Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yellowstone National Park

Sunday July 5

The party is over. Peter was up at 6:30 as planned and was preparing to ride in the opposite direction today. While we left West Yellowstone and entered the Yellowstone National Park, Peter was hoping to ride back to Ennis today. We took 2 days to ride from Ennis to West Yellowstone, but had the added burden of more uphill than down, and for the most part had headwinds. So his return trip of just a bit over 70 miles (mostly downhill and probably with tail winds) should be relatively easy. We said our goodbyes with a warm embrace and he even tried rouse Lewis from his slumber but to no avail. And then he left. I have to chuckle now as I remember him talking about a dream he has of running across the country not unlike Forrest Gump. When he said his final goodbye and had thrown the backpack over his shoulder and walked out of the hotel room, I almost bust my gut laughing. Peter had forgotten that he’d placed his bicycle in the room for safekeeping while ours were locked up outside. When he returned to the room just a minute later with a sheepish grin on his face, I had to ask him if he was planning on running back to Ennis. It’d be good training for that run across the country! Thank you Peter. You were a much needed tonic and brought a bit of fun to our routine.

I stayed awake and began journaling while Donna went back to sleep. I wrote for more than an hour before finally shutting down the computer and crawling back in bed. That was when Donna decided it was time to start the morning ritual of packing up the bikes. No extra sleep for the wicked! Since we didn’t have a wet tent to deal with it was a pretty easy breakdown of camp. Didn’t matter. We still didn’t get out of there until nearly 10:00. I have to note here that Lewis was in a foul mood this morning for several reasons. The first and primary one was the fact that Peter was gone. Lewis went to bed not realizing that Peter was leaving first thing in the morning. When Lewis opened his eyes for the first time, the first words to come out of his mouth was “Where’s Peter”. Another reason Lewis was just a bit surly has to do with TV withdrawal. Everytime we get a motel room and he has the opportunity to watch some cartoons, he makes us wish we’d never gone to the trouble of getting a room.

Once we got on the bike he was back to his usual self. We rode to the opposite end of town to hit the McDonalds as that was what Lewis said he preferred. However, he was unaware that only breakfast was available for another 40 minutes so we talked him into going back to our motel where they had a breakfast buffet. We were just able to get in before they shut it down. This being our first buffet of the trip I felt I had to extend myself a bit. I had 2 plates full of eggs and hashbrowns and corned beef hash and some bacon and sausage as well. Must have had 4 glasses of orange juice and a couple cups of Joe. Donna was able to restrain herself just a bit more than I. Lewis ate like a bird as usual.

Now we are finally ready to leave town for good and it’s 10:30 ish. Boy go figure. But the fuel tanks are on full! Less than a mile from our motel we officially entered Yellowstone National Park. And about 2 miles further we officially entered our 5th state of this adventure; Wyoming. The riding was uneventful and not too scary as riding goes. The shoulder was usually 36 inches and the vehicles are all going much slower than they typically did in Montana. The speed limit in Montana was usually 70mph and quite often we were riding on highways with limited or no shoulders. I didn’t want to share with you until after we’d left Montana behind. Now we have. Booo Montana. TOO FAST. POOR SHOULDERS. L The speed limit in the park is almost crawling by comparison. The cars and trucks are traveling at the posted 45 mph and usually much slower. This being caused by the congestion when the nitwits pull off the road to look at an eagle in a tree or maybe an elk on a riverbank.

I have come to the conclusion that the national parks would be much nicer places to visit if they didn’t allow individuals to drive private vehicles in the park. They should be required to park their vehicles outside the park and ride buses or mass transit of some kind. There are too many cars and RVs and Campers. Only bicyclists or hikers should be allowed on the roads besides the Park operated tour buses. The system is broken and the root cause is the Recreational Vehicle Industry. If people couldn’t drive their Winnebago to Yellowstone or Yosemite or Grand Canyon, they wouldn’t buy one. Just think of all the gasoline that would be saved if Winnebagos became extinct! Now I’m venting. I’ll go back to my journaling.

Our ride today in mostly Wyoming was really slow. It wasn’t the riding that was slow, it was all the time spent off the bikes walking around with the hundreds of other tourists looking at all the tourist type things. We stopped at nearly every opportunity, spending at least a half hour at a couple of places. By the time we reached Old Faithful (30 miles in) it was after 3:00. And wouldn’t you know it, we missed the previous eruption or spurt or whatever you call it that geysers do, by a matter of minutes. So we had to wait 90 minutes for the next display. This was when lunch was eaten and souveneirs purchased. We parked ourselves by the geyser and waited for it to blow. It was somewhat anti-climactic as it initially blasted the water steam up maybe 30 feet but soon petered out (no offense meant Peter!). Now we’re looking at an 18 mile ride to get to Grants village but there happens to be not one but 2 passes to be conquered. All the while we’re waiting for the faithful one, we’re also noticing how dark the sky is once again becoming. And the wind is quite intense as well. Donna didn’t like the prospect of getting caught on one of the passes with a thunderstorm. She decided that I could afford to spend some more money so she inquired at the visitor center as to the availability of a room. The prospects were slim to none, but the ranger at the desk told her that we could unofficially camp behind one of the parking lots if we were willing to be inconspicuous. There are no campgrounds at Old Faithful. The rangers checked the radar and saw some rain activity that was headed our way so we decided to stay put. This being our third consecutive day of riding only 30 miles or so. As it turned out, the rain disappeared before it reached us at Old Faithful and we are now sitting around under partly cloudy skies. The camping is free though!


  1. Any other animals you have sited while in Yellowstone? Sounds like riding through there is no bed of roses. Actually, they should have a biking road just for bikers to travel on. What do you think? Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on your daily adventures. Jan, Tom and girls.

  2. I like your idea about the yellowstone national park. When I went through it twenty years ago, there was the steady stream of traffic you talked about. However when we went off on some side trails we saw very few people. It appears that most people experience the park through their automobile windows.