TRIP START- AUGUST 2006:
Leaving Sacramento: We took a ride out to Glacier National Park in the State of Montana. It is located partially within the Canadian Rocky Mountains and includes 1000's of acres of pristine forest, gargantuan peaks of glacier carved mountain areas, panoramic valley views and just unbelievable beauty that is so absolutely awe inspiring. It should be added to the "7 wonders of the world" list. I guess that would make it "8 wonders of the world" then yes?...
My traveling partners for this ride were of course my wife, a very good buddy of mine from way back in my younger days John and his wife Vicki. (left)
John (II), another friend from even further back in my history. He just got a new bike and wanted to hit the road with it and enjoy the road life.
The five of us were to travel from California through Oregon and then into Vancouver, Washington to meet up with my other partners Gene & 'Big' Rick which I basically started life together with.
We were all itchin' for a good long ride, both our wives hadn't ever been on an interstate road trip and weren't even sure if they wanted to go at first. Mine was game for the ride, but Vicki was a bit apprehensive of being that far from home and on only 2 wheels. Plus I think everybody was tired of hearing of all my great road stories and wanted to live one themselves!!! Gene and Rick had both been talking about doing something like this for awhile and then one day Rick went out and bought a brand spankin' new 2006 Honda Gold Wing fully dressed out and Gene bought a older used model Gold Wing of his choice. John II had bought a new 2006 Harley Davidson RoadGlide back a few months earlier. John I rides a Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 that's fully dressed out and we were riding my 1998 Dyna Wide Glide.
We started our travels from Sacramento, California with 5 people in an SUV and 3 bikes on a trailer... (that was quite a story in itself...) yea we know trailers are for boats but we wanted to get to Oregon in quick fashion with no sight seeing planned on this Northern California run. Our plan was to head into Medford and unload the bikes and make a run up to Crater Lake first thing. And that's exactly what we did.
We made it into Medford by early afternoon and then got the bikes all unloaded and we were off into the mountains of South Central Oregon. This is really a great place to spend many days with all the roads and sites that are available to bikes throughout the Rogue River Valley. Between the coast and Klamath Falls you could easily spend 5 days roaming around and visiting all kinds of beautiful places. We had about 7-8 hours to get up to the lake and take a look see, have a beverage at the lodge and then head back to the hotel before nightfall.
Here was our route the first day from Medford up to Crater Lake Lodge via Highway 62 and 230 and then back down the mountain the way we came. The weather was perfect, we were running basically in T-shirts through the forest on the way up and then enjoyed the beauty of the lake with blue skies as far as you could see. You just couldn't ask for a better day or better friends to enjoy it with. We had 10 days ahead of us and this was a great start.
To Vancouver / DAY 2:
After spending the night in Medford, and taking a captivating ride up to the Crater Lake Lodge for the view off the veranda and drinks in the lounge, we loaded up the bikes again and headed to Vancouver, WA. This is where we would ultimately meet-up with the rest of the travelling pack and begin our ride to "the park"... I must say that I would have rather been riding the bikes through the Rogue River Valley area of Highway 5 up from about Central Point to Roseburg, this is some pretty nice slab riding if you have to ride highways. The thought had crossed my mind a few times to drop the bikes, the guys could ride and the girls could drive. But that thought was soon lost as we blasted through all these small towns and we were into Roseburg before I knew it. Oh well. I'd been there done that many times before this.
We stopped in at Roseburg Harley Davidson just to have a look-see and grab some food close by and then onto the straight, flat and boring drive ahead of us for the next 6 hours up to Portland and then across the border into Washington and we finally arrived to meet up with Gene and Rick in the late afternoon. They had a BBQ steak dinner planned and we got all the bikes unloaded and were checking out all the new things everyone had and this and that and just caught up on some good old times again. Most of us had not seen each other in years. I hadn't seen Rick in at least 30 years and John-II in about 7 or 8. So it was a great time to reminicse on some fond old memories and fun times.
This was a day to actually relax a bit (6 hour car ride???) before the big-takeoff and we did and we enjoyed. Day 3 was going to be a big day for us all and we couldn't wait!
To Idaho / DAY 3:
The morning was phenomenal! as Pacific Northwest weather goes, it was absolutely clear out and the skies were blue as blue could get. There was a warmth in the air that already had most of us travelling lite. The day would definitely be getting hotter as we headed inland and away from the massive water source we would be travelling next to.
