Night: Murfreesboro TN
2007AUG11 Another hot one, all day long.
From Murfreesboro (1), we continued on I24 westward into Illinois before getting on I57, then I70 into Missouri and Saint Louis. Saint Louis was very nice driving into, with a nice view of the Mississippi and the Arch. Once inside the city, many old style large brick buildings towered over the interstate since it was built under ground-level, so that the city would not be obstructed. A very attractive city to me. We continued on I70 through Kansas City. Now that I think about it, what makes large cities attractive on motorcycle trips may have to do with the large traffic and scenery changes. You are now on a five lane road with much heavier traffic than usual surrounded by huge buildings. The change makes it attractive. Your higher than the average vehicle speed also necessitates a lot of weaving to maintain that speed, which is fun too.
At a fuel stop, somewhere in Missouri (2), a woman, along with her mother and some young kids, was waiting for her daughter and her daughter's husband or boyfriend, who were driving from Saint Louis. She was worried at first because they couldn't find the exit or something. Before we left, they met up and everybody was happy. Later, at another stop in Missouri, I think, we saw a bunch of guys in pickups buying beer.
We made it over half way through Kansas, which was not as plain as I was expecting, before quitting for the day.
Night: Hays KS
2007AUG12 We started the morning in Hays by going to Walmart and buying some earplugs and some much needed socks before getting back onto I70. I got some on bike shots that morning in Kansas (1)(2)(3). We crossed the line into Colorado without much scenery change until quite a ways into it. Coming into Denver was a nice sight: I70 was a long descent into the city, providing an almost overhead view of the city, with the Rockies in the background jutting upward making the skyscrapers look tiny. We may have screwed up when we bypassed the city and used E470 to catch I25. We missed all of the stuff that is enjoyable about big cities, but once we did get on I25, the traffic was horrible and I imagine it got worse the closer one got to Denver. I25 was a bit annoying for other reasons too. It's a pretty flat, straight boring road; yet on you western side, in plain view, are the Rockies, containing some of the best roads in the country.
We continued on I25 into Cheyenne Wyoming. Nate came up with the great idea of getting off of the interstate for awhile, and catch some two lane, so we headed west on I80 out of Cheyenne, where we encountered some pretty spectacular weather. Huge gusts of wind came by perpendicular to our travel, causing us to ride our bikes layed over just to go straight. We also hit some short rain showers on I80, but these were welcome because they brought the temperature down quickly. We pulled over on I80 because I thought that I passed our exit only to find that the luggage on my dad's bike was almost lost (4) from the wind. At first we didn't think that we lost anything, then we spent a few days trying to figure out where the socks that we bought at Walmart went. The place we stopped at turned out to be a pretty neat point of interest. There was a tree growing out of a large rock (5), which apparently had some human history (6). More photos, of Nate and I (7), and of the new scenery (8). At Laramie we got on US30, where we passed the only university in the state. Once out of Laramie, the land opened up to large rolling hills, used as cattle pasture. I thought that I saw a group of pronghorn along the fence line, but I'm not sure if they were now because I remember what I saw as having a solid light color. The TL needed fuel, so we stopped in Rock River on US30 (9), a tiny town. The man running the gas store, who was from Pennsylvania, gave us a recommendation for a place to eat in Casper, Poor Boys Steakhouse. He says that he goes there multiple times per week and Casper is over an hour away. Everything is very far apart out there. We continued on US30 and picked up WY487 to WY220 into Casper, where we went to his recommendation (10) which was pretty good eatin'. Afterward, we got back on I25 before calling it a night in Buffalo, after seeing multiple deer interstate-side and getting a little scared.
My Dad bought some peanuts in Rock River and ate them in the hotel room, practically throwing the shells on the floor. He said because the hotel was a rip off, but he did the same thing to my apartment the night before we left. Haha.
Although the two lane riding limited our mileage for the day and kept us from getting into Montana, it was a huge morale booster for all of us, after spending a bunch of time just drudging down the interstate.
Night: Buffalo WY
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2007AUG13 We started the morning in Buffalo by realizing that the TL's rear tire was low on air, so we searched Buffalo for an air outlet and also bought some fix-it-flat just in case. We then got on I90 out of Buffalo and headed to Montana. At our first fuel stop in Montana, within the Crow Indian Reservation, we met a pair of long distance riders from Vancouver (1). The guy was riding a late model Gold Wing with over 100000 km on it, and the woman was riding a current FJR1300. Both bikes had a bunch of additional electronics, gps, radar, and some other stuff that I don't know the purpose of, as well as additional fuel capacity and some other stuff. The guy had completed the Iron Butt, 11k miles in 11 days. We talked with them for a little and they gave us some road recommendations, namely Lolo Pass out of Missoula, and Beartooth and Chief Joseph, both out of Cody Wyoming.
