After yesterday, we were hoping for a better day today but it was still raining lightly when we awoke. After breakfast it was decision time. Based on the local weather forecasts, where we were going was going to be about the same as yesterday. Do we lay up a day or reroute. After an investigation of the road conditions and weather forecasts, we decided on a run east then south to meet up with one or our earlier proposed routes. Not the most exciting way but easy to make time on the interstates.
We left Cardston at 10:00am and headed east in the rain at 3 degrees C with the positive thought that that was better than 1 degree C yesterday, through Whiskey Gap and Del Bonita by which time the rain had stopped but the temperature hadn't improved. A nice run across through primarily wheat country. Looks like a lot of farmers were caught with grain halfway through harvesting when the rain came in. Then south from Milk River to cross the border into USA. Fairly long queue, 15 minute wait, still about 7 degrees C though. "When did you last visit the USA"; "Yesterday"; "You'll need to take off your helmet": "It's not a pretty sight"; "Don't care what you look like, just as long I can match you with the photo".
Onto the US interstate, 80mph speed limit, cold but no rain, wind chill factor high but good travelling through the rolling plains, even though the cloud was still quite low and threatening. On through Sunburst and Shelby for a fuel stop and lunch at Conrad. Not much to see there but a very nice lady in the shop and she willingly helped us with routes, road conditions and travel advice. Lunch was eaten using a table in a motel grounds, no public facilities that we could find. It actually looks like there are some good roadside rest areas in the US based on what we saw later in the day, that will be good. Right through here is a continuation of the plains in southern Alberta but this area has a far more rolling aspect with regular appearances of small valleys that look like they may have been glacial in formation.
With time to spare we dropped into Great Falls and took a visit with the local Information Office. Nice people who had been to NZ and took a cruise to Burnie and Melbourne. From the Information Office it was off to see the the "Great Falls of the Missouri" at Ryan Dam. Not quite what we expected, hard to get a good view without a rough trek it appeared but very poorly signposted. Not really worth the 45 minute round trip, maybe we missed something but we seemed to be in the right place.
The road from Great Falls through Cascade to our stop at Helena runs through some beautiful rugged country with rugged hills and canyons following the Missouri River. At one point, the tops of the mountains showed the snow fall level of yesterday. I think the snow line was at 5000ft, the road was 3500ft. Low and behold, almost in Helena and the sun came out, first time we've seen it since Saturday. Didn't help the temperature much, actually reached a high 9 degrees C. Arrived in Helena, filled up with fuel before going to the motel. I reckon it's colder off the bike than it is when riding!
It looks like the weather will beat us again shortly and mean another change of route. The northern road out of Yellowstone National Park has a fantastic route through Bear Tooth Pass. Only recently cleared of last year's snow and opened, it is now closed again and no chance it will be open in time for us.
That's enough for tonight.
563 klms today, total to date 2053 klms.