The Big Ride – Homeward Bound (New York State)

Endings can sometimes be difficult but what I’ve learned is that experiences like The Big Ride live on.  A transformation of sorts, moving from on state to another.  The Big Ride feels like that for me.  The mileage is behind me but it lives on within me and within many of you who rode vicariously through me. That’s one of the gifts from living the dream – it’s never really over!

The final day arrived earlier this week, Monday August 10, 2015, when I rode from Rochester, New York to Ottawa, Ontario where home is for me.

Here’s a short video of me expressing how I was feeling that morning, followed by another of the ride through the scenic green farmlands of northern New York State.  I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day for the ride home.  The sky was blue and a gentle breeze danced across the fields and played with the clouds high in the sky.

And of course a few photos for your viewing pleasure.

Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride - Homeward bound

Pulling out on my last day of The Big Ride – homeward bound

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I know how to get around! 🙂
Picking up my new cowgirl boots in Odgensburg,NY before heading home to Ottawa
Picking up my new cowgirl boots in Odgensburg,NY before crossing the Canadian border  and heading home to Ottawa
The Odgensburg Bridge - I love the sound of the grated steel grated bridge under my tires - looking down when you're stopped is freaky :)
The Odgensburg Bridge – I love the sound of the grated steel bridge under my tires – looking down when you’re stopped is a little freaky 🙂
My final milage
My final mileage on The Big Ride including the 3000 kilometers in the rental car in northern British Columbia  totaled 28,000 Kilometers and my butt isn’t even get sore
At home with Emma who was happy to see me return
At home with Emma who was happy to see me return

In Closing, here are a few final words that I would like to share with you.

Thank you for riding along and most of all for supporting me on The Big Ride.  It wouldn’t have been the same without you.  I hope you enjoyed the journey.  If you have a “big dream” that you haven’t been able to get off the ground, contact me – I can help you make it happen! After all, that’s why we’re on this journey called life – to live it to its fullest!

The Big Ride – When you know the end is near (The Great Plains)

After riding the incredible roads in Utah it was difficult psychologically to head out onto the Great Plains knowing that it was the ride home. I don’t know about you, but sometime endings are challenging.  It’s easy to “checkout” before actually getting to the end.  I tried hard not to do this and took in as much of the Great Plains as I possible could.  The time passed quickly and I was able to ride through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio in only a few days.

I learned along the way that Kansas is the Sunflower State and not only are the fields adorned with beautiful yellow sunflowers, Black Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides.  As well, Illinois is the home state of Abe Lincoln – I stayed in his home town of Springfield, Illinois as I crossed the Plains.  The other thing I liked about the Great Plains is that it’s “cow country” and being somewhat of a carnivore…well you know what that means.

Here is a video of my ride, along with a few photos

welcome-kansas-state sign

Kansas is the sunflower state - in addition to the beautiful yellow Susan's grow wild long the roadsides
Kansas is the sunflower state – in addition to the beautiful yellow fields, Brown Eyed Susan’s grow wild long the roadsides
The ride through Illinois was expansive and it seems to stretch out ahead of me for miles and mile and miles
The ride through Illinois was expansive and it seemed to stretch out ahead of me for miles and mile and miles

welcome to Illinois state sign

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Indiana was beautiful with it's may corn fields and the soft rolling plains
Indiana was beautiful with it’s may corn fields and the soft rolling plains
I saw this crop duster at work while stopped for a break
I saw this crop duster at work while stopped for a break
Ohio was filled with wide open and expansive fields that allowed me to see forever
Ohio was filled with wide open and expansive fields that allowed me to see forever

 

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The Great Plains is cow country - when in Rome :)
The Great Plains is cow country – so when in Rome 🙂
While riding through the Great Plains I noted that many of the businesses and Rest Stops have storm shelters
While riding through the Great Plains I noted that many of the businesses and Rest Stops have storm shelters which would be a welcomed find during the tornado season!
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On the road again
A Blizzard was in order after a hot day's ride across the Plains
A  DQ Blizzard was in order after a hot day’s ride across the Plains
Group ride anyone/
Group ride anyone?

From here it means a short ride through New York State to the border and back into Canada where The Big Ride will conclude…but I’ll save that for the next post.  Until then keep smiling and enjoy the scenery – this moment will not pass by again!

The Big Ride – Natural wonders that make you wonder (Arches National Park and Colorado River, Utah)

One of the most spectacular sights I have experienced during my visit to Utah was Arches National Park located outside of the town of Moab.  The park contains over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and various rock formations and covers about 76,000 acres.  A hikers paradise for sure!

The national park is on top of an underground “evaporate” layer which is what causes the formation of the arches, spires, balanced rocks, sandstone fins and monoliths which are the large upright blocks of stone.  The salt bed is thousands of feet thick in places and was deposited there over 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated.  A number of layers of sandy sediments were deposited on top of the salt and then eroded away over millions of years.  This has resulted in the arches being formed.

Here are some photos of the incredible formations and arches that I experienced in the park.  The park is truly spectacular and a “must see” when you are visiting Utah.  Add it to your list – I promise you will not regret the visit.

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The rock formations look so spectacular up against the sky - one of Natures masterpieces!
The rock formations look so spectacular up against the sky – one of Natures masterpieces!

