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Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Rockwell, Sep 2, 2011.
Wow, those rainforests are amazing. Can't wait to see your Colorado and Arizona pics!
Awesome ride report! Subscribed
Awesome report:) I used to live in Hamilton also:)
travel save and have a great time!
We almost didn't go over to Colorado, but, we were sitting in Moab at the McDonald's using the internet, and some guy came up to talk to us while he was waiting for the restroom. He said that the mountains there shouldn't be missed. We only spend part of a day in Colorado, but the mountains there were awesome.
The clouds were full, threatening rain but we stayed dry while visiting Mount St Helen, in Washington state. It is an active volcano, located in the Cascade Range. It had erupted in 1980, removing most of its northern face and creating a huge crater. It was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.
Our goal for the day was to continue riding until we reached Portland, Oregon. We arrived late and it was dark out but we found a great place to pitch our tent near a forest. With the rain hitting hard in the morning, we were glad that the tall trees kept us dry as we packed.
On our way out, we stopped at a KTM dealership to pick up a few things. We were greeted by Steve and Vint when we first walked in. They answered a bunch of questions we had about products, and they also shared a lot of advice with us. Vint had his own sexy KTM 990 ready for a trip to Banff, Alberta that same day. The mechanic, Todd, asked us to ride the motorcycle around to the back parking lot. He met us there with some tools and taught us how to tighten the chain. They were so nice that they even gave us a few gifts, including a spray that easily cleaned the thousands of dead insects that our helmets and windshield had collected. Thank you KTM in Gresham, Oregon for your genuine customer service.
As we continued on our journey, we rode past beautiful, golden fields that suddenly turned black. Even though the landscape had been victim to a forest fire, it still kept its beauty. In need of a gas station, we had no choice but to head in the wrong direction. Bend, Oregon was a really nice town and since we arrived with minimal daylight, we pitched our tent in a grassy area on the side of an abandoned parking lot. It seemed like a great spot until the Police arrived. Hello, is anybody there? This is the Police we walked out to introduce ourselves and to explain why we were there. They asked for ID, ran our names and joked about us being a couple of Canadians. They told us that we were private property and the hired security called them about trespassers. We got permission to stay, but at 7am the irrigation was turned on. It was obvious that the owner wanted us gone because the grass was yellow and the dirt was extremely dry from being previously deprived of water. Luckily, we were not effected by the sprinklers and did not get wet. Nanner, nanner, nanner
During breakfast, we met a sweet couple who recommended we visit an area called Painted Hills. The area looked like smooth piles of sand in colourful layers of red, black and gold, corresponding to various geological eras. We then rode through winding streets until the sun began to set and we decided to camp on the side of the road, nestled in a forest.
The following day, we rode past many cattle farms. At one point, the road was blocked by at least fifty cows. We sat there awkwardly, waiting patiently for them to move but they werent going anywhere. Finally, a car pulled up beside us and a lady began yelling, Dont stop, drive through the herd. Dont you know we have a job to do? What the heck? We were on a motorcycle, not a horse, did we look like were supposed to know what to do? As we began to ride, the cows mooved aside but some of them snorted snot out of their nostrils as they kicked their hind legs, threatening to charge at us. When the smell was gone, I loosened my grip from Rockys waist, opened my eyes and noticed we rode past them without problems. I wasnt scared, and I definitely didnt take revenge by stopping in Denio Junction, Nevada, a couple of hours later for one of the best burgers we have ever tasted.
After filling up the gas tank and fuel cans, we rode towards the Alvord Desert. It is in the middle of nowhere, hidden beside the Steens Mountain. Looking more like a mountain range than a single mountain, it stretches approximately 90km. We rode alongside of it, from asphalt onto gravel until we were able to see the Alvord Desert. I felt confused with what I saw. The Alvord Desert was approximately 10 by 20 km, hidden beside the Steens Mountain we were riding on. I wasnt sure if it was a mirage by the way the sun was shining on the hard, dry, flat sand, but there appeared to be a lake in the distance. Below us was a group of people, and it was strange to see that they had sail boats with wheels. We rode towards them and they introduced themselves as well as their dirt boats. We pitched our tent, opened a bottle of wine, that we had been saving, and our new friends explained that during the day, they raced through the open space as the wind blew them around. How cool!
We were told that the Alvord desert was a dried up lake bed and not far from us were hot springs we could soak in. We stayed up to finish our bottle of wine, under the most incredible sky I have ever seen. It was the perfect night for the stars to show off their home in the galaxy. The Milky Way was very visible, Meteorites were shooting through the sky and we could see planets twinkling and satellites traveling. What a spectacular place!
The following morning, we were invited to eat a delicious breakfast with our new neighbours. Soon after, we relaxed in the hot spring. Upon returning to our tent, we were invited to race around on the dirt boats. The wind was too calm, so we decided to race around on the motorcycle instead. I got tossed and almost thrown as we rode through areas with bushes and soft sand but it was so much fun! Our new friends, Lance and Keith, invited us for beer and dinner, we stayed one more night and the four of us spent it star gazing.
Early the next morning, we all gathered for breakfast and said our good byes. The bike was packed, the fuel cans were emptied into the gas tanks and Rocky found a short cut out of the desert on the GPS.
It was a dirt road but it cut the distance in half and Rocky was excited to practice riding on it. The first few kilometers went somewhat smoothly, but once we were too far in to turn around, it became a very bumpy ride. There was deep pockets of sand with rocks the size of pellets and golf balls. My teeth were grinding and my body was stiff from the fear of crashing but i got distracted by a wretched stench. It was the smell of a decomposing dead cow that probably wandered away from the herd, got lost and died of dehydration. We continued past it and I was shocked that Rocky kept control for so long but I was not surprised when we finally tipped the motorcycle as it wobbled through a large patch of sand. We quickly got on our feet, checked for damage and continued towards a paved road or some sort of civilization. A short cut that was supposed to take an hour took three, it reminded me that a short cut is not necessarily the quickest way out. I was happy to end the adventure and continue our journey towards Boise, Idaho on a paved road.
