Vancouver Island

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Canada 2015. Days 13, 14 & 15 (Aug 11, 12 & 13, 2015). We left the Nairn Falls Campground relatively early because we wanted to catch the 10:40 ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo in Vancouver Island. The road from Pemberton to Horseshoe Bay is really pretty but there is a lot of traffic, especially after the town of Whistler, BC. Logging trucks, regular trucks, cars, motorhomes, cars pulling trailers and campers, motorcycles, bicycles; all kinds of vehicles come down from sky to sea at high speed (Route 99 is known as the Sea to Sky Highway). We arrived at the ferry station right on time. The ferry ride took approximately two hours and was very pleasant. From Nanaimo we rode to Lake Cowichan where we stop for gas and Gatorade. From there we went to Port Renfrew on a very pretty road that goes through areas with major logging. It was a bit sad to see so many hills covered by a single species of conifer rather than with a real forest. In the few places with older trees, the plant diversity was much higher and the understory was much wetter. In fact, most of the creeks that we crossed in the logged areas were dry or nearly so. The road from Port Renfrew to China Beach Campground was very pretty. After we set up camp and ate dinner we hiked down the 1.5 kilometers to the beach. It was a very pretty and red sunset. On the other side of the Juan de Fuca Strait we could see the Olympic Peninsula in the US.

One day 14 we spent the morning doing laundry. We then rode back to Port Renfrew where we got gas at a very old pump. As we  were reaching Port Renfrew we noticed quite a bit of smoke in the air. The lady that pumped our gas told us that there was a fire under control near Lizard Lake and that the road to Lake Cowichan (our destination) was open. We decided to continue but the smoke became thicker and thicker the more we drove into the hills. The sunlight attenuated by the smoke in the air made everything appeared yellow. It was hard to breathe. At a given point we got to a logged, trees-less field where we could see the flames. There were several helicopters carrying bags with water coming probably from a nearby lake. By the time we got to Mesachie Lake (near Cowichan) the air was much cleaner. We were feeling adventurous that day so we decided to go around the lake on dirt roads. Close to the town of Caycuse, BC, I saw a little bear (the size of a large dog). The cub run for 10 meters on the road and then got back into the bush. I immediately screamed “Un oso” into the intercoms. I wish Adrián had seen the bear too. We had travelled so many miles in the US and Canada and he had never seen a bear. At a campsite on the north shore of the lake we stop for lunch and to fix Adrian’s GPS cable. By the time we got back to the town of Lake Cowichan the air was thick with smoke so we have to go back to our campground on Route 1 (way too many cars). At Sooke, we stop to get some beer for dinner. The lady at the liquor store recommended Phillips Hop Circle IPA, which we enjoyed very much. For dinner we had Backpackers Pantry Fettuccini Alfredo with Chicken. Yum!

On day 15 I could not start my bike in the morning. The previous night I had run the battery down charging my computer. We tried pushing the bike on the gravel but it would not start. So, we tied the two bikes with a rope and Adrían pulled me towards the road. As we were going through the entrance to the campground, Adrián lost control of the KLR and went flying to the side of the road. I wish I could have filmed the jump. It reminded us of “el pato Fillol”, a goalkeeper who played for River Plate, the most important football team of Argentina. We finally got the bike to the asphalt but we could not get it to start there either. A man who was walking his dog on the road offered to bring his truck and give us a jump-start.  As soon as we connected the the two batteries my motorcycle started immediately. We got all my luggage into the back and rode to Victoria to checked in at the Days Inn. The hotel is in front of the ferry terminal to Port Angeles that we wanted to take the following day. We spent the afternoon visiting the lovely city of Victoria while Adrián did some shopping. For dinner Adrián had a salmon hamburger and I had a dish of flat noodles with shrimp, scallops, and clams.

