Thursday, August 30, 2012

Questions about the Burgie 400

The bikes are too dirty to clean up in one day, so I started by getting the bugs off.  I have tried most of the tricks I read about, but once you get a thick layer of goo, and bake it on for several weeks in the hot sun while adding still more layers, none of the tricks work.  It takes time and elbow grease to scrub off the bugs.

While we were on the trip, several times we ran into grasshoppers on the road.  They sit on the road then jump up just before you get to them.  They have lots of goo in them.  Also, they are big enough to feel like rocks when they hit your legs.  It happens on back roads without much traffic in the west.  So when that happened, I asked Burgie to go in front and clear the road, as it has good leg shields and Mary Ann would not even feel the grasshoppers hitting.  But it did make a mess of the front of  the bikes.

Speaking of good uses for a Burgman.  The picture shows Mary Ann and Burgie parked in front of  Hudsons in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  Whenever we wanted to go into a city, and it was too far to walk from where we were staying, usually Burgie got the job.  Comfy seats, (Important after a day of riding!), automatic transmission (Ditto), and room to lock the helmets under the seat. The Burgman was the right tool for that job.

Was the Burgman 400 the right bike for a ride across Canada and the USA? People had lots of questions about the Burgman on the trip.  "Is it comfortable?" "where are the pedals?" "Where do you put you feet?" "How many times have you replaced the engine?" Well, it seemed to suffer no ill effects. and was running just as strong when we got home as it was on the first day.  It climbed all the hills, took all the corners, and managed an overall average of 82.88 MPG (Canadian gallons).  (or 70 mpg US or 3.41 l/100km)  We had to top up the oil a few times and add air to the tires once, but that was also true of the other bike.  It suited Mary Ann just fine.  I offered to get Burgie an Air Hawk seat cushion, but Mary Ann didn't think it was necessary, after trying out mine for a day.

If it was just me, I might want a bike that could go faster.  Although Burgie has a top speed of 140 kph,  for long distances I might prefer a top speed of 180, so that I could cruise reliably at the average speed of traffic out west, where the highest speed limit I saw was 75 mph, or 120 kph.  And that's the posted speed limit, not the average speed of traffic. Also I like to go on freeways. With Burgie  along, I tried to limit our cruising speed to 100 kph.  I think the Vulcan could have managed 120 travelling alone, and there are many sport touring bikes that could comfortably average 160 all week long. But Mary Ann prefers to go slower and avoid the busy highways, and poke around the back roads. For that, and for city traffic, the Burgman was actually more than adequate.

The one weakness of Burgie's might be handling on loose gravel.  Sometimes you get that in construction zones.  My plan to handle that was to go in front and radio back any problem areas (potholes, deep gravel, slippery sections).  But after the first shocker in Thunder Bay, we never had any really bad gravel again on this trip.  And, anyway, most street bikes have a bit of a problem with loose gravel, not just Burgie.

At first I was a bit disappointed with the fact that Burgie's fuel range was less than the Vulcan's.  But it could actually go about 300 km if you wanted to push it until it was running on fumes, and we finally got into a routine of gassing up whenever we found a convenient station after 200 km, and that worked well.  The Vulcan can go up to 350-400 km before running dry, but I usually fill up at 300 when on my own.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Have You Ever Eaten in Beeton?

We are home now, I am using a real computer.  After 6 weeks, the mouse feels strange and I can't believe the size of the screen.

So yesterday, our last leg was from Midland to Kitchener. We stopped for lunch in Beeton, a first for me, though I have been through the town many times in the past. We parked, looked around and saw four open places to eat, and chose the Muddy Water Hotel and Home for Wayward Girls, as the most interesting.  I cannot define what is an interesting restaurant, but I definitely know one when I see it.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable experience, in case you were wondering, but I'm not a food critic so I will leave that to someone else.  Some of the critics on the internet are hilarious, though a bit harsh at times.  I mean who writes "I would only stop there if I was dead and my hearse driver had to go" or something like that?

When we reached home, Mary Ann, who has been recording all our petrol consumption at every stop on the trip, took the last odometer reading.  Total for Burgie was 10,697 km. total for Lost was 11,002 km.  The discrepancy could be odometer error, and maybe Lost did a few side trips that were longer than Burgie's side trips.  Or maybe Lost did more weaving while riding along while Burgie went straight.  I don't know, but the difference is bigger than I expected.

