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4-Corners By Harley-Davidson – Part 3

Beartooth Pass Scenic Highway

Gaining Altitude on Beartooth Pass Scenic Highway

This is a continuation of Part-2 HERE, of our 4000-mile journey to 4-Corners that led us through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back to Oregon.

Billings to Bear Tooth Pass – Yellowstone – Bozeman, MT – On this morning we said “Hasta la vista, baby” to one of the riders in our group who had to peel off and take a more direct route home to Oregon.

Beartooth Pass

On Beartooth Pass

The rest of the posse was heading to Wyoming’s highest paved primary road…the Beartooth Scenic Byway.

It’s on Highway 212 and runs about 70 miles south and then west from Red Lodge in Wyoming to Cooke City, in Montana. The online data states that the Beartooth Pass summit is at 10,947 feet although our GPS from the top was reading 10,957 feet.

Beartooth Pass

Riding Across The Top Of Beartooth Pass

It didn’t matter because it felt like we were on the top of the world and could see 100’s of miles!

It is an incredible road to ride a motorcycle on and although I’ve never been there, I believe it would compete with riding through the Swiss Alps for excitement.   The road is essentially in two parts – the lower section that rises as you head south out of Red Lodge and the upper part at the higher elevations.

Descending Beartooth Pass

Descending Beartooth Pass

The views on the way up are terrific and it is a difficult decision whether to continue riding or stop every ¼ mile and take pictures.  We did some of both, including GoPro’s mounted on the helmets to video record parts of the trip.  We met other riders along the road and they all had big smiles on their faces as if we had all found a long lost secret riding location.

Some parts of the upper section of Beartooth Pass had gusty winds that were inconsistent from bend-to-bend that required our attention and it was much colder at the higher altitude.  Nothing more than leather jackets, and the slopes were steep and the views were spectacular.  On top there was snow in the shadow parts of the mountain.

Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park

We made several photo stops on the way down as we headed toward the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone Park.

In the summer this is a dramatic entrance with a rich diversity of landscape compared to other entrances to the park.  Traffic was very light and just after we entered the park at 7,365-feet altitude, we cut between the 10,928-foot Abiathar Peak and the 10,404-foot Barronette Peak.

Bison in Lamar Valley

Bison in Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is home to large amounts of Bison, some of which we met on the road meandering along without a care in the world.  We exited the park at Gardiner where The Roosevelt Arch is located.  The top of the Roosevelt Arch is inscribed with “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” which is from the Organic Act of 1872, the enabling legislation for Yellowstone National Park.

The Roosevelt Arch

The Roosevelt Arch – Yellowstone National Park

We continued on to Bozeman, MT., and overnighted at the rather nice Best Western Plus Grantree Inn.  There was an upscale sports bar and restaurant in the hotel and we grab dinner there and chatted with some of the locals.

Bozeman to Shelby, MT – The next morning we fueled up early and motored north on US Route 86.  It’s also referred to as the Bridger Range Scenic Drive.

On US Route 86 - Bridger Range Scenic Drive

On US Route 86 – Bridger Range Scenic Drive

It’s about 40miles and intersects with Highway 89 north of the town of Wilsall.  The road follows the eastern flank of the Bridger Mountains.  Once the road enters the National Forest, the views are a bit more limited due to the thick forest, but there are still enough open areas to keep the drive interesting.  The Bridger Bowl ski resort is about 20min from Bozeman.

Smith Valley

Smith River Valley

There are no services along the route, but what an incredible scenic road!  If you ever get a chance ride this route do it.  The road is a nicely paved and provides excellent views of the mountains which dominated the view to the west.

We connected up with US Route 89 which is the “Backbone of the Rockies” and links seven National Parks across the Mountain West.  We rode through the The Smith River Valley.  Stopped for a late breakfast at the Branding Iron Café in White Sulphur Springs.

IMG_3393ADeparting White Sulphur Springs meant we were on the Kings Hill Scenic Byway as it winds through the Little Belt Mountains.  We passed through the Lewis and Clark National Forest and savored the rugged beauty.

As the scenery turn flat there were gravel roads that crisscrossed US Route 89 all the way to Great Falls.  It was hot with a lot of wind buffeting on this day and in Great Falls we stopped at Big Sky Harley-Davidson for a soda break and to look for a t-shirt.

