Don't Tell my Boyfriend-- I'm Taking His Bike to Yellowstone

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Shesaid, May 24, 2015.

  1. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
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    Central CA
    This is actually what I did LAST summer (August 2014) so I'll get the entire story posted in a few separate posts. Just remember: I've already made it back alive!:deal

    [​IMG]

    When I initially got home from my trip, I started typing it all up in epic ride report fashion for the express purpose of sharing it here on my moto forums.

    As it turned out-- a friend of mine had just begun the task of attempting to write a contemporary romance novel for self publication in the hopes that it would be the next 50 Shades and she could stop rubbing naked people 12 hours a day for a living.

    She burst in on me one day while I was furiously typing away and DARED me to write my ride report as a book and publish.

    I started to do just that-- then did more research on the "what if I actually wanted to make money on self publishing" and realized my story didn't contain nearly enough filthy sex to become a best seller. So my ride report languished on my hard drive for many months before making it to the Internet. Now it's kinda important to get the story posted because I am about to embark on another week long ride.

    This year I am taking the boyfriend. I am sure to refer back to last year's blissful solo often.
    #1
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  2. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    It all started with a plan to spend a week backpacking a section of the John Muir Trail with the besty. We did part of this route back in 2005, before I had the Boyfriend, but it wasn't our best trip, so we got to talking about trying it again.

    [​IMG]That was back in March. We set the dates for the week of August 9-17 and I set about nagging Hesaid about whether or not he wanted to take a week off for it.

    The BF and the BFF are made of entirely different materials and I knew Hesaid might not be in love with the idea of burning half his allotted vacation time to spend a week in the middle of nowhere with my BFF-- even if her hubby and I were along (both of whom, Hesaid is quite fond of.)

    But I never got an answer. He just kept asking me "what dates again?" or saying, "ummmmmm" in a distracted tone while walking away.

    Needless to say, at some point, I came to the conclusion that Hesaid would not be joining us.

    Then the BFF went into surgery 8 weeks before the hike date. And nearly died during the procedure-- because that's what the BFF does. She has ridiculously low blood pressure. Naturally, her doctor laughed out loud at the idea of her being cleared to hike over 9,000 feet carrying 50 pounds of gear for 7 days. And our plans were canceled.

    By that time I'd already rearranged my schedule so now I had a week off work but Hesaid didn't. I briefly considered calling all my clients and saying "Psyche!" but then I thought better of it. I do nails for a living-- I've been doing it for 22 years, my business is established and I'm busy. Arranging time off is a pain in the butt.

    So I talked to the BFF and asked if she was still going to be off work on disability for that week and she said yes. So I decided I'd just go visit her and hang out with her at home-- she lives in South Lake Tahoe, how bad can it suck to hang out with her in her cabin for a week?[​IMG]

    I still had almost 2 weeks before vacation and one day at work I was discussing my impending trip to Tahoe with a client when I heard a voice that sounded suspiciously like my own saying, "... I wonder if he'll let me take the bike..."

    I stopped talking and looked around in shock and disgust, ready to lecture which ever woman in my salon (btw: I work alone in a private studio) would dare let her man dictate her mode of travel when I noticed my client staring at me.

    We both burst out laughing because we both know me well enough to know that my Significant Other does not have such authority over me.

    By the time I got home that night, Hesaid was in quite a lot of trouble and got a serious lecture about how I am an adult woman and if I want to take my motorcycle to Tahoe, then I will take my motorcycle to Tahoe and if he doesn't like it then he can find a new woman....

    He listened intently while looking slightly like a bunny caught in the middle of the trail by a herd of stampeding cows. I'm sure his brain was busy running through every conversation we have ever had in the history of knowing eachother, trying to remember ever telling me I wasn't allowed to do anything and making metal notes that even though he couldn't come up with anything, he'd better remember to never do it. Then he said quite meekly, "I don't see any reason you shouldn't take your bike."

    That's right, buddy. Good answer!

    We did discuss which bike-- technically Pinkfoot is his. Both the DRs are financed by him, registered to him, and insured by him. So I guess my original thought was more along the lines of "would he let me take Pinkfoot" not so much whether he would "let" me go by bike.

    And believe me, I was ENTIRELY prepared to take the TW if he said "no" to the DR.

    But he agreed that it made more sense to take the DR-- and maybe he forgets that it's still technically his.
    #2
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  3. Kawi-Mike

    Kawi-Mike Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Ok, so now you have my attention. ANY filthy sex on a bike trip whether a little or a lot will keep me reading!!! Hurry up and start posting.
    #3
  4. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Central CA
    Day 1: Saturday, August 9, 2014:

    I admit I cried a little in my helmet as I pulled out of the Burger King parking lot in Oakhurst, California, onto Hwy 41 toward my turn off to the 49 north, leaving the Boyfriend in the rear view mirror after he'd ridden that far with me.

    [​IMG]

    I was really doing it. Here I go, off on my own. Riding the DR650 toward Tahoe on my first big solo ride.
    I would ride to Topaz Lake, just south of South Lake Tahoe on the Nevada/California border where my BFF would join me on Sunday afternoon to camp with me for a night before I left bright and early Monday morning with the goal of completing an 8 state, 3K mile loop that would take me to Yellowstone National Park before bringing me back home to Central CA 6 days later.

    And I was doing it all alone. On my "big bike." The one that sasses back. The one that broke my wrist the first day I had her. The one that I only had 1700 miles on. But also the one that had the gumption to maintain highway speeds-- my beloved little Yamaha TW200 would sit this one out in the garage.
    *Gulp*

    What have I gotten myself into?

    It wasn't too far out of Oakhurst that I stopped thinking about all that. The 49 is a beautiful, twisty foothill route that took me through Mariposa (Gateway to Yosemite) on my way to Hwy 108 and the Sonora Pass.

    I gassed up in Jamestown and grabbed a Moutanin Dew. Mmmmmm. The Boyfriend does love to mock my tastes in soft drinks and fast food. It was nice to enjoy a sugary, caffeine-laden beverage without him making faces at me.

    [​IMG]

    But my goal was to make it all the way to Topaz Lake before sunset. In order to do that, I had to keep moving. So back on the bike I got and headed into the Sierras.

    Just beautiful. I do love the mountains. This was the first time I had taken the 108 through the mountains. The ride was great, and it was especially nice to be out of the valley heat. Eventually I emerged on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and began the descent of the Sonora Pass.

    Eegads! Now I understand why the only person I know who's done the Sonora Pass on a bike looked at me with horror when I mentioned I was planning on this route-- this is where I first started feeling like my "big" bike was really quite small and nimble, and glad for it!

    All those blind curves and 180 (or more) degree turns. And they all came decorated with these "...% grade" signs along the sheer cliff drop off the side. I eventually came to realize that 7% grade was nothing to worry about, 11% got steep, I wasn't sure at all about continuing when I saw the 25% grade sign!

    But I kept it in low gear, cautiously crawling down the hills, using every turn out to allow more adventurous drivers and riders to take their chances at higher speeds.

    The views were breath taking.

    Don't look at the view!

    Wow! Look at that view!

    Don't look at the view! Look at the road! Look where you're going because you'll go where you're looking!
    And that's when it got cold.

    I was over 9,000 feet in elevation, it shouldn't be a surprise. But there are also all these storm clouds to consider. Where did the sun go?

    [​IMG]
    Oh well... it's all good.

    The Garmin said sunset was at 8:02 p.m. that night at that location. I figured I easily had about half an hour of "civil twilight" after sunset, but I'm not keen on riding past that. Deer, ya know.

    I was making acceptable time, almost out of the moutains, when the road in front of me suddenly looked like someone had hosed it down just prior to my arrival.

    I have very little experience riding on wet roads. I have no idea how that's going to change my traction. And with the cloud cover, it's much darker much earlier than I was planning on.

    Things are going fine. The wet road doesn't feel any different. I'm fine.

