Boondocking the Nation: 17 Days, 8300mi, 1 Motel
Helena, MT > South Dakota
I savor the last minutes of warmth in the comfort of the queen size bed then roll out, take a shower and complete packing my hear. We have a breakfast of steak and eggs soaked up with homemade drop biscuits and washed down by a stiff cup of freshly ground organic coffee. After two days of rich food, I am stuffed and feel fat. The energy is an added benefit though.
After strapping the finishing touches down to the bike, we drive up the mountain to visit with neighbors Don and Trina. He shows me his beautiful AC Cobra Replica and starts it up.
The 409 stroked V8 fires to life filling the air with sweet high octane exhaust, it’s definitively US rumble emitting for a pair of four into one exhaust pipes.
We only say “hi” as he must make a golf tee time. At 9:00, I suit up, take a few pics with the family outside beside my bike, and am riding by 9:15.
I pause leaving town to lube my chain, having avoided depositing an oily spot in their driveway. I take I-15N to US20 and can feel the action of some binding chain links. Not good. Chain wear; I will have to clean it good tomorrow but it can be such a mess (note. Bring plastic gloves in the future). The morning air is cool at 58F for the hours spent travelling at 70mph south in the cloudy gray Big Sky morning.
An Apache passes overhead.
The skies start to clear as I approach Ennis
Snow-capped peaks sit to my right.
I follow the Bozeman Trail
Alongside the road, I spot some Antelope but usually am not quick enough with the camera to get their front sides.
I fill up in Ennis and take a stretch walking around the Old West style main street munching on chocolate covered Acai berries given to me by my aunt.
This Saloon for Mac people ONLY! :deal
Traffic is really a mess:poser
:pierce The drivers are always ready to use their horns!
These posts mark the entrance of ranches all across the west.
I make my way up to Raynolds Pass toward Earthquake Lake.
Continuing on, I cover the last 70mi to West Yellowstone passing Earthquake and Hebgen Lake.
Strikingly beautiful mountain reflections appear to my right over the water and the wind blows strong but bearable.
Past the lakes and through some marshy areas, I top off the tank in touristy West Yellowstone, enter the park, and then follow traffic to Old Faithful.
I'm gettnig used to this traffic now...
I see my first Bison in the wild on the roadside and stop for a few photos.
Some more tame Antelope
The aftermath of wildfires.
Evidence of underground geologic processes.
Arriving at Old Faithfull’s massive parking area, it is easy to get lost and turned around. There are many lodges and inns of varying status, expense and class spread by acres of parking lot.
I park once, get a sticker then, after discovering where the geyser is, move my bike closer and walk the boardwalk path for an hour waiting for Old Faithful to do her thang.
The sulpher pools and geysers on the boardwalk are otherworldly, their smell pungent punctuating the path.
The Colors George! The Colors!!!
You can see the water bubbling to the surface here.
It was getting close to Old Faithful time so I didn't walk the distance to and fro to this geyser.
I took a seat at the viewing area and watched as Old Faithful beagn to spit and spray.
At 3:00, Old Faithful explodes in a tower of spray and mist.
Mistakenly sitting downwind, the blast lands directly on me but I don’t mind.
Hundreds sitting in the viewing area immediately flock to their vehicles and I sit in the hourly traffic jam exodus.
Back on the park’s “West Thumb Road”, I follow the slow 45 mph speed limit behind lines of RV’s and neck craning tourists.
Stopping affords me a brief section of open road...that is until I catch up to the line of cars.
I ride past Lake Yellowstone and up toward the Canyon Lodge. I take many pics while riding but the day is growing short so I avoid stopping.
More evidence of fire damage:
After Yellowstone Falls, I pass through this great valley and witness herds of hundreds of grazing bison in the late afternoon sun.
The road twists up and over a mountain pass with beautiful views and great turns.
Speaking of fires...
Oh...here's the culprit. He said he started it :brow
Fly fishing anyone?
I stop frequently for photos and they stop traffic walking lazily across the road.
Representin' for the BWDR and Cat Herders!
This one is giving me the stink-eye. Right back atcha!:patch
There is a managed wild fire upwind which creates and intensity and shade to my photos as the sun slips closer to the horizon.
Eventually working out of the park on 212.
In Cooke City, the road turns into the highly discussed Beartooth Scenic Highway.
This ribbon of pavement was designed only for the enjoyment of the high altitude switchbacks and scenic vistas looking back toward the 10’000ft peaks of Yellowstone.
Temperature falls as I twist higher and higher. The sun sets to my back and the distant western peaks rest shaded in dark purple and blue in my mirrors.
Oh! I had been looking for this place!
So this is what it looks like at the top of the world...
I spot snow up high on the pass ahead. Doubling the suggested speed limit, I climb skyward on this magnificent road to the summit.
Negotiating switchbacks reminiscent of the European Alps past the timberline, I finally reach the summit pass at 10’500ft.
I pause for a couple pics of my bike in the snow despite the 20mph winds coupled with temps in the low 40’s.
This snowman is fading fast!
The vistas here are magnificent.
Stopping frequently for pictures of this wonderfully engineered road, I creep deeper into the valley floor below and it grows darker.
Okay...when there is a chair-lift up to the road, you know you are in prime country.
I see a fellow in shorts trying to take an arm-length self portrait so I pull up and ask if he'd like his picture taken :wave He is a long way from Massachusettes!
Wyoming behind me
Dark clouds are visible miles to the west, perhaps it will rain overnight.
Another new Wallpaper shot!
Smoothe on the throttle.
Thisriver flows down beside the highway between it and the Forest Road.
I make it down the pass to about 6000ft and turn down a National Forest road eventually choosing to camp along a flowing stream bordering barb-wire fenced private land.
I make leftover beans and bratwurst with sauer kraut supplied by my aunt, check email over coffee, chocolate and a pipe then retire to my tent for a marathon writing session to cover the last three days of neglected journal entries.