Across Americas - Discovering the New World on a motorcycle

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AnjinSan, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    The notes are written more than 1 week ago, but the time to put them all together eluded me somehow. Now, it is time to start this. So... what is this all about?

    - 7 months away from work, a supportive wife who wants to come along, a motorcycle, a tent, 2 sleeping bags, some money set aside and a dream: to Travel into the New World, from East to West and then as far South we can make it! That is it. Simple.

    Fingers stop for a split second, before hitting the keyboard. Never thought the time to open a thread here would come. This is Advrider Ride Reports, the place where I've spent so many nights reading wonderful tales from far away corners of the Earth.
    And now, our flight departs in 4 hours. We am in Munich waiting for the connection flight to Montreal. Come with us and discover The New World along side two Romanians!


    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    OK, so I do have a few posts already lined up to catch up to speed since last week so the first 2 or 3 should come rather quickly :)



    … Did it ever happened to you, when you were little, to not being able to sleep before the beginning of a field trip? Or maybe a trip with the class? I was like that, back in the days.
    Now, even though I am not a young kid anymore, seems like the old habit came back in full speed. True, this “trip” will probably be a little bigger than my average out-with-the-class-trip from my youth days.But still, what is with all the ruckus? These are not just random worries, these are well rooted thoughts, all aligned and ready to pass thorough and not let me sleep.
    Most of them are general ones: will we make it? Will the trip be what we were hopping for? Will it be even better? But I also have very specific ones:
    Hmm OK, so first of all, do you have all the paperwork? Yes, checked. All the cables, charges, photo camera, action camera? Yeah, I got too many of those, some of them should have been left at home. Clothes? Yes, checked. And now, I am not going to check that again. GPS? Yes, I have a great GPS without any North or South America map loaded. Great… we’ll see how we solve that as well…
    Mmm but still, do you have all the paperwork ready and placed in the hand luggage? Yes. We’ve been past this already. Well when do you know if you’ve checked and double-checked enough? Probably, when you are stuck at a border crossing. Or when you return home without any problems.
    …
    It is 1:10 AM. In 2 hours I need to get up and I am still not even asleep. Andrea has decided that she will not even try to go to bed anymore. She is making the final preparations.
    [​IMG]
    …
    There is no need for the alarm to go off. Andreea wakes me up. Come on, it is 3:40 AM (yeah, Ante Meridian). Let’s go!
    I pull some clothes on me, going more on auto-pilot, and I feel like smiling. “Man, it is THAT day! That MOMENT, that you’ve been preparing for for more than 1 year”. And strangely enough, the “moment” seems to lack any greatness. What greatness could you find in waking at 3:40 AM to go to the airport and catch a Munich Flight. I’ve seen this “movie”. For more than 1 year I was doing the same thing, hurrying to the airport to hop on the Lufthansa flight to Munich with my corporate carry-on after me.
    Yeah, but you see, it is not the same thing. Now you have a motorcycle helmet on your shoulder, not a laptop rucksack, a motorcycle soft luggage instead of the carry-on Samsonite. And you are not wondering if you will be in time in the office but instead you are thinking how easy it would be to take your motorcycle from Canadian customs (I am afraid of this step).
    So yeah, it is not exactly the same. It is something different, something that I cannot fully comprehend yet. But now, my mind is not even concentrating on that. But rather it is fixed on the last few days. I am not at all a “soft” guy. Some would say even that I am quite the opposite. But I cannot help to think again and again at all the messages, all the smiles, all the help we received in our preparations. People from Canada, the US, Mexico, which we haven’t even met yet, encouraging us or offering a place to stay, or a piece of advice, or even wanting to come with us, at least for a part of the journey. All our friends back home, our family providing so much help and support!
    Yes, this is something else!
    …
    We are in the car, driving to the airport. Andreea is quiet. She is sleepy. But it is not only that. She is also a little bit nervous. For so many times she was in the same car, but only dropping me at the airport. This time we will not part at security. We will continue, together the journey.
    …
    We are on the hallway which takes us to the gateways. We left our family waving near security checkpoint. After months of preparations, we walk into the first real day of this journey. Side by side, two people, a little sleepy and a little nervous, but holding with confidence their motorcycle helmets in their hands. The helmets are the only things that differentiate us from the from the typical season crowds, fleeing to the sea-side.
    [​IMG]
    I do not know how our trip will unfold. I do not know if we will make it to the far South, or if we will reach our intended destination. But this is not even so important. We hope that we will enjoy it. And we hope that all of you will enjoy it with us!

