Search This Blog

Travel Blog

Travel Blog
Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Yellowstone National Park

I was warned. There was a massive early winter storm coming to WY.
That wasn't going to get in the way of my seeing Yellowstone.
I'd come all this way. So I cooked up a plan to rent a car, drop off the bike, and see Yellowstone like most people, in traffic jams, caused by Buffalo. 

Just as I entered the park officially, after a rather unimpressive omelette (notice my lack of food photos on this trip?) traffic ground to a halt on a bridge for no apparent reason...then this guy came rambling by 15 minutes later.

I sure was glad to be behind metal and glass as I snapped this photo. Google decided some time ago to send me articles on 'Yellowstone' and 'Buffalo' probably because of my many searches about the park in preparation for this ride. Most of them were about stupid people, taunting the Buffalo and getting attacked by them. It was the size of a VW bus.

No journey is without Grindle. Co-Pilot, helping with maps. He was also in charge of the bear spray. 

The day was warm and beautiful but by late afternoon, that would all change. The clouds were those heavy winter storm clouds and thankfully gave shade all day. 

Some beautiful streams.....

and waterfalls.

It's a supervolcano for those of you that slept through that part of class so plenty of bubbling pools, and vapor. 

In the distance on an open plain.

Zoomed in a bit.

Full zoom in just to give you perspective of distance.

It was hard to conceptualize being at 8,000-9,000 feet with peaks soaring far higher in all directions.

That peak in the previous photo, zoomed in.

I saw something like this in Turkey a while back.

And the epic herd of Buffalo's. 

I decided to take the car to the original planned area of Bear Tooth Pass just to see what I had missed as the cold front closed in. I was told at the gift shop that the area was already closed due to snow.

More gorgeous topography.

Yellowstone is a driver's paradise. Plenty of parking and you can see just about everything from behind the wheel. I was grateful to be on four wheels as I could feel the temps start to drop by early afternoon.

Another gorgeous waterfall.

Plenty of wildlife.
Seems I brought my bad luck around bears to Yellowstone. Didn't see one. I spent three weeks in Alaska in 2013 and saw the rear end of one bear crossing the road far in the distance. That's it. Didn't even see bear on any restaurant menus. 

As I've done this US National Parks ride, I've seen plenty of scorched areas. Here in this photo, you can see the new growth that is probably about four to six years after the fire that passed through here. 

I timed my exit from the park around four when the storm was supposed to start. I should have had plenty of time to drive back to Virginia City in clear weather except one very annoying and stubborn Buffalo held up 100+ cars (including me) as heavy snow started to fall. Finally after an hour of no moving, a park ranger with flashing lights drove by all of us and persuaded it to get off the road.

Becky from the hotel suggested I pick up a meal from this place. $26 pork chop later which was exceptionally good.

Made it back to my haunted hotel and flipped a drawer upside down on the folding luggage rack for an impromptu dinner table in front of the wall heater to dry my hair and keep my teeth from chattering.  
The storm was in full force by now,  howling wind outside and snow flurry was causing a white out.

The next day would be tricky. The heated gear I carry to allow me to ride in freezing weather stopped working. I suspect I blew the fuse and had a spare as well as a plan to bypass it and force the gear to work. Riding in 30-40 degree weather just isn't possible for any length of time without it. Then I also had to contend with the possibility of black ice. I contemplated staying one extra night in my haunted hotel as I fell asleep under four blankets with a small prayer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Glacier National Park

 ADV rider is a website I've used for over a decade to help me plan my rides and get expert advice. There are also trolls like any other forum but ultimately it's a great place to go for help, ideas, and something called 'tent space'. These are members that have backyard space for someone like me to pitch their tent. Roy and Phyllis in Lewiston, ID. 

My place to sleep for the night, included a steak dinner!

The next morning, Roy rode up the "spiral highway" with me. 

Then I was headed to Montana through some passes. It was a little warm.

