Wyoming memories – 17 of 29

There’s an amazing section on rt 14 crossing the Big Horn mountains where the land shifts from evergreens and woodland to overpowering oranges and reds on the way into Greybull.  It was a pretty amazing experience, one I hope to do again some day.

Here’s a quick pic of my sweet, while we stopped to soak it all in.

Fuzzy travelling across the Big Horns

Fuzzy travelling across the Big Horns

 

 

This post is part of a series pioneered by fuzzygalore.com, we are trying to post a moto picture every day for February!  Can you do 29 in 29?!

California to Montana: Day 6 – get me out of Dodge!

After a full wasted day, spent watching TV, scrounging up “lunch” and “dinner” from the town supermarket, and being bored out of my skull, I had lost a day of progress in going anywhere.

So, when the following morning came, and I had left my alarm off to try and “sleep in” to avoid the boredom of the morning. I awoke at 07:15, got up showered, made sure I was packed, and sat around being bored stupid by 07:30.

I must have sat by the window for a good hour and a half looking out every time I head a diesel engine go by, only to see Paw Kettle drive by, since EVERY pickup and working vehicle is a diesel out in Wyoming.

9 AM came.

10 AM. It was getting close to my checkout time of 11AM, and the front office had told me UPS came “between 11 and 1PM ” I was trying to psych myself up for 3 hours of sitting in the motel office bored to tears.

10:50, I went to the front office, dropped my key off, and pointlessly checked out the UPS tracking number: Out for Delivery.

11:03, I hear a rumbling, and a familiar metal on metal mashing. I look up, it’s UPS! I grab my stuff, go outside and sign for my package. I couldn’t walk the mile to Ding’s shop from the motel fast enough, but I did have time to notice how heavy all my shit was, when it had no proper way of being carried.

I get to Ding’s shop, take out my awesome, unbroken stock clutch and had it on 5 minutes later. Took the bike out for a short spin to make sure everything was OK, and went back to the shop to load my bike. Ding charged me for the towing, and the welding, I rode to get gas, and couldn’t get the fuck out of Dubois fast enough.

I cruised along US-287, and encountered the road I’d gone down on, now hard packed, dry soil. My mind played tricks with me for the 10 miles of construction, until I finally touched proper tarmac again. There were a few big ruts and bumps where the GPS marked I had stopped moving on that road, and I wondered if any of those had contributed to me going down, hidden under the mud, but I could only speculate.

US-287 branched off between Yellowstone, and Jackson, but I’d heard there was more construction in Jackson, and didn’t want to deal with more shit roads (lol) so I headed north, seeing the Grand Teton range off in the distance.

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Continued a little further north, and stopped at Jackson Lake overlook. Awesome. I’m just amazed by how nature works the land with colliding tectonic plates, volcanic rifts in the crust, wind, water, sediment.. the whole deal. Just awesome.

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I encountered ANOTHER 8 miles of torn up road on US-287 just before the entrance to Yellowstone, and was getting fed up with Wyoming’s fucked up roads, but finally, after a day and a half delay, I’d made it to Yellowstone.

Riding through the south end of the park was somewhat uneventful. There was a river that had cut a shallow canyon alongside the road, but there was a thick patch of pine trees blocking the view, and I saw nothing extraordinarily exciting. Part of the giant loop that you can drive in Yellowstone had been closed for the season for, you guessed it, road construction, so I figured only riding to Red Lodge in Montana for the night, doubling back through the park to start heading home.

Stopped for gas, and a small Yellowstone sticker from the General Store as a memento, and had a disgusting, dry “ham and cheese” sandwich as my first morsel of the day (at 2PM)

Continued heading north on the east side of Yellowstone’s Grand Loop, and the land opened up, leaving wide prairies and mountains off in the distance.

It was here I finally saw the Buffalo Crud and Fuzzy had told me about. They were pretty cool. Completely indifferent to cars, they just walked straight down the middle of the road, sashaying as slow as they pleased.

Traffic was stopped in BOTH directions several times because of them, and I guess when you’re the same size as anything but an SUV, why would you care about everything else around you? :) The buffalo fully expected YOU to stop for THEM. One even stopped IN the lane to graze on a little bit of grass.

Heading north, I eventually hit a limestone canyon, that had been cut away by a river, Tower Falls were nearby, but I couldn’t catch a glimpse of them. I could however, see the sun starting it’s descent in the sky so I decided to keep moving. With luck, I would be able to take Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge for the night, and come back through Chief Joseph Highway, and take a little while longer coming back through Yellowstone on my way south towards home.

