Meet Rick and Jim
Rick and Jim are old friends of Paul's, and we've ridden many times before. Since they were unable to take two full months to do the Four Corners, they decided to meet us in Missoula Montana and finish the trip with us.
We get on the road heading towards Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. As you can probably guess, this is mostly a travel day since there isn't a whole lot between Missoula and Coeur D'Alene. Actually, the plan of record is that we would drive to Kellogg, ID, where Jill, Ann and Suzanne (Paul, Rick and Jim's wifes, respectively) are going to meet us.
I'm a single guy, so the logic is beyond my understanding (Paul suspects that if I meet the right girl, there is hope that I can be properly trained), but the three wives are flying to Spokane, where Suzanne's sister lives. Then she is going to drive the three women to Kellogg to meet us.
Now, the three married guys decide to be thoughtful (always dangerous ground!) and drive a little closer to Spokane so that Suzanne's sister doesn't have to drive that far. (I haven't quite figured out why they didn't fly to Montana, or why we didn't just drive to Spokane). Okay, that's the setup, and now we're on our way to Coeur D'Alene.
First stop for the day is a place called Kathy's Whistlestop
Kathy's is a nice, very tiny, cafe in the middle of nowhere in Paradise, MT. Ah, here's a better picture of all three of the guys. That's Rick on the left, Paul you should recognize by now, and Jim is at the right in front.
It was a really enjoyable stop. We talked to the locals who warned us about running into the deer on the road. Since they put salt down on the road during winter to melt the snow, the deer happily walk into the road and start licking. They are quite oblivious to the problem of not being seen, or the potential of being hit by a passing motorist.
Our waitress goes into great detail about what happened to her friend who hit one of these deer with his motorcycle. The deer and the bike were totaled; the guy isn't doing so well himself.
Good advice. And the food was pretty tasty too.
Rick also starts telling us stories, but the most relevant to this post is about the 93 acres of land he and his wife bought in Montana a few years back. They had been married a couple years back then, and decided to take a trip to Montana. While there they looked into buying a vacation property.
They didn't like the first one they saw particularly well, so they asked the realtor what they would be showing if price wasn't an object. Conveniently, he had the perfect place in mind, complete with its only landing field! Since Rick was a private pilot, they were completely enamored with the place.
So Rick calls his dad to see if he wants to partner on the place. He thinks it's a great idea, and before you know it, Rick and Ann are on their way to buying a 93 acre plot in Montana.
After they get it, they are told that they have way too many trees on the property, and that they will have to clear out all the extras. No worries, he calls the local ranger, they get in touch with a guy, and next thing you know, they are selling off the extra trees.
The profit from the trees paid for the entire property, with about $50K extra!
So they built a house, an outhouse (you'll have to write him for that story!) and came up to visit the place every summer for years. Then about ten years ago they realized that it was a bit of an effort to go from San Diego to Montana every summer, so they sold the place.
Well as long as we're driving through Montana, why don't we drive by the old place in Trout Creek? We're just enjoying our ride, so we're all willing to take the small detour.
We have our breakfast, Jim finds some really tasty Huckleberry-aide, and then we hit the road.
When we arrive in Trout Creek, Rick makes a turn up a dirt road. Dirt road? Did he see Jim's shiny new GT? Does he know that I can't drive on gravel unless my life depends upon it?
After a bit of confusion, Jim mentions getting a coke at a convenience store and turns around, while Paul and Rick take off down the gravel road.
I don't know what to do. Jim has made a 180, so I try and catch up to Paul and Rick. With all the dust flying, they're nothing but a cloud in front of me! When it finally clears, I make it a mile down the road to where it branches two ways, and no indication of which way they took. I am completely lost.
My GPS died awhile back, I have no map, I have no idea how to spell (much less pronounce) Coeur D'Alene. Frankly, I'm a bit scared.
After "pontooning" (the act of driving your motorcycle with both feet near the ground) for a couple more miles on the gravel road, I decide to head back. Jim had mentioned a convenience store, so I'm hoping I can make my way back to the original road without falling over. Despite every attempt to make me slide, I eventually make it back to civilization.
And right there at the convenience store is Jim.
Jim had decided that he didn't want to bang up his new bike on a gravel road (a very good idea, if you ask me) and figured that we'd eventually come back. I can't argue with his logic since I did.
Soon Paul returns. He had assumed that I had turned back when Jim did, so he had taken off to catch up to Rick. Paul's bike being the only one of the four made to traverse gravel, he caught up easily and they had seen Rick's old homestead. Now Rick was over at the local Wayside bar, waiting for us. (Why would you go to a convenience store when there is a bar nearby?)
So in the bar we find Rick and he tells us the story about meeting the new owner of his old place, and we figure out what happened to everyone. No harm, no foul. We had a couple of sodas and were once again on the road.
We're tooling along through the lush green forest, when Jim flags everyone to slow down. I'm at the back of the pack so I can't see what's going on up front. When I do, I see a huge moose in the road!
Of course, this is the first time all day I've put the camera away. So I'm scrambling to get it out for a picture, but by the time I do, Bullwinkle had headed back into the forest. We pull over to the side of the road to get our bearings and talk about our encounter with our furry friend.
"You know, that's just a baby. A full grown moose is twice as tall" says Rick. Twice as tall? That beastie was two feet above Jim's head!
Determined not to miss another picture like that, we once again hit the road to Coeur D'Alene.
It's an enjoyable ride, the road clinging to the river as the river twists and turns its way ahead.
Eventually we make it out of the forest and make it to Coeur D'Alene.
Now this is where being single leaves me at a disadvantage. You see, the guys call their wives and tell them that we've driven a lot further than we planned, and that Suzanne's sister won't have to drive all the way to Kellogg. Aren't they thoughtful?
The answer Paul and Jim get is, "We've bought groceries, are you coming to dinner?"
Paul explains that we've checked into the hotel and that we're not riding any more today. Jim says something similar to Suzanne, but has "volunteered" to drive to Spokane before breakfast and pick Suzanne up at her sisters.
Of course, the follow up question by Jill to Paul is, "So, are you picking me up in Spokane?"
Realizing that he can be right and in trouble, or play it safe, Paul takes the safe route and agrees to drive to Spokane in the morning and drive Jill back as well. Of course, I will be asleep at the time, because I'm not waking up before seven to drive West, only to drive East.
All seems to be settled, at least for the time being. The four of us head over to the local Italian place. Not too bad, but far from Filippi's or San Remo. We head out after dinner and Rick say that he's going to make a quick trip to the men's room. Paul, Jim and I hang out in front of the restaurant, then start to wonder. Hasn't it been ten minutes? Now fifteen? Did the poor boy fall in?
Jim goes back inside to check on him, and sure enough, there he is at the bar. Apparently he came out of the men's room, someone started chatting him up about baseball, and the next thing he knew, he was drinking a beer.
How come my lapses in memory don't end up with me drinking beer?