Our Planned route would be on Washington State Route 14 along the North side of the Columbia River Gorge. This is an incredible two-lane highway in and amongst the small towns along the shore line until you reach about The Dalles area where it breaks off into different directions. You can still travel along the river on Highway 14 as we did and continue on until we reached Highway 82 at Plymouth. We crossed over to the Oregon side briefly to catch Hwy 730 to the Wallula Junction where we would meet up with The Lewis & Clark Trail or otherwise known as Highway 12. This route actually traverses many of the areas that the Lewis & Clark expedition travelled during their exodus westwards in 1805. Our destination for today would be Lewiston, Idaho.
Our first stop of the day was at Beacon Rock. It's state park along the river that used to be a volcano. The caldera filled with lava rock and the mountain eroded away over millennia and just left this huge rock behind that juts out into the river. Its pretty cool to see. You can also hike up and around the rock to the viewpoint up on top. (We didn't)
We got on the road again and headed toward Plymouth, riding along the shores and through the small towns, we stopped for breakfast at some little place that I cant remember the name of but it was good and we were all hungry, George told us to stop there and ask for his waitress friend.
We crossed over the the river at the "Bridge of the Gods" to Biggs Junction just to get fuel as there is nothing on the Washington side. We then went back to 14 and continued our eastward journey viewing all the dams controlling the flows along this once uncontrolled body of water rushing towards the Pacific Ocean.
Once we got to Plymouth we crossed over the river and rode along the southern side for some more miles and the heat began to melt us. At Wallula we headed away from the waters of the Columbia and into the hay fields of Southeastern Washington. This would be our vision for as far as the eye could see for the next couple hundred miles. We stopped in at Walla Walla, the sweet fragrance of onions was in the air, it is a wonderful smell. All I could think of was onion rings and a big burger smothered in them and Hey look there! Its LUNCH TIME!... We ate.
After getting a bite to eat... We headed off down the road again and through many very nice farming communities Waitsburg, Dayton and Pomeroy. It was extremely hot out and the sun was out in force on this beautiful day. We saw corn fields that never ended and wheat and hay that was light brown waving in the warm breezes and ready for the cutting. We saw 'crop circles' all over the place as these farms are automatically watered with huge circular water rigs hundreds of yards long that move all on their own. Makes for a neat looking patchwork of land.
Soon we finally came upon an oasis in waiting... Trees! glorious Tree!... a covering to ride under... the highway again runs into some treed areas and alongside the snake river canyon. To say it cooled off a bit is an understatement. It was magnificent! We rode into and through Clarkston and headed directly into Lewiston, Idaho... just across the enticing Snake River.
We chose the closest motel that had a "POOL OPEN" sign out front and inquired within as to their availability. We were ready to take a break for the night right now. A twelve pack of iced beer, a pool and we all met right there after unloading for the days download of sights, sounds and information we had all gathered within ourselves during this days ride.
Just another perfect day!
To Montana / Day 4
This day was to start out very beautifully, end with trouble unfortunately and be the longest day of our entire ride. We would also ride the most miles on this day, with plans to meet up with a good ole friend from my days in the Portland area. We packed up all our gear and got on the road by about 8:30 am (or so) and started our trek up into the Clear Water River Canyon. Here we would see some of the most incredible scenery and experience some of the finest roadwork that man has to offer. This is the entry to Lolo Pass.
As we started heading out of the city limits and into the serenity of the wilds… cars became a thing of memories and we pretty much had the road to ourselves. There were a few big rigs and we would pass them as we came upon them but pretty much open roadway. The scenery along the river is nothing short of awe inspiring. The mountains rising up out of site covered with evergreen trees and the crystal clear waters flowing toward the seas right alongside us. I don’t know who named this river but they sure got it right! Clear Water!
A large portion of Highway 12 in this area runs through the Nez Perce National Historic Park and Reservation. Although you’d never know it by the people around the area, but the town names definitely told you that it was Native America.
