Day 1 – Pacific Coast Highway Motorcycle Ride

Day 1 – Pacific Coast Highway Motorcycle Ride

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Day 1 Route Georgetown, TX to Amarillo, TX

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Pacific Coast Highway Motorcycle Ride

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Pacific Coast Highway ride route

Pacific Coast Highway Motorcycle Ride

I am calling this ride the Pacific Coast Highway Motorcycle Ride because our destination this year is the Pacific Coast Highway. We will be riding other good motorcycle roads like I-70 with its beautiful sweeping curves through scenic mountain canyons and Washington State Highway 14 the Lewis and Clark Hwy Highway which hugs the scenic Columbia River through the Columbia River Gorge. I must say riding anywhere in the western U.S. is scenic with panoramic views and it has many good motorcycle roads.

This year, as in past years, I’m riding with the Larry’s. My old Air Force buddy Larry C. and his childhood friends Larry T. and Larry A. This is the first year all 3 of them have been able to make the ride. Because I’m always riding with one or more of the Larry’s, I’ve started telling everyone I will only ride with them if their name is Larry.

This year, we rode one of the roads on my ride bucket list. Janet and I have driven part of the Pacific Coast Highway from south to north. I knew then, I needed to ride it, but from north to south. The reason for riding north to the south is because the pullouts will be on the right side of the road. That way you only have to worry about one lane of traffic when pulling over and back onto the road. Also many of the pullouts are on points that restrict your vision to on-coming traffic. It makes for a tense situation when having to deal with two lanes of traffic when pulling back onto the roadway. Pulling on and off the road crossing two lanes in a car is intense and more so on a bike… Riding the Pacific Coast Highway, from the north to the south, was a good decision.

On this ride I planned two different return routes. For the original route we were to return on a more southern route via I-8 and I-10.The average temperatures along this route for September is in the triple digits. I planned an alternate more northern route where the average temperatures are about 15 degrees cooler. Before we committed to either route, we could look at the weather. As it turned out we took a modified version of the northern route back.  Even on this route we managed to reach 103 degrees when riding into Needles, CA. Riding out of Gallup, NM was our coldest temperature for the ride of 35 degrees. Rather extreme for being just 395 miles apart but the elevations went from 495 feet in Needles, CA to 6467 feet in Gallup, NM.  All in all the weather for this ride was pretty good over the entire trip. Just a sprinkle or two, clear to partly cloudy with fog in a few places and temperatures that were cool to warm for the most part. Great riding weather…

Larry C., Larry T. and Larry A. met me in Amarillo, Texas. They were riding in from Alabama and Georgia. From Amarillo we rode together 13 days taking in all the great scenery along the way. On day 13 we split up in Sweet Water, TX. I headed home and they headed back to Alabama and Georgia.

Below is a thumb nail sketch of our route and a few pictures as teasers. I will be posting ride stories about each day so check back from time to time “for the rest of the story”…

Day 1: I rode from Georgetown, TX to Amarillo, TX (470 miles) to meet the Larry’s. No stops except for gas, food and rest stops.

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Heading to Amarillo to meetup with my riding buddies…

 

Day 2: Amarillo, TX to Georgetown, CO (476 miles) via Hwy 87 & I-25.

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Riding past Capulin Volcano in New Mexico

 

Day 3: Georgetown, CO to Ogden, UT (519 miles) via I-70, US 191 & I-15.

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Riding the scenic canyons of I-70 in Colorado

 

Day 4: Ogden, UT to Hermiston, OR (551 miles) via I-84.

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Snake River riding I-84 Oregon – Idaho border

 

Day 5: Hermiston, OR to Poulsbo, WA. (380 miles) Via WA 14,  NFD 25, US-12, WA-123 to WA-410, WA-164, WA-18 & I-5.

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Riding through the Columbia Gorge

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Taking in the majesty of the Columbia River Gorge

 

Day 6: Poulsbo, WA to Garibaldi, OR (360 miles) via US 101.

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Ruby Beach in Washington

 

Day 7: Garibaldi, OR to Coos Bay, OR (177 miles) via US 101.

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Cape Cove in Oregon

 

Day 8: Coos Bay to Eureka, CA (215 miles) via US 101.

