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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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Motorcycle enthusiasts in any given year will lobby and go to the mat on legislation issues that affect their hobby in the Northwest.

In Washington state one such bill was SB 5242  —  known as the biker profiling bill – it recently passed into law.   The bill prohibits singling out bikers for police stops without a legitimate reason. Motorcycle profiling is defined as when law enforcement officers single out people who ride motorcycles or wear biker “clothing,” stopping, questioning, searching or arresting them without legal grounds.

Motorcycle clubs who feel they have been singled out over the years see this as a major victory.  However, it’s a win for all motorcyclists in a way that the media isn’t really talking much about. Let me explain.

You might recall that I blogged about the NHTSA who recently made funds available to state, county and local law enforcement agencies to run “motorcycle only” checkpoints. The funds were recently applied for and granted in Florida, and as you can imagine during Daytona Bike Week there was a motorcycle only checkpoint in operation and the bikers-as well as the AMA- went ballistic.

Under the new Washington State law this supposedly cannot happen. Washington State Police (WSP) has stated that although they would not have applied for the funds regardless, that would not have stopped sheriffs and city law enforcement from applying. However, under the new bill they cannot … until someone decides to run county or city legislation to override the state law…

UPDATE: May 16, 2011 – Interesting and well articulated alternative viewpoint from Brian O’Neill (LEO) on how SB 5242 targets the wrong folks (police officer training) and this will get in the way of disrupting gang activity in Washington state.

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

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protest

Two-hundred Washington state patch holders protest — peacefully and with style and grace?

If there is anything melding Government policies together these days, it is the proclivity to wage all kinds of wars within.  Thin as it is, “declaration of war” has been entreated frequently, from war on drugs, war against politics/graft, war against pay-day loans, war against street gangs, war on predatory lending, war against illegal immigration, war against drunk driving and yes, war against motorcycle “clubs” to name just a few.  We’ve been beseeched with so much war, for so long, that it seems to be a buoyant feeling of complacency.

This “declaration of war” prompts a national-security-at-all-cost rigidity and prejudice of sorts against the good men and women who are sniffing out the romance of the open road and freedom from slavery of monotony.   The mainstream media doesn’t help when they propagate faux-characterization with press reports like:

“testosterone raging men riding with intimidating speed on heavy-weight motorcycles terrorizing the easily spooked folks of our small town”

It’s no wonder that motorcycle groups are frustrated with the Hollywood attention grabbing headlines and broad brush paint applied to all motorcycle owners as this marauding group of misfits who need the thrilling risk of entangling with the law.

The rumor is true! Take a picture of this — last Saturday (Sept 12th) the CoC Run — Washington State Defender Run — mobilized about 200 patch holders from all parts of Washington state to protest the unconstitutional practice of discrimination against patch holders.  The protest run centered around two establishments (Foxy’s in Everett and First Class Bar & Grill in SeaTac) practicing the policy of discriminatory stereotyping and denying access.  The protest resulted in NO incidents.  NONE in terms of accidents, or by any individual and no law enforcement harassment!  The common ground of brotherhood and the freedom to ride outweigh any club differences.

Clearly the U.S. Defender program works and has sparked mobilization of patch holders in Washington state.  Hey, Oregon — 1999 called and said they want their fence back — join the call to action because together we secure our rights base.

Photo taken at ABATE Toy Run 2008

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Canadian Rockies

Canadian Rockies

If you’re into snow-capped peaks, breathtaking mountain passes and twisty roads mixed with the occasional waterfall… riding to the northern Rockies by way of Rogers Pass and the Canadian Glacier National Park should be on your short list.

It was a warm morning departure for our 8 day adventure of ~2000miles.  We rushed an obligatory breakfast at Elmer’s and set out leaving the city by way of the Lewis and Clark highway.

Maryville Winery

Maryville Winery

We headed east on Washington State Hwy14 (SR14) and enjoyed the sweeping views of the Columbia River before heading north on Route 97 (US97). US97 is a 322-mile route through Washington state which traverses from the Oregon state line at the northern end of the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge in Maryhill, north to the Canadian border in Okanogan County near Oroville.

