Linda and I started our excellent adventure on July 5th. The first day we went to Bloomfield Hills, MI to visit some friends and stay the night. From there we went north on I-75 to the Mackinac Bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan. We stayed at Munising at a Holiday Inn Express with a nice lake view room.
Next day we traveled to Duluth, MN, and this part of trip was cold due to winds off Lake Superior, with a temperature range of 56° to 74°. We traveled on Route 2 for most of this day. Our stay at Hampton Inn came highly recommended with a glassed-in lobby right on Lake Superior, and shopping with great restaurants within easy walking distance. It was 56° when we left Duluth and headed west again on Route 2 to Rugby, ND. We stayed at Econ-O-Lodge in Rugby, a 441 mile day. From Rugby we went 40 miles north to the Canadian border. There is a beautiful garden there called the Peace Garden which is half in the USA and half in Canada. We had a nice time there. If you are ever close to this, you should see it.
We made a mistake by not having reservations in ahead of time at a motel as there is a lot of oil drilling currently going on in this area, and all motels were booked for miles. We went about a hundred miles further than we wanted and stayed at a flea bitten dive in Culbertson, MT. I told Linda it was better than a picnic table in a park. Lesson learned was always have the next night covered.
Another hint along this route is "Never pass up a gas station when you are at a half-tank of fuel." These towns are 50 miles apart and not all have gas. We ended up buying fuel at a grain elevator / hardware store / tractor and combine repair, which only had regular gas and you have to double the price as it's an old pump type place. But we were THANKFUL. We got up on Day 6 with no flea bites and headed off for a place that might have a cell-phone signal. Found that and breakfast at Wolf Point, MT. Gave the KLT a drink of high test as it was having some kind of withdrawal symptoms.
We also ordered our next night motel at Havre, Montana. The ride through the plains states was really something to see. Miles of fire brush (locals' term) and two-lane 70 mph straight as an arrow roads. Some times we went 30 minutes without seeing another vehicle in either direction. Cross road sign humor: name of some town with an arrow pointing the way at 52 miles!
From Havre we went to Glacier Park in Montana. Take the "Going to the Sun Highway" if you are ever here. Have your camera ready, for the views you will see are breathtaking to say the least. We stayed that night at McDonald Lake Lodge and we were surrounded by beautiful vistas every way we looked. Eat at the Lodge if you are in this area. Next stop was Kalispell at the Hampton Inn. It was a short trip, and we secured the room early and then took a ride around Flathead Lake, about 120 miles.
We looked at the map and cut the distance from Kalispell to Mount Saint Helens in half. There was Ellensburg, WA, 427 miles and we stayed there for the night. This day we went through deserts and temperature range for the day was 53° to 100°. Cool vests worked well to keep you going and several stops to drink water this day. Linda's cousin lives in Tacoma, WA, and we called him to say we were close by so he invited us for two nights.
While in Washington we got an oil change, saw Mount Saint Helens, and Rainier Park. On Day 12 we traveled to Ocean Shores for a photo op and then to Portland, OR where followed the Columbia River east on I-84 almost to The Dalles, OR. I say almost because there was grass fire that forced us to retreat about 15 miles and cross over to the Washington side to travel to another bridge to The Dalles where our motel was. 423 miles with 30 mile detour. From The Dalles, we went 493 miles to Twin Falls, Idaho where we saw lots of charred grass, we assume from smokers.
Day 14 we traveled from Twin Falls, ID to West Yellowstone, MT. Plenty of nice places to stay here and eat here. From West Yellowstone we traveled through Yellowstone Park to the North East corner of this park, where the road to Beartooth Pass starts. Beartooth Pass is a motorcycle must-do road: 10,974 feet or so elevation, and snow on the ground with great mountain views. There are 20 peaks over 12,000 feet in elevation along the highway. Switchbacks going on in the mountains... what a ride! This road is from Cooke City to Red Lodge.
We stayed that night in Billings MT. Day 16 we were headed for Rapid City, SD and went through some rocky terrain in Wyoming. We rode into Sturgis to see what this town was about. They were getting ready for some kind of motorcycle event coming in a couple of weeks. We got our room in Rapid City and took a side trip to Mt. Rushmore. That was impressive! It was getting dark so we did not go to the Crazy Horse sculpture which is eleven miles away.
Day 17 was Rapid City to Sioux Falls by way of the Badlands National Park. Linda took us on the scenic route where we rode the KLT about 20 miles on loose pea-gravel roads. Save this trip for GS type motorcycle. We made it. Day 18 we traveled from Sioux Falls to Madison, WI. When we got to LaCrosse, we got off the interstate and took Route 14 to Madison. The locals say this is one of the best roads in the state and it was very pretty. A small town every 20 miles or so; this was nice.
Day 19 we went from Madison to near Toledo OH. Instead of traveling through Chicago traffic we took I-39 to I-80. We stayed on I-80 to I-90 just south of Chicago. This traffic never slowed below 50 MPH which is a lot better than I-94/294 traffic jams. 450 miles this day. Day 20 was Toledo to home, 409 miles. Linda loved this trip! We traveled a total of 7,067 miles and never got rained on.
—Vaughn and Linda Pembroke