Big Trip II

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Bigger Al, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    I found ADV in early Summer of 2004 while doing some casual searching for information on riding to Alaska. Two friends of mine were planning a trip to Deadhorse, and they asked my opinions on gear, routes, etc., and never having really given much thought to the idea, I started snooping around.
    Stumbling on this site was like finding King Tut's tomb. The amount of info, pics, opinions (lots of opinions! :deal) and know-how was staggering to me. What an incredible resource!
    Initially, I only used it as just that, a resource for dry information. It didn't take long, however, to figure out the ADV is much more than that. It's a community of like-minded men and women, all very passionate for the same kinds of things that my wife and I love. We've made some true lifelong friends here, and gone on some fantastic trips that we otherwise would not have gone on. We've gotten so much more from ADV than we can ever pay back, but I figured that it was time to at least give it a try. After all, one's existence on this board cannot be made up entirely of snarky comments about tire repairs, luggage choices, and political affiliations, can it? :lol3 With this thinking in mind, I've decided to try my hand at a ride report. Fair warning: odds are that this is going to bore some of you to death, especially those with a predilection towards more adventure and less highway. I can live with that. What follows is planned to be a chronicle of our vacation trip for this year. Actually, it's the only vacation we've gotten in the last three years. We work too effin' much. Such is the curse of the blue-collar man who didn't stay in college long enough. :1drink

    _________________________


    This one is Big Trip II. The initial Big Trip happened in July, 2010, and took in quite a bit of the route we're planning to do over the next 20 days or so. The onus for the '10 ride was West Fest in Darby, Montana. We'd been to WARPED a few times, and to a great many local events, but West Fest was a big 'un, and Montana ride was a long-time desire.
    We had a great time, and managed to hit Yellowstone and Glacier NP's along the way.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The last leg of the trip was from Seattle back home to Auburn, California, and we hurried it, which left a bit to be desired. This time we plan to do thing a little differently. The only planned destinations are Boise, to spend a little time with family, and Glacier and Yellowstone. Those had be planned in advance if we wanted camping space. After that, the route's open for interpretation. We'd like to go through Rocky Mountain NP, as well as some of other areas of Colorado that we've never seen. Hopefully I won't drone on about things too much, and I should be able to grab a few nice images along the way. We'll update the thread and pics as we get internet service.

    Thanks for reading along this far! :clap
    #1
  2. joefromsf

    joefromsf Dark Happens

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,731
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Wow, first in and first view of the Ride Report. Hiya Al.:clap
    #2
  3. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA

    Hi Joe! :wave Yeah, the first installment will be riveting: Auburn to Winnemucca!! :lol3
    #3
  4. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    The first leg of the trip, from home to Boise, Idaho, was basically a ride to see the family that I have there. Truthfully, there's not much to be said for the scenery or riding in that part of the country. The desert really does have a special beauty all it's own, but not on 7/20/2013. We left town under clear skies, with temps hovering near 100 degrees. By the time we got into the desert proper between Reno and Lovelock the temps had gone to 103, and the monsoonal moisture that runs up from the Gulf of Mexico had humidity in the 70's and 80's. Nasty.
    We did just a bit of light rain going over I-80 between Truckee and Reno, which cooled things temporarily, and gave us an incredible feast of scents. The sagebrush and pine were really sweet.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There's a whole lotta this in Nevada:

    [​IMG]


    The sunset was very nice, and cooling was very welcome. We spent the night in Winnemucca.
    Breakfast on Sunday morning was at a very good place called The Griddle.
    Obligatory ADV food shots:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While in Boise we decided to drop in at Happy Trails, Inc., to have a look and thank them personally for the nice racks that we have on our bikes.

    [​IMG]



    Most of Sunday and Monday were spent doing family stuff. The trip begins in earnest for us tomorrow as we head North and East towards Missoula. :clap
    #4
  5. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    13,752
    Location:
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    Alrighty then,things are moving along nicely!

    Holly looks very comfy and appears to fit well on her sweet new beemer.

