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Posts Tagged ‘Route 2’

Mac

Mac

The previous day could be best summarized as bugs, wind and heat!

Hoping for less wind than yesterday’s Montana adventure we got up early.  Actually, one of the guys in the posse (and you won’t believe this), wakes up minutes prior to the time of the alarm!  As if he has some subconscious alarm clock telling him it’s time to go. 

At any rate, we were greeted with even more wind than the previous day which meant full-face helmets to provide some relief from the 30MPH sustained, gusting to 40MPH “breeze.”  The weather service issued a wind advisory across the entire NoDak state…like we didn’t notice!

NoDak Farmland

NoDak Farmland

US Highway 2 runs east-west through the northern side of NoDak and Interstate 94 runs east-west through the southern side of state. Interstate 29 runs north-south on the eastern edge of the state.  We made a mid-course change in our plans and decided to drop down and take one of only two major roads in North Dakota which runs diagonal (northwest-southeast) through the state — US Highway 52.

US 52 provides an ever changing mix of agricultural farm and pasture land, native wetlands, and small lakes set on rolling landscape, but the wind was howling and made for wicked motrcycle driving!  Tolerable as long as we headed directly into the gusts, but on US 52 we were often diagonal to the wind direction and it was interesting riding having to compensate.  All day I couldn’t help but wonder when are they going to turn North Dakota into one big-ass wind farm…

Farm

Farm

We picked up Interstate 94 east at Jamestown.  Louis L’Amour, the western novelist, and Darin Erstad, the pro baseball player in the 2002 World Champion Anaheim Angels, are both natives.  In my “fun fact” search of NoDak tidbits I ran across this little video of some dude’s cam-cording the NoDak landscape from his pickup truck while driving across I-94…and listening to some kind of Scottish music.  Can you spell F-U-N?!

About an hour later we arrived in Fargo.   Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and situated on the Red River.  It’s the place people most relate to in the Coen Brothers movie starring Oscar-winner Frances McDormand and William H. Macy.

10,000 Lakes

10,000 Lakes

Another 3 hours of wind-whip-lash we were approaching the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis).   It’s hard to determine which city you are actually in.  There is no visible dividing line; the cities really do blend into one another.  Minneapolis is an all American city, the people are chill, there’s no east coast ‘tude, and there’s water everywhere…a great vibe.  The best part of the day was that we’d seen the wind drop off significantly and the end of a 500 mile day came to a close.

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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Havre Sunrise

Havre Sunrise

I got up early and went outside to stretch my legs for a bit. It’s nice outside, mid-70’s, which makes it a decent temperature for riding.  

We departed Havre, MT about 8:30am on the 3rd day.  For reference day #3 was Monday, August 25th.  We lost an hour of sleep due to the mountain time zone change and felt a bit rushed once we realized it was going to be a high mileage day.  We wanted to get some miles under our belt before the day’s temperature heated up.

Unknown to us was the fact that the largest infrastructure project ever tackled by the Montana Department of Transportation was finished just prior to our arrival.  A $30 million project spanned 33 blocks of Highway 2 within Havre’s city limits. More than 280 businesses and residents now have entrances to their property right off the Highway.

At 11am it was 90 degrees and by 1pm the temp gauge on my windshield was pegged at 100.

Montana Farmland

Montana Farmland

We had to suffer some and be uncomfortable most of the day. It’s incredibly monotonous scenery now, some rolling hills, but mostly wheat plains into the horizon as far as you can see with the occasional Milk River crossing breaking it up.   The Milk River is a tributary of the Missouri River, and runs 729 miles long thru the state of Montana and the Canadian province of Alberta.  The river got it’s name from Captain Meriwether Lewis, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, who described it as:

“the water of this river possesses a peculiar whiteness, being about the colour of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoonfull of milk. from the colour of its water we called it Milk river.”

We crossed this river all day long and I lost count of the number of overpasses or small bridges. 

From Havre to the North Dakota border, the surrounding area is known as “The Hi-Line“.  To the locals who know it from the early Great Northern railway route.  My Montana relatives always refer to this area as the “Golden Triangle” which is one of the most productive farming regions in the country.

We continued east through the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation then to Malta. From Malta, we continued on to Glasgow, just north of Fort Peck Dam, and then into the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. We stayed either on or within the reservation for much of the remaining trip through Montana. On the reservation it goes through Wolf Point and Poplar, and then exits the reservation a short distance before leaving the state.  We hit the final town in Montana of Bainville and said goodbye to the “Big Sky” state.

Welcome To North Dakota

Welcome To North Dakota

We stopped at the North Dakota border for a “welcome” to the state photo op.  North Dakota has been converting sections of US 2 from two lanes to four lanes for many, many years. The section from Grand Forks to Minot was completed several years ago. The section from Williston to Minot was just completed this year in a campaign that began a few years back and was labeled “Across the State in Two Thousand Eight”.   In actually, US 2 is a four-lane road now from the eastern edge of Williston for a stretch of about 343 miles, leaving only 12 miles to the Montana border which is a two-lane highway.

Between Williston and Minot, the road provides several high points where you can view beautiful landscape for many miles in all directions.   We ended our riding day in Minot after ~440miles.

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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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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