The vegetation is sparse but full of character
The vegetation is sparse but full of character
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This is one of the arches that you can hike in to see. This one was an easy walk, however there are other more challenging trails for those who are up to the challenge
This is one of the arches that you can hike in to see. This one was an easy walk, however there are more difficult trails for those who are up to the challenge

There are several arches that you can hike into - this is one of them.
There are several arches that you can hike into – this is one of them.
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I'm note sure if you'll be able to read this, but it explains in more detail how the arches and rock formations are created
I’m not sure if you’ll be able to read this, but it explains in more detail how the arches and rock formations are created
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This looks like a dinosaur was dong a little tail painting :)
This looks like a dinosaur was doing a little tail painting  🙂

I found more dinosaur art work in one of the stone walls
I found more dinosaur art work on one of the stone walls

It's an easy walk to this arch and it's also possible to climb into the arch
It’s an easy walk to this arch and it’s also possible to climb into the arch

Look whose in the arch :)
Look whose in the arch 🙂

I love the way this tree looks
I love the way this tree looks

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While in the park I felt like I was riding in another space and time. Does it get more spectacular than this!

Walking on the "wild side"
Walking on the “wild side”

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There are hiking and walking trails throughout the park that lead to some pretty interesting places – this is one of them

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Big Blue among the natural wonders

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This is Park Avenue – the panoramic view is spectacular but hardly compares to what it looked like in real time

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This is just one of the thousands of breathtaking vistas found in Arches National Park
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And for a smile of two:

I've got a sheep by the horns :)
I’ve got a sheep by the horns 🙂

On a local laundromat in Moab
A local laundromat in Moab
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In closing, my visit to the park was extraordinary and one that I would definitely like to do again.  It has so much to offer those who love to hike and explore the geological wonders that have been created over hundreds of millions of years.   That through alone is staggering.

I would like to leave you with a video of one of my favorite rides while in Utah which was along the Colorado river.  The canyons in the morning light as the sun was rising were breathtakingly beautiful.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I did.

The last leg of my journey will be a spirited ride across the Great Plains of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana as I make my way home.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been on the road for almost three months!  It’s been an incredible experience and a trip of a lifetime!!  I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I’m so grateful to be living my dream out loud.  Most of all, I’m grateful to have shared it with you!

The Big Ride – Natural wonders (More from Utah)

My visit to Utah was filled with a number of great sights to see and some pretty amazing roads to ride.  If you checked out my last post you may have already viewed Part 1 of the video from Capitol Reef National Park.  I’ve broken up the ride into three parts.  Here’s Part 2 and Part 3 from what was a pretty awesome ride!

My time in Utah included a visit to Natural Bridges National Monument Park which has three natural arches all located within a couple miles of each other. The only other place in the world where such a marvel can be found is China.

The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed by erosion from water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods the streams wash against the rock walls and in time erodes the stone until the new stream bed then flows underneath the newly formed bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge’s opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the park.

Here are a few photos from my time in the park which happened to be the third “rain day” that I’ve had since leaving home on May 13, 2015 which is a marvel unto itself!

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The Park is located on Highway 95 and was designated a National Monument by President Roosevelt in 1908, making it accessible to anyone who wanted to come and see the amazing wonders of Nature.  It’s a haven for hikers!

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This is the oldest and the most delicate of the Natural Bridges located at the Natural Bridges National Memorial Park on Highway 95.  The river that formed the bridge has long since changed its course and is now many miles away from here
Owachomo is the oldest and the most delicate of the Natural Bridges located at the Natural Bridges National Memorial Park on Highway 95. The river that formed the bridge has long since changed its course and now flows many miles away from here
I love that way this rock has been formed over time
I love that way this rock has been formed over time

And here are a few more photos of my ride from Hanksville to Moab, Utah by way of the Scenic Byway (Highway 95) and Highway 191.

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I love the way the road winds through the canyon - it made for an awesome ride!
I love the way the road winds through the canyon – it made for an awesome ride!

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One of the beautiful vistas found on Highway 95, one of the Scenic Byways in Southern Utah
One of the many beautiful vistas found on Highway 95, a Scenic Byway in Southern Utah

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Another of the beautiful wildflowers found in Utah
Beautiful wildflowers found on my ride
Church Rock is quite amazing in that it stands alone in a field - It makes you wonder how it ended up there in the first place
Church Rock is quite amazing in that it stands alone in a field – It makes you wonder how it ended up there in the first place
The wind and rain continue to smooth out the many rock formations that are found in Utah
The wind and rain continue to smooth out the many rock formations that are found in Utah

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Wilsons Arch is south of Moab on Route 119 and just one of the many natural arches that Nature has carved out of the stone
Wilsons Arch is south of Moab on Route 119 and just one of the many natural arches that Nature has carved out of the stone
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Such an incredible array of unique formations can be found in Southern Utah

Local art

ATVs can be rented at a number of locations in Moab, Utah and is a great way to cehck out the area - rock climbing with 4 wheelers is very popular
ATVs can be rented at a number of locations in Moab, Utah and is a great way to check out the area – rock climbing with 4 wheelers is very popular
Local art
Local art
Enjoying one of the many excellent cafes and restaurants in Moab, Utah after a great day of touring the  amazing sites in the surrounding area
Enjoying one of the many open air restaurants in Moab, Utah after a great day of touring the area

There was so much to see and do in Utah that I’ll have one more post from the area before moving on.  Stay tuned for the final episode which will include some awesome photos from my visit to Arches National Park and a video from my ride along the Colorado River. Until then, go with the flow…it’s easier to paddle in that direction.

The picture hardly does justice to what this actually looks like in real time - vistas such as this one left me in a state of awe!

The Big Ride – When you know you know (Part 2 – Bryce Canyon, Utah)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, when I was planning The Big Ride, Utah was very high on my list.  So much so that I purchased a book on motorcycle touring of the State.

