Father and Son Road Trip- 9 States, 2 Months, 6500 Miles!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by TonyBKK, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    The Black Hills were fantastic but it was time to press on if we were going to meet our friends at Yellowstone National Park.

    My son wanted to go for a swim before we left, so we got on the road rather late.

    From our campground in Deadwood to the campground I was aiming for on Highway 16 in the Bighorn Mountains was only about 240 miles.
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    I figured even with our late departure that it would be a piece of cake. :wink:

    Riding west from Deadwood and Lead we passed the "Presidents Park".
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    Then we hit the fantastic Spearfish Canyon Scenic Highway (US 14)
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    Lots of other bikes out and about-
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    This is the kind of road that really makes you want to crack the throttle. Have to be careful though- don't really want to get pulled over for speeding with my 5 year old son on the back...
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    Zoom zoom!
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    I'm trying to keep it close to the posted speed limit of 45 and there are a lot of sport bikes blasting past me in both directions, so I HOPE that any popo will go after the speeding crotch rockets and ignore the BMW Land Yacht :lol3
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    There's not much of a shoulder and in many places it's thick forest right up to the edge of the road, so I do worry a bit about deer and keep the brakes covered.
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    Amazing scenery-
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    The big K1200LT Land Yacht handles these fast sweepers with aplomb and I'm thinking to myself that this wouldn't have been nearly as much fun on a Goldwing...
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    Would have been nice to stop and take a dip in the Spearfish River, but we'd left camp a bit late and needed to keep going if we were going to reach the Bighorn Mountains by a decent hour.
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    Wow, what a road!
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    Little interesting factoid- Spearfish Canyon is where they filmed the final scenes in the epic movie "Dances with Wolves".
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    Zoomin'
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    Got stuck briefly behind a tractor... ;)
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    Dunno if I made them nervous or something, but they almost wiped out on the gentlest of curves...
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    We reach the end of Spearfish Canyon all too soon, roll through the cute little town of Spearfish, and jump on the I90 Interstate headed West.

    It's starting to get a bit warm- It's actually 11:49 am (I haven't adjusted the bike's clock for Mountain Time yet)
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    Welcome to Wyoming!!!
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    #41
  2. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    It's getting hotter and the wind is picking up... I didn't think a big heavy bike like a K1200LT would be affected so much by the wind, but we were getting blown all over the place and I had some white knuckle moments when passing or being passed by large trucks.

    Finally, after about 40 or 50 miles of this crazy wind I decided to get off the interstate, so we took the 14/16 which will reconnect with the interstate in Buffalo, WY
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    It's still very hot-
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    There is nothing out here except coal mines (couldn't see the actual mines, but could see the huge clouds of black dust that the diggers and dump trucks kick up), gas and oil mines, and cattle-
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    Miles and miles of nothing-
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    I was thinking to myself that this would be a terrible place to break down or run into bad weather- we went for many miles without seeing another vehicle or inhabited building.
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    Looks like we might get wet...
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    We ride on and on and it's still hot and windy and I know that my little guy must need a break, though he's not complaining.

    Finally I spot a little roadside watering hole, like an oasis in a desert-
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    The Spotted Horse! (As you can see, it's still very very windy!)

    We duck inside and it's like a place lost in time- a couple of old timers at one table and what I guess to be a father and son at the bar.
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    Gotta love the signs above the bar- "Drink till she's cute" and "Life's too short to drink cheap beer" were a couple of my favorites :lol3

    I ask the barkeep for a glass of water and she tells me, "We don't drink the water around here"...

    What a strange and interesting place. Kristhawee took my camera and snapped these pictures-
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    Kristhawee even got a picture of me with The Duke himself! John Wayne!
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    Kristhawee and The Duke!
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    It was a good thing I'd topped off the gas back on the interstate because it was about 70 miles to the first little town (Clearmont) that had a gas station.

