California to Saskatchewan - route/site rec's?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by GypsyWriter, Mar 17, 2010.

  1. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

    Joined:
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    Visalia CA
    Howdy folks. This last summer my sister married a Canadian, then proceeded to move her skinny California butt up there in the middle of winter. While we were never what you'd call close, I love her and want to visit her. Plus, hey, Canada - never been there before, figure I might as well go by motorcycle eh? :evil

    Anyway: I have a week off in August and if my work'll let me have the week preceding/proceeding off as well then I'm going. According to Google Maps it's about 1800 miles one-way from Hanford CA to Lloydminster Saskatchewan; obviously I'm not doing that in one long jaunt, but was hoping to divide it up into 3-4 days. The quickest way seems to take I-5 north, cut across to Spokane WA, north to Calgary then Edmonton, and east to Lloydminster. It seems I'm to go through Banff National Forest that direction; I've heard of it but know little about it. Anything I should hit up that direction, both in the US and Canada? I'm not set on any one route, although I'd like to try to keep the trip within my 2-week limit (16 days, roughly, Saturday to next-next Monday), but I'm more interested in the journey.

    Also, what would I need to get into Canada? I have my passport already, that's a given, but to merely visit do I need any particular paperwork? I'll admit this is my first motorcycle foray across borders and I don't want to go all that distance and get turned away (would make for an interesting RR but, yeah, not quite my cup o' tea).

    Really, any advice would be much appreciated. It's still up in the air as work won't let me know until closer to the date if I can get an additional week off, but is the time limit (2 weeks) feasible? I'd love to camp, anywhere good along that route?

    :freaky
    #1
  2. Back Tire Brad

    Back Tire Brad Dryden rider

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    We were through Yellowstone and Glacier national Park last fall (september), if possible I would catch it on the way up or on the return trip home. The scenery in the parks was amazing and the roads where great (hills & corners) you would cross the border just south of Lethbridge Alberta.

    As for documents at the border all we needed was a passport and a smile.
    #2
  3. TripodTriple

    TripodTriple Adventurer

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    Wild Rose Country
    Sounds like quite an adventure Sarah. Have been down to your area around Tulare. It's just right in the winter, but tooo hot in summer for me anyway. Did a ride from Alberta to CA in the 90's, to see Russell Day Long at Fall River Mills.
    Any way about your ride. You think maybe I5 and to Spokane. That's ok if you want to run 75 or 80 on the slab. You don't get to see much IMHO. Expressway ridin is just like that. So here is the route I would take.

    I5 north to Redding, Hwy 299 east to Alturas. All nice road and a few nice twisties. Then north on 395 right up into Oregon.

    You hit Hwy 20, 27 mi. east of Burns, OR. Go east on 20 through Burns to Ontario (114mi). At Ontario find Hwy 95 northbound and go into Idaho.

    Follow 95 north to Grangeville, ID and then take Hwy 13 to Kooskia. Use caution in that area. It's absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. The road is a series of tight bends and switchbacks, while dropping into the valley floor. Not many miles of it, but beautiful.

    At Kooskia you head east on Hwy 12, over the famed Lolo Pass. This is a section of the historical Lewis and Clark trail and it winds beautifully along the river. The pass as far as passes go, is not too spectacular and an easy ride. BTW the Lolo has been written about in various bike mags.
    A lot of this road was being re-surfaced last summer and there were delays. We rode it in Aug. Should be some nice smooth ridin this year.

    After you go over the top and start to drop into Montana, you will hit Hwy 93 just south of Missoula, MT. Turn left and proceed north to the city of Missoula. Keep following the signs for 93North and head for Kalispell. This will take you through the Flathead valley and along the lake, which is very beautiful.

    At Kalispell go east on Hwy 2 toward Glacier Nat'l Park. Take the turn off for the "Going To The Sun Hwy." and Logan Pass. Now this is what I call a pass! What can be said about this piece of heaven? Seeing is believing. Continue over the pass and drop down to Hwy 89. Turn left and proceed north to the international boundary at Carway, AB.

    Look the customs officer in the eye, smile brightly and say goodmorning/afternoon. Have your passport read in the breast pocket of your ridin jacket. Present it and answer all questions truthfully. Answer only his/her questions and do not voluntarily run on about anything.
    Should be quick and easy, providing you have no weapons or a criminal record. So welcome to Canada!

