Fall Tour Part 2 – Choteau, MT to Orofino, ID

Filling up, Day en route to Orofino, ID

Filling up, Day 2 en route to Orofino, ID

Day 2:  Choteau, MT to Orofino, ID – 645 km

From the small ‘city’ (according to the State of Montana) of Choteau (pop. 1684), we make our customary ‘wheels up’ departure at 0800h.

It’s another cool, overcast day, and honestly, the weather isn’t the sunny, warm and dry day that makes for ideal motorcycle touring weather.  But at least it isn’t raining, and better yet, it’s NOT snowing.

But first, we need breakfast . . . 

Our quartet grabbed coffee and nibbled at the Stage Stop Inn’s continental breakfast, but we were saving our appetites for a ‘real’ breakfast at Steve’s Cafe in Missoula, some 1 hour 40 minutes ride.

We’d discovered Steve’s Cafe a few years ago while on tour in Montana.  Steve’s had been highly recommended to us as a prime breakfast destination in the region highly praised by locals.  Of course, we had to try it and it was far superior to the so-called continental breakfasts provided by most motels.

Chicken Apple Sausage and Eggs

Chicken Apple Sausage and Eggs enjoyed at Steve’s Cafe, Helena, MT

It’s mid-morning, Saturday, when we pull into Steve’s Cafe.  Group Leader Robyn takes us on the ‘scenic route’ when he mistakenly programs his RT’s GPS for the ‘other’ Steve’s Cafe, then realizing his error, guides us expertly to the correct location.  As expected for a Saturday, the restaurant is busy and we have to wait a few minutes to be seated.

At Robyn’s suggestion, I order the Chicken Apple Sausage and two eggs ($11.50), a dish he’s enjoyed on a previous visit.  All’s good.  The sausage is lean and has a touch of sweetness from the apple, and everybody is more than satisfied with our hearty meal.

From Helena, it’s still 2-1/4 hours ride to Lolo, where we join up with the fabulously twisty and scenic Highway 12, one of the best motorcycling/sports car roads in the United States.

From Lolo, MT, Highway 12 winds westward and climbs up to Lolo Pass (elev. 1595 m) and marks the boundary between Montana and Idaho.  We are anticipating that the climb to higher elevation will bring cold weather; possibly snow.  While we are all hoping for the best (no snow) nobody mentions the “S” word, possibly a subconscious attempt to not ‘jinx’ our luck.

On this last day of September, traffic on Highway 12 is light and even though it’s cold and raining intermittently, the air temperature hovers around 8 degree Celsius, sometimes dropping or increasing a couple of degrees along the way.  we arrive at the sole cafe stop between Lolo and Orofino – Lowell, which consists of a gas bar (closed when we rode through), a cafe and motel.

Mid-afternoon coffee stop at Lowell, the only cafe to stop atbetween Lolo, MT and Orofino, ID. (L-R, Paul, Robyn and Walker)

Early afternoon coffee stop at Lowell, the only cafe to stop at between Lolo, MT and Orofino, ID. (L-R, Paul, Robyn and Walker)


Walker taking much needed sustenance (and warmth) at Lowell

Coconut cream pie and coffee, an appropriate pick-me-up at Lowell, ID on US Route 12

Coconut cream pie and coffee, an appropriate pick-me-up at Lowell, ID on US Route 12

From Lowell to Orofino, it’s only about a 1 hour ride.  After a long, cold and often wet ride from Lolo, MT, the touring gods smile on us.

The roads dry up, and even if the air temperature stays cool, the late afternoon sun is gorgeous, making for picture-perfect photos (if one were to actually stop and take time to snap a few pictures.)  That last one hour ride into Orofino is spectacular.  The road is sinewy, we’re dry and riding in reasonable comfort, traffic is sparse, and the fall colours are gorgeous.

We reach Orofino, riding through town to the Konkolville Motel, one of our favourite destinations when touring Idaho.  The Chapmans offer a tantalizingly unique ‘special’ at the Konkolville Motel – a 16 oz. steak dinner that you pre-order when booking your room.  They provide a baked potato, salad and hand you slab of superb beef steak that you cook yourself on the motel’s commercial size outdoor grills.

The steak dinner is the highlight of a good day’s ride and our gang of four, between mouthfuls of steak, strategize our route for tomorrow, Day 3.

We’re worried.  When we departed Edmonton on Friday, the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday was sunny and dry, with the possibility of rain for Saturday and Sunday.  Now, the forecast is for snow flurries and possibly heavy snow for Whitefish, MT (where we planned to ride next) and southern Alberta.

We may be heading for trouble tomorrow and talk about the best way to head back to Edmonton on Sunday and Monday while avoiding possible snow.

Route Map – Day 2, Choteau, MT to Orofino, ID

Day 2 - Choteau, MT to Orofino, ID, 645 km

Day 2 – Choteau, MT to Orofino, ID, 645 km

Next:  Fall Tour Part 3 – We plan a new route home and get it all wrong







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