A Tour to Remember
Motorcycling articles by Leonard R.
Day 9 Friday
After waking up to a very chilly morning and storing those things that needed storing, We decided to shower before eating breakfast. Knowing our towels would be wet after taking our showers, I strung a rope between two trees to serve as a clothes line. When we got back to our tent, we hung up our towels to dry. About 15 minutes later, a park ranger came by in a jeep and stopped. He asked us to take our line down so we wouldn't damage the trees. We complied. I then unhitched the trailer and moved it so it was at a ninety degree angle to the motorcycle. (Even when fully loaded, the trailer can be moved by hand.) I then tied the thin rope between the trailer lid's hinge and the handle bar of the motorcycle. It worked good as a clothes line.
Over breakfast we planed the days activities. Judy would do laundry at the campground Laundromat and in the mean time, I would roughly check over the motorcycle and trailer. Both Judy and I were surprised at how much dirty laundry we had accumulated. It was going to be an all morning job for her.
I checked the motorcycle and trailer and only found a couple things needing attention. One trailer tire was a little low in air pressure, so I pumped it up with the old reliable bicycle pump. Then dribbled water all over the tire looking for bubbles, but none were seen. That was a relief. Our bicycle pump is one of those old 1950's high volume pumps. I made a mental note to check the tire again the following evening, in the event there was a slow leak. I found a couple loose screws on the wind screen and a loose nut on the muffler bracket. None would have posed any real problems, but none the less, it's always good to tighten them back up. A lid hinge on the trailer must have gotten a little bent from the wind while in the open position some time back. I removed it and hammered it flat into it's proper position and re-installed it. After that, I took a small cooler, filled it with soapy water and gave the bike a good cleaning. Repeated the process with rinse water. It wasn't as good as if I used a hose, but it looked clean enough for a parade.
Both Judy and I got done with our jobs about the same time. We made and ate lunch and decided a nap in the warm tent was a required activity at this park, so we complied with those rules too. After our most pleasant nap, Judy reheated our left over breakfast coffee. When the air is chilly, coffee no matter how old it is, still tastes good. We decided to go for a walk and look at the views. Again the mountains were simply gorgeous.
We stopped by the park office and picked up some brochures about the park. Here is what we learned in part; Despite its size, it is much less commercialized. It is no less picturesque than its southern neighbors, however, featuring a rugged, windswept countryside that is characterized by the Columbia Ice fields to the south, lakes, waterfalls, mountain vistas, and glaciers. Its vast backcountry has received relatively few visitors over the years, so if you're looking for peace and solitude, you won't have to travel far to find it. --- The park was established in 1907, and the Jasper town site was just beginning to develop at that time. Today, the town of Jasper has 4,500 year-round residents and an economy that centers around tourism, the railroad, and private businesses. It is the park's only population center and has more of a frontier feel than Banff, offering fewer accommodations and services. As you might expect, the park is also a haven for wildlife of all kinds, including bears, coyotes, small mammals, and several species of birds. --- Jasper is visited by two million people each year, with the highest density in the summer, so overnight accommodations need to be booked well in advance. In town, you can choose from one of a handful of B&Bs, hotels, and chalets. A park information center should help you start off your visit, with a selection of maps and guidebooks for sale, and staff members who are on hand to answer questions. The town itself offers very little in the way of activities, however, so a bit of traveling is required to visit places of interest. The Jasper Tramway can be picked up about seven kilometers south of the town and leads to a mountain overlook where you'll find an interpretive exhibit and a restaurant. Several trailheads begin at the town site; it is a central location where you can orient yourself to the surrounding park lands. --- The park offers roughly 1,000 km of hiking trails for novices and experts alike. Several day-hikes take you to scenic picnic areas, meadows, and overlooks. The Bald Hills Trail, for instance, leads into the Rockies to an elevation of 2,170 m for a breathtaking, panoramic view of the park. Another day-hike, the Opal Hills Circuit, begins at a picnic area and also climbs over 2,000 m. You should allow three to four hours for each trip. --- Jasper offers over 100 backcountry campgrounds which require a wilderness pass that can be obtained at the park information centers. Other campgrounds can be reached by canoe on Maligne Lake. All campgrounds, excluding group and backcountry, are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Wow... had we known all of that, we could have made arrangements and stayed longer, but as it was, we had a lot of distance to cover in a specific amount of time and a schedule to maintain. We continued our walk and did see some deer and elk in the park. Knowing this was the rutting season for Elk, we kept our distance. Elk are crazy during the rut and would just as soon kill you as give you a kiss. Except for the pine trees, the leaved trees had turned color and the mountain peaks had snow. Surely a sign that this area's fall was close to an end.
