A Tour to Remember
Motorcycling articles by Leonard R.
Day 5. Monday
We were awaken to a sound I can only describe in writing as, "kaaruummp." The sound awoke us, but we had no idea what it was. A few minutes later, we heard another "kaaruummp." By the third time, we were dressed and eager to see what was going on. We realized two things. It was bitter cold and the Big White Hunters were trying to start a camp fire with gasoline. They would pour a small amount of gasoline over the wood and then toss in a match. The gas would explode and the fire immediately go out.
Judy decided we should have a warming fire too, while we ate breakfast and got everything packed. We scrounged up some twigs and a few large sticks. We carry a cleaned peanut butter jar of cotton lint, so Judy placed a lint ball under the twigs, poured a small amount of cooking oil over the wood and set it a fire. Then she left for the bathroom and by the time she got back we had a wonderful fire. The Big White Hunters just looked at her and went back to bed. We still laugh about this incident to this day. If we base their hunting skills on their camping skills, we feel the elk are quite safe.
We departed the campground under clear, but cold skies. The air was still, with no noticeable breeze. We did put on our chaps though and an extra layer of sweat shirts along with our ski masks, which was enough to keep us warm, until the sun got a little higher in the sky.
We continued west on I-90 which eventually turns north. We passed through a few tiny towns, stopping for about an hour at the famous Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, at the town of Deer Lodge. Deer Lodge is slightly over a half hour ride from Butte. Grant-Kohrs Ranch is a huge old ranch, that is now a historic site. We highly recommend taking some time to visit the ranch. Divide your visit between the several ranch buildings and the ranch house. If you'd like to tour the original house, stop by the visitor center to reserve your spot in the ranger-led tour. Cattle ranching was a lucrative business then, as proven by house's 23 rooms and luxurious furnishings. After you've seen the house, experience ranch life by walking through buildings like the cowboys' bunkhouses, the Draft Horse Barn, and the Blacksmith Shop (these last two have ramps ). Should you want to stay overnight, there were a few franchise motels in Deer Lodge, but we learned camping and picnicking at the historical sites is not allowed. We didn't learn of any campgrounds in the vicinity. (I'm sorry, but I couldn't find the pictures we took of the ranch.)
After getting our cowboy fix for the trip, the chaps and extra clothing were removed and stored away. We continued north on I-90 to the small town of Garrison, Montana. There we turned right, slightly east onto highway U.S. # 12. After ten minutes on # 12 we came to the small town of Avon, where we turned left, north onto State highway # 141. We rode for a half hour through some beautiful land and past a huge lake. Just before the lake we saw a herd of buffalo. We intersected with State highway # 200 and turned left, which is west. It slowly curves north and then west.
After riding on it for about 20 minutes, we reached State highway # 83 where, we made a right turn going north. About ten minutes after making our turn, we passed Salmon Lake State Park, which we learned at the time has camping and flush toilets, but no showers. Then another 15 minutes down the road we passed Placid Lake State Park. It also had camping and flush toilets, but no showers.|
Continuing north on # 83, we passed through the small town of Condon, which had a Super 8 motel at the time. We learned of no campgrounds in this area. When we got just outside the north end of the small town of Big Fork, we made a jog onto State highway # 82. We rode the five minute stretch past the north end of Flat Head Lake, which is a huge lake, and onto Somers. We learned there are campgrounds on the east and west side of the lake, but none on the north end due to limited space between the highway and the lake shore. When we reached Somers, we turned right, which is North onto U.S. # 93. We continued North through Kalispell on to Whitefish, Montana, where we would spend the night at the KOA. Both Kalispell and Whitefish are sizable towns with several franchise motels and private campgrounds. We stopped at Whitefish to fill the gas tank and also to get some fresh food. Although we were not able to get a cabin at this KOA, we did reserve a tent site close to the facilities. We met other bikers who were going South away from the border. They advised us that British Columbia was already cold. We had enjoyed a good ride through beautiful mountains and valleys. The air seemed warmer, so we did not need the tent heater.
