Monday, May 31, 2010

Update on Sean, Ingrid and Kate

In April 2010, my wife and I travelled to Costa Rica for vacation, and also to meet up with the travellers from Scotland headed to the tip of Argentina. It had been planned before that they would arrive and have a rest and be guests of our friends Janet and Bob Hoegg who live part time in Costa Rica in the town of Grecia. The rendevous happened between ourselves and the travellers near the Arenal Volcano district and rainforest. My wife and I spent an afternoon with the family at the Lake Arenal shore.

here is a article about them written in a Costa Rica online news paper in April.
Costa Rica news story
There also was a news article written about them dated May 15th, in the UK Daily Record
UK Daily Record News
I attach a couple photos taken while in Costa Rica.

The last contact I had with them was on Skype when they were waiting to arrange for a boat in Panama to take them to Columbia in early May. They hope to complete their trip before Jan 1 2011 if possible, and return home to Scotland.

Brad, Maureen, Ingrid, Sean and Kate

Sean, while Ingrid and Kate prepare postcards for me to mail from Canada

our meeting in Neuval Arenal

Friday, January 29, 2010


Since my trip ended some 6 months ago, I have been following and in contact by email with the Scottish family of 3 riding on bicycles from Inuvik NWT to Terra del Fuego in South America.
Their trip has been a challenge so far, but then merely surviving with smiles after 8 months on the road on bicycles pulling the gear needed, on a limited budget will be termed a success thus far by me.
The family of Sean, Ingrid and little Kate spent Christmas in northern Mexico and are currently in Mid Mexico along the Pacific coast.
8 year old Kate is keeping a diary, where in the latest email she outlines the trip up to Christmas.
There is also a Newspaper article written about them and the trip while in the Moab Desert. I was referred to in the article as a 'kind stranger', which I felt was wonderful considering months of them meeting people along on the road, my impression still stayed after several months. I also know in communication with them they still remember me, even if our meeting was only twice, and a total of 10 - 15 minutes of chat.
Go to Story

I hope they meet up with my friends Janet and Bob who are wintering in Costa Rica until May 2010. I believe they will find rest, shelter other than a tent and a warm welcome there.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Trip Summary, Statistics and Oddities

My name, for those who don't know me is Brad Sanderson.

I have been motorycling seriously since 2002, though got my first motor bike in 1979. I love to tour and travel from the seat of a motorcycle, and I find camping quite enjoyable.

This trip was inspired by a friend, who also took a similiar solo trip about the same time, and a somewhat the same route as mine. Though we never met on the trip due to timing and different routes, our paths crossed a remarkable number times in a few days offset fashion. Indeed, we stayed at several the same campgrounds, and even the same campsite at least once.

Myself, I took this trip without a firm idea of the exact route... just a string of places I would like to see and only an approximate idea of how long it would take me to complete it.

Some statistics:

The trip covered 20,869 kilometres and 38 days. My overall average speed when moving was a decent 84.8 kms/hr. The less accurate overall average stopped and moving while the GPS was turned on was 71 kms/ hour, but skewed by a few times I accidentally left it on for extended time when I should have it off.
38 days total – an average of 550 kms riding per day (343 miles) – not bad considering the varied conditions, few days of rest and little riding, and some tough days of weather.
I crossed water by ferry 11 times, crossed the Great Divide at least a dozen times, visited 14 Provinces, Territories and States. Traveled to a height of almost 11,000 feet, and was at sea level. Of the almost 21,000 kms of road travelled, about 8% or 1700 kms were gravel covered roads.
For me, the trip was a fantastic adventure. I saw many things I had not imagined, met many interesting people. It also was finished in the range of my stated budget, though a final accounting will never be done, I know it was not exceed by a great amount.
But, the trip took a bit of a toll on my mind and body. I found I lost 10 lbs of weight during the trip – a surprising revelation since I felt I ate well enough. I found that I dislike travelling in cross winds; I never overcame my phobia of travelling in close proximity of large trucks especially at high speeds. The American west – the prairie lands, I don’t think I will ever care to visit them again on a motorcycle. Boring and too exposed to the winds that never seem to have a direction that can be counted on.
My Suzuki V-strom bike performed flawlessly. It handles well, had great passing capabilities, and was comfortable enough except for the small diameter grips it is equipped with. I believe that larger diameter grips would have helped relieve the cramping of my right hand. It gave me good gas mileage and other than the cross wind handling which I would rate as poor, it was a good bike for a trip such as this.
High points, meeting interesting people, some are now friends. Learning by way of incidental meetings days later that my hotel room offered to Sean, Ingrid and Kate was accepted and that Ingrid was very pleased with it. I still am in wonder at meeting people more than once, or our paths crossing day apart and many many miles apart, especially confirmed by that news of the motel room in Eagle Plains YK that was confirmed twice – both times in Alaska in different locations.
And some co-incidences between my trip and a friend who left on a similar trip a week earlier than mine. Checking his trip report, we stayed at several of the same campgrounds, and oddly, even the same campsite once. He also left a gas can behind at a the Klondyke Lodge (mile 0 of the Dempster Hwy and Klondyke Hwy intersection) with a note to the next biker to use it... and I was the next ... though that fact wasn’t known for 3 weeks later when comparisons of trip reports by email were made.
Not sure what the future holds. I did have a plan to travel to the east coast and visit the Maritimes and Newfoundland as well as tackle the Trans Labrador Highway, but for now, those plans are on hold. Maybe next year.

