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Old 09-04-2011, 05:56 PM   #1
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Got A Month. Just One Planned Stop.

So, the girlfriend works as a seasonal park ranger in a different National Park every year. That pretty much gives me a destination each year. This years destination:



I planned to spend a week with her out there. After that, I didn't know where I was gonna head. I usually just plan on the fly, deciding around lunchtime each day where I want to be that night.

Well, after 9 days in Glacier I headed West. This will be the recounting of my 10,000 mile month long vacation.

Some highlights:









-darrell
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:17 PM   #2
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Some background:

In February, the girl was hired as a ranger at Glacier. She was to begin in June, and we decided that the end of July or August would be a good time for me to visit.

As soon as she left to head west, I started picking up overtime at work, asking for comp days. I had a plan. No way was I gonna ride alll the way out there and then head straight back home. I rode out to Glacier in 2004 and was eager to see more. This time I would.

After working every holiday, as much OT as I could, I put in a vacation request at work. For August. The whole month.

A week later I saw what I didn't think was possible. The calendar at work showed that I had been approved to take August 4 though August 31 off. With regular days off, this gave me From August 2nd to September 1st off. Time to prepare.

Last year I traveled to Minnesota to Voyageurs National Park to visit her. After that trip and a trip to the Keys I knew the Ulysses needed more luggage space for this trip. I bent up some aluminum panniers that gave me a bit more room, ordered up new tires, and got everything ready for a complete service.

T-minus 14 days and counting and the Uly started not sounding so good. When I was down in the Keys last year a soaking rain flooded my primary and the bearings were now starting to protest. Time was short and I wasn't prepared for this. Only one thing to do...

I had been drooling over the Concours for a while and now was my perfect excuse to get it. I would be cutting it close with ordering the farkles I wanted for the bike, but I knew it would be easier than ripping into the Buell...

-darrell
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:02 PM   #3
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T-minus 7 days and counting. Friends were heading out to Sturgis a day after I planned on leaving. Well, I could delay my departure for a day to ride out with them. Ike and Sean and I have put a few miles on together. Last year we rode down to the Keys together, did the Dragon together, we've done multiple iron-butt rides, to say we ride in a group well is an understatement.

These two aren't your everyday Harley riders. Ike has over 125,000 miles on his '03 Electra Glide, and Sean is over 90,000 on his (don't know the year). And, both have other Harleys they put miles on as well. They like to ride.

T-minus 2 days and counting: we had planned on leaving Thursday night after Ike and Sean got done work. Both ended up getting the day off, so now we were gonna leave early Thursday morning. Good and bad. I still had a farkle or two to install, and everything I had planned to do Thursday morning, I now had to get done Wednesday. No problem.

Departure day: As usual I don't hardly sleep the night before departure. I roll out of bed at 4am, get a quick shower and head out the door. To rain. Great, just the way a trip should start.

We meet up at the WaWa in Sweedsboro. One of many crappy pics I would take this trip. Sean on the left, Ike on the right:



We'd leave Sweedsboro around 5:30. We were in and out of rain till about Harrisburg PA. While riding behind Ike, it appeared he was sipping coffee while going down the road. I knew he has no cup holder on his bike, so just how the hell was he drinking a cup of coffee?

A roadside stop and he shared his secret:



We put some miles on this day, making it all the way to Sturgis:



But something was wrong. All the rumors I've heard, this was supposed to be some big bike gathering. We were the only ones there. A quick look at the map showed our error. We were in Sturgis Michigan. Oh well, back on the road.

We ended up in Joliet IL for the night. A close encounter with a skunk in the parking lot of the motel was about the closest we came to disaster for the day. Later that night, Ike started rattling off nearby places to see. Something about a ball field...

-darrell
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Old 09-04-2011, 08:10 PM   #4
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On the road the next morning, Ike had a destination in mind. We stopped in Freeport IL for gas and spied this little gem:



Well, Ike kept in the lead and soon enough we were on un-paved roads. Not unusual for this group. A few twists and turns and we were there:



Apparently Ike had taken the back way to get here, as there was a paved road leading into it from the other direction.

Where are we?

If you don't know then you're not a fan of baseball.





Pretty neat.

Back on the road we started clicking off the miles. We ended up in Sioux Falls, SD for the night. This would give us time to get some good riding roads in tomorrow...

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:15 AM   #5
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Saturday Morning, we wake up in Sioux Falls. Sunday morning we need to pick up Ike and Sean's wives who are flying into Rapid City, along with another friend and his wife who shipped their bike out. A day to get to Rapid City from Sioux falls? Not nearly enough time, but we'll make it work.

First stop? The Badlands. I picked up a National Parks Pass here as I knew I wanted to visit quite a few while I was out west.



