Edmonton, AB to Muskoka, ON (and QC): Stogies and Scotch across North America

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Pray4Snow, Nov 26, 2011.

  1. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Prologue:
    Setting: Snowbound northern Alberta, December 2010. The Edmonton Brass-Monkey Castrati Choir has a waiting list. Our hero, Pray4Snow, is living vicariously by scanning the ride reports of others in more temperate locales on ADVRider.com. Even tales of the not-so-exotic adventures of snowbirds in AZ is better than suiting-up and starting the 20:00 sidewalk shoveling. The room is dark, except for the glow from P4S's computer screen, and silent, except for the sound of drool cascading to the desk.
    Mrs P4S enters the hovel, and wants to talk about the bi-annual pilgrimage to the in-laws place in northern Ontario. After feigning interest through a few minutes of one-sided "discussion" about flights, day-trips, P4S's grunting must not have had quite the right note of insincerity, causing Mrs P4S to say "or you could just ride out there and meet us at the cottage".
    <insert sound of a phonograph needle scratching across an lp>
    As Mrs P4S exits the room, still nattering away about flights and family reunions, P4S just sits there, no outward sign that he heard what she said, apart from a slight diminishing in the amount of drool. Ten seconds pass. Then twenty. Then thirty. Then with the dexterity of a concert pianist, he closes the web-browser, then the three windows of porn that were hidden beneath the web browser, and opens Garmin Map Source to start to plan a route.
    End Prologue.

    So this was going to end up being a bit different of a trip than previous ones. Way more miles than before. And travelling solo. Not that I was worried about travelling alone (Santa brought me a SPOT2), but in retrospect I wasn't really prepared for the difference it made in the whole "travel experience". It was nice to stop and start during the day without having to worry about anybody else, but it made the "after-riding" part of travelling much different. I ended up doing much longer days ... no point pulling over at dinner-time when you've got another 3 hours of daylight, and nobody to drink with around a campfire. And without a travelling companion, all the pics are either of the bike, the tent, or whatever tourist trap I've stopped at. In retrospect I wish I'd stopped and taken more pics ... VERY thin on the photographic evidence ... especially on the way home (west). My journaling got better, almost to the point of anal-retentive. And with nobody to shoot the shit with at night, suddenly tracking milage and fuel-economy became disproportionately important.
    The "adventure" aspect isn't much compared to most of the other rides posted here, and I didn't stop to take nearly enough pics, but just in case anybody's looking for a route, I thought I'd post it anyway.
    So here's the travelogue.
    P4S


    Big Trip 2011
    Edmonton, AB to Dickie Lake, ON, return.
    Eastward through Canada (north of the Great Lakes);
    Westward through the US (south of the Great Lakes)

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    Initial odometer reading: 6,164 km
    Day 1: Edmonton, AB to Maymont SK (454km)

    • Left Edmonton at around 11:44. Made great time ... got farther than I expected, although my milage suffered. Made it to Lloydminster on fumes (only 270 km on that first tank of fuel).
    • Rained off and on around Vermillion, AB. Temps ranged from 21-25 C, but dipped to 18C during the rain. Windy as shit from Lloyd to the Battlefords.
    • Stopped for the night at a campground just outside of Maymont, SK around 5pm (could have kept going, but the AMA Camping Guide showed sweet F-A until the other side of Saskatoon). In retrospect, I should have pushed on to Hammy's place, but didn't think of it until that night. It's light so late and the camping sucks (bugs were brutal) ... should really keep travelling until 7pm or later. Will have to see where this plan gets me tomorrow. If I push on tomorrow (farther than planned) then I'll have a VERY short day on Saturday (arrival in Kenora). Maymont to Kenora is 1100km so too far to bother pushing in one day. Neepawa is 687km ... would leave only 400km to Kenora on Sat morning ... would get me there early-mid afternoon.
    • Campground was overpriced for tenting, and no shitters that I could find. No public water that I could find ... had to ask the lady at the concession for water.
    • Ended up going to the Maymont Hotel (a bit of a shithole) for dinner to escape the bugs. Food sucked (cheeseburger was like a cheap picnic burger ... and a bit burnt), but the beer was cold and the whole thing was under $20. And more importantly, air-conditioning and refuge from the g-d bugs.
    • Rode down to the river after dinner ... looks bank-full, but lots of exposed sediment ... must have been REALLY high not that long ago.
    • Tunes today: "Ride" playlist (PM me if you're interested)
    • Evening libation: Glenfarclas 10 year
    • Stick: Macanudo Madura
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  2. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Day 2: Maymont, SK to Portage, MB (834km)
    • Broke camp early and rode to Saskatoon. Good breeze this morning … helped keep the bugs down while I packed up.
    • Had breaky at Timmy’s on the west side of Saskatoon. Met a guy who recognized the ADV Rider sticker on the pannier. He and three buddies have KLRs and are planning a trip to South America. (Editors note: This turned out to be Patrick from the ‘Simply Living on a KLR’ thread ….
    • Had lunch in Yorkton, SK at Wendy’s (yuck, but didn’t feel like stopping for long or looking for anything off the highway.
    • Russell, MB – the gas station not only didn’t have pay-at-the-pump, but no mid-grade or premium fuel (those buttons on the pump said ‘not available’).
    • Pulled into Portage, MB (Miller’s RV Resort … just east of town) around 7pm. Campground was pretty full, but got a spot relatively near the facilities. Bugs were fine … when I asked the check-in lady, she said they fog regularly.
    • Decent cell coverage here (lots of bars), but apparently my phone isn'’t compatible with the MTS network.
    • Tobaccy: pipe with 2 parts Executive Blend with 1 part Thrilla Vanilla.
    • Dinner: freeze-dried beef teriyaki with rice.
    • Tunes toady: “The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-1987” – Rush; “Any Port in a Storm” – The Dirty Heads; “Yours Truly” – Sublime with Rome; “Double Live” – The Rheostatics.
    • Evening Libation: The Glenlivet 12year
    • Stick: Montecristo No.4
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  3. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Day 3: Portage to Kenora, ON (300 km)

