Valkyrie Road Trip Day 3, August 23rd, 2004
Idaho Falls, Idaho to Thermopolis, Wyoming

I awoke in Idaho Falls to a partly cloudy, very windy, and bitterly cold
morning, at least it seemed awfully cold to me for an August summer
day. I kept asking local people since sometime halfway through the
previous day if the weather is often so cold in Idaho in August.
Apparently not. I must just be lucky….aha!
Having spoken to Beth in Colorado the night before, I had decided to ride
east into Wyoming and then jog north up through the Teton Mountain
National Park, and up into Yellowstone National Park. So off I went,
bundled up against the chilly (but at least dry) morning. Not long after
heading out of Idaho Springs, the scenery really started getting pretty,
riding into Swan Valley, through the Targhee National Forest and the
Caribou National Forest, and into Wyoming. Beautiful winding roads
through lush forests, and picturesque canyons.

Targhee National Forest

The sun was starting to slowly warm me up a little bit,
and it seemed the day was shaping up wonderfully. In
Wyoming I rode into the town of Jackson, where I had the first good café
latte I had had since leaving Vancouver, but I was surprised that in what
looked like a pretty funky and almost trendy Rocky Mountain town, there
was no web café, because I had been hoping to check my email. But I
didn’t really care at all, email could wait, this was true adventure!
Jackson seemed like a pretty cool place, a little bit commercially
exploited, but I spotted a lot of ‘cool’ looking people that it would have
been fun to stick around and get to know.
From Jackson it is just a matter of minutes heading north before the Teton
Mountains begin to appear, and what spectacular mountains they are,
although unfortunately for me, they were capped with clouds that
obscured the gorgeous signature jagged spikes of the Tetons. Still, they
were a wonderful sight to behold. The sun was trying to win a battle with
the clouds and the blustery wind, which swept them across the sky in
such a hurry, but it still remained a little chilly. One or two of my
fingertips was threatening to get numb, and I was wishing I had a cruise
control on my bike so I could rub my hands together occasionally.

The Valkyrie parked in front of the Teton Mountains

Onward and upward into Yellowstone National Park, and now the
weather really started to get downright chilly. And although the rain
didn’t start too soon, the clouds took over the sky, thick, heavy, cold,
threatening clouds that made me a little nervous, because they always
looked like they might open up and dump a ton of icy water on me. But
once again I found my self truly enjoying every second of my ride in
spite of the minor discomforts. I could still think of a lot of worse places
to be, than riding my motorcycle through Yellowstone National Park.
I must say, I think I was expecting more from Yellowstone, although it
certainly had its moments and some great charm too. Perhaps the dark
clouds, cool temperatures, and ridiculously slow driving tourists cooled
my reaction somewhat, but a good part of the ride through Yellowstone
was relatively unremarkable. Occasional gorges, some great waterfalls,
and the hot springs and geysers were all interesting. The crowded roads

Yellowstone National Park

were tiresome, and all the real points of interest were completely
congested with vehicles and people. Not my idea of the great outdoors. If
one elk was spotted on the side of the road, there was a quarter mile
traffic jam of rubber neckers straining for a glimpse of the poor animal. I
must admit though, seeing a herd of Bison grazing in an idyllically
beautiful pasture with a winding river was a real eye full! As I wound my
way slowly through the park, another small matter came to light. I was
dangerously low on gas, and there didn’t appear to be another gas station
soon. So I got myself on a road east, out of the park, riding conservatively
to save gas. I got my gas in time, and continued east on Highway 14/16
towards Cody Wyoming. Before long, I was stopped, high up in the
Sylvan Pass, by a construction worker who informed me that there would
be about a half hour wait before traffic could be let through. We were at
close to 10,000 feet elevation, and the temperature couldn’t have been
much more than the mid forties fahrenheit. The snow peaked mountains
in the distance, (one of them called the ‘Sleeping Giant’) were not in the
distance at all, they were right there! I was in some of the most beautiful
country I have ever seen in my life, but it wasn’t quite the right
circumstance to enjoy it fully. I was feeling kind of grumbly as I sat
freezing my butt off waiting, but I cheered myself up with the thought of
how absurd it was for me to grumble under such circumstances. It is a
blessing to be able to laugh at one’s self! This was the adventure of a life
time, and incredibly beautiful country to be stuck in. When the traffic
finally moved ahead, crawling behind a guide vehicle, it was through the
most treacherous cliffhanger of a road I have ever seen, and the reason
for the delay was painfully apparent. It appeared that there had been
enourmous rockslides which had wiped the road out completely, and the
small makeshift road they had opened was a rutted narrow dirt road.
Guiding my huge motorcycle gingerly along next to a frighteningly long

Riding the high road....

drop into a bottomless canyon, with no guard rail whatsoever was an
experience not to be missed. It was great! For all my previous grumbling,
I was now at full attention, and enjoying the intense energy of the
moment and the extreme nature of the location. And wow, from there, did
things ever take a turn for the better in a hurry. The sky opened up into
brilliant warm sunshine, as I found myself riding through what is perhaps
the most gorgeous country I have ever seen.
From the dense green forested snow peaked mountains into reddish
yellow rock spires and canyons, classical ‘cowboy’ landscapes more
beautiful than I ever could have imagined. Mesas of staggering beauty
surrounded me, and the highway was suddenly wide and perfect, curving
graciously and breathtakingly through the vistas, one of the nicest
motorcycle roads I have seen. Twisty but not too tight, just perfect for
blasting through on a Valkyrie that was getting impatient for being
ridden too slowly for too long. I had some fun accelerating out of hard
corners hard, but not so fast that I couldn’t soak in the scenery. Following
the Shoshone river, I came up on the Buffalo Bill Reservoir, an incredibly

Buffalo Bill Reservoir

blue expanse of water, like a jewel in the sun baked yellow landscape. At
gorge, where the Buffalo Bill Dam holds up the whole lake. Through
tunnels and around tight bends, underneath incredible spires of
rock….phew!! What a great trip…

And then the road leveled out, and I rode fast through a beautiful valley
into the wild west town of Cody, also named after Buffalo Bill Cody,
(who was actually personally responsible for starting the construction of the
dam). There I took a short break, gassed up again, and headed south on
highway 120 to Thermopolis.This last leg of my incredibly long day on
the road, was easy desert road, with no traffic at all. It was sunny and
pretty warm, and I rode into Thermopolis feeling pretty good, and really
ready for a long soak in a mineral hot tub, which Thermopolis is famous
for. In fact Thermopolis is home to the world’s largest mineral hot
springs. After my delightful stay in the hot tub I sank into my Best
Western Hotel bed and slept like a baby……what a day it had been.
Tomorrow, I should be able to make it to Colorado,
and Beth’s house in Nederland!

Tunnels by the Buffalo Bill Reservoir Dam

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

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