Sunday, July 10, 2011

Good News and Bad News

They always ask "Which do you want to hear first?" to which I reply in my head "Who decides what is good and what is bad?"

So the bad news is that a violent storm arose Friday afternoon.  I found refuge with a group of interesting folks including a couple from England who were riding around in a 1931 Phaeton (defined as a four door convertible car) whose roof support structure had suffered a bent part and thus the roof could not be raised.  Additionally there were the standard fare of us motorcycle riders who got off the road rather than get blown around, wet and struck by lightning.

This is Pirsig's bike in his own photo, but my camp site looked the same.
This same storm, 60 miles to the northeast reached my tent standing alone in the Fox Creek camp ground and it became the victim of nature's power, likely about the time I was eating s'mores.  The rain fly was blown off and 2 inches of rain filled the waterproof tent floor.

The good news was that it held the water well.  When I arrived at about 8pm I had about one hour of daylight to make my house in order.  All my clothes and paper stuff was floating as was the new sleeping bag I had used once.  I lit a fire with wet wood I found laying around the campground, which in reality if just a clearing in the forest, and some dry toilet paper.  Amazing, since my wife can tell you I can't light a fire to save my life!  Anyway, my new $27 Coleman sleeping bag did its thing, warm even when soaking wet.  I turned the tent upside down and let the water flow out, wiped it as dry as possible, squeezed as much water as possible out of the sleeping bag and about 11:30pm went to sleep.  I woke up warm in that sleeping bag even though it was 37 degrees in the tent according to my thermometer.  It was a day where you could see your breath.  And the fire was still going enough that adding some more twigs made me warm as I packed up.

Those that are following me on Facebook saw some photos I uploaded when I found cell signal at the old Faithful lodge area.  I won't fill this blog with photos but tomorrow will add a link to see all I uploaded to my Picasa site.

I have to tell those of you that have not been to Yellowstone that is is a unique place.  I should have studied up on it more before coming, but I'd like to return with family to see the rest of it.  As I passed the sign saying "Leaving Yellowstone National Park" I had a lump in my throat - like leaving a good friend.

Bullet list of some things I saw and did:

- Crashed a S'mores party - actually was invited to do so - in Silver Gate, right outside the Northeast entrance to the park.

- Rode alongside a Coyote.  I am told that they run along the should of  the road hoping to get one of the millions of ground hogs that dash out into traffic all along the roads.

Spotting scope, note storm in background tearing up my tent 60 miles away.
- Looked at a grizzly bear through a spotting scope.  There are a lot of guys out there doing this as a hobby and they seem happy to let others peek at their finds.

- Saw Old Faithful not once, but twice from two different points of view.  The Old Faithful Lodge has a barista on the second floor and from that I found a sitting area which is a view 90 degrees from the ground level where I saw it the first time.  The latte was pretty good too.

- Stood and talked to a ranger across from the chapel in Mammoth Hot Springs about the elk littering the church lawn.  Her job was to tell people not to approach them.  They are deer-like in confirmation (spoken by someone who knows not of what he speaks) unlike the larger bodied ones I remember for Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

- Saw a mother duck with three babies floating at high speed down the Lamar River that, like all waterways in the region, is bursting out of its banks and moving fast.  I wondered what those little feet were doing under the water.  They were staying together whatever it took.

- There are a LOT of things to do in the park besides Old Faithful.

- The smells are very interesting.  Mostly Pine Forest smell, and Sage smell, sulfur water smell added to absolutely clean air smell (or lack of smell).

- Very cold: high of 71 today added to having damp clothes, and high winds made for a wind-chill effect.  I  had to pull off the road due to hypothermia and lay on the ground out of the wind and let the sun warm me up.  I did not get arrested nor as far as I know, did any tourist take a picture of me in my motorcycle suit laying on the grass.
Jim and Friends - see license plate
- Met a Hokie (Virginia Tech alum) at the old faithful parking lot having a picnic and they graciously made me lunch and we had a great time getting to know one another.  Those Hokies are everywhere! Thanks Jim and friends.

LESSONS LEARNED:  Put all your stuff in the bear proof food box when leaving for the park.

Stats for the day: 160 miles IN THE PARK and a total of 245 miles to Bozeman.  Lots of tourist today (Saturday) compared to the other days.  Each bear siting tied up traffic for about 10-15 minutes.  People just stop in the middle of the road. I am now in Bozeman, Montana.  Wow, these Montana folks friendly and easy to like!

NOT ALONE stats:  I am pleased to report that I got a report from Not Alone that you all have donated a total of $500 so far this week.  Keep up the good work!

Coming next: A post for the motorcycle people out there.  But all of you will get something from it, stay tuned!


TKWolfe said...

It was a pleasure meeting you at the S'mores party you "crashed" near the Northeast gate of Yellowstone. We enjoyed talking with you and wish you the best of luck on your ride. Come back through any time and say hello.

Tom Wolfe, Stop The Car Trading Post, Silver Gate, Montana.

OldBikeRider said...

Thanks Tom,
Your shop is a winner, if I return I will sure stop in. I like that Northeast entrance so I can drive the Beartooth highway.