San Diego to Toronto Maps

San Diego, CA to Williams, AZ (Day 10)

Williams, AZ to Cortez, CO Day (11)

Cortez, CO to Colorado Springs, CO (Day 12)

Colorado Springs, CO to Lawrence, KS (Day 13)

Lawrence, KS to Silver Lake Rest Area, IL (Day 14)

Silver Lake Rest Area, IL to Toronto, ON (Day 15)

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Silver Lake Rest Area, IL to Toronto, ON (Day 15)

September 4th
Miles 5040-5827

Sorry about the delay on getting the final post of the trip up. I’ve been a bit busy getting settled back into normal life, not to mention school and work.

Today would be the day that I raced what was left of Hurricane Gustav to Detroit.

This morning my curse continued: I woke up with the worst rain yet. Luckily I didn’t have to use a tent so there was no dealing with a soaking wet tent to pack away in the rain, and I could stay dry for most of the packing up process.

I knew I had a really long day today if I wanted to get back to Toronto in a day so I was planning on starting by 7 or so. But with both a very restless sleep and the relentless rain that I was hoping would stop, I didn’t start until around 8. It still wasn’t a bad start, but it would be slow going with the weather. I was lucky that at the rest stop they had a tv with all the weather information. I took a look at which direction the clouds were moving and where I was in relation to the clouds. It looked like they were moving north and east… perfect! I seemed to be on the eastern edge of the storm though and it was moving more north than east, so if I could get a good enough jump on it, I might be able to avoid a lot of the rain.

I decided to hop back on to route 40 which I took on my way West to stay off the interstate. Eventhough I wouldn’t be able to make the time I could on an interstate, while I was still in the rain, I wanted to avoid the wind and spray from all the trucks barreling down I-70. And eventually this strategy paid off as I avoided the stress of the major highway and eventually got ahead of the storm. Now the trick was to keep on moving and hope that it didn’t catch up to me once I started heading north out of Indianapolis, and once I was out of the rain I hopped back on to I-70 which I had pretty much been paralleling most of the way.

After that, it was just long riding ahead for me making sure to keep Toronto in my mind’s eye. Once in Detroit, I maneuvered through the construction detours to get the bridge to Canada where I didn’t have any problems getting across with my drivers liscence, although the border cop was suspicious of my helmet cam as he asked me if it was filming or not…

After the border, it was starting to get dark but I wanted to take a more relaxed and smaller highway than the giant 401 so I got on route 3. This is a road that I definitely want to ride the whole thing, during the day, and highly recommend to anyone looking for a ride in western Ontario. It got dark very quickly and soon I was twisting through a back country highway in complete darkness. I started taking the necessary amount of caution, slowing down with turns and on coming headlights (especially since I could really sense how far they were, where the road was leading me, and if they were possibly in my lane or not), and after about 30 minutes to an hour of that and checking my progress on my map at a gas station, I realized I wouldn’t make it until the next morning at this pace. So I went on until the next place to pick up the 401 and made my way on the super highway where I was greeted with my favorite: highwinds.

After 600 miles so far in the day, the wind was even less welcome than normal. I was still lucky that the rain still hadn’t caught up to me and it never really got too cold. I did spend a lot of my time on the 401 behind a truck though to try and cut off the wind. I found one that was going at about 70 mph so I was able to make good time.

At my last stop before getting into the city, I got off my bike to go the bathroom and realized that I could barely walk anymore! My legs were so stiff and my tail bone so sore that I was doing a kind of a waddle. After that for the last stretch, I made sure to shift my position on the bike a lot to not get too stiff.

Soon I was on the 403 and only 100 km from Toronto, the final stretch! And then maybe only about 30-40 km from the city and 11 o’clock at night, I hit my only major bumper to bumper traffic jam other than when entering San Diego. Fortunately, I was only sitting there for about 10-15 minutes, and with a sore butt and soaking wet I pulled up to the house where, after 3 weeks, my girlfriend was there to welcome me!

A night at the truck stop

Well who would’ve thought that spending the night at a truck stop could be a sketchy experience?

When I first got here and I was walking around setting stuff up, cooking dinner and all that, there was a kind of short pudgy guy walking around. He was kind of balding and looked like he was missing a few teeth. I didn’t think anything of him. When I saw him it looked like he was going towards the bathroom when he had said to me, “you’re gunna get rained on.” I asked if it was supposed to rain tonight and he nodded yes. So I said, “that’s alright, I’ve been getting rained on for the past three days.” and that was that, for the moment at least.

So for the next half hour or so, I packed up my stuff, got out my sleeping bag, and got ready to go to sleep. I had just taken off my jeans to get into my sleeping bag when I noticed a sillouette walking right near where I was. So I quickly covered up by getting in my sleeping bag as the person came over. It was the pudgy guy from earlier.

