Chasing the Sun

Back in business with a new belt drive for my bike and a new enthusiasm for me. I made my way northwest towards Glacier National Park of Canada on Highway 1. The good news, the views are spectacular, the bad news, this road is clogged with tourists as well as trans Canada traffic. Best advice, get an early start, before the big rigs get on the road.

The other bad news, my detour delay put me on the edge of some sketchy weather. The locals were all complaining that this summer has been cool and rainy. The storms are slow moving, mostly visible and avoidable if you wait or change direction.

Not so avoidable rain.
Keeping with my flexible (translation: no reservations) travel planning, I found a private campground in Mara with an outdoor shower. Score one for the exhibitionist in all of us.


The Provincial Park gate keeper suggested I try camping at Kakekkawa Falls. The downside, it is bike/cart-in and first come first served campground, a challenge for the flexible traveler. Several disappointed potential campers were leaving as I hiked up to the campground. Lucky me, I found a note on a campsite that suggested sharing the site, and the cost. Score! A young lady from Belgium saves the day. Added bonus, the second highest falls in Canada roaring all night. Also happening all night… drizzle.


I packed up a wet tent and headed out. My objective: ride north up the Icefields  Parkway towards Jasper. As I hit the Parkway, it started to drizzle harder. Did I mention it was 45 degrees?. The system was rolling right up along the road and I couldn’t get ahead of it due to the rush hour traffic of RV’s, buses and cars. When the caravan came to a stop due to construction for fifteen minutes, I made the call to turn around and save this experience for another day. I headed towards the sun and Lake Louise. The view on the way back:


I remembered Lake Louise from my youth as one of the most beautiful places I’d seen of all the travels we did as a family. What I found was a very pretty setting choked with tourists. Even with the cold drizzle it was shoulder to shoulder. I quickly left and headed to Banff where, surprisingly, it was 67 and sunny. A good choice. 

I checked the weather radar and maps to see where the storms were headed and elected to swing out of the park towards Radium Hot Springs, thinking I’d cross the border at Roosville, pass back through Whitefish and ride Going to the Sun by motorcycle. You’d think a name that hints of radioactivity would deter tourism, but apparently not.I skipped by and saw a sign for a Provincial Park called Premier. Well, that I have to see. The sign didn’t say there would be a ten mile drive, five of it on gravel to get there. But, as expected, I found one of the last campsites. The lake is nice, maybe not premier nice, and I found out it is the hatchet for 40% of the trout stocked in BC.

In the morning, the weather had me cut off from my intended route so I headed over the Crow’s Nest Pass, mostly beating the thunderstorms creeping up from the south and hanging over Glacier. My new destination: Waterton Lakes National Park, the sister across the border from Glacier. Naturally, camping was available for the lucky traveler. I did a couple of short hikes in Red Rock Canyon and went to a pretty corny ranger presentation on cougars. The message was that they are essential for keeping the deer population in check. I’m thinking of getting one. On the way back to the campsite, there was a smallish grizzly on the road eating blueberries. I slept with the bear spray close at hand. 

It starting raining the moment I got into my tent and didn’t stop all night. When I peeked out in the morning, I was horrified to see my motorcycle leaning way over. The kickstand was sunk three inches into the water-softened gravel. Another couple degrees and it would have been on its side. A disaster avoided. Packed up cold and wet and headed for the good old US of A, where there were hints of sun. So long Waterton, you were beautiful.

Next up: race for home.

Sea to Sky – Oh My

I had a nice, but short visit with my nephew, Ryan, and his wife Bianca. They are both expats working in the animation industry which is flourishing in Vancouver. The next morning Iskirted around the city center to avoid Lord Stanley Park, and the certain traffic jam on my way the Sea to Sky highway. 

