30 Jul 2010, 9:59pm
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special yellowstone edition

written july 29th

slow glowing: big bike adventure: national parks edition!

(we were not eaten by bears!)

right, so, i am actually going to skip forward in the narrative to our arrival at yellowstone national park. (missing highlights, to be covered when i have time: twin bridges bike camp, nevada & virginia cities, our sunset ride into eniss, a herd of pronghorn antelopes.)

we rode 70-some miles on monday, from eniss to west yellowstone, where we’d reserved a room in a hostel. in the morning we managed to rent a car and we headed into the park to see all the things we wouldn’t see on our bike route through it. the main roads in the park are laid out in a figure-eight, and our bike route would take us partway through the lower loop, so we drove the upper loop. oh, first i bought new shoes. the sneakers i brought on this trip–which, incidentally, i bought in europe after the boots i’d brought on that trip fell apart–had pretty much fallen apart, so i traded them in for a pair of sandals. a.’s been biking in sandals this whole time and i have been sort of jealous.


(dusty feet)
(can’t wait for my awesome tan lines)

fascinating, i know. ok, here’s some cool stuff (and some pretty stuff):

and this was one of my favorite things to take photos of–mammoth hot springs–

we also saw a widdle baby bear! much less scary from the safety of a big metal box.


(photo by a. out the passenger window)

we saw the bear cub when the car in front of us slowed way down and stopped to watch it. a car going the other direction had stopped as well, and when we started going again, we passed a good fifty poor motorists stuck behind them. yesterday morning, we biked past a huge line of cars until finally we passed a park ranger waving people onwards. we asked him what the hold-up was and he shrugged his shoulders and said, “some elk.”

later on our car-rental day, when we were headed back towards west yellowstone, we saw an elk–in fact, it walked right in front of our car.


(photo by a.)

anyway…

(tower falls. i have a funny story about this falls, from that creationist pamphlet i read in mitchell. apparently the exploring party who were naming all the things in yellowstone had this agreement to not name anything after themselves, family, lovers, etc. so they saw this falls and some of them suggested some names, and they voted and agreed on minaret falls. but later it came out that the dude who’d suggested the name had a girlfriend named minnie rett! so they voted again. too bad; minaret falls is a nicer name…)

we’d sort of planned to return the car in west yellowstone, pick up our bikes, and ride 14 miles into the park to camp. but driving through the park took longer than we thought it would (of course), and it was dark by the time we got into town and biking into the park in the dark seemed not only unpleasant but stupid. and, of course, the entire town was booked solid. everyone we asked said “oh yeah it’s tuesday night.” why is it always full on tuesday? “well i don’t know, that’s just the way it is.” The More You Know. we ended up paying ten bucks apiece to sleep on the couches in the living room of the hostel/hotel we’d stayed in the night before.

written july 30th

on wednesday morning we rode our bikes into the park. obviously we had entered wyoming the day before, but it didn’t count until we did it on our bikes:

biked our way through the park and stopped to see more awesome otherworldly geothermal wonders and pretty sights…

grand prismatic pool, my other favorite thing in the park to photograph–

and more–

we also saw old faithful erupt, of course–twice! when we first got there, a crowd was gathered for an eruption in 20 minutes or so, so we found a spot to watch and made some lunch.

then we wandered the general vicinity for awhile, and by the time we made it back near old faithful to collect our bikes, the geyser was due to erupt again!

in between we saw some other cool stuff (of course of course).


(this was one of my favorites; it was called spasmodic geyser)

and onward…

we crossed the continental divide two more times:

and once more the next morning:

we’ve since crossed it yet again on togwotee pass today (there was no sign!), so we’re currently on the eastern side, but i think we’ve got a few more crossings left.

it started raining on our way into grant village, were we camped for the night. the ranger who checked us in (by the way, did you know that in most national parks, cyclists are guaranteed space in campgrounds?) gave us the bear lecture and told us that a grizzly had been spotted in that campground the night before last. he didn’t tell us that a bear had killed a guy and mauled two other people in another campground in the park just the night before (true story), and for that i am glad. i would not have slept a wink.

we couldn’t bring ourselves to cook, so we bought a hot (and tasty) dinner about a mile away from our campsite. by the time we headed back, it was very dark and pouring. my fancy generator light system cut through the rain and lit it up in a beautiful surreal way. we crawled into our warm dry tent and held on ’til morning.

before i went to bed, i texted my mom (who had left a message or two asking me to call when i had a chance) about the rain and the grizzly, and told her (tongue in cheek!) i’d call her in the morning if i survived. when i did, she told me she’d actually googled yellowstone bear attacks and found the story about the previous night’s attack and been, for a moment, terrified.

anyway, in the morning we biked out of yellowstone and into grand teton national park. the views!

and so on.

national parks installment #2: grand teton–plus more–coming soon!

things to be afraid of (i have been warned by someone or other about all of these things. ok, most):

bears!
coyotes,
rattlesnakes,
chasing dogs,
lightning strikes,
eighteen-wheelers,
tornadoes,
ill-intentioned people,
loneliness,
mechanical problems,
crashes, and
FAILURE.

the difference between fear that says “step away” and fear that says “do this”… this fear says “do this.”

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