Now that I can add pictures from our camera, I will include one of those, from back at the summit of the Beartooth Pass. It's higher resolution than my Samsung phone, if you click on it it should fill the screen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Midland, Ontario

We stopped in Midland last night, and because it's the last day of our trip, we went out for a celebration meal. Also, because we could not find the Thai restaurant at the mall. So we ended up at a fancy restaurant, the Library Restaurant. This restaurant is preserving the historic Midland library building. I found it interesting that it was built with a grant from an American millionaire, Andrew Carnegie, who apparently funded hundreds of public libraries all across the USA and Canada in the stated goal of supporting the principles of democracy.

"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration." — Andrew Carnegie

This ideal is quite a contrast to the way things work today, where money is the sole consideration in winning elections. Is it significant that today this building is used for filling our stomachs and not our minds?

Pictures: I normally think there is something wrong with a person who takes pictures of their food while travelling. Obviously I am running out of ideas. Yes, I got spaghetti and meatballs again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This One Is Really About North Bay

The previous blog, while written in North Bay, did not mention anything about North Bay. So I will correct that situation here.

North Bay was home to Mike Harris, a famous right wing conservative Premier of Ontario. Apparently the guy at the motel office is a friend of Mike's. So now I'm back to my own local politics. The desk clerk grumbled loudly about "McGuinty's" tax. I said, to be fair, all premiers had sales tax, it was not [the liberal] McGuinty's fault. "He made it bigger.".

Apparently, McGuinty combined the federal and provincial sales tax into one single tax of the same total value, which means to this person,  he increased the tax.

I understand voting for a friend, but voting for bad math? I don't get it. Has our educational system failed us?

OK I still have not really said anything about North Bay. Here I go.

We ate supper at the Chief Commanda. There is also a Chief Commanda II, a tour boat
The other one is the first boat, which is now a floating restaurant. But are you really floating if you are stuck in solid concrete? Anyway, we went in and sat all alone on the top deck. I felt sorry for the waitress, who had to climb a flight of stairs and walk half the length of the ship every time she needed to come to our table. Mary Ann asked for a glass of milk.  No milk. We ordered the pickerel dinner, advertised on the sign at the street. She returned to inform us they were out of pickerel. We didn't want steak, so she went to get the menus again. Then came back to get our second order. Then we ordered dessert, a banana split which was on the menu. Soon she was back up the stairs,and half the length of the ship again. I said "No ice cream?". No bananas. Amazingly enough, we did enjoy our meal, and not just because it reminded Mary Ann of a four star restaurant in the Ukraine. We liked the food and drink we ended up with, the atmosphere was nice, and the final price less than we are used to.

Pictures: the Chief Commanda I.

North Bay, Ontario

Anyone with a map of Ontario could point out that North Bay is not on an optimal route from BC to Kitchener. I don't know if it's because we're having too much fun, but Mary Ann suggested extending the trip a little by pushing on farther east to North Bay, instead of turning south at Sudbury. We did stop for a few hours in Sudbury. Browsed the Farmer's Market, walked  to the Old Rock cafe, went to a Garlic festival, walked back to the bikes and rode  on.

Pictures: in one picture you can see Lola, a cute little dog also doing a cross Canada trip. The others are Sudbury.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

TV or no TV

Everyone knows that, when you get a motel or hotel room, you get free TV. I have never seen a motel so cheap that it had no TV. I don't think it's possible to get a discount for a room with no TV. I usually watch it.

When Mary Ann and I go camping, we do not bring a TV. Some campers do. Or should I say  "campers", because I'm not sure the word camping is being used properly for 80% of campers in north America.

Because this trip was going to be six weeks, and Mary Ann dislikes TV, and with many nights in motels, we worked out a solution. I brought along the internet in the form of an Android phone. This arrangement is working out quite well. I have watched almost no TV for 6 weeks.

Recently, I have watched a little TV. One night I checked out all 45 channels, including HBO. There was nothing worth watching, so I turned off instead of my usual behaviour, which is to flip through the channels in an endless loop. I may be getting off TV for good.