As the name infers, the road climbs from the ocean to the high peaks of the Whistler/Blackcomb area. It is really hard to focus on the road with the stunning scenery around every curve. My destination was Whistler and the legendary mountain biking it holds. I found that whistler is a crazy busy tourist attraction. I found solitude at a campground twelve miles north and circled back to the village for a ride. I’d heard that the trail rating of BC trails is considerably softer than back home. I’m here to tell you that is an understatement. I’m very comfortable on blues and even blacks at home. Here, the blues gave me all I could handle. In my defense, the Fargo isn’t a true mountain bike, but no excuses. I only biffed once, but dabbed a lot. Trust me, I didn’t venture out onto the downhill course. There were hundreds of armor-clad, full face helmeted bombers flying down the snowboarding hill, jumping and skidding. Yikes!

The Fargo looking good.

As you probably know, Whistler was the host for several of the Winter Olympics events and the rings are all that remain.

I went back to my campsite and hiked to the waterfall.

The next morning I headed easterly from Pembrooke. The mountains here rose up, and they were massive! It was interesting how BC changed from giant mountains to Montana-like hills to northern Minnesota-like swampy lake areas. My next biking adventure was in Revelstroke, a smaller, more down-to-earth version of Whistler. The trails were equally as challenging but I was smarter now on choosing trails. I only fell off my bike a dozen times… and hiked more than a few sections. I won’t be scared at home anymore. Maybe that is a bad thing.

My plan was to head northeast towards Jasper to ride the Icefields Parkway. A local had suggested that I should head up to Clearwater as there is a waterfall there not to be missed. That is where the trouble started….

I checked into a campground, set up my tent and headed three miles to Clearwater to seek out Mexican food. Leaving the campground, my motorcycle started making a clunking sound when I accelerated. Oh-oh. I stopped, put it up on the center-stand, rotated the wheels and have it a once-over but couldn’t find the problem. I stopped at the only gas station in town and asked if there was a mechanic who knew anything about motorcycles. You have to appreciate that this town is probably a couple hundred population… The kid behind the counter looked at me like I was speaking Swahili. A lady overheard me and said the only mechanic in town was in the car outside, her husband. This was the first of my chance encounters with generous Canadians. Quentin quickly deduced that my drive belt had missing teeth. My bike was dead in the water. Crap.

Quentin loaned me his phone (AT&T service was non-existent) to call the BMW insurance provider I had fortuitously signed up with to get help. They said I could get towed up to 100 miles. The only motorcycle dealer of any kind within range was a Harley Davidson dealer in Kamloops. Harleys have belts so I elected to get towed there. There was indeed a towing company in town (Quentin’s son works there). Kevin showed up with a big truck, loaded my bike on, strapped it down and headed south.  By now it was 10:30pm. We got to Kamloops around midnight, dropped the bike by the service door and went to find a hotel. Turns out, it was a big weekend in Kamloops, Ribfest and some big auto show. no rooms anywhere. I ended up sleeping in an unattended trailer in the H-D parking lot. Actually not that bad, if you don’t get arrested.

As soon as the manager showed up in the morning I explained my situation. He was less than positive. When the mechanics rolled in, I went through my story again. While they went inside to look at YouTube videos on how to install a belt, not reassuring. And, they don’t have a belt that matches BMW. The nearest BMW authorized dealer… Kelowna, another 200 kilometers south, or 120 miles. The good news, they have one belt. To expand my options, I walked next door to another motorsports dealer to see if they had options. There I met my Angel, Jacqui. She said it was a slow day because all their mechanics were at the auto show and she thought she’d help a stranger in need. She made several calls, and decided the only option was to go get the belt and have an unfamiliar mechanic out out on, or get the bike to Kelowna. She even offered her car to me so I could go get it! I guess I look honest, or pathetic. In the end, she found me a Budget truck to rent, got me a ride to get it and sold me some straps to hold it down. Back at the HD dealer with the truck, I got help from another dude who just showed up at the dealership and hung out all morning. He helped me load and strap down the bike. I’m certain it never would have made the trip without his help. I drove as fast as I could to Kelowna as it was Saturday and the mechanic was going home at 3:30. I got there at 2:00, the belt was installed by 3:00 and, after dropping off the truck, riding my bicycle back to the dealer, I was rolling again by 5:00, just 24 hours after the disaster started. Quite a day… and, quite a testament to the generosity of Canadians. I won’t feel bad if Trump wins and I have to move there.

