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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 25-Sep-2016, 02:43 PM (821) Thread Starter
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Travels with L'il Red: Canes to Grains Aug_2016

Preface

Has there ever been a ride report with a formal “Preface?” I think not. I have been wrestling with the idea for this report for maybe a month now, questioning should I even write one because this ride was different, less introspective, and I had a hard time coming to grips that it might all be just boring. So, I started thinking about ways to make it more interesting. Of course that means “more interesting” to me, and I fully accept that. YMMV. Comes with the territory; that, and having one X chromosome and one Y, condemns the organism to be distracted by shiny things…like pictures. And I put words in…some would say, too many words. I needed a kick in the a$$. I needed motivation.
The motivation arrived this morning—about 6 hours ago, CDT.

Yesterday, I was coming back from the gym, saw a neighbor, a fellow biker, occupied in that most detested of manly jobs, mowing the lawn. We chatted. He told me that he was going on a ride this morning, the 6 hour ago thing, with some friends, would I like to come along?
Please raise the Red Flag, Fred? Thank you.

Why the disparage? Not because said neighbor rides a Harley, he!!, he does iron butt and coast to coast on his bike. See a lot of Harley riders out there, alone in the universe. Maybe more than BMWs. No, not because of a marque, or because of the implicit snootiness of a BMW, up the bar…a GS, rider. No. It was because of what was next out of his mouth suggesting that this ride would be like those phalanx of tears, noise, exhaust rides comprising 50 or so riders, in a long stream, each making noise because if loud pipes save lives then MORE loud pipes will certainly save MORE lives. This salutary consequence is mitigated by breathing for hours the effluent of incomplete combustion, and wearing no hearing protection. Then, there’s the bursitis of the shoulders from having your grips farther from the Earth than your full and manicured mustache.

I said, sure, why not. It looked to be about a 200 miles ride, a big loop from New Orleans to Hattiesberg, Ms and back on backroads, sort of. My rear Anakee3 with about 7500 miles on it is almost to the wear bars and another few hundred miles can delay the inevitable purchase and install on a new rear.

Our “first” stop was at the gathering place, a Chevron station parking lot. About 20 plus riders there all parked impeccably, jeans and black leather and T shirts. I was the only one with “riding gear.” No biggie, that’s fine, It’s going to be hot. I will sweat, they maybe less so. Prob about a third were with their “mommas,” (mommies?) similarly garbed. Average BMI mid 30s+. No tank bags seen, thus no paper maps for on the fly. I looked at the emailed itinerary, saw that I was familiar with the entire route, so if I wanted to ride on my own, again no biggie.

I asked my friend if they were going to ride “in formation,” and was assured that, oh no, this is not a structured ride. OK, After about 15 minutes of standing idle chatting, suddenly the lead guy waved his index finger above his head in a circular fashion, another rider had a sort of a police whoop whoop whoop siren thing, and dutifully, all assembled knew it was time for church to start. They left en masse to travel the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, incorrectly often described as the longest bridge in the world at 24 miles over water.

We are told that We will meet at the Shell station on the other side. Why? To pick up more riders from the north shore of Lake P, New Orleans is on the south shore.

My neighbor and I trailed behind the group, leaving fully 5-7 minutes after them. As I rode the longest bridge in the world, I decided, I am NOT doing this ride, and this type of “riding” is so different from long distance solo riding that it seems the two are at very best separated at birth, and at worst, a different species altogether. The speed limit on the longest bridge in the world is a reasonable? 65 mph. I set my cruise on 67 and settled in listening to music and watching the Lake pass by. By the end of the 24 miles, going 2 mph over the speed limit, we had caught up with them, as they pulled into the Shell, 24 miles down the road to meet with the others, I’m sure to discuss strategies of pointing out road kill or bits of tire on the road so that the left or right toe motion will flow as neatly as the phalanx.

The other thing I decided was to start the ride report. I was motivated!

I didn’t want to hurt my neighbor’s feelings, so I just said the ride was too structured for me. He said this was a very unstructured ride as these rides go. We both laughed and I rode on as he turned into the Shell station to join what now appeared to be 50 bikes. Later, I passed the group by. They were all stopped at another Chevron station, about 30 miles from the Shell. I waved as I rode past. Dif’rent strokes for different folks.