    After we'd cooled off and chilled out for a while at the Spotted Horse we went back out into the wind and heat to press on to the mountains-
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    #42
  3. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    We continue West on US14/16 and it feels like this road will never end...
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    I start to think maybe we just should have stayed on the interstate...
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    Then finally, way off in the distance, we spot the Bighorn Mountains!
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    There's snow up there! Kristhawee is excited!
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    The road starts to climb and the temperature starts to drop-
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    Entering Bighorn National Forest!
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    The road and the views get more interesting-
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    Dunno about the rest of you, but I'll take forest over plains any day!
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    US 16 winding through the Bighorn National Forest-
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    Fantastic road!
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    Can you see the highway through the trees?
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    Nice and cool up here!
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    See the snow?
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    This is the first snow we've seen on our trip and it's a welcome change after all the heat we had earlier in the day.
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    Windscreen is getting pretty buggy!
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    Finally we arrive at Meadowlark Lake and the Lake View campground-
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    #43
  4. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    The Lake View campground on Meadowlark Lake in the Bighorn Mountain National Forest is beautiful!
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    We found a great spot in a tent-only area right next to the lake. Kristhawee helped me set up the tent-
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    This was a really cool spot- we were actually on a little island- we had to cross a couple small streams to get to this spot, and if you look closely at the picture above you can see a steam just behind the tent.

    We got the tent set up just in time too because a small thunderstorm rolled in quite suddenly. No worries- we'll just chill in the tent until the rain passes.
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    Father and son :kumbaya
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    My son came up with this funny game that he calls the "Bison game" where we push against each other and see who has the strongest head. Believe it or not he wins a lot! :rofl
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    The rain has stopped, it's getting late, and the temperature is dropping fast-
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    I have to say a BIG BIG THANK YOU to the campground hosts, Don and Barb-
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    We arrived quite a bit later than I'd planned and I didn't have much in the way of food.

    When I went to register and pay for the camp spot I asked Don where would be the nearest place to buy some food and he gave me a funny look and said probably the closest place would be all the way down in Ten Sleep, 20 miles away... :eek1 Don's wife gave me a disapproving look and stated the obvious, "You don't have any food?!"

    I was pretty beat and the idea of jumping back on the bike for a 40 mile grocery run did not sound like my idea of a good time, but gotta do what ya gotta do.

    I went back to tell Kristhawee that we'd need to get back on the bike and we were just getting ready to go when Don came down in his truck with a big bag of food! :clap Wow! He told us that another family had had to leave unexpectedly when one of their kids crashed on a bicycle and that they'd given all their extra food to Don and Barb as they left.

    Don and Barb were kind enough to pass it along to us. :smile6 Can't thank you enough for your kindness Don and Barb!! :dg

    I tell you, you meet the nicest people when you travel! :norton

    There was (and still is) a total fire ban in the Black Hills so we hadn't had a camp fire since our first night at Lake Vermillion. Don said it was no problem to have a fire here, so off we went to scavenge some wood. Seems my boy loves fire just as much as I do. I was a total pyro as a kid and I think my kid is a chip off the old block :kboom
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    We enjoyed hotdogs for dinner, courtesy of Don and Barb, and I had everything we needed to make smores for desert-
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    Full and looking a bit sleepy
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    One more smore before bed-
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    Our warm dry tent awaits-
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    Good night!!
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    #44
  5. Haroon

    Haroon RIDE for PASSION

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    556
    Location:
    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia/ Bangalore, INDIA
    You dad & son have absolutely mesmerized many of us with your wonderful bonding and an excellent trip. The simple but lively text & pics makes us feel like we are all accompanying you on this dream trip.

    I am sure your son is lucky to have a wonderful dad like you and he will cherish these moments for a lifetime.

    Great going and wish the dad & son team many more awesome trips like these:clap

    Ride safe.
    #45
  6. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    Good morning from the Bighorn Mountains!
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    One of the little streams we crossed to get to our campground- hard to see but it's full of small trout-
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    We woke up pretty early and went for a short morning hike part way around the lake-
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    When we arrived at this campground the day before my son had spotted a bunch of kids camping up on top of the hill overlooking the lake. They were super nice kids from nearby Cody, WY who were out with their dads for a long weekend of camping. Their spot:
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    The oldest, who couldn't have been much more than 7 or 8 years old followed us down to the tent-only area by the lake and even helped carry some of our gear to our campsite (it was a walk-in site). #17
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    The kids (along with one of the dads) invited Kristhawee to go on a short geochaching hike and they took really good care of him. It's rare to meet such polite, friendly, mature kids- my hat off to their parents who are obviously raising them right!