    //Created in Munchen Airport, after 2 almost sleepless nights, while waiting for our flight to Montreal.
    #2
  3. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    After many hours spent in Lufthansa’s Airbus A330 with high speed air conditioning we land in Montreal. We are dizzy partly because of the AC and also because of the time zone changes. Welcome to Canada! Hmm let’s see how welcomed we are. We have to show some passports with visas on them first.
    Customs officers: Good day, what is the purpose of your travel in Canada and how long are you staying? (proudly pronouncing “Canada”)
    Me: We are tourists and we would like to visit your country by motorcycle for about 2 months.
    The guy gets curious (what, they didn’t come visit their relatives?). He carefully checks again our visa in passport. And again. He asks “What do you do for a living?” I answer: I’m an IT consultant with Accenture (long live the multinational company, probably known also in Canada). I almost answered for Andreea but I realized it might sound odd. So I try to encourage her visually. So my dear Andreea answers confidently “yeah… and I am working at some company in Romania”. Super! I was already imagining endless follow up questions to clarify her answer. Luckily, the customs officer was satisfied with the very vague answer. Stamps on the passports and that’s it, welcome in Canada.
    [​IMG]
    Catalin was waiting for as at arrivals wearing a T-Shirt with “Romania” just for easy recognition. And yes, we felt right at home during all our time spent in Montreal, and this was all because of the wonderful people we’ve met there. It is true though that “at home” had slightly taller buildings that we were used to…

    [​IMG]
    Next day, a new task was at hand: to take the motorcycle out of customs. That means several hours of zig-zaging to different offices. And one would think that the Customs Office for example (which checks and approves all the packages) would have it’s office somewhere in the airport (where all the planes land, right?). But no, the office is some 40 minutes ride with bus 209. Then you get off at a junction and continue on foot 10-15 minutes. Of course, with a car, the trip would have been much shorter. But riding the bus, I got the chance to see the beautiful houses in the neighborhood.
    [​IMG]
    The good thing about customs office being so far away from the warehouse is that the guys are nice enough and usually do not insist on coming back and check the package. The officer asked some basic questions and I got the blue stamp stating that I am allowed to take out the motorcycle.

    [​IMG] Ready to go! Only the mirrors missing!



    One funny thing was when I tried to find out from the customs officer if there is a better way to get back to the airport. And she says: “of course, it is very simple, you go to the end of the street and then, making a left, you will have the airport just in front of you”. “Oh, so you mean I can walk to the airport? “Of course not, but you are not with your car? Ooo then you will have to take a taxi…”
    Eh, or not. I fancy another ride with bus 209 through the neighborhood.
    At the end of the day, I had the opportunity to ride the first kilometers in Canada, from the airport to our hosts.
    We have to say that we felt, right at home in Montreal, and this is all due to our hosts, Catalin and Catalina, and Mihai and Cami
    From the next day we would be on the road, for the first time, together, on the motorcycle. Toronto, here we come!
    [​IMG]
    Stay tuned!
    #3
  4. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    It’s a little bit hard to part with our Montreal friends but a traveler must keep traveling and we miss riding Gunnar. So we load our bags. As we didn’t have time back home to test-fit all the “luggage”, we weren’t even sure how were we going to put everything on the motorcycle. In the end, we managed that, but then, after the first few meters, the only thought was “I took too much stuff. Again”. (sounds familiar?) This is a feeling that it seems I get at the beginning of every motorcycle trip.
    [​IMG] Garage doors open and we are ready to roll

    And we start rolling, me being careful on how Gunnar is handling with all the load, Andreea, with the GPS in her hands, being careful to navigate us towards Montreal outskirts .

    “Make a right here!” … or not as there are road works on that street. We make our way towards West. Between Montreal and Toronto there are around 500 km. We are set to make it all the way in one day so we choose the Highway, which for a motorcyclist is not the most passionate ride. But it is OK for the first day. I have time to adjust with handling Gunnar, Andreea finds her best place in the back sit and both of us, find ourselves at the beginning of a new journey! Yeah! We rock!
    [​IMG]

    Yes, maybe we rock but not as hard as others… As I am still getting used with riding in Canada, I do not want to go to fast. So the trucks are passing us promptly.
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    Not quite an American 18 wheeler but still, quite a sensation when one of these guys passes close by.
    We go on, Gunnar’s engine humz steady, the road is clear, the day is beautiful and slowly the feeling that we are “on the road again” sinks in. I am sure all of you know this feeling, at the beginning when you’ve just started a long journey. And you just dare to wonder, where the road will take you…
    But we cannot dream to long. New Continent, new country, new driving rules. So we pay attention! For example, in Canada the Highway speed limit is 100. And those are kilometers not miles! Yeap, just 100 and that’s that.
    They are even kind enough to remind you what could be the consequences if you are too fast:
    [​IMG]

    Mix the information in the picture above with the one in the picture below…
    [​IMG]

    … and suddenly 100 km/h is just all the speed you need [​IMG]
    Another odd thing for us, coming from Europe, is to see here campers trailing SUVs. In Europe you see SUVs trailing a small camper. Or a Camper having a bicycle or OK, maybe a motorcycle at the back. But this…
    [​IMG]

    We found out that this is a common habit here. You drive your camper where you want to…camp, and then you use the jeep to move around to buy stuff or to explore. Makes sense. But still, so different than in Europe!
    [​IMG]

