Week 2 – CANADA, eh!

Day 8

We awoke from our last night in McGreggor, Iowa to a beautiful sunshiney day, without a rain cloud in sight. After crossing the bridge from Iowa, we stopped for a mediocre meal in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. We’re learning the hard way that ‘country breakfast’ doesn’t mean the same thing once you’ve left the south. Our entire day would be spent meandering along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River, making stops in each little town we came through.

In the tiny town of Trempealeau we caught the attention of a couple from Fountain City, Iowa at a gas station who suggested we see Buena Vista Park and overlook. It was one of those places we never would have known about it if weren’t for locals telling us.

This park was quite a treat with its beautiful aerial view of the town and the Mississippi. A train just happened to be coming through as we were enjoying the view, which really helped give perspective. 

On up the road, we stopped in Gally, Wisconsin when an old French car caught our eye. It was a Citroen. A nice family who was traveling through had also stopped to see the old car. When they saw we were the bike owners, conversation struck about our trip. They offered their prayers for our safe journey as we parted ways. We decided to grab a snack at a pub across the street where I finally had my first Wisconsin cheese curds! We talked snow storms and dialects with our waitress, who has the thickest Wisconsin accent we’d heard yet. She laughed when I asked how many inches of snow they get. Apparently their snow comes in feet. ☃

While enjoying the curds, we decided to browse Craig’s List for the upcoming area, and Jeff found a new tire for his bike listed. We already had plans to camp at the home of fellow biker in Prescott, WI. The tire was about an hour from there in Montgomery, Minnesota. Jeff’s rear tire only had about a thousand miles of life left on it, and this new tire was convenient and priced right, so we decided we’d make the trek to Montgomery for it once we had camp set up at Bill’s house in Prescott.

On the way to Montgomery, Jeff hit 100,000 miles on his bike! We stopped for odometer pics, but otherwise it was a pretty uneventful moment. No confetti or streamers shot out from anywhere. It just rolled back over to zero. 

While in Montgomery, Minnesota we met avid motorcyclist, Brad DeWitte, who installed Jeff’s tire and had us back on the road in no time. 

This guy has changed a few tires!

As we made the journey back to Bill’s yard, it was getting late, so we just grabbed a quick dinner at Dairy Queen, which seemed to be the only place near Prescott to eat. We rolled in just after dark and climbed into bed. It rained all night long, but we stayed warm and dry in the tent. 

Day 9

We began our day in Prescott, Wisconsin, where would end up staying for a second night. Bill had kindly opened up his yard to us and extended the offer, if we wanted it. When we woke up to rain, we decided indoor activities would be best for today, and took him up on his offer of staying a second night. 

We left everything set up and rode up to Mall of America for the day, which was only about 45 minutes away. The place is MASSIVE! We knew we could easily spend a day there and it was nice to be out of the rain. Their parking garage provided nice coverage for the bikes out of the weather and it gave everything, including us, a chance to dry out. 

There were four levels housing hundreds of stores, mini golf, theaters, amusement park rides, an aquarium, restaurants of every flavor, mirror mazes, Legoland… You name it! We were like two big kids playing hooky for the day. We opted for unlimited amusement park access and got our money’s worth! We lucked out with short lines all day since school is still in session, and we squeezed in at least a dozen rides between shopping, dining, Legoland and the aquarium. It’s safe to say we had a blast!

Jeff and I as Lego people

Can you believe this guy is made entirely of Legos?!

Time flies when you’re having fun. We spent nearly the whole day at Mall of America. At our host’s recommendation, we went to see Minnehaha Falls on the way back, which was definitely worth the stop. We also had just enough time for Jeff to get to the local BMW shop for some brake pads before we heading back to the tent at Bill’s house for the night. 

Day 10

We left Bill’s house in Prescott, Wisconsin and headed towards the Minneapolis area, where we took a northern route towards Manitoba, Canada. Clouds quickly rolled in and it started pouring. As the day went on, the temperature kept dropping. We knew it was going to be a longer riding day than usual to make it to Canada. It was so miserably cold and rainy, and even began to sleet at one point, but we persevered. After a long, chilled to the bone day of riding, we crossed international borders for our first nights stay in Canada – a first ever for me!