After our long walk and visiting briefly with a few passer by's, we cooked our supper and decided to turn in early as it was getting cold already and the sun had barely set.
Day 10, Saturday.
We slept in late and the sun was slightly warming the tent, so we threw on the appropriate clothing and rode the 5 minutes or so into the town of Jasper. We found Bear's Paw Bakery serving muffins and coffee. After breakfast we decided to look the town over and take in a few shops. One thing we noticed is that you can see the mountains from almost anywhere in town. With each changing angle, the mountains take on a whole new look. After spending some time walking main street and visiting shops and purchasing a couple nice t-shirts, it was time for lunch. A local couple we met on the street suggested we eat at the Dog Grill in the Astoria Hotel. I'm not sure of the café's name, but it was "Dog Grill" something. We had a nice sandwich with some hot tea, as the air had not warmed much and we were slightly chilly.
I guess our American accents gave us away, as several people came over to chat and told us how sorry they were about the terrorist attacks. We thanked them, because we really didn't know what else to say. When we tried paying the bill for our food, the girl behind the register said it had already been paid. We asked who, so we could thank them, but she smiled slyly and said she didn't know.
We rode all over town to look at the beautiful old houses, a few quaint churches and schools and the city parks. Our ride had pretty much depleted our gas, so we stopped to re-fuel before going back to camp. After getting gas, Judy went to pay for it and came back out with a solemn look on her face. Now what I wondered. She broke into a slight smile and said our gas is free. What wonderful people these Jasper folks are. After stopping at the supermarket for a few supplies, we headed back to the park.
After parking the bike and trailer, Judy cooked a simple supper and I reorganized the trailer, putting everything back into it's proper place. We sat at the picnic table and looked over tomorrows route and the instructions to our selves. Looking at the information seemed a little foreign at first, but we eventually got the data downloaded into our brain. Upon that accomplishment, we went to bed. Did I mention it was getting cold?
Day 11, Sunday
We woke to snow. Christmas feathery like snow, falling everywhere. How exhilarating!
The ground, the road and the bike were covered with snow. Knowing time was not on our side, Judy hastily made coffee and French toast, while I disassembled and packed away all the camping gear. She put the excess coffee in our small thermos. We quickly donned our snowmobile suits and off we went. Yes, we had the snowmobile suits along, that we purchased in 1993, which we've used often since then.
From the park, we returned to PV # 16 and headed Northeast. We passed the Gregg Lake Campground near Hinton, stopping long enough to pick up a brochure. The camp ground does have flush toilets and showers. Continuing east, we passed through or by several small towns including Marlboro, Wildwood where we topped off the tank , then through the twin towns of Evansburg and Entwistle, which are 2 minutes apart, where we saw signs pointing to the Provincial Park of Pembine. River.