    • I think I was on the road by 8am local time, but I’'m not sure where the time zone boundary was, and since MTS wouldn’'t recognize my phone I couldn’'t check the time. No phone, no email, no twitter.
    • After leaving the campground, I went back to the west side of Portage to get pictures of the Portage Diversion. Was FULL!!
    • Had breaky at the Flying J, back by the campground on the east side of town. Met a couple of guys of Beemers … both in their 60'’s. One tall guy on a 1200GS … fully kitted out … Touratech tank, etc. Other guy on an ST. Travelling light … not camping. On their way to Nova Scotia (GS was from Washington state, ST was from Colorado).
    • Got to talking with an old guy at the restaurant. He said the flood peak that caused all the flooding at Souris was due to hit Portage by Sun/Mon.
    • The Red River at Winnipeg was FULL (nowhere to stop for pics) but Winnipeg Diversion was almost empty …... not sure what they’re waiting for before they open the gates. When I was stopped for pics at the Diversion, I wasn'’t even pulled over 2 minutes before a guy with two bikes on a trailer (V-Stroms I think) pulled over to see if I needed help. Nice to know folks are friendly here.
    • Stopped for fuel just west of Whiteshell Provincial Park. A French (Quebecois) lady on a BRP Spyder tried to talk bikes with me at the pumps, but it didn’t go well ... my high-school french is pretty rusty. One of the last things she asked me was if I was in the military (I think that’'s what she asked … ... she was pointing to my hair). I said ‘no’, and the conversation ended.
    • Made it to Kenora a bit early, so I tried to find the CTC to buy my fishing license for Sunday. Got all turned around downtown (friggin’' Canadian Shield ...… not a straight road to be found in the whole province :evil). When I passed the ‘First Nations 1pm Drinking Park’ for the second time, I gave up and just followed the GPS to Ray and Loretta’s. Some pretty wicked slopes in this neighbourhood …... glad I’m not pulling a trailer.
    • Ray and I did some running around that afternoon. Went to the Marks WorkWearhouse to get some cheap socks. Cut the tubes off to wear on my wrists and cover the gap between my gloves and jacket (burnt wrists are starting to blister).
    • Had dinner with Ray and Loretta. Jeff (Ainsley, Olivia, and Georgia) and David (Shauna, Wyatt, and Kyra) came for dinner. David and one of his buddies are taking Ray and I fishing tomorrow.
    • Tunes today: “Day for Night” – Tragically Hip.
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  4. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Day 4: Fishing on Lake of the Woods
    • Out the door by 7AM
    • David's friend, Chris, had an (approx) 18' Lund with 75hp outboard
    • Jigged for pickerel on a number of shoals, all within about 30min of Kenora. Skunked until around 10:30. Then limited-out by 11:30. Chris and David cleaned them up back at Chris' place. Fish fry scheduled for David's house tonight.
    • I had noticed that the SPOT tracking function kept turning itself off on the boat. When I checked my phone back on shore, it looked like the SPOT unit sent 3 different 'Help' messages. Not sure how this happened ... the button is covered by a pull-off tab to avoid accidental alerts. Had to call the contact list to let them know I was OK. Kind of pissed that this type of bug can happen.
    • Fish fry was great. Dry flour and corn-flake crumb coating, then deep fried on single burner propane stove, with large skillet of oil. Lemon-pepper and salt when they came out of the oil.
    • Got hammered! Lorretta had to drive Ray and I home.
    • Watched 'Drive Angry' (Nic Cage) on VoD with Loretta ... a little more T 'n A than I was expecting to watch with a friend of my mother's ... oh well, if she doesn't complain, I won't either.
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  5. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Day 5: Kenora, ON to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park (Thunder Bay), ON (579 km)