As is the nature of Blogs, the first day of the trip is buried deep back 38 posts ago. The next post after this one is the last day, the end. To read this in the order it was intended, you need to scroll back to the start.... and then start reading. But enjoy it in any order you like :-)

Day 38 – Monday, July 27, SS Badger Ferry across Lake Michigan to Dundas, Ont – home about 625 kms approx.

On board the ferry, I got a quick tour looking for a place to get some rest and hopefully sleep. The ferry trip was 4.5 hours long and there was a time zone change as well during the trip – arrival was approx 5:30 am. I knew that I had at least 8 hour ride home, I would need all the sleep I could earn. I chose a reclining deck lounge chair right near the bow, hoping I was protected from the breeze by the high bow, it would be quiet and warm enough I hoped. Using my jacket as a blanket I managed about 2.5 hours sleep before I woke a little cool and uncomfortable. I wandered the ship until docking time, and when docked, immediately set off down the road. It was both cool and foggy ride. I stopped for a 5 Hour Energy boost, and warmer gloves, then later added my pullover, and finally later, added my rain jacket to cut the wind. The fog was slow in clearing, and traffic early on a Monday morning was a little heavier than I expected.
Nothing much interesting to report, the roads were good, the fog eventually lifted and I stopped for a few rests, since I had lots of time for the day, and no need to hurry. I found a bypass around Interstate 75 and followed rural 46 east to the shores of Lake Huron. I did stop and chat with another rider returning from a weekend at some motor cycle drag races. He was riding a 1979 Harley, he was the original owner and had plenty of stories of the bikes history over the last 30 years.
Another energy drink and I was off again. The 5 and 6 hour Energy drinks do work well for me... no crash after, small bottles to carry. Eventually making the Huron lake shore and turned south to Port Huron and the border crossing into Sarnia Ontario. Even the bridge crossing was fine, though I admit I did no looking around.. just rode the centre lane and watched the bridge joints go by. The border crossing was uneventful and horray, in Ontario again. I started down the highway 402.. I eventually exited it to escape for the long line of trucks I was following, plus others coming up behind me. The alternate route, though not time or distance efficient, was more relaxing and interesting, passing through small towns I had never visited but knew about. Eventually I was forced back onto the highway for a short while (or pass through a larger city of London), when I exited east of London and found the road that will take me within a few blocks of my home, plus past my mother’s home. But Mom was not available by phone, so I went straight onward to home. The last few miles seemed to take a long time, partly because I was trapped behind a slow moving truck and a speed zone that I knew was well known as a speed trap.
Finally home, I had to rearrange the other bikes in the garage to fit mine in, not impressed with that at all... lol Also, disappointed that my car that had been out for some mechanical service work was not parked there either.
I did get a good greeting from my dog and my son’s dog when entering the house. I was tired, it was mid afternoon and for the remainder of the day I just relaxed, not even bothering to unload the bike.

I did speak to my dear mother by phone when she returned my telephone message about 4 hours after my return home. It turns out, it was the last time I was to ever speak to her, as she suddenly passed away later that night. Fate allowed that I was able to speak to her just prior to her death, and after the completion of my trip.

