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Old 04-02-2007, 08:26 PM   #1
leahyz OP
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: The Sucky Part of IN
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Gone Wanderin'...

The Weeks Beforehand

Work was being tough, very tough. It seemed like every which way I turned there was too much stuff to do. I reminded my supervisor that I had planned on using my vacation and showed him the dates again. It wasn’t going to be super smooth while I was gone, but they would cope and adjust. I worked some long hours and got all of my tasks assigned to other people. The goal at work is to try and arrange people to get all the tasks resolved while I was gone. If it works properly we would be able to push through into our critical design review. That was the plan at least.

I had looked at maps, and planned a whole trip out that would be near 9000 miles on the new GS. I had used Google earth and picked roads that threaded through amazing looking countryside. The plan was set, I was headed west, I drew up a plan of roads taking me from my hometown of Fort Wayne Indiana across the vast USA and getting me as far north as Banff, as far west as the Pacific, and as far south and east as – Indiana. I put a lot of time into planning the route. It came together in the very last few minutes and I posted a copy of the route in my office just before leaving.

Outside of work I was also gearing up equipment. Touratech finally delivered some very hefty luggage for the 12GS after a three month backorder. That was installed rapidly, Adventurers Workshop dropped some crash bars in the mail and those were strapped on. A GPS-V was snatched off of Ebay, and tires were shipped from SWmototires. The bike should be great.

I was planning a minimalist approach to a 3 week trip, I had to. You would not guess it from my packing list but I was. The one thing I could not pack due to a lot of contraints was my beloved Stacey. She is my wife to be and while likes to ride with me but had several reasons not to come along. She was however ok with my trip and gave me the blessing to go west with only the words “Be Careful.”
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Zach
Ft Wayne IN - Where the roads suck.

2006 Pacific Northwest Trip - Gone Wanderin...
2008 Trans-Am Trail Ride - TN & MS

leahyz screwed with this post 04-02-2007 at 08:52 PM
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Old 04-02-2007, 08:51 PM   #2
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Location: The Sucky Part of IN
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Day 1
Start: Fort Wayne, IN
End: Black River State ParkWisconsin
434 Miles

I was up early because I needed to be. I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I wanted to be packed up and depart at sunrise but I couldn’t and that made the morning frustrating. Stacey was there since she stayed the night to see me off. That wasn’t going to happen as she had to leave for work before I left. With a kiss and a few tears we parted for the next few weeks.



Simply nothing would work that morning. I had borrowed an old notebook computer in order to be able to reprogram the GPS on the road and it wasn’t working. While Stacey and I had breakfast I was loading the Garmin software on the PC. I got the software up and running only to find that whenever I tried to program the GPS, the notebook would blue screen and shut down! I retried the installation and ended up with the same results.

I looked at the clock and it got later… and later… and later… I was starting out my vacation very frustrated at computers and irritated in general. After a failed second attempt at the software I decided to forego the old notebook computer and just took my own instead. I grabbed the DC/AC power inverter and the charger. I found a little room for the items and crammed them into the left pannier. Frustrated, and late, I was finally ready to go. My initial checks showed I was in pretty good shape. I double checked my strapping and the bike. With about 80mi worth of fuel to start with I locked the door, and said goodbye to my little house. I geared up, thumbed the starter and rode away.



I was off out the subdivision and down the back streets leading to Hwy 30. It felt a little odd at times. I was setting off on the huge adventure, yet I was no farther from my house than I would be going to work. I turned onto 30 and headed west down that old familiar road.

I travel US 30 a lot, it takes me to Valparaiso where my brother lives and on to Chicago. Both of these have drawn me down the 4 lane ribbon of asphalt. I know most every little town, and can tell you by the scenery how far until you get to where you are going. I was up and down this road to visit Stacey this summer in Chicago a lot. It seemed so normal, yet I kept seeing things I never saw before.

I pulled off on the little used rest stop a few miles outside of town. I had one purpose; I needed to check my strapping job. It was just fine, and I was ready to continue in less than 2 minutes.



I pushed west on the familiar roads, riding relaxed and not too fast. I had a long road ahead of me, so I had better not start it out with a visit from the authorities. I saw a lot of new things I have often missed on the road. Maybe it’s because I am goal focused most of my trips along here, but now I’m relaxed and focused on the ride not the destination. I notice ponds and fields that I have never seen before.