    • A bit of an awkward start leaving Kenora. Backtracked west from Ray and Loretta's place back to the bypass, then ended up coming back in on Veterans Dive to get fuel ... almost all the way back to Keewatin.
    • Discovered that the SPOT wouldn't power up. Tried changing the batteries, but no change. Spent an hour on the 1-800 number starting a warranty claim. Lady on the call centre (from Quebec) wasn't terribly helpful. Nobody was around on an Sunday to ship a replacement, so I need to call back tomorrow. The 'false alarms' that the unit sent yesterday from the boat must have been its death rattle.
    • Got up to 35C today ... over 40 with the humidex. And smokey from Sioux Lookout turnoff to approx. 100km from Thunder Bay. I was stopping every 1 to 1.5 hours to take fluids. Approx. 10km from Thunder Bay, the temp dropped from 35 to 25 C in about 3 km ... it was fantastic!!! (I've never been so glad to see 25C).
    • Stopped at the Terry Fox Memorial ... nice facility ... well done.
    • Road from Hwy 1 to Silver Inlet was fantastic!! Not quite as tight as the twisties on the the Bow Valley Parkway at home, but close. Was getting close to 7pm local time (lost an hour at TB) so I was a bit nervous about deer.
    • Nice campspot ... was across the road from the lake-front sites. A bit pricey for tenting, but nice. Temperature dropped around dinner time ... bugs were OK.
    • Need to do 612km tomorrow, but long days and no time change tomorrow so it should be fine.
    • Dinner: Chicken Teriyaki with Rice.
    • Libation: Glenrothes Select Reserve
    • Smoke: pipe and Swisher Sweets (saving stogeys, but will need to burn the last cubano before entering the US).
    • Tunes today: All Hip ... "Fully Completely", "In Violet Light", and "Phantom Power".
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  6. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Day 6: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, ON to Pancake Bay Provincial Park, ON (642 km)
    • On the road at 8:10 ... later than expected, but campground was quiet (only saw 2-3 people when I packed up and left).
    • Everything was soaked from condensation in the morning. Fly was wet inside and out ... was put away wet.
    • When I left SGPP this morning, I was in a rush to get back to cell coverage so I could figure out the SPOT issue. As soon as I turned north out of the campground, I regretted not going to the end of the peninsula ... was probably only a couple of km from the campground. But I didn't turn back. This was still chewing at me when I passed the turnoff for the 'Thunder Bay Lookout'. I thought "F**k it ... when am I going to be back this way" and swung a shitty in the middle of the road.
    • It was 9 km (one way) of gravel off the park highway, but twisty and lots of steep up and down. The last 200m or so before the lookout was on bare Canadian shield ... the granite version of the slick-rock in Moab. Got some good pics of the road. The lookout was neat ... cantilevered out over a cliff. The haze/fog was thick, so you couldn't really see shit past the cliff. I'm glad I did this ... smile on my face for the rest of the morning.
    • No cell coverage. Seemed to get SOS service at Pass Lake, but nothing else. Tried again farther down the road, but no luck. Finally found a payphone at a truck stop, and was able to call the 1-800 SPOT number again. Spoke to "Katie" from Texas ... very helpful. Was able to have the replacement unit sent to Paula and Fred's.
    • Stopped in Wawa to pet the goose (this is not a euphemism for rubbing one out).
    • Was a bit cooler today ... high 20's. Hit thick fog for approx 80km inside Lake Superior Prov. Park ... temp dropped to 15C. Fog was so thick it caused a mist on my visor that had to be cleared every 30 seconds. Closed the vents on my jacket and pants for the first time in 4 days.
    • Pancake Bay is nice. Got a site overlooking the lake, but paid dearly for it. So far, the Ontario Prov. Parks have been beautiful and well maintained, but fairly pricey ... especially for tenting.
