Retired and Riding. Northern US Tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by danisOTR, Jun 29, 2020.

  1. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    7/30/2020 Thursday Columbia Falls Montana


    I woke up around 7 after a great nights sleep. While making coffee I noticed that the people that had the spot near us and right on the water had left and the spot was open. When Patti woke up we decide we would move our camp to the better spot.


    We picked up the tent as is and carried it over. Now we had possession which is important as people start hunting early for camping locations. After 15 minutes we had everything moved across.

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    We didn’t get on the road to Glacier until later in the morning. This was a big mistake. Getting through the gate was easy with our life time passes. Traffic going by Lake McDonald was heavy and the closer we got to Going to the Sun Road it only got heavier.

    Patti had opted to go two-up which works great as she can take photos on the fly. This helped a lot today as it took most of my attention due to the stop and go traffic and having to work the clutch pretty hard. At one point I looked way up and noticed movement. It took me a second to realize that it was the road. It was a LONG way up.

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    We crawled up the grade constantly stopping because others in front of us were doing the same to take pictures. Killer. But Patti was snapping away. I said I couldn’t wait to see the pictures so I could see what I missed.


    It took almost an hour to get to Logan Pass. The continental divide passes through. However, the parking lot was full and there were people walking everywhere. I asked a ranger how much further we could go. He told us the road was closed 12 miles ahead but we were welcome to go to the end. He told us there was a store and picnic sites at Rising Sun.


    Heading there was downhill. There was also very little traffic. I took advantage of the slope to coast. I knew the mileage up and back but I was a little concerned that I may not have enough gas.


    I was able to enjoy the ride down and take in the spectacular views. We got to Rising Sun, parked and walked to a picnic table. We had brought some cheese, crackers and sandwich meat to snack on.


    We had some company who entertained us while we ate. They were working for handouts and were rewarded with some crumbs.
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    Eating done we headed down to Saint Mary Lake. We enjoyed the quiet and views as we cooled off.

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    It was 2:30 and judging on how long it took us to get there I figured it would take us 90 minutes or more to get back over the pass.


    We pointed the bike back up the hill. Fortunately, traffic had thinned significantly. We were able to maintain speed almost all the way back up to Logan Pass.

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    From there it was downhill the rest of the way. I shut the bike off for a few miles and coasted. I was concerned about our gas situation and also my front brake. As you may recall the front master cylinder was leaking. I finally turned the bike back on and used engine braking.


    Again, with the thinner traffic I was able to look around and take in the incredible views. We were back to Lake McDonald. We were half way down the side of the lake when my fuel light came one. It was another 15 miles to fuel so I knew we were OK. At the gas station the trip meter showed 295 miles and the bike took 6.5 gallons of gas.

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    On the way back to camp we stopped at the grocery to get some more snacks, seltzer, ice and firewood. It was a jigsaw puzzle getting all of that strapped down on the bike.


    Back at camp we found a Super Tenere parked behind Pattis’ bike. We soon met the pilot known as Chefdave here on ADVrider. We invited him to share our site so he didn’t have to hump his gear to a site further in the woods.


    As Chefdave set up we mixed some drinks and carried our Kermit’s down to the water. There were a lot of locals landing their boats after their day floating on the river. We were told they could put in and float down from the Canadian Border which would be a multiple day trip.
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    As things got cooler, we headed back up to our site and Patti made a fire. We sat snacked and talked until well after dark then into the tent to enjoy the sound of the river rushing by.
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  2. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    If you post the name of Judd's place, I'll "save" it in my Google Maps for when I'm up that way. No better recommendation than an inmate's recommendation.
  3. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    David. It is called “Dillon Tap Room”.
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  4. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Great. "Dillion Tap Room" brought me to "Dillion Tap House", which I'm sure is the place, fyi.
  5. Omar

    Omar Muddling thru Supporter

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    Outstanding trip. Thanks to your outgoing nature, you make friends where ever you go. That’s admirable. Your trip to Logan Pass brought back memories.... hard to believe but i was there was some 15 years ago. Did you hike up the trail that leads to the a Hidden Lake?

    keep up the really outstanding blog. Have safe trip back.
  6. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

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    Sure wish you had time to continue on to the coast, Carol and I would have loved to meet you in person, and shown you around extreme-northern CA! But some other time, and i continue to enjoy, with vicarious pleasure, your trip report :-)
  7. drfood

    drfood Adventurer

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    Very much enjoying your ride report. My husband and I are still contemplating heading from Houston to Black Hills over to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons right after Labor Day. But things in Wyoming sound like they are getting crazy quick with tourists bringing Covid-19 with them. We've got a 3 day reservation at Madison Campground and then will head to Gross Ventre in Grand Teton for 2 nights. The original plan was to go to Glacier, but with Going to the Sun Road being closed on the east entrance and Many Glacier being closed plus Canadian border it makes no sense this year.

