So once again it was time to giddy up and go. This time towards Seattle. In Alaska I had some problems with a set of driving lights from Rigid industries. They were not working properly. I had mail contact with Rigid and I must admit the mail contact was excellent. I had posted the lights back to their factory in Arizona, as requested. Touratech USA, had kindly let me use their shop address in Seattle, as a return address. Rigid had immediately sent a replacement set and it was waiting for me to come and pick it up. Only I was taking the long way down to them. This was something the people at Touratech understood, after all they were all into the bike travel business.
I wanted to go to Yellowstone National Park which was an easy run from Glacier. The only thing was, I wanted to enter it via the eastern entrance using the Beartooth Highway. This is an iconic road with some amazing scenery and twists and turns. So, a detour was called for.
The route was highway number 2 from Glacier to Evergreen, then the 35 to join with the 83. This road runs along the Swan River and even passes a lake called….., yes you’ve guessed it, Swan Lake, this Is the longest lake without a dam, covers an area of 2,680 acres. This was an amazing road running through some fantastic scenery. The nature here is still pretty raw and rugged. The Swan Range is on one side and the Rocky Mountains on the other. This is not a densely inhabited area and the mountains are pretty much devoid of any human settlement.
Bears that are causing a problem for settlements, are captured and then released here by the rangers. Got that little tit bit of info from a local who has stopped to admire a lake.
I think it was Summit lake. Then we switch to the 200 towards Missoula where we pick up the Interstate number 90. I don’t like using the interstates or freeways, I much prefer the small roads. But sometimes it’s necessary in the interest of time versus kilometers to use them.
Just a short way down the interstate I turned off to look for a camping spot. I found a really nice one called Ekstrom’s Stage Station at Rock Creek,
which turned out to be an authentic stage coach station with all the old original buildings intact. Had a nice spot on the river.
Then it was time to face a day of riding the interstate, through Butte and Bozeman to the junction with the 78 at Columbus. Then it was back to normal, small roads again. I stopped in a small town to ask for camping info and in a shop, they gave me a small printed map of the area with free camping sites. I turned off at a place called Fishtail to look for a camping spot on the river and wasn’t disappointed.
Found a super littler place and it was free. There is no running water on these places, but I always have 2 liters of water on the bike, plus I carry a water purifier for safety.
Went to the local Saloon and Restaurant and had dinner. Met some really amazing people. One old man with his wife was a retired salesman selling food products.
He gave me a shopping bag from an instant yeast company and some scrapers, really a nice gesture. I have that shopping bag on the back of the bike still and use one of the scrapers.
Then it was on to Redlodge and the junction with the 212.
And the start of the Beartooth Highway, open mid-May through mid-October, running to the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway and the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.
What a road, it’s truly amazing and well worth doing, it’s not for nothing that it has been called the most scenic drive in America. It offers spectacular views of the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains, and open high alpine plateaus dotted with countless glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife.
For more info check out their website http://beartoothhighway.com/ I had glorious weather for this and took my time, stopping at every vantage point. The road is a marvel piece of engineering.
It winds its way through a series of hairpin bends and crosses the Beartooth Pass at 10.947 feet (3337 meters). It is also here that we enter the state of Wyoming.
Whilst travelling this road I kept meeting up with this fantastic family, mum, dad and their daughter. It seemed that every time I stopped they would either be there or showed up. Dad was busy taking photos and daughter dear was also busy with a selfie stick and she was damn good at it, called her selfie stick gal until we got talking and discovered that her name is Karen and the other two are called Mum and Dad. Somehow, I enjoyed meeting up with them and chatting.
Then into the oldest park in America, Yellowstone, made famous by Hanna-Barbera’s creation Yogi bear and Booboo. http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/index.html At the park entrance there was a board with a list of the camping grounds and the sites available. As was to be expected most of them were full.
So, I made a beeline for Mammoth Hot Springs Campground and got a spot. This was one of two spots, on the camping site that is reserved solely for motorcyclists and it was a really nice spot as well, beautiful views. Later on, the other site was taken by a Canadian biker, he was brilliant, really enjoyed his company. The price was also reasonable 20 dollars per night. What was also good it was close to a small town that had a super veggie selection.
This is first of the national parks in America, signed and passed in congress on March the first 1872. The president then was Ulysses S. Grant, who strangely enough was a military general. The park spans an area of 3,468 square miles (8,983 square Km).