We rode by the town of Orofino which is located just across the river from the highway and then on into Kamiah, about another 25 miles. Next town we came to was Kooskia. Hwy 12 cuts off here towards the east and takes you deeper into the mountains. Highway 13 goes to the south and then will end up in Grangeville and head back to Highway 95 for a nice loop back to Lewiston. We were headed east… We stopped for some quick hydration and gas for the bikes because this would be the last point before getting up across the state line of Montana. Signs depicting “No Gas for next 140 miles” means you have to be aware of your mileage out here. So we take off and all of sudden my bike kind of sputters and dies, no power. I pull in the clutch and we’re coasting down the road, I hit the starter and she fires right back up. I pull over and get a feeling of “oh boy”… and my wife… well I can feel the same thoughts in her. So I shrug it off and say “aw... I musta hit the kill switch or something… everything’s just fine" and we take off again. No Problem!
As you come to the end of town and approach the first turn, there’s this big yellow road sign with a squiggly line. The sign reads WINDING ROAD NEXT 77 MILES… All I can say to that is YEEEAAAAAA!!!! And now were headed towards Lolo Peak. Riding into the canyons and climbing the hills in this area, the roads are as smooth as can be. Real nice sweepers and then some tight winding areas and then more curves sweeping up and down to meet the rivers edge from time to time. An umbrella of trees above our heads makes it feel like we’re going through tunnels with shadows and sunlight dancing along side us. This is motorcycle heaven. If any bike was going to breathe its last breath this would be the road that it would have to be done on. Unfortunately for us this was going to be one of those moments that I probably wished I would have never thought about. What is it they say? Be careful what you wish for? Or think of?
We got to the top of the mountain and we saw a turnoff for some kind of lodge and gas and FOOD! It was time to eat and so we pulled off the road and headed down this little dirt road through the trees and came into this meadow like clearing with this little gas station building and then a huge log cabin lodge that was newly built. It was really nice. The open clearing and sun beating down on us while we filled our bikes up with fuel definitely added to the idea of sitting back and having a cold one to relax with. And so we did. We had a great lunch and sat back on the deck overlooking one the rivers in the area. The place was family run and they were pretty busy with everything going on. The food was good and the scenery was awesome as usual.
We paid the bills and went out to our bikes to get ready for the next half of our ride to Missoula. Well the bike Gods were not looking down favorably on “Dyna” again. She just wouldn’t start. We pulled the plugs and checked spark, nothing. The coil was bad again or there was an additional electrical problem. My wife and I could not believe this was happening once again to us on another trip. We didn’t have many choices out here in the middle of nowhere. It was either ride with a friend out to somewhere and get parts or call a dealer to come out and tow it to them and fix it. Both choices would take a lot of time and effort. We were pretty destitute.
There was a truck and trailer in the lot with a couple of bikes parked nearby. I figured I would go over and ask if they had any parts on board, maybe they would have a coil. Two guys and their wives were headed towards Sturgis, South Dakota and they also by chance just stopped in for a bite to eat. The guys’ names were “Big” John and friend Paul. What better names for a couple of guys helping others? Little did we know how much help they would offer. Big John owns and operates Mt. Hood Polaris/Victory Cycle in Boring Oregon.
and although he didn’t have a coil in his trailer to offer us he did offer to tow my bike all the way to the local HD dealer, which was in Missoula, still about 100 miles away. I was overwhelmed, to say the least! So he says "don’t just stand there looking at me get that bike loaded up and let’s go!"... and we did. They all rode the twistys and I rode in the truck with John and Paul’s wives and let me just tell you... Johns wife knows how to swing a big diesel Ford F450 around them turns real well with a trailer in tow. We got into Missoula and found our way to the brand new Missoula Harley Dealership and pulled right up to the front door.
Big John parked his beautiful Victory bike right on the front sidewalk and got off and walked over to a group of Harley Mechanics standing out front. He said to them “Come on over here guys I got a delivery for ya” and we all just had to crack up and laugh out loud... it was just classic, having to be towed into HD and unload ole Dyna from a competitors trailer even. Kinda hard to argue with that huh? Not that I was in a laughing mood, but Big John made my day, literally!
I wanted to pay him for his time and trouble, he wouldn’t let me, I wanted to pay for his gas at least. Nope! I said let me at least buy you and your friends a nice dinner. Nope! He wouldn’t even let me do that and his wife wouldn’t even take my money without him looking. He said that he was paying it forward and if I ever have the chance to help some else out to just do it. I said that’s the best advice anybody can take from another and that I would always remember his generosity. We thanked them again many more times and they packed up their bikes and headed off to parts unknown with their week starting in Sturgis in about another day or so. Thanks John!