The road eventually branched off, to the northeastern exit of Yellowstone on US-212, the Beartooth Highway. This road had been one of my trip goals all along, Yellowstone had just been the route to get to it. I was excited. The highway opened up to the Lamar Valley, this must be quite the gateway to go through when heading INTO Yellowstone this way, which I realized must have been how Crudmop and Fuzzy had ridden into Yellowstone when they came through a couple of years back.

You could definitely feel the “Wild West” and big open plains that the Native Americans had before civilization came along.

When I finally reached the park exit, there were a trio of Harleys just checking into the park, I swung around to ask them the road conditions. Not surprisingly, they told me it was fücked up, just like all the other roads in Wyoming. I thanked them by using my Park Pass for all 3 of them, saving them each 25.00 and already having gotten my money’s worth for that pass.

Crossed the border into Montana, as US-212 zigs and zags between MT and WY several times, and encountered nothing but dirt and gravel road for about 5 miles. Kept on 212 heading east, slowly climbing elevation through coniferous forests, to where the road branched off to Beartooth Pass, and Chief Joseph Highway. I was planning on staying at Red Lodge in Montana, doubling back to Chief Joseph the next morning, and riding through Yellowstone to exit in Idaho towards home.

Beartooth pass presented itself with tight switchbacks climbing a mountain, then an idiotic break of 500 yards of road scraped away, 500 yards of tarmac. Little bit of asphalt, little bit of road, and not all on one side. It was like a retard had tried to make a checkerboard pattern with the road, seemingly for no reason. If you’re going to tear up the road, why only tear up tiny little sections of it? Just stupid, but then again, I WAS in Wyoming, and I had come to realize that this was the land of piss-poor tarmac and gravel.

As Beartooth Pass climbed up to 11,000 feet, I found myself in an Alpine environment again, with gnarled trees, bald on one side, branches pointed uphill on the other. I wondered just HOW brutal the weather must get up in this pass during the wintertime. It was relatively cold, and I was wearing my Gerbings, plugged in, and it was summertime.

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I finally hit the summit of Beartooth Pass. What an incredible view.

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I continued on, only to find traffic stopped at what else, but road construction. I asked the woman with three teeth who was manning the Stop/Slow sign person how much further to asphalt, she said it was “at the Montana border.” The GPS said 18 miles. Did I mention how much I love Wyoming’s POS roads?  :)

Carrying on, the road going from hard packed gravel, to much deeper sections where I could feel the front end sinking in a bit, I nervously carried on, my mind screwing with me again every time the bars twitched just like they had before I’d dumped it. A good 15 minutes later (yeah, I was riding like a giant puss) I saw the Montana welcome sign, and tarmac! Excellent! Fuck you Wyoming and your goddamned roads!

The Montana Welcome sign neared, and I smiled, and felt my left clipon snap off right in my hand. Oh, W T F. I looked down, and there it was, broken off just past the weld, everything from the controls and grip, right there in my hand. I guess Ding wasn’t kidding when he said he was a shitty Tig welder. Unbelievable. My spirits, which had been slowly building back up during the day, tanked again, and my frustration peaked. I immediately decided on scrapping Chief Joseph and returning through Yellowstone from my route and slabbing it home on the interstate. I wasn’t about to try another 30 miles of gravel with one handlebar. Annoyed to maximum, I was willing to just get home and deal with the busted clipon properly, rather than pissing away more money and time on an improper fix.

I decided to stop anyway and collect the Welcome sign, one handlebar and all, since I wasn’t coming back.

I pulled out my zip ties and secured the bar to my upper triple, with the controls facing up, so I could still use the horn, brights, and signal, which was now signal right to go left, and vice versa, as the controls sat backwards on the triple.

I began the ascent down Beartooth Pass, and had to chuckle at the fact I had to do it one handed. Thankfully I was no stranger to riding along one handed. I’d been doing it the whole trip so far to take pictures while on the go.

The road down from the pass looked fun, if I had daylight and warmer tarmac to play with.

As I finally reached the bottom of the pass, the sun was all but gone behind the horizon, and my mind began to concern itself with deer coming out of the treelines, so I backed off the throttle, and squinted through the dead bugs on my visor to look for any signs of movement.

About 20 minutes later, I finally reached Red Lodge, where I saw several motels with cruisers parked out front, and looked for the motel that had that “one-star dive” quality to it. I pulled up to one ratty looking motel, and was told it was $95 a night. I moved on to another one that was $110. Unbelievable. A quick search on the Zumo found a couple of motels a few miles outside of Billings, 50 miles northeast, and I called one up and was told it was $39 a night with wifi. It was a go.

