Day 67 – Tonasket, WA – Carnation, WA (252 miles)

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We still hoped to encounter the feral cats we had seen when we camped at the Spectacle Lake Resort in 2011, but they did not come at night.

When we woke up the weather was good, the birds were singing and it was peaceful and quiet. it was so nice we took our time having our breakfast and packing.

 

Soon we were riding south on route 97 alt.

We decided to make a stop at Lake Chelan. It had been a while since we visited Lake Chelan, and it was so close. The town did not seem to change much over the years and was not as crowded as I expected it to be. The weather was getting hotter,  so we removed some layers and walked to a Mexican restaurant for lunch.

The salads at the restaurant were huge, so we had a lot of leftovers. This time put the box into a bag and tied it securely, so nothing could fly out.

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We had an after lunch stroll and left. The scenery there is really amazing so we enjoyed our ride. There was a very strong wind, though.

It is funny how some of the best places to ride are right under our noses, and yet we do not appreciate them many times.

Before Leavenworth, we stopped at a fruit stand and bought a big box of fresh fruits. I even had my ice cream there, which is good, as Leavenworth seemed to too busy. We skipped our planned stop there and continued on our way west on route 2.

As we climbed up to the Stevens Pass, the temperature started to drop. We were a bit cold, but it was welcome after a hot day. Our last problem was gas: there are plenty of gas stations on route 2, but I had tied the box with fruits to Spyer’s rear seat with tie downs and a ratchet, and the made it impossible for Susan to lift the seat and put gas into the bike.

We usually stop at a grocery store at Goldbar. This time was not an exception. There I had my coffee. And there we decided we will not probably make it home with the amount of gas left, so we stopped at the next gas station, undid the tie downs and filled up the tank. Better safe than sorry.

When we got home and opened the door we were surprised how big the place was. After staying for months in a tiny tent and small motel rooms everything seemed oversized. Everything at home was in good shape, as Hasmik had taken great care of the place.

The final mileage was 10,068 miles. Now we have to try to get back to our normal routine, which is not so easy after being away for 67 days.

 

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Day 64 – Hanna, AB – Calgary, AB (140 miles)

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It was a very cold morning, with the temperature around 40, and very windy. We wore all the warm cloths we had brought with us, and were glad we did not ship some of them back as we planned.

The wind was strong and gusty and to go straight I had to lean the bike a considerable amount to the left and try to keep in the lane when the wind stopped of a few seconds occasionally.  Ten minutes later it started to rain, forecast or not. My windshield was in high position, so I could not see much through it, but did not want to stop to lower it so I can look over it. So I opened the face shield and tried to look over the windshield while squinting.

Fortunately by the time we stopped for the gas, the wind had stopped. Out next stop was for coffee. The day was getting warmer, and there was even some hints of the sun. While it was still overcast, there was no haze or smoke in the air. While we turned south the wind gusts stopped and the temperature got a little warmer. Even the landscape got more interesting with a few small hills here and there, and it looked much better from a two lane highway.

Soon we got into Calgary. It was a bit confusing, but I guess we are getting better at navigating unknown cities on the bikes while using outdated GPS maps.

This time we had decided to stop at a bed and breakfast. We usually avoid them because we arrive really late and it can be a hassle to check in at a bed and breakfast at a random time. And if you do not have a reservation it is usually better to try the larger hotels anyway. But in big cities we trend to avoid downtown hotels, as they many times do not have self parking, and it is a big hassle to find and go into a random underground parking garage many times blocks away from the hotel. And that happens many times during the rush hour. No, thanks.

This bed and breakfast had great reviews, was inexpensive, was 2 miles away from all the downtown attractions and had self parking.

 

We were pleasantly surprised. The place was beautiful, very clean and well furnished. We left our things there, changed into our “civilian” clothing and had a pleasant walk to downtown. At that time it was already sunny, though there still was a cold wind.

We spend the whole evening at downtown, walked about 8 miles and took an Uber back to the hotel.

Looks like tomorrow we will visit Banff after all.

 

Day 63 – Cavet, SK – Saskatoon – Hanna, AB (280 mile

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We dressed warm in the morning, because the temperatures were in upper 40 s and put the rain layers at a location that would be easily accessible. The rain was going to start in the afternoon, when we would be miles away.