Picture: our balcony at the water park hotel in Duluth, watching traffic on I-35 instead of watching TV. Mary Ann had binoculars, so she could watch stuff further away, like the other shore of Lake Superior.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Yoopers do not Believe in Socialism

We left our hotel/waterpark this morning, and made a pilgrimage to the Aerostich Riders Wearhouse. It is famous among long distance riders for their one piece riders outfit, one of the first to appear, I think it was the early nineties. It was sort of interesting, but not the spiritual experience of Pirsig's picnic table.

Next we stopped for coffee. Rant begins here > There was a TV in the coffee shop. It was tuned to Fox news, sound was off.  Nobody was paying attention to it, except for two aghast Canadians, sitting at the bar, sipping coffee. Somehow, possibly subconsciously, right wing propaganda was spreading it's message. By reading the captions, I consciously was aware of the sign off message. Which said.  "Remember, making money is not a bad thing." The whole scene reminded me of 1984 where big brother decreed that TVs be turned on at all times, broadcasting his slogans, this bad, that good. Then the people start repeating the slogans Making money good, giving handouts bad. The next time we went out was to a pub next to our motel near Marquette Michigan, for pizza. Again, a huge TV was turned on, again Fox News. Again nobody paid attention. If nobody is paying attention but me, why does it have to be on, and tuned to Fox News? Do they see me coming, run over to the TV, and turn it to Fox News so that I may become like them? <End of rant.

After the pizza we went into town on the scooter, where Friday night activities were going on at the waterfront. A live band was giving a concert. The sign said Pink Floyd. I don't know what Pink Floyd sounds like, but there was a guy up the street playing an electric guitar behind a hat with some coins in it, that sounded a lot better.

When we got back to the motel, we had the opportunity to meet some more people. As Mary Ann calls it. People from Michigan's Upper Penninsula are called Yoopers. We had the chance to talk to some Yoopers about Canada, and how socialized it was, and how America would never let it be invaded. My question was, why not tax rich people? Answer: because they provide jobs. Rebuttal: They do not: they shut down plants and send jobs overseas. Smackdown of rebuttal: People overseas need jobs too. You have to think globally, not locally. Apparently we had run into a broad minded right wing conservative.

Pictures: The Marquette cathedral. The statue is St. Francis, I wanted the hat on his head, Mary Ann said no.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Duluth, Minnesota

Last night just after Milnor ND, we stopped for the night just across the border in Minnesota, in Breckenridge. The motel was the least expensive so far; actually cheaper than our most expensive campsite. $45 for the Select Inn, $49 for the West Yellowstone KOA with no hookups. The inn also had free HBO and free continental breakfast, and obviously, walls, roof, floor.

Breckenridge happens to be the start of the Red River, where the Otter Tail and Bois de Sioux rivers come together to be the Red.

Today we crossed the state of Minnesota. This was maybe our first day with uninteresting scenery since we left home. Very flat, farms, trees, traffic; in many ways a lot like home. But still unfamiliar enough that I had to break out the GPS twice just to stay on highway 210. The scenery finally picks up again, as the road comes down the hill into Duluth. Actually, we had totally lost highway 210 by that time, and came in from the northwest.

Once in Duluth, I found a room at "The Edge" Waterpark Resort. I checked in just after a motorcycle gang, so it must be biker friendly. We have a balcony overlooking Lake Superior.

Picture: me, with Duluth in the background. Standing on the rocky shore of Lake Superior. Moon in top left.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pirsig's Picture and mine

When Robert Pirsig* made his trip in 1968, he stopped at a roadside picnic table and took a picture of himself on his bike, with his son, Chris on the back. I did some research to find out where the picture was taken, and decided it was at Milnor, ND. After leaving Bismarck this morning we headed south along the Missouri River, then followed rt 13 all the way to Milnor, located the roadside picnic table, and I lined up for a close to identical shot. The original picture and mine from August 22, 2012 are shown for comparison. The picnic shelter and table look original, though a bit dinged. I'm glad there is no museum built around it, but when two motorcycles passed by without slowing down, Mary Ann yelled "Don't they know anything about motorcycle history?"

