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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Parepin, Feb 13, 2011.
Subscribed! You had me at the first post.
What he said...
Your writing style is awesome, catches the free flow of the trip perfectly! Keep going, I'm a fan.
very cool. I'm in.
Sorry about the missed updates guys. A busy work week ate through what little buffer I had built up, but I spent the better part of today writing, so I should be good for awhile.
I got up the next morning early pre-dawn and hopped back in the saddle, rocketing up the road and back into Wall to fuel up and grab some coffee. A cheese danish seemed to hit the spot as well. I shot the shit with a local for a bit before heading back into the badlands. I wanted to be there just as the first rays of sun hit the bluffs, so I made a point to move quickly. Slipping back into the park before anyone manned the front gate, I rode down through the canyon JUST as sunlight broke across the peaks. Amazing. I made a point of parking right in the center of an intersection and just taking in the sight for several minutes. Snapped some photos and headed back to Sheep Mountain to see what exactly I had missed, harassing the wildlife along the way.
All and all I was rather impressed. Sheep Mountain turned out to be a huge plateau in the middle of the wasteland. A narrow rough road wound up and into a canyon before crawling up the side of the mountain, following the countours of the landscape. It was refreshing to ride a path with such an organic movement to it. I had gotten absolutely annoyed with the long straight highway of the past several days. The road suddenly turned to some tricky, sandy double track. I admit, my experience on sand is pretty much non existent and I found myself fighting the bike much more than I should have. I was treated with some awesome scenic views as the road suddenly vanished over the cliff edge. Good times, this would have been an epic view to wake up to. I'll hafta come back some day and get it done. I imagine that standing on the edge, looking over the badlands on a full-moon would be quite a sight as well. Add that one to the list. At the very end of the trail, I noticed a scrawny tree with a few strips of hankerchief tied to the branches. I made my own contribution, soaked it in for a few and rooster-tailed my way back to the highway.
So I followed the asphalt, highway 44 I believe, north on to Rapid City, and continued on to Mount Rushmore. With Sturgis going on, I was rubber to rubber with Harleys as far as the eye could see. It was a real cluster fuck. I couldn't even keep a decent pace going as every rider seemed to slow so Mrs. Leather could get some snapshots of this and of that. I had to look real out of place here, but I didn't care. It's a KLR, I'm use to the stares at this point. The roads were pretty cool, however. I came upon the monument before long, but elected not to enter. All these $10 and $20 entrance fees were threatening to kill my budget, so I settled on a few shots from the intersection out front. I was kind of surprised, I always thought Rushmore would have been a lot bigger. Anyhow, I moved on, pulling over every now and then to check out the interesting terrain of the black hills.... and to have a smoke. Before long, I had Crazy Horse in my sights. Well, I would have, had it not been for the ½ mile line of bikes leading to the monument. Another hand full of light rotations and I was pulling up to the front gate. Surprise surprise, another entrance fee. I patted my pockets and told the guy I didn't have any cash on hand. Peering over my shoulder at the angry chrome behind me, I asked if I could just pull ahead and double back to the exit. The guy seemed cool with this. With a nod, I drop my visor and hit the starter, pulling ahead. By the time I found a spot where I could pull around, I was a good bit away from the entrance booths. In fact, I couldn't even see the man I was talking to mere moments before. With a shrug, I continued on to the monument.
Now I just want to say that, for as un-impressed as I was with Rushmore, I was in complete awe at the mountain before me. It was fucking HUGE. I had been told that all of Rushmore would fit on Crazy Horse's head... if it ever gets finished. Holy shit. There is no way this thing will ever be done in my life time. I parked my bike amongst the straight pipes in a pitiful attempt to blend in and cruised around the visitors center. This kinda shit is right up my ally. I marveled at the scale model of the finished product, and browsed through the creator's tools and various sculptures. A pretty fascinating story. I gotta give these people a lot of respect, especially considering that they've turned down millions of dollars in grant money from the state to keep this creations purpose true. Once the state gets it's hands in the mix, that's where it all goes down hill. It wasn't long before the crowds had me moving back to the parking lot. I did make a note to do a few laps and take in some of the absolutely bizarre and amazing abominations some of these people were cruising around in. One in particular, a rolling mural of the Deadwood series, was pretty impressive. Lots of cleavage.
