We've finished up our last stretch of the road trip and arrived back in San Diego in time to catch the sunset at Point Loma yesterday evening.
The official total mileage for our trip is 16,113.5 miles (25,781.6 km) in three months from May 17 to August 14. We thought we were being ambitious when we set out to do a 12,000 mile trip so 16,000 is a bit of an overshoot. But it gets really cool (read: nerdy) when you start getting crunching the numbers to put that in perspective. Case in point: We traveled over 85 million feet; on average we traveled about 11 ft/s ... every second all summer long... that's nuts! For the runners out there, that's moving at the pace an 8-minute-mile continuously for 3 months!
Obviously, my lofty goals of catching the blog up and then keeping it up to date have fallen by the wayside. We saw tons of amazing national parks and scenery through the midwest, the Rockies (US & Canada) and coming down the coast. For anyone interested in seeing pictures, I'll try to get some up in the next couple of weeks while we're settling back into San Diego. In the meantime, here's the lightning fast version of what you've missed since Ottawa!
We crossed the midwest pretty quick, stopping for a night in Michigan to meet up with Jon's family for their annual "Cousin's Weekend" at the family cottage in Port Huron. We couldn't stay for the whole weekend because we had to make it to Michigan for Jon's friend Marcus's wedding (weddings are always the best parties - congrats again Marcus & Shannon).
From Michigan, we crossed though Minnesota stopping to have a quick dinner with my friend, Cordell, and then promptly got chased out of the state by the mosquitoes. For real, we've sampled a lot of mosquitoes in a lot of different places, Minnesota mosquitoes win hands down!
From there it was across South Dakota, which is mostly flat with a lot of corn until you get to the western side, then you get Badlands National Park (cool landscapes) and Custer State Park (beautiful curvy roads through mountains, plus bison and momma & baby mountain goat!).! Also worth a nod is Wind Cave National Park, which I had never heard of but is a huge underground network of natural caverns, unfortunately the access to the caves wasn't open when we went through. Oh, and Mount Rushmore which Jon reasonably accurately refers to as "an icon of the arrogance of man" but we were in the area, so we drove to the top of a parking garage where we could see it snapped a picture and headed on.
By headed on, I mean headed down. We managed to get ahead of schedule just enough to squeeze a trip to Denver into our route. It was just a weekend trip, but we were able to visit with Jon's sister & brother in law (Sam & Lester), I popped in to hang out with Ransom's mom Chriss, plus got to have lunch with some old Randall Lamb friends. All in all, a fun-filled people weekend. As a motorcycling bonus, we also took a trip up Pikes Peak and road through Rocky Mountain National Park on our way out (& saw tons of elk!).
From Colorado, we headed north through Wyoming. We stopped in Grand Teton National Park for a hike to a waterfall, a vista point aptly named "Inspiration Point," and stopped at an equally aptly named spot called Moose Pond where we saw a momma & calf moose! Then we headed north into Yellowstone which (you might recall from a previous post) was mayhem with the number of people, so we took a photo of Old Faithful, then bailed and went to Idaho.
Idaho was definitely a good choice. we took a windy road along a river through the mountains and discovered yet another National Park that I'd never heard of called Craters of the Moon. It's a big lava field from volcanoes that were erupting as recently as 2,000 years ago!
Idaho led us up to Montana and Glacier National Park. Glacier proclaims itself to be "the crown of the continent" which sounds a bit presumptuous but might not be inaccurate - it's pretty amazing - and had some big horn sheep up close and a couple of grizzly bears in the distance to boot! That said, climate change being what it is, the actual glaciers in Glacier National part, certainly look like they're struggling a bit...
From Montana, we crossed back into Canada to hang out with my brother & sister-in-law (Kiva & Natasha) and the world's two coolest nephews for a couple of days! It took no time at all to figure out which controls on a motorcycle can make the most amount of noise!
As a bonus, Kiva & Natasha had the good foresight to move into a house next to their neighbours, Virgil & Ronda - who have an entire motorcycle workshop in their garage! We made quick friends, got oil changes and put new tires on the bikes, then headed to the mountains to continue our trip west!
The Canadian Rockies are breath-taking. We rode up through Banff and Lake Louise. We took a road called the Icefield Parkway - which is one of the most amazing roads of the trip - through a river valley up to the Columbia Icefields where three glaciers are visible right next to each other. We also saw another grizzly bear and two black bears! (I saw 4 bears, a bonus black bear the night before -jf). Trip fact worth noting: this was the northern-most point on our trip!
On our way down the Icefield Parkway, just before we got back to Lake Louise, we saw a couple of motorcycles on the side of the road. We stopped to see if we could help and ended up spending the entire afternoon on the side of the road with our new friends Ana and Jorge negotiating with roadside assistance to help arrange a tow service for them. Just when we think we are doing a cool road trip, we keep meeting other riders that out-cool us! Ana and Jorge are from Veracruz, Mexico. They had just ridden their bikes up to Anchorage, Alaska and were on their way back home when we met them. It all ended up working out, we were able to help them get towed where they needed, and we headed back to Banff to hang out with them for the night before continuing our trip the next day. And... now we're working on planning our next motorcycle trip in Mexico! :)
We worked our way through the rest of the Rockies, found our coolest campsite of trip right next to a waterfall, made it to Vancouver, then turned south back to the states. We managed to time it just right so that Ransom could meet up with us in Seattle for the trip down the coast!
We had our trio motorcycle gang back together again and took the US101 and CA1 highways all the way down the coast through Washington, Oregon, and California, passing through the Redwood forests in Northern California, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset and camping for the last night of our trip on a ridge at the south end of the Big Sur coastline.
It's hard to believe it's been 3 months on the road. It seems like both a long time and a short time for all the people and places we were able to visit as we went. Thanks to everyone who hosted and visited with us along the way! It has certainly been a grand adventure!