Category Archives: A Great Ride – 2012

Day 6 – Coram, MT to Great Falls, MT – 212 Miles – 8.4.2012

Sundance RV did not have coffee so back down the road we went. The first place we saw was a huge rafting center, store, and restaurant. Pulling in we should have noticed there was one car in the lot. Oh, well, coffee was only a minute away.

Inside there was no one in sight. We went through the souvenir store to the restaurant, it looked great but with no one in sight. I hollered; “Hello”. We walked through the restaurant, store, and into a gift shop. We found a guy with a cup of coffee chatting with an elderly lady.

He was the owner; “I don’t open the restaurant until lunch.”

We got back on the bikes and headed to the West Entrance to Glacier Park. We stopped at the West Glacier Restaurant. We enjoyed excellent coffee and food at reasonable prices. Two Russian couples were at the next table. They were riding from Seattle to New Jersey.

We entered the Park using our National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes which are sold to those over 62 for $10. The passes are good for life. I’ve purchased three because I keep forgetting mine.

It is 50 miles from the West Entrance to the East Exit. It was a great ride. Motorcycles are the only way to truly enjoy the Ride to the Sun Road. We had been warned that because of road construction it could take all day. That is probably true on weekdays; after all there are only two seasons in Montana, Winter and Road Repair. We went through on a Saturday. There were no work crews but miles of construction zones complete with warning signs.

Motorcycles Proceed with Extreme Caution.

Our one delay, five minutes at a red light where a landslide was being repaired with only room for one way traffic.

As much as we raved about the Northern Cascades, they don’t hold a candle to Glacier Park.

Glacier
Glacier2

Glaciers carved these valleys.

2 ½ hours after entering the park, we exited via East Gate.

Despite all the warnings about wildlife the only thing I saw was a grouse jump in front of a jeep. Unbelievably it wasn’t killed. It ran back out between the front and rear tires, sans tail feathers. It left a pile of feathers in the roadway.

JAK says that he saw a young brown bear. His story is that the bear began to cross the roadway about five miles west of East Gate, saw the motorcycle, and jumped back into the woods. JAK hit the brakes and pointed to the road side. I saw his brake lights and him pointing. This wasn’t the only “invisible” critter that JAK saw.

After leaving the park, it wasn’t much more than a half hour before we hit the plains. What a letdown after all the beautiful scenery we had been experiencing.

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Our last 90 miles was pretty much like this. Pulling into Great Falls we headed to Motel 6. “Sorry we are booked up.”

I asked; “Do you know of any motels with vacancies?”

“Everywhere is pretty much sold out, but I think there is one room at the Super 8.”

JAK and I experience de j’vue. We head for the Super 8. Across the lot is a Best Western. I look at JAK and say; “What the heck, let’s check.”

JAK waited outside while I went inside. I got in line for the one agent working. Another agent opened, as I move to his position, I hear the first agent tell the couple who had been in front of me; “I’m sorry we don’t have any rooms.” Crap!

My agent said; “Let me check.” He plays with the computer; “One with a king, and one with two queens.”

Life can throw you a bone at times. This was one of those times.

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Day 5 – Coeur d’Alene, ID to Coram, MT – 247 Miles – 8.3.2013

We got up late, what’s new? No food but free coffee while we did our laundry. J&Bs for breakfast where we enjoyed the senior buffet. The server told us, “The price is so good because seniors eat a lot less.”

Boy did we prove her wrong.

While cleaning our windshields, I found that mine was covered with new pit marks. Riding through the Cascades we got stuck behind an empty logging truck for about 20 miles. He was fast and impossible to pass; I was stung and pelted nonstop. That was how I picked up the pits.

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This stop needs no explanation. After twenty minutes, all the locals left. We followed. A half mile down the road we found an overcrossing. A mile further we pulled over for a State Liquor Store (Needed to refresh Uncle Jack). The parking lot was up against the tracks and across from where we had been stopped. It was a half hour before the train moved.

3:00 p.m. found us in Troy Montana, JAK wanted to get a room, but his wishes don’t always come to fruition. Besides he had a friend in Libby, the next town. JAK wanted a picture to post to the Oakland Police Blog. We got a picture of JAK with “My” Ultra in front of the Libby Police Station.

