Posts tagged “Canada

Video: Alaska and Canada

At last here comes our first video. An average day of our voyage summarizing the first month in Alaska and Canada. Enjoy!

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Michael’s first conclusion after 1 month and 10,000 km

Already one month on the road and 10.000 km behind us. Although our voyage still feels a little bit like a “normal” vacation to me, I would like to draft a very first conclusion as well, because now the “normal vacation” feeling slowly fades away and I am starting to realize that this is a little bit more than a vacation.

I start with the mere facts: 10.000 km in a month or 30 days… That’s a good average of 333.33 km per day. Does not sound much, but if you realize that we spent for example the last four days in Calgary and also spent more than a day in other areas, it is not too little either. This quite high average was caused by our decision to drive as quick as possible to our starting point ( the arctic circle ) and cross Canada as fast as possible, because accommodations as well as food, actually everything ;-), is quite expensive here.

Let’s continue with the next and maybe a little bit depressing fact ;-): Money, money, money… During this one month, I spent – according to my great finance app – already about 3,000 Euros, that’s about 100 Euro per day. Now one could think that I am living here like a king, but the truth is that we are trying hard to save money, at least as far as accommodation and food is concerned. Instead most of the money was spent on the motorcycle ( about 28 % ). That includes avoidable things like the leaking seals of the front suspension ( Carmen was much smarter here and mounted skins on here front suspension to avoid that. I did not think that those are required… Very good decision 😉 ) or the extremely expensive tires ( more than twice of the price in Germany ). Fuel is the next big factor, but on such a kind of voyage it’s hard to reduce that. The third category is equipment. In the meantime I bought a new motorcycling jeans for the hot weather here ( and other things as well ). Ok, I still hope, that its going to be much cheaper from now on, but there is a german saying: “Hope dies last.” 😉

Now let’s continue with the more “soft” criteria. How does it feel to spent a part of your life “on the road”? Actually it’s quite early to say anything about that already after month, but I still would like to try it, simply to see potential changes in that kind of feeling in a few months. Up to now I think it’s great! 🙂 Ok, that’s a little bit to short. …there are of course good days and bad days, but it’s really fun to explore the marvelous landscape here with the motorcycle, spend a little time here and there and get to know the people. The latter is much easier with the motorcycle than with any other means of traveling I tried so far. Everywhere people are approaching us, talking to us and offering help of any kind. Some even invite us for lunch or dinner or show us their home. It’s really great…! I must say, so far all the american and canadian people are really great!

In fact, the people here made a bigger impression on me than the actually incredible landscape and the wildlife which is some kind of exotic for us europeans. Nevertheless I can really recommend also a short trip to Alaska or Canada! The national parks in Canada and Alaska ( Denali, Jasper, Banff ) are very impressive. The loneliness between the towns and villages are a strong contrast to what we are used to in Europe. …and even I – as not that strong kind of animal lover – am impressed by the wildlife here. In the meantime we saw black bears, whales, sea otters, moose, even grizzly bears and many more kinds of animals living in the wilderness. Some of them were even much nearer than we wanted them to be. 😉

Last but not least, you learn much about yourself on such a kind of voyage, even if one thinks, that one knows himself very good. I learned much about my strengths and weaknesses ( on bad days it’s more of the latter 😉 ) and even now after just a month, many things are getting much less important than they used to be. Dirt on your fingers? Who cares. Styling gel for the hairs? What’s that? Contact lenses? Never heard. 😉 …and maybe I even become a little bit more relaxed. A few weeks ago, two hours of driving in the cold rain was quite nerve-racking, some days later we drove a whole day through rain, fog and we were almost frozen. But a hot coffee is all what you need to get into a much better mood. Actually the basic needs are now more important than anything else: A good sleep, food, toilet, gas. Ok, after that there is still the need for electricity, wifi and beer, but maybe that is going to change as well… 😉

Posted by: michasifi

One month and 10.000 km on the road

Today we are exactly one month on the road or differently said we finished our first 10.000 km of our Panamericana road trip. So far, I still have the impression to be on normal vacation. I still didn’t really realize that I will be on the road for another 10 months or so . Actually, “vacation” is the wrong term – it’s more a “journey” which was quite exhausting so far to be honest. The long days on the motorcycles and camping almost every day – no matter if the weather was good or not – is quite different than the convinient life at home in Germany. However, all the nice experiences, the stunning landscape, and the friendly people made this an unforgettable trip so far. It’s really great to just drive whithout knowing where to be in the evening, where to stay for the night, who to meet during the day or to know what else might happen. The mottos are “Everything will be OK in the end” and “There is always a solution for any kind of issues” 🙂