Stopped to look at some Nez Perce folklore.

Roy said to have breakfast in Kooskia. Pronounced Kooska.

This omelette (yes with a side of country gravy) reminded me of the "pig vomit omelette" I had in Alaska. Chopped ham, bacon and sausage with cheese.  

While riding what many people said on ADV was one of the best motorcycle roads in the US, highway 12, I saw all these old trucks lined up and had to stop to take a closer look.

Lots of sweepers. Meandering river. Oh yeah and 18 wheeler's and logging trucks. Yeah not that great in my opinion. Too nervous to take my eyes off the next corner. 

As I neared Flathead lake, I rode north along this mountain range. It was gorgeous. This is a typical ranch entrance. 

King Bob convinced me of the benefits of staying in a place more than one night. This is my little studio for the next three. Plush cushy mattress. Grindle happy. The softest water you have ever showered in and it was equally delicious.

The couple who built this have a property in a small town called Lakeside and he is a craftsman so lots of wood detail. And this is MT,  they love mountain dew as much as I.

Got some groceries. Real cream for my coffee. Whipped butter for the local fresh corn. A dozen eggs and maple sausage (made in Oregon). Yeah that was enough for 3 breakfast meals.

Had quite a debacle with the bike here. The listing said gravel road. I emailed and asked about how long this was and how hard packed. This Honda, while comfortable, bullet proof and fun is not made for unpaved roads. I ended up burying the bike in deep round pebble gravel and my host had to come and dig the bike out. It was a nightmare. Each night I thought, I'll find a better spot. Never really did.

I'm in that top portion on the left with the two windows. Siding isn't done yet. They live in the house behind. 

Beautiful sky.

And the moon. Some corn moon or other. I check when the full moon will be so I know what night I won't sleep well and now Google is always telling me about the next supermoon or special moon. I was taught a neat can select the article and 'not interested' and it will stop on your feed. 
That doesn't stop someone close to me that tells me about each 'special' moon and I can't turn him off. 

The next day, I thought I would hustle to Sandpoint (back in ID) to see if I could meet up with some riding buddies, one whom I met on a dirt bike ride in Mendocino National Forest years back and now lives in Arizona.

I woke up early since it was 160 miles to Sandpoint from where I was at, even with the time difference between ID and MT, I would not get there till about 10 am. These were hanging out around my bike at 7 am when I woke up.

Stopped to read this. Wait till the next photo.

See that mountain on the left in the distance?
Now multiply that times 8.
That is the height of the ice shelf here back in the ice age.

When I got in around 11, I called Bob and sure enough they were still there so completed the loop back to Flathead lake together. I saw another Honda like mine too so stopped to say "nice bike".
I love these old weird places that sell stuff from the bygone era.

Got to their hotel and kept an eye on the bikes while they figured out how to get the helmet comms to work. 

Strange I've not sent a group photo of us.
It was a strange time.
Next day, at 6 am, up and ready to go by 7 for Glacier National Park.
Wanted to avoid the conga line and when the park is too full they shut it down.
Labor Day.

Michelin Man enjoying the views.

Lot's of tight turns with rock face on one side, sheer drop offs on the other and a lot of distracted drivers coming from the opposite direction. No room for error.

Beautiful lakes.

Lot's of peaks. This place reminded me of Yosemite.

Made it to the other side of the park and it's closed as an exit.
Reservation land and the people there decided they didn't want a bunch of tourists going through so, *sigh* had to turn back and enjoy the amazing views one more time.

This peak reminded me of the Matterhorn.
Not the one in Disney.
This is the zoomed in version.

Normal distance. 

The haze you see is due to the farmers in MT who burn after harvest when they switch the crop.
Still this swooping valley was gorgeous.

One of the benefits of a motorcycle. 
Even the overcrowded visitor center always has room.
Stopped here for more photos and to stretch my legs. 