He said, “where you coming from?” I gave him the usual bit of saying where I’d come from today and how I was on a cross country trip. Then he kept walking around the picnic table to the side I was sleeping on, and standing at the edge of the table and looking straight ahead, he asked me, “are ya gay?”

I was obviously really surprised by the question so I said, “what?” and he repeated in a really casual way, “are y’gay?” So I answered (with what I’d like to think was conviction) “no, no. I’m not gay.”

He then told me, still looking straight ahead with one leg up on the bench of the table, “sometimes guys hang around here, y’know to be with the truckers. It can get crazy here. Guys’ll give’em blow jobs.” I didn’t here him well so he repeated, “give ’em blow jobs. It can be a real fiesta here.”

So I said, just to reinforce the fact, “No, I’m not gay. I’m just here lookin for a place to sleep.” Still looking forward, “yeah you said before that you’d been in the rain for three days so I just thought.” Then he just kind of stood there for a bit, so not knowing what to do and still in my underwear, I asked, “do you come around here a lot?” He answered very casually with his slight southern accent and in the kind of voice that you can tell he’s missing a couple teeth and of course still looking straight ahead, “yeah, I swing both ways.” So I just thought to myself, “oh shit” as he still stood there. So after a few more seconds, I said again, “yeah, just wanted a place to sleep.” A few seconds of silence and then, “well you don’t know ’til you ask.” “Yep, guess so.” Then after a while he said, “Lots of these guys got wives back at home. Gets lonely out on the road.” I just sat there, wondering what was in store for me as he kept standing there, with the stories I had heard on the Appalachian trail about hitchhiking and similar types of propositions.

Finally I asked, as if just to make conversation, “how long do you usually hang around?” “About 4 or 5 in the morning.” “Crap” I thought. After some more silence I asked, “do you know if there’s a caretaker or someone that comes around?” “Yeah early in the morning, like 5. But don’t worry, no one’ll bother you. At least I’ll make sure no one does. If you’re not interested, you’re not interested.” How gentlemenly of him I thought. After some more silence of us looking straight ahead as if there was something we were both mildly interested in going on in the road, he said, “you probably should have brought your bike over here. Out in the light like that someone could hop on it and roll it off.” As if I wasn’t worried enough, “it’s got a lock and alarm.” And after that he walked back to his car.

Soon after he left, I put my jeans back on, deciding no matter how uncomfortable it would be to sleep in slightly damp jeans, there was no way I was sleeping without them. Then I waited about 5 or 10 minutes before going over to the bike. I got out my leatherman from the windshield bag and made sure the alarm was on. After that, needless to say, between worrying about my bike, my ass, and what I’m pretty sure were noseeums that were biting me all night, I had a pretty restless sleep.

Lawrence, KS to Silver Lake Rest Area, IL (Day 14)

September 3rd
Miles 4718-5040

I’m pretty sure that I’m bringing bad weather wherever I go. The past two nights when I got to my destinations, Colorado Springs and Lawrence, whatever bad weather I’d been having was not there when I arrived. Both place had clear skies and very warm. Then as it got later, the temperature would drop and the wind would pick up a lot. This morning when I woke up, and the same with in Colorado, clouds had come in and the temperature was 10-20 degrees colder then the people there were used to.

So with yesterday morning in mind, I bundled up with all the layers from yesterday. Good thing I did too because I got rained on the entire day up until maybe the last hour. On top of that the wind was still extremely strong for the first half of my drive. But today I was just trying to do some miles. So eventhough the weather was unpleasant, I got the driving done, usually driving in another cars tracks when the rain got bad.

My campsite for the night is a highway rest area. I didn’t really want to pay for a floor to put my sleeping bag on and I figured I’d save time by not having to look off the highway for a place. So a cement floor with a little roof above it seemed to be the perfect fit. Now I just hope that the weather doesn’t keep following me…

Also as a point of interest, it looks like I don’t have my passport. I’m pretty sure I left it in San Diego when I was emptying my windshield bag to bring the bike to the shop. I just gotta keep my fingers crossed that it is and that I can cross into Canada with just my drivers license.

Colorado Springs, CO to Lawrence, KS (Day 13)

September 2nd
Miles 4157-4718

Long tedious day today, time to get those long endless plains of Kansas out of the way again, back to visit my friend at Kansas University.