    I'd heard of geocaching but didn't really know what it's all about- pretty darn cool! This is the Meadowlark Lake Geocache-
    The Meadowlark Lake Cache

    http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=feb3d581-1bb2-4873-90b3-1ada77ef7446


    You might have noticed that Kristhawee has a collection of dinosaurs on this trip? Well, one of the little ones (a T-rex I believe) now resides in the Meadowlark Lake Cache. It's no little thing for a 5 year old to leave a toy, so if you do happen to see Kristhawee's dinosaur I'm sure he'd be really excited to see a picture. :norton

    We climbed up on a boulder and enjoyed the silence, solitude and beauty of Meadowlark Lake-
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    #46
  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    No rush today as it's only 80 miles to our next destination- Thermopolis, Wyoming!

    Kristhawee said good bye to all of his new friends and I stopped to thank Don and Barb again for the food and we roll out of the Lake View camp heading west on US16 towards Hot Springs County, WY.

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    Seems half the mountain came down- some serious roadworks and, much to Kristhawee's delight, some HUGE dump trucks.
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    It made me all the more grateful for the food that Don and Barb gave us yesterday- it would have been miserable and possibly dangerous to ride through these road works after dark and in the rain.

    Lots of bikes coming up the mountain headed east-
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    Amazing views!
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    Most folks blow right by the Bighorn Mountains on their way to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I'm really glad we spent a night here and realize that there is a lot to see and do in this National Forest. Bighorn National Forest consists of over 1.1 million acres. Created as a US Forest Reserve in 1897, it is one of the oldest government-protected forest lands in the U.S.

    The Cloud Peak Skyway that we rode yesterday took us past the Cloud Peak Wilderness and is worthy of further mention (from http://www.fs.usda.gov/bighorn):

    Cloud Peak Wilderness

    On September 3, 1964, the United States did something that no other nation had ever done before. They created "The Wilderness Act".
    The Act states :"In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify all areas within the United States... leaving no lands designated for preservation and protection in their natural condition, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness."
    Introduction

    The United States Congress designated the Cloud Peak Wilderness in 1984 with the Wyoming Wilderness Act and it now has a total of 189,039 acres. All of the wilderness is in the state of Wyoming.
    About the Cloud Peak Wilderness

    Long recognized as having some of the most majestic alpine scenery in America, this region was managed as the Cloud Peak Primitive Area as far back as 1932. For 27 miles along the spine of the Bighorn Mountain Range, Cloud Peak Wilderness preserves many sharp summits and towering sheer rock faces standing above glacier-carved U-shaped valleys. Named for the tallest mountain in Bighorn National Forest--Cloud Peak at 13,167 feet--the Wilderness is blanketed in snow for a large part of the year. Most of the higher ground doesn't show bare ground until July. On the east side of Cloud Peak itself, a deeply inset cirque holds the last remaining glacier in this range. Several hundred beautiful lakes cover the landscape and drain into miles of streams. The forest is an attractive mix of pine and spruce opened by meadows and wetlands.

