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Hi and welcome to my motorcycle trip blog. Here you will find motorcycle trip reports primarily based in the State of Washington. The entire state is my walk in the park. From the Pacific Ocean and Olympic mountains in the west, to the magnificent Cascade mountains, to the desert and agricultural lands in the east, Washington has it all. Born and raised in Washington I have over 40 years of motorcycle experience. Here you will find a wealth of experience regarding the weather, roads and seasonal patterns of this scenic wonderland. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Spokane WA to Fort Phil Kearny Wyoming

Last winter I read The Fetterman Massacre: Fort Phil Kearny and the Battle of the Hundred Slain by Dee Brown. It documents the battle where 81 men where lost in December 1866. A very good read to learn about US relations with the Native Americans. Out of this I decided I wanted to visit the battle site. There are some great roads in the area plus I can pick off the remaining points on the back of the Rendezvous Red Lodge 2016 tee shirt. It is always fun to ride to new places. Gee there are lots of reason for this ride and non of them involve rocks.

Leaving from Spokane I go over Thompson Pass, see one deer and and another damn near ran into me. Motorcyclists don't hit deer, a deer hits motorcyclist. Thompson Pass isn't all that scenic nor is the pavement twisty. I have no desire to return soon. This one was too close of a call. Though northern Idaho I-90 is as scenic as Thompson Pass and a hell of a lot safer.

Near Thompson Falls.

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The Missoula Floods Ice Damn was just west of here by 20 miles or so. It is easy to see how and Ice Damn could block the Clark Fork River. The elevation here is about 2600 feet and the maximum water depth of Glacial Lake Missoula was 4200' nearly topping this canyon.

The reason to ride over Thompson was to was visit this area and ride Montana Hwy 200 which roughly parallels I-90 to the north till Helena. This is one of the roads I have never been on before due to the W word. Work always provided constraints but I am not working any more so I have time to do it just a little different these days. Note to you working stiffs. Don't work any longer than you absolutely have to. I am nearing 65 and over the last two years have developed two annoying aches and pains that will most likely remain with me for life. Nothing serious but just annoying and it could be a lot worse. Get out while you can because soon you will start thinking could this be my last motorcycle?

I pass along a lot rivers on this day and noticed a several cars at the river access parking lots. Folks really like fishing here and recreating on the rivers. The other thing I notice is this:

Ya heard of urban blight? Well I call this ranch blight. In many cases a newer building nearby but the old one never is demolished but simply left to rot. Just observational humor.

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I leave Hwy 200 and choose Hwy 279 to go over Flesher Pass, again another road new to me. Nice. This photo is near the summit of Flesher Pass.
And this is a nice view from there.

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Self explanatory. What is not self explanatory is crossing the Continental Divide means leaving the Columbia River basin so there no more commentary on on the great floods in this ride report. Plus I don't know jack about the geology in Montana and Wyoming other than Jellystone sits on a hot spot on the earth's crust and the North American Plate is move SW over the hotspot so someday the hotspot will be over Billings Montana a fitting place for a hot spot!

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I ride by Silver City Montana to Hwy 287 with construction for a few miles riding on dirt. This is not necessary. It is a four lane road and it is all busted up. Why can't crews complete one side then route traffic to the new pavement while work on the other side is completed? I have a answer. Cause this is the way we have done it for years! I get to Helena hop on I-90 to Bozeman where I spend the night.

Day 2

Last night at dinner I spoke with a local who said tourism at Jellystone was down due to Covid-19. This conversation was helpful shaping this trip. I also downloaded the Montana DOT app to avoid further, I wish I had a S-Ten moments, due to road construction.

I left the hotel and found myself at McDonald's eating a couple of breakfast sandwiches along with a cup of coffee in the parking lot. Didn't notice the picnic tables till later. Oh well. With the bike and myself well fueled it was down I-90 for a bit to Livingston. It is hard to avoid I-90 in Western Montana as most of the roads go north and south.

