Other Riders' Stories
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|Day 1 - Santa Clara, CA
Day 2 - Lee Vining, CA
Day 3 - Baker, CA
Day 4 - Las Vegas, NV
Day 5 - Las Vegas, NV
Day 6 - Grand Canyon, AZ
Day 7 - Durango, CO
Day 8 - Glenwood, CO
Day 9 - Highlands, CO
Day 10 - Highlands, CO
Day 11 - Estes Park, CO
Day 12 - Craig, CO
Day 13 - Jackson, WY
Day 14 - Cody, WY
Day 15 - Mammoth, WY
Day 16 - Choteau, MT
Day 17 - Kelispell, MT
Day 18 - Sandpoint, ID
Day 19 - Omak, WA
Day 20 - Anacortes, WA
Day 21 - Anacortes, WA
Day 22 - Poulsbo, WA
Day 23 - Poulsbo, WA
Day 24 - Poulsbo, WA
Day 25 - Astoria, OR
Day 26 - Lincoln City, OR
Day 27 - Bandon, OR
Day 28 - Eureka, CA
Day 29 - Anchor Bay, CA
Day 30 - Martinez, CA
| Western Loop - July 15, 2002
Miles Traveled Today: 222
Miles Traveled on Trip: 3617
|We left the pleasant little hamlet of Choteau behind
and headed for Glacier National Park. We were a little concerned
about whether or not we would be allowed into the park. Last night
we heard that forest fires were only one mile from St. Mary’s, which
is the entrance we plan on using to enter the park. We headed north
on Hwy 387, a smooth, winding back road that narrows to a road without
shoulders for most of its length. This narrow little road runs through
some pretty country with cattle and buffalo ranches or hay farms on
either side of the road (photos 1, 2, & 3). Everyone out
here uses these large mechanized sprinklers on large aluminum wheels,
which roll across their fields (photo 4). As we get closer
to St. Mary’s, the road crosses through the Montana grasslands that
go on for as far as you can see on in both directions.
We had been concerned about riding through another hot day when we
started out in Choteau, but it has been a comfortable 72 degrees most
of the morning. As we get into the trees and foothills closer to
Glacier, the temperature drops even lower and we actually put on our
coats. At some point, we enter the Blackfeet Indian Reservation,
with a sign saying that we must obey Indian Tribal Law. Shortly after
the sign is a sculpture depicting two Indians on horseback. I parked
my horse in front and took a picture (photo 5). We stop in
St. Mary’s for gas and somehow, get turned around. We end up going
about 20 miles out of our way but it was an interesting side trip.
On one side of the road, we kept seeing these great scenic appetizers
that whetted our appetite for the views of Glacier Park that was to
come (photos 6, 7, & 8). On the other side of the road
were road signs directing firefighters to their ‘Fire Camp” and the
smoke from the small forest fires could easily be seen, burning in
the hills just outside the park (photos 9, 10, 11, 12, & 13).
We finally get turned back around and find the entrance to Glacier
National Park, one of the most spectacular national parks in the country
(photo 14). Entering from the East side of the park, you are
immediately confronted with these huge, jagged mountains in front
of you and then, as you turn the corner an aqua green lake sitting
at the foot of another mountain giant, invites you to stop and take
a picture (photo 15 & 16).
We dismount and relax in the fantasyland of mountains, rock, snow,
and water (photo 17). You can’t see it all. We stop, start,
stop, start, shoot from the bike, stop again, all in a vain attempt
to try and capture this park on film (photos 18, 19, & 20).
We take pictures of majestic peaks with several thin waterfalls
running down their emerald green sides. We take pictures of small
waterfalls, big waterfalls, and anything else that has water
attached to it (photos 21, 22, & 23). This foolishness
continues until we reach Logan Pass, the highest pass in the park,
at over 8,000 feet. We get something to drink and notice another
Goldwing has parked beside us, a blue 1200 Aspencade (photo 24).
We will see them several times more before the day is over. They
park beside us again at the McDonald Lake Lodge, and later in town.
Unfortunately, we never did actually get to meet them. As you can
see, they are about our age. While we are at Logan Pass, I convince
Linda to let me take her picture sitting in the snow (photo 25).
We continue down the other side but this side also has more sheer
drop-offs. Around each corner is another peak or waterfall (photo
26). As we are coming down the mountain, the road makes a U turn
to the left and you see, what is called the “Weeping Wall” because
of the snow melt during this time of year. Now last year I was here
and there was a fine line of water coming over the rocks. You could
see why they would name this a “weeping” wall. Not enough water for
an actual waterfall but interesting. This year, as you can see, there
was so much melting water coming down onto the road; they should have
called it “The Bawling Your Head Off” wall. I think you can see from
the pictures that we got a little wet. We started weeping (photos
27, 28, & 29). Actually, we were having a great time.
Linda was trying to take pictures while I tried to avoid the bulk
of the water and any traffic while we both laughed at getting wet.
For those of you who liked the Bear Tooth Mountains, then you have
got to ride Glacier Park. It’s kind of like the Bear Tooth on steroids.
