Published: October 22nd 2011October 21st 2011
We left Boise just after noon last Wednesday, driving towards Idaho City the back way on Rocky Canyon Road, a dirt road that cuts through the mountins. We made it to Idaho City in about an hour and decided to check out the town a bit. At the end of Main Street was a saloon called Diamond Lil's where we stopped in for a beer. The place was decorated with all kinds of old and foreign currency (a hobby of mine!). The owners close for the winter and fly down to Jaco, Costa Rica. We got talking about living in Latin America and they told us where they hang out every day in Jaco, and we agreed to meet up when we pass through.
We got back on the road a little late, setting off to see the Sawtooths and over Galena pass to Sun Valley. We drove all the way to Hailey where we stayed in a motel for the night. We got a beer and a salad at the local brew pub before heading in for the night.
The next morning we packed up and headed to Twin Falls, home of Shoshone Falls- the Niagara of the
West. There we learned that the bridge crossing the Snake River Canyon is the only bridge in the U.S. where anybody can legally base jump without saying anything to anybody! People go there to break records of jumps in a 24-hour period and most people simultaneous jumping. We were told tast this year has been one of the best on record to see the falls because of the deep snow-pack from the previous winter.
Back on the road we started heading to Craters of the Moon National Monument. On the way Dan saw a hill that looked like we could drive all the way to the top of to take some panoramic pictures of the lava fields. We made it up near the top, but being fully loaded made me loose control when my front tire popped up in the air and I tumbled over. That was a good sign to turn around. We snapped a few pictures and headed back down to the highway.
We got to Craters of the Moon and went out to the lava tubes. They now make you answer a questionnaire about being in caves since 2005 because there is a disease affecting
bats that is brought in from other caves. We got certified to enter the tunnels where the temperature plummeted about 25 degrees! Having been there and done that we headed out again. We made it to Arco (The first city in the world to be powered by atomic energy) where we got a pizza for dinner (it took about an hour for the pizza to get cooked!). It was getting dark so we drove up a dirt road near town to find a place to camp. We ended up driving up to the top of a butte above town and pitched the tent there. We heard coyotes howling all night, but were never visited by them.
In the morning we saw a dirt road that led over to the next valley and decided to see where it went. It had a bit of a rut down the middle of it, so we just rode along the side of the road avoiding the sage brush. The road led around the hill and to a graded road that led out to the highway again. We rode on to West Yellowstone, Montana, where we checked out the town and found it mostly
closed for the season.
When we went into Yellowstone they told us that there are only four camp grounds still open, and that one section of the road was also closed for the season. We decided to go up to Mammoth hot springs to camp for the night. We were greeted with a small herd of elk grazing the freshly cut grass around the lodge and ranger housing. There were only two bucks there, both with massive racks, and about 20 does. One of the bucks was bugling and chasing one of the does quite intently with his tongue flapping as he would run up behind her. She apparently wasn't too excited by his heavy flirting as she would run away every time he got close.
The camp ground was mostly empty, and had a few spots set aside for motorcyclists. The only problem was that they made little tenting sites, that were too small for the whole tent to fit in! We had a few parts of the tent hanging over the end leaving most of the floor on the designated surface that still sloped downhill despite efforts to make it level.
We saw at least
a hundred bison on our ride the next morning including a few mule deer, a few prong horns, even a black bear cub up a tree on the side of the road.
We went back to the camp site and packed up before heading down to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, a canyon as impressive as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. With only one stop left at Old Faithful we were almost done with our Yellowstone tour. We arrived at Old Faithful about 20 minutes after the last eruption, which meant that we had to wait over an hour until the next eruption.
Having taken a few pictures we took off on our way down to Jackson, Wyoming. We got into town around sunset, and checked into a motel for the night before heading out on the town. We called a taxi because Dan's headlights were out and I didn't have a license plate. We went to the world famous Cowboy Millionaire Bar. There we had a couple beers and decided that we might want to see a little more of the town before calling it a night. One of the locals drinking there took us to
a night club where the locals like to go. It was about 10-1 men to women. We left about 10 minutes later.