    So, even though we were on the highway, the time passed fast for us and sooner than we thought we were in Toronto, where our hosts were George and Luiza.
    [​IMG]
    Next time we visit Niagara. Stay tuned!​
    Written in Silver Maple Campground, somewhere on Trans Canadian Highway 17.
    #4
  5. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Dear friends, today’s update will be short. We’ve been, like all good tourists should, to visit Niagara Falls. Back in Romania, when we were planning, we were not sure if we should go or not. A “small” detour of 150+ kilometers to see a crowded place, packed with tourists? Not necessarily the first thing we would do. But all our friends from Canada told us that we should definitely go. And so, we did!
    [​IMG]
    We reach the Niagara Falls (village?) and it’s like “in the movies”. Casinos, big commercials, lights everywhere… Nice! (I wonder how Las Vegas will be?)
    OK, let’s look for parking. First one we find, $15/hour. No thank you. Next one, which is even further away from the falls, surprise, $20/hour. Nice. Lets see if we can find the one with $25/h? We move on and next parking was $5/hour. yey, we take it. Good. Full stop, and threading back walking to the falls.
    [​IMG]
    Now, I realize that for all Americans and Canadians the site might not be so amazing. And to be honest we were also expecting NOT to be impressed. But, if you don’t take into consideration all the crowds, all the commercials, all the stands and “artificial” places, if you pass all that and manage to see the real thing, the falls, I think it is hard not to be impressed. We for sure were in owe with all the natural beauty.
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    Dear New World, two Romanians salute you!
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    Next, we will dodge the rain and finally head out to the “wild North”. Stay tuned!​
    Written from Chirstmas, Michigan, where our present from Santa was a wifi connection

    ... and that is it, now we are up to date. Tomorrow we will continue further North-West and back into Canada.
    #5
  6. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    On our return from Niagara Falls, we stop at a Romanian place, called “Campul Romanesc”. Here, a lot of Romanians living in Canada have been gathering for years, in special occasions.
    [​IMG]
    When we got there, Romanian Cultural Week event was in its last day. There were Romanian food and music, Romanian paintings and poetry and a lot of smiles and encouragements for us. Visiting the people there was a nice experience. We believe that they should be more encouraged in such activities that help depict a positive image of Romania and our traditions.
    [​IMG]
    Leaving Campul Romanesc, we have a nice surprise: our GPS is not powering up from the power slot installed on the bike. So it goes dead just as we were leaving the alley. So we are without directions, in a foreign small village away from Toronto. It is getting dark and we know only a street name where we need to go in Toronto. Cool. What one does in such situation? Well we asked for directions of course. So, several stops later, including a police car, we manage to find our way to the city. Also the light pollution helped quite a lot as we could see clearly on the sky the direction where the city was.
    Finally, we made it to the center and from there to our neighborhood.
    <dl id=""><dt>[​IMG]</dt></dl> Next day we were determined to continue our journey, but, until we gathered all our stuff and prepared the sidecases and the bags, the weather outside changed into this:
    [​IMG]
    Gerge told as we should stay for the downpour to end and if needed wait another day. How could you refuse such a generous offer, especially thinking that maybe soon enough, in Alaska, we will not have the option to stay inside when it might rain (it might, OK?)
    Come Monday and this time we are going. The sky is blue, the bags are on the bike, and the GPS has juice for about 4 hours. So at least we should be able to get out of Toronto quick, heading to the North of Ontario Province.
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    The landscape chances rapidly from urban to rural.
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    We almost ran out of gas as we were used to the gas stations frequency from the Montreal-Toronto highway. But here, the situation was a little bit different. We take an exit and after some minutes (which seemed like an eternity) we found a small place which had what we so much needed for Gunnar.
    [​IMG]

    We fill up and head out again. But unfortunately the weather chances again and we decide to head West towards the United States. Tomorrow we will cross the border, heading for Duluth Minnesota. But until then, we find a nice camping spot near one of the many lakes in the area.
    [​IMG]
    First night spend in the tent on our trip. Sleep tight!
    Distance from our last post: 423 kilometers
    Total trip distance: 1208 kilometers
    Written in Miami, with a view towards the train station.
    #6
  7. 2wheelherman

    2wheelherman 2wheelherman

    Joined:
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    Don't know where I am, but not lost.
    Subscribed.
    Love your pictures, and your attitude towards travel.
    Keep the posts coming, and ride safe.:clap
    #7
  8. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv.

    Joined:
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    Darnestown, MD
    Nice pictures and commentary, I hope you both enjoy a safe and awesome journey!