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Being on a tight budget for this trip, I have found that one way to eat cheap and relatively healthy food is to eat at Subway. We usually take advantage of the five dollar footlong or, in the mornings, the three dollar coffee and 6″ sandwich breakfast combo. Leaving the coast, we stopped in Astoria for our usual Subway breakfast, and headed back towards Washington state.
We arrived at the turn-off to Mount St. Helens early in the afternoon. From the main highway, it was a 60km drive to the lookout point nearest to the volcano. The temperature steadily got colder as we rose in elevation until we finally reached the national park visitors center at Mount St. Helens. After a short look around, a washroom break, and a few photos, we got back on the bike and headed back down the road from which we came to the main highway.
Hungry and tired, we rode south, back into Oregon towards Portland. With the sun fading, we stopped for some chimichangas and headed into Portland. It was dark by the time we made it into the city. We rode around looking for Forest Park where we had planned to camp. We finally found it and pulled off the side of the road and set up he tent in the dark.
The next morning was a rainy one. After packing up the tent and our gear, we went for breakfast at Subway, and made a quick stop at a camera shop. I had packed my tripod for this trip, but hadnt noticed that the quick-release plate was not with it. I was in search of a new one since I hadnt been able to use the tripod without it. Unable to find the specific size for my camera, we left and headed east.
I followed my GPS to KTM of Gresham, which is located just outside of Portland. We stopped there to pick up a few parts for the bike and to get some tips on tightening my chain. All the guys there were really helpful. We spent and hour or two there talking to everyone and getting a lot of good advice and help. Just before leaving, Vint, the owner, ran out and gave us some extra parts and supplies.
It was early afternoon when we road through Mount Hood National Forest, over the pass and down the other side. The landscape quickly changed from lush, green forests to golden yellow fields of grass and farm land, much of which was scarred and blackened by wild fires. We continued southeast until we came to a tee in the road. It was late in the afternoon, and both the fuel in my tank and the light of day were running low. I checked my GPS for the nearest fuel station heading east, but it was beyond the range of the fuel that I estimated I had left in my tank. Neither Paula nor I wanted to chance it. Our best option was to head 50km back west into Bend, Oregon.
Paula, Almeida and I pulled into Bend just as the sun met the horizon. It was well past dinner time, so we decided to stop for food Mexican again. By the time we finished dinner, the sun had already set, but there was still a bit of light in the sky. We left to find a place to camp out. Driving around town, Paula, Almeida and I found, what appeared to be, an abandoned parking lot in a residential area of town. I parked the bike behind some tall bushes at the endue of the lot, and we set up the tent nearby. After we were all settled in, I decided to walk down to the nearest 7 Eleven for some snacks. Later that evening, while sipping sodas, eating candy and watching TV on my laptop, our tent was illuminated by, what could have only been, a set of car headlights. We immediately knew that it was the police. Paula and I got dressed and walked out to meet the two officers. They requested our passports, and our names were run through the system. We were told they owner of the lot had had a problem with vagrants and that the night security guard had seen us and made the call to the police. We explained what we were doing and, after finding out that we had no criminal records, the officers placed a call to the owner and asked if he would allow us to stay the night. We were given the OK, and we enjoyed the remainder of the night not having to worry about being spotted.
We packed up early the next morning and had almost everything loaded onto the motorcycle just before the sprinkler system (that we hadnt seen the night before) came on. We narrowly escaped getting soaked. We made a quick stop at 7 Eleven for some beef jerky and headed to Subway for breakfast. While we were there, we met two locals who told us about a natural tourist attraction, called The Painted Hills, located in the general direction of our route. They were a bit out of the way, but, we thought, worth the trip. Before leaving Bend, we made a stop at one of the local strip malls since Paula needed a new pair of sun glasses.
Shortly after noon, we left Bend and headed slightly north and east towards The Painted Hills. We arrived there in middle of the afternoon, riding 20km off the main highway into the middle of nowhere. The Painted Hills, striped with rusty red floodplain deposits, were an impressive sight.
Getting late in the day, we made our way to McDonalds in John Day, Oregon to use the internet and grab a burger. I later regretted the burger. With not too much daylight left, we got back in the saddle and raced towards Burns, Oregon, where we had planned to stop for the night. We didnt quite make it all the way to Burns, and ended up camping out in the forest about 20km from town.
In the morning, we rode into Burns for some breakfast and to use the internet. By mid-afternoon, we headed out towards the Alvord Desert. The road heading towards the desert was a nicely-paved two-lane highway. We rode up to a section of road that was roughly 1-2km long and bordered closely by a large lake on either side. Riding along, I saw a black cluster in the distance. As we got closer, I realized that they were cows, standing in the middle of the road, hundreds of them blocking our path. Being city folk, we didnt know what to do. I wasnt sure that, if I got closer to them, if theyd get scared and charge the bike. Almeida could take on a cow or two, but not an army of cattle. We stood in the road at a distance and took some photos. After several minutes, a car pulled up and a woman inside yelled at us to ride forward, and that we were blocking the cattle form trying to pass. Irritated by her tone, I told her not to speak to us the way that she did. I said, Were from a city, how the hell are we supposed to know what to do in this situation?! A few other vehicles pulled up and drove slowly towards the heard, clearing a path for us to follow.
