After spending an
evening making my
way along dirt roads
and communing with
deer, moose and elk,
I arrived in the
Canadian Provence
of Quebec.  

I was surprised by the
European feel of so
many of the little towns,
with crooked
cobblestone streets
and cozy little cottages.
I have to admit, Quebec was
also something of a culture
shock. I had never been to
Canada before, and I expected
there to be multi-lingual signage
across the French-Canadian
Provinces.  There wasn't.  
EVERYTHING was in French -
No English at all.  Not on road
signs or billboards, not even at
gas stations or restaurants.  I
had some trouble with my bank
card at one of the gas stations,
and no one there spoke (or was
willing to speak) English to sort
out the trouble.  Wow!  It was a
very interesting place to visit,
but next time I'll have to be
better prepared!
It was right about the time I crossed into Ontario that I was hit with about the worst weather
I've ever ridden in.  The kind of weather where all you want in the world is to pull over,
but you don't because no one else on the road can see anything either and it's only a matter of time
before some wayward big rig takes you out.  Amazingly, I caught up to a couple other hapless bikers
muscling through the storm, and together we pushed on for several hours until we reached a
little town where I could pick up a hotel room and wring myself out.  

The following day, with all of my gear still saturated and freezing, I tracked down a place known only as
"The Shop".  The Shop is a Harley / Honda / Farm Implement dealer in the bustling little metropolis of
Lively, Ontario.  They warmed me up with plenty of free coffee and asked all about my trip.
Then I purchased a new pair of dry waterproof winter gloves (1/3 off, because only pansies like me
wear heavy winter gloves in balmy June weather) and I was getting ready to leave when one of the
employees presented me with a gift.  It was a Canadian goose, intricately created out of bark and twigs.  
He said he wanted to make sure that they had made a good impression on behalf of Ontario and Canada,
and that the goose would bring me good luck for the remainder of the trip.  

What a great bunch of people!  The goose is still one of my cherished mementos,
and it has continued to bring me luck on my many subsequent adventures.
I heard that the Central Canadian
Provinces are pretty much the same
as the Plains States, so I figured
since the ride would be the same
either way, I would head back to the
US and pick up the last couple states
that I had yet to visit by motorcycle.

I crossed the border at Sault Ste.
Marie and rode around the edge of
Lake Michigan for a while.  I was
amazed at the vastness of the Great
Lakes; it was like looking out over
the ocean.  I also learned that when
people talk about "Pasties" in
Michigan, they probably aren't talking
about the same thing that we're
talking about when we say "Pasties"
in California.  Boy, THAT made for a
couple of awkward conversations...
A few nights later I was in Ironwood, Wisconsin, and after partaking of the most
mouthwatering cheese curds in the world, I settled in for the night at a local campground.  

Now granted I wasn't riding at the time, which was a bonus, but that night I was hit by a
storm that made the one in Canada look like a light mist.  My tent was blowing away with
me in it, and I had to pull my shoelaces out of my boots in the middle of the night to tie
my tent posts together.  I didn't think that would keep them from blowing way, but I figured
at least that way I would only have to look for one bunch of things tied together rather than
12 little pieces scattered all over the place.  The thunder was so loud and constant that
my ears were ringing well into the morning.  The power was off for as far as I could see,
and if a tornado warning siren had gone off I don't think I would have even heard it.  
Having no place to go, all I could do was ride it out and hope for the best.  

In the morning, I found that the wind had been so ferocious blowing against my bike that
the force actually made a crack right down the middle of my Big Foot.  (A Big Foot is a big
plastic foot, about 1/4" thick, placed under your kickstand to keep it from sinking into soft dirt.)  
I can't even imagine the amount of force it took to cause that to crack, but I know what I went
through that night and was glad that I would at least have an impressive souvenir of the storm.
After wandering across
Wisconsin, Minnesota,
North Dakota (where I
passed through Rugby, the
geographical center of
North America), and the
better park of Montana,
I found myself once again
facing off with the weather.
I believe it was right about
Cut Bank, Montana - the
self-proclaimed "Coldest
Spot in the US" - that the
slushy snow set it.  Since it
obviously was not in the
cards for me to be warm or
dry on any portion of this trip,
I just zipped up my rain gear
and kept right on going.  
Eventually I climbed
above the clouds and
out of the wet, although
a little slush is all it
takes to spend the rest
of the day freezing.  It
was worth it, though.  
Waterfalls just aren't
waterfalls without
a little rain to
envigorate things.  

Glacier National Park
was an amazing place
to visit, and I would do it
again in a second - rain,
snow or otherwise!
Self portrait in
Glacier National
Park.  

Funny, it
doesn't LOOK
freezing...
.
A Long Road Across Quebec
Lake Michigan
Freezing in the
Montana Snow