Monday, September 03, 2007
On day 2 I was resigned to driving the chase truck behind the Velos, waiting to catch anyone with mechanical issues... but there were two or three sweep vehicles, and they always seemed to have picked up the wounded before I other trucks which where 'unofficial' the whole point of the rally for me. Pic 1 shows my only potential customer, Mark Hoyer of Cycle showed up. The chase truck is supposed to be the last vehicle on the road, as a courtesy to the rallyists, which means the driver doesn't see many bikes, except at lunchtime when I was able to have conversations with various riders, which is World, whose MSS ate no less than 3 auto-advance units during the week - surely a record.
We made our way towards Glacier National Park. There were some large wildfires near our route, so I chose to take Going to the Sun Road, one of the most spectacular stretches of asphalt in North America (pics 3 and 4). Visibility was a bit limited by smoke, but you could still feel the dramatic peaks and plunges of this passage through the Rockies. I've been over this stretch about 6 times, and half the time it's raining and visibility is much worse than with smoke, so I was still happy with the view.
We camped in St. Mary, which is on the east side of Glacier, in a brushy area with low Aspen trees. The brush turned out to be Huckelberry bushes, which were loaded with ripe fruit, and delicious. I suppose the bears think the same, but campground much, as there weren't many warning signs or advisories to use bear lockers to store food (unlike Yosemite Park, where there are signs EVERYWHERE warning apparently they don't bother the about bears). Still, about the only animal which makes me irrationally nervous is the Grizzly, and Glacier is about the #1 spot in the lower 48 states to encounter such. I was feeling pretty lousy and sore, and unable to sleep in any position but on my back, so I padded the floor of my truck with moving blankets and slept inside - not much bear protection, but I slept really well (painkillers helped).
We had a short day Wednesday to explore the park (which I missed, taking the opportunity to drive to Calgary - I needed to pick up a '31 CS1 Norton anyway - which will be discussed in another post).
Thursday, we rode up to Waterton Park in Canada, which is the northern half of Glacier, and has equally dramatic scenery. (pic 5) The two parks make up the International Peace Park, and are great areas to explore. As I was driving the truck, I followed every side road to a view spot or hidden hotel, which was a bonus.
Our next stop was the town of Eureka, Montana, which is in the middle of NOWHERE, about 10 miles south of the border. Border crossings, by the way, were fairly uneventful; there had been much concern in the club as we had heard many reports that anyone with a prior conviction in the US (ie drunk driving or other misdemeanor) wouldn't be allowed into Canada. As far as I know, none of our group had any real trouble. I tried to smuggle the Norton across the border, but it aroused the curiosity of the border guard, and I had to declare it and process the paperwork to import it... this took about 20 minutes and cost me nothing, as there is no duty on importing old bikes into the US (unless it is between 740-885cc; then you are competing with Sportsters and will pay 7%).
Next pic shows one of the odd things that people living with long winters will do.
We stopped at an interesting motorcycle shop, which, although having the Indian name, was entirely filled with nice examples of early Japanese bikes (Honda Dreams and Black Bombers, early Suzuki two strokes, Bridgestones, etc). Pics 7 and 8.
Next pic is of Kim Young's '30 KSS in front of the WORLD'S LARGEST TRUCK (well, maybe at the time it was parked there). It's pretty big, and was used to haul coal from the many open pit mines in the area.
Next pic is Mark Hoyer, Bill Getty, and John Sims, stopped at a dam on our way south. Bill owns a large British motorcycle parts distribution business in SoCal, and rode his swingarm MSS on the rally.
Next 6 pics show the camping at Eureka,