I see a Vespa go the other way. Seems odd, I don’t see many around here. I keep plodding along, and see two more, and another pair. Now there’s some on trailers! I see one broken down with a group of guys working on it. They are all headed east, to some unknown destination. Each of these people will have their own tale to tell.

Fuel Light. Not unexpected. The 1200GS is nicely equipped with a countdown of remaining miles. I speculate that I can make it on to my favorite little fueling station. Knoll Brothers is soon on my right, and I’m in for some gas, a drink and a granola bar from my stash. I grab a few Ibuprofen too from my meds because I have a bit of a headache brewing. I want to kill it off before it gets bad.

I continue west on 30, through Plymouth IN, home of Cycle Gadgets where my GPS mount came from. Very friendly folks, but I hear they might have moved. Plymouth gives way to Valparaiso 40 miles later. I think of stopping in to see my brother who lives here, but am reminded that he and his wife are gone to Galena IL for the weekend. Onward I go, and the roads become much less familiar as I just passed my normal destination.

Soon I make the transition into Merrillville, and now it’s time to switch to the big roads. I merge onto I65N and put the needle at interstate speeds. I65 soon gives way to 80/94W and it’s on into that place of misery, the Chicago loop roads. Into Illinois on 294 I ride, and to a screeching halt at out favorite stop, the Toll Booth.

I had thought ahead and had a film container with exactly all the change I needed to pay my tolls. It worked fairly well and I managed to keep the bike out of the slick oil in the middle of the lanes. I even lofted the front a bit out of one stop as I was trying to get ahead of the guy next to me.

I stop at a overpass plaza to use the facilities and leave a message for Stacey. I then immediately answer my phone to find my Aunt on the line. I chuckle because she has no idea where I’m at, or much more importantly, where I’m going. Mobile phones really are a neat concept and as I got calls now and again while on the trip I was reminded just how close to home I was…. Well, sort of.



As I continue on I encounter my first idiot. At the 294/290 interchange I am nearly run over by an old guy not paying attention trying He tries to merge into my kneecap. I respond with a tap on the HORN! One of my first modifications to the bike was a Stebel air horn. At 139 dB most people drop their cell phone into their latte when they hear it. It works wonderfully and I survive to continue on.

290 gives way to 90 and I am on my way out of the NW side of Chicago. Of the whole trip, this was the largest city I would come through. Toll booth after toll both I plod along into Rockford and start heading due N. The weather is great, sunny, warn, I have a T-shirt and shorts on under the stitch and I loving cruising along. There is some some construction on 90, and one toll booth is closed.

I stop at the last Toll both just before I cross into WI. For a break I stop at the welcome center. I aim for some picnic tables where an older gentleman greets me. He starts recounting his youth of owning a motorbike. He thinks my trip is unfathomable on a bike. “too far” he says. He goes and checks out the bike, and my gear. A great time was had both of us relaxing in the sunny afternoon, chatting, and snacking on a peanut butter and jelly tortilla.



My GPS local maps have run out, and that because I only had my home maps programmed (northern Indiana mostly). Once moving I found I neglected to swap my map in the tank bag. Even without a map I know I’m going N for a long time, and staying on I90. As I cruise on through the afternoon warmth I watch the mile markers get lower and lower. I begin to speculate where they run out, an I guess it is at the WI border. I find out after a couple hours it’s not, it runs out at the 90/94 split.

I’m crazy and I don’t care if there is a potential to freeze, I’m headed north… then west. I notice as I stop for fuel through the day that the cost has risen remarkably in WI. A thing I will learn to get used to the remainder of the trip.

At About 6:30 I decide to look for a place to call it a night. I have entered the “Black River State Forest” area. I was not familiar with this area but soon found out that it is a popular ATV area. My first stop shows that I am in a touristy place, $21 for the night to camp. I decide to skip and try the next one. I head down the next exit and find a nice campground, price was $15 for me and my tent.

