“You can’t park there.”
“I’m just taking a quick break, my butt hurts, I will be gone in a minute.”
“Okay, but I got 90 Rotarians coming and I need all the parking space I can get.”
“Rotarians! They reserved the whole inn and they are going to be here any minute. You gotta move.”
“Okay okay, but you aren’t going to get 90 people parked here.”
“I know. I don’t know what I am going to do, most are coming in an old Yellowstone tour bus from the 30’s. You gotta move, they are going to be here any minute.”
I had just pulled over to rest in a place called Bear Creek inn. It was the first place I had seen to pull over in the last 50 miles. The guy telling me I couldn’t park there was a nervous wreck. He was pacing back and forth from where I was parked to looking up the highway, chain smoking. The parking lot was maybe good for 20 cars or 50 motorcycles. I could tell he was nervous about me wanting to go inside and eat or worse yet for him, drink and mix it up with his Rotarians. I had been in Montana maybe a couple of hours and this was my greeting?
“Where you going, Beartooth? I wouldn’t go up there now, look its raining. They say it’s bad lightining up there too. Where is that damn bus, I don’t know what I am going to do.”
The guy was driving me crazy so even though I wasn’t ready, I fired up and left him standing there looking up the highway and pacing. I was only 20 or so miles from Red Lodge Montana where I planned to stay the night only now I was worried it would be full of Rotarians and I might have a hard time finding a room. Here comes his damn bus!
I think the guy is going to be okay, the bus wasn’t full and there was maybe 6 or 7 cars full of Rotarians following it.
Red Lodge Montana! What a neat town and starting to see a lot more motorcycles. Room was easy to find too. I had the best pizza I ever had at a little restaurant called Bogart’s that was full of local memorabilia and Humphrey Bogart pictures.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on the Beartooth highway, all I know is a lot of bikers talk about it and Charles Kuralt calls it “America’s most beuatiful road.” Everybody in town is either talking about bears or the highway.
18 incidents of black bears entering homes in recent weeks, sounds like the highway is appropriately named!
Nothing could prepare me for the Beartooth highway. I thought I had ridden the best mountain roads already with Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park and The Million Dollar Highway between Durango and Ouray but nothing yet compares to this road. Up and up and up switchbacks that seem to never end. I think I am about done with them, look up and see traffic at least another 2000 foot above me on more switch backs. 100’s of motorcycles going both ways and the ones coming down seem to be dressed warmer than those of us going up. I finally get to an observation area that I think must be the top because the parking lot is full and a lot of bikers are digging in bags for more clothes. The view from this area shows the roads below.
I take off expecting to reach the top just around the corner, okay maybe the next corner, well just over this rise and around the next corner. Holy cow how much further, I have been riding in frozen tundra for 10 miles now! Snowpacked glaciers, high mountain lakes and………ROAD CONSTRUCTION! Somehow I got stopped in gooey tar in the construction zone, there must have been an inch of tar stuck to my tires and they were picking up every piece of gravel in the road. Ka-thump, ka-thump ka-thump, it felt like I had a flat tire and the bike was wobbling all over the place. If it wasn’t so cold up here I would pull over an try to scrap it off. Oh well it has to wear off eventually doesn’t it? It took 10 miles but finally the tar on the tires was almost off. Somehow I ended up in Cooke City on the other side of Bear Tooth highway feeling as petrified as this guy.
I love the Bearthooth Highway!! Next stop Yellowstone!
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