"And now he's goin' down the mountain, goin' fast, fast, fast.
If he blows it this one's gonna be his last.
Run to Acapulco, Turn the Golden Keys.
Henry keep your brakes on for this corner if you please.
Ė John Dawson, Henry

Missoula, MT to Walla Walla, WA: US-93 South to Lolo, US-12 West through Orofino to US-95 South to Spalding, back to US-12 West through Lewiston, to Clarkston, through Dodge, Dayton, Dixie, to Walla Walla. (

Today turned out to be a big day. Two different tire changes at two different dealerships, 220 miles apart. Three states across two time zones. One National Park. The greatest road in the world. And - yeah I almost forgot - a speeding ticket.

My front tire has done a righteous job since it was changed in St. Louis, but after almost 10,000 miles itís time for a new one. I purposely didnít change it in Denver, and that was a good move, because itís worn quite well. A good motorcycle tire, like this Metzler MEZ4, will provide excellent traction and good wear. The stickier the tire, the quicker it wears out, so itís nice to find a tire with a good balance, so to speak. I thought Iíd be lucky to get 8,000 miles out of it. The guys at Smith & Jones Coachworks, the BMW and Kawasaki dealer in Missoula, put on a new one for $166 dollars. No exactly cheap, but hey, if it lasts until Austin, and the 24,000 mile service stop, Iíll be a happy camper.

The guys at the shop ask me which way Iím headed. "West," I say. Well, thatís good because theyíll be plenty of places for me to get a new rear tire. A new rear? But this one only has 4,000 miles on it. Damn!!! Itís more worn that the front. I canít believe it. I hadnít even been checking the rear tire for wear and itís really bad. Iím not going to make it to Eugene, where I had planned to get some new rear rubber along with the 18,000 miles service.

The tire, also an MEZ4, was obviously not the right choice for the rear which is carrying a bunch of extra weight. I donít want to take any chances so Iíll change it now, with something less sticky and better wearing, like the MEZ2 I had on it before. The only problem is the guys in Missoula donít have one. As a matter of fact they donít have any tires in the right size for the back of an R1100RS. They suggest the next place down the road: Macís Cycle in Clarkson, Washington. Iím going right through there later today, so Iíll stop in and see what they have.

Cresting the Lolo Pass, I head west across Idaho down US-12 along the Lochsa River. The sign at the beginning of the descent reads "WINDING ROAD NEXT 77 MILES." Yeah, baby. And I thought Christmas only comes in December. The next sign reads "NO SERVICES NEXT 80 MILES." The next one down the road says "WINDING ROAD NEXT 53 MILES." You get the idea, right?

I canít believe this road. Nothing but curves, the river, the trees and me. And itís not even listed in any of the books. The aroma of the pines fills my every breath. Like those air fresheners in taxis. Actually this whole ride is kind of like being in a taxicab in New York City, except thereís no guy named Mubjah Sugdusha, who stinks like a sewer, doesnít speak English, and has no idea where 5th Avenue is. And thereís no traffic. And thereís no garbage. And there goes a fox across the road. Just like New York. Boy, I sure do miss the city right now.


I stop for lunch at the Kamiah Cafť, within the confines of the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. The special: a turkey salad sandwich with a cup of chicken rice soup. Just down the road in Spalding, is the Nez Perce National Historic Park. This site, at the head of the Nez Perce trail, commemorates the culture, tradition, and history of the native people of this area. Actually the Nez Perce Park consists of 38 separate sites which span across 4 states. The Fodorís book suggests: "Allow plenty of time to visit 38 sites that stretch 1,500 miles. Be prepared for extreme changes in climate and elevation." Yeah, no shit, Mr. Fodor.

I reach Macís Cycle around 3:30, but actually itís only 2:30 because I just crossed into the Pacific Time Zone. The guys at Macís ask me how I liked the ride from Missoula. They say theyíll change my tire, but only if I promise not to tell anyone about the road. I decide on a Bridgestone BT54R, which should wear well but isnít as adhesive as the Metzler. Thatís fine with me. As long as it lasts till Austin.

I wasnít supposed to be this far along today and Iíve gotten a bit ahead of schedule. Nothing wrong with that. If I can pick up some more miles tomorrow, I'll have more time for Seattle. With the time zone change Iíve got an extra hour, so I continue until Walla Walla. I stop here for the night and get a good meal at the nice looking Mexican place (El Sombrero) right next to the Vagabond Inn.

Why Walla Walla?

Why not!

Miles Today: 337.6
Total Miles: 13,778
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 50 Minutes
Average Speed: 57.9 MPH
States Visited today: 3 (MT, ID, WA)
Total States Visited: 30
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 3
NPS Stamp totals: 102 Stamps, 26 States

Weather: Cloudy and Colder turning to clear and warm
Cost of a rear tire installed at Macís Cycle: $187.36

"Lewis and Clark fueled here" Ė sign at Conoco Gas Station in Kamiah, Idaho, on US-12

Oh yeah, the speeding ticket! I almost forgot. Actually it wasnít a big deal. I think itís kind of amazing that Iíve driven a vehicle over 16,000 miles without getting pulled over. Thatís got to be a record for me.

I was heading towards Lewiston, coming down out of the mountains. The officer was going the other way. I saw him but my reaction was too late. The limit was 65, and I had no idea how fast I was going, but I was definitely speeding. This is the first time in weeks the bike has been below 1,000 feet and itís just got gobs of power. I guess I let it get a little away from me, and I should have been more careful approaching a large town.

The copís got to turn around and catch up, and I think about trying to out run him and scoot down a side road. That worked near Rome, New York, but I just let nature run its course here. He catches up with me about 2 miles later. I pull over the instant he turns on his lights. When he walks up besides me Iíve already got my license and registration in hand. Iím very nice about the whole thing. So is he. Heís very interested in the GPS.

87 in a 65. That's 22 miles per hour over the limit. Heíd like to let me go, but he says he canít. Okay, I say. Iím not going to argue. Itís too nice a day, and Iíve had too nice a ride. He takes his time writing out the ticket, having to check the out of state info.

$108, and I can pay it via an 800 number. Not too bad, I guess. He tells me it would be $300 in Washington. Guess things are a bit cheaper in Idaho. Lucky me.