Any motorcyclist would agree that when you can combine a great technical ride that offers a few hills and challenging curves along with breathless vistas it’s a ride made in heaven!

That’s what riding in Utah was for me – a ride made in heaven.  Here’s a sampling of what I lived while in Bryce Canyon National Park along with a video of the ride through Capitol Reef National Park.

Outside of Panguitch, Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park
Outside of Panguitch, Utah on the way to Bryce Canyon National Park
Riding through the high desert on the way to Bryce Canyon
Riding through the high desert on the way to Bryce Canyon
Riding through the Red Canyon on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Riding through the Red Canyon on my way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Another great photo from my ride in Red Canyon earlier in the day
Another great photo from my ride in Red Canyon earlier in the day

Here is a video compilation of a few of the lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park, a haven for anyone who happens to enjoy hiking, cycling and rattlesnake watching.  Yes I did see a Diamond Back Rattlesnake while in the park!

Bryce Canyon City is located at the park entrance and has numerous touristy spots to check out
Bryce Canyon City is located at the park entrance and has numerous touristy spots to check out
Bryce Canyon National Park is a bucket list item for anyone who loves hiking, biking, motorcycling, rattlesnake watching and more!
Bryce Canyon National Park is a bucket list item for anyone who loves hiking, biking, motorcycling, rattlesnake watching and more!

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Natural bridge Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of the many natural bridges found in Utah and are created over several millions years from water erision
Natural Bridge in Bryce Canyon National Park is just one of the many natural bridges found in Utah that have been created over several million years from water erosion

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Inspiration Point is one my favorite vistas in Bryce National Park – I can’t count the number of photos I have of this 🙂

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Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon
Ponderosa Point in Bryce Canyon

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Black Birch Canyon  is one of the many outlooks  in the Bryce Canyon National Park
Black Birch Canyon is one of the many outlooks in Bryce Canyon National Park

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Agua Canyon is one of the may spectacular lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park
Agua Canyon is one of the may spectacular lookouts in Bryce Canyon National Park

The picture hardly does justice to what this actually looks like in real time - vistas such as this one left me in a state of awe!

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
The rock formations have been sculpted over 35 to 50 million years - a meer moment in time
The rock formations have been sculpted over 35 to 50 million years – a mere moment in time
Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon
Tommy (left) and Richard (right) were from California and happened to be staying at the same hotel in Panquitch, Utah and as chance would have it we ended up running into each other over the course of the day while touring Bryce Canyon National Park - I hope you had a safe ride to Sturgis
Tommy (left) and Richard (right) were from California and happened to be staying at the same hotel in Panguitch, Utah and as chance would have it we ended up running into each other over the course of the day while touring Bryce Canyon National Park – I hope you had a safe ride to Sturgis guys

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Wildflowers in Utah are abundant despite very little soil in the canyons
Wildflowers in Utah are abundant despite very little soil in the canyons

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After leaving Bryce Canyon National Park on my way to Hanksville Utah where I stayed the night, I had the pleasure of riding through Capitol Reef National Park.  This was a ride that I will never forget!  The Canyon was amazing to ride.  Here’s a video of only a small part of what can only be described as a ride Divine!

Capitol Reef National Park was incredible to ride through - it took my breath away!
Capitol Reef National Park was incredible to ride through – it took my breath away!
Another amazing photo from the Capitol Reef National Park
Another amazing photo from the Capitol Reef National Park
On the road in Capitol Reef National Park - if you are in Utah this is a must
On the road in Capitol Reef National Park – if you are in Utah this is a must
Riding through Capitol Reef National Park - simply amazing
Riding through Capitol Reef National Park – simply amazing
A stop to admire one of the many incredible vistas in southern Utah
A stop to admire one of the many incredible vistas in southern Utah

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The rock formations are incredible  in Utah
The rock formations are incredible in Utah

If you liked what you saw here keep an eye out for my next blog as I have more to share with you from my time in Utah.  Until then play safe and enjoy the journey of life.

The Big Ride – When you know that you know (Part 1- Red Canyon, Utah)

Throughout The Big Ride I’ve felt blessed to be living my dream and for being able to share it with you.

If you have been following my blog you know that I’ve been on the road now for two and a half months.  I left Ottawa, where I live, on May 13, 2015 and I’ve ridden 20,000 kilometers so far – for my friends on the US side of the border that’s about 12,500 miles.  I still have another month of travels ahead of me and will likely put on another 6 to 8,000 kilometers.  This excludes when I left my bike enroute and drove 3000 kilometers in the rental car to visit my dad’s resting place in Northern BC – A wise decision given the forest fires at the time!

During The Big Ride I have seen and experienced some pretty spectacular and incredibly amazing things.

I’ve ridden roads with sweeping curves that were so sweet I felt completely at one with them and I’ve ridden others that were so steep and so high that I thought I was in the heavens; I’ve seen vistas with such beauty and grandeur that it literally took my breath away – nope it wasn’t the altitude 🙂 ;  I’ve spoken with individuals along the way that had lost all sense of hope of being able to live their dreams and before I left them I saw a sparkle of optimism in their eyes;  I’ve been inspired by others that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along the way who are also living their dreams;  and I’ve been moved by the wonderment of Life, its magnificence and amazed at how everything works out when you let it; I’ve returned to where I was raised, reflected on where I’ve been in my life and the long winding roads have provided me the time to envision what I’d like the next chapter to look like; I’ve shared precious moments with family and rekindled friendships that will remain with me forever;  and you likely won’t want to hear this but on three occasions on this  trip I have felt the wings of the Angels brush by me.