It is best known for Old Faithful Geyser and the abundant geo thermal features. It’s also home to the oldest Bison herd in America. Stayed a total of 3 nights here. The first day was taken up with slowly riding down towards Old Faithful.
The road runs past some amazing geological wonders and sights, Sheep Eater Cliffs, named after a tribe of native Americans who were called Sheep Eaters because they actually ate sheep,
Roaring Mountain, named after the numerous fumaroles on the slope that emitted a roaring sound and during the 1900s were heard for several miles around.
The Fountain Paint Pot, named after the red, yellows and brown colors of the mud in this area, to name but a few. See the map link. http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com/maps.htm
The second day was spent exploring the road to Yellowstone Lake via the canyon and falls, the Sulphur Cauldron and Mud Volcanoes to name but just a few of the sights along the way. It’s impossible to give a detailed account here, suffice to say that it was really impressive, and I was pleasantly surprised.
I will post a photo album on the Ride Live Explore open Facebook page. I wasn’t gonna go to Yellowstone because I was afraid that it would be over priced and over run by tourists. It was reasonable priced and it’s so big, there is loads of room for everyone, I am really glad that I went. Then It was once again “Giddy up and go” time.
Left the park on highway 89 past Old Faithfull, who decided to have a good old spout just as I was leaving the restaurant where I had stopped for a quick bite to eat, I saw this as a fond farewell and safe travel.
This road joins into the 191 past Yellowstone Lake and into the Grand Teton Park.
Stopped here for that night at Colter Bay Village on Colter Bay. Had a beautiful view of the Teton mountain range.
The next day left bright and early ‘cos I wanted to get to Craters Of The Moon National Park. I wanted to get a good camping spot. So full steam ahead over the Idaho Falls and then on highway 26 through the Idaho Prairies.
This was super, they were busy harvesting the grain and the road was deserted. The combine harvesters are huge, they run along the prairie harvesting the grain and pumping it into an articulated lorry that is running alongside with another one waiting to take over. Really impressive to see, yep this is America.
Then came up to an area of the Prairies just before Craters Of The Moon and a town called Arco. Here, on the prairies, is the main American nuclear research laboratory, covering an area of 900 square miles, it is also the birthplace of the American nuclear navy. Since 1949 more nuclear reactors have been built here than anywhere else in the world. Idaho National Laboratory, it used to be called “National Reactor Testing Station” beside a town called Atomic City, pop.25. No, I didn’t stop to take photos. The town of Arco, further up and just a couple of km from Craters Of The Moon, was the first town to be lit by nuclear power.
Craters Of The Moon National Park and Preserve….. what a place https://www.nps.gov/crmo/index.htm This exceeded all my expectations. The park achieved monument status in 1923 and in 2000 a presidential proclamation by our old friend Pres. Bill Clinton greatly expanded the monument area. The Shoshone Native Americans used to wander through this area and you can still see some of the walls that they built to shelter from the wind. The Oregon Wagon Train Route passed close to here as well.
Got a fantastic campsite right on top of a lava hill, Lava Flow Campground, and had a clear view of sunsets and sunrises.
The Craters Of The Moon cover an area of 618 square miles (1,601 square Km) and range in age from 15,000 to just 2,200 years old. It has 25 volcanic cones and a whole load of well preserved spatter cones. Elevation is 5,900 feet (1,800m) measured at the Visitor’s Centre. There is a nice laid out drive route around the park with places to stop and hike along laid out trails to the different points of interest.
There are also walks and talks held and led by the park rangers. If you want to visit the Bat Caves, then you need a special permit. To get the permit all they want to know is if you have been in contact with bats in Europe recently. There is an epidemic of white nose infection that is wiping out the bats in America, it’s spreading from Europe. This is a park well worth a visit. I will place a photo album on Ride Live Explore Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Ride-Live-Explore . this is an open page that anyone can visit so please drop in.
Time to move on again towards Seattle. Took a detour to do a nice scenic route, up over the Sawtooth Mountains and through some beautiful forests and along the Salmon river. Unfortunately, there was a lot of smoke and a lot of damage to some of the forests. A lot of the camping sites where closed as well.
The route was the Highway 75 to Stanley and then the 21, Ponderosa Pine Scenic route, to Boise. Stayed on a nice national forest campsite just before Idaho city. Next morning stopped in Idaho city, population 480, for breakfast. This is an old pioneer town dating back to the gold rush days of the 1860s. Had a really nice breakfast and a chat with some of the local bikers. This was a popular biker stop. Then on to Boise.