SS Badger docking in Manitowac WI

Home at last - back in the stable

a well worn tire

Day 37 – Windom MN to Manitowoc WI – 700 kms

A good morning, woke at just before 6 am, scolded myself for sleeping longer than I hoped, readied myself and packed the bike in front of the motel. They had a complimentary breakfast and I took advantage. Questioned the motel owner about time and distance to Manitowoc WI where I wanted to catch a ferry across Lake Michigan. I knew the 1:15 pm was out, so the next is at 12:30 am – just past midnight.
My Plan; I can take the ferry, hopefully sleep on it and ride home the next day for a long day. It lands in Ludington MI, the west coast of Michigan and there is 1 hour time change back to EST. The winds were pretty calm – just a breeze from the northwest and not strong, and the road leads east. I made good time, a Sunday morning, good roads and no traffic. The road was a divided 4 lane and ran almost perfectly east, so I had the elusive tailwind I had been wanting.
I did have a very close call with a doe deer... it was sitting in the grass next to a bridge abutment on the right – at least that is where it came from.... because it was startled by my bike (and she startled me) and dashed across my lane, thankfully on a diagonal away from me, so close I barely applied the brakes and I could hear the hoofs scratching the pavement for traction in its haste. I missed it, but it was a lucky chance I did. I would say it was as close a call as the grizzly about 2 weeks back, except I had longer to react to the Grizzly since he crossed from the roads left side. The car following me passed with all aboard staring at me, I am sure wondering if I had messed my pants. I should have realized this early in the day, deer would be present.
I finally made LaCrosse WI and took I90 for about 9 miles crossing the Mississippi River in that distance, then cut off again and headed for Oshkosh WI on the way to Manitowoc ferry. About 1 hour before Oshkosh, I pulled over in some shelter for a rain storm came up. Lasted 20 minutes and I used the time to update this journal. Just as I was about to leave, a second rain fell. This was the first rainfall since Yellowstone which also was brief but repeating rain. Before that, rain fell briefly on the Dempster Hwy and then the heavier rains in the earlier days of the trip. A further delay of 20 minutes and then a break in the heavy rain and I headed east for Oshkosh. I rode for only 1 mile and the pavement was dry, it was just a line of heavy clouds moving through... but more were coming. Near Oshkosh, I turned onto hwy 43 north towards Appleton and encountered stiff cross winds for about 10 miles before turning off east again on Hwy 10. A long detour and I was headed straight again. Gassed up before entering Manitowoc and found the ferry dock deep in the town at the waterfront. I purchased my discounted ticket, (they are on sale for the late sailing in July) – 20% off, enquired where a good meal could be found and headed for dinner. On the way, I discovered a moored American submarine on display next to a Maritime Museum. Took a photo and went for dinner – a nice big T-bone steak with a Bloody Mary to compliment it. After dinner I rode the 2 blocks to the maritime museum to view the submarine closer and read the various plaques on display. Manitowoc was, during WWII, a place where 28 submarines were built. They had various fates, 5 were lost, the remainder had different degrees of success. One sub sank the second most tonnage of any sub during WWII, while others had several rescues to their credit. Many were transferred to different countries after the war to countries such as Greece, Turkey, Argentina, Netherlands, etc.
There was public WiFi at the Marine Museum area... but for some reason, it did not work. It is Sunday evening, this town is dead – no traffic, few people wandering and walking dogs, there is 2 couples chatting on a moored yacht nearby and a few tourists looking at the submarine moored here.
I rode around town looking to kill time. At the waterfront I stopped to take several photos, then cruised further along until it started to rain. I stopped in a Dairy Queen, and had an ice cream treat and then rode around a little more before heading back to the ferry terminal with still 3 hours before boarding. There were many cars there already and 1 motorcycle – a guy was delivering it to someone across the lake to complete a sale. The terminal has free WiFi, so I used Skype to contact my wife and daughter in Whistler BC, checked email, read some of a trip report of my friend Steve’s start of his trip on Adventure Rider forum and sent him an email with some crazy comparisons about our trips and bikes. Other bikes pulled in to the ferry terminal, and looks like they are going to have a half full ferry. Battery is nearly over on the computer.
I will make the last leg of the trip home starting from the ferry landing on the other side of Lake Michigan.

