September’s Meander

Click on the map above to open a Google Maps window of the trackes. The tracks are complete except for the first half of the first day, That section of tracks was lost.

The route. The tracks are complete except for the first half of the first day. That section of tracks was lost.

Day-1, Home-to-Chewelah 

Where to ride: Marv and I have had a September motorcycle trip to California in the plan since last winter. We had the outline of the plan set to approximate the trip we made in September of 2012. Dan was trying to get his vacation time planned to coincide with our trip. Don, a coworker of mine, was set to come with us too. 

Our plan was in flux until the very day we left. Marv, Don and I were ready to leave on Tuesday, but Dan wasn’t going to be able to join us until Saturday, so we developed a plan to be within a day’s ride from home on Saturday night where we would meet Dan. We were also contending with the evolving weather forecasts, and shaping our routes around rainy weather. Our plan to go to California morphed into a plan to go to Idaho, Montana and Oregon. California was in the midst of its latest heat wave, and riding in full riding gear in 100° sunshine didn’t sound like a pleasant way to spend my vacation. 

Marv and I left my house Tuesday morning, met Don at the west end of the South Skagit Highway, and then headed east. Our first night would be in Chewelah, a small town on the east side of Washington, about thirty miles west of the Idaho border. A bonus – it’s at the west end of Flowery Trail Road, a superb motorcycling road. 

We went over the beautiful North Cascades Highway, enjoying the open road. We continued with a stop for gas in Marblemount, a couple of short roadside breaks, and a stop for gas in Twisp.

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Marv and Don

 Following Highway 20 east toward Omak, we came upon a road-repair crew at the edge of a very long stretch of fire-blighted forest, scene of the Carlton Complex fire. We were held up at a single-lane stretch where the road had been partially washed out by flooding after the fire. I was amazed to see undamaged houses standing amidst stark black trees and shrubs. They were prominently colorful against a charcoal-on-cardboard landscape. The owners were lucky to still have their homes, given what the conflagration surrounding them must have been like. There were sections of road where the power poles had been burned off, leaving the lines strewn on the ground with the insulation melted from them. 

In Omak, we pulled into a Culligan Water Softening store, and discussed stopping for lunch. Don was hungry, and I needed to buy a pair of pants. I had remembered to bring everything for the trip, except a pair of pants. The friendly woman at the Culligan store told me my best bet would be the Walmart up the road a few miles. While I shopped for a pair of pants, Don and Marv split a foot-long sandwich from the deli. 

Back on the road, we went east to Nespalem, and followed Cache Creek Road and Bridge Creek Road to the Inchellium Ferry. After crossing the Columbia on the ferry, we finished the short trip to our first night’s stay in Chewelah. 

Marv and I wanted to have dinner at the Mondo Café where we’d been a few months earlier, and liked it. It’s a good restaurant, and they seem to stay busy in spite of the fact that the street in front of the restaurant was in a state of reconstruction. I was glad I had a pair of pants to wear. I definitely would have stood out as the only patron making that fashion statement.

Day-2, Chewelah-to-Wallace 

We got an early start from Chewelah. Our route was going to be convoluted and very indirect to Wallace, ID. We started by riding Flowery Trail, crossing over a low mountain pass to Usk. Then we eased along the Priest River to the Idaho border. By the time we crossed into Idaho at the bridge in Newport, it was time for a break. 

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Taking a Break

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I wanted a coffee, so we found a Safeway with a Starbucks kiosk. While hanging out in the parking lot, Marv decided to add a little air to his front tire. An elderly gal came by and remarked that she liked our motorcycles. She was from Marv’s generation so, when she decided to chat us up, Marv became the one she identified as kindred. Listening as she regaled us with her tale of her trip to Sturgis, I found her entertaining. She put me to mind of Phyllis Diller, but with more-colorful language, and without the cutting wit. 

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Skeptical

We took a nice set of roads along the south edge of the Pend Oreille River to avoid the traffic through the Sand Point area, but had to take a dull stretch of US 95 up to Bonners Ferry. We topped off our tanks again, and crossed into Montana on US Highway 2. 

Fifteen miles farther down the road, we took a turn to the northeast on Yaak River Road. Marv and I had ridden it a couple of months earlier, and now we’d see how it rides in the opposite direction. We took a break to scope out a set of rapids on the Yaak river, and then rode on to Yaak.

