Western North America Grand Tour
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Thread: Western North America Grand Tour

  1. #1
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
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    Western North America Grand Tour

    I'm working up to post a bunch of stuff on 17 days and 11,000 kilometres of wanderings thru 10 states that I got back from a week ago. The next half dozen or so posts will get content as I've got time (within the next couple days) so patience please.
    Thanks, Cheers, Don

    p.s. 17 days is a lot to digest, especially if they were not YOUR 17 days, so my tactics are gonna be to post a 'Coles Notes' version of the day, along with the map, and as many photos as seems suitable. I'll add a fuller commentary too, but I expect few of you will want to read thru all of it... but it would be my ambition to pass along a few 'tips' in that commentary - I've learned a LOT from stuff I've read here earlier, and I want to try to keep the cycle turning.

    p.p.s, For anyone who wants to review yet more photos, sets can be found at:
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 04:02 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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  3. #2
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    Day 1 and 2 down the coast

    Day 1: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...8e4695fa&msa=0

    Vancouver BC to Aberdeen WA. 6 ½ hrs 435kms
    via I-5, the Post Townsend ferry, US-101 down the west side of the Hood Canal, and onward to Aberdeen.

    I got away mid-day and rode I-5 and SR-20 (damp roads but not raining) to catch the 3:30 Port Townsend ferry with 3 minutes to spare! Relaxing down the alternate route thru Chimacum (great café) and Center Road (pleasantly rural) allowed me to rejoin US-101 at Quilcene (another great eatery, Loggers Landing). I love the ride down the west side of Hood Canal to Shelton, a superb road thru wonderful Pacific Northwest scenery. SR-8 and US-12 (both boring) took me to Aberdeen WA, where I spent the night. This is a kinda run-down ex-logging town which has seen better days – times are so tough in fact that there was a boarded-up casino and a shuttered liquor store within a block of where I stayed. However, (a) the Aberdeen Inn in downtown was cheap and clean, and TJ at the front desk was great to chat with, (b) Billy’s in downtown served great halibut and good black-and-tans, with a most attractive and attentive young server, Justine, on duty, and (c) the downtown is full of amazing, unusual, humorous public art! Astonishing! And somehow inspiring… I liked the place - a lot.

    Hood Canal

    Aberdeen WA

    Day 2: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...45b192a7&msa=0

    Aberdeen WA to Crescent City CA. 9 ½ hrs 765kms
    almost all via US-101, 'cept a brief excursion from Kernville to Siletz OR

    It was foggy when I got away, but that dissipated as I climbed out of the lowlands. The section of 101 between Raymond and Astoria OR passes thru some beautiful country, particularly along Willapa Bay.

    South Bend WA

    I stuck with 101 south to Lincoln City (some nice riding, especially around Beaver and Hebo), then detoured onto SR-229 from Kernville to Siletz. While this was wonderfully twisty, the pavement was rough in places too.

    towards Siletz

    The central section of the coast highway all the way to Port Orford is pretty boring, then it improves to ‘Nor Cal lite’ standards. I quit for the night in Crescent City, after a fairly big and ‘trying’ day – it was cold the whole time, requiring both my fleece tops, my heavier gloves, my heated vest, and my grips on. At least it stayed dry…

    Oregon Coast

    I settled into the Gardenia Motel in CC, which was only $50 plus tax, but it’s pretty dire and I’d stay elsewhere if I did it again (the Curly Redwood Lodge looked super-cool, and wasn’t overpriced – I missed it on my fast scan of possibilities when I hit town - damn).

    Oregon Coast

    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 12:32 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Day 3 and 4 headed east to the desert

    Day 3: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...57444,6.185303

    Crescent City CA to Reno NV. 13 hrs 935 kms.
    Awesome day: Redwoods; Smith River; Happy Camp; Willow Creek; Weaverville; Hayfork; Red Bluff; Lake Almanor; Taylorsville; Janesville; Reno - best day ever, but too long...

    A big day! Too big! But awesome – one of my best days riding ever, till late in the day.

    Straight out of Crescent City, a local tourist brochure map suggested a side-road thru a Redwood grove. The road was narrow, dark, twisty, hilly, and lonely, with an adequate gravel surface, some potholes, and a few muddy spots, and it ran thru a MAG-NI-FI-CENT Redwood forest for several miles. What an absolutely superb way to start my day! A gift, for sure…

    Redwood Forest

    SR-199 up Smith River to O’Brien is very nice, and the forest road south from there to Happy Camp is superb – devoid of traffic, high and remote in the mountains, and full of tight bends – serious riding, especially quickly and solo!

