In early July, 2013 my oldest son and I set off on an adventure that I will not soon forget. We had decided to travel historic Route 66 to celebrate the pregnancy of his girlfriend.
We left Auburn, Washington headed to Stockton, Kansas to meet up with two of my brother in laws. From there we would head through Oklahoma and into Texas to travel historic Route 66 back to California.
On the morning of our departure, the bikes were loaded, our bellies were full, and we were off!
We’re outta here!
I had done a few long rides with my oldest, but at 4500 miles, this was certainly going to be the longest we had ever ridden together. I had it easy, I was riding my 2007 Road King with a fairing on it. I had music, a phone charger, and a comfy, couch like seat to sit on. He on the other hand was riding a 2005 Sportster 883 with no frills. 14″ ape hangers and a seat made out of concrete, but he was young and didn’t seem to mind…yet.
Heading out, we caught highway 18 and put a lot road between us and Auburn as fast as we could. Soon the 18 hits interstate 90 and east we go. Through North Bend and up Snoqualmie pass, leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind us.
As we began to come back down the eastern side of Snoqualmie Pass, we could see the wide open road ahead of us and Keechelus Lake off to the right..Ahh,what a beautiful site.
Once we got to the bottom of Snoqualmie Pass and were nearing Ellensburg, the temperatures began to rise. Eastern Washington was giving us a small preview of what was yet to come…
By the time we were crossing over the Columbia River and nearing the border of Idaho, it was down right hot! Thankfully the temp drops when you are riding across such a large body of water as that made it a lot more comfortable. Another quick 145 miles and we were in Spokane.
Whoo Hoo, Idaho!
While admittedly there is not much to see in Spokane, we were happy to get there. You see, getting to Spokane meant we were right on the border of Idaho, and getting into Idaho meant we could loose the helmets if we wanted to!! I grew up riding in California long before helmets were required, so i knew the feeling of the wind blowing through my ever thinning hair, but my son did not. He had grown up in Washington and had only been on rides up and down the west coast, therefore he had always been required to wear his helmet.
While it was a nerve racking to me as his father to see him riding without the helmet, the smile on his face made it worth the stress.
Shortly after crossing into Idaho, we blinked and we were in Montana…Right on the border of Montana is Haugan. We stopped at the Silver Dollar Bar to stretch out and look around. There are more than 65,000 silver dollars displayed in the bar that patrons have paid to have placed there. They even keep a record of where your dollar is just in case you want to find it and don’t remember. They also have old slot machines and a gigantic gift shop full of a bunch of crap you don’t really need…yet you feel compelled to buy.
To be totally honest, the food is mediocre at best and the service is not the friendliest. So if you are the type that needs someone to be overly friendly (and incredibly fake) that will cater to your every need, it would be a bad idea to stop here. But, if you like a witty, not afraid to speak their mind kind of person, you should stop by and check this place out.
Better call it a day…
As we continued to head Southeast towards Wyoming, the sun began to go down on us. We decided to call it a day and find a campground. We came across the Deer Lodge KOA and figured this was as good a place as any to crash out for the night.
We paid for our spot, tossed the sleeping bags on the ground, found some fire wood, and built a fire to sit by while we discussed all of the things we had seen throughout the day as well as the general beauty that we were blessed enough to ride through.
It was a great day to blow out the cobwebs and just enjoy the ride. After a couple of hours of chatting, my son crawled into his sleeping bag, told me he wanted to head out early, and quickly went to sleep. I extinguished the fire and followed suit.
At about 7:00 the next morning, after I had built a fire and showered, i sat waiting for him to wake up for this “early start”. While I rolled up my bag and got my bike repacked, still he slept like a baby. So I did what any loving and caring father would do…I quietly unzipped his sleeping bag and then quickly pulled it off of him. A better dad would not have done such a thing since it was about 40º outside…but i’m not that dad.
He did however wake up quickly after that and was ready to go in record time!
My one regret about Montana
We hit the road and headed for Wyoming. We crossed over the boarder within just a couple of hours and were well on the way to Yellowstone, which i will save for my next post.
Looking back, I wish we had taken the time to stop at the Old Prison in Deer Lodge. I have been there a couple of times but my oldest boy never made it there.
This was the first Territorial Prison in the western United States and was built by convict labor in the late 1800’s. They buried the walls 4 feet deep to prevent anyone from tunneling out and built them 24 feet high to prevent anyone from climbing over.
You can walk through the entire prison, enter the cells, and walk the guard tunnels. They had crazy things that would never fly nowadays like the 20 pound concrete shoes that some inmates had to wear. Do yourself a favor and stop at the Old Prison if you’re passing through Deer Lodge, you won’t regret it.
With all of the history and cool things to see along the way, this really is a “must do” if you like American history.
Until next time, keep the shiny side up!