Both Bob and I awoke very early in anticipation of our Bike Trip to Montana. There was no need to try to go back to sleep as we both knew that probably would not be possible. Therefore we got up from bed, put on a pot of coffee, turned on the latest weather report and exchanged small talk about the next several days that were ahead of us. This being my very first long distance bike trip gave me a new thrill just to imagine the sites, people and places we will encounter on this journey.
After a cup of hot coffee, a shower, and before we began to finish getting things ready for the ride, Bob went out to the garage secretly and came back with a small package. August 2 is my birthday and for the past several years the Sturgis Bike Rally always fell on my birthday and Bob seldom has been home to be with me during this time. He has always been great about making my birthdays very special, especially last year when he bought me my new Softail Deluxe. What a beautiful bike and made JUST for me too. This year was a bit different, however, as this trip would be together and will begin on my birthday. He handed me two small packages. With curiosity, I opened the two small packages: one was a set of Harley earrings which I immediately put on to wear today on our road trip, and the other package was a good luck “guardian bell”. Most motorcycle riders know what the bell is significant for especially when someone who loves you gives you this bell. The “guardian bell” is to help protect riders from the road gremlins who cause havoc and bad luck to riders. Of course this bell went onto my bike immediately. We finally had everything packed and ready to go and I took a couple of pictures of our bikes fully packed before heading out on the road. As we both mounted our bikes, Bob leaned over and gave me a kiss right before we started up the engines of our Harleys. We smiled at each other and off we took to the road. This kiss was significant during each day of our trip as we made sure we shared this meaningful kiss each morning during the entire trip with a meaning that we would set out to have fun and be safe. This kiss would also be significant with any and all rides we take together in the future - this we promised each other.
We decided to have breakfast at Flap Jacks of Prestwick. After finishing a hearty breakfast we were finally on the road. It was a little chilly this morning as we donned our leather coats, but we both knew that before long these coats would be packed away as temps were projected to reach close to 95 degrees and sure enough that became true about 2 hours into the ride. We had driven to the first rest stop when I pulled over to adjust my headphones of my mp3 player and to make our first pit stop. Once again back on the highway of interstate 74 we were headed to Illinois.
The traffic wasn’t very heavy this time of the day until we reached Iowa when we merged onto interstate 80. We stopped for lunch at an Applebee’s in Galesburg, Illinois. It was a much needed stop to not only eat but to cool down and get off the bikes for awhile. After eating we headed to the new Harley Dealership in Galesburg, wandered around in the shop for a while and once again were back on the road.
The place we scheduled for our first overnight stop was in Coralville, Iowa which is a smallish community right next to Iowa City at the Country Inns & Suites. I spent about 3 years of my childhood in Iowa City, IA which is 5 minutes from Coralville. Bob and I planned to do a little sightseeing this evening before settling in for the night. We settled into our room only to find the sheets and bedspread were damp and got that little problem fixed promptly by guest services. We jumped into our swim suits and lounged in the pool for the next hour before going to a restaurant for dinner at a place named the Iowa Power Plant Restaurant which was on the Iowa River as we shared a table overlooking the view of this river.
During our quick tour of Iowa City we rode through the University of Iowa which was the University my Dad went to as a young man. I lived in Iowa City during my first & second grades of school. We also toured the city park where we watched the game of Bocce Ball. The President of the league, Ron Grassi at firstname.lastname@example.org came up to us on our bikes as we watched and introduced himself and invited us to come watch. We never watched this game before and found it most interesting. We would informed that this is played worldwide and when we return to Indy, we will investigate just how popular this game is and be sure to email the president and let him know. Contact: www.bocceIowaCity-Coralville.com, Ron Grassi email@example.com 713 Fifth Avenue Place, Coralville, IA 52241-2011 (319) 321-1919. Webb search: ibocci.com
It was now about 9:00pm and after being up since early hours that morning, both Bob and I were feeling really tired and looked forward to climbing into our bed for a good night sleep.
Woke up about 6:00am today and spent a few minutes journaling of the day before. Today we plan to ride to Elkhorn Nebraska to visit Leroy and LaVonne Stamp who are 2nd cousins – cousins to my late mother who used to rave about how much she enjoyed Leroy growing up as a young girl in Nebraska. Several years ago I met Leroy for the first time when I brought my granny back to Nebraska to be buried next to her husband. He was such a host that weekend and I vowed that I’d do my best to one day come back to Nebraska and visit once again. They reported that there were about a dozen relatives who will be over to meet and greet us upon our arrival and Leroy’s son is flying in from Cincinnati Ohio for the reunion. I look forward to this day.