The HD dealers are always busy during Sturgis ride week, before and after. We weren’t going to get anything done for a few long hours. I didn’t want to hold everyone up and I said either go on ahead and we’ll catch up tonight. Or …. Well the ‘or’ was more of a wish then a possibility, because I was thinking maybe we could just rent a bike from here and then pick up the Dyna on the way back. Well the wish came true and they had us setup with a 2006 Harley Davidson StreetGlide in a matter of about a half hour and we were packing our stuff onto it and back on the road again. My wife said “Dyna” will be the best lookin' bike in the shop… and she was for a whole week. Sorry Dyna! See ya on the return trip. I’m sure I coulda just bought a part myself and put it on but I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with any of that right now and we had already lost so much time. It was like 3pm and we were suppose to be in Townsend, Montana by 5pm. That was another 150 miles away… do-able but we still wanted to ride Highway 12. We jammed onto Highway 90 and pressed the Montana State speed rule to its limits… which is drive only as fast as you can!... We were running flat out, I had the StreetGlide up to about 125 when the wife tapped my shoulder and said “that’s fast enough”...
We got off 90 and back onto 12 East towards Helena into some more winding road which slowed our pace down alot more. We cruised on into East Helena. We didn’t get to Townsend till about 7pm. My friend “Weepy” had already taken off into Martinsdale which was our planned final stop for the night. That was another 80 miles out of town. A few of the crew decided that was too far and decided to stay in Townsend. So we had some dinner with them and then John and Vicki and my wife and I made the trek out there. We rode for a good two more hours, it was out in the middle of nowhere and the only light was from the full moon and our headlights. No city lights, no nothing as far as the eye could see, just darkness. We finally got to Martinsdale, where they were holding the town bar open for our arrival at about 10pm. Almost lost in oblivion, damn tired of the entire days goings on, and 450 miles later it was good to finally stop and see some friendly faces… Weepy & Carl.
What a day!
Leaving Martinsdale / Day 5
The cat meowing at the foot of the brass bed, the smell of coffee brewing, a slight breeze blowing the sunlit cotton drapes at the window. It was morning in Martinsdale, Montana. We were staying at the Crazy Mountain Inn, for me it was another of many times but for my compadres it was a first and they were beholding the generosity of folks that I was so proud to share with anyone that cared to appreciate it. The place is run by Cheryl and her husband Peter who are very giving and caring people like most others here in this small town.
I found it by mistake in 1997 while on the way to Sturgis, SD. Myself and 3 others were riding through and got lost off Highway 12 and ended looking for anyplace we could find to get gas. Martinsdale popped up out of the middle of nowhere and it was full of people having a good-ole time during their annual roundup days. We were lucky enough to be welcomed in and be apart of that celebration and I have never forgotten this little town’s enormous generosity since that day. This was my first trip back since around 1999. Times haven’t changed much around here, but it was good to catch up on all the goings on.Cheryl and Peter served us all up a nice breakfast with all the fixin’s you can imagine and some great coffee to wash it all down with. Weepy and Carl were taking off first thing as they were planning on being in Sturgis this day. They had already been meandering around the countryside (4 States) for a few days trying to burn time waiting for us to arrive just so we could meet up here again.
I had brought Weepy here in 1998 when we saw him and some friends on the road that year going to Sturgis. My family and I were on our way to Yellowstone via Martinsdale that year! So it was a great time to meet up in a place that we all enjoyed and reminisce about old times. John and Vicki were the “new folks in town” so to speak and I’m glad they decided to make the trek out here with us the night before. So while Weepy and Carl loaded up their bikes, we sipped some more coffee, told some more jokes and enjoyed the warm sunlight already shining down.
We were in no hurry to leave this place. We waved “Goodbye’ to the Sturgis bound riders as they rumbled out of town. We could still hear a faint Harley roar as they made there way out onto the highway and headed south at the end of the road. The town was quiet now except for a few people working at the garage next door, where John and I found some older gentlemen sitting around in easy chairs and drinking their “coffee”. At least that’s what we think it was.
We spent the next hour or so just putting things back together and planning on where we would be going to next. We had to meet up with Gene, Rick and John II at a town just to the North of here. We would probably see them around lunch time.
