Another long day, even though the mileage was lower. We started in Twin Falls, Idaho, and were heading for a cabin at the Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone. Due to time concerns we skipped the Craters of the Moon northern route and opted for the interstate route to Idaho Falls. It was the right decision, and the scenery wasn’t nearly as bad as Nevada, but interstates just suck ass. This was no exception.
Interestingly, we spent a good few miles on the I15 again, which is where we started this whole thing back in Norco. Unsurprisingly, there was traffic.
Things improved immensely after we gassed up in Idaho Falls and headed on the state route over to Jackson. We drifted on the two-lane road through Idaho farmland before climbing up and over the mountain rim of the Jackson Hole valley. Off the interstate we came through one or two small, old farm towns that really looked quite idyllic.
Jackson has a reputation for being a playground for the rich, and it certainly had the feel of a moneyed town. The upsides and the down. Sure, it was clean, well kept, charming, and chock full of nice restaurants and other diversions. But damn was it crowded. And it looked expensive as hell. Again, since we were pushing daylight we were forced to bomb on through town and run up through Teton.
Teton was a new experience for me and much different than I expected. Basically the road runs along the bottom of the Teton range along a river valley. In my mind it was a mountain ride. Nope. It was quite beautiful, though, and the view of the Tetons was spectacular.
One of the reasons I was pushing hard was that I had heard of fairly significant traffic delays in parts of Yellowstone. The rumors were right. We got to the ranger station that takes entry fees to the park and there was a loooooooooooong line up of vehicles waiting to get in. We debated doing the motorcycle thing of cutting to the front and ultimately decided against it, if only because we’d literally be cutting in line (as opposed to simply using space more efficiently a la lane splitting). While I didn’t time the wait, I’d put it at 30-45 minutes. On the upside we were able to snap a few pics at the Yellowstone entrance to kill some time. After the family in front of me finished taking ALL of the pictures, that is. I mean: Mom and Sign. Sign. Dad and Sign. Sign. Mom and Dad and Sign. Sign. Mom and Daughter and Sign. Sign. And so on. If pictures truly steal a part of their subject’s soul, I’m afraid that family has single-handedly doomed the poor sign to a soul-less eternity.
We ultimately made it through the gate and it was certainly worth the wait. We cruised up the carved river canyon to Lake Yellowstone. On past the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone towards a beer and a break for the night. We hit a few traffic slow-downs but made quick work of them. Until our first Bison Backup, that is. A large herd of bison was leisurely strolling across the road, causing a major traffic jam. It was my bright idea to cruise up the empty oncoming lane to bypass a good chunk of the waiting cars. I didn’t really think it through, though, and we quickly found ourselves smack in the middle of a herd of bison. They were everywhere. To the left. To the right. Walking down between cars. And fuck me but they didn’t they start coming our way with the quickness. In hindsight, this would have been an excellent time to turn around and leave, as tricky as that would have been. Nope. Honestly it didn’t even occur to me. Instead, we started playing Hide and Seek, Bison Edition. Paul and I had our communicator channel open and coordinated a leapfrog maneuver which kept a reasonable sized car between us and the most pressing bison opponent. Things went swimmingly until The World’s Largest Bison caught on to our strategy and just started charging down the side of the road at our lead vehicle. Thankfully that was Paul. He dropped his kickstand and leaped off his (brand new) bike, dodging behind another vehicle on foot while I encouraged him to invade the nearest RV for shelter. And maybe a beer. Luckily, Paul had effectively blocked and distracted the Mega-Bison, so I was (relatively) safe for the moment.
After a bit more excitement, the bison collectively lost interest and decided to move along en masse. Paul was still a bit panicky and still unused to the bike, so it took him an achingly long time to figure out how to get back in gear and start moving. All the while the bison were moseying alongside us. I like to think that they know that they beat him, and that his girlish squeals will echo pleasantly in their ears for the rest of the summer. I swear it. That was him doing the squealing. Truly.
While we completed our ride to Roosevelt we discussed a change to our future bison engagement strategy. A conversation that we probably should have had just a bit earlier…
Landed at Roosevelt, grabbed a beer or two and sat down for dinner. Good food and reasonable price. Highly recommended. Paul went to bed after and I went back to the lodge to type up some notes and enjoy the evening. Honestly would have enjoyed it a bit more but for the odd experience of being surrounded by drunk, chatty summer buckaroo employees from the local cowboy experience operation. In spite of how awesome it should’ve been being in the midst of a bunch of cowboys while sitting on the porch of a giant log cabin in the wilderness, it was boooooooring. The same inane work gossip and gripe fest that you can find at any office job, and the occasional reference to a horse, saddle, or wagon did not change the fact that they were just bitching about Becky and how long is Boss Chad going to let her get away with her shit, anyway…
On the whole, a great day. But we rode from about 10am until 7:30pm with just one brief stop for water while we gassed up in Idaho Falls. Loooong day in the saddle, but it passed quickly once we got off the interstate.
I’ll get some photos posted soon.
As an addendum, the chatty crowd of employees all wandered off to bed while I was typing this up, and I’m now watching an electrical storm light up the night sky from the log porch, all by my lonesome. It was worth the wait.
Starting Mileage: 33478
Ending Mileage: 33858
Daily Total: 380
Running Total: 1,295