So I hit the road once again, heading for the Needles Highway. I didn't know much about it, but some random guy at a gas station recommended it and, to be honest, that's all the reason I needed to take a look. All I can say is, awesome. Well, it would have been. Lots of narrow, twisty switchbacks winding through the blackhills forests. It would have been a truly epic ride were it not for the fact that I was stuck in 2<sup>nd</sup> gear, fender to fender with yet more cruisers. Bastards. I continued on all the way to Custer, once again skirting the entrance fees and moving onto the mountaintop lakes. Fairly impressive. So far, the black hills are my favorite. I love all the exposed granite spires and the office-building sized boulders that seemed to have just come tumbling out of the sky to land half submerged on the edge of the water. I had another smoke from the edge of one out of the way outcropping and watched as families below enjoyed the beautiful day. Kids were swimming, dogs were frolicking, parents screaming at Timmy as he jumped from the boulders into the crystal clear waters. All I could do was smile and nod as I clambered back down in my moto gear, donning my helmet and puttered away.
I stopped at a gas station just outside of Deadwood for a fill up and to acquire some stickers. As I sat in the shade just off to the side of the building, a short, twiggy Mexican strolled over to me. With his hair pulled back, a bald spot covered with a bandana, and some of the reddest eyes I had ever seen, I didn't really know what to make of him. Hey mang, 'name's Louie Louie. You wouldn't happen to have any weed would ya? I got my buddies been hitting me up all day, sayin 'C'mon Louie Louie! You gotta get some!' I couldn't help but laugh. Patting my pockets, I shrugged and told him he was shit outta luck, but if he came upon anything to let me know. I must just look like that kinda guy, I guess....
So on I went, pulling into Sturgis right around 7. Once again, I found myself in the middle of the pack. It made me nervous at first, but to be honest, I was getting a lot of nods from some of the more hard core fellas. Just as the exit came up, I was confronted with a wall of sickly black gray smoke. A custom ahead had just blown some rings with a hell of a pop and was now trailing a column of smoke as he hard decelled into town. Had a good laugh. Found myself stopped dead just off the exit. Traffic. Fuckin Sturgis. I pulled off my lid and struck up a conversation with the guy next to me. His name was Scott, and he really was enjoying the day on his Suzuki cruiser. He and I would find ourselves shooting the shit for the next hour or so as we coasted at less-than-walking pace down the main strip to where the festivities were located. He seemed to really dig the ride that I was on and what few stories I had. We both really enjoyed the boobies that were in abundance. Is there something about leather gear that makes tops that hard to stay on? Not that I'm complaining...
So we coast-walked our bikes to the main drag and I parked mine amongst the customs. It was laundry day, so I had a pair of boxers bungied to the top. You know, so I could remember which one was mine... Scott and I cruised the shops a bit and stopped in for a bite to eat. He offered to grab a drink with me, and I politely declined, saying I had hit my budget for the day. He, in return, offered to buy me a slice of pizza and a beer. I declined this, too, saying I wasn't comfortable moochin. He countered with an exchange. He would buy me a slice of pizza and a beer if I would send him a post card from Alaska. Fuck, that worked for me. And it gave me a reason to head north, so why not? We hung out a bit and downed a few before he headed off to the show. I think Korn was playing. Scott didn't know the band, but he didn't care. I continued pacing this circus sideshow, but it wasn't long before I was once again driven back to my ride by the crowds of alcohol induced chaos and..... BO. Man, bikers stink. I hope I don't smell like that. At least I was confident that my boxers wouldn't smell like ass. They aired out nicely. It was dark by now, and I headed towards Devils Tower. I didn't make it far, however, and ended up pitching camp well before the national park. Oddly, I don't remember where I camped. No where special, I suppose. They all start blending together at this point.
