Trip days: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10-12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
I took my precious time and got a move on at 11:00am. I had been pondering whether I wanted to make a 40 mile side trip to Craters of the Moon National Park or not, and in the end I had decided to skip it. I had previously driven by it, though not through it, on a road trip with my mom and grandfather so I wasn't terribly excited about it.
I road north on highway 93 through Salmon and up to Lolo and Missoula. Until Salmon the scenery consisted mostly of grasslands and rounded off hills of a Utah nature, featuring outcroppings of rainbow colored banding and a lot of subtle color differences between different rock areas. Nice, though just kind of more of the same of central Wyoming. Up at Salmon, however, the pine forests set in and the road started getting twitchy with excitement, seemingly whetting my appetite for what was to come. Following 93 up Lost Trail Pass I was suddenly transported to northern California on highway 101. High speed curvy sections with 25mph, of course easliy doable at 50mph, and steep grades. Finally Idaho, of all the states between Cape Breton and here, had answered my cry for some good sport riding. I was finally getting my redemption and woe is me... there was much more to come.
Things cooled down after coming off of Lost Trail Pass into Montana. At the bottom of the pass I pulled over to take a couple photos of 3 very calm mountain goats grazing by the side of the road. I then headed on north and marvelled at the scenery. Every little town had fly fishing shops and it was clear that the region was structured around hunting and fishing. Basically highway 93 runs along the bottom of a deep valley with steep mountains towering overhead on both sides. Once up near Hamilton the scenery opened up into a large open basin surrounded by low mountains very much like eastern washington near the base of the Cascades. It is a nice region of the country and appeals to my pacific northwest sensibilities to be sure.
While riding through Victor I noticed a squirrel frantically run out into the road where it was promptly run over by a pickup truck in front of me. I winced seeing its body do one final twitch as I rode by. The truck driver clearly saw the squirrel but did nothing to divert catastrophe for the poor creature. A little further through town I noticed a cop parked in a shady spot under a large tree poaching speeders from his suprisingly well hidden parking spot. I of course was doing the speed limit, 25 miles per hour, as I am a strict law abiding citizen... Unexplicably, the truck that had just squished the squirrel sped up towards the parked cop and was easily doing 35mph in a 25mph zone through town. I slowed, nodded my head, and pulled over to let the cop do a U-turn and pull the guy over. I guess he had it coming. Karma is an amazing thing.
After a quick cruise around Missoula and Lolo I booked west on highway 12 over Lolo Pass back into Idaho. What a great stretch of road. Highway 12 quickly summits Lolo Pass, and then dives down into a valley running along Lochsa River all the way into the central section of the Idaho pan handle. It was about 120 miles of twisties actually, or a 150-some if you measure the distance from Lolo all the way to Orofino. I was in the groove for the first 40 or 50 miles and then slowly my brain starting getting tired and a little goofy and I had to stop a couple times to refresh myself. I think it might have been the heat getting to me, or maybe just the five long days of solid riding wearing me down. I stopped in Lowell at a little supply store and gas station where 3 BMW R1150RTs were doing a fuel pit stop as well. As I fuelled up I noticed that they were from San Rafael, California courtesy of their license plate brackets. One of them stood, back to me, looking into the woods behind the supply store and was having a smoke. The odor was of something different than tobacco though... Ahhh California, California... Three old californians riding BMWs having doing a pit stop, smoking a doobie, and shooting the shit. Isn't life great.
I continued west on 12 and finally stopped at Orofino for the night. I had a good dinner in town and that helped me regain my frazzled nerves a little bit, and then I had a refreshing beer which zonked me right out. Thankfully I was done riding for the day.
Total Mileage for Day: 365
©2003 John Meloy <email@example.com>