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    Riding west on US 16-
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    Amazing road, incredible views!
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    I had no idea the Bighorn Mountains are this cool!
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    Held up by another tractor :lol3
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    To all you HD fellas, I'm just teasin'. I think a big Harley tour bike would be a fantastic way to tour the country at a leisurely pace. Every Harley rider we met was nicer than nice and no one ever gave us any shit about our pretentious German Land Yacht. :lol3 Some day when I'm older and grayer I'd like to try touring on a Hog :evil
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    Out of the mountains and in to the desert-
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    Getting hot again, but thankfully we don't have far to go.
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    World's Largest Mineral Hot Springs!
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    Welcome to Thermopolis, Wyoming!
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    #47
  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    Our first stop in Thermopolis was the Wyoming Dinosaur Center!
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    In case you hadn't noticed, my son loves dinosaurs- we were in for a treat!
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    He can tell you the name of just about every dinosaur in the place. Here's Dimetrodon-
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    The Dinosaur Family Tree- I was just as fascinated by this as he was-
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    Tuojiangosaurus, a close relative of Stegosaurus, which has always been one of my personal favorites-
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    Some huge and fierce looking aquatic dinosaurs-
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    Tyrannosaurus Rex trying to sneak up on a Triceratops-
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    Momma Parasaurolophus with her babies-
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    Kristhawee took my camera and photographed pretty much every dinosaur in the place :rofl
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    We hammed it up a bit too :evil
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    Eeek- Allosaurus is gonna get me! :eek1
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    Once again I'm pretty impressed at how steady my son's hands are- he really understands the whole "squeeze" the shutter button concept.
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    One of the dinosaurs for which the Wyoming Dinosaur Center is most famous is the Supersaurus nicknamed "Jimbo" :lol3

    Jimbo is the most complete Supersaurus in the world. But he's so damn big that it's pretty much impossible to take a picture of him! He stretches from one end of the building to the other!

    The Wyoming Dinosaur Center was a big hit with Kristhawee and I really enjoyed it too!
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    #48
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    How does one top a visit to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center? With an afternoon at Thermopolis' Star Plunge Hot Springs Water Park of course! :clap

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    He can't swim remember. No way he'll jump! :wink:

    Yo Kristhawee- you can't swim, remember??
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    That's pretty high little dude- aren't you scared?!
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    Apparently not! :lol3
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    Vid-
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    Man this kid is fearless! He must have jumped off that high dive 20 or 30 times over the course of the afternoon, and of course I had to fish him out every time. I was flippin exhausted and he just wanted more! :wink:
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    I was a bit surprised that the lifeguards were cool with having a kid who obviously can't swim jump off the high dive...
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    #49
  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    The high dive wasn't the only attraction at the Thermopolis Star Plunge Hot Springs Park

    Plenty of water slides! Little ones-
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    Big ones-
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    Hot spring pools of various temperature and depth
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    Hot springs on your head :evil
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    (photo by Kristhawee)

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    The Vapor Cave :eek1
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    Inside the vapor cave, hot and stinky!
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    Back to the high dive- my kid is just like the energizer bunny- he keeps going and going and going!
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    Banzai!!!
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    I need a nap!!! Kristhawee is doing laps on the little slide just to my right, where I can keep an eye on him-
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    I find a beach chair and am planning to chill for a bit-
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    No sooner have a sat down to CHILL, we have a bit of a disaster...

    My son has been doing laps on the small water slide that drops into the out door pool and somehow has managed to tear off half of his big toe nail :eek1

    Good god it looked painful and he was in a LOT of pain! His big toe nail on his left foot was torn right up the middle and one half was GONE :eek2

    As the pain really kicked in my poor son was SCREAMING and I felt terrible that there was nothing I could do to take away his pain. They had a pretty decent first aid kit and we cleaned up his mangled toe and made sure there wasn't any paint under what was left of his toenail. It looked like a clean wound- they had some numbing / anti-bacterial spray and bandaged him up as best they could, but he was still in a lot of pain.

    The shocker was when the staff mentioned that this happens a lot :huh

    They said that the hot water breaks down the paint in the slides and causes it to crack and that kids get toe nails and finger nails caught in these cracks. What the hell?! They know there's a problem but they don't actually do anything about it?!

    I'm not the litigating type, but seems to me this place is just asking to be sued... What a terribly way to end such a fun day... :cry
    #50
  11. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    It took a while but finally my son settled down, but he was still pretty rattled and I'm sure his toe still hurt from where the nail was torn off :cry

    I got him some ice cream- that always helps :D

    Then I asked him what he wanted to do- go back to the motel and chill, or ride on my back and go see the famous "Swinging Bridge".