Woke up the next morning and bushwacked my way back to asphalt. It wasn't long before I found myself amongst wave after wave of straight pipes, chrome, and leather. Man, this is getting old. Stopping along the way at what appears to be an old mining setup, I snapped some pics and did the walk around. A few other bikes rolled up as well, one was a Beamer if I remember correctly. Nothing special really, so I moved on. I don't really know what to expect, but with a name like Devil's Tower, how can you go wrong? Stopping at the souvenir shop just before the main gate, I grabbed a sticker and a mediocre root beer, and snapped some pictures from afar. As far as I can tell, another entrance fee would only allow me to continue on another ½ mile to the base of the tower. Asking around, it didn't seem like there would be much worth investigating. You couldn't even get to the top, so I was pretty happy with what pictures I had. I wasn't overly impressed, but the tower was still rather cool. I guess it's some sort of ancient volcano that eroded away, leaving behind the columns of hard material that once filled the main vent in long, vertical columns. Good stuff.
At this point, I decided I had had enough with the biker crowd and moved on seeking a bit more seclusion. Hopping onto highway 212, I soon found myself in a little town in the middle of nowhere known as Broadus, Montana. I did a few laps, looking for a place to eat, and settled on a bright pink Cafe on the corner of the main drag. Hoofers, I think. It was pretty decent food, and a recommendation to anyone that happens to find themselves in this part of the world. I gassed up afterwords and hung out at the station for a few, shooting the shit with riders as they come and go. One old timer in particular, riding a Buell Ulysses, seemed pretty interested in my KLR. It seems that he use to own one and traded it in for the Ulysses. I'd be surprised if he got enough to cover the sales tax. Another, on a Harley, amused himself by questioning my choice in gear for a hot summer day in Montana. He thought I was crazy for my black textile jacket and overpants. I assured him that I'd rather be with it then without it, and it was just more incentive to keep moving, to keep cool. And with that, I moved on.
I soon found myself in Billings with light fading fast. With my boxers strapped to the luggage for the better part of the day, a good air dry and a bake in the sun just wasn't getting the job done. I figured it was time to do some laundry. I scanned the GPS, but quickly found it useless. Lapping the streets wasn't working out all that well, either. I did eventually find one, only to discover that they were closing within the hour. At least, that's what I gathered as the older woman behind the window kept shaking her head and not letting me in.... alright then. So I doubled back to one of the many large hotels to camp out for a couple hours. With an open washing machine, outlets available, and a WIFI pass-code coaxed out of the manager I was set to go. I vegged out for a few hours, stuffing my face on a feast of vending-machine goodness before heading out late into the night. Jumping on a dirt road heading out of town, it wasn't long before I had a tent pitched in the front yard of a burned out ranch. Ironically, the insistent beeping of a dying fire alarm within the home kept me up for a good portion of the night.
Nice writing. You're helping to keep my riding spirits up. I'm just a bit south of you in the Bristol Hills. Keep 'em coming.
Keep it coming, you got me roped in.
So I made a point to get up extra early the next morning and headed back into town. The goal at the moment was to get a good meal in, on a budget of course. I'd picked up a little trick while living out of cheap hotels for work and was eager to give it a shot on the road. So on to Howard Johnsons I went, pulling up into the rear lot and removed most of my gear. Entering through a rear door, I walked into the main lobby with my hair a mess, yawning and rubbing my eyes. Before I knew it I was sitting down, shooting the shit with other hotel patrons and enjoying myself a hell of a complimentary hot breakfast. Just the coffee would have been worth it, but this place had a goddamn waffle maker. Score! I vaguely recall stuffing my pockets with granola bars and fruit as well. Hehe. I'm on a KLR after all. It's probably worth noting that Billings is where I had my first road rage incident. Heading out to Wally World, the D-bag next to me at the stop light down the road peels out at the green and rockets down the road, only to brake hard in front of me to catch the next right hand turn. I juked left and skirted past him, leaving his ass to lay on his horn as he bumped the curb into the parking lot. I take the next right and pull into Wally World only to see him coming my way. From behind a partially closed window, I can see him throwing four letter words before actually spitting at me as I pass. I just waved. Parking my bike, I take my lid off and look up at the next aisle over, and there he was. Just... stopped in that piece of shit blazer, staring me down. I smirked and waved again, he cursed and peeled out. I relocated the bike and went on with my day. What a douche.
