When i woke up, it was raining again. I was hoping for a little break so i could pack up, but it wasn't letting up. It takes about 1/2 hour to go from camp mode to riding, so I just put my rain gear on and did it. Steve was already in town, so Paul and I were ready at the same time and set out for town.
I ordered eggs at the cafe in town. There was no waitress, you just go up to the counter and order. She asked "Would you like an additional piece of toast with that?" (it comes with 1, as in a single piece of bread, not the two pieces on top of each other that every other diner in the world has) I also ordered a plain coffee, and she asks "Do you want to buy refill too?" So you get the idea, this place was a rip off.
A little bit down the road they were selling wifi access, twenty minutes for three dollars. Despite all the great deals around I was happy to get on the road and get out of there, even though it was raining.
About fifteen miles down the road we came to a toll booth. She was collecting fees if we were planning to stay another night, but we were not. She then advised us there was snow forecasted for the two passes we were heading for. We just kept going and decided we would worry about it when we saw the snow.
Not too far after the booth was Athabasca Falls. They were nice to look at, but we didn't stay long because of the rain. We began to head up a pass and the temperature started to drop. It got down to 39 degrees, which isn't that bad to ride in except for the fact that it was raining and my socks and shoes were soaked again. I really had enough of the rain at this point in the trip.
While trying to get past the rain, I made a wrong turn and didn't realize it till about 40 miles down the road. The GPS was taking me to the border, just not the route we had planned. It wasn't raining here and the border now was only 100 miles away. Since we were all going different ways once we got there, I decided to just keep going instead of back tracking. Once we got to the border, Steve was heading to Yellowstone, and Paul was going to take a slower pace back home than I.
It was sure nice to cross back into the U.S., and into Montana none the less. There were lots of big pines with meadows and lakes scattered all around. I also began to see a lot of deer everywhere. It didn't take long to learn gambling was legal in Montana as just about every little saloon and fuel stop seemed to have "and Casino" on the sign.
There were a couple small towns I road through which were pretty nice. The buildings looked very old fashioned, but they were all businesses that served the town, not just tourist shops.
I had been tossing around the idea of attempting an Iron Butt once I hit the U.S. For those reading that don't know, there's an association, the Iron Butt Association (IBA), who motorcyclists can register with for certification on distance vs time achievements. One of the more aggressive challenges is 1500 miles within 36 hours.
I was feeling pretty good and already about 10 hours into my day's ride when I decided to just go for it. It would be unofficial since I did not register with the IBA, but I was OK with it just being a personal challenge. Las Vegas was about 1500 miles so that became my next destination. First though I had to navigate through these Montana back-roads to get down to the 15.
As it got dark I became more paranoid about the deer I was seeing all over the place. The story of a rider who died from hitting a dear on his way to work kept running through my head. I finally saw a truck up ahead so I caught up to it and used his headlights. Keeping him about 3 seconds in front of me worked perfect for getting through the turns comfortably, and deer spotting. I tried to keep my tires in one of his tracks and his swerves alerted me to debris in the road. One big swerve was a freshly dead deer still in the middle of the lane.
The escort lasted a good 30-40 miles but then he turned a different direction. It wasn't long before I reached the I-90, and then the I-15. This isn't the 15 that we all know from home though. It changes from two to four lanes (total, not per side) with no street lights. On a large portion of it, the traffic flow was divided as if it were two separate roads. This actually worked well as drivers could keep their brights on most of the time while keeping an eye out for deer.
I had a nice view of a bright crescent moon and a planet to my left. At one point, the still Moon and stars in the periphery of my vision made it feel like I was sitting on a still bike and the road was moving like a big treadmill below me. I think the fear of hitting deer kept me from being very tired during the night. It was sure nice when light started to silhouette the mountains to the east though.
I was approaching Salt Lake Utah as I began to see a lot of morning commuters. I was feeling the fatigue pretty heavily at this point. When riding long distances, all the info I have available to me falls in the background to the fuel gauge. At any point, I can look at the fuel gauge and tell you about how much farther and how long it will probably take before I need to fuel up. I use the fuel breaks as a time to get new waters or snacks to keep me going, so the fuel gauge also lets me know how much longer I need to ride before break time.
The last couple hundred miles were very rough. I was tired and it got very hot as I entered Arizona and Nevada. The temperature reached 104 and there were parts where I was sitting in road construction. With no AC, it is hot, and when you get going, it's not much better. The best way I've heard it described is like you are riding in front of a huge hair dryer. It was funny going from 39 to 104 all on the same stretch.
I finally got to Vegas and checked in a room, but I wasn't tired. So, I went and donated a few bucks to the local regulars in the poker room and ate some awful food at the buffet. Then I was able to get a good night's sleep.