Glacier National Park - Going The Sun Road

Glacier National Park – Going To The Sun Road

We departed and connected with I-15 north and headed toward Shelby.  Several miles up I-15 we stopped at the Mountain View Co-Op in Brady for fuel.  We ran into some old farmers there and spend a good deal of time chatting about various items from how loud the bikes were to the price of wheat.  It was almost like a TV show!

We arrived in Shelby and overnighted at the Comfort Inn.  It was an interesting hotel with part of it being on Indian reservation and had gambling in the lobby, but the rooms in the new section had just opened and they had friendly service.  We walked down the hill and ate dinner at the Ringside Ribs which was full of hungry truck drivers.

Riding the Going To The Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Riding the Going To The Sun Road – Glacier National Park

Shelby to Sandpoint, ID (via Going To The Sun Road and West Glacier) – We departed fairly early the next day and motored out on Highway 2 west bound.  We were headed for the “Going To The Sun Road” at St. Mary and east entrance of Glacier National Park.  We rode through Cut Bank then Browning and when refueling in St. Mary we took some time for refreshments.

If you’ve never driven a motorcycle on the Going-to-the-Sun Road it’s clearly one of the top 10 national park experiences.

Going To The Sun Road

Riding the Going To The Sun Road

There is significantly less traffic (shuttle buses and tourists) when traversing the park east to west and we didn’t have to contend with large crowds at any of the prime viewing pullouts.  The road offers a visual assortment of moutain views that anyone will enjoy.  It’s narrow in places, and in a constant state of repair due to the annual freeze-thaw cycle.

We didn’t pull off at the Logan Pass visitor center.

Lake

Lake McDonald

We’ve been down this road before and the visitor center crowds are not our gig.  The view of the Clements Mountain and the southern tip of the Garden Wall were terrific.  Many of the park visitors motor up the pass aboard a Red Jammer, one of Glacier’s renowned fire engine-red, open-air touring buses that debuted in 1937.  Supposedly they gained their nickname for the way drivers “jammed” their way through the gears.

"Glides" on the Going To The Sun Road

“Glides” on the Going To The Sun Road

We had GoPro camera’s running through much of our way down to West Glacier where it looks like time has stood still in this remote corner of Montana.  The log buildings have changed very little since they were built in 1938.  Any “inappropriate development” has been curtailed and the village has maintain its historic character.  There was a quick break at the village and we were making good time so we continued on to Kalispell.  We motored on and thought about stopping in Libby, but continued on to Bonners Ferry then connected with Highway 95 south for Sandpoint, ID.

Bonner's Ferry, ID

Bonner’s Ferry, ID

We had left the plains-induced sweat running down our backs for cooler temperatures and it was nice riding.  Although I have to admit that the cumulative riding over the previous 11 days had started to wear on me.   We were heading toward home at this point so the time to pull off and take photos were few.  We were really about getting through some miles.

It had been a 345 mile day through some slow going,  RV and tourist ridden roads, but we were in Sandpoint and checked into the La Quinta Inn before 6pm.

Sandpoint, ID at the La Quinta Inn

Sandpoint, ID at the La Quinta Inn

We showered and had refreshments at Connie’s.  We intended to eat at a Thai restaurant, but ran out of patience and instead had dinner at Connie’s.

Sandpoint to Portland – The next morning we were again up and on the road before 7:30am because we had a 430+ mile day and the forecast was searing heat.  We headed out of town and caught a glimpse of the city’s new downtown by-pass as we headed across the Sandpoint Long Bridge.  It was slow going on Highway 95 to Coeur d’Alene, but we pick up speed once we connected with I-90 and then Highway 395 through the Washington State farm land.  We pulled into the Country Travel Plaza for a fuel and refreshment stop as the heat of the day wore on.  We had a late lunch at C&D Drive In at Boardman and then rolled into Portland around 5pm.

After 400-miles the sun sets on the "Glide"

The sun sets on the end of the 4-Corners “Glide” adventure

It’s not often that you get to ride for the pure enjoyment of the open road and the excitement of what’s around the next curve.

We were on the road for 12-days, visited eleven states, made new friends, discovered a part of history and rumbled across 4000 miles of the U.S.  There were smells, wind gusts, moisture hungry lowland desert, tall pines and scented blooms along with blazing sun, searing heat, rugged landscape and mountain peaks that reached up and touched the clouds.  It was a most rewarding trip and riding the adventure with some classy motorcycle buddies was priceless!

That was the 4-Corner’s ride in August 2012.  It is now history forever saved on the internet!