As I rode the last section towards the motel in the dark, I came upon a casino that unexpectedly had a cowboy muffler man. Score!

I finally made it to Laurel, where I looked for the motel, and couldn’t find it, so I stopped at a gas station/truck stop and called the motel to ask them where they were.

“We ARE the gas station.” Lovely. I looked around and the only thing I could see was a portable bungalow on one corner of the lot. I checked the GPS for alternative places to stay, but it was either Billings, 10 miles away, or something “closer” to home, 60 miles away. I finally opted for the truck stop bungalow, which thankfully turned out to be no worse than any 1 star dump I’d already stayed at. Gave the RSV one dissapointed, sad look out the window, from the room, with it’s one bar, and went to bed, preparing myself to just hammer it to get home.

California to Montana: Day 5 – Riding the slop

I awoke the following morning at my standard time of 6AM, and was getting pretty good at leaving myself completely packed before I went to sleep, save for the phone and ipod chargers, one for my alarm, the other to keep the tunes going for the minimum requisite of 12 hours a day in the saddle.

It had been raining all night, and the air had quite a chill to it, so I made sure to dress warm, loaded up the bike, filled the tank and slowly headed out of town.

The air was in the low 30′s range, my chin already quite cold as I headed up US 287 towards Yosemite. I checked the elevation, it was over 9,000 feet, and the road kept climbing uphill.

My surroundings began to have a white dusting to them, which got thicker as I went.

Now, this wasn’t by any means a heavy winter snowing, and I was glad at least the road was clear.

I began to see the signs warning of the road construction I’d heard about, and sure enough, the pavement soon ended, with a sign informing the next 10 miles had road work on them.

The tarmac became a glistening layer of wet mud, and I was none too happy. I had been following a Forrester in front of me, keeping my wheels in its tracks, but the car soon pulled away, as I kept my speed between 20 and 25, feeling the front wheel wobble around.

Feeling even more wobble out of the front wheel, I very gently eased the throttle back to about 15mph in second gear to keep the RPM’s down to lessen any chance of wheelspin.

Though I tried to be careful, even fully upright, as I drifted my line a bit to avoid a huge mound of mud, my bars went full lock in one direction, then the other, and I was already aware of what was in store for me.
The bike slid sideways for about 5 feet before fully washing out under me, and I cursed myself for letting the bike get away from me, as I slid for 10 feet in the mud, hoping the slide wouldn’t eat away at the mesh jacket.

The bike, having far more weight and momentum, continued sliding for another 30 feet, doing a full 360 spin on its side, before coming to a stop, rear wheel still spinning.

Fucking fuck. FUCK!!!  Of all places to dump the bike, 1000 miles from home. Perfect. I got up and felt no rash on the side of my jacket, and went over to turn the bike off. I looked down, hoping the clipon had held, but unfortunately, no luck.
I saw the bar dangling from the cable attached to the hand controls. Goddamn brittle aluminum. What the fuck was I going to do now? I tried to pick up the bike but my hands were just slipping off of everything since it was completely caked in mud, and I wasn’t about to go for the stock exhausts since those things hold tons of heat for hours. Luckily, an older gentleman came along in a sedan coming the opposite way, as well as part of the road construction crew in his 4WD duelly, who helped me get the bike up.
I thanked them both and I asked the road crew guy if there was someone in Dubois who could possibly Tig weld, since the bar and clutch lever were busted off, the peg off my rearsets had come off, and the exhaust bracket was bent. He told me my lack of options, saying no one in Jackson that he knew of, MAYBE back in Dubois, and he knew for sure there was a tow truck back in Dubois that could come and get me. He offered to give me a lift to a stop up ahead where there was somewhere I could call for the tow. I unloaded the bike, put my bags, still caked in mud in the bed of his truck, and took off my rain coat to lay over his seat so I wouldn’t ruin it since I was also covered in mud.

“Man, we weren’t expecting this weather, we didn’t have time to lay down anything on the road, and we’re not running a pilot car today.” he told me, as he drove ahead, his truck sporadically losing traction on the road.

He dropped me off at a lodge that wasn’t a MILE ahead, where the asphalt had begun. I was even MORE pissed off that I’d just about made it back to tarmac before dumping the bike. What shit. What an idiot. Goddamn luck.

