August 12 - 14th
Here we are at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Sissy finally saw a large, male elk
Old Faithful erupting at 1335 on Tuesday. It´s amazing we got this pic because Sissy dropped the camera in the parking lot and put a huge dent in the side of it ... but it still worked as you can see
Hundreds of Buffalo were grazing in the valley sliced by the Yellowstone River
A view of the falls from Artist´s Point
After our morning bike ride, we left Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. After driving over a small mountain, we came upon the remnants of a Rock Concert that had been held the night before. Thousands of people attended from all across the country, and the campers were hitting the road as we were. It was amazing to us that we didn´t hear anything all night long. But, it explained the Montana State Troopers stopping folks along the highway adjacent to our campground.
We paralleled the Jefferson and Madison Rivers enroute to West Yellowstone while slicing through the Tobacco Root Mountains and the Madison and Gravelly Ranges. The Madison River was running pretty good with small rapids most of the way. Locals (and tourists we´re sure) were fly fishing along the banks, wading in the water and even traversing the rocks in small wooden row boats. The boats were rather unique with both bow and stern pointed and kipped up while the belly of the crafts were fat and low to the water. It appeared the rower in the middle was a guide as he/she wasn´t fishing.
About 30 miles outside of West Yellowstone, we paused for pics along the river and met Dave and his family from Bellingham, Washington. They were also headed our way and had made reservations at the Pony Express Motel & RV Park. He told us about several other campgrounds in the area and suggested we call ahead of time. We did exactly that and called the Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park just in time (we got the last site.) And, this was 9 minutes after noon. Kay, the camp clerk, told us she would hold the site for an hour. No problem, only 30 miles away and we were making 55 MPH. Oh no, what´s that in the road Sissy? It was a large house being transported down the 2 lane roadway going in the same direction we were. Yup, that´s right ... it was also doing about 25 MPH. Welp, as time went on (about 30 minutes and 5 miles later) the house took a left and we were on our way again. We made it just in time!!!
We got settled in no time and took the bike into town for a look-see. We stumbled across the Mountain Man Rendezvous (a pre-1840 Indian settlement) where locals were selling Indian wares. We walked in and out of the tepees admiring the animal pelts, bows, clothing and jewelry but didn´t purchase any. We even came across an old timer who had served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Ranger. That was significant because John´s dad had also served on that aircraft carrier while in Vietnam in 1966-67.
Ok, it was getting on in the afternoon and we were hungry (no breakfast or lunch) so back to the trailer we went and had an early dinner (left overs from the night before.) Then, it was in the truck back to town for supplies and simply cruising around getting our bearings. The next day was going to be spent on the bike inside Yellowstone National Park
Tuesday morning we were in no hurry to get up and get going into the park because the temperature dropped into the 30´s on Monday evening. Riding the bike in such temperatures just isn´t fun, but we were determined (or John was) to ride all day on one of our remaining 2 days in West Yellowstone. The Weather Channel indicated Tuesday was going to be in the upper 70´s with light winds and Wednesday was going to be in the lower 80´s with gusty winds. Ok, the decision was made ... we were riding the bike on Tuesday.
Sissy cooked a wonderful breakfast of eggs, toast and bacon, and then it was time to get cleaned up and dressed. Layer upon layer of clothing went on to the point where Sissy could hardly move. John, on the other hand, wore his typical short sleeve t-shirt, jeans and leather jacket. We did have our gloves on for the first 20 miles or so, but they were shed even before we arrived at Old Faithful! The sun was shining and very few clouds dotted the sky. It warmed up rather nicely.
While traversing the Lower Loop of Yellowstone National Park, we saw rivers, creeks, lakes, fire devastation, road construction, elk, buffalo, birds and humans everywhere. If you´ve been to Yellowstone, you understand the term "pay attention to the road." There are plenty of pull offs inside the park so you can get out of traffic and observe wildlife, but it never fails ... people simply stop in the middle of the road. They go from 45 MPH (the speed limit in most of the park) to ZERO MPH in the blink of an eye. It was amazing we saw no accidents all day! For us, stopping to observe our surroundings was a breeze on the bike. A 40 foot motor home on the other hand, is a totally different story. Traffic gets backed up for 100´s of yards.
We entered the park about 0930 and didn´t return until 1900 ... a full day! Shortly after entering, and on the way to Old Faithful, we observed two guys with a small wagon and dog on the side of the road. We stopped to chat and discovered they were from Germany. A German Newspaper had sponsored their 3 to 4 year walking tour of the Americas. They began in Alaska 18 months prior and were walking to the southern most tip of South America. Their goal on this day was to make it to Old Faithful and camp for the night. Another couple (Wolfgang & Waltraud originally from Germany but currently residing in Fairfield, California) had also stopped to chat and give them some food. Wolfgang had seen the two guys the day before but couldn´t stop due to traffic.
During our ride on the Lower Loop, we stopped at Upper Geyser Basin, Black Sand Basin, Old Faithful, West Thumb, Grant Village, Bridge Bay, Lake Junction, Upper Falls, Artist Point and Canyon Junction. We ate our pre-made lunch while waiting for Old Faithful and re-fueled the bike in West Thumb (wanted to be safe.) The construction zone (about 14 miles worth) was on the road between Norris and Madison, and we saved that part for last. That was a good thing too, because when we arrived back home, our faces were caked with dirt and dust from the gravel and mud road. Have you ever ridden a motorcycle behind a line of cars on a muddy, gravel and dusty road? Well, we have and it´s no fun.
After washing our faces and changing clothes, we sat outside of the trailer at the picnic table planning the next day´s activities before hitting the sack. Wednesday, we planned to go to Grand Teton National Park and then Junction Hole, Wyoming in the truck. And, because this page is full, those adventures will be on their own page.
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