    He said we wanted to see the bridge. Good on ya Kristhawee- most kids would have called it a day; you are a seriously tough 5 year old!

    It's a nice little hike through hot spring terraces to the bridge-
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    The Thermopolis Swinging Bridge-
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    A bit of history-
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    It does swing a bit, but it's a pretty solid bridge-
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    Kristhawee must have been feeling better because he got down off my back and started walking on his own-
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    Views from the Swinging Bridge-
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    We walked around the park-
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    Really cool Bison "sculpture" in the playground-
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    Kristhawee took a picture of me on the Bison; he wasn't keen to climb up with his injured foot.
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    Another full day! After the Star Plunge, Swinging Bridge and Rainbow Terraces it was time to find some dinner.

    First I picked up some first aid supplies for Kristhawee's foot. I worried about infection and hoped that as long as we kept it clean he would be ok. I also wasn't sure if he'd be able to get his hiking boots on the next day...

    We hit a burger / ice cream shack for dinner-
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    It was yet another LONG day, full of excitement, discovery and a bit of drama too! Kristhawee looks exhausted, as well he should-
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    Back to our motel, cleaned up and dressed his injured foot, and he got to watch some cartoons on TV but was soon sound asleep.
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    Sweet dreams my little prince!
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    #51
  12. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,168
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Hi Tony -- I'm enjoying your ride report. But sorry to hear about your son's toenail trauma! :(:
    #52
  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    After a week of camping it was nice to sleep in a big comfy bed :evil

    We stayed at the Hot Springs Inn which is a cheap no frills motel in the center of Thermopolis. It's got really mixed reviews and for just $59.99 + tax (Thank you Priceline!) I wasn't expecting too much, but seems it's under new management and the staff were super friendly, fridge in the room, WiFi and we got one of the newer remodeled rooms which was small but quite clean. Here's what our room looked like (not my pics):
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    We rolled in there on Sunday July 15th and it was really quiet. (In fact all of Thermopolis seemed really quiet; isn't this supposed to be the high season?)

    The staff (who I initially thought were customers) were just sort of lounging about in the shade, and they nicknamed my son "Teddybear" because when we rolled in they didn't think he was an actual kid but rather some kind of toy or doll strapped to the back of my bike. They were apparently really surprised when I took him off the bike and he turned out to be an actual living breathing kid :lol3

    We watched in amazement as a herd of deer wandered down Broadway, nibbling at trees and shrubs along the way. At least they stayed on the sidewalk and out of the street :lol3 My camera was charging so regrettably no pics.

    We enjoyed breakfast in bed - I'd picked up some blueberries and other goodies at a local store the evening before and had also hit a laundromat as we were pretty much out of clean clothes. It was nice to be able to re-pack and re-organize in an air conditioned room. I realized we had slightly overpacked so took this opportunity to get rid of an old shirt of mine and a pair of shorts that were really too big for Kristhawee. It was around this time I decided I wouldn't shave till the end of the trip, so adios razor. I had the K1200LT Land Yacht packed to the gills so any little thing I could get rid of I did.

    I inspected my son's injured toe and it still looked very painful, but not terribly swollen. I'm no doctor, but the wound still looked clean so I applied more numbing / anti-bacterial spray and let my son pick out his favorite bandaids (I'd picked up Muppet and Cars bandaids, which he thought was pretty cool) :evil
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    I'd also bought some children's advil to try and dull the pain a bit, so after getting his toe bandaged up I found the thinnest pair of socks he had and loosened up his little hiking boots as much as I could. He gritted his teeth and managed to get his boot on over the injured toe. He was quite apprehensive about his injury but his boot offered good protection and soon enough he was walking around like he'd never been hurt.

    I was still worried about infection, but did my best to keep his toe clean and kept my fingers crossed that he would heal up quickly. Anyway, there would be no hiking today!

