July 22: Flying Things

Hot Sun

I’m in West Yellowstone, MT, getting ready to head south…on the homestretch of this little voyage.  These last few days have been some of the best of the trip and it’s hard to pack up and get back on the road.  The next few will be really good as well, though, so I certainly can’t complain.  Anyways, let me tell you how I got here and then try, and I do mean try, to describe my day in Yellowstone yesterday.

I got my bike back from the shop in Edmonton at around 3:30 and jumped on the road towards Calgary.  By the way, if you ride a bike and are in Edmonton, stop at Alberta Cycle Motorsports.  CleaningThey were incredible, going far beyond what they needed to do for a tire installation/service.  They washed my bike and made it look nearly new…free of charge.  Mike, the owner, powerwashed a ton of mud out of the radiator and personally scrubbed down the bike.  I had forgotten that the windshield was actually transparent back when I had left San Diego.  I road from Edmonton to Calgary as fast as I (legally) could, ate dinner, gassed up, and got back on the road.  By the way, Calgary isn’t the best place for Mexican food.  Hmmm…imagine that.  The sun started going down and before I knew it, it was dark and I actually had to use my lights.  The sunset over the farms was beautiful and I enjoyed watching the migratory birds flying south.  I couldn’t help thinking that I was on my own little southern migration, although I wasn’t flying…yet.  The sky dimmed and the bugs came out…in force.  Turning on my high beams was a frightening experience as it would suddenly illuminate the multitude of creatures rushing towards their doom on the front of my bike, helmet, boots, pants, jacket, etc.  It was so bad that I had to pull over and spend nearly ten minutes cleaning up…not as a convenience but more out of necessity.  I crossed the border pretty late and was greeted by the Montana welcome sign and the welcome 75mph sign.  That’s when I began flying.  I pulled into Great Falls, MT, at about 2am and got a few hours of much needed sleep.

The next morning I woke up, checked out of my hotel, and hit the road towards Helena, MT.  The ride was very nice, and different from the rest of the trip…fields, mountains, plateaus, and sun…lots of it.  It was in the 90’s which made me laugh…a week and a half before I had been riding in freezing conditions and now I was sweating in the unhindered sun of the Big Sky Country.  I road to West Yellowstone, through the Gallatin Canyon, and arrived in the late afternoon.  Since then, I have been spoiled rotten.  My friends here live in a gigantic house.  It’s not extravagant, but it’s beautiful and has an incredible view of Hebgen Lake to the south and Yellowstone National Park to the East.  It’s a house that none of us would ever be able to afford had it been built in California  My bed is incredible, the food they’ve given me has been exceptional, and it’s been so nice to spend the time with them..just a very welcoming family.  They took me to breakfast yesterday and then out to Quake Lake, which was formed by a massive earthquake some fifty years ago.  The quake caused an incredible landslide that dammed the river below creating a lake where forest used to be.  It’s strange to see the trees sticking out of the water, but the whole area is beautiful.  Breakfast was great, although the restaurant didn’t allow a mix of bacon and sausage…it was one or the other.  I almost felt ashamed for asking.

Beehive GeyeserYellowstone is a massive, beautiful, and naturally impressive part of this country and if you’ve never been here then you need to plan a trip soon.  Old Faithful is great but is such a small part of the park.  The geysers, rivers, waterfalls, canyons, elk, deer, bison, meadows, mountains, lakes, and forests can’t be captured in pictures (although I took 202 of them before my battery died), nor can they adequately be described in words…and I only saw a small portion of the park yesterday  You just need to come here, and plan on spending at least 2 or 3 days, minimum.  We were lucky enough to visit on a day when Beehive Geyser blew and that was extremely impressive…powerful and loud.  The colors in the water, trees, rocks, and grass were more than my little camera could take in, and the herds of bison and elk are much more massive than can be appreciated in two dimensions.  Come to this park!  I’m about to plan a return trip myself.

Ok, I need to get on the road, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to post later today from Utah.  Video of some of my drive to Yellowstone is below, as well as a few pictures.  More on Flickr…but less than can show you what I’ve seen here.  My words don’t do the park or this family justice.  The trip continues to be great…this country fascinates me.

Tree Fort Yellowstone Canyon Big Fella' Gyeser

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