Research later told us the park does have showers and flush toilets, and is only about 10 minutes from the towns, by going North on PV #22. Thirty minutes down the road and just past the small town of Gainford, we passed Wabamun Lake Provincial Park. Since by now the snow had long stopped and the air was warming we pulled into the park and shed the snowmobile suits. Signs on the buildings in the park said showers, which probably includes flush toilets. We didn't see anybody about, so turned back onto the highway. The landscape had changed to rolling hills and curvy roads. The roads were in good shape and we were making fairly decent time. Traffic seemed almost nonexistent. About 25 minutes past Gainford we turned left, North onto PV # 43. We took this jog to avoid the traffic of Edmonton. We entered suburban country while we rode the 10 minutes to Onoway. We thought the name amusing. "Oh! No Way, dude!" At Onoway, we turned east again on PV # 37 to the large town of Fort Saskatchewan. We spotted a gas station and pulled in to fill the tank and use the facilities. I stood looking at pump #2 and read the scrolling sign that said, "Thank you for shopping at Husky, please make your selection." At least it was something to that effect. So, I made my selection. Next the scrolling sign said lift handle. So, I did. Then the sign went right back to, "Thank you for shopping at Husky, please make your selection." After two more attempts to get gas, Judy and I went into the station. While Judy foraged for sustenance, I met the cute, short and petite young girl behind the cash register, who looked remarkably like Reese Witherspoon, the actress . Miss Witherspoon asked how could she help me in her soft pleasant professional voice. I almost felt guilty telling her, but I said, "Ahh, pump #2 seems broke or something." She raised her finger and with a cute smile, in her soft voice said, "Just a second." She then makes a half turn away from me, stretches her neck almost off her shoulders and yells louder then a construction foreman, "Jason !! Get that dam sign on pump two. NOW!!!" Miss Hyde quickly swivels back to me changing back into Miss Jekyll and in her sweet soft voice asks, "Could you go to a different pump?"
We made a brief inquiry and tour of the town. We didn't see the fort and was told the prison has been shut down. We did see a few franchise motels and some large stores. But, Edmonton is only 15 minutes away, so finding places to stay or camp should be no problem. We found a service station of the old variety, where they actually work on vehicles. I asked if I bought the required oil from them, would I be allowed to change the motorcycle oil on their lot, since it was due. They said yes, of course. So I changed the oil and Judy spent money going through a couple of the shops near by. I always carry the proper oil filter knowing most stations wouldn't have it. Once again our dish pan doubled as an oil changing pan. Actually it is an oil changing pan, but it major use is doing dishes.
After the quick oil change, and packing Judy's booty away, we continued East immediately catching PV # 15. A few miles down the road at the town of Lamont, # 15 turns South, a turn we almost missed. Thanks to the Navigator (she tells me where to go) and a whack on the helmet, I realized the turn, just in time. Down the road at the town of Mundare the road turns into PV # 16. Staying on PV #16 we went through and past many small towns before reaching this days destination of Vermilion. We decided to top off the tank, before going to the Vermilion Provincial Park.
As I was fueling, Judy went into the store following her usual habits. Suddenly I hear somebody running up behind me shouting, "officer, officer." I turn around a bit to see what is going on. The plump little lady is running towards me. "Officer, I think there is an intoxicated driver going down the road." She is pointing East past the gas station. Being surprised, I stuttered but managed to say, "I am sure the station has a phone that you could use to call the police." She asks, "Aren't you a Mountie?" Then it dawned on me. Our bike was very dark gray and white and we wear white helmets. I chuckled and said, "no Mamm, I surely am not, but you should still use the phone and call the Mounties anyway." Upon that suggestion, she waddled into the station to make her call. Judy came out just as the lady departed and asked me what was going on. We were amused that the lady would think the RMCP would pull a trailer and have Colorado license plates. After paying for our gas, we found the road to the park which is a short ways north of town and made camp for the night.
This was a nice park, set in a low valley between hills. A reservoir is located within the park. The river is in the western end of the park. At the eastern end, the river has been dammed to create a small, shallow reservoir. North-facing valley slopes are forested with aspen while the drier south-facing slopes are grasslands. The park also had showers and flush toilets. We arrived early enough to eat early and enjoy a wonderful campfire, while we talked about the scenery, the farms, the people working and our funny encounters. It was an excellent days ride. The clear skies, brilliant stars and a warm south breeze told us it was going to be a good day tomorrow.