Manitowac Ferry Terminal

Martime Marine Museum

western shore of Lake Michigan at Manitowac

Day 36 – Saturday, July 25th, Chamberlain SD to Windom MN – just over 400 kms

I woke early refreshed, watched some TV while I packed and got on the road about 8 am. The wind was present, but not strong at first. I found more secondary roads to ride avoiding the Interstate and gassed up at the next little town, where I chatted with several locals and farmers a bit about my trip and also places in Alberta they had visited.
I found Old hwy 16, that I will follow to Sioux Falls about 3 hours away. I made decent time, the pavement was fine and the road empty. I stopped a few times in small towns on this route and bought an orange juice and chatted with a group of Harley riders heading to Sturgis, they were waiting on 2 friends that somehow they were separated from by staying in separate hotels. Wonder if they ever met up? They had been there a while and this was a rather obscure meeting place.
Eventually, I made Sioux Falls and found a McDonald's to have a bite to eat and see if the wireless would work. It did, and I checked 2 ferry locations to cross Lake Michigan and chose the one from Manitowoc WI as it was less expensive, though slower and less frequent sailings. I wrote down the reservations telephone number and nearly booked a spot when I realized it was 12 hours ride away at least and I had no idea what the day would bring. Good thing I didn’t... I never even made it close to Wisconsin, let alone to the shore of Lake Michigan. My plans to get home Monday are out the window.... the wind is up and the route I am following is longer than the Interstate, plus slower. I am taking frequent stops at many towns of some size to rest my hand from numb cramps and hide from the winds. Home feels further away than ever.
It’s strange somewhat that the towns seem to have no winds, then you leave town and it blows like a storm is coming. It wasn’t particularly gusty, but less than steady. That changed quickly. Finally, about 3 PM I realized that the winds were not going to subside soon, they were trying to twist my head in the occasional strong gusts (my helmet would be twisted to one side in stronger gusts taking my eyes off the road momentarily). Thoughts of the movie The Exorcist meandered though my minds as I fought to keep the bike centered in the lane and my head in the same direction. The wind makes the joints of my modular helmet whistle loudly in my ears. Evil wind.
I did pass though a section of Iowa between Sioux Falls SD and my stop for the night in Minnesota. I can add Iowa to my map of states I have ridden in.
I made a rest stop in one town in a promising saloon, hopefully to sip a cold beer, maybe watch some big screen TV and relax a little, but the place was nearly empty, had a Mexican Theme and was playing loud Mexican Cantina type music, loud enough that watching the large screen TV was useless. The music drove me out to the street after about 40 minutes and 1 draft beer.
After fighting the cross winds until 3PM, I began to think how to spend time until they settled down a little, considered a hotel for a few hours, but then decided I was tired enough to call it a night. The towns were about 40 minutes apart, and each minute seemed a long time.... so I checked into a chain motel and relaxed with some TV, checked emails, and then bought some snacks at a nearby gas station for the evening. I fell asleep at about 6:30 PM, woke at 10:30 and realized dinner was being missed, the snacks would be it. I made a Skype call to daughter Lisa hoping to speak to my wife who was now in Whistler BC for the week. Lisa was working, but gave me a direct number to my wife’s condo hotel room, that went unanswered. At least I got to speak to Lisa while she was working at her new job as a bartender. Sounds like she is enjoying it and she said she made $120 in tips last night – a Friday evening that she said wasn’t overly busy. That is good news to me, she needs better cash flow and that kind of income is welcome.
After I woke at 10:30, I went outside to check the wind.... barely nothing here in town. It was calm. Maybe if I get up while still dark, and get an early start, I can ride into an area on calm before the winds start... Wisconsin as I remember is much like home, no open corn fields or prairie, (that I am now sick of looking at and living with the winds). BTW, the winds, no matter what direction I ride, affect this bike, from the rear, side or front, though some are worse than others. The rear tire squirms under the bike at times – similar sensation to a soft or flat tire.
I checked the home email online, and found a note from Sean, Ingrid and Kate, the family from Scotland riding their bikes to South America, and I bought the hotel room for in Eagle Plains on the way back from Inuvik.
I attach a copy of the email Ingrid sent... seems I am now on their email list for the trip. I look forward to more of their emails.

