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The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Wyoming Bound

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    The morning light brought the heat of the sun as we loaded the bikes to finally break out of Colorado. Years ago when I lived in Steamboat I managed to connect with a great couple, Sherry and her boyfriend Gary who lived in Walden. They'd invited me to ride to Sturgis with them as they did each year. I figured it would be worth the trip at least once and to say I went on my GS. Hey, someone has to be a rebel.

    Long story short, Gary had been a sheriff for many years and then headed the marijuana eradication program for Colorado at the time. He was now sheriff in Walden and we swung by to see him before leaving, unfortunately he was out dealing with the forest fires northwest of the area.


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    From Walden we rolled north through the rolling hills and green valleys, hanging left onto 125 at the fork for either Laramie or Riverside & Encampment and then hitting the Wyoming border. Selfies and goofies at the Wyoming sign, which surprisingly sported only a single bullet hole. It must have only been up a day or two...



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    There was a stop in Riverside to hit the Bear Trap Cafe, to peer into the the now closed and for sale "Mangy Moose" bar and a walk across the street to the tiny grocery in search of interesting bumper stickers. None were to be had but the young dude behind the counter with long blond hair and a beanie offered me a few post cards and good luck on our trip.

    We have been blessed with perfect weather and no rain since leaving southwest Colorado, much appreciated each day and especially over Rocky Mountain National Park for the views from the top.

    It was interesting to see the difference in the sky as we passed deeper into Wyoming, something I always notice when I'm in the state. There are always different types at different levels, creating a fascinating menagerie of white against the deep blue.

    At 130, we made the turn for the Snowy Range to search for a campsite, stopping in at the Ranger Station. The volunteer hosts were retired Coloradans who now lived in Texas but spent summers in the Snowy Range. Turns out the husband had been a benchrest shooter and president of the benchrest shooters association, so we talked guns for a while and got some info on where to camp, as well as the moose and bear status.


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    A couple of miles up the road we stopped in Ryan Park, the old WWII prisoner of war camp and had two awesomely delicious cheeseburgers. The owner and his wife asked what we were doing and offered to let us have some things shipped to their address if needed. Kim had asked about it earlier, as we've needed a couple of things for the bikes but haven't been in one place long enough to have something shipped.

    As we sat after the burger, a family came in, asking about our bikes and the father discussing rides in Canada. As we finished talking, another group of people came in after pulling up on 4 wheelers. They sat near us and asked about the bikes as well, wanting to hear about our trip. When we left everyone in the little cafe wished us well and safe journeys, which was a nice moment.

    We rode into the national forest looking for dispersed camping, eventually finding a great spot on a babbling brook. After getting set up and unloaded, the sound of the water lulled us like a gentle massage, dozing in our Helinox chairs - aside from the bikes probably the best piece of kit we brought :D


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    As darkness came, so did threatening skies and a bit of wind, but only sprinkles tapped the tent that night. Only readjustment of clothing layers as the temperature plummeted in the deep night interrupted the sleep.
    #61
  2. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    The Snowy Range



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    The next morning we spotted a better place for the tent, as I had noticed a very tall beetle kill pine tilting our direction just as we went to sleep the night before. We managed to drag the assembled tent across the field, then as I bent to hammer in a stake at an odd angle my back went into spasm. I could barely breathe, let alone move and felt like a fool watching Kim assemble the camp mostly by herself. I did manage to get my bike moved to the new spot, but getting my leg over and then getting back off was quite the painful effort.

    The skies were overcast and threatening, and I didn't want to ride around looking at scenery in the gray anyway, but my back sprain ended any chance of that. The day was spent much in chairs and a hammock, both of us literally lulled into senselessness by the sound of the water. The Butterfly is not one to sit around, and as she said, it must have been something about the sound that was like a drug.

    Twice when camping, it has been as if our bodies found something they desperately needed and we've been able to do nothing but sit an entire day.

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    About all that was accomplished during the day was building a temporary tripod to hold the MSR water filter bag, as well as having to add a bunch of new guy lines to the tent after a hard wind slammed it around, bending a pole in the process. We've been flying a big tent on this trip, a decision I made after spending years crawling around in backpacking tents with wet, smelly gear laying next to me. Knowing we would be camping 90% of the time, I wanted to be able to have room to stand and get dressed, as well as have room for gear inside. I'd planned on getting the Redverz Atacama, however REI had a great sale on the Kingdom 4 and Garage combo at about half the cost of the Atacama. Repacking the Kingdom reduced the size substantially and a dedicated duffel on the rear seat holds the tent and related, as well as a couple of Eno Hammocks and spare stuff. So far it has been great, really making camping in one spot much more comfortable for extended periods. Whether the tent will survive in the long term with winds we will inevitably experience is a question, but if not there's always a smaller tent option.



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    Speaking of camping, most of our gear has been working well. Water on the road and when camping is a huge concern, and my solution has been to use an MSR Gravity filter that holds about 5 liters when full, along with Platypus pouches that collapse when empty, and two collapsible Platypus bags that hold about a gallon of water each at the site. We also use two nalgene bottles that the MSR filter adapts to for filling. This has reduced or eliminated having to buy and carry large water bottles on the bike for camping. So far so good.

    As previously mentioned, the two Helinox Sunset chairs were worth every penny and more. The higher backed Sunset version fits my 6'4" 250+ body very well and we can lounge in them for hours comfortably. They fold into small bags which easily fit in a very small duffel on Kim's back seat.


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    This is the first trip to use the collapsible pots made of silicon with a metal bottom made by Sea to Summit and they work really well, folding flat for packing which is awesome. We are mainly using the kettle and two folding cups, but also have a second pot for cooking up our own stuff.

    Kim has done a great job of handling the food for the trip - improving substantially on my previous solo trips menu of tortillas, jerky, Power bars and instant oatmeal. In the few times we've stayed in a place with a kitchen, she cooks substantial foods and freezes them in Ziplocks, which double as ice in the soft cooler. We can get a couple or three days of eating well before having to default to backpacking pouches or dry foods to cook with water. Supplementing is with Kind Bars, Power Bars, nuts and dehydrated fruits.

    Sleeping while camping is a huge issue for me, and after buying and trying so many different pads over the years I finally just bit the bullet and went with the large Exped Synmat - 4" thick, 30" wide and plenty long. It has a stuff sack that doubles as an inflator and works very well. Packed size is reasonable.

    Kim snagged a Klymit pad I'd bought and loved it. It packs smaller than any pad of it's size and I decided to buy a second one as a backup in case of failure. Two Klymit pads rolled together are still smaller than my Exped and that offers her comfy sleep as well as either of us having a spare pad in case one gets ripped or fails while on the road. Sleeping bags are Marmot Maverick 40º bags - chosen for their pack size and supplemented with liner bags to make them a bit warmer if needed. So far we've been good in mid to high 30's in the tent with them and can layer up if needed.

