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Rocketbunny Rocks the Rockies

$32 for a campsite!!?? :eek2:

Casey "Gotdurt" would have a stroke over that, hehe.
Day 07
Friday, June 15, 2007
Cody, WY to Great Falls, MT
412 miles


I had a big day planned, so when I awoke (feeling surprisingly refreshed for camping) I immediately wriggled out of bed. The KOA we were staying at holds a $2 pancake breakfast every morning, so the group of us STNers went down for breakfast before showering and packing up.

Walking around saying goodbyes, we discovered that we were all headed to Great Falls, MT that night. We decided to meet up again in the evening at the KOA there….i.e. group incentive to camp!

After a quick shopping trip to get the BMW some oil, I was on my way up WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.



Clouds were rolling over the mountaintops as I approached the summit. I worried that it would be foggy with low visibility.

I was pleasantly surprised when I finally crested the 8000’ Dead Indian Pass and found a valley filled with sunlight.



While carefully navigating the seven switchbacks that took me down from the pass, I remembered reading up on the history of the byway back when I came through in 2005. It follows the 1877 route of Chief Joseph and about one thousand Nez Perce Indians as they tried to escape from the cavalry and reservation life.




Out of the valley, I enjoyed the high elevation scenery while nervously anticipating Beartooth Highway.




Beartooth Highway (US-212) is generally recognized as among the best motorcycling roads in the country. It’s also the “highest elevation highway in the north Rockies.”

I’ve wanted to ride it for years, but I was also a little scared. Not knowing quite what to expect, I imagined steep rocky switchbacks, snow banks melting all over the road, and high winds jostling my bike.

Instead, I was pleased to find easy 20mph marked curves and dry pavement as I climbed out of Cooke City to 10947’ West Summit.



The treeless alpine fields of the plateau were spectacular.



Having found the ascent so easy, I was fully relaxed going through the tight switchbacks on the north side of the summit. Once down, I stopped to look back at the terraced mountainside.


Even at high elevations, the weather was perfect. It was in the 60s. While I was wearing all my suit liners, I never needed my heated grips. Vivid blue skies greeted me as I crossed into Montana.



I stopped often during my descent into Red Lodge. Walking back to my bike at a vista point, I found Bird runner (Jeff) and his fiance (Colleen). I had assumed that they were far ahead of me, but they had stopped for lunch in Cooke City, allowing me to take the lead in our mutual drive towards Great Falls.





Getting hungry, I hurried down the mountain to have lunch in Red Lodge.




I proceeded to I-90 in Laurel for a 100 mile slab-o-thon west. About 50 miles into this jaunt, I began to feel tired. After stopping for gas and a snack in Big Timber, I suddenly realized that it was 5pm and I’d only covered 200 miles. I had fully half my route remaining before I reached my intended destination.

It was time to buckle down and eat miles. Finally leaving the interstate, I took US-89 north through more plains and valleys.

Just because I was hauling *** didn’t mean that I was no longer interested in the history of the region. I was stopped at a marker honoring the mountain men who explored the area when Birdrunner pulled up behind me with his Blackbird and unique Uni-go one-wheeled trailer.



We decided to travel together over the remaining 135 miles to Great Falls.




Close to the longest day of the year, it was still very bright out when we pulled into the KOA at almost 9pm.

We were negotiating for a cabin when Ninjagirl and her S.O. arrived, only 10 minutes behind us. After unpacking the bikes, it was time for another evening of camp food, burned campfire popcorn, and roasted marshmallows.
:popcorn: :popcorn: Great report. I always expect such good things from you and am never disappointed.

Rocketbunny just plain RAWKS:dude:
Becca, This is a great adventure story. You really should consider publishing this story. Please, contact Larry Gore with "On The Road Again" Magazine larry@getontheroadagain.com http://www.getontheroadagain.com/contactus He is looking for good writers with tales of their travels to write articles for his magazine and you fit the bill perfectly.

Larry is the promoter of The Lone Star Rally in Galveston held in November. This year there will be a special event just for the ladies http://www.lonestarrally.com/html/untitled22.html.

Looks great Becca. Based on your Trip Report I am eagerly anticipating September.

I have two questions while they are fresh in your mind.

My route takes me from Cooke City to Red Lodge via 212. I plan to take a detour down 296 to ride Chief Joseph. Now to my questions.

First, How long, time wise, is the ride from Dead Indian Pass to 212.

Second, I am trying to decide whether to turn around at the Pass or go another 6 miles on 296 thru the next set of switch backs. What do you think.

I have two questions while they are fresh in your mind.

My route takes me from Cooke City to Red Lodge via 212. I plan to take a detour down 296 to ride Chief Joseph. Now to my questions.

First, How long, time wise, is the ride from Dead Indian Pass to 212.

