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This will be a long one; I am so behind in the blog, I thought I would start with now and work backwards – or I may never get ahead!

Kalispell, Montana: Clean riding gear on, thanks to the laundry facilities in the motel in Kalispell – wow, did we feel clean

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Bags packed and loaded onto the bike and we were off by 10am – what a late start that was!

We had decided to head away from the Glacier NP and Yellowstone NP areas to look for cheaper accommodation and, as we are halfway between these two fantastic parks the only real choice was to ride along the centre of the state and head to the High Plains and the Prairies.

The 83 highway from Kalispell runs between two mountain ranges, to the east is the Swan range and the smaller Mission Range to the west. The area is mostly National Forest and Lakes. At one point, I thought we might be in for a little ballet from Guzziman

ImageWarm-up?

It was around here that we realised the bike had a half-century on the clock

ImageBut we needed to ride another 10 miles to be able to say the same – the bike arrived, brand new, at Manchester airport with 10 miles on the clock in 2007

Unable to stop when the next 10 miles were added, we had to wait for a little longer, but hey, 50,000 miles ridden in the USA and Canada over 5 trips! Image

Well done little Guzzi – we are proud of you 🙂

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You too Guzziman – well ridden love 🙂

No, I hadn’t been for a pee in the long grass here – I went to take a photo of a log cabin 😀

It was a 109 miles south on HW83 to the junction we needed – 200 East. Lovely ride until we hit seventeen miles of roadworks

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By the time we got through, we were covered in dust so were glad to find a place for a drink; it was a trading post – always very interesting to mooch around – not so keen on the animal skins but I do respect the culture of the native Americans.

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Silver Fox skin

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Refreshed and filled up with gas, we hit HW200 E and rode over Roger’s Pass at a mere 5010 feet – pleasant riding and, for part of the time, were in the company of 3 other motorcyclists.

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ImageThe next place we hit was Great Falls and it was a bit of a culture-shock – too big, too busy and too many of the chains – McDonald’s, KFC, Wendy’s etc, plus we hit it at 5pm and the traffic was at its busiest so we were glad to come out the other side of that place.

ImageBut, we saw this gorgeous old Ford while filling up

Soon we were in the high plains and the reason Montana is known as Big Sky Country becomes evident

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ImageAt a point halfway along the route we spotted a glinting of metal in the distance and noticed the rider on the ground, obviously trying to sort out a problem, so we turned around to see if we could help.

ImageThe electrics on the Harley had suddenly failed completely – no lights, no horn, nada. We carry a small multi-meter so we took the sidebags off to get to it

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ImageHis battery was fully charged – had to be a fuse or something.

The guy, Patrick, had an iPhone and tried to call a friend to help out – no signal. Then, three other Harley riders appeared over the crest of the hill and we thought – hey, these guys may be able to help, maybe they know more about Harleys

ImageBut the buggers simply rubber-necked and rode on past; the miserable swines!

We felt awful leaving him there, but there was nothing much we could do to help except to take the phone number of his mate and to head quickly to the next town and make a phone call for him from there.

We got a phone number and a name and we worked out from the mileage at our last gas fill-up to the miles on the clock now that we were 34 miles from Lincoln, the last town we had passed. Luckily, Patrick did have some bottled water – it was hot out there!

While we were replacing our stuff – the lovely Ford went flying past – hell, for an old car, it was damn quick – I barely had time to get a shot of it

ImageWhen we got to Simms, the next town, we now knew he was 22 miles from there. The lady in the gas station let us ring the number on her land-line and we were able to get hold of the friend and explain things to him; he said he would get out to Patrick as quick as he could.

ImageBack on the road – by now it was 7pm, we passed 3 very small towns – hoping to see a motel in each one. There were 2 motels in the third town, Stanford

ImageThey both looked very dirty, so we rode on – and had more roadworks to contend with

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Finally, we came to our last hope for the day – we had now ridden around 370 miles – not a lot but it was hot

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The town looked nice

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The motel looked even nicer and, compared to places we have been staying in – for $70 including tax, and with all the facilities we could need

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And, on the way through town, we noticed something going on – chairs in the street and live music. So we offloaded and headed on back down there. Straight off, we felt at home. Two of the barmaids had been to the UK recently and both were avid man United supporters – they even called the game football – not soccer; one of the girls had a great tattoo

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It says:

Deliver me from the world of iniquity

and save me from bloody men!

She also had an amazing tat on her arm – 40 hours of work!

ImageThere were two construction guys in town and they were good fun. One of them (sorry, name has gone but his mate was called Eric) had given up smoking and had this interesting gizmo to enable him to cope – he could add all sorts of flavours to it and this one had cherry and vanilla

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ImageThe music was good – one of the guitar players was fantastic; I just recorded a little of this song and made a very quick video of the town.