When I started planning this trip over a year ago I purchased a motorcycle touring book on Utah.  When I started reading the book it was so exciting I couldn’t put it down.  It actually kept me up at night! Over the past few weeks it was looking doubtful that I would be able to include Utah on this ride.  The weather in southern California was extremely hot and riding south in 40+ degrees celsius didn’t seem plausible.  Instead I stayed north and when I got to Salt Lake City it was a critical “go no-go” decision point for me.

As it turned out the weather in Utah shifted and was more moderate so I decided to head south to make my way to Bryce Canyon National Park over a couple of days.  I must say I was filled with excitement and anticipation of what lay ahead.

When I turned onto the highway that would take me the last few miles to Bryce Canyon, I found that I had to drive through Red Canyon – to be honest I hadn’t heard of it and the sign I passed looked like any other that I had seen along the way.  When I turned the corner and the Red Canyon came into site I was literally swept away by its magnificence.  A strange feeling swept over me and I knew in that moment that this was why I had taken The Big Ride.  This was why I needed to ride the 26,000+ kilometers that will eventually complete this trip.  I knew in that moment that despite still having a months travel ahead of me, this was what I had come to experience.  This is what would make this incredibly amazing journey complete!

A feeling wonderment flooded over me.  As I stood in awe on the side of the road looking up at the sheer beauty of the massive red peaks of stone that Nature had so wondrously sculpted over time, I could no longer contain the joyfulness within me as tears ran down my cheeks. I knew in that moment that it was okay for me to start heading home. Being in Utah allowed me to complete this part of the journey.

The following video is only a glimpse of what I’ve seen in southern Utah.  I’ll be sharing more photos and video with you in the come days but here’s what I saw that morning as I rode through the Red Canyon. Enjoy!

This is what I saw when I came around the corner when I entered Red Canyon - and it continued to get more spectacular as I went along - just wait until you see some of the photos and video from the rest of my visit to Utah!
This is what I saw as I came around the corner when I entered Red Canyon – and it continued to get more spectacular as I went along – just wait until you see some of the photos and video from the rest of my visit to Utah!

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Big Blue loved being in Utah as much as I did - she loved the ride!
Big Blue loved being in Utah as much as I did – she loved the ride!
One of the two natural rock tunnels I rode through in Red Canyon
One of the two natural rock tunnels I rode through in Red Canyon
What could possibly be more beautiful than this?
What could possibly be more beautiful than this?
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These peaks have been formed over the space of 35 to 50 million years. How incredible is that!
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Living the dream in real time

Stay tuned for more awesome photos and videos from my ride in Utah. Next up will be Bryce Canyon.  I’m betting that you will love it as much as I did!

The Big Ride – When elegance meets beauty (Victoria, British Columbia)

If you are familiar with the West Coast and specifically Vancouver Island, you know that there are only three ways in which to leave. You can fly, take one of the ferries or if you have very strong arms you could swim…just kidding of course.

As my visit in Nanaimo and the surrounding area concluded, I made my way down island to Victoria in order to continue the next leg of my journey on “The Big Ride”. The ferry that I decided to take sailed to Port Angeles, Washington three times daily.  To take advantage of leaving on an early ferry it meant spending a day in Victoria and taking in the local sights. I know it’s hard to take!

For those of you who might not be familiar with the city of Victoria, it was established in the early 1840’s and it is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest.  It was settled by the British and is named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.  When news of the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland reached San Francisco in 1858, Victoria became the port, supply base and centre for miners on their way to Barkerville, BC and other Fraser Canyon gold fields.   Victoria mushroomed from a population of 300 to over 5000 literally within a few days.  Victoria also has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s.  Much like Victoria, its Chinatown had its beginning with the  mass influx of gold miners from California.  The historic city of Victoria, which is also the capital city of British Columbia, has retained many of its period buildings. Two worth mentioning are the British Columbia Legislature Building and of course the Empress Hotel – a Fairmont classic.

There are a number of interesting ways to tour the city including double decker buses, water taxis and harbour tours.  I chose the latter as it provided an excellent way to see the Inner Harbour and the Gorge.  An excellent choice as it provided me with a new perspective of this elegant city.

Here are a few photos of my short visit to Victoria located at the southern most point on the Island.

The BC Legislature - one of the orginal historic buildings in Victoria, BC
The British Columbia Legislature – one of the orginal historic buildings in Victoria, BC
One of the many native totem poles found in downtown Victoria
One of the many native totem poles found in downtown Victoria – this one is located on the front lawn of the BC Legislature

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At the Empress Hotel – A Fairmont Classic

The Empress Hotel - one of the original historic buildings in Victoria BC and a Fairmont Classic
The Empress Hotel – one of the original historic buildings in Victoria BC and a Fairmont Classic
What would be a visit to Victoria if you didn't enjoy "High Tea" at the Empress Hotel - an elegantly rich experience fit for any Princess :)
What would be a visit to Victoria if you didn’t enjoy “High Tea” at the Empress Hotel – an elegantly rich experience fit for any Princess 🙂
The entrance to the Empress Hotel
The entrance to the Empress Hotel
An amazing ceiling in the Empress Hotel
An amazing ceiling in the Empress Hotel
a statue of Emily Carr, a renowned  Canadian authour
A statue of Emily Carr, a renowned Canadian artist who was born in Victoria, BC

There are numerous other historic buildings in the city that are rich in architectural design.  Here are a few that caught my eye.

