Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Canada - USA Tour 2018 -part 5

We left Sulphur Hot Springs and headed to Sorrento, a place we'd visited before to the amazing Dreamcycle motorcycle museum, Website here owned and run by Mark Lane its a treasure trove of interesting and rare bikes, some very cool memorabilia for sale as well, I was very tempted by a Norton Globe light but shipping and taxes made it a bit steep for a miserable Scotsman and there was no room to strap it on the bike. Often when I visit bike collections they remain the same year after year but Mark through necessity moves bikes on from time to time and replaces them with different things keeping things interesting, the associated cafe is well worth a stop also. Just outside the Museum we were passed at a fair rate of knots by a V7 Guzzi (a modern one) only the 3rd Guzzi we'd seen in over 4000 miles.

The place to visit
Guzzi at the head of the Menu
Nice tea
Very Unusual 
Bert needs one of these
Fore and aft Douglas
Always wanted one of these
Hill Climb Harley anyone?
TZ 500 motor
CBX Motor in see through mode
A special year for me, a first finish on the IOM with a 13th in the Senior
And in that very race! 
Rarer than Hobby Horse Shit  
We dragged ourselves away from the Museum and made our way to Kamloops to meet up with Neil, Liz Adams's son who has moved over the pond to make a new life for himself in the land of opportunity. A nice chat and tea in the garden, frightfully British then a trip to the whisky shop and down to Lac Le Jeune to spend three nights relaxing, I was reaching the mileage limit on the bike so had to stop riding the thing , it was good to chill out and have a couple of days not in the saddle, two days is my limit though! David and Anne rejoined us and we spent the two days doing not very much, some canoeing and walking for us and just taking in the nature.

The owner has a good sense of humour
Our Digs
The Lake
Messing around on canoes
No Bears to be seen
A fed Bear is a Dead Bear, remember that!
After our rest we headed for our penultimate night to Harrison Hot Springs, a resort town with would you believe Hot Springs and very pleasant they were! The final day riding into Vancouver was a bit sad, our adventure was over, a heavy downpour made it that bit more difficult but we returned the bikes without incident, loaded our bike gear into suitcases and we were civilians again.
The flight home was terrible, I will never fly Air Transat again, 3rd rate airline and cabin crew who obviously don't like their job very much. Touch down in Glasgow and its home again, ready to plan the next trip.........

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Canada - USA Tour 2018 -part 4

Great Falls isn't as attractive as the name sounds, a busy quite large town and a tad soulless, we met some guys at our hotel who were doing a three countries run for charity, basically dipping their toes in Mexico, riding up through the States and finishing in Calgary, one of the was on a Ducati, only the second Ducati we'd seen so far on this trip. The following day after a slightly dodgy Mexican meal with the inevitable consequences we set off across the high plains, a couple from California we'd met warned us of roadworks on the I 15 so we took their suggested route of the 89, running up the side of the Glacier National park , a great road on the right bike in the right conditions but today it was windy and the Yamaha was getting blown about diminishing the fun somewhat, as we neared the park the road rose from an already quite high elevation and it got colder, eventually we turned off onto the Chief Mountain Highway and to the US Canada border post there, no dramas, a bit of banter with the Canadian border guard and we were in Canada. We were heading for Waterton Park not far away and I was looking forward to a heat, flurries of snow blew through and I thought this isn't what I signed up for! Fiona had booked the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Park, itself a bit of a historic monument, we fuelled up in the town and arrived at the Hotel, far too early to book in the hotel was famous for afternoon tea which we were looking forward to. We entered the Hotel into the grand hall and were a bit pissed to find it was colder inside than out, like many a Scottish Hotel heating costs were probably exorbitant so they don't bother. Impressive views mind you but very touristy, high tea was excellent but on a bit of a mini scale compared to back home, very posh quartered sandwiches which barely filled the mouth but tasty, a step change from some of the mountains of inedible stodge we'd been eating.The staff were all kitted out in Royal Stewart tartan with the guys all wearing kilts, very bizzare, matter of fact that evening we were served by an Argentinian guy with a kilt, how we laughed! 
We finally got booked in and jacked the room heating up to max to shift the chilled bones feel. The following day we headed to Calgary to see our friends the Doyles, we'd met Kevin and Neville in Alaska a few years earlier and stayed with Kevin on the way down South, Neville and his cousin Jacylin had stayed with us in Edinburgh after that so it was great to meet up. First though a trip to Blackfoot Motorsports in Calgary to get warmer gloves and warmer gear if it was going to be this cold. After spending a small fortune on underlayers of thermal whatevers we headed towards Nevilles house , he wasn't going to be in until 6.30pm so we headed to the local Tim Hortons (a Canadian institution) to drink tea and chill out.
We arrived at Neville's house and the family came out to meet us, Kevin with a tumbler of Gin in his hand| great to see them all again and we spent the evening telling tales, laughing, drinking and eating a fine spread, Neville cracked the firepit up and the later part of the evening was spent outside around the fire drinking copious amounts of Neville's whisky and telling tales, so emotional was the evening that I failed to get any pictures, a major balls up!     
The high plains of Montana with Glacier Park in the distance
Trains and Cows provided a break from the monotony 
Straight roads into the Horizon
Heading towards the border, forest fires here would you believe
Cool car and caravan in Waterton
View from the Hotel
The Prince of Wales Hotel
Selfie time
Panoramic view
Yamaha and Fiona at rest
When we left Nevilles around 9am it was a balmy 4 Degrees C, bloody freezing, we stopped at Banff for breakfast before heading across country on Highway 1, twisting and turning through the mountains, a fantastic bit of road before stopping at Sulphur Hot Springs for the night, due to the abundance of bears and realising that although it was now 27 Degrees it would be near freezing again at night we opted for a wooden hut rather than the tent. Nice campsite run by a Chinese family only downside was no beer but I did have emergency rations of Whisky so all was good.