    .
    #8
  9. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Thank you guys for the nice words. Our "motto" for this ride is "Safe travels. Beautiful world". So we do hope to enjoy all the extraordinary things Americas have to offer, all in a safe and positive manner.
    You could check more details about our trip on our website, and the most up-to-date info about where we are now should be on FB

    And of course, we will try and keep this thread alive with the "stories+pics". Unfortunately we are a little bit behind with the story but I am trying to catch up. So...here's the next one:

    ---------
    The camping site where we&#8217;ve spent our last night did not had internet. But it did had a nice view to the lake, lot&#8217;s of trees and, electricity coming out of some of them So, here you go, a nice way to have &#8220;green&#8221; energy:
    [​IMG]
    Joke aside, I&#8217;ve heard though that Canada produces one of the cleanest energy in the world (a lot of hydro).​
    Being our first night camping, we found out in the morning how long it will take us to gather all things up. The answer: too long! Close to two hourse to pack everything and be ready to roll. But it was only the first night. We should be able to decrease this time&#8230;​
    So, of we go. Back on the main highway, and post signs start to pass by, nothing special. Road signs, comercials to this or to that, speed limits, don&#8217;t feed the bears sign, speed limit sign, next exit&#8230; Whhaaat? Rewind a little bit! What was that sign before? We do not need to turn around, the French version comes right away by us. Sounds more &#8220;poetic&#8221; in French, but still, the message is the same.​
    [​IMG]
    And speaking of food here, things seem to get &#8220;to the point&#8221; . The next shop was advertising the essentials: Food for you, food for your vehicle. That&#8217;s it. Take it and move on.

    [​IMG]

    Today we will try and cross into the United States. Which, for two nice and honest people, with valid visas, shouldn&#8217;t be a problem.​
    [​IMG]
    Waiting in line at the border crossing, Andreea takes the above foto. A guy in a pickup truck with Ontario license plate, tells us &#8220;you might want to put the camera away. They don&#8217;t like them too much&#8221;. OK&#8230; bye bye pictures with the customs officer (joking of course)​
    We end up waiting in the slowest queue and already have all kind of ideas about our agent and wondering what are the chances of &#8220;special checks&#8221;. And we do have to go inside for extra paperwork indeed but all goes OK. Typical questions about who we are, what are we doing there, where do we work (this time Andreea is much better [​IMG] )​
    Seems our answers (and our fingerprints&#8230;) are OK as we get to stamps in the passport and off you go, welcome to the &#8220;promise(d) land&#8221;.​
    And we are full speed in Minnesota. Firt funny thing: trying to determine if we are overspeeding or not. My speedometer is only in kilometers/hour (European style), and of course, all the road signs in the USA use imperial/miles system. To make matters even more interesting, as all VStrom users know, our speedometer is off by even a much as 10 km/h. So good luck with the &#8220;translations&#8221;. But not like there isn&#8217;t time for all the maths you would want. The road that we are on is like this:​
    [​IMG]
    So, for an European, the first amazing thing is how straight the road can be.​
    The second amazing thing is how many kilometers (sorry, miles0 of it (road) can be in such a way. Andreeas look says it all&#8230;​
    [​IMG]
    But, just in case you want some more, here you go, another one:​
    [​IMG]
    Even this kind of roads are nice though. You don&#8217;t have to accelerate, decelerate, chance gears or anything else. There is time for thoughts, while the engine hums constantly beneath you. It is a different kind of beauty. The one that maybe advocates more for a cruiser. But we go on with what we have.​
    When we reach the Southern shores of Lake Superior, with their twists and bends, it feels like Christmas. And, soon enough, what do you think? it WAS Christmas!​
    [​IMG]
    Would you pass the opportunity to stay in such a place, with a beautiful lake close by and gourges landscape? We sure didn&#8217;t want to. So the riding day ended for us with Chirstmas feelings!
    Written in a Manitoba farm, having by my side the map of Alaska. We are still so far away&#8230;
    Distance covered since the last post: 466 kilometers
    Total distance : 1674 kilometers
    #9
  10. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    We leave behind the Christmas admosphere and we continue Westwards, following the lake shores. We find launch place for boats and we take the opportunity to get closer to the waters
    [​IMG]
    From the picture one cannot really tell how big is Lake Superior but it is huge! We were riding along its Southern shores for 2 days now.​
    [​IMG] Walking the catwalk!