Leaving Country Inn about 9am west on I-80 towards Omaha Nebraska and on to Elkhorn arriving at Leroy Stamp’s at approximately 2:30PM. Ate lunch at I-59 & I-80 at a truck stop and called Leroy for directions to Elkhorn.
After arriving at Leroy’s home, both he and LeVonne greeted us with hugs and soon their son Greg and his wife arrived at their house. Greg and Diane live in Cincinnati and flew their own plane to Omaha. They are both retired and travel quite extensively. We enjoyed visiting with them and plan to visit again either in Cincinnati or Indy at some time in the future. Also Sharon, Leroy’s daughter, came to visit. She is a nurse in Methodist hospital in Elkhorn. Sharon is a registered nurse manager of the OB/GYN Unit. Winifred and his wife also came to visit. Leroy and LeVonne were magnificent hosts and prepared a full dinner and breakfast the next morning. Greg and Diane joined all of us for breakfast the next morning with lots of good stories to exchange. Greg and Diane promise to fly their plane into Indy sometime so we can get to know each other better.
Headed out about 9:15am from Leroy’s home, traveling I-80 towards Lincoln NB and SR 2 towards Grand Island. Stopped at Broken Arrow to fuel up which has a Harley Dealership down from SR 2. Nebraska is a very flat and dry state. Along SR 2 we were often the only ones on that long stretch of highway except for the many trains hauling coal to one of Nebraska’s coal plants. As these trains would pass us Bob and I would wave to the conductor who in turn would often blow their horn to return the hello.
From Broken Arrow we traveled west towards Alliance and then to Chaldron, NB where we stayed at the Olde Inn of Chaldron. Total traveling distance today was approximately 450 miles. After we arrived at the Inn, we ran into 3 bikers whom we had passed along the route stopping for a bite to eat and Bob had recommended this Olde Inn. After arriving at the Inn, we walked into the tavern to register and met up with the 3 bikers who had arrived just a few minutes before us.
The weather topped close to 100 degrees which caused us to stop frequently to cool down. When arriving at the Inn, we were greeted by the owner to a free cold beer which tasted mighty good after traveling in temperatures in the 90’s. The room we stayed in was old and quaint with 2 double beds and a bath. Dinner served was in the Inn’s dining room with Prime Rib as their specialty and then we took a short walk outside where there was good music to enjoy while we strolled along Main Street.
Left the Olde Main Street Inn about 8:30am to ride on towards Sturgis. Arrived in Hot Springs where we had breakfast in Main Street.
As we traveled through Nebraska, we traveled through Nebraska’s “the Pines” forest. Nebraska was significant for the many trains hauling coal along SR 2 from Gillette Wyoming to several of Nebraska’s Electrical Plants. Nebraska’s land was barren and dry throughout the countryside.
After leaving Hot Springs we traveled SR 385 into Wind Cave National Park passing herds of buffalo, prong horn antelope along the way and thousands of acres of open scenic range. Traveling onto SR 79 we headed north to Custard State Park. Before entering Custard we stopped to view the scenic overlook of Heady. As we traveled through Custard State Park along with thousands of other motorcycles, we came up upon a herd of buffalo crossing the road as motorists stopped to take pictures. We heard later that another biker stopped in front of a herd of buffalo a few days later to take pictures and the buffalo turned on the biker and trampled not only his bike but also sent this biker to the hospital. Signs are everywhere warning tourists of the dangers of these wild animals.
Also a pack of wild donkeys became very friendly to the motorists in hopes to get a snack or two. Turning on Iron Mountain Road we stopped to take a mini walk up to an overlook of Mount Rushmore as well as beautiful granite rock formations. After leaving Custard State Park, we road into Keystone, and entered Rapid City on Highway 16. After leaving Rapid City we road to Piedmont, SD where we set up camp for the night just outside of Sturgis at Sturgis Secora Camp Site. Before traveling into Sturgis, we took a long dip in the camp’s pool to cool down after a long hot ride in temps in the 90’s once again.
After the dip in the pool we got on Bob’s bike, road into Sturgis and took some photo’s of Main Street, visited Bob's friend Hippie at his work and invited him for a beer after getting off work. Also tried out some of the different bike seats and decided upon the “Ultimate Seat” to put on the Deluxe the next morning. This was definitely my BEST purchase during this entire vacation as this bike seat saved my tushi ten times over. I gave up my gel pad as the Australian owner guaranteed it would NOT be needed during the remainder of our trip....he was right. Secora Bar at the camp site is where we went after leaving Sturgis, ate dinner, met Hippie (Dennis Petrowski) and Jim, Melanie and their friends for a few beers before calling it a night.
