2013 Northwestern States Tour
What I did this Summer of 2013 by CMyhre
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Remember when it was time to go back to school in the fall and one of the first assignments was to write a paper about what you did over the summer? I wasn’t a very good student and used to hate writing those papers. Partly because I never felt like I did anything very exciting or news worthy with my summer vacation. This summer I did a lot of motor-cycle riding, a lot for me at least, and I decided to indulge in a tale of my travels for your enjoyment.

In February I purchased a high mileage 2004 BMW R1150RT that I was hoping to ride doing the local BMW club’s Northwestern States Tour. To start off with there was a little deferred maintenance to be done and a couple of improvements I wanted to make. First I removed a seat back, an add on I didn’t care for, then replaced worn out grips and added a Kaoko throttle lock. The next challenge was the overhaul of the right throttle body because of a badly worn shaft. Next I removed the charcoal canister, sent the injectors in to be cleaned and flow tested and changed the fuel filter, new sparkplugs, tested the compression and balanced the throttle bodies and with a fresh oil change I was ready to venture out on the first road trip on this bike.

The Ride to Boise - Boise was not a great challenge as it is only about twenty miles from my house to the state capitol building.  Of course it was the first picture I got.


The Ride to Cheyenne:  Alan Messick and I had intentions of doing the Northwestern States Tour together and had decided to make a fast trip to Cheyenne before it started getting to hot in southern Wyoming.

Day one: June 12th we set out with the destination for the first leg being Evanston, Wy. Our intention was to keep our day’s rides in the 350 to 400 miles range as we are both beginning to feel our age. When we arrived in Evanston Alan discovered his charging system had gone south on him and he was not weathering the ride to well. Later in the evening Alan made the decision not to proceed beyond Evanston and would wait there while I went on to Cheyenne.

Day two: I started east shortly after daylight with a cold wind blowing from the southwest. Having not been blown off my bike at Rock Springs and Green River fortunately, the wind was at my back after Rawlins.  I arrived in Cheyenne in early afternoon got my picture in front of the Wyoming capitol building and give some thought to returning to Laramie but decide to call it a day in Cheyenne.


Day three: I was on the road as the sun came up with a cold wind in my face all the way across Wyoming. I grew up in northern Wyoming but had never been to Fort Bridger so when I reached the exit for the Bridger Valley I detoured into a surprisingly pretty valley where old Fort Bridger had been established in pioneer times.

Fort Bridger

After spending about three hours at the fort I continued on to Evanston. I found Alan had been ill most of the day and we were a little concerned about our return to Nampa.

Day four:
  Alan decided he felt good enough to try to make it home. Making a number of rest stops on the way home we made it without serious problems. 1597 miles completed the ride to Cheyenne.

The Ride to Salem and Olympia.

My brother moved to Vancouver, Washington in March and he has a Harley Sportster so we made plans to do some riding in Oregon and Washington while I was getting my capitol building pictures.

Day one:
It is 414 miles from my house to his. July 15th I set out on I-84 to The Dalles then crossed over to WA-14 for a more scenic ride.

Day two: We set out for Olympia in hopes of getting there and getting a picture before traffic got to busy. It worked well but the coordinates I programed into my GPS took us to the back door of the WA. State Capitol building. After carefully setting up my bike and getting a picture my brother informed me he thought the we were at the back of the building and sure enough when we went to the other side he was right. We returned to Vancouver after a stop at my Aunt’s home and a side trip up the Lewis river with a stop for a view of Mt. St. Helens then back down to Carson and WA-14 to Vancouver.

Day three: Again we attempted to get on the road to beat the rush hour traffic, I can’t believe how early those people get out on the freeway for their morning commute. I didn’t much like the trip to Salem and had a hard time getting my bike spotted for the picture. After leaving Salem it was a very pleasant ride to Lincoln City for lunch. Then it was up highway 101 past Tillamook to Astoria. We chose to cross back over to the Washington side for less traffic and better scenery. We completed the ride on I-5 from Long View back to Vancouver.


Day four: A day to ride just for the fun of it. We set out to get lost and found ourselves in Amboy, WA. for lunch. I am not sure how we got there but we soon found our-selves on the east side of Mt. St. Helens coming out of the primitive area on US-12 and back to I-5 for a 70 mile ride back to Vancouver. What great back roads there are in WA and OR. I hope to find my way back there soon.

Mt. St. Helens

Day five: It was the 414 mile return trip home. I left Vancouver before daylight to beat the traffic but then had to face into the sunrise. What a pretty site traveling east up the Columbia River. When I got to La Grande I took a side trip on old US-30 through Union and North Powder to Baker City. After a break at Baker City I braved the heat and finished my ride home. 1853 miles covered on the Ride to Salem and Olympia.