    With us, white clouds are traveling.
    [​IMG]
    In Duluth we were expected by Sandy and Ron, two americans, now retired, who live in a small and very nice house, together with a cat named Kitty and humming birds at the windows. Kitty would sure like to get its paws on the birds but it sure would be a hard job catching them. So better to relax and check the new comers.​
    [​IMG]
    Sandy has been to Romania multiple times (that’s how we’ve come to know her, via a common friend – thanks Alina!) and she says she loves our country. Knowing that we are coming she even prepared a Romanian dish, “ciorba”. Again we feel like home, even though so far away from it. Listen to Sandy speaking about Romania, about her travels and her plans, I wish I could record her and send the CD back home. Sandy and Ron, even if they are over 60, retired and having grand-grand children, could be for us, the younger ones, a very good example of optimism and joyful life.​
    [​IMG]
    So we decide to stay one more day in Duluth and check out the city. Duluth is a big port, one of the furthest from the ocean. Iron ore, coal, grains, corn and all other types of items are brought here by train from all over mainland USA and Canada. Then they are loaded on ships using modern docks and they are ready to be sent by sea all over the World. Now that’s global trading.​
    [​IMG]
    But our hosts made sure we will see other parts of the city, rather less industrial.​
    The Airlift bridge, said to be only two of the kind in the world (the other one is in France)​
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    Japanese garden on the top of the hill:​
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    The lake waters, just good for a bath:​
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    The empty gold beach:​
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    After one day of rest and relaxation it was time to move on. Not before having the picture in our national costumes and Lake Superior.​
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    If at Niagra Falls we were for sure blending in with all the colorful tourists, this time, I think we were quite a site for the drivers passing by!​
    Eh, but until Canada there is still a lot of ground to be covered. The road is long and yeah, you’ve guessed it! straight.​
    [​IMG]
    It is a distinct feeling when you stop at a junction like this. No sings, no markings, no telegraph posts. You cut the power and the engine becomes silent. As long as your eyes can see, there are only crops. In the heat of the sun, only the crickets are making noise, down in the grass. Seems like the hole blue sky is descending on Earth.​
    [​IMG]
    Not much time for poetry though. Time to move on. Straight on! (I think I’ll never get tired of these jokes)​
    [​IMG]
    Andreea was already sound asleep in the back and given the “trafic conditions” above, I allowed her to sleep. To pass the time, I started to pay attention to the odometer to see just how long can I go without using the steering. The answer? 62 kilometers. That’s not to bad. For curiosity I’ve searched where is the longest straight road in the world. Seems that Saudi Arabia has it with more than 260 km of “inline” tarmac. And not only there are no curves there is also no elevation change. So at night you could see the incoming traffic from miles away. Another candidate is just in the neighbor state, North Dakota. Highway 46 with 123 miles of “rightness”. So compared to those roads, I was a happy “slalom-er “​
    And not too long, another attraction comes by:​
    [​IMG]
    Uuuh we got to stop and see the biggest river in North America. Well, Tom Sawyers waters looked like this:​
    [​IMG]
    You wouldn’t say much about these small waters. But, by the time Mississippi reaches the Golf of Mexico some 4000+ kilometers to the South, it becomes the 4th longest river in the world and 10th largest.​
    We go on to another border crossing, this time without any pictures. Things went smooth enough (for 2 Europeans) and not long after we were set free to roam in Canada again.​
    But as evening was approaching we weren’t planning for much roaming during that day. So we started looking for a campground. And then, out of the sudden we found this place:​
    [​IMG]
    Well as we’ve been already in Christmas we took it as a good sign to stay for the night also in… Miami. Andreea was already preparing for the beach.​
    [​IMG]
    But as hard as we’ve looked for the ocean, we could not find it [​IMG] We found instead a nice campground (and cheap! 5$ for tent, clean showers, electricity and water)​
    We leave you with some nice images of Miami, Manitoba, Canada.​
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    “End of the line” for the day!​
    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    The first guy we meet after leaving Miami in the morning is Ira. Riding a big japoneze cruiser, he passes buy us and then stops a few miles ahead and waits for us. When I’ve noticed him I stop to ask if he is OK and he just says “Yes, I’m just waiting for you”.
    [​IMG]
    We spent a few minutes chating about how’s life there, what interesting rides are in the area, motorcycles (he would like to chance his motorcycle and is quite interested in the VStrom). Ira tells me that riding a Japanese cruiser is not always easy as for example the Harley Davidson crowd do not like other bikes and do not salute or help other bikes. I cannot believe that’s like this. I think that a nice rider is nice, regardless of what bike he has. At least we hope so! [​IMG]
    He takes us a picture and since we do not have so many of the two of us on the bike, here you go. Ready to roll in Manitoba. As you might notice, Andreea insists on displaying her tan, acquired on Miami beach…
    [​IMG]
    We continue and as today we had few miles to cover, we have the time to stop and check the scenery.
    [​IMG]

    Today we were going to stop at Bill’s. He is a motorcyclist and a fellow AdvRider. We actually made the first contact on advrider while I was asking some questions about the route. Since then we were just emailing eachother and now the time to finally come to meet.
    For the next 3 days we were his guests at his farm and got to meet his wonderful family and see how the lives goes there. I rode the tractor.
    [​IMG]
    We visited the Riding Mountain national park. Well Mountain is for the guys in Manitoba everything who is a little bit above the prairies level [​IMG] I do not think we got more than 900 m altitude but still the view was so wide and spectacular:​
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    Other details from our walk in the park:​
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    [​IMG] Follow me

    Since we arrived in Canada, we keep seeing all kind of wildlife. This is so different from Europe, where you usually do not see them roaming free. True, our first wildlife in Canada was in fact some roadkill on the highway between Montreal and Toronto (and no, no pictures of that! [​IMG] ) But then we got to see so many others, even in the cities. Some were (until now) to fast for us to snap a picture of (like the humming birds or the chipmunks). But others…
    If you look carefully in the next picture you may see a beaver
    [​IMG]