Second, I am trying to decide whether to turn around at the Pass or go another 6 miles on 296 thru the next set of switch backs. What do you think.


Hmm. I'd say it was probably around 30 miles from the pass overlook to 212. Once off the switchbacks, you can pretty much move nicely. I'd probably allow at least 1.5 hours for the out-and-back.

I have no idea how long I took, but I was stopping often to pull out the camera...and would probably have stopped more if it had been my first time on that road.

And yeah, go ahead and turn around at the pass overlook. It's only a short way down to the flats from there... and the scenery is similar to that between the valley and 212.
Excellent trip report Becca! Thanks for bringing us along in your journey, and I can't wait for the next installment.
Day 08
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Great Falls, MT to Kalispell, MT
350 miles


Birdrunner (Jeff & Colleen) were already on their way back to Canada by the time I finished packing the bike. Ninjagirl and her guy were still around though.


Initially, it was a warm morning. However, as I approached Glacier National Park over the plains on US89, it got progressively colder. I stopped to put in my liners only an hour or so after taking them out at the campground.



I had lunch in Browning, the heart of a large Blackfoot reservation, before entering the east side of Glacier at St Mary.


I knew that Going to the Sun road was not yet opened all the way through, but I wanted to do a little of each side to get the full “Glacier” experience.

Sadly, the day was overcast, and the tops of the mountains were in the clouds.











Leaving Glacier, I took little MT-49 to the town of East Glacier before continuing on US-2 toward the west side.

MT-49 was narrow and dirty, with very little shoulder and a 25 mph speed limit. I *probably* had too much fun on it.


I stopped briefly at the Continental Divide on US-2. The clouds were lifting and I was beginning to be able to see the snow covered peaks that dominate my memories of Glacier.



US-2 dipped in to Glacier at one point. I saw several cars stopped on the side of the road and decided to check out what they were looking at. Mountain goats!


I went through a little rainstorm while approaching West Glacier. I strongly considered ditching the visit to West Glacier and just continuing on my way. Happily, the rain ended and the skies cleared by the time I reached the turn off. I entered the park again and was not disappointed.




I’m not sure how far Going to the Sun road was opened, but I went about twenty miles in before I decided that it was getting late and I needed to move on.



Reaching Kalispell, I followed my GPS to the home of a “motorcycling friend of a motorcycling friend.” Erin was a great host! We went out to dinner at a local restaurant and then spent a pleasant evening over our laptops, discussing riding, touring, gear, and various other issues of interest to riders. I did a load of laundry and then went to sleep in probably the most comfortable bed I’ve experienced this week.
Becca, I noticed a yellow tote bag on the back of your bike. What brand is it and how waterproof is it. I'm on the hunt for something waterproof to store my tent and sleeping gear in and be able to tie to the back seat of the Wing.

I've looked at dry bags here http://www.altrec.com/shop/compare?mode=S&pid=19848 and here http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/prodList.asp?scat=10 , but have yet to make a decision.

Since you have logged many miles on the road as a camper, I would welcome any advise you could provide in the way of waterproof stuff sacks or duffel bags.

Rather than turn this into a high-jacking, Becca, if you could PM me that would be great. If anybody else wants to comment, please, just pm me.

I'm loving this ride report!

Excellent story and pictures.

The more I read these ride reports, the harder it is to sit at a desk for 50 hours a week....
Since you have logged many miles on the road as a camper, I would welcome any advise you could provide in the way of waterproof stuff sacks or duffel bags.

She doesn't detail the bag on her website, but from memory that's a generic stuff sack that she uses to keep her sleeping bag dry and small.

Keep on rollin, Becca! :rider:

EDIT - actually, the yellow blob on the back seat is two compression bags - one is her tent and the other is her sleeping bag. Small, eh?
Girl, what a report! :clap:

You definitely need to write an article for the magazine that Quicksilver mentioned.

This is just too sweet. Be safe out there and continue to have fun.

We'll miss you at PO's tomorrow but looking forward to hearing your stories live when return.

For now, Okay, ready for more. :popcorn:

Hehe, just noticed that PO's without the ' is replaced by stars. Took me a moment to realize why...
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Not a hijack at all. The yellow bags are two waterproof compression bags by Outdoor Research. I've had them purposed to my tent and my sleeping bag since 2004 and they've never failed me.

I've put them in outer bags at times, big duffels or tail packs. I always seem to come back to just tying them together and bungie-ing them to the seat. Since I also do backpacking, separate bags work best for me, so I can stack them pre-compressed in my backpack.
Day 09
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Kalispell, MT to Bozeman, MT
500 miles


When I started planning this trip, there were so many places I wanted to go and things I wanted to see. It was truly heartbreaking having to pick and choose what would fit into my limited vacation time.