    Looking forward to some good pics from Glacier!
    #5
  6. Treadless

    Treadless Long timer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,576
    Location:
    above the soil's surface


    Thread killer! :ddog



    :lol3







    :lurk
    #6
  7. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    A slacker I am. :bluduh

    I've not taken the time to update this thing, due mostly to the fact that I'm excessively lazy, and I've been debating whether or not our vacation pics and story would actually be interesting to anyone but my wife and I.
    At the risk of inducing sleeping sickness in anyone bored enough to click on this thread, here goes:


    My wife and I spent a couple of days with family in Boise. We don't get up there much, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. We expected warm weather, but Idaho was having the same heat wave we were in Northern California. Temps were in the low 100's, which, when ATGATT, can be uncomfortable. Besides, it was only a couple of days, and our itinerary called for going North, then Northeast towards Missoula, which just HAD to be cooler due to the change in latitude. Wrong, Grasshopper. Our ride between Boise and Lolo Pass was done in 100-105 degrees, which always feels like a blast furnace. Toss in some slower traffic in construction zones, and it made for a real fun day. :deal

    Of course, there are some beautiful places along the way. We stopped about 10 miles South of McColl, ID on a little side road to make oatmeal and coffee.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We followed the Payette River along SR-55, and that's an impressive bit whitewater.

    [​IMG]

    Sitting in construction:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There were some wild fires burning in the Idaho mountains, and we passed three fire camps. I tried to get some helicopter shots, but getting the camera out and aimed sometimes eludes me.

    [​IMG]

    It didn't take me long to realize that I'd routed us through Hell's Canyon, and it took less time to figure out why it's got that name. There's a nice rest area near the start of the Hell's Canyon Recreation area, and we took the opportunity to stop to wet down riding gear.

    Told you guys this was gonna be dull.................

    [​IMG]

    The situation improved on the North side of the canyon. The highway climbs steeply up towards Grangeville, ID, and mercifully the temps fell at the top.
    The real reward wasn't lunch in Grangeville, but rather the ride up the Lochsa Scenic Byway towards Lolo Pass. There are dozens of pics on ADV of the sign at the bottom of the highway that tells of curves for the next 99 miles, so I won't add one here. Besides, I missed the fucking thing and rode right by. Guess I'll just have to go back and try again. :evil

    That stretch of road was designed for motorcycles. It follows the Lochsa River for most of it's length, and is nothing but sweeper after sweeper of good pavement, clean sight lines, and little traffic. There's something so sweet about leaning into a positively banked turn, feeding in the gas, and feeling the tires "dig in" and drive. That feeling happens a lot on the Lochsa Byway.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    My wife has been riding for about 6 years, and she told me that this was, by far, her favorite road. We would have gone down and done it a second time if we could, but the schedule didn't allow it.

    I didn't have any idea where we were going to spend the night, assuming that there would be campgrounds somewhere along the way. The Lochsa Lodge is situated near the top of Lolo Pass, and pulled in there to buy some cold water and ask about places to stay.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The kid working the store at the lodge told us about White Sand CG, which was a couple of miles above the lodge. Seemed like the perfect place, and it turned out to be just that.
    It's a small location, with 8 sites next to the Lochsa River. There was no potable water available, which was no big deal. We picked out a niced spot with river access, and set up for a well-earned night's sleep.

    [​IMG]

    Think we packed enough crap?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is a picture of we came to call "The Killer Stump." My loving wife swapped out her riding boots for flip-flops about 10 seconds after we got into camp, which is her habit. While blowing up the sleeping pads, she stepped backwards, tripped over the Killer Stump, and fell. In slow motion.

    [​IMG]

    It appeared that she cut the under side of her left little toe pretty badly, as there was quite a bit of blood. I did a little doctoring and got her bandaged and comfortable. Little did we know that it would be a problem for about the next week. More on that later.
    #7
  8. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    One of my favorite parts of any ride report is seeing what other people use for gear, be it riding, camping, or tech stuff. I'm going to give a bit of information on what we used, as I've had some questions from friends since we got back.