Not as great a distance, but views, switchbacks, drop-offs, and climbs
all packed into more dramatic views. It’s great, unless you don’t
like heights, then you may want to take Hwy 2 around the bottom of
the park. At least that’s my opinion. You can’t go wrong doing either
The rest of the ride down the hill consisted of oohs and aahs, and
trying to limit the number of pictures we were taking. This is the
first time on the trip that I’ve filled more than one memory chip
and had to change batteries, to boot. As many pictures as you see
here (photos 30, 31, 32, & 33), we culled out that same
amount. We tried to reduce it down, but the memory of these great
views colored our judgment. If you get tired of looking at them, feel
free to move on, we’ll understand.
All of the water from that snow has to go somewhere and as you get
towards the bottom of the mountains on the western side, you are riding
right along side the McDonald River. Linda likes flowers and the wild
flowers were out in great numbers, one, called the Indian Paintbrush,
caught our attention (photo 34) since they seemed to be everywhere.
As we got toward Lake McDonald and the Lodge, their were people playing
in some of the slower moving parts of the river, to cool off (photos
35 & 36). Since the weather was getting warmer at these lower
temperatures, and we had been on the road most of the day without
eating, we stopped at Charlie’s Pizzeria in the park, for a late lunch.
Linda needed to buy some postcards so I waited outside. I got to
talking with another Gold Wing rider who had quite a rig. He had
an emerald green GL1500 with a matching sidecar and trailer. He was
retired and he and his wife traveled the country in this rig. They
lived in Florida and had gone up the Atlantic coast, went into Canada,
turned left and after a thousand miles of flat farmland, he said he
had enough, and turned south for Glacier Park. He was relaxing and
having a smoke and I asked if his wife rode in the sidecar. He said,
“No, in that sidecar, you can only see to the right and straight ahead.
She likes to see all around so she rides up behind me.” What do you
use the sidecar for, I asked. “Oh, we just carry luggage in there,”
he smiled. I didn’t want to ask what they carried in the trailer.
By the way, the trailer had painted on the back, the words, “Katie’s
Shopping Cart,” so I guess it was for storing all the stuff you pick
up on a trip around the country.
We pulled into Kalispell about 6:00 p.m. and began looking for a room.
It’s summer and Kalispell is the largest city close to the park so
there were lots of people in town. We finally got a room at a large
local motel called the Outlaw Inn and Convention Center. After we
checked in, Linda got to talking to a fellow who worked there and
had been a motorcycle cop in Washington D.C. From his accent, he
was obviously raised somewhere in the south and his name was Jesse.
It seems that in 1984 Jesse and his wife got divorced and he took
it pretty hard. They sold their house and split the equity and Jesse
bought a GL1200 Gold Wing from which he proceeded to see every state
in our fine Union and then the provinces of Canada. He would ride
into a town and ask the local police where the cheapest place to stay
in the safe part of town was, and they would usually help him out.
He said he had even slept on picnic tables on occasion, and recommended
a book that the Gold Wing Road Riders Association puts out with the
names of Gold Wing owners, Honda dealers, etc. throughout the U.S.
He said that these fellow owners would recommend a place to him, and
in at least two cases, put him up in their homes. Jesse estimated
that he had ridden more than a half million miles on motorcycles and
had burned out on it several years ago. He says he may someday pick
up a small motor to run back and forth to the store but that would
be all. Jesse was a friendly fella and we enjoyed talking with him.
As a former motorcycle cop in Washington, D.C., he had stories to
tell about ex-President Johnson as well as accidents he had been in,
etc. I am finding that a big part of this trip is the pleasure I
get from meeting and talking with other motorcycle riders. There
are a lot of interesting people out there.
Tomorrow is a commute day. We are just going to meander towards Sandpoint,
Idaho on the most scenic route we can find.
This from Linda: A couple of days ago Ed says to
me, “You know Lin, I’ve been doing all the writing, if you want to
write something too, feel free. I said, “No. Thanks anyway”. I
mean, let’s be serious here - what could I possibly write to follow
his enlightening and humorous repertoire of our daily adventures?
Tonight, after almost completing our stay here in Montana, I thought
I would give it a try. Now rest assured we have seen some beautiful
places in the last sixteen days, however, nothing has touched my soul
so profoundly as the beauty of Montana. Beginning with yesterday,
entering the State and stopping by a river to take a picture and having
a beautiful, large, yellow butterfly land on my left arm, to exiting
one of our nations most beautiful treasures this evening – Glacier
National Park. Driving across Montana is like looking at a painter’s
pallet of many colors. Green, red, yellow, blue, purple & white-
the fields, the flowers, the rivers, and the hills are covered in
color. The lone elk, the cattle, the sheep, the horses, the buffalo
all blend in with the environment like musicians playing in a symphony.
The farmer plowing in the field who takes the time to lift up an arm
and wave as you go by, makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Norman
Rockwell painting. My heart says this would be a nice place to live.
God is here in Montana. Take care, Linda.