PNW 2011 Trip – Day 2 Part 2

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.

Going down the west side of Logan Pass, road under construction

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.

West side of Going-to-the-Sun Highway, from the bike

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.

Twisty roads going west on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway

West down the Going-to-the-Sun Highway - one of a few tunnels

Tunnel Entrance west on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway

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.

Parking at Eddie's, West Glacier

Parking the bikes at Eddie's

While the food was OK, the service was really bad – so unless there’s not much going on at Eddie’s if you’re there, I can’t really recommend it. There were some more interesting people we met though.

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.

Papa's Market in Woods Bay, MT

Water and Shade at Papa's Market

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.

Pavement on Highway 83, Montana

Pavement on Highway 83, Montana

We stopped at Seeley Lake for gas and I think the temperature was over 40 C at this point – darn hot!

Getting gas in Seeley Lake, MT

Getting gas in Seeley Lake, MT

Then we did about 15 minutes on the Interstate and arrived at Missoula, then started looking for a motel. After a few minutes of driving past some dumps, we settled on a the Holiday Inn, which turned out to be an almost new building on the edge of downtown Missoula! Very nice place at a great place.
Holiday Inn at Missoula, MT

Holiday Inn at Missoula, MT

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.


PNW 2011 Trip – Day 2 Part 1

Aug 14, 2011

Looking west up to Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway

Wow, OMG, Holy &^%@ – These words were repeated over and over again today as we rode the Going-To-The-Sun Highway over the Logan Pass and through the Glacier National Park. The views were stunning and the riding was oh so great. The only downside to the whole day was the massive amount of people milling around the Logan Pass Summit.

Logan Pass parking lot

The day started with getting up after a pretty good night’s sleep in the new tent. This wasn’t the first night in the new tent though, we used it for 2 nights a few weeks ago when we went on the VStrom Run to the Hills ride in the Kananaskis. There was a really brief thunderstorm that the edge just caught us, for a single flash, crash and brief splash early in the morning. Louise’s earplugs worked well, but we still got up fairly early.

After packing everything up, we headed down to the Johnson’s Cafe for breakfast. The breakfast menu is a little different in that they serve the food “family style” – essentially everything that you order comes out on one plate, then you spoon off what you want onto your own plate. The food was excellent and as is the case for most American food establishments, the quantity of food was huge. It’s hard to leave hungry! We stopped at the office to try to connect with Robert over FaceTime, but the internet at the campsite wasn’t good enough or it blocked video out. Anyway, this dog:

Hairless Husky - 15 years old and suffering from cancer

was 15 years old and was wearing a shirt because he’d lost his hair from cancer. The shirt was pretty nasty though, but the dog’s owner promised to get him a new one soon!

The Going-to-the-Sun Highway begins pretty much at the Glacier Park gates where we paid our $12 each park entrance fee and stopped just inside the gates at the information centre to apply some sunscreen and take a few pictures.

Does my butt look baggy here?

Only the shadow knows ...

Starting out on the Going-to-the-Sun Highway

We pulled back out on the road and headed west towards the Pass. The road started innocently enough, but as we got higher and higher, the road got more and more interesting. Once we got to the pass we thought we’d been on the best the road had to offer, but no … the best was yet to come. But more on that later.

Going-to-the-Sun Highway looking east

We stopped at the pass where we parked the bikes with a number of others (safety in numbers) and went for a little walkabout. There’s still some snow at the pass – it only opened in late May.

Louise and snow at Logan Pass

Walkabout at Logan Pass

Inside the info centre and store I found a hoodie sweater (because I needed another layer – I was chilly last night) with the Going-to-the-Sun on it, bought it and I think I’ve worn it every day since.

There were a number of bikes parked in the lot, but all were up front at the end of the car-parking rows.

Motorcycle Parking Only