We continued on to Kalispell Montana, another 90 miles. It was a good ride, but JAK was going slow. He usually rides faster than I like, not so this day. So after about 20 miles, I kicked it up and took off on my own, another day of excellent roads and nice curves.

In Kalispell I began calling motels. “Sorry we are completely booked.” We were less than 40 miles from Glacier National Park. “There’s nothing available, every motel is sold out because of the Canadians.”

I asked, “Whadda you mean because of the Canadians.”

“They come to shop.”

“Whadda you mean?”

“The Canadian dollar is so much stronger than ours, they come for the bargains.”

The agent at Motel 6 said, “I can help. I’ll get you booked into the nearest Motel 6.” Cool says I. Nope, not cool, the nearest available Motel 6 was in Missoula Montana, 100 miles away.

We continued east, every motel was sold out. The one constant refrain, “There’s nothing available within a hundred miles.” I considered renting a car just so we could sit in it to sleep.

At my suggestion, JAK and I had bought sleeping bags for just such an incident. Oops, I had changed my mind and told him, “We don’t need to bring sleeping bags.”

Within 20 miles of the park, JAK saw a “throw down” RV Park and Campground sign that said “Cabins”. In a heartbeat we pulled up to the office. They had one cabin left and only $45.00. What a deal! Two bedframes with mattresses and NOTHING else, we slept in our clothes. Still, it was better than sleeping in a rental car.

They had a communal bath house so I bought a towel, I could shower in the morning. JAK looked at me like I was crazy and said; “There is no law that says I have to take a shower every day.” The towel turned out to be a good investment.

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Our Cabin

After several meetings with Jack and “Hot as Hell” Whiskey (a gift from a neighboring camper) Jim Bob made an appearance. “Jim, I can’t put weight on my titanium knee you need to turn the heater on, I can’t.”

Jim Bob got down to adjust the heater. The controls were about three inches above the floor. Glasses on, flashlight in hand, Jim Bob got down and adjusted the heater. Rising, he said; “Well it’s all set, we won’t get cold tonight.” Not quite accurate.

Pulling on my sweatshirt and covering my torso with the new towel during the very cold night, I directed several curse words at the heater. Wrong, Jim Bob actually turned the heater off.

Oh, Jim Bob, why do you show up and bring chaos?

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Day 4 – Winthrop, WA to Coeur d’Alene, ID – 265 Miles

We fell into the habit of a taste of Brother Jack Daniels each evening. However this night I brought out the vaunted Makers Mark. We disposed of it along with a cigar. It seemed to aid our sleep. We were up fairly early and had a 9:00 a.m. start. No deer were seen, but we knew they were nearby.

Deer - High Kill Area

Out of the Cascades the scenery was nowhere near as striking, although still eye-catching and the roads excellent. They were twisty with tighter curves but still a pleasure to ride.

In 2011 JAK and I were at Sturgis, South Dakota when we ran into a tour group from Russia. This time we got stuck behind a tour group of German bikers. They kept a steady speed of about 5 mph under the speed limit, we prefer about 10 over. Because of lane restrictions, we could not pass them.

JAK - Behind the Germans HIghway 20

This photograph is of Jim Kennemore, Alias JAK, Alias Jim Bob in the long sleeve white shirt. We were stopped for road construction behind the German Riders.

Later in the day, Jim Bob made another appearance. Once again he took a wrong turn. He led us further north and closer to the Canadian border. Fortunately he realized his error after only a few miles. A U-Turn corrected the navigational error and we headed the right way. JAK owns a large sail boat and sails upon the ocean. You would expect better navigation from him.

JAK’s 2006 Ultra Classic is six years newer than mine. I use about a half quart of oil every 2000 miles. He uses a half quart every 500. Jim Bob did not bring any extra oil, so he used up what I carried in my saddle bags. He was worried so we changed our route and went south. We stopped at Lone Wolf Harley in Spokane. I picked up the obligatory T-Shirt and JAK got us each a quart of 20-50 Oil. I was fine for the rest of the trip; JAK made it to the Little Bighorn Battle Ground before he needed to add more oil to his trusty steed.