With time wearing on we had to pack our gear onto the bikes again and bid farewell to our friends at the Crazy Mountain Inn and this great little place of benevolence which we all cherished. We wished them all well as we waved “Goodbye” again and for them another thundering exit of our bikes heading out through the end of town.
The two ‘couples’ now on the road again, riding together to meet up with the three single guys somewhere to the north. We headed out 294 which would take us to Highway 89 and ultimately north to White Sulfur Springs, it was the long way but we wanted to enjoy the ride, we were in no hurry. And that was a very good thing, because as soon as we got to Highway 89 we found that they had just finished oiling and putting down new gravel on the roadway… it was fresh! We had to ride at about 10 mph for the next 15-20 miles into town. We made it through with not much more than a little debris on the fender skirts, but I was on a rental. Dyna wouldn’t have like this at all...
We made it into White Sulfur Springs by about 11:30-ish and found the guys’ bikes parked just outside of town at an eatery. We pulled in and made ourselves comfortable and ate again. At least it felt like “again” because I was still full from our breakfast. So we caught up with them on what we did last night and all… and then got back on the road headed towards Great Falls via Highway 89. This is a two-lane road that takes you through some of the ranch lands of Montana before heading into the mountains again towards Highway 87. This is mostly grass and hay fields for as far as you can see and surrounded by mountains all around.
The Crazys to the Southeast, the Bitterroots to the West and the Canadian Rockies to the North. With the blue sky up above on this day I can see why they call it “Big Sky Country”. This highway eventually meets up with Highway 87 which is a bit larger and runs right into downtown Great Falls. We just filled up with some fuel and headed right on through Great Falls. We put a few miles on the super slab freeway 15 up to the 89 Junction and turned towards Vaughn. We could see off in the distance that there was a thunderstorm brewing and it looked to be right in our path. We stopped in Vaughn just to take a look; it was still early afternoon and too soon to bed-down. So we all decided to ride-on.
We came to the Sun River cutoff which would take us to the Northwest more but right into what looked like black skies and hailstorms dumping down ahead.
So we veered to the southwest on State highway 200 towards Simms thinking we could skirt this storm and get around the back side of it. We got into Simms and found that the storm was moving exactly that direction. And we started feeling the rain drops coming down, so we took refuge under the eaves of a large church, which was the only building around besides farmhouses. Although every person I’ve ever met in Montana has always been friendly I didn’t think they would want 5 bikes cruising up their driveway and into their barn without an invite. We did get approached by the pastor of the church as we tried to keep dry during the downpour around us. He was friendly but we could see he was apprehensive about us hanging around there. Once the rain stopped for bit and it looked like some clearing was about us we got back on the bikes and headed back to Sun River since the storm was now ahead of us. We didn’t want to ride back into that. As we were riding it started to come down again but we were right on the edge of it so I just rolled the throttle on and raced the clouds!.... everyone was racing right up behind me too so we ran as hard as we could and passed right through Sun River and ended up back in Vaughn again. Wow what a rush!
So we stop at this motel-type-looking-place but no one really wants to stay here, but the alternative is riding directly into hell… So Gene, Big Rick, John II and the wives go into the office which is also the bar for the place. The bar is filled with patrons seeking refuge from the storm too. Gene and Rick are both well over 300-350 lbs, Rick is 6’7” tall… Gene and John II are both about 6’1”. They all ask the gal at the counter if they have any rooms. She says yea but we only have 3 rooms and each only one has 2 twin beds… So Simple math says Couple 1 get a room, Couple 2 get a room and so Gene, Rick and John are looking at each other like one of us is gonna be on the floor and all of a sudden … Gene asks “So how big are the beds?”… and the entire bar busts up laughing because they see all these big guys in there trying to figure out how they are all gonna fit into a couple of twin beds!... oh it was so funny. Needless to say we decided to roll on again.
We got on the phone and called ahead to a couple towns to see if they had rooms for ALL of us and we got lucky to find a B&B in Fairfield, MT that was willing to accommodate us. Really nice guy, both he and his wife ran the place, Fairfield Park Inn and I think he was retired from the Navy or something like that. So we rode to Fairfield for the night. We didn’t hit anymore rain either. We had dinner at the local eatery and then went across the street to the local bar and had a good ole time chit-chattin’ with the locals and just relaxing at the end of another day.
