Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 40, Hello Montana!

Day 40, Grant Village, WY (Yellowstone Lake) – Junction of 287/87 88 miles (2918 total)

July 20, 2008

Time on bike: 7:20:18

Avg: 11.9

Daily Ascent: 2726 ft (31 ft/mi)

Elevation at days end: 6200 ft

Max: 39.5 mph

Hello Montana! It was a cool 20 miles to Old Faithful from my campsite. There must have been hundreds of RVs and campers at the site. It was, after all, a Saturday night. Apparently, 15 minutes before I arrived last night there was a grizzly bear around the campground. I guess I should have peddled faster to see it!

Old Faithful was erupting as I arrived, so I didn’t have to wait to see it. It was interesting but to be honest I thought it was a bit over hyped. A hole in the ground where water shoots up 30 ft. Eh, it was alright. Interesting. On the way to Old Faithful I crossed the Continental Divide 3 times! Biking up the Continental Divide 1 time is impressive enough, but 3 times! That’s just craziness. Three times within 10 miles at that! Absolute craziness!

Yellowstone was beautiful. Clearly the fire that swept through 20 years ago is still apparent. The land is covered with dead trees both standing and lying everywhere with young pines growing up all around. It certainly looks creepy. Like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” creepy. I did see some wildlife. A bald eagle, a buffalo and an elk. Mostly I saw groups of tourists with their cameras crowded along the sides of the roads trying to get shots of the animals. I almost wanted to photograph the tourists more than the animals. I thought they were the bigger spectacle. One guy, as I biked passed some pulled over cars said, “You’re my hero, man.” People were even taking pictures of me on my bike! I felt like I was in Uganda again. Like I was one of the attractions!

I finally reached Montana. There was a small wooden sign that welcomed me saying, “Entering Montana”. I stopped at a town called West Yellowstone for some cherry pie and a Coke and then continued on.

I road past Quake Lake, a lake that was created by an earthquake in 1959 that registered 7.3 on the Richter scale. The quake formed an 80 million ton landslide dam on the Madison River. The landslide traveled down the mountain at an estimated 100 mph and killed 28 people who were camping along the river. Another 250 campers and hikers were stranded within the lake region and had to be rescued via helicopter. Quake lake still has many trees that are upright and visible around the lake, creating an eerie reminder of how the lake was formed.

As I peddled I had my sights on my map for a campsite but more importantly a restaurant. There was one marked on the map but I wasn’t sure if it would be open or not. Wyoming wasn’t the friendliest of states and I had no idea how a backwoods bar/restaurant would be in Montana. I saw a restaurant/bar/RV park and took a shot. Talk about friendly people and a great place! An amazing burger and probably the best onion rings I’ve ever had! Wireless internet! Friendly, friendly, friendly people. I’ve been sitting on the porch of the restaurant talking to the owner, cook and local people for the past few hours, and if you know me, that’s sometimes like pulling teeth for me to do that… Hopefully that’ll continue!

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