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New Year’s Eve without the headache?  Quite simple actually.  Stay home, drink tea and tune into CNN to see how long it takes Kathy Griffin to have Anderson Cooper giggling with embarrassment.  Less than one minute by the way.  Being three hours ahead of New York we didn’t have to force ourselves to stay up to midnight. Yup — that’s how we rolled this New Year’s Eve.

Year in review shows were a blur of conflicts & terrorism, celebrity deaths and scientific breakthroughs.  For me 2016 was made up of more highs than lows with lots of in betweens.  Cycle of life stuff.  One of the most amazing moments of my life was being part of Team Megan in the delivery room the day our grandson was born.  Our daughter was so brave and a marvel to behold from the first contractions to the moment we met the most beautiful baby in the world Bowen Michael.  I’ve gone almost cross-eyed staring at those pinchable chubby cheeks and soulful blue eyes.

Ticking off one of the biggest items from our bucket list Chris and I hopped on the Harley for the “big trip.”  See the many posts below 🙂 The whole year was broken into chunks of: planning for the trip, being on the trip and post trip.  Thankfully I blogged as we went because I couldn’t hazard a guess as to how many state lines we crossed or remember all the places we visited.  We have so many memorable moments like the impromptu bluegrass festival At Elmer’s General Store, the chef who came out to meet us when she heard we were going to blog about her homemade flapjack syrup or sharing a beer in a hotel parking lot with another motorcyclist after a torrential storm forced us off the road.

In my own “gone but not forgotten” tribute — 2016 was a sad year.  My Uncle Don Lane and then his daughter, my cousin Jennifer Lane Robinson both passed away. And who would have imagined at my age and a grandmother myself that I would be sharing the news that my 96-year-old Nana was gone.  Joan Mary Collings was the matriarch of five generations.  Celebrating her birthday in July we gathered for brunch and she reminded us of the importance of family.  Yes she lived a very long life and no it wasn’t a surprise when she died, but I felt out of sorts for a few days.  Mopey that my Nana was gone.  My last grandparent — the end of an era.  And then I smile when I think of how our daughter described her as “a real sassy molassy.”  A proper British Nana whose stern and no-nonsense manner put me on my best behaviour as a child but when I did some growing up I adored her independence and sense of humour.  She and I went for dinner occasionally when we both lived in the same city.  We would share our funny dating stories and she once tried to give my phone number to a good-looking waiter.  We were pen pals and I treasure all the letters that were signed “with fondest love Nana.”

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My last visit and hug with Nana in August

Resolutions for 2017? I’m thinking along the lines of eating healthier & trying to be more physically active.  My husband totally surprised me at Christmas with a gym bag full of work out gear, running shoes and sessions with a personal trainer.  The “transformation” starts on the 16th and I’ll let you know how that all works out.

Yesterday I got an email from myself that I’d totally forgotten about.  Futureme.org is a website where you write yourself a letter and they send it to you a year later.  Here’s the last paragraph and I still feel this way.  Happy New Year !!!

You have enough !!!! More than you ever dreamed of actually. Be grateful for the house on the beach, a girl cave for crafting, a pantry full of food, a car to get you where you want to go. And married to your bff for more than 30 years. A beautiful daughter happily married and now a wee one. JUST BE GRATEFUL. Pray more, be silly more, get outside and breathe fresh air more, get to the gym more and one more reminder WRITE MORE.

Love Me xoxoxo

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Three days ago we woke up to thick fog — one of the last days of our amazing adventure.  We quickly packed up and hit the road before rush hour traffic got too busy.  Chris is comfortable with lower mainland highway driving so he easily navigated us from Hope, BC through Abbotsford, Surrey and finally Vancouver.

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We weren’t sure how busy ferry traffic would be — what an unexpected surprise to learn that we would be leaving in 30 minutes.  Not even enough time to leave the bike and go find a coffee.  No matter because riding a motorcycle means we’re always first on the boat. And first in line at the cafeteria, enjoying a full hot breakfast before the ferry even left the dock.

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Right after I said to Chris we always run into someone we know on the ferry I felt a tap on my shoulder.  Our friend Jennie Hopkins-Black was traveling home after 3 days in Vancouver.  We’ve known Jennie for years.  She ran our b&b for us a few times allowing us to get away in the summer.  This whole trip has been so special reconnecting with family and friends and meeting so many new people.

