Day 14 & 15: Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Day 14: Woke up, packed up, and peace out from Bear Lake, Utah and rode up to Grand Teton National Park. A member of advrider.com suggested I camp at Lizard Creek Campground. It was first come-first serve, so I scoped out a bathroom-adjacent site. My logic: folks are regularly walking past so a creeper might be less inclined to fuck with me, it’s a shelter if my tent can’t hold up to a storm, there’s usually a power outlet I can charge my phone in, and most importantly, I’d rather not have a long stumble when have to tinkle in the middle of the night.

No interest in getting close enough to see the bear's face. None.
No interest in getting close enough to see the bear’s face. None.

On my way around the grounds, I saw a few people facing trees and then the creature they were fixated on: a black bear. It wasn’t threatening anyone, just wandering in the trees near campsites and smelling the campers’ dinners, and eventually went away. I found myself a qualifying camp site with very nice neighbors who had driven from Seattle in their SUV. They had converted the cargo and rear seating area into a space with a bed and storage beneath. The parking pad on their site was slanted, mine was level, so we swapped. At some point, the black bear had returned and was across the pavement from my site while I was pulling all of my gear off the motorcycle.

Those trees behind the tent blocked my view of the lake, but also blocked some wild wind.
Those trees behind the tent blocked my view of the lake, but also blocked some wild wind.

After setting up my tent and storing everything but my bedding, motorcycle and self into a bear box, I took a walk around the campground and down to Jackson Lake.

Meditation Stump
Meditation Stump

When I came back, my Seattleite neighbors and I built a fire, chatted, roasted hot dogs and listened to the thunder roll in.. and wondered if we were seeing a camera flash or lightning. And then the rain started. We all retreated to our respective dry-zones. I listened to the raindrops hit the rainfly on my tent while I read my book. There was just enough thunder and lightning to keep things interesting. Then the wind came. My site wasn’t facing the lake, and at that moment I didn’t mind as much since my tent wasn’t showing any signs of faltering. In the morning, I learned that folks in a tent on the lake side had gotten blown around.

Eric & Shawndra showing off their rig. They gave me a beer and a hot dog, so they're my new best friends.
Eric & Shawndra showing off their rig. They gave me a beer and a hot dog, so they’re my new best friends.

After I took everything out of the bear boxes and prepped my bike for the day, I said goodbye to the pair from Seattle and snapped a few pictures of them with their rig. They were taking over the site facing the lake where tenters had gotten blown around. Brilliant!

It was a cold morning. Whole lotta layers under the 'stich.
It was a cold morning. Whole lotta layers under the ‘stich.

An old fella back at Bear Lake had suggested I make my way through Yellowstone and up to Boiling River to soak in some hot springs, so that was my plan. I got as far as Old Faithful, but the wind was intense. Bad weather, possibly snow, was on it’s way to Yellowstone, so I had to get to Cody, WY where it would be warm and mostly sunny. During my east-bound 45mph ride, a minivan full of retirees slammed on their brakes in front of me to gawk at and snap pictures of a bison on the road. I accept that cagers are often unaware of the potential hazards they create, so I had left a healthy distance in front of me for just such an occasion. Rather than sit and wait while this huge beast holds up traffic, I zipped past the animal, and continued east. It eventually brought me to a grassy stretch where a herd of bison grazed. Tourists snapped pictures from a safe distance, and I did so as well. Trickling rain was my queue to expedite my hunt for a place to camp that night.

20150904_145233

I regret not getting pictures of the beautiful red rocks along the way to the reservoir, but rain was coming down. The gentleman at the Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center recommended a campground in Cody which was walking distance from the main drag.

Dam.
Dam.
Dam.
Dam.
Dam.
Dam.

When I arrived at Ponderosa Campground, they had a cabin with beds, heat and electricity available for $30 more than a tent site. DEAL!  My tent could dry indoors, I didn’t have to think about critters sniffing my snacks, and I could  fall asleep watching some PBS documentary.

Home for a night: the Kit Carson Cabin.
Home for a night: the Kit Carson Cabin.

It was nice to stretch my legs, poke my head into the Irma Hotel, but I finally settled for veggie sushi and a glass of sake. It’s Wyoming. I doubt the 17 year old kids working the sushi counter are handling high quality fish. I drink way less than I used to, so I walked my hammered self back to my cabin with every intention of updating this blog, turned on the tv and sacked out.

Other lodging options.
Other lodging options.
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