3 months, USA and Canada Adventure, Bucket List ✔️

 

Nine and a half years in the planning, a long service leave trip, rewarding me for 10 years of hard yakka. It was one of those bucket list things I was determined to do; an adventure like no other.

Three months crossing the USA and parts of Canada on my big 2016, highly customised, Indian Chief Vintage, called Calamity Jane.

 

She has become a profile in the biking community and as some would say, a tad over cooked.

 

The Americans and Canadians love Australians. Fascinated by the bike being shipped over and intrigued to hear how anyone could get three months off work.

 

Logistics

 

When planning this three month USA and Canada Adventure, shipping the bike was the most economical way. To hire one, it would have cost over $AU20,000, where the return transporting came to roughly $11,000.

Thankfully, managing to share a 20 ft shipping container, from Sydney to Seattle, the costs were divided by four.

My mate Steve, from Elite Products has done this many times before and with the load of paperwork to navigate, he took charge of all those negotiations. Let me tell you… there is plenty of that going on.

 

We even had to remind the U.S officials about their own rules!

 

If in the USA for under 90 days, there’s no need to register a vehicle for road use. So, with insurances in hand, paperwork done, freight companies sorted, Calamity Jane went off sailing for five weeks.

The landing in Seattle was on time.

 

I arrived a few days later, during the 4th of July week, where a few port strikes and a union panic day were happening!!

Plus the U.S. customs decided the personal contents needed further checking… that holdup amounted to fees totalling a considerable $4, 000 for a few extra days. [Chris, was that 4k for both bikes or just yours?]

Anticipating excess fees at the U.S. end… it exceeded my expectations by a few hundred… still… managed to get away as planned. Missed out on some local rides though, that would have been fun.

The return transportation was managed by a Melbourne based company, [Chris, what is the name, of company and would you recommend?] that took care of everything! While it cost a fraction more, than other quotes, there was no stress or concern. They even dealt with Australian Customs, who are renowned for being a LOT fussier.

Due to Cyber-attacks, strikes at Australian ports, this took nearly two months!

 

Another option is to buy a bike over there.

 

Ride it, then sell it on. Or store it with mates for a return trip. This option wasn’t suitable for me, mainly because riding my own bike was what I wanted and Calamity Jane was pre-booked for presentation events throughout the trip.

 

She was the star of the show!!

 

All the signature rides had been planned…

 

Sun Road, Tail of Dragon, Million Dollar Highway, Pikes Peak, plus more. To see as many National Parks as possible was important. About three weeks in, to avoid a heat wave going through the Monument Valley, the route needed altering, so travelled north, into the Sawtooth Ranges of Idaho.

Whilst not on the original plan it so worth it; amazing! This diversion changed other things. It meant there was lots more that needed to fit into the final month, while journeying back to the West Coast.

Getting to the Black Hills five days prior to the Sturgis Rally, was a stroke of luck, to enjoy all the signature rides before the crowds: Needles Highway, Mt Rushmore, Wild Life Loop, Devils Tower, Big Norn National Park, Spearfish Canyon! It’s a phenomenal place. [insert links]

As far as Sturgis goes, I’d entered Calamity Jane into three competitions… all of which I came away with a gold medal in each, with The People’s Choice Award.

To me this is the best award to receive as it is truly measurable by the people and community; for me the most important part.

Would I do Sturgis again??

 

Well… not for so long. My advice would be to get into South Dakota a week before the rally starts. Do all the rides and check the area out. Two days at Sturgis is heaps. Then move on.

What you see on one day is all that you see for the entire two week rally and there are things you can’t unsee too!

After Sturgis was the trek to the east coast and back into Canada; the Calgary Stampede had been at beginning of the adventures. [insert link] There are some very l o n g stretches of nothing and while in most cases the interstate was avoided, sometimes it was, put-your-head-down-and-be-bored-shitless-for-three-hours to make up the miles.

