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
So the trip has truly started. SoCal sucks. I’ve done the 395 sooo many times. Northern Nevada really makes me understand why the government thought that blowing up a shit-ton of atomic weapons above ground was a good idea. But then we finally made it off I80 at Wells and entered the Baja Idaho area of faaaaar north Nevada. The road dropped to two lanes, the scenery improved, the air cooled, and the rains came.
To be fair, the rains came when we were still on the 80. And boy were they a surprise. None of the weather reports that I had scouted predicted a rain issue, so we weren’t really geared up. And the rain swept in on a stretch of road with no exits, no services, and no overpasses to hide under. Which wasn’t really that bad until the hail started. Luckily the Only Overpass In Northern Nevada appeared soon thereafter and we were able to wait out the bulk of it while getting our gear sorted. Predictably, that was pretty much the end of the rain, but you can bet your boots that we were ready for it. “It” being the rain that never really came (since we weren’t ready for the rain that did…).
It was the longest day, mile-wise at least, that we have pre-planned. So of course we got a late start ☹️. We got up at a reasonable hour (8am), but then things shifted into slo-mo. For example, I finished packing and was gassed up at the pump, ready to go, at 10:50. We left at 11:50. Why, pray tell? Meh. It’s not worth the telling. Regardless, leaving for a 500mi day at noon is sub-optimal, especially during summer in Nevada.
That said, the weather wasn’t too bad (aside from the aforementioned hail/lightning storm). Sunny and clear. Mid-to-high 90’s, but dry and comfortable. The road was a 4 lane interstate, but tolerable. We passed Thunder Mountain, which drew an interested glance at 90mph, but did not warrant a stop. Due to a late breakfast in Minden we decided to just push on through to Twin Falls before we stopped for food.
The last push up from Wells to Twin Falls finally brought the scenery that I’ve been jonsing for. Interesting rock formations, wide vistas, and a legit full rainbow that I’m afraid we didn’t get on camera. Once in Twin Falls we found the nearest brewery and fell upon it like a bum on a ham sandwich. Hmm. Now that I think about it, I did have a ham sandwich… Food was good, beer was better. Now we’re at a MyPlace Hotel, which only bears noting because the front desker (Angela) is the best brand representative I’ve ever met. Seriously. Stay at a MyPlace when you can and give credit to Angela in Twin Falls. She rocks.
Tomorrow is Grand Teton and Yellowstone, overnighting at the Roosevelt Lodge. Likely no wifi or cell, so I’ll see you when I see you 😘
Starting Odometer: 32983
Ending Odometer: 33478
Daily Total: 495
Alarm went off at 6:30 and we both jumped out of our respective beds…promptly at 8. A little bit of packing done and Paul has gone off to wash his bike. Seriously. I’ll cut him a little slack, though. He’s owned the thing less than 24hrs, after all.
We’ll grab breakfast and hit the road. Looking to clear town by 10:30 or 11. Then it’s on to Twin Falls, which is about 7 hours away.
We rolled into Minden at about midnight, so pictures weren’t high on the priority list. Cute town, though.
Good start to the trip, although the start to that start (so to speak) left something to be desired. Paul ultimately came through with the bike, as mentioned. Kickstands up at the Norco Chik-fil-A at 3:15pm…straight into SoCal stop-and-go traffic on the 15 freeway. Since Paul had literally purchased his bike an hour before, he was understandably reluctant to jump straight in to splitting lanes. It was as slow as being in a car and as hot as the surface of the sun. At least I think it was that hot but I couldn’t feel it much at all. I was wearing a miraculous gel “cooling vest.” You soak it in water to charge it up, then the evaporation of the water from the vest keeps you cool. Cool and moist. That is, damp. Okay. It’s really fucking wet. But it never felt unpleasant and I never, ever, got hot.
Anyway, we slogged up the Cajon Pass and turned out of the traffic onto the 395, which ultimately leads straight to Minden. The BMW told me it topped out at 105 degrees around Mojave, and the winds were blowing straight across the highway at about the same time. Since my bike is about as aerodynamic as a small condo at the moment that got old pretty quick.
We passed into the shadow of the Sierras and the winds died as we motored through Lone Pine and on to points north. We had a late dinner at a Chinese joint in Bishop (let’s just say that I’m not surprised that Bishop does not label itself as “the China of the Eastern Slope”) and got back on the road at about 9:30. The heat had finally eased a bit, dipping into the 80s.
It wasn’t long before we were climbing up towards the Mammoth area and temperatures continued to drop quickly. We flirted with 45 degrees for awhile before settling in between 55 and 65. It was now full dark with the highway winding through the forests and canyons of the Sierra foothills. Every shadow on the side of the road reminded me that the gas station attendant had gleefully told us about a motorcyclist dying last week after hitting a deer. “The deer are migrating right now, by the way,” she said. The migration path was across the 395. Hooray.
But no deer materialized. Due to the late hour and the long day we decided to call it a night about an hour short of Reno. One night at the Carson Valley Motor Lodge, garçon…
Starting Odometer: 32563
Ending Odometer: 32983
Daily Total: 420
Running Total: 420
Paul has joined me on his new bike in Norco. We’re grabbing a quick bite and hitting the road.
So, the plan was to leave on Friday the 26th. My partner’s work commitments made that dicey, and then his bike got sick… Well, more accurately, his bike had been sick and the shop was having a hard time repairing it. They just needed some new parts from Japan and it would be up and running in no time. Unfortunately, “in no time” meant July 30th. Departure date was summarily changed to Wednesday the 31st, crack of dawn.
As the 30th got closer, the parts weren’t tracking as expected. My partner decided to buy a new bike instead of risking the trip on a flaky shop. So yesterday, on the eve of departure, he drove two hours to San Diego to close a deal on a brand new Goldwing Tour DCT. Sadly, the dealer had posted the wrong ad, and the bike was not as advertised. No deal. No parts. No bike. No trip? No way.
This morning he (eventually) drove two more hours to LA and bought the bike he’d wanted to buy yesterday. I’m currently sitting at my office in Riverside, patiently(?) waiting for him to sign the docs, load the bike, and come back to the IE to Get This Show On The Road.