    What was that? Was that a bug? Yeah yeah... bugs. Another bug. Another bug....

    Ok. After a few hundred "bugs" I had to come clean with myself and admit that it was raining. And from the looks of it, it was going to rain more.

    I started to panic a little. I had about 20 miles to go, through unfamiliar territory, in the gathering dark and gloom, and now it appeared the heavens were about to break open.

    I passed a sign that said "Sonora Bridge campground." I turned in and made camp.

    Naturally, it rained on me the entire time I was setting up my tent and covering the bike. And as soon as I was snug inside and changed into some dry camp clothes-- it stopped.

    Between the full moon rising and shining on my tent like someone holding a million candle-power spot light on me, and my worrying about the folks back home worrying about me without receiving an update on my whereabouts, I had a hard time getting to sleep.

    Not to mention my lack of dinner. I'd eaten lunch in Tollhouse with the Boyfriend, but hadn't had anything else to eat since my soda in Jamestown. Now I was safe in camp with nothing but a squished Payday candy bar and a couple bottles of water that I'd been carrying along for snacking.
    Mmmm, dinner.

    [​IMG]
    I listened to the iPod once on the entire trip.
    #4
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  5. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    I'll have to make some up for ya! This trip only involved wistful masturbation. :wink:
    #5
  6. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    Day 2: August 10, 2014: Topaz Lake and the BFF

    [​IMG]

    I found myself waiting for the birds to start singing. It had to be about dawn. Any minute now the first indigo nuances of dawn would lighten my tent....

    any minute now...

    any...minute...???

    What time IS it, anyway? Seriously! It's GOTTA be like 6:30 already!

    Nope. 4:27 a.m.

    Go back to sleep!

    I think I managed to get another hour of sleep in 15 minute increments by the time I was satisfied that 6:00 a.m. was late enough and light enough to warrant getting up.

    I am not a morning person, but it's hard to sleep in when the sun is shining on your tent, and especially hard to sleep in when the shining sun means it's time to get back on the road for Day 2 of your big adventure!

    [​IMG]

    I tried to take my time, but I was on the road by 7 a.m.

    I found Topaz Lake, where I would meet up with the BFF later that day and camp on the shore and I stopped at the gas station next to the Topaz Lake lodge and casino (yay! First state line CROSSED!) The lodge parking lot was filled to overflowing with Harley Davidsons-- this would be a new experience for me... none of them "saw" me.

    When we bought our bikes, everyone said, "Oh! it's so cool! all the other bikers will wave at you!... except the Harleys, they won't wave at you. You don't have the right kind of bikes."

    But everyone does wave at us around our home turf. Most of the riders in our area are cruisers-- mostly Harleys. And they wave. Almost all of them, almost all the time.

    Not in Nevada. Not a single cruiser waved at me in Nevada. Not a single cruiser acknowledged me in Nevada. Through out my entire ride. And I spent a lot of time in Nevada.

    But I shrugged it off at that Chevron station and went on along my way, riding into Gardnerville to find a Starbucks for breakfast and wifi to let everyone back home know I was still OK.

    Then I headed back to Lake Topaz to set up camp and wait for the BFF.

    The guy at the gate of the recreation area was super cool to me. When I told him that I had a friend who would be meeting me later, he told me he'd "get her" for the camp fee, and let me head down to the lake to set up. LOL. BFF had told me that camp fees and dinner at the lodge's steakhouse were on her anyway.

    Turns out, I had excellent cell signal on the lakeshore. Normally, I would prefer to just turn the cell phone off entirely and let it take up space in my tank bag, but since I was out in the world all alone with so many folks back home following along and worrying about my progress, the cell phone saw uncommonly high usage throughout the trip. And I had a few hours to wait for the BFF, so I busied myself updating the social media and texting Mom.

    The lake was a popular recreation area, with lots of ski boats and jet skis and folks in RVs parked along the shore. I had been looking forward to jumping into the lake, but once I had camp set up all I wanted to do was put on my sweatshirt! I don't know how those people could stand skiing in that lake! The water was cold and the day wasn't entirely warm.

    Around 2, the storm clouds began to gather and I had to duck into my tent to avoid the rain.

    [​IMG]

    But the storm blew over quickly and the BFF arrived. We headed up to the other side of the lake to enjoy a steak dinner and play catch up after nearly 2 years of not seeing eachother-- who can believe it's been that long already? This grown-up stuff sure does take up our time!

    Later, we sat up late in our camp chairs on the lake shore, watching wildlife come down to drink while the GIANT full moon lit up the landscape like daylight.

    Good times.

    [​IMG]
    #6
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  7. Kawi-Mike

    Kawi-Mike Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    So far so good. Keep it coming. By the way, I don't think I have ever covered my bike up while camping. That would keep me from having to unload everything every time it rains. Smart.
    #7
  8. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Central CA
    Day 3:Monday, August 11, 2014: Topaz Lake, NV to Eureka Nevada; Freezing Cold and Soaking Wet!

    But dawn broke early again and I had miles to go before my next night's destination. I had the bike loaded and ready to go shortly after 7. Hugged the BFF and we made more promises to spend more time together, and I was off toward Fallon NV.

    [​IMG]


    What an amazing morning! Bright, warm, sunny, GORGEOUS! Winding through western Nevada, through green farmlands that are just not what you think of when you think of Nevada.

    Walker Canyon was a gem! It looked exactly like something out of an old western. I could just imagine it without the ribbon of asphalt winding through it. I felt like I was in one of the Young Guns movies.

    [​IMG]

    Locals on their way to where ever they spend their Mondays stared at me as though I'd gone mad as they passed me while I was busy wandering around snapping photos.

    This is where I started really understanding my photo style and realizing I would need to get serious about shopping for a quality point and shoot camera when I got home. I brought the Nikon D90, but it was just too much trouble to dig it out of the case for turnout snap shots. But it doesn' t fit in my tank bag, and my tank bag isn't water proof and I was expecting scattered thunderstorms along the way.

    My point and shoot has always disappointed in color quality, but it does the job... but as I tried to get a good shot in the canyon, I realized that the light sensor was also a disappointment. Sure enough, I don't have a good shot of the canyon:

    [​IMG]

    I got gas at a random Texaco station on a corner in something that the locals probably refer to as a "town." Maybe Mason?

    When we lowered the DR a new, short, kickstand was required. But it still needed to be shortened further. Since the metal fabrication left the new kickstand without its factory powder coating, I painted it pink. Which is how Pinkfoot got her name. I've been saying I still want another 1/4-1/2 inch taken out of it because I'm not comfortable with how vertical the bike sits.

    The BF insists that the stand is perfect and the lean angle is damn near factory. Which, I have to admit, it is. The BF's metal fab guy is bomb.

    But I still don't feel comfortable with the lack of lean when the bike is on level ground. And sure enough, this trip would confirm my claims.

    While I was attempting to park the bike by the gas pump so that the side stand was on the downhill side, a pick up truck pulled up beside me and I looked up to see a bearded grandfather type who reminded me somewhat of my father in law asking me where I was headed?

    I explained that I was looking to find the junction with Hwy 50. He confirmed that I was headed in the right direction, gave me some superfluous information about the area, traffic, and weather, complimented my bike and asked how far I was going.

    I explained I was headed to Yellowstone, ultimately, having come from central California.

    [​IMG]
    More poorly light-metered Walker Canyon because I don't have a photo of the Texaco station or the guy in the pickup.

    He was all smiles as he gave me his blessings and his admiration and drove away telling me, "I think it's great what you're doing! It's just great. Good for you!"

    And with that encouragement from a total stranger, my day was officially made. :D There would be much singing in the helmet on my way to Fallon for my next gas stop.

    Fallon was bright and warm when I rolled into anotherTexaco station for gas and snacks. I made sure to update the social media followers one last time before setting off across Nevada on the "loneliest highway in America" on highway 50.