* Robert Pirsig is the author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

Bismarck, North Dakota

It was almost noon before we left "the Dive". (Apparently the affectionate name for Glendive), but we still made it all the way to Bismarck today.

Before I get into all the holdups, or as Mary Ann likes to call them, opportunities to meet people, I feel the need to comment on the Creationist museum. First the good. We got the senior discount. Although the lady at the desk diplomatically told Mary Ann that she didn't look 61, apparently I looked old enough for them to practically pay me to go in. Secondly, they were very friendly, I don't want to say over-friendly, but then where do you draw the line? Third, I was relieved to NOT see any material accusing Darwinists of causing the Nazi Holocaust. But then I didn't see all their material, otherwise we would never have made it to Bismarck today. Anyway, good for them to not make it too obvious.

Now the criticism. I don't want to get into debating the creation vs evolution thing, so criticism is limited to points of order. They had a display of eminent scientists who supported creation. I don't have a problem with that, but most lived before Darwin's time. And one of the handful of others, was a Nazi whose inventions killed thousands of British civilians even after it was obvious the war was lost.

Now on with the trip. We have been trying to follow the old highway 10, the road that got replaced by interstate 94 soon after Pirsig wrote" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". As we were driving along, enjoying the slower pace and character of the road, a road crew flag man (actually a young lady) stepped out to say something. There was a 19 mile long construction area ahead, that required a pilot vehicle. So we had to stop and wait for the pilot vehicle to lead us through. There were no other cars around, it was just us and the flag girl. It was also about 90 degrees F. So while we waited, we tried to stay cool by removing our motorcycle gear, and Mary Ann (you must be able to see this coming) struck up a conversation. We were there for maybe 20 minutes in all, not one other vehicle showed up, other than a construction pickup truck. At one point, the flag girl left Mary Ann with the stop/slow sign, to pop across the road to an ancient Greyhound bus station, to buy a lunch. I was amazed they were still serving lunch! Several other cars drove by, as we were actually in the middle of a village, and the flag girl seemed to know all their names. How long have you been on this job? I wanted to know. " This is my first day".  So are you from around here? No, I'm from South Dakota.

At last, the pilot vehicle arrived leading all the traffic going west, which amounted to exactly zero cars.

Pictures: I took some pictures of our stop, including the flag girl, I wanted to ask her boss to snap the pic of the three of us, but I didn't know him very well and he seemed busy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Leaving Glendive

It's 9:11 AM, and we are packed up to leave the inn. Ordinarily, we would just go, but we have some time to kill before the museum opens. So I checked all four tire pressures, and they are still good enough, last check was Victoria BC, I think. Soon we will gas up both bikes, and go to the museum for 10:00.

We have enjoyed the time in Glendive so far. We have talked to an older couple who own an old Harley. We shared a table with them at supper last night, in a very crowded local restaurant. Then while walking over the pedestrian bridge on the Yellowstone river, we met a schoolteacher watering the flowers and talked to her so long, that her family drove by to see if she had fallen off the bridge. And then this morning at the hotel, we sat for breakfast beside an oil explorer/rodeo roper from Arkansas, who is here to look for oil. apparently an oil boom is starting in this area.

Now I hope the museum is worth the wait, as I am feeling the pull of the open road.

Picture: off the internet, I didn't have time to get another picture before it got dark last night, too much talk not enough walk. This picture is in Glendive, but it's not where we go to fill up.

Monday, August 20, 2012

T-Mobile SIM Card

Was it worth while getting the T-Mobile sim card for $50? I have not been able to get any use from it yet, although I might be able to call 911 in an emergency, but I think my Koodo card could have done that too. The first problem is speed. 2G speeds are ten times as slow as Koodos 3G. Also, coverage has often been missing. The result is that I have not yet been in a situation where I needed the internet, and actually waited for a successful download. Then, this morning, I tried calling home, thinking I might get some use out of the rest of my prepaid $50. But no, I was informed that my account did not have enough money to cover even one call to Canada.

But sometimes the Wifi is good, so I can use that. (But I dont need a plan for that) And I did make one local call so far, to see if a place was open.