    Follow Hwy 2 to Cardston, AB and turn east on Hwy 5 to Lethbridge. At Lethbridge, AB turn east on Hwy 3. Go east to Taber and turn north on Hwy 36. Continue north on 36 to Viking. Find the sign for secondary road
    #619 and go east. Stay on 619 until you hit Hwy 17. Turn left (north) and go about 6-8 miles and voila Lloydminster!

    Find sisters place, hugs, kisses, wobbly pops, etc. :feelgood :freaky Oh forgot, soak well travelled California butt in the tub:D

    I can honestly say that I have rode all of the road that I laid out. Other than 95 in Idaho between Ontario and Cambridge (50 mi.). It's all good and all beautiful. So that's one option for you. Not sure of mileage this vs the slab up and over, like you mentioned. Doubt that the time take would be a lot different. There again, depends how you ride.

    Two weeks will do it. Four long days up, five would be better for seeing some sights. Don't know what you are ridin, or how you like to travel.
    Assume being Californian you can handle heat. Lots of water. Oregon/Idaho is pretty much high desert and hot. Being a northerner I usually start at first light and run hard while it's cool. Always be on the lookout for animals, particularily dawn and dusk. Do not recommend night driving if possible.

    Pack a rain suit and enough layers to add if needed. I have an electric vest for my comfort. Prep the bike thoroughly. Install new tires or have fairly new rubber when you leave. You can round trip this with one set, if they are good/new when you leave. Monitor tire pressures and fluid levels religiously.

    Camping? It's everywhere, avoid it in Glacier, unless you want to feed the bears. A room is nice every couple of days. Don't forget cash and plastic. Need cold drinks at days end:wink:

    I've about run out of advice. Do know lots of other roads home though.
    If you go through Red Deer, AB get ahold of us. Coffees always on.

    Enjoy your planning and good luck on making it happen. Ride safe.
    #3
  4. Commuter Boy

    Commuter Boy Long timer

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    There's lots more enjoyable routes than the slab through NorCal, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, but they'll cost you in time. Try and manage an off slab route on at least one leg of your trip. I-90 is tolerable for slab along a good part of it's route, as is I-5 over the Siskiyous between NorCal and Oregon. The rest of it's tedious.

    Glacier NP is worth seeing, as are Banff and Jasper. In BC the Okanagan and the Kootenies have some of the best riding in North America.

    Get the some Destinations Highways books for Washington and BC to help with routing.

    As to crossing the border, a passport, a clean criminal record, and the wherewithal to support yourself while you go visit is usually all you need. Be careful as some offenses that are minor in the US are the equivalent of felonies in Canada, such as DUI. Customs have access to all of your records, including juvenile records that are sealed to other law enforcement.

    Have a great trip!
    #4
  5. pearlblue1800

    pearlblue1800 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2009
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    Location:
    Kelowna B.C.
    Here is an easy idea, avoiding the interstates, but able to see some nice country at the same time.
    Get onto Hwy #97 at Weed Cal.
    Ride it northward. Detouring to see Crater Lake, Ore.
    Cross into British Columbia at Osoyoos.
    Continue n/b on Hwy #97 to the 'T' intersection at the TransCanada Hwy (hwy #1) Then east on Hwy #1 to Hwy #93 just east of the BC/Ab. border.
    This is aptly named the "Icefields Parkway".
    Again continue n/b on it till Jasper Ab. ('T' intersection)
    Then east on Hwy #16. Through Edmonton, and on towards LLoydminster.
    Four well maintained highways, that are not 'interstate style'.
    I would suggest that you have your camera fully prepared for some rather spectacular scenery.
    Your route is by far the "quickest".
    HOWEVER the ride north from the Ab./Mont. border in Hwy #2 is less than scenic. Four lane divided highway!
    Can you say non eventful, flat prairie ride. Especially the stretch from Calgary to Edmonton, because that part of the roadway is also straight!!!
    You likely would enjoy visiting the dentist more, by choosing to take your contimplated route.
    #5
  6. mpanther

    mpanther KotW - Just Ride!

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    Well, the best route is through Las Vegas, of course.:evil

    But that is just cause I would like to see/ride with you again.:D

    I would do everything to stay off the slab in Cali. north cal I5 is the bad for expantion joints. *Thum-thump.....Thum-thump.....Thum-thump...."
    about Two a second at higher speeds.

    Even I5 to I90 and over is pretty good scenery, if you have never done it before. but I would only do that if I HAD to to make the time.

    IMHO, any road you haven't been on yet has something to offer. but interstates have the least.

