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I left my house in Knoxville on 29 June 2007 after turning 49 the day before. Rode my GS up to Indianapolis to hook up with a good friend from Connecticut on his RT. I had all of 2100 miles on my '07 GS and this was going to be my first ride of any distance. We were heading to Lame Deer, Montana for the annual 4th of July Pow Wow on the Northern Cheyenne reservation. My Dad grew up there and I figured it was my turn to ride my pony to the Pow Wow.

Stayed at a KOA in Indy the first night and had a great time. Left, heading Northwest, the following morning and traveled the next few days without any problems. The hot winds blowing out of the south while crossing South Dakota weren't a lot of fun, and neither was the flat, straight highway, but it was still a memorable part of the trip.

After stopping in Sturgis for lunch (had to be able to say I'd at least seen the place), cruising the Bad Lands National Park in the rain, and crossing into Wyoming on our way to Montana, the country started to change and became more beautiful with each passing mile. Hit 100 mph for the first time chasing my partner on his RT and became even more convinced that the GS is truly one fine piece of engineering.

Finally made it to Montana and was feeling like a million bucks when I spotted a sign along the highway. My eyesight isn't what it used to be but I could make out the name 'Ekalaka' when I got closer. "Ekalaka 72 miles". My buddy had been trailing me and he pulled over after I had stopped just in front of the sign.

My mileage from the last gas stop was showing that I had burned just over 100 miles worth of fuel. I had been getting about 200 miles to a tank so, after a short conversation, we decided to head due north to Ekalaka. Figured I'd make town with fuel to spare. My Grandpa is buried there and I'd never visited his grave so figured, since it was still fairly early in the day and the weather was perfect, we'd go ahead and make the run.

The road started out as a nice little two lane asphalt number and the further we rode, the prettier the country was getting. My buddy took the lead and I was following behind by 300 yards or so when I noticed his brake light up ahead and realized he was pulling over. I rolled up behind him and was just about to lift my flip-up helmet when I saw the sign, "Pavement Ends". My Zumo GPS never said anything about that and we were only about 6 miles into a 72 mile trip. Hmmm. This could get interesting. We decided to keep rolling north and check things out. If it got too hairy, we'd turn around. I was more worried about my fuel situation than the road.

After picking our way along at around 20 mph, we got our juices flowing and picked up speed on the crushed rock covered dirt road. Went about 15 miles and was enjoying it so much we pulled over for the requisite 'high five' and took a few pictures. A lone pick-up rolled up while we were stopped. The driver was a typical Montana cowboy and he had his wife (I assume) with him. "You boys alright?", he asked. "Yup. Just trying to make it to Ekalaka.", I answered. "Be glad you missed the rain. See you boys in a couple hours." was all he said and off he went headed north as we were.

I looked at my buddy and asked if he had heard what the cowboy had said. "A couple of hours? Are you shittin' me? I'm going to need fuel way before then.", I pointed out. My buddy, who has many, many more miles under him than I do, smiled and said, "You do know that gasoline goes for $20 a gallon out here, right?" "Ya. And when that RT goes on its ass, a tow from a GS costs $20 per mile.", was all I could think to say.

We pressed on. My GS was running and handling so good the road surface was no longer an issue. We were making a solid 50 mph and figured we'd make town in about another hour. That's about when we hit the new layer of pea gravel that had recently been spread on the road. Talk about making a guy wonder. It felt like we were riding on marbles.

We rolled along at around 15 mph, slipping, sliding, crabbing, and dodging potholes the whole time. I know this wasn't some far off land, but being low on fuel and a greenhorn in the gravel sure made it feel that way. My partner's RT was doing an excellent job. Steady, smooth, and seemingly as sure footed as my GS. Gotta hand it to them boys at BMW.

When we first hit the pea gravel, I had esimated about another 40 miles or so to go before we reached Ekalaka. At this pace, there was a chance it was going to get dark before we made town. All sorts of scenarios were playing out in my head. A story for the BMW ON magazine, at least. Out of fuel and stuck at worst. We had our camping gear, water, and some grub so didn't feel like I was really hanging it out there, but hell, I still wanted to make it.

After about 20 miles of the loose gravel, sweat stinging my eyes and my butt puckered up, my 'FUEL" light came on. Hello. I'd better signal my buddy and get ready to sacrafice the tube on my water bag for some siphoning. Before I ever got him stopped, I noticed he was slowly pumping his left fist into the air which usually signaled something good.

I kept rolling and out of nowhere the road turned to a beautiful, newly paved jet balck ribbon and off we went. We rode up through some piney hills, down a beautiful little stretch of twisties, and then the road straightened out. A mile or so down the road was the sign I'd been wanting to see, "Welcome to Ekalaka".

Suffice it to say, I never did run out of fuel and the feeling of actually making it is something I'll always cherish. I guess the real story is that, even though it's nice to cover some miles on the big slabs and even make some quick runs through the twisty bits, it's those off-beat paths that really make riding a motorcycle, not just a GS, but any motorcycle, one of the last chances any of us might ever have to enjoy a real sense of adventure. A great riding partner certainly doesn't hurt. So, get out there and ride, Brother!
 
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