10,000,000 Grasshoppers + 1 Electra Glide = Big Mess!!!
For the first few days that we were in Cody, while Teri tore apart the basement and shop in the process of cleaning, Joe kept an eye on the weather.  We were looking to make a run to Glacier Park in northern Montana as soon as the weather looked like it would stay reasonably dry for a few days.

Tuesday the 11th of August looked like it would make a good target day for our departure and it was.  As is our custom we were up and out of Cody at the crack of 9:30 or so for parts north to enjoy the awesome scenery and look for adventure.

If It Looks Chilly, It Is!!

Our first goal for a stop was to be Harlowton, Joe's birthplace in central Montana.  Most people associate Montana with mountains but the license plate really says it all, "Big Sky Country".  Big Sky because you can see a lot of it from horizon to horizon, it's FLAT!!  Most of Montana east of the Rockies resembles Kansas.  Rolling wheat fields as far as the eye can see and not much to stop the wind when it decides to blow.

On the plus side of this the roads are some of the best you'll ever ride on.  Rolling hills and plenty of visibility in most areas so you can see Bambi running towards you in time to hit the brakes.  The state of Montana as well as most western states, frown on using an Electra-Glide to hunt deer or antelope out of season.  Riding at night is also something that either takes a lot of courage or lack of common sense depending on whether you hit a critter before you reach your destination or not.

Harlowton appeared on the northern horizon and provided a rest area on the shores of the Musselshell river where we could sit down on something that didn't vibrate and eat the sandwiches Teri had packed for us in the morning.

After a slow drive through town and a stop at Wheatland Memorial Hospital so Teri could take a picture of Joe in front of where he was born, we were off westbound on U.S. 12 to White Sulfur Springs to pick up U.S. 89 towards Great Falls.

Up to this point we had taken the occasional hit by an errant grasshopper.  Well...things were about to change.  The 55 miles between Harlowton and White Sulfur Springs is without a doubt the grasshopper capital of the world!!  A carpet of the little beasts coated the road and they took great delight in jumping as the bike approached at 70 mph.  By the time we had driven out of the "Plague of Locusts", Joe was wondering if his shins were permanently bruised by the pounding.  The front of the bike looked like it had been driven through the kill floor of a slaughter house, except the goo was yellow.  Legs and body parts were even stuck to the underside of the seat cover.  It would take a scrub brush and a considerable amount of elbow grease to get the majority of the carnage off the bike upon our return to Cody.

No, it's not Lake Havasu!!
Tour Bus Still Operating In Glacier Park

Killer insects not withstanding, we'll remember that leg of the journey for some time to come.  U.S. 89 through the Lewis and Clark National Forest brought an end to the attack of insects and a welcome ride through mountainous terrain.

Great Falls lies east of the Rockies and therefore is basically flat.  After a fuel stop and some discussion we decided that we would continue north to Shelby, 35 miles south of the Canadian border for the night.

We may have been out in the middle of nowhere but as with most Montana towns, even if it didn't have a motel (which it did) there was undoubtedly be at least one bar (there was).  We headed for the Dixie Inn (an active Sporting House until 1975) as soon as the bike was unpacked to relax with a cocktail and had the pleasure of meeting Barb.  Barb tends bar at the Dixie Inn and took us under her wing by making sure Teri got to drink her mistakes.  No doubt some of these mistakes may have been questionable.

Joe ordered a 16 ounce medium rare tenderloin for dinner and spent the next two days wondering if some rancher would miss the entire cow that appeared on his plate that night.  Dinner was about the highlight of our stay in Shelby, not much there but the folks were friendly.

It is Montana after all...

Wednesday morning we again were up and off at the crack of around nine enroute to Glacier National Park.  On the horizon we could see the clouds building against the mountains and by the time we arrived in Browning it was obvious that it was going to be a wet (read COLD) day.

On the final leg up to St. Mary Montana, Joe turned on the radio to a Canadian station and quickly heard that according to the weather man, this was going to be a nice day compared to the next two.  Like it or not we were in rain gear long before we reached the entrance to Glacier National Park.

As is the case most times you ride in the mountains, if it's nasty on one side of the hill, it will be nicer on the other and was it ever.  Once we reached the summit of Logan Pass things started to clear up considerably and the second two thirds of Glacier were bright and sunny.

Glacier National Park is in some ways what Yellowstone National Park used to be.  A definite lack of people made the ride that much more enjoyable and the scenery is not done justice the the photos you see on this page.  What Joe probably likes most though are the signs several miles in from either entrance that read "No Vehicle Assemblies In Excess of 21 Feet".  You guessed it "NO MOTORHOMES!"  For years the smell of diesel exhaust has brought memories of Yellowstone to Joe, stuck behind a Class A motorhome chugging along at fifteen miles per hour in a forty-five zone with nothing but the view of the back of somebody's bus in front of him, not in Glacier!!