    This was the first official day of my epic solo ride, I was excited and giddy. The day had been perfect so far. Everything I could hope for...

    but just west of Fallon, it got windy.

    [​IMG]

    And windier.

    And windier.

    Huge clouds of dust billowed across the road. The cottonwood trees were long out of bloom, but they still had plenty of dead leaves and dirt in them to add to the whirling layer of debris that was making its way over the road in front of me.
    I shrugged. I've ridden in wind before. I know it's work. I know it's physically exhausting. I know it requires extra diligence. But I've got this. It's just wind. And I'm headed into the Nevadan interior on the highway less traveled-- I won't have to worry about being in the way of traffic.

    I pressed on. Heading uphill into the high desert across sandy alluvial fans with railroad tracks running parallel to the road. Looked like local kids came out here to write their names and short messages of undying love and friendship using dark colored rocks against the white sand along the tracks.

    I'd seen that before, along the railroad tracks that run along CA SR62 on a return trip from Phoenix in 2008. I thought of that trip as I tried to read the names while wrestling the handlebars into a forward stance and doing my best to stay upright and within the boundaries of my lane of traffic as the wind blew the white sand out from under the black rocks forming the names.

    I didn't get many names read. I have no more idea now as to who drove out to the desert west of town to drag rocks from the surrounding hills and arrange them into the words that serve as statements of those individuals' existence, than I did before I saw them.

    [​IMG]

    There was a lot of wind.

    I made it up the initial grade, into the hills beyond the town of Fallon, determined to make forward progress toward my ultimate goal of Provo, Utah by nightfall; a mere 600 miles. By all accounts, totally achievable with 12 hours of daylight and a lonely highway to ride 70 miles an hour on all day.

    Shortly after cresting the first ridge, the first flickers of Doubt blew in a frenzied circular pattern across my mind like the whirling wind on the road before me.

    Ummmmm.....

    This wind is really bad.

    It's not a mere matter of leaning into it and holding steady on the throttle. The wind would rush down the mountains from my right, picking up speed as it crossed the narrow valley. It would knock into me at thigh height and push me across the road, dangerously close to the lane of oncoming traffic which, fortunately, was almost always clear. Then it would race up the mountains to my left and presumably turn around and head back down toward me again.

    Sometimes it would dance in little curly-cue patterns across the road. Sometimes there were big clouds of dust that I couldn't quite see through. And the heavy gusts that skipped low along the surface of the road, pushing the tires of the bike sideways all at once, feeling like I was riding on a rug while someone was trying to pull it out from under me.

    Every headlight that I saw in my rear view mirror eventually caught up to me, and I didn't hesitate to pull over to let them pass. I pulled over a lot. I thought this was supposed to be the “loneliest highway in America?”

    The sky above me was dark. Ocassionally I heard thunder: I had been keeping an eye on weather reports for 2 weeks leading up to this trip. I expected scattered thunderstorms, moving across my path from southeast to northwest-- mostly in the afternoons. But all the sort of weather that you can shrug off.

    The sky I was looking at was not to be shrugged at. As far as I could see before me, there was nothing but blackness and wind.

    However, in my rear view mirrors I could see a hole in the darkness. A bright, blue, happy hole. Way back there, slowly heading in the same direction as me.

    Eventually I convinced myself that all I needed to do was pull well off the road and take a break. Wait it out. That patch of azure sky was headed in my direction and it'd probaby take about 20 minutes before it caught up to me-- if I'd let it.
    So when I came to a big turn out well off the road, I pulled into it. I parked the bike, got off, grabbed a beverage and some beef jerky and proceded to wait it out.

    At this point, I knew there was no way I would make it to Provo by the end of the day. 602 miles in one day was a lofty goal, and I knew that before I started this crazy trip. But as long as I made it across the Nevada/Utah border by the end of the day, I'd consider the day successful. I would still be on track to make it to Yellowstone and home by Saturday while still being able to follow my intended route and ride in 8 different states. It's all about coloring in states on my little “where I've ridden” map!

    I saw a turn off for some nameless, gravel road that stretched away to the north through the desert and into the distance between two mountain ranges. It came with a wide, open area perfect for parking the bike and hanging out.
    I busied myself with the task of taking photos of the bike against the backdrop of the gloomy skies. I wandered around. Not much to see in the expanse of sage brush and gravel.

    I watched the sky. I watched the dark clouds moving slowly to the north. I watched the road disappear into the horizon to the east. I counted vehicles that passed me. The loneliest road in America was far from the loneliest road I've ever traveled. Not terribly trafficked, but not lonely enough to allow a gal to cop a squat behind the low growing chaparral. ~sigh~ I hadn't planned on being stuck out here on the road long enough to have to worry about whether or not there would be proper rest stops equipped with restrooms.

    I was pretty bored. I remained convinced that that elusive patch of blue sky was getting closer and that once it did, the rest of the day would be smooth riding. But it sure was taking its damn time.

    I was parked in a big turn out area near the fence by the nameless road and someone, at some point, had dumped a truckload of tiny gravel. Riding on gravel is a daunting experience, and I had parked Pinkfoot at the far edge of the gravel bed to avoid the grueling endeavor of having to pick up a downed bike. But I couldn't help but eye the deep bed of tiny rocks.

    I did not grow up in snow country. There were no snow days, no snow forts, no soggy snow clothes hanging to dry in the mud room while I sat by the fire drinking hot cocoa after a long day of building snowmen and making snow angels....

    Snow angels....

    That's some deep gravel...

    Tiny pea gravel....

    I have all this armored riding gear on...

    And a helmet...

    I wonder if....

    I talked myself out of my nonsensical impulse about 7 times before I came to the conclusion that if I didn't do it, it would be a regret that I'd take to my grave.

    I lay down in the gravel and swung my arms and legs back and forth.

    It occurred to me that I was getting filthy. And more than one work truck full of electrician looking types had already appeared from the spaces yonder from whence the nameless gravel road ran to offer me a slightly curious and surprised wave as they passed me by and headed down the highway to where ever they needed to be next.

    But what the hell? What else do I have on my agenda?

    [​IMG]

    I got up carefully and observed my work. Hmmmmm. I thought it'd come out better. It wasn't very deep and the outlines were hard to distinguish, but there was definitely the faint outline of a gravel angel in the dust and rocks before me.

    I figured having a gravel angel to watch over my travels couldn't really hurt me any. I took a picture, took another look at that slow approaching patch of blue sky, shrugged off the dust, and decided I might as well get back on the road.

    500 yards down the highway, it started raining.

    [​IMG]

    I'm traveling through the Nevadan desert in the middle of August! It is not supposed to be freezing cold! It's supposed to be hot. I was prepared to be worried about dehydration. That's why I have the softsided cooler with the soda and water with me. I expected I'd be making frequent stops along the roadside to take off the jacket and helmet and pour water over my head.

    Somewhere on the other side of Austin, back out in the middle of the desolate no where, back on the road in the cold wind and rain, I started to get comfortable with the idea of riding on the wet pavement.

    It wasn't raining hard, so it's not like the road had metamorphosed into a river. I actually had good traction on the road surface. I knew my stopping distance would be increased, but I wasn't terrified of going over 15 miles an hour anymore.
    I was just cold and wet.

    I had made a habit of moving out of the way for every vehicle that eventually caught up to me. Ego has no place out on the road when you're just a tiny speck in the desert, I don't need to be in front. Besides, I'll be in front again within minutes of letting them pass me!

    I saw a small pickup truck with a camper closing the distance in my rear view mirror, so I pulled to the side of the road and let him pass. He swung around me, but didn't speed out of sight immediately.

    Before long, a long turn out appeared along our side of the road and the pick up immediately swung into it and parked as if in a hurry.

    Somehow, I knew exactly what the driver was doing and, sure enough, before I had time to pass him, a man in khaki cargo shorts jumped from the cab of the truck and ran to to the door of the cab-over camper and enthusiastically waved at me and gestured toward the camper.