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Yaak River, Montana

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Yaak River Falls

The Yaak River, near Yaak, MT. Click on the photo above to open an interactive page of the panorama photo. Marv was absolutely beside himself.

This trip, I checked out the Dirty Shame Tavern. They had upgraded their dirt floors to wood, and the place was contemporarily normal and characterless. 

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Dirty Shame Saloon

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Yaak River Tavern

We left Yaak on Montana Highway 508, which starts out as a single lane road, and improves the farther south you go. About 20 miles north of Libby, it evolves into a smoothly-paved two-lane with nice sweeping curves cut deep into the tall trees set back from the wide shoulders. 

We got to Libby in time for an ‘ok’ lunch at a forgettable diner. We left town heading west on US Highway 2, and connected with scenic Bull Lake Road, Montana Highway 200, and on south to Thompson Falls. From there we veered west and south on Montana Highway 471. There was very little traffic on the next set of roads that cut through a canyon, walled on two sides by high mountain ridges before abruptly tacking back and forth in several switchbacks to climb over Thompson Pass into Idaho. The area is still pretty wild and undeveloped. We caught some small roads that cling to, and slowly descend down steep high slopes. We came into Wallace on 9 Mile Road down a gulch cut by 9 Mile Creek. 

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Thompson Pass at the Montana-Idaho border; looking into Idaho

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Our stay in Wallace was at the Stardust Motel. We walked the town a bit, but none of us felt we needed another meal, so we just looked around at things that drew our attention. We revisited the tavern where Marv and I had supper on a previous trip through the area, so we could show Don some of the stuffed and mounted animals they had. They used to have a ferocious-looking stuffed wolverine, but they had moved it off somewhere, and replaced it with a stuffed, small, adolescent grizzly bear. At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

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A stuffed adolescent grizzly bear, displayed where there was once a stuffed wolverine.

Wallace is an interesting town for an overnight stop with a lot of touristy kitsch, but it has character too. It’s small enough that you can walk it all in an hour. After wandering the town, we returned to the motel. 

Because I was planning the trip day-by-day, I had to get the route laid out for the next day. I had to check weather forecasts to decide whether to go south on the west side, or south on the east side of the state. Idaho has rugged mountain ranges running north-south through the state, and there are limited paved roads running across the state from the east to the west. 

Day-3, Wallace-to-Orofino 

I set our Day-3 destination as Orofino, Idaho, with a nice set of roads on the menu. The weather was forecast to be good, and we would be skirting around the eastern edges of the congested Coeur d’Alene area. 

We had a good breakfast at a café a block from our motel. Marv ended up with a free breakfast, because his biscuit came with an embedded foot-long strand of hair. When we got back to the motel room and packed our gear to leave, I realized I had left my credit card in the check binder at the café. It was good that I realized it before getting to the next gas pump, too far down the road to retrieve it. 

We left town the same way we had come in – on 9 Mile Road. We followed the Coeur d’Alene River to the west on the aptly-named Coeur d’Alene River Road. The river was sparkling in the morning sunshine, and the road was smooth and curvy, (until we came to the first of several construction stops we would see today). 

We hit I-90 in Kingston, and took it west for about ten minutes to the turn-off to catch Highway 3, which we’d follow south along the eastern edge of the suburban sprawl of Coeur d’Alene. Traffic was moderate, and we encountered a few more construction stops on our way to St. Maries. One of the delays was about fifteen minutes. 

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Breaktime

When we got to St. Maries, we decided to take the St. Joe River Road shadowing the curving banks of the St. Joe River eastward into the mountains. The sun was out, and there was almost no traffic. We had a nice ride out to Avery, a small camping town with a little general store where we took a prolonged break. Marv chatted with a couple of hunter-tourists while Don and I relaxed in the chairs in front of the store. 

At Avery,we made a u-turn and returned to St. Maries to rejoin Highway 3 for the trip south. The remainder of the day was mostly spent on Highway 3, passing through mountains, farm lands, and then mountains again. It’s a great road, and we came across very little traffic.

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Along the way, we stopped in the heartbreakingly dreary little town of Bovill where we took a break in a small city park shelter. It wasn’t much of a park, or much of a shelter. The longer I sat there, the more depressed I became. There were several boarded-up businesses across the street, and the roof of one building had collapsed. The town has a Post Office, and the usual three taverns and one church. 