I pick a campsite and it turns out to be too close to the highway and I can hear trucks whizzing by all evening long. I set up my tent and get some dinner on. I was warming up my little MSR stove and realized I forgot to turn the fuel off while priming it. I figured it out when I looked over and the little picnic table, or old wire spool as it was, was on fire. Ooops! I put the fire out and wash the puddle of gas off the table. It makes for an interesting start the trip. I settle in for some chili and plug the notebook PC into the power and set the GPS to reprogram for the coming days.

I meet Jeff and his wife camped nearby that evening. They do a lot of ATV riding in the area. They have an intense camping setup complete with BBQ grill and Christmas lights! He invites me over to share their fire as the evening gets cooler. Some s’mores and conversation with my new friends and a nip of rye whiskey makes the evening a great treat. Little did I know this would become a very normal routine for me. Jeff laughs and tells me they watched as I caught the table on fire and wondered what was going on.





I head off to bed after chatting the evening away. I collect my GPS and notebook and struggle to sleep with the trucks going by. About 2 am I start hearing the rain, and it continues into strong thunderstorms.

__________________
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Zach
Ft Wayne IN - Where the roads suck.

2006 Pacific Northwest Trip - Gone Wanderin...
2008 Trans-Am Trail Ride - TN & MS

leahyz screwed with this post 04-03-2007 at 08:46 PM
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Old 04-02-2007, 09:01 PM   #3
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Perfect!

But don't stop now!

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Old 04-02-2007, 09:25 PM   #4
leahyz OP
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: The Sucky Part of IN
Oddometer: 471
Day 2:
Start: Black River State Park, Wisconsin
End: Bismarck, North Dakota
565 Miles

I’m up early (about 7:30 EDT) and I am reminded how much my tent feels like home. I’ve spent many nights under the thin nylon sheet I will call home for the next few weeks. My tent has not been used much all summer, but it’s in great shape, only about 3 years old, and it has never failed to work…. That is good because it rained hard all night. Later on I would come to find out there were tornadoes to the south and there had been some pretty nasty weather around, but I think I must have slept through most of it. I was glad I had staked down the rain fly so I didn’t end up in Kansas.

It was still warm and pleasant, so I continued on with the shorts and T-shirt dress code under the gear. I lit the stove – without lighting the table on fire this time, and started the coffee on low while I went for a shower. Some corned beef hash for breakfast was nice while I was packing up. It took a little time for all the morning activities but I rolled out at 9am, one of the first to leave the campsite.



It was warm but wet and I knew it would rain later, so I threw my rain cover over my duffle bag before setting off. It was near the 70’s and overcast. I made good time on the highway and soon made it into the Minneapolis St. Paul area. Being a Sunday, morning traffic was flowing nicely, but I still had two idiots that needed the air horn to wake up from their catatonic driving state. The temps had been falling all day, as I had heard they might, and by this time I had stopped and swapped for a long sleeve T at a rest stop under the stitch. A few speckles of rain, but so far pretty dry.



The miles kept clicking by and I stopped occasionally to let the coffee out. The temps were dropping and I threw on my long undies. I stopped for lunch in Alexandria, MN and there I swapped for jeans and added the electric vest. Lunch was not spectacular, just some Taco Bell and back out on the road.

I kept the vest turned off at first, but ended up turning it on later on as the temp kept falling. I would stop for gas or stretches about once every hour just to keep the body from getting too stiff.



The roads were lonely and it was farmland every which way. I found it interesting that in ND they mowed the shoulder and bailed the grass for animal feed. I can’t remember seeing that anywhere else. Cruise on, temps still falling, and now a very stiff (30mph?) headwind was slowing me down.



Jeez is this boring....



I cruise on and then the rain begins to fall a little. It keeps coming down and gets up to a steady rain. I have the heated grips on full, and the vest on full, and it’s just downright frigid. I feel like an ice cube after a while and am just shivering with cold. I stop and look at a map. I decide my best bet is to try and make Bismarck tonight. After what seemed like an eternity of cold, wet, and miserable (yes a Roadcrafter leaks in the rain) I make it there.

I patiently follow some signs for camping spots, but I don’t find them. I end up in the middle of nowhere with nothing to be found. Sounds like most of ND! I decide to check a few hotel prices in town and end up at the Expressway Inn and Suites. With tax it is $48. A bit over my daily budget of $40 for everything but gas, but I was under yesterday so I should be ok. I pull the bike under the awning and remove the panniers, tank bag, GPS, and duffel bag and put it all in one big pile. Even the inside of my tank bag that was under the cover is a bit damp. I put the bike out in the lot where it looks sad being rained on. I drag all my stuff upstairs and get some odd looks.



