Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 20 - Tetons and Yellowstone

This day was one of the ones that balances out the bad days.... It was raining early in the morning, but the sky looked bright off toward the parks. I waited a bit, enjoying my coffee and then left in a foggy mist. Jackson was so different when it was still sleeping, hardly a soul was out, compared to the high traffic the evening before.

In another couple of hours, it would be bustling again. I wanted to start early into the parks so that I could get a head start on traffic. The horizon ahead of me was peaceful and bright. The Grand Tetons are spectacular, angular and snow covered, as if shooting up toward the sky. So many mountains look as though they have settled in and these look as if they are wanting to reach higher. I entered the park and enjoyed the solitude of the morning, winding through and starting to climb in altitude, the air was cool on my face. In just a few miles, I saw a little traffic jam, indicating that there must be something to look at and the satisfaction was just about as great as seeing the Pacific Ocean. A grizzly bear was not too far off the road, rooting for breakfast. I pulled up behind another motorcycle and watched from about 50 feet away. Grizzly was down below the viewing platform, and we were off to the side. I was happily clicking away photos, letting my bike idle. I figured this would be a situation where leaving it on to idle would be better than the percussive noise to restart it. And I am glad I did... Grizzly started ambling toward me, still down off the road, but clearly walking my way. How exciting!! The ranger came over, telling us that it was too dangerous for us to be by the side of the road now. Grizzly was only 20 feet away! I rode away a very happy tourist. After that, the park had buffalo and elk all out eating breakfast. It was pretty cool, a few of the buffalo were grazing right at the road's edge. I passed a couple of signs stating I was on the Continental Divide... a term that I have heard all my life, but suddenly realized that I didn' t know what it meant. A quick Google search and I now know it is the divide where water either flows toward the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean. As I entered Yellowstone next, planning to ride the grand loop. I was looking forward to Old Faithful. When I planned this trip, I did not realize that Yellowstone was its location. (I know, I know... duh...) The parking area was tremendous... I puttered through the lot, looking to see how close I could get. It's always a dream and a challenge to park the bike in front of some important or beautiful place. I almost got it within sight distance! I was astounded by all the steam vents! They were everywhere, and some constantly puffed big clouds of steam, others sort of 'smoked'. I quoted that because it is not really smoke of course. The good news was, that I arrived just in time for the "any minute" warning for Old Faithful... I had no idea what to expect, so I stood there, camera ready, occasionally clicking a photo. When the geyser did go off, I turned around and asked the poor surprised woman behind me to snap a picture of me. She happily obliged, as most strangers do for me. The sights through the rest of the park were lovely... some wide vistas with buffalo grazing at the edge of the road, and some rocky gorges with the ever present river that I have found next to the roads here in the west. The two national parks finished, it was time to head toward Lander WY. It's funny, I have this picture that once out of a park, the road will simply turn into a flat interstate, as if the mountains and valleys were turned on and off. I had about 150 miles to ride and they were not flat... I have come to the conclusion, actually two, but this one is that Wyoming wins in terms of the varieties of roads and scenery. One can ride wide open plains or tiny little winding tree lined twisties. And everything in between... in one ride, it can be super hot and then later, shivery cold! The other conclusion I have come to is that the Subway chain of restaurants is the most prevalent chain in the US. I see them every day, many times a day. This is purely observation, but I would bet that I am correct. :) The last turn south toward Lander was delightful...the rocks suddenly became that deep red orange that is more associated with the south west. The colors of the landscape in the late afternoon sun were soft and warm, the grasses were a sage green with bright yellow green flowers on them. The whole picture made me think of food... curry to be exact, which I love. The colors spread out before me were all spice colors... just beautiful. The rocks had layers that were pastel stripes, one of them looked lavender in the late sun. I wished I could find a way to park my bike in the middle of one of these fields for a photo. The day had been partly about dodging raindrops. I almost succeeded! About a mile and a half before the motel, the sky darkened and poured....I hid out under the overhang in front of the motel office for a while and then had to resign myself to getting wet... I did find a place to stash DG so that she'd be mostly out of the rain. Got settled in my room and promptly fell asleep. I always thought I would have HOURS at the end of the rides to write my blog, but reality is, that I find that either a nap or just going to bed for the night is what I need. The room had a kitchenette with the most amazing appliance, a stove and a sink all in one. Never have I seen anything like this! It seemed kind of scary to me... I woke later on, and checked DG to make sure I had locked the ignition...when I opened the door I heard whooping and laughter, and banjos! I knew I was really far from home. Peering through the darkness toward the sound, I could see a group of people dancing in the night, it was almost as if spying on a Pagan ritual... in the morning, the truck with the 'just married' decorations told me the reason for the happy night dancing :)

It would be fun to say that this was the wedding truck, but it was not...
I simply loved the contrast against my bike..

This is the Pronghorn Lodge in Lander WY... look at the

and the investment
in the sculpture (this is only one of them)...

they just don't do this out east!!


  1. This was a wonderful walk down memory lane for me. As a child back in the '50s we spent many a summer camping in Yellowstone Park and your narrative captures Yellowstone in all it's glory!
    I'm am so loving this trip!! Ride Bee Ride!

  2. I am following with great interest. You are giving me a pre-look to what to expect in September. When you get back ya gotta give me the places you stayed and what you think. Enjoying the read