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Old 08-16-2010, 01:08 PM   #1
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Gone To Look For America...

The long island railroad subtly jars me into the realization that in just a little over a week I'll be leaving for a trip that I had imagined since I was a teenager, a solo trip across the country. In this case from Idaho back to New York where I presently live. With strains of America by Simon and Garfunkel flowing from my iPod I realize it's time to start documenting the trip.

As all travelers know the journey begins long before the first mile is ever ridden. The preparation both mental and physical as well as the simple act of packing the necessary equipment are each as important as the actual miles covered aboard your choice of transport. In this case it would be a BMW 1200GS. A desert yellow twin cylinder monster of an adventure bike. While its title was given by its manufacturers or maybe an ad executive it couldn't be more fitting for this trip because I wanted more than anything for it to be an adventure. In my mind's eye I repeatedly run film footage of the trip over and over visualizing a journey that hasn't yet begun. But I know what I'll see and where I'll be no matter the actual steerage of my course. Like the song repeatedly says.....I've gone to look for America.

Id like to say there "she" is but somehow it never quite worked out that way. The GS's stablemate was a little red monster called Rocky .


...so it seemed appropriate both by chance and design to call "him" Bullwinkle and it just seemed to stick. Especially with the bars and mirrors that would always remind me of moose antlers :-)


The original plan had been to take three weeks to make a round trip cross country but as the saying goes "the best laid plans of mice and men...." My time was cut short and it left me with only two weeks to accomplish my goal. Somehow things have a way of working themselves out and the same hand that took the extra week from me also gave me a gift. Arrangements were made to take Bullwinkle to Idaho where I would meet up with him and begin my journey. As this would put me dead in the middle of the drop zone I was more than happy to comply.

Another part of the trade for not receiving three weeks off was the effortless arrival at my starting point, in this case the Boise airport. My ultimate destination that day was a small area called Last Chance Idaho a little stretch of road about forty minutes out of the west entrance of Yellowstone. In years past this would certainly have been my jumping off point for that magnificent National Park but this time would be different. After arriving and renting a car I drove to Idaho falls where I would meet an old friend who would have me as a guest at his cabin in Island Park.

No matter how many times I climb aboard an airplane the excitement never wears off...I love to fly...


I grabbed my rental and drove over to Idaho falls where I was to meet up with my friend...dodging bad weather the whole way and seeing a few interesting things along the way.








I met Dale at the Idaho Falls airport and we headed north. After a great meal at the local restaurant called The Trout Hunter we returned to the cabin to rest up for the next day's trip north up the Madison River Valley toward Missoula and the true beginning of this adventure, the Lolo Motorway.

Our first evening...not bad...




Our humble digs for the evening...


I'm restless all night. After a long tiring day of travel to get here and the time change I just can't quite seem to get to sleep. It doesn't help that there's a bat flying six inches above my head most of the night in a holding pattern with an occasional landing on the window screen and climbing up and down making a terrible racket. I give up, get dressed and go down stairs to make a cup of coffee...even if it's only 4:30 and pitch dark. I try to be quiet and not disturb my friend who's sleeping downstairs. Eventually the gorgeous moonlight of a clear sky gives way to a slightly cloudy sunrise and a chilly start. I grab my cup of coffee and head out to catch some morning shots...looks like a promising day.







I get back and see that Dale has arisen so we drink coffee and discuss the days plans. BOOM! Out of nowhere a clap of thunder and down starts the rain, a cold rain and more thunder. We had dodged severe storms the day before and today's forecast was for a possibility of some scattered showers but this didn't bode well. I settled back into my coffee and decided I might as well catch up on the ride report as it seemed we weren't going to get a very early start. That plan had changed any way after arriving and hearing the news that Blondie (Dale's dog)...