I pulled a lot out, but one thing I couldn’t bring myself to remove was Lolo Pass.

I first rode US-12 between Kooskia, ID and Lolo, MT back in 2005. I remember it as having endless easy-feeling curves with no surprises in a pretty river canyon. River canyon is generally my favorite kind of road…and Lolo Pass generally makes it to near (if not) the top of motorcycle roads top ten lists.

But in order to ride Lolo Pass on this tour, I would have to compromise. It was kinda out of the way of my intended route. I left it in, but it meant that the rest of the day would be spent pounding miles to get positioned for the next day.

After Erin fed me breakfast (Thanks Again!) I headed south from Kalispell on US-93. It was at times a two-lane and at times a 4-lane highway. It always had traffic, but I entertained myself with watching Flathead Lake pass to my left.


I made it to Lolo, MT around 11:00. I wasn’t yet hungry for lunch, but I knew that I would be starving by the time I finished riding the twisties, so I got a snack after filling up the gas tank.

I headed up the pass, roughly paralleling the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Westbound from Lolo, the road starts out as a 70mph speed limit river canyon with wide sweepers smoothly transitioning to the next. Then it climbs to Lolo Pass on the Idaho/Montana border.

I bagged the all important signs at the top of the pass.



After that, my picture-taking intentions kinda fell by the wayside. I was having so much fun…. And each time I saw a likely turnout, I was moving too fast to stop in time. Also, I went through cells of light rain…enough to wet my face shield, but not enough to impact visibility or traction. I saw temperatures as low as 41 degrees at the top of the pass, but I was warm and dry with my waterproof touring suit and Widder electric vest.

Once down the mountain, the road settled into *river canyon* mode. I swept along the Lochsa River, powering around the curves mostly in second or third gear. I think I spent more time in a hard lean than upright. No sooner did one curve end than the next began in the other direction. They seemed endless.



I was throwing the R1200ST back and forth, pressing hard at the bars and enjoying the feeling of the suspension settling into each curve. There were plenty of passing opportunities and most cars quickly got out of my way as I approached.

I seem to remember sticking strictly to the speed limit of 50mph (on the Idaho side) last time I was through here. I don’t *quite* think I managed that this time…considering that I was almost always within 2000rpm of redline in 2nd and 3rd gear. The R1200ST loves revving.


A little while later, while stopped at a historical ranger station, I looked down at my dash to see that I was at the half tank mark….after ONLY EIGHTY MILES! I decided it was probably a good idea to turn around then… in hopes of making it back to Lolo without assistance.



My reserve countdown was blinking angrily at me when I finally pulled into a gas station in Missoula. I had almost completely smoked a tank of gas in 160 miles. (Normally I get 220 miles out of a tank before the countdown ends)

It was 4:30 and I was starving. Riding through Missoula, I found a Mongolian BBQ chain restaurant that hit the spot. The both of us fueled up, it was time to pay the price for spending so much time on Lolo Pass.

I put my Widder vest back on, carefully buttoned up my suit for rain, and set my glove gauntlets inside the cuffs of my jacket.

Missoula to Bozeman is 200 miles via I-90. I spent the first 40 miles going through rain cells. After that it cleared slightly, but I was still getting occasional drops. The suit did it’s job. I was completely dry and managed to keep warm with the extra assistance of my heated grips.

It was late in the day, so I wanted to just get to my destination without stopping. I successfully managed to run the entire segment without pulling off even once.

For an interstate, the road was surprisingly fun. The speed limit was 75mph, through several steep and winding mountain passes.

I finally arrived in Bozeman around 8:30. The skies were threatening more rain, so I found myself a hotel room and bedded down for the night.
Becca - Great stuff.. looks like some great riding. Be safe and we look forward to seeing more pictures. :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
I just think it is funny how you keep running into people you know or even met earlier in the trip. Was that pure coincidence or had you talked about the route beforehand?
If you like river canyon roads, then you will love Hwy 65 East of Grand Junction before you start climbing over the Grand Mesa. Also, you will love Hwy 141 South of Grand Junction down to Naturita and then 145 on down to 62. Both sections are incredible and seldom have any traffic.
:drool: Need more updates !! :drool:

I am thoughly ejoying reading your reports. Makes me yearn for a "LONG" trip soon.
:popcorn: :popcorn:

Yes, I need another update.

I have a trip to Colorado, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons coming up in a few weeks. This thread is making the wait even worse.:drool:

Rocketbunny Rocks!!!:bow: :bow: :bow:
Last update was Sunday's report and was posted on Tuesday (but essentially late Monday night).
I'll give her 'till tomorrow night before I start calling out the dogs. There's a particular bloodhound that I know already has her scent....