Farther down the road on Idaho Highway 3, we turned southeast on County Road P-1, and wound our way into Orofino from the back way.

There are many nearly tame deer that mingle with the local residents. In Orofino, the White Pine is our motel of choice, as it’s a pretty good bargain, and is within spitting distance of several restaurants.

Day-4, Orofino-to-Enterprise 

I sent Dan a text message to meet us Saturday night in Pendleton, Oregon. I’d been able to muster enough confidence in the forecast to plot the next two days, and reckoned Pendleton would be a good rendezvous point. It was within a day’s ride of home for Dan, and it would allow us to cover some nice roads in Oregon before and after connecting with him. 

Leaving Orofino early, we headed south on Highway 12, connecting to Highway 13. We rode along the serpentine South Fork of the Clearwater River to the junction with Idaho Highway 14, and then turned east to ride out to Elk City. There is no connecting paved road beyond Elk City, so it’s an in-and-out ride. It’s one of the best motorcycle roads I know, with its easy rhythm, clean corners, and nice sight lines.

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As the road weaved back and forth, casting a hypnotic spell over me, I would steal glances at the river. With the sun high in the sky, the river sparkled as if splashing over a bed of diamonds. Being on my bike at that moment was transcendent, swinging in and out of the curves of the highway. The water cascaded, and the motorcycle thrummed in consonance with the road. 

Just short of Elk City, we turned around, primed to enjoy the return trip. It was an opportunity to savor the moment, so we took a break along the road on a shady bridge. 

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The Clearwater River, near Elk City, ID. Click on the photo above to open an interactive page of the panorama photo.

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Back in Grangeville, we pulled into a Shell station as a large contingent of the Cannonball Run was coming and going. They were part of a very large group of riders competing on antique motorcycles in a ride from Daytona, FL to Tacoma, WA. We watched some magnificent bikes, some of them more than a century old, roll in, fuel, and roll on. Don and I snagged the opportunity to take photos, while Marv reminisced with a couple of the riders, one of whom was riding a ’37 Indian Scout similar to one Marv had once owned. There were some 130 riders who began the run from Daytona, and 93 were still on the road. Quite an undertaking – making a coast-to-coast ride on antique motorcycles! 

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Marv discussing an antique Indian with Cannonball Rally participant.

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Marv talking to a rally participant

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After we left Grangeville on US-95 north, we passed several of the machines-out-of-time as the riders nursed them along the old highways, coaxing them on to Tacoma. We got off US-95 in Winchester, and took Winchester Grade, a twisting mountain road. We bypassed most of Lewiston and Clarkston on Webb Road and Tamaray Creek Road, and then crossed the Snake River into Washington on the Southway Bridge. A nice park on the Washington shores of the Snake River was a good spot for a break. 

Mounting our bikes, we proceeded south on Washington Highway 129, bound for Enterprise. We arrived at Boggan’s Oasis at the Grande Rhonde River crossing where we took a break. Don treated himself to a piece of pie and, as we sat on the porch for a bit, a beautiful 10-year-old girl approached us. Using her wiles, she coerced me into supporting her for a school fund-raiser. Helpless to resist, I coughed up ten bucks as she undoubtedly knew I would. I think Don ponied up ten bucks too. 

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Boggan’s Oasis

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The Grande Rhone RIver at Boggan’s Oasis, WA. Click on the photo above to open an interactive page of the panorama photo.

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Joseph Creek Overlook, OR. Click on the photo above to open an interactive page of the panorama photo.

Crossing into Oregon and following the road, now Oregon Highway 3, we rode Rattlesnake Grade to the top, and then bee-lined to the Ponderosa Motel in Enterprise. After checking in, we got cleaned up and were considering places for dinner. The gal who checked us into the motel recommended a Thai restaurant a few blocks away. I checked it on Yelp, and found it had acceptable reviews. The food was OK, but the staff seemed overwhelmed by the restaurants popularity, indicated by the numerous Friday night customers making the cash register sing. 

We had our meal, returned to the motel, and called it a day. 

Day-5, Enterprise-to-Pendleton 

It was a chilly Saturday morning in Enterprise. Our route was to the south on Oregon Highway 82, connecting to Highway 35, and then NF-39. NF-39 is a narrow, twisty road, where we met more oncoming cars than I would have expected in an area that remote. 

