Aug 14, 2011 – After wandering the Logan Pass visitor centre, we headed back to the bikes and set off down the western side of the pass. Here’s where words failed to describe the view both down the valley and back up behind us as we descended down. The road down was under construction most of the way – the pavement was pretty well stripped off, down to dirt and the construction crews had been watering the roadway to keep the dust down. This made some of the corners a little dicey on the bikes.
Once we were past the construction, the pavement was nice and smooth, the road brilliant, and the views breathtaking. I’m not sure that any of the pictures either of us took can really show what the views were like.
There were parts of the road where the road was almost as spectacular as the scenery in terms of the roughness. Lots of twists, a few tunnels and surprisingly, not as much traffic as I thought there’d be.
Our neighbour at Johnsons Campground has suggested that we stop at a cafe in West Glacier called Eddie’s. It was just after noon or 1pm or so – somewhere along the highway we’d switched from Mountain time to Pacific time so we were a little confused with the exact hour. So we rode around until we found Eddie’s, then we rode around some more looking for a place to park. As usual, there’s safety in numbers and we eventually just parked the bikes beside a couple of others.
First, in the picture above there’s a bike in the top right corner of the picture – it’s from Indiana. Turns out the guy riding that bike, from Indianapolis, was on a big adventure after retiring and was riding west to the coast to see his daughter in San Diego. He was pretty much making up the route on the fly and we got talking about roads and routes in Washington, and I suggested a couple of different roads based on the Destination Highways Washington book I have covering the best rides in the state. He left, and we did shortly after.
Second, while we were getting geared up to head out, we got talking to a guy riding an nearly new Harley parked on the left side of Louise. He’s from Reno, Nevada and owns a motorcycle parts store there. He had tons of stories and it was kinda hard disengaging to get going!
The rest of the day was to simply involve riding south to the small city of Missoula, past the large Flathead Lake in western Montana. We opted to go down the east side of the lake, which is a bit shorter. As we rode just south of the small town of Bigfork at the north end of the the lake, the thermometer on my bike was reading 39 C, so we stopped at a gas station somewhere in Woods Bay.
While we were stopped there sitting in the shade drinking water, we experienced the first of what was to be a regular occurrence on this trip.Someone would come up and ask Louise some variation of “Is that your VStrom?” In this first noticed case “Kevin” drove up in open sided Jeep, and started asking about the VStrom because he has one at home. He stopped at the store for a coke, but wound up chatting with us for almost half an hour! When we told him our planned route to Missoula, he said – no, no you have to take this other more fun road, the one we’re on is booorrring. He volunteered to have us follow him back to his place to get a map so we could see what road it was.
I managed figure out the road with my laptop, then plugged in the GPS’s and downloaded the new route. It added about 20 miles to the route but promised to be much more fun. We could easily make up the time on the Interstate into Missoula. With our drinks finished, we saddled up and headed back up the road about 8 miles the way we came to the intersection with Highway 83, aka Swan Highway, aka Daryl Soltesz Memorial Highway. I don’t know who Daryl is or was, I just looked on Google, but I suspect a Montana State Trooper killed in the line of duty. What ever the road is called, Kevin was right, this was a great road, very scenic, little traffic, and great pavement.
We stopped at Seeley Lake for gas and I think the temperature was over 40 C at this point – darn hot!
After I’d checked in, I asked the clerk for a dinner recommendation and he suggested a brew pub a few blocks away called, I think, the Kettlehouse – memory’s a little faded now. The meal was good, the service a little sketchy, but the walk down and back to the hotel was nice. We then proceeded to crash for the night.