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Unbound '08 was an incredible ride! The crew was great, the roads and the scenery were spectacular. Except for about 250 miles, the weather was perfect, but even the rain couldn't dampen spirits. Unbound '08 was also the longest ride we've done at 2,550 miles. Best of all, we didn't need to dispense with any new nicknames. A couple guys got outside their line and flirted with the shoulder, but everyone recovered before we had to hand-out some new nicknames like "Slide" or "Crunch". Others threw themselves into harms way -- at least one knowingly... You know who you are. "Rock" showed-up with a nickname, but thankfully it didn't manifest itself on the ride.
The ride started in Bozeman, MT, and brought us through Red Lodge, which was having a Harley Rodeo that weekend. From there we headed over Beartooth Pass and stopped in Cooke City for lunch just east of Yellowstone NP. The ride through Yellowstone was great and the herds of Bison did not disappoint when they decided to stop traffic. We didn't see any bears, but we did have one encounter with some wildlife. Thank God no one got hurt. From there we headed north to Glacier NP where we did "Going to the Sun" Road and Logan Pass. We then crossed the border into Canada and visited Banff and Lake Louise. We had hoped to head up the "Icefields Pkwy" but weather forced us to take an alternative route to Kamloops, BC, which turned out to be just a spectacular ride. The next day coming out of Canada turned a bit ugly in the afternoon with rain and fog until we hit the US border. We took the scenic route along Lake Coeur d' Alene on our way to Missoula which was just beautiful. The last 200 miles from Missoula to Bozeman early in the morning was a bit chippy with temps in the high 40's at highway speeds on I-90. Special recognition should probably go to Big Dave who opted not to bring his windshield for the ride. As Dave himself put it -- "If you're going to be stupid, you'd better be tough."
...On a more somber note, the route took us on many of the miles that Chris Loomis and Gerry Whelan shared with me on Unbound '03 and Chris again on Unbound '04. Both have since lost their battle with cancer and I found myself recalling memories of them at some of the same stops we made at Beartooth, Yellowstone and Banff. It reminds me of how fleeting our time here is in this world and how precious the time is spent with friends and family. God bless Chris and Gerry, and long live "Unbound" and the opportunity to spend time with old friends.
I want to welcome Michelle to Unbound. She was a trooper -- having to put-up with a bunch of middle-aged adolescent guys and some very challenging riding conditions on this her first big bike trip. Michelle brought her own style and was a delight to have along. Every photo-op with Michelle usually brought shouts of "work it! work it!" from the peanut gallery. She also brought her own bike, as did Big Dave, and she dubbed the duo as "Team Ship". Each stop you could probably count on a visit from Michelle if you had saddle-bags because her stuff was "sprinkled" everywhere. I hope we didn't scare her away and she joins us again in the future.
I also want to welcome "Rock". I think Rock's only regret was not renting a bike for the full trip. Although he had plenty of offers to ride other's bikes when it was raining. Special thanks also go to Dick the "Mule Driver", who got to see some cool new places too.
It was also great to have Bill C. & Co. (Russ & Bill Goble) join us for the Yellowstone loop. Bill is the guy who got me back into riding and my inspiration for starting "Unbound". Of course, it was great to have Steve finally rejoin the group after a long hiatus. Steve was my solo companion on the very first Unbound in '98 and was part of the dream-team crew of Unbound '99.
Every Unbound leaves me with some memorable moments... At one stop I pulled-up next to a car with a little girl in a car-seat in the back seat. I could hear her ask her mom -- "Mommy, is that a pirate!?" I almost dropped the bike from laughing... Then there was Michelle dropping her drawers (chaps) at the top of Beartooth Pass -- more on the cause of that later... Why the crew broke into arm-gestures of Y-M-C-A while riding down the rode probably had something to do with these two exchanging ipods. Of course Tim dowsing himself with a bottle of water as he tried to take a picture of me an Michelle was priceless. Thank God Tim didn't tell the Hells Angel we saw in B.C. the penguin joke... And surely nothing could top Dick's reaction to some of Tim's stories he told at Colville over a few Innis & Gunn beers ("...I don't want to talk about it"). Then there was Steve's windblown look after he climbed off Big Dave's DWG w/no windshield on the home-stretch of Interstate headed into Missoula, MT. ...and never order the "cornered beef" hash in Deer Lodge, MT.
More to come as pictures surface and I have time to incorporate...