After saying goodbye to Canada we cross the USA border into Montana.
Approaching the Border
The border crossing this time is a little more official with requests to take off our lids and a look in our panniers too. After the usual questions about weapons we are allowed in.
It is a lovely sunny day and after a couple of miles we stop for fuel, drinks, dollars at an ATM and a USA map all in the same shop - it's so good being back in civilization.
The road down through Eureka and Whitefish is a nice run, with lakes and mountains in the distance to admire.
We reach the town of Kalispell and after a little searching, find a cheap motel. Whilst I'm busy with the laundry, Darren checks the maps and decides we need to head North on the 'Going to The Sun Road' which is another famous biking road we have to do.
So next day we head back up north-east to Glacier National Park. The park is slow going at first and there are RV's everywhere obscuring the view and slowing down periodically to take photos. Then we hit the "Going to the Sun Road" and the RV's are forgotten as we are in awe of the views. The road itself is awesome as it climbs up a mountainside, you really do feel like you are heading into the heavens. It's definately not a road for speed as it is twisty, tight and has sheer drops down into the valley. There is some construction work happening in the first 4 miles and this slows us down even more as we follow the lead car in single file.
Once through the construction, the views open up vastly, it is simply stunning, the best road yet, as we swing round the bends and another awesome sight comes into view.
Bridge cut into rocks
The road works cause a lot of slow speed riding and hill starts and I could feel the engine getting hotter and hotter underneath me, the temp guage reads high and I realise that I too am hot - this is hard work. I listen to Em descibing the scenery but daren't look too closely as the road requires my full attention, never mind, we plan to ride back down the same road later as I wanted to experience the road going up and coming back down - hopefully I can view more then.
Long way down
Sitting on the back I get the full effect of the views, we reach the top which is a pass between mountain tops and the road starts to drop gently downwards, as we get lower the wind starts to pick up and we get blown about abit.
Deciding to stop at St Mary and turn round for the run back, we pull into the car park. Just as we stop in a parking space a gust of wind catches us and over we go - our first 'off' but definately not our last! (Sorry no pic but I will get one next time!).
It is quite a horrible sight seeing 'our baby' on her side and several other tourists must think so too as they have suddenly appeared from nowhere to stare in horror at us.
'Don't worry' Darren quips to the gathered audience, 'this is how we park bikes in Europe'. Clearly they must have believed him as no-one felt the need to help us, they just continued to stare.
We set about getting the back bag off and as we do so the bike lifts itself a little. Then we haul her up, Darren at the front and me at the back, which is actually easier than I expected. After an inspection for any damage and checking of the brake levers, we turn round and head back, thankful there were no bikers around to see our 'slam, dunk'.
I had warned Em back in the UK that it was inevitable that we would have several "drops" of the bike, its a heavy machine when loaded up and frankly it was almost a relief when it finally happened with no harm done to us or the bike. We had prepared a little, Em knew to stay with the bike and hold on, keeping her arms and feet in and I knew that I could probably just step off as it went over. Like seasoned pro's thats exactly what we did, as I step off I look round to see Em keeping everything tucked until the pannier struck the ground and she did a sideways roll onto the grass verge, 10 out of 10 for style.
After an eventful day we arrive in the small town of Big Fork. This is a really quaint place and we stop for a steak dinner in the Big Fork Inn. Next stop is accommodation and as there aren't any campgrounds, Darren picks out a great place called the Grand Hotel (It's not posh it's just the name!). It's nice so we decide to stay for a couple of nights.
With the next day off, I set about exploring the town on our doorstep. It is an arts and crafts kind of place, with beautiful bronze sculptures, painting galleries, indian jewellry and indian crafts. All lovely but out of my price range and more importantly, I have nowhere to put anything anyway. Anyone who knows me will be utterly amazed that I have only bought 3 things in 9 weeks...
Big Fork Marina
Whilst I am window shopping, Darren is sent on a laundry errand to get our rider kit clean. After removing all the protection pads, he gets it washed and degreased at the Launderette.
I got a few strange stares as I parked the bike outside the launderette, the owner must have sensed that I may need assistance and between us we loaded the machine with our kit. While it washes the locals fill me in on the extent of the wildfires, it would seem that much of the state that we had passed through was now badly affected. Here in Bigfork you could smell the burnt grass in the air and smoke was clearly visible when we rode up to the Glacier Park. To date no one has been harmed, but many have lost property.
Kit drying in the sun
It was lovely setting out the next day in clean kit (even though at the end of the day it looked no different than it did before, squashed flies and all) and we headed south past Flathead Lake, the scenery changing from forest to open fields.
Our campsite for the night is by the Canyon Ferry Lake, It is a lovely and peaceful spot with views for miles in both directions and herds of deer grazing nearby.
Quietest campsite ever
After a good nights sleep and a warm night, we are quite reluctant to leave this quiet place. However, Yellowstone Park is calling.
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