Deep into British Columbia

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Canada 2015. Days 11 & 12 (Aug 9 & 10, 2015). On day 11 we woke up early at Emerald Lake Lodge and got coffee from the thermos at the reception. We had a long day ahead of us; lots of riding. It was a crisp but gorgeous morning. The lodge shuttle took us to the overnight parking lot where we secured our luggage to the bikes. We left in the direction of Golden on following Route 1. We took the last exit before Golden to take the Golden Donald Upper Road. Craig had suggested this route to avoid the town of Golden and get closer to nature. The road is quite nice; a mix of asphalt and gravel. After approximately 18 kilometers on the Golden Donald Upper Road we turned left onto the Blaeberry School Road to get back to Route 1. We continued west for 40 kilometers to enter the beautiful Glacier National Park (the Canadian one). From the road you can appreciate several glacier-bearing high peaks of the Columbia Mountains. We made a bathroom and picture stop at Rogers Pass (1330 meters) and then moved onto Revelstoke where we turned south to take Route 23 in the direction of Nakusp, BC. At Shelter Bay we had to take a ferry to cross the Upper Arrow Lake of the Columbia River. The Columbia is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. There are 14 hydroelectric power dams on the river proper and many more on its tributaries. The dams turn many stretches of the Columbia into a series of long lakes. The ferry ride was quite pleasant. We stop at Nakusp for gas and Gatorade and then continued south to the Fauquier to Needles ferry crossing. This is a smaller ferry so we did not fit on the boat and had to wait for it to come back. Thankfully the lake is narrow at that point so it did not take too long. From Needles we followed Route 6 to Vernon, BC. This is a gorgeous, winding road traversing beautiful conifer forests. We stop to get hydra from a little lake (large pond?) by the road.

From Vernon we took Route 97 in the direction of Kamloops, BC. The road goes through fertile farmland and a series of little towns. One of them is called Falkland. We stop to take a picture of Adrián wearing the Argentine football jersey. Dear Canadians, you seem to have a very close relationship with Queen Elisabeth II, whose portrait appears in all your currency. Would you mind reminding her—perhaps through her representative the Governor General of Canada—that colonialism (like slavery) is a thing of the past. It is time for the UK to return the Falkland Islands to Argentina. Las Malvinas son Argentinas carajo! (The Falkland Islands are Argentinian dammit!). Route 97 merges with the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) at Monte Creek. We turned right there towards Pritchard where we got off the highway looking for the road to Paul Lake Provincial Park. We got a bit lost there until a woman on a pickup truck gave us directions on how to get there (the signage was atrocious). We had made reservations for the Paul Lake Campground, which turned out to be quite nice. We set up camp across from a family from Edmonton, AB—Gwen and Gus, and their five cute, very well-behaved children. As we were unpacking our bikes, Gus came to introduce himself and to invite us to share some wine around the propane fire after dinner (given that this has been one of the worse fire seasons in history, there is a fire ban in all of British Columbia). For dinner we had Mountain House Beef Stew and popcorn. After dinner I joined Gwen and Gus for wine, cheese, sausage, and crackers. They had two other visitors from a neighboring campsite. The five of us had a lovely conversation in which, under the influence of alcohol, I revealed some of my family secrets (think felines).

The following day we left the campground after breakfast. Gus and Gwen gave us three delicious pancakes with Nutella to accompany our coffee. We went down to the lake to collect hydra. I found some green hydra attached to the dense, fine filaments of green algae. I had never seen hydra growing like that before. It was a cloudy, cold morning. We stop at Kamloops to get gas and then took Route 5A (rather than the faster but less interesting Route 5) in the direction of Merritt. Route 5A is a lot of fun to ride because it is not only curvy but also goes up and down all the time. The road follows the shores of several lakes so the views are quite beautiful. We got gas at Merritt and then continued west on Route 8 towards Spences Bridge. This is another interesting road with a lot of curves. That region of British Columbia is dry so pines are the dominant trees and sagebrush scrub is very abundant. Route 8 follows the Nicola River and goes through many farms. We stop at a red barn by the road where two girls and a boy were selling fruit. We bought a bag of cherries—which we eat immediately—and a honeydew melon. At Spences Bridge we turned left onto the Trans-Canada Highway following the Thompson River. At Lytton, where the Thompson empties its water into the Fraser River, we took Route 12 north towards Lillooet. This road follows the Frazer but runs up on the side of the mountains at least two hundred meters above the river. Route 12 is yet another fun road to ride on a motorcycle. Near Lillooet, the road comes down to the level of the river and ends at Route 99. We crossed the Frazer on Route 99 and stop at a gas station for a long break. While getting gas at the pump, we briefly talked to two Mexicans from Sinaloa who were riding to Alaska on two BMW 1200 GS Adventure. After filling up the tanks we sat on two plastic chairs under the sun outside the gas station to drink some Gatorade. It was sunny but not too hot. Many cars, trucks, and motorcycles came and went while we were sitting there. We started a conversation with a guy, Mitch, who was riding a KLR. Mitch was from Regina, Saskatchewan and was coming from Vancouver. He loved his KLR; in a very short time he had put lots of kilometers on his bike. He told me he absolutely loved to ride on gravel roads; that it was addictive. We chatted for a long time before we had to continue on Route 99 towards Pemberton, BC. The stretch of Route 99 from Lillooet to Pemberton is truly fantastic. From Lillooet the road climbs up quickly onto the Coast Mountains. Firs, spruces, and cedars seem to be the dominant trees in these region. The road runs along a Cayoosh Creek until it reaches Duffey Lake. We stop to take some pictures at Duffey Lake and then continued onto the charming town of Pemberton. Two miles beyond Pemberton is the Nairn Falls Campground where we spent the night. We rode to Pemberton for dinner at The Pony (Adrián had sausages with crispy onions and I had salmon with some veggies). As we were leaving the restaurant we met Alex and Pierre, two brothers who spoke perfect Spanish with a Peruvian accent. Alex and Pierre are from Montreal but their dad is Peruvian. We talked for a while about our trip and about football. We chatted about the two finals that the Argentinian national team has recently lost; one in the Brazil World Cup and the other in the Copa América in Chile. The brothers were very supportive. Back at the campground we ate the honeydew melon from the Nicola River Valley. Delicious!