The border crossing wasn’t too much of a hassle. They wanted to see our passports and asked if we had weapons, firearms or tobacco of any sort, had ever been arrested, our reason for being in Canada, how long we planned to stay, and what our plate numbers were. The whole process took less than ten minutes before we were out from their covered shelter and back in the rain again.

The ride had been so cold, boring and wet, but our hosts for the night in Winnipeg were a godsend. Claudio, Robyn and their beautiful lab, Remington, greeted us with smiles and fresh baked cookies that looked like they came straight off the cover of a magazine. They are also adventure riders who have covered much of the United States, as they travel a few weeks every year. Without hesitation, they completely opened up their amazing home to us, even offering their laundry room for our use. Their toasty abode was a dream come true after the cold and miserable day of riding we had! Their incredible hospitality had me loving Canada already, and their memory foam bed left Jeff and I sleeping like babies. #theyspoiledus

Day 11

Claudio and Robyn graciously made us a breakfast of toast and fruit that included the largest, tastiest blackberries I’ve ever seen, accompanied by a huge, perfectly brewed cup of joe. Over breakfast, they offered their suggestions of places in Winnipeg to see. As if they hadn’t already done enough for us, they kindly allowed our request of a second night with them 

As they departed for work, we went our separate ways to explore Winnipeg for the day. Our first order of business was to check on Canadian cell service, which was a fail, and get the oil changed on Jeff’s bike, which was a success. 

For lunch, we took Claudio and Robyn’s suggestion of a restaurant that specialized in Laotian and Thai cuisine called Vientiane. It was delicious! Be sure to try the green curry soup, they said. And so we did! My tastebuds exploded with excitement at the amazing combination of green curry and coconut that was this soup. 

After lunch, we continued to follow their advice and visited a historic site called The Forks, at the confluence of the Red River and Assiniboine River in Downtown Winnipeg. I was captivated by the variety of arts of The Forks Market. We spent much of the day window shopping and then gave in to a riverside nap.

The cottonwood floated around like big snowflakes in the sky, and there were hundreds of the most beautiful caterpillars all over the place. 

After leaving The Forks we went downtown to check out MEC, the Canadian version of REI. We were in search of a ‘scruba’, a portable laundry bag Robyn told us about, but MEC was out of stock. We’ll stick to our portable sink method for now, when laundromats aren’t available.

We arrived back at Claudio and Robyn’s house in the evening, where we all got ready to go out for dinner. They had told us of a top notch Indian restaurant, which we all agreed should be a dinner date. This place is so good, infact, that Claudio and Robyn had their wedding catered by the restaurant. One taste and we could see why. Jeff and I thought we had tasted good Indian food in California, but this place was the bees knees of Indian food. The elaborate spread they had prepared and the warm welcome we received as friends of their friends was just unbelievable. 

All four of us returned home with full bellies. Claudio and Robyn were the most welcoming hosts. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with them. They’re an amazing couple, an adorable family with their fur babe Remington, out-of-this-world hosts and just great people. We’re so thankful to have met them!

Day 12

This day began like our last in Claudio and Robyn’s home, with another delicious breakfast and a huge, amazing cup of coffee. I don’t know where these Canadian’s get their coffee, but it’s way better than anything I’ve ever had in the U.S.

We had all checked the weather and knew rain was inevitable for our travels today. Jeff and I braced ourselves and hoped for the best. Claudio and Robyn gave us a sweet send off with the rest of those delicious, homemade gingerbread cookies! 

(We are so sad that we failed to get a group picture with the fine folks who were incredible hosts! 🙁 Claudio, Robyn, if you guys are reading this, please send us a pic so we can show the world who so graciously welcomed us to Canada!)

The forecast was certainly correct. It poured all day long. We sought refuge midday in a vacant car wash stall. You’d think an gas pump awning would be easier coverage, but they’re hard to come by due to the amount of snow they’d have to support in the winter months. 