    My wife's bike is a 2001 BMW F650GS, that she bought in April. She rode a Ninja 250 on Big Trip One, and had a DR650 in the garage to compliment that, but neither bike really suited her. Selling both gave her the fundage to buy the BMW, and so far she's head-over-heels in love with it.
    Her bike is pretty much bone stock with the addition of Shinko 705 tires, Happy Trails luggage racks, and Pelican 1550 boxes as saddle bags. She had a Seattle Sports dry bag strapped on the back for soft items, and a Wolfman Enduro tank bag.

    My bike is a 2002 Suzuki V-Strom that I've had for about a year. I did Big Trip One on my KLR650, which was a challenge. I'm 6'2" tall and weigh in at 260 large, and the Kawi was at the very limits on the highway. It was a great bike, but not really designed to be beaten over the open road by a lard ass like me.
    The Strom has the same luggage setup as the BMW,with the addition of a third Pelican case as a top box. I use an Ortlieb Large waterproof duffle for clothing and miscellaneous stuff, and it gets strapped on the passenger seat.
    The LH pannier had my sleeping bag and pad, camp shoes, and few spare bike parts. The RH pannier held the tent body and rain fly, in separate stuff sacks, as well as the mess kit and a few more bike spares/tools. The top box was dedicated to the rest of the kitchen, plus food, as well as having a 12v charging station for phones and my Nook. I tried to leave some space in the top box for items that we'd pick up at the end of each day, which worked out pretty well.
    The Ortlieb load consisted of clothing, cold weather/rain gear tent poles and stakes, Kermit chair, shower stuff, and ostomy supplies. I have a colostomy bag, and as such I need to carry enough supplies for changes and emergencies.
    My tank bag is a Wolfman Timberwolf, which is huge.

    Our camp gear: We bought a shiny new tent before this trip. It's an Asolo Velocity 4, which offers up almost 60 square feet of space inside, and has a rectangular shape. We've been using an REI Taj 3 tent for the past 8 years, and it's been a fantastic tent, but it can get kind of cramped with all of our gear, especially in bad weather. It's also kind of fiddly to set up, which is a PIA in the dark or the rain. The Asolo offers up 20 square feet of vestibule space on each end, which proved to be more than enough to stash boots, dry bags, and things that we wanted to keep dry. It also proved to be completely waterproof through 5 nights of thunderstorms.

    http://www.asolo-gear.com/index.php...roduct_id=317&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=17

    Sleeping bags were always an issue for us in the past, as for years we traveled two-up on an old BMW R90. 7 or 8 years ago, on the recommendation of Rockin' Robin, we bit the bullet and dropped some bucks on Big Agnes bags. It's proven to be the best outdoor gear decision that we've ever made. My wife uses the Ethel 0-degree model, and sleeps like a baby. I use the Summit Park 15-degree, and actually found it to be a bit too warm on this trip. I had a 30-degree BA bag on Big Trip One, and damned-near froze to death the first night in Yellowstone when the temps dropped into the mid-20's. I'll take too warm any night. :deal

    http://www.rei.com/product/811092/big-agnes-summit-park-15-sleeping-bag?gclid=CIOO6fKsrbkCFXBo7Aode38A-g&s_kwcid=TC|13029|big%20agnes%20summit%20park||S|e|29358403565&ef_id=UNvPwwAAROgOE0Ew:20130902183318:s

    http://www.campsaver.com/ethel-0-women-s-sleeping-bag-650-down

    http://www.rei.com/product/780367/exped-synmat-7-air-pad-with-pump


    Our sleeping pads are Exped SynMat 7's. We previously used BA pads, but they were less convenient to inflate and deflate than the Exped's, so we changed.

    As we're currently outfitted, we can have the tent, bags, and pads set up and ready to use in about 7 minutes, which isn't too bad.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The camp kitchen includes 2 stoves, a Snow Peak Giga Power and an MSR Windpro, both burning canister fuel. We cook in a set of older MSR Blacklite pans, and use a GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist set for boiling water, etc.
    Tried and true.