Woke early after a restless night of light drizzle, motorcycle engines, and bikers chatting, showered and broke down camp. Had breakfast at one of the nearby churches serving an “all you can eat” to help earn money for their youth to visit Australia in 2008. Once finishing breakfast, we went back into Sturgis to have the new “ultimate seat” installed on the Deluxe, visited Hippie once again who gave Bob clamps for his highway pegs and did some last minute shopping before heading on towards Buffalo, WY.
Took I-90 west toward Gillette, WY stopping at Sundance WY home of Devils Tower to get out of the heat, potty and cool off a bit. Back on the bikes toward Gillette and passed the open coal mine where trucks were being loaded to ship coal back to Nebraska which was an interesting site especially after seeing all those trains hauling the coal earlier in our trip.
In Gillette, we fueled up, ate at the Harley Davidson Dealership and got back on I-90 towards Buffalo. Once in Buffalo, we fueled for the last time until we arrive in Tensleep and picked up some smallish breakfast items and cold beer. Arrived at Pine Lodge at approximately 6:00pm, unpacked the bikes and sat on the front porch of our cabin overlooking an awesome view of the Big Horn Mountains.
After resting and taking in the beauty of the countryside, we ate dinner at the lodge restaurant where we chatted with an ex-Amish traveler touring Amish folks towards Sturgis. Our second light rain came while we were sitting on our porch and fortunately quit sometime in the night. The rain cooled the air and required a nice warm fire to warm up the cabin which made sleeping pleasant.
August 7, 2007
Today we woke to a nice morning with the sun rising in the eastern sky. The cabin had become chilled through the night and Bob built a fire once again. We sat enjoying the fire, waiting for our friends to arrive, and drank a cup of “grandpa’s coffee, ate some smallish apple Danish, a few slices of oranges and drank some apple juice. The plan is to ride to Cody, WY and take in some of the mountain’s scenic roads.
We walked around the grounds of the lodge and enjoyed the babbling brook, visiting the horse stable as they were being fed their breakfast, took several pictures before Jim, Melanie, Mark and Cindy arrived at about 11:00am. After their arrival we took off up the mountain highway 16 towards Tensleep where we ate lunch at the Tensleep Bar.
Once again we continued on Hwy 16 towards Greybull traveling to Shell Canyan, Shell Falls and went to Burgess Junction for a cold drink and luckily missed out once again on the light rain as we drank a cold beer.
Headed west on highway 14 to Medicine Wheel where we drove the bikes along a long gravel road to the parking lot. Here at Medicine Wheel you have to hike a mile and a half walk up to the Mysterious Medicine Wheel which is sacred to the Indians.
The group decided instead of walking we would ride the bikes up to the Wheel which follows a very steep and narrow gravel road overlooking the mountain ranges. After spending some time at the Wheel we headed back down the narrow steep gravel road back to Hwy 14, we looked over the great basis which is an overlook of the Big Horn Mountains west towards the Rockies and them preceded 13 miles down 10% grade traveling towards Powell Wyoming.
Before heading to our motel for the night, Bob stopped at the Relocation Center of theJapanese POW camp which left a sour feeling amongst everyone. We arrived at Cody where we ate dinner and stayed the night at the Beartooth Inn.
August 8, 2007
Began our morning once again to a nice sunny day leaving Beartooth Inn at about 9:30am where we stopped at the near by K-Mart to purchase additional undies for Bob. Everyone had to shop at Cody’s Harley Shop before heading Cody on Hwy 120 which is also known as Chief Joseph Highway where we were all awed by the beauty of the mountain ranges for the next 43 miles.
Before heading up to Beartooth Pass, we parked my bike at Cook City at the cabin we would stay in for the night. We ate lunch at Cook City and then were on our way to a breathtaking ride along Beartooth Pass ending in Red Lodge on highway 212. I can say enough about this ride up to the top of Beartooth Mountain. It was cold and we donned our leathers once again as we took in the beauty of the mountain top. The photo’s don’t do it justice but we tried to capture it’s beauty.
Again we shopped at Red Lodge’s Harley Shop before saying good-by to our friends who were heading back to Sturgis for the remainder of their trip. Bob and I left Red Lodge and headed back up Beartooth Pass to take in a little more of it’s beauty before arriving back in Cook City for the evening. It was a great trip with our friends.