That’s Chris talking to a young fellow in the vehicle beside us with a brand new baby in his arms and a toddler in the car.  Sleep deprived but happy they’ve decided their family is complete.

Smelling the ocean air and and seeing Vancouver Island come into view was a great welcome back.  My excitement level went up just a tad 😀

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Thanks to my brother Dan and his family for the Chapters gift card they gave me for my birthday.  We stopped off in Nanaimo so I could add to my fall reading material.  That’s my bandito in front of the bike getting geared up for the next part of the trip.

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We stopped off at Crown Isle Golf Course in Courtenay to meet up with my Dad and Step-Mom for coffee and a catch up chat. My Dad’s big news was his first ever golf “hole in one.”  Congratulations Dad — you’re part of a very exclusive club !!

Finally on to Campbell River for the last night of our big trip.  Dinner & and overnighter with dear friends Jim & Laurie.  Chris and Jim were rookie RCMP members in Alberta in the late 70’s and they have always kept in touch.  Jim & Laurie are Megan’s godparents and a big part of our family.  Once again the guys made me laugh until I cry with their hilarious stories.  Jim could hardly tell the one story he was laughing so hard.
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Spending the night in Campbell River meant we had a very short ride Tuesday.  It poured rain so 2 1/2 hours was long enough.

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The trip is now officially over.  We’ve slept two nights in our own bed, opened up a stack of mail, unpacked the bike and are settling back into life back at home.

We were gone 74 days, traveled 19,052 kilometers right across Canada, down to the southern US and then west across the states back to BC.  What a ride !!

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Home sweet home. This was the view from our window last night.  It may have been raining but the rainbows were spectacular !!

The bike is insured until the end of December so I think we’ll get a bit more riding in this fall.  And we’re talking about a few short trips for next summer.  For now I’ll keep busy writing, crafting and spending time with our adorable grandson.

Thanks for coming along on the journey with us dear readers.  Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Life is good !!!

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Love & hugs from Port McNeill…

 

 

 

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Another glorious day weather wise !!  We sure have run the gamut from near freezing temperatures in the mornings when we first left BC to 40 degrees Celsius in South Carolina.  Thankfully we didn’t have to deal with snow or hail although we did have to get off the road a few times when thunderstorms were imminent.

Today was a lovely trip down memory lane.  We’ve traveled these roads before and never get tired of the scenery.  Our breakfast stop was the Omega Restaurant in Grand Forks.  When we told our server we both wanted a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream she suggested we try the stuffed French toast. Just imagine 2 huge pieces of French toast with a layer of marscapone cheese in the middle mixed with strawberry compote & topped with whipped cream and slivered almonds.  Two empty plates again !!  I saw a sign posted on the wall that said “borscht & home made bread to go.”  Honey, I think maybe we need a vacation home in Grand Forks.

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Things I love and stop me if I’m repeating myself.  Actually I know I am and will do it anyway.  Clouds and old abandoned buildings both fascinate me.  Things I don’t love are aggressive drivers and vehicles with untethered items in the back — both of which we saw today and just too many times on this trip.

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Chris was looking forward to Highway 3 today.  It ranks way up high on the list of twisty roads in BC.  Being a Sunday and such nice weather we saw hundreds of bikers on the road.

We passed through Osoyoos, Keremeos & Princeton.  Vineyards, fruit orchards and so many stores selling fresh everything.  Sadly we just don’t have enough room in the trailer for cases of peaches or fresh corn.

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Doesn’t matter how many km we travel, how tired we are or how bad my helmet head is, we are enjoying this incredible journey.  A little sad that it’s coming to an end but we’ll have all the memories to keep us busy over the winter while we plan the next adventure.

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One of my favourite pictures from today.  Big sky, mountains and water.

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Tonight we’re in Hope BC in a nice little motel we’ve stayed before.  The bonus is the Greek restaurant right next door.  I see chicken souvlaki in my future !!

Tomorrow we’ll be getting on the ferry back to Vancouver Island.  Two and a half months away and only one more night before we’re home again.

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Love & hugs from Hope, BC

 

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A kool and krisp morning in Kalispell !!  It’s a given now that all our cold weather gear is required for the first few hours of riding.

I’m not sure exactly where we were when we started smelling smoke and the sky got hazy. There is fire activity right now in Montana, Idaho & Washington. And the word is there is a campfire ban back in Port McNeill.