    And in the next one, you do not have to look very carefully to see a bear.
    [​IMG]
    Yeap, my first real bear seen in the wilderness. My friends know that I have a special “affinity” for bears. This time I was in the car though so it was quite fine. Plus, the little guy was not interested in us at all, he was too busy with his ants.
    [​IMG]
    Bill, Brenda and her daughter Lisa were such nice hosts and made us wanting to stay more. Sadly that was not quite possible as we had to move on.
    [​IMG]
    During our last evening there, I took the quad out for some shots in the farm.
    [​IMG] golden skies in the sunset

    [​IMG] just another day at the office


    [​IMG] sunset over the MurMak farm


    Thank you for everything! And see you on the road!
    Written in Saskatoon, while eating a Romanian dish!
    Next time, we will try to cover a lot of distance but instead we end up swing dancing in Saskatoon! Stay tuned!
    #11
  12. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    We thank again the Murrays for all their hospitality and we get ready to hit the road. Bill, who is riding a Vstrom as well, accompanies us with his bike until we reach the tarmac. “That way, we can say that we rode together!”
    [​IMG]
    I really hope that we will have the chance to continue our ride at some point.
    We part with Bill and point Gunnar Westwards towards Saskatchewan. From now on, we will be doing a lot of miles each day. Or so we thought.
    Right before leaving the farm, we received a message on CouchSurfing from Iulian, a fellow Romanian who was working in Saskatton. He read about us and he was inviting us to stay with him for a night. Right, let’s go!
    The scenery was already typical. Few curves, crops as far as your eyes could see, some water ponds.
    [​IMG]
    From time to time, we spot Orthodox churches, as a lot of Ukrainians live in this area.
    [​IMG]
    Long roads and few towns. We start meeting more and more of these double trucks. They wouldn’t be too handy in an urban environment, but here, on the open straight roads, they can roam at will.​
    [​IMG]
    The view is still very nice. I decide I like the prairies. At least during the summer.​
    [​IMG]
    It was evening already when we were approaching Saskatoon, in Saskatchewan province.​
    [​IMG]
    Shines and not so much as thick clouds were following us just as we were entering the city. We find the house of our hosts just before rain starts. Iulian from Romania, Chris from Ireland , Melisa from Australia and Mark from the Philippines, all work for the same company and they share a nice house close to the center. We feel from the beginning very good with them and it doesn’t takes us long to decide we should stay another day.​
    We catch up on some sleeping, we put things together in our luggage and in the evening we get out for a walk.​
    [​IMG]
    We also get the chance to meet two fellow motorcyclists who just half a year before did the same journey as we are thinking to do: down all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina. Meeting with them was a very nice opportunity to shed some light on some aspects.​
    [​IMG]
    We continue our walk and we rejoin our hosts, by the river for an open air free swing dancing lesson. Who might have guessed that? Here, in the middle of Canada, we will get the chance to learn some Swing? And why not? Let’s dance!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Some of our spectators are very inquisitive.​
    [​IMG]
    We mind our business though. Or should I say our dance?​
    [​IMG]
    The evening came to a close with dinner back in our house and Spanish songs played by Chris.​
    [​IMG]
    The next day, Iulian woke up at 5 AM just to prepare for us a traditional Romanian dish. “For the road”. What else could we say? Guys, you are great!​
    Our hosts left for work at 7:30 AM and we hurried to leave in the same time, this time determined to make good progress on the road and maybe even pass Edmonton?​
    Little did we know that we will not get very far, as we were to get pull over and stopped for the day, 100 kilometers before reaching Edmonton. We were going to spend our night in a totally different place than expected. But all of this, in the next post. Stay tuned!​
    Written from Grande Prairie, at Country Roads camping.
    #12
  13. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    As I was mentioning in the last post, we were very determined to make good progress the next day. So we leave the house at 7:30 in the morning but, after the gravel roads in Manitova, we needed to do two things before exiting Saskatoon: clean the bike and clean the chain. So first we look around for a car wash. Seems that here in Canada a lot of them are self service. So let’s go to work!
    [​IMG]
    Then we look for chain cleaner in 2 motorcycle stores. First one didn’t have it. In second one they didn’t know they had it. So by the time we are done with cleaning and lubing the chain it’s already 10. Good start for the day when we wanted to make a lot of miles.​
    We take the route to Edmonton and the scenery is similar with what we left behind 2 days ago: plains, crops, and some blue sky.​
    [​IMG]
    At some point last week Andreea made some add-ons for the moto suits, which was visible quite nice in the mirror.​
    [​IMG]
    When we left ther restaurant I decided to put on the winter gloves (yes, it was that cold) and I manage to forget to close the tankbag. So after a few meters on the highway, things start flying from the bike. It’s a divided two way so I can not turn back. So Andreea makes a run for it and manages to save my summer gloves.​
    [​IMG]
    We press on and, just 60 miles short of Edomonton something strange happens. We just pass an oil truck and the guy signals us. I presume he is just saying hi so I wave back. He signals again then pass me and makes gestures for me to pull over. OK… I wonder what that could be about? So I pull over. He does the same. It turns out this guy, Lucian, is a romanian living in Canada for 6 years now. He was so surprised seeing Romanian license plates that he had to stop us and ask what’s that all about.​
    We tell him our story and we take a picture together.​
    [​IMG]
    He ask where are we heading today. We respond that we planned to visit a small village called Boian, where Romanian settlers came in 1898. He says “I’m done for today with work. Follow me to my home, I’ll park my truck then I’ll take you to Boian”.
    So we do that, meet Lucian’s family and we end up going together to Boian.
    The story goes that Romanian settlers firt came here in 1989, when there was no Alberta yet but just Rupert’s Land. Canadian government gave them land (10$ for 160 acres) and they instead dried the marshlands and started agriculture work.
    [​IMG]
    We take another photo with our national costumes, in front of the old church.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    It was an unexpected end of the day. We were planning to go past Edmonton but we ended up 60 miles short, but with great company and with new friends.
    Thank you!
    Writen from within a mosquito swarm, somewhere on Alaska highway.
    #13
  14. duncanmac