    I know your GL500sw can make the trip. and if you have the Bridgestone S11's we talked about on it, you should have Plenty of wear left if you haven't got more than 2k miles on the rear at the start.
    (I replace fronts every two rears, and they never Need it.)

    Have you got your seat redone yet? I would before the trip.
    Or I can loan you mine again. I have a spare now. but we will spend $40 in shipping for that if you don't come through here. so....

    How is your seat time doing? you are going to want to be able to do 4 tanks in a row, with two 15 min gas stops and one 60 min meal/gas stop. every day. this will give you the extra time to find a place to sleep, food, stop early due to long gas stop gaps in-route, see cool side stuff.
    or deal with a tire or other issue without blowing your trip.

    oh, and try and pack lighter this time. :rofl

    It's hard... but worth it. if you can.
    (I personally Suck at this part. I am Always Way over loaded.:huh)

    If you can find reliable gas every 120 miles average, and run 60mph average while traveling, with the 15/60/15 stop plan, you can travel 1900 miles in four day and be on the road 9 hours a day with stops.

    So every time you make it to 140/160 before gas or cruise at 65 or higher, you get more down time.

    I think doing it in 14 days is Very easy. in 9 would be a bit hard to see much. (using the above min travel stamina)
    If you can do more miles in a day or ride faster/go farther with out gas/break-time it becomes more likely.

    Best of luck Sarah.
    I'll be looking for the RR.
    #6
  7. lil red bird

    lil red bird Adventurer

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    Do not bring mace/pepper spray or firearms over the boarder they get get real crusty about it.
    #7
  8. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Hi sarahp: Besides your passport, you may also need something from your motorcycle insurance company. Check with your insurance company and tell them you are traveling into Canada. They will supply you with a form to carry with you on your trip.
    #8
  9. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
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    1,753
    Location:
    Visalia CA
    So it's confirmed, I officially have two weeks free in August. Trip time is coming up quick and I'm really looking forward to it. I was Googling Slowpoke's route and that looks great - I worry about longer distances between gas stops in some of the more desolate areas though, my fuel tank gets MAX 200 miles but I usually like filling up around 120. Hopefully there's more small towns along the way than the maps list. :ear

    Good idea about the motorcycle insurance. I have all my paperwork but I'll check if there's an "international" rate or coverage, at least for that month/two weeks.

    Any other advice for a relative n00b crossing the border on two wheels? As for right now my ride is still the same 81 GL500 I used last year; it's in great shape and I'm religious about maintenance (probably go a bit overboard in how often I change things but better safe than sorry in my books), but it's still 30 years old so of course I worry. My Dude wants to come too but he doesn't really have a long distance bike so may end up taking one of our Mavericks (probably my 73 which we're rebuilding at the moment). We'll see though, I have no problems solo-ing this trip.

    Looking forward to it, as is my sister and her husband! I'm budgeting 4-5 days for each leg of the trip; cutting it a tad close perhaps on return time (giving myself 1-2 days leeway at the end before having to be back at work) but that's just part of the adventure right?
    #9
  10. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    Moscow, Idaho
    August will be hot. The coast route can be cool but time consuming. Time to head for the mountains.

    I have done most if not all the main roads north and south. My favorite is hwy 93. From Vegas all the way north to Glacier Park. Cross the mountains thru the park and continue north to Calgary.

    Much of 93 is the quintessential "long lonely road". Speed limits are mostly 65 and much of it has no traffic. I can ride as long as I want in a relaxed state.

    Keep an eye on the gas. I have 150 range and have always made it.

    A variation would be to head west on 50 at Ely then north at Eureka all the way to Mt Home, ID. Then west toward Boise and north on 21 to 75 to 93. This is a jog into high ranch lands then the best cycle road across Idaho. Curvy and outstanding scenery. Probably cost you an extra 3-4 hrs.

    This is a main road thru ID and MT but still low traffic anywhere but at cities.

    Motels and food at Caliente, Eureka, Arco, Challis, Salmon and the obvious towns.

    The border crossing is all business. Helmet off. Yes sir, no sir. Don't volunteer info. These guys can ruin your trip. I have crossed many times and have had no problems. If the border is busy, I ask permission to pull off to the side and get organised and helmet back on.



    Are both suitcases painted? Have a good ride.
    #10
  11. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

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    Location:
    Visalia CA
    I have a friend (actually a couple of friends now) in Vegas that I'd be tickled to see; could be fun to go that direction. Perhaps on my way back; I don't want to do the same route both ways.

