Helmut's coast to coast trip....kind of....Part2

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Helmut's coast to coast trip....kind of....Part2

Postby helmut » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:29 pm

Sept-4th
Before leaving Spearfish I was going to top off the motor oil a tad, and found that I had packed gear oil instead. Ooops. The oil level was not too low yet so I made my way thru the pretty Spearfish Canyon, hitting south. From there I scooted thru the Black Hills on some back roads towards Mount Rushmore. My actual goal was RT16A, which looked very twisty and promising, but when I saw that Mt. Rushmore was just two miles more I went for it. Well, in my opinion them mountains had been defaced by putting faces on them. In disgust I left and hit Rt16A. This road is something else. I did the first 450 degree turn in my life, followed by a 720 degree turn (not counting the short straight). They are like spirals going up with bridges. The only downside was the heavy car traffic due to labor day weekend.
I eventually ended up on Rt18 in South Dakota hitting west into Wyoming. My GPS indicated three upcoming gas stations, alas none of them existed. Long story short: I managed to squeeze out 240 miles on a tank by laying low for the last 80 miles and scooting at 60mph at 3000rpm. I guess I made it to that gas station on my last drop of gas.
Wyoming is where the west begins. I did not get bored on the ride since these never before experienced landscapes continued to change somewhat. As I was hitting south on RT18 to Lusk, a huge thunderstorm followed me on the west side (pretty to look at), and when I turned west towards Casper I was able to pass in front of this storm just in time. And that was a good thing. There was no shelter available anywhere and gas stations are spread apart 100 miles (or more?).
Arriving in Casper I went to an Autozone and got my motor oil. As I topped off, I met Pat, a local Harley rider. After some short conversation he offered me a place in his camper by his house. I took the bait and followed him to his house. I offered to order some pizza which turned out pretty decent.
At 10pm a friend of Pat's came over to fix the AC on Pat's truck. Pat's friend has a brother who is in jail and he brought his brothers girlfriend. They all marveled at my bike and asked one or two questions too many for my taste. After talking some more to Pat I determined that he was a nut, yet a rather friendly one. I went to bed in the trailer, but sure enough at 4am I heard a faint voice calling my name around the trailer. I got up and it was Pat running around the yard with a flashlight. This all sounds weird, and it was, but the bottom line was that Pat is a good guy.
There were some more interactions with other people in Casper, and overall I did not like that town. Pat was definitely the nicest guy I met there.

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Sept-5th
I left Casper and hit west on Rt20 and got to Shoshoni. The gas tank was far from empty, but there was a gas station and I filled up anyways. Shoshoni is a small town with 600 souls and some ongoing building decay. Yet I liked the place and the people were very friendly, unlike in Casper. I chated for while, ate some pork sandwich and continued on my way. It turned out that the pork sandwich had a mind on its own and it asked to be released, without further delay, in Kinnear, some 40 miles further. Kinnear was just a small gas station in the Indian reservation, but it shall stick to my mind for featuring the grimmest bathroom on this trip so far. Wading thru paddles of piss I arrived at the crapper which didn't look much better than the floor. Little choice I had, it was either that or soiling my pants. I shall spare you further details.
Relieved I continued hitting west on Rt26 crossing some pass at 9700feet with temperatures dropping to 45 degrees and head winds hitting with sustained 50mph. Of course the head winds, at times, elected to suddenly come from the side, which made for adventurous riding at 55mph. There was also some construction going on and the road turned into gravel and a little mud for 7 miles or so.
The first part of today's ride featured a somewhat boring landscape, but once approaching and entering the Great Tetons there waited various visual surprises after most turns.
I finally arrived in Jackson, WY, got myself a room, a six pack, a can of chilly and a hot shower.

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Sept-6th
After a good night's sleep I had breakfast and ended up chatting with a nice riding couple from Kansas.So I left Jackson (WY) around 10am and hit south towards Yellowstone. There was very little wind but the temperature was 45 degrees. I dressed up properly and for the first 10 miles it felt like sauna. But sure enough as I elevated into Yellowstone the temperatures dropped some more. In Yellowstone the temperature hit a high of 48 degrees with winds of around 20mph. I rode a total of around 180 miles and ended up in Gardiner (Montana) on the North side of Yellowstone. Not a very long ride due to numerous stops, but it chilled me to the bone at times.
After today I think I will have to re-evaluate my plan to hit up into the Canadian Glacier Park (Banff, Jasper, Whistler). I thought my cold weather gear was adequate, but today's measly 180 miles showed that I will be miserable taking the 1500 mile detour thru Canada if the weather is cold, which it will likely be.
Anyhow, there were very pretty views getting into Yellowstone and as I moved North it got better. I stopped at Old Faithfull, which is a tourist stampede, yet I liked it. So, Young Flaky (me) watched Old Faithfull go off with a 3 minute delay. During this 3 minutes I remembered the bar of soap in my cases. You may know the rumors that if one tosses a case of soap down Old Faithfull's throat it will cause a case of premature ejaculation.
Moving North some more there were beautiful vistas featuring hot springs and sights without the overdeveloped appearance of the Old Faithfull site. I found it worthwhile hitting into some of the side roads with pristine views and little crowds.
As I exited the park thru the settlement named Mammoth, there were flocks of elks grassing within the city. A park ranger performed shepard's duties and kept elks and the too curios humans apart. Nevertheless I had one cross the road 12 feet in front of me and the bike.
I arrived in Gardiner, got some food and a six pack and was going to take a hot shower. As I unpacked my big dry-bag I noticed some liquid in it. Remember the quart of gear oil I packed by mistake? Yes, I put it in my cloths bag to save space in the saddlebags. Murphy's law worked once more and the virgin bottle of gear oil somehow leaked. What a mess! So I ended up taking a hot shower for 25 minutes cleaning myself and get the worst mess off various (s)oiled items. I guess tomorrow is laundry day.

