Day 1 and Day 2 – Calgary to Idaho Falls, ID and Idaho Falls, ID to Las Vegas, NV – Marathon Days

Day 1

Riding Time 5:45am-5:00pm
Temps: Low 14 / High 32
Distance: 1060.5 kilometres / 659 miles

One of the longest riding days I’ve ever had. That being said, it went by quite quickly and uneventfully. It was largely a ‘make miles’ day to get me south as quickly as possible. With a few breaks for gas, bodily functions and rest it was no problem.

I’m glad that I dediced to leave early because it got really hot later in the afternoon. It was pleasant and mild when I left and by the day’s end it was a bubbling inferno of heat and wind. 32 plus gail force wind takes its toll on the body.

I jetted down highway 2 to the border and saw maybe 5-10 cars the whole way. Highway 89 across Montana has some good twisty bits from the border down past St Mary and Babb. It continues to 289 which runs parallel to the Rockies all the way until it joins the I15 again. So a good mix of highway and freeway to make up the miles today.

There was virtually no traffic on the highway until almost Butte, MT. I had the highway virtually to myself all day.

Had a First Nations guy just walk up at the gas station, say hello, shake my hand, ask me what kind of bike I was riding, then left to pay for his gas. Something about small town folk that I like – they still talk to strangers.

One bit of surprise as about 20 miles of 89 was under construction and was packed gravel. Luckily, it was really packed down so it was like riding on pavement. Could have been ugly if there had been any rain.

The day passed without incident or any remarkable events. A few deer along the way, no other animals of note, and no oddities in human behavior.

Tomorrow’s journey should be more of the same – major miles on the way to Las Vegas.

Day 2

Riding Time 7:00am-5:45pm (gained an hour with time change)
Temps: Low 13 / High 42
Distance: 1068 kilometres / 664 miles

Another long freeway day. Today I chose to get off the freeway for a few hours hoping to beat traffic and avoid the schmozzle of Salt Lake City. Having been through Salt Lake before I knew that the I-15 through there was an absolute gong show. It’s a city that defines sprawl and seemingly never ends.

I began the day a wee bit later than the previous one. As I frequently do on these trips, I forgot about crossing into Mountain Time later in the day, which turned out to be a real bonus.

I can not for the life of me figure out why every gas station has a different way of working their fuel pumps. Some need a pin, some need no pin, some ask for a pin for your card but really don’t want one unless it is a debit car, and some have ridiculous start up sequences. I honestly could not see the tiny ‘start’ button and neither could another traveller beside me – we swore in unison at the infernal machines.

Even though my GPS is programmed with the route it sent me going another way on another freeway. So I had a quick few kilometre detour to get turned around – mental note trust brain, not GPS.

There is absolutely jack-squat to see on the I-15 South – nothing of note or worthy of a photo. Surprisingly the freeway was mostly clear right up to my turn off before Salt Lake City.

I took a detour around the I-80/84 around Salt Lake and through some of the mountains. A nice break from the drone of the freeway and a traffic free corridor around to Provo, UT.

I chatted with a few Harley riders who were returning to Seattle. They were traveling at speed and got headshake and lost control of their bike. He was unable to ‘right the ship’ and slide down the highway at 70+ miles per hour. No gear except a helmet and the ever-jaunty HD chaps. His girlfriend had some serious bruises, as did his bike, and she has sprained/broken her wrist. Ouch! The bike was held together with bungies and straps and would get them home but will likely be written off. We had a good chat and wished each other well and were on our separate ways.

The 189 Highway that connects with Provo is a pretty good long sweeper road which was nice (to see corners) after the freeway stint. The area around Park City reminds me a lot of the local Rockies in Alberta. Worth coming back to check out in the winter some time for skiing.

Provo, and the University, seemed like a nice town. The obviously spend a lot of money on athletics and maintaining the campus – it’s huge and houses all manner of training facilities and a huge football stadium.

By this point, I noticed potential peril on the horizon – the infamous ‘Monsoon’. I’ve encountered these rain storms on previous journeys in Utah. They hover and build over the mountains and release biblical amounts of rain. I headed right for them – naturally. I was fortunate that I was able to skirt the storm and only have about 5 minutes of the most unbelievable rain shower – drops like golfballs. I was fortunate that the highway stayed parallel to the storm and I missed all but a tiny bit. Whew!

The temperature during the storm dropped from 32 to 20 Celcius in minutes. Which was actually quite nice. Then mile by mile the heat returned and finally reached 42 celcius. It’s literally like being in a sauna after the rain shower.

I plugged away and eventually reached Las Vegas. Once again, the GPS didn’t seem to keep my day’s end location so I had to stop off the freeway in downtown Las Vegas. Once I re-entered the address of the Stratosphere I was off down D street (I think). Needless to say, I don’t think that street sees a lot of tourist traffic – yikes! Outside of the ‘strip’ there are some pretty serious social issues – drug use, homelessness, mental illness and poverty. It felt similar to riding through parts of LA – I could just feel I was in the wrong neighbourhood.

The hotel is nice. I picked the Stratosphere at random and it seemed to have a pretty good reputation. There is a large mall and casino on the main floor to keep oneself busy. I had dinner at Roxy’s Diner – 1950s inspired restaurant complete with singing waitstaff, good music and staff performances. Good food at the usual inflated prices for Las Vegas.

I ventured down the strip and poked in to several of the casinos along the way. Didn’t quite get down to the Bellagio end of the strip but may today. There was a surprising amount of activity for a Monday night. No gambling by me yet – not sure if I will. The artifice and production of this city is amazing and the scale of the buildings is astounding. I’ve enjoyed my stay here – anyone can have fun here – people watching, gambling, drinking, or just hanging out.

Today I’m going to spend some time poolside at the Stratosphere. Read a book, hang by the pool, and have a low-key day. Tomorrow Death Valley and the desert, which I’m really looking forward to for photos.

Day 1

Day 2