...had to be taken to the vet the previous morning because of some lesions on his stomach. The vet thought it might be spotted fever and we'd have to wait for the results of the blood test which wouldn't be available until 10:30 this morning. Well, like I said before..."the best laid plans...". So we just settled back and waited.......
Now the wind starts blowing like crazy it sounds like the cabin will blow off of it's foundation....and we wait.

Soon enough the storm passes and we have a promising day ahead of us...




It's getting near time to get news from the vet so we saddle up...or at least I do..

Dale is not a rider but a driver...of a Mercedes G Wagon


The LoLo was his idea and the plan was he would drive it and I would ride with him carrying the equipment leaving me to travel light. Well, if it's good enough for Ewan and Charlie it's certainly good enough for me

So we head to town to gas up and get word from the vet..




We get the call..pup's okay and we're off..

The thing about the West is that it's always beautiful...no matter what....





...deep blue skies and crystal white light reflect off of the golden fields that line the roads and byways of Idaho and Montana.

Add to that the long beautiful rivers that meander along the way and your trip becomes an episode right out of a National Geographic special and it's all right in front of your helmet's visor.


Riding down the road does something for me, it makes me think about things I don't really want to address. Once your head is inside that helmet there's no place for your thoughts to run...they just keep hitting the inside of that helmet and bouncing back into your head and after a while you become comfortable with that and things seem to start working their way out. Solutions to problems become more apparent and those problems you can't solve don't seem to matter...at least for now.



"...Kathy I'm lost I said though I knew she was sleeping...I'm empty and aching and I don't know why...". America by Simon & Garfunkel

The trip north to Missoula took us through some beautiful territory, I could hardly keep my eyes on the road..








The trip didn't go smoothly weatherwise and we got caught up in a really bad storm in Butte and had to wait it out. That got us up to the LoLo pretty late so we decided to camp for the night and get an early start.

We took a spot at the Wendover campground...a beautiful place..







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Old 08-16-2010, 01:25 PM   #2
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Thumb I'm in!

A writer's prose and an artist's eye. I'm all over it. You seem to write like I think, in flowing rhythmic reflections. Wonderful my friend, just wonderful. Can't wait for the rest!

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Old 08-16-2010, 01:52 PM   #3
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Bluhduh

While I'm off shooting the river Dale gets the water hot and I get that first cup of coffee going...


I want to break camp and get ready to roll but I notice Dale is in pain. He's been traveling with a neck injury and sleeping on the ground certainly hasn't helped it..."the best laid plans..." but he decides to try and tough it out so we break camp and take off to gas up before we hit the trail






We cross the road and start heading up...














My nervousness about my ability to handle the trail diminishes as we go and I really start to enjoy the riding...





The Motorway was my first real opportunity to feel the bike under me. Not the droning hum of the tires as I rolled along the paved roads but the crunch of dirt and stone beneath the knobby tires and dust rising up to my nostrils and filling my nose with the scent of the land. It has that musty and almost romantic flavor that comes from the amazing weather of the west. Hot dry days and cool comfortable nights. The long, quiet, cold and snowy winters pay back those who care with lush green forests and exquisite aromas of pine and sage...heaven to a man who longs for such things on a daily basis.












Unfortunately the ride wasn't going as well for Dale, all of the jarring was just too rough on his neck so we headed back down the mountains at a turn off (Doe Creek?)that took us back out. We headed back to Missoula where I changed to my road wheels with tourances, loaded up the bike and I headed north toward Glacier. Dale was disappointed as we had planned this for a while and wanted to do the whole trail but I could tell that wasn't going to be possible. ".....the best laid plans...."

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Old 08-16-2010, 02:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bighaasfly
A writer's prose and an artist's eye. I'm all over it. You seem to write like I think, in flowing rhythmic reflections. Wonderful my friend, just wonderful. Can't wait for the rest!