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Into the Canadian Rockies

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Canada 2015. Day 10 (Aug 8, 2015). After a light breakfast (coffee, croissants with dulce de leche San Ignacio, strawberries with Chantilly cream), Craig and I went to collect hydra from a pond a few hundred meters from the house—we found both green and brown hydra. We left Craig & Brenda’s house at around 11 am in the direction of Cochrane, AB, so that we could take route 1A rather than the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1). There was a lot of traffic and some construction getting into Cochrane so we wasted a lot of time there. It was a very nice ride from Cochrane to Canmore, AB, so we did not mind the delay. After Banff, AB, we took the pretty Bow Valley Highway (1A) to Lake Lousie where we got gas. At the gas station we briefly met a woman traveling on a colorful Mercedes van. She had a basil plant inside the van; a very good sign! Apparently there was no diesel in town so she was a bit distress. We had planned to continue north towards Jasper but it was pretty late so we decided to go west instead towards our destination at Emerald Lake. We took a short detour to visit the beautiful Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park. The Falls are in the famous Burgess Shale; a geological formation well known to paleontologists and biologists because it contains many interesting fossils of soft-bodied animals from the Cambrian era. As I drove towards the falls, I looked up the mountains wandering if my Pomona College colleague Bob Gaines was around collecting fossils. From the falls we drove to Emerald Lake. A few kilometers before the lake we visited the Natural Bridge over the Kicking Horse River. The lodge at Emerald Lake is very nice and the view from our room was breathtaking. Incredibly, there is WIFI access only in the main lodge and not in the rooms. For dinner we went to a restaurant—called Cilantro—by the entrance bridge to the lodge. We had bison hamburgers served with spicy boiled potatoes. They offered three sauces for the burgers: mango, spicy red, and chimichurri. After dinner we sat on the main lodge to use the WIFI (the password was burgess88). I was tempted by the waitress to try their amazing white chocolate cheesecake. Adrián only had a bite so I ate most of it. A bad day for my diet!

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Fun with Brenda & Craig (aka Glenda & Greg)

