Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by LKLD »

Beautiful photos!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by gixxerjasen »

1911 wrote: Sat Jul 24, 2021 12:27 pm Picking a KOA as a place to stay without checking reviews and satellite is a low odds crapshoot. Many KOAs are more roadside parking lot with plug-ins than camping destinations.
Growing up, summer vacations meant camping traveling because my parents couldn't afford for us to hotel it. We stayed at a lot of cool places but on the rare occasion we got stuck with a KOA. 7 year old me swore off KOA's for life because they always resembled your description. I might have to make an exception to my lifelong pact and try this one out.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

The photos are great...but second to the understated story telling. I'm enjoying this immensely!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by fontanaman »

Wheatie's popcorn is going stale.😁
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

fontanaman wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 8:53 pm Wheatie's popcorn is going stale.😁
1911s energy goes down when he has to work full shifts in SC humidity. Don't blame him a little bit.

Im still trying to figure out whether I'm gonna do an RR on NAFO 2021. Lotta shit goes into writing one. Especially when you've gotten back to the work shit that's been waiting two weeks for yer attention. BTW all you retired guys suck! :finger:
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by fontanaman »

The NAFO 2021 ride report title is "Smoke in the West". Least that part is done. :D

Here is today's smoke report from Airnow.gov. By magic let's hope this changes significantly before NAFO.

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by goodman4 »

Just got caught up again... What a great thread! Brings back memories of so many of our favorite spots. Your pictures are all so good it's hard to pick out specific ones to brag on, but I love them all.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

Well, the flip side to having enough vacation to do a trip like this is that my coworkers have almost as much or a little more than I do. It's been a rough week.

gixxerjasen wrote: Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:31 pm
extrememarine wrote: Wed Jul 07, 2021 4:11 pm Somehow, I have to figure out how to assemble a trip to wander through these spectacular places out west.

And remember to not begin posting the ride report until I have it completely written to avoid the brutality of the popcorn munchers here...

Looking forward to the next chapter(s)!
Yup, I write mine all up in Notepad++ complete with UBB code and then copy/paste it all at once in multiple posts while waiting for the post timeout feature to take effect. That let's all the popcorn munching take place AFTER the report. :D
I see the merit in gixxers methods. If I didn't get this started and started here, I would never get it done. So, in a way, thanks for the motivation :)
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

Sunday May 30

When we checked in yesterday afternoon the room was chilly and it took a little while to figure out the heat. Electric baseboard heaters, with a Thermador to heat the bathroom.

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Chateau Rouge is a little vintage and I like it!

We bought our first house in 1987. It was 35 years old then. I thought the thick, hard cover book on home repair was a smartass housewarming gift. Highschool classmates that went to college were still there. I can’t believe they gave kids mortgages back then. That book sure came in handy. Remember the days before you could Google or Youtube how to fix anything? I got pretty good at packing faucet stems. The faucets in our room had that freshly packed stem feel. No plastic ball with rubber o-ring thingys here.

Last night the desk pointed us to a great dinner. This morning, the laundromat . Each time we visit the desk it’s either Gary or Erica behind it. They act like they own the place. On one visit I catch them both there. I ask them who does the maintenance on the place. I sense a little panic in Gary’s manner as he says “I do, what’s wrong”. I say "nothing is wrong", and tell him the place feels a lot like our two bed one bath that was built in the 50’s. He says that the motel was built in the 70’s. I ask iron pipes. He says luckily no, copper. I observe that he must stay very busy keeping the place up. He agrees with a chuckle indicating great understatement.

I ask if they are the owners. No. They have just recently taken over managing the place. Chateau Rouge has a business model I have never considered, not that I give these matters much thought. Each room is individually owned. Gray and Erica run the show for as many owners as there are rooms.

While the machines are doing their laundry thing I put a new set of bearings in one of the trailer wheels. After laundry, a little walking around and an early lunch.......

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.........it’s off to Beartooth!