Day 6. Tuesday.
We woke up early, so that we could make the border with plenty of time to spare. It's always better to cross the border as early as possible. The weather was nice and it looked like a good day for riding. Judy and I have a rule, that if our little trailer is unlocked, one person stays with it, while the other person takes care of business, ...if you know what I mean. I went to the facilities first and as I returned, I walked past some people and kids watching a cartoon show on TV. The television set had been placed atop a picnic table. I thought it sort of odd, that so many adults would be watching cartoons. As I walked by, I thought I saw what must have been a super hero cartoon as I saw a plane crash into a building. When I reached our tent, I started taking it down, while Judy went to use the lavatory. When she returned a few minutes later she was crying. I asked her if she was alright and why was she crying. Through her tears and sobs she told me that the World Trade Center had just been demolished by two jet planes and that the pentagon, a military complex had also been attacked. The date was September 11, 2001. A day that would never be forgotten.
We were stunned. Forgetting the open trailer we went over to the picnic table where the TV was located and stood behind the people already there. There was silence, except for those who were quietly crying. In an instant, our wonderful, fun filled vacation trip was saddened to the point where Judy and I asked each other if we felt like going on. Should we return home? Would it be proper to go forward? Could the trip be enjoyable with so much grief?
After some conversation, we decided to continue our tour. We had worked hard all of the previous months, doing small extra jobs and had put our extra found funds into a "vacation" pot. So, with heavy hearts and so much sadness, we finished breaking camp and headed for the border. Long after the trip, both Judy and I agreed that the miles between Whitefish and the border were never noticed. Neither one of us remembers the scenery, any notable occurrences or anything else for the matter. Our trip agenda did say we were suppose to take U.S. #93 to Roosville, so I am sure we did. Our agenda also said we were suppose to check out Whitefish State park, near Whitefish, but we probably didn't, because I don't have any notes regarding the park.
When we reached the border at Roosville, we expected a long delay, because of the terrorist attacks. However, we were only asked a few questions and for our identification. We were at the crossing station for not more then 5 minutes. When we reached the Canada side and it's check point, we again, were asked the briefest of questions and allowed on through. U.S. Highway #93 now became PV #93. We were now in British Columbia.
So we continued North from the border to the small town of Elko where we turned west, which remained PV #93. A short distance once again had us going north. We needed to top off the tank and stretch our legs a bit and slip on a sweat shirt. The air seemed to be a little cooler now. So, we turned south west onto PV #95 and into the city of Cranbrook. I guess we needed this. Seeing people going about their business and the nice shops and stores took our mind off today's tragic events. Our receipts showed that we did purchase gas, coffee and a couple of donuts. But, again, I just don't remember. I do remember that we took a 15 minute tour of the downtown area and remember it being a nice city. There were a few franchise motels and some large stores, so the town would have anything you would need.
After our brief tour of the city, we headed once again north from Cranbrook turning left at the fork onto PV # 95A. (I don't know why it has an "A", but it did.) We soon found out that this was a most curvy and hilly road. I was constantly shifting up and down, like truck drivers do when they are driving through the mountains. We went slower going up and comfortably fast going down. We zig-zaged constantly.|
We suddenly found ourselves under solid gray skies and the temperature had dropped considerably. When we reached the town of Kimberly, we pulled off and put back on our chaps and an insulated sweatshirt.
Continuing on we passed a road leading to the town of Wasa and a sign indicating Wasa Lake Provincial Park, but we didn't stop to visit either. About 10 more minutes up the road, we briefly visited Premier Lake PV. Park. We learned it had no flush toilets or showers at the time. Another half hour brought us past the town of Canal Flatts.