There will be shiny things, lots of pictures, though, fair warning, some of the pictures are not shiny--like the one below from Chief Joseph Highway in Wyoming.

I want to thank the kind inmates of advrider.com for their wise counsel on these two threads:

Bears | Adventure Rider I am the OP

and I jump in on the following at reply#8

Traffic around Teton NP and Yellowstone NP on August Weekdays | Adventure Rider
They would be helpful, I think, to anyone considering a similar ride.

Gratuitous picture from the ride

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 25-Sep-2016, 06:58 PM (999) Thread Starter
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[SIZE="4"][SIZE="5"]The brain is a pretty funny organ, you think?

It’s not as funny as the genitalia, but it is, pardon the pun, head and shoulders funnier than the heart, a dour repressive bucket of regret and sadness, or the omentum, aka the policeman of the abdomen. The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone, etc etc etc. No humor there.

But the brain is pretty funny. The laugh starts there, as do the tears—prodded by the heart. It can see things that aren’t there, hear voices that aren’t spoken, create a Renoir, a Debussy, a Lil Wayne, a Stephen Curry, and dream and remember. We use it all the time on a ride. It’s the 360 degree awareness organ, the stability control and the ABS.

So, I read an article recently The Peculiar Story of the Schizophrenic and the Shaman about schizophrenia. In it is mentioned a brain connection between the parietal lobe and the temporal lobe. If disturbed, problems can arise, but it is there in everybody. There’s another lobe that meets up around the same place, the occipital lobe.

Look, this is what I’m talking about




See where the green blue and yellow touch? That's where I'm talking about.
Anyhow, the schizophrenia article got me thinking. I shoot hoops at the gym (poorly, but I do it). Like clockwork, when I first start I, 100% of the time, start thinking about riding in California. It's just a momentary thing, lasts about a minute or so, but it always happens. I think of those winding roads in those golden hills that are so gorgeous. I think of no specific ride, but a generic version of the "recall" is something like Ca 120 west of Yosemite...like this



So, shooting hoops makes me want to ride, and brings back generic, but good memories as well as promises.
Those associations though are limited to the solo ride feel. If you travel with someone, it's different. It does not matter who you travel with, it's different. Looking in the rear view mirror for a headlight, changes things.

I was invited to a high school reunion of sorts, to a friend's vacation home in Big Sky, Mt. He invites people up every August, just to hang. Touring out of the deep south in August sounds dreadful, but it allows things that do not occur with regularity any other time of the year; things like Going to the Sun; like Lolo Pass; like the Missouri Breaks. These are storied destinations for any rider, but you have to be on time and lucky. The opportunity of visiting up there in Montana and Idaho during the thawed season was too great to pass up. An August ride was on.

Originally, I was planning on this ride to be solo, but a good friend had the time, and of the people I have ridden with, he rides most like me, and is a better rider, more experienced. He had not been up that way before--I had, but not to the destinations mentioned. An added bonus was that on such a ride, that's a lot of miles and lots of opportunities to fall over. Bikes are heavy and getting them upright can sometimes be impossible or very difficult, so having another to help was a real advantage. And the bear thing gives Smokey two targets.

Plus, there is the advantage of conversation. It was a plus minus situation, but it was no challenge to opt for a companion along the way. It made good sense. It proved to be a good choice though no mishap occurred.
An added benefit for me was that I was getting to show him some of the most famous motorcycle roads on the continent. I had ridden the Bighorn Range, Chief Joseph, Beartooth, Devil's Tower and the Black Hills. He hadn't. I have ridden Kansas and Nebraska, he hadn't. I knew there was a treat in store for him and being able to share these areas with an appreciative rider was a good thing. As he rides a GS also, and is a photog also, and had a similar budget and a good sense of humor and could be just as curmudgeonly as myself...all pluses.
It was on!

We met on Saturday morning, August 20 about 100 miles from each of our homes. He had to be back a day earlier so we split in Beaver Utah Friday, Sep 2. In between we did over 6200 miles.

I chose a route through Kansas and Nebraska, planning on diving into Wyoming somewhere and getting to Union Pass, then Big Sky, by Friday Aug 26. Things change, but not that much, on the road.
We hit SE Oklahoma and crossed S->N on much of OK 82, a fine road, Scenic and bumpy, hairpins and sweepers.and into Kansas.