Columbia River Sunrise

The Ride to Helena, Big Horns, and Yellowstone.

The ride to Montana was primarily to get the last picture I needed for the Northwestern States Tour in Helena. I also had dreams of riding the Bear Tooth Highway and the Chief Joseph as well as a loop into the Big Horn Mountains.

Day one:  August 19th loaded up and set out for Missoula Mt. over the Lolo pass. It was an uneventful trip until I reached Lolo pass. Taking a few minutes at the visitors center for a break the forest service officer received a call that highway 12 was closed 16 miles west of Lolo because of a forest fire. Now what do I do? The officer told me of a forest service road that cut across to I-90, about 25 miles. It was supposed to be paved about half way. For you none bikers gravel roads are not very popular for touring motorcycles. Okay, I found Graves Creek Rd. and avoiding fire, local sheriff, and highway patrol vehicles I managed to navigate the gravel portion of the forest service road only to find out the paved half was under construction so it was gravel all the way to I-90 and still 29 miles from Missoula. I was about three hours late when I found my motel and my bike looked like it had been mud wrestling. What a start.

Day two:  It is 110 miles from Missoula to Helena by way of I-90/US-12 and then only 200 more to Columbus MT. my eventual destination for the day. I easily found the Montana State Capital building but found myself on the wrong side of the street to get the picture I thought I wanted. So down the street a block I found a parking lot to turn around in, a gravel parking lot as it turn out. As I came back out to the street there was gravel on the concrete alley entrance and of course when I stopped put my foot down my foot slide out and I dropped my bike. Scratched MirrorNearly 100k with hardly a scratch and now my mirror housing is all scratched up. If that wasn’t enough damage to my pride a woman pulled up in a car and asked if I was okay and could she help? I told her I was unhurt and I didn’t think she could help. It must of sounded like a challenge because she parked her car and got out as I started to right my bike she lifted the bike up onto the kickstand. I was very thankful for the help even though my macho took a terrific blow. The motorcycle weighs around 600 pounds the way I had it loaded. The ride on to Columbus was pretty uneventful and the Super 8 where I stayed had a place out back where I was able to wash off most of the mud and dirt from the previous day.    


Day three:  The plan for the day was to ride MT-78 by way of Absorkee to Redlodge then up the Bear Tooth Highway and back down the Chief Joseph Highway to Cody. When I got up in the morning the news was talking about a forest fire south of Redlodge with possible closure of the Bear Tooth. Sure enough by the time I got to Redlodge the Bear Tooth Highway was closed. Plan-B MT-308 to Belfry then MT-72/WY-120 to US-14A to Powell and Lovell where I gassed up. The Cane Highway (US-14A) up the west face of the Big Horn Mountains even with improvements since I was young is still a challenge, especially where the mountain is sliding away about half way up. I just rode a loop up to Burgess junction where US-14A and US-14 meet then down the Shell Canyon to Graybull and on to Cody for the night.

Montana Coal Mine
Bear Lodge

Day four:  The ride along the Shoshone River to Yellowstone is a very scenic route I always enjoy. Having a concern for Bison encounters I elected to go by way of West Thumb and Old Faithful to Norris junction where of course I encountered a flashing sign indicating BUFFALO AHEAD. Not a mile farther was a bunch of cars pulled over to the side of the road admiring the big brutes from the safety of their cars. All is good, the cars ahead are moving until I draw near a couple of bulls strolling along side the road maybe 10 feet from me. I was aghast when the vehicle ahead of me stopped in the middle of the road to take pictures leaving me with no escape route. Well the Bison kept moving as did the car ahead when they noticed the frantic guy on the motorcycle behind them. Leaving West Yellowstone behind on US-20 I found a side trip on ID-42 past Messa Falls. After a short break at the lower falls I continued to Rexburg for my last night on the road.


Day five:  Expecting it to get hot before the end of the day I got an early start for home with a fuel stop in Arco and a break in Fairfield I finished my 1604 mile adventure.

The Northwestern States Tour

I rode 5100 miles while wondering around the northwest this summer. There was a number of new routes explored as well as revisiting areas for the first time on a motorcycle that I have traveled many times in a car. Bottom line is I had a great time doing it. Oh and that high mileage bike I bought in February now has over a 100K on the clock and still loves to travel.

The Northwestern States Tour Guide was sponsored by the BMW Motorcycle Riders Club of Idaho. Created and produced by me, C Myhre.

 Created 11-6-2013