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Larry C. riding through the drive through tree near Trees of Mystery…

 

Day 9: Eureka, CA to El Granada, CA (331 miles) via US 101 & CA 1.

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Riding across the foggy Golden Gate Bridge at dusk…

 

Day 10: El Granada, CA to Morro Bay, CA (216 miles) via CA 1.

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Morro Rock at dust in Morro Bay, California

 

Day 11: Morro Bay, CA to Needles (405 miles) via CA 41, CA 46, I-5, CA 58 & I-40.

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Larry C. leading the way down CA Highway 41

 

Day 12: Needles, Ca to Gallup, NM (384 miles) via Historic Route 66 & I-40.

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The lovable donkeys of Oatman, Arizona

 

Day 13: Gallup, NM to Lubbock, TX (457 miles) via I-40 & US 84.

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Leaving Gallup, New Mexico early morning with temperature at 25 degrees…

 

Day 14: Lubbock, TX to Home (354 miles) via US 84, TX-153, US-84, US-183 S to TX 29.. I left the Larry’s behind at Sweetwater, TX. I continued south toward home and they continue east on I-20 then I-30 to Alabama and Georgia.

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Wind Turbines near Sweetwater, Texas… I’ll be home soon… 😉

 

For more pictures, have a look at the ride video below….

Ride safe and I hope we meet somewhere down the road…

Day 16 & 17 of My 5000+ Miles, 17 Day Motorcycle Ride (Alliance  to Home)

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Day 16 Leg 1 Route map

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Getting on down the road…

Today is start of day 16 & 17 of my 5000+ miles, 17 day motorcycle ride…  Alliance to home, 1019 miles. Larry T., Larry A. and myself have been riding together for 15 days seeing some of the most scenic parts of the western US. We met up in Canyon, Texas, then rode US-60 to Payton, Arizona. On day 5 we turned onto US-89 just north of Prescott, AZ and followed it all the way to Great Falls, Montana, visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Salt Lake City, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. From Great Falls we back tracked a bit to Yellowstone National Park before heading east via US-212 thru Beartooth Pass and on to Billings, MT. From Billings we rode to Devils Tower via US-212 before continuing on to Spearfish, SD. Yesterday we rode on to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument via Needles and Iron Mountain Highways.

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I’m going to miss seeing these guys in my rear view mirror…

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Combining wheat…

Today is the last day we will be riding together. Except for the unseasonably warm temperatures, this ride has been great… Great ride with great scenery in a very scenic area of the U.S. with the best riding friends…

I am a bit sad about leaving my riding buddies today, but have a bit of joy knowing I will be getting back to my lovely wife at home the following day. 17 days is way too long to be away from Janet… 🙂

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Lots of hay bales…

The day starts with big blue skies with some high thin clouds scattered around. It should be another good riding day.

Our ride together will be from Alliance, NE to Oakley, KS (318 miles) through miles and miles of scenic farm and ranch lands. Having grown up on a cotton farm in Texas, I always enjoy riding through farm and ranch land. I know what the lives of these people are like and I have a great deal of respect for their way of life. There are many joys and trials of farming and ranching and it takes a special kind of person who can do it. We saw many farmers, ranchers working hard on the land where tractors were plowing and were engulfed in dust, combines harvesting wheat with trails of dust from the wheat being threshed in the bowels of the combines, tractors pulling auger carts that are waiting to unload the hoppers from the combines and hay being baled into large round hay bales… There were acres and acres of corn that will be ready for harvest in the fall and, of course, large pastures with hundreds of cattle.

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Life down on the farm

The temperature was climbing the further we rode. It was approaching 90 degrees (F) by the time we reached Oakley. After gassing up we had a good lunch at a café across the street. The time has finally come… we knew it would eventually come, but at the beginning of our ride it seemed so far into the future. This is where we say our goodbyes until our next ride. We don’t know when and where that will be, but we do know there will be another ride. Larry T. will be heading home to Tunnel Hill, Georgia. Larry A. will be heading home to Atlanta, Georgia. They will be riding together back to Georgia some 1000+ miles. Their ride will be ~6500+ miles while mine will be ~5000+ miles.