Idabel, OK


along OK82






and into Sedan, Ks





Sedan, Ks, was only prologue to what awaited us in Howard, Ks.
We're riding along and suddenly
WHOA, WTF was that? Turn around, make time for...



No, not TOOT S DRIVE IN, not that TOOT S was not special, but what was across the street. I have since gone to Google street view to see at another time and not this late Sunday afternoon



Yes, the TIN MAN, or more properly, The Tin Woodsman, with gunshot wounds to his head. The wounds, as those in the know can easily see, are both entrance and exit wounds to the Tin Man's noggin.

Although attributed to the Straw Man, it makes far more sense for the Tin Man:

"I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin' while
my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain."


Someone shot the Tin Man in the head. I ask, what does this say about us? Or Howard, Ks...Someone would shoot him, the freakin' Tin Man, in the front and the back? Post your thoughts on
#Tin Man Matters
Does Dorothy know about this? Maybe she does?



in happier times


So, on Ks 99, in the heart of Howard...the rest of the scene







and again arrested by the site's police that only allows 15 images to be posted at a time--used to be 25--this sucks, advrider doesn't do that, nor does r1200rforum.
it's a pain to have to format differently for this site. Ugh
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 25-Sep-2016, 07:00 PM (000) Thread Starter
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Part B of part 1


We ride on after staying the night in ElDorado, and along the road nearing the Flint Hills a couple of typical Kansas scenes: an old stone church on a hill, Ol' Glory aflutter





and the ever-present sunflower which graced our roadways along almost every part of our ride, in almost every state, but is Kansas




sorghum, I think, in bloom, under Kansas blue skies. The skies is Kansas contrast in picture book colors all throughout the state. The yellows are yellower and the blues complimentary, at least it seems that way.



and into Nebraska, and up though the middle skirting the Merritt Reservoir, some very fine riding in the middle of nowhere. Farms here and there, people always waving when they see you, and hay rolled and ready to go










It was at this point, or the morning after that I thought we had an extra day, though we didn't. That erroneous thought though changed the next few days, but in reality we traded away, one of the goals of the trip, and in place got 4 iconic places that we thought were out of reach. So, on balance a lucky miscalculation!
Coming soon...
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 25-Sep-2016, 07:10 PM (007)
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Following your ride report. Beautiful pics!

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 26-Sep-2016, 09:41 AM (612)
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Love your ride reports!

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 26-Sep-2016, 03:18 PM (845) Thread Starter
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Thanks for the kind words, all.

That night we stayed in Chadron, Nebraska. We Super 8'd it The day before I saw that Carhenge was nearby, but the morning of departure, fate had other plans for us. Carhenge would have to wait.

Upon inspection of my friend's, who does in fact have a name, Darryl, Darryl's rear Anakee 3 was down to the wear bars in some spots, or very close. He thought he could make it to Missoula when we left for a change there, but, alas, no, he couldn't. In addition there was some sort of a slice on the tire, how deep, couldn't really tell, but prudence dictated a new tire before Missoula.

We found a Yamaha dealer in Kearney, about 30 miles away, who had something that would fit, a Bridgestone something, and by 1130 am we were now moving again. That Bridgestone whatever played well with others for the remainder of the trip, but now we lost a half day's riding. Hey, no prob! We're a day ahead, by my reckoning. I announce we can go up to the Black Hills on the way, swing over to Devil's Tower and still make Union Pass and Big Sky by Friday.

I was wrong. we were only about a half day ahead of schedule, and now we lost that with the tire. My internal clock was oblivious to that so we plugged on.

So, what we lost was going over Union Pass between Dubois, Wy and Pinedale. It was something that sounded pretty amazing and the inmates on advrider were all for this route. It was not to be. The weather was sketchy the day we would try to do it, it was far... we would've traveled about 300 miles by the time we got to the Union Pass road, and it was 40+ miles of gravel and dirt. It was reported as taking anywhere from 75-90min up to 3 hours for its transit. It had to wait.
But what we were able to do instead follows, and it ain't too shabby... I had done all of it before, but good roads bear repeating, and I would be doing them from the other direction, which makes it like to first time doing it. So, on with the show!