    I just realized that I didn't add any info about the cooler that we took along. Strapped to the top case is a Polar Bear Cooler in the 12-pack size. http://www.polarbearcoolers.com/product/12_pack_soft_coolers/PB123.html It kept ice for a couple of days in 100+ degree heat, and did a very nice job of transporting perishables throughout the trip.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. cjohns

    cjohns Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    23
    Subscribed! Great thread, glad to see you posted a short review on equipment.
    #9
  10. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA

    Thanks! I just added a teeny little blurb about the cooler that we used.
    #10
  11. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    Wednesday morning came up bright and warm, and we were excited to get moving through Missoula and on to Hungry Horse, MT. We had reservations for a cabin in an RV park there for 3 nights, which is a necessity in the Summer.
    The first stop was at the Lolo Pass Visitor's Center, which sits right at the border between Idaho and Montana. Neat place!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Welcome to Montana!! :clap

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We didn't take a single shot in Missoula. It was warm, traffic sucked, and we wanted nothing more than to get out on some good 2-lane roads for the trip to Hungry Horse. The last time we were her in 2010 we rode around Flathead Lake, which is beautifully scenic........and painfully slow. This time we routed through Seeley Lake and Swan Lake, MT, via SR-200 and SR-83. This was a great choice, as the roads are very pretty to ride, the traffic was light, and there were places along the way to stop for gas and chow.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Our destination for the next 3 days was the Canyon RV Park, which is just on the East side of Hungry Horse. We found this place by accident in 2010, and wanted to stay there again. Up to this point it had been a struggle to get confirmation of our reservation, despite the fact that I'd made it on January 8th(!). I kept getting e-mails from the lady that owns the RV park, telling me that I had either a 20-amp or a 50-amp pull-through space for an RV, and the dates would vary. I responded several times that she was incorrect, and I finally had to resort to making 3 different phone calls to straighten things out. The sad part was that I had no idea that we had a cabin until we pulled into the park and spoke to the lady directly. It wouldn't have been a crisis, but being a thousand miles from home and not being certain about where one is staying while in a heavily tourist area is annoying.
    I made the reservations early to ensure that we would get a certain cabin, that was tucked away in the trees. The one we got had sun exposure throughout most of the day, and it was like an oven inside. Yep, I'm whining. It was 95 when we got there, and the only cooling inside the cabin was a fan. No big deal. We opened up the windows and let it air out a bit while we unpacked.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    One saving grace was that the RV park has a trail that runs down to the Flathead River. It felt really good to wander down and soak a bit in the cool water, watching rafters and kayakers go by on the swift currents.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We went into town to get some groceries and to score some huckleberry pie. I'm of the belief that the huckleberry is food perfection, and I intended to partake as much as possible while we were in Montana. The huckleberry ice cream didn't hurt, either. :dg

    [​IMG]


    I even bought a quart of fresh berries at the store to help augment yogurt and oatmeal. :evil


    The next morning is was on to Glacier National Park, which is one of our favorite places on Earth. :clap

    We packed the cooler and our Camelbacks with ice each morning, which turned out to be a solid strategy. The temps hovered in the low-mid 90's during our stay in HH, and a shot of cold water was a nice refresher.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    It was a Thursday, and my assumption was that there wouldn't be too big a crowd in the park, and that the ride over the Going-To-The-Sun Road would be easier than it would on either Friday or Saturday. I was dead wrong. The line to get into the entrance station at West Glacier was about a quarter-mile long, and the rangers were resorting to just waving visitors in without collecting fees. My wife and I are big fans of national parks, and while it's heartening to see such an influx of vacationers, it's tough to imagine how much revenue was lost that day. Our national parks have taken a big hit since the government's sequester took effect, and they need every dollar they can get. We purchased an annual pass for the trip, which is a good way to support the parks.