    All our gear, tools, accessories, clothing, camping stuff and food fit well if not snugly in our cases, with just tents, chairs and hammocks needing to be in rear seat duffle bags. It makes travel much simpler and I prefer to not have bags strapped all over the bikes. We've passed some adventure bikes on the road that have so many bags strapped on them I can't imagine trying to ride with the bulk and weight.



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    One pain I wish I could remove would be the need for electronics and cameras - especially the need for constant battery juicing. Between my Mac, cameras, GoPro, cell phones, Cardo headsets and a Samsung tablet as backup GPS, the necessary cables and chargers are a real pain. I've simplified as much as possible with a couple of 4 port USB chargers but it's laughable to see all the devices plugged in at once. I've layered my charging as much as possible, some done while on the bike with USB and some with 110 wall plugs.

    When we eventually hit Mexico and South America, the plan has been to leave the camping gear behind and go strictly hostel/hotel. Being able to reduce the load would be great, however Kim and I have been discussing whether we should take camping gear for emergencies.

    We'll figure that out later...


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    #62
  3. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    The weather has been threatening rain since we got set up in camp for the last couple of days, but this morning it was clear with sun and blue skies, a perfect day to head on HWY 130 to Centennial and the chance to see the Snowy Range, a stunning mountain range of white granite with sheer peaks and mirror lakes at the base. I think of it as a "pocket size set of Grand Tetons".

    The road wound past Ryan Park and upwards, lined with forests littered with beetle kill pines and occasional glimpses of distant valleys and ranges to the south in Colorado. There was very little traffic or bikes, with only the occasional Harley coming our direction. Around a bend we saw three women dressed in Harley gear doing a self timer shot, so Kim sped up to se if she could photo bomb on her bike. She hit the horn as we rode past, the three women spinning around to see us go by. I waved as we passed and continued on. Always nice to see women traveling on bikes - especially alone or in a group like that.

    A few curves farther up the road exposed the stunning sight ahead - sheer white mountains with snow patches at the base, The Butterfly's exclamations mirroring my own in the headsets.


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    We turned in at the top, riding around the small lake at the base of the mountain range and stopping to take in the beauty, as well as grab a selfie or two.

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    My back had continued to squawk, and in the process of favoring one side I managed to strain a different set of muscles in my left side, so we didn't hike any but planned to return the next day.

    Motoring on, we reached the little town of Centennial, our destination for the day, to get gas and some lunch since our two boiled egg breakfast had worn off with a vengeance. Outside the gas station, a couple seated on a bench asked where we were from, and we talked a while about Wyoming, our trip and moose encounters. The Medicine Bow forest is saturated with moose and most folks here speak about them frequently to us, as a warning since we are on bikes.


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    Before we could pull away, another guy came over to talk bikes and share his stories of riding a Triumph around the western U.S. in the 70's, followed by an R-75 BMW which he said was a real pleasure after the Triumph and it's continuous breakdowns. He had also ridden a Royal Enfield around India and wished us well before heading back to the BBQ stand.

    After lunch, we decided to check out another campground or two on the way, but instead decided to ride forest service roads around the north side of the mountain range rather than take 130 back.

    With The Iron Butterfly in the lead we set off on the dusty roads, well maintained for the most part and slowly climbed to over 10,000 feet before reaching Sand Lake and resting on some large rocks overlooking the small reservoir. It didn't take long for the heat of the sun and swarms of mosquitos to get us back on the bikes for cooling air.

    The roads were lined with thick forest and lush green carpeted floor, and despite our best efforts to ride with swiveling heads we saw no wild game in the 2-3 hour ride.

    As the day drew on, the heat and dust in our heavy gear began to take it's toll. Fatigue set in a bit and at one point an unmarked T in the road just over a rise caught us unaware, Kim barely getting stopped before going off the road and down into pines. We both were wide awake and she was quite happy to have made the sudden stop in heavy gravel.

    By the time we got in the vicinity of camp, the shadows were deep on the road and rounding a turn there were two large black bulls on the roadway. We stopped to wait for them but they had little interest in moving. Kim honked her horn a bit, which startled them and one turned to face us. I revved the engine and rolled towards him slightly, which got them both moving forward and trotting ahead of us, but the one bull continued to spin around and face us. I felt a bit uneasy as he seemed perturbed at our presence. Eventually they trotted a ways down to a trail that paralleled the road about 3 feet off the side. Since they seemed to be fine I motored ahead slowly as far to the other side of the road as possible to pass them. The one bull did not like my presence and whipped around into the road facing me at a 45 degree angle and about 6 feet away at which point I hit the throttle and shot past him. Kim was not happy at the event and was now stuck behind the bull who stood in the road facing her while I cheered her on from a safe distance ahead. After what seemed like an hour in dog years, he finally turned and followed his buddy further down before climbing off into the bushes. Kim raced past and caught up with me, discussing the event and her general unhappiness at being left behind.

    We finally made camp and peeled out our hot, dust filled and heavy gear, dousing ourselves in the ice cold stream water to get some dust off. With the fire finally going and a hot backpacker meal of peppered beef with rice, the long day set in and we both nodded off.

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    #63
    dondesmo, juno, MaNDan and 5 others like this.
  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
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    The cloudy skies had cleared the day before and the night was very cold, testing the limit of my sleeping bag rating and my bladder. Through an unzipped section of tent I could see sunlight hitting the treetops and despite the cold air I emerged for a chance to get in the warm sun.

    The Butterfly still slept, cocooned in the maroon of her Marmot bag and several layers of clothing. I spent a little time writing the report until the sun heated the tent, causing the Butterfly to emerge and begin the process of stretching and discussing breakfast.

    A moment or few later the sound of bellowing cattle came in the distance, followed soon after by the sight of black cattle running abreast down the road our direction. The noise and the spectacle increased as we watched hundreds of cattle stream down the road, some pausing to stare at us before joining the herd again and the clouds of dust.

    After a while I spotted the reason they were running, a lone cowboy riding through the trees above glimpsed briefly but the sound of a cracking whip snapping through the morning air lasting. It was indeed a cattle drive and not just a well organized group of cows anxious to head for Florida.

    A while later we heard the whistles and cries of cowboys as they came up the road, driving the herd before them. It was fascinating to see a herd being moved by cowboys so close to the tent and the spectacle was fun to watch. Rowdy cows and calves turned from the herd and headed back our way in ones and twos, followed by galloping cowboys yelling and shouting. Intermittently for the next hour we'd have a running cow and cowboy heading back for our tent, finally turning to some degree or other. It made breakfast quite interesting.

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    The beautiful blue skies began to turn grey again and as we had planned to hike in the Snowies a bit, the threatening skies made the prospect less interesting. Instead we decided to hit Saratoga to find wifi and update the blog and ride report. As we exited the forest road onto 130, 2 KTM 1190's loaded with gear arrived and turned onto the forest road with a wave.