We got to downtown Saskatoon a little after 9 am. It was a Sunday morning, so the downtown seemed to be deserted. There was still plenty of parking available. so we parked at a prime location and started to walk around.

Soon we found  a tiny but popular breakfast place.

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After a 10 minute wait we got a table and put the order in. The service was really slow, but the food was pretty good.

When we left the restaurant it was already raining steadily. It was supposed to stop in an hour or two, but we wanted to cover a lot of distance and it was already late. so we took the shoe covers and the rain pants into a store entrance so we could put them on without getting totally wet. I could not find my overpants, and was not in the mood to unpack everything, so I decided not to wear them.  And we left.

So we did not spend to much time in downtown Saskatoon, but it looked pretty nice.

It was fairly easy to get out of downtown, and soon we were on another absolutely boring road. The rain stopped in about hour, and the rest of day was gas and coffee stops.

We crossed into Alberta, and found yet another cheap and weird motel in a town called Hanna.

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It is going to rain again tomorrow, but our riding plan is a modes one, 2.5 hours to Calgary, so it will not be a big problem.

 

Day 62 – Moosomin, SK – Clavet, SK (310 miles)

We woke up in the weird motel. It was cold so we had to bring in and add the warm liners to the riding jacket and pants before leaving.

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There was less smoke and haze than the day before, so that was good.

The road is flat and boring. There are not even many curves, just two lanes in each direction. The scenery also the same: agricultural lands and hay rolls. You set the cruise control to 80 mph and get bored out of your mind.

We stopped at yet another Walmart to get the stove fuel canister, and realized that maybe they do not carry them in Canada. Hope the leftover gas we have will be enough for one or two more camping nights.

Fortunately there was a highly rated restaurant nearby, and the lunch there cheered us up.

We went for a few more hours, even more bored and tired after the substantial lunch, We next stopped about 60 miles away from Saskatoon at a gas station with Tim Horton to decide where to sleep. There was a good chance it was going to rain the the morning, and it was cold, so we did not want to camp. There did not seem to be good motel options, and we did not want to book a downtown hotel, because parking garages sometimes are blocks away and can be a hassle when you are on motorcycles.

After a while I found a cheap place. It was a few miles away from the main road, but right before Saskatoon, and that makes it easy to spend the morning in the town. I called them and we set the GPS there. Google maps was claiming 59 miles, while the Garmin thought it is 69. We compared the routes, and noticed Google was suggesting a shortcut. So we decided to follow Google. That was a mistake.

By the time we got to the shortcut it was getting cold and starting to get dark. We went around 8 miles on the road, which was in pretty bad shape before it turned into a gravel road. And it was at least 5 inches of fine gravel. My Goldwing was wobbling like crazy. After 1/4 mile I decided to turn back and take the longer route. When I was doing my U-turn, a truck approached and the driver told me though the road goes for 6 miles, it becomes paved again in two miles. I really did not want to go back, so turned around again and decided to risk it.

I had to ride standing up trying to stabilize the bike. It wobbled a few times pretty badly, buy managed to stay upright. We got to the motel, which is a strange metal building, that has three of four rooms, an Asian restaurant and a bar that is open till am. It is in a tiny agricultural village, four-five houses really. The whole place seems to be run by a young Asian girl.

There were a group of Mexicans playing what sounded to me like patriotic Mexican songs on the Jukebox. They soon left, and we were the only patrons left in the bar. After they left the girl turned old 70s rock music for us, and brought some drinks, which were not too bad.

Tomorrow rain. We will try to time around it in the morning.

 

 

Day 60 – Dryden, ON – Winnipeg, MB (235 miles)

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We woke up at 6am. There was a tractor doing some work not so far from our tent. The motor would struggle for some time, and then it would beep and go back.

We tried to get back to sleep,  but it was impossible because of all the revving, beeping and commotion.  So I mentally cursed the over-enthusiastic tractor operator and got up.

On the way to the washroom, I had a brief conversation with the couple on the Harley pulling the trailer.  They were from Quebec and explained to me with gestures that they were coming from Sturgis. It is a mystery to me how can you live in a dual language country and not learn even the basics of the other language, yet very few of the Canadians we met were bilingual. In fact, in Quebec, we could not even find an English language FM radio station or even a station that plays say British rock music.

Our first rest stop was near a beautiful lake, where we had mozzarella sticks.