So far, one highlight for me was to drive on the unpaved Dalton Highway under the midnight sun. We drove till 1 am in the morning on our motorcycles until we felt completely exhausted into our tents. The sun was so low that it glared into our eyes and we almost didn’t see the road. We could just guess where the road could be. Additionally, the trucks made the highway very dusty which didn’t really helped us during our drive. It was a great adventure and a somehow surreal experience.

Of course there also happened some mischances. However, luckily not that many. For example, one of them was a very unenjoyable dinner with pasta and “self made” or better to say “self heated” salmon sauce. Unfortunatelly, there was salmon skin and bones in our souce which made the dinner uneatable. What a bummer after a very long and exhausting day on the motorcycles. Luckily we still had some dry bagels with us…

We will continue our travel a bit slower now. Very soon, we will cross the border to the United States and will spend some time in the national parks of the lower 48 states. I’m looking forward to this next period of our journey!

Posted by: carmen.on.the.road

The centennial of the Calgary Stampede

Since we did not have much profile anymore on our rear tires ( less than 1mm ), we had scheduled an appointment at BMW Anderwerks to mount new tires. So we brought our motorcycles to the garage and left them there for the tire change. We ourselves took the bus and train to visit the centennial of the Calgary Stampede for which we had already reserved some tickets.

The Calgary Stampede is one of the largest rodeo events worldwide, even world championships have been carried out here. On the Stampede area there is also a large festival including beer tents and concerts.

In order to get into the right rodeo mood ( and to distract others from our travel look ) we bought cowboy hats in the stampede stadium. Unfortunately we did not have enough money anymore in our budget to also buy some good cowboy boots. Now the rode could begin. We went to our reserved places. Unfortunately the rodeos have been almost sold out for quite some time already. Therefore we could not get two of the really good places. Fortunately the view on the arena was still better than expected.

The rodeo event started first with a performance of the Calgary show band, followed by the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police who showed their skills on their horses. Afterwards Cowboys and Cowgirls competed in different disciplines. Among other things, there were competitions in bull riding, riding on wild horses ( with and without saddles ), steer wrestling, catching of cows with lassos and horse races. The stampede even had competitions for the little ones, e.g. riding on wild cows or catching wild ponies. We really enjoyed visiting the rodeo show and we did not have the impression that the animals were really suffering somehow.

After the show we checked out the area. But due to the centennial there was a huge amount of people and therefore we decided to go back to the garage and fetch our motorcycles.

In the garage we talked to the mechanics and other customers and got to know Wayne. Wayne is a real motorcycle lover and even owns a large collection of different motorcycles. He was so kind to show us some of them at his home. Afterwards we were having dinner together with him and his wife Tina in a little Thai restaurant. We had a very nice conversation and since Wayne spent a few years in Germany, he even could talk some german with us. The two are now on their way to Newfoundland to a wedding. We wish you both a good voyage and a good time! 🙂

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

First bike service day

In the meantime we have already travelled 10,000 km in Alaska and Canada with our motorcycles. According to the BMW service plan the first small service during our voyage needed to be done. Actually we wanted to let the experts do that and let the service be done in a local BMW garage in Calgary.

However since we underestimated the prices here in Canada a little bit, we decided to do the service ourselves instead. Fortunately Michael downloaded the BMW service manual. So we spent the whole day yesterday maintaining our motorbikes.

Actually the service was quite easy, also the first oil change went quite well. However Michael had to sacrifice his pants to the “god of motor oil” during the first try on his motorcycle. 😉 But when we continued with Carmen’s bike, we had already learned a lot. Nevertheless another problem occurred: The oil drain screw was tightened extremely strong and the screw was also a little bit used up. So we were not able to loose it with a usual wrench which we brought with us. Therefore we needed to drive to the hardware store and buy a 24mm socket. That helped a lot and we could loose the screw quite easily.

At the end of the day, the complete service as it is defined in the service plan was finished, with one exception: We could not check the valve clearance, because we do not have the required special BMW tools.

