Waking up in an actual bed in Cody was lovely, but stumbling out of my cabin toward the bathroom and catching an eyeful of rainbow to the west set my heart a-flutter. I still can’t believe I was able to get a picture of it! The campground had a laundry facility, which I took full advantage of. My now-dry tent could be packed with all the camping gear and clean clothes could be crammed into compression sacks. Tire pressure was checked, bags were loaded, and to the east I went.
One of the campground owners suggested I take Highway 14 which goes through Shell Canyon, to a waterfall, through the Bighorn National Forest, twists and turns up and down a mountain with plenty of pull-offs for scenic pictures. Perfect! Approaching the canyon, the rocks turned from grey to red and the road started to curve and ascend. This is the only time in life that I’ve actually wished I had a go-pro camera. Still shots do no justice to the beauty and fun of riding out here, but I found someone else’s video of the ride! Enjoy.
Up the hill a bit, the turn-off for Shell Falls presented itself. Water succumbing to gravity and falling over a cliff will always catch my attention.
While I was there, a hefty Harley couple and I chatted about riding around the area. They came through on their bikes 10 years ago as part of their honeymoon, and came through again for their 10th anniversary.
As I was about to mount my bike, the older couple parked next to me just sort of stared. Turns out, the gal has been riding motorcycles longer than either of her husbands. She was the impetus for at least one of them learning how to ride. In her 50’s, her daughter was participating in a women’s motocross race, but needed another rider for competition. Having no practice on dirt tracks, she placed 6th out of 6, and as the season went on and other riders broke themselves, she placed higher and higher. She still rides a Vulcan and is now working with Mustangs, the horses not the cars.
Over the crest and winding downhill, there were more pull-offs, but one seemed to have the most traffic, and something I had never seen before: an actual paraglider preparing to take off. Time to pull over and watch. As I sat on the guardrail taking pictures and enjoying the view, three different people came over to ask me paragliding specific questions like “What direction does the wind need to be going before he can jump?”, “Is this something that happens every weekend here?” and “How long have you been flying?” It turns out my Aerostich Roadcrafter was what prompted the inquiries. Hilarious!
Nature called and the glider showed no signs of taking off anytime soon, so it was time to cruise downhill to the next service station. Being that it was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I reserved a campsite at Keyhole State Park a few days ahead to ensure I would have somewhere to sleep. The ride had been fantastic so far, but now it was time to get onto Interstate 90. Signs read “35+ MPH Wind Gusts”. 80 MPH speed limits. 157 miles of highway horror lie ahead of me. FUCK.
There are not enough rest stops in Wyoming! I skipped one because I didn’t notice it until after I passed. The only exits until Gillette dumped drivers onto gravel paths, so I toughed it out until civilization appeared, filled my gas tank and sat still for 15 minutes. I was only 45 minutes away from Keyhole and there was maybe an hour of daylight left.
I took a couple of wrong turns at the campground which resulted in gravel hill shenanigans (no drops!) and a quick chat with some other campers, before finding my site. I chatted with a camper whose political beliefs strongly differ from mine and sacked out for the night.