    It began raining as we got going east, with winds increasing substantially before hitting the quaint little town of Saratoga. The hot springs called our names as we rode past, saying sweetly "you guys stink and need a serious bath!" True indeed, as camping doesn't often offer the luxury of showers. Seven weeks of camping, a few showers and 32,000 Wet Wipes later any form of running water seems like heaven.


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    We grabbed coffee and a sandwich as payment for wifi and tried to get some things posted before the day slipped away. In the lengthening shadows we walked the small town, watching deer wander through the neighborhoods nearby while we looked for light and interesting places.



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    By the time we headed out from town for campsite, the sun was about gone and we rode the last few miles of forest road very slowly, hoping to avoid deer and especially moose. At the last turn a huge black cow, a straggler from the roundup, came running down the road at us and turned into the brush. A mile or two later we were in camp and fell asleep quickly to the sound of the water rolling over the rocks.

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    #64
  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
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  6. sonnyb

    sonnyb Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    Fort Worth TX
    as usual,great,thanks guys for sharing and keep it coming
    #66
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  7. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Currently sitting in Missoula getting caught up on stuff and prepping a bit before we circle through Cour d'Alene and back into NW Montana. Will post an update shortly :D
    #67
  8. goodcat

    goodcat Changing latitudes, altitudes and attitudes

    Joined:
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    Location:
    British Columbia
    Great report and wildfire pics.
    You two are camping in 5 star accommodations .....awesome :clap
    #68
    btrrtlwtr and TheIronButterfly like this.
  9. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
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    Steamboat Springs, COLORADO
    Hey Joseph & Kim!

    Just got caught up with your adventures.
    Wow!
    Looks like you two are having some fun, seeing some interesting sights, meeting some nice and interesting people, and making the most of the nice traveling weather.

    So I just got back from my trip yesterday. Rode to KY and rendezvoused with a few amigos, rested for a day, and then rode through OH, PA, NY to Hamburg, NY for the BMW MOA rally. (the rallies are fun, but for me it's basically just an excuse to go for a long ride :thumb) Then post rally it was across NY and through VT, NH, and into ME. At Rangely, ME I separated from my riding pals (they headed on into Canada to PEI, NS, NF, etc.) and I started heading slowly back toward CO. Rode back through NH, VT, NY, PA, WV, VA, NC, TN, AR, MO, OK, KS, and back to Steamboat Springs. Rode some sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Natchez Trace that were particularly nice. (it's amazing just how long an old asphalt road will last .......... with no heavy truck traffic to destroy it!)

    I've already got the oil changed for the next trip ........................ but it'll certainly be nice to be off the bike for a few days. :lol3
    Time to make some sawdust and $! :D

    Glad your travels have been safe!
    Our door is always open for you two.

    As always, thank you for the nice images and poignant writing. :thumbup
    Superb!

    Rob
    #69
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  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Lost In Lander


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    From the Snowy Range our destination was Lander, where "Road Damage Rob" had said there was a great free camping area in the city park. I'd been through Lander a couple of times previously but it was only a fuel stop each time.

    Heading north through Saratoga we hit I-80 at Walcott then headed west for Rawlins. Zipping along the highway, I spotted a blue Yamaha dual sport with a rider dressed in black paralleling the freeway about 100 yards to my right and across the fence in a field. He had soft bags on the bike and a spare tire, so I assumed he was on some form of the BDR. He was going slowly as we rocketed past at 75. Kim had not seen him so I described what I'd seen.

    The exit for Rawlins and the road north came up soon after, where we stopped for ice and gasoline. While we waited, the blue Yamaha rolled in for gas. I introduced myself and Dustin said he was heading for Montana. I asked if he was on a BDR route and he said no, simply was trying to avoid the freeway since he was running a Yamaha 250 with gear, however his GPS showed an old road in the field which wasn't actually there. It ended and he had to backtrack to the freeway anyway.

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    Dustin from Lubbock
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    I told him about the city park camping in Lander before we headed on, flying over the rolling terrain with massive vistas all around. Kim spotted a herd of wild horses amongst the hills while we rolled on in the heat. At Three Forks / Muddy Gap we again stopped for a brief water guzzle and saw Dustin make the turn towards Lander.



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    We eventually passed him again and by the time we reached Lander it was seriously hot - 102º per the signs in town. Along the main drag, I was surprised to see six or seven WWII era Harleys parked in row in front of a restaurant. Kim thought they were "very cool". I wanted to stop and check them out but it was so hot we kept going to grab some groceries before heading off to find the park.

    When we stopped to check out the park, Kim realized she'd dropped her BMW gloves somewhere along the way so we retraced the route but they were nowhere on the road or in the parking lot. We turned around and rode slowly back to the park again but never found them.

    The park turned out just as Rob had described - thick green grass, tall shade trees and plenty of room for tents. We got set up and relaxed for a while in spite of Kim's grumbling over the lost gloves. At the end of the park I saw Dustin setting up his tent and he eventually wandered over. We sat and talked til well after dark. He was on his way to Glacier National Park where he was to start his Continental Divide Ride south. He'd left Lubbock 4 days earlier and was anxious to get to the Montana border. We wished him well and he headed off for sleep and an early departure.


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    The next morning I was up early and surveyed the place. Many campers - hikers, cyclists and others - had arrived late in the night and several folks were sleeping on the ground. As the sun came up people began to stir and through bleary eyes I watched Dustin pull away right at 7. We packed up camp to head for Jackson Hole and Yellowstone, having made the decision to brave the tourists since she'd never seen the area.


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    It had been a week of camping and we needed showers badly. A call to the Holiday Lodge by the McDonald's brought good news of $5 showers so we headed for a quick breakfast and then walked over to the motel. There in a row sat the WWII Harleys, several guys working on them, oiling chains and doing maintenance.


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    The motel had a washing machine so we stayed to wash clothes after our long, hot showers. While waiting for our clothes to finish I heard the Harley guys speaking in what I thought was German. That was a real mind twist to see rare WWII American bikes with European riders. Kim had decided to bring her bike over from the McDonald's and as she rode past in the parking lot the guys all watched her go by and gave a thumbs up.

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    After she parked, one of the guys wandered over and introduced himself. "Hugo" was Dutch and told us the story of the group. There were 10 guys who'd all grown up together in Utrecht, each buying an old GI Harley and they formed a riding club years ago. They had decided to ship the bikes to Denver, then ride the American west for a cancer charity. They'd left Denver a few days before and made it to Lander where one of the bikes broke down - an ignition shaft that of course was the only part they hadn't brought along. Their mechanic who'd worked on the old bikes for 30 years and never seen this part break.


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    Turns out there was a Harley shop in Lander - StrokersUSA - and the owner had opened the shop to them to use whatever tools they needed. They'd overnighted a part from a vintage dealer in New York and it was due in by 10 am, so they hoped to be on the road for Cody the next day.

    Hugo, who's name I couldn't pronounce in Dutch, told us about the Harleys that had been left after the war and how many were dirt cheap for years, but now were in the hands of owners and collectors. He told us goodbye, handing Kim a commemorative shirt and exchanged info with us, then he and a couple other riders left, the sirens on the bikes blaring. Kim and I both laughed out loud. It was a lot of fun.


