DAY TWENTY-ONE: THURSDAY, JULY 02
I wanted to get going as soon as possible, as the night before I came to the realization that a long push for the day could have me sleeping in my own bed at the end of this day. I believe it was a little after 5 AM when I went to load my bike up in Rob’s garage with the gear I had taken up to their spare bedroom. Rob appeared a few minutes later and we chatted about my final route home. No way I wanted to go through Chicago no matter what time of day it would be, so I settled on the direct south route of I-94 to I-90 to I-39 to I-74 to I-465 as the main roads home.
DAY TWENTY: WEDNESDAY, JULY 01
Another night passed with the discomfort of trying to sleep with the throbbing rib cage that wasn’t feeling any better yet. Not being able to sleep for more than thirty minutes at a time, it was very easy to get moving around by 6 AM. Taking gear out to the bike, I ran into Jeffrey who was already completely loaded and ready to go. He had already eaten, taken his bike to top off for fuel, and was getting very anxious to leave as soon as possible so he could get to his work buddies by their lunch time that he kept talking about the night before at dinner. Eventually I got loaded up and rode to the gas station down the street to fill up. My traveling companion sat behind me by the curb, bike running which was not normal, and flipping the throttle repeatedly in between sending out messages to his friends on the phone that he was going to meet with them on time. I pulled around to chat with him after fueling and he was very eager to get to get going to his planned lunch stop.
The ride south out of Grand Forks was uneventful. During the hour ride down to Fargo, we got separated repeatedly by passing traffic. I had told Jeffrey previously that if I was not able to safely stop at the Minnesota state line for my standard picture, that I’d take the exit into the first rest area. Sure enough, the Fargo traffic near the MN state line was loaded with morning commuters by the time we had arrived there about 8 AM. I backed off the speed allowing lots of traffic to pass me as I continued to watch my rear view mirror for signs of Jeffrey who had disappeared from view. As the rest area exit ramp appeared, I could clearly see Jeffrey…which means I knew he could clearly see me.
DAY NINETEEN: TUESDAY, JUNE 30
Today would be an estimated 620 miles that would take us finally back across the border and a good way into North Dakota. As we became accustomed to at Best Western hotels, the morning breakfast was not much to write about…a simple hard boiled egg was my initial morning energy food before leaving.
The start of the day found the outside parking lot very thick with the haze of the northern forest fires. Much worse than yesterday, we would be riding in this smog for the first few hours of the day as we continued our trek eastward. There just wasn’t much to see this morning; the smoke covered the complete horizon, traffic was very light on this major highway, and there just is not much scenery.
DAY EIGHTEEN: MONDAY, JUNE 29
Our exact planned stop for this evening was unknown but we do know it would be very much east out of the mountains than from where we awoke. We had two choices of routes available to us.
One, through Edmonton a shade north of us; would take us onto new roads quicker once we passed the city of Hinton. This path would get us out of the mountains faster and take us to the plains.
Or the other; through the wondrous stretch of riding heaven known as the Icefields Parkway. The one road in all of North America I would advise people to explore as often as they could in their lifetime. Hmmm..obvious choice.
DAY SEVENTEEN: SUNDAY, JUNE 28
Ah, what a beautiful day this entire day would turn out to be. Nary a cloud in the sky all day, the weather was magnificent and even became quite warm as the hours progressed. We actually left the Bulkley Valley Motel fairly late in comparison to our overall trip standards. 8:00 AM nearly struck before the bikes were loaded and we continued our riding adventure east on the Yellowhead Highway; otherwise known as Canada 16.
Today’s expected final stop would be Jasper, a very upscale touristy city sitting on the north end of the Icefields Parkway. Knowing the higher expense of stopping for the night there, we had gone around the city and rode to Hinton on the way north for our desired night’s lodgings a couple of weeks ago. Tonight, I would get a chance to get a more detailed look at Jasper and examine some of its shops and hopefully a restaurant that would get a great recommendation from me.