    The plan today was to ride to Red Lodge, Montana, and then over the Beartooth All American Highway to Yellowstone National Park.
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    We stopped in Cody for lunch and Kristhawee blew off some steam in the hamster cage :rofl
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    It was about this time that I noticed his face was starting to peel. Weird, since he'd been wearing SPF 50 sunscreen whenever he was on the bike and we'd been riding mostly mornings with the sun to out backs... It's finally occurred to me, as I write this trip report, that on the day of his accident he never showered after spending the whole afternoon in the hotsprings. I'm guessing perhaps the sulfur and other minerals in the water may have reacted somehow with his sunscreen giving him, in effect, what looks like a chemical peel.

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    Seems I must have made a wrong turn in Cody, because shortly after leaving the town we rode past this sign-
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    Oops... we're on the 20 west instead of the 120 north. Oh well, I ask Kristhawee what he thinks about going to Yellowstone instead of Red Lodge- he's cool with that :)

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    Stunning scenery and a fantastic road as we ride through Buffalo Bill State Park on US20-
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    Some cool tunnels too!
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    And more tunnels!
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    Riding past the Buffalo Bill Reservoir-
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    I think I see some snow off in the distance!
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    Beautiful country- my camera does not do this place justice-
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    The colors and erosion in the sandstone foothills here reminds me of the Badlands-
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    Little spots of snow in the mountains. It sure would be fun to follow some of these dirt roads into the hills on a proper bike.
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    Anyone have any idea what this odd structure is on the hill above the Green Creek Inn in Wapiti, WY?
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    Looked like something out of a scifi movie set- I'm totally clueless as to what it might be, but very curious to know-
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    The road gets twistier the closer we get to Yellowstone-
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    I'm not bummed at all that we missed the road to Red Lodge- The Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Highway was called "the most scenic 50 miles in the world" by President Teddy Roosevelt.
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    Interesting and varied geology-
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    It was in the 90's. Some scattered rain felt nice-
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    The highway follows a river up the Wapiti Valley-
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    US West 14/16/20
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    Getting closer!
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    More trees and cooler as we climb in elevation-
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    Approaching the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park!
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    We're in! Welcome to Yellowstone National Park!!
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    #53
  14. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    Woohoo! We're in Yellowstone National Park!
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    It's a fair ride from the east entrance to the nearest campground and I know that Yellowstone fills up FAST so with no reservation we'd have to boogie if we were going to find a place to sleep tonight!
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    We must cross the Absaroka mountain range to reach the interior of Yellowstone National Park-
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    Great road, no traffic!
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    It rained a bit- the huge screen on the Land Yacht kept us pretty dry though :D
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    The rain created lots of little waterfalls right next to the road-
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    Higher and higher we go!
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    This road is closed during the winter, but a ranger told us that they did try one year to keep it open and it cost the National Park Service some $200,000 to do so. :eek1
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    Sylvan Pass, at 8524 feet is one of the highest roads in Yellowstone National Park-
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    It's flippin cold up here! 59 degrees is quite a contrast from the heat back in Cody!
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    Wait a sec, this bike has heated grips and seats. This is the first time to try them out- nice! :evil

    We made it over the pass and start down the other side-
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    We soon see evidence of the Yellowstone Fires of 1988, which combined formed the largest wildfire in Yellowstone's recorded history.
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    From Wikipedia- Starting as many smaller individual fires, the flames spread quickly out of control with increasing winds and drought and combined into one large conflagration, which burned for several months. The fires almost destroyed two major visitor destinations and, on September 8, 1988, the entire park was closed to all non-emergency personnel for the first time in its history.<sup id="cite_ref-Schullery_0-0" class="reference"></sup> Only the arrival of cool and moist weather in the late autumn brought the fires to an end. A total of 793,880 acres (3,213 km<sup>2</sup>), or 36 percent of the park was affected by the wildfires.
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    Once over the mountains we began our descent and Yellowstone Lake soon appeared like a mirage through the trees.

    The road drops right down to the lake and follows the shore all the way to Fishing Bridge where we turned right (north) onto the Grand Loop Road. It was raining and gray, not great picture taking weather.