After winding our way to the Hell’s Canyon Overlook, we were due for a break. While taking the obligatory photos across the canyon, a fellow rider pulled into the Overlook parking area on a dual-sport bike. He was from the Boise area, and was on a solo ride into the canyon, taking photos of various vistas for a contest of some sort. He was quite talkative, and seemed happy to have people to talk to. He was following the less-travelled dirt roads in the area. 

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Don

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John

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Marv

Shortly after returning to our southbound route to connect with Oregon Highway 86, we came upon 13 miles of intermittent gravel sections of varying lengths. The gravel sections were punctuated with washboard ripples and deep, wheel-breaking potholes. It was a tedious half-hour (at least) picking our way through that obstacle course before returning to the good pavement of Highway 86 near the Oxbow Dam. 

Turning west, we rode the nice section of Highway 86 to Halfway where we stopped at a local watering hole for lunch. It was typical pub food – good enough, but nothing remarkable. 

Back on the road, we continued on Highway 86 to the junction with I-84, and took a short stint on the super-slab before exiting to work our way north to Union for a fill-up. Following that we traced a westward arc on Highway 204 into Pendleton. 

Although we arrived at the motel early in the day, we found Dan had already arrived and checked in. He was full of energy, and seemed eager to enjoy the next five days riding with us. 

It was dinner at the Sheri’s across the road, and then back to the motel where Don and Dan used the hot tub, Marv relaxed in the room, and I slaved away at my keyboard, developing the next day’s route. After setting John Day as our destination, I mapped the route, loaded it into my GPS, and turned in. 

Day-6, Pendleton-to-John Day 

We had stayed at the Red Lion Hotel in Pendleton, and forgot that our breakfasts were provided with our lodging. Consequently, we went to Roosters at the south end of Pendleton for breakfast. Perhaps we’ll be smarter the next time we visit the Red Lion! 

It would be a day of very curvy roads. Leaving Pendleton, we rode Highway 74 to Heppner where we fueled up and took a few minutes to clean the heavy coating of kamikaze insects from our face shields. After a short and unexpected tour of the cemetery, we turned southeast on Willow Creek Road, heading toward Ukiah. Willow Creek Road is a very nice highway along Willow Creek, breaking out and climbing up to a high plateau with nice vistas of the Blue Mountains. 

We crossed US-395 at Ukiah and rode Highway 244 east to La Grande, where we stopped at a combination gas station and Baskin Robins. I probably don’t have to point out the obvious. It was a warm day, and we took a longish break at the ice cream shop. 

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Gas and ice cream break

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Dan adjusting a camera

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Back on the road, we took I-84 south to North Powder. From there we followed NF-73 to Anthony Lakes and then connected with Bull Run – Baker Road that carried us down to the old mining town of Sumpter. 

Sumpter is an old gold-mining town, and there are still active mines in the area. There is a large gold dredge-now-museum where we stopped for a visit. After Don and Marv had a good look at the old mining equipment, we got back on the road and completed the day’s ride to John Day. 

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Old dredge, now a museum.

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Train in Sumpter, near the dredge museum

As we passed through Prairie City on US-26, we could smell forest fire. When we checked into our motel in John Day, the gal at the check-in desk told us, around a lip-full of snoose, that the forest fires had ruined her favorite hunting spots. 

Dinner was at the Outpost Pub, our usual restaurant when we’re in John Day. After dinner we walked back to the motel and called it a night. 

Day-7, John Day-to-McCall 

While in John Day, I was able to settle on the route for the rest of the trip. With a stable forecast, I was able to arrange for a reasonable number of miles for each of the remaining days so we could enjoy the roads without overdoing it. On this seventh night, we would be in McCall, ID. 

We rode west on US-395/US-26, and then followed US-395 north from Mount Vernon. That section of US-395 is pretty, as it follows Beech Creek before climbing into the Blue Mountains between the Malheur National Forest and the Ococho National Forest. It was still early morning, and I try to carefully watch for deer migrating near the roads. It’s always in the back of my mind as I’m riding. At the junction for Ritter Hot Springs, we turned east on County Road 20. It’s a wonderful road along the John Day River, one we’ll hit every chance we get. We spread ourselves out for a while. It’s open range, and we came upon some cows in the road at one spot. At another, there were two deer very close to the road. I never saw them but, Dan, who was behind me at that point, told me they stood frozen as I whisked by. Don and Marv, riding together a ways back, nearly had an encounter of the forest-dweller kind. Two deer came from their right, one bouncing off a fence while it was on a collision course towards Don, and the other crossing two or three feet in front of Marv. Sometimes you’re just lucky! Shortly after that, we took a short break to regroup and count our blessings. 