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Day 16 Leg 2 Route map

It seemed a bit odd not having someone to chat with on the CB radios as I rode along. It was just me and the hum of the boxer 6 cylinder of Goldie (my Goldwing) and music when I felt like listening… I planned on riding as far as Perryton, TX and further if I feel up to it. My route took me from Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma to Texas. The ride from Oakley to Perryton was miles and miles (197 miles) of more farm and ranch land. When I reached Perryton I had ridden 515 miles so far and it was unseasonably hot so I decided to call it a day… Tomorrow I will have just 504 miles to home…

Day 17: My last day of riding… Going home…

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Day 17 Route map home

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Early Start… Beautiful Morning…

I was up early to get as many miles behind me as possible before the heat set in. To get as early start as possible I opted to eat breakfast at McDonald’s because they were open and I could get on the road sooner. McDonald is always quick and I love their coffee and the breakfasts are good at a reasonable price. I was leaving McDonald’s just as the sun started to peak over the horizon… The temperature was in the mid 60’s, not too bad, and there was a cloud cover to offer shade for most of the morning. By noon the clouds were gone and the temperature was climbing.

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I love windmills and there are thousands out here…

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Small town Texas…

I’ve ridden this route home many times on other rides. Though it is very familiar it is still a fun ride and I always notice something new each time I ride this way. The ride is mostly rural Texas, lots and lots of farms and ranches with small Texas towns scattered along my route. Small towns are the life blood to the farms and ranches out here. The only city I am riding through is Abilene.

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My riding buddy going home…

My only stops are for gas, food and breaks to rest and to rehydrate. This day is all about getting home and out of the heat. As it turned out it was warm not hot, only getting into the low 90’s. Not too bad after riding in triple digit temps (113 degrees one day).

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Rest stop… Almost home…

I made good time and was home around 5:00 PM. It is nice to be home. I missed Janet and we had a lot to catch up on.

This was a great ride. We saw a lot of scenic places in the Western U.S. We thought riding in June we would be riding in moderate temperatures but instead we ended up riding in unseasonably warm weather. There were triple digit temps on many days. Somehow these three old guys managed to survive the heat and are ready for the next adventure…

If you liked this ride post, you may checkout the other post from this ride below…

Hera are other rides you may like too…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…

 

Day 15 of My 5000+ Mile, 17 Day Motorcycle Ride (Spearfish to Alliance)

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Day 15 Ride route: Spearfish, Needles Hwy, Iron Mountain Hwy, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument Alliance, KS

Day 15 of My 5000+ Mile, 17 Day Motorcycle Ride

Today is day 15 of my 5000+ mile, 17 day motorcycle ride…  Larry T., Larry A. and myself have been riding together for 14 days seeing some of the most scenic parts of the western US. We met up in Canyon, Texas, then rode US-60 to Payton, Arizona. On day 5 we turned onto US-89 just north of Prescott, AZ and followed it all the way to Great Falls, Montana, visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Salt Lake City, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. From Great Falls we back tracked a bit to Yellowstone National Park before heading east via US-212 thru Beartooth Pass and on to Billings, MT. From Billings we rode to Devils Tower via US-212 before continuing on to Spearfish, SD.

It was nice being back to Spearfish. Seven years ago we were here on our “Mount Rushmore National Park Motorcycle Ride”. Spearfish is a small town of just over 10,000 people. Like many towns out west, Spearfish was started because of mining in the area. It was originally called Queen City and supplied foodstuffs to the area mining camps. Today, truck farming and market gardening is done in the vicinity. Now the history of Spearfish is tied very closely to mining and tourism. Spearfish is a year-round adventure retreat.  Many areas of the Black Hills shutdown during the winter season but Spearfish has many activities no matter which season you visit! In the spring, Spearfish Creek and the waterfalls in the canyon are flowing full from the run-off of melting snow. During summer there are all kinds of outdoor adventures from hiking, biking, fishing, geocaching, motorcycling and many more! Fall brings cooler temperatures but the area grows even more beautiful as the fall foliage beings to pop. Winter offers great snow activities including snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and much more!

This morning is another beautiful riding day with the temperature in the low 60’s. The sky was clear with a few thin, high clouds. This is a bit warm for June, but not bad… It did get pretty warm (unseasonably warm) as the day progressed, but that has been the norm for this ride.