We were running low on fuel, so we decided to stop and fill up. Fuel stations in that area were very few and far between. We stopped at the fuel station near the turn-off to the desert, but they didnt have premium. We asked if the station at Denio Junction, 40km south into Nevada had fuel, and we were told that they did. We made our way to Denio Junction, filled up at the gas station and, being around dinner time, decided to grab a bite to eat at the diner. Paula and I both ordered a burger. We both agreed that it could have likely been the best burger we have ever eaten.
We rode up to the desert around dusk, and, upon seeing it, I immediately got out my camera to take pictures. We got back on the bike and rode down to the edge of the desert where there were a dozen or so campers and pick-up trucks. We thought it would be great to camp out with other people since we usually camped alone, trying not to be seen. Immediately upon pulling up, several of the other campers came to introduce themselves and invited us to sit around and watch the stars. Paula and I thanked them, and, after setting up camp, made out way over with our camp chairs and our cheap bottle of wine. The stars were amazing. With no city lights within 150km radius, the milky way was clearly visible. We sat drinking wine and counting shooting stars until we were both tired and a bit drunk.
I woke up the next morning feeling dehydrated and slightly hungover from the $4 Walmart wine the night before. Paula and I were invited to have breakfast with all of the other campers. Everyone gathered while several of the campers cooked, and we all enjoyed a breakfast together. After breakfast, Paula and I decided that we would head over the hot hot spring that, we were told, was nearby. It had been five full days since we last showered, and soaking in a hot spring was sounding like a great idea.
The wind, that day, was a bit of a disappointment for the rest of the campers, most of whom were there to sail their dirt boats (sort of like a sail boat with wheels). We were offered rides, but there just wasnt enough wind. Paula went with one of sailors, but there was only enough wind to move them at a few kilometres per hours. A bit disappointed, Paula and I decided to ride Almeida around the desert. We hopped on the bike and rode across the flat, dry, cracked lake bed, weaving in and out of clusters of small bushes, and hitting patches of sand. It was so much fun.
That night, we were invited to have dinner with Keith and Lance, two guys who were camped right next to us. Earlier that day, Lance, who was from Montana, helped me plot a route from Boise, Idaho to Yellowstone National Park. After dinner and a few beers, Paula and I headed for bed. We were quite tired from the day in the sun.
Thinking about it now, we should have spent at least one more day in the desert; it was really awesome. But, that next morning, we packed up our things and made our way out. I followed my GPS to a shortcut out of the desert that looked like it would save quite a bit of distance. The shortcut, ended up not being such a great idea. The road that we took was mostly large rock, stone, and sand. With a fully-loaded bike and an extra passenger, my riding ability was put to the test. I didnt have much trouble with the rock an gravel, but the bike was very difficult to control in the loose, sandy soil. I almost lost control of the bike twice going through sand and loose pebble, but, somehow, I managed to keep the bike upright. Trudging along, I noticed the dead and rotting carcass of a cow at the side of the road. It likely got lost in the desert and died of dehydration. There were patches of the road that were relatively compact and flat, and we were able to pick up a bit of speed, and then, suddenly, wed hit some sand or loose pebble or big rocks and have to slow right down. At roughly the halfway point of the 60km route out of the desert, we hit a large patch of loose pebble. The front tire skidded and wobbled as I applied the break, but, this time, Almeida went down. I looked back to see if Paula was OK. Her leg was trapped and twisted under the left pannier, so I rushed up to lift the weight of the bike up so that she could free her leg. She hobbled up and was sore and bruised, but she was OK. We rested a minute or two, unloaded the bike and heaved it upright. After a few concerned false starts, we managed to fire up Almeidas engine again and continue along.
After two and a half to three hours riding the length of our shortcut, we finally made it to the main highway. It was a good introduction to what we knew we would have to endure in underdeveloped countries, but It was a relief to see pavement again.
With a lot of distance to make up, we pointed Almeida east and made a beeline for Boise, Idaho, stopping only once to fill up with gas. Nearing our destination around dinner time, we stopped for some Mexican food just outside of Boise. After eating, we made our way into the city to a McDonalds to use the internet and try to get in touch with Kent, a couch surfer whom Paula had contacted several days prior. We were able to get a hold of him, but he was unavailable until later that evening. We waited around until after 9pm, and went to meet Kent.
A view of Mount St. Helens in Washington State
Another view of Mount St. Helens
Paula in Bend, Oregon. This was taken atop of Awbrey Butte.
The Painted Hills of Oregon
Near John Day, Oregon
Hundreds of cattle blocked the road towards the Alvord Desert.
Dusk on the edge of the desert, just after arriving in The Alvord.
The Alvord Desert at sunrise.
The edge of the Alvord Desert, near where we set up our tent to camp.
Everyone gathered in the mornings for a big breakfast that was cooked by several of the campers.
Kieth (and his dog), Paula and Lance
Just wondering where your are now? Fantastic ride.
We're way behind on the blog, but our blog front page is usually up-to-date with our current location since that's really quick and easy to update.
We just pulled into Mazunte, Mexico, a few days ago. We sort of stumbled onto this place. It's really nice here. Not a busy tourist place, and has a great beach and good atmosphere.
We're spending several days here to relax, sit on the beach and try to get caught up on the blog.
The journey, the photography, the writing.... subscribed.
(It goes against what everyone ever told you about taking a picture, but shooting into the sun with a flash can deliver some amazing results.... obviously, you have figured this out. Beautiful shots)
Update: We are currently in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, waiting for parts to arrive. We couldn't think of a better place to be stuck.
