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The 2015 Searles Bucket List Tour - Montana / Idaho

Started by DesignFlaw06, Aug 26, 2022, 08:43 AM

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For our family, 2015 has been a rough year.  It put a lot of things in perspective and made a lot of us realize how little time we actually have.  This is a trip we've talked about for years and we were done waiting.  If not now, when?  So the planning began around Christmas time and it evolved into an epic motorcycle journey that will never be forgotten.  This is a long report, but there is so much to tell!

We were able to leave Friday morning on Sept 11th.  My brother's work schedule was the dictated when we could leave.  Fortunately for us, he quit his job.  So at 5 AM, we were off.  This allowed us 2 days to get out there instead of a marathon drive all night long.  

Our halfway point was Murdo, SD where we had been once before back in 2011 (The Plan B trip).  We made a friend back then on that bike trip and thought it would be nice to see her again on our way.  It was a short visit, but well worth it.  We didn't hit it near as hard as we had the last time we saw each other.  Had to get up early and drive the next morning.

But we did leave our mark, right next to the one 4 years ago.

Our next stop was Missoula, MT where we met up with Keith and Tyler literally minutes after we arrived.  They rode over from Seattle.  Don't think we could have planned it better.  We stayed at the Stone Creek lodge, one of the best rooms for the money I've stayed at.  The journey began Sunday morning.  

My 2006 FJR1300

Nick's (college roommate) 2008 Triumph Sprint ST

Brad's (brother) 2002 Honda Nighthawk 750

Tyler's (cousin) new to him 2003 Honda VTX 1800

Keith's (uncle) 19?? Honda Goldwing

Barry's (dad) 1999 Honda Goldwing SE

The last big trip all of us did was in the Southwest.  My Uncle Steve has a knack for planning motorcycle trips and he did an awesome job.  He was not able to attend this year so I took the reigns, wondering if I could live up to the last trip.  It didn't take long to realize that the scenery was going to be amazing.

 Our first destination was St. Mary, MT.  It took us about 280 miles to get there and the scenery was spectacular.  The road quality was perfect and the route kept getting better and better as we went.  Along the way, we stopped at Glacier National Park lodge.  Built almost entirely out of solid timber, it was an impressive building.

Played around with some action shots.

We arrived in St. Mary around dinner time, but it was Sunday and not much was open.  We stopped at the first place that was open, but found out that even a burger was $18.  Not happening.  We found a pizza place down the road, which had good food, but horrible service.  Oh well, we were fed.  We stayed at the Red Eagle lodge, which was the opposite of the the Stone Creek lodge.  The rooms were at best adequate, but nothing more.  

Some shots before we turned in for the night

One of my favorites.  Looks good for a cell phone picture.

Johnson's cafe is where we had breakfast in the morning.  This was one of our best food stops on the entire trip.  Portions were huge. The waitress made it even better with quick wit and great service.  The complete opposite of our experience the night before.  

Monday was it.  The original objective of this trip, the Going To The Sun Road.  We headed into Glacier National Park and bought out passes.  Barry's Goldwing in the lead, he suddenly pulled off in a less than ideal spot.  Coasting to a stop.  There was no response on the CB as to what the hell he was doing because his bike had died.  Some electrical issue, where the dash started flashing and just wouldn't stay running.  Tried a couple of things real quick and realized it was a more serious problem.  To get out of danger, we took turns pushing the Goldwing back about a ½ mile where we had just passed a turnout.  With all of us wheezing, we took a closer look and don't find anything.  Out of curiosity, Barry turned the bike on again and it fired right up!  We decided that there was certainly not any help in St. Mary and that Going To The Sun Road would be our best option.  Fortunately, the issue did not creep up again.

The view from Logan Pass and the visitors center.  

Going To The Sun Road did not disappoint.  But weather was about to turn real fast and get stormy the next few days.  I'm glad we did it when we did.  Traffic was also much lighter, being late in the season and on a weekday.  

Ate lunch at the Bulldog Saloon and attempted to go on a scenic gondola ride, but found that was only open on the weekends.  No big deal, we were in for plenty of scenery.

One last stop was Kerr Dam.

Headed back to the Stone Creek Lodge for the night.


Wednesday morning, Barry made an appointment at the Honda dealer in Missoula.  He figured it was worth a couple hours of them looking over his bike to see if they could find anything.  Of course, they didn't.  But they also removed a bunch of extra ground effect and LEDs that he added a few years ago.  None of it worked anymore, he barely used it, and it was installed rather poorly.  SInce the dealer had it apart, it was a good time to remove it all and get rid of a potential problem.  Electrical system seemed to check out, lights were removed, and we took off with a small boost in confidence down Lolo pass.

Aww yeah!

What a fantastic route Highway 12 is!  Another near perfect road with great scenery.  We had a blast going down this road and everything was about the right speed.  This was also a big milestone for Barry.  He has now set foot in all 50 states.  

Saw a couple of LEO's, but nothing we had to worry about.  Apparently the weather the last couple of days was as warm as we were going to see.  The original forecast was predicting temperatures in the 80's as we went south.  They were off by about 25 degrees.  Rain gear was worn just for the warmth factor, heated grips on, and windshields up.

We ended the day going on the "Spiral Highway".  This was probably our most technically challenging road, but it was sure fun.  Saw maybe 1 or 2 cars during the stretch of road and they pulled off immediately when they saw us coming.  