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Riding through Spearfish Canyon

We will be riding through Spearfish Canyon. Today, like rides in the past years, it was nice winding our way through some of the most breathtaking scenery. It’s twenty miles upward through natural beauty and unique scenery, ending at Cheyenne Crossing at the intersection of Highway 85. Weather conditions in the canyon varies with the elevation as you climb about 2,000 feet between Spearfish and Cheyenne Crossing. The canyon is lined with thousand-foot-high limestone cliffs on both sides of Highway 14A as it winds through the canyon. Spearfish Creek flows through the canyon. Keep an eye out for Bridal Veil Falls and Roughlock Falls as they are popular stops. The speed limit in the canyon is 35 miles per hour, but you may find some motorist driving slower as they take in the beauty of the canyon.

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Taking a break on US-385 heading to Mount Rushmore

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Waiting on road construction on US-385

Leaving Spearfish Canyon, we turned north onto US-85 and rode a short distance to US-385.  US-385 is called the Black Hills Parkway. As you travel through the heart of the hills, US-385 rambles through the Black Hills National Forest with dense Ponderosa pines and panoramic views of mountain lakes.

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Needles Highway South Dakota

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Mountain Goat on Needles Highway

From US-385 we rode the Needles Highway. Needles Highway is a National Scenic Byway and was almost not built because critics thought it was impossible to build because of its 14 miles of sharp turns and low tunnels. The highway is named for the high granite “needles” it winds through. Parts of the highway are also part of Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop so there is an entrance fee for the park. There are some really tight hairpin curves and one of them was at least 180 degrees or more. It is a great motorcycle road but is a bit narrow with a few rough spots but in better condition than it was seven years ago. Needles Highway is a must ride if you are in the area.

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Tunnel on Needles Highway. Photo by Larry A.

Two years ago we rode this area and I started following the Sturgis Chick, a fellow blogger. At the time she had started a ride that took her across the U.S., Canada and down to and all over South America. An amazing ride that took two years to complete. I’m in awe and a bit jealous. She just returned and was riding in the area when we were there. As it turned out we missed each other by one day when we rode the Needles Highway. I truly wish we could have connected. She is my riding idol. She is working on a book about her two-year ride. I’m looking forward to it, so stay tuned for its completion, I will be posting a review…

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Waiting to ride through tunnel on Iron Mountain Highway. Photo by Larry A.

From the Needles Highway we picked up the Iron Mountain Highway (Highway 16A). This road is unique and memorable, not just because of the amount of curves and the beautiful scenery, but also because of the architectural features on this road. Features like pigtail bridges and one lane tunnels that showcase Mt. Rushmore. The tunnels frame Mt. Rushmore National Memorial like a picture frame. You should ride the highway from South to North so Mount Rushmore can be viewed as you ride through the tunnels. Riding North to South Mount Rushmore will be in your rearview mirror as you ride through the tunnels. Here are seven things you will experience on your ride on Iron Mountain Highway…

  1. 17MILES
  2. 314CURVES
  3. 14SWITCHBACKS
  4. 3PIGTAILS
  5. 3TUNNELS
  6. 4PRESIDENTS
  7. 2SPLITS

Normally, highway 16A is an easy ride, but today we got stuck behind a road striping truck and traveled about 10 mph for miles. This was not fun on a bike. Luckily we were allowed to pass before we rode the scenic and fun part of the road.

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Mount Rushmore National Monument from the highway

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Mount Rushmore. Photo by Larry A.

At Hwy 244 we took a left and rode past Mount Rushmore. We only stopped at a pullout to take pictures of Mount Rushmore. We continued down 244 to US-385 and headed south to Crazy Horse Monument for lunch.

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Crazy Horse Monument

We have always stopped here and eaten lunch at the Laughing Water Restaurant. I always have my favorite the Tatanka (Buffalo) Stew. There are other native America dishes that are good that you may also want to try… Oh, and the coffee is free!

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Crazy Horse Monument. Photo by Larry A.

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Native American Hoop Dancer at Crazy Horse Monument

We spent some time walking the grounds at the Crazy Horse Visitor’s Center and taking pictures of the current status of the Crazy Horse Monument. I was first here 48 years ago. There has been a lot of progress made since that time, but they have a really long way to go before it is complete. The monument was started in 1948 by Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Ziolkowski worked on the carving until his death in 1982 at age 74. His family now carries on the project. One of the reasons I like visiting here, and try to support their efforts, is the memorial is a non-profit and receives no federal or state funding. The Foundation charges fees for its visitor centers and earns revenue from its gift shops. Ziolkowski was offered $10 million for the project from the federal government, but he turned the offer down. So, when in the area, stop by to give them a little support and enjoy the fruits of their efforts, learn about the project and the history of Crazy Horse and the Native America tribes he led.

