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
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!
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
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!
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.
And for a smile of two:
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
As promised, here are a couple videos from my ride along the west coast of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. I hope you enjoy the flicks.
This video is of some of the coastal ride I experienced on the Oregon Coast – I fell in love with the scenic coastal route – perhaps after seeing the video you may add Oregon to your bucket list if it isn’t there already.
And this video includes a little “off-roading” while in Olympia Park – Joe I know this pales in comparison to your riding but I am on a cruiser 🙂
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.
A few photos from the Ladysmith area
My trip included a ride up Island to Qualicum beach where the sandy shoreline called my name 🙂
When out riding with Barry Switnicki we stopped in at the Coombs Market which is located on Highway 4 just west of Qualicum Beach.
And what visit would be complete without a stop at the Fanny Bay Inn where I had fresh oysters for lunch,
And a few other photos from my visit to the Island.
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!
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.
These photos are from the Duffey Lake Road section of the Highway between Lillooet, BC to Pemberton, BC.
The following pictures are from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky Highway towards Squamish, BC
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”.
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!
It’s been a few days since I’ve posted so in the next few days I’ll be bring you up to date on my travels over the past week. I’ve found it difficult to find the time to blog while passing through Beautiful British Columbia as not only has there been a lot to see and take in, it’s been a time that has been spent reconnecting with family and friends.
When I left Edmonton, Alberta, I headed west towards Prince George BC to connect with my longtime friends Lynn and Ron Wahl who go back a very long way. It was an exceptional visit which included reconnecting with their three boys Darren, Brad and Brent. It had been 15 years since I had seen Ron and Lynn and even longer with the boys. What an awesome time that was!
From there I stopped off in Barkerville, BC which is about an hour south of Prince George and east of Quesnel through the Cariboo Mountains. I had visited the historical “gold mining” town of Barkerville as a child. To my amazement it has grown considerably since then and was well worth the visit. If you add it to your bucket list I’d suggest taking two days to go through the town as I wasn’t able to fit it all in.
It’s hard to believe but Barkerville was once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago and was named after Billy Barker who was among those who first struck gold there in 1861. Barkerville became a boom town and grew overnight when others heard about Billy Barker striking it rich. His claim would eventually yield 37,500 ounces of gold. Now that’s striking it rich!
Before the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road, people hauled their own supplies to Barkerville, either on their backs or by pack trains. Because supplies were scarce, the prices of everyday items were extremely high. An example of this was butter being sold at $5 a pound – roughly the same price you’d pay today. In an effort to feed those who came to Barkerville cattle were driven north up the Okanagan valley via what is now Highway 97 into Canada to provide meat for the miners and its residents.
In the beginning the town consisted of makeshift cabins and tents. By the mid-1860s, however, Barkerville had a population of approximately 5,000. Even though its population was transient and largely dependent on mining, Barkerville was becoming less of a service town and more of a real community. It had several general stores and boarding houses, a drugstore that also sold newspapers and cigars, a barbershop that cut women’s as well as men’s hair, the “Wake-Up Jake Restaurant and Coffee Salon” and Theatre Royal where live shows are still performed today.
Here are a few photographs from the historic little “gold mining” town of Barkerville.
From here, I made my way towards the west coast of British Columbia by way of the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to Sky Highway. It twists its way through Lillooet, the spectacular Duffy Lake Park and Reserve and beyond, winding its way through Whistler, Squamish and of course Horseshoe Bay where I took the ferry to Vancouver Island. The ride on Highway 99 was absolutely breathtaking and worthy of its own post. More to follow….I promise!
As you know from my past blog a part of my trip north included a stop in Fort Nelson, BC, one of the towns where I was raised. You might wonder what there would be to do in a little northern town like that? Well that’s what I would like to share with you in this blog.
After checking into my room at my friends motel, Kacee Northern Suites, I went up the road to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum where I was reconnected with Marl Brown, the curator of the museum and the Fort Nelson Historical Society. What an amazing experience that turned out to be!
Marl lived only a few blocks from the street where I was raised and at that time he already had a fine collection of antique automobiles. In addition to his collection, he was an individual that was well known throughout the community for his love of the past, his fine sense of humour and his beard. Yes, his beard! If you’ve lived in the north you know about Trapper Days or what we called a Rendezvous. Marl Brown was the long time champion of the beard growing contest and to this day he is still referred to as “The Mad Trapper”.
