FO·MO (ˈfōmō), acronym — “Fear of Missing Out”

noun, informal

Definition: Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.

Used in a regular sentence: “I forgot to check my Facebook and now I’ve got FOMO!”

Used in a sentence if under age 30: “Fgt 2 ck FB. Ttl FOMO!”

I’ve got FOMO and I’ve got it bad.

I didn’t even know what FOMO was until a young friend explained it to me one evening over dinner. He’s the same young man who once called me out for having “First World Problems” when I was complaining about some stuff I owned being a hassle to maintain. I love this guy, and he knows it. He’s got FOMO, too. Big time.

For most of us, FOMO explains why we’re constantly tethered to communication devices. What if I miss an email, text or post that causes me to miss out on something? That’s almost unbearable for some people I know. Maybe even me.

My FOMO tendencies manifest not so much as in what event I might miss. I’m not much of a party person and I have more than once said out loud that my favorite part of a concert is when it’s over. Unfortunately, I tend to say this at the beginning of the actual concert without first looking around to see who’s listening.

No. For me, FOMO is about what sights, sounds and smells I might miss because I didn’t take the time, strike that, MAKE the time to take in these senses along some journey when I had the chance. I want to see it all (even things that can’t be unseen). I want to hear it all (unless it’s a concert) and I want to smell it all (even the bad smells).

Riding a motorbike heightens sight, sound and smell. You’re out there — exposed — and it’s why I love being what the military refers to as “Oscar-Mike” — on-the-move. If I’m not traveling somewhere, I’m scanning whatever room I’m in and looking for, I don’t know, something, with my FOMO tingling. If I’m not scanning the room, I’m dreaming, consciously or unconsciously, of where I’d like go forward towards next. The key is the “forward towards” part. I simply love the road. I love the road because I have FOMO. I can take or leave a lot of destinations, but I don’t want to miss a thing on any journey.

The Northwest Epic Ride (With a Twist) is a perfect example of my FOMO in action. Now it’s over and I’m scanning the room…

Dee and I returned home safe and mostly sound on Saturday, August 15. It’s taken a number of days for me to process the ride and to wring out any remaining FOMO thoughts from this 24-day, 4,674-mile journey. I’m confident that we left nothing unseen, unheard or un-smelled out there. 

And I was ready to leave again the next day. Come to think of it, I just about did. All told, when the month of August concludes in a couple of days, I will have spent only seven nights at home out of the past 40 days. FOMO, for me anyway, at its finest.

In fact, I’m writing this post in Dow City, Iowa, which is Dee’s hometown, and which depends on your definition of a “town.” You know that 70s song by the late, great Sammy John called “Chevy Van?” It has a verse that goes like this, “I put her out in a town that was so small, you could throw a rock from end-to-end.” That’s Dow “City,” Iowa, population 516, which is down from 556 when I first came here in 1984.

We’re visiting my mother-in-law, Estelle, who, aside from being 93 years old, the mother of six and what would be described as “active” on a doctor’s evaluation, is a proud Navy veteran from WWII. She still fits in her uniform. She met my father-in-law, Lavern, when they were both serving and saving the world, along with the rest of the Greatest Generation.

Man, talk about your FOMO!

I’ll conclude this post with a couple of things to consider.

First, people have asked me what I’ve learned on this adventure. It’s hard to boil down 24 days into bullet points, but I came up with two key learnings.

  1. 24 days is probably too long. By the end of the second week I started to forget what I saw, heard and smelled on week one. Writing about it helps. Also, admittedly, I pushed us pretty hard, schedule-wise. For a guy who claims to favor the journey over the destination, I found myself pretty focused on covering a lot of miles each day. That kind of energy comes at a price.
  2. Comfort is king. The BMW R1200GS is possibly the most perfect motorcycle ever made. Adaptable, capable, some would even say beautiful (more would say, “What the hell is that weird looking bike?”). It can go most anywhere — I don’t necessarily recommend that, but it can — and is perfect for long highways and short dirt roads… for a single rider. Riding 2-Up on a GS is another story. For two regular-sized humans like us, the cockpit of the bike is cramped and the seating position is, um, stiff. Yeah that’s it. Anyway, I want Dee to join me on more of these adventures. The best way to make that happen is to ensure a comfortable ride — for the both of us. I have a dual sport bike I can ride offroad with the Smooth Crew, so we’re good there. So next up is to start looking for the right machine to carry two. I’ll let you know what I decide and give you the opportunity to say goodbye to “Baby.”

