Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day two Shelby to West Yellowstone

Our first goal was to make sure Dave B was in our midst- yes, his nose came a little after eight and we headed off down Hwy 15 towards Great Falls. The temperature is almost 20c already and not a cloud was to be found in the Big Sky. Now, you would think a big city like Great Falls would be a bit more accommodating to Goldwingers who need to empty bladders full of coffee . . . but no, nothing was open. Yes, we were aware that it was Sunday morning before ten, but all the same, . . . we had to backtrack to a ‘Loaf ‘n Jug’ that had only one washroom . . . er make that one commode for both sexes with the wash basin in the hall outside. (actually made for quicker-through-the-line-up!)

Back to the interstate- (did that take us nearly an hour???) and through the Cascade Mountains and some awesome scenery. The dry hills turned into unusual rock formations dotted with evergreens and a beautiful river twisting and winding through the valley. Summer cottages were built along the river and even this early in the day, we could see boaters on the river. Terry likened the boats to the doreys of Newfoundland. This, along with the twisty roads, gave us our greatest ride so far. The enjoyment continued right through the mountains until we descended into Helena for lunch.

Perkins was a great choice – the food was excellent and the service fairly good considering we appeared just before noon on a Sunday!

Big Ted boasted about the wonderful Exxon service station next door that had a ladies washroom that is the envy of them all – complete with paintings and fresh flowers. Well, we must’ve been in the Bible Belt, because the Exxon was closed and the bathroom consisted of a porta-potty in the gravel. Not that we doubt your word, Ted, but it seems a bit "iffy" to us ladies . . . .

Did I mention that the temperature was now anywhere from 27 to 30C ? (and we kept our cooling vests in the cubbies . . .) As we left Helena, we passed through rolling hills with irrigated hayfields. Miles and miles of them. Suddenly we came upon 9 miles of road construction. Summer would never be complete without it! Usually Goldwings don’t DO gravel, but we voted to go on. The only really scary part was the loose chip gravel, and thankfully that wasn’t for the full nine miles. About midway, we passed St John the Evangelist Catholic Church and Terry was urging us all to say a prayer to get through this construction in one piece! Not one of the 11 bikes had any mishaps, and relieved we were to see the yellow lines on the concrete!
The temperature continued to climb as we sweated and puffed into Ennis for a potty break and many topped up their fuel. Okay, now the cooling vests are coming out for sure! Ennis is a really sweet little town that has capitalized on the Old West theme. Stores downtown all look like they were right out of the Wild Wild West. Very cute! West Yellowstone was approximately 75 miles from Ennis, and we were heading back into the mountains. Thunderheads were spewing rain right over the mountains to our left and further to the right, more were doing the same. It looked like we might just avoid the raindrops, certainly once Ross announced we would be rain-free. Whoohoo! Someone piped up that the temperature had now dropped ten degrees C and they were glad THEY didn’t have cooling vests on! Well, speaking as one who had one on, it was just a decent degree for me, and when the rain drops fell, they didn’t amount to much – just enough to get Ross’s goat and the windshields grimy. I didn’t get cold, at all! So there.
It was a little overcast when we drove into West Yellowstone, which is a sightseers’ delight. Shops and restaurants everywhere! The ladies, I believe, hit the showers and the gentlemen the car wash! Reservations for supper were made for Bullwinkles, and glad we were of it! Every place has a line-up and 22 of us walked right in and sat down! Thanks Nick & Debbie! The food was good but the company is always better!