Day 57, July 14th 2008, starting in Yellowstone, Wyoming

Rise and shine. Nothing was damaged from the bear attack, even though I had accidentally left out a bag with toothpaste and the like in it. A park ranger made his way over to our section to see how we were doing and we told him about the bear. He was a bit skeptical as they hadn't had bears in a while, and I showed him the tracks over by the bear box. After we sifted around the evidence for a while, we figured it was probably the same bison from the night before, as they like to scratch their backs up against the bear boxes (big metal things to hide food from bears).

The bison had found a nice spot to sleep again right next to our neighbors tent and it just so happened to be on Susan's side, the one most afraid of the often gentle beasts. Not sure she slept so well. At any rate, they had to move their tent to a new site as they were only allowed in the hiker/biker section for one night, and were planning on staying for a few more. I had the genius idea of not breaking down the tent, so six of us carried the tent completely setup across the campgrounds to their new site. When I returned Paul was getting up.

We broke down the tent and started packing. Before we were finished Jeff and Susan returned and warned us to wear sunscreen. Jeff had a riding buddy who had recently died from skin cancer, so it hit home with them. They were really wonderful people we were fortunate to camp next to.

Once we were ready we said goodbye to Jeff and Susan + family (never got their last name), and headed for the north entrance of the park. We were dropping 1200 feet in elevation so we basically coasted the whole way to Mammoth Springs, the final exhibit we would see before departure into Montana.

The springs were very beautiful. Thousands of years of mineral deposits collected up in this one area from mineral-laden water that rushed up to the surface everyday. The pictures cannot capture the true color and beauty, but they are still nice.

After we walked around the springs, we returned to our bikes and rolled down the hill to a little village right before the exit. I had some letters to mail and we were going to get some food. As we pulled into the restaurant, who are the first people we see… Jeff and Susan's family.

Greeting us with a surprise, we said hi again as we got in line for some food. The place was packed, so once we got our food we ate outside. While we went to get some ice cream, we said bye to J+S's family, who were leaving and unhappy that they had missed the crumbled Oreos as a topping for their ice cream.

When we finished our food, we headed over to the general store for some supplies for our likely sparsely populated ride to come. Who do we see when we walk in the door? Of course, J+S+family. It was still at funny at this point, and they again left before us as we said our final goodbye. Would the be our last meeting for a while? Nope. As we we got our bikes and started heading out of the park, they were pulling out of their parking spot. Jeff promised it was the last time, and he was right. We hoped to keep in contact with them.

Before leaving the park we saw our last Yellowstone wildlife as a herd of Elk were just chilling by the exit.  Fun. 

As we exited the park, there was a crappy little sign that said entering Montana that wasn't worth a picture, and also a sign that signified us crossing the 45th parallel of latitude. Our first stop in the great state of Montana was Gardiner, right outside of the park. We got some stuff at a gas station, and got free maps from the attendant. We had left the tourists behind and entered some western hospitality.

After that stop, Paul and I made a nice, easy ride to a rest stop about 30 miles from Gardiner. I spoke with Mark, Meghan's father on the phone to finalize his plans for meeting us out for a week long ride two days later. We hoped we could get to Great Falls in time to pick up his bike from the shop and have it ready for him at the hotel.

We left for Livingston, where we planned on camping that night. We had another nice easy ride to Livingston with some built up hunger. I was hoping to stop somewhere where they would have wireless as it was one of the biggest cities we had seen in a while. We stopped at Clarks, a motel/restaurant which just so happened to have high speed internet. It was helpful to upload some photos and whatnot while we ate.

We ended up closing the place down and were kicked out into the bar area right next door. At the bar we met a bartender who had recently finished her masters classes and was working on her thesis in some biological field at Eastern Illinois. Her bus that she bought broke down and Livingston, and she decided to stay for a while. She was a really interesting person, and quite attractive apparently (according to Paul). Not sure why he wasn't hitting on her, but to each his own. She gave us as much free stuff around the bar as she could, and also let us roll the dice in this game to potentially win a cash prize. Neither of us won anything, and Kim had to shut the bar down as well, so we were back on the streets.

There was a campsite about 100 feet from the bar where we setup shop and hit the sleeping bags. We were in a good mood after leaving the bar since we had such a good time with Kim, we were full, and had a nice cheap place to sleep.

Life was good.

4 Replies to “Day 57, July 14th 2008, starting in Yellowstone, Wyoming”

  1. I know the blog doesn't show it yet but the Map shows you're in Washington State. Corner to corner of the continental US in just over 2 months. Amazing guys!

  2. Chris and Paul,

    Glad to hear that the bear was probably a bison (not really sure that is so much better!). J + S + family sound great. The stories of the people you meet suggests that in general people are good (especially the ones who are crazy enough to sleep with bison, bears, and wolves).

    Enjoy the sights, wildlife, and he people and stay safe.

  3. Goodbye, Mark. Hope it was all that you dreamed! Have a safe trip home. Talk with you soon!

  4. Chris and Paul,

    We just finished our vacation on Saturday, July 26, after four days on the Rosebud Indian Reservation outside of St. Francis, South Dakota for their annual Sundance. Susan's brother Jim was completing his four year commitment as a dancer (four days of dancing from sunrise to sunset) and we were there as a family to support him. We camped out on the Sundance grounds amidst buffalo dung, but didn't have to sleep with any buffalo this time around.

    It's been 20 years since my last “summer of biking across the U.S.” I'm glad you're getting experiences similar to what I had all those years ago. I had been wondering recently if people like you were having good experiences bicycling across the country… or if the country had changed too much. Your blog has answered my question. Thanks. It was a pleasure meeting both of you, and to have a chance to relive some of those memories. Jeff

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