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A little of the greenery in the "Garden City"
A little greenery in the “Garden City”
One of the many historical buildings located along the waterfront
One of the many historic buildings located along the waterfront

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Another great historic buildings in Victoria
Another great historic building in Victoria

 

Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco
Victoria has the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco

Here are a few other photographs that I hope you enjoy from what was a short but very enjoyable visit to Victoria, BC.

The Inner Harbour located in downtown  Victoria
The Inner Harbour located in downtown Victoria

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One of the beautiful homes found on the Gorge
One of the beautiful homes found on the Gorge
An old trestle  that cross the Gorge that now serves as a pedestrian crossing
An old trestle that crosses the Gorge that now serves as a pedestrian crossing
Camping anyone?
Camping anyone?
This is a picture of the rock ballast unloaded by the ships that once sailed into Victoria Harbour - as you can see they were put to good use.
This is a picture of the rock ballast unloaded by the ships that once sailed into Victoria Harbour – as you can see they were put to good use.
A west coast sunset
A west coast sunset
A new friend :)
A new friend 🙂
Mermaids with musical talents do exist...but only in beautiful BC
Mermaids with musical talents do exist…but only in “Beautiful BC”

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Local native art found in the Victoria Conference Centre
Local native art found in the Victoria Conference Centre

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A local water taxi is an excellent way to get around the Inner Harbour while visiting Victoria
A local water taxi is an excellent way to get around the Inner Harbour while visiting Victoria
Another great way to see the city of Victoria
Another great way to see the city of Victoria
One of the local native totem poles in the area
One of the local native totem poles in the area
The water was rough out at the point as it was quite a windy day
The water was rough out at the point as it was quite a windy day

A windy day on the point of Vancouver Island where the city of Victoria is located

A little creative floral artwork found along the Inner Harbour
A little creative floral artwork found along the Inner Harbour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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zzzzzzzz Enjoying a short nap  on the front lawn of the BC Legislature Building
zzzzzzzz Enjoying a short nap on the front lawn of the BC Legislature Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the next leg of my journey I’ll be returning to the United States to tour the west coast of Washington, Oregon and California before starting to make my way east towards home.  I hope you’ll be joining me for the rest of this incredible trip.

 

The Big Ride – Reconnecting with the old and embracing the new

My visit to British Columbia wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to Vancouver Island where I lived for a decade before moving to Ottawa.   If you have been to the Island you will be familiar with with eagles that soar high above the majestic Douglas Fir trees, the fresh scent of the cedar trees that lingers in the air and the sound of the sea as it washes against the shoreline. Regardless of the season, Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to visit and my return home to the west coast this summer was no exception.

For me, being on the Island was about taking the time to reconnect with old friends and former colleagues.  It was wonderful being back, enjoying walks on the beach, time spent at the Nanaimo Harbour and walking on the seawall, enjoying good food at some of my favourite restaurants and most of all sharing time with friends new and old.  The challenge of course was trying to fit it all.  My good friend Sue graciously allowed me to stay with her, using her place as my home-base during my visit.   Thank you Sue for your wonderful hospitality!

I also got in some great riding, including a day out on the road with Barry Switnicki.  Barry is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and a senior trainer and mentor coach with Ericksons International, the college where I acquired my coach training.  Barry was one of my “distant” mentor coaches and although I had connected with him by telephone on a number of occasions I had not met him in person.  Barry lives in Nanaimo where he has a thriving coaching business, Pacific Change Mentors, and he enjoys motorcycling!  Barry suggested we connect for a motorcycle ride when I got to the Island, an offer I just couldn’t refuse – Barry, thank you for the awesome day out on the road!

The ride took us through Cathedral Grove – a majestic stand of old growth trees, located west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4.  If you’ve not visited Vancouver Island or taken the time to walk through Cathedral Grove, it’s a must do!

The forest is composed mostly of mature Douglas fir trees and ancient western red cedar. The trees are 300 to 400 years old, but some go as far back as 800 years. These older trees stand like giants with some reaching 250 feet high and trunks that measure over 30 feet in circumference. The grove of trees is one of the last stands of old growth on the Island and are survivors of a forest fire that ravaged the area some 350 years ago. The Park is protected from logging and has a wooden walkway through parts of the forest allowing visitors to experience its majesty!

Here are a few photos from my visit to the Island, along with with a short video of the ride.

The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
The Nanaimo waterfront located in the downtown area of the city, not far from the office where I worked
A working fish boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
A working fishing boat docked in the Nanaimo Harbour
An interesting bicycle rack
An interesting bicycle rack in Nanaimo

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Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Enjoying a walk along the waterfront in Nanaimo, BC
Snagged!
Snagged!

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Trolls is a flooting restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips  on the Island!
Trolls is a floating restaurant in Nanaimo Harbour and a great place to enjoy some of the best fish and chips on the Island!
One of the heritage buidlings owntown Nanaimo, BC
One of the heritage buildings in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
Another heritage building in downtown Nanaimo, BC
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
This is the Nanaimo Service Canada Centre where I worked before moving to Ottawa.
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street
Downtown Nanaimo on Commercial Street

A few photos from the Ladysmith area

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Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC
Enjoying time at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith, BC

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There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
There are amazing rocks along the shoreline at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
Interesting architecture in Ladysmith BC
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith
More interesting architecture in Ladysmith

My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂

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Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Qualicum Beach north of Parksville, BC
Cooling off on a warm summers day
Cooling off on a warm summers day

When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.