    O'Brien to Happy Camp

    SR-96 follows Klamath River south, and is attractive to Weitchpec (about 100kms), altho with considerable sections of slumping road-bed. The final 30kms to Willow Creek is ridiculously good, as is evidenced by the large collection of motorcyclists in W who have run out that far and are preparing to return. Here I had the good fortune to overtake a young fellow on a KTM 950 SM who, after letting me ‘go’ for a couple miles, ripped by me and, with local knowledge, took me on a guided missile tour of the last half of the road. Excellent stimulation! And thank you, young Bay area rider whose name I have forgotten.

    SR-96 just south of Happy Camp

    SR-299 to Weaverville is delightful all the way, and SR-3 thru Hayfork is better yet. And then you join legendary hwy 36 as it wends its way east to Red Bluff. Just awesome…

    Hayfork road

    Along Hwy 36

    And this is where I should have quit for the day… But I wanted to get further east yet, so I convinced myself I’d carry on up to Lake Almanor, which I did, refuelling at 6pm. And since this looked like an unappealing place to spend the night, I promptly set off into the evening…

    The wisest choice would have been to continue east to Susanville, but that’s pretty ‘normal’, and I wanted to investigate the back-roads east of Greenville. Indian Creek Road deteriorates and narrows as it climbs east from Taylorsville, but it’s highly entertaining riding.


    Indian Crk Rd

    At the top, the sun was very low as I passed Antelope Lake and started down the wonderfully twisty Janesville Grade. There was gas at the bottom, but no motel, so despite near darkness I steeled myself to continue to Reno, another hour down the highway. I was pretty spent by the time I finally piled into a motel, but I was also totally exhilarated by the scale and scope of the riding I’d just experienced. Days like this don’t come along frequently, and need to be relished when they do.

    Day 4: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...2b416b0a&msa=0

    Reno NV to St George UT. 11 ½ hrs 890 kms.
    Out across the desert on US-50, then south from Ely NV.

    It would have been nice to sleep in after the rigours of the previous day, but the Nevada desert is hot and long, and I needed to ride early. I-80 east of Reno is surprisingly attractive, and the countryside from Fernley to Fallon is richly agricultural, but one then plunges off into the wasteland on US-50, the so-called “loneliest highway in America” (which, like most good-sounding slogans, is bullshit).

    The next 5 hours or so, to Ely, is mind-defying: vast expanses of nothing, straight sections of highway up to 40 kms long, occasional passes thru dry mountain ranges with bits of ‘bendy’ road, little traffic and virtually no habitation – other-worldly! As samuidave put it a few months ago in a typically BCSB comment that stuck with me, “Not crossing Nevada on 50 is a rookie mistake, imho. Everyone should ride it once.” I’m glad I did.


    And somewhere out in the lostness, I had another outburst of hooliganism. A near-new metallic blue Vette came up quickly behind me, paused, passed, and wound it on… so I did the same… and for the next 20 minutes or so, except rarely when there was approaching traffic, we never saw the south side of 200 k! Then came Austin, I needed fuel, and the fun came to an end.

    It's not all burned-out: above Austin NV

    50 cuts across the grain of the land, traversing a series of alternating broad valleys and ridgelines. South of Ely, you follow one of these seams, with the impressive summits of the Snake Range to the east. And here the wind has the chance to really blow…

    US-93 south of Ely; Wheeler Peak; Shoshone reserve

    The friendly young guy at the gas station in Pioche told me the mountains south of Enterprise were really impressive, but, honestly, not so much! And then you drop out of the highlands, down into the spectacular canyonlands and sweltering heat of St George Utah. Thank heavens for air-conditioning! A very pleasant stay in the St George Inn and Suites, and an ‘ordinary’ but dependable dinner at the Black Bear Diner next door brought a long but curiously fulfilling day to an end.
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 01:42 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  5. #4
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    Days 5, 6, and 7 Utah

    Day 5: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...26c051d9&msa=0

    St George to Tropic UT. 8 hrs 415 kms.
    Zion, then some 'high country' roads to Cedar City, then out the desert to Tropic UT

    Even just climbing the thousand feet or so that separates St George from Springdale, at the entrance to Zion NP, brings a noticeable and welcome cooling. Zion is ridiculously spectacular ($12 entry fee), altho I’ve heard it called “the sandstone Yosemite”, and that’s a major overstatement. Still, the colours, textures, variety, and scale of the features are stunning.