    LMAO! No not yet! I broke down and bought a can of spray on bedliner just to give it something, but it's still sitting in the shop. They're still the same multi-color they were last year; with the way I get around to things I'd be willing to bet they'll still be like that in August. :D
    #11
  12. mpanther

    mpanther KotW - Just Ride!

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    On your bike, I would hardwire the three yellow wires from the alternator.
    Use Good crimps or go to Carquest and get connectors like these to wire in place of your old connector:

    http://www.easternbeaver.com/Main/Elec__Products/Connectors/Sealed/MetriPack280/metripack280.html

    You want the one at the bottom, and you need the terminals and seals too.
    (I buy a couple extra of each encase I mess up a connection.)
    Or just order from Eastern beaver, a week or so from Japan.
    I was Very happy with my order.

    I think most stators fail on our bikes due to a bad connector.
    #12
  13. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

    Joined:
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    Visalia CA
    So time is approaching rapidly for my trip and I'm getting more and more excited with each passing week. I have a few loose ends to tie up but can happily say that my steed of choice is going to be my shiny new 2008 Weestrom. :D In the 3 weeks I've had it I've put over 2k and hope to continue that trend.

    I still haven't chosen a route yet, as there's so much I want to see and so little time. :cry The coastal route (PCH-1-101) is a contender despite giving me another day or so of travel, but we shall see. Still a lot to do and get supplies-wise, plus this time I want to test it all out ahead of time. Better gear is high on my list too which needs to be broken in by august...

    :clap :clap I'm going to Canada!!!
    #13
  14. mpanther

    mpanther KotW - Just Ride!

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    Woot!:clap

    So, you still wanting Motoport Kevlar?
    You might call Wayne and find out what their lead time is right now.
    it can get up to 12 weeks, but I have read it can be as low as 6, so...

    Also, you don't have to pay all of it up front to get in line, just a deposit.
    So even if you aren't sure exactly what you want for pockets, colors or mods you can still get on the list. you just need to have the money to pay for it when they Start it. they will call you and let you know when.

    At least that is what I was reading last spring.
    #14
  15. Plane Dr

    Plane Dr Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    North TX Metromess
    This route gets my vote.

    The Icefields Parkaway is refered to commonly as the Bow Valley Parkway. It's also a small toll now. Make sure you have gear these high elevations get cool in summer. 40's overnight (hence there's still a Glacier albeit smaller now). I got snowed on at Rogers pass, highway #1 summit, one miserable trip in August (no proper gear, race bike (it was August!)).

    This is the end of June at the Rogers summit. (teaser Note PANTS)

    [​IMG]

    I would avoid Lethbridge/Taber like the plague. Unless less you like bald ass prairie roads.

    I am headed Sante Fe to Wa through Osoyoos to Penticton (inlaws) Kamloops, Jasper, Bow Valley to Saskatchewan River Crossing east to Rocky Mtn House (cousins), South to Calgary (parents) then highway 89 (?) to get home quickly.
    #15
  16. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

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    Visalia CA
    I actually emailed this weekend and got just that reply, with a wait time of 6-7 weeks (I'd have to look to see which). So far I just want the pants - probably the overpants (with liner) - but am waiting to sell my GL to pay for it. At the rate that's going though I probably won't have it sold before I leave on my trip *sigh*. the jacket may be an eventual purchase but for now I have two jackets and no pants, and money is tight. I also wanted new boots, an RF-1100 helmet, SPOT and various camping gear but again, tight, money, *sigh*, etc.

    My budget for this trip is $1,000 but I seem to be having a hard time holding on to the dough (mostly because the effing machine shop for my 302 engine is charging me an arm and a leg!). I also need new tires on the bike which may not wait for August. So we'll see! I'm planning a lot more for this trip than my last one (not that I'm at all organized mind you :lol3) but it's creating an outlay of money I need to curtail a bit.

    Glad I'm just in the planning stages still! :D
    #16
  17. Pshrynk

    Pshrynk Adventurer

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    Apr 12, 2008
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    So you're coming up here to knock some sense into her and then drag her back? It's 9 C 48 F here in Calgary today with a driving rain :cry
    #17
  18. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

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    Visalia CA
    Lmfao!!! No, that would be my mother's idea for my trip. :lol3 As much as she adores my BIL she's not too keen on her daughter migrating to the frozen north. ;)
    #18
  19. Pshrynk

    Pshrynk Adventurer

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    The poor, poor girl can't help it though.

    Us Canadian men are THAT good :evil
    #19