Thank you very much Bighaasfly....this is my first report...I'll try to do my best and I hope you continue to enjoy it
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:18 PM   #5
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You do seem to have a gift for writing,

I wish I could write that well.
I'm in and I'm sorry for you that your friend couldn't continue the journey with you, ride on...
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:29 PM   #6
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What exact course are you taking? I ask because you are extremely close to where I grew up in Lowell Idaho, some shots of the place would really pour on the nostalgia, and I could point out a few places to check out if you have the time (looks like ya dont). Such a cool place with all the rivers, old mines, gold, scenery, hot springs, etc... I'd still live there if there was work
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:46 PM   #7
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As I left I reassured Dale it certainly wasn't a problem. Hey, I was in Montana, on my bike, had my cameras, it had quit raining and I was on my way to Glacier National Park. It couldn't get much better than that. I now had two more days than I had planned on to explore northern Montana. More time and less pressure made me feel like I was being rewarded for adapting to the circumstances and that karma was coming back in a very good way. I was certainly rewarded by the view...


I stop and just marvel at what every turn reveals out here. For one who lives each day in bumper to bumper traffic and on an island so crowded there's barely room to breathe a view like this reminds me that I'm human and that there are still places in the world where the mountains meet the sky and that is all that is necessary to make you feel human once again. Magnificent.

I keep going up route 93 and pass places called Kicking Horse, Poison and Hungry Horse and smile at the idea that I'm obviously not in New York...and it feels like I'm home.

I pass something that catches my eye, a great barn and since it's one of my favorite subjects to photograph I turn around and take a shot...


Loved its shape and color. Sitting in that golden grass it really looks like it's where it belongs.

I arrive at my staging point, the Glacier Hotel and Campground and check in. Luckily I could add the other nights on to my stay so I unloaded and took off for a look around.


Mmmmm comfy


The sun is low in the sky and I don't really like riding after dark but I had to go see what was about. The area right outside the park held great promise to the riches that must be held within the park...but that would have to wait until tomorrow.



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Old 08-16-2010, 02:50 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Willfrey
What exact course are you taking? I ask because you are extremely close to where I grew up in Lowell Idaho, some shots of the place would really pour on the nostalgia, and I could point out a few places to check out if you have the time (looks like ya dont). Such a cool place with all the rivers, old mines, gold, scenery, hot springs, etc... I'd still live there if there was work
Willfrey, thank you...unfortunately I arrived back home yesterday and decided to get on the report right away...guess that wasn't very clear was it. Next time I think I'll do it in real time to take advantage of the great experience of the ADVer's out here like yourself. Once again, thank you for the very kind offer.
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:55 PM   #9
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Stunning photography...
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Old 08-16-2010, 04:45 PM   #10
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The evening came and I felt the day's miles and though it was still light and I was afraid of falling asleep too early and waking in the middle of the night I couldn't keep my eyes open and I drifted off. I couldn't rememer sleeping so well in a very long time. I awoke just before sunrise, took a hot shower and loaded up Bullwinkle. The morning chill was refreshing and though it was foggy and cool I couldn't wait to get to the park. It was one of the few national parks I had never visited and I couldn't wait. Going to the Sun Road was my goal for the day and I was anxious to get to it.

I entered the park and the first thing they hand me is this;


Now that's a Montana welcome if I've ever seen one

In the past I might have taken the paper, stuffed it in my jacket and thought little more about it but...one camper had just been killed and two others injured by a bear or bears right outside Yellowstone so I didn't take it so lightly this time. Even so I had come prepared with my can of bear spray and I can tell you that the guy behind the counter at EMS on Long Island couldn't help himself and just had to ask: "Where are you going that you think you need bear spray?" After my "Glacier" response he sheepishly grabbed the canister from behind the counter, handed it to me and gave me a look that assured me the purchase was justified

Down the road, right turn and off to the heart of Glacier.


The fog was beginning to burn off Lake McDonald




I met a couple of Ladies on some nice Harleys and we shared stories for a bit while we admired the lake and our surroundings. As I was to find out throughout this trip people love to share the experience of the beauty that exists around them...more on that later. They asked me to take their picture and complimented me on what was going to be the best picture of their trip. It's amazing what a little fill flash can do

I kept heading up and as I've said before...every turn reveals a whole new world to me.