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Crazy Horse Monument. Photo by Larry A.

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Heading south on US-385 from Mount Rushmore Area

From Crazy Horse Memorial we headed south on US-385 to Alliance, Nebraska, our home away from home for the night. The ride is scenic starting with mountains covered in Ponderosa pines. The further south we rode the terrain started to flatten until it was more rolling hills with the pines becoming sparser.  Further south from Hot Springs, SD the terrain pines were few and far between where we were seeing nice farm and ranch land. There are nice small towns with feed lots that were becoming more common. We were in cattle country.

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Buffalo along US-385 riding through Wind Cave National Park

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Riding down US-385 heading to Alliance, KS

Mileage wise it was a short ride but, we made many stops to see attractions that made for a longer day. It was fun and so we settled in and took it easy getting ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will be riding to Oakley, KS. This is our last day of riding together… A bit sad about leaving my riding buddies and a bit of joy knowing I will be getting back to my lovely wife at home the following day. Come follow along as I make my way home… Ride safe…

If you liked this ride post, you may checkout the other post from this ride below…

Hera are other rides you may like too…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…

Day 14 of My 5000+ Mile, 17 Day Motorcycle Ride (Billings to Spearfish 332 miles)

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Today is day 14 of my 5000+ mile, 17 day motorcycle ride…  Larry T., Larry A. and myself have been riding together for 13 days seeing some of the most scenic parts of the western US. We met up in Canyon, Texas, then rode US-60 to Payton, Arizona. On day 5 we turned onto US-89 just north of Prescott, AZ and followed it all the way to Great Falls, Montana, visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Salt Lake City, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. From Great Falls we back tracked a bit to Yellowstone National Park before heading east via US-212 thru Beartooth Pass and on to Billings, MT.

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Riding down I-90/US-212 from Billings , Montana

It was nice being back to Billings. Two years ago we were here on our “National Park Motorcycle Ride”. We stayed at the same motel, kicked back and caught our breath from our long day’s ride the previous day

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Riding US-212 near Little Bighorn Battlefield

This morning is another beautiful riding day with the temperature in the low 60’s. The sky was clear with a few thin high clouds. This is a bit warm for June, but not bad… It did get pretty warm (unseasonably warm) as the day progressed, but that has been the norm for this ride.

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Cattle on US-212 East of Little Bighorn

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Riding US-212 west of Broadus, MT

Today we are continuing riding down US-212. US-212 follows I-90 for 59 miles where it then heads eastward. The scenery has been rolling, grass-covered hills with herds of cattle seen from time to time. Some of the hills were more rugged and sparsely wooded. Beautiful farm and ranch land with views of good water and windmills. Things are few and far-between out this way and the temperature is climbing. We stopped for gas, rest and to re-hydrate in Broadus, Montana. We were ready for a break from the heat. It looks to be another hot day. From Broadus we continued east on US-212 to Hwy 112 and headed on to Devils Tower National Monument. As we climbed a bit in elevation it did cool just a bit. Once on Hwy 112 the GPS was getting confused and tried routing us down several dirt roads or none-existent roads. That was annoying and confusing. Hwy 112 was a nice road with long sweeping curves, gentle grass-covered hills, grazing herds of cattle and piney woods in the distance. The Devils Tower came into view miles away and got larger and larger until we were there…

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Taking a break in the shade in Broadus, MT

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Rolling down Hwy 112 heading to Devils Tower Nation Monument

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Entrance to Devils Tower National Monument

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Hot day at Devils Tower

We finally made it to the Devils Tower. We were here two years ago and it is nice to be back. We were ready to get off the bikes and stretch our legs a bit so we walked the parameter of the tower. We were here a couple of years ago and walked the parameter counter-clockwise. This year we walked it clockwise. For some reason it seemed as though we were walking up hill most of the way. Maybe it was just the heat today that made it seem harder walking… or maybe we are just getting old… Naw, it had to be the heat…

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Devils Tower National Monument

Leaving Devils Tower we headed 63 miles down US-24/Hwy-14 to I-90 to Spearfish, South Dakota, our home away from home for tonight.