    The Butler map showed good roads east of Cedar City, so I rode north, then headed west on SR-14, which is a wonderful secondary route, with attractive, varied scenery, decent pavement, and a full helping of curviness, all at an attractively cool altitude. I rode I-15 (posted at 80 mph!) north to Parowan and had lunch – an unusual occurrence for me: I usually have a hearty breakfast, then ride all day with just drinks till supper. SR-143 rises from there thru a pleasant canyon to the ski area at Brian Head, where most of traffic ceases, then descends slowly eastward in a really wonderful run down to Panguitch.

    SR-153 towards Panguitch

    SR-12 towards Tropic UT

    Half an hour east lies Bryce Canyon, and I finished the day down in Tropic UT, about 10km beyond, with the Bryce Canyon Inn providing reasonably priced, rustic-but-comfortable accommodation, and Clarke’s Restaurant serving a tasty but overly generously portioned meal (too typical in the States).

    Day 6: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...3ecf2993&msa=0

    Tropic to Blanding UT. 7 hrs riding 485 kms.
    Bryce Canyon, then the famous road beyond Escalante, then the deserted awesomeness of the Burr Trail.

    I spent the first couple hours of the day up at Bryce Canyon (another $12 entry fee) wandering and shooting photos – the landscape and colours are fantastic! Then I set off east on SR-12 where the famous “Million Dollar Highway” between Escalante and Boulder waited – and for once the reality matched the hype – the landscape is tortured and forbidding, and the challenge of forcing a road thru this maze of barren canyons must have been extreme 70 years ago when it was built.

    Bryce Canyon

    In Boulder, I faced a choice: north up the “Journey Through Time” byway, or southeast on the Burr Trail. I opted for the latter, thinking I might ride the ‘good’ 40 miles of the western end, then double back and go north too. However, once I’d emerged from Long Canyon (again, fabulous scenery, and really good riding too, with no one around at all), the lure of the unknown drew me onward, and I decided to ‘have a look’ at what the gravel section was like. Turns out, more or less as perfect as gravel can be, and no challenge at all to anyone who has left the pavement anywhere in BC, even at the steep switchback section where the road drops dramatically from the plateau to Waterpocket Fold thru Muley Twist Canyon.

    Long Canyon

    Burr Trail

    South down the valley, I was pleased to regain pavement after 28kms of gravel. But by the time I reached SR-276 at Bullfrog and realized there was no gas to be had, I was worried – I had come 110kms, and Hanksville was 60 miles further north – I wasn’t sure I had the fuel to make it. Luckily, the little hamlet of Ticaboo, only 8km north, offered fuel and removed any doubt.

    The run east on SR-95 passes thru most impressive desert scenery, but when I stopped to take pictures at the crossing of the Colorado River, I had a mishap: I locked the front brake as I came to a stop on a sandy road-side pullout and dropped the bike! No damage was done (except to my pride), but even once I’d removed my tankbag, topbox, and the upper sidecase, it was absolutely at the limit of my strength to tip the beast back up again.

    Colorado River

    I quit for the day in Blanding UT, which seemed like a pleasant little town. Accommodation at the Four Corners Inn was inexpensive and just fine, but I discovered when I went for dinner that this is a dry town, so iced tea had to stand in for the beer or two I usually sipped.

    Day 7: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...85de8ef7&msa=0

    Blanding UT to Grand Junction CO. 6 ¾ hrs 425 kms.
    North to Moab, with a couple diversions, then east to Colorado, with the Rim Road thrown in.

    I’d had about enough of the desert heat, so despite the closeness of Monument Valley and Four Corners, I headed north. The Butlers map suggested there were a couple good side-roads east of Monticello, and this was correct. However, the verdant surroundings seemed to appeal to deer as much as to motorcyclists, so I stayed very conservative as I toured thru. Further up SR-191, the map also suggested a diversion east of Moab on the La Sal Loop Road. This traverses some entertaining mid-altitude cattle country, and includes a couple superbly twisty sections, but the pavement is quite broken so it’s hard to recommend.

    La Sal Loop Rd

    I considered lunch in Moab, but the tourism factor sorta overwhelmed me and I got back on my bike. The run northeast on SR-128 along the Colorado River is superb, but there’s a lot of activity, so a sane pace is required. I-80 got me to Fruita, where I exited to tour the Rim Rock Drive ($5 entry fee). This 23 mile route switchbacks up to the canyon rim, which it then closely follows in a tour de force of serpentine road-building, before twisting back to the valley at Grand Junction. Be aware that the road is posted at 35 mph and is heavily patrolled, so high-jinks are not the order of the day. As well, there are sections where if you missed a corner, you’d sail clean thru the air for 500 feet before impacting!

