Tentative map

Tentative map
VERY rough sketch of my route

Fun Facts

Fun Facts:
Days on the road: 27.5
Total distance: 10512.5km
Number of states and provinces: 19 + 1
Longest distance in one day: 714km

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Home Sweet Home

From: Portage, IN
To: Waterloo, ON (via Windsor, ON)
Mileage: About 714kms

After checking into the motel, I decided to check the weather for the next day.  I noticed that it was supposed to be rainy all day, all along my planned route.  And it was supposed to remain that way for the next few days.  The only break in the rain was that night.  So it was either I press on, drive through the night, and stay dry, or I get some sleep and hope the rain isn't too bad the next day.

I got a refund (minus $3 for "credit machine charges" *rolls eyes*) and jumped back on the road.  After wasting so much time looking for motels and fighting with managers, it was already late (I think it was 9 or 10 pm). I got onto the 401 and headed East.  I stopped only for gas.  At one point, I saw a deer on the side of the road.  I flashed my lights to warn drivers behind me, and managed to scare him/her off.  I guess I don't have the same bad luck as my friend Ryan and his poor Buell...

As I entered Waterloo region, I started feeling really excited, and proud.  I guess I couldn't really believe I'd done it.  I pulled off on my exit and started realizing that I'd been gone long enough that I wasn't sure how to actually... get home.  I mean I knew a sure fire way, but not the good way.  I figured it out though, and as I pulled up to my street I got pretty damn excited.  My Hindle pipe roared up the street, bothering all my neighbours in the middle of the night, and I pulled into the same driveway I'd left 27 days and 10,512.5 kms earlier.I put the bike in it's spot and paused before turning the key.  I had serious thoughts about turning around and just riding off toward the sunrise.  I really didn't want the trip to end, and I had strong, yet ambivalent feelings.  I was happy to be home, to see Ginny, to have accomplished my goals, but I was sad to be ending the journey and getting back to real life.

I turned the key, put the bike on her stand, and ran inside to see Ginny.  I opened the door to:

The finish line.

Thanks, Ginny!
And with that, I was home.  After being inside for about 20 minutes, I felt completely at home.  Almost as though I'd never left... Seriously.  I saw my bags sitting there and started to think "Did I really just live on a motorcycle for a month? Did I honestly just drive to California?"  Sitting in my PJs in the exact spot I was in before leaving, everything I did this past month seems surreal and it's hard to believe I ever left.

Now that I'm back, I need to pack frantically and move out of this apartment.  But at some point, I'm going to write another post with some overall impressions and memories, but also a bunch of pictures that haven't been posted.  I also shot a few movies while riding, and Ginny might try and work on a video montage, so check back every now and then for some extra goodies.  Also, please post (or email) comments and questions, and I'll reply to them.  I'd be happy to answer any questions you guys can think of.

Thanks for reading.  I hope you enjoyed following along - I know I enjoyed every minute of it.

Motor City

From: Portage, IN
To: (to be continued...)
Mileage: (to be continued...)

Whenever I got a motel on this trip, I tried to stay with the same hotel group and rack up points to use toward a free stay.  I'd mostly been staying at Super 8's because I found they give a good mix between value and comfort - only a few dollars more than, say, Motel 6, but much nicer with a breakfast included.  Anyway, I called the rewards program to try and use points for a free stay in Detroit.  They told me that they weren't showing any stays associated with my account.  So no points... WTF?  So I told them to do some homework, find my points, and give 'em.   Spoiler alert: when I called back later in the day, they said they'd only found a few, and they the points wouldn't be added in time to use for a free stay.  What a rip.

Anyway, I pounded some asphalt and crossed into Michigan.  Getting close!

I'd been keeping an eye on the trip odometer, and I got pretty excited when I started to reach the big ten-oh.  I pulled off to grab a picture of the 9999.9km reading.  Unfortunately, I began pulling off when it hit 9999.8kms, giving me 200m to stop.  I think I stopped in 200.1m because it rolled off the 9999.9km mark.  Fine, that sucks. But it's no biggie, I'll get a shot of the 10,000km reading.  NOPE!

The thing resets to 0.0 when it hits 10,000!!! How anti-climactic is that!  At least the speed says 0km/h this time...  Anyway, that's 10,000 km! Nice!

