Motorcycle Trip across the Great Northern (2017)

Rained out in Glacier Park

Getting caught out in freezing rain, baked in the unrelenting sun, nearly running out of fuel on a lonely deserted highway and lots and lots of good comfort food, this sums up a wonderful and memorable road trip on US-2 aka The Great Northern, on route from Seattle, US to London, Canada.

Having convinced A about how much fun a long distance motorcycle trip can be, a golden opportunity arose in Fall 2017. We had to travel from Seattle to London, both of us had visiting positions for the year in London and Toronto. We had done shorter rides usually a couple of hours, several times before, but this trip was on a different order of magnitude. We planned to spend 9 days to make the trip, covering 250-300 miles a day.

After a good hearty breakfast at Gumms’, we set off somewhat late, around 10 am from Seattle, the goal was to reach Spokane by early afternoon. We took State route 522 till we hit US 2 an hour later, it was slow going but quite scenic and the weather was rather decent; a good start to the trip. As the day wore on the temperatures started to rise with the sun right in our face; we made a pit stop at Stevens Pass, grabbed some coffee and cookies and were back on the road. A was adjusting to being out in somewhat uncomfortable conditions and after another hour on the road we stopped at Leavenworth for lunch. This is an interesting town that reinvented itself in a Bavarian Village theme, and draws crowds all year specially around Christmas. The temperature rose sharply as we left the Wenatchee National Forest travelling towards Spokane, we had to stop a few time at the roadside to hydrate, we took another break at break at Billy’s Burgers in Wilbur before reaching the Ramada Downtown Spokane, it had been a tiring day, we ordered from the room service menu and called it a day.

The next morning we had our staple ‘on-the-road-breakfast’ of oatmeal, coffee for me and tea for A and were on the road by 7:30 am. It was quite pleasant weather-wise in contrast to the ride the day before. We stopped at Owen’s in Newport for some food, this is an old school grocery store and deli, the food was good and the staff very friendly and welcoming, totally worth the visit. Continuing on Route 2 we crossed the Idaho Panhandle making a brief stop at Bonner’s Ferry and passing through Leonia Ghost town and into Montana. By this time A had decided that a short stop every 50 miles was needed to stretch and perhaps break the monotony of being the pillion rider. This turned out out to be a great idea as it gave us more opportunity to take in the scenery. We also hit some rain on the way, A’s first taste of getting rained on, on a motorcycle, something that takes a little getting used to. We made a stop at the Moose Crossing Campground to refuel bike and body. Aroma of freshly baked pie lured us into the shop there, unfortunately there was no pie and we had to make do with some cookies and coffee, which were delicious and gave us a much needed boost. We pulled into Kalispell which bills itself as the gateway to Glacier National Park. We had booked a room at the Blue and White Motel, after checking in we headed out for some dinner. On recommendation of the manager at the motel we went for some Chinese at Alley Connection Restaurant, both the food and service were great, would definitely revisit next time in Kalispell.

We started off early the next morning, it was a bit chilly but we were managing till we hit rain. I had forgotten to pack our rain proof gear so we had to improvise. We stopped at the Western Building Center in Columbia Falls about half an hour into the trip and got rainproof overalls meant for construction crews. These provided some protection till it really started to come down, at which point we started getting soaked, with the low temperature outside (it was in the 50’s) both of us were soon chilled to the bone. I hoped that we would find some shelter and hot coffee in West Glacier, fortunately Glacier Highland Restaurant provided good hot coffee and pastries along with the much needed warmth. We hung out at the cafe for about an hour before hitting the road, by this time the rain had stopped temporarily, but we had to ride through intermittent rain all the way through Glacier Park, till we reached the village of East Glacier. We changed into dry gear and had lunch at the Two Medicine Grill, it also provided much needed rest. We rode into Havre early afternoon and checked into the Best Western Plus Great Northern Inn, after a warm shower and a short snooze we headed out for dinner. Right across from the Hotel was the Duck Inn Mediterranean Bistro, the place had a lot of character and great food, it is highly recommended.

The next leg of the trip took us through the prairie in Montana and North Dakota. We started a little late in the morning from Havre, as the previous days ride had been a bit tiring. The weather was not too bad, which for us means not too much of either sun or rain. We stopped for some good lunch at the Hitchin Post in Malta. After a picturesque ride we pulled up at a Four Points in Williston for the night. Starting early the next morning we probably had the best day of the ride, I have always found the prairie to be very charming, A had adjusted to the long hours on the bike by now, and also enjoyed this part of the ride a lot. We also discovered two really quaint restaurants on the route, Homesteader’s in Minot and Mr. J and Mrs. J ‘s in Devil’s lake. After an very enjoyable day we reached our Super 8 motel in Grand Forks late afternoon. This turned out to be one of the best Super 8’s I have stayed in and was very conveniently located right off the highway.

This also marked the end of our journey on The Great Northern, as time constraints forced us to take the interstate from here on to Minneapolis MN, Rockford IL, and Jackson MI to our destination in London, Canada. We did have some adventures on the interstate, getting rained on, waiting for the bike’s new registration at a motel for half a day (my buddy had couriered it from CA) and the Jacuzzi from hell, it literally smelled of sulfur, but that is a story for another day…..

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