Hope you got back safely and the rest of your trip was enjoyable. We are finally in Whitehorse, our first emailing opportunity. Have tried to call you a couple of times to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for the hotel room!. It was the nicest surprise ever and so kind of you. We went in there hot and sweaty all prepared to put up our tents in the bugs and the heat and could not have been more delighted. I had three baths! It was so good to be able to pack our next week’s food and laundry in a comfortable, dust free environment. I am doing a diary (well Kate is actually) so will put you on my contact list. If you ever want to tour Scotland send us an email and we can give you a place to stay and show you round

very best wishes
Ingrid, Sean and Kate

I am pleased they contacted me by email. Maureen said they left a voice message on the phone at home, but this will mean I have to ability to contact them now too. I will send them the photo I took of them on the Dempster hwy... and maybe one of me and my bike.
Hopefully with an early start in the morning, I will leave these flat lands winds behind... make the ferry and get home sooner than later. This trip is now running overtime, and my 2 hotel rooms in a row means I am tired of the camping and fighting the elements.
No photos today. Nothing interesting, no desire to record the miserable winds and boring terrain.

Day 35, Deadwood to Chamberlain SD via Badlands National Park

After packing up, started out at 8:15 am. The snoring still continued from the campsite next to me, and the rest of the campground was still quiet.
I took the Nemo Road (a nice back road) to Rapid City. Made a stop at Wal-Mart for snacks, fruit and a quick second breakfast. Made my way east on route 40 towards the badlands which were further away than I realized.... but the road ran parallel to I90. The winds were stiff early today, and I made the best time I could on a nearly empty highway. I arrived into an area of the badlands and stopped for a rest and photos. It was also a rest from the wind that had changed to gusting headwinds when the bike was pointed in the right direction.... the rest of the time the bike danced around in my lane. I arrived at a small town called Interior, and had a choice to follow hwy 40 or it was 11 miles to I90. I didn’t realize then, but soon did, the 11 miles was through Badlands National Park with a $10 fee to enter. I wasn’t happy about the fee, until I went a little way down the road and was in the best part of the Badlands, but also surrounded by buses, RV’s and cars. I stopped for several photos and a snack at a tourist stop before heading onto I90.
The wind was present again, but not too stiff and rather constant, no gusts. I made some distance but my hand cramp returned and I finally pulled off for a rest at a remote gas bar with a store. The shop keeper, told me about Old 90, a 2 lane service road that runs parallel to I90 but not immediately beside, that was the original highway, still in decent shape and paved, and it serves the farms along the highway. It was a great road for me, because it was deserted, I could travel at any comfortable speed and stop anytime my hand needed a few minutes rest. It had one unique characteristic, as I rode, there were hundreds of what I thought small clumps of dirt bouncing off my boot and the bike. I mean, there were impacts like a few every second on my boots and legs. The first time I stopped for a minutes rest, I realized these clumps of mud were grasshoppers (or locusts), My bike wheel was scaring them into flight off the road and my radiator and oil cooler was collecting them by the handful. I cleared them away and checked my boots; they were showing the evidence of the impacts. I continued on this 2 lane road, which was by far more interesting than I90 and also easy to keep a good pace as it was better protected from the wind. My personal highway I was thinking, because there were very few other vehicles on it. I must have ridden this road for 2-3 hours and probably close to 120 miles. Glad I found it.
Eventually I made the town of Chamberlain SD, still well short of my earlier goal of Sioux Falls, where I took a motel for the night, to treat myself to a bed, TV and convenient morning shower. It was not fancy motel, but walking distance to a store and restaurant, and clean and comfortable enough. No WiFi.... but I didn’t need it. My wife was travelling today to visit Lisa in Whistler.
There was an elderly couple in the next room, I struck up a conversation and found out they were married almost 60 years ago. Wow, that isn’t a common statistic. They lived in Iowa, and were on a short 4 day trip to see the western hills. I pulled out my tent I had packed still damp with dew, and dried it out next to my bike in the parking lot. I also cleaned some clothes in the sink and tub with a little laundry soap I had, my denim shirt was very grubby, but turned out presentable. Watched a movie on TV, checked the weather (still looks good) and updated this journal.
19,081 kilometres since I left home.

Entering the Badlands area

Badlands Park - 11 miles of scenic drive

Bel-Aire Motel, Chamberlain SD