Second, my friends and followers of this blog are awesome. I love and appreciate your encouragement. Folks like Dave B, Bird, MC Tom, Aunt Donna, Jen and Bob, Ramber, T-Boz(s) and #1 Niece, to name just a few, make staying up late, after a long day’s ride to get it all down in a post, totally worth the effort.  I treasure every comment and every “Like.”

It’s impossible to get everything we’ve seen, heard and smelled on the Northwest Epic Ride (With a Twist) into this blog, but I’ll close out with a few photos and a slideshow.

Parting thought: Whenever Dee and I came around another turn and could see yet another spectacular vista in front of us, we’d simultaneously say, “Wow.” This happened so often that I thought of calling this last post “America, the Wow.” It really is, too. There’s so much to see, hear and smell and I don’t want to miss out on seeing it all. FOMO!

More to come from hankwentthataway… down the road.

Travel safe. And often.


First stop after Glacier National Park was a visit with my friend and mentor, Joe Phelps, and wife, Bridget, at Rancho Relaxo in Paradise Valley, Montana. As you can see, much nicer digs than the Town House Motel in Eureka.


Joe took us for a jaunt in his Jeep through the surrounding hills to show us the wild beauty of Paradise Valley, home to my favorite fly-fishing destination, the Yellowstone River. Remote campsites along the valley have signs that made me think, “What exactly is a positive encounter?”

Next stop: Yellowstone!


Yellowstone National Park Statistic #1: At 308 feet, the highest waterfall in Yellowstone National Park is lower Yellowstone Falls. Yellowstone National Park Statistic #2: The smelliest animal in Yellowstone in August is a bull bison in full rut mode. Even the inside of my helmet didn’t smell this bad. Seriously nasty, even at 75 yards away. They get cranky when chasing chick bisons through the park, so this is as close as we dared get.


Just another “Wow” moment. When you’re riding on a motorcycle everybody offers to take your photo, because they know you’re cool. Right?


Here’s a photo of “Old Faithful” at Yellowstone, plus some famous geyser that apparently goes off on a regular basis.


I have, like, five photos of me taking a photo of Dee taking a photo of me. There’s only so much natural beauty my brain can process in a day before I develop behavioral problems and start “acting out.”

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Left: Grand Teton National Park is about one-tenth the size of Yellowstone, but I think it has twice the beauty. Right: Like the view from my office?


Jackson Hole, Wyoming has a park in the middle of the town where each entry point has an arch made out of elk antlers. It’s somewhere between really cool and really creepy.


 Even statues hate getting a “Wet Willie.” Yes, I’m misbehaving and acting out in this photo. Again.


Chillin’ at the Rustic Inn Creekside Resort in Jackson Hole. Why yes, that is, in fact, a 24oz tall boy of PBR in my hand. Thanks for asking.

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Dee had to fly from Jackson Hole to Sacramento for a meeting while I took off for Heber City, Utah. Solo again, this time through the Star Valley in Wyoming (left) and the frickin’ middle of nowhere (right) in Utah. Or Idaho. I don’t remember. I love riding on roads that look like this. It’s where I do some of my best “wondering.”

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Met up with Dee in Heber City, Utah, then started the push south toward home. Salina City, Utah has “Mom’s Cafe,” which may be the best chicken-fried steak anywhere I’ve been. However, I can’t really recommend consuming it for lunch on a hot — like 102 degrees — afternoon in the Panguitch Valley of Utah while riding. Nap time.

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Left: Zion National Park. Possibly one of my favorite photos from the trip; Dee in full FOMO mode. Right: I’ve been to Zion four times in five years, always on a bike. Dee’s been twice. Beauty happens here.

