Montana Road Trip 2007

Day 1 – Sunday


My motorcycle's dash. Odometer reads 5,872 miles. Time is 9:11am.

Starting mileage.

The first trouble began right after I left the house just after 9am . Garmin’s GPS routing program directs you to each waypoint in order along your route. That’s great except when you don’t actually need to go directly to a chosen waypoint but just added it to the route as an approximate location you’d like to head towards. And in order to force the map program to select twisty backroads over efficient yet boring freeways, I had to input a lot of random waypoints between my starting point and intended destinations. So when I drove past my first waypoint half a block away, my GPS unit tried to get me to U-turn and head back to it. I couldn’t find a way to get the system to skip ahead to the next waypoint either. Not good. One way around this would be to cancel the route entirely and then just ask the GPS to direct me to the next waypoint and repeat that each step of the way. However the system would usually select boring routes, not the cool backroads I’d already chosen. Ugh. All that planning for nothing. Good thing I brought a paper map.


My bike with Bidwell Bar Bridge in the background

Bidwell Bar Bridge Jr.

I had not ridden Oroville to Quincy Road since 2003. Time to head back. I took Interstate all the way to Sacramento just to get my out of civilization as quickly as possible. Once at the start of Oroville Quincy Road I encountered another surprise – dirt. It wasn’t that way last time. The road was now just dirt and gravel with construction signs all over the place. I assumed this would only last a short while. I slowed to about 20mph or so. After about 10 minutes there was no end in sight. I pulled over under some shade and flagged down a couple of locals in a dune buggy. They were very friendly and let me know that pavement resumed just another few miles up the road. With that encouraging news I continued on. The wait was well worth it. OQR is considered one of the better motorcycling roads in the state for a reason.


Lake Oroville at low tide

The western US is in the middle of a drought this year and that would affect my trip in a few ways I couldn't yet foresee. Here at Lake Oroville you can see just how much lower the water level is compared to normal.


A few curves along Highway 36

Oroville Quincy Road - generally smooth as glass with little or no traffic.


A panoramic view near Quincy

Great views along OQR.

Panoramic shot 1 - Oroville Quincy Road


Endless trees along Highway 36

Somewhere on the infamous Hwy 36.

Having ditched my pre-determined route, which would have taken me through Susanville, I decided to cut through Lassen Volcanic Park and see how close to the CA-OR border I could get before dark. The sun was already low so I wasted no time getting to the southern park entrance. What I found there was nothing - no park rangers or anyone else. I had to fill out a form and slip $5 into the ranger booth before heading through the park. Straight away there were deer along the roadside. I was still able to make decent time through the park, but it was kind of a shame to hurry. I'd never been through the park before and there was a lot to see. Another time perhaps...


The sun sets on Lassen Volcanic Park

Lassen Volcanic Park

Panoramic shot 2 - Lassen Volcanic Park

After exiting the northern end of the park, a quick check of my map showed not many options for the night. Closest would be a place I'd never heard of called Fall River Mills. I pulled into town just as the sun set and spotted a small Old West-style saloon/hotel. The last room was mine and although it was quite humble, I slept like a rock.

Total Miles for the day: 398 miles
From: Mountain View, California
To: Fall River Mills, California

Parks passed through:
1. Plumas National Forest
2. Lassen Volcanic National Park
3. Shasta National Forest

Sunday's route:

Map of Sunday's route

Day 2

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