| I am covering two days with this writeup
since I spent one day catching up on various things and only really
traveled on the 8th.
June 7, 2003
I looked out the tent this morning and saw my poor bike sitting
there covered in grunge. If the thing were alive I would be feeling
some serious guilt. She has sat out in the rain many nights now
but keeps going and going. How long can a neglected machine stay
reliable? I am 2000 miles from home, and this question continues
to flutter towards the front of my conciousness.
I spent the morning at an outside sink rinsing off everything
that wasn't stored in the panniers. After that I took a little
trip into Harding to a bay-type car wash and removed a few pounds
of mud. I wasn't expecting the bike to be clean but I wanted to
be able to see through the windshield, have working headlights,
and get enough grit off the bag mounts so that everytime I touched
something I didn't come away with a handful of dirt and grit.
After this I took advantage of the locale and rode out to the
Little Big Horn national monument and learned just what Custer
did to get himself into such a mess. It sounds like his biggest
problem was lack of good intelligence and the result is well known.
Custer was no dummy and I believe that if he had known the actual
size of the Indian camp he would have quickly retreated in the
opposite direction. One of the biggest surprises is just how little
is actually known about what happened even after all these years.
It is amazing that with this being the case, there are still hundreds
of books written on the subject. Of course the irony of sitting
at one of the benches right off the upper ridge and looking at
the headstones in one direction and looking at I-90 and the Little
Big Horn Casino in the other direction was certainly disturbing.
What is it about casinos out here?
This was the first day of the trip that I saw zero rain.
June 8, 2003
Today I headed towards Glacier. My plan initially was to take
it easy and look around for two short days and be there Monday
night. I don't take my own plans too seriously anymore. I know
out heading west on I-90 and rode to Billings since there was
really little choice. I try to avoid interstates but there are
a limited number of roads out here and distances can be pretty
vast so sometimes riding the slab is inevitable. Unfortunately,
they are homogenous and boring and usually loaded with big trucks.
No thanks. The only real disadvantage to riding backroads is you
may ride 50 miles to the next town and find that it is three houses
and a grain elevator. It is important to keep track of your fuel
level for this reason. When I get down to about half a tank of
gas (~110 miles) I start looking for a gas station and quickly
quit worrying about octane levels and brand names. It also pays
to be aware of what day it is. Sometimes finding gas on a Sunday
can be tough. These concerns don't really apply on interstates.
Interstates are the same everywhere and finding fuel is less of
a concern. Since I choose to avoid them I have to watch my fuel
level more closely but this seems a small price to pay for the
superior riding experience in my humble opinion.
I took I-90 to 3 and then to 89. I thought I might set up camp
in the Lewis and Clark National Forest (south of Great Falls)
but it was pretty early when I got there. With plenty of daylight
hours left I started taking side roads to explore a little and
found one that turned out to be an ORV trail. At the start of
the road there were lots of dirt bike families camping. I decided
it wouldn't be prudent to go too far off the beaten path since
I was alone and was riding the bike that had to take me 2000+
miles home. Call me a wuss.
Just because I wasn't going to explore the woods on the bike
doesn't mean I couldn't explore on foot. I parked the bike and
did a couple of small hikes along some streams. It was the perfect
time of year for being in the woods and because of the recent
rains everything was really green and there was plenty of water
for all the streams and creeks. I could easily have spent a couple
of days exploring the area but I had had other places I wanted
to be more.
decided it was too early to camp and it wasn't too far
to Glacier so I kept moving on 89. I passed through Grand Falls
where 89 becomes I-15 for awhile, filled up with gas and continued
north. The ride started out somewhat scenic but then it got pretty
I mentioned before, storms really can't sneak up on you out here
and you have plenty of time to stop and get in your rain gear
and maybe even take a picture or two. It was pretty obvious that
I was going to get wet and there wasn't anything I could do about
it beyond suiting up and riding it out. I couldn't decide which
of these storm cloud pictures I liked the best so I decided to
just post them both and let you decide.
I arrived in St. Mary on the easter side of Glacier at about 20:00
and set up the tent in the rain. Putting up a tent in the rain
isn't anymore fun than taking down a tent in the rain. Luckily,
it was dry the night before so I wasn't putting up a wet
tent in the rain. The bike sat out yet another night in the stormy
weather and I believe it may be time to start thinking about bringing
a small cover for the girl on the next trip.
By the way, I saw the odometer pass 30,000 miles today and the bike is running very well.