Home / Gazette / Northwestern Summer Tour by Jim Shaw

Northwestern Summer Tour by Jim Shaw

Posted on

This is my last (planned) trip out west so I decided to see areas I missed on previous tours. The MOA national rally being in Salt Lake City, Utah this year was the epicenter of the tour. My first area to see was southeastern British Columbia so I had to head that way.

Leaving St. Louis on June 31st it was warm and muggy with rain threatening. Avoiding interstates as much as possible I got to Grand Island, Nebraska without getting more than a few sprinkles of rain along the way. And, that would be all the road rain for the whole trip.

Traveling through Nebraska, South Dakota & Montana I made my first camp in Eureka, Montana at a US Forest Service site. Campsites along the way with showers were either RV parking lots or just full because it was the July 4th weekend.

Revelstoke British Columbia was my intended pivot point in Canada but as happens on the road I learned of a more interesting location. A couple from Canada I met at the Eureka campsite told me of a motorcycle campground just north of Balfour British Columbia. Being that the motorcycle campground was on the way to Revelstoke I decided to give it a try.

As it turned out the Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground was my new pivot point in British Columbia. A cross between a hardcore biker and hippie happening, the campground provided a friendly location to setup my base camp. Getting around south-eastern British Columbia took longer than expected due to the ferry crossings across the many lakes and rivers crisscrossing the terrain. If you look on a map of British Columbia the area I toured was called the West Kootenays.

After spending three-plus days in British Columbia I headed south to the Grand Coulee dam to witness the Laser show. The Laser show was a story about the dam and Indian lore associated with the area. It was projected against the back of the dam.

The next few days I used a mix of camps and motels as I visited Native American museums in Oregon and Idaho on the way to Salt Lake City. News to me, I thought only the Cherokee had a written language. The Nez Perce and other tribes in the northwest also use a written language spelled Nimiipuu’timt, which I couldn’t read or even pronounce.

The next historical area I visited was the Golden Spike Site in Promontory Summit, Utah. The site had a visitor center with videos and artifacts to see along with the simulated golden spike. The real spike is in a safe location elsewhere.

Later that same day I arrived at the MOA National at the Utah state fairgrounds. The club campsite did have the tent canopy we ordered adjacent to the Minnesota clubs canopy. I set up camp, sans fly, under the canopy assuming only a few members would attend. Jay Green (left) arrived later that day, Bill Graham stayed in the Sherpa tent group on the other side of the fairgrounds. Glenn Anderson camped at the Embassy Suites. That was the extent of club members attending. Bill and I volunteered as shuttle drivers, Jay did Registration on Thursday.

The weather was hot but low humidity allowed for comfort in the shade and after sunset it cooled for comfortable sleeping. We heard that St. Louis was actually hotter and much more humid. Take that, you sissies!

Bill and I headed to the Top of the Rockies rally in Paonia, Colorado after the national. Since the TotR rally didn’t start until Wednesday we toured south-western Colorado. We spent 2 days in Grand Junction and visited the Colorado National Monument (right), did laundry and lounged around the pool.

Next we headed to Durango taking any scenic road on the map, and then to Paonia via Hwy. 92 north of Gunnison Canyon. We spent most of the time in Paonia shooting the breeze and checking out the bikes. The TotR rally music on Friday(guys) and Saturday(gals) were rock bands that I thought were better than at national rallies.

The hosts, BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado, had some excellent promotional items I think we should use: Colorful tri-fold brochures and business cards plus a large vertical banner displayed on a folding tripod.

After the rally Bill and I headed for his son’s home, he stayed a while but I went home the next morning. We took the scenic way without incident until I-70, were there was a monumental backup getting to the Eisenhower tunnel. Bill had the lead and wasn’t going to burn-out the clutch on his new bike like he did on his old GS so he took the shoulder route. We went miles on the shoulder until the tunnel entrance. The reason for the backup was made clear: three lanes went to two then three in the tunnel due to construction.

Except for riding in hot weather my trip home was uneventful. I intended to stop in Marquette, Kansas at the Kansas Motorcycle museum but it didn’t open till 11a.m. I would have to ride to Missouri in the hottest part of the day (100+) or spend another night, so I skipped the museum.

Toad Rock Campground pig
Colorado road art

British Columbia lake

Silverton, Colorado
Gunnison Canyon lake