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Old 07-26-2012, 09:16 PM   #1
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Let's go ride where the stones are yellow, then over Lolo to tell the fam 'hello'...

ďLetís go ride where the stones are yellow, then over Lolo, to tell the fam hello... OH WONTCHA PLEASE TAKE ME HOOOOOME....Ē

Itís funny how random phrases set to music can get stuck in your head during a long ride. I was passing by Weed, CA, a bit over 700 miles into Mondayís ride, when GníRís ďParadise CityĒ wandered into mind--might have had something to do with that ďwhere the grass is greenĒ line--and bits and pieces of my trip worked their way into the lyrics. Hey, it sounded OK in my head...

Over the past few years, as my dad and his siblings have been turning 60, our family has been getting together for reunions to help celebrate. This August is my Uncle Busterís 60th birthday (as well as my 30th), and he invited us all up to his place in Post Falls, Idaho for a few days. However, my mom and sister (both schoolteachers) threw a fit about doing it just as school was starting up again, so the reunion got moved back a month, into July... so it was a family reunion / REALLY early birthday celebration. Whatever, any excuse to get together and see each other, right?

I certainly wasnít going to fly up to Idaho when there are all those miles of unexplored asphalt between here and there, and as I daydreamed about what I could do with my week off, my proposed route got longer, and further eastward, and longer, as I constantly added more must-do roads to my list. Finally, the date of departure rolled around, and I was off on another motocamping adventure!

Saturday, July 7
Cupertino, CA to Quincy, CA: 289 miles (map)

I was up early on Saturday to finish loading up the bike, and was ready to get on the road by midmorning. Wifey, however, faced with me being away for an entire week, was feeling clingy, and talked me into a nice breakfast at the cafe up the road, and I didnít get rolling until close to noon.

Out at a nice Saturday morning breakfast:


Loaded up and ready to go!


The ride out of the Bay Area was fairly straightforward: slab all the way to Sacramento, then north towards Yuba City and Oroville. The temperatures rapidly went from pleasantly cool to uncomfortably hot, and thoughts of icy refreshment quickly lured me into a fast-food joint in Oroville.


Ahhh, hits the spot.


After the snack, I continued north up the Oroville-Quincy Highway. It was a fairly fun and entertaining ride--enough that I didnít want to stop for any pictures, other then a quick one as I crossed the bridge over Lake Oroville.



A while later, I arrived in Quincy and took a break on a shady bench in front of the courthouse.


My plan had been to do a full loop from here back through Oroville along Quincy-La Porte and Highway 70, but itís getting a bit later in the afternoon, and I can always come back here and ride these roads another time--they arenít *that* far from home. There are some campgrounds a few miles away, and I decide to go check them out and just relax and enjoy the evening.

While riding along Highway 70 in search of a place to stay, I pass a sign for the town of Belden, offering food and drinks. I turn in across the one-lane bridge and find myself in the middle of spring break--beer, bikinis, loud music, and everybody looking at me wondering who the weirdo in the dayglo one-piece is. Yeah, just a bit out of place. I refill my water and grab some snacks for later before taking off.


A short ways from Belden is the Gasner Bar campground, and I nab a site right across from the river and set up camp, then walk down to the water to wade around and cool off for a bit.




The mosquitoes get really annoying after a bit, so I retire into the tent to read for a bit before dropping off to sleep. If only I could take four years off...
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:22 PM   #2
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Sunday, July 8
Quincy, CA to Burns, OR: 441 miles (map)

Iím up early Sunday morning, ready to get going. I wasnít planning on riding through Lassen Volcanic National Park, but I figure I can handle the extra miles today since I took it so easy yesterday, and Iím looking forward to checking it out.

Morning scenes from along Highway 70:




A bit of breakfast in Chester, CA:


Itís still fairly early when I reach the entrance to that *other* Volcano National Park. I grew up about 20 miles from the real one, Iím curious to see how this one compares.


Iím struck by how green it is here. It seems like every hillside is covered with lush, verdant foliage. I can *smell* the green. Itís really quite beautiful. Then I ride past a sulfer bank--ooh, that smells yellow--and then back into the green. Ahh.


Lassen Peak.


The twists and turns of CA-89.


Lake Helen - unbelievably clear and mirror smooth, still covered with a sheen of ice even in July.






Looking out over the northern California mountains on the descent from Lassen:




While riding up over a ridge on 299 northeast of Burney, thereís one section where you can see both the Lassen peaks to the south, and Mt Shasta to the west. Pretty cool.


At a gas stop in Alturas, I met another rider coming south from Washington State on a ZX-7R for a fishing trip in the Sierras. Heís a Bay Area expat and old-school BARFer, username Laserb. Salute!


From Alturas, it was northwards along 395 past Goose Lake...


...and then into Oregon. Itís gotten extremely hot since leaving the mountains, with 104*F showing on my bikeís ambient temp readout.


