November 21, 2015
Two days off in Jackson Hole have been exactly what the doctor ordered. Days 11 & 12 were spent eating, visiting Jackson-proper, riding the tram and peeking over Corbets Couloir. After 10 straight days and 3000 miles it was great to wake up late, enjoy some drinks and each-others company. Just wonderful.
We woke up looking forward to day 13 – the plan was to head north through Teton National Park and into Yellowstone National Park. Originally we (I) really wanted to check out Old Faithful – I guess it’s a natural icon from my childhood and something I’d never seen. As we headed north we stopped in Grant Village and were swarmed by bikers – mostly Harley guys. Everyone was feeling the scenery and the roads – it was like a communal elation. It didn’t matter what you rode, people just wanted to talk about the experience. After telling two of the riders of our plan to head north and see Old Faithful, they gently let us know that it was a bit of a disappointment. Without any prompting, they pulled out a map of the park and pointed out all of the spots they thought we’d love. Thinking of Michaels two essentials for any road trip (Patience & Flexibility), I updated the GPS, and we headed out on the new route. The two riders were genius.
The new routes were stunning. Filled with lakeside roads, parts were spent in lush heavily-treed areas which would give way to barren patches of young growth – the aftermath of the 1988 fires that destroyed 793,000 (about 36%) of the park’s 2,221,800 acres. Yellowstone is truly massive with all four quadrants distinctly different from the others. The road would wind itself around cliffs with no guard rails, happily displaying 1000 foot drops into the river-bottomed canyon. Some miles later, the road would wind more gently and drop us into a vast landscape that reminded me of something from Wuthering Heights – except that it was lined with Bison. Even they seemed magical – so massive yet completely subdued. One sat roadside, up about 10 feet in a patch of white as if holding court over the people that passed by. Quite regal.
Further on, we headed straight north toward the exit of the park and into Montana with the only real delay coming in the form of a car that had decided to leave the road for a marsh. The road landed us in Gardiner, a beautiful town just before sending us down the craziest twisting road at a 7% grade and into the heat of our new state. Montana was hot. And fast. After days of 35-55 MPH the speed in Montana was quickly up to 75 MPH and the miles were quickly passing by. Montana’s rolling hills and fast sweeping roads make it an absolute joy to ride and we’re always happy to return.
A few miles into Montana we realized that this is the last state we’ll be visiting before home. Tonight we’ll sleep in Bozeman and tomorrow we’ll fly almost directly north through Lewis & Clark National Forest before our last night stateside in Great Falls. Then we’ll be trying the border and experiencing a new adventure – attempting to export a bike from the States and importing it into Canada. It could be the biggest challenge so far :)