Glacier National Park 2001 – Day 4: Dodging Bees and Chasing Pork Chop Through Lolo Pass

June 1

  • Missoula, MT to Clarkston, ID
  • 228 miles

We emerge from the motel in the morning, ready for breakfast, when Pork Chop notices something amiss on the Barley so Pablo whips out the tool kit and does some repair work in the motel parking lot before we take off. We owners of fine Japanese engineering watch with mild fascination. 

During breakfast, Trev “I like my bikes naked!” Trifiro, after 1,035 miles of being wind blasted to a pulp, decides he should get a windshield before we head out of Missoula. So we stop at a motorcycle shop but once inside, Trev starts to get cold feet about adding this unsightly accessory to his lovely ride. So I start telling him he really needs to get the huge touring windshield for optimal protection. Looking ill, he promptly grabs the tiniest fly screen in the joint and checks out. Tool kits are broken out and the installation process takes place in the motorcycle shop parking lot. After a few miles on the road, he’s amazed at how well it works. Mission accomplished.

Heading West on Highway 12 out of Missoula, we climb up the Bitterroot Mountain Range and cross into Idaho as we reach Lolo Pass at 5,235 ft. Our Arizona brothers share our enthusiasm for this fine piece of road construction. We do hyperspace jumps around cages and the occasional semi in the legal passing zones which on this twisty two lane road, requires some real serious throttle and brake work plus a certain degree of daring, timing and nerve. 

We stop for a cold beverage and gas at Lochsa Lodge just west of Lolo Pass on Hwy 12. While hanging around, we are advised by a highway worker that a semi truck carrying bees had crashed on Hwy 12 west of Lolo Pass and some 800,000 bees had escaped. In fact, we had seen the overturned semi two days earlier when we came through going East. He states that luckily, the drivers had the truck cab windows closed and avoided being stung by the angry bees. The highway workers had to wear safety suits just to work the accident scene. We’re impressed but it gets better. He then tells us that a similar bee truck had crashed the year before except that time, the drivers had the cab windows open and when the rescue workers arrived on the scene, they found the two drivers stung to death!! Really?? How delightfully gruesome! Rural legend? We don’t think so as he seems like such an earnest public servant and it’s not like we were in the local tavern drinking beers and bullshitting each other. We continue our journey and as we near the crash site, we hunker down and speed up. No one is stung but we sure take out a lot of bees as evidenced by the very colorful splotches on our bikes.

After noticing that we are having to wait repeatedly for our Harley rider to catch up each time we stop for a break, we decide to give him a head start. We stay behind counting the seconds off before mounting the bikes and giving chase. Pork Chop loses no time in haulin’ ass down Hwy 12 and it takes considerable time and speed to catch him. Vince takes the lead and begins thinking that Jeff has pulled off the road to hide but Vince finally catches up to him. Jeff confesses later that, where possible, he’d been using the whole road to make better speed through the turns while employing his newly learned countersteering technique!

We spend the night in Clarkston, WA where we do some serious partying over at the bowling alley across the street from the motel. We are treated to the locals doing karaoke. The prize goes to a couple of local chicks doing “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” off key. Priceless!

At some point, as the beer flows freely and we relive the best moments of day, one of us suggests we saddle up and go ride the Spiral Highway of Death in the dark. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the idea with cries of, “Awesome, dude! Let’s do it!!”, accompanied by lusty cheers and toasts to the adventure before us. I will admit to being tempted as I imagine the moonlight on the twisty road, the cool night air, the purring of my bike’s big V4….okay, stop. Really bad idea but instead of saying no or that it’s a bad idea, I merely suggest that we have one more beer before we head out on our ride. “Hell yeah!! More beer!!” Problem solved, at least for now. As the notion resurfaces two or three more times, I repeat the suggestion and finally the group as a whole gives it up and decides to call it a night. It’s been an awesome day of riding!

Go to Day 5: Let’s Show These Tucson Boys What Adventure Touring Is

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