He dropped me off, and I called a tow, waited 45 minutes for him to arrive, already loaded with an Explorer in the flatbed. He told me he was heading to Jackson, and he recommended a guy in Dubois who did custom cycles and had a trailer. He called him up, gave him my whereabouts, mentioned the road was “a fucking disaster,” and headed off.

Waiting outside, a guy came out to load his Goldwing, noticed I was in leathers and caked in mud, and asked me if I’d gone down. I said yes, and he informed me he’d gone down the night before in the same stuff, and had to stop at the lodge for the night. His ‘wing had crash bars and all, so he’d only broken off his brake lever, and was using his linked ABS with the rear pedal to stop himself. His wife came out, obviously sore from the crash, and we both helped her up into the passenger seat of the ‘wing. I let him know I had zip ties and electrical tape if he wanted to see if we could fix his lever, and in about 10 minutes he had a huge bukly bundle of zip ties and tape holding his lever back on. He was grateful, and said this would surely get him to Jackson, or somewhere he could get the lever replaced properly. I wished them well and they motored on.

An hour and a half later, the guy with the trailer showed up. Tall, medium build, bushy mustache, and a dog in his truck. Said his name was Don, but everyone called him Ding. I thought he must have just come off the set of No Country for Old Men.

He drove me back to the bike, where we loaded it into his trailer, and headed back to Dubois. As we trundled back towards town, I couldn’t help but notice that the road was pretty much dry, with some damp spots. Ding said “yea, if you’d gone maybe an hour later, the road wouldn’t have been as bad as before.” Fuck me.

Turns out he’s also local EMT/SAR for the town, and there was a call about a woman rider with a possible broken ankle at the next gas station about 5 miles up the road over his CB radio. He heard first responder was there already, and he mentioned that was his uncle. We got to the station, where the woman was lying on a picnic bench with lots of people around her, sounding in good spirits, joking about the whole situation. I noticed three people caked in the same mud I was covered in, and 2 bikes also covered in mud.
Turns out they’d gone down too in the same shit road, only their cruisers had front and rear crash bars, so they were only sporting broken turn signals. At least misfortune had company.

The woman was treated, and got on the tricycle one of her friends had, and headed off towards the nearest hospital – 70 miles away, to get her ankle looked at.

While waiting for the girl to be treated, I’d been talking to Crud and Fuzz on the phone, who were already trying to figure out how to get me mobile again. Crud was looking up aprilia dealers “nearby” for me, and they both let me know they’d do whatever it took to get me moving again. Awesome pair, those two. :)   Fuzz commented that I was in awfully good spirits for someone who just dumped their bike, but the truth was I’d already dumped it HOURS ago and had time to be pissed off and frustrated, and really had nothing else to do but suck it up and deal with it.

We eventually got back to Ding’s shop, where “we” (I say we because really I did like 80 percent of the work taking my bike apart since I was much more familiar on how to do so) took the upper triple off, got the bar off, and I took to getting my rearset peg back on, which had just been popped off and not broken, but the aluminum was stressed a little bit.

Ding admittedly told me he wasn’t very skilled with Tig welding, and I told him as long as it all holds, that’s the important part. He took a few tries, and finally managed to get the bar to hold together, and that was put on, along with the upper triple. He then took a spare clutch lever off a harley, and using a band saw, drill press, and a dremel, tried to work it out to the same cuts and dimensions as what was left of my brembo lever. It must have taken him a good 45 minutes to an hour to work it basically into the same shape, as best he could.

He fit the worked lever onto my master, said it looked pretty good, and with the first pull, snapped the whole thing in half. He looked as let down as I was.

Ding got out a sportbike catalog to see if he could find a suitable lever, but I knew those Parts Unlimited catalogues wouldn’t have anything to fit the billet radial master I had on my bar. Fed up with the whole ordeal, I told Ding we’d deal with it Monday, and I’d call Yoyodyne to see how quick they could get a lever out, and went back to the same motel I’d just checked out of that morning.

After getting back into a room, I took my cloth that I’d been using to clean my faceshield and cleaned the mud off my riding pants as best I could, as well as my boots. I’d deal with the jackets and bags which were still covered in dry mud tomorrow.

I finally decided to call home, as I knew my mom would probably overreact, even though the first thing I said was I wasn’t hurt, she asked if I was hurt. Moms. :)

I gave her some info as to where, if maybe I hadn’t sold it, she might be able to find my OEM clutch master and lever. She called back an hour later saying she’d found it. Bingo. I asked her to please overnight it so I could get the hell out of dodge.

