4:08 p.m. - 2005-08-18
As I left you yesterday we were just pulling into Livingstone, Montana. Actually, we were planning on bi-passing Livingston and were a good 15 miles south of there on our way to Yellowstone Park. (Or “Jellystone” as T and I affectionately called it in honour of our youthful cartoon watching days. Long live Yogi Bear and his buddy Booboo.) But looking ahead all we saw were large dark wet clouds, and we had just passed a sign that said we’d have to pay $20 to enter the park.
Pay $20 to see more rain? I don’t think so!!
Deciding to turn around, we headed back into Livingston for the night. We found a very nice motel called the Livingston Inn Motel, which boasted the “Best Beds, Best Rates, & Best Stabling”. Never in my life have I seen accommodations that offered stabling for horses over night. We were definitely deep in the heart of Cowboy country! They even had one horse there at the time, but he wouldn’t come near the fence, to the sadness of my horse lovin’ heart.
I was truly loving the scenery we had been seeing. Northern Idaho was beautiful, and a hunters and fisherman’s domain. Montana constantly reminded me of Alberta, and yet, very much its own place. I could live in Montana, except I’d miss the ocean.
We arose the next morning refreshed and ready to continue. Yellowstone National Park here we come. I had lived in Jasper National Park for 5 years, and most National Parks look the same. The only thing that was missing was the Rockies, but here too I felt home away from home. It was spectacular. As my eyes scanned around us I felt there was something missing, but at first I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, like a flash I realized what my eyes had been searching for – hydro poles, and fence lines – there weren’t any - nothing but wide-open plains and hills. Spectacular!!!
We were fortunate to see some wildlife – Elk, coyote, Pronghorn Antelope, and far off in the distance we saw a large heard of Buffalo. Too Cool!!!
We stopped once to take a look at an old geyser. Long past it’s spewing days, but still beautifully burbling along, and hot hot hot. After this we got back on the bike and headed east. By now Tim was determined to make it as far east as Cody, Wyoming. Why, you might ask? He had no idea, it was just a must do destination.
While traveling through the park we noticed that there seemed to be more and more motorcycles, and as we continued east we began to travel within packs of them. T clued in first to the fact that we were in the middle of the yearly migration flow to Sturgis, South Dakota, an annual event for many thousands of Harley-Davidson motorcyclists (other cyclist welcome, but H-D is the name of the game). Did you know that they come in all shapes, sizes, and colours?
It was an odd feeling, when in transit between points to be in the midst of so many bikes. The noise level alone meant I couldn’t hear myself sing (which was probably a good thing). As mentioned in a previous entry (to long ago to recall) there is an unwritten understanding amongst bikers – you wave as you pass. Not a loud, in the air, kind of wave, but just a low hand off the hip kind of wave. And always with your left hand because your gas levels are being controlled by your right hand.
Well, given the amount of bikers we passed T’s arm was permanent in a downwards hand outstretched waving motion. And since I could barely see around T’s helmet – I never saw them coming. What a pair? Do you think people would think ill of me because I didn’t wave?
Upon reaching Cody, Wyoming I immediately fell in love with the place. I recalled all the westerns I’d ever seen and imagined gunslingers in the streets (ironically being surrounded by bikers we had much more horsepower than in those olden days). In search of a place to place our heads that night we kept coming across “No Vacancy” signs. It seems that as the Sturgis rally days approached, Cody was a meeting place. Finally we found accommodations at the “6 Gun Motel”. The clerk at the counter totally looked the part of old west patron. Right down to his waxed and curled moustache. And … could he tell a story?! . . . we barely made it out alive. However, he did tell us that we had just missed the nightly “Gun Fight” in the downtown square - a well loved tourist attraction. There were, however, two stops we couldn’t miss – the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and “Bubba’s BBQ Restaurant”. We did both, in fact, we did them on both days as well!
The museum was amazing, and really brought to life the real life American west hero Buffalo Bill Cody. There are in fact 5 museums in one, but we only managed to make it through the Buffalo Bill wing. After that we stopped in a Bubba’s for a late night meal. We had to wait in line for 20 minutes before being seated, but you knew right away that this was a great place to eat. The ambiance, the smells, the noise, the busyness were all good signs. Once seated, we got chatting with the couple sitting beside us. They were locals, and were quick to tell us we’d chosen the best spot in town.
T is an eater. He loves and appreciates food, and in particular ribs are some of his favourite items. A plate of three different styles of BBQ ribs were placed before him, and neither one of us had ever seen this much food on one mans plate before. It was a sight to behold! I, on the other hand, thought I had chosen a more modest meal – BBQ chicken and fixin’s. Oh My Lanta!
Needless to say – neither one of us made it through our servings and sadly we waddled back to our hotel room to loll on the bed helplessly full.
The next day dawned earlier than anticipated, due to the loud revving of many Harley-Davidson motors. What’s with that anyway? We pulled our pillows tighter over our heads and fell back to sleep for a little while longer. Once up and about we decided we would try breakfast at Bubba’s before heading back to the museum to finish what we could.
Cody was our turning point, and having lost some time on the way here, we were hard pressed to get the miles under us on the return trip. I would love to have spent more time in Cody, several days in fact, but not this trip. Our objective today was to make it back through Yellowstone Park, visit Old Faithful, and make it into Idaho (mid-Idaho) for night fall. This required a real hard push for one day.
We bid a hardy farwell to Cody, and got back on the road. Again we passed beautiful country and my mind remembered the myriad of westerns I grew up on (my dad loved a good western). I pictured gunfights high up in the bluffs surrounding us. Wild horses and their native Indian riders standing on peaks looking out over valleys with the wind blowing through their manes and hair. And how awkward and uncomfortable it would have been for stagecoach or wagon train passengers. Truly I was in my element, only wishing to trade in the motorcycle for an equine equal.
Once in the park we made our way to “Old Faithful”. I didn’t know what to expect, and all I knew was that “Old Faithful” faithfully spouted. Which I think is a bit of an oxymoron – “Old Faithful” was only faithful to a point. It had seasonal times of between of spouting between every 40 to 160 minutes. How faithful is that? Lucky for us, we arrived with 10 before it was expected to blow. We, and several hundreds of other onlookers to our place on the platform and patiently waited…. And waited ….. and waited . …
Little teasers would happen and you would hear a “ewwww, oooohhhh” from the crowd. All eye’s on the ready. Then it would die down and you’d begin to wonder what all the fuss was about.
Finally the appointed (predicted -/+ 10minutes) time arrived and a huge collective “aaahhhhhh” was loudly heard. We were not disappointed and it was beautiful beyond words. I was very glad we’d taken the time to stop by.
But back on the road we must go, we had many miles to cover today, and no more stops were allowed. Unless our bladders protested to much. In that vane you could say we were “old faithful’s”.
Back into Idaho, we gladly called it quits in Rexburg. Too tired to care that we were paying far too much for accommodations. We still had many miles to go before reaching home, our bodies crying out for our own comfy beds. It would be another 48 hours before disembarked from the ferry on the last leg of this vacation.