We found a small golf course clubhouse adjacent to the car wash, and thankfully, they had wifi so we could keep an eye on the radar. When worst seemed to be behind us, we hit the road.

All was well, even in the residual rain, until we took off from a stop light and hit a patch of sludge. I’ve never been so thankful for a red light in all my life. It slowed our speed to a crawl, which may have saved us both from a major spill. Dirt parking lots adjacent to the road had become mud in the downpour and as semis pulled out, they were tracking a thin layer of slick mud onto the road. The roads looked like any other wet road, but we found out quickly that they were slick as ice

Jeff, who rides in front 95% of the time, was able to relay through our communication system just how slick the road was, right as he was went down. Thankfully, this allowed me to back off the throttle and get stopped with just a little bit of slipping. Unfortunately, Jeff’s bike slid uncontrollably until it came to a stop on its right side. We are so thankful Jeff was not injured. His bike landed on the aluminum pannier, which now has a knarly scar, but nothing else was touched. I was shaking so badly I couldn’t even get off my bike to help him. The man behind us in a pickup truck stopped to make sure he was ok and helped him get the bike up safely. 

We decided to take a breather and escape the mud and rain for a little while at a nearby convenient store. While Jeff tended to his pannier, I browsed the aisles. This stop is where I first noticed some differences in Canadian products as compared to American items. Nestle KitKats for example…

Anywho… The rest of the day would prove to be a slow ride, as we were leery of all damp road conditions. We battled intermittent rain and intense winds all the way to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

In the small town of Moose Jaw, we got a hotel room for the night, ate a simple in room dinner of sandwiches, and tried to relax and shake our nerves from the events of the day. I can only image how Jeff must have felt, but I can tell you that seeing the person you love most go down on his motorcycle right in front of your eyes is a very unsettling feeling. We were very blessed today and thankful there were no injuries.

Day 13

We awoke refreshed and feeling better about the day ahead. We counted our blessings and hit the road. On the way out of Moose Jaw, we found the big moose and got some pics. 

We stopped shortly past Moose Jaw in Herbert for breakfast at Scuttlebutts. Filled to the gills with locals, this restaurant proved to be appropriately named.

Midway through our day we stopped for a pallet nap and a dose of vitamin D. Man, that sunshine was NICE! We soaked it up and enjoyed the last of the delectable cookies Robyn had sent us away with.

Jeff explained that Waterton Lakes National Park was a little out of our way, but worth seeing, so that’s where we headed. We were blessed with a sunny and beautiful ride! About halfway through our day, we passed from Saskatchewan into Alberta

At last, the scenery was changing from flat, barren land to snow topped mountains in the distance. The closer the mountains got, the more excited I became.

Just as we had taken off from a hydration break, Jeff realized something had happened to the rack on his bike. We pulled over and realized a bolt had come loose on his pannier rack, likely after his spill yesterday. After a half hour or so, he had it all fixed and we were back on the road.

As we approached the scenic Waterton Lakes area, we scoped out camping, and for the heck of it decided to check online to see, if just by chance, there might be a host in the area. Lo and behold, there was! We wrote to a cool girl named Tanya, who said in her profile that she also rides. She agreed to host us but wouldn’t be home for a couple of hours. We decided to go on into the park to pass some time while we waited for her to get home.

We went to the small downtown area of Waterton Lakes National Park and Jeff showed me around. Night was falling, and you could clearly see the historic Prince of Wales Hotel all lit up on top of the hill, overlooking Waterton Lake. It was amazing at night, but I was so excited to come back tomorrow and see the daytime views

Just as we were about to give up on hearing back from Tanya, she texted us. We told her we were in the park, expecting that we’d have several miles to go in the dark to find her house outside the park. To our surprise she instructed us to come just half a mile or so up the road to the employee housing

Not only was she a badass woman who took a road trip through the northwest U.S. on a vintage Honda CB 350, but she works at Waterton Lakes National Park!! No way, right?! Yep, it’s true. And it gets even better… Tanya has an equally-as-cool roommate named Michael, who also works at the park, and who she’s teaching to ride a motorcycle, AND he followed her in his minivan on the road trip they took. They said the bike fit perfectly in the back of the van for when she needed a break. How freakin’ AWESOME is that?! 