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Canada 2015. Days 8 & 9 (Aug 6 & 7, 2015). We spent two full days at Craig and Brenda’s house. We are so grateful for their kindness and warmth. We felt truly at home. They live in a beautiful home in a farm outside Calgary. From their kitchen and living room one can see a green pasture where cows graze. Beyond the prairie grow conifers on the banks of a river. Frequently, deer and coyotes add a bit of color to the passivity of the cows. It was such a pleasure to wake up in that house. Adrián and I are not city people; we grew up in a small town in the Argentinian pampas and prefer the quietness of the countryside. It rained hard the first day so we spent it working on the bikes. Craig’s has an amazing shop with all kinds of tools. He needed to replace the wheel bearings of the rear tire of his Africa Twin. And I needed to figure out a major wobbling problem in my front tire. When I decided to get new tires for the trip I did not realize it would be so complicated. I initially ordered front and rear Michelin Anakee III tires from the Motorcycle Superstore but after two weeks of waiting the tires had not arrived. I called customer service and they told me that UPS had lost the tires. After one day of arguing with the people at Motorcycle Superstore, I decided to go to Chaparral Motorsports in San Bernardino to purchase the Anakees and to get them installed. I did not notice anything weird with the bike when we drove back home from San Benardino with the new tires and I did not ride the bike again until we left for Vegas. It was actually in Victorville, CA, when we stop to get gas that I realized that at speeds between 30 and 40 miles per hour the front of the bike went up and down like a wild horse in a rodeo. At higher speeds the wobble was barely noticeable but it was there. We checked everything in the front end of the bike and did not notice anything wrong. I had heard stories of bad, deformed tires, so I assumed I had purchased one of them. I asked Craig for his opinion about my bad tire problem and he inspected the tire to verify that the bead was sitting properly on the rim; it was not! It was very obvious to Craig and, once he pointed at the problem, also to two rookies like us. It is hard to believe that the “professionals” that installed the tires missed it. A bad review for the sloppy service at Chaparral Motorsports is brewing in my mind. First, we tried deflating and inflating the tire but that did not fix the problem. So, we (Craig) had to remove the tire completely out of the rim. Anakee IIIs are super hard and hence they are a bitch to remove from and put back onto the rim. After fixing the tire, Craig balanced it. Next day when I rode the bike the wobble was gone! We took a lunch break to savor delicious scrambled eggs with Canadian bacon, mushrooms and onions. After lunch, Craig noticed that the front tire of the KLR did not have much tread on it, so he generously offered an older tire that to us looked almost like brand new. Adrián and I had never changed a tire before so with Craig’s directions we got the old tire off the rim and put on the new one. Craig kept Adrián old tire as a memento. That night we had pizza for dinner. One of the pies—under the vigilant care of Adrián—caught fire on the grill. To be fair, it was not Adrián’s fault that pine needles had been stored under the burners! After dinner we met Joe, the farm’s owner. We had a lovely chat over an exquisite Malbec from Argentina.

The following day we went for a ride to Elbow Falls and to Turner Valley where we had excellent fish tacos from a little stand by the road. At Elbow Falls we met Alicia, a Uruguayan from Montevideo who lives in Calgary. She saw the Ruta 40 sticker on the KLR and came to inquire if we were from Argentina. We chatted for a while about asado, mate, and other delicacies from the Rio de La Plata. That night Brenda and Craig had a lovely party so we could meet their motorcyclist friends. We met Trent, Mirjan & Dani (from Holland), and Sandra & Jordan. They all have ridden motorcycles to places far, far away. Both Sandra & Jordan and Mirjam & Daan (Africa Twins) have done Canada to Argentina. I think that Daan and Mirjam continued into Africa. Check their site Far Away From Flakkee at http://www.farawayfromflakkee.nl. I forgot the details of Trent’s travelling—thanks to the delicious homemade wine provided by Daan and Mirjam—but I do remember talking about Colombia and a Colombiana. You can read about Trent and Daan’s current adventures beyond the tarmac at http://www.wanduro.com. Joe also crashed the party for a while. It was a lovely evening that ended with all of us sitting around a fire pit under clear skies.

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Through Glacier into Alberta, Canada

