...or, "What I Did On My Summer Vacation"...
I hit the road at 8:15 AM, last Monday (the 15th) after stopping by the DMV to renew my registration. I always do so online, but I noticed on Sunday, as I packed the bike, that I had somehow missed it. Due to my late start, I took the quick route past Ft, Collins on I-25, then west to 287 to Laramie, Wyoming. A hundred miles of I-80, then I turned north and went through Lander.
That's "The Bike Mill", one of the bike shops in Lander, in the background. Make the picture bigger and check the top of the grain elevator.
After I left Lander, I noticed that the odometer was about to roll over on 20,000 miles, so I stopped and took a picture when it did. Of course, the bike actually has an additional 2461 miles on it, which I put on before swapping out the speedometer. Still, I like to see those 4-zeros numbers when they roll by.
Eventually, the Tetons came into view. Not long after, I turned north and reached the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. I paid my $40.00 admission fee, and rolled onward toward Yellowstone. I was unsure if I would have to pay, again, to enter Yellowstone and I was relieved to find that my 7-day park pass gave me access to both parks.
This is the gorge, alongside the road near the South Entrance. It was pretty impressive, but it was just a preview of what was to come.
I got to Grant Village, where I would be staying with my sister and her family while they were still out in the park. I decided to wait for them at the General Store/Souvenir Shop. I parked up near all of these bikes. I think that most of them were traveling together, since i saw a bunch of them riding together, the next day.
Isa Lake, which sits astraddle the Continental Divide. Each end of the lake drains to a separate coast. The east end drains to California, and the west end drains to the Mississippi.
Oddly (to me, anyway), I crossed the Divide 4 times on the way to Yellowstone, at elevations lower than 8,000 feet, and not in the mountains. All of my experience with the Divide, previously, has been in Colorado (10,000 to 12,000 feet elevation, in the middle of the Rockies).
This is a trail down to the bottom of a waterfall which most people see from the man-made overlook above. The nephews and I, of course, just had to climb down and check it out from below.
It was well worth the scramble.
Kyle, climbing up to a small cave he had spotted from riverside.
The view from inside the cave.
Once we climbed back up, Joy and Steve pointed out this beetle in the parking lot. Pretty impressive antennae!
Old Faithful Inn, built in the early 20th Century.
Inside the lobby of the Inn.
I loved this fireplace and chimney.
One of the hot springs, in the geyser field. I found the springs mesmerizing, for some reason, maybe because they offer a tantalizing look under the surface, but you can't see far and it adds some mystery. I actually found them as interesting, if not more, than the geysers.
The Inn, from across the geyser field.
Old Faithful. Can't go to Yellowstone without taking a picture of the world's most famous geyser...
Over Steve's shoulder is the view from the second floor veranda of the Inn, looking directly at Old Faithful. This would be an awesome place to watch the geyser erupt, vodka tonic in hand!
The weight-driven clock on the chimney was awesome. (I should have been an anthropologist or archaeologist, instead of a geologist. I'm always fascinated as much by the man-made structures by the natural wonders I encounter.)
The grand Prismatic Spring was huge (200 feet across) and really colorful.
These red dragonflies were visible throughout the park. I had never seen them, before, and finally manged to catch one at rest so that I could get a picture.
There were some fires burning in the north end of the park, close to the West Entrance. At one point, the smoke was blotting out the sun.
Bison on Parade. This was common, along the roads.
There is an Osprey nest on top of that rock spire, with a juvenile Osprey sitting in it. As we watched, one of the parents flew in, dropped off a fish for Junior, ythen took off again.
My Matthew Brady phase of photography.
Kyle found this Bison wool (it builds up on their necks and they shed it, eventually). We really wanted to take it home, but, National Park regulations don't allow. So, we left it for someone else to enjoy.
On Thursday, I got up and left before breakfast, but still didn't get on the road until, once again, 8:15. But, since I wasn't on a schedule, I decided to take the scenic route home (which is also the slow route), down through Grand Teton, then Jackson and, eventually, to Vernal, Utah, where i would turn east and head home through Steamboat Springs.
Photo ops abound, along the way.
Highway 191, just south of Jackson, had an 8-mile "No Passing" zone which consisted of curve after curve after curve, alongside a nice little river. I enjoyed that stretch enough to make the slow route worthwhile, on its own.
Just north of the Wyoming/Utah line, the road overlooks some pretty impressive scenery.
The road takes you through Flaming Gorge Recreation Area, which is beautiful, and may well become a destination for a future trip.
After turning east, I was plagued by strong crosswinds, worse than the already bad wind i had fought, off and on, all day. Then, 5 miles from Steamboat, the rain I had been skirting all day finally got me.
At sundown, i was gassing up in Steamboat, with my rain gear on. I was a little nervous about heading toward Kremmling at that time of day. There is a lot of wildlife which likes to cross the road, in that area.
The trip to Kremmling was uneventful, but there were two separate stretches of highway, south of Kremmling, where the pavement had been completely ripped out, in preparation for repaving. So, 11 hours into the ride, I was riding on mud. In the rain. At night. On a loaded motorbike.
I stopped in Silverthorne, and put on all of the warm clothes I had packed for mountain riding, then took off, again, into the rain. The temperature in Silverthorne was 35 degrees F, but it was actually about 5 degrees warmer at the tunnel, so I wasn't concerned about hitting snow. And, yes, that is a possibility, even in August.
The trip to the tunnel, and down to Idaho Springs was a fairly scary ride. But, as it always does, eventually, the rain let up and i cruised on into Denver on dry roads.
At the end of the day, I was on the road for 14 hours, and I covered 690 miles.
I'm already looking forward to my next trip!
The next day, I took this picture of all of the additional clothing I had on between my regular riding gear and my rain suit: snowboard pants, hoodie sweatshirt, knit cap, winter gloves and arm warmers just barely kept me warm, But, they did keep me warm enough to ride until I got down to a lower elevation.
On Friday, I rode the mountain bike down to the coffee shop, to work some of the kinks out. It was a nice change. Kinda makes me want to do a big bicycle ride, too...