After a while, I needed gas.  I checked the map and decided to stop in Kalamazoo, MI, for no other reason than the name.  Almost as good as mukluks.  In Kalamazoo, I called the hotel rewards people and learned the disappointing news.  I also spoke with an old guy who didn't hesitate to show me his mangled leg from a giant car wreck in his youth.  He had holes and pus and stuff... and this was from 30 years ago.  He'd been in a coma for 11 months, and had complete memory loss for 3.5 years.  Then all of a sudden it all came back to him.  Pretty cool.  The only problem was he was standing way too close when talking to me... if that makes a difference.

My next stop was in Ann Arbor, MI.  No reason for stopping there other than the fact that it is home to a college/university that's pretty good for physics.  I didn't go to it, I just got gas there.

I'd decided to head into Detroit, and see if I could get back across the border without my passport.  If I could, I'd stop in Windsor.  If I couldn't, I'd stop in Detroit and have my folks bring my passport across in the morning.  Either way I'd planned on heading into Detroit for some slight sightseeing.  As I approached, I think the hours of continuous slapping had started to fry my brain.  I saw signs for "Bridge to Canada" and followed them blindly.  Before I knew it, I was paying a toll for the bridge and waiting in line at customs.  Crap.  Oh well.  The Canadian border guard was not at all interested in my journey.  Thirty seconds and a flash of my drivers license and I was through the gates... back in Canada.  How weird is this?!

I went to the waterfront to see Detroit from across the water:

Ambassador Bridge

Detroit, MI as seen from Windsor, ON

Downtown Detroit

I went into Windsor and stopped at the first Tim Hortons I saw.  I hadn't planned on it, but when I saw it I realized how sick of garbage hotel coffee I was.  Plus I was cold.  I downed a medium double double, then went in search of hotels.  I'd forgotten how fricken expensive Canada is.  All the hotels were outrageously priced.  I finally checked into a tiny little privately owned motel after an argument with the owner of the motel next door.

Here's the story (skip if you don't care)
Get this... I went to check the rate.  It was reasonable, but not great.  I asked if I could have a look at the room.  He gave me the key and said I was wasting my time - why would he rent me a bad room?  I told him it was above average for what I'd been paying on the road, and we got into a (friendly) discussion about the difference in prices between Canada and America.  I asked about wifi and he said one side of the building was having problems.  I said "okay, I wouldn't mind checking out the room anyway".  He got frustrated and asked why.  I said I mainly wanted to check the wifi in that room.  He snatched the key out of my hand, threw it down and said he wasn't renting to me.  He started walking out on his way to get a coffee from Tim Hortons.  I laughed pretty hard at him and said a few well placed words.  Another customer came as I was leaving too, and I told him not to stay.  I told him the story and he said thanks for warning him - he ended up checking in next door.  Turns out he was looking to rent on a monthly basis since he was a student and didn't want to sign a lease.  HAH!  You gotsta respek!  Mess with me and I'll cost you thousands, jerk.

While driving around, I passed this street:

Pfft.. that's fake.  I've seen the real one.  It was warmer.
 Anyway, I checked into the motel and started offloading my bike.

(To be continued...)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Gotham City

From: Iowa City, IA
To: Portage, IN
Mileage: About 498kms

First off, if you're reading this shortly after I posted it, go watch the news.  Bin Laden is dead.  If you're all caught up on that, then read on.

I left the hotel this morning and hit the road.  Again, nothing interesting, and no landscape.  At some point I entered Illinois

I spoke to a few people at the welcome center where I stopped to pick up a map.  I met Elly and Rob from London, Ontario who offered up a bed near Detroit if I need one.  I'm thinking about it, but I'm also going to try and use some of the reward points I've racked up from staying at hotels.

Riding today was cumbersome.  I was tired and had to stop a lot to wake up.  While stopped, I decided to try the BK Stackers from Burger King.  They looked so good on TV, and they're pretty cheap.  But of course, real life fast food is nothing like TV fast food.  And of course, it was basically a ball of grease.  So I ordered another one.  I'm still wondering why...  Anyway, no more fast food.

Further down the road and I started to see the Chicago skyline coming into view.  I stopped in Chicago just to look around.  I pulled off of Lakeshore to take a photo

From there I went to Navy Pier.  I guess it's a famous pier in Chicago and it's now a pedestrian area.  So of course I rode my bike onto it...

On Lake Michigan

I'm pretty sure motor vehicles aren't supposed to be here...