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Canada 2015. Days 6 & 7 (Aug 4 & 5, 2015). The West entrance to Glacier National Park is only 56 miles from the Swan Lake Campground. After coffee in the morning, we prepared the bikes and started the short ride. It was hard to see any details on the mountains around us because it was very hazy. The air felt humid as if a storm was developing. It could have also been smoke because, as we would discover later, there was a fire in the National Park. We stop for gas at Hungry Horse and entered the park at West Glacier. The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road crosses the park from West Glacier to St. Mary. This is a narrow and winding road that climbs up the mountains to cross the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (6640ft.) Apparently this is one of the hardest roads to snowplow in the Spring in North America. The road is a lot of fun to ride and offers spectacular views of the high peaks of the park. We made a stop to rest at Lake McDonald. As we were getting ready to go down to the lake, a fellow on a Honda Transalp approached us. His name was Dani, and he was from Cologne, Germany. Dani has been recently living near Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina, so he spoke very good Spanish. Dani has travelled on a motorcycle all over the world. You can read about his adventures at Odyssey2010.JIMDO.com After talking to Dani we continued on Going-to-the -Sun but we were unable to reach Logan Pass because the road was closed due to a fire near St. Mary Lake. We had to turn around, come back all the way to West Glacier, and take routes 2, 49, and 89 to get to St. Mary. We wanted to visit other areas of the park but we could not because of the road closure. That day we were in a bit of a rush to cross the border into Canada (you never know what to expect at a border crossing). We arrived at the Chief Mountain crossing at around 5:30. The two officers we talked to asked a lot of questions, some of which were frankly ridiculous. When one of the officers asked me if we were carrying alcohol, I mentioned that we had a bottle of beer. He asked why we only had one bottle. It seems suspicious to him that we were carrying a single bottle. After approximately one hour of waiting at the border they let us into Canada without checking any of the stuff we were carrying in the motorcycles. Once we arrived at Waterton, AB, we set up tent at the campground by the lake. It was a good thing I made reservations because the campground was completely full. We did not feel like cooking so we went for a bison burger and a beer at a restaurant in town.

The following day we got up very early and took a hot shower at the campground. We went for a walk to Waterton Lake and I collected a few beautiful brown hydra. After that we loaded the bikes and went to town to get a coffee and gas. It was a very cold morning so we put on our heavy gear. We rode on route 6 and then 22 north mainly through rolling hills covered with grass and some aspen groves. We stop to rest at a small campground by the Oldman River where I was able to get some hydra. At Longview we filled up the tanks and took route 541 towards the mountains; moving slowly from grasslands to conifers forests. We turned north on route 40, which runs through a gorgeous valley flanked by glacier-carved mountains. At Peter Lougheed Provincial Park we visited the beautiful Kananaskis Lakes and took a nice walk by the shores of the Lower Lake. On route 40 we encountered several groups of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheeps and a moose grazing by the road. Route 40 is a great ride highly recommended if you ever visit the area. At the end of route 40 we took the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) east towards Craig’s house outside Calgary. As we were getting closer to Calgary we could see at the distance very dark skies and regular lightning. By the time we left the highway, heavy raindrops begun to hit our helmet shields. We were approximately 4 miles from Craig’s house. It was raining but not very hard yet. We finally reached the intersection that we had set in our GPSs; the closest to Craig’s house. We turned left onto Township Road 242 which soon became a gravel road. The loose gravel was at places almost completely covered with leaves from the aspens that bordered the road. We were riding very carefully standing on the motorcycle pegs. We finally turned onto the service road that leads to Craig’s home. There was a guy wearing boots who was walking under the rain towards the house. He immediately turned around to greet us. It was Craig. He yelled instructing us to go around and park at the back of the house. As soon as we got there we saw the grass covered by the hail that had fallen that afternoon. We apparently had just missed a major hail storm which had destroyed a large portion of the garden. It was great to see Craig again after our fortuitous meeting at a hostal in Argentina more than a year ago. It was also very good to meet Brenda, Craig’s lovely partner. That night Brenda and Craig prepared a delicious dinner for us (grilled salmon and sweet potatoes). We had finally completed the first leg of our trip to Canada.

s Swan Lake - Calgary

North to Idaho and Montana

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Canada 2015. Days 3, 4, & 5 (Aug 1, 2 & 3, 2015). On day 3 we left Wells, NV, at around 10 am after I finished working on the blog. We continued north on US-93. The first stop was Twin Falls, ID, where we got gas, Rotella 15W-40 for the KLR, and corn for popcorn. It has been a tradition in our camping trips with my brother and my kids to make popcorn for breakfast and dinner. We don’t carry a lot of food on the motorcycles so the rations from a Mountain House package need to be supplemented with something else; usually almonds and popcorn. After Twin Falls we crossed the spectacular gorge of the Snake River and continued north on US-93 and ID-75, first through farmland and later through old black lava fields to reach the foothills of the Sawtooth Mountains. Near Shoshone, ID, we stop for a nap on the beautifully kept lawn of a Christian church. We did not realize it was a church until a sister came out of the building to check the suspicious looking bikes parked under the trees. I don’t think she saw us laying on the ground until she was a few feet away from us. She was very nice. I forgot her name but I know she is from Arkansas and she is planning to go on a motorcycle trip with her friends back home one day. We chatted for a while and then we moved on. It was quite hot until we begun to climb on ID-75 towards Stanley, ID. We stop at Galena Summit to enjoy the amazing view of the Salmon River Valley below. We were looking for a place to camp but the three campgrounds at Alturas Lake were full. We continued north and after visiting several full campgrounds we found a spot—the last one—at Sunny Gulch Campground. After dinner (a can of sardines in olive oil, Mountain House Beef Stew, and popcorn for dessert) we took a nice stroll through the campground and went down to the Salmon River where we saw two bald eagles (the national bird of yanquilandia). The night was cool, perfect weather to sleep on a sleeping bag.