We headed up to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, but first passed the Crazy Horse Monument, which I likely will not see completed in my lifetime. It is a stupendous undertaking, easily seen from the highway.



I was here about 7 years ago and I don't think much has changed, but work does continue
this is Crazy Horse in 2009


from Wiki

"Crazy Horse (Lakota: Tȟašúŋke Witkó in Standard Lakota Orthography,[2] IPA:/tχaʃʊ̃kɛ witkɔ/), literally "His-Horse-Is-Crazy";[3] c. 1842 – September 5, 1877) was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the United States Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including acting as a decoy in the Fetterman Massacre and leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876.

Four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General Crook in May 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard, while allegedly[4][5] resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp."


So, CH was originally called Worm; coulda been his father was Worm. His mother was Rattling Blanket Woman. Probably family names, I'm guessin'.
Post Worm Crazy Horse, the year he was killed; he's not wearing Adidas, is he? He was 35, so he outlived Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin and Hendrix and Jim Morrison by 8 years.


At the risk of sounding patronizing, I'll say that motorcycle travel has allowed me the appreciation of the west and its people, especially the Native Americans. Crossing horizon to horizon roads and the Great Spirit surrounds you. You can feel a kinship with the cowboys and other travelers who crossed the vastness. You can think, where did they get water, food, they slept on the ground, dirty, prob often with dysentery or some stomach upset, beyond hunger. Dealing with the sun and the thunderstorms while crossing say, a thousand or so miles, and having to supply food and water for your horse. I cannot imagine doing that for more than a day or so. Admittedly I am a wuss, but still...And the Native Americans had some aspects better, in that the plains were their home, a place to put their "stuff" and grow their families, but there was this army out there that when it wasn't relocating them, was often shooting at them. And you see what has happened to the great native nations, poverty is rampant. Education and healthcare is free and you get what you pay for, no matter how good the intentions. Maybe the most moving place for this "insight" is the Little Bighorn Battlefield where the craziness of it all bubbled forth from the lush green hills. It's a beautiful area that offers nothing but reflection and sadness. If you're in the neighborhood, you need to stop there and remember
As we travel the area there are so many areas named "Custer." It can't be George, right? Counties can't be named after him, right? A comedy of hubris got so many killed. The markers at the battlefield shows where the combatants dropped, there are memorials to the Native Americans who fought for and against the army. There are memorials to the horses that fell. Yeah, that Crazy Horse. He was there too and lived to tell of it.

We climb back on Mzungu and L'il Red, waiting patiently


We ride on and do the Mt Rushmore circuit.











And on to Devil's Tower and prairie dog town. I would be remiss if I didn't mention a really nice road we encountered. US 85 south out of Deadwood is VERY VERY nice...mountain sweepers and no traffic. Lots O' Fun! Yes, this is a motorcycle ride report and the parts between point A and point B are very important, but just look for the squiggly lines, then go to google street view and check the scenery, and swing the camera down and check the surface. Now you know everything you need to know, and you don't need me to tell you take this or take that. You, good sir, or good lady, are now an EXPERT. That's all it takes. Fancy maps are fine, but the AAA maps are free and well done, combined with google and you're set except for some of the off road stuff where you'll need a site like Rever for their online Butler maps. This advice applies to pavement only. If you are going off road on trails, forest roads, etc you have to do more homework. Getting lost is part of the adventure, but you do not want to be lost in the cold, or in the wet, or both, or when the sun's going down. Just saying.



It one of those places that it is difficult to remove your gaze. It's HUGE. It's starkly beautiful. It's weird. You feel like you are looking at a one of a kind thing on the planet, and likely you are.
It takes effort to get here, but when you make it, you just chill and savor it...that kind of a place







and our little chums. Yes, they are cute.




...courtesy Chip and Dale

more coming

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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 27-Sep-2016, 02:20 PM (806) Thread Starter
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After Devil's Tower we spent the night in Gillette.

In Gillette, the reality of our timeframe hit. I realized I had figured wrong. Not a big deal, but the Union Pass route was new and uncharted for me. It looked like it was about 300 miles to the beginning of the route across the pass, and there were dark clouds in that direction. The morning's weather radar showed snow at higher elevations and Union Pass is 9700' ish. Higher elevation to be sure.