Today is the day before Memorial Day and the plows have just opened Beartooth Pass two days ago. This may not be the biggest and wildest outdoor party, and this may not be the most spectacular mountain scenery on the planet, but WOW this is something for a couple red clay dirt clods from SC to see. Every local hooligan with skies, a board or a sled that can snag a parking spot is out for one last fling. It’s quite the party.

It feels like we are on the top of the world and can see forever.

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At one point riding along I point out to Maralee a skier standing, skies parallel to the edge of a drift, above a valley that looks to be a very long free fall from the edge of the drift to the snow on the side of the valley below. I don’t see it because I have my eyes back on the road, which is where they probably need to be up here, but she says “Yea! He did it”. It’s like watching the X Games.

There are daredevils, and then there are the artists. Fast forward to 5:00 to see the artwork if you don’t want to relive a lot of what you just read.



We run Beartooth Highway down into Yellowstone and turn to take Chief Joseph Highway back out. Traffic vaporizes and we get ANOTHER hour or so of “Why We Ride” absolutely amazing motorcycle joy. Beartooth and Chief Joseph are now two of my top three favorite roads.

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The third one in my top three is NOT Virginia 311. No reason for people to go there. Especially not for breakfast or lunch at Paint Bank General………. Store. Sorry, kind of gagged a little just thinking about the slop there. Everybody do yourself a favor and avoid that part of my neighborhood.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by extrememarine »

Spectacular!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

Memorial Day

Leaving Red Lodge means it’s time to start working our way back home. We’re taking the northern route. We know that there is more interesting scenery on a lower route but our states visited map sticker on the side of the bike has a couple big voids near the Canadian border. The departure heading from Red Lodge is NE.

It is absolutely amazing how drastic the change in landscape is when we turn away from the Rockies. In no time at all we are crossing barren plains. For the next two days what we ride through looks pretty much like this.

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Two days of range land, farm land and oil wells. We might not do it twice, but we’re glad we did it this time. I think everybody should cross this country without flying at least once. See where our oil and food comes from. People in congested urban areas might not fret so much about a timber harvest or a pipe line if they saw for themselves the vastness of the mid-west.

We quit counting the metropolises with triple digit populations. We count at least one fuel pump with a phone number to be called so the attendant can come into town to let a customer fill up. A coworker asked “what kind of backward hicks live out there?” Let me tell you. The folks that run the farm operations out here aren’t dummies. This is BIG, maybe not pretty, but big business. Same goes for oil of course. I bet nobody lives out here that doesn’t have a broad knowledge base and one or more skill or talent. The time we spend crossing Montana and North Dakota give us time to contemplate these things.

Nearly done crossing Montana, I’m just about finished replacing a flat tire on the trailer at a truck stop in Sidney. Mrs1911 is surprised to see a Black Cherry FJR rolling up to greet us. Jerry dismounts to see if we have a handle on our little situation. I tell him that we are about ready to get moving again. I sure am going to miss the little piece of mind that comes with having a spare though. Karma? Jerry owns a motorcycle/ATV repair shop 1 mile down the road. We meet him down there and he opens up and replaces the tube in our flat at a less than reasonable fee. His FJR’s stable mates include a couple off road two wheelers and a Ducati Monster. We ask him about eats in Sidney and he tells us about his favorite steak house. That would take more time and $ than we care to spend but Jerry may have a little surprise the next time he gets his dinner check.

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We work or way into Lewis and Clark State Park, on Lake Sakakawea, against the flow of traffic finishing off the holiday weekend.

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Breakfast on the day after Memorial day comes with a birthday card. Now all those nitwits behind restaurant cash registers that have been giving me premature senior discounts may not be so premature :(

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

Awesome chapter. One of my favorites.