    If you have the GPS coordinates on the campsite you had at Glacier would you mind sharing? Sounds like a GREAT spot.

    Looking forward to the rest of the trip. Stay safe.
  8. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    With our travel style we need almost the full month to get back to New England. Maybe next spring on our way back from Mexico. Thanks
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  9. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    I’ll get you the coordinates as soon as I can figure out how to extract from my pictures.
  10. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    Rode Bear Tooth Pass yesterday. Stunning.

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  11. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    From our Spot Tracker Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 8.33.33 PM.png
  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA, 2016 R1200RT Supporter

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    Our riding styles are very similar, so I totally understand. Buen viaje!
  13. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    7/31/2020 Friday Columbia Falls Montana

    Slow start to the day. We rode into town and found a place for breakfast. We ordered and took advantage of the good internet service and tried to catch up on bookkeeping and contacting family. Patti sent out e-birthday cards and notes to friends with pictures of our travels.

    Breakfast was huge and we took more than an hour to eat. We finally went out but still sat in the shade for another hour finishing up our long overdue electronic chores.

    We finally set out and went back to Glacier again. Today rather than going with the flow of tourist heading up the Going to the Sun Road we headed the opposite direction up a the shorter Camas Road. This heads North Westerly and is very lightly travelled as there are not “spectacular” vistas. However there are nice views and being away from the masses was nice.

    Camas is only 11 miles long and ends at Route 486 which is at that point mostly gravel and poorly maintained pavement. Go right and you travel ~ 40 miles and are in Canada. I wouldn’t do it on a street bike though. We did ride up a mile or so and but turned around when the road deteriorated to potholes.
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    Going left on 486 would bring you back to our campsite. But again the road is not suited to street bikes. However, going that way would save 30 minutes of travel time to the Park.

    We headed back down Camas where there is an entry sign to the park. There was a couple taking pictures of each other in front of the sign. Patti hopped of the bike and offered to take a picture of the two of them in exchange for them doing the same of us.

    I was about to ride the RT up to the sign when a Suburban load of “me firsts” started to run in front of me. I finally got their attention and they yielded to me so I could position the bike in front of the sign. Snap, Snap, thank you and we were on our way again.
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    We poked our way back down Camas and after a while pulled into and parks in the Apgar Visitor Center. We took off our riding gear and boots, donned sneakers and went to a nearby café. We ordered some cold drinks and an order of onion rings. We were still too full from breakfast to order more. We sat in the shade on the porch looking towards Lake McDonald.

    We finally finished up and headed towards the shore. We stopped in a tourist store so Patti could score another sticker or too. She is documenting our trip on her panniers.

    Money spent we finally made it to the stony beach. We crunched down onto the pebbles and watches the people on paddle boards and in kayaks ply the dead calm water. We commented that if we ever come back we would spend the extra money and stay in one of the lakeside rooms.
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    We hung out at the lake for around 45 minutes, or as long as it took for the rocks to make an almost permanent impression on our backsides. Back in our gear we headed back towards Columbia Falls. We made a quick stop at the grocery store for ice, snacks and beverages and made our way back out to camp.

    Back at camp we mixed drinks and walked down to the water with our Kermit’s and enjoyed watching the float boats go by and land in front of us. We would engage in occasional chatter with boaters and others enjoying the coolness that the river provided.
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    Chefday also came back from his ride up Going to the Sun Road and we swapped stories about our day. AS things cooled more we walked back up to camp and Patti started another fire. It wasn’t long until we were done in and climbed into our tent.

    Overnight it started to thunder. I looked out of the tent and saw Chefdave with his headlamp on putting the fly on his tent. I popped out as well and used out tarp to cover our gear. It was already pressed up against a long, large log so I was able to just drape the tarp over it. I dropped the doors on the tent and crawled back in and waited until the rain started. And it did start beating out a rhythm on tent fly with a backbeat of thunder and lightning supplying a light show.