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Left: Quick overnight in Las Vegas included dinner with old friends, Tom and Deb, plus we dominated on a craps table. Dee hit a “Hard-8” 11 times that evening. Her dad would be proud. Right: After we got home, the dogs seemed pretty happy to see me

Here’s a link to a slideshow with highlights from the Northwest Epic Ride (With a Twist).

Music: “Highland Shuffle” by my buddy, Carl Verheyen, off his album “The Road Divides.” Used by permission. Carl is my favorite guitarist in the whole wide world — and my neighbor and friend. It’s like hitting the lottery for an amateur musician like me. Check out Carl here:


What’s next? Not sure, but count on my FOMO to make it happen.


Greetings from Heber City, Utah, which is near Park City, but has more affordable restaurants. I arrived here yesterday from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which does not have many affordable restaurants, but does have a lot of private jets at the airport. Coincidence?

Some of you (okay, very few of you) have asked about my bike and equipment setup. If you’re not into this kind of stuff, skip over this post and wait for the next one. I shall not be offended.

With that, motorcyclists, gear-heads, BMW Club of Southern California members and fans everywhere of all things technical and usually expensive, here’s my jam…


  • 2008 BMW R1200GS. 51,000+ trouble-free miles. Heated grips, no ESA, standard suspension. Namibia orange. Stock seat (AKA, CIA Black Site torture device). I call her “Baby.”


The folks at @RevZilla are putting kids through college and funding retirements thanks, in no small part, to my voracious appetite for gear. #UnderstandingWife, #ZLA-Army, #hankwentthataway, #hashtag. I’m so hip.

Star Valley WY

View from the Lander Cutoff of the Oregon Trail toward Star Valley, Wyoming. Gotta remember to look up once and a while and not to stare at the farkles on my bike. Yes, farkle is a real word.

Bike Modifications:

  • Touratech Front Fender Beak Cover. More for looks than paint chipping protection. Makes the GS look like a GSA from a distance, which, short of having a larger fuel tank and with my additional mods, it pretty much is.
  • Baja Designs XL Pro LED off-road lights. Mounted adjacent to the stock headlight, you get darkness to daylight with the flip of a switch. I’ll flash these 4300 lumen-producing babies when approaching an intersection with an opposing driver turning left (while talking or texting on a cell phone, or eating, or beating a kid in the backseat). Very effective at getting attention and burning out corneas.
  • Ztechnik V-Stream windscreen. The unique design eliminates most buffeting and bug strikes. Those hurt.
  • Rox Speed Handlebar Riser. I’m tall-ish, have a bad back and wouldn’t bend over to pick up a coin on the ground if it’s less than a quarter. You think I’m gonna reach down for my handlebars?
  • Garmin Zumo 550 GPS. A finicky navigation device, which I’ll address with other complaints at another time.
  • Kaoko Throttle Control. The middle class man’s cruise control. An absolute necessity on long highway stretches. BMW made true cruise control standard on the new GS.
  • Cee Bailey GSA winglets. Cold air deflectors/low-flying bug killers.
  • Pivot Pegz. Riding pegs that allow for a more flexible and aggressive off-road riding stance. Useless on the highway, other than toe tapping to the iPod.
  • Hepco-Becker upper and lower crash-bar system. It works, trust me.
  • AirHawk Seat Pad (driver and pillion). Like I said, BMW stock seats are awful. A custom made seat runs about $700 and stays with the bike when it gets sold. An AirHawk pad works pretty much with any bike. My current AirHawk pad (third one) sprung a leak on this trip. I patched it in Coos Bay, Oregon two weeks ago, but the patch failed, turned into a big-ass hole yesterday and now it’s gonna be a long ride home. Ugh.
  • Giant Loop Fandango Tank Bag. This bag was great — durable, roomy, low profile — until the zipper closure failed on this trip. Now it’s an unusable lump on my tank, secured with duct tape.
  • Sargent Passenger Backrest (removable). I like to lock in the missus behind me when I’m doing wheelies.
  • Touratech Rear Rack Extension. Lightweight rack solution for carrying stuff you probably don’t need to bring.
  • Givi Outback Trekker Pannier System. Originally, I had the BMW Vario Case system on the bike, but needed more space and security. These things are damn-near bulletproof. Not that I’d like to test that claim.
  • Keeping the Rubber Side Down. For tires, I’m currently running Metzler Tourance Next for highway and trail. TKC 80 knobbies for true off-road. I get my tires from Chris at CT Motorcycle Tires in Reseda, CA. Good guy. Good deals.

airhawk hole

My AirHawk seat pad with a “small leak.” The next 750 miles to home are gonna hurt.


