It seems that as some people get older, they begin to settle down into their lives a little bit. To the contrary, each year, my sense of adventure and wanderlust flares up more and more. After taking my first long motorcycle road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone in July 2013, I immediately knew this was going to become an annual tradition for me; the opportunity to one-up myself year after year as I ultimately work towards my goal of seeing the world on two wheels.

Adventure rider Ericka Turnbull and her Ducati Multistrada
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone," is what I say. Taking off on my second solo motorcycle adventure; this time, to Canada.Photo: Ericka Turnbull

In July 2014, with 1 year and 10 months of riding experience under my belt, I departed on an adventure that would test my independence in a way I never had before. The previous year, I met up with my father in Yellowstone Park, which was a safety net along the way as I rode alone - knowing I would eventually meet up with a friendly face. This year, it would be me, my Ducati Multistrada and the open road the entire time. I planned to travel 3,500 miles in 12 days across Canada along top-rated motorcycle roads, with Banff and Jasper being the goal destinations. As my trip approached rapidly, and I worked towards getting my bike in order to leave, I was watching the weather closely. Rain was in the forecast and this would be something I was ultimately hoping to avoid. In fact, I had made the decision to go the same week I had in the previous year strictly because the weather had been so perfect. Each day I checked leading up, the anticipated rain would become less and less of a concern for me. Call it beginner's luck, but after I had gathered rain bags and emergency Frogg Toggs, the only days I was expecting to see rain was on my day of departure, and the singular day of rest I had planned mid-trip.


Bridge Valley, Canada
Some of the best riding I found in Canada was along river valleys—fun byways filled with twisty roads to rip, and with hardly any cars in sight!Photo: Ericka Turnbull

This was my first time crossing the border into Canada, and not really knowing what to expect, I made a last-minute change in my route that would reduce my travel time by roughly 100 miles. Once I crossed through the border, I flipped my GPS from mph to kph, hopped on the Trans-Canadian highway and was off. My excitement quickly diminished and turned into something far from that as I rode North to Cache Creek, BC and hit a deluge of rain. The sky was dark and there were semi-trucks blazing by at speeds I just couldn't handle in the pouring rain on my Multistrada. My level of riding experience left me pulling over to the shoulder quite frequently. I was out of my element. Trucks would speed by leaving me soaked as I paced next to my bike trying to decide if I should throw in the towel. This went on for what felt like hours. The rain finally let up and I found myself at a little diner where I drowned my disappointment in a French dip sandwich and a slice of pie. There’s always a good level of comfort that comes along with a hole-in-the-wall diner that serves homemade pie by the slice.

Canadian gas station
A Canadian gas station: such beautiful emissions! I could never quite be sure when I'd come across more fuel so I traveled with a spare gas can, just in case. And wouldn’t you know it, I did wind up having to use it on this trip.Photo: Ericka Turnbull

After some rest, I pressed on with determination, only to find myself face to face with another challenge—wind. The Multistrada is a tall bike as is; slap some panniers on the back of it and you've basically built yourself little airplane wings for the wind to catch. I was on the last leg of day 1, unexpectedly getting pushed nearly a full lane over time and time again by heavy plain winds. To prevent utter exhaustion, I was pulling over as often as necessary so my muscles could relax a bit and I could get my grumblings out. I wasn't about to let something like wind and rain ruin my grand adventure. Hell or high water, I was going to make it to Cache Creek.

Mountains of Canada
Typically I'd take off early each morning, as soon as I'd finished my coffee. Riding early through the mountains left me riding through the clouds—is this Canada or heaven?Photo: Ericka Turnbull

Once I finally arrived at my motel, there were two Harley-Davidson riders sitting at a bench basking in the sun. They could tell I had had quite a day of it, so they instructed me to drop my things in my room and head on over so we could talk through the ride. I cracked my first ever can of Molson Canadian as my new friends and I talked through my next 11 days on the road. They assured me the day's wind was unlike anything they ever experienced and tomorrow would be a better day. We made some slight changes to routes based on their years of riding throughout Canada. They gave me their numbers in case of emergency, some numbers of maintenance shops along the way, and treated me to breakfast the next morning before I continued on. I couldn't have asked for better kindness after the rocky start to this trip. That's one of the best elements of solo travel—you can't beat the company you meet.

Roadside rest on Ducati Multistrada
In the one year and seven months that I have owned this beauty of a bike, we have been on over 12,500 wonderful miles of adventure together. The weather was pretty hot on this Canadian adventure, so I stopped pretty often for water breaks.Photo: Ericka Turnbull

I traveled throughout British Columbia—from Cache Creek to Williams Lake to Kamloops. The scenery and the wildlife I came across was amazing and each day had something unique in store. Somewhere along my day 3 route to Kamloops, I came across a tropical looking body of water which I have since been unable to locate on a map. If it weren't for photographic evidence, I would be half-convinced it was a mirage, it felt so out of place. From Kamloops, I traveled to Oosoyos where I rode through Manning Park and then stumbled across Spotted Lake, which is a saline endorheic alkali lake that looks like it belongs on another planet. Riding from Oosoyos to Nakusp was my favorite day of roads on the entire trip. I started out East on Highway 3, which served up a handful of hairpins to start my morning right. From there I traveled along 33 N and rode up the West side of Okanagan Lake, which was full of twisty tarmac and bighorn sheep.

