybe 4 or 5) through my binoculars up ahead and when they reached us at the back, they went under, not to appear until out of camera range.
I guess they were playing a cruel joke on us wanting good Orca photos.
I continued watching them long after they passed with my binoculars. Behind the ferry was a big yacht following, suddenly this one Orca just breached quite close to and in front of this yacht.
I wondered if that guy was ready with his camera at that moment.
The next town that we stopped long enough to visit was Ketchikan.
It is famous for its Alaskan Native Culture, great salmon fishing and for more Totem Poles than anywhere else in the world.
It was a nice enough town but it was overrun with thousands of tourists on those 3 or 4 giant cruiseliners docked adjacent to the downtown wharfs.
It reminded me of the day I was in Skagway, Alaska, same thing.
I guess they have to put ashore sometimes.
This whole trip south was very, very awesome.
The weather cooperated everday to give us unseasonably warm, sunny, dry weather... what a bonus!
The beauty along the way was unbelievable!
I had a really good time onboard this ferry and I met a lot of very nice people too.
It was a little expensive for my tastes, but I thought how many chances will I get to see the Inside Passage...hopefully again sometime!
I am so glad that I decided to go on this ferry through The Inside Passage, it was a trip I will never forget.
Posted by Jeff Nicholls at 12:07 AM