We could've stopped for the night in Dubois and then, the next day, did the pass, but our timeline didn't allow.
The alternative wasn't too shabby though: Bighorn, Chief Joseph, Beartooth, none of which Darryl had done, and I only did once, years ago, and from the west. The memory of those roads though are burned in my memory. They should be on every rider's bucket list. It is no disadvantage to have done them twice, so knowing what lay ahead, we left Gillette.

It was cold on this late August morning. heated liners were needed, but I misplaced the extension from my Gerbings to the thermostat, so before we left the motel some electrical surgery was necessary to extend the lead in my jacket liner so it would reach the thermostat. I found it when I got home, right there in my tank bag. We hit the road and at the first gas stop, the connector in Darryl's liner broke, so roadside, gas station surgery was performed. The operation was a success!



I really like the Bighorn Range. the surrounding plains are at about 4000'. the peaks of the Bighorn at 13,000 plus and the road is well into the 9000+' range. Whether you hit them from the west or the east, you go pretty much straight up. Not hard hairpins at all but the climb and subsequent descent is constant. It is not a road you stop on for pictures. Two things conspire against that:

1) it would be hard to find a suitable place to stop for a meaningful picture
2) there's a lot of gee Whiz views, because as you go up and down you can often see views of the plains far far below. However, because of the twisty nature of the road in those locations it would not be smart, likely, to stop for a snap.

Fun riding to be sure!

When we dropped to the plains below on the western side. Those are the Bighorns we just crossed, thousands of feet higher than where I am standing.

Facing east


and across the highway, facing west.



We continue on US14A into Cody and then north on WY120. For this part of the ride, I am still thinking of what might have been, ie Union Pass, and the skies still look dark in that direction, and the longer I ride the more I am convinced we made the right decision. Next stop: Chief Joseph Highway.

From the Wyoming website:

"The Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is named after the Native American chief of the Nez Perce Tribe. Following the Battle of the Big Hole in Idaho in 1877, Chief Joseph fled east through Yellowstone. He and 1,000 members of his tribe ran from the US Cavalry, who were trying to force the tribe onto a reservation so that white ranchers could have their lands. While crossing Yellowstone, the Nez Perce briefly captured several tourists before going north up the Clarks Fork River. The Nez Perce were trying to flee to Canada (an 1,800 mile trek), but surrendered after the six-day Battle of the Bear Paw in northeastern Montana. The tribe was stopped only 30 miles from their destination, the Canadian border.

In his speech of surrender, Chief Joseph expressed dignity and defeat with his famous words, 'Hear me, my chiefs, I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.' The Nez Perce tribe was forced onto reservations in Oklahoma and Washington despite promises to allow them back on their lands. Yellowstone's Nez Perce Creek is named for this valiant attempt at freedom."


Everyone knows Oklahoma and Washington State are similar to Idaho and Wyoming and Montana, right? And it's a nice walk any time of the year. What could go wrong?

Well at least Chief Joe too the scenic route...Chief Joseph Highway
from Google




















There were more shots that I just didn't stop for, shots with a different feel, but it was starting to get late. The weather looked like it was about to go into the crapper. The dark clouds i suspected over Union Pass now had caught up with us, and I remember now being at peace with ditching Union Pass on this day. we still had Beartooth Pass to cross before our day ended.

Later we found out that Beartooth was closed for much of the day because of "winter conditions." Winter conditions at 11,000 feet has got to be a real treat. When we made it up to the pass, and the pass goes on for a long time. It's not an up and over, no welcome and goodbye Beartooth Pass.

The high elevation--10,000->nearly 11,000' goes on for a long while.

Absolutely no place to safely stop, and it was C O L D and snowing. The engineers at BMW must have a sense of humor because there is a not often seen display that comes up in such conditions that says: Are you really sure you know what you're doing?
Here I am, hypothermic and not real sure I knew what I was doing. The smile is , ummm, exaggerated. But, it was really something.


We get into Red Lodge for our evening at the Comfort Inn , though comfortable, not $154 comfortable.



More coming
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Sorry for the delay, but life again intervened.