After this, I just wanted out of the city. I continued on west, eating up as many miles as I could. Man, Montana is HUGE. I eventually just hung a right into some random cattle pasture, following the dirt track as it wound through several different fields and dancing with the livestock as they fled the scene and awkwardly clambered up the rocky slope. After a washout intervening, I simply baja'd across the ditch and up the hillside, setting up camp amongst the trees I've quickly come to rely upon.
Got up the next morning and continued eating up miles. At one point I just got tired of the asphalt and took the next dirt road which turned out to be a fairly interesting logging trail switch-backing up some random mountain. The road gradually got narrower and narrower until I found myself on nothing more than a game trail. I bounced off of one fairly good sized rock only to go head long into another, nearly being bucked clear off the trail. I figured this was a good spot to stop and burn one before heading back down. What a great photo opportunity. Dropping back down in altitude, I hopped on what I believe was route 12. My journal says this was a pretty cool, windy road, but I don't recall. I'll just hafta trust what the crayola is telling me. I do remember at one point passing a sign that said simply Ghost Town <--- If there is any way to get this guy sidetracked, it's with statements like this. An 11 mile dirt road spit me out in Garnet, apparently America's most well preserved ghost town. And that it was. Kind of odd. Located in a valley deep in the mountains, it seems like a lot of these shops were just closed up. Obviously there wasn't much as far as artifacts go, but the town was still there. I spoke with one of the caretakers for a bit and walked the trails. I didn't take any pics, however. I was having electrical issues that kept me from being able to charge my batteries, so this portion of the trip you'll just have to trust me on. I spent the night along side some ruined cabin I had passed coming into town.
Wooow..very Interesting... I'm in!
I awoke the next morning to a thick fog. I mean crazy thick. Doubling back to check out Garnet at my leisure, I noted that the expansive view I had enjoyed earlier from the elevated dirt road was now a whiteout, with treetops just dozens of feet from the road disappearing into the mist at their base. I walked the town once again and followed a previously unnoticed path cutting through the freshly thinned out pine forest. I spoke with one woman who was reading a newspaper in her truck at the entrance of the town. She was apparently a guide from a nearby high-end ranch, Paws-Up, and had thrown a few celebrity names my way. Good stuff. On the way back to the highway, I followed a crudely spray-painted sign to a little settlement of Coloma, now just a collection of water-soaked log ruins. The fog persisted, giving me a pretty eerie feeling about the whole thing.
So I doubled back after getting my head straight and dropped back down onto the highway. From here it was a straight shot into Missoula, where I stopped at a local Quizno's for a fairly disappointing meal.. It wasn't long before it begins raining. Nice. I hide out in a covered entrance for several minutes, but the rain only picks up in intensity. I intended on picking up some bike parts while in town. I had spit out a master link clip a day or two before and was a bit nervous about going much further without acquiring a replacement. But with the rain pouring down on me, and every layer soaked at this point, I had decided that my best option was to just find a hotel for the day. I bargained with the manager and got myself a single for $50 a night. I pulled the bike right in and stripped down, eager to take a shower and dry off. I also took the opportunity to strip the bike down and investigate the electrical gremlins that had been plaguing me for days now, as well as cast a new power plug for my GPS out of JB weld. All was a success. Barely made it forty miles today.
Got up the next morning and reassembled the KLR. Rolled it out of the room and into the parking lot only to find my neighbor loading up his Harley and inspecting a very minor oil seep. Apparently, this guy is also heading north. He plans to take the ferry from Seattle up to Anchorage, but this new oil spot has him wondering if he is going to make it or not. All I could do was laugh to myself as I look over my shoulder at the KLR, dirt and silt clinging to the oil-covered engine. I left town, heading west from here. It was hot, but at least it was dry. At one point I pulled over alongside an old covered bridge for a bake break and stripped off my overpants, deciding it was just too damn hot today. Emptying the pockets, I strapped them down at the rear and made myself a sammich, wandering around the open fields and checking out the river as I had lunch.