    I was struck by how sweet his gesture was, but I waved “no thank you” to him and I continued down the road.

    He returned to his cab and pulled back onto the road. But he stayed a respectable distance behind me. Following me. Keeping an eye on me.

    It was comforting. I instinctively understood that he posed no threat whatsoever, that he was concerned for the well being of a fellow traveler, and that he just wanted to make sure that no harm came to me out there, all alone.

    In a very short time I realized that I had started shivering. This was foolish. I needed to find a good place to get off the road. My summer riding gear had allowed too much rain to penetrate my clothing and the airflow was making things worse. If I didn't take care of myself, it wouldn't matter that I was feeling fine-- I'd have hypothermia and that would certainly be the end of my ride. Possibly my life.

    I started scanning the road for places to pull over just as I passed a sign that claimed there would be a rest stop in about a mile. I knew the pick up truck would follow me off the road where ever I stopped to make sure I was OK. So it came as no surprise when his turn signal lit up as soon as mine did.

    [​IMG]

    What passes as a “rest stop” along the loneliest highway in America is a far cry from the rest areas I'm accustomed to dotting California's freeways. Really little more than a glorified turn out, no rest rooms, just a metal picnic table with attached benches under a corrugated metal awning.

    Still, it was shelter. I was even able to get the bike pulled up close enough to the picnic bench that it was out of the rain.
    As I dismounted and began the process of disconnecting the straps that secure my tail bag to my rear rack, the pick up pulled up in front of my shelter and a spry older gentleman leapt from the cab. He once again offered the warm confines of his camper as shelter and a place to change into dry clothes.

    Honestly, it was one of those cab-over campers that expand, better for gas mileage, clearance, and wind resistance while in travel mode: I didn't want him to have to raise the top of the camper just so I could change clothes. And I didn't want to sit around in his camper with him, waiting out the weather when he obviously had someplace he was headed to.

    Just because I chose to ride through a rain storm in the middle of the desert on a motorcycle didn't mean his journey ought to be interrupted.

    I never caught his name, but I did ask where he was from. He asked if I wanted to know where he lived? Or where his accent was from?

    I laughed and said, “first one, then the other.”

    He has lived in Truckee, California for 30 years. The still rather strong accent is from Czechoslovakia.

    My Czechoslovakian guardian angel stayed and chatted for a bit; he was headed to Big Basin National Park. He also rides motorcycles. He has a Triumph. He liked my bike, but he's short and dual sports are all too tall for him.

    He shyly admitted that he didn't realize I was a “lady” when he first saw me on the road. He was only concerned that I was on the bike all alone in the rain and wanted to make sure I was OK. I think he was concerned that I might think he was stalking me with illicit intent and wanted to set the record straight.

    I wish I'd gotten his name. I wish I had business cards with my name and website printed on them to give out along my ride. Some way to keep in touch with the people I met.

    Eventually he was satisfied that I was, indeed, OK. We shook hands and he continued on toward Big Basin National Park.

    Now that I was alone in the loneliest rest area in America, I figured I had better take advantage of the desolation and wriggle into some dry clothes. Not an easy task in an exposed area while still making some attempt at modesty, but I eventually had all comfy, warm dry layers on including new socks. I rolled my wet clothes into a stuff sack and got the whole kit back together and strapped back on the bike. Then I set about zipping the waterproof liners into my summer riding gear.

    Feeling much better with dry clothes, a few extra layers, and the wind blocking barrier of the waterproof liners, I resumed my heading toward my next gas stop in Eureka, Nevada.

    That patch of blue sky finally caught up to me and I was able to pick up speed and relax into the ride.

    The scenery along the highway really was much more impressive than I'd expected. Nevada has so many mountain ranges all arranged through out the desert. The road wound between some of them and over others. Maybe it was the rain, but all the boring gray brush that grows in the high desert climate was unusually green and the fragrant sage brush was exceptionally strong through the area.

    Once the sky above me turned to a solid shade of blue, dotted with wispy little white clouds, and the air warmed up a tad, it was an incredible place to be.

    I began the ascent into Eureka around 5 in the afternoon. Still 3 hours left till sundown, and only 77 more miles to the border town of Ely, Nevada. Plenty of time to make it to end of Nevada before finding a place to stay for the night.
    Everything was good.

    I began the tour of Eureka's main street, starting with a small motor lodge on my right. The kind of old fashioned motel that you rarely see left in California these days. Just a ranch style row of individual rooms with a wide, black top parking lot in front allowing each traveler to park their vehicle directly in front of their room for the duration.

    Sitting proudly before one room was a bright, shiny, red Triumph Tiger and one of those grizzled old rider-types unpacking it who waved high and happily at me as I passed by.

    I climbed the hill to the local gas station, the only sign of “chain” or “big box” franchise anything visible in the tiny hamlet-- a trusty Chevron. After filling the gas tank, I looked at the map, did some quick math, and decided I would head for Ely....
    And then I saw what was on the other side of the hill that Eureka is built on.

    To the west, from whence I had come, the sky was a glistening, promising blue that told the tale of a still early summer evening. Light that would continue to linger for several more hours.

    On the other side of the hill, to the east, in the direction I was headed, the sky hung over yet another vast expanse of desert valley with a heavy, ominous, darkness that threatened to swallow the whole of the scenery under the crushing weight of it's blackness.

    ~sigh~

    If I head into that, I'll be headed into even worse than I've already been through. In gathering darkness.

    Maybe I'll just stay right here at this hotel next to the gas station that says “no vacancy.”

    Hmmmmm. Maybe not. OK, I'll head back to that motor lodge with the big red Tiger parked out front.

    [​IMG]
    screenshot from Google street view because I apparently didn't bother getting photo of the hotel in Eureka.


    I climbed the broken down wooden stairs to the “office” attached to the circa 1970's mobile home to inquire about a room for the night. The sign outside still said “vacancy,” but that didn't mean it was accurate.

    The man emerged from his living room just beyond the office door, crushing out his cigarette as he approached the desk. I asked about a room and he smiled and greeted me warmly, revealing a few missing teeth. I swear he was wearing a wife beater undershirt and boxer shorts... but he probably did have pants on. Maybe they were pajama pants.

    Regardless of how I remember him, verses how he actually appeared, he did not present the picture of professionalism. But he was very nice and did have a room left for me and informed me that the $65 charge included all the state taxes and “crap.”

    I paid him, he handed me a key.

    AN ACTUAL KEY! A metal house key on an oblong, plastic keychain. I haven't seen a hotel with real keys since the Reagan administration. I was positively enchanted.

    The bike was already conveniently parked in front of Room 5, so I unlocked the door to my new home and admired the furnishings: An old school tube TV that may very well have been the exact same model and size of the one we still have at home, a queen size bed, a twin size bed that made use of the defunct closet space and some lamps.

    Clean, warm, dry. All I asked for.

    [​IMG]

    I set about bringing in the luggage off the bike, and while I did the guy who rode the Tiger came out to chat. He was from the San Francisco bay area and was on his way home from the big Sturgis bike gathering in South Dakota.

    Like me, he'd had enough of the poor riding due to the unfavorable weather and decided not to push through any farther, so he was also calling Eureka “home” for the night.

    We chatted about his bike, about my bike, about our rides, our routes, and our reasons for it all. My neighbor on the other side of me was outside his room having a smoke and offered his hellos and hand shakes as well.

    But soon enough we all went back to busying ourselves with our own interests. It seemed that I was the only person in Eureka that didn't have cell service. The motel didn't offer wifi. I had no way to contact Home to check in and let them know that I was safe for the night, let alone where I was.

    ~shrug~ Nothing I can do about it now. Let's put on some street clothes and hike up the hill to the Owl Club.

    I had seen it on my initial tour through town. “The Owl Club.” I didn't really know what it was when I read the sign the first time. It sounded like a strip club. But on my backtrack back to the motel, I realized the Owl Club appeared to be, in fact, the only real restaurant in town. So that's where I headed as I hiked back uphill in search of a hot meal.