    The gift shops and visitor's center at Apgar Village was a zoo, but being tourists, we waded in for souvenirs and to get our NP passport stamped. Yeah, it's kind of geeky, but that's who I am. :D

    The ride up the Going-To-The-Sun Road was slow, as was expected. There was a section near the bottom that was getting repaved, and it was a slick clay mud for about 3 miles. Not a big deal. It's still one of the most beautiful, scenic drives in the entire United States, and should not be missed.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We stopped at a tiny waterfall part way up.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The vistas open up quite a bit once you reach a point on the road known as "The Loop."

    [​IMG]

    We stopped and walked up a ways to have a closer look at the steps in this waterfall. It's amazingly steep, and huge to boot.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am truly a lucky guy to have a wonderful, beautiful wife who shares my passion for traveling by motorcycle!

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    While we were stopped in construction at the bottom of the GTTSR, we met 3 guys on ADV bikes who were heading up and over, then on into Waterton Lakes Park in Canada. They're all LAPD who work with kids on anti-drug campaigns. We had some good conversation at the stop, then again at Logan Pass Visitor's Center on top.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The ride to the top was slow going, but that just made it easier to pull out the cameras and take pics!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The ride down the East side of Glacier was punctuated by a lot of stopping in construction. We wanted to get some shots of St. Mary Lake on that side of the park, but all of the pull outs were filled with construction supplies and equipment.
    We rode through St. Mary and on to East Glacier to get to the best huckleberry pie I've ever had.

    [​IMG]

    It's at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and I highly recommend trying a slice. The service at the restaurant sucks. It did in 2010, too. The coffee was mediocre. It was in 2010, too. The pie, however, is fantastic!!

    From East Glacier it was a 60-mile ride back to Hungry Horse along US-2, which is a nice 2-lane highway with a posted speed limit of 70 MPH. :clap

    Day 2 in Glacier was for looking at one of the historic lodges in the park, and for hiking a nice trail. It turned out to be perfect for both.
    As crowded as the first day was, the second day was like a ghost town. I'm still not certain just what caused the disparity in visitors, but Day 2 gave us almost complete unfettered access to everything in the park.

    Our first stop was at the Lake McDonald Lodge, which was built in 1913-1914, prior to any roads. The construction materials and workmen had to come in via boat, as did guests until the completion of the Going-To-The-Sun Road in 1932.


    [​IMG]

    This is one of the walkways from the beach to the lodge.

    [​IMG]

    Boat rides are still available.

    [​IMG]

    The interior of the common great room.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The older gentleman to my right spent a lot of time trying desperately to skip a rock on the lake. His daughter was shooting a picture every time he tried. She must have taken 50 pics, and the poor old guy was only getting 1 or 2 skips. I'm guessing that it was some sort of family thing that may have involved pictures years ago, and that they were trying to recreate the scene. I felt bad for him, but not bad enough to stop me from throwing a few myself.
    I've got a pretty good arm for a broken down fat guy, and I was getting 10-15 skips, and a few that hit 20. After I got done ruining my shoulder, we walked up towards the lodge, and I had 3 women ask me if I was some sort of rock skipping champion or something. Made me laugh. I told them that I was just a middle-aged guy who sometimes really got a kick out of feeling like a little kid. :D

    [​IMG]

    Jesus, it looks like I need a bra. :bluduh

    Our hike for the day was to an incredibly beautiful spot called Avalanche Lake. The trail is just short of 5 miles, with the hike in being all uphill, and the hike out being all downhill. My wife normally has issues with going uphill for any distances, and she hates doing so, but on this day she was a real trooper! She hustled up to the lake like it was nothing, bad little toe and all.
    The reward for the inbound effort is a stunning view of a lake that is fed by glaciers via 5 separate waterfalls. A ranger told us that the glaciers are receding very quickly, and that in 7-10 years this lake will begin to dry up and turn into a meadow.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We met a nice young family from Georgia while we were at the lake, and they were kind enough to take our pic.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On our way back to the cabin we stopped at the Apgar Visitor's Center. Again, I'm a touristy geek. The day before while we were at the VC, we stood outside in front of the webcam and called our youngest daughter. She pulled up the cam and was able to see us! I still laugh about that. On day 2 I called our oldest daughter, who was unable to see us the day before because she was at work. Ah, the internet.......................