It was a ton of fun.  So much so, that when we left Lewiston the next morning, we went and did it again!

Wednesday was our "transition day".  There were some good sections of road down 95 and 55, but we made time where it was long and straight.  But the scenery made up for anything the road didn't.  A lot of high speed sweepers, which were favored by the bigger bikes.  At one point, there was a wolf jogging down the middle of the road.  We stopped for lunch in McCall, ID and that's when the rain started.  It poured for the entire time we ate, so we hung out for a little bit.  Sat around and old wood stove, warmed up, and waited for the water to dry up.  They had a stuffed version of the wolf we had just seen.

Got back to it, but the temperature had not improved.  Made a couple of quick stops, but the mindset was get back to the hotel before the rain picked up again.  

We managed to check in, get the bikes put away, and it started raining again.  But better then instead of while we were riding.  Walked down to a restaurant near by, picked up some beer, and tried teaching Tyler the game of Euchre.

Thursday morning, we woke up to a good amount of rain.  Judging by the radar, this cloud was going to follow our path.  We were going to continually catch it the rest of the day, it did not look like fun.  Plan B time.  The next couple days, there was no rain predicted.  If we're going to be stranded somewhere, Boise is the best possibility.  My brother also had some things to take care of for his new job.  Obviously we were going to give him whatever time he needed to get that sorted out anyway.  It really was a good call all around.  So the bikes stayed put away, and we explored what Boise has to offer.  We found a trolley tour of the city that left around 11 AM.  The trolley took us around for about an hour and a half, explaining a lot of Boise's history, architecture, and highlights of the town.  

The start and end point of the tour was Joe's Crab Shack.  We were all a bit chilled after the ride and went to Joe's to use the bathroom.  We were greeted by a sign that said "½ price cocktails on Thursdays!".  Heh, game on!  We were the only people in there and our bartender, Adam, made drinks that were well worth our while.  Very heavy pours.  After a couple of rounds, we spy a drink called a "Shark Bite" which is served in a glass the size of a fish bowl.  I don't remember what was win it, but tasted like blue Kool-Aid.  

By 3 PM, we are lit.  Next thing we decide to do is go to Boise State University and visit the "Smurf Turf".  Ubered a ride over to the field where we walked in.  Asked the lady behind the counter if they had tours.  She replied no, but there was a viewing area just outside that we could go look.  We were the only ones there.  There was a small gate preventing us from going on to the field.  There was a lady working nearby, setting up cameras for CBS for the next game.  I asked her about going on to the field. She said she didn't work for the university, but was pretty sure we weren't allowed out there.  Brad looked at her and said "Are you the person that is going to let us on the field, or are you the person who is going to try and stop us?";


We made it out to the 50 yard line, but no further.  The lady that was behind the front desk saw what we had done and came out to yell at us.  We promptly left that area, but stopped in the bookstore for some BSU souvenirs.

Since the current buzz was wearing off at this point, we found another bar that was doing a trivia contest. was hosting it.  A fairly educated group of individuals, I'm proud to say we did not come in last place.  Then we got more beer, went back to the hotel, played more Euchre and eventually went to bed.

Friday morning, back to riding.  Keith and Tyler decide to make a straight shot back to home.  To do the remaining amount of the trip plus the drive home would have been 700 miles and they had to be back home that night or bright and early the next morning.  From Boise, it was only 500 miles and all slab.  It was their best option.  It was good to see them and I'm glad they could make it on this trip.

And then there were 4.  

Our next destination was Salmon, ID.  It was about 250 miles.  We headed up 21 from Boise, which was awesome.  Temperature dipped into the 30's on the way though.

Passed a milestone on the way.

With the cold temperatures, the sun felt good where it was out.

There was a hot spring we stopped at, which felt really nice.

More roads along a river, almost saturated with scenery.  You'd think we'd be sick of it by now, but not even close.  Took the suggestions of going to Stanley Lake and Red Fish Lake.  Absolute musts that many people missed.  

A group of original Shelby Cobra's had a meetup at Red Fish lodge.  We just started to catch them before we turned to Stanley Lake, but turns out Red Fish Lake was there destination.  We talked to a few of those guys while we enjoyed lunch.  

Onwards toward Salmon, we got about 60 miles out.  Here's the question, do we stay or do we go?  In 200 miles, we could be back to the trailer, loaded up, and out.  The price for our extra day in Boise is that we had to drive all night on the way home.  If we pushed it now, we could be home Sunday morning instead of late Sunday night.  It was Brad's call.  He had to be in Detroit for training on his new job for Monday morning.  He's also on the Nighthawk, meaning he's the least comfortable.  I offered up my FJR so he could have a bit of a break, and we pushed the rest of the way at a spirited pace.  

And then the accident happened.

OK, this was the most damage that occurred.  We were trying some different points for mounting the GoPro with the suction cup.  It was put on and not secured very well.  I wasn't smart enough to double check it.  Give GoPro some credit.  The case was damaged, but the camera is perfectly fine falling around 90 MPH.

Made it back to the trailer, got loaded up, and hit the road around 10:30 PM.  Just shy of 1500 miles.

One of the views on the drive home.  

Around 10:30 AM on Sunday, we made it back to my house.  This trip was nothing short of epic.  I can't wait to do another one!