Spent the day at Yellowstone National Park entering from the East entrance and immediately seeing a herd of buffalo for several miles along the road. Stopped at Tower Falls, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Upper and Lower Falls
and turned around heading back North towards Tower Falls when we saw a wolf up on top of the grass highlands . We ate lunch at the Roosevelt Lodge before we headed West towards Mammoth Hot Springs and viewed the beautiful calcium hot spring deposits. We then headed south towards the Geyser Basins and passed grazing Elk along the Madison River edges. Took the road heading towards the Firehole where visitors spend the day swimming in the river that is warmed by the hot springs.
Arrived at Old Faithful luckily with 15 minutes before it erupted and was able to capture several photos.
After leaving Old Faithful we traveled north and took another Geyser Basin Loop where we watched the White Dome erupt which only erupts a couple of times a year.
As we were leaving Yellowstone for the evening, we passed the Eagles Nesting grounds and passed by two nests high in the pine trees. Up ahead all traffic was stopped for the ranger inspection checking for DUI’s and after leaving the inspection, we left the park and stayed at West Yellowstone’s Grizzly RV Park for the evening where we ordered Pizza delivery and cold beer before calling in a night.
Woke us early, packed the bikes and went out for breakfast and a little shopping before heading north on highway 287 which took us through the after affects of the Quake of 1958 traveling along Earthquake Lake.
We continued on 287 up to Ennis and jumped on highway 2 and passed “rocking in the river outdoor concert”. Soon we were on I-90 towards Butt and had to stop and put on additional clothing as it started raining on top of the mountain.
We arrived at Anaconda Fairmont Resorts at approximately 4pm where we settled into our new home for the next several days. After a cold beer and relaxing a big, we went into Anaconda to tour the town and were recommended to eat at Big Jim’s Steakhouse who was originally from Elkhart, Indiana.
August 11, 2007
Started the day very lazy, eating a light breakfast and deciding what we would do for the day. This part of Montana is known for the mining communities that came to be back in the days of the gold rush where mining towns popped up all over Montana and as soon as they popped up they soon disappeared when the market crashed and these towns became non-existent. One of these towns that survived was Philipsburg and not far from Philipsburg is the ghost town of Granite, one of the largest mining towns in its time populating over 3,000 people.
Left for Philipsburg which was an old mining community and walked around the shops, toured some of the old buildings of the 1800’s ,
bought some hand
and took a bike tour of Granite Ghost Town.
After touring the Granite Ghost and Mining Town, we returned back to Phillipsburg to pick up my bike and have an ice cream cone at one of the
old Soda Shops in Philipsburg.
After leaving Philipsburg we went north towards Drummond on scenic Pintler highway 1 and went on highway 12 to Helena Montana eating dinner at the Stoners Last Chance Saloon in Elliston before returning back to Anaconda’s Resort. What a beautiful sunset as we head back to the condo.
August 12, 2007
Took the Scenic Skalkaho Pass today, riding towards Moose Lake in hopes of seeing some wildlife. Passed the Hellibase Fire Rescue crew on our way to Moose Lake. After arriving at Moose Lake we sat quietly in hopes of seeing a Moose or Bear but none were to be seen. We turned around and went back to Skalkaho Pass traveling through some beautiful countryside
and came up upon a deer who looked puzzled as to what was making all the noise that approached her.
Bob wanted to try his hand at panning for gems so we stopped at Gem Mountain to see if we could get lucky. We found a few cutable gems and went on a merry way back up the Skalkaho Pass up the mountain side on some horrendous roads.
Soon we came upon the scenic waterfall and had a bite to eat: beer and chips were the main menu items. As we continued on the pass, we finally came to the bottom of the mountain. As we traveled towards Anaconda, the air became more and more smoked filled which caused visibility to be difficult at best. Soon we arrived back to condo for the night.
August 13, 2007
Today is a day of rest as we decided to take the morning off and catch up on a few needed chores such as laundry, washing the Harley, and journaling. For lunch we went to the Fairmont Hot Springs Hotel and went for a swim.
After our lazy morning and swim in the hot springs, we decided to go for a ride to Butte MT to visit some of the interesting historical sites. We first went to the Mining Museum of Montana and walked the museum learning the history of those times. It was an interesting museum with a tour of an actual underground mine, as well as a model town of those days.
We then went to Butte’s Harley Dealership and decided to go to dinner in Butte at the Derby Restaurant where Bob finally tried the Moose Drool Beer (ugh!)
We passed by the Open Mining exhibit and drove up to the Mining Memorial of 1917 where over 100 men died during the mining fire.
