MOTORCYCLE DIARY: 10

JUNE 27, 2021 – GREAT FALLS, MT TO JORDAN, MT

RECORDED IN JORDAN, MT

Pete and Rita. [Rolleiflex 3.5F, Fujifilm Acros 100]

[START OF AUDIO] Beep. June 27th, 9:40 PM Mountain Time. I’m in– [drops recorder] God damn it. How’s that? Better? Good– Jordan, Montana. Showered and about to sleep even though you can still see light outside the window. Updating the book. A fair amount to cover, if I’m inclined to cover it. What’s going on? I’m trying to find the fucking page. Hold please. [silence] 268.2 miles today. Reset the odometer, the trip odometer.

Today equals… 268.2 miles, which means that’s seven- Can I even do arithmetic right now? Total since Pasadena is– Five and two is seven. Three and eight is 11, carry the one. Sorry, I don’t have this written down. I’m just looking at it all over the place. Oh, God. Hold on. I just can’t even– It’s on two different pages. It’s a giant pain in the ass. I can’t even remember the individual numbers right now. 1,973 point 2, is that right? No. See? It’s 1,973 point FIVE, and I’m adding to that 268.2. Much easier if you can just look at it on the same page. Oh, my God. Wow, 2,241.7 miles. This is riveting audio…

Okay, so cutting to the chase. Today was my best riding day. Best day, period. Maybe the best day. Don’t know. Got up early at the rally because it was so loud – forklifts, motorcycles, dumpsters being opened, closed, filled, moved. The sun was cooking my tent, so I was up and about, and recovering and stumbling into the morning, and got out onto the road fairly early. Just got a couple of snacks and some gas, and hit the road.

I think… I haven’t checked. I think, but I don’t know for sure. It doesn’t matter, but I think I may have selected the Adventure Mode on the Garmin GPS, which may explain why I was only on I-15 south for like 10 minutes.

The rest of my day was spent riding through Montana on very– The road alternated between straight and hilly, and gradual snaky S-curves all day long. I was, for the most part, alone. At times, completely alone. This is with 360 degrees view to the horizon, just alone. It was like an over-the-top motorcycle commercial. The one thing I had to contend with was the wind. The wind has been fairly em-effing considerable for the past four days.

I made what is probably an obvious discovery which is, if I actually lean forward aggressively, tuck my head below the windscreen and relax, not only is it easier to deal with the wind, you just cut through it. I’m talking about 20-40 mile an hour lateral gusts of wind. Once I got into the groove, I was cutting through that shit like an unemployed, middle aged butter knife. Again, alone in the middle of– I don’t even know what to call it, prairie and rolling hills? We don’t have words for this sort of terrain in Brooklyn. It’s beautiful.

At one point– just a couple of details. At one point, there was a– I think it was a jackknifed trailer up ahead in the road. I didn’t get up to it because the sheriffs in some town had the road blocked off. Myself and maybe four vehicles were diverted off the road onto neighboring farmland. I was riding in formation with four SUVs over farmland – rolling grass and dirt with parallel tire tracks through it, which was pretty wild.

At some point while– I think it was on route– I don’t even know if it’s called “route”. Montana 200 is the road. I passed the sign for a lake – a six-mile detour, and I took it. It was probably the highlight of the day. Gravel road – a very slow six miles. Made it to the lake and rolled down a gravel track to the sand. Found a stone to shove under the side stand and parked the bike next to ancient driftwood. Shot a roll of film on the Rolleiflex. Took some pictures with the Leica. Ripped off my clothes, put on my bathing suit, and jumped in the water.