Motorcycle Photo Blog-O-Rama: The Long Road Home

Playing along with the Fuzz-o-matic over at Fuzzygalore.com

C C C Cold morning on the Chief Joseph highway

C C C Cold morning on the Chief Joseph highway

After waking up in Cody, we headed up and over the Chief Joseph Highway on our way into the North Entrance of Yellowstone. A few bad slides had the Beartooth closed, so we chose a route that headed us up into Cooke City, MT. The Chief Joseph delivered us a road covered in snow and ice, low 20s temps, and an exciting and scary trip through the pass. *Crunch* *Pop* *Crackle* *sludge* were all we heard as we made our way over solid ice as the road snaked back and forth, up and down through the early morning shadows. Once on the other side, we stopped to heat our hands on our exhaust, wind down from the nervous excitement of the pass just finished, and to enjoy a brief glance at a beautiful morning sky.

NY TO WYOMING 2005

FUZZ:
Since returning back from Deal’s Gap last summer, we kicked around what we would do this year for our trip. Romantically, you can fall in love with the road and you just want to go, go, go. Your head gets filled with fanciful ideas of things like, " Hey, let’s ride across country!"

The idea in an of itself is of course not crazy in the least, but alas, real life can really keep you from being able to follow such whims. So, we found the balance of real life and still being able to head across the states. We rolled out of my driveway at 5am on Friday May 20th heading off to points west in Wyoming.

The sky was breaking red behind us to the east as we rolled away. In my mind, I thought to myself that it was a relief to be getting away from that. Of course, as soon as we crossed the George Washington Bridge in to New Jersey, the sky opened up and soaked us all the way across NJ and PA until we reached the Ohio border. We stopped a few miles over the border to grab a drink, kiss PA good riddance and shed our rain gear. I took my boots off to change my socks and the bottoms of my feet looked like a brain from being wet so long. Damned Sexy!

CRUD:
Rt 80. Rain
Rt 80. Rain
Rt 80. Rain
Ohio
Indiana.
PA should be wiped from the map. It’s like 14 billion miles long and boring. At least it has some turns

FUZZ:
We stopped in Indiana on day 1. After sleeping in what was probably the HOTTEST hotel room outside of the sun, we snaked our way past Chicago and in to Wisconsin.

" Will squeegee for toll money"

Wisconsin had nice rolling hills, lots of farm land and of course, in stark contrast to the beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin and copious amounts of cheese, Wisconsin also bestows upon us..
House On The Rock


We arrived at 4:05 to be greeted by a sign that says " Sorry, last ticket sold 1 hour prior to close," which was at 5:00. A matter of 5 minutes.
5 stinking minutes and they bolt the door. I was bummed that I would be missing this jewel of Americana. Kenny patted my head like a dejected pup and said we’d stop in on the way home. 5 measly minutes, what’s the big deal?

Little did we know that within the confines of this tourist attraction is a neverending maze of displays of strange odds and ends that could take 5 hours to snake thru. There are no clear early exists. Closing the doors an hour before… probably still not long enough.

A view of the House on the Rock’s " Infinity Room" from across the
valley. (That pointy thingy way over yonder)

Infinity Room – Interior – The room extends out 218 feet and is 156 feet off of the ground below. Me being scared of heights just wanted to get the hell out of there. I’m not sure if it was just my buggery Alpinestars incessant squeaking or if the room was creaking, but I sure as hell didn’t want to find out.

Carousel @ HOTR – this thing was HUGE, with no horses, just wierd animals

CRUD:
Wisconsin! Wow, was I blown away by Wisconsin. After trudging through Illinois, we took 81/23/33 through Wisconsin up to La Crosse. Amazing, Amazing farmlands, rolling hills, great sweepers and a set of tight corners in 1 section. A great road for anyone heading around that area. I had no idea Wisconsin would be so nice.

Plus, I like their convenience stores the way I like my women

FUZZ:
…Just because we’re in our 30′s and still laugh at fart jokes…

Onward from Wisconsin we headed in to Minnesota where we had holed up for the night. On our third day of riding, we made it to South Dakota. That moment felt incredibly monumental to me. Like I’d crossed the world. We were too far from home to simply turn around and call it quits.

So, in Mitchell, South Dakota, we see this big, palace like building that looks like its made out of corn. And get this… they call it the Mitchell Corn Palace! Isn’t that crazy? I can just imagine this joint turning in to the worlds largest bird feeder. I HATE birds.

Crudmop getting frisky with one of the locals.

CRUD:
That guy whipped me with a cane and called me a whippersnapper.