Several hundred miles up the road, the temperature has dropped and I've finally aired out, deciding it was time to gear up once again. Pulling over at the next gravel parking area, I dismount and turn around to discover.... nothing. What the fuck? Where are my overpants? Not fucking cool.... Maybe I could double back.... Looking at my GPS, it's been at least a hundred miles since my last pit stop... goddamnit. How the hell could I have let this happen? I was just glad I'd emptied the pockets before strapping down my gear. Checking my watch, it's coming close to the end of the business day, so I was quick with the next couple of miles. Cruising through northern Idaho, which was quite epic, I flew into Spokane with minutes to spare. Stopping in at the nearest bike shop I could find, the salesman was cool enough to keep the doors open long enough for me to scout around and grab a cheap pair of Tourmaster overpants. He even gave me a discount and recommended that I head north from there and stop in at Nelson, BC. I figure, sure, why not? This whole trip has been without plans, as intended, merely following whichever direction the universe decides upon. I was told to go north.
I donned my new overpants, tags flapping in the breeze, and filled up at some greasy burger stop. At the next gas station, I asked the guy with the Jeep at the next pump over what he recommended as a route north. With that, I jumped on Route 2 and moved on. I stopped a few miles in at a rocky lake shore for a photo op and to get my head on right before continuing on in the fading daylight. I knew I wasn't going to make it to the border before night fall, and I still had some... contraband that I had to dispose of, so my next objective was simple enough. Find a place to make camp for the night. That was easy in this part of the country, much more so than on the east coast. Just before nightfall, I found yet another logging road and climbed into the hills, pitching camp at a sandy and remote turn around in the maze of double track.
My kind of ride report..........
I'm looking forward to more.
Thanks for all the feedback, guys. Keep this lazy fucker motivated.
And the story only gets better. I've barely scratched the surface.
Once again, I found myself stumbling about the forest in an early morning daze, urgently fumbling with my zipper in an attempt to relieve myself. Packed up camp and headed north. Just before the border crossing, I pulled over at what appeared to be an old water-filled gravel pit and began pulling apart the airbox. As I stuffed a small package of contraband behind my air filter, a beat up SUV came lumbering down the path. Two men and and a kid hopped out and quickly clambered down the hillside before plunging headlong into the crystal clear waters. It's hard to not look suspicious when you're elbow-deep in an airbox, but I did what I could and quickly screwed the plastics back together. I shot the shit with the newcomers for a few more minutes before they piled back into their truck and backed down the path, shortly after followed by myself. Watching the GPS, I took the very last road you could before the border and followed the narrow, winding gravel road up into the hills. I followed it until you couldn't go any further, quite literally. At the closed gate, I hung a left with a small dry-bag containing my remaining contraband and buried it all beneath a large pile of rocks. I would return on my track south to pick it up. At least, that was the plan.
Please excuse the shitty screencap
Coasting back down the hillside and onto the tarmac, I continued north and to the border. I'll admit, I was nervous. I hadn't crossed into Canada in awhile, and at my last attempt back home I was turned back as my traveling companions threw awkwardly worded jokes the guards direction. I, of course, took the blame from them as I was the only one with a record. A misdemeanor. Screw 'em. Anyhow.... So the questions were answered and passports were exchanged before I was asked to pull ahead and wait in the inspection area. Great. I did as I was told and dismounted the bike, pulling my lid clear and removing my jacket in the shade from the relentless summer sun. What was going to happen now.... I looked over at an empty kennel in the back of the inspection area, and at a large empty table just to the left. Do I start emptying my boxes now? I really didn't know.