Managed to get the bike out of the sand, and back up the track, and left. On that six-mile detour through gravel, I saw wild antelope which was pretty amazing. Oh – earlier, when I pulled off to consider taking the gravel road to the lake, a big SUV– that’s not true. I think it was a big old Ford pickup. It was. It was a red old Ford pickup– rolled up next to me, and the guy poked his head out of the window. He’s probably 60. He poked his head out the window and asks, “Did you try it?” I said, “I’m thinking of trying it.” He says, “Road’s pretty good this time of year. I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

“Okay.” I said, “Oh! If I go down to this lake… can I swim in it?” He says, “You can do anything you want in it.” I said, “Well, I want to swim in it.” He underscores his point: “This is Montana. You can do whatever the Hell you want.” Whatever the Hell I wanted was to swim, so I swam. Took photos. Amazing. Left. Got back onto the gloriously paved road 200. Again, tucked into a little bullet. The wind was insane, but I made incredible time, and I arrived here in Jordan. As soon as I got to Jordan, the speed limit signs tell you that a town is coming. It goes down from 70 to 55, to 45, and then when you’re in town, it’s 25.

Once I got into town, I saw a car up ahead pulling into a restaurant. My plan was, eat something, stay in this town if I could. I pulled into a restaurant. The restaurant was fucking amazing. It was packed with locals, obviously. The owner-proprietor guy was super nice. I had chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, fat toast, a glass of ice water with crushed ice, a glass of coke with crushed ice, and for dessert, I had a small chocolate shake.

The Summit Corral. Jordan, MT.

When I was paying for my meal, I asked the guy if there was a motel around. He says, “Hold on.” He yells back to a guy in the kitchen. Guy in the kitchen comes out. He yells to the guy in the kitchen. He says, “Are there any rooms left at the inn?” He goes, “Yes, let me give a call. Hold on.” He calls. He says, “Yes, there’s a room.” I had to drive a quarter of a mile to a flashing light to the Garfield Hotel, which was built in 1902. I’m here. It’s awesome. Some other BMW people are also here.

Garfield Motel. Jordan, MT.

Today was a perfect day. Early start. Terrific riding, including some challenge which I overcame and learned to dominate. I still respect the shit out of the wind and will be careful. I feel like even though it is not my style, if I can be said to have one yet, it’s not my inclination to go super fast and have an aggressive posture. I’d rather just sit upright and putter around. Learning that being aggressive in response to lateral wind is actually effective and safe. It was terrific to learn. [pause] See, the air conditioner in here turns off intermittently to conserve energy, and then I become self-conscious that I am talking to myself, and that someone outside the door might be able to hear me. Anyway, I lost my train of thought. End of story.

Good morning. Good food. A great side adventure. Oh, I totally forgot! The first part of my day, when I was riding, I can’t remember whether I was 30 miles into my ride. Yes, that sounds about right, 35 miles in, got out of the rally, got on the road. Put a little distance between myself and the event, and then was thinking about food and coffee and breakfast. Stopped at a place, there were also two people there, Pete and Rita. We shot the shit for close to an hour. I had a grilled cheese with ham at their recommendation. I took photos of them with the Rolleiflex. That was great. Then they said, “Enjoy the wind!” so I enjoyed the wind. I completely forgot to mention that. It’s been a long day.

I’ll write down the names of these places in the book. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant from dinner. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant from lunch. I also can’t remember the name of the lake, but I will write those things down. I’m going to put this in the book right now. I’m going to go, “Name of breakfast,” oops, “breakfast place with Pete and Rita.” I’m going to write = underline. Then I want to say, “Name of magic lake = underline,” and then I’ll write, “Name of dinner spot in Jordan, Montana = underline,” and I’m just going to write at the bottom, “See audio diary. By see, I mean listen to.” Okay, that’s it for the book. I’ll write those names in red.

Spoke to Michelle. I’m on a double bed. At the other end of the room there is a twin bed. On the twin bed is all manner of shit. My riding pants, my shorts, my jacket, the shoulder sling thing I keep the iPad in, the plastic case that holds this audio recorder, the Rolleiflex, my CamelBa– It’s not actually a CamelBak, but the bladder water pouch thingy, my free Nickelodeon bag full of wires and shit, my helmet which is being charged, my iPhone which is being charged, and my camera battery charger which is currently charging one of two batteries. On the TV stand, my glasses, my watch, who knows what else. On the floor, the trunk, my bathing suit, my boots, my filthy fucking underwear, and socks.