Shortly after going past Canal Flatts, we were halted by a rather burly looking Moose. He was crossing, but had decided to stop astride the center lane. So, we stopped and waited. After a few minutes we determined the moose was requesting a toll fee, because he seemed in no hurry to finish crossing the road. After several beeps on the horn, which he totally ignored, he finished crossing and let us through. Thank you Mr. Moose and have a good day.
After Canal Flatts the road straightened out more and we were able to make better time. We reached the town of Windermere, which is sizable with a few franchise motels. It is a town with large shops meeting most of your requirements. We topped off the tank and proceeded on to Radium Hot Springs. Just before the town we saw some big horn sheep up on a ridge. The town has two large springs, in which to bathe. One we were told maintains a hot temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, (123F) where as the other pool is cooler maintaining a temperature of 29-degree Celsius (100F). But, isn't that still hot? We didn't have the time or inclination to bathe just yet, so continued on. We noted there is a private campground at Radium Hot Springs called Redstreak Campground.
Just north of Radium Hot Springs, we came to Kootenay National Park. We saw some white tailed deer grazing along the road side. They didn't move as we passed by, so must have been quite accustomed to vehicle traffic. In addition to camping in the park, which had flush toilets and showers, just inside the park entrance was McLeod Meadows campground. (We couldn't determine if this was a private campground.) The park it's self, seemed large, so we didn't tour it. |
We continued north through and past several small towns. We did notice there were a lot of road side parks along this stretch of road. We thought the town of Spillimacheen, had a most unique name. Continuing on, we reached the nice town of Golden where we connected with Transcontinental Highway #1. At Golden we pulled off into a road side park and ate a very late lunch. After eating and a half hour nap, we took to the road and reached the small town of Blaeberry. Just outside the town, we had another enjoyable unexpected stop as we watched cowboys drove some horses across the highway from one dirt road to another. We were very surprised to see cowboys. It never occurred to us that British Columbia would have cowboys. We rather enjoyed the few minutes watching the herd cross. The men in the saddles did a very good job of controlling the horses too.
Although this next stretch of highway looked short on the map, perhaps taking us another hour to get to Glacier National Park. The road was found to be in excellent condition, but very curvy and hilly. The scenery was wonderful going through small valleys, over peaks, past rivers and lakes. But, then again, we haven't seen any bad scenery so far.
We reached Glacier National Park, where we were to spend the night. We registered and paid our fee for a tent site as close to the facilities as possible. Although the park has flush toilets, it had no showers. So, Judy and I strung up our tent ground tarp around a few close trees and washed the best we could behind that. We realized that cold water sponge baths are taken rather quickly. Then after being as refreshed as possible, Judy set up the camp stove on the back of the trailer. We had built the back of the trailer with this in mind. While she heated water in our empty coffee pot, for my shave, and prepared our food, I set up the tent and got our sleeping bags ready. My shave water was ready, so I proceeded to shave, while Judy finished cooking. I also had a few minutes to check the lights on the trailer to make sure they were all working properly.
While we were eating, a few people strolled by and one couple came over to talk, seeing we had Colorado license plates. They were in an RV down the road a short distance. They expressed their sympathy at what had happened to the Trade Center earlier in the morning. We thought it was very thoughtful of them to stop and talk.
After doing our dishes with the clean and hot left over shaving water, we decided to take a walk. About ten minutes into our walk, it started snowing. Our first thought was how cold was it going to get, since none of the camp sites had electricity? Our second thought was, were we going to be able to get back out of the park and back onto the highway? There wasn't much we could do about either question, so we continued our walk. While walking we met another couple who assured us that the grizzly bears who frequent the park have not been known to attack any tent campers. So, I guess the bears only attack RV campers? Or the bears only attack the campers when they are awake? We didn't have a gun and wouldn't have been allowed to bring it into Canada or the park anyway, so we each kept our long hunting knives right next to our sleeping bags. However, we apparently were so tired that we didn't even hear the moose that left his calling card with in inches of our tent door. Thank goodness we discovered his message before anybody stepped in it the next morning. By placing our thin extra blankets inside the sleeping bags and our leather coats over top, we did keep quite warm.