    • Looks like a bank of fog rolling in across the lake ... can hear what sounds like a fog horn off in the distance.
    • Will try to shower/shave tonight (Done!).
    • Tunes today: Hip again "We Are the Same" (this rocked on the lookout side-trip ... especially "Queen of the Furrows" ... listened to this most of the day), and "Up to Here"
    • Smoke: none tonight
    • Libation: 2 mountain-cans of Coors Light while setting up camp ... then Bowmore Islay 12 year ... was reeeeaally peaty.
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    #6
  7. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Day 7: Pancake Bay P.P., ON to Dickie Lake, ON (660.9 km)
    • July 20
    • Hotter than hell
    • Ass was killing me &#8230; ended up stopping every 180-200 km for a break.
    • Highway seems to be realigned from what I remember ... didn't actually come past the Big Nickel in Sudbury, which was the only reason I took Hwy 17/Hwy 11 through to North Bay (thought the Nickel might be on east side of Sudbury). Should have taken the other route south (Hwy 69 through Parry Sound, and then east to Huntsville)
    • Turned GPS on just north of Huntsville to make sure I caught Muskoka #2 though Huntsville (to Baysville).
    • Pulled into Dickie Lake around 4:20 PM.
    • The girls were down at the beach. Kissed Susan and the girls, then changed out of my riding gear and went to see Fred, Tom, and Uncle John for Happy Hour at Tom's garage.
    • New SPOT unit arrived at Dickie Lake before I did. Was already activated and operational.
    • Odometer read 9706 km. Net milage from home to here: 3542km. I've got about two-and-a-half weeks of R 'n R (and a day trip to Quebec) here on the lake before I have to head home.
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  8. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    July 27, 2011 ... Day Trip to Quebec (572 km roundtrip)
    • On the road shortly after the girls left for Ottawa to visit friends and see the Lion King stage production at the National Arts Centre (was between 10 and 10:30 AM)
    • From Baysville to Algonquin park was nice, but a bit slow.
    • Stopped at Dorset Tower. They wanted $5 to go up the hill. I declined, but the guy at the booth said I could go up anyway, as long as I didn't stop. So I did. Didn't stop to get any pics for Ray.
    • Algonquin Park was OK. Didn't see much, although I didn't stop anywhere either.
    • Stopped in Barry's Bay for fuel, water, and jerky. Saw the monument dedicated to the Avro Arrow test pilot (Januscz Zarkowsky ). Ended up spending a fair bit of time there looking at he displays.
    • Was hot by the time I got to Pembroke (approx. 13:30). Wasn't sure about the directions to get over to QC, so I pulled out the GPS. Turned out I was fine ... the bridge is just a bit past Pembroke.
    • Rode to Waltham, QC on the mainland of QC. Wasn't much there, so I turned back and had lunch on the island (still in QC).
    • Ate at a place called The River Club. Had a Dunn's Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich, with a side of poutine. The sandwich was fantastic but the fries were overcooked. Was a bit worried about having to dust off my highschool French to order lunch, but the waitress was from Nova Scotia and everybody else in there was speaking English. Apart from the street signs "en francais", it was just like Ontario.
    • Followed GPS instructions out of Pembroke. It gave a couple of bad directions (gravel roads with "No Exit" signs as the way to get to a larger route) but the road from Pembroke to Hwy 60 (Algonquin Parkway) was good and twisty, up and down, and the limit was still 80 (lots of the smaller roads have limits of 60).
    • Stopped again in Barry's Bay for fuel, water, and jerky, and then pushed on.
    • Got to Baysville around 18:00. Bought fuel (only Regular available) before heading back to the cottage.
    • Checked email in Barry's Bay on the way home. WhiteyJr had sent a note suggesting Hwy 58, which is the same way I had gone (GPS suggested)
    • I had taken a couple of short secondaries around Lake D'Ore, but limit dropped to 60 kph.