Day 12, Monday
The morning was bright and clear and just a bit chilly, but by the time we ate breakfast and broke camp, the air was warm enough that only our chaps and regular gear were needed.
We continued east on PV # 16 reaching the border of Saskatchewan and on into Lloydminster which is only a half hour ride from Vermilion. Lloydminster we were told sits on the borders of both Alberta and Saskatchewan. It's a larger town with everything you would need. We were told to stop at Macklin, to re-fuel as there were few gas stations on south. From Lloydminster we went straight South on PV 17 past Dillberry Lake Provincial Park which has flush toilets & showers, to PV 31 (now called 14) arriving at the town of Macklin and saw a huge bone standing up right. Huge, meaning it must have been three stories tall. While pumping my gas the owner, an nice old man, came out and talked to us.
He told us the "bone" was a bunnock bone. Bunnock is a game where people throw bones at other peoples bones which have been placed in a row in an up right position. The object is to throw your bone and knock other peoples bones over. Doesn't that sound exciting? It has become highly popular in the small town of Macklin, where the World Bunnock Championships are held annually. The owner of the gas station was surprised we were so far from home. He was amazed we could pull a trailer. He was astounded when we showed him all the stuff we had packed inside, with room to spare. We picked out a couple of candy bars, some chips and soda's. When I went to pay for the gas and food the kindly old gentleman said, "Sorry, but it's Monday and I can't take your money today. So, you'll just have to come back another time. And take good care of your Misses." What a wonderful old man.
We continued South to PV 51, where we turned West. PV # 51 was a crazy zig zaging road, but fun to ride. After a short few miles, we turned South again on PV 41. Reaching the town of Acadia Valley, which is both a town and an area, we once again were low on gas so stopped to top off the tank, knowing we wouldn't have enough to make it all the way to Medicine Hat. The town of Arcadia has a grain elevator and a gas station, with a few small stores. We thought it to be a lovely small town and stopped at the bakery and picked up some wonderful cinnamon rolls for tomorrows breakfast.
Continuing South through more flat land with occasional hills, we finally reached the city of Medicine Hat. This is a small city with a quaint down town and a beautiful Catholic church, who's spires tower way above the trees. The town also has a shopping mall and anything else you might want. We left Medicine Hat by way of Trans Canada # 1, going SE once more. We picked up PV 41 again just east of Medicine Hat and turned straight South once again, to our overnight camp ground of Cyprus Hills Provincial Park.
Cyprus Hills Provincial Park is a wonderful campground with flush toilets, showers, laundry and lots of other stuff. We were told, The park straddles the border between the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, about an hour southeast of Medicine Hat and about an hour north of the Montana border. The park got its name from the lodge pole pines that grow along the range of the wide plateau. For 7,000 years the region was an Indian encampment, and the early inhabitants of the prairies used the wood of these trees to build their homes. Fur traders who came upon the area mistook the lodge poles for cypress trees and the error stuck. You don't have to rough it in Cypress Hill if you don't want to; The Cypress Four Season Resort, which is open year round, offers luxury hotel accommodations that include outdoor and indoor pools, hot tubs, fine dining, and a nine-hole golf course. The resort also has several one and two bedroom cabins. But, of course we didn't know this, nor could we have afforded it on this trip. But, perhaps the next time. The day had been long and it was getting late, so after setting up the tent, we ate at a small café in the adjoining town of Elkwater. Patrons entering stopped to ask about our journey. We enjoyed the conversation. Before departing, we attempted to pay, but the girl at the counter said somebody had already paid for our supper. Each time our eyes would water and breathing became labored. What wonderful people. Total strangers, but they expresses their sympathy the best they knew how.