I get everything in my room and immediately head for a shower. I find I have some light burn marks on my hands from having the grips on high for a long time. I get warmed up after a while and flip on the weather channel to find them showing “storm stories” and not the weather like I wanted. I grab my phone and call home to let everyone know where I am and that I’m doing ok. I first call Stacey then my folks let them know I am safely staying warm tonight. After the calls I decide to spend the rest of the evening documenting the trip so far. So I dig out my notebook computer.

I hit the power button… and nothing happens. “Ah, dead battery” I say and plug it in. Nothing happens again. I spent an hour or so disassembling it and laying the pieces out because it appears to have gotten damp in the saddle bag. Note, for future don’t pack notebook PC with wet tent.

I get some weather out of the weather channel on TV finally. The word is rain, rain, and rain for my outlook. I steal the little notepad by the phone and document my trip so far with a pen while munching out of my food bag. Maybe my computer will dry out enough to work in the morning. If not I will run out of GPS maps by the end of tomorrow.

__________________
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Zach
Ft Wayne IN - Where the roads suck.

2006 Pacific Northwest Trip - Gone Wanderin...
2008 Trans-Am Trail Ride - TN & MS

leahyz screwed with this post 04-03-2007 at 08:44 PM
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Old 04-03-2007, 05:12 AM   #5
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Great trip!! I hope you'll be able to continue the report

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Old 04-03-2007, 06:08 AM   #6
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Hwy 200 is your friend (just go north out'a Bismark)


Looks like you're having a great trip so far.
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Old 04-03-2007, 06:14 AM   #7
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Old 04-03-2007, 06:30 AM   #8
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Really enjoying your trip. Bring on the next installment!
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Old 04-03-2007, 07:59 AM   #9
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You must have gotten the computer working to post thus far. This is great!
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Old 04-03-2007, 09:38 AM   #10
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Great Report
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Old 04-03-2007, 11:18 AM   #11
leahyz OP
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Well to be honest you're in a bit of a lag, this is from last fall
I just got all the writing finished and I am doing my editing as I post.....

But just pretend like it's real time K?
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Ft Wayne IN - Where the roads suck.

2006 Pacific Northwest Trip - Gone Wanderin...
2008 Trans-Am Trail Ride - TN & MS
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Old 04-03-2007, 02:38 PM   #12
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I'm with it

NEEEEEXT!!!

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To me, the best kind of trips are the ones you planned on the way, allowed yourself to change, and maybe didn't end up where you expected. Klay

I tell it what it wants to hear, and it does what I want it to do. I made that Motronic my bitch. Poolside


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Old 04-03-2007, 07:21 PM   #13
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Day 3:
Start: Bismarck North Dakota
End: Havre Montana
497.5 Miles

I was up before sunrise. I guess my body is still on EDT (I would find that to be true for most of the trip). I started my morning by reassembling my laptop, but it was to no avail, it was still very dead. I grabbed the trash bags and laundry bag in the room to cover up what was left of my computer and a few other important items. I jumped in the shower and got everything repacked. I headed downstairs and enjoyed the free breakfast, which is a nice touch when you’ve been roughing it for a while.

Outside it’s still raining, and cold. The stitch is wet from yesterday despite being hung up. It feels like a big lead suit when it’s on. I loaded the bike, and as I was waiting a large group of young Native American kids formed in the lobby. I then saw they all piled on a bus to go somewhere. I wonder if they were going to school and living out of the hotel.

By 8:30 I had the bike loaded and was setting off into the uncomfortable rain and cold. Everything in my body said continuing into the weather, and farther north was foolish, but I just kept going. I stopped a few times and tried various glove combinations – leather, neoprene, leather over neoprene, or under. I even tried 2 pair of neoprene gloves when I stopped for gas once. After a while all my combinations were exhausted and my hands were still very cold despite burning my palms on the grips. With the vest on full at least my body core was somewhat warm.