Dinosaurs Were Here

I was surprised to find out that Glendive is the location of the dinosaur/young earth creationist museum. And actually just a stone's throw from our room at the Day's Inn. (If I could open our window). But then didn't Jesus say something about throwing stones?

We extended our stay in Glendive to two nights, it is a nice room, and there are things to see here. The "Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum" is the "museum" run by Bible literalists, I need to refer to it as the GDFM, just to save typing, and to avoid having to put the word museum in quotes every time.  There are two other dinosaur museums, the Makoshika Dinosaur Museum, and the Makoshika State Park interpretive center.

We started this morning at the state park, because the heat would be a problem in the afternoon. The interpretive center is at the edge of the park, and a road goes into the park, so we went on my bike, as it is a difficult road, partly gravel, with 15% grades and switchbacks. But the scenery was worth the risk.

The Makoshika Dinosaur Museum was our next stop. It is a combination museum, music store, and comic book store. But the mix does not detract from the interest, any more than the Frisbee golf course detracted from the state park. It was begun ten years ago by the store owner's daughter, and with his help and enthusiasm, has become a worth while stop on the dinosaur trail. Many original fossils, and at Mary Ann's request, he took us to a back room, where he showed us a couple of real fossils he was working on. That means removing the" matrix", or surrounding material to expose the actual fossil.

The GDFM is closed today, so we will stop there on our way out of town. Can't miss that, because of its widespread press coverage.

Pictures: a few I took today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Glendive, Montana

Billings was actually quite nice. The KOA tent site was not very private, but sometimes that can be more interesting.

I noticed the site next to us had four Indian teenagers, with no adult supervision. I was a bit worried that they might not be well behaved, but they appeared quiet enough, and a few minutes later the mom and dad appeared. We spent about an hour, and had a chat with the father, who recommended that we go to Glendive, as they have a dinosaur park and a badlands viewing area. Mary Ann believes in recommendations, and so here we are. He also told us he is from a reserve in north central Montana, and Mary Ann was interested in finding out what life was like. Some of it is like our lives, for example languages. He and his wife are from different tribes, and although each can speak their native language, they speak to each other in English. And their kids speak English, but only very little of the mom's language. He is a school custodian/bus driver, but also does a lot of hunting. I asked if his teenage kids went hunting with him, and he said yes, even the girl liked it. They would go by truck, with a trailer for the horses, taking riding and pack horse for the meat. He used bow and arrow, or guns depending on the regulations. He cleaned and cut up the meat, used the pack horse to haul it back to the road, then went to get the truck. Then he butchered most of the meat as hamburgers, because that's what his kids like.  Maybe all this is normal for all hunters, but neither Mary Ann nor I know anything about  hunting, so it was quite interesting.

Picture: in front of a drive in restaurant along the road, a metal statue.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Billings, Montana

We made it over the Beartooth Pass and as far as Billings, where we decided to camp again. We are at a KOA, not just any KOA, but the first KOA, established in 1962. I was immediately impressed by the signage. You literally can't miss this KOA. You're never out of sight of a sign, a big sign, telling you to turn or to keep going straight, and how far to the next turn. All the way to the camp office.  This is so much better than the usually one sign, then figure it out for yourself. OK, rant about signage concluded.

Both Mary Ann and I were a little nervous about the Beartooth Pass, but it was fine. I guess all the previous mountain curves and grades from Jasper on have gotten us used to this type of road. In fact, we both admired not only the view, but the well designed lookouts, especially Rocky Creek Point. I imagine it would be so much more shocking going west, to hit this pass after a thousand kilometers of straight flat road.

Dealing with Big Animals

Yellowstone park has big animals like Grizzly bears, elk, and bison. The bigger animals are dangerous, particularly to motorcycles. We watched a movie at one of the visitors centres, that helped explain the danger by showing a collection of videos of elk ramming cars, and a bison attacking a young girl. We missed the beginning of the show, so I didn't know if they also had some bear footage. But the facts are that about 100 large animals a year are killed in collisions, and a number of visitors are hurt from trying to approach too close.