Day 13, Tuesday
We returned to Trans Canada 1 and turned East. for many miles until we reached the small city of Swift Current Saskatchewan. We needed to stretch our legs and topped off the tank. The town has everything you would need, a few major chain motels, including a huge concrete buffalo. The down town area is some what historical looking with older shops and stores. We continued east on Old # 1 and came upon a small town with a book and antique store. I failed to note the name of the town, but it was either Piapot or Tompkins. The name of the store was not noted either. We like to stop and buy books at shops such as these. It seemed this store knew were coming because, we found a lot of books to our liking. I found 4 or 5 and Judy found several cook books. When we went to pay for the books, the guy who apparently ran the place, asked if we were from the United States? We told him we were. In front of other customers who were standing behind us, he said, "well then, you have to pay in American money. I explained that our American coinage was minimal and just enough to get us to an ATM machine after we cross back into the states. He then said, that he couldn't sell us the books, since we wouldn't pay with American money. I said OK. Being a nasty old biker, I took Judy's books and dropped the whole bundle onto the floor. Judy and I then left, expecting at any time to get arrested by the Police. But we didn't. We continued east until we reached the city of Moose Jaw. It seemed to be larger then Swift Current with major motels and fast food restaurants. We didn't tour the city as we were running late.
When we got to Regina, we saw a motel right on the highway, with a big banner that said, "RV and Tent Campers Welcome." So we pulled in. At the motel desk we paid for a tent spot and the nice girl told us to set our tent on the grassy area, under the big trees, next to the parking lot. We did just as the girl instructed us. As I was setting up the tent and Judy was getting food ready to cook, a man walks out and tells us we have to set the tent up in the parking lot. I asked him which of us was crazy? Because if I did that, with cars coming and going at all hours of the night, then I must be the crazy one. I asked Judy to put all the food back the best she could , while I packed the tent away. I then walked back to the office and got our cash back. Since we were low on fuel, we decided to fill the tank and continue on east to the next available campground. On the east edge of Regina, we stopped and got gas. While paying, I asked the girl taking my money, if there were any camp grounds near by. She gave us directions to the Southey Lions Camp ground, on PV # 6, which was only about an additional 40 minute ride. By the time we got to Southey, it was late and would be getting dark far to soon, so we opted to eat at a café. Again as we attempted to pay for our meals, the girl behind the counter said the meals had been paid for already. We turned to all the people there, with tears in our eyes and thanked them all the best we could.
We found the camp ground and met an elderly couple who were managing the camp ground for the summer. They told us to take any spot we wanted. Later after we had set up the tent, they came over with coffee and we sat and talked about raising families, pets and farming. It was a very pleasant evening. About two hours after falling asleep, we were serenaded by a few coyotes who were not to far away. It had been a good day.
Day 14, Wednesday
We left Southey by going East on PV 22 among the rolling hills and through Fort Qu Appelle (dubbed the "Little Resort on the Prairie"). Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, is a laid back beach town, located 45 minutes outside Regina. Situated between two lakes, Echo and Mission. It's a small town, but has everything you would need, even an A&W. Somewhere going east we found ourselves on PV 10. Just past Wroxton, Sask. the highway number changed to PV 5 and we were now in Manitoba.
We had to stop a bit on this road because, a road crew was laying down fresh asphalt. We parked the bike a short distance from where the sticky stuff had been sprayed and got off the motorcycle and sat under a scruffy shade tree and ate some lunch. A lady with a stop and go flag yelled to us if we were alright. I walked over to her and said "We were fine. We're just eating a little lunch and I wanted to figure out a way to get down the road with out getting sticky black tar all over the bike." She looked down the road and told me to let her know when we were ready to travel on. After a few minutes I told her we were ready, but wondered why she asked me to tell her. We soon found out. She got on her radio and the next thing we knew, a big truck pulled away from the place it was parked and the spraying machine stopped spraying. We were able to travel on the gravel shoulder all the way past the construction site. We didn't get one drop of tar on the bike. What a nice thing for the crew to do. I bet the people in the cars, which were too wide for the shoulder, thought we were somebody special.