I pulled off in Dickinson for a warm up at a truck stop for a while. I got my hands comfy and enjoyed a hot coffee to warm the gutty works inside. After a 15 minute break it was back to the misery of the interstate. I was very cold, very wet, and very uncomfortable. All in all it was really no fun at all. Slowly the rain slacked off and occasionally took a break.

I’m cruising along and see a sign for the painted canyon. I’m not at all familiar with it, but for some reason I decide to pull in and check it out. It probably had something to do with the hypothermia.

I pulled in and grabbed my camera just in case. I was glad I did, because this was the scene in front of me.



Altogether I was impressed with the scene. I had to fight with my camera to get a few pictures, but I got enough to make a nice photo-stitch. The temps in the visitor’s center were in the 30’s and rain. The ranger said it was just supposed to keep raining for several more days. I chatted with some folks who are surprised to find me out on a bike, in this weather, far away from home. After 20 minutes I’m back on the road.

This section of I94 is actually quite nice and I really enjoy seeing bits and pieces of the canyon as I cross the state line. I would have never expected this in North Dakota and I am very pleased with the nice change. It appeared to be very colorful dirt formations rather than rock, interspersed with range cattle land.

Welcome to Montana. I came zooming into the welcome center, once again freezing to death. I used the PC terminal they had there to check the upcoming weather and to do some trip planning. Rain and more rain, but it does say it’s 60F in Kalispell! With happy news like that I decide there is no choice but to go for it. I asked the lady there where the nearest Wal-Mart was. It was nowhere near, but there was a Kmart up the road in Glendive. I headed off with a single thought in my mind. “I must find warm gloves”

The temp seems a bit warmer here, and the rain is nearly done. What a pleasant change a few degrees make! I find the Kmart and pick up some gloves and a few other items including the stick of deodorant I forgot to pack, oops. I stop and fuel up the bike and now it’s time for the real adventure to start as I wave goodbye to the interstate. Little did I know I would basically not see it again until I was ready to make my return trip home.



I got on 200S and it was so nice to be on 2 lanes. My map shows this as a scenic road, and I guess after the interstate it was quite a bit better. I spy the occasional spot of blue in the clouds and it continues to clear the rest of the day. I motor on ahead with the big twin just lumbering away at moderate speeds. Wait, this is Montana, moderate speeds here are just downright fast!

I make it to Circle and take the turnoff onto 13 headed north. The gloves are wonderfully keeping me warm, the clouds are breaking up, and I am enjoying the ride immensely through the wide open spaces of Montana. The vest is still on and for the first time in a few days I am feeling warm. The stitch is drying in the 70mph breeze. I stop for some pictures before entering Fort Peck Indian Reservation. I motor the GS right off the shoulder of the road and up onto the hill alongside to get this nice panorama with the Lewis and Clark Bridge in the background (really it is way back there).



They are building a new bridge beside the old iron girder one. It is new politically correct looking concrete. But there’s something like about the old, rusty iron bridge. It has character, and I think the new concrete one has lost it for sure. This picture reminds me of the beauty of my trip. We say Montana is “Big Sky” country, and hopefully this picture gets across some of that feeling

I stop in the reservation at Wolf Point right after the turnoff onto 2, and top up my fuel there not knowing the countryside well. A nice Native American guy asks me if I love Jesus. I tell him I do and we get into some fun conversation, but he was very hard to understand. It could have been the missing teeth.





I motor on through Nashua and run right into something I have heard about from a lot of people before, but have no first hand knowledge. I find myself behind a truck at a construction area with a sign that says “Follow Me” on it. I had a fun talk with the guy holding the “Stop” sign for 10 minutes before we were ready to go and at first it seemed a little silly to have a guide truck. Then the surface got much worse and degraded from pavement to packed dirt and gravel to just graded and very soft dirt and gravel. When we got to the other side there was a mound of soft earth in the middle (we had been in the left lane) and the driver waved me right and then gave a shrugged shoulder “I don’t know how though” gesture.

No problem, I turned into and over the mound at near perpendicular, gassed it and hopped over to the other lane. I had been on the pegs and in a low gear the whole time knowing that I might encounter some really rough terrain, which I did for the next 5 miles. I finally was in a spot where I could sit down on the saddle again, and a glance in my mirrors showed that the whole pack of cars behind me were way back in the dust. I guess I had the best vehicle for transversing that, and the GS got its first off-road use of the trip. I had a great time playing in the road construction zone

I stopped in Glasgow Montana for a bite to eat at the MCDs. Not great but I at least tried a new menu item, the snack wrap. I noticed there was no sales tax on my order which was something I had not experienced since Europe several years ago. I munch quickly and get some stares from some elderly crowd hanging out there nursing cups of coffee. Onward to Malta.