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    In case you ever wondered how Dutch riders washed their undies...
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    It was past time to hit the road, but we needed to find some cheap gloves to replace the ones lost and hit a True Value hardware for a set. A few blocks down the road I saw an Ace Hardware and popped in to see what they might have for gloves as well. Walking inside the store with my helmet on, in my headset I heard Kim talking to someone about the BMW's and when I returned she was speaking with a guy who had a hockey puck in his hand and was talking about the R1200GSA. Turns out his name was Dave, a long time BMW rider who'd just come to the hardware store to find the right screws to attach the puck to his GSA. Kim laughed and pulled out her custom hockey puck with cord attached. He laughed out loud and invited us to come to his home later that day, suggesting we ride up Sinks Canyon after swinging by his place. We exchanged info and agreed to meet later then we headed to the post office to ship a few items back after editing our clothing after the wash.


    We had a couple more errands to deal with and Kim decided we should check out the Harley shop for gloves since it was just a couple of blocks away. We pulled in to see all the Dutch guys sitting on the porch with their bikes in the lot. They waved and we went over to join the discussion. They were talking with the owner, Jeff, about where to ride that afternoon to test the repaired bike. Jeff had taken them up Sinks Canyon the day before and they were wanting to kill some time in the afternoon now that the bike was ready.

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    We went inside to look at gloves and shortly after Jeff came in. Kim found some gloves to use until we could find some better ones, and by this time it was well after noon and we needed sustenance. Jeff suggested a cafe downtown and when we pulled up, all the Dutchmen with their Harleys were there. We laughed and waved then found a spot on the patio for some fish and chips and a Mandarin salad. Before we finished, Hugo came over and invited us to ride with the group a few miles down the road to Hudson, where Jeff had suggested an after-work brew.


    These guys sure got a lot of attention in downtown Lander
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    By this time the day was blown and we had enjoyed camping in the park so much we decided to stay another night in Lander. We were debating whether to ride with the guys while loading our bikes after lunch, only to hear the wail of sirens and looked up to see the Dutchmen riding past with sirens going, Hugo giving a big wave to follow them. We laughed and joined the group, stopping briefly at the shop before Jeff and friends joined us for the short ride to Hudson.


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    Headin' to Hudson
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    The guys all pulled in in front of the bar and backed in, the Butterfly and I taking up last position. The bar was old, funky and cool, and we spent a couple of hours talking to the guys about bikes, politics and life.


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    An old veteran came in asking to see the soldiers who were riding the bikes, only to be a bit surprised they were from Holland.
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    Finally it was time to head back and we said our goodbye's to the group before heading back for Dave's place near Sinks Canyon. The bar owner gave us all black Harley doo-rags but Hugo didn't want his picture taken with it on, as he didn't want to look like a "Harley guy".


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    It was truly a great time running into these guys and getting to hang out with them. They continue the great tradition of Dutch adventurers and explorers, riding these old bikes around the western U.S. and having a ball. You can follow da boys at https://www.facebook.com/backintheusa2016


    Watching him trying to kickstart the bike in the heat quelled my enthusiasm to own one :D
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    The road to Dave's place out in Sinks Canyon was an easy dirt ride to the base of the hills, where Dave was standing outside the garage and waving us in.

    Dave had a great man-cave, replete with several BMW's including a Paris-Dakar, 1200GSA and 800GS. I drooled over the place until he figured I needed something to drink. We sat on his porch with his lovely wife Audrey, a talented photographer, and talked bikes, travels, life and photography. The sun was getting low and we said our goodbyes, Dave telling us to come back by on the way through or if we needed a place to work on the bikes. Dave was just an awesome guy!


    Back at the park we ate and watched a guy setting up a 50' long slack line nearby. He's been camping there and walking a shorter slack line the two previous days, us watching him in amazement at the ability to stand up from a sitting position and then balance walk the line.

    Kim went over to ask him questions and was wrangled into helping him pull the line taught. it was very high due to the length and Kim wanted to try, but he and another slack liner said it wasn't a good idea to try that tight of a line for the first time. We watched him try for an hour until he walked the entire line and back multiple times. His name was Will, and he set up a lower, shorter line for Kim to try. She was up for it and managed to do well, standing free for a few seconds before having to grab my finger for balance. It was fun to see her try while Will coached her on.



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    The Iron Butterfly did well, standing free for a few seconds on the line but also impressed with the extreme difficulty
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    The tools of Will the Slackliner
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    The tools of LoneStar the Slacker
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    Sleep came easily after a very full day
    #70
  11. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    :D We're glamping compared to my past trips... but any day now the big bad wolf may huff and puff and blow the house down


    Dang Rob I got tired just reading all the states you hit LOL

    We had an awesome time hanging out with you guys - look forward to doing it again and really appreciate your hospitality!
    #71
    TheIronButterfly likes this.
  12. RideDualSport.com

    RideDualSport.com Zut alors!

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,197
    Location:
    Texas / France
    Wow, thank you for such an incredibly beautiful and engaging report of your adventure! The WWII Harley experience was quite something. :D
    #72
    TheIronButterfly and LoneStar like this.
  13. TexasDragon

    TexasDragon n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2016
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Tomball, TX
    Hey LoneStar, got your text yesterday. Thanks for directing me here to catch up with you and The Butterfly. Took me two days to read your RR, but worth every minute of it! Love the pictures and stories. I leave for Alaska next Sunday on my GSA and hope to catch up with y'all somewhere north of the border. Until then, I'll be following and enjoying your reports here. Safe travels to you both!
    Dragon
    #73
    churrique and TheIronButterfly like this.
  14. dbradford

    dbradford Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    155
    Location:
    Hub City
    Great meeting yall back in Lander. I made it to the Canada border a couple days after that, and I'm making good progress on the divide. Currently refuelling (the bike and my belly) in Cuba, NM. Should be to Antelope wells in just a few more days. Good luck to yall and keep the RR coming. 20160721_164139.jpg 20160728_085015.jpg 20160725_163133.jpg 20160727_175525.jpg
    #74
  15. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Hey Dragon - text me when you get near the area and maybe we can meet up
    #75
  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Dustin good to hear your progress and some really nice images man :D
    #76
  17. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    The next morning we were awoken by the groundskeeper of the park, telling us he had to water after the previous week's rock climbing event had slammed the park with tents from the 3000 or so attendees. We talked a while before we headed out for Sinks Canyon and the switchbacks Dave and others had told us of.

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    The canyon came soon, stunning with its high cliffs. We worked up the switchbacks and into the forest, the road turning to dirt and winding up the mountains. It was a beautiful ride, free of cars and peaceful. At one point, we passed a pickup truck parked on the roadside filled high with big logs. As we passed I glanced to my right up the hill, only to see a huge cut log about 24" in diameter and about 3' long tumbling down the hill straight at me, the cutter staring at me. I hit the throttle and the log missed me by about 3 feet. Sheesh what a wake-up call in the middle of nowhere. Man it was close.