So the guard comes out and asks a few more questions. It took all I had not to smirk at the obviously Canadian accent. As we chatted, I heard another pair of bikes pull up to the border and cut out as exchanges were made. A few minutes later, one pulled up in the neighboring inspection area, followed by the other being pushed by it's rider. Clearly, they were having troubles. I watched from afar as they began removing the plastics and seat and investigating. I heard their dilemna and suggested they investigate the battery contacts. The older man, of this husband and wife duo, contemplated for a minute and came to a conclusion. It needs a jump. Sometimes batteries just need to be jumped. I didn't fully agree, but I wasn't about to intervene at the time. I was still being interrogated, after all. Jumper cables were borrowed and bikes were paired up. It wasn't long before sparks were flying and the white smoke was released. The husband sighs, and they start working on a solution. They could call a friend of theirs, but that would take several hours. Would AAA work in Canada? They could push the bike back to America, after all. It's here that I stepped in and unloaded my cache of tools on the inspection table before me. They had melted the contact clear off the battery, that was obvious. So I pulled put some safety wire and bound the battery cable to the remaining lead blob, insulating it all with copious amounts of gorilla tape. That seemed to do the trick as the bike fired right up.
They marveled at the repair, and at this point even the border guard had joined us in the conversation. She mentioned having just bought this exact bike, a Kawasaki Vulcan, and how much she enjoyed it. I laughed and we went on as I packed my tools back into my gear and got ready to move on, having been cleared to do so. It was here that introductions were passed. Steve and Maureen, from Spokane as it turned out. Maureen approached me and asked where I was headed. I merely smirked and shrugged as I'd gotten used to doing. You're not on any kind of schedule? Again, I smirked and said no. She walked back to Steve and they spoke for a bit, a phone call was made and they came back just as I'd finished packing up my stuff. We've been talking, and you're coming with us. We're visiting some friends in Nelson, and you're coming to dinner. And that was it, my evening was planned. Nuff said.
So we went on north, I kept to the back of the pack as I'd obviously no idea where I was, or even where we were going. It was a pretty cool ride. A gas fill up and we were on the road once again. It wasn't long before we pulled into the little town of Nelson, BC. They stopped at Wal-Mart in search for a replacement battery, but couldn't find an exact fit. I assured them that the battery was the same that my KLR used, and that the replacement I had been using was, in fact, available at Wal-Mart. We decided to tackle the issue later as light was fading and we still had several more miles, now kilometers, to go. Back on the road, across a giant orange bridge, and along the coast of a fairly large lake led us to a cable ferry. The novelty of this was fairly amusing to me. I'd never been on a ferry before, and although this was a pretty small one, it still put a big smirk on my face. It's here that I noticed the Greatful Dead bears plastered along the backside of both Steve and Maureen's helmets. Good people.
So we pulled off the ferry and down the road, entering the small town of Proctor located on the isolated spit of land. A gravel driveway led up a hillside to a small white house. This is where I met yet another character, Javier. Apparently, Javier was once Steve's student and they had become quick friends. I was introduced to the whole family, including Javier's wife, Cath. These were my kind of people. Salmon was grilled, beers were passed around, and we had just a fantastic time. I couldn't believe my luck. If I hadn't been stopped at the border, I'd be bushwacking it through the woods with a jar of Peanut Butter in my pack. Instead I was drinking micro brew and eating Salmon. Fan-fuckin-tastic. I was shown around the property, which included several out buildings and barns, two horses, several dogs (one absolutely enormous german shepherd), and a private rocky beach. I took the time to snap some photos, but for some reason I never got one of any of my new friends. I was having too much fun, I suppose. Just before nightfall, another local named Jim, a true woodsman, came baja-ing out of the woods on an ATV. We quickly began chatting and maps were laid out. He suggested several routes to take me up north, and insisted that I do The Haul Road. I shrugged and nodded. These decisions are getting easier and easier to settle on. So stories were shared, and the beer kept flowing well into the night. I can't say this enough, these are some very real, good people. I've never felt so welcomed into the home of someone who, mere hours before, were complete strangers. And here they were, opening up their home to me. My god, I love Canadians. I love Canadians.......? Eventually the alcohol took effect and I stumbled through the darkness, finding my tent in the horse pasture and fell asleep.
Fantastic! Great pics.
Because Alex, is just a wee bit less nuts then I am
Is this the trip before we met?
:eek1BwaaaaaaaaHaaHaHaHaHaaaaaaaaaaaaaaOooo boy. I better be tak'n notes LOL.
Come on just pass the bowl back Bro
One of the best RRs I've read Reminds me of my yunger days. Before I gave a shit