Northern States Tour – Day 2

Day 2 map

Day’s distance: 349 miles
Total trip distance so far: 697 miles

The temperature this morning was a brisk 49 degrees. The afternoon saw a high of 88. Mostly clear skies gave way to a late afternoon thunderstorm.

I was packed and left Kettle Falls campground by 6:30am – it was going to be a long day. Stopping in Colville for a triple tall latte and bagel, I used the wi-fi to upload the Day 1 blog entry and take care of a little bit of work. It was 8:15am when I left the coffee shop.

Today presented a variety of road condition challenges. First up, a 10-mile section of Hwy 20 outside of Colville was “freshly oiled.” I guess asphalt roads are maintained this way, but it made me very nervous and I proceeded with an abundance of caution. Except for that oiled section, the stretch of Hwy 20 between Colville and Tiger was a great motorcycle road.

Turning south at Tiger, Hwy 20 followed the Pend Oreille River.

Pend Oreille River

I continued east into Idaho along Hwy 2

Hwy 2 at the border

I stopped for a lunch break in Sandpoint and proceeded north afterwards. After heading east from Bonners Ferry, I took route 508 towards Yaak. It was beautiful and the speed limit was 70mph. You can count of Montana to allow drivers and riders to go faster than other states, given the same road conditions. 🙂  The road followed the Yaak River. In that way, it reminded me of how Hwy 12 in Idaho follows the Lochsa River.

Route 508 south of Yaak

Yaak has a merchantile, a saloon, a school house and a community center. I probably missed something, but we’re talking small town.

Yaak, Montana

While south of Yaak the road is wide and fast …

Route 508 south of Yaak

the road north out of Yaak is narrower and had more twists and turns.

Yaak River Road

Another challenge that I faced today was when the Yaak River Road became a gravel road. Ugh, I slowed as I did for the oiled road. The gravel lasted about 7 miles before the pavement re-appeared. I was stoked to get off the gravel but this stretch of road wasn’t too well maintained. Granted, it is not used much and I chose to find out what it was like, so I have no rights to complain.

NF-750 northeast of Yaak

While descending off the peak of NF-750, I saw three deer alongside of the road. It was still pretty early in the after, but I kept my eyes open.Deer have to be one of the dumbest animals. Two of the three deer I saw ran across the road when they panicked rather than staying of the same side and running away. This was challenge number three.

Reaching NF-228, I could see lake Koocanusa and the Koocanusa Bridge.

Lake Koocanusa

Eureka, Montana is just thirteen miles north from the other side of the lake from where I took the photo above. And I was thinking about staying in Eureka. So, like any motorcycle adventurer, I circled the lake instead of taking the bridge across. I rode down the west side along NF-228 and came back north along Hwy 37 on the east side of the lake, only to see the bridge again a few hours later.

The day’s penultimate challenge was the tar snakes on NF-228, the road along the western side of the lake. Tar snakes are those strips of tar used to patch cracks in the road surface. When it gets warms, they are especially hazardous to motorcycles. There seemed like a lot of these patches on the western side of the lake.

The final challenge was the thunderstorm that arrived while I was still on the western side of Lake Koocanusa. While I only caught the edge, it made the road, and especially those tar snakes, even slicker.

I stopped at the Rocky Gorge Recreation area. There were no showers, though the hosts said folks walk to the marina and jump in the lake. I was tempted, but there was potential for more rain and I decided to stay in a motel tonight. I grabbed a room at the Silverado Motel, just north of the town of Eureka.

All in all a day full of adventure. I lost an hour from the time zone change and it was 7:45pm when I checked in. I ate across the street at the Crossroads Grill. I forgot my own rule of sticking to the basics when eating at places that don’t give you an immediate sense of skill in the kitchen. The enchiladas were pretty much inedible, but the two bottles of Going-to-the-sun beer were good!

I am looking forward to seeing Glacier National Park tomorrow. The weather should be clear and warm and the I’m only planning to travel just over 200 miles, a relatively short day.

2 thoughts

  1. Hey KIddo, if you pass by here (Spokane) again, please drop in to say hello or take a break here. I have two extra bedrooms. Reading about your adventures and observations reminds me how beautiful this part of the country actually is. It has been a while. Hope to see you next time and return your hospitality!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.