Wenatchee By Moonlight

Wenatchee By Moonlight

We tried to stay cool traversing the major cities of Goldendale, Yakima, and Ellensburg through a northwest heat advisory.  Our arrival in Wenatchee was greeted with short gasps to get air as the sweltering heat set an all-time high of 107 degrees!  The day also recorded Seattle’s hottest day (103) in its history.  We’d had enough of the triple digits and elected to cool off before continuing. Note: I had the FXRG Perforated Leather Jacket on all day, but once the temp hit 97 degrees I stripped clothing to a t-shirt.  I’ll provide more on how the jacket faired during this trip in another post.

The next morning our early departure was met with temperatures already in the mid-70s.  We wanted to get some miles under our feet before high temps set in for the day.  We headed north on 97A which runs right along the west side of the Columbia river and then rejoined US97 at Lake Chelan.

VLBA Radio-Telescope

VLBA Radio-Telescope

Between Brewster and Monse, WA I was reminded of the movie Contact starring Jodie Foster.  Remember the scene where she is sitting atop her car hood under the Very Large Array of satellite antenna’s listening to space?   Well on the west side of the river dotted with farm tractors is a Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) station.  It looks like a secret “military” base, but is really part of a ten radio-telescope antenna system, each with a dish 82 feet in diameter and weighing 240 tons.

Canada Border Crossing

Canada Border Crossing

Others are located from Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The VLBA provides astronomers with the sharpest vision of space compared to any telescope via radio waves!  It’s funded by The National Science Foundation (NSF), an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education.  In fiscal year (FY) 2009, the NSF budget is $9.5 billion, which includes $3.0 billion provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  A list of “shovel ready” ARRA funded projects at NSF is located HERE if you’d like more info on how the $$ are being spent.  But I’ve digressed…

FXRG Jacket Testing

FXRG Jacket Testing

By the time we rolled through Oroville the temps were again in the high 90’s and the air was hazy with smoke.  Before heading towards the Alaska Highway at the Yukon border which is known as British Columbia Highway 97 (BC97) we were “processed” by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers.  After a long wait due to a large number of RV’s we were subjected to several difficult questions meant to trip up any unsuspecting armed terrorist… “Where you from?”, “Where you going?”, “How Long you gonna be here?”… you get the drill.  After a hour long process I couldn’t help but think that if the CBSA ran Apple Computer we’d all be running Apple II’s, having to insert an identity card every time we booted up and required to surf at dial-up speed  — yeah, it was that painful!

Kelowna, BC - Bridge

Kelowna, BC - Bridge

After the “land of poutine” passed us through the international border crossing we made our way through Oliver, Penticton and along the western shore of magnificent Okanagan Lake for many kilometers to finally arrive in Kelowna, BC.  A thick haze filled the air as a reminder of the tinder-box conditions of the province and the hundreds of fires.  The local newspaper proclaimed “Wildfires Scorch BC” with thousands of evacuee’s and sad tales. In fact, seeing across the street was a challenge and breathing reminiscent of sitting around a camp fire about to extinguish itself.

After  a couple of days riding we enjoyed refreshments and some Montana Cookhouse baby-back ribs then headed down to the marina to take in some of the local nightlife and Okanagan Lake experience.

The 107 to 47 Journey – Part Two HERE; Part Three HERE; Part Four HERE

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FreedomThe good news is that motorcyclists in Washington State survived another year of legislative damage.  John Davis of Northwest Cycle Report provides a post mortem blog of the Washington State legislative session.  Below is a brief sample:

HB 1403 (Addressing the detection of motorcycles and bicycles at vehicle-activated traffic control signals.) got caught up in the wrangling at cutoff in the house and did not see any floor action. This could have meant that we were going to be required to wait until next year to try to get SB 5387, the companion bill for HB 1403, brought into play in the senate. The lobbyist for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (BAW) went to work looking for a bill with traction, related to motorcycling or bicycling, that the traffic signal language could be appended to. He managed to find an innocuous (in his eyes) little technical correction bill that might work. Here is where it gets to be fun. The bill he found was SB 5482.”

“Texas” Larry Walker, the Government Relations Specialist in the Washington Road Riders Association provides the commentary and overview.  You can read more of the legislative details HERE.  I’ve found that Northwest Cycle Report goes to great lengths to provide informative and high quality information in their writing.  Check them out.

Photo courtesy WordPress Freedom theme.