A tour of the museum revealed an incredibly rich history that encompassed the construction of the Historic Alaska Highway, memorabilia collected from the local townsmen and of course Marl’s awesome car collection. To say that there were thousands of exhibits would be an understatement!
Here is a sampling of what I found most interesting during my visit to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.
This was only a glimpse of what I saw at the museum. There was a lot more to see including multiple outbuildings with artifacts that are far too numerous to mention. In closing, I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did.
From here I am northward bound and my journey continues to be amazing…even with four wheels under me instead two.
Being back in western Canada is all about visiting family and friends. My first stop was in Edmonton where I spent a few days visiting my sisters Phyllis and Lori, along with other family members, such as my favourite niece Shirley. The stop also included installing new tires on my bike and having it serviced at one of the local Harley dealers….and yes they have “oil field” service rates…ouch!
From there my intention was to ride just south of the Yukon border, where my Dad rests. Given the current situation with a number of major forest fires in the area I reluctantly left my bike in Edmonton in safe keeping at my sister’s and instead rented a car to make the trip. In hindsight it was a wise choice as I’m currently in norther BC and the Alaska Highway is closed to the south of me preventing my return – stay tuned as that’s another post!
When I left Edmonton I headed north to Dawson Creek, BC where you can find the start of the legendary Alaska Highway.
The Historical Alaska Highway was built during World War II as a way of connecting Alaska with the rest of the United States in a joint effort to protect both Canada and the US after the invasion of Pearl Harbour by the Japanese. The highway begins in Dawson Creek, BC and continues into Alaska via Whitehorse in the Yukon. It was built between 1942 and 1948 and originally was about 2,700 km (1,700 mi) in length. Since that time the road continues to undergo constant reconstruction and is now just over 2200 km (1,400 mi) long. The legendary highway was known for being a rough, challenging drive, however it is now paved and continues to be straightened.
While passing through Dawson Creek I returned to the location where my career with the Federal Government began over 34 years ago!
During my quick stop in Dawson Creek I did a drive-by past the first house I owned. Yup…it’s a little cutie. It was nice to see that its owners have taken care of her over the years.
I didn’t have much time for visiting on my way up the highway so I’m looking forward to connecting with a few folks in Dawson Creek on my way back to Edmonton where I’ll be picking up my bike.
When leaving Dawson Creek, I deviated from the beaten path and followed the historic route where the original highway had once been in order to visit the first “curved” bridge of its kind which spans the Kistatinaw river located at “Mile 21” on the Historic Alaska Highway.
From here I traveled north towards Fort Nelson where I spent a number of years while growing up. This took me over the Alaska Highway, through Pink Mountain and beyond.
My visit to Fort Nelson, BC was filled rich with memories and is worthy of a post unto itself so stay tuned for my upcoming blog.
Until then be safe and remember that when you smile at life it smiles back at you!
Over the years I’ve only imagined what a visit to Yellowstone Park might be like. It’s like an institution. It’s to the US what Jasper and Banff are to Canada and to the world. I’m sure that if you took a poll, everyone has heard about it and it’s on the bucket list of many including mine!
I couldn’t imagine doing the The Big Ride without including a visit to this awe inspiring National Park that was established in 1872 and spans almost 3500 square miles comprised of lakes, canyons, rivers and some pretty incredible mountain ranges. It has an abundance of wildlife and many geothermal features, including Old Faithful Geyser.
When I arrived at the park after a couple of hours of riding, it was as if Old Faithful had been waiting for my arrival. I parked my bike, checked out the facilities at the lodge, including the purchase of a tasty ice cream treat and headed over to the information counter to see if there was any indication as to when the geyser was going to erupt. Within minutes she was blowing steam like crazy. Here’s a clip of her spectacular performance!
In addition to seeing Old Faithful spewing away, I was able to take in a few of the sights in the park including coming across some wildlife during my visit. Here are some of the photos from my visit to the park.
From here I’m heading north through Montana and back into Canada. I will be following the Canadian Rocky Mountains into Banff and Jasper, some of the most spectacular parks in the world, as well as visiting family and friends along the way. Stay tuned as the next chapter of this amazing trip unfolds!
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.
My next post will be with Yogi Bear in Yellowstone Park!