Whatever. I’m tucked in, I’m done. It was a good day on the machine. Tomorrow morning I get to go back to the restaurant where I had dinner because, at the restaurant where I had dinner, which is affiliated with this hotel, I have a voucher for breakfast, which goes from, I think, 7:00 to 11:00 or 7:00 to 10:00. I’ve already showered and feel great. I’m going to sleep the sleep of kings. In the morning I’m going to pack the bike, go feed myself, and try to do a little more than 300 miles tomorrow, I think. I’m not going to crunch the numbers now or look at the GPS or do any mapping or anything. I think I want to average 350 miles a day. If I average that, I think I’d get home early, which is what I would like to do. Anyway, I haven’t exactly crunched the numbers. Why do I say ‘exactly’? I haven’t crunched the numbers.

Oh, the only other thing I wanted to note is GPS. My method is the following. I have put in my destination as the apartment in Brooklyn. I entered the address. I tapped the button “Go.” The GPS calculated and did whatever the hell it does. I’m just following that route. I haven’t previewed it. I haven’t looked at the turn-by-turn blah bitty-blah. I’m not sure what the route is. It’s not that I don’t care, but I like the idea of being constantly surprised and letting the route unfold rather than saying, “Okay, after I do x hundreds of miles to get to such and such city, then I have 400 miles to get to the next blah blah blah.”

For instance, today, at some point on the GPS, Bismarck popped up and I was like, “Bismarck? Cool.” I’d rather have it be a surprise and just pay attention to the road rather than thinking like, “Okay, today I’m covering this many miles and by the end of the day, I will be in such and such.” I just know that the route gets me home in time. I think I put the slider on the low end of Adventure so that I’m not exclusively on fucking interstates. Anyway, tomorrow, I may tinker and take a look.

Today was a joy. I had no idea what was in store for me when I hit “Go,” and I just did what the GPS told me and had a glorious day. I made one spur-of-the-moment deviation, which was amazing.

This is now the last thing. I just want to note that this is how I like to travel. I’m not advocating unprepared, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants craziness; I have money, I’m being conscientious. I have a GPS. I have a phone. And I know, in general, where I am going, et cetera. But I prefer taking it as it comes rather than strictly adhering to rules or schedule. It just sucks all the fun out of it. In every respect, today was the reward for that approach. The route was a surprise and it was good.

I pulled off the road to take a break. I passed a place that looked cool, so I turned around and went in. It was great, and I met nice people. Got back on the road. Followed my GPS just did whatever it told me. Had an amazing day on the bike, then decided, “Maybe Jordan is where I’ll stay. That sounds about right. I’m approaching 300 miles for the day. This seems cool.” Saw a restaurant. Again, there are some trucks parked outside. There’s a motorcycle outside and people are eating there. Pull in. Meet people. I asked one person if there’s somewhere to stay nearby. It leads to a room. The room is perfect. Breakfast tomorrow will be perfect.

Candel’s Byway Café.

I guess from my point of view, imagine the alternative. You have a strict itinerary. You won’t eat anywhere without asking fucking Yelp what it thinks. You’re not finding a hotel unless you’re using TripAdvisor. It’s also fucking aggravating and so full of shit. Instead, go where the moment takes you. Stop somewhere that looks interesting. Talk to the people you find there and let the day unfold like that. Now, this isn’t an earth-shattering approach to things. I suppose now it’s old-fashioned. You roll into town. You talk to somebody, “Hey, is there a place near here to do x, y, or z? God, I just prefer that to whipping out a phone and asking some algorithm where I ought to spend my fucking day, it’s embarrassing. Anyway. What a nice day. [END OF AUDIO]