Day 7
June 17th, 2002
Polson, Montana

Placing the front door of my tent to the mountains worked just as I hoped it would.  I was sleeping soundly when the morning rays of the sun cleared the peaks, filtered in my tent, on my face, and gently woke me up.  I stretched out in my sleeping bag, rubbed my eyes, and felt a gentle breeze blowing through my home away from home.  It was still early, and we were in no hurry to strike camp on this morning, so I remained in my tent starring outside in awe.

I dozed off and on for another hour or so.  I wanted the morning to last as long as I could.

When I finally poked out of my tent, Dennis was drinking coffee and catching up some reading.  I don't know how long he had been up.  Each of us had a special way of enjoying the place we were in.

We loaded the bikes and left the campground at 8am.  It was another perfect day weather wise.

We doubled back north on 93 to SR 28.  Not the quickest route to I-90, but we don't care.  All we have is time, and its not everyday you get to ride the back roads of Montana.

We rode pretty hard yesterday, and I told Dennis-

"lets slow down today brother, take more pics, and savor the ride through the rest of Montana and the Palouse."
And that is what we do, as I poke along 28 at 65 mph.  

My head is on a swivel as I try to take in the scenery.  Lush green hills, flowing pasture land filled with horses and cattle.  Traffic is non existent.  We are in a BIG state, populated by only a handful of people.  A town with 10,000 people is a Metropolis in Montana.

SR 28 is curvy and twisty, and it is keeping us busy.  We lean a while then ride a 2-3 mile straight run out.  A good mix.

The frontier towns of Lonepine, Camas, and Hot Springs are not much more then a post office and a few houses.

We pass over and back the Clark Fork River which is full, and flowing fast from the snow melt. 

We stop 3 times in 50 miles for pictures and to call home.  I called my son at the law office where he works, and pick up the latest news.  All is well in Prattville, and all is well with me.  
​I took this picture on SR 200, about 10 miles west
U.S. 9

SR 28 takes us back to 200, where I am scared half out of my wits by some guy driving a Suzuki sport thing.  I am in a long twisty, with a broken line for passing.  I am lost in thought, when I am suddenly passed out of nowhere by this guy, it scares the bejeezus out of me, causing me to break my line in the curve and pushing me way to far to my right.  Where the hell did HE come from?  I didn't know that ride could do that!  I am pissed off, but first I have to get the ST back in line.  I clear the curve, and take off after the sport ute. 

The powerful ST quickly closes down on the SUV.  He looks in his mirror and sees us right on him.  The Suzuki lunge as he drops another gear, but we are going uphill, and he is no match for us.  Hell, I am still in 5th gear.  We enter a sharp right hander, and this guy takes it at 70.  Any second I think he is going up on 2 wheels.  I quickly take stock of the situation and back off, this is nonsense, and I am too smart to get in battle of road rage.  This guy has a big ego and Dennis and I have nothing to prove, besides he is bigger then us.  In a car bike thing, we lose every time.

We let him disappear in the distance, and resume our leisurely, and fun ride.

I'll say one thing about that guy, he could make a SUV do things in the twisties I never thought was possible.
We stop for a snack and butt break in St. Regis.  We find a station/mart store and sit outside and relax.  A young soldier on 30 days leave stops to chat.  He is stationed in Washington and on his way back to Tennessee.  He says, he rides a crotch rocket, and the STs caught his eye.  He he likes it, and might get one someday.

After we rest up we go to I-90 West.  A twisty, fun filled interstate.  We climb the mountains of the Montana/Idaho border.  We lean the curves at 80+ shooting pass lumbering 18 wheelers, RVs and cages.  Our machines are sleek and fast and despite climbing in elevation, we easily cruise at 85.  I feel the stares of awestruck drivers as we come around them.

The curves bank left and right on the way back down.  I take the lead and keep an eye on my mirrors, because I am taking the tangents.  I slice the curves, taking the shortest line each time, just like a racer.  It was awesome.
I failed to notice when we crossed into Idaho.

The only limiting factor was the wind.  It buffeted us around pretty good.

All to soon we hit Coeur d' Adlene, (and don't ask me how to pronounce it) for gas.  We fill up at a Chevron, and once again our consumption from the last stop is within ounces of each other.

I am anxious to get to the Palouse, so we fly across Idaho to Spokane, where we stop at a Denny's for lunch.  We take a nice long break, read the paper, and make a few phone calls.

With our tummys full we escape I-90 for US 195 South.  This will take us into the rich wheat and farmland of the Palouse.  I find this area of the country to be fascinating and quaint.  Not many know of its timeless beauty.  The Palouse is home to winding roads, and endless acres of wheat planted gracefully on hillsides.  Dennis comments on how neat the farmhouses are.  They are painted white, with neat yards and friendly looking porches.

We take SR 271 just because it looks interesting, and soon find ourselves lost among the emerald green steppes of wheat.  Once again, we get to lean, as the road follows and picks its way among the hills.

​An unforgettable ride through the Palouse.  Somewhere on SR 27
Dennis is at the point, and off to our right I see a HUGE butte.  It towers over the farmland.  It reminds me of Devil's Tower in Wyoming.