Hopefully we do not need another service day like this before California.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

The 17th german state: Jasper and Banff ;-)

We spent the night on a nice camping ground in Kitwanga at the end of the Cassier – Stewart highway. As usual we asked the host whether we have to be afraid of bears. The host, which likes kidding his guests, found our question quite funny and said that there are no “garbage bears” here in this area. The so-called “garbage bears” changed their food to a more human garbage based diet and therefore like to approach camping grounds. We were quite pleased by his answer and spent the evening on the lawn besides our tents. As it was already dark, we heard a loud noise from the garbage bin area ( in which we just had disposed of our disgusting “premium” salmon noodles ). After a lengthy discussion, whether those noises had been caused by bears or rather the well known yell – squirrels ;-), we put earplugs into our ears and went to our tents. On the next day, the host confirmed our suspicion, that there are no yell – squirrels around in this area.

On the next morning we visited the totem poles of Kitwancool. There one can find a whole collection of totem poles in the middle of a first nation area.

Then we started our way to Jasper national park. Shortly before we entered the park, two grown grizzly bears crossed the highway in front of our motorcycles. After they left the road, we continued, very cautiously. Due the size of the bears and their proximity we did not dare to take a picture.

In the park we checked in to Whistlers camping ground and made a side trip to the beautiful Maligne lake. On our way back we went to the De’d Dog bar to eat a ‘pub burger’ for $6 including french fries. That’s an unbelievable good price for the usually expensive Canada ( especially since we were in quite a touristic area ). While we were enjoying our burgers, a small kind of party started right beside of us. The crowd put a picture of an elder canadian guy on the wall and pictures of him were shown on the flat screens. On Michaels question, what one would have to do to get his picture on the wall, the waiter answered cool: “You have to die!”. The canadian guy unfortunately died due to a motorcycle accident some days ago. 😦 A little bit depressed we started our way back to the campground. In the meantime it was dark and time for a shower. We were a little bit frightened by the fact that there were moose laying in the lawn right next to the way to the shower.

Our journey continued on the Icefield parkway heading south into the Banff national park. On our way we visited for example the Athabasca falls and the huge Columbia icefield. The ice field is one of the largest ones on the american continents. There are even busses driving tourists onto the icefield, but that’s way above our budget. The highlight of the day was a small hiking trip to Peyto Lake. The almost unreal looking lake in turquois color is in the middle of a large mountain landscape. The more you are driving to the south, the more touristy it gets. We had the feeling to meet more germans here than canadians. Many of them immigrated to Canada during the sixties, others just spend their vacation here. It was like driving through a new german state.

However in the long run these kind of touristic areas are quite annoying. Therefore we drove quite quickly via Banff to Calgary. Here we have found a nice camping ground ( even with a pool ). After all that traveling we need a few days with a real ‘home’ and are going to stay here for a couple of days.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

On the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City

One of the guys living in Valdez told us that we were very lucky with the weather, because it usually is quite bad. As we left Valdez, we saw that he was right. It was raining heavily when we were packing our tents and clothes. During our ride to Tok the weather did not become really better, it became very foggy, so that we almost could not continue to drive. Somehow however we managed to arrive in Tok. We were wet to the bone and cold. A good evening to spend some additional money on a warm and cozy motel including breakfast. 😉

On the next morning we decided spontaneously to drive on the unpaved Taylor- and Top of the World highway to Dawson City. Somewhere between the Taylor and Top of the World highway is a town called Chicken (that’s really the name of the town ;-)). The town does not have many attractions beside a pub, a gas station, a Cafe and the “Chicken Poop”.

The name “Top of the World” highway seems quite right: You drive on the top of the mountains having not only a great view at the valley but also having quite some fun enjoying the curvy, winding roads as a motorcyclist.

Shortly before the arrived at the canadian border, it finally was time: Michaels ‘genius’ construction of a tool box ( as a reminder: the one made out of a plastic pipe ) fell down from the bike and we had to pick up the tools and put them into our boxes. Anyway, the tool box survived approx. 7,000 kilometers, in other words: not more than 2.5 weeks. 😉

In Canada we arrived in the old western town Dawson City. The buildings which are still kept in their old and original style give a good impression on how live must have been back in the 19th century. Even the banks, pubs (saloons), and the casino looked like taken from a western movie.