On September 21, we rode into Boise Idaho to stay with a man named Kent that we had contacted on couchsurfing.org. He owned a granite shop located behind his house and he spent his days selling gorgeous pieces of stone. Since we arrived on a weekday, Kent was busy working when we woke up the next morning. After we were given a tour and introduced to his employees, we took the chance to give the motorcycle a little TLC. She was covered in both white and red sand and her chain was filthy. There was nothing we could do about a few scrapes that she acquired the day before, but I think it gives her more character.
All cleaned up, she was looking good and ready to go exploring. We went out of the city and followed a river through large hills and small towns. I love being able to ride on the motorcycle with the gear off.
Idaho is very unusual, in comparison to where we have been. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is not mandatory, it was common to see someone riding with their hair blowing in the wind and dead bugs splattered on their face. There were large billboards everywhere, preaching about religion. Just about every car had a bumper-sticker reading something about If you believe in Jesus, your sins are forgiven Only Jesus, can offer you immortality"Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future or Sarah Palin for President and I partied with President Bush.
Kent had invited us to dinner, so we returned to his house between 5-6pm. His home is really big and beautifully decorated with an interesting collection of art. There were 3 or 4 kitchens and while I helped to make dinner in one, Rocky helped prepare home made salsa in the other. Just earlier that day, I had wondered why anyone would need more than one kitchen, silly me. After a nice meal eaten outside on the patio, we relaxed by watching an awesome movie, called Motorcycle Diarys. Unfortunately, we were all too tired to stay awake through it. Well rested, we were up early the next morning, and with some of Kents help, I prepared blueberry pancakes for us and his employees. We enjoyed breakfast with some hot coffee and shared some ideas on routes to take or avoid before packing up the bike and saying our good byes.
After stopping for a spare front tire tube, we rode north east for a few hours until we reached a town called Stanley. Hungry, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. The town was tiny but very pretty, and the pizza was delicious. There were many hunters everywhere, and also, a group of the most annoying so called ladies, it made me wonder why the animals were the ones being targeted. With a lot more sunlight left in the day, we continued riding until we reached a town called Salmon and we found a spot by the river to pitch the tent. While Rocky walked to the store for some treats, a sweet lady walking past with her child stopped to talk to me for a while. She offered her phone number and a place for us to stay in the case that we had any troubles camping there. It was extremely kind, so I would mention her name with thanks but my phone has unfortunately deleted all my contacts
With no troubles, we woke up early the next morning and continued riding towards Yellowstone National Park, but we wouldnt enter the park until the following morning.
There are many tourists visiting Yellowstone national park and I was surprised that we had found a place well hidden to set up the tent for the night. I wondered if I would be annoyed by all the traffic, but, upon entering the park the next morning, I realized that it was too big and too beautiful to even notice all the people. This was the most magical place I have been to.
Fearless Buffalo roamed the land and sometimes crowded the street. We even caught a glimpse of a baby Grizzly Bear in the distance. But, what truly amazed me, was the landscape. It was constantly changing from rolling hills to mountains and gorges. It had fields of many colors, covered in flowers and grasses with huge rocks sporadically placed by past glaciers. There were still bodies of bright blue/green waters and many rivers, some that flowed down water falls. Even more incredible, was the volcanic activity in the area. There were holes in the earth causing geysers of boiling hot water to shoot up from the ground or form pools of hot springs that carved cascades down hills. Some were so large that the hot water flowed across shallow ground causing minerals and bacteria to create a rainbow of extraordinary brightness on the surface of the earth and steamed into a warm mist that filled the air.
With so much to see, darkness fell before we were done exploring. Outside of one of the exits, we found a place to camp for the night. It was on top of a hill, above a small town and we placed our tent on a very large flat rock. A local, collecting fire wood, warned us of some fleshy bones located not to far away but, since we had all scented items in an air proof pannier, no food, our first fire lit, and a loud whistle to scare off the wildlife, Rocky convinced me that it was ok to stay there. Undisturbed, we were alive the following morning and ready to re-enter the park.
With another full day spent in Yellowstone National Park, we rode out just in time to catch the sun setting on the Grand Teton mountains. With only enough sunlight left to capture a few pictures, we tried to hurry so that we could find a safe place to camp, but found it difficult. We had no choice but to ride further than planned until we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming at approximately 9pm. Cold, hungry and tired we warmed up to a full belly of mountain high pizza pie, and found a park to pitch our tent on the soft, plush grass.
Exhausted, we immediately fell asleep. It was a cold but comfortable night as we cuddled close until we were awoken at 4am by a familiar sound. Oh crap! The irrigation had turned on and began spraying water at our tent. Luckily, we personally, did not get wet but having to pack up the wet tent in the morning sucked! There was frost on the grass and my fingers were numb but at least the snot dripping rapidly from my nose froze before reaching my lips. We packed as quickly as possible and stopped to split a breakfast burrito before gladly heading south towards Salt lake City, Utah.
We met Kent late in the evening at a McDonald's new his house. Paula rode in the truck with him, and I followed them back to his place. I parked the motorcycle, and Kent gave us the tour. His place was huge. It had 4 or 5 bedrooms, several kitchens, at least 3 or 4 bathrooms, and a home gym. Kent runs his business of selling stone out of his home. His warehouse and much of his large lot were filled with an amazing collection of marble, granite and limestone slabs.
Kent is a very cultured and well-traveled guy. His house is full of painting, photographs, sculptures, statues, rugs, and other artifacts from all lover the world. Kent is also very religious, although he considers himself to be spiritual despite accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savour. Having just met, and being late in the night, we managed not to get into the religious discussion too much. The three of us talked for a few hours over a couple of beers and, when we got tire, headed to bed.