Sean had to skip the Badlands last time he rode out to Sturgis. A family emergency called him back home before he got a chance to visit. I think he enjoyed the views:





After leaving the Badlands, We headed towards Mt. Rushmore. We were more interested in riding than sightseeing, so we passed the monument and headed for the twisty stuff.

Iron Mountain Road was first. Ike apparently had necks snapping when he hit the turns. People thought bikes were skidding down the road as his floorboards took a beating folding up on the turns.

We hit Needles Highway as well that day, taking in the sights before the crowds of motorcycle decended upon them. Not many pictures were taken here as we were in ride mode, not picture mode.

We spent the night in Rapid City and headed out the next morning to Spearfish. My friends had rented a house for the week there and they wanted to drop all the luggage off this morning so they'd have room for the wife on the back of their bikes.

We got to the house Sunday morning, dropped the luggage, checked the time (plane was landing at noon) and headed off. We could get Spearfish Canyon in before the plane landed.

A morning full of twists and turns, picked everybody up at noon, and had a great luch together while the skies opened up. We left lunch in the rain, but arrived in Spearfish to sunshine.

After settling at the house for a bit it was decided a beer run was in order. The liquor store was a mile away, so Ike, Sean and I took off to get supplies. Too bad they let me lead. A right off the road the house is on leads to the liquor, a left led to dirt. I needed to know:



Ike and Sean trying to place blame on who decided to let me lead:



We ended up in the middle of Spearfish Canyon Road somewhere. A quick trip to the liquor store only took slightly more than an hour. Sounds right to me.

That night we rode out to Deadwood, had dinner and rode back to Spearfish in quite a lightshow from Mother Nature. Very little rain, but lots of lightening.

Tommorrow: I start my solo journey...
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:24 AM   #6
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Nice! That looks like a great way to break in a new 1400! I will try one of those bikes sometime.
America has an endless amount of amazing sights and great roads to check out,some people only see em on a TV.
Better to hit the road.
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Old 09-05-2011, 08:02 AM   #7
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Monday morning I said my goodbyes and was off. I had a loose plan of what I wanted to do: Wyoming 14, Beartooth Pass, possibly Yellowstone.

I ticked off a couple hundred quick miles and removed myself from the interstate at exit 9 in Wyoming. Scanning the maps it looked like Wyoming 14 twisted a bit, and the map had it listed as a scenic road. Perfect.

I gassed up, chatted a bit with a Honda ST rider, and decided that I'd jump off of 14 onto 14 Alt in the Bighorn Mountains.

Well, 14 did not disappoint.



I don't know why I didn't take more pictures here. I think I was still in "Go" mode from trying to get out here. But, 14 Alt was amazingly beautiful. It crossed over Bald and Medicine Mountains with spectacular views of the mountains and valleys around it.

Coming down from the mountains, I crossed over Yellowtail Reservior Area.



I gassed up in Lovell, checked the time, and decided Beartooth would be a rush to try and get in today. I ended up in Cody for the night at a KOA telling tales with two guys from Minnesota on Goldwings.

Also that night, I spied a Tuber Buell parked a few sites over from me. I got to talk with the owner, a father who bought it for his son. They were from Idaho and recommended a road I had been eyeing on the map for some time. Route 12. I thought this to be the road with a sign warning of turns for the next 99 miles, so I wanted to scope it out. Good to get confirmation that it's a great riding road.

Tuesday: Beartooth Pass...

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:04 AM   #8
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Up till now I had been telling the Girl I'd be to Glacier by Tuesday or Wednesday, most likely Wednesday. After confirming with fellow campers the ammount of people and traffic in Yellowstone, I decided to cross that off my to-do list for this trip. This set my destination as Glacier for today.

After not topping my tank off in Cody, I headed for Beartooth. I saw my first red rocks heading there:



I headed up Chief Joseph Highway, and after a few twists and turns I was on Beartooth.





Another rider snapped my pic at the Montana/Wyoming border:



According to the temp guage on the bike, it was a balmy 38 degrees, and it was raining a bit.

I got over the pass and stopped at the first overlook after it. The Honda ST rider that I talked with the day before was there and we chatted a bit again. While we were talking another Concours pulled in and informed me that it was now snowing up at the top of the pass. Hmmm. I guess I had perfect timing.

Down the pass I went, keeping the bike in neutral as my gas situation was looking a bit challenging. Ended up pulling into Red Lodge with plenty in the tank, but better safe than sorry.

After re-fueling, it was time to make some miles. I headed up 212 to 310 and jumped on I-90. My GPS was pointing me to take 191, but 89 looked a bit better.

I got off at exit 340 and started my push North.