Tomorrow we ride through Spearfish Canyon on our way to Mount Rushmore, ride Needles and Iron Mountain highways before visiting Crazy Horse Memorial. Come follow along and enjoy the ride. I hope we see you down the road somewhere. Ride safe…

If you liked this ride post, you may checkout the other post from this ride below…

Hera are other rides you may like too…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…

Day 13 of My 5000+ Mile, 17 Day Motorcycle Ride (Great Falls to Billings 402 miles)

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Ride route Great Falls to Yellowstone thru Beartooh Pass to Billings

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Leaving Great falls, MT

Today is day 13 of my 5000+ mile, 17 day motorcycle ride…  Larry T., Larry A. and myself have ridden together for 12 days seeing some of the most scenic parts of the western US. On day 5 we turned onto US-89 just north of Prescott, AZ. Today we will back track a bit to Yellowstone National Park before heading east via US-212 thru Beartooth Pass and on to Billings, MT.

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South of Great Falls on US-89

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Riding South on US-89

This morning is another beautiful riding day, partly cloudy with the temperature starting out at 62 degrees. A bit warm for June but not bad… It did cool a bit more once we climbed in elevation. Riding over Beartooth Pass it was even cooler.

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Riding south to Gardiner on US-89

Even though we rode some of this route two days ago, I saw things I missed before and I got to see other things from a different perspective. It was nice seeing it all again, the small towns, pristine rivers and streams, grass-covered valleys, grazing cattle, antelopes, majestic hills and mountains. This is truly beautiful country. There is a bit of sadness because who knows when I will ever see it again… Hopefully I will pass this way again…

We stopped for gas and a bite to eat in White Sulphur Springs.  From there it was a scenic ride back to Gardiner, MT for more gas.

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Buffalo herds around every curve in Yellowstone National Park at Northeast Entrance

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US-212 Northeast Entrance Yellowstone National Park

Entering Yellowstone, we had a bit of a run in with a Park Ranger who made a big deal about nothing. We followed the GPS to the Park entrance. The way the GPS routed us was for Park employees only. It was an honest mistake on our part. Apparently, there is a sign we didn’t see. We explained we didn’t do it intentionally, but he didn’t cut us any slack… He should go a long way in the Park Ranger organization… Anyway, be aware the proper route into the park should take you through the stoned arch. If not, you may have to deal with that angry Park Ranger…

It was still early so the traffic wasn’t too bad in the park. From the park entrance it was a short ride of 23 miles to US-212. For the last 8 days (~1,553 miles) we have followed US-89 from just north of Prescott, AZ to Great Falls, MT and back down to Gardiner, MT. Today we leave US-89 behind. It has been a great ride taking us through some of the most beautiful, scenic parts of the western U.S. For the next 2 days we will be following US-212…

US-212 will take us out the northeast entrance of Yellowstone Park. This is my fourth trip to Yellowstone, but this is the first time I have visited this part of the park. I had no idea what I have missed. It has been said, “The northeast entrance is one of the most beautiful roads in America.” I haven’t been everywhere in America so I can’t speak to that. If you want to see buffalo, this area is where all the buffalo are. It seemed as though there were herds of buffalo around each curve of US-212.  I have never seen so many buffalo in one area. I can see why. There are lots of good grazing and water in the Lamar Valley.  US-212 parallels the pristine Lamar River with many smaller creeks and streams that feed into it. In 1995 wolf packs were reintroduced to the area. During early morning and late evening hours year-round the wolves can be seen around the rugged peaks and ridges. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any wolves on our ride through. I believe the 29 miles of US-212 has the richest diversity of landscape and wildlife in the park. Just before you exit the park, you will ride between the majestic Abiathar (10,928 feet) and the Barronette (10,404 feet) Peaks.

