We are currently in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, waiting for parts to arrive. We couldn't think of a better place to be stuck.
On September 21, we rode into Boise Idaho to stay with a man named Kent that we had contacted on couchsurfing.org. He owned a granite shop located behind his house and he spent his days selling gorgeous pieces of stone. Since we arrived on a weekday, Kent was busy working when we woke up the next morning. After we were given a tour and introduced to his employees, we took the chance to give the motorcycle a little TLC. She was covered in both white and red sand and her chain was filthy. There was nothing we could do about a few scrapes that she acquired the day before, but I think it gives her more character.
All cleaned up, she was looking good and ready to go exploring. We went out of the city and followed a river through large hills and small towns. I love being able to ride on the motorcycle with the gear off.
Idaho is very unusual, in comparison to where we have been. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is not mandatory, it was common to see someone riding with their hair blowing in the wind and dead bugs splattered on their face. There were large billboards everywhere, preaching about religion. Just about every car had a bumper-sticker reading something about “If you believe in Jesus, your sins are forgiven” “Only Jesus, can offer you immortality”"Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future” or “Sarah Palin for President” and “I partied with President Bush”.
Kent had invited us to dinner, so we returned to his house between 5-6pm. His home is really big and beautifully decorated with an interesting collection of art. There were 3 or 4 kitchens and while I helped to make dinner in one, Rocky helped prepare home made salsa in the other. Just earlier that day, I had wondered why anyone would need more than one kitchen, silly me. After a nice meal eaten outside on the patio, we relaxed by watching an awesome movie, called Motorcycle Diary’s. Unfortunately, we were all too tired to stay awake through it. Well rested, we were up early the next morning, and with some of Kent’s help, I prepared blueberry pancakes for us and his employees. We enjoyed breakfast with some hot coffee and shared some ideas on routes to take or avoid before packing up the bike and saying our good byes.
After stopping for a spare front tire tube, we rode north east for a few hours until we reached a town called Stanley. Hungry, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. The town was tiny but very pretty, and the pizza was delicious. There were many hunters everywhere, and also, a group of the most annoying so called ladies, it made me wonder why the animals were the ones being targeted. With a lot more sunlight left in the day, we continued riding until we reached a town called Salmon and we found a spot by the river to pitch the tent. While Rocky walked to the store for some treats, a sweet lady walking past with her child stopped to talk to me for a while. She offered her phone number and a place for us to stay in the case that we had any troubles camping there. It was extremely kind, so I would mention her name with thanks but my phone has unfortunately deleted all my contacts
With no troubles, we woke up early the next morning and continued riding towards Yellowstone National Park, but we wouldn’t enter the park until the following morning.
There are many tourists visiting Yellowstone national park and I was surprised that we had found a place well hidden to set up the tent for the night. I wondered if I would be annoyed by all the traffic, but, upon entering the park the next morning, I realized that it was too big and too beautiful to even notice all the people. This was the most magical place I have been to.
Fearless Buffalo roamed the land and sometimes crowded the street. We even caught a glimpse of a baby Grizzly Bear in the distance. But, what truly amazed me, was the landscape. It was constantly changing from rolling hills to mountains and gorges. It had fields of many colors, covered in flowers and grasses with huge rocks sporadically placed by past glaciers. There were still bodies of bright blue/green waters and many rivers, some that flowed down water falls. Even more incredible, was the volcanic activity in the area. There were holes in the earth causing geysers of boiling hot water to shoot up from the ground or form pools of hot springs that carved cascades down hills. Some were so large that the hot water flowed across shallow ground causing minerals and bacteria to create a rainbow of extraordinary brightness on the surface of the earth and steamed into a warm mist that filled the air.
With so much to see, darkness fell before we were done exploring. Outside of one of the exits, we found a place to camp for the night. It was on top of a hill, above a small town and we placed our tent on a very large flat rock. A local, collecting fire wood, warned us of some fleshy bones located not to far away but, since we had all scented items in an air proof pannier, no food, our first fire lit, and a loud whistle to scare off the wildlife, Rocky convinced me that it was ok to stay there. Undisturbed, we were alive the following morning and ready to re-enter the park.
