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West portal of GN Ry's Cascade Tunnel.

The Fine Art of Motorcycle Touring


A Motorcycle Story

by C. C. Crow

Subject: Ah, The Road
Date: 7/31/00 10:45:36 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: Killerkrow
To: rooti@square.nut

Well, I made it back...

It was a great trip. Plenty of stories.

Started off going over Stevens Pass and following Rt. 2 along the Great Northern RR line. I stopped at every small town along the way and took photos of old buildings and granaries. No campgrounds so I cowboy camped at a rest area out in the middle of no where complete with howling coyotes and plenty of stars.

Sunset at Almira, Washington

Into Spokane the next morning I stopped at REI to replace the air mattress that I had I found worthless. Took more photos of old brick buildings and bought some clip-on sunglasses on my way north out of town. Stopped for lunch in Sandpoint, watched trains and swimmers at the park. Then I followed the Clark Fork eastward, through Paradise, down Envaro hill and to Missoula where I caught a glimpse of the railroad dome cars that I thought likely would he used on the convention excursion.

Last of the semiphores in Montana.

I screwed up and didn't get gas only to go on reserve just as I left town. What would I find in the next forty miles? Not much of nothing. At Clinton, I followed the signs for "gas" only to find that the Conico station had closed 15 minutes before the posted 9 p.m. closing time. Boy was I pissed. Rather than risk what might not lie ahead I turned back towards Missoula a dozen miles and gassed up. By then it was getting dark and though I tried to find a spot along Rocky Creek (looked great for fishing!) it was impossible so I retreated to a pay campground. Nice enough spot and again I cowboy camped under the stars. The till had been closed for the night and wasn't yet opened when I left at 6 a.m. So it was free. The attendant told me not to worry about it.

NP depot being torn down at Garrison, Montana

At Garrison I found they were in the process of tearing down a perfectly good train depot. What a shame. All the more reason to take photos of everything remotely railroad when you have the chance. As I was doing so, the excursion cars arrived on the tail and of a freight train. More photos.

Almost to my destination in Helena I just couldn't resist the sign for Mullen Pass, a gravel road over the top. At Blossburg I explored the black faced tunnel portal and caught a slow freight climbing the hill. Then up and over I attempted in vane and great peril of burning out my clutch to find the roughest route to the East portal. Before I stranded myself really out in the middle of no where I accepted a thorough exploration of Skyline trestle though I burned one too may photos on the approaching excision car special and missed the perfect shot of them crossing the tall trestle. Well, I tried.

Skyline trestle

Then it was four days of historical convention, meeting old friends and all sorts of fun stuff in Helena. I forgot what I volunteered myself for. I'm sure someone will remind me. I took photos of the model contest and somehow winged it through my presentation. They clapped at the end so it must have been all right.

NPRHA convention Helena-Missoula excursion.

The highlight of the Northern Pacific Railway Histocial Association's 2000 Convention was a rail excussion from Helena to Missoula and back over Mullan Pass including one quarter of the trip riding in the dome car.

Blackfoot Warriors, scrap iron sculpture outside Browning, Montana

On Sunday I headed north. Another bright day but the wind was blowing so it was a tough run into East Glacier. Slowed me down to 45 mph and put up with it. Finally arriving in East Glacier I stopped at the grocery to pick up my dinner. Unfortunately, East Glacier has decided to fall off the edge of the earth and there were no flesh meats available. No frozen for that matter. I was still burning off the rich convention food so I settled for a can of corn, Top Romen and milk for the morning. As I'm walking back to the bike there are a couple of people gathered around eating ice cream and commenting on... how it looks like my rear tire is going flat.

A 12D nail is not a good sign

You can imagine how my delight waned. It's an interesting story how I resolve this situation. I'll do that at a later time. Let's just say it wasn't easy. There isn't even a working compressor in East Glacier, but there is a train station...

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    F I N E   H Y D R O C A L   C A S T I N G S   B Y   C.   C.   C R O W    
  P.   O.   B O X   1 4 2 7         M U K I L T E O,     W A     9 8 2 7 5     U S A