Our breakfast stop this morning was Libby, Montana, “City of Eagles.”  The extra wide main road is framed by beautiful hanging baskets and one shop caught my eye with a poster about one of the presidential candidates.image.jpeg

When Chris asked the gas station attendant for a recommendation for breakfast there was no hesitation — Libby Cafe !!

From the young lady who seated us we found out Libby once relied on logging and mining but that’s all gone now.  Tourism is playing a bigger role in the economy.  A senior in high school this lively teen will have her welding ticket by the time she graduates and has a job waiting for her in Alaska.

When we placed our order – eggs Benny for Chris, Denver omelet for me – our server asked if we’d ever had a huckleberry flapjack?  When we replied no we haven’t she said we should at least try one since the cafe is well known for them.  She brought us one to try and it was DELICIOUS !!  A huckleberry flapjack with butter & homemade huckleberry syrup on top was a most amazing appetizer !! Chit chatting back and forth we learned our server lived in Oregon working a high pressure job and is happy to live on two acres just outside Libby raising chickens & turkeys and soon some goats.

It was great to meet the chef and thank her for making our breakfast.  One of the favourite parts of this trip is connecting with people.  Finding out what keeps them busy and why they choose to call a certain place home.

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With very full bellies we headed north.

It happened so fast I missed the welcome sign but we spent about an hour in Idaho heading to the border crossing.  One more state to mark on the map of where we’ve been this summer.

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This was the second time we crossed the border back into Canada on this trip.  The Porthill, Idaho crossing is tiny with no wait time.  And in the “it’s a small world” department the border agent knew exactly where Port McNeill is because he worked there years ago.  We answered a few questions and badda bing badda boom we were back in British Columbia.
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It may have just been my imagination but once we crossed the border back into BC the temperature got cooler !!  The skies darkened and we actually got a few spits of rain. Tonight we’re tucked into our very comfortable motel room in Trail, BC.  The last time change puts us back into the Pacific Time Zone.  Somehow I’ll try to stay awake until at least 9pm 😀

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Tomorrow will be a long day because we want to get all the way to Hope which is north east of Vancouver.  The plan is to be home on Tuesday.  Today a friend texted me we’ll be suffering from traveller’s hangover and will have to get used to making our beds and making our own meals.

We’ll miss the spontaneity of life on the road — we’re already talking about next year’s trip.

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Love & hugs from Trail…

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The date is August 26th.  The reason I know that is because I just looked it up. Being away from home for so long Chris and I quite often ask each other what the date is or what day of the week it is.  And when we closed the b&b I stopped wearing a watch.  Yes folks that’s retirement !!

We spent another day enjoying the spectacular scenery in Montana.  Mountains & trains were the theme today.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a wildlife crossing over the highway.  Would have been even better if a herd of bison was crossing !!

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It was much warmer today so I didn’t have to worry about frostbite when taking my gloves off to manage the camera. Obviously I was back to cloud gazing – one of my favourite pastimes.  And before you give us a hard time about the snake sign please know we exercised due diligence.  We didn’t hear rattling noises in the grass and we watched other people take pictures before we did.  And no Mom I would not jump off a cliff if everyone else did.

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Montana is definitely on the list of places to visit again and if we ever win the lottery I know Chris would be happy to have a big acreage here !!

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We met Catfish and Angel Face at the Harley dealer in Kalispell this afternoon. Catfish is a member of a motorcycle club called Sons of God – New Jerusalem. They have chapters in 50 states and they minister to OMG’s (outlaw motorcycle gangs).  A down to earth couple who love to ride and are spreading God’s word.

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Tomorrow we’ll be crossing the border back into BC.  We’ve gathered all our receipts together and realize we’ve spent as much on bike repairs as Harley clothing & souvenirs.  It will take us a few days to travel back to the island.  Geezer Tour 2016 is coming to an end.

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Love & hugs from Kalispell

 

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Oh my the air was brisk this morning. It’s the first time on this trip that Chris had to add heated vest, leather jacket and winter gloves to his biking gear.  I added an extra neck covering and pulled it up over my ears for some extra warmth.