395 runs along the eastern shore of Lake Abert, an alkali lake inhabited only by brine shrimp. The sour, salty, brine smell was unbelievable. Several miles up the road, I stopped at a rather unkept rest area and used the pungent facilities, and the first thought through my head was, ďWell, at least it doesnít smell as bad as that lake back there.Ē


Southeast Oregon is a lot of flat scrub desert interrupted by small mountain ranges, pretty much like riding through Nevada. Not very exciting.


In Burns, I grab a footlong from Subway for dinner and head a few miles out of town to the north to Idlewild campground in the Malheur National Forest. The road climbs up into the wooded hills, and the last traces of desert are quickly left behind. The air is cool and fresh and Iím almost able to forget about the 200 miles of hot, boring riding Iíve just finished.


I have my dinner and do some reading along a meadow near the campground as the sun sets. Tomorrow Iíll turn east and make for Idaho.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:03 PM   #3
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Old 07-26-2012, 11:28 PM   #4
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Nice! I've been up through a lot of those parts. It's very peaceful, beautiful and lightly inhabited. Looking forward to the rest...
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:56 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by sckego View Post
The twists and turns of CA-89.
Oh my. That looks pretty sweet right there!! Can't wait to hear what the rest of the trip is like!

Ride safe out there.
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Old 07-28-2012, 01:43 PM   #6
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Old 07-30-2012, 06:23 AM   #7
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:43 AM   #8
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:18 AM   #9
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Monday, July 9
Burns, OR to Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID: 466 miles (map)

Iím packed up early and on the road back down to Burns for a bite to eat before turning east on US-20. The morning is verging on cold, but I get the feeling it definitely wonít stay that way for long.


Thereís not a whole lot exciting between Burns and Boise. Again, I find myself speeding across hundreds of miles of desert scrub, first through the morning chill, changing gradually to the midday heat.


Temps again hit 104*F as I ride through Boise. Ugh. Eventually I make it to Highway 21, climbing up into the Boise National Forest, but the heat remains. I take a break along the river to have a snack and give my evaporative cooling vest a good soak.


As I climb into the mountains, the temperatures drop quickly. I trade the evaporative cooling vest for more layers as it starts raining heavily, but Iím still rather damp and cold. The rain eventually lets up as I approach the town of Stanley.

The Sawtooth Range from a scenic overlook:




Supper break in Stanley. The clouds are still looking nasty, and a check of the weather shows major storms over my proposed route of Highway 75 to Challis. I decide to head south after eating, and see if I can snag a campsite at Craters of the Moon National Monument.


Crossing a mountain pass on the ride south to Ketchum:


On US-20 eastbound, the clouds ahead again donít look too nice.


Am I seriously riding *towards* that?


However, luck is on my side and the clouds clear out as I get to Craters of the Moon. I have just enough time to set up camp and take a short walk around the campground before it gets dark and I head to bed.




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Old 07-30-2012, 10:20 AM   #10
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Tuesday, July 10
Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID to Red Lodge, MT: 470 miles (map)

I’m once again on the road early, rolling east into the rising sun.


More of the beautiful south Idaho scrubland... I find myself passing through the Idaho National Laboratory, and want to stop at the museum there, but I’m far too early, and they aren’t open yet. However, as I make my way east, vague shapes begin to appear in the distance. Peer carefully at the horizon just left of center in this picture... jagged edges thrust up skywards. Could those be... Tetons?


Climbing into the mountains towards Teton Pass. This was a great road, well paved, tons of fun.




Looking down at Jackson, Wyoming:


At a gas stop in Jackson, I get a message from Mom that they are heading east through Wyoming and that they’d be interested in meeting up for the night. They had flown into Denver from home (Hawaii) two weeks prior and had been roadtripping around Colorado, Wyoming, and the Dakotas, and now were not too far from me. We make plans to meet in Red Lodge tonight... I had been planning on camping in the mountains somewhere near there, so it won’t add on too many additional miles for me. However, I need to really get a move on if I want to be there in time for dinner, so I quickly gear up and turn north towards the National Parks.

Ooh, Tetons!




Striking a pose at Jenny Lake:


I continued my ride north out of Grand Teton and into Yellowstone, where I almost got run over by an elk. I was following an RV when it slowed to a stop in the middle of the road. I stopped behind it, looked to my right, and saw three elk coming out of the trees towards me. The first two turned back down the road as soon as they were out of the trees, but the third continued straight towards me, all the way up to the shoulder of the road. I was debating dropping my bike and running when it finally turned and followed the other two down the road. I pulled out my camera and got a quick shot of elkbutt before getting out of there.


Stopped for a snack and a strech along Yellowstone Lake:


Boiling springs along the lakeshore:


The clouds are again looking unfriendly as I gear up to head east out of the park towards Cody. I add on some additional layers, just in case.


The extra layers were a good call; it’s raining hard and cold in the mountains above the lake.