With another full day spent in Yellowstone National Park, we rode out just in time to catch the sun setting on the Grand Teton mountains. With only enough sunlight left to capture a few pictures, we tried to hurry so that we could find a safe place to camp, but found it difficult. We had no choice but to ride further than planned until we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming at approximately 9pm. Cold, hungry and tired we warmed up to a full belly of mountain high pizza pie, and found a park to pitch our tent on the soft, plush grass.
Exhausted, we immediately fell asleep. It was a cold but comfortable night as we cuddled close until we were awoken at 4am by a familiar sound. Oh crap! The irrigation had turned on and began spraying water at our tent. Luckily, we personally, did not get wet but having to pack up the wet tent in the morning sucked! There was frost on the grass and my fingers were numb but at least the snot dripping rapidly from my nose froze before reaching my lips. We packed as quickly as possible and stopped to split a breakfast burrito before gladly heading south towards Salt lake City, Utah.
We met Kent late in the evening at a McDonald's new his house. Paula rode in the truck with him, and I followed them back to his place. I parked the motorcycle, and Kent gave us the tour. His place was huge. It had 4 or 5 bedrooms, several kitchens, at least 3 or 4 bathrooms, and a home gym. Kent runs his business of selling stone out of his home. His warehouse and much of his large lot were filled with an amazing collection of marble, granite and limestone slabs.
Kent is a very cultured and well-traveled guy. His house is full of painting, photographs, sculptures, statues, rugs, and other artifacts from all lover the world. Kent is also very religious, although he considers himself to be spiritual despite accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savour. Having just met, and being late in the night, we managed not to get into the religious discussion too much. The three of us talked for a few hours over a couple of beers and, when we got tire, headed to bed.
The next day we gave Almeida a wash and cleaned her chain. Kent suggested a route for us to ride in the area surrounding Boise. After lunch, Paula and I got on the bike and rode through the mountains and hills surrounding on the outskirts of Boise. We arrived back around dinner time. Kent and I went grocery shopping while Paula stayed at the house and got everything ready to prepare dinner. While shopping, I got to talk to Kent about politics a bit, one of my favourite subjects, despite it being one of the ones that "you really shouldn't talk about".
After dinner, Kent, Paula and I decided to relax and watch the movie. The Motorcycle Diaries, one of Kent's favourite films, seemed appropriate. Half way through the film Kent, nodding off, decided to hit the sack, and, shortly after, Paula and I found ourselves falling asleep and also decided to turn in.
We awoke the next day and started to pack up. Kent cooked us a nice breakfast and we chatted with some of his coworkers and friends. One of his employees, Jeff, had found a new job in San Antonio, Texas, and mentioned that he would be moving out there in several weeks time. He offered us his contact information and a place to stay if we decided to pass through there.
Before leaving Boise, Paula and I decided to visit Happy Trails, a well-known adventure motorcycle shop in town. We spoke with a few of the guys working there and picked up a spare front tube.
Shortly after noon, Paula, Almeida and I set out from Boise to ride the route to Yellowstone that Lance, our friend from the Alvord Desert, had helped plan for us. The scenery around Stanley, Idaho alone was worth the ride.
That night, we stopped in the small town of Salmon, Idaho to camp. We rode around town and found a spot by the river to set up the tent, ignoring the "no overnight camping" sign. After getting settled in, I walked to the nearest gas station for some drinks and snacks, while Paula stayed back at camp. Paula had struck up a conversation with a woman who was taking her young daughter on a walk along the river. The lady, whose name I have forgotten, gave us her number and address in case we had any problems with police that night.