We were really surprised as we met Anja and Torsten, two other motorcycle travelers we got to know in Vancouver, at the local camping ground. We ended the day together with Torsten ( and a beer ) in the local casino.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Bears – They do exist!

Although many other travelers already told us about the numerous bears here at the Alaska highway, we did not really believe anymore to see one ourselves. But yesterday it finally was time: A grown up black bear was crossing the road right in front of our motorcycles. Of course we stopped immediately to document this event and fetched our cameras ( unfortunately without a mounted zoom ). Then we approached the bear to take some pictures. You can see the results below.

From now on the show continued: We saw some moose which were not bothered by the presence of our motorcycles. Later a whole herd of bisons sneaked slowly along the highway. We were really impressed by the wildlife here in Alaska. Nevertheless we had quite some respect when they were just a few meters in front of us.

This morning we drove via Watson Lake to Whitehorse. In Watson Lake, Michael added his old license plate to the famous sign post. Here we saw signs and license plates from all over the world, so we can just guess that a lot of visitors must have been here.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

Heading north on the Alaska highway

Yesterday we slept at the Grizzly-Inn at the Grizzly road near the bear lake. Since the names did not really provide a good feeling, we decided not to camp this time. Afterwards we continued to drive to the north on the Alaska highway. The weather was quite variable, but most of the time rather bad. It was raining most of the time and it was getting colder and colder as we were heading north. I spent quite some time on the motorcycle thinking about what clothes to put on next. At the end of the day, I put on four layers of clothes but did not feel really warm. Anyway, we are just driving another 4000 km further north. 😉

Nevertheless the landscape was really impressive, but still a little bit boring for bikers, because the road was going rather straight for hours. But there was no real danger to fall asleep on the motorcycle, because pot holes, mud, and wild life on the road needed our full attention. We were quite shocked as suddenly a grown up moose was standing on the road right in front of use. Fortunately there was enough time to break.

Now we arrived near of Pink Mountain. The pasta with chili sauce is on our cooker… A perfect day ends…

Beitrag von: carmen.on.the.road

On the road

Yesterday on Fryday we finally started to enjoy the Canadian highways! Unfortunately we had to do a little bit of shopping before, because – what a surprise – our equipment was not complete. 😉 We still needed a small jerry can, chain lube, and CO2 cartridges ( for our tire pump ). To buy all that, we started a kind of odyssey through Vancouver. In the internet we found out that we should be able to buy CO2 cartridges at Walmart, unfortunately nobody there knew anything about that. However at least they sold us a jerry can. Next station: Checking pressure at a gas station. Not so easy however, because the air pumps here use a different unit than those in Germany. No problem, we just filled the tires with too much air, used our own gauge and reduced the pressure afterwards accordingly. Then we drove to a large motorcycle shop. That one at least sold chain lube. The chain lube was original Harley Davidson, but unfortunately oil and not grease, but anyway, it should work. They even sell CO2 cartridges, but only in a complete tire repair kit for $ 49.95. Ok, let’s continue to Canada Tires. On our way to that shop, we stopped at a small bike shop and here we finally found our cartridges. Besides the guy was very nice and even wanted to make a picture of us. 🙂

Finally we could start to drive northbound ( i.e. to the actual start of our journey ). The 99 started very nicely with winding roads at the seaside. From there we continued to Whistler in the mountains. Everywhere we met bikers and were asked, who we are, where we are from, and where we want to go. The canadians are very nice people, everybody offers to help us and gives hints and tips. We continued to Clinton, where we found a nice, little camping site. Against our expectations, we enjoyed camping and since we need to watch our money, we cancelled our hostel reservation for Saturday right away, to save some money and have a chance to drive further. At least that was the plan. 😉

On Saturday we continued northbound on the 97. Unfortunately the day started quite chilly and with a little bit of rain. Besides the road was quite boring as well. However later the weather was getting better and the sun started to shine. As we arrived in Prince George, dark clouds were everywhere and after two guys told us not to drive to the coast, we changed our plan and stayed on the 97. First that seemed to be the right decision, but later we came into an apocalypse like storm and checked in to the next motel for a way too high price. Now the heater is running on full power and trying to dry our clothes.

Tomorrow we continue northbound. The weather forecast does not look really good, but we still have hope. 😉

Posted by: michasifi