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Old 10-03-2009, 07:52 PM   #1
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Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Every year for the past few years the wife and I have taken an extended motorcycle trip for vacation. This year would be no different. We decided that we would head up the Rockies, hitting almost every state that we haven’t travelled by motorcycle and eventually end up at Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. Tam had seen some pictures of Lake Louise and they looked absolutely gorgeous, isolated and relatively remote. We should have known better…

Tam did a good deal of research through the internet for this trip, setting out a general route and gathering intel on our destination. I did my usual trip prep by getting the bikes ready with new tires and fresh oil, then sitting on my butt.

I did manage to throw a monkey wrench at her plans though.
I never knew my Grandfather on either side of the family. My Mom’s Dad is a total mystery. She never spoke of him and when I ask she redirects me ever so subtly. So I have dropped that one. What I learned about my Dad’s Dad had been rumor and most of it had been bad. Womanizer, gambler, all around ne’er do well. The story was he abandoned my Dad and G’Ma when my Dad was a small child. But I find as I get older I’m more interested in where I came from so I started making some phone calls to a relative I met a few years ago that does our family’s genealogy. I found out he was buried in Farmington, New Mexico. I also get hooked up with some cousins I never met and I get another side of the story; a young teenage girl (my Grandma), an older man (my Grandpa), possible infidelity, a man with a job that forces him to travel, you get the picture.

So our plans change. We’re still going to end up in Canada but first we’re going to Farmington so I can find where my Grandpa is buried. To speed things up we’ll be hauling our bikes west and dumping our truck and trailer in New Mexico. At the end we’ll have ridden over 1,800 miles by truck and almost 4,000 miles by motorcycle.

The first day was an absolute blitz. We left before 3am and headed west. I had loaded the bikes the day before and stored the trailer in my garage so all we would have to do is back up and hook up. We were headed to White Rock, NM where a member of this forum has a house and most graciously volunteered to let us park our truck at while we were gone.

On the way we located a “historic spot” that Tam couldn’t pass up.




If you go, skip the museum. Total rip-off. Totally ignore the pasty white legs…



We had hotel reservations in Santa Fe but as we got closer we just weren’t tired enough to stop so we cancelled and kept on, getting to White Rock in the late afternoon. We checked out the spot we were to leave the truck and then went to find a hotel. What we didn’t know was the national lab in Los Alamos was having some type of convention. There were no hotel rooms in White Rock/Los Alamos or anywhere near there.

Traffic jam in White Rock!!! It extended as far as you could see.



We pushed on for a few more hours and finally reached Farmington. Apologies to any New Mexico natives but what a God-forsaken drive and what a crappy town. We were already tired of semi-arid high country and we hadn’t even gotten started yet. All total I think we were in the truck 20+ hours the first day.

The next day we got a suggestion on where to store the truck/trailer and pushed on to the cemetery to find my grandpa’s grave.

Success!



White pasty legs now covered up.



We left there and hauled posterior to Bloomfield where we would drop off the truck and trailer. Good looking rig belongs to the wife.



Our destination for today would be Telluride, CO. On the way we crossed an Apache Reservation and kept seeing signs for “kneel down bread”. What the **** is kneel down bread? We didn’t know either so we stopped and hit this guy up:



According to him, kneel down bread is the most awesome invention/food/wonder material ever made. Ask me and I’ll tell you it’s a gooey wet nasty mess that was once perfectly good corn.



Scenery to Colorado:




Closer to Telluride:



At Telluride Tam found a few couples travelling in their custom rigs and got the advice to bypass everything and get to Banff immediately. In one of the guy’s words “The Canadian Rockies are beyond awesome. I’ve travelled all over and the only mountains that come close are the Swiss Alps.” So we decided to push on as hard as we could to get to Canada.

Interesting tidbit from Telluride that was a reoccurring theme; we found a pizza place out of the way for dinner. Specifically we chose it because judging from the amount of kitchen help, cleaning people and basic ski bums that we saw at this place it appeared to be stuff the local people ate and we figured it would be cheaper than the touristy stuff. While waiting for our pizza to get ready I struck up a conversation with the guy behind the counter. We discussed the high price of everything in Telluride, from hotels (our crummy room ran over $100) to rental homes to meals. He told me it was because there was nothing made in Telluride; they had to “truck everything in”. I figured I would let that one go. No need to destroy this guy’s imaginary world where cities exist that produce everything they need and nothing gets shipped in. But it would make a funny catch-phrase for the rest of the trip.

Custom side car rig of the Canadian Rockies #1 fan:



North of Telluride was beautiful but it was dry and HOT.




After buckets of sweat and another night in Colorado we finally made it to Utah.