Once off the freeway at Livingston good scenery returns following the Jellystone River into Gardiner.

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The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance to Jellystone. It is a crummy photo shooting into the sun but the Arch is cool. Rather narrow inside too showing how small cars where back in the day.
It was a five car wait to enter the park. Last time I was here the line was much longer.

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I ride across Lamar Valley to see buffalo. Traffic was light.

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The beasts are all over including the road. I watched a couple of males butting heads, their bodies shaking after the collision. Even at 200 yards it was an impressive site. A lady with a huge telephone lens must have got some great shots of that scene. She had the camera mounted on a tripod. If those telephoto lenses weren't so damn expensive I'd get one and do like her, just chill at a pullout with my camera.

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Buffalo in the road are an interesting dilemma unless you got a dual sport bike. One buffalo was just hanging out in the on coming lane with traffic backed up in both directions. I sat back and waited for an opportunity to go by. The cars ahead of me cleared out while the buffalo had two hoofs on the shoulder facing away from me. This was my cue to ease on by. The beast decided to start moving just I got near. My response was more right wrist to clear the scene quickly without making a scene. I turned around to get a photo of this guy to see none of the traffic had moved since I went by including a couple of Harleys.

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The sole geological feature along the road in the valley.

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Having my fill of Buffalo entertainment it was time to head to Chief Joseph Pass and turn it up a bit.

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One the way up to the summit. Curse the power lines but they make this vista possible.

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And on down the other side to see some red rock.

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On to Cody taking Hwy 14 to Shell Wyoming crossing the basin of no joy for FJR riders. The road is flat and straight for 100 miles.

Things change after leaving Shell. This is one of the roads I have never been on and it is a good one going from 4400' to 9000' at the aptly named Granite Pass in 22 miles.

Nice road, great fun and just a few pictures.

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On to Burgess Junction and down down down at a 40mph speed limit behind a gaggle of cars to I-90 to stay the night in Sheridan. I picked a Best Western and this one had a bike wash where I knocked off a few of the darn Wyoming bugs. Nice I liked that bike wash station. Nice place to stay too with a clean comfortable room right in the downtown area with good food choices nearby.

Great day to be on the FJR.

Day Three

I pack up and ride into downtown Sheridan for breakfast determined to avoid McDonald's and breakfast in the parking lot again. Find a place with a parking spot right in front. Sweet. It is small coffee shop serving breakfast. Good choice. Great coffee and a darn good burrito.

The plan today is to visit Fort Phil then go to Red Lodge. The Fort doesn't open until 10:00am and it is a 30 minute ride from Sheridan so it was a late start to the day. The choice of going to Red Lodge means I go back through Yellowstone rather than ride south into Jackson. Northern route home or southern route home. I picked the northern route because temperatures were rising and Jellystone wasn't terribly crowded. I thought it might be nice to see more of Jellystone than Lamar Valley.

I arrive at Fort Phil take in the video, look a the artifacts, then check out the site of the Fort. The Fort was destroyed not long after the Army abandon the Fort. There is a replica stockade wall at the entrance to the Fort with outlines in the ground marking locations of buildings. Let's put it this way - to see the Fort was the reason for the ride but the ride was much more interesting than the Fort. The book I read last winter was better.

On to the battle sight 3-4 miles from the Fort. A monument commemorating the battle sight.

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And the site itself. It is kinda hard to appreciate 153 years ago men died here and how hard life was compared to today.

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Time for fun. Let go ride some roads never ridden, Hwy 16 to Ten Sleep then across the basin to Cody, Wy to Chief Joseph Pass, ah do I have to ride it again, Beartooth and Red Lodge.

Blue skies and puffy clouds on a good road. Nice.

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Self explanatory.

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And down the other side.

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Hwy 16 is a great road. It has it all. It is remote, good pavement and scenic. And mountains.

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The photo says it all.

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A behind me shot that came out kinda nice. Look at those clouds.

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A pullout. Reminds me of the Badlands.

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We have been here before.