Canada motorcycle ride adventure
One of the best parts about adventures in new places is stumbling across incredible sights you weren't expecting. I came across this tropical looking lake while riding—I was never able to find it on a map. Had it not been for photographic evidence, I'd have sworn it was a mirage.Photo: Ericka Turnbull

I spent one day off of the bike in Nakusp where there were, in fact, thunderstorms as originally forecasted. I was happy to have a day laying around—recharging in a place that was still beautiful even in the moodiness of a storm. On day 7 of my journey, I started my day off riding through the mountains, in the clouds, without another vehicle in sight. I absolutely live for these moments! While staying in Nakusp, I had a number of riders tell me I had to make sure I went through Kaslo. This was apparently a route that bikers came from all over Canada to ride. I had checked my route the night before departing to make sure Kaslo was routed in there, which it was. As I was traveling down the road I had programed into my GPS, something seemed amiss. It was nice, but I couldn't believe people were gushing over it like they had been.

Banff National Park in Canada
I finally made it to Banff! It is such a proud moment for myself each time I make it to my main destination on a long solo adventure! I showed up early on a weekday, so the traffic getting in wasn't too bad.Photo: Ericka Turnbull

I finally saw a sign for a road splitting off to Kaslo (31A, for those keeping score) which I hadn't planned to go down. I pulled over to check the map and a woman came up to me to ask if I was lost. No, I said, I was just trying to make sure I went to Kaslo on the right road. She points down the road and says to me, “My girlfriend rode on that the other day and she said it was so good she had an orgasm.” I stared at her for a moment, lost in her bluntness. I broke into a a huge grin and declared, “Sold!” It was another fun road packed with some more great hairpins. I had made a rookie mistake of booking a hotel near Fairmont Hot Springs, Alberta, in what turned out to be a ski resort lodge—that meant some uphill riding in gravel and going well out of my way to make it my evening's bed. By the time I got there, I was exhausted, but the next morning I awoke excited as ever. I would make it to Banff today!

Ericka Turnbull at Bow Lake with her Ducati
My Multistrada looked so beautiful in front of Bow Lake. The tourists who were stopped there couldn't stop taking photos of it—and I couldn’t either!Photo: Ericka Turnbull

I stopped first at Lake Louise, which was so nice I wound up visiting twice. As I pulled into the town of Banff, I stopped and took a picture at the welcome sign and then rode into town with some level of confusion. Much to my surprise, the town of Banff is largely an outdoor shopping center. I had a fun time there, but it was certainly different from what I was expecting. It didn't matter though—I had made it to my target destination and I couldn't be happier. The next day I traveled North through Banff National Park and then Jasper National Park. I stopped at Bow Lake, a gorgeous glacial lake in a color blue that is hard to describe. I had climbed down to the base to take photographs and when I came back up, there were nearly a dozen people standing around my Multistrada taking photos with it. What can I say, the red looked mighty nice against that blue water backdrop! Who could really blame them?

Jasper National Park in Canada
I came across a breathtaking glacial field in Jasper National Park. The weather on my trip (day 1 aside) could not have been better.Photo: Ericka Turnbull

I was very fortunate not to have any real issues with my bike along the way. When I did get to Jasper National Park, it was lovely but the pavement was an absolute disaster. The previous owner of my Multistrada had cut down the mirrors. I'd since replaced the left one, but the roads were so bumpy that I lost one of the two bolts holding the right-hand mirror head in place and had to stop every so often to re-secure the remaining bolt. As I would ride, I would watch it slowly rattle its way loose. I only brought a crescent wrench and a singular allen wrench on the trip and it wasn't the right size to secure the bolt down, so I did what I could to hand tighten it. I'll definitely be more prepared next year when it comes to tools. The final leg of my journey took me from Jasper through Prince George and then onto Highway 99 through Whistler. Highway 99 was incredible for riding—lots of twisties and hairpins (my favorites) not to mention some beautiful scenery.

Lakeside view with the Ducati Multistrada
All of the Canadian lakes were absolutely stunning. I couldn't take a bad photo on my bike on this trip!Photo: Ericka Turnbull

On my way to Whistler, my Ducati Multistrada hit the 15K milestone. In the one year and seven months that I have owned this beauty of a bike, we have been on over 12,500 miles of adventure together. Motorcycling has been the best thing to come into my life. I will ride this bike into the ground and take a piece of it with me to the grave (that is, 50 years down the road). After a fun evening in Whistler, I headed for the border to return back home. It was very bittersweet to be back in Seattle but I did enjoy that moment where I finally took of my Sidi boots and got back in my daily footwear for the first time in 12 days. I wound up traveling 3,200 miles on this trip and simply can't wait to start planning the next. Here's to many more adventurous miles of exploration and travel around the world to come!

Mount Robinson, Canada
Here's to you, Mount Robinson! This majestic mountain is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and one of the final sights seen on my trip.Photo: Ericka Turnbull