Oshkosh Trip: Day 12

Day 12: Butte, MT to Weiser, ID — 470 miles



[ Click to go interactive ]

I wandered down to the continental breakfast at the motel and had a terrible cup of coffee and some snacks while sharing a table with a cook. I didn’t quite catch the relationship, but, he was working for a rancher that’s found a clever way to increase the revenue of his cattle operation by operating a mobile B-B-Q rig selling the finished product directly to the consumer at fairs and other large events. Smart folk out there doing better’n than just scratch’n a living off of the land…

Leaving Butte — A chilly 48˙F at 7:20.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @63 MPH, ~0.6mi from prev photo, map

We made a quick run up I-90, and then cut off on some back roads heading for MT-43. This smokestack really had me guessing. Check out out the satellite map image. Clearly, it’s had some use over the years.

But, to the west, and slightly south of the stack in the red hills, note the “small” mounds of dirt that form concentric rings and lines. You can actually make out the divots where a dozer dug down to pushed up the mounds. What the heck are those all about?

Or, maybe that’s not a smokestack. Maybe it’s an alien docking tower and the mounds are where they dumped their supplies? Or the bodies after running their experiments? Inquiring minds want to know!

Turns out the stack is the last remains of the Anaconda Smelter. Built in 1919, it’s 585 ft of brick wall; one of the tallest free standing masonry structures in the world.

Bizarre smokestack

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 55mm focal L. @54 MPH, ~26mi from prev photo, map

The smokestack quickly faded away heading down this picturesque tree-lined road.

Mill Creek Road

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~6.0mi from prev photo, map

Gorgeous valley — Love the free-standing fence.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/640sec, 35mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~8.5mi from prev photo, map

But, all that scenery wasn’t doing anything for the temperature. Forty minutes after leaving Butte, chilly gave way to downright cold as the temperature dropped to 42˙F. Yet again, I had put my rain gear on over my mesh riding pants/jacket just to keep the wind out and some of the warmth in. Except for the burn across the Nevada desert, I’d have been better off without the mesh gear for most of the trip thus far. Completely unexpected for a July/August trip across the Midwest.

It’s supposed to be getting WARMER — Down to 42˙F

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @60 MPH, ~6.5mi from prev photo, map

But, I did have the heated grips going, occasionally even (intentionally) bumping them up to the high setting.

Barn by the river

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @71 MPH, ~7.2mi from prev photo, map

MT-43 — don’t get too excited, it was only 2 bends.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @70 MPH, ~3.6mi from prev photo, map

Chilly or not, it was a perfect day with totally still air. The temperature could only go up as the morning ebbed.

Mirror Pond

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 22mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~11mi from prev photo, map

We stopped in the tiny town of Wisdom to warm up and grab some breakfast. The coffee was tasty and hot, warming the inside while the sun beamed its warmth on us through the window, as if it were apologizing for not getting the job down earlier.

More Sturgis traffic — Can’t imagine those tires do anything for the handling…`

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 70mm focal L. ~11mi from prev photo, map

By the time we’d finished reading the paper over breakfast, the morning air had soaked up some heat. The day had shaped up nicely and there were many good roads expected ahead.

Continuing west on MT-43, we’re heading for US-93 in Idaho.

Fun little road

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 38mm focal L. @68 MPH, ~32mi from prev photo, map

Welcome to Idaho, and all that. It’s the state I spent my formative years in, and I still call it “home”. But, in all those years, I’d never been to this part of the state and was excited to be riding the ‘cycle through.

Got it!

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @38 MPH, ~3.0mi from prev photo, map

Leaving Montana we headed down Chief Joseph Pass to get down to the Salmon River. The pass was loads of fun with fast sweepers and some tight switches, all on great pavement.

Good times

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @46 MPH, ~0.8mi from prev photo, map

After zipping through some of the corners, I slowed up in order to let Dad catch up. The Goldwing just doesn’t corner like the F800.

Taking in the scenery

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @49 MPH, ~1.7mi from prev photo, map

The road passed through some fantastic canyon walls following the river. It proved to be tough lighting to capture on the camera with the wall in shadow, but, this gives some idea what it was all about.

Canyon road

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/160sec, 29mm focal L. @66 MPH, ~14mi from prev photo, map

US-93 follows some of the area that Lewis and Clark explored as they passed through on their way west.

Heading up the Salmon River

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/2000sec, 27mm focal L. @65 MPH, ~5.7mi from prev photo, map

River cuts

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000sec, 40mm focal L. @63 MPH, ~2.7mi from prev photo, map

Even with all the Sturgis traffic the last few days, the roads were especially active with weekend bikers taking advantage of the perfect weather.

Weekend riders — possibly heading to Sturgis…

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/2500sec, 34mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~9.5mi from prev photo, map

Welcome to Salmon, ID

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/2000sec, 31mm focal L. @26 MPH, ~4.0mi from prev photo, map

Well, crap — this isn’t good. My rear tire is down to the cords!

Trouble

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/80sec, 50mm focal L. ~0.4mi from prev photo, map

We stopped for gas in Salmon. I’d been keeping a close eye on rear tire since I was getting on past 8K miles on it. By design, the Metzler Z6 has no tread in the center. But, it also lacks even a minimal tread depth measurement “hole” to determining how worn out it really is. I had figured I’d need to change it while visiting with the family and my estimation was it hadn’t worn appreciably in the last thousand miles and I’d be just fine to get to western Idaho where it’d be a simple matter to find a tire in the Boise area.

Salmon is effectively the middle of nowhere. I called the lone moto shop listed and asked if he’d happen to have any motorcycle tires. He answered in the affirmative.