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Chief Joseph Pass/Highway.

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At the summit there is road construction and I am last in line behind a string of RVs and autos. Passing is not a good option for the decent so I pull over to take in the scenery.

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I wait for the line to go then I am first in line. It was 10 minutes before I proceed to enjoy a nice decent passing a few RVs as needed.

At Bearthooth Pass I wait for construction about 20 minutes so I take some photos.

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Nice view.

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Selfie.

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The Rev'it Cyclone 3 jacket worked great. Love the ventilation. It was good today from 57°-93°. I was comfortable all day.

Back on the go again to Beartooth Pass.

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Near the summit.

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Day 4

Today the plan is to ride over Beartooth Pass, again oh darn, across Jellystone's Lamar Valley to see more bison, then taking a leap of faith on down to Old Faithful and on to West Jelleystone for the night. The prevailing wisdom is to avoid Jellystone but this year tourism is down so I am going in!

The night before I went to the grocery store in Red Lodge to get some food for lunch. I didn't want to stop in Jellystone for food. This turned out be a stroke of genius. I forgot what I did for breakfast this morning.

On the road to Beartooth.

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The sun is at my back so good photo ops were plentiful.

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Look closely at the middle of the photo to see a small mountain lake.

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I was having a great time. Retired life is a peach. Today it is all about smiles, taking photos, enjoying scenery. Nuts to miles. This thought ran through my head all day. It was a pleasant thought and I was happy to be on the FJR.

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Photo says it all. As I am retired you are looking at my office chair.

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This semi was heading up the pass from the Cooke City side. There are lots of turns before the summit and then down the other side. Idiot.

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Hairpin turns and scenery.

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Lakes and mountains galore. This is a great road.

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I had to wait 20 minutes for road construction. The waiting place was photogenic. I left my helmet on to guard against mosquitoes. I couple of the critters found there was between my jacket collar and helmets. The Harley riders had it worse.

Back on the road again this is my view.

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And on to......

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To see a few beasts.

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A nice valley. Notice how many cars are out here?

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A few more beasts.

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On to Mammoth Hotsprings was a bit crowded. Line for food were long. The congestion thinned out just beyond Mammoth. I stop at this thermal pool. Forgot the name but it was nice and I enjoy lunch here.

Then on to Old Faithful. I just missed the eruption so I had a little more than an hour to burn so I took a short walk to nearby thermal features.

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I found a front row seat to watch Old Faithful.

I road back the way I came to West Jellystone where I spend the night. Great day.

 Day 5

Today I had some choices. Ride 280 miles Hamilton Montana and finish the ride off the next day, ride 530 miles to get home via Hwy 287 Hwy 93 to Missoula then slab it home, or ride 619 miles via Hwy 287 Hwy 93 then Lolo Pass home. It was Sunday and Slow Slow Pass wasn't talking to me. Didn't want to deal with low speed limits, law enforcement or slow RVs on a Sunday afternoon. So I picked the second option.

Shortly after leaving West Yellowstone I come up Hebgen Lake the site of the 1959 7.5 earthquake causing a landslide blocking the Madison River. The brown spot is where the hill gave way.

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After the leaving Lake Hebgen the road straightens and the mountains are distant views. No great photo opps but great for working the cruise control on the 17 ES. The winds also pickup intermittently but the FJR is a pretty good in a breeze and the new Vstream sport touring screen does a good job.

Badger Pass offers a rest stop and a photo op.

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Typical scenery for the day. After riding some great road earlier in this trip it wasn't the same. The twist factor was missing.

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The twist factor returned a Chief Joseph Pass and near the summit of Lost Trail Pass. RV slowed progress but not for long. Why are there two yellow lines in the road?

Near Sulu Montana I find these guys eating gravel along side the rode.

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Back in the Columbia River watershed I will end this ride report with a geology feature along I-90 outside St. Regis Montana.

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These annual layers of sediments, called Varves, are from Glacial Lake Missoula.

The End.