GREETINGS from Libby, Montana. Firemens Park is a woodsy refuge aside U.S. 2 mere blocks from downtown Libby. We first found it a number of years ago and have been back to Libby several times since. The camping has the basics only - flush toilets and running water. But 300 feet or less from most any campsite, hidden from view by the tall evergreens is a large Rosaurs Supermarket, next door to a big Ace Hardware store. The supermarket has a nice deli, tables and chairs, outlets in the wall for charging devices, and free WiFi. What more do vagabond motorcyclists need?
We arrived at Libby by way of several stops, having left Ankeny, Iowa some several days ago. We spent a night in Lexington, Minnesota visiting Voni's sister Karen and husband Mike and then a second night in the area at Wyoming, Minnesota visiting Voni's sister Sylvia and husband Bruce. Their daughter Britt dropped by for dinner. This is, we think a record, having visited all four of Voni's sisters (Arkansas, St. Louis, and Minnesota) in the span of less than four weeks.
When we left the Minnesota Twin Cities area we headed directly west across rural Minnesota towards Brown's Valley to a nice riverside campground Paul distinctly remembered from three years ago. Ha! No such river. No such campground. Wrong town. But Brown's Valley has a delightful City Park with campground for the sum of only $10 a night - $15 if you have a camper to plug into the electricity.
Our next stop was for two nights in Bismarck, North Dakota. We stayed with Voni's cousin Doug Mork and his wife Joanie. Cousin Chuck Mork stopped by for dinner and the next day we had lunch with Voni's Aunt Maxine, her son Doug, and Voni's cousin Duane and wife Lois. Thus ended the extended visiting of assorted relatives for a while.
We spent a night at Medora, North Dakota and rode throughout the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The highlight was a buffalo jam caused not by motorists but by a herd of road-walking American Bison. We were riding along and came upon twenty or more of them claiming the road - left side, middle, and right side. This was not a roadside attraction. There were a car and a truck behind them as they walked toward us and several of the Bison were visibly upset, pawing and circling. We made a quick U turn and retreated to the last previous scenic pullout. After a few minutes the car and truck came past and another car headed our way ahead of us. Very soon there they were again, still claiming the entire roadway as a buffalo walking path. We parked adjacent to the bluff rising on our right and sat there. Voni retreated to behind the white car that had pulled up behind us. Soon Paul felt a bit exposed with unhappy Bison mere feet away, so he too retreated to behind the white car. Eventually, with glares and snorts they all trundled past, on down the road.
We spent one night in a campground in Billings, Montana and another in the City Park in Choteau, Montana. At Choteau we walked over to Rex's Market, a grocery store less than a block from the park. As we were wandering down the first aisle a man in an apron stocking shelves looked up and exclaimed, "Paul Glaves" He introduced himself - Doug Peterson - and reminded us that we had exchanged emails last year when his wife's F800 axle tube failed right after Paul's column describing the failure on Voni's bike appeared in the BMW MOA magazine. Doug owns the store. When Paul asked how he recognized him he said he didn't really - he recognized Voni and then put 1 and 1 together. Wish we'd spent more time sharing with this intriguing couple.
The following day we rode to Glacier National Park, arriving about noon. The two most isolated off-the-road campgrounds on the east side of the park were full. The lady at the gate said a person would need to arrive by 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. to get a campsite. Given the choice of an afternoon ride through the park or an early morning ride through the park on the Going to the Sun Highway we opted for morning. We spent the night in St. Mary, Montana just outside the park.
We will have no reason to ever ride through Glacier National Park again. Any later trip will be a
disappointment compared to our ride over the Going to the Sun this year. The entire length of the park road from St. Mary to Apgar there was seldom a car in sight going westbound and only occasional traffic headed east. Only once, briefly, did traffic interfere with our progress and that kind gentleman from Minnesota driving his new Jeep something at 22 on a straight stretch of 35 mph roadway pulled into a pullout within about a half mile.
When we departed the park at the west side there was a huge, long line of cars backed up three wide for a few blocks, waiting to get into the park. If you ever visit Glacier in the summer plan your trip to travel from east to west, and do so as early in the morning as daylight and your body allow.
Leaving the Park we took 93 north from Whitefish and then 37 back south to Libby. It is 24 more miles to go this way than to slog through Kalispell and fight trucks on U.S. 2, and more than well worth the scenic ride with seldom a car in sight. We did encounter 50 or more bicycle riders in some type of organized ride but they were the best behaved and most disciplined riders of such Paul has ever seen. Edge of roadway - single file - spaced out. The fact that they were spread out over a 40 mile stretch of curvy road from back to front was amazing.
So now we are back at Firemens Park in Libby where we stayed twice earlier this year. Paul was happy to see more bunnies than we saw in May. The first time we stayed here we asked about the large number of bunnies. We were told than an old gentleman had lived nearby and had a few bunnies. When he died his daughter came from California or Connecticut or some such far away place to clean out the house and ready it for sale. She simply turned his bunnies loose. And bunnies doing what bunnies do soon we all over Libby in substantial number. We have had a few wander through the campsite but they are actually more afraid of us than we are of them.
The next leg of our travel will take us north to Nelson and Nakusp, British Columbia, and then southward to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit Voni's cousin Paul Hathaway. Paul will then head to Santa Cruz and then Newburg, New York and back, while Voni wanders the desert southwest, or something. She is committed to a September rally at the Sipapu Ski Area south of Taos, and will then probably go back to Iowa. She can meet the riders and crew on the 2012 Cannonball ride at Mason City if she decides to do so.
More when we think you would want to hear from us.
Tons of pictures here:
V and P