Great Alaska Adventure: A connection to Lewis and Clark
I’m sitting tonight in Bozeman, MT, 330 miles closer to Orange Park than I was this morning and more than 10,000 miles into the Great Alaska Adventure. Marilyn and I toasted the 10,000 mile mark with a couple margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant before once again eating way too much.
Today’s ride took us through Montana ranching country, but included a nice stretch along a very small Missouri River as we, in a general way, retraced Lewis and Clark’s explorations in the first decade of the 19th century. A detour that specifically warned motorcyclists to seek another route added about 40 miles to our trip today only two hours after we started. While I doubt that Montana road construction could have been any worse than many psuedo-roads we encountered in Canada and Alaska, I decided not to take a chance and headed across the flat Montana Plains were we spent more than half the traveling day.
Part of the time we were on Interstate 15, beginning at Great Falls, we travelled south along a north flowing Missouri River, including one very nice stretch through a canyon carved by the river that gave the road more character than most Interstate slabs have. Then, at Helena, we left I-15 and rode southeast on US 287, also paralleling the river for nearly 50 miles to its origin at Three Forks, just south of Interstate-90 where three different rivers converge to form the Missouri. Mapping the river and attempting to locate its source were all part of Lewis and Clark’s expedition from 1804-1806 as they sought in vain for a water route that would connect the Pacific to the Mississippi River. Having grown up in Kansas and having seen a very wide and powerful Missouri River in Missouri, seeing the narrow end of it as a blue ribbon on the Montana plains was interesting. Today’s temperature reached into the 90s and the rafters we saw floating the river had a much cooler ride than those of us on the asphalt. I was remiss in not taking any pictures along the route, though I thought about it as we whizzed by several convenient pull-outs.
I wish I had done a little more research on this section of the trip. It was added as a change when the Washington-Oregon-California section was taken out. Had I realized how close I would be to an important historical experience, I would have made it a point to spend some time at some of the historical sites operated by the Montana parks system.
I was a little surprised to see Bozeman surrounded by mountains, though they are not nearly the size we saw yesterday and in previous day’s rides. Still, there are a couple large enough to still have a smattering of snow in the crevices at the peaks. Most of the mountains near here are of the size seen in the attached picture.
Marilyn is still hanging in there, sore ribs and all. Three years after learning how to ride a motorcycle for the first time, she takes on a cross-continent adventure in all kinds of weather and on all kinds of roads. Pretty tough lady.
Tomorrow had called for a trip though Yellowstone, but both of us have been there and I decided it was time to change the oil in the bikes, so I’ll spend the morning at Beartooth Harley-Davidson in Billings before heading to Cody, WY, for the night.