Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Day 5: Bozeman, MT - Weiser, ID

The knowledgeable reader will doubtless already be aware that the ZMM route doesn't go through Weiser.  So am I, 'tis merely that the selection of accommodation in Cambridge appeared limited.  Weiser turned out similarly, but the State Street Motel has provided a huge room with a fridge for the BEER for about half what you'd pay in one of the chain motels.  So there.

Anyway, a truly glorious day on the road, though it was cold enough to freeze the wossnames off a brass monkey this morning, with temperatures below freezing.  The Sutherlands wouldn't have liked it at all.  So, roof up for the first few hours.  This started along the valley west of Bozeman, which turned out to be something to do with the headwaters of the Missouri.  In contrast with the same river at Mobridge, this part could probably have been jumped across without much danger of falling in.  I then followed MT-2 up and down various valleys and over the Continental Divide at Pipestone Pass.  At the northern end of this, you pop out of the valley and are immediately confronted with the unlovely sprawl that is Butte.  This was copper mining country, and now isn't, and it shows.

A quick burst of I-90 took me up to Anaconda, another copper town dominated by the 585 foot high smokestack, which apparently contains enough bricks to build a wall five feet high around Jeremy Clarkson's ego.  The route then follows MT-1 - more wooded river valleys, and passes through Hall, where the Pirsigs stopped for a rest by the church.  Another burst of I-90 takes one to Missoula, but from here on it's lesser roads all the way.  Up Lolo Pass, at the top of which is a sign reading "Winding roads next 99 miles", which is enough to put a grin on any keen driver's face.

On the descent, the SatNav claimed to have identified NF-5650, the logging road up which the Pirsigs camped on their first night after leaving Bozeman, and shortly afterwards the Mark One Human Eyeball found the Lochsa Lodge, which seems to be where they breakfasted the next morning.  The descent of the Lochsa river valley was spoiled a bit by roadworks, but conditions improved after leaving US-12 for ID-13 at Kooskia.

Pirsig is sparing with his descriptions of locations on this leg of the trip, but does mention the descent into the Salmon river valley after Grangeville.  The old White Bird Grade, however, has been replaced with the Seven Mile Hill, which is about seven miles of serious downhill, runaway truck ramps included.  It would be instructive to do this on a bicycle...  The route follows US-95 as far as Cambridge, where it turns north-west towards Hell's Canyon and the Oregon state line, but that'll have to wait for tomorrow.

Thought for the day: Motorcyclist!  If you pull over onto the right shoulder of the road, the last thing I expect you'll do is pull a U-turn in front of me when I'm doing 65 mph.  You are lucky to be alive, and also this: a twat.

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