We continued on I90 until Billings Montana, where we got on US87 headed to Great Falls. Most of the scenery was slow rolling plains, with some of our first western forested areas. A very pleasant ride, until we met the fuzz. We were descending a hill, probably at least 15 over, when we saw him on the side of the road. He flashed the blues and we pulled over. The reason he pulled us over was because he got a report (who the heck reports moving violations?) of some red motorcycles doing illegal passing, not for our speeding. He also was a motorcyclist, and had a tore up arm from getting tangled up with a deer while riding, and fortunately only gave us a warning because he really had no proof of any illegal actions. He never even mentioned speed. I'm just about positive that we didn't do any illegal passing.
Great Falls is a lot like a Florida city, big with lots of traffic. Once we got into it, the TL's rear tire was looking low again, so we began asking around at a gas station were the bike shops were. A guy on a GS beemer had us follow him to the Yamaha shop, which was closed, so we then went to a tire shop. Across the street was the HD/Buell dealership, which should have an appropriate tire because of the Buells. We headed over there but the service guy said that they wouldn't work on anything but HDs and Buells, because of liability. What kind of mc shop is this? What a shithole. We ended up fix-it-flatting the tire and getting on I15 headed north.
We stopped in Brady Montana (2)(3) for a fuel stop off of I15. The town was absolutely tiny, desolate, and very isolated. We saw two kids with their dog on a porch talking as we passed by. As we were fueling, one was riding a bike with the other kid and dog following on foot as they passed over the railroad tracks behind the mill and out of sight. I can't imagine growing up in a place like Brady.
We got back on the interstate northward. At the Marias River, the interstate dropped steeply, much more steeply than you'd think an interstate should, for a few hundred feet, before crossing the river, then ascended in the same way. We stopped for the night in Shelby, which seemed like a large rail hub. Shelby put us within easy range of Glacier National Park the next day, and within about 20 miles of Canada. I went running that night and Nate did some laudry.
Night: Shelby MT
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2007AUG14 We woke up in Shelby to a much different climate: the temperature was in the low 40s. That's bad news for a bunch of Florida boys on motorcycles. My Dad and I went ahead and layered up, while Nate only really wore one piece of extra clothing. We started out going west on US2 with me leading. Even with very thick gloves on, my hands went numb in a matter in minutes (lucky Dad with heated grips). Next was pretty much a full body shiver as well as pain on the leading surface of my legs from the almost ice-cold wind blast. We went through Cut Bank, which advertises itself as the coldest place in the United States, where I asked Nate if he was doing ok at a stop sign. He said that he was. On US2 between Cut Bank and Browning, Nate pulled past me and then pulled over to the side of the road and said that he couldn't take it any longer. We sat around for a couple minutes (1) to warm up. We decided to roll into Browning to fuel up and spend some time there to warm up and get a little smarter about our dressing habits (2) by adding layers and putting on our rain suits, which do an excellent job of blocking the blast. After getting back on the road, we took US89 toward Saint Mary and the entrance to Glacier National Park.
US89 started right into the mountains after Browning, meaning the road got pretty good, much like one of our eastern roads. The bad part was that we also hit our first taste of open range. The first time was right after we got into the good section of the road, so we were moving along pretty good and going through a corner when at the exit were a couple of big cows on the road. Pretty surprising. We had to slow down two other times, but we made it through the open range ok and still had fun on our first good road of the west. US89 also got us into the first of the beautiful mountain scenery (3).
Once in Saint Mary, we took a left onto the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park (4)(5). The scenery was beautiful and the road was amazing, more for the views than its sporting qualities because of numerous, unguarded, shear drops (6)(7)(8)(9). I also got the park's namesake (10). The park was absolutely gorgeous (don't worry girls, you still have the edge). It also had over 700 miles of hiking trails, so I'd also like to go up there to hike around and see more of the park, as it only really has one road. We left the park at West Glacier after eating at one of the park's restaurants.