We spent the night at the high end hotel chain known as Motel 6. We walked next door for dinner at a Best Western. Believe it or not the food was excellent. I had liver and onions, only this time it was great.

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Day 3 – Woodland, WA to Winthrop, WA 365 Miles – 7 hours

Our third day, August 1, 2012, found us leaving Woodland, Washington, around 8:00 a.m. But not before we suffered another no-quality, no-value meal at the Oak Tree Restaurant. For the life of me, why we returned to this place after such a terrible dinner the previous night is a mystery. Maybe it’s a biker thing.

The 210 miles to Burlington reminded me why everyone I’ve known who moved to Washington returned to California. It was cold and overcast. Intrepid travelers that we are, we had two levels of clothing. Lightweight, mostly T-Shirts, and heavy gear for the snowstorm and thundershowers we expected to dump on us. We had nothing in between. After 30 minutes, I signaled for JAK to pull over. We brought out the heavy gear and buttoned up tight.

At 9:15 a.m. we saw our first

D – Dangerous
E – Evil
E – Everywhere
R – Rodent

Deer are a rider’s worst nightmare. Except for automobiles, deer have killed more motorcyclists than anything else. We were on I-5 on cruise control (70 mph) with our feet up on pegs, nowhere near the brake or gear shift. There at the edge of the roadway was a doe. We had no idea what she would do. A few years ago just such a doe ran right out in front of JAK up in Idaho.

We were lucky, the I-5 doe just stood there as we rode by.

Breathing again, we returned to our relaxed riding positions. Oops, wrong thing to do. Not five minutes later we were in the fast lane, having just passed a tractor trailer rig. I was prepared to swing casually in to the slow lane when I saw a shape ahead. The shape materialized as a fawn (small D.E.E.R.). The creature was running southbound in the northbound slow lane of I-5. The tractor trailer swerved out across the fast lane that I had just vacated. I HATE DEER.

The cold miserable weather and absence of scenery continued until Burlington, Washington. There we pulled off the interstate and onto State Route 20. We had heard nothing about this route except that it is one of the northern most roads paralleling the Canadian border. We couldn’t go into Canada; it’s a Second Amendment thing.

The moment and I mean the moment that we got onto SR-20 it all changed. The sun came out and it warmed up. For the next 150 miles JAK and I were treated to one of the most exceptional and rewarding rides we had ever experienced. Riding in the Northern Cascades alongside the Skagit River we were surrounded by picturesque mountain tops. We never went more than five minutes without sight of a river or lake. It was August, yet we passed snow piles along the upper part of the ride. Traffic was light and we carved through most of the curves at or above the speed limit. It was an exhilarating experience.

It came to an end when we pulled into Winthrop, Washington, a small tourist trap with a population of about 500. Fifty or so motorcycles were parked along the 1890’s style main street. We got the last room available and spent the night in a nice, overpriced hotel. Here is the view from our balcony.

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We shared some might fine whiskey, Maker’s Mark, smoked an excellent cigar, and called it a night.

A Biker’s Life can be mighty nice!

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Day 2 – Anderson, CA to Woodland, WA 465 miles – 11 hour ride – 7.31.2012

We didn’t make our planned 5:30 a.m. departure. We slept late and got on the road at 8:30 a.m.

This was both a good news, bad news day. JAK decided that we did not need to go to the coast and follow US 101 all the way to Port Townsend, Washington. The bad news was that we had to “flat track” it up I-5 until we got to Burlington, Washington. The good news was that this knocked two, maybe three days off this leg of the trip.

As we crossed the bridge over Lake Shasta, I thought about how two days before I was finishing up a week on a house boat there, our annual family vacation. A vacation we have only missed once in the last 23 years.

The weather and scenery was perfect all the way from Lake Shasta until we approached Portland. Except for our last 100 miles today’s ride was very pleasant. The scenery vanished only to be replaced by traffic.

Portland was a disaster as we arrived in the midst of commuter traffic. We were on I-5 and should have cleared the city in 15-20 minutes. Instead we were in the worst traffic you can imagine. It was as bad as anything I’ve seen in the Bay Area, mostly stop with not much go. 45 minutes into it, a sign magically appeared announcing a commuter lane and “Motorcycles Okay” 1 ½ miles ahead. After an eternity, we covered the first mile, and another eternity before we reached the commuter lane. It turned out to be a dirty trick. Finally, we reached the commuter lane and away we went, right up to 60 mph. Our joy was short lived, the bloody commuter lane ended after one mile.