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Sept-7th
It's laundry day! I went to local laundry-mat started the wash and walked to a joint were the locals have breakfast. I enjoyed a nice omelette and, after yesterday's chilling ride, bought a thin, yet wind breaking jacket. It turned out to be a well working addition. I walked back to the laundry-mat, put the clothes in the dryer and, while waiting for the drying, chatted with a 60-isch lady about Gardiner (Montana), the settlement where I stayed. During summer, Gardiner is full of tourists and Russians. They are Russian kids with a summer work visa, mostly to finance their studies back home in Russia. Winters in Gardiner are brutal. Cold and boring. The population plummets to less than 700 souls. I was told that them remaining souls seek salvation during the winter by means of shooting pool and drinking beer. It has also been mentioned that Gardiner is the place were dreams die. Sounds gruesome, but this brought Casper (Wyoming) to my mind. There dreams likely never get born.
Finally I went on a leasurly 130 mile ride thru Yellowstone, with countless stops and good amounts of walking, especially thru the Norris Geyser Basin. I met a hot beamer (F650) chick form California and chatted a tad. She was camping inside Yellowstone, where last night's temperatures dropped down to 23 degrees. Unfortunately for her she was not hot enough of a chick to prevent herself from freezing that night.
Yellowstone is such a diverse place. Beautiful rock formations with marvelous textures, often colored in pastel like earthy tones. Exquisite vistas, some small, some huge, featuring a bounty of flora. The geysers with their intricate details, topped with some wild colors. Huge valleys and mountain ranges, waterfalls, and still a lot of dead trees standing from the 1988 forest fire. It made for an eary view at times but young trees are sprouting up amongst the standing dead trunks. And today I gently rode thru a herd of bisons, some of them crossing the road. I kept a safe 20 foot distance with the option of an escape route, just in case.
So much for my feeble attempt to describe nature's grandeur

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Sept-8th



I left Gardiner at 10am and entered Yellowstone from the North side and then
hit East towards Beartooth pass. I passed some cars and ended up behind a
Vstrom which looked familiar. Sure enough it was Bob, the Canadian I met two
days before. We pulled over and chatted a tad, it turns out our routes were
compatible. So the two of us rode towards Cooke City. There were numerous
traffic backups on the road due to Buffalo. At some point Bob got brave,
darted forward, reved his engine and wiggled the bike, thus chasing the
buffalo off the road. He eventually commented: "This is what we do with
cattle in Canada". However, some of the people watching, did not seem to
appreciate his road clearing tactics too much. After this we watched a Moose
grassing along some stream, and then we hit over the Beartooth pass, going
East. That was a brilliant ride, for Beartooth pass features many nice
switchbacks, goes up to 11.000 feet with stunning sights along the way (and
snow on top), and Bob also kept a brisk pace. Fun, fun, fun.

We entered Red Lodge and hit North on Rt78. The mountains to our left, full
of rain clouds and it was raining left and right of us, in rather visible
patches. We were lucky and only did have a light sprinkle here and there,
but not enough to break out the rain gear. At Columbus (MT) we hit Rt90 going
West. So far we were able to dodge the ongoing rains, but finally it was
time to put on the rain gear. The last 100 miles we rode in a washout. Around
Butte there was a pass which featured beautiful hills with round rocks,
speckled with plenty of evergreen trees. At night fall we ended up in
Anaconda, where we shared a motel room. The days ride was around 400 miles
and full of visual impressions once more.

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Sept -9th



I got up at 7am and it was raining hard. Bob and I left around 9am and it's
still raining. We rode 110miles into Missoula, Bob went to the Suzuki dealer
and I went to the local BMW dealer since my front fork has been acting up.
It seems to be a tad sticky at times. Barely noticeable and far from affecting ride quality, but enough to cause some concern.

At the BMW dealership the service department consisted of a bunch of kids.
They listened to my problem with my front fork and then I overheard that the
guys never serviced one. The service manager (kid) was not able to make an
estimate in any way, shape or form, but promised me that the bike will be
down for at least 2 days. I evaluated my options and decided to take a
shortcut. I went to ACE hardware store and bought some lightweight
blower-motor oil for $2.59 to lubricate the forks externally. And it worked well enough to get me thru the rest of the trip.

After a nourishing lunch and more talking, Bob and I rode another 50 miles
together and then split up. I ended up around Whitefish and will try to ride
the Glacier Park tomorrow.

However I trashed my plans to take the route into Banff, Jasper, Whistler
(Canada) since the forecast predicts solid cold rain for 800 miles. Yep, I
guess it's too late in the year for that northern route. Instead I consider
to expand my travel southwards and hit the Redwoods, Yosemite and then
Southern Utah. We shall see.
hellebauer who?
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helmut
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