July 8 2009 by Jason Fogelson
Finally, the day arrived for my wife Robin and I to leave for the Northwest and our motorcycle ride.
Our closest airport is Bob Hope International in Burbank, California, but we flew out of Los Angeles International (LAX). Knowing that we would have two very heavy bags and that we'd be very tired upon our return, I debated springing for airport parking over our usual Park-and-Ride option - convenience over cost. A quick internet search turned up a 10% discount coupon for The Parking Spot, a very convenient chain of parking garages with two LAX locations, and that sealed the deal.
Though we packed carefully and weighed the luggage at home, the airline scales showed one of our bags at 54 lbs, which would have dinged us for a $90 excess baggage fee. Ouch. Luckily, I was able to redistribute our load, and avoid the fine. Delta charges $15 for the first checked bag per passenger - a fee that suddenly seemed reasonable, given the alternative.
After a plane change in Salt Lake City, we arrived in Missoula, Montana. I had called ahead and arranged for a taxi to meet us at baggage claim, as previous trips to Missoula had taught me not to expect a line of cabs awaiting our command. I chose Green Taxi of Missoula, because their website promised a ride in a hybrid gas-electric Toyota Prius. Our friendly driver was waiting when we trundled out with our luggage, in an appropriately green vehicle. During the brief ride to our hotel, he revealed that Green Taxi of Missoula is a fleet of one vehicle with three drivers, with plans to expand as the economy recovers. We made arrangements for Green Taxi to pick us up in the morning to ferry us to the Harley dealer to pick up our bike.
We arrived at our hotel, the Best Western Grant Creek Inn. Our upper-floor room had towering ceilings and a great view of the hills, just a hint of the trip to come.
After checking in, we realized that we were hungry. Luckily, the MacKenzie River Pizza Company, a Montana-based chain of gourmet pizza and pasta restaurants, has a location adjacent to the hotel. Absolutely delicious - I would not be surprised to see MRPC locations all over the US before too long.
Back to the hotel and off to bed, with visions of Electra Glides dancing in our heads.
Next: Day 1: Missoula, Montana to Riggins, Idaho