    Rim Road

    I was hot and tired when I reached Grand Junction, so I deposited myself in pretty much the first acceptable place I encountered, a Rodeway Inn, which did the job. A nearby Cajun place did the same for food, and bed came thankfully early.
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 01:51 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Days 8, 9, and 10 Colorado

    Day 8: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...2456b528&msa=0

    Grand Junction to Gunnison CO. 10 ¼ hrs 785 kms.
    Fantastic riding. Dolores River; Placerville to Ridgway; Ouray to Durango; Wolf Creek summit; Spring Creek and Slumgullion passes. Felt like the 'best day ever' afterwards!

    Colorado! I was looking forward to this! Higher altitudes, cooler temps, trees… all stuff I appreciated and enjoyed, and a welcome break from the baked starkness of the previous couple days. And my expectations were rewarded with perhaps the finest day of riding I have yet enjoyed.

    The initial leg took me southwest on SR-141 to Gateway, which provided a pleasant opener. The next section, in a narrowing canyon beside the Dolores River far from anywhere and anyone, got more and more intense the further south I went, and invited greater and greater application of the throttle… which invitation I found myself powerless to resist! ‘Simply awesome’ was the outcome!

    SR-145 and SR-62 take one to Placerville and across a beautiful flower-filled pass to Ridgway, then US-550 runs south to Ouray.

    Pass between Placerville and Ridgway

    Immediately south of town, there was 5km alternating closure for chip-sealing, and when I pulled up as maybe the tenth vehicle back, the flag-lady beckoned me to the front and explained that in Colorado motorcycles go first at chip seal sections. Well, the ride from Ouray to Durango is 100kms of some of the best road in Colorado, thru spectacular mountain scenery, and I had just been invited to go first, with a 20 minute gap to the clump of traffic in front of me! The opportunity was not wasted - thus the lack of pictures from this section!

    south of Ouray

    The skies were seriously threatening as I left Pagosa Springs headed up Wolf Creek Pass ( excellent sweepers), but the road and I merely got a touch damp. When I stopped for fuel and a break in South Fork, I was unsure where to head next, so I took the opportunity to chat with a local riding an ST1300. Alan (as he turned out to be) suggested that people rode a long way to get to where I was right now, so I ought to enjoy more of the San Juans (the best part of Colorado, in his opinion) before drifting further afield. This seemed like remarkably sensible advice, and I took it. Two-and-a-quarter hours of superb riding followed, into the headwaters of the Rio Grande, over Spring Creek and Slumgullion passes, and down into the very pleasant city of Gunnison CO. Here I lodged in the ABC Motel, which was superbly clean, comfortable, and well-maintained. Voytek, the Polish manager, suggested the Gunny Sack for dinner, which proved a good choice. And the ‘W’ Café on Main Street (somewhat of a local institution) provided an excellent breakfast, so Gunnison vied with Aberdeen for ‘best place to stay’ of my entire trip.

    Day 9: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...ef3bacec&msa=0

    Gunnison to Frisco CO. 8 hrs 485 kms.
    More passes: Taylor Creek, Cottonwood Pass; Independence Pass; Aspen; Leadville; I-70 to Frisco.

    The South Fork decision essentially was an abandonment of any attempt to get across the Front ranges, into the roads on the eastern slope of the Rockies near Denver, etc. These were likely to be good, but crowded, especially with an upcoming weekend. Now I was free to explore the remote stuff in the back-country, so after breakfast I set off northeast out of Gunnison, headed for Cottonwood Pass. A short detour took me onto a great ride up SR-742 alongside Taylor River to the reservoir at the top. Here the mountains traversed by the pass came into view, with heavy, gloomy clouds gathered on the heights. Still, while turning back always remained an option, the only way to know whether to go forward is to do so, and onward I went… quickly to discover that I had overlooked one important fact: the west side of Cottonwood Pass is not paved! Still, the gravel surface was not bad, and the precip seemed to be staying just north of my route, so I pressed on. Cold but happy, on a pot-holed road carved thru snowbanks, I eventually topped the 12, 126 foot crest and felt a wave of relief as my tires hit pavement again.

    At Taylor reservoir: not looking so good in the mountains that Cottonwood Pass traverses

    Cottonwood Pass

    20 miles north, Independence Pass parallels Cottonwood back west. At 12,095 feet, this is apparently the highest paved pass in the USA, and it offers superb riding both on the ascent and the descent into the lovely valley occupied by Aspen.

    Descent from Independence Pass

    I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Mintum is actually a pretty cool road, as freeways go, and I got some extra ‘motorcycle goodness’ points when I got to lane-split about two miles of tail-back from a lane closure for a bridge repair. Battle Mountain Pass and Tennessee Pass, on US-24 between Mintum and Leadville, are worthwhile, but I found the highly touted Fremont Pass leading back out to I-70 a bit mild.

