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Old 07-25-2010, 02:34 PM   #1
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Solo Ride from Chicago, IL to Vancouver, BC and back

Chicago, IL to Vancouver, BC and back
I've been planning to ride to the west coast even before I got my M license last Aug 2008. Bought my first bike (a Ninja 250) on Oct 2008. I learned and developed my riding skills with the little Ninja. 10 months later, I sold the Ninja and bought a more powerful one, a 2006 Honda 919 otherwise known as the Honda Hornet.
Almost two years since the day I got my M license, I decided to put my plans into action - ride westward from Chicago to Vancouver and back. I set July 3rd as my start day. The day has arrived. Today is the day.
Day 1: July 3, 2010
The previous night was a tough one. I was able to get 3 hours worth of sleep. I planned earlier to go home early from work so that I could finalize my packing and go to bed early. Unfortunately, I was not able to go home as planned due to an urgent job requirements that need to be completed before the end of the day (Friday).
So my plan to leave my house at 5AM did not materialize. Got up past 5AM checked my gears and left around 6 AM. I was sweating as I left home but quickly dried out as I entered I-88.

The shot I took right after loading my gears before 11PM, July 2nd:

And here she is, ready for the long ride.

After taking this shot, I closed my garage, saddled up and off I go.

At I-88, somewhere in DeKalb, I stopped to check how my luggages are doing.

I followed these two gentlemen before they exited elsewhere in DeKalb, IL.

Crossing the Mississippi River that divides Illinois and Iowa.

Entering the city of Clinton, IA.

My first gas stop at De Witt, IA. Initially, inmate GR8ADV provided me a route which I eventually modified. Thanks Ken. Your efforts are well-appreciated.

Elsewhere between Dewitt, IA and Waterloo, IA

Followed these guys for a few miles before I realized they are too slow. The next two shots were grabbed from one of my video files, taken before Cedar Rapids, IA.

Second gas stop at Waterloo, IA. I ate my first sandwich after filling my gas tanks.

I felt sleepy halfway from Waterloo, IA to Albert Lea, MN. So I decided to stop at a rest area to stretch out. As I was about to leave, the owner of this goldwing woke up. We briefly chatted. They are from Ontario and heading to Winnipeg.

Third gas stop at Albert Lea, MN.

I took I-90 on my way to South Dakota. It was very windy at the portion of I-90 in MN all the way to SD. The wind slowed me down and killed my progress. The speed limit is 70 mph and I'm riding at less than 60 mph! While cruising in IA, I passed almost everyone ahead of me. At I-90, everyone passed me :(

The guy with green shirt from the above picture took this shot.

The wind was more forgiving as I entered South Dakota.
Gas stop at Mitchell, South Dakota.

Stopped to stretch out at the first rest area of South Dakota.
This structure can be seen at rest areas of South Dakota.

I had an unforgettable experience at this first rest area along I-90 in South Dakota. A guy who is driving with his wife and 2 little kids offered to take a snapshot of me and Mickey, my travelling companion The 2 little kids together with the mom were all smiles as Mickey and myself posed for the shot. Then, as I was preparing to leave, I mounted my bike and... without warning, I dropped it at the right side. My right knee just melted like butter and the next thing I realized is I was already in the pavement. Luckily the sliders worked well. No scratch on the bike and the armor of my jacket and pants protected me well. The guy who took the snapshot helped me lift the bike. Nope too heavy. So another young fellow rushed to help us out. Whew! These are just a few good people I met over the duration of my trip.

Next stop was at Chamberlain, SD. Very scenic views at this area.

Leaving the rest area at Chamberlain, SD. The gathering dark clouds at the horizon would soon cut short my goal of reaching Wall, SD for the day.

I was blinded by the low lightning bursts ahead as I silently prayed for the next exit to show up. The roar of thunder drowned the purr of my bike engine. Then it started to rain lightly. Just as the rain got stronger and the wind turned to hurricane, and there was exit 235. The small town of Kennebec saved me from the bad weather.