We caught US93 after the park and decided to head to Missoula and run the recommended road Lolo Pass, which is US12, part of the Nez Perce trail, headed into Idaho from Missoula. The run south on US93 was not very good because of bad traffic and numerous road work sections (we saw a lot of road work up there because they only have three months of available time for it). US93 did pass by Flathead Lake though, which looks like the native's summer hangout and where a couple bikinis were spotted. Missoula had the same problem with heavy traffic. We caught US12 all the way into Idaho and the Pacific Time Zone (11). We weren't too impressed with the road, but maybe it got better in Idaho. We didn't go into Idaho and finish the road because there weren't any roads that would make a good loop toward Yellowstone for the next day. So we turned around back toward Missoula, ate dinner, then got onto I90, before stopping in Deer Lodge for the night. There was this weird piece of fire apparatus (12) there, which we learned in the morning that two older men were driving it from either New York or Ohio to Washington. Its top speed was 45mph.
Night: Deer Lodge MT
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2007AUG15 We got back on I90 headed east toward Yellowstone National Park, in the morning. I was supposed to get off at US89 out of Livingston, but instead got off at CR85 out of Belgrade. After CR85, we got on US191, headed for the West entrance. Getting off early may have been a good thing, because not too far into it, we noticed Nate's rear tire gettin low again and we pulled over at a Honda shop, placed perfectly. We first attempted to fill the tire again, but then the plug that had been leaking the whole time let loose, so we had the Honda shop replace the tire, and had an early lunch.
We continued on US191 southward. Once we got a ways south, maybe even within Yellowstone, there was some heavy road work with long delays, so we just pulled over and took a look at the river that ran alongside the road, either Gallatin River or Grayling Creek, while waiting for the traffic to die (1)(2). We got back on a wide-open road afterward.
We entered the park through the West entrance, which followed the Madison River and provided some great views, including a young moose and a bunch of either mule deer or maybe elk (3), and a bunch of fly fisherman. We then took a right at Madison, heading toward most of the geothermal activity in the park (4)(5)(6)(7), including Old Faithful (8). After watching Old Faithful do his thing, we returned the way that we came but turned right at Madison, following the Gibbon River, then to Canyon Village for fuel. We went north from there to Tower-Roosevelt and headed east. Much of this road followed a valley, with mountains on either side. One of best scenes was right after cresting a large hill on this portion of road, the bottom of the grass filled valley opened up below and extended for as far as you could see, with many brown dots littering the land. At first, the brown dots seemed like rocks or something, but as you got closer, you could see that they were bison, completely filling up the valley. We saw a coyote and another moose before leaving the park. The picture taking during this part was pretty scarce because I was being rushed. As with Glacier, I'd also like to go to Yellowstone for a week or so to hike its 1000 miles of trails.
We were originally going to exit the park from the East entrance, but it was closed due to forest fires (that's the reason many pictures are hazy in the distance). We heard that the East entrance was a pretty good motorcycling road too, but took the Northeast entrance as the next best for the direction that we wanted to go, east. The road becomes US212 after the exit, which is actually Beartooth Highway, which was recommended to us by the Vancouver fellow. We weren't too impressed with Beartooth, but didn't ride it too long before we were directed to take a right hand turn onto WY296 in order to get to Cody, which turned out to be Chief Joseph, the other recommended road. I suspect Beartooth got better beyond the intersection with Chief Joseph. Shortly after getting onto Chief Joseph, during a heavily wooded descent, a grizzly bear cub ran across the road. I didn't get a picture because I was afraid of moma bear and that little guy was quick. But if it happened again, I would put an effort in to get a picture of the bear. Nate and I were very excited and happy to see it, not so sure about Dad.
We stopped a short ways into Chief Joseph because I hadn't put my ear plugs back in while in Yellowstone, and got one of the most spectacular views of the trip (9). This road got real good, with loads of 180 degree hairpins one right after the other. The road reached its highest point at Dead Indian Pass (10) (a real good panorama taken on a clear day is located on the Wikipedia Wyoming page). We continued on Chief Joseph to WY120 to Cody Wyoming, where we stayed for the night. I thought that Cody was one of the better cities that we stayed in. It had a neat main drag, with a bunch of restaurants and bars, as well as a seven nights per week rodeo.
Night: Cody WY
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2007AUG16 We had talked about going back to Yellowstone the night before because of the extreme rushing, and pretty much decided on it. So, after waking up and having breakfast at Grandma's, we backtracked from Cody (1) to the Northeast Entrance, as the East Entrance was still closed because of the fires, which meant the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway (2) again.