This is multi-part blog post.  Part 1 – HERE and Part 2 – HERE.

Photos by author.

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Neil Young sang the song “Long May You Run“.

“We’ve been through
Some things together”

Last August, specifically on the 8th I was returning home from a week long ride in the Canadian Rockies and spent a night in Kennewick, WA (Tri-Cities) where I stopped at the local Harley-Davidson dealer.  Nice place and the dealership is owned by Shumate Motorsports or more importantly the owners are John Michial Shumate and his wife, Jennifer Shumate.

Interestingly on this day they were having a mother of all sales.  Strangely not on motorcycles, but on EVERYTHING else.  It looked like a going out of business sale and when I ask the sales clerk what it was all about she responded with something about needing to make room for all the new products so they were unloading inventory.  Sounded fishy.

Turns out that my inner voice was correct.  Just a couple of weeks later (September 2009) the owners filed for bankruptcy.  In court documents the Tri-City couple stated they’d racked up more than $10 million of debt for Shumate Tri-City LLC, Shumate Inc. and Shumate Spokane LLC.  Their first motorcycle shop was in Kennewick.  Then in 2004 the couple took over Spokane’s sole Harley-Davidson dealership, at 6815 E. Trent Ave. They also owned stores in Walla Walla and Lewiston, ID.

Sure these dealers are just locations on a map, but they also represent what life is about, experiences as you travel across the country making new friends and I’ve been to all of them over the years traveling around the pacific northwest.

According to reports, the Shumate’s filed an adversary proceeding in October 2009, accusing the motor company and affiliate companies of violating the Washington State Consumer Protection Act and of breaching a good-faith obligation.  Specifically the Shumates stated that Harley-Davidson disrupted their ability to carry on normal dealership operations by obtaining a temporary restraining order in August prohibiting them from selling motorcycles, parts, accessories and clothing that constitute collateral to which Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. claims it’s entitled. They contend Harley-Davidson then used that temporary inability of the Shumate dealerships to operate normally as the basis for the issuance of letters announcing the manufacturer’s plans to terminate its dealer contracts and franchises with them.  This maneuvering occurred when at the same time the motor company approved a new posh and competing dealership in upscale Coeur d’Alene, ID.

I don’t have visibility into all the internal workings or choices made at Shumate Motorsports, but one can’t help but have empathy.  If you believe Harley-Davidson advertising we’re supposed to have one part “stick-it-to-the-man” and one part sympathy for H-D, after all, they are losing millions bringing us these premium-priced motorcycles and the lifestyle.  Ain’t that America, where the public is beholden to corporations who pay little tax yet demand sympathy, as their lobbyists keep the government’s hands off of them and they wine and dine luxuriously in private while walking around in public with their pockets turned out?

At any rate, the latest update is a bankruptcy judge in Spokane will next week set a date for selling Spokane’s only Harley-Davidson dealership, plus the three other stores.  The Shumate Motorsport attorney (Barry W. Davidson of Spokane – see the irony?!) stated that it was Shumate’s intent to close his Spokane and Idaho operations but they were going to try and keep his Tri-City and Walla Walla stores open.  It’s not clear they will be successful in that effort.

Long may you run…

Photo courtesy of Boston.com

Previous posts on H-D closures HERE, HERE and HERE

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LifeflightA while back and I don’t recall now how, but I subscribed to an Oregon State Police newsflash service.  I don’t forward OSP news, but this is rather significant and involves multiple motorcycles.

At 2:54 (Pacific) there was an OSP report of numerous motorcycles northbound on Interstate 5, near milepost 282 south of Wilsonville who were involved in a crash.  One lane northbound is now open following a multi-vehicle crash involving 26 motorcycles.  The accident was on I-5 near the Baldock Rest Area and involved two motorcyclists taken by LifeFlight with critical injuries and eight others transported by ground ambulance to area hospitals.

Preliminary information indicates a group of at least 26 motorcyclists were northbound in the left lane on I-5 following a passenger vehicle when traffic ahead began slowing.  The car and motorcyclists all tried to slow but collided with one another.  A vehicle in the middle northbound lane was reportedly struck by one of the motorcycles. All northbound lanes were closed until about 4:00 p.m.  Traffic is reported slow but getting through in one lane.  Southbound lanes are open but also very slow.

Let’s hope for only the best to those injured.  I’ll provide updates as I learn more.

