Day 14 – Star Valley to Yellowstone (Via Grand Teton, etc.)

Day 14 – Getting to Yellowstone

Date: 06/15/2016 Wednesday
Starting Location: Afton, WY (Star Valley)
Ending Location: Yellowstone National Park (Canyon Lodge)
Starting Odometer: 9915
Ending Odometer:
10143
Mileage Today:  228.3 Miles
Mileage Total:  3291 miles
Today’s MPG:  46 mpg
Total Average MPG:  43 mpg

Headed to Yellowstone

I left the Fairfield Inn & Suites at 7:15 AM, giving me a good start on the day.  I knew that although I did not have that many miles to travel, there would be a whole lot to see, so getting an early start was really important.

The weather, the weather

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been able to avoid the big storms a number of times now, but something about the weather forecast, and the clouds above.  In addition, I’ve been frequently miscalculating the ambient temperature, always assuming that it would be a little warmer than it actually ends up being.  So, this day, i was bound and determined to outsmart the weather.  And, since I’m in an area of the country that has badlands, some of which are actually called “The Badlands”, I figured I would bust a move.

In this case, my move was not quite like a dance move, or a crazy motorcycle move.  Instead, I simply took my Klim Air-wave Jacket, and put it in my dry bag, and took out the Klim Badlands jacket, and got ready for the road.  The Klim Badlands jacket is new for 2016, with updates to just about every feature on the jacket.  This jacket is about $1000, and it has the latest, and most highly rated protection that can be inserted into this type of motorcycle gear.  In addition, on the sleeves, and other areas that might need strong abrasion resistance, it has super-fabric.  Super-fabric is like a million tiny pieces of ceramic, bonded to the jacket.  Ceramic will not heat up, or break down regardless of the amount of abrasion that it is subjected to.  In addition, the Badlands jacket is fully water-proof, so I felt like I was well protected.

The only downside of the Badlands jacket is that all of this protection comes at a price.  The jacket weights about 16 lbs, but an inner kidney belt relieves the weight by suspending the jacket onto the rider, so that all of the weight is not born on the shoulders.  This is a great jacket, which really made me feel comfortable, considering the likelihood of rain.

A brief tangent…

Prior to going on this trip, I was visiting my chiropractor just about every day.  The regular adjustments, in addition to the Bikram yoga were accelerating the healing for my back.  Now, it’s been more than two weeks, and just 2 months ago it would have been inconceivable that I could go for 2 weeks without a chiropractic statemented, but now I’m pressing on.  I’ve got only minor back pain, which is solved by stretching, and taking an Aleve.  it’s a miracle.  Thanks to Doc Wong, and to the Yoga Health Center of San Carlos, CA.

The stop at Grand Teton Granite Column.

I traveled the 50 miles or so to the cutoff for Grand Teton, which goes right by a number of ski resorts near Jackson, WY.  I arrived at the ranger station at the park entrance and was told that the road was closed 6 miles ahead, and that I would need to go around, making my way back to the main highway, and then through Jackson, and then on to the other entrance to Grand Teton National Park.  I’m getting used to parks being closed so I took it in stride and made my way forward.

The other Grand Teton entrance

After about 30 minutes of re-routing, I made my way to the Park, entered the park, and stopped at the Visitor Center.  A ranger was doing a talk about the wildlife in the park, and she was expressing how much wildlife was in the park, and that I was virtually assured to see all of it, including a grizzly, which had been spotted earlier in the morning.

Using my GPS and BaseCamp (The mapping program for the PC) I had already programmed in a series of way points that would force me to ride through the park, using the “Inner Road”.  I stopped and talked to another ranger, and she told me that the “Inner Road” was in fact a real road, and it was the right road to use, if I wanted to see the wildlife

So, I set out on the Inner Road.  Standing for virtually the entire length of the park, looking right, and looking left for wildlife, I found nothing.  Imagine, all of that time standing on the pedals of the bike, and not even a prairie dog sighting for my effort.

Arriving at Yellowstone

I entered the park, and after a brief drive, arrived at Old Faithful at about 1:45 PM.  I walked over to ye old viewing area, and got comfortable.  I was not aware of when it might erupt, or even what an eruption would look like.  But, once again, channeling my brother Carl, I started to meet people and ask some questions.

As it turns out, the next eruption of ye ol’ Faithful was scheduled for 2:39 +- 10 minutes.  I find it remarkable that they can be so precise to predict something seems so hard to understand.  But, I sat and waited. Lo and behold, at about 2:20 PM, we started to see little spurts from the ol’ lady, and then at 2:39 PM, it erupted in all of it’s glory.  The eruption was. 3 minutes late, but I’ll gladly take it, and enjoy the moment.

