For a group that manages to get moving at the crack of noon, we got an early start to our last day in the Black Hills. Best Riding Friend packed up and got ready to head home. First Reader and I had a bit more to do to get the camper ready to roll down, so we said our goodbyes and continued racing to beat the weather we knew was rolling in. I got my main bag packed and on the bike when the storm hit and dumped a couple of inches of rain over the next hour or so.
The tempest raged around us while we huddled in our little pop-up camper-trailer and finished packing the rest of our gear. We knew the squall was close when we saw a flash, then heard the pop, sizzle, and boom at the same time. All we could do was wait out the worst of the weather before a lull allowed us to finish packing and get out of the downpour. The rain was still coming down when we left our Rally home, and we managed to ride out of the weather by the time we reached the Interstate to head west. Thankfully, our hosts offered to stow our camper for us when it dried out.
We spent the next couple of days riding the Interstate through the northeast corner of Wyoming and across Montana. Along the way, one of our friends from the Rally caught up with us. We knew she was heading west around the same time we were, but never expected to run into her. We took breaks a couple of times during to stretch and chat. She had further to go than us that day, so when we stopped for the night in the middle of Montana, we said our goodbyes, and she kept going.
The next day we rode to Coeur d’Alene, ID, through some of the most beautiful country that Montana and Idaho have to offer. The eastern part of the Treasure State is high plains and badlands. The western half is dominated by various mountain ranges, including the Bitterroot Mountains and Anaconda Range, among others.
Even though I had the rain fly tightened down on my bag the day we left Rapid City, it turned out that it was not waterproof, only water-resistant. We spent an extra day in Coeur d’Alene because I had to wash all my clothes and dry out my T-Bag (a motorcycle “suitcase” with plenty of ‘D’ rings I can use to strap it to my bike).
After an unexpected down day, we decided we were tired of the Interstate and headed to Yakima, WA, using the scenic route. When I missed the turn onto the state route that would take us where we wanted to go, the path turned super-scenic. We rode through more miles of wheat fields than I had ever seen in my life—including through Kansas. And I had never seen hops trellises before, either. When we finally rode into the Yakima Valley, the temperatures we steaming. At one point, we rode by a bank, and the temp read 103°, at 5:00PM. No wonder we were melting.
During our ride west, the air was hazy with the smoke from the wildfires that blocked our view of the mountain ranges until we rose into them. We could smell the smoke, and the hot, dry conditions made us glad that no thunderstorms rolled in while we were traveling. And here we thought we were riding the Pacific Northwest to escape the heat.
Be careful what you wish for. The next day made all the difference in the weather. For all that the previous day was sweltering, the ride over White Pass into Packwood was a different story. While the early part of the day was pleasant but cool, the weather changed dramatically after lunch. West of the pass, the climate was cold and wet, just what one would expect for northwest Washington—in the winter months, maybe, but not August.
After one re-route to our hotel (what’s a road trip without getting lost at least once?), we arrived to watch the sun as it set over Bremerton, WA. Our hotel was across the Puget Sound in Port Orchard, so we had a great view of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Olympic Mountains.