Weather was not on my side today. Clouds had been coming in over Colorado Springs and when I first started out on the road, it was freezing. I ended up having to throw on long underwear top and bottoms, a sweatshirt and my leather jacket for my top, and my rain pants to keep the wind off as much as possible. Then the flat plains started in Eastern Colorado. I’ve decided that the weather condition that I dislike the most, more than heat or rain, is extreme wind. With wind you get thrown all around your lane and at times I would have to mantain a constant lean as if I was turning just to counteract the wind. So there’s also the danger that not only could the wind push you out of your lane but also that it could suddenly stop and you’ll find yourself turning when you don’t want to. All this fighting with the wind gets really tiring as I’m trying to keep my body rigid. My neck especially would get tired as I could feel the wind pushing me sometimes by my head all of a sudden. Finally, it makes the drive a lot more expensive as my gas mileage got a lot worse. The one thing that kind of helped was to draft behind trucks. A truck will help to block out some of the wind but it’s really unlikely that you’ll be heading directly into the wind for very long which means that you still get hit on the sides. I found that it did give me another 10 miles or so out of my gas which was nice. Eventually though I made it out as I got into the more densly populated area in the east. So after a long, windy day I made it to my last planned stop before Toronto!

Cortez, CO to Colorado Springs, CO (Day 12)

September 1st
Miles 3800-4157

In three days I’ve gone from the scorching heat and mini dust storms in the Mojave desert to the green alpine forests (and rain) of the Grand Canyon to the sedimentary rock formations and deserts of a Navajo reservation and now finally up and over the impressive rocky mountains. One crazy thing of it all has been the shifts in weather; today, from one side of the Rockies to the other, I experienced an over 30 degree change in temperature in only a few hours, from the low 50’s to the mid 80s in Colorado Springs.

The road I was on most today (and yesterday as well) was rt. 160, which has become by far my favorite road of the trip so far. It goes through lots of different scenery, from straight endless roads in the desert to windy roads in the mountains. I much preferred this way over the Rockies then the way I took going west, which was on I-70. As you’d expect from an interstate, 70 was a lot busier which made the many turns and steep climbs and falls of the mountains much more stressful especially when someone is ripping by you at 80 miles an hour. 160 was much more liesurely. There was a bit of a climb but then once it was in the mountains it pretty much stayed up until the end, so the road went through some nice mountain fields at an elevation of around 7800.

I’m guessing 160 is a pretty popular motorcycle road because I saw tons of bikes out today, which was also probably because it was labor day weekend. I saw maybe around 150 bikes on the road today, some in big groups of ten or more, some just one or two. I even got absorbed into a group at one point! I was driving through a town behind some cars, and out of a gas station there were around 10 bikes waiting to pull into traffic, half of them pulled in front of the cars I was following and the other half had to get in behind me. Then the front half of the group started driving on the shoulder to let the cars pass and rejoin their group. And so all of a sudden I found myself second in a big group of bikes, which I stayed with for about 45 minutes before they pulled into a gas station. Definitely nice to have company!

Williams, AZ to Cortez,CO (Day 11)

August 31st
Miles 3468-3800

No break from the rain today. Woke up this morning to a bit of drizzling on the tent, not too bad though so I was able to get ready and pack up without getting wet. Then I dropped my bike…

It actually wasn’t anything that bad as I was pulling out from the area where I camped onto the dirt road that led to the main road. There was mud on the side and as I turned onto the road my back tire slipped out. I managed to get my leg out in time but with the mud too slippery and the bags packed on, I couldn’t pick it up on my own. So I ran to the main road and flagged down a car. A fourteen year old kid and his mom pulled over and helped me lift up the bike. Other than mud caked on the left of side of the bike, everything was alright.

So it was off to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, it was really hard to get any kind of a view. I tried several view points on the drive along the southern lip of the canyon and did manage to catch some breaks in the clouds but not much.

It was at the last view point, desert view, when it looked like I’d gotten a good view. So I parked the bike and ran over to get a picture when… my camera died. So I got my charger and some tuna for lunch and hunkered down in the cafeteria. Then the clouds came in and the rain really started. It was an hour and half before it stopped. It was just about as I was going to forget the view and ride in the rain when it stopped and I got a good, panoramic picture.

The rain held off for a while after that. There were some nice views on the way down from the canyon and I managed to stay dry. I highly recommed road 64 from the grand canyon to route 160. They’re scenic and leisurely drives without much traffic.

When you’re driving you have the opportunity to be able to ride out of a storm. Turns out you might also be chasing one. That’s what I realized was happening when I noticed the roads getting wetter even though I hadn’t been rained on. Then I finally caught up to the storm and couldn’t seem to get rid of it. Every time I stopped, the rain would slow then stop, and once I started on the road I’d be in the middle of it again.

Finally I got into a town called cortez. I started asking for hostels since there didn’t seem to be any tree cover to set up a tent comfortably. Then when there didn’t seem to be one, I asked about the price for the nearby campground and found out the price would be around $30! After that I found a motel that offered me a deal, $35 with no tax. After all the rain today I decided to take it. So shower and shelter today, sounds alright to me!