Well, I spent more time than usual this morning getting out of my room than usual. I'm behind on my blogs and with my sad memory, if I don't get it done, I won't remember any of it, so I took the time to catch up a bit. At the end of the day, the morning seems so long ago it's difficult to remember any of the last 12 hours. I finished my entry for yesterday before packing out so I wouldn't forget it all. :)
I wasn't packed up and ready to go until 9am. Feeling a bit anxious to be on my way, when I asked the clerk where the Ranch was, 'just down the road' was a wonderful thing.
If I'd pulled in to the hotel while it was still light out, I would have seen the sign for the ranch spitting distance from my room. Ok, a distance spitter, but still, it was the next thing down the road. My bike wasn't even warmed up when I pulled into the parking lot.
A ranger lady pulled up behind me while I was taking a picture of the bike in front of the sign and offered to take it for me. So, wow, it's really me on that bike! And the park didn't even open until 9 am, so turns out I'm not behind at all, but right on time. :) Now off to Yellowstone!
My gps announce a turn just as the highway sign declared the exit, but at the end of the ramp they disagreed. I decided that I'd take the gps route rather than the government dictated route to go the road less traveled. As someone says to me at the hotel later: 'you really can't take a bad road.'
Ennis was one of the fun towns on the way to Yellowstone. They will be having a flyfishing event in September and I thought of riding buddy, Denise/Lefty, who is meant to be living in Montana, flyfishing in her spare time, but couldn't make the trip with me. It was a cool day today: 1130am and only 68 degrees!
Earthquake Lake was stunning! The pictures don't do any of what I've seen justice...which is such a shame.
Yellowstone, itself, wasn't far from Deer Lodge, but, wow, once you get there, you better be prepared to spend some time. There are, maybe, 9 'neighborhoods' all about 20 miles apart from each other.
I pulled over to make a phone call to the park to ask about the visitor center locations, but service was sketchy. I changed into my mesh jacket and had some water. I nearly choked to death on the first sip, but eventually recovered and took some photos. While I was heaving on the shoulder I thought how ironic to cross the country on my bike without (almost) incident and die by bottled water. A beautiful final resting place, though, no?
Turns out the first area I went to, *twice*, DID have a stamp, but I never saw the building and moved on to Old Faithful's visitor center. A very helpful employee told me where all the stamps in the park where. I watched a movie on the geysers and planned my route around the park. Riding out of the park later, thinking that I hadn't really enjoyed Yellowstone as much as the other parks, I realized that it was because it was more like the Epcot center with it's 'worlds' and the numbers of people. I can't imagine what Mt. Rushmore will be like on a Saturday. :/ I may have to kill someone.*
It took the second set of haphazardly shoulder-parked cars for me to realize that that would be my sign that a large mammal was near enough for photos. Here's the buffalo I saw right after I got in the park.
And here's the guy who's gonna get mauled by him.
I hit 4 of the different areas to get stamps for the Master Tourer Challenge, but only long enough to stamp my book, look at some things that didn't catch the attention of the massive crowds and move on. Ironically, biker buddy, Charles, happened to call while I was taking this Old Faithful picture asking how the trip was.
I was finally heading out the East entrance to start making my way to Mt. Rushmore. I'd spent waaay longer than expected in Yellowstone and needed to get going.
On the way out, a mass pullover indicated another wildlife spotting. This group of buffalo (or bison, dunno yet, I haven't had time to look it up, but you know what I mean - that enormous mammal with the horns...) was completely unconcerned with us, though 2 of them were steadily moving toward where I was standing and I took that as further incentive to get back on the road.
I was moving quickly through the park, enjoying the scenery, to be sure, but ready to get out of Yellowstone. I'd spent about 4 hours there and really wanted to make some headway to South Dakota before it got dark.
A line of stopped cars in the road made me think 'construction', since that seems to be a theme for me, but when I slowed I saw the bis-alo they were stopping for.
He was the only one around.
But making his presence known.
Amazing!! I stopped one more time for Buf-on before twisting my way out of the park on the East Entrance road toward Cody.
Just after leaving the park and immediately before this sign was one that said 'This is grizzly country. Special rules apply.' Well, thanks so much, all, for letting me know that there were special rules and then not sharing them with me. Appreciate that. :/
Buffalo Bill State Park was on the way to Cody and was just stunning.
I had a craving for Wendy's fries and needed some protein, so a 'number 6, plain, diet soda - no ice' was in order and 65 miles from Yellowstone. I have, on occasion, gone a bit hyper all alone in the helmet, there. The concept of Wendy's fries temporarily took over all my attention and bizarre voices expressed my absolute freakish desire for Wendy's fries. My throat hurt by the time I burned that energy. I was temporarily distracted by a chinese buffet sign, but they were out of business and I hit Wendy's in Cody, Wyoming.
When I stopped I planned out my goal stop and headed out. There were TONS of bikes in Cody and I asked another rider in Wendy's if anything was going on, but apparently it was just a nice day in Wyoming.
I ended the day earlier than I'd hoped, but dusk took with it all the contrast in the landscape and having already seen one mule deer on the shoulder 5 feet from me, I didn't want to push my luck.
I stopped and performed the nightly where-is-the-cheapest-place-to-sleep ritual. After calling 7 or 8 places I chose the PK Bar Hotel. I'd almost not called them because my first thought was bar, like pub - bar, which wasn't what I wanted , but it turns out that it's a Western how-you-describe-the-tattoo-you-burn-on-your-cattle PK Bar. A horrible gravel parking lot and an offer of a wooden board from a guy sitting in the dark turned into a great hour or so conversation. I broke all the rules, Ma - talked to a stranger, after dark, of the male persuasion, sexual inuendo everywhere and I even took food from him. I even went to his *room* AND I gave him my number. UGH! Have I learned nothing? :) Brian is part owner of the hotel and makes spice rubs. He just set up his website: bigjerkbbq.com and that would make him a big jerk, but in a good way.
So, now, still fighting with the internet to get the blog done, it's after 1am and I need to be up at 7 to meet some bikers Brian's going to introduce me to. He's also certain that a detour to Devil's Tower on the way to Mt. Rushmore will only add 7 miles to my trip. So, some directions are also in order over iced tea in the morning.
Kinda hard to beat a day like that.
...but I'm gonna try. :)
*For legal purposes, I want to make it clear that when I say 'kill someone' I am using it as a literary device, hyperbole, it is simply an expression. I have no intentions of killing anyone, not even the folks who won't pull out into the intersection when making a left.