I stop in Malta when I arrive for fuel. The headwind is gone now and it’s pretty smooth sailing, and the big 1200GS is churning out a lot more miles per tank of gas now than when doing 65 on the slab into a 35mph headwind.

A local guy drops over while I’m filling up and wants to look at the new GS. He has not yet seen the new one, and immediately thought it was the GS Adventure. I told him it’s not the Adventure bike, it just looks like it now. It made me think that I really only lacked spoked wheels and the larger tank from it being an ADV really. He tells me how he is considering it because it’s well suited for the on and off roads of the area. We have a nice chat and he tells me there are several places to camp on ahead. I decide based on his advice to stop at Havre for the night.

The scenery rolls on, it’s quite entertaining and I am enjoying it a lot. Not much for police in this are I have noticed. I have only seen one police car, and he had someone pulled over. I putter around Havre, and finally decide on staying at the fairgrounds. It’s cheap, and has a nice spot to throw my tent. Another guy with an RV is pulling in about the same time and we talk a bit about our travels and destinations that evening.

The evening concludes with some dinner on the camp stove. Nothing special, some canned macaroni and beef. I make a call home to Stacey. I once again realize that I’m too close to a road, but that was unavoidable as there is only one spot for tents. It is nicely protected from wind between 2 buildings



The sunset is very colorful and I take a photo of my path west as the sun sinks below the horizon. The night is cool, and I’m asleep soon after dark.



__________________
--
Zach
Ft Wayne IN - Where the roads suck.

2006 Pacific Northwest Trip - Gone Wanderin...
2008 Trans-Am Trail Ride - TN & MS

leahyz screwed with this post 04-03-2007 at 08:44 PM
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Old 04-03-2007, 08:29 PM   #14
leahyz OP
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: The Sucky Part of IN
Oddometer: 471
Day 4:
Start: Havre, Montana
End: Middlefork MT
~500 Miles (forgot to reset trip)

I’m up at sunrise. It’s a slow morning, or at least it feels slow. It’s very foggy this morning as I do the daily ritual. I grab a shower and make breakfast as I pack. Soon I’m on the road again.

Fog is this morning’s pain. I slowly ride west on 2 and battle the fog on my visor for a long time. I try several options of wiping, and end up trying a bit of rain clear gel on the visor. That was the worst idea ever. It’s great for big drops of rain that bead up and roll off, but it causes all the micro-drops of water to bead on your face shield and you get very blind, very fast. I end up using a windex wipe to clean off the solution, and find out that wiping my face shield with that keeps the water from beading up. Rather curiously it forms a complete film and doesn’t impede your vision at all. It must be that the ammonia in the wipe breaks the surface tension of the water and allows it to flatten on your visor. Big thumbs up, and I will take this piece of learning with me for a long tome to come.

The fog is thick, and I have maybe 100 yards of visibility at the best of times, to a few feet at worst sometimes. Altogether it was not a lot of fun. The outer shell of the stitch was getting wet from the mist.

I stopped in Chester to top off the tank and take a breather and 3 cruiser riders stop in asking if I know a place to eat. I tell them I am not from around here, and point to my plate, which makes them ask how I got my bike out here. Um, yeah, I rode it, how else would you do it? They tell me the fog is better to the west, and I tell them it’s bad to the east since we were headed opposing directions. They roar off to find food and I finish up my business and head west.

Shortly I find myself making great progress to the west because all of the sudden the fog just disappeared. I head west but the time I reach the Blackfoot reservation the rains have begun again. Just light rain, but enough to make you damp all the time. It is much warmer though, and with the vest I’m not all that uncomfortable.

I look down, and for the first time I watch my GPS indicate 4000 ft. of elevation. I started from 890 feet, so I’m moving up in the world so to speak. And I get my first glimpse of this in front of me:



The mountains lay sprawled out in front of me. From my perspective it’s hard to imagine a way around, between, or over any of them. A few patches of snow are even visible near the peaks. I imagine what it was like for early settlers to see that looming in front of them as they moved west. This seems like it would be an impassable barrier to an unknown place beyond.