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  9. makad

    makad P/T Shed Dwelling Hermit

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    354
    Location:
    The Shed, Coolup
    :D I like it.
    What a great country you guys have.
    Those Edmonton mozzies were little bastards this summer though. :becca
    Looking forward to the rest of the pic-story
    #9
  10. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Makad,
    The bugs in Alberta were the worst of the trip. I haven't gotten to posting the return leg of the trip yet, but on the slab from Calgary to Edmonton on my last day I had to clean my visor three times just to see ... and it's only a 300km stretch.
    (What was somebody from Coolup doing in AB this summer?)
    P4S
    #10
  11. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    August 7th: Dickie Lake, ON to Geneva State Park, OH (598.6km)

    • No alarm ... apart from the kids. Final checks and goodbyes. Didn't get on the road until 10AM.
    • Once on the 400, traffic was busy. Made it though T.O. (400 to 401 to 427 to QEW) relatively easy.
    • Niagara region was nice ... orchards, etc.
    • PISSED RAIN approx 10km out from the Port Erie border crossing. Had to sit in it for approx 30 minutes at the border crossing ... much to the amusement of the dry, warm cagers all around me in the line-up.
    • Not sure where the water was coming in, but something let loose and suddenly I was sitting a puddle of water ... inside my raingear. Same thing when I dropped my hands below the bars ... rain ran down the outside of my sleeves into the gautlets of my gloves.(Duh!)
    • Rain stopped just as I cleared US Customs, but I was already soaked.
    • Nice night on the road. Decided to push on a bit farther (original plan was Conneaut, OH) to Geneva, OH (Geneva State Park).
    • My speedometer doesn't give mph, so I had to make a cheat-sheet on a post it note, tucked into the map case on my tankbag.
    • Made camp around 7. Ate by 8. Showered by 9. Rained again from 9-10, went to bed ... no stogey, no scotch, no pics.(No fun?)
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  12. makad

    makad P/T Shed Dwelling Hermit

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    354
    Location:
    The Shed, Coolup
    Ahhh, well now there's a story.
    Long story short - not only do you guys have a great country but your ladies are terribly fine too.......so i just had to import one for myself. :evil
    Her Bro lives and works in Edmonton and during July we tripped from Vancouver - Whistler - Wells Gray - Jasper - L.Louise - Banff - Calgary (Stampede) - Edmonton .....and took our time doing it. The BEST trip!! Just glorious [​IMG]
    Cant wait to do it again. On bikes next time maybe?
    In the meantime My Lovely Wife gives me leave passes to go on these. Check it out. http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=747994
    Hang Loose!
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  13. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    August 8h: Geneva S.P. to "Gordons Camping Resort" (north of Kendallville, IA.) (538.8 km)

    • · Had breaky at some little family restaurant in Geneva. Two eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns for $3 (extra for coffee).
    • · Light rain on and off all day. Nothing that caused any grief. (Dried my rain gloves off by tucking them under the bungee on the sleeping bag all day ... worked like a charm).
    • · More toll roads. OH cost me $9.70.
    • · IA cost $6.70 n tolls ... just for the shitty little bit of IA that I did. AND the f-ing toll machine (not all booths are manned ... some just have a ticket machine like the ones for the LRT in Edmonton) was screwed up. At first it wouldn't read the ticket, then it wouldn't take my credit card, so I had to use cash. Only had large denomination bills, so I ended up with a shitload of $1 coins. At first I thought they were just toll tokens and I wouldn't be able to use them once I crossed the next state line, and got really pissed off. Turns out they're legal tender (according to the lady at the next convenience store). Got rid of them as soon as possible.
    • · Started north to Decatur, MI. ... got to Tekonsha pretty early ... around 4. Stopped at McDonalds (mistake ... should have just had a drink ... had two wraps ... broke my streak of no fast food) to use the wifi and figure out where I should go tonight. Looked at making it past Chicago, but it was over 344 km ... would have been past dark. Flipped through the campbook for something with showers ... took slightly longer to get to Gordon's than expected ... but wanted to avoid the toll-road (yes ... the Dutch is starting to show)
    • · Almost drove past the turnoff for Gordon's ... had to slam on the binders. Spooked the lady watering her garden.
    • · Need to plan a route for tomorrow ... probably stick to the I-90 all day ... but may be a way to avoid IA toll road, and just jump on in IL.
    • · Looked at the original plan. Decatur to Black River Falls, WI is 649km ... probably not any shorter from here.
    • Fireflies! Scared the shit out of me while I was smoking/reading/having a scotch. I thought they were embers from somebody's campfire!
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  14. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    August 9th: Kendallville, IA to Chetek, WI (824 km)