Next morning we left soon after breakfast (coffee and popcorn). We stop at Stanley to get gas and to fix the burnt fuse of my Garmin GPS. We continued on ID-75 in the direction of Challis, ID, but we had to stop at a campground a few minutes later because Adrián noticed that the KLR was not accelerating well. We discovered that the rear brakes were locked. The caliper and the discs were super hot. We tried flashing the brake fluid but were unable to fix the problem and had to open the brake pads using a screwdriver. We followed the Salmon River on route 75 and later on ID-93. In Challis we got gas and some wire connectors that we used to fix the fuse of the GPS. In Salmon ID, we purchased a can of brake fluid. Soon after we entered Montana and crossed Lost Trails Pass (6995 feet) we found a place to camp at Indian Trees Campground. After setting up the tent we disassembled the rear brakes and were able to get them to work again. For dinner we had Mountain House Chicken A La King with Noodles and popcorn. We also ate some purplish berries that we picked from bushes that grew everywhere throughout the campground. They could be Saskatoon berries (Amelanchier alnifolia) but we are not sure. We made a big fire that night and went to sleep at around midnight.

After breakfast the next morning we rode to Grantsdale, MT, where we got gas. Instead on continuing north to Missoula, MT, we took a secondary road, route 38, that goes over Shalkaho Pass (7,260 ft) and meanders through beautiful conifer forests. The road is mostly dirt and has been carved on some very steep slopes. We drove carefully trying to avoid looking over the seemingly endless precipices. From the road we could see large expanses of burnt forest all around us. It was sad to see the remains of some many dead trees, like wooden bristles sticking out of the mountain. We stop to take pictures at Shalkaho Falls and at a pond on a lovely meadow. We reached the town of Philipsburg, MT, at lunchtime and were quite hungry, so we decided to do something unusual in our trips, to have a sitting lunch at a restaurant. We went to the restaurant at the Sunshine Station and ordered two burgers with fries. It took them almost 40 minutes to prepare the food; the burgers were OK but the fries were soggy and disgusting. After lunch we continued on route 1 north and at Drummond, MT, we made the mistake of entering the I-90 South (Garmin’s fault). We wanted to take 270 North but there is no exit on the freeway for that road. So we had to do a U-turn through the grassy median of the interstate—a scary maneuver—to come back to Drummond and take the proper route. Route 270 took us to 141 that took us to 200. We stop at a campground on the Blackfoot River to give our butts a break. Adrián and I both like fly fishing so we know of the Blackfoot’s reputation. After reading Norman Maclean novel A River Runs Through It, I have a very idealized version of the river which did not match the reality of the section of the stream that we encountered on route 200. We turned north on State Highway 83 and, after a brief stop at Seely Lake, MT, to get gas and hydrate, we rode to the Swan Lake Campground. We did not feel like cooking dinner after the big hamburger we had for lunch so we rode out bikes to a grocery store and got some crackers, cheese, and a six-pack of Sierra Nevada pale ale. It was quite hot; ideal weather for a cold beer!

Wells-Swan Lake

Mojave Desert, Las Vegas, and beyond.