Leaving Calgary brrrr
Lots of roadworks so an opportunity for a selfie
Snow on the hills
Yamaha at rest at our house, fire ban so no fire that night
Fiona at rest in the Hot Pool, this one was at 40 Degrees C, braw for heating yourself up
Strange Mushroom
An attempt at art....
To be continued, last and final episode soon...........

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Canada - USA Tour 2018 -part 3

We left Chadron and headed North into South Dakota and the Black Hills National park, wonderful scenery, great weather and this time we even saw some Bison, Passing the town of Custer we wanted to check out the Crazy Horse statue as we passed through the Black Hills, the Indian version of Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse was chief of the Sioux tribe and a great leader, he and Chief Sitting Bull helped defeat Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn (1876). He was arrested in 1877 in Nebraska and killed in a scuffle with his guards. As we passed the statue we couldn't actually see much difference from 5 years ago, the statue is a kind of job creation scheme, much of the work done by hand, at this rate it'll still not be finished in 200 years time but meanwhile it keeps people in a living.
Lazing around
Burnt trees in the Black Hills
Stepping back in time
Heading into Custer
Crazy Horse monument
Heading to Rapid City, skirting Mount Rushmore
We stopped at Sturgis for a fuel stop and a sandwich from the Gas station passing the Hotel we stayed in 5 years ago, quieter today but just a few weeks ago the scene of mayhem as the annual Sturgis Rally took place when thousands of people gather to party hard.
From Sturgis we took the I 90 to Buffalo, a long road but quite scenic in bits, around 40 miles from Buffalo we went onto reserve so I had to drop the speed, after sitting at 80 -90 mph for so long 60 felt pedestrian, there is a stretch of motorway before Buffalo where there is no Petrol for over 100 miles, easy to get caught out even in America, around 15 miles from Buffalo we pulled into a layby to see if anyone had any spare gas, no luck, It was with huge relief we pulled off the I 90 into town, I figured we could push it to the Gas station the last mile if need be but it made it, just. Buffalo was the scene of the International Norton Rally in 2013 which we attended. We passed the campground we'd used and the Crazy Woman Creek Liquor store that attracted a fair bit of our business back then. We booked into the Occidental Hotel, a Cowboy joint which used to be frequented by the usual suspects, Buffalo Bill must have done his bit for the bar / Hotel trade back then. 
It was Saturday night so we had a bit of a party, falling in with a nice couple from Minneapolis, there was a band and the drink flowed freely, a great night had by all. Strangely enough we had tried to arrange a meeting with our good friend and fellow traveler Kevin Stratton from Minneapolis in Rapid City but unfortunately it wasn't to be but we were thinking of you Kevin.
The following day we headed North on the I 90 to Billings, stopping at the town of Garyowen for fuel right next to the Little Bighorn Battlefield by which time we'd crossed into Montana.
We headed to the 12, 191, through the comically named Judiths Gap to Eddies Corner before taking the 87 to Great Falls. By this time we were on the High Plains, not much to see except wheat fields as far as the eye can see, something you don't experience in Europe is that feeling of vastness, the only comparison is when you are at sea and all you can see is the horizon all round and nothing else, its like that except its grain fields with only the odd Farm complex and a ribbon of tar running through. Of course I'd let the speed creep up and eventually incurred the wrath of the Montana State troopers, Trooper Boots was a nice guy though and accepted my explanation about being (a) Scottish (b) Stupid and (c) being unable to convert the Km/h reading on my Canadian bike to MPH, all bollocks of course apart from the Stupid part but a bit of humility goes a long way with these guys and we proceeded to our overnight stay at Great Falls at a reduced speed, just for information, the USA isn't as restrictive on speeding as some people think, on the equivalent of our A roads depending on State / County it can be 70MPH, we were doing 84, oops.
A quiet Sturgis
The Occidental
Just chilling on the rocking chair
Street art in Buffalo
Fiona, quite at home
Cool Bar
Hmmm Beer
Our new pals
Nice and understanding State Trooper
To be continued..........