At Boise we join up with the freeway again, the 84. Wanted to make up some time and get to Seattle. Also, there were a lot of wild fires.
Stopped for two nights in a place called Baker City. Stayed at a really nice camping site called Mountain View, they had a great hot tub and I had a really good soak. It was done up in the flavor of the Oregon Wagon Trail. The trail passes close to here. Went to visit the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
They had the most amazing collection of historical literature and items from this period. Also, there is a place nearby where you can actually see the ruts made by the wagon wheels and walk along the trail. This is where the emigrants got their first glimpse of the Blue Mountains in Oregon. The Oregon Trail began in Missouri and ended in Oregon. At its height, between 1846 to 1869 over 400,000 emigrants made the 2,170-mile (3,490 km) journey to seek their fortune in the wide open west coast. The journey took 6 months and was extremely hazardous. Many people died along the trail and it’s not for nothing that it’s called the longest graveyard in the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Trail
Those that made it were awarded land. Every male over the age of 18 was given 365 acres of land, with the stipulation that they had to settle it and work it. Only man had the right to own land.
One well known person who survived the Oregon trail and went on to run a newspaper dedicated to women’s rights was Abigail Jane Scott, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_Scott_Duniway She and her newspaper actively supported the Sole Trader Bill and the Married Women’s Property Act which when passed, gave Oregon women the right to own and control property.
I took advantage of the Wi-Fi at the campsite to make a reservation for an Airbnb in Seattle. I heard also that the Highway 84 was closed, due to fire, just after the junction with the 82, but as luck would have it we were gonna use the 82 to get to Interstate 90 and Seattle.
The 90 is a beautiful road and runs in between the Mount Rainier National Park and the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, up over the Snoqualmie Pass and along the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. Once again ran into wild fires and smoke. Pulled off into a small town to look for a camping only to discover that they were evacuating outlaying areas because of fire.
Did get the address of a national park further up the highway, Easton Park, I so went there instead. The park was pretty much smoke filled but there was nothing I could do about it. The air pollution was still in acceptable margins healthwise. They did give me a spot reserved for hikers and bicyclists, this is roughly half the price of a normal site.
The next morning bright and early it was off to Seattle. My check in time, for the Airbnb, was after 2 pm. To get into Seattle, on the 90, you have to cross the Washington lake via two bridges. The first one is a short one and goes to Mercer Island. The 90 then runs around the tip of the island before going across a large bridge called the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge. This is a floating bridge and the second largest in the world. This bridge carries the westbound traffic and the eastbound is carried by a parallel one called the Lacy V. Murrow Memorial Bridge. It’s pretty impressive. Only the exit in Seattle is a nightmare of interchanges and loads of traffic. Welcome back to the urban jungle. I did get a shock at the number of homeless people. Under the bridges were whole tent cities. I was warned about this beforehand, I was told never to park the bike loaded and unattended. They steal the luggage particularly the tents.
I went first to the Touratech Shop. These people are amazing, so friendly and helpful. My package was waiting for me. Stayed a bit chatting and drinking coffee. They are also the importer for Touratech in America. Checked into my Airbnb and it was really nice, had a good room with use of the kitchen and laundry. Time to wash all my clothes and riding gear. Also, time to check out the bike, tighten things up and fit the spot lights back on. I also went to visit another company, BestRest Products. Had been in mail contact with them, wanted to buy their air pump.
They turned out to be amazing people https://bestrestproducts.com/ Bought the cycle pump and a power pack/jump starter. I wasn’t allowed to take my own one on the plane with me. They are powerful Lithium lion batteries and are restricted by the FAA.
Dropped into Triumph Seattle to replace a visor on my helmet. They are incredible people there, they took the bike into the workshop, connected her up to the diagnostic computer and test the errors, then they gave her a well-deserved oil change and new filter. They also gave me a damn good discount.
Spent some time exploring downtown Seattle, but to be honest big cities are not my thing so was glad when it was time to leave.
Time to head to the Olympic peninsula and the start of Highway 101. But that is another story and another episode. Thanks for reading this and if you want to see a photo journal then you are more than welcome to visit my Facebook Travel Page Ride Live Explore, https://www.facebook.com/Ride-Live-Explore this is an open page so you don’t have to be a member of the Facebook family to view it.