    • Got an early start … up by 7:00 … on the road by 8:00. All was quiet in the campground.
    • Had an Indiana version of a Humpty’s pan-scrambler at a Ma & Pa place in La Grange (I think). Was on ‘Ameri-fries’ (shredded potatos) with a choice of toppings and ‘biscuit gravy’. I had a single egg (‘baby’ size … regular was 2 eggs) with ground beef, bacon, and bits of sausage
    • Interstate at Chicago (really, from Gary, IA all the way to Rockford, IL) was brutal. Lots of traffic, and f-ing toll-booths everywhere. Everything east of IL was “grab a ticket when you get on; pay when you get off”. IL had to be different. Right at the IA/IL border I had to pay $1.60 on the IA side … and approx 3 miles later had to pay another $3.60 to continue. There were at least another 4 toll booths around Chicago … ranging from 80 cents to $1.50. The cost wasn’'t the issue … it was the pain in the ass of stopping to pay every 20mi or so. On the bike, I couldn'’t even get prepared before the booth like a cager. Every time, I had to pull up, put it in neutral, take off a glove, open thigh pocket, either fish for change or fish for my wallet, hand money over (to fish-eyed mouth breather at the booth), get change, put everything back in thigh pocket, zip it up, put glove back on, put bike in gear, and drive away. WHAT A CLUSTERFUCK!!! I wasn'’t really happy about taking the interstate in the first place, but enough people had warned me about getting past Chicago that I opted for quick and easy. Should have spent the time to bypass on secondaries.
    • Traffic in Chicago was terrible. Volume was the same as Hwy 401 in Toronto, but everybody was an asshole. For example, right near the stadium where the White Sox play, I was in the second-to-leftmost lane. There was an older woman in a sedan in the leftmost (fast) lane, just ahead and to the left of me. Some jackass, moving quickly up the fastlane, came right up behind her. When she didn'’t get out of his way quickly enough, he sat just inches off her bumper, flashed his high beams, leaned on the horn, and provided numerous hand gestures. I backed off a bit, because I didn'’t want him swerving right into my lane. As soon as he had room (not much, but enough) he swung into my lane, raced passed her, swerved sharply back into the fast lane with only inches to spare in front of her, and then JAMMED ON THE BRAKES to scare her!! I thought for sure I was going to witness an accident, but she must have been expecting it because she managed to avoid clipping him. Then he sped merrily away. Although I didn'’t see one, I’'m sure there had to be an HD sticker on his vehicle. :ken
    • Traffic got a bit better around Madison, and seemed to diminish gradually there after … everybody must be going somewhere other than north. The wind was brutal, and I got a bit of rain between Black River Falls and Eau Claire.
    • Got to Black River Falls at (what I thought was) 5:30. Wanted to keep going, so I pulled out maps, GPS (the power issue is pissing me off) and camp book to see where to go. GPS told me it was only 4:30!!! Must have hit a time change somewhere. Did another 1.5 hours to Chetek, WI. With rain and no plan where to cut W into MN, I didn’t want to go too far N.
    • Regardless of the posted speed (toll roads were 70, other interstates were 65, or 55 if construction) everybody did around 120 kph. So I did 120 … some people still passed me and others got passed. Not unlike the QE2 at home. Only saw one WI State Trooper all day.
    • Can’'t remember where it was (might have even been yesterday … the miles are starting to blend together), but I got a ‘thumbs-up’ from three Hutterite/Amish boys on a horse-drawn hay wagon as I rode past.
    • Bought a Pepsi and some WI cheese curds in Black R. Falls. Ate half there while I figured out the route. Other half will be a snack while I cook dinner. Probably won’t shit for a week.
    • Need to pick up booze tomorrow … down to one scotch (Amrut), one screech, and one ‘cinnamon vanilla rum’ (must have been a freebie attached to something else). Can'’t bring myself to drink it …... not desperate enough yet.
    • Had free Wi-Fi at Chetek campground. As soon as I logged in, the AccuWeather app started chirping with an extreme weather advisory. Scared the shit out of me … had just paid and set up camp … too late to go find a hotel. Turned out to be for Geneva, OH. … still had the app set up for that location.
    • Would like to say I’'ve been to Fargo … so will go to Superior, WI and then take the 210 across to Fargo. Will mean a little bit of southward backtracking, but I can still hit Devil’s Lake and will cross the Missourri at Williston, ND.
    • Wrists got burnt again. Need to put sunscreen on tomorrow or else wear the sock-gauntlets again.
    #14
  15. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    August 10th: Chetek, WI to Devil&#8217;s Lake, ND (905 km)