I was soon beside the Crazy Mountan Range:



Just outside of White Sulpher Springs I ran into a nasty line of showers. The rain hid the nickle sized hail behind it. Ouch. Hail hurts.

Luckily it was a quick storm, but I ran into the back end of it each time the road turned east going over the Little Belt Mountain Range.

I managed to stay out of the showers until about 10 miles outside of Browning, where I shared the side of the road with two guys on Harleys waiting for the storm to pass. It wasn't the rain that had us worried, it was the straight line lightening that went along with it:



After a bit I decided it was safe to go and went on my way. I got a little wet, but not bad. Gassed up in Browning, headed up 89 some more and jumped off on 49.

What a road. MT 49, or Looking Glass Road, has some great overlooks of the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park.



As my friendly park ranger informed me, that peak all the way to the right is called Triple Divide. A drop of rain landing on the peak could go either to the Hudson Bay, The Gulf of Mexico/Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.

A few more twists and turns and I was there. Two Medicine. The Girl was happy. As was I.
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Old 09-05-2011, 11:01 AM   #9
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I had been to Glacier on a bike before. Back in 2004 I rode my Harley Softail Deuce out here. Once I got there, the rain started, and didn't let up. For 8 days. Going to the Sun Road was closed for all but the day I left. This trip my luck had changed.

I have had beautiful weather ever since getting past Harrisburg PA. Except for a few quick showers, I hadn't seen any lingering rain. That would remain true for the entire time I was in Glacier.

The Girl had some ideas of what to do, and I pretty much just went along with it all. She knew better than me. And she knows what I like. No people, great scenery, and good riding.

The first trip we took was in her truck. We headed up to Babb and entered the park there. A few twists and turns, some picture taking, and we decided a hike was in order.





We decided on hiking to Apikuni Falls. A short hike with a nice waterfall at the end. I had done this hike in '04 as well, so I knew the view would be great.

Now, the Girl has told me stories about moose she's had to chase from the campgounds, bears she's had to chase from the sides of the road, mountain goats she's come across hiking, but all I saw the whole time I was there was this:



Chipmunks. Well, I saw some rabbits and some ground squirrels, but no large mammals. I saw some fish, but as for these bigger furry things, I doubted her stories. Well, maybe they just heard I was on vacation and decided to take one themselves. (A week after I left she had a black bear running down the mountain towards the campsites. She was prepared to haze it once it crossed the stream, but as soon as it hit the stream it plopped down in the water, taking a bath not more than 15 feet from her.)

On to the hike:



We're not going up that far.

This is our destination:



Some views from the trail:





The Girl. Amazingly, she didn't fall the whole time. Gravity isn't the friendliest to her.



The falls:





Some more of the wildlife I observed:



After the hike we decided a reward was in order. A cold brew on the deck of the Many Glacier Hotel.



We had dinner (steaks of course) at the Babb Supper Club. Excellent food, once her steak was prepared the way she asked.

We headed back to Two Medicine and were treated with a beautiful sunset.



More from Glacier to come...
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:05 PM   #10
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The next day we headed over Going to the Sun Road, traveling East to West.

We hit Logan Pass and took a few pictures. Or should I say I got the camera back from her, saw there were 200 more pictures just from the ride up to Logan Pass, and decided I'd better take some myself:



The Girl says that the glacier lillies (the yellow flowers) bloom just after the snow melts. She showed me pictures of the pass a few weeks before and sure enough, everything was covered with snow. I imagine by now there's at least a coating back on the ground up there.







The bright sun made getting decent pics hard. We decided we'd do a morning run on one of the days to come.

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:22 PM   #11
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The next day was spent off the bike. We decided to try our luck at fishing. But we wouldn't be fishing in any of the lakes. The Girl heard of a spot between two small falls back behind the campground. A little twist and turn through the woods, and we were at our own private fishing hole:





You could see the fish swimming everywhere in this little hole. Problem was, they were smart fish, not taking anything we threw at them. At least nothing I threw at them.

Of course she had to show me up and catch the only fish of the day. Although, it wasn't too much of a show-up. But it was still a fish:



I think she talked me into camping for the next two days after supplying me with plenty of tasty beverages that night.

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:46 PM   #12
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So, here was the plan:

We'd go up to Lake Bowman to camp. Us and two of her coworkers/friends. Three women and me. This may just work out.

I volunteered to set up her friends tent since they had to work that day. Lake Bowman was about a three hour drive from Two Medicine. That's on a good day.

With all the crap I saw she needed to bring, taking the bike was out of the question. By the time we pulled out of Two Medicine, the entire back of the truck was full of crap, along with the cab. Apparently my topbox full of camping gear wasn't enough to camp with.