    I was aiming for Canyon Village and the Canyon Campground and stressing a bit about what we'd do if we couldn't find a campsite in the park.

    Kristhawee was happy as a clam, warm and dry on the back of the bike and really excited to be in Yellowstone-
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    We made it to the Canyon Village and sure enough, the campsite was full... Hmmm... Let's go to the Canyon Lodge, grab something to eat and drink, and figure out what to do. By this time it was raining pretty hard and was looking pretty miserable. Not the kind of weather in which you want to be setting up a tent, that's for sure...

    Hot chocolate for the little guy-
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    and a local beer on tap for me - ah, I feel better already! :evil
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    There's a big, no, HUGE fireplace in the Canyon Lodge and I told Kristhawee to go warm up by the fire, but the sofas and chairs surrounding the fireplace were occupied by a bunch of tough looking Harley guys in leather and their women and Kristhawee was being shy.

    So I took his hand and walked him over there and asked them if he could warm up by their fire. Of course they said yes and when they noticed we were wearing motorcycle gear we got to talking and as is so often the case, the tough guy image is replaced with smiles and warmth. They were from Montana and were just heading home after a long ride to Iowa. (We met a lot of HD folks coming from Iowa in July- apparently there was some big rally there.)

    The women were kind of doting on Kristhawee and of course he was soaking it up and soon enough his shyness was gone and he was all over them- really fun to watch my son interact with strangers. I regret not taking any pictures.

    It was still raining and if anything the weather outside was looking worse than before. I spoke to some other folks in the lodge and they said the forecast was for more rain and possible hail...

    Hmmm, if that's really the case, I'd expect at least some people with reservations to cancel or no-show. With that in mind I bundled up Kristhawee and we walked back to the Canyon Campground where they have a "reservation desk" that handles bookings for all the big campgrounds in Yellowstone.

    Sure enough, they had cancellations, but not at Canyon- we'd have to ride back the way we came and then head east along Yellowstone Lake to the Bridge Bay Campground about 20 miles away. Cool! At least we've got a place to sleep tonight!

    We needed to get some food so we hit the General Store- Here's Kristhawee doing his bear impression-
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    By this time the rain had stopped, the sun came out, and it was time to hit the road! The Yellowstone River looked beautiful after the rain-
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    How quickly the weather can change! Riding south on the Grand Loop Road-
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    Ok, time for a little rant- the largest campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park are managed by a private company (Zanterra) sp? and are noisy, expensive and overpriced.

    The queue for checking in to the campground was ridiculously long. The staff was friendly, but clearly they need more staff. And their computerized reservation system is farked- Bridge Bay is the largest campground in Yellowstone National Park and we were sent all the way to the "H" loop, only to discover that our spot was already occupied. And the nice folks there told us we were the first to come by with a double booking.

    So we had to ride all the way back to the "check in" area, and I cut the line, because dammit, enough is enough, it's getting late, my kid is tired and hungry and we need to get this sorted. Again, the staff were very nice and apologetic and confessed that their computer system doesn't work very well.

    Why is it that the corporate campgrounds are the most expensive, are understaffed and can't handle reservations, while the the old school campgrounds still managed by the National Park Service cost way less and work just fine?? Just another example of privatization run amok...

    We were supposed to be in a "tent only" area but ended up surrounded by noisy RV's. It was late and I didn't want to ride all the way back to the check-in area a third time, so we stayed put, but in the future I will make a point to avoid the "corporate" campgrounds at Canyon, Bridge Bay, Madison and Grant Village. (And I discovered over the course of our trip that these corporate campgrounds exist in many National Parks and they are all equally over-priced, under-staffed and are lousy "value-for-money" compared to the remaining campsites that are still managed by the National Park Service.

