6/28/12. West Yellowstone to Grant Village – 55 miles
One of best best days of the entire trip!
We started out with breakfast at the Days Inn across the street from Westwood Motel, since they opened at 6:30 am. We had a nice young waiter named Daniel. Randy got a little grouchy with Daniel because the restaurant policy would not allow any substitutions to the menu and it was still during his pre-coffee period. Randy doesn’t like senseless rules and has a tendency to rebel. A few minutes later when Daniel returned, Randy made a sincere apology for his pre-coffee grouchiness, and Daniel was very gracious. I was impressed; one of the guardian angels sent in direct response to my Mom’s prayers is also a man of character, in addition to being one of the nicest and kindest people I have met.
We headed for the entrance to Yellowstone full of anticipation. It was in the mid-40’s and the sky was bright blue and cloudless. Also, absolutely NO WIND WHATSOEVER! Just calm. The most perfect riding conditions you could ask for. We entered the park and soon entered Wyoming. The road was relatively flat and streams ran alongside, with lush green grasslands extending to the steep hills. There were lots of fly fishers along the way. We came upon a group of cars that had stopped to look at something and found that they had seen a grizzly. We arrived a little late and missed it. The guy we talked to said that at first they thought it was an elk, but decided it was a grizzly instead. Randy sort of cocked his head and said, “hm, elk/grizzly – close.” The running joke the rest of the day was , “squirrel – close – no must be a grizzly” or “bison – close- no must be a grizzly.”
After the headwind debacle, it was such a fresh, clear, fun biking day, and we kept noting over and over how blessed we felt and what a gift the day/trip was.
We did actually come across a real herd of bison. There were about 8-10 moms with their babies, and they were so cute – okay, not quite on par with murmuring, baaing lambs, but special in their own way. Also, a couple of very impressive males who seemed to enjoy having their picture taken
We began seeing geysers along the way, and crowds of tourists. After 30 miles, we reached Old Faithful. I had visited Old Faithful with my family when I was about 12 years old. Now, there are multiple lodges, restaurants, and a very nice visitors center. Still, although nice, it is all a little too commercial for me. We watched with the hordes of other people as Old Faithful performed right on schedule. We then had a nice lunch, look around a little, and took in one more Old Faithful performance, purposefully choosing to skip trying to take photos and instead just enjoying the sight.
The next 30 miles included riding up and over 2 mountain passes, including the Continental Divide again. These were the highest passes to date over 8000 feet. We agreed that the passes were not that hard and congratulated ourselves on our ever-improving conditioning levels. And we were rewarded after reaching the summits with exuberant downhill rides of up to 35 mph – no cross-winds or headwinds to contend with. Just pure joy.
I almost forgot the snowball fight – near the top of the 2nd summit, we came upon a little remaining snow on the side of the road. My competitive nature won out and I nailed Randy on the helmet before biking away.
We finally reached Grant Village and joined up with Roger and Frank at the campground. Randy and I headed to the local grill for dinner. There we ran into, of all people, Andrew and his girlfriend Mary. She had picked him up and driven him to the campground. Don’t know his plans for continued riding.
Back at the campground, as we were chatting around the fire, another biker rode up at dusk and told us he had been assigned to our campsite. His name was Dan, and he had a mandolin tied to the back of his bike – that was a dead giveaway to me and I asked if he had started the ride with someone. He said yes – a girl named Leslie who had had to stop because of knee problems! I told Dan that I had met Leslie twice on the trip – first in Mitchell and later in Baker City. She had told us about him and when last seen was heading for Boise to meet up with him. Dan updated us on Leslie’s status – still having knee problems and back in Boise after unsuccessfully trying to bike again.
Once again, you just never know who you will meet up with and when/what form they pop up again. Oh, by the way, Muntimar and Muhammed (Bangladesh bike trash guys) caught a ride to Grant Village, and we caught up with them again. They haven’t ridden in 5 days, and seemed really happy to see us.
The temp is starting to drop, and I see layering in my immediate future. Still, I am getting better at this camping gig. And we got here early enough to at least enjoy one of Roger’s famed campfires. I think I will sleep well tonight. This day and this trip are such a gift.