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Riding Dirty - A North American Motorcycle Tour

We rode past Mt Rainier National Park where we ran into a storm worse than the one we left on the coast. Discouraged but not beaten, we continued up a steep hill that led over White Pass. It was only at 4,500 feet elevation, but the rain turned to snow near the top. It was dark by this time, and nothing was open this time of year, so we had no choice but to keep going. The snow wasn't sticking to the ground yet, but I had to keep wiping my face shield to keep the snow off. I still couldn't see well since it was constantly fogging up because of the difference in temperatures inside and outside my helmet. I could barely see Cyrus' taillight ahead of me, so I just focused on following that. My fingers were completely frozen and I was having trouble working my controls. We stopped a few times to try and warm up, but that was hard to do with the wind blowing as hard as it was. Finally we made it to lower elevations where the temperature rose enough for it to stop snowing. We pulled over at the first building we saw. It was closed, but we sat under its awning for over half an hour, waiting for our extremities to warm up. I don't mean to be a drama queen, but I honestly can't remember a time that I've been in more pain.

We made it to a small town and enquired about a room, but couldn't find anything in our price range. We moved on to the larger town of Yakima, where we found a room at "Tourist Motel" for $30. "Crack Den" would have been a more appropriate name. This was by far the sketchiest place I've ever stayed. And that includes Iraq.

The manager told us in broken English to be sure to take everything of value off the bikes and lock them in our room. Most of the residents seemed to be squatters. Lots of cars pulling up to rooms, people running in and out, then driving off. The doors weren't numbered well, so we were having trouble finding ours. A prostitute was kind enough to help us find number 14 while she waited for her cab. Our room had bloodstained sheets and a microwave that didn't work. At least they had cable. Cyrus tried to bring his motorcycle into the room, but his handlebars were too wide to get through the door. We unloaded all our gear then parked them close together and covered them with a tarp. We both woke up several times during the night and checked on them.

In the morning while watching the local news we learned that the pass we'd gone over had accumulated several feet of snow, trapping a few truckers. Good thing we didn't stop. On our way out of town we stopped at a Harley store to check on a new front tire for my bike, since it was getting pretty worn. They had the tire, but not the time to work on it, but I bought a good pair of waterproof motorcycle pants to replace the hiking pants I'd been wearing.

We found a Honda shop that couldn't work on my bike either, but they put us in touch with a shop farther north on our route that could fit us in if we hurried. The town was 2 hours north, and the shop was pretty busy. They said they could get to me faster if I took the wheel off the bike myself. Luckily Cyrus was there, and with an old car jack that he'd brought, we raised the front of my bike in the parking lot and removed the wheel without any problems. The new tire, mount and balance cost me $150 and pretty soon we were back on the road.

It warmed up a little while we were in town so we had a nice ride north along a very beautiful section of the Columbia river. We stopped at a grocery store for wine, and also bought some cheap steaks. We made it nearly to the Canadian border and stopped at a state park that was apparently closed, but we set up camp anyway. We found barely enough sticks to cook our steaks with, but still had a good night.

In the morning we gassed up and got to the border crossing. We both got sent inside for additional screening where they checked our criminal records. I guess they didn't find anything too bad, cause they let us through eventually. They never searched our bikes though. I'm not sure if the bear spray or hatchet would have been a problem, and Cyrus had a bowie knife with a 9" blade that he was worried they might confiscate.

It rained a little as we headed north through British Columbia, but cleared up later as we got into some truly beautiful scenery and it even warmed up some. It was a really dry climate, which I love, but with plenty of vegetation and big pine trees, like northern Arizona. Big valleys with clear rivers and sparsely populated towns. I could easily see myself living there.

Both Cyrus and I had problems with our credit cards when we got to Canada so we had to call our banks and sort things out. Later we stumbled upon a nice campground at Timothy Lake. It was free, and we got the last available site, which was really secluded, right by the lake.

The next day the skies were clear, but became overcast as soon as we got on the road. Got pretty cold too, raining off and on. At a gas station an older gentleman noticed my Indiana plates and said "You're a long way from home!" I just smiled and said "Yeah, I like it that way." People out here have been really friendly, as I expected. They always end our conversations with "Have a nice trip, eh." We stopped at a Wal-Mart to get a frisbee that day. When I walked inside I immediately felt like I was back in America. I didn't like that. I was surprised that despite Canada's higher gas prices, a lot of people still drive SUV's and full size pick-up trucks. Their economy's doing so much better than ours that I guess they can get away with it. Of course their winters are more intense than ours as well. We spent that night at an empty RV site for $13 bucks, which included free firewood and showers.

Comments


Chopperjake says:

Awesome article!!! Very inspiring and sounds like one helluva good time.
Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM

DrAlloway says:

Excellent !

June-July 2010 I started on US-50 in Ocean City Maryland. Put my rear tire in the Atlantic Ocean and rode US-50 all the way to San Francisco where I put my front tire in the Pacific Ocean.

Then up the coast into Canada; back into Washington State; and home on US-2 along our northern border.

60 days, camping and cooking, just over 12,000 miles.
Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Puddlejumper says:

Great story telling. It is an adventure you will remember your entire lifetime. My husband and I are both retired Army and from one vet to another, thank you for your service. Not many are willing to risk all as you did. Well done and welcome home. Keep those wheels turning!
Fri Dec 9, 2011 at 9:13 PM

NC_En4cer says:

Awesome story bro. I enjoyed reading about your adventure. That's my kinda riding. Great trip and pictures.
Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 11:34 PM

tortuga-mike says:

Great trip...Great story!!! I'm leaving Afghanistan in June, will start my trip in Aug...I plan on taking
about two months also, but I'm going all the way up to Prudhoe Bay, and down to Anchorage, threw Fairbanks, and maby a ferry one way there, and drive the other way...THEN, I'm doing the 4 Corners Tour, with the Great American Motorcycle Adventure together, and plan on hitting all 49 states before I'm finished.

