Medora to Billings (“Here Comes the Sun”)

Billings, Montana
October 4, 2014

Dear Family & Friends:

I checked out of the hotel in Medora at 9 am. The temperature was 32 F. My bike refused to start, and I drained the battery trying to get it running. This was a protest over the fact I left the bike out in the open in this arctic zone the entire night. The first person I asked had jumper cables, and the bike started immediately.

The sun was out and the sky was clear, blue and cloudless. But, the air was frigid cold and the wind was unrelenting. The ride West on Highway 94 was tough, and I stopped every 40 miles to thaw out. My clothing consisted of the following, from the bottom up: socks & tennis shoes; two layers of pants; a long sleeve shirt, wrapped in a heavy green sweatshirt, wrapped in a light jacket, wrapped in a heavy down jacket; two layers of gloves; and a head cover inside my helmet.

I finally crossed the border into Montana. This was a joyous moment. By the time I reached Miles, Montana, the sun was directly overhead and I began to feel warmer. The wind didn’t let up, but it was nice to stop shivering.

Putting aside the hissy-fit in the morning, my bike has performed great. The engine purrs like a kitten, and, because of its size and weight, the bike stands its ground pretty well when buffeted by winds and passing trucks. I couldn’t be happier.

As I rode further Southwest towards Billings, the weather steadily improved. Even the wind abated a bit. For the first time, I really enjoyed the ride. The improving weather allowed me to crank up the speed to 75-mph, which was a big morale booster as I approached my destination faster.

I’m sure the weather is in full War Council mode, plotting the next attack, perhaps a cyclone or typhoon. But, not to worry, we’re ready for anything that comes our way. It can’t get much worse than the last few days.

I arrived in Billings around 6 pm and checked in to the Best Western Hotel in downtown Billings. I had dinner at Jake’s Steakhouse. Fabulous ribeye steak dinner. Here’s the capper for the day: when I asked for the bill, I was told the bill was paid by some fellow diners who preferred to remain anonymous. I have no idea why these wonderful people paid my bill. Perhaps, they took pity on me because the road wear & tear was so obvious. I was wearing my green University of Oregon sweatshirt in honor of my Saintly, departed Mom. She applied to the University of Oregon upon graduation from Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. She was accepted, but could not attend any college or university because, as she told me, ” I didn’t have two pennies to rub together.” I have never forgotten that statement, which broke my heart. Perhaps these Jake’s benefactors were sending me a message and gift from my dear Mom.

As for my next destination, I had hoped to ride through Yellowstone National Park, but the temperature this morning in the Park was 25 F. I’ll plan to ride West to Bozeman and Butte, and then drop down South into Idaho. The temperature in Billings right now is 49 F and is expected to reach a high of 70 F. Yippee!

The bike started right up, so I guess I’m forgiven from yesterday in Medora.


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10 thoughts on “Medora to Billings (“Here Comes the Sun”)

  1. Dear Bill,

    What a wonderful story. I am sorry you had such a rough time, but there is no doubt in my mind that your dear mother, Mary, was looking after you. She was always such a sweet person. I have only lovely, fond memories of her.

    I also feel sad that she could not have gone to Oregon State because she could not afford it. I belong to PEO, an organization that gives schlarships to women like your mother & supports a woman’s college, in the hopes that more women like your mother will be given the opportunity to fulfill their dream of an education & it gives me great pleasure to be of service in this manner.

    I know that you have many angels looking over you. God Bless you on your travels!

    Love & Hugs,

    1. Dearest Betty:

      My brother, sister and I have only the fondest memories of you, Jerry and your wonderful family. What great neighbors you were in Burbank, and you deserve a medal for babysitting us. I don’t know how you put up with me.

      Scott, who obviously attended the University of Oregon, is correct. Oregon State is the “other” college in Oregon. Both great schools, but my heart will always be with the University of Oregon because of my Mom.

      I’m happy you are providing opportunities for women to attend college. Good for you!



  2. Man what an adventure and such a difference in weather. We are scorching here – but I am sure you will bring some cooler weather with you. Love those kinds of places like Jake’s. And very neat that those people treated you. Would love to hear more about your mom’s story as you were a successful attorney and isn’t your brother a judge? Stay safe and ENJOY.

  3. Bill,

    Enjoy the ride and Go Ducks! This has got to be a piece of cake compared to your travels in Nepal. Betty, Oregon State are the other guys! They are represented by a rodent otherwise known as a beaver and they dress like a pumpkins and dwell at the bottom of the PAC 12!

    Happy Trails!

  4. Bill —

    I’m feeling the imaginary relief of the bracing cool weather riding in the figurative buddy seat of your windshield less “front window” on the bike speeding down I-94 in clear weather. Must be a scene to behold. As you may know, Butte has a lot of rip-roaring mining history. It wasn’t called the “richest hill on earth” for nothing


  5. Bill, the long trip from Medora to Billings had a beautiful ending at Jakes. Those wonderful people understand and give meaning to “pay it forward”. As you head south on the I-15, you’ll pass through Dillon, Montana (Western Montana College). Stop for lunch, take some pictures, and post them for Amy and Simon–surely, you’ll find wonderful people in Dillon also.

    Travel blessings,


    P.S. Sorry that weather necessitates by-passing Yellowstone NP.

  6. How nice of the people who paid for your dinner. I hope you pay it forward and pick out someone at your next meal to do the same for. I wish some of that cooler weather would come to California. 100 degrees today- just too hot. Be safe. Xoxo

  7. Yes, your mother’s story is endlessly echoed. My uncle became a physician and my mother couldn’t as money was short and males were first in line way back when.

    If my facts are correct, I believe Sandra Day O’Connor couldn’t find work after graduating third in her class from Stanford Law School (William Rehnquist being number one) due to gender. She found a good job in 1981.

    But I digress; what a trip. If you have any further trouble with your motorcycle, don’t forget about the yak.


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