    • Got an early start due to time change (I think). As best as I can figure, I was up at 7am "my time", which was 6am local time. On the road by 7am local time.
    • Went to Barron, WI for fuel and breaky. Got fuel and went into the "Barron Family Restaurant" (attached to gas station) for breaky. Was seated by a young guy, served "coffee" and given a menu, but then he said "The cook will be a few minutes ... she went to get the other cook". He said it wouldn't be long, so I said I'd wait. A few other people came in after me. I overheard him tell them that they were out of coffee ... only decaf available. (Not sure if I got the last of the regular coffee, or was given the decaf). I asked how much for the coffee ($1.24) and left the change on the table ... no tip.
    • Went the other side of Hwy 53 to Cameron. Had a nice breaky of 2 eggs O.E., bacon, and toast. On my way in 30 minutes.
    • Followed Hwy 53 to Superior, WI/Duluth, MN. Nice road into town ... lots of grade and a couple of bridges over the western tip of Lake Superior.
    • F-ing GPS showed 3 or 4 bars of power when I unplugged it last night ... only 1 when I turned it on to get through construction in Superior/Duluth. I need to get this thing working ... either better batt ... or (more likely) a better external power setup.
    • Picked up some Irish Whiskey at the little liquor store next to the fuel stop (they didn't have good scotch in a mickey-size, and they didn't have the rum that Jr had requested.
    • Fairly uneventful across MN
    • Got a little turned around in Moorhead, MN/Fargo, ND ... GPS was f-ed. However, got passed in Fargo by the Google StreetView car. I'll have to get the exact location from my GPS track (hopefully) and check Google StreetView in a few months.
    • Leaving Fargo, the posted limit was 75mph (approx 122 kph) which would have been good except for construction, congestion, and wind. However, after the construction ended the wind had also died and the traffic thinned out. Had a great ride N of Fargo, considering it was straight slab. Nice night, no traffic, good tunes ... enjoyed myself.
    • Stopped in Hillsboro to figure out where to stay. Decided to push on to Devil's Lake. Had a great ride!
    • Road to Graham Island S. P. was closed for construction. Not a detour, not a delay ... completely f-ing closed.
    • Circled back to the tourist info centre to find other accommodation, but it closed at 5:30 (is now 7:30).
    • Tried 2 hotels. Apparently, due to all the road construction and flood work, every hotel room in Devil's Lake is taken. Once place said the next town west (Rugby) was the same.
    • Decided: Plan A: Try next closest campground and hope for the best (means a bit of backtracking). Plan B: Swap visors and push on into the dark another 60-90 minutes to Minot.
    • Campground turned out to be closer than I thought ... on east side of Devil's Lake. Last 5 miles was washboard gravel.
    • BUT THEY HAVE A SPOT!! Actually, a pretty nice spot. I was too busy getting camp set up to enjoy the sunset over the lake, but it looked crimson red. (Lake looked shitty on the way in ... foam, dead shit on the shore ... water looked high. In fact, all the rivers I passed today in MN and ND were bank-full plus.
    • Campground is a sausage-fest ... all dudes here fishing. Roads were lined with fishermen too. Huge musky over the till in the campground store.
    • Facilities are a bit sketchy ... I hope I don't have to shit tomorrow morning.
    • I asked the girl at the till if they sold beer, and she said no ... they couldn't sell alcohol or tobacco because they are on Indian land. I think I&'d be more worried about drunk hillbillies than natives.
    • I thought I heard pow-wow music down the road as I was writing.
    • Bugs came out a bit at dark ... had to put on long-pants for the first time in days.
    • Crossed the Mississippi today at Brainerd, MN. A little smaller than the Red Deer River at Red Deer, but bankfull. Not nearly as deeply incised a channel as Red Deer. Will see the Missourri tomorrow at Williston.
    #15
  16. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    August 11th: Warwick, ND to Malta, MT (781 km)