We didn't want to take a taxi back and Dan thought it would be a good idea to ask the nearest cop if he would give us a ride home.
Dan- "Hey, could you give us a ried back to our motel?"
Cop- "You know I'm a cop not a taxi, right?"
Dan- "Yeah, I did, but I was hoping you would give us a ride anyway!"
Cop- "I can't do that. If you want a ride ask a taxi!"
So we started walking back. It was about a mile to the motel, and about halfway back we saw another cop. Dan thought he would try this one to see if he could take us the rest of the way.
Dan- "Hey, could you give us a ride?"
Cop- "You know, You asked me the same thing about 20 minutes ago, right?
Dan- "Yeah, I was just hoping you would do it now. Can you?"
I guess that Jackson doesn't have very many cops.
We had a late start the
next morning before heading toward Rock Springs, Wyoming (referred to as 'Rock Bottom' by the locals). Dan wanted to catch the Ravens game, so we found a sports bar. We had some curious neighbors at the bar. The guy to our left was a trucker that would say 'dagone' about five times a sentence. To our right was a guy that gave us a cool tip on a road to take that would take us into Colorado to camp for the night.
We rode about an hour into Irish Canyon on the Colorado side of the border where we found a camp ground that was empty except for us. We got the tent up and cooked dinner before passing out. The next morning it was pretty cold and we started a fire and made coffee. To warm up we took a walk up the hill and discovered the remains of a poached prong horn. soon we found several more skeletons and figured that this was the scene of a lot of poaching through the years.
We had a beautiful ride down to I70, where we rode over to Glenwood Springs and then down to Marble, Colorado. Marble is
the site of the quarry where the marble for the Lincoln Memorial was cut. We had planned to cross Schofield Pass into Crested Butte that evening and stopped in at a BBQ place there in the town of Marble to have a bite and to ask the local opinion about how easy it would be to cross. The bartender, Mo, told us that it wasn't a good idea to cross it, but said that it was possible. That should have been our sign that it wasn't a good idea, but we went ahead with the ride.
It was five miles to the settlement of Crystal, which turned out to be a nice and challenging road. The rest was daunting. The road was hewn from the cliffs that edged the river up to the pass. There were rocks that made up the road bed that were bigger than footballs. Whenever our front tires would hit anyone of them we would teeter and sometimes fall over. At one point Dan's kickstand sensor got damaged and his bike wouldn't go because it thought the kick stand was down. With the help of a 7.5 amp fuse, a twig and some surgical tape
we bypassed the sensor!
It was getting dark by then, and luckily we came to a place where we could pitch the tent. We got the tent up and a fire started by the time the sky got dark, and everything started to collect frost. It was going to be a cold night.Our clothes were also wet from all of the sweat from the effort of getting the bikes up. It got to single digits that night. It was COLD! We both got in our sleeping bags fully clothed, except jackets and boots. We pulled the draw-strings to colse the hole to nothing more than a small hole that served as a snorkel. We still froze.
After a weary night of shivering we awoke to everything frozen around us. I went and stoked the fire up again to try to thaw out. We saw that the road only got worse and decided to turn around. It was just as much of a struggle to get back down that road. We went back to the same BBQ restaurant where we had a small lunch while we told Mo about our misadventures.
We got on our way and headed
to Crested Butte to see my brother and his family. We crossed over on Kebler Pass, which reaches over 10,000 feet! We got to Brad & Bea's house in the early afternoon battered, smelly and tired.
I went with Brad to see Gustav's ( my nephew) soccer practice. It was quite entertaining. Dan chilled out on the couch with the TV for a couple hours.
The next day Dan tried to go for a mountain bike ride, but gave up after about three miles. 8,900 feet can wear you out quickly. I went to Gunnison to get my bike registered and to finally get a license plate after not having one for about a month.
Dan had never been to Mesa Verde, so he headed out with out me so he could check it out. We are meeting up in Moab tomorrow!
There are more photos below