I initially planned to end the day at Wall, SD but the strong crosswinds at Minnesota and the bad weather at Kennebec killed my plan.

And there goes my first day.
Total distance covered: 715 miles.

Jigo screwed with this post 07-25-2010 at 05:28 PM
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Old 07-25-2010, 02:48 PM   #2
Studly Adventurer
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Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Port Kennedy, Western Australia
Oddometer: 994
You covered a healthy bit of distance on your first day, even if you planned to go further. Trip looks great. Well done.
Marty F
'13 Triumph Sprint GT; '14 BMW G 650 GS
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Old 07-25-2010, 03:58 PM   #3
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Day 2: July 4, 2010
I woke up to find a very calm daybreak. The raging storm the previous night is gone as fast as it came. I started my day by packing my luggages and securing them. A retired army guy riding a cruiser, chatted with me briefly before I left. He warned me about a dangerous intersection in Rapid City. Thanked him and off I go.

Pictures of the $41/night motel where I stayed during the storm.

Shots along I-90 on the way to Wall, SD.

The smell of decaying hays and cattle dungs, the rolling terrains of South Dakota and views of the unending grasslands remind me of the countryside where I grew up as a young boy.

An ads sign about wall drug can be seen scattered over a stretch of 200 miles or so... So I took this shot when I got curious.

Finally! More than 2 hours after I left Kennebec, I arrived at Wall, SD. Filled up my gas tanks, grabbed a hotdog and I was ready for the sidetrip to the Badlands.

Heading to the Badlands. At the entrance gate, the park ranger warned me that there is a 14-mile stretch of unpaved roads to Rapid City. With that, I decided to loop back to I-90 after my sightseeing at the Badlands.
So I changed my plan and decided to go straight to Beartooth Pass via the faster route. Initially, I was supposed to follow SD 420 all the way to Rapid City then go to Hermosa, Custer and back to the I-90 at Sundance.
The Badlands

This is Rene, from New Zealand. He is on a 2-month tour with his dad. They bought their bikes in San Diego, CA and were riding for a month the time I met them. Rene's bike is a Suzuki B-King, and a Harley for his dad. Cool guys!

I needed a haircut. It's been 7 months since the last time I had one.

This local tourist is watching the badlands for more than 1 minute before he decided to turn around and went downslopes at the other side of the road.

More Badlands shots....

My rear tire is wearing out faster than I had thought. Earlier, Rene, the guy from New Zealand was telling me that my tire could probably go for another 5000 miles. His words comforted me - at least for a while.

I completed my side trip at the Badlands at around noontime and now, time to check that famously advertised WALL DRUG.

Ahah! There's the famous Wall Drug! I never had the chance to check what's inside. I was running short of time.

Enough for Wall Drug. Time to move on.

I planned to reach Red Lodge, MT before dark.

I reached Billings, Montana before sunset and I decided to end my 2nd day here. I was too tired to continue to Red Lodge, MT. Checked my GPS for lodgings, dialed at least 3 motels and selected one that fits my budget. Total distance covered: 609 miles

Jigo screwed with this post 07-27-2010 at 08:08 PM
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:16 PM   #4
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
@zadok ... Thank you. Yeah, I realized later that the covered distance on my first day was not bad at all.
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Old 07-25-2010, 04:18 PM   #5
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Eldon,Mo
Oddometer: 769
715 miles is a very respectable distance for a first day of a first long trip.
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Old 07-25-2010, 05:19 PM   #6
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Day 3: July 5, 2010
I woke up fully recharged from a restful night at the motel. The booms of the July 4th fireworks are everywhere but did not keep me from getting my sleep. I fall to sleep while reading ride reports.

Before retiring last night, I checked my GPS for Chinese restaurant and I found one near the motel. Ordered a spicy seafoods and I ate what I thought is good for 2 persons.

Snapshot of the $45 motel at Billings, MT.

And away I go.

