Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alaska Ride, Day 24

Throughout this trip my back has been aching. It's not my lumbar, but my thoracic, just below the shoulder blades. It feels like a muscular ache. This pain isn't anything new on this trip, nor with the Honda ST. I dealt with it on my Electra Glide too.

Some time ago, I mentioned on this blog that I ride with a very poor posture. I slouch when I ride. I also notice that my shoulders fall forward, and that tends to create a rounded, leaned forward back. And actually, I sit and stand this way too.

So, over the past year or so I've tried to remind myself to sit up straight, and pull my shoulders back. I've been reminding myself a lot on this trip, and now I wonder if constantly sitting in a position that I'm not accustomed to is exacerbating the aches.

I also tend to ride with one hand on the handlebars, and the other hand resting on my thigh. I notice that this position causes me to sink out of a straight posture and back into a slouch. So, I try to keep both hands on the handlebars, but it's a tough habit to break.

Anyways, about the ride today.

Paul and I left Browning, MT in the morning and began our trek south towards Red Lodge, MT. Red Lodge lies near the Wyoming border along the Beartooth Highway. The Beartooth Highway takes us into Yellowstone National Park.

Most of the day today we rode Highway 89 south through Montana. I suppose this highway is a pretty good choice if you want to get a full slice of what Montana has to offer.

The 89 starts in the northern part of Montana at Glacier National Park, and heading east towards Browning, MT. You go through about 30 miles of good twisties, many of which have signs recommending 30mph. But they're well banked, along with good visibility, that you can't help running through them between 50 to 60mph.

Then you get into Browning, MT, which is an Blackfoot indian reservation. There isn't much there to see, but then again, it's part of what makes Montana what is is.

Then you go through about a hundred miles of grassy hills and plains, with almost no trees. Here's why they call Montana "Big Sky Country", because there's nothing to obscure your view of the sky. No mountains, no trees, no buildings. Just thousands of cattle.

Highway 89, Montana, rolling hills and grassy plains

It's a lot of straight road in this part, but it's still amazing to see miles of vast plain. You could walk a few miles into this stuff, set up a shack, and live there for a month without the property owner ever knowing about it. It's so vast, even the cows are bored. I would ride by, and a few head of cattle would look up at me, and their heads would move from left to right as I rode by.

Eventually you get into the big city of Great Falls, and you get to see some downtown and the city life. Lot's of BBQ joints and saloons. I also got to visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, which is a museum documenting the entire Lewis and Clark expedition in dioramas, charts, and exhibits. It was something meaningful to me because I had read the journals of Lewis and Clark, and became fascinated with that piece of American history.

Highway 89 then runs over the Rocky Mountains through an area called Lewis And Clark National Forest. You get the pine trees, the mountains, and some sweeping curves.

The Great Falls along the Missouri River, at Great Falls, Montana

Finally, you go back into more grassy hills and plains, but it runs through a lot of small town America, old brick buildings, old folks still wearing horn-rimmed glasses, and signs displayed for Fanta and RC Cola.

For lunch, we stopped into this town called "Belt", one of those brick building, horn-rimmed glasses kind of town. It's a small place. But oddly enough, they have a brewery there, Harvest Moon Brewing. It's right in town, and they run two brew pubs there. This place sells bratwurst for $3.00. At that price, I thought it was just a small bratwurst by itself. But no, it was in a sandwich piled high with sauerkraut, pickles, and jalapenos, along with pretzels. It was enough for a lunch.

But mistakenly, I ordered two of them, thinking it was going to be small. I ended up having to eat both sandwiches and was really stuffed. Each of those bratwurst sandwiches would normally sell for $8.00 in Southern California, and $12.00 in Canada. But wow, $3.00 in Montana? I love Montana.

Oh, and this place sells 16oz glasses of their beer for just $3.25. So I had two, a porter and a red ale. All in all, two large bratwurst sandwiches, pretzels, and two pints of beer, for just $12.50. And no sales tax. If Montana can do it, why can't the rest of the world?

Belt Creek Brew Pub, Belt, Montana,
The home of Harvest Moon Brewing Company


Highway 89, through Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana


In Montana you can do your banking and your drinking in the same building.


The Beartooth Mountains, from Red Lodge, Montana


Downtown Red Lodge, Montana, another big tourist town.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)