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Canada 2015. Days 1 & 2 (July 30 & 31, 2015). Adrián and I begun another major motorcycle trip. Our fifth trip together. The planning of course started long time ago. Choosing a destination, routes to follow, people and places to visit, lodging, camping, gear, etc. takes quite a bit of work. I love doing all that! This trip to Canada was born out of a fortuitous encounter with a fellow motorcyclist at a hostal in Argentina. That day on February 26, 2014, Adrian and I rode from Purmamarca to Cafayate through La Cornisa and the Quebrada de las Conchas. By the time we reached Cafayate it was impossible to find a place to stay because the city was in the middle of a major celebration.  We continued riding south and eventually found a room at Hostal Río de Arena. We noticed a KLR 650 parked next to one of the cottages and I went to take a look. Through the open window of the cottage I saw a guy who I presumed was the owner of the bike. He came out from his room and we begun to chat. Craig “el Canadiense” was traveling solo on the KLR through Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Over dinner (homemade empanadas and wine), Craig told us that he was from Calgary, Alberta. Adrian and I immediately begun to think about a trip to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. We even mentioned to Craig the possibility of coming to see him in Calgary. He seemed very receptive to the idea back then so in our minds we begun to plan a visit to Craig el Canadiense. We had no idea however that in a little over a year we would be ridding north from my home in Claremont to Canada.

Crossing the Mojave Desert from the Los Angeles basin to Las Vegas was hard. It was cloudy and relatively cool when we left Claremont at 10 am. But by the time we reached Baker, CA, the huge thermometer in the middle of town (apparently the World’s tallest thermometer at 134 feet / 41 meters) indicated 108°F (more than 42°C). Thankfully it was partially cloudy so the sun was not shinning on us directly. It was very, very hot though; and we were both melting under the heavy protective motorcycle gear. After Baker, we stop at the California/Nevada border to get some Gatorade at a gas station. The bikes were riding well until we arrived at Las Vegas and hit the slow traffic on the strip. At that point the KLR begun to overheat and to accelerate by itself when idling. We were a bit surprised and worried by the overheating issue because two days earlier we had installed a Thermo-Bob, a cooling system mod for the KLR650 that helps the engine run at a more steady temperature. We had installed a Thermo-Bob before on my KLR in Argentina so we were quite confident on the installation. Luckily the self-acceleration problem was gone a few hours later when we tested the bike on the parking structure of the hotel.

In Vegas we stayed at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. We unpacked the bikes at the check-in parking lot with the help of Mariano, a very nice young Mexican man who was very curious about our trip. That night we tried our luck at the Bellagio and had a very late dinner at Broadway Burger Bar & Grill inside NY-NY. The burgers were excellent. The fries could be better.

The following day we drove from Las Vegas to Wells, NV, following US-Route 93. This is a beautiful road that offers a great alternative to Interstate 15.  The road runs mainly through valleys flanked in both sides by mountain ranges.  A few miles before reaching the town of Alamo NV, we stop at Pahranagate Lake to look for hydra (the little freshwater critters that I study); we did not find any. Between Alamo and Caliente, NV, US-93 reaches two summits: Pahroc (4,945 ft) and Oak Springs (6,237). Near Oak Springs we saw a sign for a trilobite trail  but we did not have time to stop. The area is much greener than I expected with many junipers and pines growing at high elevations. The descent from Oak Spring Summit into the charming town of Caliente is quite beautiful and a lot of fun on a motorcycle.

North of Caliente we visited the spectacular eroded rock formations of Cathedral Gorge State Park (near Panaca, NV) and the pretty little town of Pioche, NV, where we got gas. At Ely, NV, we took a long break to rest and hydrate. We still had 130 miles to Wells and I was really tired. Approximately 40 miles north of Ely, I took a little nap on top of a metal table at a rest area. The remainder of the ride to Wells was lovely. The sun was coming down on the mountains to the west and producing long shadows. The air temperature was perfect. After approximately 8 hours of riding we finally reached our destination, the Wells Chinatown Motel. For dinner we had great Chinese food cooked by the motel’s host. The local beer was also excellent.

15 Canada 1 & 2

Cuesta de Lipán Video

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Recoded on February 20, 2014, on route 52 between Abra del Potrerillo and Purmamarca.  Route 52  reaches an altitude of 4,170 meters at Abra del Potrerillo and from there drops through the Cuesta del Lipán into the town of Purmamarca, located at 2,192 meters above sea level. The 2,000-meter descent takes place in just 17 kilometers.  At the bottom of the Cuesta del Lipán the road goes though one of the most colorful valleys in Argentina, the Quebrada de Purmamarca. See East and Up Up Up into Argentina for more details.