    And then it was time to stop, and Frisco appeared. This is a full-on tourist town, but I got excellent suggestions at the tourist info office and soon found myself in the Snowshoe Lodge, which was perfectly clean and comfy, only $65 (a bargain in a tourist town), and – remarkably - also run by a Pole! Dinner at the Silver Heel next door featured the best haddock I’d ever had (the secret ingredient was…. sage). Beer, hockey, and bed rounded out another remarkable day.

    Day 10: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...28e15857&msa=0

    Frisco CO to Rawlins WY. 7 ¾ hrs 550 kms.
    Half a day of mountains, then out onto open country. Loveland Pass; Berthoud Pass; Laramie WY; Medicine Bow Mtns.

    I slept poorly (because of the altitude, I think) and got a late start. A short diversion over Loveland Pass avoids a short stretch of I-70, and I soon cut off north towards Berthoud Pass. SR-125 northeast of Granby offers some fine, deserted riding, but once one descends into the Arapahoe Refuge the character of the terrain and riding changes – the mountains have been left behind.

    Loveland Pass

    SR-125 north of Granby CO

    near Walden

    I wandered northeast to Laramie WY, then headed west again, tempted as always by a coloured section on the Butler map. The Snowy Range Pass thru the Medicine Bow Mtns was pretty darn good, but the land gets awfully flat thereafter.

    Across the Medicine Bow Mtns

    The headwinds on the drone into Rawlins were pretty tiring. Plus the town turns out to be a bit on the rough side, with an oil drilling boom underway, few rooms available, and prices set to match demand. Ah well, I settled into the Quality Inn ($85 plus taxes), got room service, flipped on NBC Sports, and watched Chicago take out the Kings, so I went to sleep happy.
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 02:02 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Days 11 and 12 Rapid City and the Black hills

    Day 11: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...b58343db&msa=0

    Rawlins WY to Rapid City SD. 8 ½ hrs 665 kms.
    A 'lost highway' from Douglas to Newcastle, and its consequences...

    Oh, the wind! Holy Moses, does it ever blow out there! But at least it subsided some once I got east of Casper, and had dropped off entirely when I set off onto one of the Butler “Lost Highways” north and east from Douglas WY towards Newcastle. And I got thinking… deserted highway, hardly any traffic, flat, open, straight… let’s see whether I can top my personal record for distance covered in one hour. The answer, despite having to tone it down for oncoming traffic a bit more frequently than was ideal, was a resounding ‘yes’… and the distance was… well, that’d be telling, but suffice to say I just missed the ton.

    how far, how fast???

    Now, there was a lesson that came with this exuberance. The lesson was: fuel gets consumed at an alarming rate when one is travelling at 200 kph and above! So one of the first things I noticed once the hour was over and I had returned to sane speeds was a blinking fuel light! Not that there was any alternative but to keep plugging along, cuz there sure wasn’t anything or anybody in the immediate vicinity to solve my problem. A nice long gentle downhill allowed nearly no throttle at all, and I started to get my hope up, but then… click, without a shudder of hesitation, the bike suddenly and emphatically shut down, out of fuel. I drifted to a halt at a pullout for a drilling rig and pushed the bike onto the grass, then waited. A few minutes passed, and who should roll up but a fellow motorcyclist, Dave from Boise ID, on his well-laden Connie. He agreed to get to town and to arrange some sort of ‘rescue’ (and we had cell service, so we could communicate if necessary), then away he went. Forty minutes or so later, he was back, with a fuel jug strapped to the top of his load. He’d been able to borrow this from the wonderful lady (a "Justine", again) who was minding the Short Stop gas station in Newcastle, and I was underway again soon. Just eight kilometers short, it turned out…

    US-16 took me into the very pleasant, rolling terrain of the Black Hills, and a couple hours of relaxation saw me into Rapid City, a nice city of about 60,000. I found a decent motel, the Townhouse, within walking distance of the downtown eateries and pubs, and settled in. I’d been on the road for a week-and-a-half and covered 6500 kms; I was as far east as I intended to go and westward led to home; and my rear tire was at the end of its life; plus I was pretty ready for a break – the trip was at a watershed.

    Day 12: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...9fa3d8a3&msa=0

    New tires, Mt Rushmore, and a loop thru the Black Hills. 4 hrs, 250 kms.