Just before we left the park, we encountered bison herds. The cars in front of us stopped in both directions, entirely blocking the narrow, shoulderless road. Then the herd began to slowly cross the road, and I mean really slow, like stopping in the middle of the road, you could only tell they were crossing by waiting ten minutes to see the numbers of bison had increased on one side compared to the other. We were close to the crossing point on our bikes, and having seen videos of what bison can do, we decided to turn back and wait a safe distance away, at a scenic pullout. After about ten minutes, traffic started to flow, so we tried again. The lineup of cars had disappeared, but one bison walked back to the road to nibble on some grass right beside the road. Immediately, two cars stopped, right in front of us, again totally blocking the road, as one was going in each direction. And the bison was right beside them. This time I attempted to force my way through between the stopped cars. The car facing me pulled to the side a little, giving me just enough space to squeeze through. But the car driver going my way had not seen me and started to move forward. So I continued on, keeping the moving car between me and the bison until I got past it, then fell back and resumed following that car. In the end I don't know which is more dangerous, the animals or the other cars that don't follow instructions, as it was clearly marked as a no stopping zone. I understand if there were animals on the road, but not for animals near the road.

Picture: Paul is showing me his gun collection in Victoria BC. This vintage Russian gun might have been handy to clear the animal-related road blocks in Yellowstone.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Out of Yellowstone

In this picture, I can't remember which one of the hundreds of geysers hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots at the park Mary Ann was looking at. But I do remember her talking to that young couple in the background, who told her they were moving from Ohio to Alaska, on the theory that at least it wasn't Ohio.

That was yesterday, and we found a campsite in the park for $12. It must have been one of the least popular places, 17 km from the nearest store or restaurant, at Lewis lake. Just outside the park are abundant accommodations, but a little pricey, e.g. the KOA at $49, priciest campsite yet, and still no decent Wi-Fi. Lewis lake is run by the Department of the Interior, and has no fancy pretences. Pit latrines, no shower, no Wi-Fi, no laundry, no pool. But there was a raised flat pad for the tent, which we didn't use. And it was dark at night which was great for seeing the stars but bad for finding the latrines.

Today we drove to Cook City and took a motel with Wi-Fi (if you walk around hunting the signal source.)

Facts I learned about Yellowstone. It is a giant volcanic crater called a caldera. It moves under the crust of the earth and every few million years erupts, wiping out a whole mountain range. The Beartooth mountains are next. We're going there tomorrow, hopefully at a faster speed than the volcanic area (about 4 cm per year).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yellowstone Kamping

We are staying the night at the West Yellowstone KOA. Right now the weather is perfect, 22c, sunny and no mosquitoes. The heat wave ended suddenly during the night. We woke up to cold, cloudy skies with a chance of rain. We were still in Butte, and Mary Ann wanted to drive around and give Butte another chance. It did seem better in the morning, also we drove through some residential areas that were better maintained.

Before leaving Butte behind, we stopped at an espresso stand. This one was across from our motel, and despite the small size, had two drive through windows and a free delivery car, and it served Smoothies. But their coffee was not too good and we had to pour out the rest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Butte, Montana

In my twenties, I was a fan of Evel Knievel. After all, he rode a motorcycle, and was not a criminal, so I felt like a kindred spirit. And because he came from Butte, this city took on some of the significance of Jerusalem. Evel has passed away now, and my enthusiasm for his stunts faded with the Snake River Canyon jump. But now for the first time I can walk where Evel walked and see what Evel saw when his name was just Bobby. And my conclusion? It looks a bit run down from the glory days, or to put it a different way, it had to look better than this when Evel was around.

Pictures: some of our motel, some taken on our walk this evening.

One More from Coeur d'Alene

Our room at La Quinta has high speed Wi-Fi, and a wall plug, so one more blog.

Maybe it's because we are travelling in unfamiliar places, but there is a feeling Mary Ann and I keep getting. This is how I explain it. You are in a luxury car showroom, the friendly salesman is explaining the features of this expensive new car, but while appreciating the features, you can't help noticing that half the rear bumper has been torn off and is lodged under the front wheels. That's what it feels like to us, seeing some of the northwestern USA. Very nice, for sure, but often something very strange that apparently only the two of us can see. We came up with this metaphor for the northwest two days ago, sitting outside at the Red Lion pub in Spokane, drinking a couple of beers and observing a new Suv parked nearby in exactly that condition.