    Kristhawee didn't care one bit- he was just happy that we found a place to sleep!
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    (that's the campground paperwork tucked into the seat in front of him)

    I managed to get dinner going before the sun went down- You can see on the table the fishing pole that we bought earlier in the day in Cody- Kristhawee was really looking forward to doing some fishing! I taught him how to cast and he practiced casting while I set up the tent and finished cooking dinner.
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    We managed to find enough wood for a fire and had some smores before calling it a night.
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    I was very happy that his injured toe didn't seem to bother him too much and still looked un-infected. Tomorrow we start exploring Yellowstone National Park!!
    #54
  15. rudyunknown

    rudyunknown Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    724
    Location:
    Phoenixville
    i have had the joy of having a 9 month old son....
    we have been out camping already.....but in a camper.....i cant wait to do what ur doing with ur son.....memories for him for sure...but the memories that ur creating of yourself.....they are its worth in gold.....:clap
    #55
  16. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    Congratulations! Kids rock! :clap
    #56
  17. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    Good morning from Yellowstone National Park!
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    A bit chilly this morning at the Bridge Bay campground-
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    I discovered today that Kristhawee is not terribly fond of oatmeal :lol3
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    Let's pack up and hit the road! So much to see and do here! It's a BEAUTIFUL day!
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    Where's all the traffic??
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    Bison!
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    One of my most vivid memories from my childhood visit to Yellowstone was the Mud Volcano and Dragon's Cave. I was betting my son would enjoy this area.

    The Dragon's Cave (Dragon Mouth Spring) is simply amazing- a deep rumbling accompanied by gusts of sulfur laden steam and churning lashing water really do make it seem alive-
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    Kristhawee was quite convinced that there was a dragon living in that cave :evil

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    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/-KstDprCulc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Father and son at the Dragon's Mouth Spring, Yellowstone National Park
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    #57
  18. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    The bubbling and stinky Mud Cauldron-
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    The camera doesn't do a good job with the colors and can not capture the sounds and smells.
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    Pretty stinky isn't it?
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    The Grizzly Fumarole-
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    What's the difference between a Mudpot and a Fumarole?
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    Kristhawee's injured toe doesn't seem to be giving him too much trouble-
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    The Sour Lake-
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    We watched this Bison cross the boardwalk like it wasn't even there-
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    The Churning Cauldron- impressive!
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    Roiling, not boiling :deal
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    The Black Dragon's Caldron- Kristhawee says he can see the Dragon!
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    Don't worry Kristhawee, these Dragons don't eat people... much :evil
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    The Sizzling Basin-
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    This is what's left of the Mud Geyser- apparently when it was discovered by the Washburn Expedition in 1870 it had a cone, could be heard from miles away and threw mud far into the air.
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    Cooking Hillside, aka Shake and Bake :lol3
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    The Mud Caldron-
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    That completes the Mud Volcano loop, but Kristhawee was so impressed by the Dragon's Cave that he wanted to go see it again :D I gave him the camera and he snapped these pics-
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    (photos by Kristhawee)

    We met a nice guy with a kid on the back of his Honda ST1100 in the parking lot. Never seen an ST with a trailer before :eek1 The boy was 11, small for his size, and was the rider's nephew. It was somehow reassuring to not be the only biker with a kid on the back.

    Kristhawee really enjoyed the Mud Volcano and is ready to see more of Yellowstone's marvels!
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    #58
  19. fl0950

    fl0950 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    20
    Your boy will carry this memory with him for the rest of his life. How wonderful it is to see and father and son together like this (my son and I've been riding together for many years, so be sure to enjoy that chapter too!) Lots of respect for you as a dad.
    #59
  20. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    845
    Location:
    The Big Mango, Bangkok, Thailand
    We rode north on the Grand Loop Road-
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    Following the Yellowstone River-
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    More Bison-
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    Up and over the 8859 foot (2700m) Dunraven Pass-
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    Past Mount Washburn which at 10243 feet still had a lot of snow. Camera's on my left hand, Mount Washburn is on the right, so no pics... Here's the view to the north-west-
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    Headed down, towards the Lamar River Valley-
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    We reached the Tower Fall campground around 11am and snagged the next-to-last site!!! SCORE! :clap
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    Tower Fall campground, site #9! Now THIS is what National Park camping is supposed to be! Small campground, size restriction on RV's, no hook ups, no generators allowed, and only $12 :D

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    #60