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Looking off Beartooth Pass

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There was as many Riders as Drives on Beartooth Pass

Two years ago when we rode up this way on what I called our “National Park Ride”,  we spoke with riders who had ridden over Beartooth Pass on their way to Yellowstone. Ever since then I have wanted to ride it myself. Today that day has come. Beartooth is everything I have been told and have read about it.  There are a lot of twist, turns, ups and downs with incredible scenery. Beautiful snow-covered mountains, rushing rivers, piney forests (lower elevations) and tundra (upper elevations).  There are a lot of pullouts to take pictures or just peer over the edge… This is truly a great biker road. There are as many bikes as cars on the road. We had a great time visiting with bikers and drivers at pullouts. The road over the pass is in really good shape, probably because trucks and RV’s avoid this road with all of its steep grades, countless hairpin curves and the many switch-backs. Because of the elevation it was a lot cooler going over the pass. Probably the coolest it’s been on our ride. It sure beats the several days that we rode in triple digit temperatures…

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Larry & Larry at Beartooth Pass

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Beartooth Pass Peak Sign

It is hard to describe Beartooth in words, pictures are better, but you really need to experience this pass from the seat of a motorcycle. You don’t just see it, but you feel it. You are part of the total experience…

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Looking off Beartooth Pass

Below is a slide show of our ride from Yellowstone over Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge…

Riding off the pass we stopped in Red Lodge, Montana, the “Gateway to Yellowstone National Park” to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat.

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Riding into Red Lodge

Red Lodge is a nice small town with a great view of the Beartooth range.  Red Lodge has a rustic main street and is a National Historic District. Like most small towns in the west, Red Lodge has a colorful history. It all started September 17, 1851, when the United States government signed a treaty with the Crow Nation, ceding the area to the Crow Indians. After coal and gold was discovered in 1870, the Crow, by treaty (1880), allowed the area to be settled. Coal mining defined the town and drew settlers from all over the world. Everything went bust during the Great Depression and the manufacturing went from coal mining to illegal bootleg whisky. In 1931 work began on the Beartooth Highway that linked Red Lodge to Yellowstone National Park. The highway officially opened in 1936. Red Lodge had fallen into disrepair because population had dropped from its peak of 6000 people to about 2,000. Since the mid-1980s Red Lodge has been redeveloped for its historic and cultural tourism. There is much to see and do here. I will be back (hopefully soon) to explore it more, but today we have miles to go before we sleep so we headed on down the road.

Riding from Red Lodge to Billings the terrain flattens and we rode through farm and ranch land. Having grown up on a cotton farm in Texas, I love and appreciate farm and ranch land and the hard-working people who work it. I always find my mind wandering, imagining what life must have been like there. If walls of the farm houses could talk, the stories they could tell… Stories of family, joy, sadness, love, hard work and the many trials of farm life.

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Riding down US-212 to Billings, MT

It was nice to get back to Billings. Two years ago we were here on our “National Park Motorcycle Ride”. We stayed at the same motel, kicked back and caught our breath from our long day’s ride.

Tomorrow we continue riding down US-212 to Spearfish, SD via Devils Tower National Monument. Come follow along and enjoy the ride over the next 5 days… I hope we see you down the road somewhere. Ride safe…

If you liked this ride post, you may checkout the other post from this ride below…

Hera are other rides you may like too…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…

Day 12 of My 5000+ Mile, 17 Day Motorcycle Ride

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Ride Map Great Falls to Augusta to Great Falls

Today is day 12 of my 5000+ mile, 17 day motorcycle ride…  Larry T., Larry A. and myself have ridden together for 11 days seeing some of the most scenic parts of the western US. On day 5 we turned onto US-89 just north of Prescott, AZ. We have made our way to Great Falls, Montana. Today is an easy day, a chance to catch our breath from all the riding of past days. Larry A., while in the Air Force, was stationed here at Malmstrom AFB. He will be showing us around Great Falls before we ride to Augusta, MT to visit his old Air Force buddy.

This morning is another beautiful, cloudless day to explore Great Falls. The low this morning was 57 degrees making for some nice riding. It will be warming into the 90’s before day’s end.

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The Falls at Great Falls Montana

Our first stop was an overlook to view the Great Falls on the Missouri River. The city of Great Falls takes its name from five waterfalls along the Missouri River. This is the only one of the waterfalls in its natural state today. Dams were built in the 1880s that submerged the five waterfalls. Today a damn is just above the falls. We can only imagine what the falls would have looked like before in its natural state. The overlook is a good vantage point to take pictures of the falls, the river and the surrounding area.