I got some pictures of the bison this time and more of the beauty of the park (3)(4)(5)(6)(7) (unfortunately, that smoke from the fires was moving in pretty good). You end up quitting taking pictures out there after not too long because you know that they can't capture everything.
We started the trek back home from within Yellowstone at around noon. We went the same way back to Cody, which meant even more Chief Joseph (8)(9)(10) (I don't have an explanation for my facial expression on 9, except maybe I was pissed at an RV that was holding us up over a good portion of the road). Once we were back in Cody, we decided that our best route to the nearest interstate, I90, to start making some time, was US14, which lead us to Greybull. That section of road was pretty boring, as it was all pretty much desert and as flat as a granite surface plate. Worth noting on Greybull was the airport that we passed on our way into town (just before hitting the road work). It was full of old, very large, multi-engine planes. We should have stopped and taken a look around. We had some pretty good Mexican, though a little spicy, in town for lunch.
The next section of US14 was very good. It was still a little boring for a little ways after leaving Greybull, but then the road entered a very narrow canyon, with shear rock faces rising up on either side for a few hundred feet probably (should have stopped and gotten a picture). The road then rose up out of the canyon and became a motorcyclist's dream, tight corners and elevation changes, as it passed through the Bighorn Mountains (11)(12) pretty close to some of the area wildfires. This section also had a very extreme terrain change from the life-less desert to the west to the tree, grass, and water filled Yellowstone-like terrain on the eastern side of the mountains. The transition was very interesting to witness. A little deer also stuck its nose out into the road toward the end of the mountain section, but luckly, the little punk didn't do it.
We got on I90 at Ranchester and made it to Sundance, which gave the famous film festival and Butch Cassidy's budy a famous name, for the night.
Night: Sundance WY
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2007AUG17 Most of the day was spent just hauling across South Dakota. The wind was very dirty the whole way across, bad enough to cause muscle pain from trying to fight it. We stopped at Rapid City to check on Mount Rushmore (1), which was cool to finally see. Not much else, the scenery was nice though.
Later on, in Sioux Falls, we took I29 southward into Iowa. The ride through Iowa had rain threatening us the entire time. We didn't put ran suits on at the previous fuel stop to the main threat, but as we were riding, the sky was looking really bad so I threw in the towel (I consider putting on a rain suit as admitting defeat) on the Iowa side of Omaha at 25th Street (2). While we were there suiting up, an old S10 pulled in with a young father, an athletic build of short height with short reddish hair, and a middle-elementary age daughter, thin, with long reddish hair also. The father opened the hood and checked fluids and the entire time the girl was talking to him. He paid attention to her and responded to her questions but seemed occupied with something else. He went into the store to buy some fluids and the girl continued talking. The only thing I picked up on her talking about was asking for something from the store, which her father said no, and she didn't argue. But she was talking the whole time.
We got back on the road, but nothing ever really happened to necessitate the rain suits and mine was annoying me badly by swinging around in the wind. We stopped for fuel in Percival Iowa, with a worse sky ahead filled with big dark clouds that were lit up by the lightning. We decided to stop in Percival for the night. While we ate dinner, a load of motorcycles showed up at our hotel. We stopped in the parking lot on the way back and talked with one of the riders and found out all of the bikes were part of a church group in Jacksonville. They were taking a three week ride across America and were on their way back to Florida. They were kind of lightweights to me, as they had a chase van and only had a 7000 mile count after three weeks. They did have something figured out though, with a bunch of people my age that are able to take three weeks in a row off from work.
Night: Percival IA
2007AUG18 We continued on I29 South to Kansas City, where we returned to I70 from the trip out. We ended up stopping at the same exit as on the way out for fuel one time in Missouri. We continued on I70 to I57 in Illinois, where we were surprised to have clean, cool air, contradicting the heat on the way out. The night put us in Tennessee, searching for bar-b-q since we had reentered the East. We failed. Just the drone down the interstate.
Night: Manchester TN
2007AUG19 We got back on I24 for the ride to Chattanooga to switch over to I75. We had a pretty smooth ride down to Florida, where we encoutered I75 at a standstill around Jasper. We did some "maneuvering" and ended up on I75 northbound and got off at the next exit and took US441 aways south to get back on a clear I75 to get back home to Ocala.
There was absolutely no farting performed during this trip. Farting and poop jokes were also refrained from.
I realize that wearing the same ear plugs throughout the entire trip might not have been the best idea, but they still looked pretty good after having 6300 miles on them.