Now, working backwards…..

The worn tread on the rear tyre was really beginning to worry us now and we knew we needed a new one urgently. When we arrived in Smithers, before heading to Alaska, we had been into a tyre place just opposite the motel but they didn’t do bike tyres and named some other company – who, after a phone call, also said they didn’t do tyres for bikes.

But the morning after our second night in Smithers, Jan thought he would go and ask at the nearby Harley Davidson dealer

Image– and, miracle, they had one tyre that would fit – a Metzler Tourance – much more rugged than we normally have on but it had tread….

ImageIt was expensive at $450 Canadian but better to be poor than dead! While Jan was having that fitted, our three Beamer friends took off back to Washington State – after thoroughly enjoying their first night in a bed and with their own shower for a couple of weeks.

ImageWe got on the road soon after and spend a forgettable night in another overpriced dump of a motel in Vanderhoof

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ImageWe did fill up in a very unusual, hillbilly-type gas station – the lady was very nice.

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The gas station had everything you could possibly need – and then some!

The next morning we got out of that horrible hovel/motel as early as possible and waited to get to Purden Lake where we knew we would get a great breakfast

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Yes, that’s a motorcycle in there – a Sear’s & Roebuck catalogue special ‘Allstate’

I’ve come across these delightful teapots all over British Columbia – so practical – and a good cup of tea in this place that served a fantastic breakfast (child size enough for us) and sold home made wholemeal bread.

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And it was close to here we had another bear run in front of us

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This is our 16th close-up to a bear!

It was a lovely ride from here onwards

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That’s Mount Robson ahead

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Remember we booked a cabin near to Jasper?

ImageWell it was close to the highest peak in the Rockies – Mount Robson; it was a beautiful location – but meant for more for those seeking to commune with nature – rather than a couple of tired bikers in need of a beer and a spot of telly; no tv, no wifi, no phone signal, no place to buy any food or drink – nothing except scenery.

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ImageThe lovely cabin had a great little kitchenette – but we had nothing to use it for apart from tea bags and coffee plus a half-eaten bag of crisps (potato chips to you Americans).

Thing was, there was no large knife in the drawer – so I had to use the hacksaw blade we keep in a side bag – and made some rather crooked doorstops!

ImageJan was very peeved at not having a beer 😦  There was a camp site 5miles away so, once unpacked, we rode there to check that place out for victuals – but they had very little; we did buy a pack of ham and a pack of cheese though and – hey, that morning (I forgot to mention this earlier) I HAD A HOMEMADE WHOLEMEAL LOAF from Purden Lake where we had had breakfast that morning. We filled the bike up at their extortionately-priced pump and returned to our log cabin to scrape together a snack.

ImageThen we went out to explore.

I walked down to the river but was a little wary there might be bears around so returned to the cabin after an hour.

The meadows in front were filled with wild flowers – so there was a lot to photograph there.

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Imagesuddenly,  I heard the strangest or most unexpected sound…. Bagpipes!

I followed the sound to see who it could be and found this man communing with the mountains and nature with his bagpipes – unforgettable.

ImageIt was very relaxing, all in all – the mozzies were a bit of a pest and, good grief it was dark and silent but we both slept very well – although jan was a little unhappy that i opened a window – he reckoned a bear could easily smash the fly screen and climb in and eat us!

It was light by 5am and we showered, coffeed and packed the bags. By 6am, the bike was loaded and we were ready to go….. but, Guzzi-baby wasn’t. For no known reason (it seemed to us) she would not start; dead as a dodo! Marvelous! Off came all the bags again – so we could get her on the centre stand and start trying to find the fault

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ImageCouldn’t find the problem – the battery was fine. We thought we would phone Brian, our Moto Guzzi expert in Michigan – a three hour difference in time meant it was 9am there (oh, God, it was Sunday too). Fortunately, Brian is a very early riser – even on a Sunday.

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He suggested we check all the fuses and maybe swap them around.

We tried that – all the fuses were fine. Another hour passed without any success so Jan rang Brian again and between them, they came up with a few ideas to try – one being to flick the start switch on and off and the other, to check the micro switch which cuts the engine if the bike is started and put in gear with the side stand down. Jan had to bash that around a little and, with bated breath, he tried to start her again. SUCCESS> Quickly, we put the bike back together and loaded her up again.

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We rang Brian to let him know we were good to go and to thank him for his help – and off we went – to the most beautiful place seen so far; The Icefield Parkway between Jasper and Banff – but that will have to wait as it is now bedtime folks.

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