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Here come Don and Marv

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Reviewing the near miss with the deer.

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Click on the photo above to open an interactive page of the panorama photo.

We would reach the junction with US-26 in a few more miles, and take it east to the junction with the Dooley Mountain Highway. We started seeing wet pavement for a while but, as I had predicted, we never saw much rain. There was about a five-minute sprinkle to endure, and it was just enough to wash off some of the insect spatter before the sun came out again. 

When we arrived in Baker City for lunch, Dan noticed the tread on Marv’s front tire was getting pretty thin. We estimated the tire wouldn’t have sufficient tread to complete the trip, so the best bet would be to see if we could find a tire while in Baker City. The towns would be quite a bit smaller for the next two days, and the need for a replacement tire would become increasingly urgent. The farther we roamed, the less likely it would be that we’d be able to find a tire.

While eating lunch at the Zephyr sidewalk café, Dan and I called a couple of places to see if we could get a replacement tire mounted. It was Monday, a day motorcycle shops are traditionally closed but, amazingly, Dan found one that was open, had a proper-sized tire, and was only a block from where we were having lunch. That was a big bonus. 

It was a local Motorsports shop. The guy who ran the service department was named Rick, but probably really ought to be going by his nick name. That’s what we were calling him, anyway. They overcharged for the tire and for the tire change, but what is one to do? You’re stuck in Baker City with a tire that can make it only one more day. Rick was anything but helpful, and had not one ounce of customer courtesy. As an added blessing, he mixed into his conversation all the talking-points from whichever flavor of right-wing talk radio he was channeling that day. 

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Waiting for the tire change

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Waiting for a tire change

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Motorsports shop employee of the month

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Marv’s bald front tire

We got back on the road out of Baker City around 2 pm. It was 170 miles to McCall where we had reservations, and it would take us about four hours to get there. The roads would be nice and twisty and, fortunately for us, free of traffic and enforcement.

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Arriving in Halfway, OR

After crossing the Snake River into Idaho at the Oxbow Dam, we then followed Idaho Highway 71 to intersect with US-95.

The roads were scenic and fun to ride, but it was getting well into dusk by the time we reached McCall. 

After checking into our motel, we walked down the road to a local pizza place, but we couldn’t get any service there. It seems it was a one-person operation, and she was completely overwhelmed with the customers she already had. We left after sitting for twenty minutes without even a glass of water, and walked down the road to a small burger stand for a bite to eat. As we walked, Marv was shopping for a valve stem cap for his new front tire. Not only had the shop not properly balanced the tire, as evidenced by a slight vibration in the handlebars while at speed, they had also neglected to reinstall his valve stem cap. 

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Dan makes a new friend

With the route fixed in my mind for the next day, I was able to relax for the rest of the evening. All I had to do was load the route into my GPS  and I’d be set for the next day. Our route would be over roads I had ridden a couple of times before, although always in the opposite direction. It was time to sit back and take it easy. 

Day-8, McCall-to-Hamilton 

It was a cool Tuesday morning in McCall. Our route was simple. We would ride south to the turnoff for Stanley, go east through Stanley to our turn-off at US-93, and then continue north to Hamilton MT. We would cross a couple of passes, and ride on some really nice river roads. 

We left the motel and rode an uneventful straight highway for about 30 miles south to the town of Cascade. It’s a typical small town where we stopped at Gramma’s Family Restaurant for a typical breakfast in a typical diner. Afterward, we backtracked out of town the way we had come in, to make the turn on Warm Lake Road. My GPS said that was the way to Stanley, our next gas stop. 

We backtracked a few blocks from the café, and turned east on Warm Lake Road. It didn’t look exactly the way I remembered it, but it seemed like a pretty good road. If I had any doubt that I was in the wrong place, it was quelled by the sign on the side of the road that said ‘Stanley 98 Miles.’ I shouldn’t trust my old memory. It’s too bad that the sign didn’t say ‘Stanley 98 miles, but the pavement ends in 30 miles.’ That surely would have alerted me that my GPS had made a mistake, and had calculated the route with a gravel road factored in.