FUZZ:
Pioneer Auto in Murdo, SD has a very curious collection of, well, just about anything you can imagine. From rocks & fossils, to tractors, motorcycles and shrunken heads. They also have the last remaining authentic General Lee. It must’ve been some weird cosmic foreshadowing, because we saw the Dukes of Hazzard each night on TV before going to bed from then on.

Elvis’s Scoot & some greasy, porkchop stained rag that he rubbed across his sweaty jowls:

CRUD:
What a crazy place, that Murdo Museum. It was like, the guy who owned it bought 1 of EVERYTHING that existed and displayed it. Old cars, got some. Ratty old dolls? Got some. A dirty diaper filled with Indian food? Over there in building 412.
Sunrise in Murdo

FUZZ:
My bike sounded really crap when we rolled out of there that morning… more on that a few pics down…

Our first stop on this morning was the Badlands National Park.

If someone blindfolded you and dropped you in the Badlands, then told you that you were on the moon, you’d probably believe it.

The weather was absolutely perfect

CRUD:
The Badlands will hold a special place with me, as it was the first real " place" we saw – it’s almost too fake looking to be real, these colored carved peaks which spread out over the landscape. It’s hard not to imagine the awe someone might have had riding on a horse out there and seeing it for the first time, with no idea what they would expect. Incredible. I’d love to camp out here.

While riding out, we saw a Coyote watching us as we rode by, then came the prairie dogs. Cmon, we wanna see a Buffalo (little did we know).

FUZZ:
If I’m not mistaken, the name South Dakota is a loose translation that was handed down from the great Lakota tribe. It means " Land of Many Billboards" . There is a billboard like, every 10 feet for
Wall Drug

CRUD:
And apparently, " Wall" is Sioux for " Tourist Trap" I liked wall, cooler than South of the Border – I mean, what do you expect, really, from a place that gives away water and bumper stickers, has a giant dinosaur, and sells Gen-YOUU-wine cowboy clothes. Anything with that many billboards is trying too hard I liked it

FUZZ:
Hey man. I LIKE my cowboy shirt.
He said it was " one of a kind.. Except for that one over there in a Medium"

FUZZ:
Crudmop wrangles the mighty Jackalope.
He swears he saw a dead one in Murdo on the roadside.
I think he was suffering from dehydration, so if he mentions it to you… just go along with him. We don’t want to upset his fragile sensibilities.

CRUD:
DUDE! You saw it too! Pulling off the Murdo exit, there was a big rabbit carcass with antlers. It was a freakin jackalope. It didn’t speak to me, or any of the other legends, cause, well, it was a pancake. But, it was a freakin jackalope man.

FUZZ:
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Poor, Poor delusional Crudmop.

FUZZ:
Getting back to my native roots.
Apparently, this particular tribe uses their papoose’ to keep their French bread warm as well as their babies. Ingenious really. What’s better than soft warm bread?

CRUD:
Where’s that MMM MM tasty pic
So, we head on out toward Rapid City, with Rushmore and the Black Hills as our next destination. As we pull into a gas station, Fuzz has a concerned look on her face – her bike is now making quite a racket, and its running pretty rough. I remember that there is a dealership in Rapid City, pull out the GPS, and it’s like 500 yards away So we shoot over there to get it looked at real quick. Black Hills Powersports, what a great dealer – they took us right in (although they had a lot of bikes being worked on), resynched her carbs (1 was slightly out), sealed up the vacuum lines to the carbs and gave her the AOK. Bike sounded a little better, and away we go. (Enter foreshadowing here)

FUZZ:
The " Where’s ma Dinner, Bitch" statue.

FUZZ:
We managed to sneak in to Mount Rushmore after the storm had passed through.

CRUD:
Rushmore – awesome to see it in person. You catch glimpses of it as you round the turns through. the forest, and you wonder " was that it, was that it?" Awesome.
How did he pick THAT spot? Of all the mountains, with all the places, he picks THAT mountain and carves. Pretty wild.

FUZZ:
Nothing says true patriotism like a $2.00 can of Coke.

Custer National Park:

FUZZ:
Cathedral Spires on the Needles Highway in Custer get a thumbs-up from Crudmop.

