Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Montana Trip - Day 8 & 9: A Long Day

At my loving wife's suggestion (a fortunate one it turns out) I left the family on Friday in order to have three traveling days to get back to the Denver Metro area in time for work on Monday, the 18th.

A scan of the maps showed that I could "work in" the states of Washington and Oregon onto the list of states that I've ridden my motorcycle in.

Here's the route I ended up taking:

I mainly stayed on US2 until I got to US95, using it to make my way southwards towards both Moscow and Lewiston which are close to or right on the border with Washington State and Oregon.

First though, I transited on US2 through the towns of Libby, Eagle and Troy, where they've taken to decorating their streets with large art objects of sorts.

 Kind of looks like the eagle is trying to snatch Vikki up, doesn't it?

Can you guess that Montana is apparently known for its fishing?

Soon after the town of Troy, I came across my first border crossing sign of the day:

US95 is quite a nice two laned road, with farms and ranches bordering its length as it travels south on the western border of Idaho.  I came to Moscow, the home of the University of Idaho and used ID8 road to "cross" the border into Washington:

At this point, all I did was cross over and ride right back into Idaho.  I would spend more time on Washington soil later.

Took a while but finally I came to Lewiston, ID where after some convolute turns within the town, I finally found myself heading south along the Snake River on WA12.  Before I left Lewiston though, I found this cool old fashioned train bridge which is now an exhibit:

 This shot is for you Jack

 WA129 is one twisty road!  It hugs the mountainsides of the canyons and took me
quite a while to negotiate.  A sidecar is not really great for canyon carving, at least, the way 
my rig is set up and my limited skills!

Climbing out of a valley which apparently separates the states, I found myself at the border of Oregon
The temperature would cool perceptibly soon after this sign, curious.

 One last look at the hilly canyon walls on the Washington side

 Did I mention this was a very twisty road?

 Once I climbed out of the canyon area on now Oregon State Rd 3,  it soon broke into 
farming and ranches and then along came these mountains which are near the town of Enterprise, OR
which is near Joseph, OR on which WA82 routes one to the Hells Canyon Overlook

 In the time of Joseph, OR, if you blink you'll miss the sign that sends you to the Hells Canyon 
Overlook and you end up at the lake that is part of Wallowa Lake State Park.  Still, it was a 
very scenic park, though it did cost me time to retrace my steps.

Now, in all the turning around and taking of pictures at Enterprise and Joseph, I managed to forget to tank up on gas.  So I started on the 37 mile route to the Hells Canyon Overlook with about a half of tank of gas, I wasn't too worried though as I had my spare gas can and figured I'd fill up in the town of Halfway, on the other side of the overlook.

The road to the overlook is one of the most twisting set of curves I've ridden in a very long time.  I believe it would give the Tail of the Dragon a run for its money in terms of how many curves are involved.  The road is narrow, barely enough for two cars, filled with blind curves due to the thick forest which borders it on both side and many steep drop offs as well.  Oh, and to make things interesting, there's potholes and patches of loose gravel here and there to make sure you're paying attention!

 Here's Vikki at the Hells Canyon Overlook, frankly I was quite disappointed with the view, I found it "not worthy" of the name "Hells Canyon".  

Another 30 miles of only mildly less twisty roads later, I was at the town of Halfway, OR and the light was failing as it was close to 8:30PM by now.  Guess what?  Turns out in Oregon, one can't fill up their own car with gas, it has to be done by an attendant.  The gas station was closed as the town had already rolled up its sidewalks.

I had used up my spare gas can at the Hells Canyon Overlook and now had no spare gas, and about 46 miles to go to the nearest city: Baker City.  Damn.  The stress level was now on the rise.

Night fell as I rode on OR86, looking in vain for an open gas station in the small towns along the way.  It was after 10PM mountain time and I made it into Baker City with the "low fuel" indicator having been blinking at me for the last 20 miles or so.  I had all kinds of visions of being stuck in that solitary road, no one in sight, trying to flag someone down for a ride to a gas station, not good.

Even had one close call of riding up on a small deer that had been standing in the middle of the road in the dark....luckily, I saw it in time and braked hard to allow it to scamper off.

Once I filled up, I realized I'd made it to the gas station with less than two tenths of a gallon left in gas.....the motorcycling gods, having first seen fit to teach me a lesson in filling up when possible, had given me a reprieve!

Of course, it was late and once I found the super slab, I have over 120 miles to go to Boise, ID and the motel I'd booked for the night.  Damn.