    Rapid City is one the primary motorcycling centres in the United States, with the Black Hills and Devils Tower attracting a huge number of two-wheeled tourists – not to mention the hundreds of thousands that attend Sturgis, just an hour up the road. Consequently, it is well served by motorcycle shops. And because of the traffic thru the city, they’re open Mondays. There are two main sportbike retailers, Rice Honda–Suzuki and Black Hills Powersports. A sequence of phone calls established that one of them had a suitable front, and the other a matching rear, and by noon ‘baby had new shoes’ and I was ready to roll again. Thanks, Steve and Jeff at Rice, and Chris at BHPS! Plus I got to eat at the Cambell Street Café (correct spelling!) while the tire went on, which was a local treat.

    In the afternoon, I went out for a short ride. A visit to Mt Rushmore seemed obligatory, then great roads led south. The Needles Highway is ridiculously twisty, and the hillsides are peppered with bizarrely eroded granite spires, but this is ‘scenery’ terrain, not a place for ripping it up. Further south the roads open, but everything is posted at 35 mph and tourist traffic is heavy, so it’s best to relax and enjoy.

    Mt Rushmore

    Needles Highway

    Black Hills

    Eventually my ‘brief’ outing occupied 4 hours and covered 250 kms, and I had come to the conclusion that while the Black Hills are worth visiting, they’re pretty marginal from a sport motorcycling point of view. Still, it was a great day, topped with an excellent meal at Murphy’s (one of several Irish places in town), and I had the prospect of new roads waiting again the next morning.
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 01:01 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

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    Days 13, 14, and 15 Wyoming and Montana

    Day 13: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...2c834943&msa=0

    Rapid City SD to Cody WY. 10 ½ hrs 745 kms.
    Devil's Tower, then west... unfortunately, with heavy rain in Ten Sleep Canyon.

    I started the day by riding the ‘back way’ to Lead (avoiding Sturgis), then descended Spearfish canyon into its namesake town. A quick haircut netted me a freer head and a bit of local chat, then I took SR-34 /24 west from Belle Fourche to Devil’s Tower. This is an astonishing geological remnant, and well worth a few hours.

    Devil's Tower looms out of the flatlands like... well, like a tower!

    Devil's Tower

    A hundred miles of I-90 got me to Buffalo WY, where I set off into the Bighorn Mountains. The ride over Powder River Pass was enjoyable, but threatening skies degenerated into full-on deluge on the descent into Ten Sleep Canyon, and the soppy misery was compounded by a very slow tractor trailer unit holding everyone back, with no visibility to allow a pass. Eventually the ‘washout’ ended, but the continuing run west remained on damp roads all the way to Worland. A couple pleasant “Lost Highways” up Cranberry Creek and onwards thru Meeteetse put me into Cody, late and tired.

    Lost Highways: Gooseberry Creek

    I rode the town checking out the motel options, then settled on the Uptown Motel, which turned out to be pretty dire. At least Granny’s, next door, served a decent dinner and a good breakfast.

    Day 14: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...29345,6.185303

    Cody WY to Bozeman MT. 8 ¾ hrs 665 kms.
    East to the Big Horns, then back west thru Red Lodge and onwards via I-90.

    I really wanted to ride more in the Bighorns, so I set off east in the morning. The ride up Shell Canyon and over Granite Pass is really good, and the descent back down west from Burgess Junction includes some good sections too.

    Big Horn summit

    Back in the lowlands, it was obvious that the primary riding attractions near Cody (Beartooth Pass and Dead Indian Pass) were getting stormed on hard, and would have to wait for another time. I got rained on hard for half an hour up near Red Lodge, but this relented as I passed into the rainshadow effect of the mountains, and SR-78 out thru Absarokee to Columbus turned out to be a very pleasant ride thru rich agricultural plateaus and valleys.

    clearing storm northwest of Red Lodge

    From Columbus, it was I-90 all the way to Bozeman. The surrounding countryside is lovely, and parts of the freeway are almost interesting, but again I was battling a big headwind, driven by the storms in the high country, and again I was tired by the time I hit my destination. Lady Luck, however, had not entirely abandoned me, as I found myself a very suitable motel (the “Royal 7”; only $63 all in), and had a great meal at the nearby Fresco Café.

    Day 15: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...28352,6.185303

    Bozeman MT to Challis ID 9 ½ hrs 680 kms.
    South nearly to West Yellowstone, back north to Ennis, then west via 'lost highways', thru cold and wind and squalls.

    It rained overnite, but the TV forecast predicted clearing (finally!), and that proved accurate as I set off south on SR-191 into the mountains. The first 40 miles or so of nice road were interrupted by several construction delays and had pretty heavy traffic, but south of the Big Sky ski / recreation area both annoyances disappeared. At Big Sky I pulled over to take photos, failed to get the kick stand all the way engaged, and dumped the bike on its side again! The embarrassment and self-contempt of such inept behaviour blended nicely with the maximum physical effort required to get the bike upright again to put me into a bit of a funk, but that dissipated quickly as the road started to unroll again.

    clearing morning south of Bozeman MT

    US-287 doubles back north and drops into the lovely Madison valley, where warmer temps were gratefully encountered.