My Angel, tats and piercings…

The downside to the story is that I am now over 200 miles south of egret I wanted to be and the Parkway was looking less likely.
Next installment… Chasing the Sun.

Island Time

The wedding in Seattle was simple and elegant at the same time. 

Saturday, I had a nice ride with Don DeVeau along a trail that circumnavigates Lake Washington. We started at Washington University, the other UW and did an out and back 29 miler. We got to catch up on happenings in each other’s lives and I got to stretch my legs.

Next up: San Juan Islands… My Divide buddy Jim has a brother who lives on Shaw Island in the San Juans and he was generous enough to allow a stranger to come and stay with him. Shaw Island is a small, very non-touristy island. It only has 200 residents and two renters, one of them my host, Randy, and his wife Sue. They told me the island had everything from blue collar folks to Bill and Bill Sr. Gates. I didn’t meet them.

To get to the Island, you take a ferry from Anacortes, coincidentally, the starting point for the ACA TransAm bike route. I saw lots of cyclists starting their journey at the ferry terminal. I loaded my motorcycle rig aboard and settled in for the hour-long ride.

Shaw has an unchecked deer population, not what a motorcyclist likes. A short five mile, slow ride found Randy at the end of the driveway waiting for me. The house they have rented for ten years has a great view of the channel where you can watch the boat traffic and wildlife. Nice.

As soon as I arrived, my hosts asked if I wanted to go crabbing with them. Of course! We jumped into a zodiac with another house guest, Brad, and motored off to pick up two other crabbers around the point. The process involved finding your crab pot buoy, pulling up about 80 feet of rope with a cage, hopefully full of crabs into the boat. Then the fun starts, you carefully grab the crabs, avoiding their strong claws, turn them upside down to check for male/female (females go free), and measuring with a gauge across their shell to see if they are large enough to keep and throwing them into a bucket. I took my turn pulling and sorting for the whole experience. Back at the house, we cleaned and steamed the crabs right on the shore for a wonderful welcome meal. I could get used to this.

My plan was to use their house as a base to explore other islands. Randy and Sue directed me to San Juan and Orcas as the best samplers. In the morning, I rode back to the ferry dock, bound for San Juan Island. San Juan is the largest and busiest island, the docking point is Friday Harbor. My new pal, Hardy, I met at the ferry dock suggested parking my motorcycle at the school and riding clockwise around the island. This would take me to the beaches on the south end, the Lime Kiln park on the southwest (whale watching site) and then Roche Harbor on the northwest coast. Unfortunately there was a dense marine layer making the sightseeing less spectacular. But, it was a nice day, the roads were not crowded and I was in my element. The view from the beach.

Naturally, there were no whale sightings as you could only see a hundred yards out into the fog. Can you see the kayakers?

It did clear as I rounded the north end and into Roche Harbor, home of the rich and famous. I got to board and your a $495 Million, yes Million, 90 foot yacht. It’s the bigger one..

I had a lamb burger, yes, it’s that hoity toity and left for the final circuit back to Friday Harbor, 42 miles and a great day.

The next day, I decided to go to Orcas, another large and popular island, only a ten minute ferry ride from Shaw. The weather was cool (50’s) and cloudy. I elected to explore the island by motorized bike. The high point, literally is Constitution Mountain, a long and steep (13%) climb to a great view around the island.

I ventured out to the far edges of the horseshoe shaped island and made it back to the ferry just in time to ride on. 

The next morning I caught the ferry back to Anacortes and headed up to Vancouver to visit my nephew. 

Next phase, Canada.

Oldie but a Goldie

The best value in America may be the Senior Pass for National Parks (formerly known as Golden Eagle Passport). For $10 you get a permanent card which grants you access to National Parks, monuments,  federal recreation areas and discounted camping in National Forests. This card has paid for itself ten times over, just on this trip.

