Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Guest Post: Morgan Sansotta "Ghost Town Gal"

I receive many requests to evaluate products and also requests from others to host guest posts which I generally ignore.   That's the downfall of having a listed email but I choose to have a way for my readers to contact me and so far my junque mail hasn't been much of a problem.

Early December I received an email from Morgan and somehow the tone of her email was more personal so during the past month or so we have exchanged a few emails and I decided to publish her article.  She is a freelance writer and novice biker now living in Idaho who is most likely going to start her own blog called  "Ghost Town Gal"

Excerpt from one of our conversations:

Quote " I came across your site today; I really enjoyed your new post about an old trip (yuck, yuck). In all seriousness, the photos of the Montana area in July has my heart aching for the return of greenery.

I'm a rural Idahoan (just transplanted back from the Bay area) and pretty new to riding. I've been trying to branch out and make contact with moto-bloggers across the country before I dive into the deep end and start my own touring site. 

Any chance you ever let outsiders chip in guest posts for Riding the Wet Coast? I've been working on a piece about riding the Silver Valley area in Northern Idaho. I was up there in September and the trip was full of history, beautiful scenery -- fun galore, basically. "    signed   Morgan

Guest Post:  Author:     Morgan Sansotta:   -----------------------------------

Hi-ho, Silver! – A North Idaho Moto-Tour

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Morgan Sansotta, freelance blogger for, loves the sight of abandoned smelter. Even if the EPA doesn’t share her opinion.

Northern Idaho’s Silver Valley region, located on a stretch of US I-90, is renowned for its rich history. Literally. Since the 1880’s, over one billion ounces of silver have been mined from this area. Not to mention the literal tons of gold, zinc and lead. To this day, the mines in the Coeur d’Alene district are among the most productive in the world.

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As it turns out, it’s also a really awesome place to ride a motorcycle. Tucked into the Bitterroot Mountains, ATVs and snowmobiles are actually the preferred modes of transportation in these parts. You can even legally ride a snowmobile through the streets of most of the small towns. But dual-sports are almost as popular.

Outdoor recreationalists from all over the world pour into the Silver Valley to get a taste of the Wild West. If you’re an off-road enthusiast, the Idaho Panhandle offers nearly 4000 miles of trails and roads. The majority are located on National Forest or public lands. But don’t worry; there’s plenty of regulation pavement to pound. If you prefer designated routes (as opposed to the play-it-by-ear method) the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway, International Selkirk Loop and Lake Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway are among the most celebrated in this region.

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I visited the area in autumn and the scenery was no less than breathtakingly gorgeous. The tamarack larch trees, nestled amongst red cedars, aspens, Ponderosa pine and Doug fir, had just turned a brilliant shade of canary yellow. The sloping canyon hillsides open up into lush valleys and winding river systems and dazzling lakes. It’s one of those places where you really don’t know what’s around the next turn.

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Personally, I like to take things leisurely and the Silver Valley was a perfect fit. Unfortunately, during my visit, the world’s longest gondola (from the town of Kellogg to Silver Mountain Ski Resort) was closed. I hear it’s a wonderful little jaunt; just like floating through the forest. On the off chance you’re into the other form of two-wheeled recreation, the Route of the Hiawatha’s bike trail (formerly the famed Old Milwaukee Railroad) is an international treasure.

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History buffs know this area for the major unionized labor disputes that took place around the turn of the 20th century. For those not familiar with the ‘Dynamite Express’ – I highly recommend looking into this explosive story. A friend and I actually followed the trail of the ‘Express’ from Burke to Wardner and it was…much shorter than we expected…but exhilarating to be there, nonetheless.

Speaking of history, Kingston is home to North Idaho’s Motorcycle Museum. Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t hear this existed until I got home. I hear it features around 20 classic bikes, including a pair of ‘70s Indians, a ton of vintage paraphernalia and an entire Evel Knievel section. I visited half a dozen other museums, mostly mining or railroad oriented, but my only real recommendations are the Crystal Goldmine Tour and Wallace’s Oasis Bordello Museum (the brothel was in operation until 1988!).

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Depending on what sort of rider you are, you can plan your trip with maps from the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or the Idaho State Parks and Recreation department. They’re certainly more informative than I am regarding open/closed roads, seasonal information and other details. As with other rural areas, you have to stay on your toes – you never know when a stray bear or elk might wander into your path.

To wrap it up, I’ll leave you with a fun fact: evidently, in the state of Idaho, it’s illegal for anyone over the age of 88 to ride a motorcycle. While I understand the basis for such a law, I’m dying to meet the fellow who breaks the rule every day. If you know him, let us know! Have fun and stay safe out there.

Morgan Sansotta, a freelance writer and history buff, blogs about her two-wheeled adventures on behalf of When she’s not cruising the Northwest’s finest highways and back country roads, you can find her reading about Idaho’s gold rush and whipping up batches of homemade jam with ingredients from her backyard (jalapeño huckleberry, anyone?).

Google+  profile      and another published article    here


  1. Interesting, she recently contacted me as well....her dad apparently owned a mid-90s URAL and used to take the kids for rides....


    1. Hi Dom :) it was actually an older mid-60s Ural -- hope to hear from you soon!

    2. Hi Morgan, got confused I guess. I thought I responded in the affirmative to you?

  2. Nice shot of the curved bridge and the Fall foliage.

  3. Very nice, now it's on my visit list!

  4. Idaho is a great place to ride. It's been a few years but on my last ride there I had a great ride through the Sawtooth Recreation area and one of the great rides of my life from Stanley through the mountains to Boise on Hwy 21. Both are on my 'Must Do' list to ride again. Interesting History.

  5. Awesome article Morgan and lovely pictures! Welcome to the world of moto blogging and I wish you many miles of warm sunshine!

    Thanks for sharing Bob!

  6. Safe riding and (more) great writing Morgan. We had family in the Wallace/Avery area; brother spent a summer fighting fires there and I was there visiting for a few weeks. Of course we had our trail/dirt bikes!

    I will not forget that beautiful foliage image......reminds me of Avery tucked along the St. Joe. EVERYthing in Avery was tucked along the St. Joe

  7. Good decision to feature her post. It's a good one. I've never ridden that area on two wheels, but have been in and around Wallace twice by car. It's gorgeous country and would be completely thrilling to tour on two wheels.