We continued East until we reached the small town of Ashville, where we turned down the road to Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. This was to be our home for the night. This campground was very nice with hard packed roads, a lake, a beach, rolling hills, meadows, flush toilets & showers.
While we were setting up camp, a young couple came sputtering in on an older BMW. I do mean sputtering. Their clothing was amusing because they were wearing World War One motorcycle leather. That drab sandy greenish stuff. Cut just like the German's wore back then. They set up their camp two sites down from ours. After eating supper and doing the dishes, Judy and I went for a brief walk, which took us past the young couple. The guy had his gas tank and the carburetor float bowl off. So we stopped and I offered my assistance while Judy talked to the young lady. It seems that he had developed engine trouble the day before. Although he had taken off the carburetor float bowl and gas line cleaning them both the day before, his bike still ran poorly. They were from Upper New York and like us, had a schedule to maintain. So while we both peered at the thing, I noticed his float pin was bent. Advising him that it had to be perfectly straight, we placed it in a long nose pliers. By tapping the pliers with a heavy wrench, we were able to get the brass pin fairly straight. We carefully put the bike back together. He kicked it once and the bike fired right off. He then took it for a long test ride and came back all smiles. It seems that problem had been solved. To show us their appreciation, they requested that we join them for tea and a chocolate Hostess cup cake. Which we did. Judy and I had made a trip to Upper New York many years before, so we were able to have a wonderful conversation.
Day 15, Thursday
The morning was nice, but a tiny bit chilly, so the chaps were put on. We continued on PV 10, which had turned South, eventually putting us on a very flat straight road, which took us into Brandon. Brandon is a large city with, skyscrapers, a beautiful college and all the traffic big cities have to offer. Brandon is the second largest city in Manitoba, Canada, and is located in the southwestern area of the province. The city is located along the Assiniboine River.
Working our way through town, we continued on PV 10. The border crossing is just south of Boissevain, the last town we rode through. We met one man who apparently was guarding both sides of the border. It took us three hours to get across the border. We had to remove all of the contents in the trailer and the motorcycle. We laid everything on a tarp, unzipped all the bags, including the small cosmetic bags and had to open all the coolers. We asked him to check the coolers first, which he did. That way we didn't suffer any spoilage. Since he was the only guard, he would look at a few things and then rush off to check a car or truck going in either direction. He often forgot where he had last looked and would start over again. Eventually his job was completed and we were able to ride on into North Dakota, USA.
The highway number, became US # 281 once we were in North Dakota. In North Dakota, by the border, we passed the International Peace Garden which sprawls across the U.S.-Canadian border and commemorates over 200 years of peace and goodwill between the United States and Canada. The garden's U.S. portion comprises 888 acres, and its Canadian portion comprises 1,451 acres. You will also find a peace chapel and an auditorium, souvenir shops, food concessions, and a pavilion that is site of a weekly Sunday smorgasbord. The campground did have flush toilets and showers.
We continued South on US # 281 until we reached Rolette County road, # 4024, where we turned West. With the advent of the United States 911 program of changing road names, it may not be called # 4024 anymore. Regardless it's the road that takes you through the small town of Overly and to State highway # 60, just west of Overly. One old codger we met in Overly said, "The ground is so flat here, that people often get lost in the horizon." We are still pondering that statement. At highway # 60, we turned South and rode a very short distance to the little town of Willow City. We turned again West on a county road # 528, perhaps 5 minutes where we turned south on county rd. # 551. This was a straight shot to US highway # 2, where upon we turned West once more to the large city of Minot, North Dakota. We found the KOA campground and the cabin we had reserved, back in late winter and found it to be very clean. Oh, the luxurious life. Minot has the old type of main street with nice shops as well as out lying shopping malls and many national brand motels. We cheated and ate at a fast food place.