Here is what $4 to $9 buys you in a National Forest (probably not smart to pitch the tent under the giant leaning tree):


After leaving Coeur D’Alene, I headed for Highway 20, the route across the North Cascades, climbing over passes at 77 degrees and dropping into valleys at 100 degrees. Guess which I liked best. The mountains are rugged and beautiful. The smells of pines is so rich from the seat of a motorcycle.


I spent parts of three days riding, biking and hiking in the National Forest lands.  

Cutthroat Lake.

Mount Baker.

So much spectacular scenery, almost overwhelming.I rode the mount Baker scenic byway up to the alpine meadow above Mount Baker ski resort, a twisty road not unlike the alpine passes in  Europe. The reward at the top was 360 degree views of snow capped mountains, and Canada.

Today enters phase two of my adventure, getting to Seattle for Caitlin’s wedding. I’m staying in Bothell, the wedding is in Woodville, quite literally across the road from Chateau St. Michelle winery.

After the wedding, San Juan Islands.

Riding the Rails

One of the flagship rails-to-trails bike paths is The Path of the Hiawatha BN railroad cut into the side of mountains asking the Idaho/Montana border. While only fifteen miles in length, it is a magnet for bikers due to the many high trestles and tunnels, the longest stretching 1.66 miles. 

This ride was on my bucket list and necessitated a southward detour from Glacier NP. That turned out to be a good plan as I returned to Eureka, near the Canadian border, then turned south along the Kootenai River. The road was a winding, scenic and traffic-less ride down to Libby dam. I camped and fished at Dunn Creek before picking my way to St. Regis, the flyfishing capital of the northwest, if you believe the sign in town. I did catch a really nice trout within a stone’s throw of the interstate, wading in ice-cold water

St Regis is only thirty freeway miles to the Path of the Hiawatha trailhead. 

The ride from this end is fifteen miles, downhill, at a consistent 2% grade and 1000 feet of elevation change. The trail surface is a rough gravel, perfect for my Fargo.  The longest tunnel faces you immediately from this portal. The tunnel is straight, you can see a speck of light in the far distance. Headlights and lamps are a must, maybe a warm shirt as the temperature drops dramatically. and, there is cool dripping water. Pretty cool, literally and figuratively. Especially as the tunnel is named after St Paul…

The views of the mountains and trestles are awe inspiring. The trestles smelled of creosote which mixed with the scent of pines.

The ride down was easy, not even breaking a sweat at fifteen miles an hour. There were lots of casual cyclists and families with trailers. 

There is a ten dollar trail fee to support the trail upkeep. You can also pay nine dollars to get shuttled back to the top. I made the turn at the bottom, eschewing the easy way back. It was more like ten miles an hour back, and hot, good thing I filled my two liter bladder with water.
The reward is a cool waterfall at the far entrance to the long tunnel.

I packed the bike on the bike and headed towards Coeur D’Alene, taking the scenic Lake Coeur D’Alene byway. A winding road overlooking the lake. Super motorcycle riding. All in all, a really nice day, fishing, bicycling and riding.

Now, I’m calculating the miles and routes to Seattle, taking highway 20 across Washington to maximize the scenery. The weather forecast looks warm and dry. The adventure continues…

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Days 1-4

The story starts here, ten days, 342 miles, eight days of riding, twelve riders (one woman), two countries.


We all arrived at the Whitefish Bike Retreat in Whitefish, Montana July 9, met our leader, Nickel, for our orientation over pizza and beer from the Retreat.

Riding in a van with twelve people is never fun but the scenery was spectacular, once we crossed the border.with Scott, who had forgot to renew his passport until too late and had to pay a $400 expedite fee, expecting it to arrive in Fernie. Apparently you can get into Canada with only a birth certificate but can’t get back into the US. A giant leap of faith by Scott in the US government and FedEx.