Butte built a memorial in their honor. As we continued through Butte, we found Bob’s street named in his honor:
The weather still remains hazzy from all the smoke coming from the Montana fires. We plan to drive up to Glasier Nat’l Park tomorrow and hope that the smoke haze diminishes as we drive up north.
Saying goodby to Anaconda, we headed off towards Glasier National Park. We weren’t sure if we should try to make this trip or not with all of the smoke surrounding the countryside and listening to the nightly news which gave an account of the Montana fires and road closures. But something kept us from cancelling this part of the trip and we are so glad that we decided to go as planned. We had to take Hwy. 93 to Kalispell a little further from the Rockies but it wound up being a scenic drive nevertheless. We then jumped onto Hwy 2 which took us to Glasier’s Highway to the Sun.. As we approached West Glasier and entered into the park, we were fortunate to see a mother bear and her two cubs running across the road in front of us and fortunately Bob had the camera out and was able to catch them running into the woods.
As we continued into the park, we were almost immediately awed by the beauty that we have read about. Pictures are worth a thousand words and therefore I will leave it at that.
Bob and I are truly glad we made the decision to come to Glasier Nat’l Park and hope to return again in the near future.
As we traveled out of the park onward towards East Glasier where we would reside for the night, the road we took was just as awesome as the roads in the park. In fact, there were a few roads that made the heart stop as we passed along the sharp curves and over-hanging clifts. Special caution had to be taken as we traveled these roads to East Glasier as it is Open Cattle Ranges and often we passed cattle grazzing along the roadside. We arrived at Glasier Park Lodge at approximately 8:45pm and registered for the night. As it turned out we were the last visitors to register for the night and the restaurant would stop serving at 9pm. We hussled after parking the bikes to the dining room for a nice dinner and bottle of wine. The room was a typical 1930’s room with no air conditioning, TV or phone.
Time to say goodby to Glasier National Park after a nice breakfast in the Lodge Restaurant and snapping a couple of last minute photo’s.
After leaving East Glasier, we began our journey home. As we traveled home, we stopped at the
National Park exhibiting Custers Last Stand. We spend some time exploring the battlefields of the Euro/American Military vs. Native Indian Tribes. This national park also houses one of the National Cemetaries of our military. As our journey continued through Montana, we drove through several Indian Reservations on highway 212.
Before leaving America’s most scenic countryside, we had to drive through the Bad Lands once again as this part of the country always amazes us in it’s incredible beauty and intrigue During this drive through the Bad Lands, we were fortunate to see a Ram sitting on his throne on top of a bluff. We also saw several male & female Elk as the sun began to set keeping us on our toes as we traveled along that drive. At one point, there was a doe next to the roadside as we were exiting the park. That evening we stayed at an AmericInn at Kadoka, SD.
August 16, 2007
After sleeping in this day, we finally got on the road about 9:30am and headed down I-90 East to Sioux Falls, SD stopping at the Harley Dealership and met two middle aged women from Canada and exchanged discussions about each other’s trip. They had been on the road for about 7 weeks and went into 28 different states and were headed back home just north of Glasier National Park. Our plans are to stay in touch via email and read each other’s journals. Also while at the dealership we observed several F-16 fighter planes circling and practicing their landings at the airport in the area. We continued on I-90 to Albert Lea, Minnesota at a Holiday Inn in hopes to head down the Mississippi scenic roadways the next morning. As we traveled towards Albert Lea, our gas tanks we sucking up fumes and luckily we were able to find a gas station about 15 miles out of Albert Lea along with 3 other bikes who’s gas tanks were also very low. After registering at the Inn, we ate dinner at a nearby Applebee’s.
August 17, 2007
This morning we woke in hopes to get an early start on the road and noticed that sometime in the night the rains came through the area. Turning on the weather report, it stated that rains were to continue in the area for the entire day. Bob was able to get on the internet to view the radar in the direction we were to travel. A change in plans was in order after noticing that the rain storm was in the route towards the Mississippi river ride we had hoped to take that day. We went 87 miles south and were finally able to get out of the rain on highway 18. Seeing the skies finally begin to lighten up, we pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot and got out some dry clothes, changed and ate a quick lunch in hopes to jump ahead of the storm which we were able to do. We drove a very long 575 miles to Danville but before arriving home we stopped for dinner weat the “Busy Corner” restaurant in Goodfield, IL east of Peoria in I-74.
11:30pm we arrived home traveling approximately 5,200 miles in 17 days!! We look forward to our next bike trip next year and vow to begin each and every bike trip with that special kiss to assure each trip is as enjoyable and safe as this one.