Our next stop is just a short ride to Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. The area explored by Lewis & Clark is amazing. I may need to plan a Lewis & Clark ride, visiting as many of their sites as possible. On our National Park ride two years ago we rode all the way into Canada. We were continually crossing Lewis and Clark’s paths. The center gives us another chance to learn more about Lewis and Clark’s travels. The Center is a 25,000 square-foot building that includes the exhibit hall, a theater, an education room for hands-on activities and a gift shop. We spent time viewing the many exhibits and taking pictures of the Missouri River from our vantage point at the Center. The center is a great place to learn about the Lewis & Clark exploration. If you are in the area check it out.

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C M Russell Home Great Falls Montana

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C M Russell Art Studio Great Falls Montana

We then followed Larry A. to the C. M. Russell Museum. If you know anything about western art you know C. M. Russell (Charles Marion Russell) also known as Charlie Russell or “Kid”Russell (1864 – 1926). Russell was a colorful character who was known as a historian, Indian advocate, writer, cowboy, philosopher and conservationist, but is best known as a western artist. The C.M. Russell Museum houses the most complete collection of Russell’s art and memorabilia in the world, a collection of thousands of works by other well-known western artists, Browning Firearms and Plains Indian Culture. Located on the museum property are Russell’s log cabin studio, and his two-story wood frame home. The house and log cabin studio are designated a National Historic Landmark. Touring his studio and home was like stepping back in time… I love the architecture of older homes. It always seems like I have come home.  The C. M. Russell Museum is another must see if you are in the area…

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C M Russell Museum

From the Russell Museum it was a short ride (~60 miles) to Augusta to visit Larry A.’s old Air Force buddy. It was a nice ride through more Montana farm and ranch land. It was starting to warm up a bit but still a nice ride. We parked our bikes at Larry’s friend’s house and walked to the Western Bar and grabbed some lunch. We caught up with Larry’s friend at the Augusta Rodeo grounds.

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Locals Chilling in Augusta

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Larry T. & Larry A. chillin’ in the shade

If you have read some of my other posts, you know I like small towns. The best people live in small-town America. They are a special breed of self-sufficient, close knit families, friends and neighbors. Augusta is another one of those towns.

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Augusta Montana Rodeo grounds photo by Larry A.

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Getting the concession stands ready… Photo by Larry A.

The first white explorer to view the beauty of the Augusta area was Captain Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. As I said before, Lewis and Clark seem to turn up everywhere in our travels out west. Lewis and his party traveled through the area and camped near the town of Augusta. Eventually, cattlemen found the prairie grasses and scattered timber of the Augusta area inviting and began the early settlement. Montana has been called the “Last Best Place”…and Augusta, Montana has been called the “Last Original Cow Town in the West”. I would have to agree…

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Augusta Montana Rodeo photo by Larry A.

Tomorrow is the 79th annual Augusta PRCA rodeo. Augusta is the home of the biggest and oldest one-day PRCA rodeo in Montana. The rodeo is sponsored and organized by the Augusta Chapter of the American Legion and is held each year on the last Sunday in June. We will be missing all the rodeo fun tomorrow since we will be heading on down the highway continuing our adventure… We made the best of our time here and spent the afternoon checking out the rodeo grounds, visiting with the locals and taking pictures. Larry T. and I decided to make our way back to our home away from home back in Great Falls and rest up a bit. Larry A. stayed a bit longer to catch up on old times with his old Air Force buddy.

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Rodeo grounds at Augusta Montana Photo by Larry A,

As I have said in previous posts about this ride, we have ridden in an unseasonable heat wave. Temperatures have been around 15 degrees warmer than normal. This afternoon’s ride back to Great Falls is becoming another one of those days, but not as bad as days past. My bike’s temperature gauge read 95 degrees on our ride back. It was nice to get back to our room and some AC…

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Riding back to Great Falls

Tomorrow we will back track a bit to Yellowstone National Park before heading east via US-212 thru Beartooth Pass and on to Billings, MT. Come follow along and enjoy the ride over the next 5 days… I hope we see you down the road somewhere. Ride safe…

If you liked this ride post, you may checkout the other post from this ride below…

Hera are other rides you may like too…

I hope we see you down the road somewhere… Ride safe…