Once in Banff, we set up camp at the Tunnel Lake Campground. The provincial ranger, Mark, came by to scold us for five minutes about leaving food unattended. We got it after thirty seconds, but had to endure stories about alpha wolves that had to be destroyed because of careless campers, like us. We loved Mark.

In the morning, we found out that the bathrooms are locked until 7:00 am, to keep the critters out. That was uncomfortable. The start of the ride was downhill into Banff. Standing five feet off the sidewalk was a large elk, we assumed he was paid by the Chamber of Commerce to stand by the road greeting tourists. Impressive and scary all at once.

The highlight of Banff is the Banff Springs Hotel, a giant stone structure and the official start of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

The first day of riding was a short one, and I had assumed it would be an easy roll out of town on a bike path, I was wrong. The gravel path quickly changed into a rough and rolling road. Our leader had given us instructions on where our, primitive, camp for the night was, saying look for the two large rocks. Amazingly, we found it.We set up tents in an open field by the reservoir.

It rained overnight but the second day broke with some sun. We headed out, knowing we had a relatively long ride. Sure enough the drizzle started and the mountain views became fewer and far between. Did I mention, it was a 50 degree day and 50+ miles? 

 Our destination was Boulton Creek, in a Provincial park, warm showers, five minutes with our token provided by Nickel. The best five minutes of the day. As with the previous day, the sun came out as we hit camp and we were able to dry out the tents before we set them up. They wouldn’t stay dry through the night…
Day three was the one I’d been worried about, we start out the morning with a climb over Elk Pass. Nickel gave us the map guidance the night before, telling us the first climb was called “The Wall” and there may be some pushing required. He didn’t lie. We pushed our bikes for a good half mile, harder than riding. Then the rain started, did I mention it was 42 degrees? The climbs after that settled out and followed a powerline cut. When we got to the high point, the trail leveled out, but that meant the trail also became rutted and full of muddy puddles. Sweet.

A rider passed us in the opposite direction just as I was bombing down a short roller. As I came over the rise, I saw a giant bear wander across our trail a quarter mile ahead. I yelled “bear” to Jim, only to realize he’d stopped to talk to the rider and was nowhere in sight. Double sweet. We made a lot of noise as we rode from that point on. It turned out the pass was not difficult at all, even though it is the highest elevation on the ride at 6450-ish. The rest of the day was mostly wide, wet gravel roads with longer sustained climbs.

One of the highlights on the pass is an old cabin that had a lot of history from riders on the race along the route. We stopped to take it in.

 The destination for the day was Elkford, a small mining town, coal mining. We had a view of the above ground terraced mining, with giant trucks crawling across the face.

Again,  the sun came out, we dried our tents, had dinner, it rained all night, packed up wet tents and hit the road for Fernie, our layover day destination. 

Fernie is a ski town with tons of mountain biking trails. Our ride there is on the “Fernie Alternate” mapping by the ACA. The good news, it avoids a washed out section, a big climb and a road destroyed by logging that the rider Jim talked to the day before couldn’t stop swearing about. The bad news, it was along busy highways. It felt like the Pacific Coast all over.

At the midpoint was Sparwood, another mining town with the largest truck in the world. The wheels are ginourmous  I’m doing my Da Vinci Andromeda Man.

Our home in Fernie is the Raging Elk hostel. It has a full kitchen, game room, bar a laundry and a patio. Really comfortable. The deck has a view of the Ghostrider on the mountain. there is a legend about it that is longer than I can share and less than believable. I’ll let you check it u on the internet, and see if you can make it out in the picture.

The other benefit of Fernie is quality bike shops. Several of us went over, I hadn’t planned on any service but noticed I had a rear wheel wobble (loose spokes) and gritty sound in the hub (bearings).they kept the bike overnight and fixed it up.

