Friday, September 29

Yellowstone...or not

The last town going west into Yellowstone is Cody, Wyoming, and when I stopped there for lunch I noticed that my headlight wasn't working, so I found one of the town's motorcycle shops and bought and new bulb. At some point along the way I lost one of my good cold-weather gloves, so now I have a pair of warm-weather riding gloves and one insulated glove. Luckily it's the right (throttle) hand, because that has to be on the handlebar (and in the wind) all the time while my left hand is easier to warm up while riding. Those were wonderful gloves, I'll miss them. At the next motorcycle shop I come across, I'll see if I can get the same pair or better.

Cody is like all the towns I've been through in Wyoming, a very western town. Lots of cowboy hats, and everyone drives a pickup. It used to be that a good cowboy rode a horse; now it's a truck. Or a Harley, they love their Harleys out here. Most of the pickups around here are American made; I haven't seen many Toyota Tundras for example. The Harley thing is similar, like a bumper sticker I saw that said, "American by birth, biker by choice, patriot forever."

From Cody I drove to Yellowstone, got there around 2 hours before dark, paid the $20 entrance fee and began the 73 mile drive through the park's windy roads to the park's biggest open campground. All along the road are signs warning of animals crossing, and indeed I passed several buffalo (or bison, I'm not sure what the difference is) passing or on the side of the road.
The hills, turns and animals make for very slow going, so it got dark long before I got to the campground. I rode at least an hour in the dark, trying to watch for animals, avoid riding off the road over a cliff, and ignore my freezing hands. The thought of the macaroni and cheese I would make for dinner kept me focused. I finally got to the campground and found a big FULL sign. So I went back a bit to the hotel/information center, where a herd of elk or deer were lounging on the yard, and considered my options: going another 50 miles through the park to a smaller campsite that might or might not be full, or go 5 miles to the northern entrance, leave the park and go to Gardiner, Montana to find a motel. I chose the latter, devoured a huge dinner of salad and pasta at an Italian restaurant and checked into a Travelodge. I'm not saving any money this way but at least I'll wake up with feeling in my toes and take a hot shower.
Until then, however, I'm going to sleep like a baby.

Ten Sleep, Wyoming

It was 35 degrees this morning, the sun was shining and the sky was clear. I wanted to light my stove, but I couldn't get any of my lighters to work because of the cold. Lawrence was awake in the next campsite and had a nice fire going already, so I used fire from there to start the stove, and then he gave me a spare box of matches for the future. (I thought three regular lighters and a zippo would make matches unnecessary but I was clearly wrong.) My toes were numb so I warmed them up over his fire too. As I packed up, two deers passed the campsite and little squirrels chased each other in the trees.
The next town, Ten Sleep, was 45 miles west, while the previous town, Buffalo, was about 15 miles east. I needed go to west but didn't know if I had enough gas, because the bike was burning so much at altitude. Lawrence was heading west anyway, so he offered to follow me in his pickup in case I ran out of gas, and we set out for Ten Sleep.
After stopping a few times to take pictures of the incredible scenery, we got to Ten Sleep, I got fuel and Lawrence went on his way. Now I'm at a picnic table by the gas station in Ten Sleep, and I'll continue west shortly.