it’s amazing. as many road trips as i’ve taken, and i continue to be amazed. it just stretches and stretches. and so much of it is incredibly beautiful.
i’m at my brother’s house. jack and glesy have two boys, my nephews: orin and karsten. orin is almost 2 years old and cute cute cute. and a bit crazy. karsten is just a few months old and really really chubby. he looks like a little smiling buddha. for some reason, jack’s computer is not wanting to read my camera, so i don’t have any pictures today. sorry. i’ll try from my dad’s house tomorrow night.
so, staying at mike’s house was WEIRD. i took a picture of his house, but it just doesn’t do it justice. it’s several miles outside of riverton, wyoming. it sits on a dirt road next to a junkyard. he has a lot of land, and it’s mostly high mountain desert. scrubby. the house itself is decorated on the outside with various animal skulls and interesting sticks, etc. the inside is… extremely messy. i wouldn’t have been surprised to see rats. really. he has buffalo skins on the walls and floors. a knife collection sitting on a shelf. an old sheet acting as a non-slip pad in the shower. dirty dishes on the living room floor. a cooler instead of a fridge.
anyway, it was fun hanging out with him. in the morning he made me breakfast and then showed me around the property. then i took off. i headed north into the grand tetons and then yellowstone. wow.
the grand tetons are beautiful. they just appear out of nowhere, and before you enter the park part, you can ride as fast as you like on wonderfully curvy roads. ah, the joy.
yellowstone was much as i remembered it, although much of the forest that had been destroyed by forest fire many years back has grown in much better now. i was there last time 16 years ago. i got really lucky, and got to old faithful just a couple of minutes before it was scheduled to blow. i stood there with some other bikers i’d met at a previous stop, and we all took pictures of one another while we chatted and watched the geyser blow. then i headed out of the park, west, again on 20.
speaking of which, a quick guide to my trip by map.
DAY ONE: i took 169 south out of minneapolis through MINNESOTA and IOWA, to sioux city, where i got onto US route 20 into NEBRASKA. the first night i camped in valentine, nebraska, at 523 miles.
DAY TWO: out of valentine, i continued on 20 into WYOMING, until it met up with route 26, which i took to riverton, wyoming, at 1056 miles.
DAY THREE: out of riverton, northwest on 26 into grand tetons national park then yellowstone national park, where i met up with route 20 again, and entered MONTANA, then IDAHO. got a cheap motel room in arco, idaho at 1507 miles.
DAY FOUR: out of arco, stayed on 20 to craters of the moon national park, where i hiked, then back on 20 until it met up with interstate 84, which i took through OREGON, then crossed into WASHINGTON at umatilla, taking route 14 west along the columbia river gorge to goldendale, which is actually not on 14, but a little north on… um, 93??. camped at 2071 miles.
DAY FIVE: out of goldendale, stayed on 14 westbound to vancouver, then north on interstate 5 to centralia. am now at jack and glesy’s, at 2278 miles.
so, to continue my story, let me describe arco.
a god-forsaken town in the middle of idaho. right. so, at idaho falls, idaho, i passed into 68 miles of desert, with a big sign proclaiming, “entering government testing area”. it’s barren, and there are these huge buttes rising over it, one of which is covered in antennae. finally, after all these miles of fun speeding adventures, arco appears. i stopped at the gas station at the edge of town and inquired after good food and cheap motels, since i’d gone through a really nasty rainstorm and had been drenched through (much earlier). as i was pulling into town, i received lewd comments from several carloads of inbred young men. ick. i decided there was no way in hell i was camping in this town.
anyway, the guy at the gas station gave me some advice, which i was lucky in time for, as 30 minutes after i checked in, some other people tried to check in and were told that the place was full, as was every other place in town.
did i mention that sturgis is this coming weekend??? this whole region is FILLED with motorcycles. everywhere you look. and a pretty high number of non-harleys, too.
well, that was arco. it makes a better story in real life.
the next morning, i woke up early, chatted with some bikers from a couple of doors down, and headed for craters of the moon. there’s a nice loop drive that i took, but i also stopped and did a little hiking. a really weird thing: in the middle of nowhere, i started receiving text messages!! first one from matt, then one from dick, then one from mel. i actually got matt’s before i left the motel. but my phone continued to say “no network available.” so, it was kind of nice getting messages while standing looking at the bizarre landscape that is craters of the moon park.
after leaving the park, the ride was miserable. i took the interstate because i really wanted to drive through the columbia river gorge, and it’s the only way to get there. but i got REALLY sick of desert after a while. especially when i hit the gorge, and found that that eastern part of it is really pretty boring, after the first joy of greeting my old friend the beautiful columbia river. also, i kept seeing cops, so speeding was out of the question.
since i was going right past, i decided to stop at goldendale, where there’s a large amateur public telescope. i got in around 6:30, just enough time to set up my tent, shower, and get up to the observatory for the evening, which starts at 8. again i was lucky. it was the night before the new moon, so very dark, plus clear skies, plus not many people. fantastic. i was there until midnight or almost, and the stars were beautiful.
oh, and there was a dutch guy there, of all weirdnesses, so i spoke a little dutch!! i think he was as surprised as i was!
another weirdness: the people i camped next to know my aunt. small world.
this morning i had an easy ride ahead of me, and a GORGEOUS route along the western part of the gorge. i stopped for a proper espresso, and had a long chat with the cafe owner. then i had a pleasant ride home. it’s so nice when you know you’ve hit the west side of the cascades. the greenness. i always know i’m home when i see all that green.
if i’d known ursula and aimee’s phone number, i would have called them and visited in portland, but i didn’t, so i just sped home on I-5. not a nice ride, but very homish.
the plan so far is this:
tonight, i spent time with jack and glesy, and then briefly visited my other brother kyle and his wife katy. i sleep here tonight.
tomorrow, i will help jack move some furniture from out at the farm to here, then i’ll go up to olympia to visit with my very old friend nathan, whom i haven’t seen in something like 5 or maybe more years. then i’m expected to dinner at my dad’s, where i’ll sleep.
saturday, i will hopefully see some of my dad and also kyle and katy. i was hoping to get down to portland, but i think maybe i won’t be able to. sunday i head up to seattle.
dusty, darling, when are you free??? will you send me a regular email and we can discuss? or you can call me: 651-329-9878. i have many people i want to see in seattle, so i’m giving it 2 nights. i must leave pretty early tuesday morning, so i think i’ll try to spend monday night with my friend alicia. otherwise, you have dibs on first choice for right now.
and that’s the western washington plan. yay!