The next day we gave Almeida a wash and cleaned her chain. Kent suggested a route for us to ride in the area surrounding Boise. After lunch, Paula and I got on the bike and rode through the mountains and hills surrounding on the outskirts of Boise. We arrived back around dinner time. Kent and I went grocery shopping while Paula stayed at the house and got everything ready to prepare dinner. While shopping, I got to talk to Kent about politics a bit, one of my favourite subjects, despite it being one of the ones that "you really shouldn't talk about".
After dinner, Kent, Paula and I decided to relax and watch the movie. The Motorcycle Diaries, one of Kent's favourite films, seemed appropriate. Half way through the film Kent, nodding off, decided to hit the sack, and, shortly after, Paula and I found ourselves falling asleep and also decided to turn in.
We awoke the next day and started to pack up. Kent cooked us a nice breakfast and we chatted with some of his coworkers and friends. One of his employees, Jeff, had found a new job in San Antonio, Texas, and mentioned that he would be moving out there in several weeks time. He offered us his contact information and a place to stay if we decided to pass through there.
Before leaving Boise, Paula and I decided to visit Happy Trails, a well-known adventure motorcycle shop in town. We spoke with a few of the guys working there and picked up a spare front tube.
Shortly after noon, Paula, Almeida and I set out from Boise to ride the route to Yellowstone that Lance, our friend from the Alvord Desert, had helped plan for us. The scenery around Stanley, Idaho alone was worth the ride.
That night, we stopped in the small town of Salmon, Idaho to camp. We rode around town and found a spot by the river to set up the tent, ignoring the "no overnight camping" sign. After getting settled in, I walked to the nearest gas station for some drinks and snacks, while Paula stayed back at camp. Paula had struck up a conversation with a woman who was taking her young daughter on a walk along the river. The lady, whose name I have forgotten, gave us her number and address in case we had any problems with police that night.
The night passed without any run-ins with the local police. We packed up, went for breakfast, and made our way out of town. The plan for the day was to get to the edge of Yellowstone National Park. We rode into Montana - through Wisdom, south to Jackson, then east towards Wyoming. It was dusk by the time we arrived in West Yellowstone, the small tourist town at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Driving through town, we found a field between a McDonald's and two hotels that had a nice cover of pine trees where we knew we could safely camp for the night. We waited until it started to get dark so that we would not be easily seen, then headed into the centre of the field, behind tree cover, and set up camp for the night.
Paula and I packed up in the morning, went for breakfast, and headed into Yellowstone National Park. We purchased the $80 interagency pass, which would allow us both entrance to all the national parks and many other state parks for the period of one year. We spent the day riding from the west entrance of Yellowstone, down to the south end of the park and all the way up the east side. We visited Old Faithful, a huge geyser in the south end of the park, and saw many kinds of wildlife roaming freely. Yellowstone was just awesome!
I'm sure that we could have found a place to stealth camp that night inside Yellowstone, but Paula and I decided to head out the north exit to camp, as if the wildlife was somehow confined to the imaginary boundary surrounding Yellowstone. Leaving the park, we crossed from Wyoming into the small town of Gardiner, Montana. After grabbing a quick dinner at the Subway in town, we went through our usual routine of looking for a suitable place to camp. We rode up to the top of a large hill overlooking the town of Gardiner, and found a large, flat, open area that we thought would be good for the night. Upon pulling in, we saw a young couple, who appeared to be in their early twenties, gathering firewood into their truck. The girl and I acknowledged each other as we passed, when she warned me that she had seen bones with meat on them where she had been gathering wood. Despite the warning, it was getting too late and too dark to be looking for somewhere else to camp. I also thought that, if there were bones with meat on them off in the distance, there was no reason for bears to come near our tent.
Wearing a headlamp, I began to gather fire wood in the area while Paula set up camp. That night, we had our first campfire. I kept the flames going late into the evening. The wind picked up during the night, and, in the morning, there was a light layer of dust, ash and fine dirt that had blown in while we were asleep.
After packing up and grabbing some breakfast, we spent the day riding through Yellowstone, seeing some of the things that we hadn't seen the previous day. Ideally, we would have needed at least four full days in Yellowstone to see everything that we wanted to see, but we knew the weather would soon be turning cold and we needed to start heading south.
Getting late in the day, we raced towards Grand Teton National Park, arriving at the mountains just before sunset. We stopped to take some photos at a few spots along the way. Getting low on fuel, we needed to find a gas station to fill up. Heading south, we came to a tee in the road, and I checked the GPS for fuel stations. The nearest was 15km east. Our route headed west, but this was our only option. We rode towards the gas station and the sky got darker. After filling up, we had a quick look around the area and realized that there were no good spots to camp, so we decided to head into Jackson, Wyoming for the night, which was just under 60km away.
Being an area with a lot of wildlife that tends to venture out onto the roads at dusk, we rode cautiously towards Jackson in the dark behind the inadequate illumination of my front headlight. With the sun having set, the air got colder and my hands began to freeze. With stone-cold fingers, barely able to work the clutch, we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming to discover a really interesting country and western cowboy-themed town.
We were hungry, so we stopped at a (not so country and western) pizza parlour in the centre of town to eat. After polishing off a large deluxe pizza, Paula and I headed out into the residential part of town to try to find a place to camp. We found a public park and pulled in to check it out. The spot looked good. We checked for irrigation heads but were unable to see any, picked a spot, set up the tent, and settled in for the night. In the morning, we would be headed for Salt Lake City.
Kent and Paula in Boise, Idaho
One of my most beautiful victims. This one stayed on for almost 1,500km.