I keep heading closer and make it to Browning where I depart from 2 and head north on 89 to try and reach the Going to the Sun Road. I have heard mixed reports about if it was open or closed, and no one seems to really know yet. Highway 89 seems to be a much less traveled. It squiggles west and north, and has a real air of adventure, and newness to it. The traffic is very light, and the population is basically non-existent



As I get closer I see evidence of recent wildfires. The area is obviously burnt, but you can actually smell it. It smells like a wet campfire all around. I pull off up this little rough side trail that was and grabbed a few pictures of the scene around me.




I’m from Indiana but I am not totally inept. I see on the ground near my bike as I leave a big pile of bear poo. Not anything amazing, but it reminds me, and gives me that tingle that I’m in bear country now for sure. The road continues and is very bumpy and very curvy. But it’s Montana so it has a 70mph limit even though it would take a rider with a lot more guts than me to even think about that kind of speed here. I twist and wind with the road, but I’m not about to really push on a heavy loaded bike on unfamiliar wet roads.

I eventually make it to my first and only really planned big destination of the entire trip. I’m sitting at the gate to Glacier National Park. I look at the sign and find out that the pass is…. Closed thirteen miles into the park. I was really looking forward to going over and back on the pass and then heading farther north toward Banff. I buy a park pass, even though I can’t even get all the way across the pass, I know I will get some more use out of it later.

I won’t say much about the park, because it really is hard to describe other than breathtaking. I really am moving slowly now, and I stop all the time for pictures. The scenery is colossal,
especially for an Indiana boy that really only knows flat cornfields.

St. Mary Lke is amazing with the backdrop of snowcapped peaks behind it. Even rainy and cloudy it was amazing. The misty clouds added a very surreal effect to everything The park itself was nearly desolate this late in the season.




The view overlooking Goose Island was amazing as well. I’ll just let some of the pictures try and tell of the sights around. There was solitude and the quiet here too. It wasn’t tourist season and it seemed I had complete freedom in the park. Turnouts were empty and I could go as fast or slow as I wanted to and not get in anyone’s way. I chose to drive slowly, so I didn’t miss anything.












After a long break just taking all the scenery in I kept pressing forward. Somewhere up ahead of me was the end of how far I could go on this road and I decided to find it and then come back down for some more pictures. The big twin beat like a heart at low revs as we climbed up until we reached this point near Siyeh Bend.



For the trip down I decided to switch off the engine and let gravity do its thing. I kept the ignition on though so I would have lights, and servo brakes.

The wind whistled in my helmet, and the tires splashed in puddles. I had taken out my ear plugs when I entered the park, and with the motor off I could really be a part of my scenery - the sights, the sounds, and the smells. The damp earth and pine scents were amazing and you could hear the rain falling.















I coasted back down to the lookout over Goose Island and took a break and had a snack. The scenery was just too good to ignore, so I took some time to just stand around, munch, and take it all in. It was all very incredible and very different than what I am accustomed to.

The rain was really sporadic and it was only very light so it really was not making the time miserable at all. I thought about getting a campsite on this side of the park, but it was hardly afternoon by the time I was coming down, so I decided I would keep moving onward.

I departed from the park, and also from my plans at this time. I was not horribly cold anymore, but I decided it was not a good idea to push farther north this late in the season. I had a plan, and the best part is, no one cares that I now departed from it. And no one needs to know it wasn’t all planned right? I decided I really wanted to see the other side of the park. I was so impressed by the east side I knew the west side would be worth the trip around. What a trip that is too, I talked to a couple from Ohio about the west side and they told me it was open to the visitor’s center yesterday. It had taken them all morning to get to this side by going south around the park. I had a slightly different plan in mind though.

I turned north on 89 after leaving the park. A few miles later I missed my left turn onto 17. I figured out I missed it in a few miles and doubled back and headed back into the park. 17 was desolate, trees on each side, no cars either way, few signs and nothing commercial at all. I passed a sign that was different than I was expecting. It was instructions telling me when the border closes. I was not expecting borders to close, but it makes sense for sure. My experience in border crossing was at major crossings, and this was for sure a desolate crossing.