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Warm Lake Road

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I was riding along that section of highway thinking “I don’t remember this section of road, but it sure is nice”. Warm Lake road is well-paved, alpine, and plenty twisty. It cuts through a pretty large area of forest that had recently been consumed by forest fire, and the hills were pin-cushioned with skeletal black trees. The road was superb, and the weather was warming to a comfortable riding temperature. We crossed two mountain passes with some nice territorial views. 

Still, I didn’t remember this road, and I was sure I didn’t remember it when we came to the end of the pavement. After all the fun we’d just had riding 30 miles of nice twisties, the fun was over. We stopped and reconnoitered. This wasn’t just a small patch of gravel road. It went on well out of sight. An old guy pulling a small boat with a pickup came up the road from the direction we were pointed. We had a short interchange with him, and he told us it was 75 more miles to Stanley but, if we wanted to stay on pavement, we would have to return to Cascade where we had stopped for breakfast, and continue south to the Banks-Lowman Road. Hmmm, I thought this was the Banks-Lowman Road. Of course the signs did say Warm Lake Road, but I figured it would turn into Banks-Lowman Road. That’s not the first time my GPS has made that kind of mistake, but it was certainly the farthest off track it had ever taken me. 

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Lean Right

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Lean Left

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On the bright side, we got to ride that nice stretch of highway in the opposite direction. If my GPS had to make a mistake, it was nice that it did it on a fun road. When we got back to Cascade, we topped off our tanks and continued south to the turnoff we needed to hit. Now this section of road I remembered well, as it follows the Payette river through a canyon where the river is crashing through many series of rapids. It’s curvy and nice to ride, but there was a bit of traffic. The farther south you go, the closer you get to Boise’s orbit. State capitals are prone to heavy traffic and inordinate amounts of enforcement. 

I caught up with a small string of cars that seemed to be acutely aware of the speed limit, and they were all driving like angels. A couple of cars in the chain came to their turn-offs, leaving just three cars in the line, with the leading vehicle being an SUV. My companions were behind me likes pearls on a string. Finally, there was a stretch of road with a passing zone that would allow a legal pass. I waited for the last oncoming car to go by, and then wrung out my throttle. The ZX-14 is capable of tremendous acceleration, and I passed the first two cars in a quick spurt, and then dove back into my lane. Just as I did, the SUV in front of me switched on his party lights and pulled onto the shoulder behind a broken-down pickup pulling a boat trailer with a flat. (Later I would hear from Marv that the guy in the broken-down vehicle was the same one who had given us directions at the end of the pavement an hour earlier). That’s no ordinary SUV. I thought he was going to get behind me and pull me over. Although my pass was legal, cops are little bullies. If they see anyone who stands out, they want to harass them until they get ‘back in line.’ He must have pulled off to assist the guy with the flat, because we never saw him again. Of course, I thought about going back to ask him if there was anything wrong with the way I had passed those two vehicles, but I really didn’t want to hold up my friends. So I just moved along quickly. 

Soon enough, we were on the Banks-Lowman Road, turned east onto Highway 21, and cruised into Stanley. We stopped to top off our tanks and for a sit-down break. Leaving Stanley on Highway 75, we came upon a 20-minute construction stop about five miles east of town, with a long line of cars in front of us. We talked to the people in the line for a few minutes, and got all the details of the local construction projects. They warned us of a couple other places we would be stopped for construction too, but it turned out those projects were already completed and never impeded our progress. In fact, the areas they warned us about had new asphalt, sort of like manna from heaven for cyclists. 

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Long construction stop

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Long construction stop

Once the pilot car led us through and past the work zone, it took us about five miles to negotiate passes around all the traffic that had bunched up. Finally, we were out in front with a great road to enjoy. We snaked along Highway 71 and turned north on Highway US-93 – another serpentine river highway. 

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Salmon River near Salmon, ID

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Salmon River near Salmon, ID

After a stop in Salmon, ID to top off our tanks and clear the accumulated thick film of insects from our visors, we proceeded over Lost Trail Pass into Montana and on to Hamilton.

