Motorcycle Trip to Montana
Doug & Kyle Printz
Kyle and I left Latrobe on the Morning of June 26. We headed west on Highway 50 for the Coast. We arrived at Bodega Bay around 2:00 P.M. and secured a campsite in the Bodega Dunes campground. After we made camp and went to town to secure some groceries, we headed for the beach. There we spent several hours playing around in the surf. It was cool and foggy, so we didn’t get too wet. That evening we cooked hot dogs, marshmallows, and enjoyed a campfire. The next morning it was still cold and foggy and everything was sopping wet. We took down our tents and hung everything up in trees to dry. While things were drying we went to town and enjoyed warm breakfast. Things finally dried out shortly after noon and we packed up and headed up the road.
The next day we continued north, on a leisurely pace, up the coast. We stopped along the Avenue of the Giants south of Eureka and enjoyed the giant redwoods. Since we had such a late start, we stopped in Eureka and spent the night in a motel.
We continued up Highway 1 the following day. We stopped here and there to enjoy the country and wound up spending some time at the Trees of Mystery south of Crescent City. The fog continued to bathe the coastal areas and by the time we hit Crescent City, we were so tired of being cold that we headed inland towards Grants Pass, Oregon. As we left the influence of the coast the temperatures rose rapidly – from about 50 degrees to 100 degrees in a 10-mile stretch. When we hit Grants Pass, we headed north on Interstate 5. The speed limit on this freeway is 65 mph. I was doing about 75 mph and was being passed by nearly everyone. Up to this point we had never been passed by anyone. Kyle even asked me why everyone was passing us – was something wrong. At one point I was going 80 mph and was passed by a truck – I was glad when we reached Roseburg where we decided to call it a day. We got a nice motel with a swimming pool and jumped in the water.
A little north of Roseburg we got off the freeway and headed east on Highway 138. That was more like it – a nicely paved 2-lane road that followed a river up a beautiful valley. We turned north on Highway 97 and headed for Bend, Oregon. We then took Highway 20 to Burns where we spent the night. Again, we looked for a motel with a swimming pool and enjoyed a couple of hours of swimming before bedtime. That evening Kyle we talked about trying to make it to Hamilton the next day. By this time we’d been on the road for four days and Kyle was getting anxious to get to Montana. I checked the map and we were still over 500 miles away – on a motorcycle, 300 miles isn’t a bad day. I told Kyle that if we got an early start and didn’t stop very often we might make it before dark but it would really be a hard day. He said he could do it if I could – so that’s what we planned to do.
We got up early and hit the road about 7:30 a.m. We went from Burns to Ontario on Highway 20 – from Ontario to Grangeville, Idaho on Highway 95 where the above photo was taken from the summit of White Bird summit – we then took Highway 12 east to Lolo and Highway 93 south to Hamilton. It was indeed a long day but we pulled into Hamilton a little before 9:00 p.m. I have to praise Kyle for his conduct – he never complained once and remained in good spirits throughout the day – actually he was great for the entire trip, which was over 1600 miles.
We spent four days in Hamilton – Sandi & Pete were gracious enough to let us share their home – we appreciate their hospitality. We visited with Sandi & Pete, Mom & Dad, Jay & Janie, and Ken, Sharon, & Shelby. On the 4th of July, Kyle elected to spend most of his money on fireworks and we put on a show at Jay’s house. Later in the evening, we sat out in Jay’s back yard and enjoyed the show at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds.
Jay invited us to come up to Flathead Lake with him and his grandson, Mathew. They were planning to take his 5th wheel trailer and boat up there to spend a couple of days camping and fishing. We accepted his offer and had a great time. We didn’t get to do much fishing, though. We spent several hours on the water the day we arrived, but we didn’t get there until afternoon and it was soon getting late. It rained during the night and the next morning the skies looked awful threatening. We decided to wait until things looked better but by early afternoon it still looked bad, although it hadn’t actually rained where we were. As soon as we put the boat in the water, which is not a trivial task, and headed out on the water, it began to rain. And it continued to rain for more than two hours, the entire time we were on the water. To top it off, there wasn’t a sign of a fish on the fish finder – we had completely struck out.
Early the next afternoon, July 7th, Jay and Mathew headed back to Hamilton, and Kyle and I headed home – by way of Libby and Coeur d’Alene. The first day we made it to Coeur d’Alene after a day of spectacular roads and scenery. It was a Friday evening when we pulled into Coeur d’Alene and we were greeted with a host of “No Vacancy” signs. When we finally located a motel with a vacancy, they only had one suite left at a cost of $137. I wasn’t ready to look any further so we took it. When we opened the door to our room, we were both floored – they had given us the honeymoon suite – there was a red, heart-shaped hot tub, a heart shaped bed, tons of flowers and all kinds of frilly, romantic nonsense. We both laughed out loud – but hey - that didn’t stop us from enjoying all the amenities.
When we got up the next morning, the vacation seemed over – Kyle and I were both ready to be home. We decided we were going to make it home by Sunday evening, which meant we’d have to travel over 500 miles per day – we didn’t care, we were both tired of being on the road.
South of Couer d’Alene, on Highway 95, Kyle said the country looked familiar – he was sure his Aunt Kelly lived in the area. Soon we passed an Indian Casino he recognized and entered a small town where his Aunt went shopping. A little further and he pointed out the road to their house. We thought about dropping in, and decided against it. Too bad - it seems that Kyle’s maternal grandparents, Linda and Mike Bridgeman were visiting Kelly and John as we sped past.
Later that afternoon, in western Idaho and eastern Oregon, we played tag with two huge thunderstorms. It seemed we were always headed straight at one or the other of them. We’d get close enough to feel the temperature drop, the winds pick up, see some lightning, and get pelted with a few rain drops and then, about the time we were ready to put on our raingear, the highway would take a turn and we’d be heading the other direction. After a half hour or so, we’d notice we were heading straight for the other storm and the process would repeat. We made it all the way to Burns, Oregon without getting wet. Actually, the storms looked severe enough that I was on the verge of turning around a couple of times. That evening, the TV news mentioned the storms and described the damage caused by the winds and hail. We felt very fortunate.
The last day of our trip, south of Burns, Oregon, we ran into three fellow motorcyclists from Redding who were returning home from a motorcycle rally in Billings, Montana. One of them noticed the seat on my motorcycle (A Mayer DayLong Saddle) and commented that he'd never seen a seat like that. Before I could explain, one of his buddies started talking about Bill Mayer and his motorcycle seats. He apparently knew Uncle Bill and thought very highly of him - he was also aware of recent events. When I mentioned that Bill was my uncle, he really opened up and we had quite a time telling stories - I'm sure some of them were even true.
North of Reno, Nevada we saw a lot of smoke and noticed several airplanes circling ahead of us. It turned out that the fire was within a half mile of the highway, and we got a close-up view of borate bombers bombing a fire – it was actually pretty exciting.
The remainder of the trip was uneventful – we cruised through Reno, took Highway 80 to Truckee, then Highway 89 along the west shore of Lake Tahoe. We finally arrived in Placerville about 8:00 p.m., a couple of tired fellows. We got something to eat and crashed.
It was a pleasure to have Kyle as a passenger. I told him that he was almost as good a passenger as Linda – which is no small praise. He was patient, well behaved, and stayed in good spirits the entire trip. I can testify that a 3200+ mile motorcycle trip is damn hard work and I’m proud that Kyle handled himself so well. The next time an opportunity for such a trip arises, I’ll be glad to take him again.