I missed the exit going to Red Lodge. The bluetooth of my helmet lost power so that I did not hear the announcement of my GPS that it is about time to exit. I moved forward and decided not to turn back as the next exit is about 30 miles ahead.

Gassed up at Butte, Montana. I met Greg (or was it Dennis?), the owner of this Beemer. He's heading east, I'm heading west.

Shot from a rest area after my gas stop at Butte.

Gas stop at Missoula, Montana.

View from the gas station in Missoula, Montana

As I was taking pictures around, a local guy chatted with me. He volunteered to take a snapshot of me. Then he noticed my rear tire going bad. I am really worried now. The guy is a motorcycle drag racer and he said he has a used tire at his garage. He used it for 800 miles. He offered it to me. I asked 3x how much should I pay him, he says "Don't worry, I just want to help." So I followed him to his house. He showed me his garage with a Kawasaki parked. Forgot the model. We zip-tied the spare tire, thanked him for the 3rd time, and off I go. It was raining at the mountain regions of Idaho and Washington state but cleared as soon as I reached Spokane.

Slowly but safely, I reached Spokane, WA around 5:30PM. I saw a Sears shop and asked them if they could mount my tire. The guy from Sears (Neil) told me they don't do motorcycles. But he started dialing a number and a few minutes later, I was at a local shop with the spare tire ready to be mounted.

The repair guy in action.

I was relieved after having the spare tire mounted. Checked my GPS for a lodging and got one nearby at $60.
Total distance covered: 552 miles.

Jigo screwed with this post 07-25-2010 at 05:27 PM
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Old 07-25-2010, 07:59 PM   #7
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Joined: May 2006
Location: Chicagoland
Oddometer: 136
You missed Mt. Rushmore and Devils tower, sturgis. So close to your path. Will you catch them on the way back.
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Old 07-25-2010, 08:20 PM   #8
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Originally Posted by jesionowski
You missed Mt. Rushmore and Devils tower, sturgis. So close to your path. Will you catch them on the way back.
Yes, I missed those places because I had to be in Vancouver on the 4th day. Besides, my rear tire was about to quit. Will I catch them on my way back? Hang on for the rest of my RR.
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:49 PM   #9
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Northwet
Oddometer: 863
Jigo, what a ride. You are covering some ground! Glad you are enjoying the trip. love the pics, keep em coming.
Whatever/Whenever, Father/son to AK

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Old 07-27-2010, 04:50 PM   #10
Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Portland, OR
Oddometer: 13
Seeing your pics brought back memories. Made that journey (Chicago to Portland) twice about three years ago. Once with a U-haul and again two weeks later with our pickup.

Can't wait to take the bike back there through MT and WY.

Great RR, keep the pics coming! Be safe!
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Old 07-27-2010, 06:23 PM   #11
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Day 4: July 6, 2010
After I had my rear tire fixed yesterday, I checked in at a motel managed by a nice couple. I liked the oriental design of the room. However, I was not happy with their internet access. After unloading my gears, I went to a Taiwanese restaurant nearby and ordered a large spicy mixed seafoods. I never get tired of seafoods. :)

This shot was taken a few minutes before I checked out.
The plan for this day is to ride the backroads from Spokane to Grand Coulee to Omak then finally to Oroville. I will cross the border at Oroville and Osoyoos then take BC's Highway 3 to Vancouver, BC.

I left the motel past 6 AM, gassed up and off I go.

I did not start taking pictures till I was at Grand Coulee Dam. Here are some shots of the area.


A geodetic survey monument at the dam.

Along the way, I came to know several great and nice people. Almost all of those who talked to me had something to ask.

At a gas stop in Minnesota:
Guy: "Hey, what is that?"
Me: "That's my fishing rod."
Guy: "Ohhhh, you're goin' fishing?"

At a gas stop in South Dakota:
Traveller: "Where are you heading?"
Me: "Vancouver, BC"
Traveller: "That's a longggg ride man. And what is that?
Me: "Fishing rod"
Traveller: (Laughing) "You're fishing in Vancouver?"