So, yer 55 now aincha?
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by raYzerman »

Commenting on your third paragraph... depends where you start from... from my place it is 36 hours driving to Helena, Montana where the good stuff starts (aside from stopping in the Black Hills). That's at interstate speeds through Ontario, Michigan, etc and catching I-90, maybe a tad over the speed limit. There is no way I'd ride that and waste my bike tires and be totally baffed when I got there.... the views from the truck and trailer are good, plus there are some attraction places to stop along the way if you search them out.
Last trip it was 35C and humid most of the way and three major unrideable thunderstorms in the last week of May.
But you started at least where you could get a first day of good riding...
Keep yer stick on the ice........... (Red Green)
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

wheatonFJR wrote: Wed Aug 04, 2021 7:40 am Awesome chapter. One of my favorites.

So, yer 55 now aincha?
Something like that
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Over dinner last night Mrs1911 posed a question. “Since we are so far north, will we be crossing the Mississippi again on our way Home?”

That’s a good question. It makes me recall something I saw while scoping out campsites. A little checking finds that what I recall is just a short hop from our planned stop for tonight. It’s already a POI in the GPS. I may have had a reason for picking Lake Bemidji SP over Lake Itasca SP in Minnesota for our campsite tonight but I don’t know what that reason is now. Itasca, it turns out, seems to be a great park with camping and a great looking restaurant (but one that hasn’t come completely out of covid funk yet). Whatever the reason, the two parks are close enough to visit Itasca and sleep at Bemidji. From Lewis and Clark just outside Williston ND we hop back on US2 and head for Minnesota.

Itasca is one of our favorite little stops of the trip. We both walk across the Mississippi River, but I get more style points than Mrs1911.

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I don’t know why everybody makes such a big deal about the mosquitoes here. They are way too big to sneak up on you.

When we get back on the road over to Bemidji it’s funny to come up on bridges over a creek with a sign that says Mississippi River.

Birthday dinner with a Bic candle to blow out.

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The fruity beer is hers.
Last edited by 1911 on Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by raYzerman »

Good call on Hwy. 2. Should be nice ride down through MN and WI....
Keep yer stick on the ice........... (Red Green)
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

raYzerman wrote: Wed Aug 04, 2021 10:05 am Commenting on your third paragraph... depends where you start from... from my place it is 36 hours driving to Helena, Montana where the good stuff starts (aside from stopping in the Black Hills). That's at interstate speeds through Ontario, Michigan, etc and catching I-90, maybe a tad over the speed limit. There is no way I'd ride that and waste my bike tires and be totally baffed when I got there.... the views from the truck and trailer are good, plus there are some attraction places to stop along the way if you search them out.
Last trip it was 35C and humid most of the way and three major unrideable thunderstorms in the last week of May.
But you started at least where you could get a first day of good riding...
Ya! Notice I didn't say everybody should do it by motorcycle.

We were LUCKY weather wise. We donned the rain gear one time but just caught the edge of a squall.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

Minnesota mosquitoes as big as sparrows. Carnivorous State Bird.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Sun up at Bemidji. After breakfast and hanging out with our little friends, who like oatmeal, it’s time for another small dose of US2.

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Our long range views are no more. We’ve got trees! Until we have city. Then we have water.

No sneaking up on Lake Superior. No seeing it from far off. We just ride through trees, then we ride through Duluth and then all of a sudden we are on a bridge crossing Superior. And the temp has suddenly dropped 20 degrees (feels like). I can’t believe that we don’t see icebergs.

Once through Duluth we’re skirting the northern coast of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and every time we get close to Superior we can feel the temp drop before we see water.

Camp is up at Porcupine Mountain State Park and the sun is setting. Watching the sunset keeps us up past bedtime.

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Timestamp on this one is 9:44 local

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When we go down in the morning to watch the sun come up, it’s not where it should be. I’m used to the sun coming up about 180 degrees from where it went down. This morning it’s coming up not much more than 90 degrees from it went down. We sure are north! We’ve been norther. It was a different time of year though and we didn’t have the big picture perspective that comes from looking out over a great lake.

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Between Porcupine Mountain SP and Hurricane River, We take a peek at Miner’s Castle.

