Rockies 2007

Day 04

June 17


I was quite tired when I pillowed my head last night, so I decided I would sleep until I woke up. But as usually is my habit, that is not too late. After my 'burnt' sandwich, I decide that I will seek a meaningful breakfast somewhere besides locally. As I roll down I90 toward Missoula, I search the roadside for any prospective roadsigns that might indicate a breakfast stop. As I allow my thoughts to wander a bit, the area looks very familiar to me and memories began to trickle back of another trip through here on another day. Then it hits me - Drummond, the little town where the Wagon Wheel Restaurant that Tom and I stopped at on the way to Alaska in 2004 should be coming up shortly. And boy, was it ever good! So when I see the exit sign, I know exactly where I will have breakfast. I pull up to the old building, walk inside amongst the locals and lay claim to a booth.


It's still just as good as I remembered and the service is just top notch. These is a local place that still remembers what a customer is all about. What a great way to start off my day! After I polish off more good food than I care to admit, I come back out the SweetTreat. But something just doesn't look right and a little alarm goes off in my head. I get to looking and I see that my radar detector box that is attached beneath the headlight is no longer attached. Evidently when I hit a pot hole coming through Yellowstone yesterday, it compressed the forks enough to hit it. Fortunately, it stayed together, but seriously wrecked the paint job and surface plastic on the fender. I break out my doctor's bag of tools and remove the whole assembly and stuff in in one of my saddlebags. I guess I need to made a stronger mounting plate and replace the fender when I get back to the Holler.

At Missoula I leave joyously leave the slab and work my way through Missoula on highway 12 toward Lolo Pass. It's not as high or spectacular as Beartooth pass, but it has plenty of miles of smiles.


That is until I almost meet with my own undoing. There are lots of quick sweepers and elevation changes and I am really enjoying them - not riding past my ability but just enjoying the day. The pavement has been exceptionally smooth and solid which really adds to the fun. I lean over to take the next sweeper to the right and the road surface is in the shadows. Midturn the pavement all of a sudden drops out from beneath the SweetTreat and the suspension unloads, standing the bike straight up. I'm headed off into the left lane quicker than I can say "Oh no". To make matters worse, the yellow lines have been ground just like the racket strips on the interstate, so there's no chance to pull it back in there. There's a car fast approaching me from the other direction and I know although I can pull it back in before I leave the pavement, I cannot pull it back in before the car reaches me. Everything seems to go into slow motion, as I struggle to get the ST back where it should be. The thought that floats across my mind is a simple one -

"So this is how it ends. What a shame my family will have the memory of me being killed on Father's Day."

I can honestly say I have no fear at all, knowing the end will come quickly at the combined rate of speed of the SweetTreat and the oncoming vehicle. I made preparations for my eternal destination a long time ago and have perfect peace. The oncoming driver sees what is happening and somehow we narrowly avoid each other in the left lane. I do not fully understand how that happens, but I sure don't complain.

As I continue on down highway 12, it seems that I may be sadly ending the twisties. But I run on upon this sign and another big grin spreads across my mug.

  Finally as I leave Idaho behind, the land begins to flatten and the forever horizons appear again.  

Before I left home, I had asked folks in the area if there was a stateline sign in Lewiston and a safe place to place a bike for a picture. I guess because I've done it so many times, that I'm one of the few humans that notice such things. No local could give me an answer. So not knowing what kind of state line signs I'll run into going through there, I detour to the top of the mountain on highway 95 to the Washington border. It's a nice little run with a great view, and the Washington sign is in a place I can get a shot without getting run over.


When I get back down the mountain and into Lewiston, it turns out it would have been an easy shot. Just as you cross over the Snake River, there is a Washington State line sign off to the right with a nice pull off. But since I've already bagged it, I don't have to stop.

Highway 12 continues on right through Walla Walla, where I stop for gas. There a BMW rider warns me -

"The Oregon state troopers are out in force and they show no mercy. So really watch your speed when you get there."

"Thanks, neighbor for that information. I sure don't need a performance award on this trip."

I leave my old friend highway 12 for highway 125 which should take me right across the Washington/Oregon border to highway 11. The big question will be whether or not there is an Oregon stateline sign. You just never know until you get there so I have a plan B that will take me up I84 to I82 if all else fails. But there's an easy sign and an easy place to pull off. And with this shot I have completed the 48 states for the SweetTreat, just as I had for the Redbird.


It is with a great deal of relief that I realize that I've done it a second time and now I can pass stateline signs without so much as a glance. I've still got almost 200 miles to go before I reach the motel, but I can just relax now and cruise on I84 til I get to the Motel 6 on Ontario, Oregon. I'm glad to finally reach the motel and unload SweetTreat after I check in quickly.


There's a Country Kitchen within close walking distance, so I grab me a bite to eat. The food is good but I decide that a little celebration is in order. I notice there is a Chocolate Mountain Cake on the menu, so I ask the lady serving me -

"Is that as good as it looks?"

She replies "Yep and there's plenty of it too!"

"Well, fetch me one up then, I'm celebrating a little bit tonight."

It's been a long day - almost 700 miles - and with near fatal consequences except for the Grace of God. As I savor the accomplishment of putting two ST1100s in 48 states, the emotions of the day begin to wash over my tired body. I savor every bite of that luscious cake and still being alive to ride another day. With the damage done, I pay my dues then walk back to the room to get a good night's rest. Little do I know what physical challenges will face me tomorrow.