    The Owl Club seems to be both the town's primary tavern-- a dark, smoky bar that reminded me of the bowling alley in the 70's; and the primary family restaurant. I found a small table to myself on the restaurant side and picked up the menu. I order a beer from the bar and set about deciding on dinner while observing my fellow dinner company.

    The place was filled with a miss-mash of traveler types and maybe a local or two who stopped by to pick up food to go.

    There were two tables filled with construction workers, or utility workers, or whatever sort of occupation lends itself to high viz yellow t-shirts and big, white Ford trucks. The table to my right hosted 3 wind-worn travellers who I'm pretty sure were the trio I saw head up the street outside my motel on small displacement, overladen dual sport bikes earlier. And at the long table in the middle of the room, only 2 guys were seated at on corner-- who turned out to be belong to the Harley's parked under the stairs at the hotel that didn't have a vacancy.

    I was enjoying eavesdropping on the trio next to me. They were talking enthusiastically about their ride that day. From the sound of it, they may have been riding the TAT, with expectations to reach Oregon sometime on Thursday.

    Two women walked through the door-- possibly a mother and daughter-- and immediately I knew they were not Americans: they sat at the table that was already occupied by the two guys with the Harleys.

    Americans don't do that. We don't sit at tables that are already occupied, no matter how much space is available.

    I envied that cultural difference, as sitting at a table with strangers pretty much forced the issue, and soon the men were involved in conversation with the ladies who shared their table.

    I didn't quite catch which country the women were from, but their tablemates were interested to know more about how schools in their country handled teaching English, and how it worked out that every one got 5 weeks of vacation each year.

    I enjoyed watching this modpodge of travelers come together. Most of them thwarted by the weather, some of the white-work-truck crews simply going on about their regular schedules of finding a place to stay when 5 o'clock ended their work day, whether they were on the road or not.

    My hot roast beef sandwich was definitely the best meal I would enjoy on my journey. I'd set off with a budget that gave priority to putting gas in the bike; with the credit cards on-call for motels, souvenirs, and a unforeseen bike repairs; and a plan to live off of cheap fast food. If I happened to lose a few pounds in the process, I was sure to make up for them again when I returned home. And, as predicted, the Owl Club was the last home cooked meal and ice cold beer I would enjoy for the rest of the trip. So I made sure to enjoy it before walking back to my room.

    I rarely watch television, so the moving pictures and sound are both mesmerizing and overwhelming. Nonetheless, I needed to know what the weather had in store for me the next day, so the TV in the room was left on for most of the evening.

    Once I realized that the Weather Channel did not, actually, provide any useful information regarding the weather despite its intriguing dramatic programs on killer floods and when tornadoes attack, I found some local news programs that offered me a bleak glimpse at what the following day had in store.

    The dopplar weather map for the following day showed the state of Utah as one giant, pulsing, blob of green.

    Which translates into a lot of rain. A lot of rain.

    I'll worry about it in the morning.

    [​IMG]
    Pinkfoot outside my room in Eureka after the Big Red Tiger left in the morning.
    #8
    gregoblv likes this.
  9. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    I picked up the little tarp as an impulse buy just before I left-- kinda glad I did! :rofl
    #9
  10. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    Day 4--Tuesday, August 12, 2014: So This is Idaho

    Morning dawned bright and I was proud of myself for yet another morning up and ready before 8 a.m.
    Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person?

    While I was making the rounds of the room, making sure nothing got left behind, I heard the roar of the Tiger's triple cylinder engine leaving the parking lot.

    I'd hoped for a chance to wish a sincere good bye and good ride to my neighbor on the last leg of his homeward ride.

    Oh well, I opened my door to a bright, sunny albeit a tad brisk, morning and started loading up the bike. I found a small, silver, LED keychain flashlight carefully placed on the seat of my bike.

    I like to think it's a gift from the Tiger guy.

    [​IMG]

    East bound out of town at 7:30 am and headed toward Ely under blue skies. Not much story to tell, I pulled into the border town of Ely, Nevada about around 9 in the morning. Ely looked like another cute little town with a mining history, but being on the Nevada border meant it also got by with a little help from the gambling industry. Maybe someday I'll head back through that way and stop for a closer look, but on this day it was all about filling the gas tank and making the final decision whether to head across Utah or north toward Idaho.

    Somehow, the early morning ride through beautiful weather, I forgot all about that ominous dopplar weather map that forecast doom and rain throughout Utah that afternoon, so I set off to the edge of town to find my way to the next town.

    Maybe Luck smiled on me, maybe I missed a grand adventurous tale to tell... but I opted to attempt to follow Google's turn by turn navigation instructions instead of just looking up at the road signs.

    Next thing I know? I'm headed for Wells, Nevada and the next gas is 124 miles away.

    I guess the spirits of the American Road have spoken. I'm headed north to Idaho instead.

    124 miles between gas stops. Through the wide open expansive Nevada nothingness. But under sunny blue skies with nothing to do but sing in my helmet.

    Life is seriously good.

    I limped into Wells a couple of hours later with a smidge of gas remaining in the reserve tank, just in time for lunch and discovered that Burger King also offers free wifi to those brave enough to sit through a meal in a fast food restaurant.

    [​IMG]

    This gave me a chance to email home and update social media for the first time in just over 24 hours. Still no hope of actual cell phone signal on my network-less-traveled however. No big surprise to me.

    Once again I found myself on the road, through more wide open nothingness till I made it to the northern border town of Jackpot, Nevada for another tank of gas.

    Pictures at the “Welcome to Idaho” sign and headed north on US Route 93 toward Twin Falls, Idaho.

    I'd never been to Idaho. It was one of the states I was looking forward to seeing in person on this trip, but now that I was riding into it, I had no idea what I really wanted or expected from it.

    The ultimate plan was to head east into Wyoming and Tetons and Yellowstone National parks before looping back on the homeward stretch. I hadn't even planned on being in Idaho today and now I wasn't sure what I was doing there.

    [​IMG]

    I found myself in Twin Falls without the faintest clue where I was headed or where I wanted to be. I still had several hours of riding left in the day so it seemed a forgone conclusion that I should keep pushing on. But at the same time, I wasn't sure which way I was headed from here or why pushing through would land me by nightfall.

    I was not loving Twin Falls. I found myself riding along car dealerships and big box stores. There's a Jack in the Box. There's a Michael's craft store, there's a Walmart, There's a Home Depot...

    It all looked the same. And it was so busy. Full of traffic, cars upon cars lining up to turn into this shopping center or that one, to buy mass produced commodities in mass.

    It all looked just like the town I live in, but it all looked so different from the tiny towns along highway 50 that I had spent yesterday riding through.

    The sudden shock of going from hundreds of miles of open land to finding myself back in the heart of middle class big box store America did nothing to clear my mind regarding my route.

    Looking at the map I could see that I probably wanted to head east, possibly on I-84 toward Pocatello. I was not keen on the notion of spending time on the interstate. OH! For a better map! How I miss the days of beautifully printed Thomas Guides.

    Screw it! I'm here. I'm headed to Craters of the Moon!

    [​IMG]

    I can't remember exactly how long ago I discovered the existence of Craters of the Moon National Monument, but I love the name. Whimsical and frivolous-- so unlike the names our government gives to other forests, parks, and monuments, always trying to make them sound so historical or scientific.

    Don't try to tell me that “Craters of the Moon” doesn't capture your imagination.

    I've been wanting to see it in person for several years, as long as I'm already off schedule in Idaho... what the hell? At least it gets me back out on the road.

    And so I made my escape to the north on the 93 to ID State route 26 which would take me on a big loop around southern Idaho, circling through the geologic remains of the giant pyroclastic flow that created my destination and eventually leading me back to Idaho Falls.