Heading into Stanley, Idaho
Somewhere in Montana
A heard of buffalo lounging in a field in Yellowstone
A field of grazing buffalo in Yellowstone National Park
Paula in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
The colours of Yellowstone
Steam from The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
The Grand Prismatic Spring
The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented archaea in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water (I stole this description from Wikipedia).
The sun setting behind the Grand Tetons
Awesome report thus far. Keep it up! Subscribed.
I hope you two are getting paid for her modeling the riding gear at all these landmarks!
Keep having fun it makes the world a better place!
Your pics just keep getting better and better! Keep up with the good work
Boa viagem e divirtam-se!
It seems like we are going to continue to keep getting further and further behind on our blog. We're too busy traveling and doing other stuff.
Paula and Rocky,
Hello from the two gringos that got bandito'd at the Grand Cenote yesterday 12-17. We just got back to the states, waiting for a connection and thought I'd figure out your ride report.
You're way behind, but keep it that way. Have fun and safe travels. We'll be watching for when you do get a chance to update.
Eric and Megan
We just pulled into Chetumal last night. Tulum was a big disappointment. Paula got her purse stolen with her camera and iPhone, and I submerged my GoPro at the cenote with the housing that wasn't waterproof (my fault).
We're staying with a family, here in Chetumal, with a couple of other couchsurfers from South Korea. Hopefully we'll get another blog post up while we're here.
We pulled into Salt Lake City just as the sun was setting behind the mountains. The sky was glowing pink, peach, orange and yellow, creating one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. After grabbing a snack to eat, we rode around the city searching for a place to camp. Salt Lake has many large beautiful parks but, they were all well lit and difficult to hide a tent and motorcycle. As we rode up a large vacant street we noticed a car that ran out of gas, we pulled over to help push the vehicle and out of no where approximately ten strangers sprinted together from different directions to help as well. It was a sweet moment to have witnessed and a great reflection of this citys kindness.
Before continuing our search, we stopped at the gas station to prevent from running out of gas as well. We met a drunken couple there who started a conversation with us and when we asked if they could recommend a secluded place where we could camp, they told us of a park located just minutes away. The park was very dark, surrounded by bushes and hidden in a valley between mountains. We decided to place our tent in the far end of the park, near the bushes and under a large tree. As I was setting up the tent, Rocky walked around with a flashlight to check out our surroundings.
Through out this journey, Rocky has been fearless, so I was very surprised when he called me over and I noticed he was frightened (he denies this). He asked if I could hear strange noises in the bushes and although I heard strange, growling, screeches, I wasnt sure what I was listening to so I headed back to finish setting up the tent. When we began this trip, I had told Rocky that I wanted to purchase bear spray, a stun gun and a large sharp knife but he knew that I would only hurt myself while handling a weapon. After convincing me that a loud whistle would be the smartest and safest protection, every time I was frightened, I would sleep well while holding my whistle. As we sat in our tent that night and continued to hear creepy noises, I asked Rocky to pass me my whistle. His response was, I dont feel like looking for it right now. Besides, that whistle wont do shit for you. The following morning, when he admitted to having nightmares, I couldnt help but grin vengefully.
After packing up the bike and having a bite to eat, we arranged to meet Jill from www.couchsurfing.org. She was very soft spoken and polite but also really sweet for letting us stay with her at the last minute. It would have been nice to have gotten to know her better but she had previously made plans and was only able to talk for a few minutes. There was a beautiful large trailer parked in her driveway and she welcomed us to stay for as long as we needed. Although Rocky and I love hanging out with new people (because we are usually only around one another) it felt great being able to relax by ourselves in a place that felt our own. We picked up some Chinese food and beer, and while we were enjoying eating and drinking, I began to notice my surroundings and wondered if Jill had a thing for Santa Clause. There were many pictures, CDs, DVDs and books about Christmas and Santa everywhere. The next morning, as we were packing, there was a knock at the door and everything began to make sense. Santa was outside the door and he introduced himself as Jills husband, Bill. He explained to us that he is a professional Santa and he uses the trailer as his change room/workshop. Bill was a very jolly man and he seemed to be just as kind as Jill. He invited us to stay longer but we were packing up and getting ready to meet up with Brian.
Rocky met Brian on www.Advrider.com and he had asked us to stay with him and his family while riding through Utah. He owns a KLR and rode to meet with us at the Wasatch National Forest entrance. It was a scenic ride through the mountains and past Sundance before reaching Provo, Utah. As we neared Brians home, we stopped at the grocery store and offered to pick up a bottle of wine to go with dinner but we were given the impression that it wouldnt be a good idea. I felt it was strange and I wondered if Brian was either a recovering alcoholic or a Mormon. Seconds later, we stopped at a street light and Brian pointed to a statue of a golden angel holding a trumpet. He told us that the trumpet would sound when Jesus arrived, Brian was definitely a Mormon.
We got to his home and met his lovely wife and children. Janene was very quiet and shy but that didnt last long. She was funny, personable and prepared a delicious meal. For dessert, Janene offered us some green jello made with carrot shavings and told us that our experience in Provo, Utah wouldnt be complete without it. I didnt understand why, but she informed me that it was a Mormon joke and google informed me that it was a popular Mormon snack. I was surprised that it actually tasted good. Their children Layton and Liam were well behaved and very cute. I was amazed that at the age of 2, Liam was not only able to run very fast but he also had a natural ability to climb high and quickly. I predict that he will be a mountaineer when he grows up. The next morning, just as we finished packing up our things, Janene showed up with a key lime pie and lit candles to surprise Rocky for his birthday. It was extremely sweet and it made Rocky blush.