Did you know between Grand Junction CO and Vernal UT there isn’t any *&^%$ shade!!??!! A bird-dropping covered picnic table is all we could find. And yes, I’m sunburned now.



The area did have some beautiful sights though:



After some misadventures in Vernal, which I won’t mention, except to say “Make sure you don’t accidentally turn on your parking lights when you lock your forks”. We headed to Idaho Falls, ID.

A little detour into Wyoming.



You think they might mean us???



After a night in Idaho we decided to make a little time by hopping on the interstate and going into Montana. Then we would jump back off on back roads. We planned to cross into Canada in Roosville and up there your road choices are a little limited.

Montana was beautiful!!!




One of Tam’s artsy photos:



Gearing up to ride into a thunder shower near the Idaho/Montana border:



Dropping off a big hill in a small Montana town you see this:



You get closer and then you can see what’s really going on. SWEET!!!



Crossing into British Columbia. I NEVER would think of taking this photo crossing INTO the USA. Too much chance of getting detained.




More to follow!
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Old 10-03-2009, 09:10 PM   #2
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Great ride, I'm so jealous.

Glad to see he finished it and is out and about.



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Old 10-03-2009, 10:16 PM   #3
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Wow! Matching V-stroms! That's AWESOME!
Great to see a couple riding on a trip together, and on V-stroms, no less. That's fantastic.

Have a safe trip and can't wait to see the photos. Yes, Banff is just incredible. Enjoy!
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:27 PM   #4
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

We figured someone would recognize the Rocket 3 and side car; it's pretty unique. Really nice couple from Iowa. Although the Canadian Rockies were gorgeous I'm still partial to the U.S. Rockies, especially the Tetons.

They did give us some info on a ride to Newfoundland we'll have to check out. Said they shipped their bikes via ferry from Canada. Riding supposed to be gorgeous there too. I'm sure we'll find out some day!!
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:53 PM   #5
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Crossing into Canada would be completely painless. Canadian Customs was extremely polite and to the point, just as they have always been. Where are you going, why and how long are you going to be in Canada. About 5 minutes not counting the time we BS’d with him about how they (the Canadians) don’t carry guns. The guy was fascinated that in my day to day job I carry a sidearm and have access to a long gun if I want one. My future encounter with US Customs and Border Protection would not be so agreeable.

We completely missed taking a pic of the British Columbia sign and set a blistering pace, something like 100kph or 110kph toward Alberta. Check your conversion tables. 62mph or so.

Crossing into Alberta:



I think everyone has a pic of their bike with this behemoth:



Outside Sparwood though I don’t remember anyone posting anything about this rock slide field. Interesting story about it but I won’t put it here. This ride report will be long enough. So one word---“GOOGLE”.




We carried on through Alberta’s rolling grassland headed toward Longview, Alberta for the night. On the way we passed our first moose. Of course the thing was dead in the ditch, the victim of some non-driving Canuck. And the Canucks ARE non-driving; ALL OF THEM. They come screaming up on you at mach3 and tailgate you, refusing to pass.

Blue Sky Motel In Longview and a view of our modest room with the absolutely outrageous price tag of over $100.




The next day we headed out toward Banff. We were told to have our cameras ready and we did. It was absolutely beautiful but once we got near Peter Lougheed Provincial Park the traffic became very heavy.




Traffic building up:



Finally got away from them in the corners and the hills:



Ever seen this sign? Canuck for a freaking cattle guard.



Finally some wildlife!



More scenic mountain views:





Alright, I’m bored. How do you get out of Canada???



Lake Moran. So crowded we almost couldn’t find a parking place for our motorcycles.



On the way up to Lake Louise. For some reason the RCMP was patrolling the road we were on heavily.



Here’s Lake Louise. The lake and surrounding land is really pretty but it’s extremely crowded. We took the obligatory photos and scrammed.



After the Banff debacle we decided we were headed back to the States. Canada was expensive and had been a little bit of a disappointment. Swiss Alps my patootie.

We headed to the nearest place to find a decent hotel, Calgary, and stayed across from the old Olympic Park at the Sandman Hotel. This is one nice place and well worth the $174 a night we paid. The attached Denny’s, YES DENNY’S, was the nicest I’d ever seen. Top notch service, the food was EXCELLENT and this is the only time I’ve ever been offered a glass of wine with my meal at a “fast food” place.



The next day we headed back to the States, planning to cross from Canada Hwy 2 onto US89 at the Piegan Border Station. I’d show some pics of this place but frankly I was a little, no a LOT, hesitant to take any pics. In fact, I got searched for the first time at this place.