Crossing the country into Ontario, then south eastward captured Blue Ridge Parkway, Smokey Mountains and eventually, Nashville. Managing to squeeze in the Ozarks and northwest into Kansas, Oklahoma… then Colorado. [insert links]

This is where the places missed due to the heatwave was squeezed in and squeeze it was. One day, riding from Dodge City to Colorado Springs was some 7 hours. After checking into a hotel, it was straight back on the bike, off to the entrance of Pikes Peak [insert link] with 15 minutes to spare before the park closed. This added a very exciting and slightly challenging three hours to an already long day’s ride.

There was so much in between, going back across country, to see the Million Dollar Highway, into Utah for Monument Valley, down into Arizona for the Grand Canyon.

Some terrific places and rides around there.

 

In Vegas I was appreciated at a well-received Barbering Biker appearance for a Bike Night.

After this it was northwest to Nevada, capturing Old Ghost towns, Area 51, Death Valley, then Lake Tahoe… across the most spectacular mountain ranges towards the Californian Coast, part of the Big Sur… which was closed halfway due to landslides… and eventually popped up at San Diego for another Barbering Biker appearance, at Indian Motorcycles of San Diego. [insert links]

There is so much I haven’t mentioned but the entire USA and Canada adventure is documented into 70 YouTube episodes [insert link].

 

With the US dollar being so low the trip budget blew out, but here are some stats from the trip:

 

[CHRIS… could you give me $AU prices on these please if it’s easy enuf? Readers like to suss out all that kind of stuff. Were these, highlighted costs, all whilst there?]
  • 2 new tyres
  • New battery
  • Brake pads, front/rear
  • Full service halfway through trip
  • Lloyds Dyno tuned in Sturgis.
  • Rode 15,000 miles… 24,140 km, nearly twice around Australia
  • 25 States, British Columbia and Ontario in Canada
  • Dropped the bike twice on driveways! Lost my footing on a slope and couldn’t hold her up.

 

Cost in $Aussie:

 

  • Fuel $2,000
  • Accommodation $20,000
  • Food and beverages $7,000
  • Return shipping of bike, including insurance $11,000
  • Round up of $30K… $35K if you’re a shopper and cocktail drinker

 

Most memorable bit

 

Riding three hours to avoid road closures in Colorado, yet still ended up in them. Was diverted onto 8 miles of chalky, large rock gravelled road up a mountain with switch backs. Not the type of riding I willingly do nor do these bikes.

 

It was way off road and very difficult, especially the switch back turns on a steep incline.
I cried! But managed to do it.

 

Funny how we remember the bad bits!! OH! Not to forget losing my rear brake on the way down from Pikes Peak!

So many wondrous roads and rides and such adorable towns…. almost like movie sets. The folk are fabulous, generous, and helpful. I want to return for the skipped southern states. I’ll be watching all my episodes to remind myself of where I have been. Impromptu places and rides were simply stunning.

 

Would I do it again? YES. Did I want more time? YES!

 

Calamity Jane went so well she didn’t miss a beat. Glorious weather the whole time with rain on three days for about two hours. Wasn’t worth putting the rain gear on.

 

What would I do differently next time? 

 

For another USA and Canada Adventure, I wouldn’t hang around Sturgis so long and I’d make my way to capture more places. That’s really the only thing I would change. Oh… and add another month! I could have visited all the states and added a few days in Hawaii for the finale and recharge.

 

To see all the grand scenery, meet some of the locals and join in the shenanigans… the videos are on my YouTube channel, which is FREE to subscribe.

 

Where to next?

 

I’ve started a series of Australian towns, starting at A and finishing at Z. The people, the points of interest, maybe a makeover and of course the roads to get there. That will all be public and free on my YouTube channel

And as far as overseas goes. Talking of hiring a BMW in Europe for 2024. Stay tuned for that!

 

Chris Fisher Keeble, a woman dressed in Steam Punk style.

 

By Christine Fisher Keeble

 

 

 

 

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