We got up and packed all of our stuff with plans to roll down the street to a breakfast shop across from where we had dinner the night before. As we donned the normal gear and headed for the road, we didn't make it to the end of the driveway before stopping. Turns out we had chosen a good night to stay in a motel as it had dipped BELOW freezing that night. Yes, in the middle of July. Later we had heard that night it go down to 24 in Yellowstone. Yikes, we had planned on camping there.
Quickly putting on our warm gear, we shivered all the way to the restaurant. We hoped it would warm quickly. There were two other touring bikes outside of the restaurant and it wasn't difficult to tell who their owners were once we got in. Again a few retirees were doing the trans America trip to Virginia. Tailwinds… those bastards. They offered us a spot at their table but they were almost nearly done, so it would have been a bit awkward. We kindly declined.
We of course stuffed our faces (I had to finish some of Paul's), and headed outside. It had not warmed up enough to get on the bikes, so we stalled more. We hung out in a heated gas station down the street and picked up some nutri-grain bars.
Eventually we shed the skirts (no offense independent women) and got in the saddle. Shortly after traveling down the road a bit, we approached a steep hill. This was a great opportunity to warm up, and by the time we had reached the top, the sun finally took over and the temperature had gone up about 8 degrees in 10 minutes. Sweating profusely at the top, we tied our perspiration soaked stuff to the backs of the bikes to air out and we were on our way.
We continued on our way and had to stop at a construction spot that we were warned about by other bikers in the days past. The construction was at the base of our incline over Togwotee pass, which would drop us off near the Tetons once we had descended it. We got a free 7 mile ride up a fairly gradual part of the day. Ha, we had done enough mountains recently and weren't too proud to take the free ride.
Once we were dropped off, we got out and were about to get on the bikes. Under us, we noticed some jagged gravel. We had also gotten the adhesive stuff on our tires so large pieces of stone were sticking. We weren't comfortable riding on it, so we began walking the bikes uphill. The worker told us it would be for about 5 miles.
No worries, we were fine with spending an hour and half just walking them up towards the top. We were passed by countless people with empty pickups who could have easily given us a ride the few miles up the hill to the good pavement. We joked how we were clearly out of the southern hospitality, as we have a few times in the past, and kept going.
A friendly worker rode alongside us for a while explaining how they were not allowed to pick us up, and also informed us that it was only a total of 3 miles of gravel and that we had about half a mile to go.
Once we got to the good pavement, we stopped for a bit near an abandoned trailer that made for a good seat. We snacked a bit there, and met yet more bikers who were coming down the pass. I don't have to tell you by now what path they were going, but they were very friendly and we chatted with them for a bit.
They explained that the pass was another 4-6 miles, and knowing to err on the side of the longer distance (especially from someone who was zipping downhill from a mountain pass), we figured 6. Much less than we had thought.
We were very pleased at the ease we had ascended the pass, and were surprised when we had reached the top so quickly. Once again we had crossed the continental divide, and Paul and I both dunked our heads in this stream. It seemed all the water looked so fresh and clean among the mountains.
After our brief triumph at the top, the fun began. We cruised downhill for miles upon miles giving up all the elevation we had gained in a much speedier fashion. Once we began to level off, we decided to get some food at the Hatchet Resort. It was the first time we had cell service in a while, so after ordering some food, Paul and I were both on our cell phones. Wouldn't you know it, an idiot doing the same thing we were on a bicycle comes in and pulls up a chair at our table… a bit forward.
John was a great guy, again in his 60's from Scottsdale, Arizona who had done some touring in the past. He was actually heading west like us, a real man, it's nice to meet another. We all ate together and shared some stories. He told us to stop at the Jackson Lake Lodge for a beautiful view before we headed north towards Yellowstone. He also asked if we had seen another tourer Mike as we came over the pass as John had spent some time with him and was wondering where he was. We hadn't seen him.
John departed before us, but was carrying quite the load, so we figured we would catch him on the way into the parks. A minute after John was out of sight, here comes Mike. Mike was from Maryland, yet didn't know where Connecticut was (really though?). We thought that was funny, and then we informed him John was looking for him so he continued on to catch up.
We hung around for a while trying to get some wireless internet from the locals to no avail. Eventually, we got back on the road with a short stretch to the Tetons. Sure enough, we caught up to Mike and John right before Jackson Lake Lodge. We all went inside for a drink of water and to see the amazing view John spoke of. It was worth it.
After that final stop for us, we headed out of the parking lot. As we had a faster pace, we quickly pulled away and thought we might see them in Yellowstone the following day. The Grand Tetons were grand and beautiful. We got a nice brief view of the park, and continued on our way.
We had a nice long climb out of the park, that sent us cruising down towards Yellowstone. We were about done for the day so we pulled off at the first campsite which was sandwiched between both parks. The key selling point was the restaurant.
We got ourselves a spot, setup the tent, and headed for the restaurant. We got a surfeit of food there and were served by a girl from NYC. The workers were there from all over the world as a summer job. Juliana, our server, went to school in the city and was planning on hitchhiking back with her brother from Denver. Cool.
After dinner we messed around in THEIR gift shop for a bit. After we grew bored, we headed back to the tent and went to sleep. We were happy to have conquered our highest remaining elevation, and were excited about Yellowstone for the following day.
Life was good.