We stayed in Red Lodge that night, and a bit of travel advice.
I pretty much always use tripadvisor for evaluations of places to stay; it's is usually very reliable. However, for this night it failed, not because the Comfort Inn wasn't as comfortable as Tripadvisor said, but because it said that the other places in town were booked, or had nothing available.
As we rode through town, probably about 5pm? we passed many of the motels that were said to be full, and they had empty parking lots. Point is that Tripadvisor and their partners may be allotted a small number of rooms, and there may be room at other places. If we had called them directly we could have avoided the $154 (senior rate), for the evening.

The next morning arrives and we were getting into more of the meat of the trip. Beartooth had dark clouds over it, could see that from the motel. The weather report was fine though, so we decided to do the pass again and go through Jellystone over to Big Sky, rather than north, left and down--we were choosing the more scenic way, though going through Yellowstone was not something we desired (because of the traffic).
We hit the road...

After traversing Beartooth on this now sunny morning, this is the view into Yellowstone.



That peak, the pointy one, is the northern border of the park, not sure of its name (help?), but it's striking; the other striking thing was this road surface.
It was some sort of asphalt chip and seal, but had a very squirrelly feel to it. It did not inspire a lot of confidence. This is the Wyoming side of the border, and we came across this surface in many parts of only Wyoming.
It was most annoying-if that's the right word- here. Even though the road had these curves, it always had an almost gravel feel to them. Maybe I was misinterpreting the feel, but it was noticeable to both me and Darryl, not our favorite surface. Mitigating that were the views along Beartooth pass: Spectacular. Yesterday, with snow and cold we couldn't appreciate...









Darryl on the Beartooth




I have no pictures from Yellowstone, but do have a few memories:

1) It was a place to get through as quickly as possible. Reason? So much traffic, even late in the season as we were. Many, not all, of the people there, are interested in going there and no curiosity or adventurous spirit to travel outside of the park. yes, it is beautiful, and there is wildlife, and geysers, and sulphur pools, etc, but the traffic makes "touring" nearly impossible.

2) Why are we stopping, why are we going so slow, why is that old man in cargo shorts and socks a little too high running with his camera that has a lens way too long for this forested spot? Why are people trying to pass that tour bus with Les Bussards spilling out. Oh NOW I see, there's a single sheep with horns back there in the trees. That's it. It's a herd mentality, I guess contagious from the bison and the bighorns or the monarchs, or, GET ME OUT OF HERE. Why is that minivan doing 17 in a 35mph zone? Oh I see, they are taking pictures from the driver's seat with their iPhone. I blast around them at 25, startling them, and releasing some of my now boiling testosterone. This is awful.

3) Yellowstone is a BIG place, the speed limit is 35 in many places. That's fine, I wasn't looking to canyon carve at a breakneck pace, but it seems that no matter how you try to just maintain a sorta steady pace, you will wind up behind a car doing 32-38 and that means you are always having to watch what (s)he is doing, thus diminishing the ride. Again, 35 is fine. Varying between 28 and 37 isn't. No biggie, but ...
So, when I come up on one such driver, no one in front of him, and passing was both allowed and safe, I fly past them at what must have been, oh, 37-38 mph. He flips me the bird. He's angry. WTF? Just let me pass, why don't you? Yes, I am a far better human being than you, Yes, I am faster than you, Yes, i am better looking than you, have a better family, more correct political views, know how to choose the correct tie and argue Anakee 3 vs Pirelli Scorpion Trails. I'm smarter, and have likely a happier life; but none of that is being discussed, and, I'm willing to be wrong about all of that.
I would like to politely pass you, please, without fomenting whatever driving psychosis may be bubbling within you. What ya say, pal? Oh, you choose to exhibit your obscenely capable manual dexterity. Ok.
I pas, shake my head, and ride on.

That is what I remember about Yellowstone, and why I wanted to avoid it if possible. It wasn't possible, but the experience lives on, only insofar as that driver and the experience has little more significance than bar talk after 3-4 beers.

I mentioned that episode to Darryl who was following behind and saw the one-sided "exchange." He also thought, wtf?