In The Black Hills National Forest

CRUD:
(foreshadowing ends here)
Ok, so riding through the Black Hills, Fuzz’ bike now has picked up a tinging rattle. We swap bikes, and it sounds like she might’ve wiggled out a few header bolts, as the sound is very " headerish" , like someone rattling some pennies inside the header pipe. We stop off for some grub, and I pull the faring off to get a better look. Well, at least we know why it’s a little louder. Right before the collector, 1 of the pipes has sheared CLEAR THROUGH – and the vibration has cracked a second pipe. Wholly crap. It’s such a clean shear as well. Now, we are out in the middle of NOWHERE, at a small town with 1 road, and it is 6:00p. I spin off to scour some gas stations in hope of finding some exhaust tape. As luck would have it, there are 2 auto service shops in the town, and 1 has a guy working late – I grab an exhaust bandage, some 16 gauge wire, and do the streetside bodge job. Sounds like a sick stock car, but we are back in business for the time being

FUZZ:
I cursed like a truck driver in honor of the HBO show when we stopped in Deadwood.
A baby bird tried to make a nest in Crudmops bike.

FUZZ:
Day 4 we leave Belle Fourche, SD and head off in to Wyoming. Devils Tower looms in the distance.

CRUD:
What a gyp. I didn’t see one damned spaceship. NOT ONE! We came in from the northeast, heading down Rt. 14 – what a nice ride, beautiful country, and off in the distance you see this " thing" pointing out of the earth. Devil’s tower, how cool.

FUZZ:
I believe it was the great, late 20th century thespian, Clara Peller, who called upon us to ask within ourselves the age old question, " Where’s the Beef?"
Well, Clara, rest easy. I’ve found the beef. It’s west of the Mississippi River.

Buffalo & Cattle combined probably outnumber people in South Dakota & Wyoming, 100 to 1.

We cut along Rt 14 and followed it all the way to Cody, WY that night. One particular stretch on our way from Gillette to Sheridan had no gas services for 70 miles. The sucky part was, you wouldn’t know this unless you came from West to East, where there is a sign posted. When we finally reached a town that had gas. There we two pumps: Diesel or 86 octane. I don’t think I’ve seen 86 octane here in NY since 1984.

Some of the rock-faces were so red along the roadway, it almost seemed like there was light shining from within.

CRUD:
Antelope, deer, jackalopes abound – not many cars, incredible big skies, what an awesome ride.

FUZZ:
So, we head to Sheridan, and get some " real gas" for Mr. Fancybike o) The storm clouds were rolling through. fast and furious. We gazed off at the mountains wondering if we should head up. The bighorns are pretty high elevation and as we struck up a convo with some older ‘Wing fella he was remarking how it was probably snowing up there since it was raining down here. Crap. Not ones to fold easily, we decided to find out for ourselves. I’m sure glad we did…Up in to the clouds we went.

Granite Pass provided a slowly winding snake of switchback ess and hairpin turns with stunning vistas.

Shell Canyon

Shell Falls

Shell, WY:

CRUD:
The Big Horns are the most beautiful place on earth. While heading over the top, a crow dives towards Fuzz and spins off – right behind it, a Golden Eagle swoops down and gives Fuzz’ helmet the " What the hell is that thing" flyby. It was awesome.

The mountains here are wild – on 1 side, it’s cold, snowy evergreens. On the other, like someone drew a line in the Earth and said " ok, stop the trees HERE" – it’s all Mesas, multicolored striped mountains, amazing. I was choked up at how beautiful it was, like, your brain can’t handle seeing something that beautiful (just like Fuzz ) The road weaved and winded down through some corners into the canyon below. Breathatking.

FUZZ:
We got up early, having stayed over in Cody. Unfortunately for us, the Beartooth Highway 212 from Red Lodge, MT to the Northern Entrance of Yellowstone was closed due to 12 mudslides that had occurred. This was apparently a crushing blow to the people of Red Lodge as that highway apparently provides a major artery to the town for economic stability during the vacation season.

Buffalo Billy Cody’s Irma Hotel:

The closure of the road was disappointing news, so we opted to take the Chief Joseph Highway just outside of Cody, WY in to the north entrance of the park. About 2 miles in to the road, we pulled off to snap a few quick pictures. As we stood in the pullout, a lady in a pickup truck slowed down and told us.. " Oh boy guys, it’s a sheet of ice up there, about 2 miles up…a sheet of ice…" My mind pictured a complete sheet of ice from one side of the road to the other and to be honest, I was a bit, well, scared. I quickly said to Kenny, that I was NOT riding across any ice. 1 minute later, as if under some sort of demonic possession, I hear, " Well let’s just ride up any way and see what it’s like. We can always turn around if it’s bad," escape from my mouth. Off we went.

CRUD:
I’m dumb – I always figure we will be ok. I look at Fuzz, she looks at me and says " Let’s go for it" . How cool is she! away we rolled.