    Stopped for gas in Shoshone, and onto ID state route 26 into a post-apocalyptic scene of expansive ancient lava flow, sage brush, and large areas that had suffered a fire in recent history, reducing the already bleak scenery to an even starker landscape.

    By the time I came to Craters of the Moon, I'd seen plenty enough lava flow. Nevertheless, Craters did not disappoint. Although, accurately capturing photos of the black lava against the blue sky proved a task that the light sensor in my simple point and shoot camera wasn't up to.

    Naturally, I had to stop by the visitor center for some souvenirs. Which is how I met Jim, a fellow rider on a Honda. We spent some time standing in the parking lot outside the visitor center, comparing notes, sharing stories, and making general chit chat.

    [​IMG]
    No. I don't have pictures of Jim or his bike-- because I haven't gotten comfortable with asking strangers if I can take pictures of them.

    We shook hands and went our separate ways.

    I passed through the tiny town of Arco, another itty bitty community with a KOA campground and another ranch style motorlodge, one room already had a motorcycle parked outside the door, pulled right up onto the porch.

    A tiny voice in my head suggested that this was the place to settle for the night. Another place with character, catering to wear, random travelers from parts unknown on their way to parts far and wide.

    Instead, I pushed through to Idaho Falls and found myself in yet another big box store city, searching for the row of chain hotels that undoubtedly lined the interstate where it passed through town.

    Sure enough, I found them and checked into a nice, safe room at the Motel 6. And immediately wished I hadn't.

    Not that there was anything wrong with my room-- or Motel 6 in general-- but I had to leave the bike in a big parking lot, far away from my room and out of view of my window while I made two trips to haul the luggage from the bike up to my 2nd floor room.

    I knew it was a smoking room when I checked in, one of only two rooms available. I'm from California where the state has been working on making smoking a tar-and-featherable offense for the last 30 years. I can't remember the last hotel I stayed at in my home state that didn't require signing a disclaimer agreeing to pay an average of $350 if I smoke in my room. Sometimes I forget that other states still believe in personal freedoms-- even if they aren't the healthiest.

    My room in Eureka had smelled of smoke too. For that matter, so did the Owl Club. I didn't think much of it at the time but now, standing in my neat, tidy Motel 6 room featuring all the new and crisp of a profitable chain hotel-- I realized that the smell of cigarette smoke doesn't really bother me that much. The smell of whatever Motel 6 had done to make its smoking rooms NOT smell like cigarettes, however, did.

    The room smelled like smoke. No question about it. But it also smelled like some sort of floral room freshener. The two odors had combined into one super-odor that permeated the air in the room to a nearly tangible degree. I never got used to it and it made me nauseous.

    I had cell reception there and was able to do all the mundane texting and emailing that is expected of us in today's version of “real life” and especially of a women traveling alone by motorcycle.

    I walked to the big box fast food chain restaurant that shared the parking lot with the hotel and ordered entirely too much food. I rarely eat fast food anymore because the Boyfriend isn't such a fan of junk food. I had looked forward to this trip for weeks exactly for the opportunity to spend a week living off of fatty, greasy, mass produced fast food.

    [​IMG]
    I'd been outrunning weather in Idaho all day.

    The windows began to rattle, thunder clapped outside and lightening lit up the room. Another storm was blowing through.

    This stormy weather was another adjustment for a California girl. We just don't get enough weather. The summers are bright, hot, and dry where I live. Winters are cold and foggy. Most people lament that we don't even have an autumn and spring lasts for about 2 weeks in February when the fruit orchards explode into bloom.

    Thunderstorms are few and far between, and summer rain is nearly unheard of.

    But I'd been trying to out run weather since crossing the Sierra Nevada. I'd done a good job today, but now it sounded like the heavens were opening onto Idaho Falls.
    #10
    Phipsd and gregoblv like this.
  11. Vinnie the Snake

    Vinnie the Snake Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,102
    Location:
    Broken Arrow, Ok
    Love it.......:ear:ear:ear
    #11
  12. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,296
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL / Sylva, NC
    Enjoying your RR.

    I always cover my bike when I'm camping
    And I always find the Weather Channel worthless when I "really need to know" LOL.
    #12
  13. bluestar

    bluestar the rain maker

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    14,404
    Location:
    N.E. Louisiana
    Great start. Sounds like a real adventure. :clap
    #13
  14. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,862
    Location:
    Recalculating... recalculating.... HCMC-Vietnam :)
    Looks like a fun start. Really impressed by your thread title. :)
    Btw, why did you have to bring all your luggage into the room, including the fuel can? Because of security issue? It's quite a job though :D

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    Wednesday, August 13: Geysers and Grumpy

    Once again, I woke up surprisingly early and had everything unplugged and packed away, sitting by the door awaiting its trip down the stairs to get lashed onto the bike well in time to meet my goal of being on the road by 8 a.m.

    I hadn't slept well. I never acclimated to the smell of flowered cigarettes that permeated the room. I wasn't thrilled about making multiple trips up and down stairs to get the luggage and the bike all sorted out.

    I grabbed the little seahorse cases first and started my tromp down the stairs. Out the door to the parking lot at the rear of the building where Pinkfoot was parked only to have my heart drop into my boots.

    [​IMG]
    A dark day in Idaho.

    There my trusty steed lie, flat on her side, most likely blown over by the storm. :2cry

    Pinkfoot is a dual sport bike, lightweight as 650cc motorcycles go at 360 lbs. She was built to handle off road as well as be legal and able to carry her rider down the American (or the Mexican, Canadian, or Patagonian, for that matter) highway as well. She is tall and slim with a high center of gravity. Combined with the kickstand that remains a tad too long, she simply didn't stand much chance against the gale that had blown through the night before.

    Fortunately, she had fallen well within the confines of her designated parking space, so I had no worries about neighboring vehicles wanting my insurance information.

    She just looked so.... sad.

    I have always been one to anthropomorphise my vehicles at any rate, but I notice this tendency is stronger on a motorcycle. Your bike is your horse, your trusty steed, your mighty stallion. It is your dog and your best friend. You and your bike are partners on a grand adventure, whether you are heading to the tip of South America or to the local grocery story. Whatever the world throws at you, you are in it together. A team.

    Having to leave the bike outdoors at the end of the day while I retire to a warm, dry, motel room already makes me feel like I'm leaving my dog outside in the cold. Arriving in the morning to find her on her side felt like I'd come out to find that my dog had frozen to death over night while patiently trusting that I would come for it.

    When you drop a bike on a dirt trail, which is not uncommon and, the adventure biking community assures me, does not count as a “crash;” it's usually easy to pick it up again. You're filled with the adrenaline of the ride, of just having your bike go sideways underneath you, you need to get the rubber side back on the road and get out of the way before traffic comes around the corner or over the hill. It's entirely possible to jump up, grab the bars and haul the bike to its feet and be 10 miles down the road before you even realize what happened.

    When you emerge from a mediocre motel room after a mediocre night's sleep 3 hours earlier than you'd prefer to be awake at all to find your trusty steed in this condition, there is no adrenaline.

    There is a sudden and severe slumping of shoulders.

    I very immediately felt very small. I was instantly keenly aware of how old I am, how fragile I am, how weak I am, and how much of a girl I am. Here I am, attempting a serious motorcycle ride on a dirt bike. I'm such an idiot. If I had a “real” bike it would have been heavy enough to hold its own in the wind. I have no idea how I'm going to pick it up. I have no idea if I can pick it up.

    I stood there, dejectedly staring at the downed machine. I looked around. I have never been the sort of girl who elicits the groveling offers of assistance from gentlemen passing by, and at this moment there were no passersby of any sort to beg or bribe for help anyway.

    [​IMG]
    No. I didn't actually take photos of the bike while she was down.