In California, the only state that allows this, motorcycles can “Split Lanes”, or drive between cars. The lanes looked unbelievably wide and inviting, but fear of getting a ticket kept us in line.

After getting gas, we reached Woodland, Washington. We stayed at a small inn managed by a couple; both appeared to be at least 90. They recommended the Oak Tree Restaurant across the street. Jim Bob, JAK is Jim Bob when he screws up, checked reviews and reported that “66% liked it.” Well, he might have liked his salad but I was sorely disappointed. I ordered liver with bacon and onions. It was dry, thin, overcooked, with a smidgen of Canadian bacon, not real bacon, and a dab of onions. Added to this were lumpy mashed potatoes with tasteless gravy. To top it off, I had “Iced Tea” so clear and tasteless that I thought it was water.

Back at the motel, JAK and I both exhausted, were asleep in minutes.

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A Ride To Remember

Welcome!

In my initial post, I promised you a series of pieces about a motorcycle trip my friend Jim Kennemore, affectionately called JAK, and I took last summer. We try to take an extended trip on our Harley-Davidson Motorcycles at least once a year. Our rides are usually connected to an event. In 2012 we decided to head north and see where the road took us.

Over the next few weeks I will post about our travels. Some of the posts are bit on the long side. I will spread the longer pieces over two days.

To break things up even further, I might throw you a curve.

July 30, 2012 I left Dublin and headed north to Anderson, California. This was the shortest ride of the trip. JAK met me there.

Day 1 – Dublin to Anderson, CA 202 Miles – July 30, 2012

This was a great day, not because of the ride. I pushed the start off until after lunch so I could attend my Polish Your Writing class and meet my wife Cathy for lunch. The folks in the class leave me in the dust when it comes to talent. Besides our regular instruction, three or four of the group read a small part of their WIP (Work in Progress) during our last hour. This can be tough; you put yourself and your work out in front of the 15 or so aspiring writers. They provide a critical, but supportive review of ones work. That day we had four very talented participants. Here is my take, not in the order presented.

Stacy – Writes for the Dublin Patch. She writes in a humorous vein. She described her struggle with the daunting task of facing all the food available on a cruise. I was in her shoes all the way, my eyes were full of tears, as they say, and I laughed so hard I cried. Like some others, I’ve not gone on cruises because I know I cannot resist the 24 hour a day food.

Jordan – She is writing a novel set in modern Ireland complete with good and bad people, and real live dragons. Christian and Devon are her main characters; of course Christian is an older man and Devon a younger woman. Today he dreamt of a threat of a murder attempt on Devon, couple this with sexual tension. Christian is in the shower trying to compose himself when Devon throws the shower curtain aside. They have not had sex yet. It was awesome writing. The next time Jordan reads, she will be presenting a sexual encounter from the male’s point of view. Jordan looked at me and; “I’m glad you won’t be here,” my loss.

Sonia – Germany 14 years after the end of WWII. She moved with her brand new Army husband to a small village in Germany. Her description of village life during these terrible times of recovery and of her home, complete with a downstairs pig sty, was gripping. Her “scene” work, especially the slaughter of two hogs in front of the house, was painted right into my mind.

Ann – Was a Protestant teacher at Catholic school. She is working on her third book, a collection of essays. She read the preface to her second book. Ann is another of those writers who grab you and brings her story to life. I want to read her books.

Heck, I want to read all work in the class. I am such an amateur compared to all the talented people that Juliana Kleist, our teacher, is nurturing.

Anyway, after class, Cathy and I enjoyed a very nice lunch before I saddled up and headed out.

The ride to Anderson, California was just what I expected, miserably hot, boring, and necessary.

When I arrived, my buddy Jim Kennemore was already there checking in. When we finished, I had paid for the room, but somehow he had gotten my frequent guest points. He does that more often than not.

We decided to get up early and be on the road around 5:30 a.m.

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