Sunday, August 21, 2011

8.11.11 Day 50 Close encounters with the four legged kind.

8.11.11 Day 50 Close encounters with the four legged kind.

Another bright and early morning. The plan was to ride Bear’s Tooth Highway into Yellowstone then hang out in Yellowstone for the rest of the day. The Alpine Lodge serves hot breakfast in the morning so I went to get a cup of coffee and some eggs when Brad showed up. We had breakfast and chit chatted some more, then it was time to hit the road. I headed west towards 212. I was in for a scenic ride, but the extent of it I had no idea. Almost immediately before even climbing in elevation, you get a great look at some snow capped peaks and valleys. As the road climbs higher and higher, the views become grander. The air becomes thinner and cooler. At the first major overlook, I take some pictures and talk with a Harley Rider who had been here several times. Apparently they had more snow last year than years past so the amount of snow and ice left over was higher than normal.

As I continued on, it was impossible to just drive past the overlooks. I stopped at every one just to take in the view. Near the peak, the wind was so strong and the air so thin that I could tell I was breathing harder as I walked around and climbed on rocks to get better shots. It was near the peak overlooking the lake where I first ran into the two old riders from Manitoba. One was on an old Goldwing and the other a Harley. They were obviously long time riding buddies. These two were great to follow around and talk with. They had a great sense of humor and just seemed to truly enjoy riding and each others company.

This little guy was not afraid of people.

After we descended back into somewhat low lands, we all stopped at a country general store called Top of the World. I topped off on gas then went in the store to get some coffee and buy some souvenirs and postcards which I still need to send out. The Canadians were there again so we all sat down and had some coffee. There we met Uto, a Brazilian from Sao Paulo who was doing the Harley 48 State tour. Its basically a scavenger hunt of sorts. They all start from one point with a short map to the next major stop, only when they get to the next stop do they know where to go. Apparently the fastest finisher gets a big chunk of change. The winner of last years “race” rode for 48 hours straight at some times and gave himself a catheter so he wouldn’t have to stop as often. Yeah, no thanks.

The four of us sitting together must have been a funny site to see. Four people from different walks of life having only one thing in common but that one thing makes us talk and laugh together like we are old friends. We all sat around for far too long before we all finally got up to leave. Just a mile down the road, we were stopped by construction and had to wait for a while for the pilot car to lead us through. Uto and I chatted for a bit longer. Apparantly he had hit two deer or elk on the highway a few days ago. He managed to keep the bike upright but the deer were not so lucky. His words were, “Boom, deer hit, dead, just like that.” There was a little tuft of fur on his right hand side running board proving his close encounter. He kept it there for a good luck charm he says, haha.

Uto, from Brazil.

A little tuft of fur from the deers that he hit on the highway remain as his good luck charm.

My hilarious Canadian friends.

We all continued riding in a row until we got into Cooke City. I split off to use the restroom and gas up. Then it was on to Yellowstone. The entrance to Yellowstone ran along Lamar River and the valley. Although it wasn’t the breathtaking views of Bear Tooth, it was still beautiful in its own right. The valley was green as can be, there were people fly fishing, herds of buffalo roamed the pastures and there was just a sense of untouched wilderness.

I stopped at the first overlook that had bison roaming and run into the two Canadians again. The short one on the Harley says, “ They are horny, I can tell, one of them is gonna mount up any minute now.”

We laugh at him like it’s a joke, but seriously, not 10 seconds later, the huge bull of the herd mounts up a bison. We laugh even harder when the Canadian says, “ See, I told you. I have a sense about these things, I know my own.”

On that note, I decided to keep moving and the Canadians followed. We stopped at another Bison herd that were closer this time. I needed to find a campground at this point so I could unload some of my gear so I decided to just keep moving. Not a half mile up the road, I come across a traffic jam. I was wondering what was going on until I see a few big dark objects lumbering across the road. There was a large group of bison crossing the road and several of them were just a few car lengths away. These were big beasts with big horns, it feels a little uneasy being around something that huge on a motorcycle.

Once all the bison were done crossing, I went straight to the first gas station to break out my map. There I saw Uto again. We were heading different directions so he went on his way and I went campground searching. The first few were full so I just kept cruising through Yellowstone checking out the sights. After looking at the Upper and lower falls, I started to keep heading south until I noticed a large storm coming into the area. It looked like a full on thunderstorm so I figured I would cut across Yellowstone due west and see the geysers. South of me were the fishing lakes so I don’t really feel too bad about missing them. The Norris geyers were right on the edge of the storm. At first, it was chilly and windy from the storm, but as I walked around the geysers, the storm moved on then all of a sudden I was scorching hot in my leathers again. I had hoped to find a campground already and dropped off everything and changed, but that hasn’t worked out yet. After the Norris Geyser basin, I kept heading south towards Old Faithful. I had spent so much time on Bear Tooth, it was getting late in the day already. There are a lot of geysers on the way down, but I didn’t stop at them all. There were some I passed by that were cool looking, but I just wanted to see Old Faithful and call it a day. All the campgrounds were full at this point so I wanted to get a couple hours of head start on the ride out to Glacier National Park. Private campgrounds and hotels are a lot cheaper the further away from tourist attractions.

This guy ended up walking right past me. I wasnt sure if I needed to haul ass or stay completely still....
Kind of unnerving being next to these things on a bike.

Old Faithful is much further away than I thought. In fact, its even almost its own attraction outside of the park. Right when I pulled up to park, Old Faithful went off. I got to see the whole thing, but just not up close. I thought about waiting for the next “show,” but I was starving and ready to keep moving. Its already 7pm and I need to be a decent distance from the park tonight.

Old Faithful

At this point, Im excited to leave Yellowstone. The park was packed and full of vehicles that would randomly stop to look at things, or slam on the brakes at the very last second to make a turn. Just full of horrible drivers and I was beginning to lose my patience riding around. The ride out of the park was just as bad. RV after RV clogging up the motorways. Im not getting very far away as the sun goes down.
Finally out of the park and off a main road, I see a sign for RV resort and cabins so I pull in. No tent camping but cabins are $75. Fine, I ll have somewhere to charge my camera batteries too. I probably should have called around for some cheaper hotel rooms, but I was tired and aggravated so I just took the first thing I saw. The cabin ended up having a great view on the lake so I couldn’t complain.

I was recommended the Happy Hour Bar for dinner so off I went. Generic menu of burgers and such and I wasn’t really in the mood for more buffalo burgers so I got the nachos that the waitress swore were awesome. Yeah, Mexican style food is only good in the south it seems. Long day of riding and sightseeing. Just a few snacks during the day and I ended up with a crappy dinner. A bit disappointed, but Ill make up for it tomorrow somehow.

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