When he passed him--again, want to emphasize this was NOT a "blast past" --he too, was given the finger (maybe this guy just hates motorcycles?), but Darryl had a hand gesture of his own, choosing from the panoply of those available, Darryl chose


but delivered more like



ahh, the power of rational discussion and persuasive discourse. Our friend, previously so enamored with witty manual repartee, immediately slowed, Darryl passed and our traveling companion, like the idiot on the stage, previously full of sound and fury, was then heard and seen no more.

We got to my friend's place in Big Sky mid afternoon. Again, interesting that as soon as we left Yellowstone, the traffic thinned, the scenery was still beautiful, and the roads just fine.
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We got to my friend, Wayne's, house mid afternoon.

I was coming in to the "milepost" parts of this ride, there were a few, and they would now come in fast succession. Actually making it to Big Sky, was the first of the major ones, so I can sing along with

The horizon has been defeated
By the pirates of the new age
...Jack Johnson


We snacked for a while, chatted, solved the problems of the world, talked about bears--remember the link at the beginning?, finished the Glenfiddich 15 I brought, went to dinner, then bed time.

This milepost was achieved at about 2500 miles and had the trip ended there, it would have been all worth it, but we were to continue, now for the next week all virgin territory for both me and Darryl, but, in fact, the raison d'etre for the ride. At dinner I realized and said that with this ride there was maybe only one "bucket list item left." I must have sounded fatalistic...I was asked if I would be giving up riding...Oh, He!! no., But I could read concern on my friends' faces. There's a LOT of California out there, and there's Burning Man, and Around Lake Superior and New England leaves. Concerns assuaged. I would llive for another day! A voluptuous woman passed our table close by, when I realized I was the one who noticed her form most, I knew I had more bucket list items left than the rest at the table. Maturity is highly overrated.

The next day we would head up to Ft Benton for a boat ride through the Missouri Breaks--the next of the mileposts. Wayne and friends were traveling via the red roads, and would visit the Lewis and Clark Museum in Great Falls. Darryl and I opted for the squiggly less red and more grey roads that went along the Smith River, up to some dirt for the last leg into Ft Benton.

The Old Sedan Church along the way















and rolling onward...





the yellow in the distance are some of the fields of grain that were everywhere up here, readying for harvest. In south Louisiana, we have sugar cane planted as much in abundance as the grain in these northern plains. However our views are not as varied because of our flat topography. Often Kansas and Nebraska are stereotyped as billiard table flat. They are downright mountainous compared to the flatlands of south Louisiana. Interesting that the grains so far up north and the sugar canes down here are harvested at the same time.

L'il Red all dressed up for the road




and after turning off 89, the road that leads to the road that's dirt and into Ft Benton.


Ft Benton and bronze of favorite son, the actor George Montgomery



more coming
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Beyond the horizon, behind the sun
At the end of the rainbow life has only begun
In the long hours of twilight 'neath the stardust above
Beyond the horizon it is easy to love
...Bob Dylan

Ft Benton is indeed beyond the horizon. It's way up there. It's where you'd go if you were looking for The Missouri Breaks, if that was a life mission for some obscure reason. But, obscure reasons are the best, aren't they, the ones you'd have to explain if anyone asked, but no on does simply because they are that obscure.

Obscurity goes "round in circles" like song that ain't no melody, I'm gonna sing it to my friends. So, that's Ft Benton.

We stayed at the Pioneer Lodge, run by Suzy, a western gal of a certain age, prolly totin', I figure, with a laugh a minute and "not much use for email."

The Pioneer is in an old appliance store--no longer an appliance store--and thought by Suzy to look just fine as perhaps a little shabby or bloom-off-the-rose appliance store.
The interior was totally refurbed though and our room was very nicely done and appointed. It was a loft, with my bedroom upstairs and nice fans circulating some cool and fine Montana air, right off the river, which was just across the street.
It was in no way dated as the exterior appeared. I'd stay there again in a flash if fate brings me to Ft Benton again. He!! I'd recommend it to you, readers, with no shame and no fear.

Ft. Benton was a gun-slingin' town, one of the bloodiest in the west...some say THE bloodiest. Heck, a fella could get shot for insultin' a man's mule. I saw no mules. But it was a fine little town. The other digs in town was the fancy "Sha-Sha" Grand Union Hotel at $200+ a night. It had a restaurant and a fancy chef, and breakfast in the dining room. Maroon walls, old wood, and a pretty girl behind the desk who could take a message for the "guests" of the Grand Union. That's where my friends stayed... and ate.