    duncanmac Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I am enjoying your story, please keep it coming!

    Ride safe.
    #14
  15. Stroked 550

    Stroked 550 Dirt Nut

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    490
    Location:
    Outhere
    awesome ride report guys thanks for sharing :thumb
    #15
  16. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    57,519
    Location:
    Toronto
    Enjoying your perspective on the New World, thanks for the report and pics... bon voyage! :thumb
    #16
  17. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    We leave Lucian’s family quite late, not before having a look at the town’s mascot/symbol.
    [​IMG]
    Quite like home, isn’t it?
    We were thinking already at the road after Edmonton but we forgot that we still had like 60 miles until the city. It took us a while to get there and thus we decided to not stop and visit, fearing traffic jams. But the time we make up by avoiding the city center is lost trying to find a gas station at the outskirts of the city. Quite frustrating. But, hey, at least we found the cheapest gas from our trip so far. 1.089 $ Nice!
    [​IMG]
    Being a diesel car owner back home, I notice also that here the diesel fuel is cheaper than gas. Wow! That would be nice back home…
    Our aim for the next days was to reach the beginning of Alaska Highway, which was an astonishing display of engineering back when it was build. And which is said to be an astonishing road to ride on, now.
    We press on towards West, Nord-West. I am not going to show you another prairie typical picture. OK, maybe just another one, as I love this scenery so much.
    [​IMG] House with the view towards the sunset!

    The road remains wide and straight but somehow you do not have time to get bored while riding. There is always something new to look at. If nothing else then for sure road signs should bring something new (at least for an European). For example here you go, I can test my odometer.
    [​IMG]
    I’ve seen similar sign like the one below in Norway:​
    [​IMG]
    In Norway though we’ve never seen a real moose. And so far neither during this trip. We’ve heard that you should ride either early in the morning or late in the evening. Well, we kind of have a rule not to drive in the night, and as for the morning…. hmm some of us are not known to be early birds… [​IMG]
    And speaking of sleeping, during this part of the trip Andreea started to have afternoon sleeps on the bike. Given the straight roads, I decided to let her have her naps. I was even feeling sorry that she did not had a nice spot to rest her head. She kept trying to put her helmet on mine but round on round is not very stable.​
    But, as a consequence, the number of pictures on this part of the road is somehow reduced.​
    How could you not be sleeping riding as pillion on this kind of scenery? [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    You take a look from the top of the hill and then, you can sleep in the back until we reach the next top of the hill.​
    Funny thing was that on one of these nips, Andreea woke up with the road transforming from the picture above to this:​
    [​IMG]
    The round-town road was not yet finished. So we had some gravel “fun” until not long after, we reached the tarmac again.​
    We start also to feel that we are in a high touristic area. Long gone were the camping sites from Miami with 5$/night (showers, power and water included). Now, for 26$/night, you got a dry spot. If you wanted extra luxury, like having a shower, you payed extra, you tourist! But I do not want to judge these people. I realize that they have just a small window during summer when they can have income from tourism. So I can not imagine how life is there after this window passes. But still, it would be nice not to feel like a cash – milk-cow.​
    Oh well, at least the spot was nice.

