Yellowstone National Park
Day 60. Today we're biking through Yellowstone Park. I have been here three times before, but of course all those times were by car, and the prospect of biking through, much less TO, Yellowstone Park makes being here all the more surreal.
In those hazy nostalgic days of being a child on Sunday evenings and watching the perfect television family line up of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, followed by the two hour Wide World of Disney, I can still recall the anxious yearning I would feel whenever Disney would feature Yellowstone park on the show.
Back in those carefree (but ecologically irresponsible) days Yellowstone had Bison, Geysers, and best of all bears that would come to the cars and be fed by the passing cat-eye-glass wearing beehive hairdo toting tourists. Had the ten year old in me had known it was physically possible to RIDE YOUR BIKE to Yellowstone I would have been sorely tempted.
It is a warm and sunny day, and the only complaint is the road is narrow without much of a shoulder, and being Fourth of July week there are a lot of people, and trucks and RVs.
Old Faithful is a mandatory stop especially after biking up the continental divide twice in the last nineteen miles. Since Hoosier Pass we have crossed back and forth across the continental divide so many times that I have lost track if we are on the Atlantic or Pacific Side.
It's mostly downhill from Old Faithful to our ultimate end destination of West Yellowstone, Montana so we took in one of the other thermal features - the Great Prismatic Pools.
Colored by the algae that can withstand such temperatures, these thermal pools are iridescently beautiful. Sometimes the breeze shifts and the air suddenly gets warm and humid.
The crowds here are intense, and that does pose a fun advantage for cyclists because we pass all these waiting cars, or people hiking along the road because they had to park so far away, and we just bike in and find the empty bicycle rack right at the start of the foot path. Wandering around with out helmets on we feel a little weird, a little detached, but smugly think to ourselves..."We biked here."
The Pause that Refreshes.
The Firehole River is a great place to take a dip because upstream all the thermal water pours into it, so the water is a little warmer than what you would expect.
Great little way to cool off for Bill and I and of course with biking and the warmth of the day - our spandex clothes were dry within five minutes.
This is our Eighth State of Ten. The State Line runs through the Western Edge of the park so we have this minimalist sign rather than the large expansive "Welcome to Montana" sign which is likely just outside the park in West Yellowstone.
The road is difficult because twice we've had RVs pass within less than a foot of us unnecessarily. Also a little disappointing we have not seen a lot of wildlife, just a female Elk. No Bison. Oh well.
West Yellowstone, Montana
Given that tomorrow is a rest day, Norm, Christine, and I went to the community theater here - called the Playmill. It was packed for their production of Singing in the Rain. Incredibly talented cast and the production was really well done.
We left at intermission because were getting so tired after the day of biking - but a fun stop.
West Yellowstone is a funny little place because on the same block as the community theater there is West Yellowstone Big Gun Fun which is an indoor shooting range where you can fire off all manner of fully automatic machine guns including a Gatling Gun. Nearly half of their customers are Chinese so they have signs and brochures in Chinese.
We learned later that the Chinese have poured into this area - both as tourists, but also to buy property. There are seven Chinese restaurants in town, many with more signs in Chinese than in Mandarin.
There is also, and thus far this has proved to be true, not a single block in the downtown area, that does not sell some form of ice cream and / or milk shakes.