It was a long, long, long and sore from overworked hand and arm muscles from over 18 hours of being in the saddle.  Yes, 18 hrs, and 728 miles covered under various stress conditions and overall disappointment over the sights at Hells Canyon.

Oh, and to top it off, as I approached Boise around 12:30 AM, it started to rain and then pea-sized hail started pelting me, forcing me onto the nearest exit from the I-84 slab and under the cover of a gas station's overhang!

Waiting for the rain to stop, caused me to not get to the hotel till about 01:30 AM, eighteen hours from when I'd left the cabin in Montana.  What a long day.

I woke at around 07:00 this morning and after retightening the chain on the tug, and lubing it, spent the rest of the day slabbing it on I-84 towards Ogden, UT.  I did make a stop at a local motosports dealer to pick up a new chain and had been hoping to pick up the tools needed to install it in Ogden.

In the middle of nowhere

The riding down to Utah was pretty much boring slab riding, nursing my chain by keeping the rig at or below 70MPH, in heat and very very strong headwinds.  In fact, the area where the above sign is, has warning signs of dust storms being a regular feature.  Very much no fun.

Unfortunately, I didn't get into Ogden till 4:30PM due to a late start of 11:30AM.  No one had the tools in stock and no one had time to "fit me in" to have their mechanics do the job.  I even tried, at one guy's suggestion, the tool rental shops at the autoparts stores and even Harbor Freight!  No luck.

It was a balmy 95°F in the Utah towns I tried to find the tool or mechanical help in, finally gave up and headed towards my hotel in Sandy, UT.  As a final gift, the motorcycling gods arranged for two lanes of the I-15 expressway leading towards Salt Lake City to be closed for construction which added to the travel time.

Only 350 miles or so today but it was part of a long set of two days.  In the last todays, have covered a bit over 1000 miles, I could have done the base "ironbutt" challenge!  

Got another 500+ miles to go to get home tomorrow.


SonjaM said...

WA129 is awesome, great shot.
And the Oregon fuel rules are ridiculous. I never had one gas assistant touch my bike. They always handed the nozzle back to me after I told him that my bike was going ti spit when not filled up properly...

Over 1,000 mls in two days, 18 hours in the saddle? Wait, wasn't this supposed to be a vacation? Sounds more like torture to me. I have to admit that I am more comfortable with half the distance you have ridden.

The running out of gas gave me the creeps. I am paranoid about it, and fuel up even if I don't have to.

Your repeated chain maintenance, and the issues to replace the chain makes me even more want to buy a Harley pronto (belt drive!). Besides I trust that the popular brand will have mucho dealerships around to fix something if it is broken...

Gary France said...

Ouch. That sounds like a long uncomfortable ride home! The potential for running out of fuel is never good and it leads the brain to considering ‘what-if’ scenarios should the worst happen and the gas is all used up. Glad you made it to your stop for the night, even if that was very late. Do people do the Iron-butt with a sidecar? I guess they must do.

bobskoot said...


You were behind us by a day taking the same route into Enterprise where we had an awesome Mexican meal at my favourite restaurant there. I loved WA129, I will post more photos soon. I didn't know you were going to Hell's Canyon. The overlook is uninspiring but the best views of the Canyon are on the Idaho side. You cross at Oxbow and take the East side north towards the Dam. We had a very long day too. From La Grande we headed on the slab down to Baker City, then over to John Day. It was an 11 hour day for us too. We left Lewiston at 8am and arrived around 7:30pm.

Riding the Wet Coast

cpa3485 said...

That was obviously a really ambitious two days there. I would be really tired. I remain really jealous of your ride to Montana and glad you have had a good time even with a gasoline scare. That would also drive me crazy.
Take Care

Charlie6 said...

SonjaM....weird rule, which resulted in part on me almost running out of gas!

yeah, that was a long two days, but when you don't have a lot of time....

as to chain maintenance and issues, watch my next posting....the trip did not end as I would have liked.

Charlie6 said...

Bobskoot, oh now you tell me! : )

I bet the roads on the Idaho side weren't as twisty as the Oregon side though.

11 hrs...hah! : )


Charlie6 said...

cpa3485....lots to do, little time to do it in, hence lots of riding. Except for how it ended, it was a good time. More on the "end" later.

bluekat said...

Wow! What a long day! We did some of those same roads, but much less mileage. Yes, welcome to Oregon, land of no self-serve gas, but nice long lines waiting for an attendant. (or worse, closed when you need it most!)