    Madison valley; Sphinx peak

    Ennis to Dillon is pretty routine, then I set off onto more “Lost Highways”, getting barely grazed by a foul, black downpour just as I set off. The gloom continued as I worked northwest, with heavy clouds on the mountains to the west and a brisk, cold headwind, and turning back passed thru my mind a couple times, but I persisted and eventually ‘attained Wisdom’… Wisdom, MT, that is.

    Dillon to Wisdom

    Forty km west I hit US-93 at the Lost Trail ski area, and after a dramatic descent the valley of the Salmon River was reached and I could finally take off the electric vest and switch off the grips – heaven!

    Salmon River, north of Salmon ID

    It seemed too early to quit in Salmon ID, and the map promised a fine road ahead, so I pressed on another 100kms to Challis. The road was excellent, but the weather deteriorated and the elevation increased, so the warmth disappeared too, and I was happy to get off the road.

    Challis is not an attractive town, but my room in the Village Inn was warm, and that’s about all that counted. I walked to the nearby “Y” Bar and Grill and blundered into the bar side instead of the grill, but this led to a delightful evening chatting with a group of locals, with a most gregarious and pleasant fellow named Jim on centre stage. Sleep came easily and lasted deep.
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 01:16 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  9. #8
    Registered User Array doser's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    2012 CB1000RA

    Days 16 and 17 Idaho, Washington, and home

    Day 16: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...8c6fc2f3&msa=0

    Challis to Orofino ID. 11 ¼ hrs 770 kms.
    Great roads thru central Idaho. Stanley; Banner Pass; Lowman; Garden Valley; McCall; Grangeville; Elk City return; Orofino.

    It was frikkin cold in the morning, with fresh snow only about 2000 feet up the hillsides above. The phone told me it had dropped to 27F overnight in Stanley, and that was my first destination for the morning, so the heated gear went on again. Despite the cold, the ride was richly enjoyable, but beyond Stanley the terrain sloped yet more, and by the time I crossed Banner summit there was a solid glossing of fresh snow on the roadside vegetation. Lucky, the drop on the west side was quick, and 2500 feet lower in the Payette River valley the morning was quite pleasant.

    out of Challis

    SR-75 near Stanley

    The road west of Lowman sees a lot more traffic than areas to the east, and judging from the number of other motorcycles which suddenly appeared (not to mention two moto-cops), this is part of the Boise equivalent of the Duffey loop. And deservedly so, cuz the riding is great.

    The superb road continues northward once you join SR-55, but it’s pretty clogged with tourist traffic heading for McCall, and pretty aggressive double-lane overtaking is necessary to get much enjoyment out of it. That’s not such a problem on US-95 north of New Meadows, and once you reach Riggins you’re down into an awesome valley, deep, twisty, and beautiful, with unending grass-slopes reaching from waterline to the crests above… and warmth, delicious warmth suffusing every corner! Delightful!

    I rode the superb Old White Bird Grade south of Grangeville (outstanding), and continued with White Bird Hill Road (not so good).

    Old White Bird Grade

    White Bird Hill Road

    Despite the afternoon wearing on, I decided I could not ride past SR-14 to Elk City without giving it a go. This really is an outstanding ride, similar to the Lolo Pass road in the next valley to the north, but leading nowhere, with virtually no traffic. Unexpectedly, however, on the way back out, while heeled over pretty hard thru a tightish corner, I whipped by an east-bound sheriff, which gave me a fright, but no ‘chase’ materialized.

    Grangeville to Elk City

    It was late, and there’s not much in Kooskia or Kamiah, so Orofino needed to be ‘home’ for the nite, and accommodation is there limited. A chat with a local at the gas station led to the suggestion of the Best Western at the River’s Edge. Luckily, while this was superb (and charged prices to match), it was also full… but the desk clerk suggested the Helgeson Hotel in downtown, which was excellent – big, comfy, well-appointed rooms which cost a touch over half those at the competition. And dinner at the Ponderosa across the main drag was quite acceptable too.

    Day 17: https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msid=...755ef5db&msa=0

    Orofino ID to Vancouver BC. 8 3/4 hrs. 965 kms.
    Western Idaho, then up thru the Palouse country and across northwestern WA. Orofino to Kendrick; Moscow; Palouse country; west of Spokane; Chewelah - Inchelium - Nespelem; Winthrop and home...

    I love the road from Orofino to Kendrick, so the day started on a very high note.

