Sunday, September 7, 2014

Montana Trip 2014 - Part IV

This is the continuation of a trip my dad, my friend Jacob, and I took at the end of July.

Day 5

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Day 5 was my "rough" day of the trip.  I've found there's always one day of a motorcycle trip that really stretches you to your limits.  This one started off nice enough.  As we were packing up the bikes, a fellow camper told us about a great bakery in town called City Bakery.  So we decided to give it a shot.
After we parked we spotted some local wildlife wandering through the streets of Red Lodge.
The local was right!  Both Jacob and I agreed we'd ride back to Red Lodge just to eat at this place again.  Trust me..if you're in Red Lodge you need to have breakfast here!
Then we hit Montana road construction.  I now refer to this as Montana's motorcycle roach motel.  Once you get don't get out.  In fairness to Montana they did put up large construction signs warning motorcyclists to avoid the area, which we ignored.  In fairness to _us_ the construction area seemed to cover the entire central portion of Montana...possibly the entire state.  It seems Montana has a very short window for road construction, due to their seasons.  Rather then work on single large road project...they've decided to work on multiple short stretches, spaced out at twenty mile intervals.  So we'd hit some road construction, where we'd have to wait, due to single lane restrictions. Then ride through 2-3 miles of dirt, gravel, fresh tar, mud, and then repeat every twenty miles.  Let me tell you, it gets old pretty quick.
At about the fourth construction stop we met our nemesis.  I like to think of her as a siren right out of Greek mythology.  Not because of her beauty, but because of her screech.  She was a slow/stop sign bearer and had a fondness of screaming at people who stood in the opposite lane of traffic while waiting for construction to cease.  Notice where I'm standing below.  I got yelled at.  My dad got yelled at for standing on the yellow line next to his bike.  The people behind us got screamed at for getting out of their cars.  Jacob tried to placate her by asking about the best path to take to avoid additional construction.  In between bouts of loud yelling she mentioned the next section, to the north, was a 11 mile stretch of dirt road where they had just hit a underground aquifer and most of it was flooded out.  I'm not making this up.  She tried to talk us into some 80 mile detour to the east.  I wasn't going to go east, so we decided to just head due west and get back on the freeway.  Why we believed her I have no idea.  My mom passed through this same area later that day.  There was no 11 mile dirt road portion.  My mom even stated that after one additional 2 mile stretch of dirt road the path to Glacier park was free of construction.  The siren was out to get us!!
Taking our detour to the freeway added about 80 miles to our day and over a hour of additional drive time.  It was a _very_ long ride.  We didn't make it to Glacier Lodge East until about 7pm that evening.  As a side note we never intended to stay at Glacier Lodge.  I was hoping to grab a room at a Holiday Inn Express in Browning, MT.  But when we called they were all booked up.  So we spent a little extra money and stayed here.  Ended up being a happy accident through because this place was pretty sweet.  The next two pictures were taken the next morning, since I didn't have enough light when we arrived.

The inside of the lodge is lined with 40ft tall Douglas Fir columns with bark still attached. 
After a late dinner we hit the hay. Looking forward to what was going to be a highlight of the trip the next morning.

Day 6

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Thursday was the day we got to explore Glacier National Park!  More importantly we were going to be able to ride Going-to-the-Sun Road.  Cross that off the motorcycle trip bucket list:) 

We drove to the west entrance of the park so we could then drive back to the east side.  This way we'd gain in elevation and I'd get my going-to-the-sun experience.  Had we gone east-to-west they'd have to call it Coming-from-the-sun road.  (Taps the mic, "Hey is this thing on? I'll be here all week, make sure to tip the waitresses!")

Any hoo, here we are looking north over Lake McDonald.
 My mom left her vehicle at the lodge and was able to ride with my dad through the park.  She hates taking her helmet off and on, so for short stops she'd look like a Storm Trooper walking around:)
 The road slowly rises from the valley floor, scaling the side of the mountains, before dropping over Logan Pass which is just above the center of this photo.  According to Wiki they recorded a new record wind gust on April 9th, of this year, of 139mph at the pass.  Sure glad we didn't experience that kind of weather on this day.
 As a matter of fact the temperature was somewhere in the 80's and if you stopped for any period of time, with all of our gear on, it got a little warm.  So any soft breeze was appreciated.  The temperature was fine once we got going.

 Plenty of traffic on the road.  Everything from buses to cars, trucks, motorcycles..and this thing:)  What do you get when you cross a motorcycle and a Mercury Cougar?

 Now this is what I call a scenic drive:)
 Looking back at the Weeping Wall.  Click on the link to see a small Youtube video of the water running.  It was the end of July, first of August, when we went through so not enough runoff to cover the road.
 Here's Jacob at the top of Logan Pass.  Notice the rock rubble behind him.  We spotted some big horn sheep up on that hillside and I was able to zoom the camera in enough to catch a glimpse of them from afar.
 It's a shame my niece had to head back to Phoenix with her mom.  She would have been in this photo with me, I'm sure:)
 From the visitors center I wandered off alone because I wanted to capture some pictures of this foot trail I had spotted from the road.  After walking for a period of time I was about to turn back thinking the shot that I had wanted was too far away.  I asked the couple at the center of this picture how much farther and they said it was not very far..and if I did keep going I'd get to see a mountain goat.  Score!  So I kept walking.
 These were the two shots I was after.  You can follow the trail as it skirts the hillside, above the main road.  Notice the people in front of me taking pictures....
 I really wanted this shot.  You can see the main road rising from the valley floor all up to where I am.
 This is what the people were taking pictures of.  They were just hanging out three feet above peoples heads along the trail.
 I hadn't noticed the third one until I was about to leave.
 I didn't want to get too close.  She/He?? was eying the faded yellow of my motorcycle jacket.  I could see the headline now.  Motorcyclist mauled to death by angry mountain goat in Glacier Park.

 We spotted even more big horn sheep back at the visitors center before we left.
 After making it back down the other side of Logan Pass, we had heard the road up to Many Glacier Campground was a nice drive as well.  So after passing through a short rain storm we entered the park and took this photo at the Many Glacier Hotel.  Looks like a neat place to stay.  We'll have to come back and check it out.
 So after our long day of exploring national parks we had to head back to the lodge to pick up my mom's vehicle.  Jacob and I waiting for my parents to catch up near Lower Two Medicine Lake.
 And here they come!
 Another great day of riding.  From here we all headed back to Great Falls.  Tomorrow was a rest day and I can't speak for everyone in the group but I really needed some rest:)  Thanks for reading, more to come soon!


  1. It sounds like you were still having a great time, aside from the screeching flagging lady and road construction.

    Sure are some beautiful views in Glacier Park. Thanks for sharing.

  2. @Trobairitz - No problem! Glad you're enjoying them. Thanks for reading!

  3. Did you really call that German lady tourist behind you the third mountain goat!?

  4. @Dugg - Pfffffttthhhh that was baahhhaaahhhaaaahhhaaaad! You've goat to be kidding me!