The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 - It's known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store - yup you read that right goats!
The Coombs Market is located west of Qualicum Beach on the way to Port Alberni on Highway 4 – It’s known for the goats that hang out on the roof of the store – yup you read that right “goats!”
The notorious goats on the roof of Coombs Market
The infamous goats on the roof of Coombs Market
Inside the Combs Market where you can find a little of everything!
Inside the Coombs Market where you can find a little of everything!
The Combs Market has a little bit of everything!
The Coombs Market has a little bit of everything!
With Barry Switnicki at the Combs Market
With Barry Switnicki and the “lucky” Budda at the Coombs Market
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
Visiting Cathedral Grove while out riding with Barry Switnicki from Pacific Change Mentors.
I'm a tree hugger at heart
I’m a tree hugger at heart
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
Cathedral Grove, west of Qualicum Beach on Highway 4
I stopped in at Cathedral Grove which is located between Qualicum Beach  and Port Alberni on Highway 4.  The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 9 feet!
Cathedral Grove is located between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni on Highway 4. The trees are between 300 and 800 years old with some of them as high as 250 feet and circumferences of up to 30 feet!
Another perspective :)
Another perspective 🙂

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And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,

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A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
A stop at the FBI was in order while visiting Vancouver Island
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn - the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
Lunch at the Fanny Bay Inn – the fresh raw oysters and clam chowder were very good!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!
A few oysters have been shucked at Fanny Bay!

And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.

Mahle House in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo - they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and is provide a quaint setting - a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.
Mahle House Restaurant in Cedar BC, just south of Nanaimo – they support the surrouding area by using fresh local ingredients and provides a quaint setting – a must if you are in the area and are looking for an excellent restaurant that provides casual fine dining.

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And when it's hot...there's another way to cool off!  Cruising with the top down works :)
And when it’s hot…there’s another way to cool off! Cruising with the top down with my friend Sue 🙂


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Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo - It's to die for!
Visiting the Island just would not be the same without enjoying candied salmon from the Seadrift Fish Market located in Terminal Park, Nanaimo – It’s to die for!


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Some interesting local art
Some interesting local art

From here I was Victoria bound where I spent an incredible day enjoying the sights of this historic city prior to boarding the ferry for the State of Washington.  Stay tuned for my post that will include a few photos from the area.  Until then, enjoy the moment…there will never be another like it!

The Big Ride – When expectations are exceeded ten fold! (Duffey Lake Road, BC – Highway 99)

In the past two months I have had the opportunity to ride in some pretty amazing places. Building the Duffey Lake Road into my itinerary allowed me to do it yet again and this time in my own backyard.  While living in British Columbia I had taken this road in the early 1990’s but had forgotten how spectacular it was.  This is not a road for new motorcycle riders and I would not recommend it to just anyone but if you are an experienced rider and happen to live in the area or plan on being in the area, I would encourage you to check it out.  If you’re not a motorcyclist it would be a pretty darned good ride in a car as well.  This really is one amazing ride and I’d bet that when you’re done you’ll agree with me!

If you aren’t familiar with the road, Highway 99 connects central British Columbia with the southern part of the province and is made up of a number of sections including the “Sea to Sky Highway” which is the southern section from Horseshoe Bay (where the ferry to Nanaimo is located) to Pemberton.  The highway travels along the coast of Howe Sound to Squamish and on to Whistler. From there it goes to Pemberton where the Sea-to-Sky Highway ends and Duffey Lake Road begins. This section goes on for almost 100 winding kilometres in very steep mountains where it connects with Lillooet.  In my view it is the most breathtaking section! Not only is it very challenging with the speed limit dropping as low as 30 km per hour due to the tight curves, it twists through some of the most pristine countryside you will ever see.  The highway runs through the Duffey Lake Provincial Park, alongside numerous lakes, streams and waterfalls. From there the road connects Lillooet with central British Columbia near Cache Creek just south of Clinton.

Here is a video of my what I experienced on the ride.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

In addition to the video, here are a few photos from my ride from Clinton, BC to Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry over to Nanaimo to spend a few days connecting with friends in Nanaimo and the surrounding area.

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One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels
One of the local roadside stands I checked out during my travels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.

Duffey Lake - This is just one of the many prestige lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the "Sea to Sky Highway"
Duffey Lake – This is just one of the many pristine lakes found along Highway 99 which runs from central British Columbia near Clinton, through Lillooet and connects with Whistler and Squamish. The southern portion of the highway is referred to as the “Sea to Sky Highway”

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Loving it here!
Loving it here!


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Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffy Lake Highway - what a magnificent ride
Just one of the waterfalls found along the Duffey Lake Highway – what a magnificent ride
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99
One of the clear mountain streams that runs along Highway 99

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There are s number of train tunnels along the Duffy Lake Road Highway 99
There are a number of train tunnels along the Duffey Lake Road on Highway 99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC
A little peach tree found in Lillooet, BC

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Local native art
Local native art

The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC

Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
Enjoying the afternoon checking out Whistler, BC
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler - this is definitely a young persons sport!
I stopped by to watch some of the mountain bike riders in Whistler – this is definitely a young persons sport!

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In the Village at Whistler
In the Village at Whistler
Checking out the Village
Checking out the Village
Whistler Village
Whistler Village

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Near Squamish, BC
Near Squamish, BC
South of Whistler, BC
South of Whistler, BC

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To close this blog, here are a few photos taken while in Horseshoe Bay as I headed over to Vancouver Island to reconnect with friends.  I spent ten years on the Island before moving to Ottawa so in many respects it felt as if I was “homeward bound”.