    • Slept in a bit ... on the road by 8:15
    • Got a better look at the road on the East side ... is a temporary road (or temp/repaired surface) with row of cobble/boulder armouring to prevent wave action from eroding the road.
    • Steady stream of trucks ...every 400m or so ... open box ... full of boulders or fill ... something major going on. Was going on late last night and again at 8am this morning.
    • Everything around the edge of the lake is dead ... trees mostly ... looks creepy.
    • Breakfast place was full of construction folks
    • Some crops look good (corn) but talk in diners sounds like even next spring will still be too wet to enter most fields.
    • Western ND was a shithole ... a LOT of activity (O&G).
    • Between Minot and Williston there was either a new pad being constructed, being drilled, or in production every half-mile. Must be that Bakkan field I've heard about.
    • Production units weren't labelled, but local exploration company was called Brigham Exploration Co. ... will have to look 'em up when I get home.
    • Missourri River was flooded ... just downstream of confluence with Yellowstone River. The river itself is wider than the North Saskatchewan at home. The river was bankfull plus 5km of flooded river valley floor.
    • Thinking about tomorrow ... from Malta to Shelby, to Calgary to home is 982km ... could be done, depending on speed limits.
    • Could overnight it in Calgary, but everybody I know in Calgary will be at Rich's party. Could stop there and see what's up.
    • HUGE storm between Glasgow, MT and Malta, MT. Black clouds, hail, wind, rain.
    • Decided en-route that if there was a hotel in Malta, I'd get a room for the night.
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    #16
  17. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    August 12th: Malta, MT to home (986km) 7am-11pm
    • Fairly uneventful across Montana
    • Picked up another 4 packs of stogies at the Malta gas station.
    • Found MacAllan 12yr at Shelby ... remembered the liquor store downtown from our Yellowstone trip last year.
    • No problems at border
    • Made good time all day-long ...120-ish kph on MT-2 ... 130-ish kph (75mph posted) on I-15 ... 120+ on QE2
    • Visited staff in Lethbridge.
    • Stopped for Rich's B-Day bash at "Wurst" (formerly Mission Hill Brewery, formerly Gasthaus) in Calgary ... now, fine dining upstairs, and beer hall in the basement ... looks a lot like "Twisted Kilt", but with a German "beerfrau" theme (ie. Cute young waitresses with 'nice' outfits J).
    • Saw lots of folks that I hadn't seen since Zally's wedding.
    • Could have gotten 'ugly' :freaky... was dying for a drink, but it had already been a long day, and I had another 3 hours to get home. All-in-all, it was good to see Rich on his B-day, but I had to bail after about an hour of visiting.
    • Bugs were wicked from just north of Lethbridge to home. Had to stop three times between Calgary and Edmonton to clean the bugs from my visor just so I could see.
    • Home at 11pm.
    • Final odometer 14,984 (8,820 km total trip milage, start to finish).

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    Home at Last!
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    #17
  18. RblueR

    RblueR Intrepid Brother Bob

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Good stuff, keep it coming
    #18
  19. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Thanks Bob ... I was starting to wonder if anybody was reading my ramblings!
    P4S
    #19
  20. Pray4Snow

    Pray4Snow Saddle Monkey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    133
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Epilogue:

    So ... the trip was over. That last day was longer than expected. In retrospect, I should have ditched the bike at somebody's house in Calgary and stayed and enjoyed the party. There were many offers of a place to stay, but having the bike parked overnight in downtown Calgary with all my camping gear still strapped on wasn't even a consideration. I'll be smarter next time.
    As mentioned, all that time camping by myself led to a lot of over-analysis of milage, fuel economy, etc. Hence the following info. (I used a mobile-enabled website called Fuelly.com to track fuel, etc. .. works like a hot damn, although I had to save all my fuel receipts from the US leg of the trip because I couldn't be bothered to do the conversion of gallons to litres on the fly.)

    No regrets, although if I had to do things again, I'd make a few changes:
    • Aparently, I'm more of a social-animal than I figured. I liked travelling alone, but the nights of camping solo were boring. Should have hit up the various forums for a travelling companion(s).
    • When in doubt, stop and take a pic. As is evident from the notes above, especially the US leg, if you don't stop to take a few pics and meet a few folks, you have bugger-all to show for the trip afterwards.
    • Travelling solo was a concern before I left, but everything worked out (granted, although I was in some relatively unpopulated parts of Canada, I was never very far off the beaten path.) I carried the SPOT for the Mrs' piece of mind, but I have to admit it was comforting to have it with me.
    • I probably should have researched the US leg a bit more thoroughly. There were a lot more road options than in Canada, and I didn't really enjoy the interstates. I could have taken more secondaries (especially in the NY, PA, OH, MI parts of the trip) ... although then I might have missed the party in Calgary!
    • Although I've done the Trans-Canada route a number of times, this was the first time on a bike, and the first time solo. If anybody wants any tips or hints on routes, please feel free to PM me.
    Cheers,
    Pray4Snow

    Trip Total KM 8822
    Trip total litres 412.011
    Longest Day 986
    Shortest Day 292.9
    Trip Average L/100km 4.7
    Trip Average MpG 50.4
    Best Tank MpG 61.9
    Worst Tank MpG 41.3
    Fuel Cost $ 488.86

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    #20