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Posts Tagged ‘Day 2’

Virginia City

Virginia City

What a great couple of days. Terrific t-shirt weather, easy riding and we’ve been here in Reno with a bunch of good riding friends.

On our third day (Friday) we seperated into a couple groups and one drove the Virginia City, Carson City to Reno loop. Those of you old enough to remember the TV show Bonanza might be interested to know that the Ponderosa Ranch, home of the Cartwright’s is in the area.  Many believe it it’s in Virginia City, but actually Virginia City only hosted a back lot for the filming of the TV show.  The Ponderosa Ranch was actually a theme park in Incline Village, near Lake Tahoe.  It was shut down in the late 1990’s, but you can read lots more HERE.  Bonanza ran from 1959 to 1973 and was behind Gunsmoke as the longest running Western TV series.  I have an aunt who co-wrote a couple of the shows, but I don’t have a clue which ones.  It’s a cool area to ride in and the Ponderosa Pines are massive and the views are spectacular.

We arrived in Virginia City (pop. 1000) which still has much of the same character and ambiance it was famous for, and some of the same businesses (brothels), for which it is now infamous.  Named after the Comstock Lode which was an exceptionally large and rich mineral deposit of Silver, the city is directly built over the “lode” and was mined for years.  We leisurely wandered through many of the old buildings. Most have been converted from saloons and brothels to retail stores: cowboy clothes, leather goods, tourist trash, etc., however you can still see much of the original building details: large mirrors found on walls behind the various bars, the bar itself, or areas set aside for the honky tonk piano, gambling tables, and the infamous stairway to the rooms upstairs where a hard working miner or cowboy could find friendly companionship.  We enjoyed a $5 combo hotdog and beer lunch while watching the SWAT teams invade, oops I mean lurk in doorways in this rustic city.  Estimates had the biker crowd in Virginia City as high as 15,000 during the busiest part of the event.  Afterward the hotdogs we headed east out of town toward Carson City.

Speaking of the “companionship” business.  All indications are it’s going strong…. several of us made our way over to Mound House (about 6 miles east of Virginia City) to what’s called “The Ranch”…a set of connected trailers owned and operated by Dennis Hof for a “what’s-a-nice-girl-like-you-doing-in-a-place-like-this” tour.  Dennis is a TV personality and most visible as the owner of the Bunny Ranch and who starred in the reality TV show Cathouse: The Series on HBO.  I met him last year.  This year it was slow due to the poker run being on Saturday.  Sponsored by the Hells Angels and called the “Cat House Poker Run” many motorcycle enthusiasts go from business-to-business and participation is high…we had other plans. 

Skynnyn Lynnyrd Band

Skynnyn Lynnyrd Band

From the Ranch we rode to the Carson City Harley dealer.  The new building is located on 2900 Research Way just off US 395.  It took us awhile to find it because last year it wasn’t in this location!  We ran into the other half of the riding posse who were getting some parts and enjoyed various activities from burn outs to rock bands at this venue.

We headed back into Reno after a long and fun day. We grabbed dinner at the Eldorado Hotel in the Hong Kong style Chinese restaurant called Golden Fortune. Afterward we did a bit more vendor booth hopping and decided to catch a Harrah’s show.  Turns out that Skynnyn Lynnyrd (a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band) rocked out the plaza for some good sets. For comparison here is a video of Lynyrd Skynyrd from 1977.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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It was a sunny and brisk 46 degrees for our early morning departure out of Sandpoint.  We planned to head out the Pend Oreille scenic byway which spends its entire length next to water, whether the massive Lake Pend Oreille or one of the rivers that feed it.  This lake in the northern Idaho Panhandle, is 65 miles long, and 1,150 feet deep in some places, making it the fifth deepest in the U.S.  Only locals know that the lake is still used by the Navy’s Acoustic Research Detachment to test large-scale submarine prototypes.  View the Navy dock HERE.

We grabbed a drive-thru breakfast in Ponderay, a small community north of Sandpoint then headed eastward.  Highway 200 passes through the towns of Kootenai, Hope, and Clark Fork prior to hitting the westernmost portion of “Highway 200” which extends east through Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

About 30 minutes into the ride if you blink you’ll pass by the Cabinet Gorge Dam.  It’s located about 10 minutes prior to hitting the Montana border.  Located on a cliff directly over the dam there is a road which looks like a forest road to the right, but it’s just worn out pavement.  My grandfather worked at this Dam which was built in the early ‘50s.  It took only 21 months to complete with 1700 men working 24 hours a day.  Avista Utilities operates the dam which is one of several on the Clark Fork River which has caused issues with Bull Trout migrating to Lake Pend Oreille for years.

We connected with Montana’s Highway 56 which runs in a northerly direction from an intersection between Noxon and Heron, about 10 miles east of the Idaho state line. The highway runs approximately 35 miles and meets up with U.S. Route 2 about 3 miles east of the town of Troy, MT.  This highway passes through a forested and mountainous landscape.  It travels along the eastern shore of Bull Lake; the Cabinet Mountains are to the east. The entire route is within the boundary of the Kootenai National Forest. Highway 56 is known locally as the “Bull Lake Road” and you’ll often find “deer smear” laying on the side of the road.

We fueled up in Troy and headed east for the 100+ miles to Kalispell and West Glacier Park.  Glacier National Park is known as the “Switzerland of North America” and is enhanced by the historic Swiss style lodges and chalets located throughout the Park. There are over a thousand miles of hiking trails.  When Glacier National Park opened in 1910 it was a time when preserves were opening all over the West as railroads made mountain travel easier. The Great Northern Railroad had just built Belton Chalet, where well-to-do tourists could unload their trunks and servants to experience the wonders of the West in comfort.  This is just one of many hundreds of such stories that you can find about this rich in history area.

We rolled through the park and made tracks to East Glacier.  When we arrived in Cut Bank it was 95+ degrees.  By the time we passed the Camp Disappointment sign on the Blackfeet Reservation (near Browning, MT) we were ready for a swimming pool, but we needed to make some more miles.  Camp Disappointment is the northernmost campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

It was somewhere near this area out on the plain that Santiago encountered a “suicide bird” attack on the chrome Harley wheel.  Sort of a “Wild Hog” moment, but not quite as funny.  We extricated the remaining bird feathers from the fender and proceeded across the plain to overnight in Havre, MT.  We accomplished ~450 miles thru bugs, heat and Montana wind.  We truly looked forward to dinner and some cool refreshments.

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE

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