I was wondering why I was able to do drive to that spot...  Because here's where I was:

Notice the red circle near top right saying "You Are Here"
Eventually a Navy Pier cop started yelling "Hey!  What are you doing?!  You can't park there!"  I had to smooth talk my way out of that one...  After schmoozing my way out, I asked where I can park, and the guy said "well get the bike out of there before someone else sees it and I'll show you."  Turns out parking was $12.  Eff that... Here are a couple more FREE pictures:

From there I went to Michigan Ave and Millennium Park.  Apparently there's a Grant Park that I didn't go to.  Damn!  Millennium Park looked cool.  It seemed to have some neat art exhibits going on, but I didn't get to go visit them::

Michigan Ave and the downtown area was interesting too.  When I think of a "city", this is what comes to my mind.  Los Angeles built up by expanding outward into a large area.  Chicago seems to have built up by expanding upward.  It's got tall buildings, multi level streets, underground everything, etc.  All the buildings have interesting designs and there's nice architecture everywhere.  It seemed like a cool place, anyway.

Michigan Ave

I also took these photos I like:

I just find this cool.  Don't worry, it's a red light.

No worries!  My bike has a MOTOR!!!

Now if only I had stayed downtown until sunset...
I left Chicago moving further East.  Hotels are outrageously expensive in the city and I had no particular reason to stay there.  Shortly after leaving I entered Indiana

I then went in search of accommodations.  It was raining at the time and I think the forecast called for more rain tonight.  I stopped in Portage, IN for the night.  I turned on the TV in my room and discovered that Bin Laden is dead.  I then watched the president's speech and half expected them to... well... prove it.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Black and Blue

Look what I just noticed!  Now that the swelling has gone down, the bruising has started to show.  I wonder what this looked like yesterday when it still hurt much more than today!


Another boring day

From: Aurora, NE
To: Iowa City, IA
Mileage: About 599kms

It's been mentioned that I always start my posts by mentioning some sort of food.  So I won't tell you that I ate breakfast at the small restaurant across the street from the motel.

I hit the highway and continued through Slabtown.  I didn't really do, or see, anything interesting today either.  I stopped in Lincoln, NE to return the sunglasses I bought in Vegas.  They were defective and starting to bother me).  I returned the sunglasses and got going again.  Eventually, the highways passed through Omaha, though I didn't stop.  Shortly after that I must have entered Iowa because when I stopped for gas I was... well... in Iowa.  I guess I missed the sign.  I stopped to switch to warm weather gloves when the weather got colder and snapped this shot of the sunset:

Just a crap-snap-shot.
I thought about camping, but didn't find any good spots.  I stopped to camp at a rest center, but decided against it because there were "no camping" signs everywhere.  So I headed into Iowa City and stopped at a motel.

Sorry, the last two posts were garbage (because the days were garbage).  There should be some more interesting stuff on the way with some bigger cities and better areas.  So stay tuned.

And with that, I'm all caught up.  Phew!


From: Denver, CO
To: Aurora, NE
Mileage: About 689kms!

I left Denver after eating a (sub-par) breakfast.  From there I didn't do anything interesting except arrive in Slabtown, USA.  Population: Me.  (For my non-technical / non-motorcycling readers, slabbing is basically just riding with the point of traveling a long distance on the boring highways.)  I did cross into Nebraska:

This was (sadly) the only photo I took all day
I arrived in Grand Island, NE, only to find that there was some sort of tournament happening this weekend, and all the hotels were sold out.  It was suggested that I try the next small town over (a farm town with a population of 4500).  I headed that way and checked into a small motel.  I spent the rest of the night posting and recovering from a long day.


From: Big Bend Campground (near Moab), UT
To: Denver, CO
Mileage: About 561kms

I woke up feeling really sick and had to pack camp.  Bill came over to tell me they'd moved to another site, and to offer up some breakfast.  I wasn't feeling up to eating, and I'd woken up somewhat late, so I said no thanks and hit the road.  The rest of the ride through scenic route 128 was amazing!  I wish I wasn't feeling so sick - I could have enjoyed it more.  Eventually the gallon of water I drank started to sink in and I started feeling better.  By the time I reached the interstate I was feeling pretty good and I ate the sandwich I'd bought for dinner the night before.  I read a few emails after coming back into cell reception territory, then hit the road.  Here are the pictures from the rest of the scenic ride.

The Colorado River

Dinner.  The road goes through an open range so there were cows a few feet off the side.

