Day 3 567 km/340 miles (Deer Lodge MT to Cody WY)
The goal today was to tour Yellowstone National Park. I’ve heard so much about the park, but have never seen it. Sometimes there’s a trade-off between sight-seeing and riding good roads. Today was one of those days.
I endured some riding on I-90 for the sake of making good time to Yellowstone. However, as soon as I saw a sign of Highway 287 as an alternative, I jumped on it.
Hwy 287 was much better than the big slabs. I saw quite a few different kinds of birds, and there was little traffic.
In Montana, I was one of the slowest vehicle on the road, and one of the few with a helmet on. Montana does have a posted speed limit, but it is rarely enforced. There is also no helmet law.
I loved riding in Montana. The sky was incredibly clear and beautiful, and the farms and ranches along the road reminded me so much of cowboy movies. In fact, I did see two cowboys jumping off their horses and tying some ropes around the legs of a calf.
Getting into Yellowstone National Park did not take very long. I bought a National Park Pass for US$50 at the ticket booth, and was on my way in about 10 minutes.
Leaving the ticket booth, I took a deep breath of the fresh air, brought the bike to a cruising speed, came around a corner, and had to grab a handful of brakes! The driver in front of me had slammed on his brakes right after a corner, because he was sticking his head out the window to take pictures of some eagles.
I was mad, but I reminded myself not to get worked up. I waited until he finished his pictures.
For the next 10 km, I was in riding hell. The two-lane highway was crawling with cars and RV’s driven by inattentive drivers. The driver in front of me was driving and trying to read the park map at the same time, and constantly slammed on his brakes to look in the direction of other cars stopped on the roadside for pictures of animals.
Ok, enough whining about the traffic. Once I reminded myself that I was spoiled to have seen wildlife often in BC, I felt more calm towards the camera crazy visitors.
It was a warm day. Clouds spotted the sky. It was beautiful. I was on the trip of my dreams! Don’t let some bad drivers ruin it!
I rode towards the Old Faithful, hoping to catch a glimpse of the amazing geyser. The geyser was given its name due to its predictability. It erupts approximately every 76 minutes.
I parked, and sat down to wait for the eruption. According to the prediction, it was supposed to erupt in the next 40 minutes. The park staff explained how the geyser worked, and how Old Faithful is different from the other geysers. It was very educational. I chatted with the kids sitting beside me, as they were very curious about my leather suit and hydration pack.
40 minutes came and went. No eruption. However, I wasn’t going to leave until I see some steam! I waited another 10 minutes, and the geyser started spitting out some water. Then it came—over 100 feet of water and steam sprayed out of the earth. The crowd cheered, and I was on my feet with awe.
Once the eruption subsided, I was on my way back to my bike. As I walked towards the parking lot, I saw a couple kissing. All of a sudden it reminded me again that I was alone, and I wished my husband was with me to share the experience of seeing the geyser. I swear I was never this “soft” before I met him.
When I got back to my bike, I found it surrounded by big touring bikes. My sport-touring bike looked a little out of place. In my heart, I secretly wished I had one of those giant touring bikes. Big windshield, CB radio, cup holder, comfortable seat, radio and cassette player, storage space…what’s not to love?
The East entrance to the Park was 7 miles of gravel due to construction, with lots of stops for gravel trucks. Prior to this, I have not ridden much on gravel. Gravel just makes me tense and nervous. But 7 miles later, I was getting used to it. However, the slow speed, dust, and potholes combined with rising temperature were not pleasant.
I stopped at Cody WY for the night, and decided that I must leave really early the next day to avoid the mid-afternoon heat.