Day 7. Wednesday
The small amount of snow that had fallen was still on the ground, but the road was clear and not hardly muddy. However we had parked the bike slightly onto a grassy area and when we got up in the morning, the bike stand had sunk allowing the bike to lean at a dangerous angle. I had forgotten to put the thick green plastic disk under the stand's foot. Shame on me, because it was a disk Andrea Goodman had given us way back in 1998. After breakfast and breaking camp, we had no trouble at all leaving the park. Just before leaving, a couple of people stopped by to chat and told us that there are a few franchise motels close by. Apparently we passed a Best Western motel coming to the park, but we don't recall seeing it.
We left the park turning right (sort of west) and continued on Transcontinental #1. We topped off the tank at Revelstoke and obtained information about Mount Revelstoke National Park. We learned it is open year around, but offered no camping. However there are several private campgrounds at the town of Revelstoke. The station manager told us that there are several nice roads to take you to the peak of the mountain which is, 1938 m (6358ft.) high. Time wouldn't allow us this venture, so we continued on west or is it now again North? It's worth mentioning that Revelstoke is a sizable town with franchise motels. The town wouldn't seem to be lacking for anything you might need.
After traveling west and north for about two hours through beautiful scenery, we passed through the mid size town of Salmon Arm. Although we did not stop, we saw several franchise motels at this town. We continued riding west and then north to the large city of Kamloops. We saw that this city has countless franchise motels, private camp grounds in addition to Lac le Jeune Provincial Park, which is located about 20 minutes to the SW of town. We were told that camping is primitive only, with no flush toilets, showers or electricity. We again topped off the gas tank and rode on. At Kamloops we turned north on PV #5, to the small town of Clearwater and the entrance to the North Thompson River Provincial Park.
This was our destination for the day. After filling the gas tank, we found our tent site and got busy. We didn't find any showers and was surprised there were no flush toilets, but we made do with the clean "out houses." While cooking supper and setting up camp, we took a brief walk and looked at the river. Since it was fairly low, very clear and had a nice small beach, we waited until nearly dark and took a river bath. The night air was chilly, but we didn't need any additional heat. There wasn't any electricity anyway. This park was nice. Clean and simple. We didn't see anything spectacular about this park. There were only a few other campers besides ourselves.
Day 8. Thursday
We left Thompson River Provincial Park by going east on PV #5, which after a short ways, turned North. This was more or less our start back home, which was to be the longest leg of our trip. Just before the small town of Tete Jaune Cache, a bolt from Judy's motorcycle arm rest fell out and suddenly she found her self nearly falling off the bike. So for the short distance she rode with out the use of her arm rest until we reached town. We located our small tea tin, full of extra nuts and bolts of all sizes and found a combination bolt and self locking nut that worked perfectly. At Tete Jaune Cache we saw the worlds largest circular saw blade. The town's boast of fame. We then turned right (east) onto PV # 16. We rode past Mount Robson Provincial Park and stopped to get some information. The park does have flush toilets, showers and a campground store. We learned that Mount Robson, at 12,972 feet in height, (3954m) is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.
Continuing we reached and rode through Yellowhead. A sign said we were on the Yellowhead Highway. We learned there are a few private campgrounds in the area. Although Yellowhead is small, it had a few shops, but we saw no franchise motels. After topping off the tank, we rode onward into Alberta. When we reached the town of Jasper, Alberta, we turned into Jasper National Park. While making reservations for a tent site last spring, we learned that the park had not only flush toilets, showers and a campground store, but it also had laundry facilities. So, we booked our selves in for three nights. The next day we would do much needed laundry, take naps and just be lazy. We set up camp, ate, planned the next days activities and went to bed.
Continued in PART 3