    Malevolent notions of mischief and abuse entered my mind; what if it hadn't been the wind? What if it had been mean-spirited youths just looking for an opportunity to wreak havoc? What if some red-necked good ol' boy type had decided that pink kickstand represented some “faggot” who would be “served right” by having his bike toppled? What if it were some “bad-assed” Harley riders who thought it'd be funny to kick the bike over? Afterall, it's just a dirt bike anyway, anyone can pick it up. What if some 12 year old had excitedly spied it and dropped it innocently enough in an attempt to climb atop it?

    What is it about motorcycles that fail to inspire the same respect for being a person's sole mode of conveyance that cars do? Why do people feel that a motorcycle is fair game for pushing, shoving, touching, and climbing on?

    Thoughts of human involvement in Pinkfoot's prostrate condition did nothing to soothe my travel weariness of the chilly morning as I stood beside her and considered my plan of attack.

    I'm sure it was the storm. The winds were strong, The bike was parked where they would have hit her broadside and that long kickstand doesn't aid her stability.

    I conjured all the Youtube videos I've watched of methods for shorter, smaller-- mostly female-- riders to pick up bikes that outweigh them by 100s of pounds. Pinkfoot is a feather comparatively, this isn't going to be as hard as I'm expecting.
    It took a couple of tries to find just the right grip and leverage, but I managed to coax the bike back onto her feet. As I stood leaning against her, waiting for my heart rate to return to normal, I caught the disinterested gaze from an older man walking a poodle. He just looked at me without acknowledgment and continued toward the building, lead by the small dog.

    Thanks, buddy.

    I told Pinkfoot to “stay” and made my last trip to the room to get the tail bag and check for forgotten items in the room. Locked the door behind me and finished strapping luggage to the bike.

    I inspected the bike to make sure all pedals and levers were still in tact; no spilled gas, no dents, barely a new scratch... what if someone had laid her down gently? Intent on harvesting her vitals organs like some black market doctor from an urban legend? And the only reason everything is OK is because some serendipitous event foiled their evil plot?

    Wednesday would be a hard day.

    I just wanted out of the city. Out of its citiness. It took me a moment to decipher my intended route on the map then I made my way through what passes for morning rush hour traffic in Idaho Falls, onto hwy 26 for a southern approach to Tetons National Park and Yellowstone via Jackson, Wyoming.

    Once I got going, I started feeling better. But I couldn't shake a certain grumpiness that didn't make much sense to me. It didn't take long before I started discovering a plethora of lodging opportunities that would have been well within my reach for my previous night's stay-- lodges and RV parks with cabins and tent sites along the Snake River, Forest Service campgrounds in the Targhee National Forest, I could have made it all the way to the Best Western at Alpine Junction at the Y-intersection of highways 26 & 189/191!

    [​IMG]

    I grumbled a tad in my helmet as I topped up the tank at Alpine Junction. By this point I was hungry, but somehow, I talked myself out of picking up something to eat at the gas station.

    I got back on the road and soon found myself in the famous tourist town of Jackson, Wyoming.

    I had been prepared for Jackson's over-commercialisation, I'd been prepared for its tourist trap tackiness. I'd even been prepared for the big town traffic that congests its small town streets. I didn't plan to spend much time in Jackson, but I humbly admit to looking forward to an over priced coffee beverage-- possibly even from an over-commercialised corporate coffee chain-- and a walk around the town with a cheesy stop for a selfie in front of the famous antler arches in the little park at the heart of the town.

    But as I pulled into the heart of the little town's tourist district I was utterly overwhelmed. The cutesy old-west style of the town with it's wooden store fronts, choked by the sheer number of businesses crammed into them. Built in a crazy labyrinth of larger than life signage and logos hanging on every visible surface of every wall. All reeking of money: Gucci and Louis Vuitton and Sotheby's Real Estate, other high end real estate businesses, art galleries, restaurants I can't afford. I just never spotted any little hole-in-the-wall local businesses of the sort that usually find their way into tiny corner spaces of touristy retail areas like this.

    The amount of traffic on the roads, the number of cars parked on the side of the roads, and the sheer number of businesses jammed into the retail area were too much for me. Someday I'll head back to Jackson and walk the sidewalks and poke into all those stores and see if my initial impression was right or not, but on this day I couldn't see a single place to park where I felt safe leaving the bike for fear someone simply brushing against it might result in another drop.

    I could see that the dropped bike incident was going to weigh heavily on my mind for awhile, and that populated places were over-stimulating after two days of mostly wide open nothingness.

    So I let myself get carried out of Jackson by the park bound traffic and found myself In Tetons National Park.

    [​IMG]

    I knew I would have to see both the Tetons and Yellowstone pretty much from the saddle. This trip just wasn't going to offer the leisurely pace required to properly experience this area.

    Maybe that contributed to my mood. Maybe it was having to pick up the bike that morning. Maybe it had been spending the night in a generic motel room that smelled like someone had been smoking lavender. Or maybe it had something to do with skipping breakfast.

    I just wasn't in the mood.

    I wasn't in the mood for the traffic. I wasn't in the mood for the crowds. I wasn't in the mood for the lady who wanted me to pull forward so she could park in my parking space... Seriously:

    Naturally, traffic was stopped by bison crossing the road. Instead of sitting in traffic and waiting for the beasts that looked like someone had mated a common cow with a wooly mammoth to finish their meandering path across the road, I opted to turn into the small parking lot right next to their chosen path. The parking area offered an insanely perfect view of the majestic Tetons-- real post card material. I was ecstatic!

    [​IMG]

    I pulled into the parking area and situated myself in a designated parking space. Remember, my kickstand is too long, so I have to position the bike just right to make sure the sidestand is on a slightly downhill slant. I got the bike all cozy in its space and began the process of dismounting and looking for the camera when I hear a woman's voice gruffly barking at me that if I'd “move up” she could park behind me.

    I looked behind me to see a woman in a mini van leaning out of her window, glowering at me as though she had just caught me kicking her dog.

    Geez, Lady, I AM a vehicle and I AM entitled to a parking space. But I rolled my eyes inside my helmet and pushed the bike forward.

    I was thrilled at the view of the mountains and the opportunity to get pictures of them as the bison slowly circled into the foreground as though someone had paid the buffalo to pose for tourists.

    While I was attempting to convince my camera to focus where I wanted it instead of where it wanted to, a leather-clad man with a decidedly laid-back, urban speech pattern approached me and asked about my bike and my ride. He was all full of “Yeah man” and “Hoh! My sister, you are brave” and “high five girl, you are right on,” he reminded me just slightly of the characters from the movie Airplane who spoke fluent Jive. But he was friendly and eager to share in that “we're all brothers on the road” mindset that I had been feeling so cut off from. He was also energetic and his easy nature lightened my mood.

    His Harley was being trailered out of the parks, as he had busted the belt coming down an unspecificed grade that he referred to as though I would surely know exactly where he had been. He asked if I'd gotten rained on much and we both shared our stories of the recent weather systems, then he asked if I had “one of those little squeegie things” for my glove. I told him I didn't, but now that I'd spent some time in the rain I was definitely keen on picking up a pair of gloves with the built in squeegie. He told me to “hang on a sec” and ran back to his saddlebags, still on the bike in the trailer.
    A few moments he returned and handed me a small, rubber doo-dad designed to fit over the thumb of a glove with a straight edge on one side to squeegie water from your faceshield. It was a gesture of pure kinship from a fellow rider who clearly bore no prejudice against my choice of bike.

    He raised his hand in a high-five gesture as he climbed into his buddy's pickup truck and sent me off with a hearty “Ride on, my sister!” And with that, and the return of traffic flow, I set off for Yellowstone.

    [​IMG]

    The problem with Yellowstone National Park, I discovered, was that the road system made no fucking sense. I found myself off the beaten path, parked in a gravel lot, trying to decipher the map that the ranger gave me at the entrance gate.

    I had no idea how I'd ended up where I was and no idea where I was. Looking at the map was no help. Everything in the park is named “mud pots,” “rainbow pool,” “south geyser field,” “devil's spa day,” or some similar collection of place and feature names that are equally useless to someone who has no idea what they're looking for.