I stayed on the interstate, and eventually I entered Colorado:

A very welcoming sign
I stopped at the welcome center for some route info.  I'd been expecting the mountain passes to be a little dicey, so I figured I'd ask.  There was a war museum nearby, so

The ladies at the information center were telling me not to try the mountain passes since I'd be getting there late at night.  I'd be facing below freezing temperatures, snow, possibly icy roads, and dark.  I decided to head in that direction and get as far as I could, stopping if I felt it was necessary.  As I drove further, I saw more and more of Colorado.  It's a really beautiful state and seems a little expensive.

Notice the houses

I moved closer to the mountains and started riding some really nice, scenic twisties.  But as my altitude started to climb, the temperatures started to drop.  Eventually, I stopped at a town in the mountains to add layers and warm up.  I pushed on and reached a rest stop further up the way.  Check out this depth!

Hooray!  Jazz hands!
The sun set and the roads got slippery, but I found them drivable.  So I pushed on and eventually I found myself in Denver, CO.  I checked into the Howard Johnson after getting them to cut the rate in half.  I'm glad I did because even for the $40 I paid I was still pretty disappointed with the quality.  Had I paid full price I would have made a st\ink and gone somewhere else! Anyway, I was exhausted and fell asleep while trying to write a post.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Happy Birthday!!!

Guess who turned 25!

Sorry for the barrage of posts tonight; I'm trying to get caught up.  I'm now two days behind.  I'd keep working but according to the self-adjusting clock on my phone I just lost an hour so I should get to sleep.


Warning: This post is extremely picture heavy!

From: Richfield, UT
To: Big Bend Campground (near Moab), UT
Mileage: About 384kms

I left the motel and followed I-70 through Utah.  This has got to be one of the most amazing interstates in America, and one of the most scenic roads out there (even though it's an interstate!)  All the way along are scenic lookouts where you can stop and be amazed.  Here are the photos I took along the way:

The road ahead.  The next pictures are zoomed in on the road.

Too fun.

Since I was stopping every 5 minutes to take pictures (several aren't posted) I kept passing the same vehicles when I'd get back on the road.  I passed this one RV going the minimum allowed speed about 6 times.  Finally, when stopped for gas, the same RV pulled in and the guy came over to chat while I was looking at my maps.  Turns out he's an adventure rider who's gone down to Guatemala, up to Alaska, etc.  He told me that Moab and the surrounding area was not to be missed.  He seemed to know what he was talking about, and Moab was in the direction of Arches National Park (something I've always wanted to see).  I hit the road and took the turn off for Moab.  The ride into town was phenomenal with snow-capped mountains off in the distance and amazing canyon walls on the other side.  I got into town and stopped for some information.  From there I went into Arches National Park. 

Courthouse Rock (or something to that effect)

Balancing Rock

For scale

More scale - notice the people climbing

One of the Windows (arches)

For scale

There are more arches in Arches National Park, but I just couldn't get to them in time.  Also, I didn't want to park and hike in all my gear.

After leaving Arches, I drove along highway 128 (a scenic byway).  Beautiful!  The road winds along beside the Colorado river surrounded by cliffs and canyon walls.  I think I have a few pics (which don't do it justice!):

Entering the canyon

Colorado River to the left

The river.
Yeah, I wish I'd taken more pictures.  But the sun was setting and I was looking for a campsite.  There are small government run owned campgrounds all along the river.  I didn't find a site because everything was full.  Then I saw the RV belonging to the guy I'd been chatting with earlier.  He was right where he said he'd be.  So I pulled in to continue the conversation.  Turns out his name is Bill.  We spoke to the campground manager and got him to let me pitch my tent in the overflow area:

The river flows through that clearing between the walls.
Bill helped me set up the tent, then offered up a plate of spaghetti his wife (Linda) had just made.  I happily accepted the offer and ate dinner while Bill and I had a beer.  I gave them the address to this blog, so I guess I'll take the opportunity to say thanks for dinner!  Bill and Linda sell hand-made Christmas ornaments and travel around selling them.  Linda looked over my blog while I ate. Then somehow some scotch made its way out and I was tasting the difference between a 12 and 15 year old.  Linda went to bed while Bill and I stayed up talking.  The problem here is that I was very dehydrated from having very little water throughout the day.  That and the only thing I'd eaten since breakfast was the spaghetti.  So drinking was a bad idea, and I woke up feeling extremely thirsty and sick the next morning.  I had to drink about 3-4L of water in the morning to start to feel better.