As you can imagine with these high peaks, lots of rocks tumble down.
No 'rocks in the road' signs here. 
They bother to clear them off. 

You can see how the road snakes along the edge on both sides.

BTW it's called "the sun road". 
Yep, in the sun the whole way and facing the sun too as I was riding East. 
For those of you who know how much I love the sun.

Photos nearly at the end. 
I went a bit crazy.

Glacier National Park Lodge. 
The boys were having lunch out back along the lake.

Back at my airbnb for my third night and my host did my laundry.
Good thing too, I was officially out of critical items. 
My helmet smelled good again the next day.
Hard to explain how morale boosting that is.

There was a brewery a mile away that I walked to for dinner twice.
One night I had fish n chips and boy was it good.
The next I got BBQ ribs. A whole rack. 
Nothing wrong with my appetite. 

This is a local produce stand that I had missed on the way in and made sure to stop for fresh local corn on the cobb that was juicy and sweet. 

As I rode back out of town, made sure to stop for these photos.
I've seen easily thousands of bails of hay on this ride and the locals dressed them up in some sort of competition. Here are a few.




The apple computer is a pizza box. 

Next stop, Big Hole Battlefield
More than one person on ADV suggested I stop and check it out.
Glad I did.

This horn was used by the chief of the Nez Perce group that traveled to escape from Lewiston and there are carved dots on it, each representing a fallen in the battle. One was for his daughter. 

Drawing of where the individual family's tee pee's were on the plain before the attack.


This is a recreation of the tee pee area they had camped when the solders ambushed them.

Some original burials.

Zoomed out. Tee pee's on left, burials on right.

This was a magical moment for me.
As I rode through some pretty remote areas to make it to my final destination, Virginia City MT, much like the Virginia City in NV, I discovered that these tall poles are set up for raptors to nest and this one had a bald eagle. So I turned around for the photo and just after I clicked this one....

It took flight!

One of my many gas station stops, saw this.

Lot's of open plains. Can get pretty windy too.

This photo didn't turn out nearly as beautiful as it was in person.
But I'll try to describe it.
In the distance is a tall mountain range.
At the base of it, settlements and farms with sweeping green fields.
Bails of hay freshly tilled and ready for collection.

Lots of gravel roads that I would have explored on the Tiger.

Made it to Virginia City. Massive cold front moving in tomorrow. 
That's my room on the end of the building. 
Lucky #7. 

Bonanza Inn.

Sooooo, I locked myself out. 
My phone was in the room when it happened.
Luckily I had my satellite tracker on me that I used to get help.
10 minutes later, Janet showed up to let me back in and she told me 3 ghost stories.

Room 1.
She makes up the rooms and one morning as she was doing her rounds she checked room 1 and found a body imprint on the bed. She checked the roster and no one had booked the room the night before. She checked with the rest of the staff, nope, no one booked or stayed in the room the previous night.

Room 2. 
She went in to clean the room and smelled 'rose toilet water'. A typical fragrance people would make themselves, usually with roses or lavender. It smelled very strong like a woman had just put it on. She asked the guests staying there that night if they had this old fashioned perfume. The answer was no.

Room 3. 
Janet's room. One night she was sleeping and woken to the sound of a woman humming a very old hymn. This place was first and foremost a nunnery before it was a courthouse and now hotel. She looked everywhere in the room, in the lobby and hallway and even walked around the building outside and never found anyone but the melody didn't stop. She eventually told the ghost "I'm going back to sleep now". 

Rooms are all modern though. 
Plush cushy bed. 
As many of you know, I ride internationally and always lament how hard the beds are.
This trip, each mattress I've slept on was plush and cozy.
I'm starting to think this is normal here and what I've experienced abroad is just koo koo.

Private bathroom. 
I really get excited when I see strong hooks to hang things from.
My gear is pretty heavy and there is only so much room to lay things out.

Yellowstone National Park tomorrow....if I am lucky.