    Pictures from Camas
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  14. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    8/1/2020 Saturday Columbia Falls to Helena, Montana

    I woke at 7 with rain still lightly coming down. I retrieved my rain coat and put the rain cover on my hat. I surveyed our gear and was happy to see that all was kept dry under the tarp. I have to say this cheap tarp has earned its’ keep.

    I dug out the jetboil and started making coffee. Chefdave was also up packing up as he was going to be leaving earlier than us. We were commiserating about packing up a wet camp.

    Rain continued on and off. I had just enough service to bring up my weather app and found that the rain would stop around nine. A couple of times I thought it was over and started to organize things and then had to go and cover things up again.

    Chefdave took off at 9. He was on his way to Bozeman (I think) to get a new tent as his was at the end of its’ life. I’m not sure if I mentioned but Chefdave was on the tail end of multi-week trip where he had already covered 8k and still had a couple of K in front of him before he arrives home.

    Patti was up at 9 as the rain finally stopped. Our site was tree covered so even if the sun came out there was no way we would get the tent fly dry before we wanted to leave. I have a waterproof compression bag for just these times so we mushed it in and finished packing up camp.

    We were on the road at 10 and set out to Helena where we would going to spend a night in a hotel to get a few days of “dry” camping off of us.

    We rode down to route 83 where as we were getting on there was a sign stating “Construction Ahead-Motorcycles should seek alternate route”. This got our attention.

    We stopped at a diner a few miles up the road and I went in to find out what I could. No one had any useful information so we rolled the dice and continued on.

    The road was nice with good curves. After 20 miles we came upon the construction. The roadway was down to one lane as the opposite was being chip-sealed and paved. The travel side was in decent enough shape and we didn’t lose a lot of time.

    We connected with Route 141 and then Route 12 headed down into Helena. The last section we were looking down into the Valley where Helena is. The view was spectacular. We stopped at an overlook and I pulled out my phone to see where the hotels were and how much we were going to have to pay. I found something reasonable and plotted a route on the GPS.

    We made it to the hotel around 3:00. We used a luggage cart to haul everything up to our room. We avoided a gear bomb opting to leave the tent bag sealed and deal with the wet fly the next day.

    It was joyous to be inside with running water. We deposited a bunch of grime into Helenas’ sewer system.

    We walked up to Perkins for dinner. Meals out are cheap when you can’t order liquor.

    Back down to the hotel where I caught up on the RR while watching TV and enjoying the AC.

    Boy it was nice sleeping in a bed that night.
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  15. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    8/2/2020 Sunday Helena to Gardiner, Montana

    We set of this morning on our way to Gardiner. We would be using this as a jumping off point for the next morning entry back into Yellowstone. We used mostly the highway Route 15 to 90 getting off in Livingston. We took a break there for food and fuel before we headed down Route 89 to Gardiner.

    I had been unable to find any formalized campground but had spotted some BLM sites. We did stop at one campground and, of course, was told they were full. The BLM sites I read about were above Gardiner on gravel roads. I wanted to investigate by myself before I had Patti ride them.

    I dropped Patti at a gas station to sit in the shade as I rode up out of town. The road was Jardiner and was right across from the gas station. The rode climbed rapidly and soon turned to gravel as it continued up a 7-8 degree grade. It was in good hard packed condition. There were a couple of hairpin turns before the it went to 2-3 degree grade. I rode out a couple of miles where the road worsened and I turned around.

    Just before the steep downhill began, I spotted a semi-formal site and made my way up into it. I went around the circle and ended up asking a camper if a particular location was a site. She ended pointing out a huge site across from theirs. It was large enough for several tents but only had one table and one fire pit.

    I threw down our tent bag, cooler and kitchen set up to stake my claim. I jumped back on the bike and started back to town.

    Patti was waiting in the shade. I told her that I had found a spot and the road was manageable.

    We bought and a couple of beverages and through them in my top case. I moved the bag she carries to my bike to give her a little more of a advantage.

    Up the hill we climbed. I talked her through the hairpins and we were soon back at our site.

    Rinse, wash, repeat and the tent was up and camp set for the evening. Pop goes the can and the other can’s were plopped in our Kermit’s to take in the beautiful views surrounding us.
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    A couple of hours passed and another car with two young men came through looking for a site. We asked if they wanted to share our site. They were glad to accept and set to putting up their tent.