The night passed without any run-ins with the local police. We packed up, went for breakfast, and made our way out of town. The plan for the day was to get to the edge of Yellowstone National Park. We rode into Montana - through Wisdom, south to Jackson, then east towards Wyoming. It was dusk by the time we arrived in West Yellowstone, the small tourist town at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Driving through town, we found a field between a McDonald's and two hotels that had a nice cover of pine trees where we knew we could safely camp for the night. We waited until it started to get dark so that we would not be easily seen, then headed into the centre of the field, behind tree cover, and set up camp for the night.
Paula and I packed up in the morning, went for breakfast, and headed into Yellowstone National Park. We purchased the $80 interagency pass, which would allow us both entrance to all the national parks and many other state parks for the period of one year. We spent the day riding from the west entrance of Yellowstone, down to the south end of the park and all the way up the east side. We visited Old Faithful, a huge geyser in the south end of the park, and saw many kinds of wildlife roaming freely. Yellowstone was just awesome!
I'm sure that we could have found a place to stealth camp that night inside Yellowstone, but Paula and I decided to head out the north exit to camp, as if the wildlife was somehow confined to the imaginary boundary surrounding Yellowstone. Leaving the park, we crossed from Wyoming into the small town of Gardiner, Montana. After grabbing a quick dinner at the Subway in town, we went through our usual routine of looking for a suitable place to camp. We rode up to the top of a large hill overlooking the town of Gardiner, and found a large, flat, open area that we thought would be good for the night. Upon pulling in, we saw a young couple, who appeared to be in their early twenties, gathering firewood into their truck. The girl and I acknowledged each other as we passed, when she warned me that she had seen bones with meat on them where she had been gathering wood. Despite the warning, it was getting too late and too dark to be looking for somewhere else to camp. I also thought that, if there were bones with meat on them off in the distance, there was no reason for bears to come near our tent.
Wearing a headlamp, I began to gather fire wood in the area while Paula set up camp. That night, we had our first campfire. I kept the flames going late into the evening. The wind picked up during the night, and, in the morning, there was a light layer of dust, ash and fine dirt that had blown in while we were asleep.
After packing up and grabbing some breakfast, we spent the day riding through Yellowstone, seeing some of the things that we hadn't seen the previous day. Ideally, we would have needed at least four full days in Yellowstone to see everything that we wanted to see, but we knew the weather would soon be turning cold and we needed to start heading south.
Getting late in the day, we raced towards Grand Teton National Park, arriving at the mountains just before sunset. We stopped to take some photos at a few spots along the way. Getting low on fuel, we needed to find a gas station to fill up. Heading south, we came to a tee in the road, and I checked the GPS for fuel stations. The nearest was 15km east. Our route headed west, but this was our only option. We rode towards the gas station and the sky got darker. After filling up, we had a quick look around the area and realized that there were no good spots to camp, so we decided to head into Jackson, Wyoming for the night, which was just under 60km away.
Being an area with a lot of wildlife that tends to venture out onto the roads at dusk, we rode cautiously towards Jackson in the dark behind the inadequate illumination of my front headlight. With the sun having set, the air got colder and my hands began to freeze. With stone-cold fingers, barely able to work the clutch, we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming to discover a really interesting country and western cowboy-themed town.
We were hungry, so we stopped at a (not so country and western) pizza parlour in the centre of town to eat. After polishing off a large deluxe pizza, Paula and I headed out into the residential part of town to try to find a place to camp. We found a public park and pulled in to check it out. The spot looked good. We checked for irrigation heads but were unable to see any, picked a spot, set up the tent, and settled in for the night. In the morning, we would be headed for Salt Lake City.
Kent and Paula in Boise, Idaho
One of my most beautiful victims. This one stayed on for almost 1,500km.
Heading into Stanley, Idaho
Somewhere in Montana
A heard of buffalo lounging in a field in Yellowstone
A field of grazing buffalo in Yellowstone National Park
Paula in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
The colours of Yellowstone
Steam from The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
The Grand Prismatic Spring
The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented archaea in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water (I stole this description from Wikipedia).
The sun setting behind the Grand Tetons