Back on the road, we headed towards Moab. It was nice to watch the landscape change drastically. As we finally arrived, there were dirt bikes, motorcycles, climbing gear and hiking boots everywhere, it became obvious that Moab was an active city. Our first night there, we camped in a field beside a motel. After packing up the bike in the morning, we decided to ride through Arches National Park. I really liked it there, the earth was decorated in the most beautiful red coloured sand and rock. There was a lot to see and we quickly discovered that we would have to return the following day to do some hiking.
Later that night, we met up with Chris, who we contacted on www.couchsurfing.org. He had just gotten off of a long shift at work and we were offered home made beer as soon as we got comfortable. Since it was Rockys birthday, it was nice to cheers with beer that put most brands to shame. I really liked Chris, he was a nice guy and he had a lot of information to share. It surprised me that he wasnt a park ranger.
Early the next morning, Chris went back to work and Rocky and I were awoken by roosters crowing. Excited to explore, we rode through Canyon Lands national park and with all the gear off the bike and we took Potash road down into the canyon. The road was dirt, narrow and steep but the view was incredibly stunning. Im afraid of heights and, at times, I feared the depth of the canyon, but I was mostly afraid when Rocky admitted that the back brakes had failed. He tried to reassure me that his front brakes still functioned, but being on a narrow, bumpy, dirt road without back brakes made me feel a bit uneasy.
As we continued riding, I got flash backs of watching cartoons as a child. I kept noticing the same type of bird running past so quickly that I could barely see its feet, but there was no coyote in sight. I always wanted the Wile E. Coyote to catch Road Runner but I now understand why it wasnt possible, Road Runners are fast!
We continued on Potash until we reached a paved road, with centuries-old petroglyphs carved into the cliffs by Native Americans. We returned to Arches National Park, but this time, we wanted to hike through the canyons. What a great way to spend a day!
Since we hadnt properly celebrated Rockys birthday yet, I took him out for dinner where we both tried Buffalo, Elk and Boar. It was all very tasty but I liked Elk the least. After our meal, we went back to Chriss and he had just arrived from work. He poured us some shots of the best whiskey we have ever tasted and showed me some pictures after Rocky passed out. After packing up the next morning, Rocky and I took Chris out for sushi before having to say goodbye. I highly recommend visiting Moab, meeting Chris and eating at Sabaku Sushi.
The night in Jackson, Wyoming was a cold one. We were awoken before sunrise to the sound of water splashing against the outside of our tent. It sounded like the sprinklers of the irrigation system we must have missed it in the dark the night before. We had to wait until the sprinklers stopped before we could leave the tent. Luckily, the sprinkler head closest to our tent was just outside our gear shed vestibule. If we had placed the tent a six inches to the left, the sprinkler head would have been inside the gear shed and we would have had a wet morning. It was a close call.
The sun rose above the trees and melted the frost covering the motorcycle. We loaded up the gear and decided to go for breakfast. We had met some local kids the night before in the park who were drunk and climbing on the outdoor climbing wall. They had recommended a breakfast burrito place in town, so we decided to check it out.
After polishing off the burrito and making a stop at McDonald's to use the internet, we hopped on the bike and made the, roughly, 450 km journey towards Salt Lake City, Utah. The weather was warm and sunny. The riding was steady and we were able to make good time. The sun neared the horizon when we were still about an our away from Salt Lake City. We rode the final 75km in into the city under a quickly darkening sky.
Paula, Almeida and I arrived in Salt Lake City about an hour after the sun had set. We rode in on the i80, westward over a hill that gave us a amazing view of the city lights and a dark red glow on the horizon. Salt Lake City look enormous.
Without a place to stay, we decided to look for an internet connection so that we could plan our night in the city. After spotting a few place on Google maps, we decided to head out and find a place to sleep.
Riding around town looking for a place to camp proved to be quite difficult. We rode around the city for over an hour looking for a place to set up the tent. The public parks in Salt Lake City all seemed to be too well lit for stealth camping. After visiting two major city parks, we decided to head up to the University of Utah to see if we could camp there. On our way there, we saw a car stalled on a hill. I pulled over to the side of the road and ran over to try to help push. At the same time, a group of university-aged kids ran over to help push as well. The driver of the vehicle had run out of gas.
Unable to find a decent camping spot on the university campus, we set off to find a gas station since the fuel light had been on for quite a number of kilometers.
While fuelling up, we drew the attention of a middle-aged couple who appeared to be quite drunk. They approached us and asked us about our trip, and we told them that we were looking for a place to camp for the night. They recommended a place not too far away from where we were that was secluded. We thanked them and followed their directions to what is know as "dog park". The park, situated at the base of steep hills that were surrounded by apartment buildings, was dark and quite secluded. Paula and I both heard eerie sounds coming from the darkness of the trees that we both had nightmares about that evening.
In the morning, we packed up and went for breakfast. We spent the day hanging out, working on photos and the blog, and trying to find a place to couch surf for a night or two. Paula made contact with a lady, named Jill, in a suburb of Salt Lake who offered her camper for us to sleep in. We arrived at Jill's place just after 5pm, met her and her niece, and settled into the camper for the night.
That night, I was contacted by a guy named Brian, who was also a member of the motorcycle message board, advrider.com. He live in Provo, Utah, and had offered us a place to stay for a night. We planned to meet him the following day for a ride through Wasatch Mountain State Park and into Provo.
We left Salt Lake City the next day in mid-afternoon, and met Brian the at the entrance to the park. All three of us rode through the mountain pass and over the other side, through Sundance and into Provo. Brian made a quick stop at the store to pick up some things for dinner. We asked if he'd like us to pick up a bottle of wine, but he said that might not be a good idea since they did not drink. Paula and I were beginning to wonder if Brian and his wife were religious, not knowing, at the time, that Provo, Utah is the Mormon capital of the universe. We came to a stop light on the way to Brian's home and Brian pointed out Bringham Young University and the trumpet-blowing angel. We immediately knew he was a Mormon. We had been warned by a few people to watch out for the Mormons. We didn't understand the reason for the warning, but I thought that this would be an interesting experience.