    Due to a lack of shade I had put our tarp up strapping the poles to the picnic table and staking the other end into the ground. No wind so it was a great set up. It provided just enough shade.

    After the young men were set up they came over and sat with us. Lucas was very interested our ride and our bikes. So, he and Kaleb made themselves comfortable and we spoke for a couple of hours. These men were atypical to most their age. They were genuinely interesting to speak with. They are both engineering students at a college in Southern California. Lucas is German with no accent and 3 passports. The two while not in school had been working on building a house for Kalebs’ family in SoCal.

    They took off to town to get something for dinner. The sun was going down and it was getting cool and we quickly found our way back into the tent.
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  16. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    8/3/2020 Monday Gardiner to Red Lodge, Montana via Yellowstone Park and Beartooth Pass. Oh wow!

    I was up before sunrise, made coffee and scoped the hillside with binoculars. The sunrise was spectacular as it shone on the western hills.
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    It was a while before others started to get up. Patti and I did the tear down and pack. We were ready to hit the road around 9. Kaleb and Lucas came over to say their goodbyes and we were headed down the hill and to the North West entrance of Yellowstone. Pic of town as we headed down.
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    In minutes we were passing to Mammoth Hot Springs. The campground there is closed for the season which helped with the lighter traffic.

    A quick left and we were on the Northern Road. We moved along the first 18 miles until we got to the intersection at Tower. We saw some wildlife but nothing worth stopping for.

    After gas we struck up a conversation with a couple that were riding from the other direction. They told us that they had seen a herd of Bison crossing the road. They said there were thousands.
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    We continued on our way and in another 10 miles there they were. And there were a couple of thousand Bison in tow different herds all within site.

    We joined a hundred or more people to admire the beasts. Photo’s, zooming in with the binoculars. It is a site.

    We were on a mission to ride The Beartooth so we moved on. Before exiting the Park we had one more surprise. A traffic jam being caused by a Bison walking in the middle of the opposite lane. This is the second time we’ve had the experience. The difference being that I got the cameral out and got some pictures. Almost close enough to touch. Too cool.
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    Our the North East Entrance and into Cooke City. Touristy town with lots of shops that cater to them.

    Lunch was in order. Sustenance was needed before we attacked Beartooth. A café that served a decent lunch was selected. Service was a little slow and the place was full.

    Bison Burger and a quesadilla were ordered and consumed. Some caffeine provided by coffee and iced tea and we were ready.
    Back to the bikes and up we started to go. And up and up and up.

    We made it to the summit and pulled in to admire the view. A bunch of pictures later and then we were on our way down, down and down. More pics are below. Some glitch with Tapatalk.
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    We had no accommodations lined up in Red Lodge. We rode into the first Federal campground. After a little riding around the only spot open was a group site. The maintenance person happened by. He said we could set up camp in the group site for a single rate. The only downside was we had to haul our gear from the parking lot.

    We hid the tent in the woods. Patti set out to forage for firewood. There was plenty around. I flew into town for ice and beverages.

    The day had been amazing with some of the best wildlife viewing and riding with the views it provided.

    Another couple showed up and the camp host asked if they could join us. Of course. They told us they were going to sleep in their car because of the bears.

    As this was going on a sudden storm popped up with thunder, lightning, rain and heavy wind. I had just finished covering Pattis’ bike and a wind gust tipped it over. Wow.

    The guy that was planning on sleeping in this car helped me right the bike. I pulled the cover off and pointed her bike into the wind. I thought pointing into the wind was for sailing.

    The other couple said they were going to town to get food. They never came back. Not adventurers!

    No pun but the weather put a damper on things and we crawled into the tent for the night.
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    Attached Files:

  17. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    8/4/2020 Tuesday Red Lodge, Montana to Ranchester, Wyoming

    I had promised Patti breakfast in town. The sun was up and we moved the tent fly to a dry picnic table to dry out. We packed efficiently and were in Red Lodge around 10. It was difficult to find a place for breakfast. We ended up at the Pollard Hotel at the recommendation of another rider we asked on the street.

    I was planning out our route and I wanted to run it by Bigjohnsd. I texted him and told him what I had in mind. He responded immediately letting me know he would email is a route for the next couple of days.

    True to his word John sent me a Google map with his suggested route. There was 13 hours worth of riding on his recommended route. John had not steered us wrong yet so we plotted in for the first day. For us 200 miles is good. That would bring us into Ranchester, Wyoming.