Second stop was at 120 miles at a gas station where we had a coffee and salad. We soon crossed to Manitoba. It was getting really hot, and while there were trees around it was very flat.

Before going to our hotel, we stopped by and toured the Royal Canadian Mint. It is a working mint. The Royal Canadian Mint’s Winnipeg facility produces billions of coins each year. This is where ALL Canadian circulation coins are made, as well as those for up to 75 countries all around the world

 

After the tour, we checked in at the motel, walked a mile to a local Thai – Laotian restaurant for dinner.  The rest of the evening went on doing the laundry and reorganizing the luggage.

 

Day 58 – Longlac, ON – Upsala, ON (280 miles)

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We had stopped at Longlac because of the rain and cold, and we were eager to go in the morning. The motel was in a pretty bad shape, and there was a For Sale sign at the front, which is never a good thing.  but the staff was super nice and helpful. The whole place was pretty much a big truck stop.

 

It was still very cold in the morning, but we have dressed appropriately and without the rain, it was not too bad.

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After riding over an hour we started to look for a place for lunch and coffee. The first place we stopped had the same donut chain place we stopped at the day before. While they had some sandwiches, they were not very good, so we continued. Next, we stopped at an inn. It had a creative menu of very good quality meals. I ate half of my chicken quesadilla, putting the other half in a box. I attached the box through the rear rack securing it with the net.

We still do not have an extra gas can for our travel stove, so in an hour or so we stopped and the Thunder Bay Walmart. When I stopped I found that there is a quarter of a quesadilla hanging from my right passenger footrest. I picked it up and it looked clean, so I ate it. The other slice was missing though. I still have no idea how it slipped out of the box, which was still attached to my rear rack.

The parking lot was pretty dirty, the store disorganized and they also did not have the gas canister, so we replenished our food supply and left. It is becoming a problem now.

We did not stop anywhere in Thunder Bay after the store. Some distance outside the town we stopped to rest. There was a man in a truck. We chatted with him for 15 minutes or so about local news. I was complaining that many people in Quebec do not speak English, and he told me that is why he did not take French in school, though he later regretted it. Urgh…

We were sick of motels, so found a nice campground in a small town. The reviews were good, except a few complaining about dogs roaming around. When we stopped at the office to register, through the small doggie door five or six small dogs of different breeds came out to bark at us.

The place was really nice though. We had a spot right near the lake, so we had a peaceful dinner and went to bed really early.

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Day 57 – Hearst, ON – Longlac, ON (130 miles)

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It was supposed to rain all next day, but knowing how unreliable the rain forecasts can be we decided to wait until the last moment before we decide to go or stay. Fortunately, the motel did not seem to be full so we could afford to wait until the morning before making the decision.

It was already raining when we woke up, and the temperature was in mid-fifties. According to the forecast it was supposed to rain for two days, so just staying one more day would not help. And the town was not an amazing enough place to spend three days. We checked the next populated point, tiny town called Longlac, and it was supposed to rain only for one day there, so it made sense for us to try to get there.

We brought in the rain gear, dot into them and packed our things, By that time it was raining really heavily, so we decided to wait a bit. With all the rain layers we were pretty uncomfortable, but it would be a lot of effort to switch back to regular clothes, so we waited. After an hour, the rain was a little less heavy,  so we left.

The first stop was a snowmobile, ATV and chainsaw repair place a few miles away. I figured they will be more willing to look at a vehicle they do not know how to deal with, compared to the car dealerships. And seeing us all wet and miserable they helped us without an appointment.

It took about an hour as the bolt that I thought was lost was broken in reality. they did a great job, charged a very reasonable amount and wished us good luck with the rest of the trip.

At that time we were very hungry, but it was still raining like crazy and we did not want to unpack the bag and find something to eat without a shelter, so we just left and continued east.

The visibility was pretty poor, and there was wind. We were seriously underdressed for 55 degrees. And while my new shoe covers protected me relatively well from water, we do not have covers for our gloves, so our hands were wet and freezing.

Also, we were getting really hungry. Unfortunately, we were on one of the most remote parts of the route, so there were no gas stations where we could at least temporarily take shelter from the rain and eat something. Amazingly, you would think there would be a lot of places to just pull out of the road and stop, but we could not find any that would not be a hassle on a motorcycle. The very few that were there were bumpy, inclined and covered with puddles of water, and not something I wanted to deal with.

