Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 35 Rain & 8 miles of Road Construction

A 6 point Bull Elk not far from our Grant Village campsite

Gregory gets to see a lone bison on our way out of the park.

A chilly Continental Divide crossing

Dewey and Anna from Bozeman

It's amazing that Gregory can hold up this heavy rig.
Where are Mom and Dad?

The Lewis Canyon was hit heavy by the 1988 forest fires. It has been naturally reseeded by the fire and you see many young lodge pole pines interspersed with the dead wood. Here we are suited up for the rain we rode in most of the morning.

A Heart In Nature

Unbelievably, we crossed paths with my girlfriend Bernadette (from Chico, California) during the road construction between Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons! Unfortunately, we were headed in opposite directions! Our visit was brief but made my day!

8 miles of dirt road construction on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway
Lollipops from Mary, one of the flaggers

The Glorious Grand Tetons

Our Tent Cabin at Colter Bay Village
It was a stormy night and morning and we were happy to have a wood stove!

Date: Aug. 23, 2009

From: Grant Village Campground in Yellowstone Natl. Park

To: Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton Natl. Park

Route: Hwy. 287/191/89 John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway

Passes: Unnamed Continental Divide Crossing (7988’)

Miles: 41 miles

Top Speed: 47.7 mph

Weather: Rainy & Cool

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates

Thrill of all thrills, Gregory got to see a six point bull elk this morning! One of the little boys in camp told us about him and we only had to walk a few short feet down to the lake shore to see him walking along the sandbar that skirts the lake. He eventually crossed to shore and we could watch him and a couple of females through the dense stand of lodge pole pines. We were careful not to get too close and were amazed at how closely other campers were hot on his heels. There are warnings everywhere in Yellowstone to not get too close to the wildlife. Bison are especially dangerous and can fatally gore a person. They are in rut (breeding season) right now so it is important to keep your distance!

We were sad that we hadn’t spotted any bison in the park and we knew they were far to the north in the valleys so when I saw a big clump of brown fur out in a meadow during our raining morning ride towards the Tetons I shouted, “A Bear!” Mike put on the brakes and we investigated only to find it was a lone bison! We snapped a couple of shots from the road but when he started headed up a little path carved out of the shrubs toward the roadside pull out we hopped on our bike and hightailed it out of there! Wonderful wildlife spotting number two and Gregory got to see a bison. He was amazed at how big they are. I read that the male typical runs around 2000 lbs. and the female about half that. The both have horns though they are slightly different.

We met Dewey and Anna from Bozeman at the store this morning and rode with them for a while this morning. They were riding to the Tetons for some climbing so we rode with them for a while this windy morning. Gregory wanted to race and we can definitely outdistance them in the flats and downhill but they gained on us in the hills. We snapped pictures of one another at the Continental Divide sign and exchanged email (their camera was dead so I promised to email the picture). Shortly afterward the divide we suited up for the rain. I love my Showers Pass rain jacket! We kept toasty dry in our rain pants and booties and just felt the chill of the rain pelting our faces.

We rode past Lewis Lake, Lewis Falls and along the Lewis River all named for the famous explorer Meriwether Lewis though Lewis and Clark missed Yellowstone by about 50 miles. The 1988 forest fires that burned over 800,000 acres of the Yellowstone Ecosystem heavily hit the Lewis River Canyon. The bare tree trunks line the hillsides interspersed with the young lodge pole pines naturally reseeded by this fire.

The great accomplishment of this day was riding the 8 miles of dirt road construction along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Highway just as we left the south entrance of Yellowstone Natl. Park. Fortunately, the rain had stopped by then but it was still a dirty muddy climb with lines of cars, campers and RVs passing us the entire way. Mary, the flagger, gave Mike and Gregory lollipops at one lengthy stop and a special surprise awaited us on the decent to the Tetons…

As we pedaled our way down the dirt packed highway we waved at the friendly drivers on the opposite side and you are all going slow enough to get a good look at one another. All of a sudden I see this woman lean out of her van window and it is my girlfriend from home (in Chico, California) Bernadette! She braked and hopped out of her car while I jumped off the bike and we embraced in the middle of a muddy highway between Yellowstone and the Tetons. It was a one in a million encounter and such a delight to see her and her husband John (their twin boys stayed in the van). We had to flag around the car behind her (the last in a long line waiting to head up the highway) and we said a brief hello and goodbye before they had to go on. It was unfortunate that they were headed in the opposite direction and our meeting was brief but it really made my day!!!

Shortly after the dirt ended a spectacular Jackson Lake and the Teton Mountain Range greeted us. We pulled off and had our lunch of tuna and peanut butter sandwiches as we soaked in nature’s beauty before us.

As we pedaled the last 16 miles to Colter Bay Village in a soft rain we had another surprise. Our new friends from camping in Yellowstone (Melissa, Gary, Cole and Bryce) pulled up along side us in their Westfalia VW Camper Bus! They were headed down to Jackson for the night but hope to connect with us again at Jenny Lake in the Tetons. Melissa said, “Goodbye Gortex family” and we watched them drive away with the hopes of another meeting. (Gregory and Cole became fast friends and even camped out together in a home-fashioned tarp tent made by their dads.)

Mike treated us to a “tent cabin” at Colter Bay Village and it was a good thing too because it dumped on us around 7 P.M. shortly after we stopped for the day. We have bunks with mattresses and a little cast iron stove to keep us cozy. We had a little mouse friend scurry across the floor but we just loaded up the empty bunk with our gear and nestled down in our sleeping bags for a good night sleep out of the inclement weather.


    So lovely!

    You three look happy, healthy and are such a delight to follow online. Give your boys hugs and yourself one too.

  2. Go to West Yellowstone. There is a IMax theater and we saw the Lewis and Clark expedition in I max. It was great. The kids also got to feed the Bear and the wolf in the exhibit there, It was so beautiful. West Yellowatone is so awesome.
    Look forward to hearing more.
    Owen's teacher is Mrs. Williams this year.
    Keep trecking. I wish I was there right with you.
    I think we are moving soon to Chester. Sean got a promotion as a Battalian Chief in Susanville.
    Be safe!!!!! Love hearing your adventures.

  3. Hi you guys! This is Dewey and Anna from Bozeman and we were quite excited to check out your blog the second we got a chance. We are on break in Jackson right now after our stint in the Tetons, although we did not make it up the Grand. We head home tomorrow and our thoughts are with you guys on your fantastic trip across the country. Make sure Gregory knows he is the luckiest kid alive! Best of luck!

  4. Hi Dewey and Anna. Great to hear from you! I was going to email you the pics we took but I can't seem to find your email. Can you send it to us again. Thanks! Glad you had a great trip. Dorrie