Homeward bound
Homeward bound
Waiting to board the ferry Nanaimo bound
Waiting to board the ferry to Nanaimo
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I hung out in Horseshoe Bay Park while waiting for the next sailing to Vancouver Island. There is always lots to see and do

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe one of these :)
My next ride perhaps…you gotta love an Audi!
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country
Interesting way to haul a motorcycle across the country – those are Quebec plates
A new friend
A new friend
An angel in the making...progress not perfection :)
An angel in the making…progress not perfection 🙂

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On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. Must say Big Blue was the nicest bike in the lineup :)
On the ferry getting ready to sail to Nanaimo. I must say Big Blue was the prettiest bike in the lineup 🙂
Sweet
Sweet sweet…very sweet

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A beautiful day for sailing
A beautiful day for sailing

While on Vancouver Island I had the opportunity to do some great riding.  When I have the video ready for posting I’ll share it with you!  Until then, live life out load and laugh a lot!

 

The Big Ride – When Big is BIGGER than Big and goes over the top! (Beartooth Highway, Wy)

As my trip unfolds it seems to me that the sights are getting better and better.  While enroute to Yellowstone Park I took a day to ride Beartooth Highway which runs along the Wyoming and Montana border.   The first known crossing of the Beartooth mountains was in August 1872.  A General in the Civil War, along with 120 of this men followed the advice of an old hunter who recommended taking the route while returning from an inspection of Yellowstone Park.  In 1936 when the road opened, it essentially followed the General’s first route over the pass.

The road is very impressive with its series of steep zigzags and switchbacks that continue upwards to almost 11,000 feet and includes some of the most dramatic landscapes.  It was also very “cool” to see snow along the route at the higher elevations!  Christmas in June anyone? 🙂

Because of the high altitude, snowstorms can occur even in the middle of the summer.  The pass is known for exceptionally strong winds and severe thunderstorms.  I was chased around by a few threatening clouds during the ride but managed to hang on to my bike and avoided getting wet.

Here is a video of the days ride across the Beartooth mountains along with a number of photos taken while enjoying the ride.

Shoshone National Forest on route to Beartooth Highway
Shoshone National Forest enroute to Beartooth Highway – Wyoming Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway)

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A pullout in the Shoshone Forest to soak up the spectacular vistas
A pullout in the Shoshone National  Forest to soak up the spectacular vistas
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Beartooth highway runs along the Wyoming and Montana boarders close to the north east entrance of Yellowstone Park
In the Shoshone Forest in Wyoming Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway) near Cooke City
In the Shoshone Forest in Wyoming Highway 296 (Chief Joseph Scenic Byway) near Cooke City

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Being one with nature - this was one aggressive monster sized chipmunk who loved Georgia Pecans
Being one with nature – this was one aggressive monster sized chipmunk who loved Georgia Pecans
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The summit of the Beartooth Highway
A series of switchbacks on the Beartooth Highway, Wyoming Route 212
A series of switchbacks on the Beartooth Highway, Wyoming Route 212

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The Go Pro on my helmet always creates  conversation with passersby
The Go Pro on my helmet always creates conversation with passersby – I’ve even been asked if I work for Google.  A second career perhaps :
The top of Beartooth Highway still had a snow quite a bit of snow
The top of Beartooth Highway still had quite a bit of snow
Snowball fight anyone? :)
Snowball fight anyone? 🙂
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Just a little snow left on the mountain…this looks like PEI after this past winter on the east coast

My next post will be with Yogi Bear in Yellowstone Park!

The Big Ride – Diversity is key…peak to peak with a corral or two! (Spearfish Canyon Sd and Big Horn National Forest, Wy)

I had mentioned in a previous blog that after leaving Rapid City, South Dakota, I rode through Spearfish Canyon.  It seems that route was just the beginning of more spectacular things to come.  Yay for me!

Before I tell you about all of the other great riding I’ve been doing, here is the video I promised of my ride through Spearfish Canyon on my way to Sheridan, Wyoming:

What followed ended up being pretty spectacular.  The ride from Sheridan to Cody took me through the Big Horn National Forest.  It sounds like it would be a bunch of trees but that wasn’t the case.  The road took me to the top of a couple of very spectacular mountain ranges including through an amazing canyon.  The vistas were breathtakingly beautiful.  So much so that I ran my GoPro camera dry before the end of the day and missed filming some of the most spectacular views.  What an amazing ride that was.  The magnificence of the incredibly awesome red canyon walls on this ride will stay with me forever.

Here’s are a few photos followed by a short clip of what can only be described as a spectacular ride:

My day started off by pulling up in front of a store that sold Kettle Corn.  What a great start to an incredible day!
My day started off by pulling up in front of a store that sold Kettle Corn. What a great start to an incredible day!
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One of my favorite snacks

Kettle Corn

From here it kept getting better and better!

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Overlooking Big Horn National Forest
Overlooking Big Horn National Forest
Entering the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming - Highway 14
Entering the Big Horn National Forest in Wyoming – Highway 14

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Big Horn National Forest - Approaching the canyon on Highway 14
Big Horn National Forest – Approaching the canyon on Highway 14

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Big Horn National Forest
Big Horn National Forest
Big Horn National Forest - Amazing ride through the canyon
Big Horn National Forest – Amazing ride through the canyon

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Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming - Riding through the canyon
Big Horn National Forest, Wyoming – Riding through the canyon – it was breathtaking in all of its magnificence!

After a great day of riding I finished up the day by taking in a dinner show at the Cody Cattle Company followed by the local rodeo.  Yes you read that right.  It’s been a few years since I last attended anything like it, but I must say it sure was a lot of fun! Here are a few photos from my evening out on the town…or should I say in the corral.

Dinner and show at the Cody Cattle Company before heading to the rodeo!
Dinner and show at the Cody Cattle Company before heading to the rodeo!