Since I didn’t get a picture with the sign on the way in, I’ll get one on the way out.


Sights from US-20 on the ride to Cody:




The Buffalo Bill Reservoir:
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Old 07-30-2012, 10:20 AM   #11
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Past Cody, climbing up Highway 296, the Chief Joseph Highway:




The views from along the Chief Joseph are pretty awesome, and the ride itself is a lot of fun. The road is completely covered with tarsnakes, though, so the bike was moving and squirming constantly. It would probably suck in the wet, but in the dry, it was just another element of the ride.

Tarsnakes!


Dead Indian Pass, at the crest of the highway:






Along the ride down Chief Joseph, into the aptly-named Sunlight Basin:






And then, a right turn on US-212, and up again... all the way to 10,947 feet, over Beartooth Pass.


The road climbs steeply up the mountain and then levels off as it twists and turns over the top of the plateau, through the alpine tundra.




Montana!


The road down the north side of the pass in utterly ridiculous. I’ve seen pictures of high alpine passes with series of endless hairpins up a sheer cliff, but have never actually ridden one. OH MY GOD. What a ride. What a road. What the fuck were those people back in the 1920s smoking when they decided to build this road right over the top of an 11,000 foot mountain? I don’t know, but it must have been some good shit. The views, the road, the sheer scale of it... just amazing.


A while later I pull into the Red Lodge Inn and am greeted with open arms by Mom, Dad, and my younger sis Kristi, all of whom I haven’t seen in several months.


Wait, let’s try that again.


Much better.

After unpacking and grabbing a quick shower, we all head off to dinner in downtown Red Lodge (fun town!) and plan out the next day. We decide to head through Yellowstone together and see some of the sights, and hopefully get back up to I-90 towards Butte by tomorrow night.
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Old 07-30-2012, 02:38 PM   #12
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WAIT!!! WHAT??? When you were in Cody you didn't go into the Irma Hotel and have a drink in the bar? Or stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum?

Guess yer just going to have to go back! And plan on at least 1/2 day just in the firearm section.

Oh... excellent report btw.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:09 PM   #13
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You shoulda stayed in California. The weather's better here.
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:18 PM   #14
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WAIT!!! WHAT??? When you were in Cody you didn't go into the Irma Hotel and have a drink in the bar? Or stop at the Buffalo Bill Museum?

Guess yer just going to have to go back! And plan on at least 1/2 day just in the firearm section.

Oh... excellent report btw.
Haha, I was in Cody and stopped at a gas station for about 10 minutes. I know, I missed so much on this trip... it was really more about the riding then the touring. I'll definitely have to go back!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SlideSF View Post
You shoulda stayed in California. The weather's better here.
Yeah, but it's not always about better... it's about different, right?
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:20 PM   #15
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Wednesday, July 11
Red Lodge, MT to Butte, MT: 361 miles (map)

Wednesday morning gets off to a bit of a later start; my family isnít bit on sunrise starts. Soon enough, however, the car and bike are loaded up, and Mom and Sis strike a quick pose with the bike before we head back into the hills for another go at Beartooth.


Hey look, itís me!


Yes, the ride back up those incredible switchbacks was just as awesome as the ride down, even accounting for having to wait up for the gutless rental car now and again.


Itís pretty cold and windy at the crest, so Mom and Sis stay put in the car, but Dad braves the chill to walk out to the overlook point, towards the dark rain over Yellowstone to the west.




The descent across the lake-covered plateau is just beautiful, and a terrific ride.





We take a quick break in Cooke City for breakfast. The rainclouds that looked so threatening earlier appear to have blown off and the day is bright and sunny.


Into the park itself, wildlife starts to appear. Huge herds of buffalo are visible in the meadows along the highway.


And, occasionally, closer to the road as well.


Where the stones are yellow, indeed. Yellowstone Falls:


We came here on a family vacation in 1991, when I was eight years old. 21 years later, weíre back again!



Kristi wanted to see Old Faithful, so we headed on down to see that too. The show started with the two geysers right behind launching into a simultaneous show.


Old Faithful kicked on just as the other two were dying out. I wonder how often all three of those go off in a few minute period...


Then it was back up the road a bit to the midway geyser basin. The Excelsior Geyser crater is pretty impressive, a huge pool of water steadily boiling away, pouring hundreds of gallons of water into the Firehole River below.


The fam in front of the Grand Prismatic Spring. Yes it was very windy... in fact, there were a good dozen hats scattered about off of the boardwalk, blown off by the gusting wind.


More springs....


Then, out of the park, through West Yellowstone, and northward up US-191 towards I-90.


Approaching the freeway, the sky is again promising rain, but luckily it turns out to be only some strong wind and a few drops here and there.


A few more miles on the interstate bring us to Butte, where we manage to find an open room and stop for the night. How to properly end a long day on the road? Wine out of plastic hotel room cups, of course!
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