We are finding Interstate 90 quite challenging with the speed limit for cars 70 mph. Of course many are going faster. Also, in these mountains, alternate routes are rare. So we decided to continue on I90 for a while until we get close to Yellowstone. Hopefully the traffic will thin out as we get into the mountain passes.

Picture: I snapped this on Sherman St, the main drag. It was the right car at the right place.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Coeur d'Alene

I walked around the part of town depicted in the picture, but the picture itself I grabbed from the internet for two reasons. Didn't have my camera, and didn't pay $60 for a scenic plane ride.

I am having problems pronouncing the name. There are logically 6 ways. Core/cur, + da/duh + lane/len. In French it would be cur-da-lane. According to tourist info it is core/duh/len. So I just can't get it right, since all three syllables sound wrong to me. Can't wait to get to Pierre, where there is really only one syllable to screw up.

Mary Ann thinks I should mention the scenery more in my blog. So the scenery was great all the way from Anacortes to Spokane, except for a little bit coming in to Monroe.

Breakfast at Riverside Park, Spokane

I took Burgie into town while Mary Ann was sleeping this morning, and found all this at Safeway. Although we are near the grocery store as the crow flies, there were some problems. A steep cliff separates us from the city, and access points were few. I am unfamiliar with local traffic, for example I found intersections with no signage. And it took a long time to locate those containers of cereal, which double as bowls. Then I found some fresh raspberries, and a small (by Safeway standards) container of milk, and some aspirin for Mary Ann. Unfortunately she was feeling too sick to have anything but the aspirin. Now we're in a
Motel in Coeur D'Alene Idaho, where she can rest, and I can recharge the electronics, and reinstall the weather network app, which died on me yesterday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spokane, Washington

Despite the heat, near 37c, we decided to camp, on the theory that no mosquitos would survive. The lady at tourist info called ahead to Riverside State Park, and here we are. We are camped by the river near a footbridge, with some giant boulders that you can see in my picture. It made me think of the old saying "God can't make a rock so big that God can't pick it up". Well, now that saying is disproven.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Anacortes Ferry Experience

There must be easier ways to get into the USA than the Anacortes ferry. By my count, we were officially stopped five times, twice for passports, which apparently require a mandatory "mask" removal, which is how my helmet was referred to. I suppose they were being polite by not referring to it as a burka. And it was the only ferry that wanted to see the boarding pass.

On one stop, all the offloading vehicles were held in a fenced parking lot in the sun for about 40 minutes, and ordered to sit on our  bikes. The sniffer dog was brought in and headed straight for a Volkswagen mini bus. I told Mary Ann over the intercom, that "they never get the smell of drugs out of those things".  I thought nobody but her could hear me, but the woman in front of me turned around and laughed. So now I'm thinking maybe one of the humourless officials could have heard also, and everybody got punished for my harmless joke. Thank God I didn't make a joke about a bomb.

After the release from the ferry, we made it all the way Monroe, WA. We got a motel and I found a T-mobile store which charged me only $50 to set up my phone with a new sim card with an apparently almost unlimited amount of data for a month.

Picture: down load from internet.

Ready For the Return Trip

Tomorrow we will start on our trip home. Instead of going to Seattle and Portland as we originally planned, we will head for Yellowstone. So, we take the ferry to Anacortes, WA.,and will find our way from there.

My biggest surprise in Victoria was the motorcycle tour. I can't think of any other city that is as good to ride a motorcycle through, except maybe Freetown in the sixties. I think that gives Victoria my top spot as favourite city, beating my up-to-now favourite, Quebec City.

Pictures: Mary Ann and I hiding behind a painted pole in front of a painted Citroen. Mary Ann on the Anacortes ferry (our ninth ferry boat ride on this trip-the record was four in one day.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Victoria's Seaside Touring Route

Paul led us on a motorcycle ride up to Sydney and on the return run, we rode up Mount Douglas, and finished off with the Seaside Touring Route. Although there was some traffic as you might expect, and some low speed limits, it was surprisingly easy to find open roads, and have a fun ride. Even with Friday afternoon congestion, we were not delayed excessively.

Pictures taken at Patricia Bay.