Day 16, Friday
We left Minot via US highway # 52 and continued West. a short distance before turning west on US Highway # 2. Just west of the small town of Ross N.D. we turned South on a country road #3115 and then after another short distance turned west on County Rd.
# 1804. We took this route to save miles and time. We proceeded west once again and blended back onto US # 2, which continued # 1804. While on # 1804, we passed the Lewis & Clark State Park.
This park's 490 acres of hilly badlands create some of the most spectacular scenery in the region. Resting on the edge of Lake Sakakawea. Try pronouncing that. This camp ground had flush toilets & showers. Judy pushed me on through the town of Williston, which is large enough to have everything you would need., including some major chain motels. US # 2 continued West, but we turned onto the same # 1804, when it turned South. We arrived at the small town of Buford N.D. and the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site and the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.
Inside the reconstructed Bourgeois House you'll find the visitor center. Take a few minutes to look at exhibits of artifacts relating the fort's history. Your time is best spent outside on the fort grounds. Rangers lead guided tours around the grounds, while living history exhibits, lend a nineteenth-century flavor to the air. When you step inside the Indian Trade House, you'll find a large display of goods representative of a typical 1851 frontier store. Overlooking the entire site are reconstructions of the two-story stone bastions, that at one time was a welcome sight to weary travelers' eyes. Finish up your visit at the picnic grounds.
Just past this, we turned South into Montana and this State's highway # 58. After a few minutes we turned on to State highway # 200. After several minutes we left highway #200 and continued south on State # 16, After an hour we blended onto Interstate # 94, continuing South at Glendive, which had many chain motels and a few big box stores.
Our next major town was Miles City, about 90 minutes from Glendive. Miles City is large and has many chain motels and anything else you would want. (General Nelson A. Miles's home and other army buildings still stand at Fort Keogh, the remnants of the 1800's wild west..) We found the KOA and spent the night in a cabin we had reserved. Since we still had a little food left over and would need ice soon, we decided to cook that night. We were back in the United States, so we drew very little attention. We took a walk after eating and said hello to several other campers, but we could tell they were not as friendly and so we didn't engage in any conversation. As far as we could tell, we were the only motorcycle people camping that night. After a brief examination of Judy's arm rests, the trailer hitch, tires, lights and a few other items, we turned in for the night. Did I mention that the night air was still chilly? The stars were out, giving us hope for a good day tomorrow.
Day 17, Saturday
We continued mostly west on I-94 for another hour and a half or so until we reached State highway # 47. We used #47 as a short cut to take us to Interstate # 90 and the town of Hardin, a distance of about an half hour. Hardin is a small town, but did have a national chain motel and a couple of nice gas stations. At Hardin, we joined I-90 and went south. Just South of the town of Crow Agency, you come to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument . This historic battlefield, the site of "Custer's Last Stand," is located along the banks of the Little Bighorn River on the Crow Reservation in Montana.
We passed the town of Sheridan, which has major motels and everything else you would want. We maintained our heading, going South on I-90 until we reached the town of Buffalo, Wyoming, where we found a Super 8 motel for the night. Although we had made reservations back in March or so, the motel man said he could not find them. As he checked we waited in the lobby. He called us over and explained we had been booked into the Super 8 at Buffalo, Minnesota. I asked him to stand by, while I went to the trailer and got our "Red Book." It has all the information about us anybody would need. I returned and showed him our confirmation numbers and that it did indeed say Buffalo, Wyoming. With that bit of information, he gave us a room for the night. We ate at the nearby un-gourmet Big Horn truck stop. Instead of eating here, I recommend you fry up some tree bark and boil some grass. I think it would have been better.
