These last few days have been wonderful! We spent two days in Yellowstone, a day riding through some of the Grand Teton National Park, and now we are at a beautiful lodge half way up Togwatee Mountain.
It’s amazing how arriving at a destination has so much more meaning when you work so hard to get there. It was so exciting to buy Yellowstone passes and ride by the “Welcome to Yellowstone” sign! We took a couple of pictures in front of the sign (some appropriate, some not). Then I was asked to take a picture with a group of Asian tourists who didn’t speak very much English. I thought they wanted me to take a picture of their group, but they insisted that I first get my picture taken with one of them. Haha. Poor guy, he probably had no idea that I hadn’t showered in days and my clothes had last been washed in a lake.
Riding through Yellowstone was awesome! There is so much wildlife everywhere and the scenery is just indescribable. Unfortunately, the heavy flow of foreign drivers renting huge RV’s caused a bit of life endangerment, but it was still a great experience nonetheless. Every couple of miles there was a traffic jam and everyone and their mother was outside their cars with huge cameras in hand. This was my clue to take out my go pro and start filming (assuming the tourists had found something worth filming). This was not always the case though. One time there was a jam and all I saw were squirrels. When I asked a man with a fancy looking camera what he was shooting, he just smiled and pointed to the squirrels. Well at least my near death experience of trying to film while maneuvering through the obnoxious cars had a worthy cause… It was also quite entertaining to see the lengths people would go to get a good picture. I saw one girl literally run down into the forest to try and get a closer shot of a moose with her i-phone. Haha, there are signs everywhere telling people that wildlife are dangerous and not to disturb them. I guess the signs don’t apply if you want bragging rights on f-book or instagram.
Camping in Yellowstone was another new experience for me. We have been camping pretty much every night for the last month and a half, but I have never had such strong restrictions. We had a “bear talk” for about a half hour every time we registered at a campground. Ale, who is fascinated with bear safety and wanted to know every detail of what she should or should not do to remain safe, talked for an additional 20 minutes with the ranger on the first night. It’s probably a good thing I am traveling with her, because I wouldn’t call myself a rule breaker, but definitely a bender if the rule seems excessive. There were many occasions on those two nights in Yellowstone when I would start to brush crumbs off my lap or poor pasta water on the ground (away from our tent), and Ale would freak out and say, “no no no no no! BEARS!” So I had to be on my best behavior, or just secretive from not only the rangers but also Ale and Hugh (he is a big rule follower too) every time I felt dangerous and wanted to break bear laws.
Our first night we had a very fun group in the hiker biker site and Ale ended up performing all night for everyone. It’s so nice to travel with such great entertainment. People just light up when they find out Ale has a uk. Then when she starts playing and singing there is always a silent moment when everyone realizes, “holy shit, this girl is actually legit!” Then they make her play all seven songs, (she’s learning more, but has 7 down to the point that she can play it with her eyes closed) and the audience claps, dances, and hums along.
The next day in Yellowstone we went to see Old Faithful (basically a hole in the ground that sprays out water every 90 minutes do to some science stuff going on below the surface). That’s the complicated explanation, sorry if it was too detailed. It was crazy! Nature is really quite impressive sometimes. I took video and I am attempting to upload a youtube, but this internet is pretty slow, so we will see. In case my video doesn’t upload, there were what seemed like millions of people there taking pictures and videos, so odds are, someone has a uploaded a video. I seriously could not believe the amount of people at that place. There was a huge cafeteria and it was packed with all types of foreigners. And then when you stepped outside, it was difficult to walk anywhere without stepping in front of a camera or walking into another human. I guess Old Faithful is a pretty big deal around these parts.
The next night we stayed at a low-key campground (less tourists) right on the lake. I got there a little earlier than Hugh and Ale, so I hiked down to the water and had the most beautiful shower I have ever had. The lake was hidden from the campground, so it felt very private and secluded. The water was a little cold, but the scenery was so incredible that the water temperature didn’t even matter. I waded in and couldn’t stop smiling. It was like I was dreaming. I just splashed around enjoying every moment, until I awoke from the dream when I saw someone pass by. Being naked and unclear how others felt about public nudity, I nervously dropped in the water and apologized to the lady on a hike. She just laughed and said, “enjoy your bath.” I like when strangers turn out to be awesome. But I decided I should probably put on clothes before a less awesome person came along. As it turns out Ale went down to the lake after and had a similar experience with who we think must have been the same lady. Haha, I bet that lady had no idea how much nature she was going to encounter on her hike. Surprise
Leaving Yellowstone and biking through the Grand Tetons was definitely a highlight on this trip thus far. I can’t describe the tranquility and sobering effect the view had on me. The mountains were absolutely gorgeous! I am surprised I was able to stay on my bike, because I couldn’t take my eyes off the surrounding scenery. Thankfully, there was much less traffic so it ended up being ok that I was swerving back and forth as I occasionally glanced back at the road to make sure I was still on it.
As we continued towards Mount Tagwotee (mountain that our bike map made look comparable to Everest), we had a slight tail wind, which encouraged us to start the climb (instead of camping at the base). I was very grateful that we did start, because about 2 miles up we ran into a construction roadblock. The road worker told us he couldn’t let us ride on the next two miles and they would have to give us a lift in their pick up. I felt a little guilty that I would be cheating by taking a ride up part of the climb, but after driving over what we would have had to bike on, I no longer felt guilty, just grateful. There were potholes, gravel, huge rocks, mud, dirty, awful smelling machines, and much more. Ale and I just looked at each other in the bed of the pick up holding on to our bikes for dear life and didn’t even have to say anything. “Thank goodness for the friendly Wyoming Department of Transportation.” We were let out after 2miles and still had about 2 more miles or gravel climbing before the road flattened out. We ended up calling it a night and staying at the Togwatee Lodge, which was amazing! Definitely a good moral booster. We were both able to get some face time with our families and email and reconnect to the world, shower, and clean our clothes. We felt like new people in the morning.
And now we are on our way to the Colorado border 🙂