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    We passed several lakes looking for a place to eat lunch, finally spotting a small one covered with lily pads. I was surprised to see all the pads, as it was a first for me to see them up high in elevation.

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    There was a nice flat rock in the edge of the water that made the perfect lunch spot for our tortillas, chicken and avocado. The wind in the pines made us sleepy but the hot sun appearing and disappearing in clouds made the temps just a bit too hot to nap.

    Yummay
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    We geared up and head for Atlantic City and the historic mine towns ahead. After passing through South Pass city we motored the few miles over to Atlantic City and after a few hours in the heat were ready for a break.




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    The heat sapped any desire to wander around the little town of South Pass City, our bikes idling past the few buildings and back up the road past the mine which appeared to be in operation.

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    A couple of miles up the road lay Atlantic City, the road snaking through the shimmering heat and smell of sagebrush. Kim road ahead, enjoying the scenery and openness of the landscape.


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    The Mercantile was our stop, an old historic bar and store. It was cool and dark inside and after downing gatorade and an orange dream sickle soda we talked with the waitress Connie.



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    She was quite a character and suggested a brownie sundae as a treat. We weren't really hungry but it went down very well. I asked to shoot a pic of her for the blog and she happily agreed, pointing out her boyfriend and stepson at the table nearby and telling us he was Nez Perce Indian.

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    After taking the photo, Connie said she could see a bad storm coming out through a window behind us and said we needed to hit the road quickly. We paid and headed for the bikes, a big black cloud covering the sky. I could see huge clouds of dust on the hillsides to the west being blown high as the wind blast came over the hills straight toward us.



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    Just as we started the bikes the first winds hit, blowing up a dust cloud and showering us with grit. We headed for Hwy 28 as quickly as we could down the dirt road, for some reason an endless parade of cars coming to us and showering us in grit and dust in the winds. When we finally reached the blacktop and gunned it for Lander, 20 something miles away, the storm was looming very close and to our left we could see lightning flashes and a cloud of rain. It appeared we would be able to outrun the storm and make camp, but as we got to Red Canyon a large semi dump truck was slowing in the downhill just as we entered a construction zone. Unable to get around him we were stuck behind and at the top of the canyon the flagman waved us to a stop.

    Just as our feet touched the ground a huge wind hit us broadside and it was everything I could do to keep the bike up. Kim was desperately trying to hold her bike up as well and I was able to roll next to her to try and block some of the gale force winds. It didn't seem to help much. I could barely keep myself up, but was able to hold her side case with my right hand. The wind increased, the flagman no longer able stand, his hard hat long gone and the plastic "Slow/Stop" sign he tried to hold onto bending almost in half and whipping so hard he had to drop it. He could barely stay standing and a co-worker struggled out of the truck nearby to try and help him with the stop sign but it was a lost cause.

    Kim and I were in our own struggle, the incessant wind so strong we couldn't even consider trying to get off the bikes. I could hear the fear in her voice over the headset, asking me what to do. I calmed her as best I could and told her to follow my lead. I rolled forward a few inches at a time with the engine off, holding her case with my right hand to help keep her bike up and using the clutch to control the forward movement. She mirrored me, until we were able to get beside the lone car ahead of us to add some break, however it didn't really help. I was cursing the truck that had made us stop at the top of the canyon as I watched the rain and lightning approaching, really concerned at our predicament. The winds were so intense we couldn't even try to get off the bikes.

    On the roadside a few yards ahead there was a night light generator, so I told Kim to continue our forward motion a few inches at a time until we got near, then I got my bike against hers and told her to slide off between. She did but was afraid of being trapped between them if I fell over, but finally was able to squeeze under the bars and get to the right side. I slid forward enough until her side case slipped off mine and somewhat leaned and locked together with my bike. I told her to keep her body weight against her bike and I was able to lean over and get the kickstand down, the weight of two bikes allowing me to slip off mine.

    The plan was to get her bike to the generator for some wind block and then follow. She sat against my bike case with her weight to keep it from being blown over while I got on hers and rolled the smaller bike down behind the genny. Ultimately I had to tie her bike to the gen frame to keep it from going over and came back to my bike, sending her to the generator to sit behind it.

    I gave up on trying to get my bike down and just stood with it, holding it up and trying to wait out the wind. We were very fortunate to only get sprinkled with big drops of rain, the lightning and downpours having turned down the valley for Lander and just missing us.

    It was a good thirty minutes or more of the strongest winds I've been in before I could see some light at the backside of the storm cloud, giving hope that a reprieve was coming in the wind. As they slowly subsided a bit, a false lull would tempt me to step away from the bike to suddenly be hit again.

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    As the rain moved further down, the wind finally lessened to the point we decided to try again. The flag man saw us untying her bike and ran down, telling me to wait about another 15 minutes. He said that the storm was still intense about 4 miles down and the workers there had radioed him that it was very dangerous. We got our gear and bikes ready as the wind calmed and finally he waved us a thumbs up and we headed down.

    That was a very long 45 minutes of time, feeling like hours actually, in winds that I've not experienced for such a sustained time. Having had to stop at the top of the canyon left us in the worst spot unfortunately, but there was nothing to be done but hang in there.

    As the blue sky appeared in patches here and there on the way to Lander, the smell of fresh rain and puddles on the road were the only signs of anything having happened, the black cloud to our right slowly disappearing over the horizon.

    We stopped at a convenience store to get ice for the cooler and the girl behind the counter told us we'd been lucky to have just come in, as a major storm had blown through shortly before. I told her we were stopped and sitting in it outside of town. She said there had been reports of 86 mph wind gusts in town and said "It's a good thing you guys weren't caught in Red Canyon, that's about the worst place for winds. Our family lost a travel trailer at the top curve a few years ago when the winds took it off and they were only about 35 mph. My dad owns a wrecker service and I've gotten to see a lot of the things he drags back afterwards."
    I didn't bother telling her that we were sitting right in the top curve of Red Canyon, but it made damn good sense why we were having such trouble.

    When we arrived back at the city park, our camp neighbors came over to tell us about the storm we missed and the 40-50 mph winds and rain that came through. The willow tree limbs littering the park were testimony. Ron, a hiker from NJ camped nearby, said he was amazed our tent stayed up and was one of the few that didn't get messed up with the winds. Amazing actually as the thing is so big.

    We finished the evening in our chairs with a hot meal of Chipotle Cheesy Shells, cooked with CoffeeMate powdered creamer and some French Vanilla coffee creamer since we had no milk for the recipe. The heat of the day's riding, combined with the stress and fatigue of the wind experience brought Mr. Sandman quickly...
    #77
    arghhh, juno, Balanda and 3 others like this.
  18. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    As we packed to leave the next morning for Jackson Hole, several campers talked to us about the bikes and our trip, one man named Ron from New Jersey being particularly interested. He'd met a rider in the Snowy Range the week before who'd ridden to Tierra Del Fuego and now having camped by us he was quite interested. The fire had been lit and he was seriously considering an adventure bike.

