Total Day: 737.6 km (458.4 mi)
Total Trip: 2436.2 km
Today was a slow start for a long day. We not only bought dinner for last night, but also bought some breakfast for today, so we were able to eat at camp. Today, I was definitely the slow poke breaking camp, and RRP was remarkably patient. Still, after coffee, and breakfast, and packing up, we were finally on the road at about 10:00 am.
Today was a ride across Montana. It dawned on me that we were, essentially, riding from the north-west corner (Eureka) to the south-east corner where it borders Wyoming and Sout Dakota. So I looked it up, and it turns out Montana is the 4th largest state in the U.S. (after Alaska, Texas and California). It is REALLY big. And we were only going to the mid point today, at Billings. For the Canucks in the room, Montana borders the eastern corner of B.C., all of Alberta, and most of Saskatchewan. It’s really freaking big.
Today we had an unbelievable amount of open roadway with almost no traffic – something that would be the halmark of this entire trip. We rode through the Lewis and Clark National Forest, which itself is a gem, and is just more eye-candy of the Rocky Mountains with lots of trees variety. It was hot, and we were admittedly a bit tired today, so we stopped frequently – and often on completely abandoned roads. After leaving Lewis and Clark, we started to get into the “Big Sky Country” that Montana is famous for. Frankly, so is Alberta, and this reminded me of my decade of living in that province, with skies that truly reach the horizon, as does the ribbon of straight, smooth tarmac ahead of you. If you’ve never truly seen an arrow-straight road disapear over the horizon, it is actually a sight to behold, even on a motorcycle where all you crave is corners.
We stopped for lunch in the town of Great Falls, MT. and ate a burger at neat place called the Burger Bunker. Clearly run by veterans, the food was really good and shockingly inexpensive. I highly recommend going there if you are ever in the area. The downtown was quite shut down as they were preparing for the Downtown Summer Jam on the upcoming weekend. It looked like a neat place to spend a night or two, but we had to keep moving.
As we got near Billings – truly only 20 miles or so away – we had to stop for a bad accident. It was evening now, and we had been hoping to make the campground by about 7:00 pm. It was clear that there was not going to be a quick clearing of this accident, and RRP was low on fuel, so we doubled back, and tried a detour that was recommended by a local. That rapidly turned into pea gravel, which neither of us favoured, so we returned back to our route – and by the time we got back, they were alternating one lane of traffic, so we went through rather quickly.
Billings, it turns out, rolls their sidewalks up early. By the time we got there, every restaurant was closed. We got some food at a good-sized gas station convenience store where we had to make sure one of us was watching the bikes, and then bombed for the KOA, arriving just after dusk. The office was closed, but our reservation was tacked up to the door, so we got it and found a nice, grassy campsite where we set up in the dark, ate, and crashed. The KOA at Billings was great – again with the full toilet/sink/shower private washrooms, which we really appreciated. We didn’t get there in time for any of the other amenities, so we just crashed for the night.
Today was a very long run for the two of us – but amazingly, despite the slow start, the riding was amazing, and while we were tired, we weren’t completely worn out. Today was a lot of fun, and it almost felt like we were the only ones out there. It was amazing riding with beautiful scenery. However, tomorrow we would arrive at Sturgis!