Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Riding the Badlands, Sturgis, and Mount Rushmore

It would be a long ride today over 300 miles through southwest South Dakota.  The ride took us through the Badlands, with a stop in Wall and of course Wall Drug.  Then the Minuteman Missile Fields in the rolling plains on our way to Sturgis.  It’s Sturgis for lunch at the Knuckle Saloon.  Then it’s off to the mountains to Deadwood and then finally to Mount Rushmore to see the dead presidents.

On the ride back to the Hotel through the lower Badlands, we have developed scenery overload, we have seen way too much for one day.  We live in a beautiful country, one that we take for granted.  Today it’s been jagged mountains and desert plains with a great sunset at day's end.

We only scratched the surface of this area.  There are so many other places to see.  A return trip is a must.  We must visit Wounded Knee and ride through the Pinnacle Mountains. It seems the more that we see; the more that we want to see.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The North Puget Sound Loop: Four Boats in Three Days

Our recent trip to Washington was about doing somethings that I always wanted to do as a kid, but never had the chance to do them.  We call Tennessee home now so it was good to get back west to ride motorcycles.  A couple of these things were riding to the ocean going ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. Then riding Motorcycles on Vancouver Island in British Columbia Canada.  This was a trip where we checked off both of these things from our bucket list.  

It's the 4th of July our son and his family have a wedding to attend so we decide it's a great day to head off on a big American  adventure.  We leave early in the morning,  from Everett it's a short 30 minute ride to the Mukilteo ferry dock. It's the first of three ferry rides today.  Washington state has an extensive ferry system to navigate the puget sound.  The nice thing about motorcycles is that you go to the front of the line.  You are first on the ferry and first off the ferry, it's pretty cool.  Having the best view on the boat isn't bad either. 

Once we crossed over to Whidbey Island it is another short ride up the Island to the Fort Casey Ferry Terminal.  Fort Casey is an old Army coastal artillery fort.   The Coastal Artillery Corps was once the largest branch of service in the Army.   There was a coastal artillery fort guarding every American waterway in North America.  There were three of these old forts guarding the entrance to the Puget Sound.
It's another short ferry ride over to Port Townsend and the Olympic Peninsula.  We stop and have lunch at the Bayview Cafe for some good old fashioned Northwest Clam Chowder.  After lunch we jump on US Highway 101 towards Port Angeles and then a brief tour of the Olympic National Park.  The ride goes quick, before no time we are in Port Angeles.

The Olympic National Park visitor center is actually in Port Angeles. From there it's a 17 mile ride up to Hurricane Ridge.   This is a rainforest so we climb through the clouds in a light drizzle.  Close to the top we break out of the clouds for a fantastic view.  Of course I have to see Anderson Mountain which I'd like to think was named after me.  Afters spending some time enjoying the scenery we take the ridge road back down to Port Angeles hoping to make the 5:15PM ferry.  

Once we make it back to Port Angeles we have missed the ferry by 15 minutes.  This turned out to be a good thing.  It's the 4 of July right?  When checking in for the 9PM ferry we learn that Port Angeles 4th of July parade starts at 6PM.  So we walk from the ferry dock 2 block up to the parade route that is on main street.  It is kind of chilly so we grab some coffee and watch the parade.  The Northwest has a large Norwegian emigrant population so there were the usual viking floats.  It was a nice friendly crowd.  We were given a couple of small American flags to wave during the parade. 

After the parade we had dinner near the terminal at Smugglers Landing Restaurant, more good northwest seafood.  Time flies and before you know it we are boarding the ferry on the way to Victoria British Columbia.  This is an ocean going ferry so we are given chalks and ropes to secure the bikes inside the ferry. On the observation deck we can see the 4th of july fireworks as we pull out of the harbor, as we head into the straits of Juan De Fuca.  There is a gentle roll of ocean swell in the boat, so I head below to check on the bikes.  I tighten the ropes and readjust the chalks the bikes aren't going anywhere.  

It is a 2 hour ride across the straits the time goes quickly we have reservation at the Victoria on the Harbor Days Inn.  It is right across the street from the ferry terminal.  So we hop on the bikes drive off the ferry go through customs.  We check in close to midnight, it has been a long day.  We saw a lot today it was a good ride with lots of memories. 

It is a surreal feeling waking up in a foreign country especially next to a provincial capital building.  We spend the morning walking around Victoria taking a tour of the British Columbia capital building what an awesome site to see.   There is a small museum inside the capitol rotunda with exhibits on Queen Elizabeth's dedication and different indian displays.  I have said this before about visiting Canada there seems to be a internal order to things.  It feels a lot like europe.

After the morning walk its time to get on the bikes the next stop is the Barnes Harley Davidson of Victoria.  We start at the terminus of the trans canadian highway C-1.  It's about 20 minutes to the dealership.  We buy our usual shirts and were off.  We leave the Trans Canadian Highway for a short ride to Lake Cowichan for lunch.  There is a logging activity on this road and we initially planned to ride through the interior of Vancouver Island but the route I had planned road suddenly turned to dirt and gravel.  Would have been nice to have cross touring bikes.   So we turned around and  reroute ourselves to Nanaimo BC CA-1.  The ride up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island is spectacular.  We stop several times to take pictures.   

Once in Nanaimo we stay at the Best Western Dorchester downtown across from the Marina.  Nanaimo has a small but orderly downtown a great european feeling.  Before dinner we wandered into a local pub and I'm bombarded by questions about Donald Trump.  What can I say America has lost it's mind. They are very scared of him winning, him putting the world in great danger.  I try to put their minds at ease and say he won't win the general election.  From the looks of things he probably won't. We walk down to the Marina and have dinner at Trollers Fish and Chips Shack on the dock one of the better meals of the trip, seafood right off the boat. 

The next morning it's time to head back to Everett.  So we get up early and ride down to the Duke Point/Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.  This is terminal is about 20 miles from Nanaimo it will take us back to the Canadian Mainland just north of the US border. We meet some other bikers at the ferry terminal. They are on there way home to Alberta after finishing a ride through the western United States. It is another long ferry ride, but it is day time and the scenery is breathtaking.  

In the ferry store I met a lady whose husband and son were in Europe visiting a battlefield where there great Grandfather had been killed. Until 2018 is the 100th Anniversary of WWI. In Berlin Germany in 2014 we experienced a start of this event during a trip to the German National Museum. America's involvement in WWI although important was limited compared with the countries of the British Realm. Almost every family in United Kingdom and Canada was touched by this war. And they are in the process of remembering.  I remember meeting WW I veterans growing up, but they have since passed and are now part of history.

It is a beautiful sunny day the ferry doors open to reveal the crisp wind and sunshine of North America.  It is a quick ride on a narrow peninsula to the mainland.  It is about a 30 minute ride to the border and customs.  We cross the border quickly.  We lumber down I5 going through a mountain pass just after Bellingham.  I had forgotten about this little pass with its wide sweeping turns with fast up and down hills.  We stop in Burlington at the North Cascade Harley Davidson for more T-Shirts.  It's then a short blast back to Everett. 

This was a great trip, but one where we missed more things than we saw.  It's going to require a return trip.  Hopefully with an RV trailering motorcycle.  Spending a whole summer investigating, riding Vancouver Island and British Columbia.