Epic Ride, Day 5:
Riding to Spearfish for the NT-Owners National Rally (held in the same place at the same time as the ST-Owners National Rally) was the beginning of the ER. But it was the 3rd year we’ve had an NT-Owners Rally and the 2nd year we’ve done it conjunction with our brothers and sisters of the ST persuasion. It’ not routine, but it has that feeling… you know it …Been There; Done That.
Today we broke new ground. Part of that started when I woke up at 5:05 and started packing. I’ve still got a ways to go, but everything was packed in an hour, and the bike was loaded in about 1:45. A new record!
But I got slowed down a bit when I realized that I didn’t have and hadn’t packed my cell phone. Maybe, we thought, it was at the Holiday Inn’s restaurant where five of us had eaten last night. We tried calling them on Joe’s phone, but couldn’t find a person who could help. So I rode east to the Holiday Inn and still didn’t find the phone.
From there, I went to McDonald’s where we had breakfast four mornings in a row to join Rick Ryan (the Dessert Frog), Jim Moore from Nebraska, and Joe, my riding partner. Then Richard from OKC came in. After eating, we headed in different directions, Richard and Jim riding south together toward Hill City and Chadron; Rick, Jim and I heading west on I-90 to Gillette. We got gas, talked a while with each other and with some great brothers who were on some kind of road trip together and then Rick headed south on WY-50 towards Casper and, eventually, Henderson, NV. Jim and I rode US-14 through Spotted Horse, Clearmont, and Ucross to Sheridan. Like SW SD, NE WY was incredibly green. I even saw water in the Powder River. We took a short break in Ranchester and then rode over the Big Horns to Burgess Junction and then south to Shell Canyon. Along the way we saw three moose, two large bulls in velvet, and either a younger bull or a cow, also in velvet.
Shell Canyon is a spectacular ride I’ve been wanting to do since my dad told me 20+ years ago that it was one of the prettiest drives he’d ever done. He was right! It would be worth going back and spending a day in the canyon, looking at the geological treasures revealed in the upthrust formations, and their faulting and fracturing and eroding, just trying to wrap your head around the immensity of the forces involved and the length of time it all took.
The canyon spit us out in Greybull, where we stopped for a few minutes on the way out of town to look at the remnants of Hawkins and Powers fire-bombing fleet. H&P had been the largest fire-bombing contractor in the west until the wings came off a couple of his PBY5’s one year and then off some of his C-130s the next. The NTSB grounded all the fire-bombers until they could establish an effective inspection program. Mr. Powers was getting old and decided he didn’t want the hassle, and closed the doors on his business. About five of the old-timers were sitting behind the airport fence at a Rest Area just west of Greybull.
This is one of those PBY5 Privateers:
We got to Lovell at about 6:30, checked into the Horseshoe Motel (we give it 6 stars, BTW). Joanne, the co-owner with her husband told us that there wasn’t a Laundromat here in town but offered to was our clothes for us. She even folded them! Wow!
Tomorrow, we’re up and at ’em again as we head for Montana, Red Lodge and Beartooth Pass. We’ll come back into Wyoming on the Chief Joseph Highway, get through Cody and the Park (that’s Yellowstone National Park, if you didn’t know). and hopefully somewhere near Salmon, ID. before we camp tomorrow night.
Statistics: 2013 mileage: 7,153; Trip Mileage on the ER: 1206 miles.