What used to be my tank bag is now a $200 armrest. Awesome.

Riding Gear:

  • Helmet. For touring, a Schuberth C3. It’s super-quiet, 99% waterproof and hotter than hell in the summer. For ADV riding, a Shoei Hornet DS. Yeah, these are high-end helmets and, sure, you can buy a helmet for fifty bucks. But is your head worth fifty bucks?
  • Communication system. Cardo Scala Rider G9 paired with my passenger using a Scala Q2. Essential for 2-Up travel to keep your voice from giving out from turning and yelling over your shoulder, “What deer? I don’t see any damn deer!” Stuff like that.
  • Rev’It Outback Armored Riding Jacket. Versatile, vented, not especially waterproof. That said, after 30 minutes of hard rain all gear fails. Water finds a way in every time. If you don’t like rain, avoid riding during monsoon season.
  • Klim Dakar Riding Pants. Vented, adjustable fit, hard to dance in.
  • Boots. For touring, Alpinestars Gore-Tex Waterproof boots. Waterproof-ish is more accurate. For ADV, Gaerne G-Adventure boots. I only received a hairline fracture of my right lateral malleolus wearing this boot, instead of a snapped ankle and a helicopter ride. My mom always said, “Don’t scrimp on shoes.You only get one set of feet.” Right, as usual, mom.
  • Gloves. Rev’It Neutron with “connect” fingertips for easy use of iPhone (take photos, change music, or write a long email) without removing the glove.
  • Support Gear. Back-A-Line support belt. Not really sure if this thing does what it’s supposed to do – eliminate back pain and fatigue while riding – but I’ll try anything. In my physical case, it’s not about the years, it’s about the miles.

Well, there it is. Hank’s complete, perfect bike and riding equipment setup. Which is total crap if you were to take a look my order history with RevZilla. I’m always looking for the next “gotta have” farkle.

Chicks scone

The Smooth Crew has a favorite joint in Heber City, Utah called “Chick’s” (see “Smoothtah” post below). They’re famous for this thing they call a “scone.” I’ve been to the UK a few times and this ain’t a scone. It’s a big piece of fried bread, loaded with butter and served with honey. Fantastic and as nasty as it looks.

Long road

The highways I traveled yesterday from Jackson Hole to Heber City crossed from Wyoming into Idaho, then back into Wyoming, then into Utah, then back into Wyoming and finally back into Utah. I have no idea what state this is in the photo. Safe bet is to assume it’s somewhere in the Great American West and go from there.

Travel safe. And often.

How Well Can You Spell Kalispell?

“Life’s short. Live it up.” – Nikita Kruschev

Greetings from Kalispell, Montana. Sometimes I start these posts with a little background or trivia about where I’m staying. Truth is, there ain’t much to Kalispell, short of this city of 20,000 being the “Gateway to Glacier National Park.”

Well played, Kalispell.

Since my last post from Jasper, we’ve had a couple of amazing touring days. I’m also a little worn out from riding nearly 2,400 miles over 13 days (with two days off, which, if you know us, usually means “hit the bricks” and check out the surrounding attractions), so I’m going to be less wordy tonight (you’re welcome) and cut to the chase with the good stuff.

On Monday, we left Jasper and rode the Icefields Parkway, also known as Highway 93, which ends somewhere in Arizona, to Banff. The Icefields Parkway is a scenic route (an understatement, truly) that parallels the Continental Divide along the Canadian Rockies and links Jasper National Park with Banff National Park. In addition to being the home to a number of active glaciers, the Icefields Parkway also has some serious eye candy — ice-carved canyons, mountain peaks, lakes and waterfalls.