Heading Into Glacier / Day 6
This is some video footage of entering the parks east entrance:
Click here to watch "Into-Glacier-06"
The morning presented us with a whole new vision of a clean, crisp day to start our ride. We all said our goodbyes to the owners of the B&B in Fairfield that were so gracious to take us all in. It was a real nice place to stay and the townspeople at the local restaurant and bar were fun as well.
Tinker started her m0rning by taking a little spin on John's Kawasaki 1500 Vulcan and Gene and John both wanted to try out the Roadglide I had rented. So it was a 'testride' morning for all who wanted... I would have liked to try Ricks new Goldwing, but I would have preferred about a 100 mile testride instead of around the block. Thats a big cozy, comfy bike!
We hit the road again and headed towards the north again on Hwy 89, we went through the town of Choteau and into the Blackfeet Indian Reservation countryside. The landscape is a bit barron around these parts but it is framed in mountains around all sides with the peaks of the Canadian Rockies far off in the distance. We stopped in Browning for breakfast at a place that appeared to be good by the amount fo cars in the parking lot. Well it was good, but they were a bit overwhelmed by all the patrons I think because the service was a bit slow. It was worth the wait though and we had a good meal to set us on our way.
We packed up the cold weather gear at this point and enjoyed the sun that was warming the valleys nicely now. There were some thunder clouds in the distance but they looked to travelling away from where we were headed. We never did run into any of them that day.
We headed again northwest on Hwy 89, which is also considered part of the Lewis and Clark trail, into Kiowa and then further on into St. Mary's. This is the entrance basically into Glacier National Park on the eastern side. As we began entering the forested areas you could smell fire, it was just days before that these roads were all closed to traffic and there was an emormous forest fire burning in this area and actually many parts of the area were burned clear through the roadway and on into the forest areas beyond everywhere we could see. There was still smoldering lands that we could be seen near the roadway and fire crews en masse were still roaming the roadways also. We gave a big thumbs-up whenever we saw them. "THANKS GUYS!" It was devastating to see all the damage to these pristine forests and all the landscape about us. In the movies I put together you'll see what I mean.
Once we got onto the "Going to the Sun Highway" which is the name of the road that goes directly through the park, it was beauty beyond belief!... the St. Mary's Lake waters and the surrounding mountains were so incredible in size and color... the pictures just do not do it justice. You have to actually be there to witness the enormity of the hugeness of everything around you. These mountain landscapes are enormous, they are rugged, they are sculpted, they are... for lack of better definition just God's beautiful creations that we are so fortunate to behold. It really does put you in your place as a human being in the scope of all things on earth.
Traveling from the east you start on some of the higher elevations and gain even more elevation before beginning to decend down into the bottom of the canyons below where the road ultimatley takes you. We could see the roadway.... way down below us in the valleys as we traversed the higher roads that were basically on the edge of the mountainsides. We stopped many times to take in the continuing beauty of the creeks and streams that flow out of these mountain crevaces. There are many 'pools' of ice turquoise colored waters that are so cold and clear you can drink directly from them. I woudl have swam in them if I had a wetsuit! and it was 100 degrees out, but it wasnt. We got down the mountain into Apgar area and into Lake McDonald, then we stopped at the Lake McDonald Lodge to get some beverages. This is a monument to the park and it is just another example of man's ingenuity in building places to live in extreme places and conditions. It is grand and it is beautiful!!!
After getting 'refreshed' we headed off into the mountain canyons again for about another 25 miles and then out onto Highway 93 north towards the town of Whitefish. This is a small community that is on the northern most end of the Flathead River Valley.
We made a quick spin through town and then headed south on Highway 93 towards Kalispell. Once into town we just gazed upon the beauty of the surrounding landscapes and I personally thought that I could live here very easily once retired... (Just a pondering moment) The Flathead Valley is named after the Flathead River and also Flathead Lake, which among other things is a gigantic body of water that provides for unending beauty as you ride along the western shores. It is the largest natural fresh water lake in the western United States, it has over 160 miles of mainland shoreline. The largest island within the lake is Wildhorse Island and it covers 2100 acres! The water temp ranges from 36 degrees F in the winter to about 68 degrees F in the summertime.
We rode on along the waters edge most of the time with incredible views across the lake, there were giant puffy white clouds hanging above us with sunbeams of light streaking through them to the grounds below, lighting our way along the road. The green grasslands along the hillsides were fluorescent with color and the skies were so blue it made the waters of the lake look almost dark navy blue or black at times. The waters were very still and glassy for being such a large lake, it made you feel like you could just walk right on out on top of it.