A surprise riding through the tunnel made for an excellent view. "Windows" lined the tunnel serving as perfect little frames for the adjacent range of mountains.




As I rode further there were more and more breathtaking scenes. Well beyond my descriptive powers so I hope the images will speak for themselves.









Things were going along well until the next couple of turns and I find out that maybe there are more things in common with Long Island than I thought...TRAFFIC JAM!!!! Unfortunately there was a lot of construction going on with a lot of lines and waiting. I was sure I was back on Long Island

But I battled my way on up to Logan pass...


and was rewarded with a madhouse of traffic and NO parking spots for the sea of automobiles descending upon this little island in the sky.


But all was not lost...there was special parking for motorcycles....praise the parking Gods


It was a view that lent itself to what dreams are made of...Elysian fields perhaps..




Each direction gave a gorgeous view...






Take a close look, you can see the waterfall in the middle of the cliff...


...and by St Mary Lake..


The view from the east entrance...


The East Glacier visitors center


What an exquisite part of the world, but, this time around once would be enough. Too much traffic and and way too many people to be able to stay out of the way and enjoy all of it. That's okay better luck next time and there was still the ride around the south end of the park and back to the hotel for the night.

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Old 08-16-2010, 04:56 PM   #11
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Stunning photography...
Thank you Thomas, very kind of you to say so.
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:14 PM   #12
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The rest of the day took me around the southern route of the park. Had a close encounter with some cows on a blind curve. Don't know what I was thinking...this is open range country and you have to be on your toes
On toward East Glacier I came across this little place

They had the biggest brownies I've ever seen in my life...they covered an entire plate. Drooling as I was I knew better than to eat one because I'd wind up asleep at the handlebars after I came down from the sugar rush

As I'm finishing my cup of coffee on the porch I look across the street and...


Now in the middle of what is seemingly nowhere that's a pretty odd sight, wouldn't you agree?
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:39 PM   #13
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One of the best reports and photography to pass before my eyes in awhile. I cannot imagine what someone who lives in NYC must feel being out in the American West. Great stuff and thanks for sharing your excectional prose and images.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:03 PM   #14
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As I was leaving a loveley lady from Brownies approached me, looked at my bike and asked "Is this your rig honey?" I answered "Yes maam" and she asked which way I was heading. I told her I was heading south and she said that was great because there had already been two deaths on motorcycles on a sharp curve on the road north of there. I immediately thought of the cows standing in the middle of that blind curve and wondered if that might have had anything to do with the accidents.

The barefoot caddy was explained when a little further down the road I passed the East Glacier Lodge which, of course, had a golf course...




Along with the train station


I turned Bullwinkle west and called it a day...I'm admittedly a little tired.

"Like an old machine
Sputtering along
Wheels don't turn as fast as they used to
Sometimes you take a right
Find out that it's wrong
Don't know the difference in a way
It ain't for now and then
Always help me find my way again"

Roll On, The Little Willies

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Old 08-16-2010, 06:15 PM   #15
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One of the best reports and photography to pass before my eyes in awhile. I cannot imagine what someone who lives in NYC must feel being out in the American West. Great stuff and thanks for sharing your excectional prose and images.
Thank you for the kind words FotoTEX....yes the west is definitely what my dreams are made of. Everyone who knows me knows I'm in heaven each time I'm there. It's beautiful country and maybe what's even better is that there are so many wonderful people out there. I'm always met with kindness and caring from people in that part of the country. Always willing to strike up a conversation and impart their knowledge and wisdom concerning the territory. There are always interesting stories and unique lives. So much of my joy in traveling alone is the opportunity to talk to all sorts of people and I'll tell more about that a little further along. Once again, thank you.
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