Finally, in 45 minutes or so we found a relatively flat place to stop, and managed to get out two protein bars from the bag and ate them while standing under the downpour.

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That was the only chance we had to rest before we reached the town of Longlac, 100 miles further away. We were totally frozen, because we did not wear the warm layers, and as I mentioned above, there was no good place to stop and switch. We stopped at the only restaurant in the town. The food was disgusting, but we were happy to be there and had some microwaved food and hot coffee.

There was one of the run down, smelly motels next door, but, it was better than camping, though not by a huge margin, so we walked there and booked a room.

Tomorrow is going to be a dry day. We will wear warmer clothes, make good progress and maybe even camp somewhere.

Day 56 – Val d’Ore, QC – Hearst, ON (350 miles)

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We again woke up very early for us, at 7:30am. The day before we were struggling with a cold, but we were feeling better in the morning, and we were planning to go over 300 miles because if we did not it would be a problem the next day, and we had to waste a day.

Had a quick breakfast at the hotel and started to pack. The motel room had a door toward the parking and the bikes were right in front, so I decided to do some maintenance. First I pumped up Spyders rear shock. It is leaking air but at a manageable rate. I had pumped it to 7 the day before, and it was around 5. Not a big deal, but I inflated it back to 7.

Next, I checked the tires. They were slightly underinflated, so I had some good workout. When I reached Goldwing’s rear tire, there was a problem. It was down to 36 from 41, so needed some air, but I could not fit the pump head between the brake disk and the wheel.

I had used Edik’s compressor and Garen’s nice large bicycle pump with a hose before to inflate that tire, so it had never occurred to me to check if my small pump fits it.

No problem I thought. I had brought a fancy gas cartridge pump I am carrying around forever. I take it out, and the gas cartridge is empty. I dig out the extra cartridge, load it, and find out that the pump head does not fit my valve.

I am pretty sure it is the dreaded Presta and Schrader issue. I am sure there is a way to modify it to use on Shrader, but by trying to do so I release half of the gas in the capsule and give up.

I check the manual pump again and somehow manage to put it on the valve. I do around two hundred pumps while lying on the pavement and put back the pump. Mission accomplished.

I decided to check one last thing. I had noticed that Spyder’s right wheel cover was wobbling a lot more than the left cover. I had checked the wheel bolts the day before and they seemed to be tight. But I decided to poke around a little more. So I look at the wheel from the behind and see one of the bolts, that attached the wheel cover is missing, while the other seems to be loose. I am sure if I lost the cover, the dealership would charge me a few thousand for a new one, just because they can. But even that is just part of the problem. If the cover wobbles and touches the wheel, it may be thrown away, and the brake hoses go through it, so Susan would lose the front brakes, even if she is lucky enough to keep the tire intact.

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Of course, I go back to the motel and look up the dealership. There is one in town, amazingly, but closed till Monday. Ok, are there motorcycle dealerships? Plenty of them, but all closed. What about car dealerships? Closed? Tire stores? Closed? Pretty much anybody who has a set of wrenches is not working in Canada on Sunday.

I try at least to tighten the half loose screw, but my 14mm wrench is too large, while my 12mm too small. I grab the head with the locking pliers, but there is not enough room to turn it really. I decided it is tight enough and give up.

We consider buying a set of wrenches somewhere, so we can take out one of the other bolts, and then try to find a store that sells similar bolts so I can try to replace the missing one.  Too much hassle and we do not have much room for new tools, so we give up.

We decide to declare the wheel safe at under 75mph speeds and start riding. By that time it is already 10am, and we need to cover a long distance. Susan’s headache has come back, so she take a Naproxen and we leave.

The scenery is not as beautiful as in Quebec, but it is still fun. The weather is not as hot, and we enjoy the ride. We gas up in a little town, have some Chinese food at a restaurant, where the waitress gets really upset at us for not eating any rice with our dishes, and we leave.

Forty minutes later Susan reminds me on the radio that we need gas. What gas, I ask. We should have enough gas to reach Hearst, our mandatory fill uptown. Susan replies that she is running out of gas.  I do not believe her, as I still have 2/3 of my tank, and we use gas at a similar rate. We still stop at the next town, and Susan’s tank is nearly empty.