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authority1Imagine for a moment you purchase a new Harley Iron 883.  Before pulling away from the dealer to enjoy a nice spring day ride you slip on a black leather riding vest with a large Harley-Davidson embroidered logo.  Near the bottom of the logo there is a Milwaukee, WI rocker.  Your buddies have similar vest’s and all head out.  Your pleased with the “patch” because it’s public evidence that you’re wearing colors of allegiance to the motorcycle company and it represents a new wind in the face lifestyle.  As your group rolls north up the I-5 corridor you take notice of WSP signaling you to pull over. 

The officer states that your biker “clothing” is a dress code affiliation typical of outlaw motorcycle “gangs” and as part of their early gang identification tactics your name, license number/plate is entered into a new gang watch-list database.

Impossible?  Think again.  Washington state legislators are set to pass an “anti-gang bill” that includes funds for police anti-gang taskforces, increased penalties for gang-related crimes and increased recruitment penalties.  The bill defines a gang as “an association of three or more individuals who share a symbol or name either formally or informally and who’s members participate in a crime.”   Basically a police officer can accuse you of belonging to a gang.  There is no burden of proof and if your name is put into the database you have no due process and there is no judicial overview.  There is no method to appeal – nothing!

What about abuse?  It’s likely.  For example here is a video of WSP taking license plate information from motorcyclists who visited the state capital.  And on a day specifically pre-arranged as the annual motorcycle rights lobbying day (see previous posts at: Giving Bikers A Voice and Expect The Unexpected).  It’s fair to say there is a crucial difference between motorcyclists participating in the democratic process to support motorcycle rights vs. being painted as criminal operatives engaged in a range of criminal activities only because they ride a motorcycle. Imagine the public outcry or media scrutiny if gay-marriage advocates rallied at the capital and WSP “stalked” around attendee vehicles for the purpose of entering licenses into a tracking database?!

Of course there is nothing funny about any of this.  The hard core criminally-committed motorcycle gangs, like street gangs, are primary conduits for the illicit drugs being pumped in the U.S. by the Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO).  The consequences of the smuggling can strike anywhere in America.  Undercover work is not a game.  It is an essential part of our national defense against this wave of plunder, violence and corruption. But, have WSP and state legislators reached a point of hysteria with regard to criminal street gangs to allow unchecked power to condemn any three motorcycle riders or riding club affiliation?  Is LE basically executing “color coded” profiling? 

I’m not sure, but I don’t approve of the Black Thursday tactics, I don’t like the potential for anti-gang abuse and I’m not resigned to this riding club suppression law.

Illustration courtesy Australian artist Eamo Donnelly.

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snohomish_showI’ve posted previously on the unintended consequences of aggressive police staffing at biker rallies and the Snohomish Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show is the latest Northwest victim.

Until this year the Sky Valley chapter of A.B.A.T.E paid about $5,000 for security and no other event in the city had been required to have more than two police officers present although outside agencies were used for some crowd control.  Just last September the Snohomish car show organized by the Chamber of Commerce brought in an estimated 15,000 people and only two officers were on duty before and after the event.  There were volunteer Fire Explorers and organizers were charged only $1,200.

So what is the price for a bike show in 2009 as the economy sags?  City officials wanted organizers of the motorcycle show to pay $30,360 for 44 police officers to staff this event!  Never mind there have been no major incidents in the previous 12 years of the show with an estimated 22,000 people in attendance.  The Snohomish Police Chief initially requested for 70 police officers stating a need for more officers because they are “concerned” about the potential for motorcycle gang violence.

Quick to recognize the potential political backlash the Snohomish Mayor Randy Hamlin stated at the City Council meeting the decision had to do with public safety and “It’s not to discriminate against this [motorcycle] group”.  Then why bring it up, Randy?  And why the “fear-based” discussions centered on Outlaw motorcycle groups attending the show?  Why were no business owners consulted on the police policy changes?  With no troubled past, is law enforcement being hyper-cautious or are members of the motorcycle community being sent a message?

With few alternatives and a short window to accommodate an abrupt rise in expenses the organizers cancelled the show.  Most unfortunate are donations from the show ($4000 last year) to local charities that disappear as well as the $$ the motorcycle riding public would have spent in Snohomish!

UPDATE: May 20, 2009 – thousands of bikers show up in Snohomish even with the bike show being cancelled.  So do  a lot of police…  See HeraldNet news article for more information.

Photo courtesy of event web site.

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