Riding motorcycles is about meeting people and seeing things from a different perspective than you would normally. Its the kind of thing that allows you to look and enjoy the 3D effect of this mural, instead of just driving past without a second glance. This ride was a change of pace for me, instead of setting up a route myself and I was following others tracks. It was relaxing and enjoyable to just sit back and enjoy the moment. I also got to meet some people I haven't met personally before. So.. on with the story. The mural is in Columbia Falls MT if anyone was wondering. I was getting some cold medicine and cough drops from the grocery store since I had picked up a cold the day before. Nothing like a cold to make riding in a full face helmet more of an experience. I got to clean both the inside and the outside of the visor several times. ;-) <TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD></TD><TD vAlign=top noWrap align=right> </TD><TD vAlign=top noWrap align=right></TD></TR><TR><TD width="100%" colSpan=3>The Continental Divide Trail is one that adventure riders travel from Canada to Mexico. If you do some research you will find several riders who have traveled its entire length including starting at Banaff Canada. Marty Ulrich had done this research and had several routes loaded on the GPS for this trip. The goal was to complete the trip using dirt and gravel roads as much as possible. Starting the Tuesday before the trip we had six of us signed up from Eastern MT and were meeting two others in Columbia Falls MT. Now all we had to do was get over to the other side of the state, about 580 miles by Hwy 200. We also had to pick up a rider and bike in Billiings so it would be a little longer than that. One of the guys had a trailer, and I had a pickup, so we decided to trailer the bikes. The logistics were a little convoluted, but Saturday morning the pickup and trailer headed out with the bikes and plans to pick up the rest of the riders on the way to Columbia Falls. As I had some deadlines to finish on Friday and stayed up late completing them, I finished packing and headed out with "The Pig" about 11:30 Saturday. With the late start I just buzzed along Hwy 200, making time with generous applications of the twisty knob on the right handlebar. As luck would have it we all made it to Beau's place by 10:00 pm that night. </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE> We got up the next morning and milled about for a bit, then started gearing up for the ride today. A few bikes needed adjustment; others had to pack up after hurriedly throwing things together the days before; all in all, normal before the ride activity. The bikes were quite the mixture. A DRZ400, KLX400, KTM500EXC, CRF450X, two KLR650s, a KTM990, and my F800GS, all different tools for different jobs, and today we were going to try to ride the same roads together. All had license plates so we were fine on public roads. All had knobby tires so in theory we could head off on trails. It was Sunday the 9th of September and since it was after Labor Day, school was started and the whole tourist business was quieted down. It was also a little blustery in the morning which also encouraged people to stay indoors or go to church that morning. All in all we had a pretty quiet ride up the East Flathead road along Glacier Park. A few miles down the road we gathered up and decided on the merits of travelling inside the Glacier Park or outside the park. There was also a fair amount of stretching and otherwise getting limbs and butts used to sitting on the motorcycles. As I had stopped to take a picture and tip over the bike, I was a little ways behind the group, so we also had to get everybody back into formation again. ;-) At least make sure no one was stuck under a boulder somewhere. Beau, in the red jacket, was trying to get his intercom working that morning. Anyway, we soon took off, heading north on the East Flathead road outside GP. I think it was a good choice. So we turned north and the road quickly changed from pavement to gravel. As it was dry, we spread out and continued on, watching out to make sure the guy behind you knew where to turn. Finally we made to Polebrige and this little store. If you are here, you should stop, they have a little bakery and it is really good. I bought a walnut caramel roll and a jalapeno cheese roll for a snack latter. Yep, definitely worth the stop and time trading some of my hard earned bread for some very tasty baked bread. Hmmm, the sign says we should keep our pets restrained. Where did they go? Ah there they are, herded up by the fuel pump. The little tank guys were always aware of where the next fuel stop was at, the rest of us, not so much. ;-) Of course, me and the pig were slower on the trails, so I guess it all evens out. With our bellies full of sticky buns and tanks filled with dead dinosaurs, we continued north to the main checkpoint for the day. This abandoned border station stands at the end of the North Fork road. We milled around and took a few pictures hoping nobody piloting a drone or a Blackhawk would decide to do a flyby. Me, Im always looking at the clouds on these trips. The sky was starting to clear up a little and there were some beautiful cloud formations. It was still a little difficult to get the light sky balanced with the landscape. This was my best compromise shot, maybe I will have to invest in photoshop someday. Having hit the checkpoint for the day, we headed back south and Beau Fast took us down Red Meadow road which is a favorite snowmobile riding area. The clouds kept thinning out and finally I had a chance to take a couple of pictures. Heres a little different perspective at the same spot. With my little point and shoot camera, I would aim at the sky until I thought the light balance in the LCD screen would look right and then hold the trigger button and point the camera down. This would allow me to get some of the landscape and not have the bright sky wash out the cloud details. Sometime this wont let the landscape focus well, but its a procedure that works part of the time. Red Meadow Lake had a nice little campground and was a good place to stop for a break. I ate my jalapeno cheese bread and enjoyed the views. This spot looked good through the camera viewfinder. We saddled up and headed out, going by upper Whitefish Lake. The next stop was Werner Peak. I quickly snapped a shot of the sign to remember it. We milled around again checking out the scenery. I got to give a little shout out to Beau and Nate. They own Fastoys and Big Sky Motorsports respectively and were gracious hosts showing us around their part of Montana. And we were especially thankful to Beau for putting us up in the evenings at his man cave. The smoke was pretty bad, and you couldnt see very well. Just enough that you knew the view would be awesome if you could see the horizon. I tried to take some pictures of the shadows of the mountains that were visible behind the smoke. I didnt see the license plate until I was looking at the picture later. HOSSTYL makes you wonder if the owner was thinking hostile or hostel. I assume the plate was probably put there when there was 20 of snow where we were standing. Beau took us back down the mountain, which was a fun slightly technical ride (read "davids slow"), and into Whitefish for some late lunch. It was Sunday afternoon and the football season was just starting up so the bar was a little crowded, but we still got a table for the eight of us and some good food. For those of you that like snow sports, Whitefish is the home of Big Mountain Ski Resort, one of the larger ski hills in Montana. Along the base of the mountain is a cross country ski trail system that is open to bikes and atvs in the summer. It was a fun but dusty ride back to Columbia Falls and Casa Del Fast. This is what you see if you follow your riding buddies too closely. We made it back and cleaned up for a trip out to a restaurant for dinner. When we made it back to Beaus place we planned out our trip for tomorrow, drew straws for the duty of driving the camper to the next RV Park, and watch some motocross on the big screen.