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The bugs were thick

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The bugs were thick

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We checked in at our motel, did our routine maintenance on the bikes, and cleaned up. We all agreed to go to Subway for a sandwich, and followed it up with a stop at the DQ for an ice cream. Once again, the route for the next day was simple, so I had the evening to relax. 

Day-9, Hamilton-to-Lewiston 

It was another clear, sunny morning. It seemed warm enough, but I detected a hint of fall as we left Hamilton going north on US-93. Twelve miles south of Missoula is the turn off for Highway 12, Lolo Pass. We worked our way up the pass, watching for deer and moose, and having fun. We crossed the pass, taking occasional breaks to adjust cameras and take photos. I donned my liner, as it was finally cool enough for me to need an extra layer beneath my Roadcrafter. 

As we proceeded down the highway, I saw a spot where I wanted to take a photo. I quickly turned off to a highway pullout across the road. Don, right behind me, was turning to pull in behind me when Marv bumped into his front tire. Nobody was seriously hurt, but Marv lost a piece of his cheap after-market fairing, broke off his foot peg, and smacked his foot. 

We did triage on Marv’s foot peg to get him to town, and moved on. The highway runs along the Lochsa River, and the whole valley soon became filled with smoke from a forest fire on the far side of the river and, at one point, we were able to see the flames.

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The peg fitting is broken.

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Battlefield wound dressing.

We had lunch in Kooskia, and looked online for a weld shop. Don is a welder, and knew we needed a shop that could do heli-arc (tig) welding. I found a shop in Lewiston just two blocks from our motel that could do the job for us. While Don and Dan finished their lunch, Marv and I got an early start so we could get his broken parts removed, and to the weld shop before they closed. 

Upon arrival in Lewiston, we went first to the weld shop to show the technician what we needed done, and to make sure he could do it. Having that verified, we checked in to our room, removed our gear, and removed the two pieces of broken peg to take to the shop. Marv walked up to the shop with the two pieces, and was soon back with the repaired parts. We had plenty of cooks watching over the broth, and everyone played a role in the reassembly. It was a very satisfactory permanent repair of the broken foot peg. Nick’s Welding Shop did a great job on the peg, as verified by Don, and the charge was minimal. They were nice folks, and took care of us very quickly and efficiently. 

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Reinstalling the repaired peg, and adjusting the brake pedal.

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After cleaning up, we ate our last dinner of the trip at the Italian restaurant adjacent to the motel. Don and Dan were nice enough to buy my meal, in thanks for my having planned the route. 

Day-10, Lewiston-to-Home 

The last leg of our journey would take us from Lewiston on the Idaho-Washington border, across Washington, over the Cascades, and home. We left Lewiston, and routed ourselves west along Highway 12, and then Highway 261 through Starbuck. We gassed up in Washtucna, and droned across the Washington doughnut-hole on a beeline over Highway 26. We heard it had begun to rain on the west side of the state, so we were mentally preparing ourselves for that. 

When we got to Royal City, it appeared rain was inevitable, as oncoming cars had their windshield wipers on. We stopped at a gas station to rain-proof ourselves and, since we were going to be hitting I-90 soon, we decided this would be our split-up. Don and Dan were going to ride the interstate all the way; I had planned a route over alternative back roads. A little sign language with Marv confirmed we’d take the back roads until we hit rain, and then switch to the interstate. 

We wound our way along the Old Vantage Highway to Ellensburg, took a short freeway stretch to clear the town, and then took the back roads into Cle Elum where we gassed up so we’d have sufficient fuel to reach home.

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Marv talking to the seller of a set of OEM cowls he would end up purchasing to replace the defective ones on his bike.

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Highway 10 east of Cle Elum

It began to rain as we were leaving town, so we jumped onto the interstate. Fortunately, the rain quit after about twenty minutes and sun came out as we descended the western slopes of the Cascades; it was a beautiful day in the Puget Sound region. Marv cut off in Kirkland, and I continued home, arriving around 3:30. Another successful ride was in the books.

Click on the map above to open a Garmin Player page. It's an interactive page which will play back the route over a map. The tracks are complete except for the first half of the first day. That section of tracks was lost.

Click on the map above to open a Garmin Player page. It’s an interactive page which will play back the route over a map. The tracks are complete except for the first half of the first day. That section of tracks was lost.

2 thoughts on “September’s Meander

  1. Pingback: September’s Meander | John Triggiani

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