Darryl and I asked Suzy where we should eat. Not dropping a beat...Ma's Loma Cafe.
where's that?
In LOMA!

where's that?

Up the highway about 10 minutes.
We looked at each other, we had just cooled down from our ride, but Suzy was adamant. We looked at each other again, shrugged, twisted our faces almost inquisitively, and said sure! Ma's it is!

Gassed up on the way out of Ft. Benton, boyhood home to George Montgomery, made our way to US 85 and watched the horizons roll by on our way to Loma, counting my blinks, afraid that if I blinked once too often or a bit too long, we'd miss it.
I saw an old church along the way and filed it for stopping on the way back.

Turns out Ma's was right there, easily spotted, right across the street from


Ma's was more adult oriented as there was a casino section, actually I think it was a couple of video poker machines in a side room. The place was empty, but it was around 3 pm, between the crowds, I suppose.




...thanks, Darryl

The food was good, the food was cheap, there was a lot of it, the salad bar was surprisingly good, the soup du jour was tasty and home-made, the wait staff was friendly, the ambience was that of a diner in the out west, and they had a claw machine in the casino area


A real honest to goodness claw machine.

If what I remember of claw machines still holds true, and no reason to doubt it, it was the least likely game-o-chance in the "casino" to pay off. I can still hear my father's words from more than half a century ago telling his wide eyed pathologically optimistic first born " come on let's go; those things are rigged." So, 50+, prob 60 years later I look at the claw machine at Ma's and realize yeah those things are rigged, and now there's nothing in there I want, just not a stuffed animal kind of guy. If my grandchildren were with me though I would bring them over to see it, and likely tell them to never play one because "those things are rigged, come on let's go." Some things never change; maybe, more so, in Loma Montana.

We ask the staff if Ma and Pa are an item?
Oh, yes! They're married. Good. Not living in sin and putting Loma on the map.

We remount and head back to Ft. Benton. feeling the west seep into us. There's that church, gonna stop, photo op...

Oh wait...before we head back there's something I want to show you. The Missouri Breaks? why "Breaks?" There are reasons:
from wiki
The Missouri Breaks is a 1976 American western film starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. The film was directed by Arthur Penn, with supporting performances by Randy Quaid, Harry Dean Stanton, Frederic Forrest, John McLiam and Kathleen Lloyd. The score was composed by John Williams.

The title of the movie refers to a forlorn and very rugged area of north central Montana, where over eons the Missouri River has made countless deep cuts or "breaks" in the land.
....
After one horse drowned and several others were injured, including one by American Humane Association (AHA)-prohibited tripwire, this film was placed on the AHA's "unacceptable" list.[3]

The movie was filmed on location in Montana — Billings, Bovey Restorations, Nevada City, Red Lodge, and Virginia City.

...the film as having ripened over the years: "Time has worked wonders on The Missouri Breaks. On first release, Arthur Penn's 1976 western found itself derided as an addled, self-indulgent folly. Today, its quieter passages resonate more satisfyingly, while its lunatic take on a decadent, dying frontier seems oddly appropriate. ...Perhaps for the last time, there is a whiff of method to (Brando's) madness. He plays his hired gun as a kind of cowboy Charles Manson, serene and demonic".[5]


If you take a left, coming out of Ma's and ride a few miles north to come to a viewing station where you can see this



On the plains in front of you, about halfway back in the picture you can see the "break" in the high plains of northern Montana--the break for the Missouri River, hence the Missouri Breaks--the plains are broken more than once as three rivers join to form the Missouri--the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers. And all that water from way up here flows about a half mile from my house.

So, we are headed back to Ft Benton, but stop at this old church for a rousing AMEN--yes, i did shout "can I get an AMEN?" in the former nave--and a few shots.













as the amen faintly echoes we ride back to Ft Benton, along the riverbank of Big Muddy





a replica for an old keel boat, as Lewis and Clark, as well as Mike Fink, would've used



Lewis, Clark and Elizabeth Warren looking down the Missouri



Tomorrow I ride the river, on the river.
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