We got in late, and the pictures and map on her wall got the conversations going, but all any of us wanted to do was sleep, so we made plans for coffee together the next morning so we could talk more about their hardcore road trip.

Day 14

How did we get so lucky to wake up at a fabulous apartment in the middle of Waterton Lakes with, SURPRISE, a view of  the mountains!? 

Once everyone was stirring, Tanya, Michael, Jeff and I talked a little more about their trip and how Michael is an up and coming rider who is practicing to retake his motorcycle test.

We all mounted our motos and headed downtown to the java shop in Waterton to continue our conversation over coffee. Tanya and Michael were the nicest, sweetest, most knowledgable couple. And they’re freaking adorable to boot. We exchanged stories, heard all about their rockin’ road trip, learned about bear spray and the best ways to avoid a bear attack, and just had the best time all while being surrounded by the beauty of the park. Deer were literally passing through on the crosswalks as we all sat there chit chatting. I was just stunned. 

Tanya and Michael had to report for work, so Jeff and I spent the rest of the morning exploring Waterton. We walked the waters edge, and it was so clear you could see to the bottom. Vibrant rocks glowed of red, blue and green hues, lining the floor of the lake like stained glass. I couldn’t believe how crystal clear the lake was. 

Several boats were docked on the lake. There’s even a small vessel that will take you from Waterton Lakes National Park into Montana. The views were just breathtaking. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

We made our way up the hillside to the Prince of Wales Hote, and the panorama from there was astounding. What I thought was beautiful at night was only glorified by the daylight. The hotel itself was a site to behold. 

After seeing the downtown area, we took a scenic ride to Red Rock Canyon where we would spend half the day hiking and splashing around in the gorge. Roadside wild flowers led the way to alpine meadows and jagged mountain peaks. It was another gorgeous, sun filled day, and that cold glacier water was the perfect way to stay cool. The brilliant contrast of the striking bedrock layers to the lush surroundings was extraordinary.

We enjoyed Red Rock Canyon so much that we contemplated staying another night in Waterton with Tanya and Michael, but ultimately decided to make our way up to the Calgary area instead. Just outside of Waterton was a bison paddock, where we had our first bison selfie opportunity of the trip

The ride up to Calgary was a scenic make up of rolling hills and green pastures with mountains in the distance. I was thankful to finally be in the area of Canada that I’ve heard Jeff speak of so highly
We ended our day in a suburb Calgary, Alberta called Cranston, where new friends and riders Doug and Wanda opened up their home to us. At this point, I am already blown away by the Canadian hospitality. Then much to our surprise, when we arrived, Doug and Wanda had set their fifth wheel camper up for us to use during our stay with them. 

Immediately, they offered their state of the art shop for any bikes maintenance we may need, took our dirty laundry bag inside for washing, starting handing out water, beer and vodka, and made us delicious grilled cheese sandwiches. We were flabbergasted. Their house was so cozy and comfortable that we just felt right at home.

Doug, Wanda, Jeff and I all sat around the dinner table for hours, swapping stories of travels, comparing Canadian policies and politics with the United States, and talking motorcycles. Jeff and I are usually ‘early to bed, early to rise’ kind of people, but before we knew it we had all sat up well into midnight just chit chatting like old friends.

Jeff and I retreated to the camper that was just outside the house and found it be our own personal little tiny home. They had hooked it up to electricity and water, made the beds and fluffed the pillows, and left us drinks chilling in the fridge. It was a luxurious little home away from home. We slept so soundly and comfortably thanks for our amazing new friends, Doug and Wanda.


Stay tuned for week three on the road with MotoHippies. Spoiler alerts: Autumn experiences her first natural hot springs and sees her first moose!