Since all I had brought so far for this trip was a tent, sleeping bag and some clothes, I decided to splurge when we got to the food store in Columbia Falls.

I bought three six-packs and three pounds of thick cut bacon. I was set for the trip.

Her friends would bring kayaks, some cooking gear, more beer, and some amusing antics.

On the way to Bowman Lake, we just happened to pass a small store set in the middle of nowhere:



Another inmate told me of this place and how good the stuff was there. I wasn't properly prepared for just how good. I think the huckleberry macaroons had crack in 'em or something. They were unbelievably good. A definite must stop if you happen to be in the area (within 200 miles).

Anyway, on to Bowman Lake, where we picked out a spot and I began to set up camp. I began, she had to help finish. Her friend's tent is commonly referred to as "The BAT"

What's "The BAT?"



It's a Big Ass Tent.

This thing was huge. It took both of us to put it together, and about a half hour of monkeying around to get it right. All while mosquitos were sucking the life out of me.

After dousing myself with OFF, I took the five minuts it takes to set up my tent, then properly rewarded myself.



Well, now lets see why they wanted to camp over here:



Holy smokes was this place beautiful. We were miles from nowhere.

We drank some brew, and roasted some dogs over the fire while waiting for her friends. And drank, and roasted, and waited. And waited.

About 12:30 am we hear a racket coming from the South. A very loud racket.

Her friends couldn't get the kayaks onto the roof of the SUV, so they hooked up a trailer. You could hear them coming from about 10 miles away on that rutted, rocky, potholed dirt road leading into the camp, the trailer bouncing off every irregularity in the roadway.

They pulled up, and I then realized the trailer was quiet compared to their laughing, trying to put a tarp over the BAT for a rain cover.

Oh well. Tomorrow we're gonna go explore the lake.

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:45 PM   #13
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Sometime around 5 am I heard what I thought was a high pitched howl from a wolf. The Girl woke up with a gasp and said "Bigfoot!" I said "Are you high? That was a wolf. Go back to sleep." I chuckled, thinking "where the hell would she come up with that being Bigfoot?"

About 8 am I rolled out of the tent and started the fire back up. The girls weren't far behind. Pretty soon the smell of that thick cut bacon was wafting through the air. Bacon, eggs, and some of the goodies we got from Polebridge the day before, fried in the bacon grease was the start to our morning.

We planned on taking the kayaks out onto the lake today. Her friends had the two they dragged in last night. The Girl has some inflatable two seater that I wasn't too sure would make it across a mudpuddle.

After a half hour of setting the inflatable up, we made our way down to the water. That nice calm lake I saw the day before had slightly transformed:



While those clouds looked like happy little clouds, the ones to the West, well, not so much:



About 10 minutes into the paddle, I hear her one friend "I feel like I'm on 'Deadliest Catch'!" Well, by the end of the day she wouldn't be far off.

We were out on the lake for most the day, the wind picking up the whole time. Problem was, the wind was at our backs going out. We now had to turn and go back into it, with a cold drizzle falling on us most the way.

When we finally got back to shore, her friends were freezing cold, wet, and cranky. I wouldn't be surprised if they had mild hypothermia. It took hours for them to warm up, both sitting in the SUV with multiple layers and the heat on high, and hugging the campfire ring.

The blow up kayak made the trip with no problems, however it was a bit harder to paddle compared to a regular kayak.

I made fish with fresh veggies that night that was pretty damn good. It could have used a dose of that bacon though.

Later that evening another one of their friends showed up with ample supplies of liquor and energy. He supplied the ladies with liquid warmth which seemed to be well recieved.

I think we all just pretty much passed out that night from exhaustion. Bigfoot coulda been in the tent with us that night and I wouldn't have known it.

I had found out earlier that day why The Girl had though it was bigfoot making the noises earlier that morning. One of her friends that was camping with us swore she had seen Bigfoot while working at the park. It just so happend that her husband's friend is the producer of the bigfoot show on Discovery, or History (I've never seen it myself). So, she had been supplied with all sorts of bigfoot propaganda, which had been relayed to The Girl. Now I understood.

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:57 PM   #14
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The next morning we packed up camp and made our way out of the park. Of course we had to stop at Polebridge again. Coffee, cookies, danish, and breakfast sandwiches. Good stuff.

We spent most the day recovering from the previous days activities and turned in early. Tomorrow we were gonna go for a ride around Flathead Lake, supposedly the largest freshwater lake West of the Mighty Miss...

-darrell
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:18 PM   #15
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Nicely done post. I'm heading out west next week, from central NJ. Gotta make up my mind, either to take my 08 Concours or Street Glide.
The Connie has new PR3's on it, so it might be the winner.
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