Friday, May 30, 2014

12. Days 6 & 7. Long ride days. Devils Tower to Cody, WY to Mammoth,Yellowstone

Day 6 was tough.  We learned that we really need to prioritize sleep in order to make this trip enjoyable.  I can get by on 5-6 hours but my travel counterpart is more sensitive to sleep requirements.  Since we want this to be an enjoyable endeavor we have revised our stance on camping to only if absolutely necessary.  I’m fine with that.

Since Day 5 was laden with dirt roads and rain we found a place to take the bikes for a quick chain clean and lube at Marlins Auto Body & Motorcycle Shop in Gillette, WY.  I called and they said they would take us.  We were in and out in 45 minutes.  We were also able to buy some spare chain lube, oil and some face shield cleaner since the bugs are plentiful around here.

Our original plan was to make it to Red Lodge, MT so we could hop on the Bear Tooth Pass into Yellowstone the next morning.  It was about 360 miles.  Given the sluggishness of the riders and the chain cleaning delay of game we actually made it around 310 miles to Cody, WY. 

After we left Gillette we were going to continue on 16 west, but about 5 miles out we were alerted to road construction and dirt roads.  We promptly turned around and got on 90 west.  No thank you to Wyoming road construction.  When they say “use extreme caution” they are not kidding around.  This reminds me that I always assess how different states measure the speed with which you take a corner.  Oftentimes a corner sign will say 35mph.  I found that for the most part they are quite conservative.  Except West Virginia.  When West Virginia tells you to take a turn at 25mph you listen.

Anyway, back on task.  Route 90 in this area was not bad for an interstate.  There was not much traffic and we got a great view as we approached the Tetons.  Eventually we met back up with 16, I think in Buffalo, WY to get the rest of the way into Cody.  Route 16 is a nice road when there is no construction.

We were sort of riding the edge of a storm front about 40 miles out from Cody and the wind was INSANE!!!!! Small branches were blowing off of trees, tumbleweeds were tumbling everywhere.  I’ve never seen Steve so leaned over just to go straight.  I really, truly understand why so many have commented on the wind out west.  I couldn’t drive the speed limit if I tried in those conditions.

We were so ready to reach our destination and as I said earlier, we really went a lot further than I thought.

We checked in around 5:30pm, ate another delicious round of McDonalds salads which was right next to the motel and were tucked in by 7:30PM.  Is it sad that we pick motels by their proximity to a McDonalds and the ability to park right in front of the room?  That’s what I told the clerk at check in.  Number of beds doesn’t matter, I don’t want to haul my stuff more than 10 feet.  We were also close to a Super Kmart, which give me something to do when I wake up before Steve.  I try not to wake him up when I get up early, so I go for some early morning walks.  We both needed a couple of little things, so the Super Kmart was convenient.

Day 7 (Thursday) greeted us in a much nicer fashion.  Steve got his 12 hours of catch-up sleep.  We took it easy in the morning, taking time to do some re-packing after camping, checked air pressure and oil and worked out our next route.

We decided to see if there was any chance in hell that we could get lodging in Yellowstone, in which case we would still head up to Red Lodge and then catch the Bear Tooth Pass into Yellowstone.  I thought Bear Tooth Pass was part of Yellowstone but it is not.  I was on hold with Yellowstone lodging for about 30 minutes but we were able to secure an economy cabin for $89 by Mammoth Hot Springs.  AWESOME!!!!! I really want to see the Hot Springs so I’m glad that worked out.  I was going to try for Roosevelt Lodge or Canyon but both of those open for the season tomorrow.  The economy cabin is nicer than expected.  It does not have a toilet or shower, but our main concern is a bed.  The bathrooms/showers are shared by around 6-10 cabins.  We have a stand-alone cabin so that is nice.  Again, we don’t care how many beds as long as there is a bed and we can park in front of it.  Bathroom’s also optional.  That’s kind of like camping, right?
Mammoth Economy Cabin

Since we are still ahead of schedule by one day we decided to take it easy and really be touristy.  First off, Bear Tooth pass is nuts and spectacular and snowy and incredible and now has to be in my top 5 favorite roads.  I often say top 5 but I’ve never really put it to paper.  So I probably have a top 5 list that has at least 10 roads on it.  There were parts where the snow walls we road next to were easily 15 feet tall.  Our waiter at dinner said they had 42 feet of snow at the deepest point on the road.  Just when I think we’ve seen all the cool things, we come across more cool things.  Once we were through the pass I realized I FORGOT to turn on the spot locator after our lunch spot!!!! Ugh.  So there is no proof, except for the pictures we took.  Once I went to turn it on I realized the batteries were dead.  I thought the power button was supposed to blink red when the batteries were going, but I don’t recall seeing that.  So mental note to change the batteries every 6 days or get rechargeable batteries.

We made our way into Yellowstone through the Northeast entrance and began our westward ride towards Mammoth Springs.  We saw a bunch of buffalo, but I guess that is a given.  Steve referred to the Buffalo that were laying as “buffaloafing”.

We saw a lot of people set up to look for black bear.  I guess they have their usual hang outs.  We didn’t stay to watch, we are too impatient.  As a kid when we would camp as a family we would go to the garbage dump in the evening to watch the bear.  I’ve seen enough.

I am typing this from my economy cabin.  There is no cell service or wifi, so I am typing in Word and will have to transfer over to blogspot tomorrow night.  Don’t worry, I sent my Mom a check in message with Spot.  I did speak to her this morning because I was so excited that we got a room in Yellowstone that I had to tell someone.  My wifi hotspot has come in handy.  Even though some motels say they have wifi, it often does not work well.  The communicators are really nice.  It’s nice to be able to pull into a town and discuss where we should stop without having to pull over.

After a rough couple of days I think we are back on track.  I’m on day two of no ibuprofen so I think I am adjusting.  My main issue is pain in my right shoulder.  I think I grip the throttle too tightly.  The spot is the same spot that I get pain in when I sit at the computer to long or really if anything causes me tension. 

So far we have been in NY, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, SD, NE (although I need to confirm that with Spot), WY and MT.  Total miles so far is around 2,750.  After tomorrow mileage will pick up a bit.  Our current plan is to stay in Jackson Hole tomorrow night but if we get out of Yellowstone and still want to keep going we may go a bit further.   After Jackson Hole (or wherever) we are going to head to the Bonneville salt flats in Utah. 

I hope to update soon.  I am not proof-reading.  I tend to be redundant.  I apologize and I appreciate the reads!!   It’s already 8:45pm.  Time to turn in!!!

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