One of our stops this morning was the gas station in Reed Point, Montana. Seemingly one of the only business that’s open.  The cashier told us the population of the tiny town is 199 but only 100 of those are year round residents.  Sadly the businesses on the tiny Main Street have all shut down giving downtown the deserted look.  The only thing missing was a tumbleweed blowing down the street. It made me happy to see they still have a library.

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Our breakfast stop this morning was Livingston.  We drove up and down the main street until the retro sign at Northern Pacific Beanery caught my eye.  We lucked out again finding an awesome diner in a converted train station alongside an active railway line.  There was train memorabilia on the walls and they even sell conductor hats.  I had the daily special of eggs, bacon, hash browns and biscuits with gravy. OH MY GOSH how have I lived for 56 years without having eaten this fantastic food.  Flaky homemade biscuits smothered in sausage gravy.  Seriously there was not one single crumb left on my plate.

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Same as yesterday it was too cold to take many pictures from the back of the motorcycle but from this shot you can tell we’re heading into the American Rockies.  Breathtaking vistas and ranches that go on for miles.

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Tonight we’re in Butte Montana once known as “the richest hill on earth.”  Coming into the city we could tell that there’s been serious mining activity from the visible scars to the land. Gold & quartz have all been mined here and driving through the “uptown” it’s apparent the city was much bigger at one time.  Once a population of over 100,000 Butte now is home to 30,000 people.  It’s encouraging to see some of the beautiful old brick buildings being preserved and rejuvenated.

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We toured both”uptown” and “downtown” Butte trying to find a mom and pop motel but the motels we did find looked a bit sketchy.  Back to our dependable Best Western.

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Tomorrow we’re aiming for Kalispell Montana which will be our last night in this huge state.

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Love & hugs from Butte…

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A very weak internet connection at our hotel prevented me from posting on our blog last night.  Here’s a bit of info to go with the pictures I shared on Facebook.

  1. We enjoyed one more night at our hotel in Deadwood — it’s such a treat to stay somewhere for 2 nights and not have to pack everything up in the morning.
  2. Needles Highway — in the Black Hills of Custer State Park.  14 miles of sharp turns, low tunnels and impressive stone spires
  3. Iron Mountain Road — another big WOW on the motorcycle.  This road has 3 one lane tunnels, 3 pigtail bridges, 22 switchbacks, 400 bends & curves over 17 miles and two counties
  4. Mount Rushmore — as imposing and impressive as I imagined it would be.  I learned it was built by 400 workers over 14 years.
  5. Sturgis — arriving a week after the motorcycle rally is like arriving at a wedding venue after everyone’s gone.  The downtown was basically deserted and all the bits and pieces haven’t been cleaned up yet after the 76th annual rally.  We had a beer at the famous Iron Horse Saloon just to say we did.

This morning after passing Elvis in the lobby of our hotel we walked outside to feel the cold South Dakota morning.  Yikes !! It’s still August and we had to wear all our layers.  For so many weeks I whined about how HOT it was but we’ve turned a corner into much cooler temperatures.  I didn’t take nearly as many pictures today because it was just takes too long to take off gloves and carefully ease the camera out of my pocket.

I’m not sure how many minutes we were in Wyoming 😀 Looking at today’s route we just skimmed the north east corner before entering Montana.

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We saw more wildlife today than our whole 2 months travel put together.  We saw about 100 antelope and some deer as well as long-horned cattle, horses and thousands of sheep & cows.  And why did the chicken cross the road?  To show the raccoon it could be done.  We have seen hundreds of dead raccoons on this trip.  Absolute raccoon carnage.

Traveling most of today on a secondary highway was great with stunning scenery and very little traffic.  Unfortunately it means very little in the way of services.  We finally found a cafe for breakfast and it was perfect.  Small little cafe full of local farmers and our server chatted us up wanting to know if we were frozen yet.  It wasn’t just cold.  It was cold and very windy.  Windy to the point of Chris having to ride on a tilt we were being buffeted so hard.

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We weren’t sure how far we’d get today so didn’t book ahead.  Here we are in the lobby at Best Western Kelly Inn in Billings Montana.  The decor just oozes “western” and the staff here are lovely.  There’s a bike washing station outside so our ride is absolutely gleaming !!  I’ve done some laundry, sorted through receipts getting read to cross the border and we’re watching a bit of TV before we rest our weary but happy selves.

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Tomorrow is another day of riding until we’re tired but I know we’ll still be in Montana.

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Love & hugs from Billings…

 

 

 

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