We arrived at Brian's and met his wife, Janene, and his two young children. Janene cooked us a great chicken dinner, with Jello and carrots for desert - a Mormon tradition. We all talked for a while after dinner. Brian asked Paula and I what religion we belonged to - Christian or Catholic. I responded by saying , "to be honest - I'm an atheist." Brian's face turned beat red, which I assumed was the embarrassment of bringing a non-believer into his home. I asked Brian and Janene about Mormonism. They said that they'd answer any questions that we had, but he seemed not to want to get into a religious discussion.
We awoke the next day, showered and started to pack up the bike for the ride to Moab, Utah. Janene was at work and, while we were loading up the bike, Paula and I got into a religious discussion with Brian. The conversation, as ones such as these so often do, snowballed and became quite intense. Put an Atheist and a Mormon together for long enough and a spirited discussion about religion is almost inevitable. Besides, I trip through the Mormon Corridor would not be complete without a good religious debate.
Janene returned home from work and surprised me with a lemon pie with some candles on top. It was my birthday, which both Brian and Janene had know, but this took me completely by surprise. I was a bit embarrassed being the center of such unexpected attention, and my face went as red as Brian's had been the night before.
After finishing off a piece of pie each, Paula and I had to get going if we wanted to make it to Moab before dark. We said goodbye to Brian and his family, and set off for Moab. Despite our philosophical disagreements, Brian and I got along quite well. Brian is a great guy with a kind and wonderful family.
It was dusk by the time we made it to Moab. We took a quick look around for a place to camp, and went to look for an internet connection. We wanted to wait until it was a bit darker to set up camp. After dark, we set out and found a spot in a large field near a hotel, and, after setting up camp, we settled in for the night.
We packed up in the morning and, after a quick Subway breakfast, Paula, Almeida and I headed out to spend the day exploring Arches National Park. We visited many of park's attraction, which took the major part of the day. Just before sundown, we head back in town to use the internet to try to find a couch to surf for a few nights. Paula contacted a guy named Chris, who said that he'd meet us after he got off work. We met Chris late in the evening outside of a grocery store in the center of Moab. Paula rode with Chris and I followed them back to his place. Chris is a really cool guy who works as a radio show host and waiter. We all hung out, had a few drinks and were later joined by another couch surfer who was a traveling musician.
Paula and I spent the next day riding around Canyonlands National Park. We arrived shortly after noon and decided that we'd ride along Potash Road. We took the route that lead along the edge of the canyon and rode down a switch-back that descended into the canyon. Halfway down, Almeida's rear brake completely failed, leaving me only with front braking power. After safely making our way to the bottom of the canyon, I allowed the bike to rest. I assumed that the heavy use of the brakes had caused the fluid to overheat and fail. It was a good opportunity to take a few photos, and, after a short cool-off period, the rear brake seemed to return to normal. Potash Road is an unpaved dirt and rock road that cuts through the canyon and leads back towards Moab.
Having not had the time for the hike to Delicate Arch the previous day, Paula and I decided to return to Arches National Park. The walk from the parking lot to the arch took almost an hour. We took some photos and hung out around the arch for a while. With very little daylight left, we decided to return to the bike and head for dinner.
We rode to the exit of the park and headed back into Moab where we spotted a steakhouse on the outskirts of the town. Since we hadn't had time the previous day, Paula wanted to take me out for a birthday dinner. I was craving a steak, but, wanting to stay on budget, I decided to opt for a more affordable meal. Paula and I finished up dinner, and we arrived back at Chris' place just after 9pm. I was exhausted and decided to hit the sack. Paula stayed up with Chris' for a while, hanging out and talking before heading to bed.
We packed up our gear in the morning, and rode into town with Chris for lunch. There was a good sushi restaurant in town, and, having been a while since we last had one of our favourite meals, we decided to check it out. Chris' friends were the chefs, and they prepared a great selection of dishes for us.
We left Moab shortly after noon. The sun was shining and the air was warm, but the bright, blue skies eventually turned dark and cloudy. The ride ahead into Colorado looked like it would be a wet one.
Paula in Arches National Park
Paula's model shot next to a large, stone phallus.
The entrance to Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park - Moab, Utah
Pine Tree Arch in Arches National Park
Leaving Arches National Park
A balancing rock in Canyonlands National Park
After our rear brake completely failed as we descended into the canyon, we eventually made out way down to this road.
Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah
Paula, standing next to a huge rock at the base of the canyon in Canyonlands National Park.
Delicate Arch - Arches National Park
Paula at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Paula with our couchsurfing host, Chris, in Moab, Utah
Update: Paula and I had a possible trip-ending accident here in El Salvado yesterday. We're both almost completely unharmed, but the bike suffered a lot of damage. The entire front end has been totaled, and the frame has cracked at the steering column.
A family whose friend witnessed the accident has taken us in off the street. It's Sunday, so they're taking us to the beach today. Tomorrow, we'll make arrangements and figure out what to do. Our best option seems to be to salvage the parts from the bike and head back to Canada and try to figure out if we can continue the trip somehow.
We're going to continue to post here and try to get caught up on all the blogging. Hopefully, our final post will not end here, in El Salvador. We've had such an amazing trip so far, we met so many awesome people, and we don't want it to end here.
We both want to thank John Eamon for everything. He has helped us out tremendously, and we both are indebted to him. Thank you, John, for all your help and concern.