Starting at Fort Hood Tx, and Ending in San Diego, Ca. But probably have to go it alone. Should still be fun!
Mon Apr 18, 2011 at 5:35 AM

UtahDave2 says:

Great read - I've ridden from Alabama to Utah via South Dakota and Yellowstone, and need another long trip. You have inspired me. I've been chained to my desk for too many years.
And, most importantly, THANK YOU for your service to our country! We have the freedom to be able to ride because of you and all of those like you. An Air Force vet.
Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 6:35 PM

SoapSuddzin says:

I was at a point where i was debating getting out of the service. ive loved every minute of it but am ready for a change. reading this article was a great influence. to be able to go out whenever without having to take leave. awesomely inspireing. thank you for serving.
Go Boilermakers!
*indiana born and raised
Wed May 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM

jwittner says:

Really great travel log Trevor - truly inspiring. Thank you.
Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 10:45 AM

trev1300 says:

Thanks for all the comments guys, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Check out the video at: www.trevstravelblog.com

I'm riding the Dragon in TN next week, and might be heading to Mexico this summer; best of luck to everyone taking on their own adventure.
Tue Mar 9, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Nowheels says:

Awsome, reminds me of Redline America
check it out if you haven't yet. Definately worth it.
Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:53 PM

davidtn says:

Excellent, excellent, excellent!'

I'm riding from Key West Florida to Homer Alaska this June and I vicariously already made the trip thanks to your great article.
Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 7:21 PM

kshief50 says:

I had many such adventures thirty+ years ago. Well told on your part, live large. I'm thinkin perhaps I have one more left in me. Don't get chained to the wants of life, it will destroy your best. Ride, Ride, Ride!!
Thu Jan 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM

Doc2nd2 says:

Im glad you got the opportunity to pull off an epic ride like that. I try to do that every couple of years. And now you have fired me up for my next ride! Very well written, I could relate with the different aspects of your ride as I am sure others can too. I often felt as if I were on the road with you guys. Im old Army and want to thank you, from one soldier to another, for your service. It seems vets really can appreciate the freedom of an epic ride for what it REALLY is, a chance to enjoy the freedom that we fought for and our buddies died for. Ride safe, ride long and always remember to ride for those who can't.God's speed brother.
Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 9:08 PM

zgun says:

Again, a great story. As I wait here in Georgia to get thru one of the coldest winters on record, I dream about getting on my new Yamaha vstar 1300 and doing something like this. I am glad you were able to do this after serving time in Iraq. Welcome home!
Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 9:42 AM

mitrocop says:

A buddy of mine and I are in the planning stages of an approx. 6-week trip from Charleston, SC to Denali park in AK and back, with lots of off-road routes through the wild wild West.

Great story - thanks for the insight on good stops through Canada, it gives us food for thought before we head out later this summer. Keep on with the Roads Less Traveled, they're definitely WORTH it!

*BTW, we are leaving my Honda VT800 and his HD Road King at home for this long ride - we're guessing about 10k+ miles roundtrip - and taking our new BMW dual sports bikes instead...F800GS & F1200GSA, respectively. Don't think our road cruisers would handle the trip as well as the Beemers. Also hope to post a good story & pics like yours when we make it back.
Thu Jan 7, 2010 at 6:50 AM

DonutmanBob says:

Just wanted to say what a great read. I've ridden further in one day but the riding conditions were about as perfect as could be. P.S. I hate being cold and wet!
Thu Dec 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM

BDKrivit says:

Nice job, dudes.
Sat Nov 28, 2009 at 3:13 AM

larrykennis says:

Thanks for the ride friend. Felt like I was with you.
Sun Sep 27, 2009 at 4:53 PM

redhogg says:

Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. It's been on my list of trips I want to take but will have to wait until retirement for the time needed but your story rekindled the fire.Great story and pictures, Thanx
Sun Sep 13, 2009 at 7:22 AM

Teehaml says:

Absolutely fantastic journey! Memories for your later years. Keep riding and ride safe!
Sat Sep 12, 2009 at 6:02 AM

DR_STRANGELOVE says:

Dude, thank you so much for the temporary escape from my desk. I am an Army vet and a native Montanian so I didnt have a very hard time relating.
Mon Jun 29, 2009 at 5:28 PM

RoadGlider06 says:

Ride on Marine and great story! Semper Fi!
Mon May 25, 2009 at 8:01 AM

SocialOutcast1313 says:

Looks like fun. Reminds me of what I have been cooking up in my twisted head for after I get out of the Navy in a year....
Sat May 23, 2009 at 4:07 PM

felon says:

Outfrickin'standing!!! great journey, people, scenery, pictures, a brother to do it with and I'm sure lessons learned for the next ride!
Wed Apr 8, 2009 at 11:16 AM

troy30455 says:

Great story, Great trip. That makes me want to pack!!!
The pictures were awesome. Hope to read some more of your adventures.
Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 6:20 PM

Anonymous_Motorcyclist says:

I'm inspired - well done
Tue Mar 31, 2009 at 5:32 PM

biskitdg says:

I hope to get the chance to do a ride similar to this one day, after reading this it might be sooner than I planned! :) Loved the article.
Mon Mar 30, 2009 at 5:43 AM

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