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50,000 SILVER DOLLARS – Bozeman, Montana to Spokane, Washington

September 22, 2011

400 Miles, About 7 Hours.


I left Bozeman under cloudy skies and a slight drizzle.   June in Montana is rainy season.  Rain, wind, and snow capped mountains.  Not exactly cheerful motorcycle weather by any means.  I seem to be doomed to travel either a month behind or a month ahead of good weather.  I wanted to start this trip in May.  However, after listening to friends blabble about how I was always riding through tornados, snow, and shitty weather, I decided to wait a month and have really fine June weather to start my trip.  It was not to be.

THE FIRST DAY of my trip I had to endure 100 plus degree temps for endless hours.  It got so hot that I had to ride in a t-shirt and I still felt like I was a lobster under a broiler.   When I ride I wear full gear virtually all the time.  So for me to take off my jacket and  gloves gives an indication the temperature/pain and suffering level.  Of course, I forgot about sunscreen and managed a lovely “George Hamilton” tan on my arms and neck (sunburn).  Perfect riding weather?  Forget about it.  I think just RIDING is the important part, the weather just happens.  That being said, I absolutely hate trying to setup of break camp in a down pour.

Thankfully by the time I rode past Missoula, Montana the rain had stopped and there were moments of sun and high clouds.  I had been struggling with the chain on the bike since Moab, UT (yes this Trip Report is out of order).  While the sprockets were not showing significant signs of wear, the chain had developed a tight spot that made proper adjustment virtually impossible.  When 90% of the chain was in perfect adjustment the tight spot was piano wire tight.  When the tight spot was adjusted to spec, the rest of the chain was horribly loose.  I did my best to find a middle ground after hearing horror stories of snapped chains, leaking output shafts, etc.  I lubed the crap out of the chain constantly in hopes that the tight spot would magically go away, but that was wishful thinking.  I knew at some point in the future I would have to have the chain replaced.

As much as possible on these trips, I try to take precautions with regard to tires, chains, and anything else that might be an issue thousands of miles away from home.  There is however, a fine line between throwing away something that has  many, many more potential miles left and keeping a marginal part on the bike to save costs.   Case in point – the chain and sprockets.  Both looked fine – no bent or missing teeth, no visible signs of wear.   The chain was adjusting properly and I saw no reason to replace anything ahead of the ride.  BOTH would ultimately have to be replaced later in the trip and the overnight charges were almost a hundred frigging dollars!.  More about that later.

Past Missoula, Montana, there is a lot of national forest and very pretty scenery.  If you like high, lonesome places.  This is a ride for you. 

Just outside Bozeman is the little town of Belgrade, Montana.  Another Mint Bar. 


High lonesome roads, just the way I like it.




When is the last time you saw ANYONE in curlers?  You have to hand her style points and balls……….and, she was fueling the truck and smoking a cigarette at the same time.  If you are asking if she had a voice like a malfunctioning chain saw, the answer is – YES.  It was everything you would expect.


Great sign. 


Many, many miles gone and many more to go.  This picture got me thinking about tires.  I went from a pair of Bridgestone Battle Wing’s (no complaints) to Continental Trail Attack’s (awful, read my Gear Review section) to my favorite brand of motorcycle tire – Michelin and their Adventure Bike tire, the Anakee II.   I had a very good experience with the Anakee’s.  Ultimately, I got something like 11,500 from the set.  I could have gotten longer except for some very weird wear on the front tire. The front developed “round spots” that stuck out of the tread blocks.  The consensus on the internet was that they were falling apart and to toss them immediately.  I spoke to a Michelin rep at the BMW National Rally and he said “I’ve heard of that before and it is cosmetic only, don’t worry”   I wish I would have gotten that statement on tape for my next of kin’s lawsuit.  Anyway,  in the picture below, they are holding up well.



At least someone has a sense of humor.  This sign is too funny.


Great bars.





Somewhere past Missoula, I began to see signs for Lincolns $50,000 Bar/Truck stop/RV Park/Motel/Store, etc.  There are at least $50,000 in signs leading up to the town of Haugan, where the $50k is located. DSC06802


The best part of the $50k is the bar.  It seems the only spot in the entire place that has any character is the bar.    Wagon wheel lights, a massive bar with an old and worn wood floor.  Just great.  You will however, need to drink heavily to make the rest of the $50k bearable.  DSC06803



The rest of the place is your typical bought completely in China, junk shop.  It’s a horrible place that we Americans seem to love.  Can you imagine ragged factory workers in China, half starved, clothing in tatters, surrounded by industrial waste and ruin, packing this junk into boxes bound for America?  “Ahhhhhhhhhhh yes, Chin HO, in Amerika everyone has a wine bottle holder in every room and tiny Montana license plates named after every child in the family and a wall mounted Talking Jack lope, these Amerikans are very corrupt and rich indeed”


Row after row, aisle after aisle of candles, silver jewelry, Indian war bonnets, Dogs playing cards posters, totem poles, plastic Elk horns, butterfly knives, lighters, switchblade combs, snow globes, dream catchers, rubber tomahawk’s, “Indian: moccasins, etched glass plates, candles, painted slices of wood, Ester Williams on a stick, Jimmy Hoffa replica body in a trunk,  phone cards, gummy bears, dollar store candy for $5.00 a box…… you get the idea. 


I rode away broken and ragged, the $50k was almost more than I could handle.  I crossed into Idaho still reeling from the horrible shock of the $50K.  It was the sort of place that made you want to hack the command center for a Predator and re-direct every available armed resource to immediately make key “improvements” on the place until it’s a smoking hole in the ground. 

Coming into Coeur d’Alene my mood improved vastly.  It’s a beautiful area.  For whatever reason I can’t seem to find any pictures of the scenery on that part of the ride. 

I arrived in Spokane and rode over to my motel for the night – the Ramada “Limited”.  What is a “Limited” hotel you ask?  One that has “limited” services, “limited” breakfast, “limited staff” and “limited towels and sheets”.  Looks like a Ramada that was going broke and managed to stay in business by dropping their rates.  Looking back now at my Priceline account, I paid a “limited” price too – $35.00 a night!  Can’t complain about that price.  The room was gigantic and surprisingly clean.  The Limited boasted an all suite facility – albeit a bit tired.  The parking lot had huge loads of gravel dumped into mounds, weeds growing up through cracks, the grass appeared to have been cut during the Clinton administration, and the surrounding area was a bit sketchy to say the least.  But,  I had two days to kill, and was happy to stay in one place and catch up on e-mail, writing, and do some laundry. 

Later that night I rode over to the local Wal-Mart Supercenter for some supplies.  I wanted to ride around and see the down but was persuaded not to by the road conditions.  It seemed that virtually all of downtown Spokane was being repaved.  This meant riding miles and miles on recently ground down asphalt and concrete.  Ground pavement is possibly the worst surface on the planet to ride over.  While the traction the tires have maybe fine, having the machine walking all over the place under you is unnerving to say the least.  And the mangled and ground concrete adds a sinister “if I fall I’ll be so horribly mangled, it would be better to die immediately” vibe to riding.

NEXT – on to Seattle

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Addis9on MIller permalink
    September 23, 2011 5:15 pm

    Evrytime I read your reviews I want to jump on my bike and take a road trip. Your stories are what keep me going between my trips, thank… be safe out there.


  1. Bozeman, Montana to Spokane, Washington. Rolling from East to West - - The Ultimate Ducati Forum

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