Below you’ll find the video of the eruption.

What’s next in Yellowstone

After watching old Faithful erupt, I took a walk around the Old Faithful viewing area (and yes, I definitely stayed on the boardwalks), and happened upon a number of super-heated pools of water that were coming from down under.

I’ve taken a little video and some pictures of these pools.  Enjoy.

Wildlife in the park

Yellowstone has a number of large animals in the park.  I was told that they are virtually everywhere, but that’s not really true.  It is true that you can come on Elk, Bison, Deer, and many other animals at almost any location, but they tend to be more prevalent in the morning hours.

I knew that I would be seeing Bison, so in celebration of these great creatures, i decided to open up the package of Buffalo jerky that I purchased with Jim, when I was in Boulder.  To Jim’s credit (again) he suggested that I buy this jerky, saying simply that “It’s great jerky, you should get some”.  He was right, that was some of the best jerky I’ve ever had.

Arriving at the lodge – I sure hope this goes well

I think I’ve mentioned that I accidentally deleted the email folder that contained all of the confirmations for all of the hotels and lodging that I’ve reserved for the first 30 days of the trip.  After I deleted that folder (yes, it was by accident) I tried to recreate all of the reservations, and I was able to do that for everything that I’ve booked through Booking.com, but the National Parks do not allow booking through Booking.com, and so I made this reservation on line, using a different service.

Nevertheless, when I arrived at Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone, I was already apprehensive about my reservation.  I walked up to the “next available agent”, and they searched for my record.  “I’m sorry sir, no record found under that name”.  After a number of searches, the problem was turned over to a supervisor, and then to the manager of the lodge.

I need to mention that as I was on the way to the lodge, it started to rain.  The skies got dark, and the rain started coming down.  I eventually arrived at the lodge after riding in the rain for about 30 minutes, and as I arrived at the lodge, it looked like it was going to be raining all night.

So, here I stood at the registration desk, thinking that if I did not have a reservation, I was going to need to jump on the bike, ride through the rain and the dark, traveling on some very windy roads, all the while watching out for all manner of wildlife.  So, that’s what i was thinking while I was at the registration desk.

But, to her credit, the manager said “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you”.  After a bit more digging, she said that she could not find my record, but she would offer me one of her “Special, held to the last minute rooms.  She offered me a room with two double-beds, which usually rents for $255/night, for the rate for the standard room, which is usually $155/night.  So, yet again, someone listened to my situation, and helped me out when I was in a time of crisis.

In the end, I found myself in the Cascade lodge, with two double-beds, and a hunger in my belly.

When you’re staying in Yellowstone, and you’re hungry, you’ve got limited, but pretty reasonable choices.   i chose to eat at the Lodge Grill.  I waited about 50 minutes to get seated, and then ordered my bacon-wrapped wild-game meatloaf.

Heather and Azure

As I was sitting there, a woman from the table next store started a conversation, and we started chatting while I was eating my salad.  Her name is Heather, and she was visiting Yellowstone with her son, Azure.  Heather suspected that Azure might have ADD, and so we spent the next 45 minutes talking about ADD, and some of the things that I’ve done to overcome my ADD.

Azure struck me as a very quick-witted, and clever young man.  He had a keen sense of humor, and a wicked streak in him.  To be honest, he reminded me of me, when I was that age.  It was really nice to meet Heather and Azure, and after dessert, we each went on our merry way.

Although it’s impossible to be sure, it seems to me that Heather is going to do a great job of helping Azure with his situation, and that Azure will come to do great things.  Good luck Heather, all the best.

No WI-Fi – What?

It seems that the National Parks are really trying to get their visitors to enjoy the park.  They’ve even gone to the point of not having any TVs in the rooms, and a Wi-Fi system that is very spotty, low-bandwidth, and only available in the dining halls.  So, as a result, I am writing this post on the 16th, a day late.

What’s on store for tomorrow?

Tomorrow (well, it’s actually today, since I’m writing this post a day late) I’ll be leaving Yellowstone, and heading to Leila’s house in Bozeman, MT.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

Comments

  1. Just read this thank you so much, Azure was really moved by what you said to him that night at dinner. It was great meeting you and thanks again for the dessert.
    Love
    Heather and Azure

    1. Hi Heather,
      I’m glad that I was able to have a positive impact on Azure. I can’t wait to hear what amazing and special things he dreams up in his life.
      All the best, and if you’re ever in South Carolina, please look me up.
      Cliff

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