At a rest stop close to Butte, Montana:
Man: "I saw you in Livingston! What is that?"
Me: "Really?... That's my fishing pole"
Man: "That's what I thought!" (Laughing)

At a motel parking lot in Missoula, MT:
Lady: "What is that?"
Me: "Fishing rod"
Lady: "Ohhhh... I brought a fishing pole too. It folds to just a foot"

At another rest area somewhere in Montana:
Man: "Where you travelling from?"
Me: "Chicago"
Man: "Wow! And what is that?"
Me: "Fishing pole"
Man: (Laughing) "Great adventure!"

At a rest area in Bellingham, Washington:
Japanese guy: "I'm retired and I live in Vancouver, BC. Honda motorcycles are good!"
Me: "Ohhh... I used to live in Vancouver too!"
Jap: "Yes. Vancouver is a beautiful city. I love nature, I love fishing, and British Columbia is just a perfect place. What is that?"
Me: "Fishing rod"
Jap: (Laughing) "You like fishing too?"

Then a lady at a gas station in Montana asked me: "Is that the latest iPod model?" (pointing at the gadget on my handlebar) ... Me: "Nope, that's a video cam"

I smiled then and smiling now as I recollect those moments when I met these nice and funny people.

Leaving the Grand Coulee, I resumed my ride to Oroville. Following are images snapped from my video files.

I love the backroads of Washington State.

Crossing the border to Canada is much more stressfiul than doing a 700-mile day ride. At the border crossing in Oroville/Osoyoos, I was invited inside and was interviewed in a closed room. Questions were asked which I honestly answered. "When was the last time you were in Canada?"... "Did you have any problem the last time?"... "Are you a resident of Canada?" ... "Are you planning to come back and live in Canada?" ... "Did you work in Canada while you were a resident?" ... "I believe you... welcome to Canada and enjoy your ride, sir".

The following are my first shots as I left the border crossing. The body of water in the background is Lake Osoyoos shared by the USA and Canada.

That's the Osoyoos Lake. 

Highway 3 of British Columbia. Very scenic roadways.

Some shots of fellow riders along BC's Highway 3. These shots were taken between Osoyoos and Princeton.

Taken along BC's Highway #3 close to Manning Provincial Park

A few minutes before 6PM, I arrived at the driveway of my sister. I ringed the doorbell, his husband opened the door. My nephew saw me and the first thing he could say was: "You rode all the way from Chicago? That's crazy!" They were all happy to see me and they were relieved to learn that I had a safe and wonderful trip.

And that concludes my 4th day. I am looking forward to riding the mountain routes of British Columbia again next year.
Distance covered: 430 miles

Jigo screwed with this post 07-28-2010 at 05:54 PM
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:03 PM   #12
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Day 5: July 7, 2010
I was taking it easy today. Me and my nephew, Ian, did a short ride to Belcarra. I was supposed to ride to Whistler but I woke up late. I changed my mind and reset the plan for another day.

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Old 07-28-2010, 02:49 PM   #13
nomo B
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: where the hood meets the bay
Oddometer: 509
you're putting in good miles, nice report!
Heavy is good, heavy is reliable...

A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.. H Thompson
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Old 07-28-2010, 03:20 PM   #14
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Joined: Mar 2007
Location: Northwet
Oddometer: 863
Coquitlam! Why didn't you say so. I grew up in Port Moody, just a stones throw away. Small world eh? I spent a lot of time in Belcarra back in the day. Great trip!
Whatever/Whenever, Father/son to AK

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Old 07-28-2010, 05:19 PM   #15
Jigo OP
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Windy City
Oddometer: 76
Originally Posted by BmoreBandit
you're putting in good miles, nice report!
Yes, I did put a bit of miles. I was not satisfied then with my daily coverage but I realized now that I was going too fast. Thanks for viewing / reading my RR.
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