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Between Porcupine Mountain SP and Hurricane River we find some very nice sweepers, nicely paved. Do we get a prize?

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We are thoroughly enjoying the UP but it’s not giving a lot of pix or story to tell. We’re touring parallel to big water as best we can but only occasionally do the roads take us within sight of the lakes. We could have sought out more resort/tourist town kind of places with restaurants, bars and hotels but that’s not how this trip is playing out. We enjoy the group rides, organized rallies and cookouts with other riders but we haven’t gotten tired of this Lone Ranger chasing solitude style ride even three weeks in. When we are done here I’ll read a Pants style account of adventure and think ”we gotta do that again”.

Hurricane River Campground, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Early enough to get in a little beach and a little hike.

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Remember a ways back in this report I said we are still learning this touring/camping stuff? Today’s lesson is on the limitations of DEET.

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The hike up to Au Sable Point lighthouse is brisk, somewhat. I can't call Mrs1911 Tonto because I've already attached "Slowpochantas". We are trying to outpace flies and sunset.

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Up at the lighthouse

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Not a freighter in sight.

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The hiking up in the mountains had us thinking a visit to the cardiologist might be in order. It’s a little relief to take a spirited walk a little closer to sea level and not be gasping for air.

The Sun and Hurricane River dropping into Lake Superior.

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Leaving Hurricane River it’s just a little bit of east before we drop down to Lake Michigan and biblical swarms of some kind of black flies whenever we are near the water. The temperature drop near the water isn’t nearly as drastic as on Superior.

Grand Sable lake, just because it’s smooth as glass

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What’s for brunch? Not a Big Mac.

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Big Mac is for after brunch.

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I’ve heard horror stories from friends about crossing the Straits of Mackinac in bad weather. We won’t have to tell one. PERFECT weather to cross Big Mac on this day.

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Michigan on the right

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Huron on the left

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Mackinac Bridge is like a somewhat like a gateway at the end of this adventure. Shortly after crossing it we have no more big attractions ahead of us, just a little more than two days of getting home. 85 degrees on the dash for the first time in about three weeks is kind of like another marker.

We have mentioned a couple spectacular KOA campgrounds. KOA Allendale isn’t one of those. A little west of Grand Rapids, we chose it because of proximity to relatives, and the laundromat. It’s not a miserable place. It’s dated but well maintained with enthusiastic owners and staff who put a lot of emphasis on kids. There aren’t a lot of plates from far away. I have to wonder, if this is where people choose to escape to, what are they escaping? I recall some Cav47 stories about big city school kids who have never been outside the city. This place could be special to people who don’t get to venture as far as we have?

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Our visit with one of Dad’s little sisters IS special.

After Grand Rapids we are looking to home.

Passing by this old Thud near Peru Indiana makes me think of a friend who is always bragging about his uncle.

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The night’s stay for day 21 of this adventure: Elkhorn Campground, Frankfort Kentucky. At the last rest stop before arriving here we call in that wheel with Jerryz tube to get a fresh set of bearings in the game. Elkhorn is a great facility that feels much farther out of town than it really is.

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Between Frankfort and home: Cracker Barrel French toast (I Know the trick is to find those good local mom-n-pop places like the one at the base of Mackinac where we got the Buick hub cap size pancakes, but after a while out west and we are looking to home it sure is nice to see that first Cracker Barrel), Bean Station TN, Hot Springs NC and North Carolina Highways 209 and 215. Not a bad way to cap off a three week ride, huh?

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Home! And happy to be here.

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22 days, 7,436 miles. Not quite “Griffed” but getting there

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Ta Da!

Another chance to be thankful for how lucky we are to be able to do a trip like this and for the inspiration, knowledge and courage that comes from places like FJRiders!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

Wow. THAT is a heckuva trip! Please send my regards to Marilee.

Thanks for the F105 tribute to my Uncle James. The NVA/Russians/Chinese didn't get him, but they got a lot of his buddies.

And no, that jacket is not close to being"griffed", but its on its way!
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