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Dinner and show at the Cody Cattle Company with the local cowboys
Hanging out with the local cowboys in Cody Wyoming

Then I was off to the rodeo to watch a few cowboys and cowgirls strut their stuff.

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Here are few additional photos of things that caught my eye.

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Downtown Cody, Wyoming
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The famous Irma Hotel…where the evening gun fight is held and everyone is guaranteed a good time…yee haw!
Local art work
Local art work
Been there...done that :)
Been there…done that 🙂

From here I’m heading to Yellowstone Park to look for Yogi Bear! Stay tuned 🙂

The Big Ride – How do you spell WOW! (Lusk, Wy and Blackhills, South Dakota)

As I was leaving Colorado I felt somewhat melancholy after the awesome motorcycle riding I had experienced while visiting there.  My ride to South Dakota took me through a small part of Wyoming with an overnight stop in Lusk, which at first glace looked like a one horse town.  As it turned out, it was a cute horse.

I caught the cowboy...got the boot...and now I've got the horse!
I caught the cowboy…I bought the boots…and now I’ve got the horse!
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Gone country!

I  stayed at the Best Western in Lusk, Wyoming which had a very interesting western theme in their outdoor entertainment area.  Building on this theme, the hotel offered its guests a “chuck wagon” breakfast served by staff members dressed in western attire.  Not only was it a fun way to start the day, the omelette made to order was very tasty!

Fresh made to order omelettes being whipped up by the  hotel staff at the Best Western in Lusk
Fresh made to order omelettes being whipped up by the hotel staff at the Best Western in Lusk, Wyoming
Morning coffee in a
Morning coffee in a “cowboy cup”

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“Sit loosely in the saddle of life” – wise words indeed

When I made my way to South Dakota I was “wowed” by what I found.  The Black Hills offered some of the best motorcycling roads that I’ve come across and the roads through the parks, such as Custer State Park were out of this world! One of the roads in particular, Needles Eye, was engineered using “pigtail” turns.  When you see a sign like this you know you’re in for some mean twists!

Pigtail Corners

Here is video of my experience while riding the Needles Eye

In addition to some great riding, a visit to Mount Rushmore was equally as wowing in a different way!  What an incredible undertaking it must have been to carve such a masterpiece out of the face of the mountain.

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Bonnie and the boys - George, Teddy, Tommy and Ab
Bonnie and the Boys – George, Tommy, Teddy and Abe
The routes in South Dakota included a number of single lane bridges carved out of the mountainside
The routes in South Dakota included a number of single lane bridges carved out of the mountainside
The rock formations on the Needles Eye route were spectacular - unlike anything I've seen before
The rock formations on the Needles Eye route were spectacular – unlike anything I’ve seen before
The number of hairpin corners were so numerous I lost count after the first 20 or 30 minutes of riding!
The number of hairpin corners were so numerous I lost count after the first 20 or 30 minutes of riding!

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Just one of the many incredible scenes along the way
Just one of the many incredible scenes along the way

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Part of the herd of buffalo I came across just outside of Custer
Part of the herd of buffalo I came across just outside of Custer”s Park
I came across a herd of buffalo as well - This is mom with her young one
This is mom with her young one

While riding outside of Rapid City, I had the good fortune of meeting up with a couple of riders, Robbie and Al who were from the area.  While chatting, they mentioned that they were heading off to ride the “Canyon”.   You know that peaked my interest so on the way out, I added the Spearfish Canyon into my route.  Robbie, thank you for putting me on to this amazing route. Wow, what a great way to start the day!

Here are a few photos from the ride….video to follow.

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And a few additional photos taken along the way..

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It's all about balance!
It’s all about balance!
Don't give me that bull eh!
Don’t give me any bull eh!
My cowboy has gone bad!
My cowboy’s gone bad!

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The Big Ride – You know it’s good when… (Part 2 – Million Dollar Highway, Colorado)

As promised, here is the second video of the Million Dollar Highway in Colorado.  It was part of my first days’ ride in Colorado.  As you can see in the video, the road has a few challenging turns with a few potential hazards with its steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and few guardrails.

Here’s the clip.  I hope you enjoy the ride!

And a few photos taken along the way:

One of the many waterfalls along the roadside
One of the many waterfalls along the roadside
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It amazes me how such beauty can grow from so little

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In the beginning
In the beginning!

The Big Ride – You know it’s good when… (Part 1)

One of the many challenging roads in Colorado is the Million Dollar Highway and forms part of the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway.

My first day in Colorado took me on this route from Durango, through Silverton and Ouray.  Much of the route, especially between Silverton and Ouray runs through a gorge which is challenging and potentially hazardous to drive.  It consists of steep cliffs, narrow lanes, and a lack of guardrails.  It also uses a number of hairpin curves to gain elevation. In most places the lanes are narrow with much of it cut into the sides of mountains. Although the route was challenging, it was not nearly as technical as some of the awesome roads that followed.  I have hours and hours of video so it will take a couple of days to put together a few clips to share with you.

Here is the first of the series that I will be sharing with you.  The video hardly does it justice but will give you an idea of he amazing experience I had while riding the “Million Dollar Highway”.

Here are a few photos to share with you as well.

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While on the road I also ran into some folks from Orange Texas who were also enjoying the ride.

Fellow Harley riders from Orange Texas enjoying the route and doing the
Fellow Harley riders from Orange Texas enjoying the route and doing the “long horn”
You know it's going to be good when....
You know it’s going to be good when….

Stay tuned for the next segment of The Million Dollar Highway…and some of the amazing Colorado Rocky Mountain Mama Roads that follow!