The 8th of October, 2001
a cool and wet day...
Powell, Deer Lodge, Granite, Missoula (again), and Ravalli counties.
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The 8th of October, 2001, dawned sunny went anyway.  But first I loaded up my trust Alladin Stainless Steel Thermos Bottle with a quart of Hot Chocolate.

It was not nearly enough.

One of the rewards for getting up early in Montana is the sunrise.  From a motorcycle, it is even better!  This is a Rest Area on I15 near the Dearborn exit, between Great Falls and Helena.
This is looking over my windshield shortly before reaching Craig, MT.  It has a reputation for great fly fishing.  it also has a one lane bridge that the locals seem to want to keep, while the State Highway Department wants to put in a new one.  Of course, it could be in part because it is very old and worn.
This is a panorama I took on my trusty Kodak DC3200 Digital camera.  It was actually taken on 12 Nov 01, and is near sunset.  It is also north of the Dearborn exit and Craig, but it is part of the beautiful country along side the upper reaches of the Missouri River.  This is the country I got to ride through during my sunrise.  I just don't have a nice panorama of it.
A quick note about my panoramas.  They will be a bit slow to load on a dial-up connection, because each is several photos in size.  Also, you will see they don't match up exactly either in the photo or along the edges.  This is because these are handheld photos, and don't involve the steadying alignment of a tripod.  (No tripod socket on the camera!  But I like them uneven.  This is Art, not engineering.)  I have found that if I line up the horizon features, the panorama looks the best.
This is looking down at the Helena Valley from the North.  You can see Lake Helena on the left, and Helena, the State Capitol, is just to the right of the photo.

First to fall this day in my quest for 56 County Seats was Powell County, Deer Lodge, Montana.  The ride was colder than I had planned for (it was in the 70's the day before, and of course, scheduled to stay that way...) with snow on the mountain tops already, and I don't yet have electric clothing.  I probably would have been electrocuted later on the ride.
Next came Deer Lodge County, Anaconda, Montana.  Why Deer Lodge is in Powell County, and Anaconda is in Deer Lodge County, the next county to the south, I don't know.  It started to rain while riding between the two counties.  I almost decided to head to the Interstate (I15) to bag Dillon and Butte and head home.  It would have been drier.
Next up was Granite County, Phillipsburg, Montana.  The town is on a hillside, and some of the best riding I have done in a while was between Anaconda and here.  Just fun, winding down from some mountains, past an old wooden aquaduct and some lakes.  It did warm up a bit, and rain stopped, for now. ...
At last we come to Missoula, County Seat of the County bearing that name.  I lived here for a short while as a wee lad.  And after four years and many miles, I have a photo of the Courthouse!
South of Missoula is Ravalli County, Hamilton, Montana.  It was hard to get to the Courthouse, since all of the streets seemed to be being dug up at the same time.  Once I got to it, though, it was clearly marked.

This is the view from Bonner, Montana, on the way home.  I stopped at a convenient Town Pump truckstop to refuel, and got drenched.  It lasted at least 45 minutes as a downpour, and then it lightened up to mearly heavy rain.  I had to drive up the valley just visible on the left of the photo beyond the plywood plant.  The dark line just beyond the highway going from the left side of the photo to behind the tree, stopping at the light pole, is a pile of logs.  This isn't even a big pile as lumber mills go! 
In the next 80 miles from here to Rogers Pass, east of Lincoln, MT, on Montana 200, I got maybe 10 miles that wasn't rain.  Why the big deal?  It wasn't suppose to rain at all, and I had a tight schedule to keep to be the second adult at my wife's Junior Girl Scout Troop meeting.  Rogers Pass to Great Falls, another 90 miles or so, was wonderful late afternoon sun.  I was only a few minutes late!

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