    That covered our time in Glacier NP. Next up was the ride towards Yellowstone..............
    #12
  13. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    13,752
    Location:
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    Great pics all around,looks a bit hot out but it coulda been wet and windy just as easy. Looking forward to the Yellowstone installment!
    #13
  14. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    The wet-n-windy comes later on.. :evil
    #14
  15. Treadless

    Treadless Long timer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,576
    Location:
    above the soil's surface


    Greasy beans? :dunno





    :wave



    :lurk
    #15
  16. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA

    :rofl

    Come to Rio Nido and find out. :deal :lol3

    Hiya Mikey! :freaky
    #16
  17. Gham

    Gham Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,726
    Location:
    Auburn Hills,MI.
    I know it's a pain doing the gear and links but thanks! I always like to see what everyone is using.Enjoying the ride report also:clap
    #17
  18. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    We headed out of Hungry Horse, MT on Saturday morning. Prior to our departure, we were invited to go to a parade in the nearby town of Columbia Falls. It was Pioneer Days, or some such thing, and the parade was the culmination of a week-long celebration of the town's history. Really, I wish we'd have known about it prior to booking reservations in Yellowstone, as it would likely have been fun to see. As we were loading up, the Rvpark lady's husband rushed by in a hurry, telling us that they didn't want to be late for the parade. I made an offhand comment about "seen one local parade, seen 'em all", and he told me that his wife was in the parade because she was a Montana State Senator. Considering that she had so much trouble keeping our reservations in order, this news was kind of a surprise to me. Kinda not, too. :wink:

    Anyhow:

    Saturday was a travel day between HH and wherever we ended up for the night. I gave us 2 full days to travel to Yellowstone in case we found something neat to do or see. We retraced our route down SR-83 to SR-200, then went East. My biggest goal on this part of the trip was to avoid larger highways whenever possible, and we were able to do that. The riding along the 2-lane secondary roads between Hungry Horse and Bozeman was some of the best we've ever done. Some trips we take because they riding is tough, some because it's challenging, and some because it's beautiful and relaxing. Rural Montana was that latter. We cruised through ranch lands, small towns, river canyons, and territory that you just don't get to see when sticking to the slab.
    We went through Helena, and turned South to link up with the highway to Bozeman. The cross winds on this stretch of road were nasty, with gusts in the 30 MPH neighborhood. We rode about 70 miles leaned over at a 15-degree angle just to hold lane position. That's an easy way to get worn out, and by the time we reached Bozeman we'd had enough.
    Not one pic was taken that day, mostly because I think we were just having too good a day riding to worry about it.
    The skies were cloudy and dark, threatening thunderstorms for the evening, but none materialized.

    _______________________________

    The following day was going to be a short riding day, as I was hoping to get a camp spot somewhere near the North entrance to Yellowstone NP. Again, the touristy geek in me was taking over. Since I was a kid I've wanted to drive through the Roosevelt Arch that sits at the North entry to the park.

    We went East from Bozeman to Livingston, then South towards the park. The temps had remained nice and cool thanks to cloud cover, and the ride down to Gardiner was smooth and comfortable.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We found the Yellowstone RV Park on the North side of Gardiner and were able to get a nice little grassy camp site for $27. That's not too bad, considering that they had showers, laundry, and free wi-fi. ONce camp was set up, we rode into Yellowstone to check out the Mammoth Hot Springs, which was an area of the park that we'd not been to on our first trip.

    [​IMG]

    The clouds were really starting to thicken up, and there was the distant rumbling of thunder off in the distance.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The tourist geek in me lives for this kind of stuff:

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We explored the Mammoth area for a few hours and rode back out to camp for dinner.
    An elk cow wandered through while I was trying to get some pics uploaded to Smugmug.

