I have a habit of getting up fairly early in the morning. Not unusual for me to be on the road before 6 in the morning. After spending the afternoon and night in Couer d’Alene (Budget Saver Motel for new rooms at $38 USD!) I was having breakfast at Jimmys Cafe at first light. Breakfast should never be served on a family platter. This has become a common theme I have found while travelling the US. Food is served in enormous quantities! Hash browns, country fries and toast? Covered in country (white) gravy? Anyways, I had planned to travel along the Interstate 90 to Missoula before noon. Interstates are not a lot of fun by motorcycle. Something about four feet of concrete below you tends to disconnect you from your surroundings. Semi tractor trailers and constant traffic don’t help either. It was a cold five hour run to Missoula. Little numb on the hands as you climb through the mountain passes and I did make a mental note to bring two sets of gloves next time. The interstate snakes its way through Lolo Pass and down into Missoula. Like I said, it would have been breathtaking other than the road traveled.
Napa Autoparts (every town no matter what size has a Napa that opens at 8 am) for some chain lube and to Google Map Highway 12 West. I stopped at KT’s Hayloft in the town of Lolo. Lolo, Montana is right out of the book and movie “A River Runs Through It” and KT’s is exactly what it should be. Saloon, slot machines and poker tables. Four Harleys parked out front on the highway just before the turn off to highway 12. Had a blue cheese burger and coffee to begin what was the rest of a puzzling afternoon.
After the ride down the interstate I was ready for two lanes and some twisties. Route 12 was exactly what was needed. Afternoon sun was warm and 6 miles into the highway I was literally giggling to myself in my isolation chamber know as a helmet. The first enormous over sized yellow warning sign I have ever seen read as follows: “Extremely Curvy Highway Next 99 Miles“. Twisty downhill perfectly paved canyon road. I discovered by chance one of the best motorcycle routes in the US by accident. The Clearwater National Forest is the setting that I had entered. Lush deep green forest, waterfalls, whitewater kayaks and rafts paddling along side you and an extremely curvy highway. I stopped for gas about three quarters of my way to Lewiston and was questioned by three different people probably due to the stupid grin on my face.
As I left the Clearwater Park and proceed to follow Highway 12 along the river for the 40 miles left to Lewiston (I’m stubborn and had decided to over night in Lewiston and that was final) I started to notice dark clouds moving over rolling hills that had appeared. I have never ever seen rain like that before. Rain drops the size of hail stones that were bouncing off the tarmac. I was soaked to the skin in minutes. Starting to feel quite anxious I finally pulled over at the next pullout beside the river. Got off my bike for no more than thirty seconds and a brand new Ford truck pulls up beside me. Four door cab and the back drivers side door is opened for me and a husband and wife in their 50s tell me to jump in and will wait out the rain! They are both Harley riders and have a daughter in Vancouver who is a nurse? They even had a towel in the glove box. After about 25 minutes I was feeling a little guilty for holding these nice people up any longer and the rain was letting up a little. I was not a very happy camper by the time I limped into the Lewiston Red Lion Inn and took any room with a shower. After a half an hour hot shower and laying out every piece of clothing I was wearing in front of the room heater, I order room service and crashed by 8 o’clock.
Dry and rested, but somewhat disillusioned I headed off again first thing in the morning. I was really thinking that I had had enough when the grey sky wouldn’t break. I stopped in Pomeroy for breakfast after riding right through Pomeroy and not noticing fuel warning light! It was at breakfast that I got a text message from a friend at home who knew I was away riding. “Where you at?” was the message and I was just about defeated by the frickin’ weather! His advice was to keep going and at this point I had a TSN turning point. A little text message made me realize that I was having an argument with mother nature in my head. This was an argument I will never win (although I had the same argument on the Oregon Coast in August) and I just need to stay present and move on! By the time I hit Walla Walla later that morning the sun was out and it was 25 degrees. I went on to have an amazing ride all through Oregon and would have missed it…..