I came around a bend and found myself at the US/Canada border. I pulled up and the border guard motioned me up under the canopy while he spoke with the car in front of me. He interrogated me and asked some interesting questions while I was there. He asked me about my job. I said I was an engineer and he just waved me on, never checking my ID. I guess I’m legit, or Canada needs a few more engineers.




I kept climbing in elevation and the clouds got nearer and nearer and then I was in them. It was incredibly dense and hard to see, and since the clouds were so low the fog was not going to let up until I went down in elevation.

Highway 6 was a nice ride, pretty desolate roads as I skirt the edge of the park. I finally drop down in elevation enough to get out of the fog and I end up at Pincher Creek where I turn west onto the Crowsnest Highway, this little path through a gap in the mountains.



I stop in at the Frank Slide and get some pictures of the mayhem that destroyed an entire small town burying it in millions of tons of rock and gravel. It’s morbid, but cool.



I continue on out of Frank slide and snap a quick picture of the incredible gap in the mountains before I cross into BC. It seems like someone formed it just for the road to go through.



I continue on after entering BC and I am soon in Sparwood. I see a sign that talks about the world biggest truck. I at first just blow it off as some silly tourist attraction since I didn’t know anything about it (like the Frank Slide) and at the last minute I decide to stop in and see what it’s all about. It’s a truck. It’s big. It’s green. It’s definitely larger than my motorcycle and I remember reading about others stopping here. I sneak past the posts that keep vehicles out of the area and I grab a picture of my wee little bike and the big honkin' truck.



The rain has let up some since crossing into Canada, but it soon returns and it is back to its old game dampening me. I pass through Fernie and soon after I leave I notice my fuel level is getting low. I am typically good about filling my tank when not knowing the area, but I missed it and I was soon watching the miles tick down on the fuel computer.

Looking at my maps doesn’t leave me with a warm feeling, but I spot a gas station in Elko and pull in. I was hoping to make it through my brief tour of Canada without stopping for fuel as I was not carrying any currency. But I had a VISA card and I pulled in for some fuel. I had been debating trying to make it to Eureka and I might have been able to, but it’s always a lot less worrying with a full tank of fuel than an empty one.

I make the turn off onto 93 and head back toward my home country. It’s a lonely road with only one destination, the USA. The rain has continued to pick up again and has managed to get me soaked rather well by now.

The crossing back over was quick and relatively painless. I had to wait for one car in front of me, but made it before the border closed. I was not sure when it closed, but I didn’t want to miss my chance to get in that day. I made good time (maybe I was exceeding the speed limit a bit) to get there. I asked the border guard about hotels in the area and he had some advice about some local ones, but not happy with how far I had gone today I end up pushing on a bit farther and to look for lodgings on up the road



I went through Eureka which I assume is where the tents are named after (or is it Eureka CA?). Small towns keep coming and after a brief stop I make it to Whitefish. I stop and pick up a few groceries and call Stacey from the parking lot. It’s now sundown and after my short call I decide to search for a hotel up ahead. I’m wet and I’m not keep on setting up my tent in the dark and rain.

I stop at one place in town and several out of town until I pull into a small place in Middelfork and find an acceptable room for $45 a night. I really was tired of searching and I decided to just go with something that worked. I didn’t note the hotel name, but it had separate small buildings with 2 or 3 rooms in each one. I seemed to have the place all to myself and I parked the bike outside my window and unloaded my stuff.

I was cold, but not as bad as in Bismark. I turned the little electric heater they provided on full blast and put an entire array of wet clothing in front of it. I wrote up some notes and reflect on the day.

There is a TV with the weather and it seems to indicate I will continue to be rained on tomorrow. That left me with a lousy feeling to head off to bed with, but I will deal and have a great time in the park tomorrow. I reflect for a while and decide I am content with the decision not to head for Banff because it leaves me somewhere to go next time I am in the area.



__________________
--
Zach
Ft Wayne IN - Where the roads suck.

2006 Pacific Northwest Trip - Gone Wanderin...
2008 Trans-Am Trail Ride - TN & MS

leahyz screwed with this post 04-03-2007 at 08:40 PM
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Old 04-03-2007, 08:47 PM   #15
Klay
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