From Banff, we continued south on Highway 93 to lovely Kalispell (sorry, all you Kalispellians) and a dream destination (not really into the concept of “Bucket List”) for the both of us: Glacier National Park.

Glacier is one of the national park system’s crown jewels. It has everything, from lakes and rushing rivers to glaciers and grizzly bears. The best way to see Glacier is by taking the famous Red Bus Tour through the park and along the Going-to-the-Sun road. Aside from the almost motorcycle-like feeling you get from traveling in a distinctive, bright red open-top bus, technically a handmade White Motor Company Model 706, made in 1936, using an oak frame and with original coachwork still in place, we found our guide, Marlon, to be exceptional. He really put the majesty, geology and history of the park into perspective. And he’s a funny dude, too, for a retired high school science teacher. If I’d had Marlon for 11th grade biology, I might’ve found science more interesting and paid better attention (and would’ve probably still got a “C”).


That’s a real glacier, folks. One of, like, 10 we saw along the Icefields Parkway.


The view from Mt. Edith Cavell near Jasper. Ignore the man in the photo.


Athabasca Falls along the Icefields Parkway. We live in a drought-affected area of California. All I could think about was how more water went by every five seconds than we’ve been allocated by the water provider for July and August.


This is Dee’s view every ride day. Mine is sightly better.


In Canada, they call this “poutine.” In the US, we call this fries, gravy and cheese chunks. Tastes better than it looks — or sounds.


Baby rolled over to fifty grand 15 miles north of the US border. I’ve never owned a bike with this many miles — and all ridden by me. Heck, most of my other bikes wouldn’t have survived that long. Who’s a good girl? Baby’s a good girl! Yes you are! Yes you are!


Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. Note to great-nephew, Gavin: Skipping “Flatty-Rock-Skippers” is a must-do here. I got a “7-skip!” Beat that!


The famous Red Bus, handmade in 1936. The park owns 34 of ’em. I got to ride shotgun and keep an eye peeled for grizzlies. Sneaky bastards. Saw only one measly, small black bear — and from a safe distance. BTW: “Riding Shotgun” no longer seems to include shotguns. Now they tell me.

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Two views from the Going-to-the-Sun road, one of the most popular motorcycling roads in the US — and for good reason. Not bad in an open-top bus, either. Photo on the right shows where the road was cut into the mountain using pickaxes and shovels between 1924 and 1931.

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Logan Pass at the top of the Going-to-the-Sun rod, where east meets west at the Continental Divide. Two full tour buses sang “Happy Birthday” to Dee and our guide gave her an ornament for our tree. I got her the usual for her birthday, absolutely nothing. But I did offer to drive the rest of the way home.


Marlon is the tour guide to ask for when you take a Red Bus Tour. Informative, funny and didn’t drive off any cliffs. I’m still kinda tweaked about the no shotgun thing, however.

It might be a few days before I get the chance to post again. Heading tomorrow to Joe Phelps’ place, Rancho Relaxo, near Livingston, Montana and next to the Yellowstone River. After that, Yellowstone! The last time I was at Yellowstone was 1965 when I was seven. I remember that trip mostly from the home movies my dad shot and especially the reel where he hand feeds a bear out of the window of our 1962 Chevy Impala and how the bear tried to climb into the car to see what my mom was eating. It was sweet — the car, not the bear. I didn’t realize my mom could make that sound.


Butt hurts. Check. Back aches. Check. Inside of helmet stinks. Check. Good to go!

She Was My First.

Come on, we all have the first one. We don’t talk about it much. Maybe to someone you trust with intimate information. Someone who understands you, gets you and knows how to stay quiet while you talk. Maybe it’s someone who has had a similar first time experience that changed how they look at the world, too. Admit it,  after that relationship, nothing was ever the same. It was a long time ago, and maybe in a more innocent time, but, oh, if you’re like me, you’ll never forget your first motorcycle.

Where the hell did you think this was going? Jeeze, my wife and kids read this blog. And at least three nuns (that I know of).