Day 18, Sunday,
When we left the motel we rode the 1 mile over to Interstate # 25, which is the highway that eventually would take us to our front door. However, we did not stay on I-25. We wanted to see some better scenery, so at Casper, Wyoming. we left the interstate and went SW onto State highway # 220. Casper is a major city with chain motels and everything else. #220 travels along the North Platte river, but we didn't go far until we came to our next turn. We left # 220 and went south on state highway # 487 to the town of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. We didn't see any major chain motels, but the town is large enough to supply all your needs. At Medicine bow, we merged onto US # 287 and proceeded south to the town of Laramie, WY. This too is a larger town with chain motels and everything else. From Laramie we went south on Wyoming State highway # 230 to the Colorado line, where the road number changes to Colorado State Highway # 127. Upon intersecting with State # 125, we made a left turn at the junction going on south to the small town of Walden. Walden has some small stores and shops, including gas stations. At Walden we turned onto State highway #14, taking the east branch. This would take us to the tiny town of Gould, where our beloved KOA and cabin was located.
The scenery, once you cross into Colorado, becomes noticeably prettier. By taking the less traveled roads, you encounter fewer motor homes and large trucks. One can actually ride with just one hand on the grips.
Of all the KOA's we have stayed at, this is one of our favorites. It's an old KOA, with old cabins, but at that time it even had it's own gas station in addition to a well stocked store. We returned to this camp ground in the fall of 2011. The pine beetles had devastated the trees a few years earlier. With the death of the trees, exposing the high altitude constant sun, the ground no longer held moisture and the beautiful grass had been replaced by weeds and mosquitoes. Due to the lack of business, the gas station had been closed and the store was barely stocked. This KOA is an hour minimum from any major town, so you can either cook your supper or ride 10 minutes or so down the road to a wonderful country style restaurant. I forgot the name, but the KOA people can direct you as it sits right on the highway. After storing our gear, we rode to the café. The food was great and we were tired, so we called it a day.
Day 19, Monday
Since we were now only 4 hours or so from home, depending upon interstate construction and the Denver traffic, we were eager to get moving. We took highway #14 on South a bit, where it turns north and then east to Fort Collins and Interstate #25 once again. The scenery south going out of Gould, takes you through some narrow gorges and along rushing rivers and is breath taking. The traffic for the remainder of our trip was good and we had no delays.
The scenery along the interstate is rather pretty with the mountain range to the west and flatter ground to the east. South of Denver ,one climbs through Monument pass, at a gradual rate and coming down the south side affords some spectacular views.
We found our exit from the interstate and rode the few minutes to home. We were happy to be back and see our beloved cat once more. But, as with all trips, it was over and was becoming only a memory.
The scenery almost everywhere was spectacular. Often when you thought the scenery was about to get boring, something would appear and it was as though we were just starting the trip. Always the views were fresh and beautiful.
The first few days were tiring, but it seemed the more we rode, the easier the riding became. The odometer indicates the entire trip took 5,667 miles or 9,118 kilometers.
There are so many events and situations on a lesser scale, that were not mentioned in the story, due to us not remembering exactly where or when they occurred. Some of the park information was obtained through interviews with park personnel, our own observations and from a few brochures.
To our disappointment, this would be our last trip to Canada. Our change of jobs, the economy, the price of fuel and that we now need a costly passport to enter Canada, fairly prohibits any future trips.
When we began planning this trip during the previous winter weekends we had no idea that this would be such a special trip. The sincere and heart felt sympathy we received from the Canadian people, was so special. Even while writing this story, I could still remember how we felt each time somebody said a soft word of encouragement, bought our gas or paid for a meal and did so many little things to make the trip so easy. A couple of times while writing this story, I conferred with Judy on a point, and ours eyes would tear a bit, as we remembered. Without a doubt, emotionally this was the hardest story for me to write and probably always will be. There were times when I simply could not continue writing. There were a few times I wished I hadn't committed Andrea and myself to this story. The friends we made on this trip are still cherished and a few we still communicate with through email. To the people of Canada and especially our Canadian friends, we thank you and love you.
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A Tour to Remember - Part 1 - Part 2|