Brothers Speed Motorcycle Club Accident on I-5

Brothers Speed Motorcycle Club Accident on I-5

UPDATE 1: Video and still shots taken by Sky8 indicate some of the motorcyclists were members of the Brothers Speed Motorcycle Club.  See HERE and HERE (Source: KGW News).

UPDATE 2: KATU and Jet Ranger 2 provide video coverage HERE and confirmed motorcyclists were BSMC members.

UPDATE: September 19, 2009 — The official report is that ten were injured, two critically.  Several others involved in the crash were attended too on site by medical personnel, but declined transport to a local hospital.  Herbert Sinclair, age 48 (Heyburn, ID) and David Bowyer, age 44 (Coeur d’Alene, ID) were transported by LifeFlight to OHSU and Emanuel Hospital respectively.  Names of three others injured in the crash were identified as Jaun Ramon Mata, age 60, Christian J. Gankema, age 40 and Gary Pawson, age 38 all from Idaho.   Cause of the accident: was reported as a group of 26 BSMC motorcyclists traveling in a formation of two columns on the inside left hand lane (I-5 North) came upon slowing or stopping traffic.  The two front motorcycles maneuvered to avoid a collision with the stopped vehicle, but the rest of the group did not react in time and crashed into the vehicle and into each other.  The total number of motorcycles that actually crashed was not confirmed.  On scene photos provided by OSP HERE, HERE, and HERE.  The group was heading north to take part in the Portland Chapter annual birthday bash and weekend demolition derby.

UPDATE: October 5, 2009 — Sadly it was reported today that David “Detroit Dave” Bowyer from Coeur d’Alene, ID passed away at Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he was being treated since the crash on September 18th.

UPDATE: October 8, 2009 — Detroit Dave’s sister set up a memorial site HERE with information on the funeral services.  The BSMC have been posting updates HERE along with information about how you can contribute to a crash fund.  The AgingRebel blog has comments posted by “Not Surprised” which provides more detail on the SUV drivers (Leslie D. Schultz — Toyota 4 Runner and Kayla D. Knight — Nissan Pathfinder) which has not been previously released by the media to the public.  There were rumors circulating about ATF personnel in the SUV’s, but this was not the case and although the accident continues to be investigated at first glance nothing sinister jumps out about this accident.

Photos courtesy of Lifeflight.org and OSP.

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I departed Saturday, August 23rd with an 8am arrival at the Flying J truck stop in Troutdale to meet up with the posse.  We decided to cut our own trail rather than follow the dealer rides and took a non-sanctioned northern route to the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary event in Milwaukee.  This meant riding north to get near the Canadian border on Hwy 2 as quickly as possible to begin our Eastward trek.

The weather was brisk, but ideal for riding.  We headed east through the Columbia Gorge via I-84 where we watched windsurfers in Hood River and had breath taking views of the Columbia river. We saw the locks, barges of grain, and fishing boats.  The scenery is always large and impressive in the gorge.  By the time we arrived in the Richland area for lunch we had hot temperatures and moderate cross winds. 

The terrain in this area gets dull, and the road gets even duller. It’s a confusing area where 395 joins I-82 for a while crossing the Columbia River, but even after it breaks away from interstate, it remains a heavily traveled limited-access highway with lots of traffic as it runs northeast for about 150 miles to Spokane, Washington.  This route took us toward greener country near the Idaho state line. At Spokane, on I-95 east we headed to Coeur d’Alene, ID where we picked up highway 95.  It heads north before reaching the Canadian border.  There is a lot of scenic beauty through the forests of northern Idaho. The traffic gets thinner the farther north you get.

We ended the ~430 mile day crossing over the Sandpoint Long Bridge in Sandpoint, Idaho.  Sandpoint is in, Bonner County and has a little more than 7000 residents. The key industry is recreation/tourism thanks to scenic Lake Pend Oreille and the Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. A little known bit of trivia is it’s the headquarters of Coldwater Creek which is the women’s apparel retailer.

We stayed at the Quality Inn which is located at the beginning of the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway.  We met up with some friends at the Edgewater Resort and ate dinner in the Beach House Restaurant and had a few refreshments to enjoy the sunset on the lake.

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

As a bonus we ran into Ben Stein (writer, actor, TV personality) in the restaurant bar.  Sandpoint seems to call the “rich and famous” for all types of recreational activity.  You’ll have to trust me that it’s Ben because it’s not very clear in this photo unless you have zoom capability.

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

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