September 18, 2007 GMT
Rested and raring to go!

Many thanks to kind hearted Aunts, eh? Not even my own aunt, that of Sioned, friend and late employee from home. Amazing how people can rise to the occasion and come up trumps. Iona didn't even know to expect me, yet when I called she steered straight through my own awkwardness and invited me to stay. So while my bike got star treatment at Couer d'Alene's Kawasaki dealer I received some of the same at Iona's home. Obviously the bike was cleaned and organised before I saw to my own needs! Five days rest were definitely in need and I left feeling refreshed and revived. Unfortunately I seem to have left another canine friend; Jo, the Coon hound, who I hope won't miss me too much.

Back on the road, and some very nice ones at that! A quick trip east on the Interstate 90 allowed me to get on the scenic byway (route 97), ride along Couer d'Alene Lake to route 3 and into St. Marie's, then the St. Joe's river road (route 50) all the way into Montana. Three days riding since leaving Iona's and they've all been along scenic routes, definitely not the shortest way to Yellowstone National Park. I entered Montana at St. Regis and took routes 135, to Paradise, 200 west to Plains, then the 28 north to reach Flathead Lake. The 93 took me along Flathead to the Northern tip, where I used the 82 East purely to link up with the 83, to head back down South again. My route seems all over the place, but the scenery and roads I've travelled make it so worth while. Highway 83 connects back up to the 200, which I took just for a few miles, going off road at Ovando, through Helmville and down to Drummond (last section is county route 271). With no other choice from Drummond I used tarmac, route 1 through Philipsburg, turning onto the 38 at Porters Corner. The 38 was mainly gravel road, going over the Shalkaho Pass @ 7,260 ft, and to the base of the Bitterroot mountains; which I'm going to follow for a few days before swinging back round en route for Yellowstone. Hopefully I won't get dizzy with all the zig-zagging and miss Yellowstone altogether.
Pheww! That's just the route, without any details, of which there are, of course, many. The ride along Couer d'Alene Lake was damned good riding, undulating twists and turns, rising high above the lake then snaking back down to cross ancient bridges, over muddy creaks, and giving my new tyres a really good trial run. Yep, they'll do! A pair of Avon's, actually made in Britain; rather than the Dunlop's, which are now made in Thailand! But I diverse, its so nice to be back on roads that beg to be ridden, tyres that cry out "lean further, please, please". But for some reason my better sense holds true and I take it relatively easy, rarely exceeding 70 mph. Even down the spectacular ride along St Joe's river I kept it reasonable, despite the temptation to give it full throttle round the delightful bends, as they followed the course of the river through its lazy meandering for many miles.

The jaunt up and around Flathead lake was similar for the lake views, yet more open and developed. The East side was better, where I rode past smaller lakes with less houses and only a few staging posts for trade. This ride was endured through heavy rain, though it still couldn't detract form the beauty of the area. So many log structures being built, real ones not log clad plywood, as I'd seen before. If only I could have taken out my camera, but it was way too wet to even take the rain cover off my tank bag. The logs were not pre-prepared, I saw a guy shaving off the bark before use. The variety of different types of buildings was phenomenal, they really are common in this part of Montana. Mind you, geodesic domes seem to be popping up unexpectedly as well.

Many of the roads now are being chosen for their high passes and off road properties, they are only open part of the year, so I've gotta get my arse into gear and do as many as possible before the snow arrives. I should still have time though! Coming over the Shalkaho Pass was awesome, very narrow track, really windy, very steep and with deep, deep drop offs. The road surface itself wasn't too bad, but I took it easy, there are too many hunters driving up there, I never know what might be round the next corner. So a bit of sense from yours truly, it has to happen sometimes, even to me.

Posted by Leslie Kay at September 18, 2007 09:33 PM GMT
 
 

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