    [​IMG]
    We smile when we see a small airplane who stays with us for a while. Must be super good to be up there on a clear day!​
    [​IMG]
    At the end of the next day we reach Dawson Creek, where the construction of Alaska Highway started more than half of century ago.​
    [​IMG]
    From now the prairie are a thing of the past. The mountains were close. We almost could feel them. And we’ve traveled from so far to reach them, all the way from Montreal.​
    Next time we will see if Gunnar still knows how to handle curvy roads. Until then, we wish you an excellent day!​
    [​IMG]
    Written from Whitehorse, with cheese-pie by my side. Happiness!
    #17
  18. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    232
    Location:
    Bucharest
    Alaska Highway is a pretty pretentious name for an European, who is still way in Canada, at mile 0, more than 1000 kilometers from Alaska. But I am soon to find out that the naming is not just marketing and tourist traps. In fact it has very little to do with that, the road fully deserves it’s name.
    [​IMG]
    Alaska Highway was build by the Americans during the WWII in a record time of 8 months. And we are talking about more than 1500 miles of road, crossing some very harsh terrain and weather. I personally think that this must be one of the greatest feats of engineering. But why did the do it? Well, the answer was simple. Fear. Hmm OK, a more polite answer would be “military strategic decision”. But still the fact was that they were afraid of an Nippon invasion of Alaska. And Alaska was not linked to the lower 48 states. So, what was not possible during 20 years of peace time (the idea initially originated in the 1920ies) was possible in just 8 months by the effort of more than 10 000 men.
    [​IMG]
    Another interesting thing I found was that the Canadian Government didn’t pitched in with funds or manpower at that time. The only help it provided was granting Americans the right to build on Canadian soil, as long as the Canadian part of the road will become theirs after the war. And the majority of the highway is on Canadian soil…
    [​IMG]
    Even though the Alaskan part was paved since 1960, the road was completely paved only in 1992. So now it is practicable by any kind of vehicle.
    But enough “wikipedia style” info! We are here to enjoy the road and the views. And indeed we are… Mountains in the background Yey!! And that feeling of wilderness. It is something that you cannot really experience in much of crowded, overpopulated Europe. But here, we have it with us for some days now. Every where you look, just forests. Some of them probably never walked by man.
    [​IMG]
    The weather smiles on us. We have blue skies and some white clouds here and there.
    [​IMG]
    “Be careful, things change fast in the great North-West” a friend told us. And we were soon to experience it first hand. In case you were wondering how is it for us, here is the “movie” named “here comes the rain while riding a motorcycle”.​
    Somewhere in a corner, a little “problem” appears.​
    [​IMG] Hmm, maybe it will go away. Or maybe we will change direction and get past it?

    Oh, it is clear, nothing will change, we are heading straight for it!
    [​IMG] Emergency stop!!

    Time for rain gear to come on:​
    [​IMG] I am peaceful. Honestly!

    And we are ready to proceed!​
    [​IMG] Gunnar is good to go!

    The visibility is reduced and the road is slippery. So we proceed with caution.​
    [​IMG] Last picture before tucking the camera away from rain

    We are not the only ones who “suffer”.​
    [​IMG] In the rain and uphill. Uhhh…

    And no matter how hard it pours, never lose hope and be on the look out for that breakout​
    [​IMG] Iuhuuu!

    Not after long, the rain is just a memory. The road is dry, the sky shines with blue and I am only to twist the right wrist and the engine growls beneath me, accelerating happily. Ah, how I love the V2 engine.
    [​IMG]
    But let’s not get carried away. The road changes as quickly as the weather. From the straight lines above to something with a.. twist.
    [​IMG]
    Andreea giggles in her helmet: “What happened with them? The road is not straight! I guess the Americans leased this part to the Europeans to construct!” !​
    We would find out that in fact the road was made intentionally so twisty so that it would be harder to bomb. I am still and idealist and believe that it was made like that so it will embrace the environment!​
    [​IMG]
    We also meet the Northern Rockies!​
    [​IMG]
    And lakes with blue waters​
    [​IMG]
    So blue that some of us are considering taking a bath​
    [​IMG]
    And quickly chance their mind after testing the water temperature​
    [​IMG]
    Whit our bathing suits still not used, we move on and check the signs.​
    [​IMG]
    Hmm let’s see, what do we have here? “Curvy road ahead” OK, this we like. Then there is the “maximum height 5.2 m”. No problem, Gunnar is not that tall. Oh and what is this sign in the foreground? I know, for sure it means “Motorcyclists dancing samba ahead”!​
    And samba we danced on the iron floor of this bridge. At lest it was not wet.​
    [​IMG]
    Eh, but this story is getting lengthy and we should stop soon. So we fire up our mp3 player with one of the songs suggested on the Music Box, and we ride on, until next time!​
    [​IMG]
    Next time we get to see a “Signs forest”, we meet all kinds of wildlife and we reach Whitehorse. Stay tuned!​
    Written from Gulliver’s Bookstore, surrounded by books and chocolate.
    The route covered during this post is from Dawson Creek to Watson Lake:​
    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. TemeculaRider

    TemeculaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    565
    Location:
    La Paz, Baja California Sur
    Enjoying every word of the report and pictures. Thanks so much for taking the time to share. :freaky
    #19
  20. Festina_lente

    Festina_lente Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    14
    Fantastic report!
    #20