    Orofino to Kendrick

    Continuing northwest, I passed thru Troy and Moscow before exiting Idaho on hwy 6 to Palouse, the namesake town of this wonderful, rolling, appealing agricultural landscape. The superb pastoral riding lasted thru Oakesdale and Malden, and on northward on Wells Road, before subsiding into forest a few miles southeast of Cheney.

    Malden-Wells Road

    I missed a turning here and got sucked into travelling a few worthless miles west on SR-904, but I then wandered my way north and west on a variety of side roads, emerging at Reardan, having successfully avoided Spokane entirely.

    Obscurity west of Spokane - Strangland Rd ( I think...)

    This was country I had some knowledge of, and I intended to ride Springdale-Hunters Road, but I was low on fuel when I got to the start and I couldn’t remember for sure whether there was fuel in Hunters (turns out , there is), so I carried on north to Chewelah. I now kinda had my sights set on home, so I didn’t ride the fabulous Flowery Trail, but instead set out west using Blue Creek and Gifford-Addy roads, the latter being especially fine.

    Gifford-Addy Road

    I always enjoy the Inchelium ferry, and this wait and crossing was enlivened by a long talk with a highly ride-experienced couple from Spokane day-tripping on a Gold Wing to Twin Lakes. Bridge Creek Road was in better condition than on previous crossings, which produced a half hour of helmet-splitting grins. And Cache Creek Rd further west was at least as good as I recalled – which was very good!

    Cache Creek Road (WA)

    I kinda had made up my mind to see how I felt in Winthrop and to make a decision there whether to pack it in for the night or to continue home, and when I refueled at 5 pm, I still had plenty of energy, so off I went. A few minutes west of the pass I had a brief flash of recognition as Stuart (RubHerDown) and Karen flashed past eastbound. Traffic was surprisingly light for a weekend, and I saw only one leo between Winthrop and Sedro Wooley - luckily, he was off to the side in a lay-by having a coffee or something, so despite my detector screaming in my ear, there was no reaction from the good officer as I smoked by at a fairly brisk pace.

    The rest, as they say, was an anti-climax. By now I was just a nag headed for the barn, and I-5 provided the shortest route. The border came and went, Oak Street bridge passed, a last squirt away from traffic at a light pulled at my wrists, the well-known corners into my lane flowed past, and I pulled onto the pad and switched the bike off, sat for a minute of two to absorb the quietness and stillness, then uncoiled to troop the gear inside and to hit a long soak in a very hot bath. I was home, and the greatest adventure of my motorcycling career (so far…) was now a memory.
    Last edited by doser; 06-30-2013 at 01:38 PM.
    In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensible.
    Dwight Eisenhower

  10. #9
    Registered User Array Saskford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Aldergrove BC
    2009 Kawasaki ER6n
    Some very scenic looking snaps there.. I'm jealous
    Of course if you're young, and out drinking, whoring, and toking till all hours on a Saturday nite, forget about it.

  11. #10
    Registered User Array CanadianBird's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Kits Beach
    2002 CBR1100XX
    Fantastic roads, except for that dirty one. From Grangeville is that over Lolo Pass into Montana? I've ridden that. Part of a seven week trip to Toronto.
    Full Yoshi SS, Galfer wave rotors, Goodridge steel lines, Hel oil lines, Corbin GFL, Penske rear, RaceTech front, Hids, Givi hard bags with full lighting kit, Dyna Coils, K&N, Samco rad hoses, 9500ix/iQ, Pazzo, some bling, some CF.

  12. #11
    Registered User Array BugMagnet's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Delta BC
    2014 Suzuki DL1000A
    I recognize a lot of those roads from last year. Looks like you had some decent weather. Love your camera angles. Very creative.

    Edit: I just walked through your google maps. You did a completely different route than we took and yet it looks so familiar. I guess it just shows that it doesn't matter what route you take down there it's all amazing and fun to explore.
    Last edited by BugMagnet; 06-28-2013 at 06:35 AM.

  13. #12
    Moderator Array CoolDaddyGroove's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    New West
    2014 Kawasaki ZX14R
    Grangeville to Elk City.............one of my all time favorites

  14. #13
    just having fun Array
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    not red
    don, yer like the energizer bunny, keep going and going...... looks like the new girlfriend it treating you well. nice pictures!
    don't click here

  15. #14
    Registered User Array
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Nice pics, I need to get on that soon and do a tour south. So much to see in the states.

  16. #15
    Katani Kalan Array armchairgm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Abbotsford B.C.
    2007 Honda CBR600RR
    You truly are living the dream Don I'm very envious !!
    Any shift workers out there wanna ride during the week PM me.

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