My motorcycles have always been “shes.” I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just easier to express my love of fine mechanical engineering in the feminine. Truly, however, I have no idea how the “she” thing got started.

She – the first one – was a 1971 Yamaha Mini-Enduro. A 60cc, two-stroke miniature dirt bike that Yamaha introduced in the US around the time Bruce Brown’s movie, “On Any Sunday,” was released — and changed the focus of boys everywhere. I think one positive side-effect of the film was probably the general overall increase in grade point averages for 12-year-old-boys nationwide, determined to do whatever it would take to get their parents to buy them a bike. “Read it (my report card, June, 1971) and weep, mom, a deal is a deal.”

Yamaha Mini EnduroHank Red Bull

A ’71 Yami Mini-Enduro. Still sets my heart fluttering just looking at her. Or maybe it’s due to too much Red Bull. The last 30 miles each day is the hardest and I do what I have to do to make it through.

My mom worked as nurse in an ER, so capitulating couldn’t have been easy. My dad was a mechanical engineer and was probably jealous that he didn’t have a report card to show my mom.

“Ingrid” (beats me) was fast. Okay fast-ish. The bike had a wheelie-prone clutch (like a real motorcycle), three speeds and spewed blue smoke because my dad didn’t know how to properly mix the gas and oil. Did I mention he was a mechanical engineer? Ingrid had lousy suspension, a twitchy throttle, sketchy brakes and was generally pretty dangerous to ride. I could not have loved her more. I’ve loved many motorcycles since Ingrid. There was “Ursula (the Bitch),” “Tonga-Le-Oh” (um, ah… yeah ) and even “Zelda.”

I also named my 1954 Chevy pickup “Bess.” Some people think I’m weird. Whatever. I’ve known true love.


Bess. What a gal. Dee had her painted bright red for me as a “surprise birthday present.” I was surprised, all right. I didn’t speak to her for, like, a week. This is the “before” picture.

Now I ride “Baby,” a 2008 BMW R1200GS. The “GS” stands for “Gelande-Strasse, which, in German, basically translates into “road and not road.” Baby is a wonderful machine that has taken me all over the US, on-road and not-on-road, and now to Canada. Her odometer will turn 50,000 trouble-free miles while on this trip. I love Baby like a member of the family. And I’ll probably sell her when I get back and move on to my next motorcycle affair. I’m done taking her off-road and, as I’ll explain in another post down the road, need to up my comfort level on-road.

Baby got Back

Baby got Back. No man has ever requested that song in a bar as a tribute to his girl. Never.

So, fellow riders, what was your first? Come on, you can tell me. I understand how you feel. Put it in the comments section below. I know my club-mates at BMWCSC have secrets to tell…

“Oh, Canada.”

I don’t know any other words to the Canadian National Anthem, but the first two, “Oh, Canada” pretty much sum up what we’ve seen the past couple of days. A visual feast.

I arrived in Seattle Wednesday afternoon and met up with my former workmate, Gavin G, to catch up on his life. I’m not being cute about his last name (it’s Graves), but when we worked together at the advertising agency a few years ago, we all called him “Gavin G!” or just “G!” He was really into rap and spoke in a kind of natural urban smooth drawl that is a product of his mixed neighborhood upbringing. He was real, still is, and not a bit of a “put-on” person. 

Hank and G

Now G!’s married and has two kids, and responds to people calling him “Gavin” in subdued tones, but he’ll always be just G! (always with the exclamation) to me. Great to hang with you, little brother.

Dee flew into Seattle Wednesday night. Thursday morning we began our adventure ride after meeting her cousin, Shawn, for breakfast. Shawn’s a cool guy and I spent time trying to convince him to ride with us. We’ll get him going “thataway” sometime.

Dee start day

I seem to have picked up something along the way.