Today was our rest day. some sat on the deck, some napped, some took in the spa. Jim and I went biking. The plan was the Lazy Lizard trail, easy by BC standards. It started out with a serious climb just to get to the trailhead, then went up. Pete started up with us, missed a dab and rolled down a bank, with his bike. He turned back. We continued and had a really nice ride. Then, we were feeling our oats and decided to ride to Island Lake Lodge for lunch. Only 7K, how hard could it be? The answer… Really hard. It was a continuous series of ten to twelve percent grade climbs. what Nickel calls “punchy little climbs”. But, the lodge had a great deck with a view.

Back into town, I stopped along the Elk River to pick some Saskatoon berries(?). They are like a cross between blueberries and huckleberries, a local favorite. We’ll be putting them in our free pancakes at breakfast. 

Tomorrow we ride again. A relatively easy day. Then we get across the border and have some tougher climbs. We should be hardened by then. 

Sadly, we had one more rider drop out here in Fernie for “personal”reasons. Now we are eleven

So far, the ride has been both challenging and rewarding, living up to the billing. The chemistry of the group is really good and Nickel is the perfect leader. We’re halfway done and I’m not sure if I’m relieved or sad. 

,, probably have to do a wrap-up post when we get back to Whitefish as there is not a lot of civilization between here and there.

Here We Go

Today is the official start of our tour. We are scheduled for an orientation meeting tonight, Jim and I decided to take a gravel grinder warm-up ride around several lakes. The weather forecast was for rain staying at 10:00 and continuing all day. We headed out at 8:00 with grey skies and 64 degrees, very nice for riding. The scenery and smells are very much like northern Minnesota. The lakes could be Boundary Waters. We stopped at Dollar Lake and Jim spotted some Huckleberries, they’re a local blueberry-like delicacy, and they’re ripening! We took a chance and ate a few. The weather forecast turned out to be wrong, it only rained briefly around ,11:00 while I helped The Kid from Austin, Scott, put up his brand new version of my tent.  Then we helped him attach his brand new handlebar bag. It takes a village.

We jumped on the trail system back to the Retreat. The Fargo is looking and feeling super.

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Throughout the day, all of the other riders filtered in and we started with our introductions and backgrounds. Turns out, I’m not the oldest rider. One older, but several geezers in their 50’s and 60’s. The youngest may be Scott who is probably early 40’s. Two of the guys had this ride given to them as a gift from their wives… just saying. One guy won the trip from a drawing the ACA had of tour participants from last year.

The bad news for the Adventure is that one of our team,  Chris, whom I’ve had considerable pre-ride communication, stopped to stretch his bike legs in Bozeman on his drive here, swerved to avoid a car, fell and broke his wrist. He’s on his way home to his wife in Kansas City with his tail between his legs.

We had our orientation meeting with our leader, Nikkel, who seems great and has an unending smile. He brought pizza for us to eat while he gave us the ACA doctrine and maps.

This is the pizza box they use in Montana. Are you sensing a trend?

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We jump in the van at 8:30 tomorrow for a six hour ride to Banff. Zzzz. I’m hoping I can sleep but expect there will be a lot of socializing. Calling shotgun seems like a good strategy.

I will have very limited connectivity in Canada after we leave Banff so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me for a couple days.

Adventure Reboot

My family has long since learned that living with my randomness requires flexibility…

That lead-in is a hint that the Going to the Sun ride had a hiccup. Jim didn’t get into Whitefish until after 10:00pm and I had failed to follow or original strategy which was for me to get to the park early to get a first come first served camp site. With my late arrival, there was no availability at any of the sites so we ended up coming back to the Retreat. My bad.

The good news, the Retreat owner, Cricket, who is sort of a legend as a Tour Divide racer let us stay in her house. I guess we are non-threatening and likeable. That left us with options to ride some of the 35 miles of single-track adjoining the Retreat. We ride in a light mist down to Whitefish, had lunch and some tweaking to Jim’s brakes at Glacier Cyclery, a really great shop.
This was a gated entrance the middle of nowhere. Somebody has a nice retreat.

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We made our way back to camp in time for beer at the Retreat office. Several of the riders are staying to show up at camp including our leader, Nikkel. The bad news, we heard that my frequent correspondent, Chris, had a spill and broke his wrist and is out. Bad luck.