Anybody got a Doe Tag??
Yes, that's SNOW in August!!

Wednesday night found us on the shores of Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the U.S.A. in a little motel right on the water!!  Kalispell and Flathead lake in recent years have been discovered by the "Beautiful People" and we expected the prices to reflect that, luckily we were dis-appointed.  Turns out we would have spent more to stay at Motel 6 in Kalispell.

Thursday morning found us headed south (sort of) towards Wyoming, but in no hurry.  The idea was to eventually wind up in Virginia City Montana.  Virginia City is like it's namesake in Nevada, an old mining town.  Most of the buildings were erected in 1862-63 and the town is basically owned and operated by the state of Montana as a Historical Landmark.  Individual businesses lease their buildings from the state and most for obvious reasons are only open in the summer.

We walked about half the main street, checking out buildings that housed everything from Dry Goods stores to Tonsolariams (your guess is as good as ours).  After a long day on the road and with our overnight stop only fourteen miles away in Ennis we stopped to wet our whistle at the "Bale of Hay" Saloon.

As a side note here, you might have realized that we might appear to spend an inordinate amount of time in bars.  I guess is depends on your perspective.  The local watering holes in Montana and Wyoming are really good places to meet interesting people.  Or maybe it's the cheap drinks and the fact that most of the time we're above 5,000 sea level.  The drinks really aren't that cheap, you just need a whole lot less of them.

Friday was our scheduled day to arrive back home in Cody but that didn't mean it was just gonna be boring straight run back to the ranch.

How often do you meet Billy Bob Thornton??

We left Ennis enroute to West Yellowstone and our second National Park in three days.  The idea was to traverse the Park via the northern loop.  This was to be a memorable trip through the park but we didn't know that when we rolled up to the entrance in West Yellowstone.

Within five miles after we passed through the gate we were riding through some of the burn area from the fire in '88 when Joe looked up in a burned tree and saw an American Bald Eagle perched on the remnants of a high branch right beside the road.  We pulled of the road and watched this symbol or our country which so few people ever see in the wild.  As is the case with most critters in the park (except Buffalo) he was not in a position that lent itself to taking a decent photo, so you'll just have to take our word for it.

We watched him for about fifteen minutes hoping to see him take flight but he was quite comfortable on his branch and saw no reason to indulge us lowly tourists.  Flying or not, it leaves an impression on you when you get to see something so rare.

Yellowstone was declared as our countries first National Park in 1872 by Teddy Roosevelt.  What most people view as a mountainous example of our Rocky Mountains is actually a volcano whose last eruption spewed 240 cubic "miles" of material out of its' crater.  This crater is now filled with literally hundreds of active geysers, mud pots and steam vents.

Mammoth Hot Springs sits on the northern edge of the park is one of the most spectacular examples of the volcanic activity that still exists in the Park.

Our trek through the Park really only involved traveling 140 miles, but the journey in reality takes eight hours or more.  Due in no small part to the over population of Buffalo in the park.  Buffalo have absolutely no interest in the travel plans of humans.  Traffic on the eastern plateau of the Hayden Valley backed up for miles as these primitive foul tempered beasts slowly sauntered across the road as the tourists hung from car windows with Kodak's to snap their once in a life time memories of Yellowstone.

Once we arrived at fishing bridge we could basically see home with the exception of our final mountain pass that required negotiation.  Sylvan Pass lies between the east entrance and fishing bridge.  This scenic twenty-six mile drive can be anything from horrifying due to the weather or breathtaking for the same reason, luckily the latter was in store for us this trip.

Approximately two miles from the summit we topped a hill to find a Park Ranger standing at the side of the road with a Stop Sign in his hand.  Our initial thoughts were that someone had been driving where they were looking instead of visa verse.

As we rolled to a stop he informed us that we could proceed but if we wished to stop, please do so on the left hand shoulder of the road.  Joe inquired as to why we would want to stop and he explained that there was a bear on the right.

Not only was this a bear, but a Grizzly Bear.  A male Grizzly was patiently digging up roots in the grass and having himself an afternoon snack.  Now bears have been associated with Yellowstone pretty much since the beginning, by the media and tourists alike.  In truth, because of the unpredictable nature of these creatures the Park Service in an effort to protect us from our own ignorance has spent decades removing bears, especially Grizzly Bears from areas of the Park where humans might come into even remote contact with them.  So a Grizzly sighting in close proximity to a road in Yellowstone isn't an everyday event.

Needless to say, the Park Service will undoubtedly keep a close eye on this particular Griz and move him if he doesn't go back into the wilderness away from possible interaction with humans.

At any rate, we got to see him in the wild.

This was a trip through the park to remember.  An American Bald Eagle on our way in and a Grizzly Bear within fifty feet of us on the way out.

So what's next up in our adventures in this special part of the country?  How about a "Thrashing Bee"? 

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