Following Friday. Time to go home.
I made better than expected time on the trip up, so I decide to leave the Bitterroot later in the day Friday.
Before I left, I had to get a picture of Joe and Val's cat.
This is Beethoven. Beethoven is deaf. Beethoven will play with the cars rushing by on the highway because he isn't intimidating by them in his silent world, so Beethoven wears a leash when he's outside, the harness for which you can see here.. This is the only cat I've ever met that can get along with a leash.
They take Beethoven everywhere, and wherever he goes, he becomes the center of attention. Real life of the party.
It's odd though to walk into the house and not be able to wake the cat without stomping on the floor. Beethoven doesn't do "cat naps".
Anyway, it's time to get back on the road. And I finally got someone to take a picture of me, on the bike, with all the gear.
Back down Highway 93, where I met up with a scary fast Supra Twin Turbo (as
fast as my bike) and up Lost Trail Pass but this time I'm going home via
Idaho. There's construction on the back side of Lost Trail and traffic only
flows once every two hours for as long as it takes to clear the queue of
If you arrive at 2:10 and the cars are gone, you wait till 4.
I arrive at
the top of the pass 5 minutes till 6 and the flagman waves me to the front
of the pack of waiting cars, where 20 other bikes also sit, waiting for the
pass to open, or the rain to start, or both. I've got 5 minutes to get my
rain gear on.
The rain started first, then the pass opened and our pack of 20 motorcycles and 20 cars all follow the pilot car down the mountain on unpaved roads, in the mud, at no more than 20mph.
The pavement starts back up 10-15 miles down the mountain just about the same time the rain stops. The run to Salmon is nice flowing twists for 20-30 miles.
I'd left most of the motorcycle pack behind me at the bottom of the pass but they caught up to me a couple miles short of Salmon. I was slowing down from 75mph, and the pack was closing on me faster than that when a cop passed me going the other way. I saw his lights come on about the same time he reached the leading edge of the motorcycle pack behind me, so I'm not sure who he was after. All I know is that he had no place to turn around with 20 bikes strung out behind me for a half mile and as maybe many cars behind that. I stopped in town to get gas and he never showed up so I moved on.
It's now out southeast onto Highway 28, an odd stretch of road. It's completely desolate and it feels, and looks completely flat but is, in actuality a mountain pass.
This from the top of the pass, looking back west.
It's a little hard to see, but the road continues a little right of center as far as you can see to the horizon... Flat.
And looking back to the east, the direction I'm traveling.
Well, it's flat to the horizon too, but that's really not what I'm interested in any more. I'm looking at the back side of the leading edge of a serious storm system moving east.
The next 50 miles are somewhat interesting. The rain is coming down so hard it simply can't run off the road. The wind gusts are hitting me from the side (either side) at 45 or 50 mph and driving the rain into my upwind leg so hard, I try several times to get that leg up on top of the gas tank to get it behind the wind-screen. It doesn't help.
Every so often, a gust will hit me so hard it'll push the bike completely into the opposite lane, where I'm constantly grateful that no one else is stupid enough to be on the road in this storm. Oh, and there was the lightning. Flash.. flash.. pause.. flash.. I'm going too fast to hear most of the thunder until lightning starts hitting the ground within a half mile of me. I think this, and the fact that I'm at the top of a flat mountain pass contributes to my decision not to stop and wait for the lightning to find me.
It could have been worse. It could have been hailing.
Most reasonable seeming decision.. Go faster. Get out quicker. The storm intensifies and then I'm out of it. A mile out and I stop to catch my breath and take a picture, looking back at the leading edge.
I decided to spend the night in a Motel in Idaho Falls.
I soon got on I-15 south to Idaho Falls and in those 20 miles, picked up more bugs on my bike and helmet than in the entire rest of the 2000 mile trip. It was like driving through a light snow storm. All the gas stations in the Falls had 4 or 5 extra buckets of soap water to get the bugs off cars. What a mess..
I'm still picking bugs out of the cracks and crevices around my bike.