    [​IMG]



    Some rain fell in the evening, driving us into the tent before sundown. That was not a bad thing, and was destined to become normal for the next several days.


    _________________

    The ride into Yellowstone the next morning was very nice. The sun was out, it was cool, and the traffic was light.
    While waiting in line at the entrance, a couple rode up in the next line over on an old BMW Airhead twin. It had California plates, so I shouted over to ask how their trip was going. Turns out the gentlemen was an Aussie, and the lady was a Kiwi, and they'd flown into CA, bought the bike, and were riding all over the Western US. They were both smiling, and told me that they were having a ball. We passed them again in Hayden Valley a couple of days later.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Our destination for the day was Canyon Campground, which is situated almost dead-center of Yellowstone. I picked this location to make for easier access to all of the major attractions that Yellowstone has to offer, and I was not disappointed.
    We expected the campground to be writhing mass of humanity as so much of the park can be during Summer, but were pleasantly surprised. The sites were large, well-spaced, and included a spot for the tent that was pea gravel bordered by small poles. Nice touch.
    The showers and laundry were about 200 yards walking distance away, and the Canyon Village, which had a general store, visitor's center, post office, and food, was about quarter-mile away. All of the sites were full, but things still remained very pleasant and quiet.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    We were met in the CG by a lot of these butterflies. They loved the bright colors of the riding gear, and stayed around until the wind came up.

    [​IMG]



    Once camp was established we decided to make a quickie run through Hayden Valley to see some bison, then down to Mud Volcano to hike a little bit. It felt good to climb uphill after being of the bikes so much.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is Sulphur Cauldron, and it is not for the weak of stomach. You might wanna skip this one if you're bothered by bad smells.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Okay, it's time for a little disclaimer:

    As was mentioned before, and as you can probably see by the pics, I'm not a small guy. I'm also not easily spooked or frightened. I was both on this day in Yellowstone.
    This very large bison was having his merry time just strolling along down the middle of the road. He did this for about 5 minutes, and it was clear that he was not giving one teensy fuck about anything until a park ranger drove up in front of him and let him have a blast of an air horn.

    [​IMG]

    The horn did it's job, and the big, badass bison moved through traffic and came over the shoulder on my side of the road. I was about 2 feet to the left of the white line at this point, and I saw that he was heading my way. Figuring I was going to get a completely kick-assed closeup of a bison, I steadied my cute little Canon point-n-shoot for the shot. He moved along towards me, stopped right next to me, and gave the most primal, guttural growl that I have ever heard in my life. Had I not had a colostomy bag, i'd have shit myself right then and there. This stunning image capture was the result, as I dropped my camera, which snapped back on the lanyard and promptly whacked me in the face. So much for being a tough guy.

    [​IMG]

    Tourists are constantly reminded of the dangers of wild animals, and no animal is more dangerous and unpredictable than the bison. In fact, the next day a rider was trampled in the same spot while stuck in a traffic jam. It can be a bad feeling having no place to go when 1800 pounds of furry attitude is staring you down and sizing you up. :deal

    ____________________________

    We finished out the day by going to Artist's Point, which gives and incredible view of Lower Yellowstone Falls and sweeping vistas of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It's truly an awe-inspiring place!


    [​IMG]

    I had to mess around with one and see how it turned out:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We rode back to camp just in time to get a really nice thunder and lightning show, followed by some nice, steady cool rain. Mountain House chow tastes pretty good, given the right location and circumstances, and sitting under a tarp watching the rain is one of them.
    #18
  19. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Oddometer:
    8,260
    Location:
    Auburn, CA
    Thanks Gham! I was sitting on our front porch this morning during a very nice thunderstorm (our first for some time) trying to do this report, and I neglected to put in any details about riding gear. I'll rectify that in the next post.
    #19
  20. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    13,752
    Location:
    chico,just below rag dump(nor-cal)
    Nice shots Alphonso! That Bison made you feel smaller then usual?

    (they do kinda remind one of Mertz the dog,but giant size and mean)
    #20