    We climbed out of Red Lodge on the route that would take us through the Big Horn Mountains on Route 14A. Thank you John.
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    This ride was yet again another day of superlatives. The roads and scenery were spectacular. The weather got colder the further we climbed. We zipped up out “Stiches”.
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    After too short of a ride in the mountains we landed in Ranchester, Wyoming. I had booked us in to the Lazy R Campground. Not a bad place but our spot was right on Route 14 and offered little shade. We made the best of it and ate out of the cooler. The entire time we were there we saw one other camper who came in just before dark.

    Nothing else to report from this site other than street noise. At least they had flush toilets and showers.
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  18. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

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    8/5/2020 Wednesday Ranchester, Wyoming to Belle Fourche, South Dakota

    I was up at 5:30 and took advantage of the quiet to take a shower. Patti was up early and we went to the Coffee Shop next door named Innominate. They had huge slices of quiche and we both ordered one along with coffee.

    We were packed up and on the road before 9 and headed into Sheridan to the WalMart for a supply run. We took Route 314 to meet up with 212. 314 was a fun road. We could travel at 70 and there were plenty of curves to make it interesting.

    I had hoped that there would be fuel at the intersection of 314 and 212 but there was not. We were close and according to my GPS we were 80 miles from fuel on our route. Luckily there was a sign stating there was gas 18 miles further up the road.

    We quickly arrived into a Native American Town. We had been in the reservation for several miles. The place was busy with people going to the IGA. The Conoco Station was packed and it seemed like the place where all the teens and young adults hang out.

    We fueled quickly and were back on 212 headed East. The views were good throughout the day with the terrain changing and evolving as the miles passed.

    The speed limit varied between 65-70 depending on which state we were in. The temperature was in the 80’s and very dry. There was also a good wind blowing most of the day. This made for tough going and we were more than ready to be done when we reached Belle Fourche.

    We pulled into another Conoco so I could get the exact address of our campsite. WE had pulled under the canopy for shade. I punched in the address and we were kickstands up again when over the intercom Patti told me her bike would not start. Key on, stand up, kill switch in the proper position. Nothing. No lights on the dash. Nothing.

    I rolled her and my bikes in between the pumps so others could get at them. I pulled all the gear off and popped the seats off. I opened the fuse box and started looking at the fusses. Then I saw a loose wire hanging from under the tank. The bolt holding the positive cable had come lose. I loosened the tank and propped it up. The nut and the bold were sitting on the air filter cover. Lucky. In around 10 minutes it was put back together. In that time 2 other riders checked in on us to make sure we were OK. That’s the way it should be.

    Back on the road we went the last 6 miles to The Rocky Point Recreation area. No straight tent sites so we had a gravel pad but with lots of lawn around us. We found a level spot near the trees by the lake and pitched. I set up the tarp using my trick of strapping the poles to the picnic table. This provided us with necessary shade for the evening.

    I had to run back to the Conoco to get ice some sandwiches and some drinks. When I got back we took our Kermit’s and brought them down by the water to watch the sunset.

    8/6/2020 Thursday Belle Fourche

    Today was a down day. No riding. I’ve spend most of the day catching up here. The process has been write on the Macbook in MS Word. Copy and paste into Notes. Airdrop onto my iPhone. Copy and paste into Tapatalk and publish putting in some photos.

    Phew. I’m glad I’m caught up!

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  19. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Location:
    Lafayette, LA
    I'm enjoying the ride. As someone who has mainly traveled in the eastern side of the U.S., you are reminding me of all the great stuff I can look forward to as I start exploring the north and west.

    I'm wondering how you like your new tent. Easy setup and takedown? Roomy? etc. I'm looking to upgrade my V-shaped, very small, tent. Tks.
  20. danisOTR

    danisOTR Living Life on the Road Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    869
    Location:
    Traveling in the US
    We have been very pleased with our Marmot Limelight 3. Very roomy easily set up by one person. With two it is almost effortless. Free standing. Stake out the corners and the vestibules and you are good for most anything. Today we’ve had consistent 30 mph winds. I added three guy wires and the tent is holding strong. No issues with rain on the two times it did. As I write this we are heading for our third rain of the trip.
    image-2020-08-06-17:49:33-924.jpg

    We bought it from Amazon for $225. Price went to $300 right after.
    MizzouRider and Davidprej like this.