4 AM…uh, no
I had set my alarm for 4 AM, and so it went off. I looked outside my tent. Completely dark and completely silent. No thanks. Wildlife will have to wait. I went back to sleep only to rise at 8 AM. Good enough for me. I packed up and made my way to Yellowstone National Park.
Cycling out of camp, I passed a couple from Switzerland touring the United States. Dylan and Clementine. I loved their setup. I envied their trailers, and they envied my panniers. I envied their love.
I was pretty excited to get to the park, but the ride there was going to be uphill until I saw anything cool. On the way, I rode along Jackson Lake. I had an incredible view of the Tetons just to my left.
traffic, muffins, and zombies
I started up a pretty long hill and came to an unexpected traffic jam. Good enough. I’ll ride through it and laugh at all the crying motorists.
Wrong. I couldn’t pass through the construction zone due to heavy machinery. Rich, the guy directing traffic, offered me some muffins. Chocolate and banana nutbread muffins. “Have ‘em all,” he said. I hesitated at first, but after I saw one that he had thrown on the ground to feed a chipmunk, I devoured four big muffins.
The sign of the day was brought to you by Heather Hazen of Popcap. The message was to promote a really popular zombie game Popcap had recently developed. I figured it would lead to some pretty awkward conversation later that day. I got some pretty odd looks from people sitting in traffic. Whatever. Rich yelled to me, “The zombies are already here!”
I had to get trucked past all the construction by a pilot car. Unfortunately, it was only half a mile, and I lost about 45 minutes of the day. I cycled quickly to Yellowstone.
I got to the entrance and hit it hard with the pictures, hiding and kicking at zombies. People didn’t know what the hell I was doing, but the foreigners really enjoyed watching me. A few asian children really took interest in my bike, so I spent about 5 minutes talking to them. Their parents really liked the fact that I was entertaining them, so they took a few pictures of them with me. Stupid me forgot to ask them to use my camera too. They took off, and a minute later, I noticed they left their really expensive tripod. I sprinted about 100 yards to catch their RV, which was stuck in traffic. They were incredibly grateful. I was incredibly tired.
I got some incredible views of area coming in through the south entrance of the park.
Here’s the canyon carved out by the Lewis River.
And here’s pretty little me smiling by Moose Falls.
I hung myself off a 20 foot bridge to get a funny picture with Lewis Falls in the background. Probably not the smartest thing to do. I was hiding from the zombies. Trying to be clever. It was just stupid.
I made my way north going along the Lewis River until I got to Lewis Lake. Big portions of the lake were still frozen, so I stopped by to ponder my solitude. I cried for a little bit and moved on to West Thumb Geyser Basin.
While cycling to West Thumb, I was really taking in the scenery. A raven was flying along with me by the road, zig-zagging back and forth. Ravens are brilliant birds. They have the ability to open zippers on your backpack to get food or work in teams to open bear boxes. Those are damn hard to open, and I can’t imagine opening them with a crappy little beak. I later heard that they pick up rocks and throw them at campers until they scare them off.
Looking to the sky, I was admiring this craven that was traveling with me. He flew over me and matched my speed. Cool. I was connecting with the wildlife. Suddenly, a big chunk of white crap exited his butt and dropped towards me. He was about 8 feet off from hitting me right on the head. Damn. These ravens were malicious.
tree art and getting yelled at
West Thumb is a smaller ‘thumb’ lake of the bigger Yellowstone Lake. The western tip sits along the caldera boundary, which is home to the West Thumb Geyser Basin. This geyser basin was so cool because the eastern landscape was a huge body of water. There was an elk chilling in the middle of the basin. At one time, it charged in front of a few people, towering above a few small children.
I eagerly hopped off my bike and started my way along the boardwalk to the basin. At the time, it was raining nicely. Suddenly, I hear a woman holler out at me, “Are you leaving your bike?”
Well, yeah. I want to see the attractions.
I don’t want to sit on this fence all day long alone with my bicycle. Evidently, she was drawing what was behind my bicycle, and the bicycle was obstructing her view. I figured she was just a wife who was totally hating on this trip her husband was forcing her on. So, I imagined her wanting to draw something to prove herself to her husband. Or maybe she really liked drawing trees. I don’t know. That was my fantasy of the situation.
Then she said, “I’ve been drawing around you, so if you’re leaving your bicycle, move it.” I didn’t feel like arguing with her, so I just shook my head and laughed. She was also so impressively forceful with her speech that I immediately complied. I moved my bike three feet and walked away.
I looked back at what she was drawing. I expected it to be something cool. No. Nothing was cool about it. It was just a tree. To her left, she had a ton of great geothermal features, but here she was drawing a tree. Maybe it was a special tree.
west thumb geyser basin
I really enjoyed this geyser basin. The hot, steaming water was pouring into the lake after being pushed out of the ground.
Getting shots with Heather’s message was going to be tough, but I stuck it out. Stares. Lots of stares.
People kept asking me what the sign was about, and I just said, “The zombies are coming.” I didn’t want to explain it. It was embarrassing. One guy walked by me, turned around, and stared at me for about 10 seconds. Others wondered if I spoke of apocalypse.
bridge bay and the attack of the rv’s
I pulled up to Bridge Bay in the pouring, cold rain. I grabbed a hiker/biker campsite and set up camp. It was already getting pretty cold, and I fantasized about one of the hundreds of RV owners in the park to offering to join them by their camp fire. Firewood was $8, and I couldn’t justify making a fire for that much.
There was a young couple who were right next to my campsite. I tried being friendly with them, and they shrugged me off like some new age hippie. I could hear their conversation the entire evening. They argued about what they were going to eat that night. Chicken tenders or hot pockets.
There I was, eating apples, peanut butter bagels, and instant potatoes. I hated them. It was cold, and they had fire, chicken tenders, and hot pockets. The husband kept ordering the wife around to get him things from the RV. I was pretty annoyed that I had to be camping beside these people. These people with their wonderfully smelling hot pockets.
As soon as the sun went down, I crawled into my smelly, damp tent and went to sleep.