Last week, Lacy and I decided we were very overdue for riding US12 through Lolo Pass and Clearwater National Forest between Missoula, MT and Kooskia, ID. So we got the time off work and rolled out about 9 AM Monday morning.
We headed north on US93 from Twin Falls to Shoshone, then on ID75 to Stanley and Challis. This was only my second run up 75 north of Stanley, and blasting along the twisties that follow the Salmon River is 100% awesome. We continued north on US93 out of Challis and stopped for lunch in Salmon, ID at the Savage Grill.
I've eaten small-town snack bar burgers all over the place (the Shoshone Snack Bar, in Shoshone where I grew up, has a certain level of local fame) but these were the probably the best. Hand-made 1/4 burgers with fresh toppings, and a great price to boot. I highly recommend.
We continued up 93, now covering completely new territory. I always love to go places I've never been before, and climbing the passes into Montana was an awesome experience. Much of the road was challenging and I enjoyed testing and improving my riding skills on the tight, fast corners. The XR, of course, handled them like a dream. No complaints there at all.
Night 1 we stayed in Missoula, but didn't really do anything exciting. Next morning, we gassed up and headed back down to Lolo to the US12 junction.
The next 100 miles were probably the most incredible I've ever ridden. I don't know if it was because it was so new, or because that particular bit of the Lewis & Clark Trail is just that great. But US12 through the Clearwater Forest offered some of the most impressive views I've seen in Idaho...and it's getting awful close to where I've almost seen them all (that can be reached on an on-highway vehicle, anyway). There are more pictures awaiting some reformatting on my wife's DSLR, but here's one I took with my phone:
We stopped in Kooskia for lunch at the Kooskia Cafe--pretty typical hometown restaurant fair, but good and cheap. Then continued out of Kooskia on ID13 to Grangeville.
ID13 is in a horrific state of disrepair. It's not many miles, but they are jarring, rutted up, and in general unpleasant. The parts that weren't a complete wreck, ironically, had just been resurfaced and thus were covered in still-setting chip seal. Bleh.
South out of Grangeville we rode US95, which was very nice this year. They've finished the road construction in the passes and it was a great bit of ride. However, the temperature spiked dramatically as we came down Whitebird Grade into the canyon above Riggins. For the next hour it was like riding into a blast furnace, and we forced to stop and hydrate and cool down frequently. I have never wished I'd worn a full face helmet so bad this time of year before. We hopped onto ID55 in New Meadows and rode the last bit into McCall, where we stayed the night.
McCall is always a pleasure; we went down and enjoyed Payette Lake and had dinner at the Toll Station.
The next morning we discussed our route. Initially, I had intended to continue down ID55 then cut onto the Banks-Lowman Road and ride back into Stanely before continuing south. But we were pretty worn out from the heat the day before, and decided it would be best to crank on down through Boise and east on I-84 instead, getting us home before the temperatures started to come back up that afternoon.
That led to a serendipitous turn of events.
I figured since we were going through Boise, we could say hi to my friend Luis and since we were gonna stop and dink around a bit, we might as well hit Carl's Cycles so I could grab an air filter for the XR.
It was at Carl's we stumbled across this:
The deal was too good to pass up. It's an '08 Vegas Low with 2000 miles, they were asking $8800 for it. It came with the performance exhaust (what kind is that, anyone know?), the stage 1 flash, and a K&N air filter. It also included a small, slipstream-type windshield, which Lacy loves. We traded the Shadow for it right there, and got a damn good deal on the trade-in too.
So, after 900 miles, we're now a 2-Victory household.
I'd say it was a pretty good trip.