    It felt good to finally be on the bikes and moving in the heat of the day, our goal to make the Jackson Hole area and find a campground before it got too late. Finding any accommodation near Yellowstone is difficult but we planned to get there early enough to set up camp and relax for the next day in the Park.

    At a gas stop in Fort Washakie, a big diesel pickup pulled in and the crew of 4 guys hopped out, asking about the GS's. They worked for Columbia, a helicopter company that flew big twin rotor choppers to fight fires. They had just driven in from Colorado to support and fly out of Dubois to fight a forest fire burning in the area. We talked about having seen a chopper or two scooping water from a source right in Lander and heading for the mountains the day before. It sparked a conversation about the difficulties and politics of scooping water to douse fires. Apparently each load, 2600 gallons for the larger size, had to be logged exactly by the copilot for remuneration, and water sources such as lakes in national forest lands were subject to government environmental regs as well as red tape and bureaucracy delays in approval. When it came to Indian reservations the water could be considered "sacred" and there were other issues as well. All in all, the chopper pilot we were talking too said it was a ridiculous morass of red tape when compared to the imminent destruction looming at times.

    We motored on in the coolish breeze, eventually being passed by the crew in the diesel truck as they blew by, honked and waved. As we rolled into Dubois (pronounced "Dew Boys" if you go through in the future) a white plume of smoke could be seen ahead from the fire. The downtown area of the town was closed for "National Cowboy Day" so we detoured around and stopped to drink some water in front of the Jackelope gas stop - a cheesy tourist trap we simply had to go in.


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    Dang it was good day - spotted not only a Jackelope but it was being ridden by an Iron Butterfly. Surprised I didn't see a unicorn, leprechaun or a yeti getting coffee and a Twinkie...
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    Rolling out of town towards the plume of smoke was interesting, especially as we got closer and could tell the road was leading straight to it. The girl behind the register at the Jackelope had told us the road had been closed since the fire had gotten so out of control, but apparently was still open today but warned us it might be closed soon.


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    The rode led slowly into the canyons, directly towards the tower of smoke. I told Kim it might get interesting depending on how close we got but I was more concerned that the road would be open. A few days before the highway from Pinedale to Jackson had closed due to a fire and folks had to backtrack through Dubois.


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    As we neared the area, the cloud grew in size and I was glad to see the heat was carrying the smoke high rather than blowing through the valley. We passed under black clouds, changing to a golden orange as the sunlight beamed through from above. Eventually it was clear we would be riding directly by the fire and as we rolled under the main cloud we could see orange blazes erupting, a lone small helicopter with water scoop appearing like a mosquito against an elephant. As the cloud loomed above, the sense of being insignificant in the world was driven home, immersed in a sense of apocalyptic destruction never felt in either of our lives.


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    The event was mesmerizing and overwhelming, and we had to pull over to watch it. I told Kim we'd probably never be in anything like this again and to take it in as much as possible. It was truly beautiful, overwhelming and magnificent to observe. The lone chopper made circles overhead, it's dumps of water seeming pointless against the immensity. As we watched a second chopper, a large twin rotor with a scoop much larger appeared in the smoke. Obviously it was the one the crew we'd spoken to were associated with, being much larger.


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    We watched in morbid fascination, moving ahead a few hundred yards at times, and watching the crews stationed near the road and across the fields near the residences at the base of the mountain. The fire had made it's way down near the highway, less than a quarter mile or so away. We watched the choppers dump water on the ground ahead of the blaze, being directed no doubt by the string of firefighters positioned every 75 yards or so in a long line along the front edge of the blaze.


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    Sudden huge eruptions of flames would shoot into the air as dense areas finally ignited from the heat in almost explosive fashion. It was a sight we could have watched all day...

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    Finally, it was time to move on as we were unsure if the road ahead would be closed. We both talked about the scenes and feelings for the next hour and even the rest of the day, the majestic mountains ahead clear in the sunshine beyond the pall.

    As we began the downhill towards Hatchett and Jackson, Kim was about 50 yards ahead and cruising at 70 or so. As we passed a very large opening of grass, a steep downslope from the woods above, a patch of tan caught my eyes. It was a mule deer running at full speed down the hill to the highway, directly on line to impact Kim like an anti-aircraft missile. She had glanced to her right for a second and I yelled in my headset "DEER! DEER! DEER!" She swung her head to the right, hitting her brakes as hard as possible, the deer hitting the highway about 15 feet in front of her at full run and suddenly panicking, spinning to it's left and running parallel about 15 feet away. It was as if the deer had been shot out of a rocket launcher from the woods and arced to trace her path for interception. I've never seen anything like it as he had a good 100 yards of open slope in front of him and yet he ran at full speed down a steep slope, redirecting his path to hit her. When he reached the highway it was if he suddenly came out of a trance and awoke, bolting away back up the hill. It was a very close call at high speed and shook us both up. What a bizarre moment.

    The ride to Moran Junction was uneventful, as though we needed more emotional stimuli for the day. It had gotten late with our fire watching and I knew we were screwed in finding any reasonable form of accommodations or campground. We rode far enough towards Jackson to see the buffalo herds and Grand Tetons before heading back towards Hatchett to check for camping. We were beat, it was hot and the thought of all the tourists in Jackson was just too much.
    The small NFS campground was full, but a mile down the road we we got a tent site at a private campground.


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    As per usual we were both beat from the long day, emotions and heat. About the only good thing about the campground was that it had no need for bear precautions and not having to bear bag everything was a relief.





    The next morning was cold and frost covered the tent and all our gear when I got out. It was a surprise after the heat but felt great.

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    The road through Grand Tetons National Park was a spectacular gateway into Yellowstone, the Tetons never failing to impress. A pause by Jackson Lake to reflect on the beauty and let streams of vehicles go by was the only stop before entering Yellowstone.


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    I'd warned Kim about the crowds and the Park Ranger who welcomed us at the tool booth warned us to be extremely careful with the cars and drivers there. She said in her 15 mile drive from housing to the gate each day there'd been many close calls and she said she always warns bikers to be extra careful.


    These guys took so many selfies from so many angles we finally just gave up on getting a shot of ourselves and rode on...
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    We hit the main lodge to see Old Faithful, the thousands of tourists sporting dripping ice cream cones and cameras always good for people watching. After she blew we headed up the Grand Loop on the eastern side, stopping very little but enjoying the views as we enter the northeast corner particularly. It is my favorite part, offering grand vistas after the pine tree laden rounds in the south.


    Yep, still faithful...
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    Oddly enough we saw almost no wildlife, just an occasional solo buffalo in the distance. My last trip trough had been rife with animals crossing the road but not to be the case this day. It was not until we neared the northeast entrance that we began to see the large distant herds along the river in the valley to our right.