Tam and I were waiting our turn to present our documents to U.S. Customs/Border Protection and when the light turned to indicate we should pull up we did and I began to take my helmet off and take my earplugs out. This is when Jethro #1 yelled at me to be still. Evidently they were taking still shots of our bikes, and us, as we crossed. I responded by giving him one of my “looks”. He then responded by handing our passports to Jethro #2 and telling him to pull ME out of the queue. Jethro #2 then ordered me into the parking lot for a “random” search.

Tam and I pulled into the parking lot and Jethro #2 comes out, telling me that he wants to look in my hard cases. OK, just let me take off my drybag… Jethro #2 then completely ignores my drybag, which is huge and could conceal a couple of assault rifles or a couple kilos of coke. He then tells me to open my cases up and upon seeing my dirty underwear tells me to move them so he can see into the cases. My reply? No. You want to search them, you move it.

At this point I make a tactical error. Jethro #2 has spotted my book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

No exaggeration, he looks at the book, he looks at me. He looks at the book harder, he looks at me harder. Seriously?!? Finally my dumb-***** look overcomes him and he puts my book back down. “What do you do in Texas?” “I’m a cop. Been one for 18 years.” “Humph. Have a seat in the lobby.” So for the next, about 20 minutes, I sit in the lobby while Jethro #2 is in the back, probably watching Tom & Jerry. Good thing I had a Canadian biker to talk with to pass the time. He tells me that now it takes him at least 20 minutes to get through Customs and he is a regular. Great. Glad to feel welcome coming back into your own country.


More to follow from Glacier NP, Yellowstone and everything in between!
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Cursed be the ground for our sake. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for us. For out of the ground we were taken, for the dust we are... and to the dust we shall return...



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Old 10-04-2009, 07:07 AM   #6
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Another good report, K & T!
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Old 10-04-2009, 07:25 AM   #7
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

I am full of (good) envy…
Thanks for the report and excellent pictures!
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Old 10-09-2009, 06:30 AM   #8
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

We stopped in the little town of Babb,MT for gas and hit up a local for advice on grub and what to see in the area. His suggestion on food was so-so, directing us to a touristy bar that served everything fried. We also had to listen to some extremely loud, extremely rude French tourists at the next table. His advice on what to see; that was a different story. He told us we HAD to go to Many Glacier. It was just up the road and was beautiful and if we had a chance anywhere to see a bear, we’d most likely see one there. Here’s the result:





Many Glacier got a big thumbs up from me. The day would have been perfect except for being almost run off the road by a tour bus. He tailgated us after seeing the bear and as soon as he got the chance he engulfed us with diesel smoke as he hurtled down the road. I was proud of Tam. When we got to the hotel at the end of the road we saw the bus driver and she didn’t say a thing to him…



After Many Glacier we booked toward Glacier NP but I didn’t know if we had time to do the Going to the Sun road, take all of Tam’s required pictures and still make it out of the park before dark and the animals started coming down around the roads. We passed the “Red Feather Lodge” on 89. Don’t even bother stopping there. The rooms run about $100 and it is NASTY. We continued on into Glacier NP and though I’ve been there a few times, that place never ceases to awe me with how beautiful it is.

Don't I look awed???



A good portion of the Going to the Sun Road was under construction and was good packed dirt. But it was messy…


After we went through Glacier we decided we were going to lay over a couple of days so we looked around and found the “North Forty Resort”. Cool place, comfortable, nice folks, but the traffic around Whitefish and Columbia Falls is horrendous. It’s like there’s a National Park close by or something…

Our home for a couple of days:


After leaving Whitefish we headed south with the idea we would eventually ride the Beartooth Highway and ride through Yellowstone NP. On the way we stopped in Ovando,MT at “The Stray Bullet”. Best detour of the trip so far (as food choices go). http://www.ovandomontana.net/ Their sandwiches were ginormous and they were some kind of good. I also got to talk politics with this guy:



I think some of y’all get a little carried away with the conspiracy theories and political views but he had y’all beat. Very interesting conversation though and that little town is really neat.

A couple of days later would find us on the Beartooth Highway. Interesting history on this road and one of the highest roads in the US. http://www.beartoothhighway.com/ About 20 miles of it would be unpaved and under construction but if you get up there, it’s worth whatever detour you have to make to drive it. Some pics from the Beartooth:






We continued on into Yellowstone NP and then into Gardiner MT for the night. Nothing really special about Gardiner besides being close to Yellowstone. I spotted 4 of these across from our hotel:


Enroute to the hotel we’d see some of these and the usual beautiful scenery of Yellowstone:



The next day we toured Yellowstone NP and started toward the Tetons. Truth be told we were tired and had yet to find “that place”. There had been no place yet where we both felt we should stay for a few days and relax. So, we headed south…

Pics from Mammoth and the wildlife in the park:

Tam preparing to be another elk statistic.