Dennis finds a narrow paved road and takes it.  "Where is he going?"  I follow.  "He found a road to the top of the Butte!" I think aloud.

Soon we are on a twisty, potholed, narrow, make NO mistake road.  Up we go as we twist our way up the butte.  The drop off is steep, you CAN'T overshoot a curve, its a loooooooong way down.  We keep going around and around the corkscrew road.  I see the summit and as I reach the top I look out to one of the truly hidden treasures of this country.  
​​Because some moments are once in a life time.
Stretched out before me, as far as I can see, is a vast, green quilt.  Miles and miles of rolling farmland.  It is a unforgettable vista.  The wind is gusty and strong on such a high place.  It is very quiet and peaceful.  You can only hear the wind.  I feel very lucky to be in this place at this time.  

I guess the Butte to be 2000 feet, maybe more.

The farmland below me looked like a patchwork of golf greens.
Another view atop Steptoe Butte.

We linger about for 30 minutes. Taking pictures and chatting.  We called brother Don Cortez and rubbed it in.
Reluctantly, we have to get going.  I was kind of sad, I wanted to stay as long as I could. ( I later found out this is Steptoe Butte, a forgotten little park.  It can be found on most maps).

We go to SR 272 and pass through Colfax.  A tiny town that I bet is a great place to raise a family.  A community hidden in the Palouse farmland.

From Colfax we go to SR 26 and enjoy more great riding. I have leaned so much today I can't stand up straight.  All these roads are great.  Just pick one.

We stop to talk things over.  It is getting cloudy and looks like rain.  I call station 2 and find Chris Ray in the office. 

"hey find me the weather report for Walla Walla"

"where's that AT?"


"Hold on." When he returns, " Cloudy, with a 80 percent chance of rain tonight, and 50% chance in the morning."

I give the news to Dennis and we decide to skip camping and find a room in Walla Walla.

Now its on to SR 127 south.  It will deposit us on US 12 for the final run of the day into Walla Walla.  SR 127 is another jewel of a road.

US 12 south is next on the list, and we stop for a butt break at a gas station in Dayton. 

We get a snack and lounge around outside.  I see lady/girl that looks disoriented and perhaps mentally off.  She walks over and starts talking all kinds of gibberish. Her conversation is all over the map.  I'm right, she's not right mentally.  She makes Forest Gump look like a rocket scientist.  She asks me to buy her a Pepsi, I decline.  She only has a few teeth.  I see Dennis trying to slip away, and I say-

"I ain't got any money but that guy over there does"

She goes over to Dennis and says her name is Brenda.

I look around to see if there is a mental hospital should could have possibly escaped from.  Seriously.

Suddenly she blurts out to Dennis-

"hey! do you know the Monihans?"

"no I don't"

"well they got mopeds"

I almost spit out my drink I was laughing so hard.

Then she said- "I knew someone once that had a Honda, and he could "curve" it real good"

By now I'm dying and chime in.  "I'll tell ya one something Brenda, that guy right there can "curve" a Honda real good too, see if he will give ya ride"

Dennis says all seriously, "look we gotta go"

I was laughing so hard I FORGOT to take a picture of the incident.

I ride up front all the way to Walla Walla, where I pull into Motel 8 parking lot.  We take our helmets off and think things over.  We both feel good, and want to keep riding.  Its been a fun day, and we just don't want to end.  

We get out the map and set our sights on Pendleton, Oregon, about 50-60 miles south.  I call the Motel 6 800 number stored in my phone, and find out yes, indeed, they do have a inn there.

I give the phone to Dennis to book the reservation.  He has a excellent phone voice, like a TV guy or DJ.  The folks out here have trouble understanding me, so I learned to defer most communications to Dennis, especially those involving a phone.

With a guaranteed late arrival, we relax and enjoy the remaining miles into Pendleton.  Modern technology can be so handy.

It begins to rain 30 miles north of Pendleton.  A slow but steady rain.  We pull off and Dennis puts on rain gear.  That usually works to stop the rain, but not this time.

When we get to Pendleton we top off the gas tanks, so we don't have to the next morning.  I see a 98 Prelude in the parking lot, red, just like the one I use to have.

Every route we took from Spokane to Pendleton is great.  I will place all these routes on the favorite list as just one road and ride.

The Motel 6 was easy to find, and we pull in and get out of the rain. It was a good thing we called ahead and secured the room, the place filled up.  After 6 consecutive nights in a tent I was ready for a bed and TV.

We plop down in the room, shower and watch TV.  On the way to supper we see a Valk rider and VTR rider pull in.  They are from New Mexico and are soaked to the bone.  They are shivering as they come out of the office.  They got lucky, they found a one bed room, thanks to a cancellation as they were walking in the office.  They didn't say who had the floor.

We chatted a few minutes with them, then walked over to Shari's for a mediocre supper.

Back at the room, I enjoyed the TV and watched the news.  I called my wife and son, and spoke to my brother.
Satisfied all was well, I turned the tube off and went quickly to sleep, putting and end to one of the all time best riding days.