We made our way down to Polson which is at the southern end of the lake and about 60 miles from Kalispell. It's kind of like a resort town with little hotels and motels along the roadside so you can take in the beaches along the lakefront. We found a great little place to stay and they gave us a great rate and we bagged it in for the night. We had dinner and drinks sitting on the lakeside dining deck of the restaurant, we did laundry and we slept off another long day. But what a beautiful example of this world we live in. This was quite a day!
Starting to Head Home/Day 7
This morning dawned for everyone with a bit of sadness because we all knew that we would be heading back towards home on this day. The thought of everything that we had seen, the beauty, the people, the miles we traveled and everything we had experienced was now going to be replaced with the thoughts of going back to work, dealing with traffic and just society in general... what a terrible thought... !
Back to our vacation... we still had a couple of good days of riding to get in before we got back to Vancouver and then begin the drive back to California with the bikes in tow. John II was seriously thinking about riding all the way home because he just wanted more time on his bike.
We left Polsen that morning all packed up with clean clothes again and headed towards Missoula where we would again be seeing the Harley Dealership where we left Dyna about 5 days before. It was time to pick her up and drop off the rental bike and get her headed in the right direction now that she had a nice rest, new tires put on, a new coil, and a bath from the shop crew there at MS-HD. My wife always says she's the best looking bike around... around the shop that is!
Anyway we got all that done and decided to go back down Lolo Pass again instead of heading through Coer d' lene Idaho to the north. Lolo is such a great place to ride, there are not many cars or trucks, and the roads are smooth and twisty. We made it down the mountain and through the woods and it was pretty warm but there were clouds on the horizon. I could see that these were not just some puffy white marshmellow clouds, these were fat dark, black storm clouds that were blowing in from the west. We figured we couldnt outrun these becasue the entire western skies were covered with them. So we decided that we would ride as far as possible and try and bag down before the rains started.
Well that wasn't very much longer before the sprinkles started and then all of a sudden the skys just went black, daytime turned to night and the rain began pouring down on us. There wasn't even time to stop and put on rain gear at this point becasue we were soaked within the time it took to pull over and see how everyone was doing. I was on point and I said what does everyone want to do??? We all decided to just make a run for the next town (about 3-5 miles) and find a bed. That town was Orofino that is right on the Clear Water River and we ran as fast as we could in pouring down rain, I could barely see the tailights in front of me and we made it into and under the town's gas station canopy to get a breather and wait the rain out for a bit. It let up about 10 minutes later and we just kinda had to laugh and take some pictures of everyone soaken wet!
We made it to the hotel down the road, a Best Western Inn and it was beautiful, they gave us towels and took us all in and had rooms waiting for us to get out of our wet clothes. They even let us park all our bikes under the entry porte cochere area to keep them covered too. Great folks there. We had dinner at the restaraunt next door, a great meal and then we just watched the rain fall for the next few hours from our balconys on the riverfront drinking some wine and taking it all in.
A day in which we had a little bit of everything.... but great all the same.
Leaving Orofino, Idaho / Day 8
Again leaving Orofino was bittersweet, because this was to be the last leg of the ride all the way to Vancouver, WA. We left under blue skies, the weather had cleared and it was very nice out. We gassed all the bikes up in town and headed onto Hwy 12 to the west for the last time this visit. Everyone was riding pretty spread out along the road behind me and I could kinda sense that each of us were all deep in our own thoughts about the trip, the scenery, the roads, the people and the incredible beauty that we had all just witnessed over the past 8 days on the road.
Once we got throught the Wheatfields of Eastern Washington we got onto Hwy 84 and ran the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge all the way into Portland and then across the bridge to Vancouver on Hwy 5. We took the scenic byways around the freeway at a few points and made stops along the way at Multnomah Falls, and Look Out Point. It was an awesome day for scenery looking, and picture taking.
This was definatley a trip that had involved just about everything you could have imagined could go right and wrong at times, riding long lengths of open road, twisty roads, mountains, plains, countryside and cities too. We met some more incredible human beings that certainly regained my faith in the human race again overall. We have all hopefully experienced some fruitful moments during this trip that will provide something within ourselves to pass on to our grandkids and beyond.