Leaving the park:


As usual we ran into road construction



Headed into Jackson,WY



We rolled into Jackson just as the sky opened up and found refuge at the Kudar Motel. Right off the square in Jackson, less than $100---and worth every penny to find a better motel.




Jackson is not my favorite town. Kinda expensive and at least to me, snobbish.

The next day we headed to Rawlins and back into the rolling semi-arid hills. We did see some interesting sites though and although it’s kinda desolate, that lonesome area has its own appeal.







We wound our way down into Colorado with the intent of riding through Rocky Mountain NP.

Colorado has some beautiful areas:



Not supposed to feed the animals? Illegal you say? Here’s me sticking it to the man.



We ran across some kids jumping off this into the river below. Unfortunately they took off before I could get any pics, but they were jumping from heights that made a huge noise and splash and made me kinda queasy. No idea why they ran off.



Rocky Mtn NP was really gorgeous.



These guys were everywhere. This one tried to get in my pocket. I think he was after the granola bar that I had been carrying around.


The elk here were pretty tame. Except for the bulls. The one in the photo was bugling to another male that was further down the mountain.




We ended up that night in Grand Lake,CO totally exhausted. We ate at “Max & T’s Bar & Grill”. If you’re in Grand Lake you have to eat there. The couple that own it are from the TX metroplex and moved to CO to get away from the heat. Great place. http://www.maxandts.com/


That night we decided to try the whole cabin thing again and found the Winding River Resort. Unless you’re camping or in an RV I’d steer clear of this place. I was exhausted or I’d have pushed on. We did get to do some laundry though and Tam saw this guy. He was hot on the trail of the local ground squirrels.

Success!!!


From Grand Lake we headed to Durango, riding the Million Dollar Highway, US Hwy 550. http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/million.htm
This is another road that if you are in the area, you can’t pass up. Beautiful scenery, cool temps and some interesting historical sites.




We met this couple before we got to the hardcore part of 550 between Ouray and Durango. They are from Switzerland and were honeymooning, riding their Guzzi sidecar rig through the US.


From Durango it was an easy ride back to Bloomfield, NM to pick up the truck and trailer for the ride home. On the way back we detoured to BFE looking for diesel to keep the truck going, had a blowout, saw some Bandidos, toured an Earthship (http://www.earthship.net/) and dodged the holiday traffic and troopers on the highway until we were safely back in Texas.

All in all a good trip, something like 4,000 miles.

Til next year, a few more pics including some of Tam’s artsy pics from the trip that I really like.





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Old 10-09-2009, 08:01 AM   #9
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

great report and a big thank you for sharing!!!
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:31 AM   #10
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Thanks for posting this. I love both the sidecars. I also notice you are still using your Plano side cases. I remember you put those on last year. Good to see they're still holding up well. It seemed like a great idea to me.
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:57 AM   #11
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Awesome post and a great trip. Feeds my VeeStrom envy again.
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Old 10-09-2009, 12:19 PM   #12
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Awesome pics! Thank you for sharing them with us.
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Old 10-09-2009, 12:45 PM   #13
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

That was awesome - thanks for posting!!
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:27 PM   #14
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Great trip report and better photos! Glad to see the Vee and Wee Stroms performed well. Thanks for the hints, links and commentary. Will use the info for future trip planning to Alaska in a couple of summers.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:27 AM   #15
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedPill View Post
Thanks for posting this. I love both the sidecars. I also notice you are still using your Plano side cases. I remember you put those on last year. Good to see they're still holding up well. It seemed like a great idea to me.

You don't know how many people told me they wouldn't work. They've gone over 10K miles and survived a few drops and they're still like new. Saved me a lot of money.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:29 AM   #16
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SA Strom View Post
Will use the info for future trip planning to Alaska in a couple of summers.

Are you going in 2012? That's my tentative plan after I retire.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:03 AM   #17
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Oldest son graduates from college in 2011 (hopefully); younger son from high school that same year. Thinking about a "guys" trip that summer. May have to add another Strom, or possibly a KLR to the "stable" for the trip.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:42 AM   #18
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Great trip and report.
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Old 10-12-2009, 10:20 AM   #19
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Great pictures! I just went over the top of Lake Superior a few weeks ago. Going into and coming out of Canada was pretty simple for me on the Bandit. The Customs guy at Sault Ste Marie saw my Marine Corps emblem on the bike and he was ex-Marine so all was cool. We spent more time BS'ing about the Corps than any legal questions till the traffic started backing up.
I agree on the HIGH prices of Canada. If I ever go back, it's going to be in the area you went to. I got a taste of it north of Glacier in '97.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:23 PM   #20
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Re: Vacation 2009 WARNING TO DIAL UP USERS!

Great!
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