Girl Meets World on FZ-07 Motorcycle: Chapter 2, Part 14

Curiosities from Montana to Wyoming and Nebraska: bison, chickens, stray dogs, oh my!

Motorcycles on Going to the Sun Road
Going to the Sun road seemed to be pretty popular with motorcyclists, and after finally getting to experience it myself, I can see why!Photo: Tiffani Burkett

After an exhausting month in Canada , it was time to take a bit of a breather, so not too many crazy happenings from here. But now that the FZ-07 and I have thoroughly exhausted the Western mountain states, I guess it's time to get headed east for real before the weather gets too bad.

So, once I crossed into Eureka, MT (Which was the most pleasant border crossing to date- they didn’t even grill me about having guns or fruit this time!), it was straight to Glacier National Park. I’d been dying to see Glacier for as long as I can remember, and Going to the Sun Road was clear of snow, so I was pretty excited to get to hit such an iconic road this trip. We got in late and it was a bit foggy that day, so we camped down in the Apgar Campground for the night, hoping for clearer skies in the morning. The clouds dissipated as the night went on, enough so that we even got an astronomy lesson from the park rangers. Although camping in desolate places all the time has made me pretty good at finding the north star already!

FZ-07 riding dirt road through golden field
Riding through the expansive gold fields of Montana.Photo: David "Hollywood" Hayward

The next morning was crystal clear, warm, and beautiful. What luck! Traffic along Going to the Sun highway was slow going, but with how epic the views were, I don’t think I would have gone any faster even if I could have. The road was lined with waterfalls that misted you as you rode by, and I had to stop a few times just to admire the glacier carved mountains, valleys, and rivers. It’s incredible to me how no matter how many forests and mountain ranges I ride through, each new road feels equally impressive.

Tiffani cleans her FZ-07
My bike was so coated in dirt that I almost forgot my rims were blue! A wash of WD-40 and Honda polish was probably as satisfying for my FZ as a real hot shower was for me after weeks of bathing in glacier fed Canadian lakes.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

We left through East Glacier, headed through Browning, then along the high line. Hollywood, being originally from Montana, told me you should never, ever stop in Browning. The wind gusts were incredibly gnarly, pitching my bike sometimes several feet in either direction, and the stray dogs were so abundant, that I didn’t feel particularly compelled to stop anyways.

After a quick pit stop in Chester for a cowboy wedding, and a long pit stop in Havre for some recovery and to try to scrub all the Alaska off our bikes with Hollywood’s racer buddy Jeff (I literally spent 6 hours cleaning every crevasse of caked mud off the bike, and still didn’t get it all. I don’t even understand how it’s possible to carry that much dirt on such a little bike), we headed south through Lewistown. While Montana isn’t quite as rocky or forested as many of the places we’ve been so far, the expansive golden fields offer their own kind of beauty, and I finally understood why they call it “big sky country” when riding through the flat plains, where there was nothing to obstruct the view of huge blue skies.

FZ-07 and FZ-1 in Montana
I think this is the most accurate summation of Montana that I can photographPhoto: Tiffani Burkett

Just off the highway near Lewistown, we took a detour up a dirt road leading to the summit of Judith Mountain. The peak revealed 360 views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and small black diamonds lined the hill side. At this point, I’m actually starting to like all the dirt riding we do, and the FZ has proven time and time again to be a worthy machine in it. It’s funny to think about how afraid I used to be back when I started all of this. You learn a lot on the road.

Tiffani FZ-07 dirt road Judith Mountain
Tackling more dirt roads up Judith Mountain. I'm getting the hang of this dirt stuff!Photo: David "Hollywood" Hayward

From there we went down through Billings and into Bozeman, where we stopped at Blitz Motorsports for some maintenance. I needed some new handlebars after tweaking mine a little in the crash, and the mechanics in Bozeman were some of the most meticulous and thorough I’ve encountered. The bike rides great! We camped in a free campground called Battle Ridge for the night, then headed down to Yellowstone, so I could finally tick off Wyoming. We got into the park in the afternoon, where I met up with an old coworker who was currently working there. I hadn’t seen Scott in nearly 10 years, when I left my first job working in the videogame industry, but it’s amazing how travelling and social media can get you back in touch with so many old friends and family!

He gave us a tour of some of his favorite spots and features in the park. Having been working there for a few months now, I learned that Bison traffic jams in the park were about as frequent and fun as commuting traffic jams in Los Angeles. I guess the novelty of seeing wild animals wears off a bit after the 10th time they make you late for work, haha.

Bison traffic jam
It’s all fun and games until the bison start clogging up the roads. If they’re gonna stop traffic all the time, they could at least do some sweet wheelies.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

The next morning, we rolled into the Tetons. The recent fires made it difficult to see the Tetons themselves, as the sky was thick with smoke and fog, but the ride through the park was blanketed with gorgeous gradients of green to yellow to orange to red leaves, as the trees turned for Autumn. Growing up in southern California, I never really experienced the changing of the trees. Leaves were generally just either green or dead, so I stopped to ask if those colors were normal. Something tells me hitting a lot of the Northern states in Autumn is going to be pretty special.

Hollywood, clutch repair, hen supervisor
Looks like Hollywood called in some back-up for help in his clutch replacement while I stepped away……. Just farm things.Photo: Tiffani Burkett

But, as we were cruising through the Tetons, the clutch on Hollywood’s FZ-1 started slipping, and we had to pull over for some roadside jimmy-rigging. After stopping to try to figure out where we could get parts sent that were within a reasonable range, we stopped for a night in Dubois, then limped into a farm near Lyman, Nebraska where Hollywood had a good friend. After a few days of painting barns and doing farm things, I think I can say I might be getting the most authentic Nebraska experience possible, but with a new clutch installed, it’s time to head east and knock out the rest of this country!

Tiffani painting and farm things
Painting the barn, and other farm things.Photo: Tiffani Burkett