The last gas station we used was full service. I am guessing the lady somehow did not fill her tank up fully. I remembered paying around $30, which is a normal number for us, so she probably cheated us. I could take out the receipt and verify, but at this point, I did not care. We made a mental note to check the gauge after each fill-up and moved on.

We reach Hearst at around 6pm. After that there are 150 miles without gas, so we fuel up and stop there. The motel I booked an hour ago from the previous gas station is really weird. It looks like an abandoned huge building, in a deserted town. There is a ton of gravel around it and in the parking lot. And it is all empty. So if something happens to us you know where we were last.

Tomorrow is going to rain, and there is no escaping it. We will try to find a mechanic to fix the wheel issue in the morning and leave, rain or shine. The plan is to try to make it to Thunder Bay.

Day 55 – Montreal, QC – Val d’Ore, QC (340 miles)

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After staying another day in Montreal because of the rain, we were really ready to go.

We had two ways to proceed back through Canada. We decided to take the Northern route. There are a few places there that have 130 miles between the gas stations, but with some planning ahead that should not be a problem.

We woke up very early for us and were packed and started to go before 9am. As usual, there was a detour after detour and we spent an hour getting out of Montreal. After that, it was an easy ride through beautiful forested hills. We managed to go record distance before stopping at a motel.

 

Day 51 – Quebec City, QC – Montreal, QC (190 miles)

We are having a couple of problems with the Spyder. First one is that it loses the rear shock pressure very fast. In itself, it is not a huge deal, but kind of annoying to spend time every morning (unless I forget which happens a lot) to pump it back up with the tiny pump. The second one is more annoying.

At the beginning of the trip, the Spyder had gone into some sort of “limp mode”. For a brief period of time, it refuses to accelerate or go faster than 30 mph. The first time it went away by itself, the second time when Susan pulled over, stopped the power and restarted. We were watching for that issue, but fortunately, it did not happen again. We had some issues with the parking brake. Sometimes it would show engage when it was clearly off. Later it would display “brake failure” message, which is a bit unnerving. I checked and while it thinks the parking brake is still engaged, the button press clearly releases it. So we assumed it is a sensor issue.

We started to verify that the brake is not on before going, by putting the Spyder on Neutral and seeing if it rolls, so we do not try to ride with the brake on.

So last night I decided to check if there is a Spyder dealership in Montreal so we can try to get an appointment, which is very difficult to do in summer unless you do it a month beforehand.  To my surprise, there were no dealerships close to our Montreal hotel, but there was one just on the other side of the street from our Quebec City hotel. Unfortunately, we had to leave the next morning,

We decided to stop by at the dealership just in case. I told the associate we are traveling and this is a bit of emergency. He was nice enough to arrange for somebody to look at the brakes. While they did not find the issue with the sensor of the brakes, they said the bike was a bit low on brake fluid, and they topped. And did not charge anything for the service.

I am not totally confident that solved the “brake failure” issue, but we did not see that message the whole day.

We had set the GPS to take use through route 132, which goes on the south side of St. Lawrence River. It is a minor road, but much more fun than major highway 20 to the south of it, and 40 on the north shores of the river.

Getting out of Quebec was not too bad, but the weather was hot and humid. The road was going through tiny agricultural villages, so we had to settle for protein bars and coffee at noon, instead of the lunch.

We did have a chance to find a place for lunch at around 2pm. The place was called Le Petit Quebec. It has sounded much better among the Tim Hortons, A&Ws and other fast food chains, except when we parked and got in we found out it was just another fast food chain place. No thank you.

Fortunately, there was another place called Thai Express in the same plaza. While in itself it was not anything remarkable, the salad with fish was pretty good.

As route 132 seemed to be deteriorating as we continued toward Montreal, we switched to a faster road. Well, faster in theory, as we hit the evening traffic almost immediately. But that was nothing compared to the road construction we hit after crossing a few amazing bridges toward downtown. We had set both GPS units to act as a backup, but it did not help. the exit we were supposed to take was a huge construction site, cars were merging left and right and I pretty much walked the motorcycle for about an hour until we reached the motel.

We were too tired and hot to do anything else, so we walked to the grocery store, got some fruits and cheeses, and the amazing Montreal strawberries. I started to think about the route out of Montreal, while Susan was researching the first full day plan for Montreal.