    Our goal was Cooke City to try to find a motel and stage for Beartooth and Chief Joseph but both our cell phones were having issues and I'd not been able to call ahead to find a room. As the day got later I figured we'd have a problem getting a place and that turned out to be true. We hit Silver Gate and Cooke City, only to find that there were no vacancies but the Super 8 manager called every place for us and found the last room available at the Grizzly Lodge in Silver Gate.

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    It was right at dark when we finally got in, Kim so exhausted from the heat and long day that she went straight to bed. The manager said we might see some bull Buffalo wander through the motel lot as they had been in the town recently. As I unpacked the bike, a big, burly guy came over and offered me a cold beer. His name was Frank and he rode a couple of GSA's, exploring Canada from his home in Montana. We talked bikes for a long time, until he and his friend returned to their packing. He said they were going to camp in the Park to fly fish and always stayed at the Grizzly to get up and into the park at 6 am to find camping spots.

    Kim eventually awoke, absolutely starving and we walked to a small cafe adjacent to our motel. Kim went outside to the bathroom area as I perused the menu. She returned quickly, coughing and saying someone must have sprayed a lot of bug spray near the bathrooms and she'd had to leave. She told me one of the wait staff was outside in the back coughing heavily. Just as she told me that I began to cough as well, then I heard coughing in the restaurant and saw our Jamaican waitress running outside and coughing heavily, struggling to breathe. We went outside and she told us someone had sprayed bear spray behind the building.

    Though it took a while, eventually it settled down and we were able to eat. When we returned to the motel, Bob the manager asked about the meal, and was surprised to hear about the bear spray incident, because apparently it was the second time in just a couple of days. He recounted how one of the waitstaff had gotten drunk and angry one night, popping the top on a can and purposely dousing the other waitstaff as they slept in the housing. He said it was one of the more exciting things to happen recently and now he had yet another tale of bear spray at the same place to spread.

    We laughed about it and went back to the room before wandering over to the camp fire pit to watch the stars. Oscar, one of the employees who was off work, sat with a big can of Foster's and slurringly told us snippets of his life as he wasted away. Sleep came easily as we told him goodnight and hit the sack after a long hot day.
    #78
  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    After being on the road for 9 weeks, a bit of fatigue is showing and we find ourselves dragging a bit in the mornings before hitting the road. There were several small issues to catch up on after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and cheese made in the room's kitchenette, such as chain maintenance, cleaning some gear and clothes, boiling, sterilizing and cleaning kitchen utensils, and most importantly updating the cases with a few more stickers...

    It was probably 11 am before we got on the bikes in the clear, cool, air, the sun still not up to full broil yet. We grabbed some gas in Cooke City and then headed for the junction where Chief Joseph Scenic Byway connects to the Beartooth, continuing on towards the Pass and eventually Red Lodge, Montana.

    The climb to Beartooth was in crystal clear air, Kim a bit nervous as someone we'd spoken to had mentioned the winds at the top, but I assured her they wouldn't be anything like the winds we encountered at Red Canyon. There was little to no traffic as we passed Top of the World, the store near the pass that is inhabited by the owners all winter and who have to trek down by snowmobile when the snows come. Only a few white university vans were parked along the roadside, a series of students standing in various places in the high meadow, each with a clipboard. It vaguely reminded me of a Monty Python sketch, but then again most things in life do...



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    The road was stunning, one of my favorites and The Iron Butterfly was truly enjoying the views and curves. We stopped at the top to walk out and check the vistas, the sun warm and the winds almost non-existent. A few pics were shot and we motored on til the Montana sign called us aside for a pic or two.




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    The ride down the northern side is just superb with views reminiscent of Switzerland and switchbacks down to the valley. Nearing the bottom the heat began to rise and by the time we rolled into the little town of Red Lodge it was full on Texas hot. We couldn't find shade fast enough and bailed out of our riding jackets to search for a cool drink and either wifi or a cell signal. Silver Gate had no cell service or wifi and after a couple of days without we needed to feed on the teats of technology.


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    Cody was our next destination and I warned Kim to expect more heat there and on the way. We both decided it was better to avoid heat stroke and take our chances riding without jackets until it cooled down some.

    As we passed the old mine on the way to Belfry, a few riders on V-Stroms and GS's passed the opposite direction heading full speed for the town. Short waves expressed both our feelings of camaraderie and the heat.

    At Belfry the turn south brought a slight puff of cool air as we passed some trees, but soon we were rolling in the rolling plains, the heat feeling like a blow dryer on high in your face.


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    We passed the entrance to Chief Joseph Byway a few miles before Cody and I was tempted to make the turn and forget the town due to the heat but we raced on.

    As we finally pulled in, we checked for shade and Googled the clearance store for Sierra Trading Post. Last time I'd been through Cody I'd stopped and gotten some hellacious discounts on some outdoor foofoo's and a new Marmot tent. The Butterfly and I needed to replace a couple of items in our cooking rig and grab a shirt or two to replace clothing ruined while camping. While we were there, we spotted a small Ferrino tent at huge discount and packed small enough to carry as a second tent on Kim's bike. We debated whether it would be good to have it for quick roadside overnights and to save the REI for the times we stay a couple days or more in an area. In the end we decided to add it, giving us an option and serving as a backup if the REI takes a poop in the wind. The small duffle on Kim's bike needed a bit more in it to use as a backrest on long stretches and she was actually happy to have the small tent on board.

    We've kept our gear at a minimum and continue to watch where things can be reduced, so it's funny to add another tent but we have the room and it makes sense. Sheesh.

    The last time I'd been to Sierra Trading Post there, aside from the 50% off price, the cashier gave me another 30% off and an additional 15% above that. This time they wouldn't do it, but the manager knocked off another 20% since I couldn't access my online coupons. :D

    As the day had passed and the sun was getting lower we rode back to Chief Joseph and made the turn back west for Silver Gate. I was miffed to find the sign removed for road construction so that I couldn't pose and point to my name. Life sucks and then you die. :D The road was as stunning as ever, even though there was plenty of road repair on the way. The cooler air and winds were nice after baking in the valleys and we made a few stops for overlooks here and there.



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    A stop at the canyon overlook was shared with several guys from Canada on Harleys, trying to appear obnoxious and badass despite the fact they were only obnoxious and lily white from their accounting jobs. They wandered around swigging beer and looking over the precipice, two eventually climbing down to take a couple of pics in a precarious area. I fully expected Kim and I to have a front row seat to watch their plummeting death since they were a bit tanked up and trying to scramble around a cliff edge in thick sole boots. Thankfully our day wasn't ruined with that scenario and we fired up to leave.



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    As at most stops, the guys watched somewhat incredulously as Kim rode by on her GS. It's been funny watching the swiveling heads at a woman riding by on an adventure bike loaded with gear and blonde hair blowing in the wind. If I could make a buck for each look we could fund our trip...