“This is probably a long shot, but do you happen to have a 180 55 17 on the shelf?”

“Is that some sort hot rod street bike tire?” (I always love getting a question back in response to question)

“Umm, well, yes, it’s a road tire”

“Yeah, I’ve only got dirt bike tires here.”

Greeeaaat. Well, now what?

Yeah, it’s squared off — but, I didn’t estimate it was *that* worn out

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/80sec, 50mm focal L. map

There was little choice in what to do about the tire situation — just take it easy and keep going down the road. It was Saturday, the earliest I could have gotten a new tire in would be Monday.

Quarter Earth — halfway between Middle Earth and “End” Earth?

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/1600sec, 34mm focal L. @60 MPH, ~13mi from prev photo, map

Bluffs over the Salmon River

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~3.5mi from prev photo, map

The tire situation weighed heavily on me. Thankfully the scenery gave plenty of reasons to let it slide to the back of my mind.


NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000sec, 46mm focal L. @59 MPH, ~4.1mi from prev photo, map

Contrast — red rocks against gray

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @46 MPH, ~8.2mi from prev photo, map

Following the Salmon River up US-93 was very enjoyable. Traffic in our direction was light, to nonexistent, and we still made fairly good time, even taking it easy around the corners.

Carved Canyon

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~3.8mi from prev photo, map

More Bluffs

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1600sec, 25mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map

The Three Rivers Quarry is the source of some rather unique purple and yellow striped flagstone.

Three Rivers Stone Quarry

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1250sec, 25mm focal L. @60 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map

Chutes and Slides

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1250sec, 24mm focal L. @50 MPH, ~6.5mi from prev photo, map

Columns

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/800sec, 40mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~2.8mi from prev photo, map

The kid in me wants to sit at the top of these hills and throw large stones down the slide to see how much of a chain-reaction can be formed knocking other rocks down the slide. But, I suspect it’s more stable than it looks based on the formation of what appears to be paths making diagonal cuts up the side.

Note the trails — Looks like the mountain goats and deer have formed a few paths.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1250sec, 35mm focal L. @58 MPH, ~3.8mi from prev photo, map

Sawtooth Mountains — Williams Peak ~10500′

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1600sec, 25mm focal L. @49 MPH, ~31mi from prev photo, map

ID-21 — through the Challis National Forest.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @65 MPH, ~20mi from prev photo, map

Along the way, we stopped and checked on the tire at various times. By now, one spot had visible metal exposed. The good news was the metal would wear slower than the rubber and since the rest of the tire was better than that spot, I’d be OK, right? Yeah, suuuuurrre! Logic wasn’t giving me significant confidence…

To add insult to injury we were on one of the best twisty roads of the entire trip, and I was taking the corners like I was riding a dressed out Harley.

Heading up the pass from Lowman — this was heartbreaking.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @45 MPH, ~38mi from prev photo, map

Volcanic layers

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @50 MPH, ~33mi from prev photo, map

By now, we were almost to Boise and I was just feeling like I might actually make it!

Lucky Peak Reservoir — The basalt flow that filled the valley is what forms the bluffs.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @55 MPH, ~7.0mi from prev photo, map

Lucky Peak Dam — Note the 2 colors of rock showing the different quarry sources.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @45 MPH, ~6.9mi from prev photo, map

The volcanic signature is all over this area. Once upon a time it must have been quite the fiery cauldron…

More basalt flows

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/6.3, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @59 MPH, ~1.0mi from prev photo, map

My wife and kids had arrived at my folk’s house the day before and, unfortunately, they carried a nasty, incapacitating stomach bug with them. It started with one of the twins and then moved on to the other twin a day later. By this day, my wife had come down with it.

So, if there was going to be a time to see my new nephew, this potentially could be the only time depending on how long the sickness took to work through.

He’s quite the angel, especially with the newborn sleepies.

Visiting Henry — all of 2 days old.

NIKON D70, ISO 500, ƒ/1.8, 1/100sec, 50mm focal L. ~8.9mi from prev photo

My folk’s place is in Weiser, about 70 miles northwest of Boise. The tire had about 1/10 circumference with the steel belts fully exposed. A wise man would have left the bike at my sister’s house and jumped on with Dad to get home to Weiser. But, there were several reason to just push on: there’s a shop full of all the right tools in Weiser; All the stuff packed on the bike. And, then there’s the possibility of getting sick and then having to deal with getting the tire fixed without infecting my sister’s family….

I just pushed on to Weiser and watched the tire pressure monitor like a hawk. 320 miles later after noticing the first evidence of chords back in Salmon, I had definitely borrowed a few more miles than I should have. Needless to say, I’m not putting a Metzler Z6 on as a replacement; it’s just too ambiguous determining when it’s worn out.

Pushed my luck

NIKON D70, ISO 200, ƒ/9.0, 1/25sec, 34mm focal L.

After 12 days on the road, I finally got to see my family, half of whom were completely ill. My oldest (three year old) daughter, Maia, was so excited see Grandpa Jack. Me? I got an, “ohh, hi dad”. Gee, it’s so nice to see you too, Maia!

My poor wife, Valerie, gave me a look of such mixed happiness and crappiness and “I’d love to kiss you, but I’m not going to infect you”. 12 days with the three kids, including several days of road-tripping to meet me in Idaho, and she gets thanked with a nasty virus. Talk about making a guy feel completely worthless for abandoning his family.

Ohh well, it’ll be easier next year for her since the kids will be older… :)

Continue onto the next day…

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