On the positive side, Jim and I are looking for a reboot on Going to the Sun Road after we finish this ride. Stay tuned.
The trail marker for the Retreat

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Tomorrow is a test day with more riding around the Retreat, unless the rain is too stiff. All is good.

Meet the legend

The plan for the day is to stop at the Adventure Cycling Association office in Missoula, then head to the starting point of the Divide ride, the Whitefish Bike Retreat. By their own advertising, the only bike retreat in Montana.

I got up early and headed for Missoula, arriving at the official opening hour of 8:00, it is a soft opening. I grabbed something to eat and came back at 8:45 , and everything was hopping. They didn’t know what to think of the guy in full motorcycle gear in their entry. I explained my setup and people starting coming out of the woodwork to check it out. I got a personal tour by one of the cartographers, Jen, who had just been on a ride with Sid Voss, a former principal at Glen Lake for the kids and now a tour leader for the ACA. Eventually, Greg Siple, one of the founders of Adventure Cycling came to get my story and take my picture for the archive. Who knows, it may show up in the magazine. Anyway, a brief celebrity sighting. They gave me a commemorative banana and wished me a safe journey.

I was still about three hours from my destination and I didn’t leave Missoula until after 10:30… trouble. The ride up the Swan Valley was scenic but, with lunch and gas stops, I didn’t reach the Retreat until 3:00. no way I was going to get to Glacier. New plan, catch the shuttle to Glacier with Jim. That gave me time to mingle with the staff, repack my stuff, dry out my tent and park my motorcycle. While hanging out, up walks Sid. I caught him a little off guard. He’s leading a tour the whole length of the Divide. What a way to spend the summer.

Only photo today is the sunrise at my campsite for last night.

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Tomorrow, riding up Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, and coasting back down. Maybe some pictures worthy of sharing.

The High Life

Up at 6:00, breakfast, pack, watch hosts leave on their annual trip to Yellowstone. I’m in charge of the campground.

It is a short ride to the Beartooth Scenic Highway, Highway 212, the road Charles Kuralt called the midst beautiful road in America.

On the first climb is a fire tower lookout the hosts told me was recently out on the National Historic Register and is open to the public. I turned up the steep gravel road, and coaxed my loaded rig to the top only to find the open hours start at 10:00. Oh well, the view was great back to the Beartooth range. I took a short video panorama, no photo from the phone. A slow dance back down the gravel road and upwards.

I thought I had passed the summit and was tempted to ride backwards to savor the feeling but continued on. I couldn’t have been more wrong, the road climbs to over 10,000 feet past some lakes, across the treeless plateau at the top, then starts back down through huge gaping valleys.

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I agree with Chuck. Well worth the two hours it took. Lunch at a Subway in Red Lodge, listening to a guy chatting about 100 clip loads for his AR and how California is trying to take away our Constitutional rights. This is not a blue state.

Looking at the time and where I need to be tonight, I knew I had to put some miles in. Unfortunately, the only way to do that is Interstate 90 and there is another strong crosswind. Worse, 90 is 80mph. I couldn’t hold my lane with the wind and didn’t feel comfortable riding over 70 with my big rig, so I tried to ride the frontage roads and let the Garmin lead me. After a five mile gravel road adventure, I went old school and followed the map. needless to say, Montana is huge. But, I did manage to find some nice riding off of the interstate and got to see some small towns up close.

This town is still catching up on political correctness…

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Late lunch at a great burger shack where a cheeseburger is $1.89.

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I pushed the distance, and wind, until stopping close to Missoula. Missoula is home for the Adventure Cycling Association, our hosts for the ride. If they are open in the morning I may make the pilgrimage. My goal is to get to Whitefish before noon, park the motorcycle, get on the
bicycle and ride to Glacier. Jim is on the train and should arrive late tomorrow night. We’ll see if the plan comes together. A week on the scooter, then a week-plus on the bike. Everything changes tomorrow.