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    In our haste to leave the heat in Cody we forgot to gas up and Kim's fuel light had popped on just at the entrance to the byway. It continued to nag and eventually we reached the lone gas stop on the byway. The pump was locked and I went in to ask about fuel. The young guy inside said he'd sold out of fuel that morning, having had the busiest weekend ever. As he walked me out he saw the bikes and said "Cool! You guys are on GS's and I've got an F800 myself." He wished us a safe trip and apologized for the lack of fuel.



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    The last few miles of Chief Joseph brought glimpses of the Beartooth peak, shrouded in a dark cloud with shafts of light streaming past, the mountain appearing like an evil abode from some movie like Lord of the Rings. I was able to grab a few shots of it in the fading light.




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    By the time we reached Cooke City we were starving and after filling the bikes hit the local little grocery store. It was crammed with a few stoned guys - obviously camping in the area - but after waiting as they stared blankly at the refrigerated case in a fog, I was about ready to knock some heads to get some food.

    Kim saved the day by grabbing a few things while I muttered and waited, the long day and the heat having made me Mr. Crabs. The last couple of miles at dusk to Silver Gate seemed like forever, but we finished the day with grilled sausage and some awesome mashed taters whipped up by the Butterfly.



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    Life is good and you don't always die...


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    #79
  20. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Our goal for the day was to get back through Yellowstone and head out the west gate for Dillon, Montana.

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    We rode back into the park and then did a dirt road loop for fun which backtracked us a few miles. Somehow I forgot making the turn at Tower Junction onto Grand Loop and was highly confused when we rolled into Mammoth Hot Springs. Señor moment...

    The local vagrant elk herd wandered aimlessly and carelessly on the grass lawns of the buildings no more than 10 feet away from the throngs of tourists snapping photos. Luckily no humans were injured in the making of the film while we watched the people and elk melee from our late lunch snack location on a picnic bench.

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    The heat and traffic was taking it's toll as we stopped a couple of times to walk around the hot springs and roadside attractions.

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    We were fading fast and the day had grown late due to our stops and park traffic jams, and by the time we exited into West Yellowstone we were done. After gassing up and hanging out in the gas station for coffee and a snack, our energy levels came back up and we decided to finish the run for Dillon, Montana, roughly 2 hours away.

    As we rode north, a big storm to the west moved towards us, racing us to Ennis. At a gas station in Ennis we were able to get cell service, I checked the weather radar and found the storm lay directly on the westward route to Dillon. The winds began to pick up and I knew we'd not make it to Dillon without a major lashing from the storm. Calls to the local motels proved fruitless and we had options for two campsites locally. As we sat there discussing what to do, very high winds and rain hit, driving Kim inside quickly.

    We hung around the gas station long enough to irritate the clerk, but I finally found a room in the old historic mining town of Virginia City which lay about 15 miles to the west. The hotel manager told me that the storm had hit Virginia City but there were glimpses of clear skies to the west. I told her to hold a room and we'd wait until it got better in Ennis before heading that way.

    The winds finally began to slow a bit and shafts of light began appearing through the clouds to the west which gave me some hope we'd be able to get to Virginia City by dark. I called the hotel manager again and she said it was clear and the winds had died down, so I told Kim we'd wait a bit longer before leaving to give the storm time to clear. It was already 9 pm and some serious light was showing to the west signaling the end of the bad weather.

    As the winds slackened some, we rolled out and headed west. However when we reached the edge of Ennis the winds picked up again and I could tell Kim was nervous. The light ahead was absolutely stunning, but as we worked our way up in elevation the winds increased, gusting heavily and blowing rain, despite the golden setting sun ahead.

    I could feel Kim's tension and fear as we got higher, her asking me if it would get worse. I could only say I didn't know but everything would be fine. I could hear and feel the fear in her voice as the winds gusted harder and harder, our bikes climbing the road ahead towards a summit. There was still blowing rain hitting us, despite the clear skies almost upon us. The Butterfly is the strongest and bravest woman I know, but she's had two bad encounters with heavy winds on this trip - the first being a microburst in northern New Mexico that pushed her off the road and the second being the gale winds we suffered outside Lander. Her fears are well founded, weighing half what I do and on a bike about 2 inches taller than it should be. Needless to say when she hears we're about to ride in winds it references the two previous moments and I can say that the winds we experienced at Red Canyon had me a bit uneasy...

    As we approached the crest of the ridge, I really had no idea what we'd be hit with. The fear in her voice betrayed the words she said. I began to pray a prayer out loud in my headset for slackening of the winds and for God's peace to overtake any fear. Suddenly in my left periphery I saw a brilliant coloration tempting me to look towards the valley, as did Kim at the same moment. The wind was strong enough that it was difficult to look to the side, but we simultaneously saw a stunning circular rainbow over the valley below - absolutely brilliant and intense in colors, forming almost a complete circle. It was truly breathtaking and I heard only silence from her as my exclamations seemed to go unheard. It turned out that the scene was so breathtaking Kim had been unable to speak, both at the beauty and at the promise.

    Ahead I saw a series of trees and pulled off to the roadside, jumping off the bike to try to capture the rainbow. There was no wind, hidden under the tall trees at the top, and we watched as the most marvelous light I've ever witnessed played all around us. We were bathed in bright golden light, a brilliant rainbow over the valley below, blue skies above the distant mountains and a swirl of purples, pinks and all combinations in the clouds wrapped around us. There was nothing to do but try to take it all in and all we could do was to keep saying "Oh my God!" As a professional photographer, I know light and have seen some amazing moments in life. This light was like nothing I've ever seen. It so affected The Butterfly she simply had tears, wiping her eyes and saying that she'd never seen anything like it before.


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    My photos didn't capture the light, and even so the images that came from the camera look false and manipulated but they're not. It was indeed a God moment in our lives, bathed in light and stunning colors, the promise of the rainbow glowing before us. As we sat and watched, the color of light changed constantly, bathing us in heavy gold, then magentas and pinks.




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    We could do little but sit and watch something so special, so overwhelming and so deeply felt that words didn't come until the rainbow faded and darkness began to come. We headed over the pass into gentle winds and a stunning sunset, made more spectacular by the reflections of gold and orange on the winding, wet road ahead.



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    When we finally reached the old town at dark, the hotel manager asked if we'd seen the incredible light at sunset. I told her we had a front row seat on something never seen before. She said in the 17 years she'd lived there she'd never seen such an amazing sunset.


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    After dumping our gear in the room, we wandered down to the Bale of Hay Saloon and got some dinner - a Frito Pie and Pasty - the pasty being a beef, onion and potato pie covered in gravy that was popular with the Cornish Miners according to the menu. As we walked in the darkened town, a group of ghost tourists walked past, their guide telling some of the history of the hainted town.


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    Room 10 in the hotel is rumored to be replete with ghosts, guests saying they get pushed or tapped while staying in the room. We were in #17 and nothing weird happened other than my BMW pants crawled around the floor on their own. I suspect the pants were desperate to find a washing machine or attempting to throw themselves off a cliff to end their suffering.
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