We headed east on the Northern Cascade Highway (WA 20). This is one of those roads you hear about all the time from other riders. And for the most part they’re right. Perfect for touring on a motorcycle, which is rider-speak for “go really fast and see pretty stuff out of the corner of your eye.” We stayed the night in Winthrop, which is kind of an old west themed town. Not much to recommend it, other than the air conditioning in the motel which worked fine. Which reminds me, it’s been hot in Washington and British Columbia. Like, unseasonably – check that – unreasonably hot. When we rolled into Kamloops, after crossing into Canada, it was 102F. Of course, we’re in Canada where that’s only 35C, so it should be cooler, right?

Ross Lake WA20

The view of Ross Lake from the summit along the Northern Cascade Highway. The water is a brilliant green due to sediment known as “rock flour.” I’ve had biscuits made of what I’m sure was rock flour at a Denny’s once. Really, I crack myself up.

BC sign

Welcome to British Columbia, where it’s a balmy 102F,  just like in Colombian Colombia.

We had dinner at a biker recommended joint, “The Noble Pig.” Fantastic! We shared the baked potato, bacon and cabbage (yeah, cabbage) chowder and a ridiculously large serving of their signature truffle and mushroom mac and cheese. The Noble Pig also brews their own beer (many varieties), which I almost poured on my head to cool off. If you find yourself in Kamloops (I love saying “Kamloops”) be sure to check out the Pig.

Noble Pig

Three or four thousand calories, but it doesn’t count when you share. Scientific fact.

From Kamloops (as satisfying to say as Yakima; go on, try it), we headed 275 miles northeast on the Yellowhead Highway to the town of Jasper, Alberta. It was a great ride, especially seeing as the air temperature finally dropped to about 80F. This little town of 4,500 sits in the middle of Jasper National Park, which is in the Canadian Rockies, and, as it’s summer, currently has about 50,000 tourists filling the hotels and restaurants. I guess that would include us.

Alberta sign

Can you name all of the provinces in Canada? Yeah, me neither. I think there’s British Columbia, Alberta, Sasquatch, Sneezy, Dopey and Tundra-land. I will, no doubt, be hearing from my Canadian friends very soon.

We began our day by taking the Jasper Skytram, which takes you up to about 7,500 feet and overlooks the beautiful mountain ranges, rivers and lakes of the Jasper National Park.

Jasper skytram

Jasper from the top of the Skytram at 7,500 feet.

In the afternoon, we rode over to Maligne Lake and took a boat tour out to Spirit Island. This trip is not to be missed if you ever visit Jasper. The lake is fed and surrounded by active glaciers. The photos below will give you an idea of the area, but won’t really give you the scope. It’s massive and stunning. As Dee said to me on the boat ride today, “You know, a 100,000-year-old glacier really puts your mortality into perspective.”

Indeed. Like the John Mellencamp tune says, “Your life is now.”

Maligne Lake1 Maligne Boat

How do they get all this magnificent beauty into one place?

Maligne Lake Spirit Island Maligne Glacier

Spirit Island and one of the glaciers that put all that water around it.

Maligne Canyon Falls

Waterfall in Maligne Canyon that has carved through rock for thousands of years. I feel small. Again.

HD spirit

In the unlikely event that we started sending out a holiday card again, this’d probably be this year’s photo. I doubt it, so Happy Holidays!

Bear Sign

Randomness #1. Lots of signs warning us about encountering animals on the road, like moose, deer and elk, but the one that made me laugh was this Bear Warning sign on the way to Maligne Lake. The part I liked the best was “Stay in your car if bears are encountered.” That’s comforting when you’re on a bike.

Hank sleep

Randomness #2: By the end of the ride day, I’m pretty wiped out and sometimes take a little nap. Dee thinks it’s just hilarious to take photos of me sleeping on this trip to make up for the 300 or so photos I have of her sleeping in the car. Right. It’s on.

Jasper is the northern most point of our planned route. Tomorrow we’ll start heading south through Lake Louise and stopping overnight in Banff. By all indications, guidebooks, locals overheard, and stray bikers heading for Sturgis, we should continue to see magnificent country for the next few days.

By the way, I do drive a car now and then. It’s an old Jeep Wrangler. Her name, for no reason in particular, is “Clarice.” But you gotta say it like Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs.”

“Hello, Clarice.”

Creepy, right?