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Page # 4
Sunday July 19, 2009
    We left Clarkston, WA after a hearty breakfast and headed east on US 12 into Lewiston, ID and beyond. It was a beautiful drive through Idaho - lots of white water rapids along the road. We were very alert for animals on the road as we had heard of many instances on bike having collisions deer and elk along the route.
   We crossed into Montana and then turned north on US 93, heading for Missoula. I had spent the night there when I was completing my '
Iron Butt' Ride.
   We rode on through
Missoula, heading east on I-90 for a short distance until we hit State Route 200, where we turned east/northeast. We continued on through Helena National Forest then turned southeast onto County Road 434 into Wolf Creek, where we hooked up with I-15.
We turned north and rode on into Great Falls, MT, for our scheduled night's rest.
   It was a great ride today and one can truly realize why they call Montana the 'Big Sky Country'. Sometimes it looks like you can see forever.
   After a wonderful dinner next to our motel, where most of our group recounted the day's events, it was off to the sack for a good night's sleep. Next stop ...
Billings! and StarDays!!!


Monday, July 20, 2009

   We were up and at 'em this morning to a beautiful day. I was to ride the bike today on into Billings and Shirlee was to drive the 4-Runner and trailer as we had planned. We were going to fuel up at a gas station that was conveniently located right next to the motel we had stayed at, and then head for breakfast before heading southeast to Billing, our destination. Shirlee headed out for gas as I got the bike warmed up. When I arrived at the gas station I saw some people gathered around our trailer and Randy Garr had an arm around Shirlee and appeared to be consoling her. I pulled up to the right side of the trailer and the walked around to the left side to see what the commotion was about. Well ... it wasn't pretty. Shirlee had hit one of those big steel pipes that protect the gas pumps and the pipe had done its job. It was slightly bent, but the left front tire, along with the front of the fender, was bent into the trailer frame. Not a pretty picture.
   After a split second of '@G&%D**I!', thinking that our trip was in the trash can, I got out a car jack from the 4-Runner and a lug wrench from the trailer and proceeded to remove the bent tire. The tire wasn't damaged ... just the fender and the axle. The trailer had a torsion bar suspension so it was just a matter of removing the wheel (no springs hanging down to worry about).
   The local Star Chapter President had met us that morning to introduce some of their Chapter members to us who were to ride with us into Billings. He was well known and liked in the community and had many contacts to people who might be able to help us in our situation. After fueling up we headed to a McDonalds for breakfast where we also planned what to do. Before leaving the gas station I moved most of the heavy articles in the trailer over to the right side to take as much weight off of the now single tire side.
   At the McDonalds the local President called around to see about repairing the axle and had on promising hit from a trailer repair shop.
After a discussion with our motorcycle group it was decided that they should head on to Billings while we tried to get repairs locally. Paul and Mary Sommers said that they would not leave us, so they stayed to offer support in any way they could.
   After breakfast and farewells to the rest of the group, the four of us, along with the local 'Prez', proceeded over to the repair shop. After a quick look at the damage, the repairman stated that the best fix was a whole new front axle, as trying to heat and rebend the axle wasn't a good fix. Number one, heating weakens the metal; Number two, if it isn't perfectly aligned, it will go through tires like 's--t through a goose'! He said that there wasn't anyone locally that would have an axle for us and that we would have better luck in Billings. The 'Prez' called a friend in Billings that had a large RV/trailer repair shop and described the situation. He said that we should be able to make the trip to Billings without any further problems. Once there, he would be able to give us a good idea of what could be done.
   We thanked the 'Prez' for all he had done and said that we would see him in Billings in a couple of days. We (the 4 of us) then took off for Billings. We called Steve (our 'Prez) to his cell phone to let him know that we were going to limp on in to Billings and would get there a couple of hours after them at the KOA Kamp we had booked for our week's stay.
   After an uneventful, but nice, ride we entered the KOA in Billings and got our assigned spot that was situated next to the cabins and tents that the rest of our group were staying in. I parked the bike, which I had ridden from Great Falls in order to keep the trailer light, and then  I programed the repair shop's address into our GPS, and Shirlee and I were off.
   Once at the repair shop it was agreed that the repairman in Great Falls had been correct and that the only real option we had was to have a new axle put on. We were due to leave Billings the following Friday for Glacier National Park so we worried that we would have to make major changes in our planning. The local repairman said that he would 'bust his butt' to make it happen and that we should return to the KOA and enjoy our stay while he did his search for the necessary parts and availability.
   We did as he suggested and met up with the rest of the group and, having removed my Chapter vest, I started in on some beers to help ease the tensions of a rather interesting and long day.
   After a couple of refreshing cool ones we proceeded to set up camp. Paul and Mary were to sleep in the trailer with us, as previously planned, so we had to arrange things.
   After a few more beers and something to eat with the group, we headed off to bed, hoping that the next day would bring about a workable solution to our trailer woes, and that we could start to enjoy what we had come this far to experience ... StarDays !!!
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