FUZZ:
As we climbed up in to the mountains, the temp began to drop sharply. It was only about 8 am. If I had to guess it was no more than 25 degrees at elevation. Small spots of snow peppered the road way at first, nothing major. Then, I saw it. A winter wonderland. The roadway was completely covered with snow and ice except for 4 tracks of roadway where the cars had been driving through. Oddly enough, at no time in my mind did I think, I can’t do this. I just kept going forward. Slowly! But forward nonetheless. Keeping within the black, hoping the wetness was water and not black ice. ::CRUNCH::CRACKLE::POP:: the small pellets of ice under the tires. This continued on for about 2 miles, though it felt like 20. The most nerve wracking part was when we reached the backside of the pass that was still in shade. While the snow dwindled away, the roadway was shiny black. I still couldn’t tell if it was just water of if it was black ice…
only one way to find out… I kept going. Hands freezing, trying to keep my grip loose, thinking it would probably be awful to have to apply the brakes sharply. I so wanted to stop and take a picture, but I just couldn’t bring myself to stop until I made it to a clearing.

Cooke City, MT. We stopped for breakfast, to warm up and ‘rastle a bear.

CRUD:
If you ever want to just forget about life, find a cabin in the woods and veg out for the week, head to Cooke City.

1 mile into Yellowstone, our first moose.

FUZZ:
I loved the buffalo. It never gets old looking at them in the wild. As we would roll up on them, you realize that they are bigger than you and your bike together and you don’t want to upset of spook them so that they get agitated or something. It would be just my lucky to get hit BY a buffalo and have to fly home so I tended to just pull over and wait till they meandered out of the way rather than get too close.

CRUD:
Yellowstone is like a time capsule – if you enter the park from the northeast, you spin past mountains and prairies mixed together – wildlife everywhere, buffalo ALL OVER THE PLACE, it’s like someone sent you back to a time long ago. Awesome.

Mammoth Hotsprings:

CRUD:
Ahh the sulfur of the springs – beautiful scenery, mixed with the smells of a white castle fart. Occasionally, you smell a breath of sweetness in the air as well as you ride along – the trees next to the springs, which are spread throughout the park, actually start to roast and the sap melts, releasing the sweet smell. Fried maple syrup anyone?

Just a tip, if you ever go to Mammoth, and want to view the springs, there are these looong walkways and stairs that seem to head up into the sky. We walked those damned steps, at 7k feet, in gear, panting like a couple of old people – we finally reach the top, to see the parking lot behind it :-\ So, if you ever go, just drive up there and skip the walk

FUZZ:
This is so typical. Never one to miss a photo opportunity our intrepid explorer disregards signs of danger and " Unsafe Conditions" . He’s basically standing on the edge behind the tree in the pic above. Hey Fuzz, look at this… ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..[Wiley Coyote] POOOOOF [/Wiley Coyote]

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, that Crudmop almost fell in to :-P

We stayed in a small cabin at Old Faithful. This was a bittersweet moment as this was our turnaround point. This cabin was THE LAST CABIN available for the night. We got it because someone cancelled and just by sheer timing. The people behind us.. turned away. Whew. That was close. It has no bathroom, just a sink & a bed. You have to walk to the community bathroom or the lodge to go.

Old Faithful errupts every 33 minutes.

Brrr. Frosty morning in Yellowstone. When I got up, it was only 28 degrees. When Crudmop FINALLY got up, it was probably 40 already

CRUD:
Finally? Don’t blame me that you are turning into your mom and are waking up at 4:30a! It was like, 6a when I got up!

Yellowstone, by one of the hot springs

Yellowstone Lake:

Cloud Peak Skyway – Rt 16 from Tensleep to Buffalo

Buffalo Bill Cody State Park:

Wind on the prairie:

FUZZ:
This photo represents something special to me.In my mind it exemplifies the antithesis of where I live. What I’ve known my whole life. Wyoming and South Dakota, where the ground touches the sky in any directions you send your gaze. It was refreshing, a relief. The wide open expanse helped the stress and clutter in my life and mind just melt away. The big sky made me feel the hope of infinite possibility.

Hands down, Wyoming was the most beautiful state I’ve ever been to. It is wondrous and vast and filled with diversity. Mountains, desert-like, rolling hills, forest. Each rise in the road, each corner turned, a new view. Something more beautiful than the last. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see it. 10 days, 12 states and 5000 miles of drinking in endless miles of delight.

America is a beautiful place.

XoXo,
Kenny & Rachael