    OK. I know what a geyser is. And I know what “Old Faithful” is. I also know that most people have heard of “Old Faithful” so I'll be sure to see that while I'm here. That way, when I get home and everyone asks about Old Faithful, I'll be able to say I saw it.

    What I really wanted to see while I was in the Park was-- well. That's the problem. I'm not sure what they call it. I know it's a geological feature formed by travertine rich hot springs that have formed sort of a collection of outdoor stalagmites, albeit wide, flat ones... travertine terraces.

    Naturally, nothing on the map said “tavertine” anywhere. And there were no conveniently captioned photos of the feature I was looking for.

    I folded up the map and headed back to the main road-- which I still wasn't even sure how I'd gotten off of to begin with.
    The main roads in Yellowstone are arranged in two big loops, creating roughly a figure 8 pattern on a map. What met me upon actual arrival, however, was some sort of LA Freeway cloverleaf style onramp/offramp system. One moment I was on the main road and suddenly there was a small sign indicating that some attraction would be found by turning in one direction or the other, and then there would be an offramp to take you there.

    If I ended up making the interchange, I would find myself committed to the new course of travel without so much as a memory of having made the decision. This lead to a lot of pulling over, checking the map, cursing the map:cromag, and trying to figure out how to get turned around again.

    Eventually I found my way to the parking lot dedicated entirely to Old Faithful according to the signs. The parking lot was seriously at least as expansive as trying to park at Disneyland, but with less organization.

    I rode up each row, turned, and rode down the next row. Row after row. After row.

    I still haven't gotten the swing of this, “I'm a motorcycle, I'll park under this tree” thinking. I'm never sure where that will work in my favor vs where it will earn me an impound fee and a busted bike after an improper tow.

    I made my way through all 120 acres of parking lot and realized there was a smidge of space where I could stash the bike a few rows back. I set about getting back to that spot, only to find myself on my way out of the parking area altogether, riding past a giant gift shop and a lodge... wait! Did that say “grill?” Crap! How do I get back to.....???

    :dg:dg:dg:dg:dg:dg

    Suddenly there's a sign that says I'm about to find myself back on the main road and headed to another park feature with a name that makes no connection in my mind to anything of interest.

    And that was the last straw! My inner hooligan couldn't abide this nonsense any more. I absolutely was not going to argue with the inane road system over this! I wanted to be in that parking lot between the gargantuan gift shop and the sign that I was sure promised a hearty meal. A glance in the mirrors and a sharp left turn sent me over a low curb, headed the wrong way up the gravel drive way of the lodge, through a space between some gates and signs that I'm pretty sure told traffic from the other direction that the lodge's driveway was currently closed, and into the appropriate parking area.

    I found a space and set about trying to get the bike parked with enough left hand lean angle that it would be unlikely to collapse on its side if someone brushed against it.

    All I cared about was finding some food. I was utterly convinced that I was tired, impatient, and grumpy not at all because of the ridiculous roads and hard-to-decipher names of various park features that I may, or may not, want to see in the limited amount of time I had available but was, in fact, entirely due to low blood sugar. I needed to find real food.

    I was wrestling with the helmet lock on the bike (it's not very cooperative) when a couple of guys approached a couple of Harley's parked nearby. They made a point to come over and chit chat for awhile and wish me safe travels while they debated whether or not they should don the rain gear before getting back on the road.

    I found myself overwhelmed by the size and crowds inside the gift shop, and underwhelmed by what called itself a “grill” at the back of the shop. I didn't really want stale pizza, I had been hoping for a decent burger in a setting that more closely resembled a “real” restaurant. So I wandered the racks of souvenir coffee mugs and t-shirts in search of a long sleeve t-shirt or a hoodless sweathshirt that might make for more comfortable riding in the chilly mornings.

    [​IMG]
    Totally missed a pic of Old Faithful, but it was pretty impressive. By the time I got within photo range it was back to a smoking (steaming) hole in the ground.

    Ultimately I left the shirts and the mugs and the shot glasses behind in search of lunch, landing at the lodge next door in an eatery that occupied a section of the ground floor and reminded me, once again, of Disneyland. It wasn't what I'd hoped for, but it wasn't an unappealing burger and it certainly made a big difference in my mood for the rest of the day.
    As I threw away the paperboard burger box and empty cup and began my trek across the street toward the visitor center that flanks Old Faithful, the geyser suddenly shot up, sending water a hundred feet above the roof line of the visitor center. I was impressed at how long it lasted-- having never seen an actual geyser in person before-- but I didn't get any photos.

    Old Faithful was on a 90 minute schedule, and I just didn't have that kind of time to wait around for it to spit another fountain of boiling water into the air. I found the souvenir stickers in the tiny gift shop within the visitor center and spent some time looking at a collection of post cards that depicted various features found within the park.

    Ahhhhh... “Minerva's Terraces.” That's what I'm looking for! I was thrilled to learn that the thing I wanted most to see on this trip through the park were conveniently located near the north gate in the “Mammoth Hot Springs” area. That just happened to be exactly the route I intended to take on my way out of the park.

    [​IMG]
    NOT MY PICTURE: shamelessly borrowed from the National Park Service-- because I own that!

    It was becoming painfully apparent that I needed a week or more to properly explore the park. So many things to see! But I knew this was going to be a drive through tour when I set out on the ride. I mentally noted a rough draft for a proper vacation in the future, paid for my stickers, took a picture of Old Faithful as nothing more than a steaming hole in the ground-- once again, thinking of Disneyland and the “geysers” in the Grizzly Rapids landscape in California Adventures-- and made my way back to the bike hoping that it was still upright.

    I found the bike exactly as I'd left it and nodded my thanks as some passerby complimented the bike and its pink kickstand while I prepared to get back on the road.

    I was feeling much better. Everything was suddenly falling into place, approaching thunderstorms were still hours behind me, and I had plenty of time to check out Mammoth Hot Springs and still make it into Bozeman for a place to lay my head for the night.

    And then I saw the sign that said I was only a few miles from West Yellowstone, Montana.

    ~sigh~

    How did that happen? Where was the intersection?Where was the freeway interchange that lead me astray? How was it that I had been traveling north one moment and west the next? And where was a good place to turn around?

    Nowhere. That's where. I was caught in a steady stream of tourist traffic trying to flea the park in favor of cheaper lodging, more palatable eateries, or just to make miles toward where ever home was. By the time I found a suitable opportunity to reverse my direction, I figured it was easy enough to just go with it.

    [​IMG]
    So go with it, I did.
    #15
    gregoblv likes this.
  16. Shesaid

    Shesaid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Central CA
    The Rotopax is mounted onto the side support that is mounted to the Seahorse case. The side supports made by and to work with the Cycleracks rack. They don't really bolt onto the bike. It's easy enough to just unhook them and bring them in.

    The bike is currently locked away, cold and lonely, in a metal fab guy's shop, getting beautiful Happy Trails Owyhee boxes properly bolted on for my upcoming ride. But I thought I'd better get around to telling this story before I start the next one!
    #16
    gregoblv likes this.
  17. sharkmotorcycle

    sharkmotorcycle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    204
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Congrats...:freaky

    Njoying every bits & pieces (Pics & writing) of RR...
    #17
  18. VietHorse

    VietHorse Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,862
    Location:
    Recalculating... recalculating.... HCMC-Vietnam :)
    Exactly! I already fastened my seat-belt :clap
    #18
  19. Clodhopper55

    Clodhopper55 Can you say ALFALFA?

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    21
    Location:
    Northern Nevada
    I live in Fallon and have ridden your route in reverse when coming home from Sturgis a couple of years ago. I remember having the same feelings you so aptly described when riding thru Jackson and Twin Falls. Really enjoy your writing style!
    #19
  20. ferals5

    ferals5 Team black bikes

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,670
    Location:
    Goulburn, Australia
    :lurk
    #20