I thought I'd never get out of Idaho, but a few hours outside of Idaho Falls, I crossed the state line.
And almost immediately, I found myself in some of the prettiest country I've ever seen.
Here's the beautiful Snake River again, flowing through valleys between wooded hillsides rich with spruce trees. All along the river I saw people rafting, kayaking, fly fishing, and just enjoying the wondrous beauty of this area.
By lunchtime I'd made it to the quaint, but bustling little mountain resort town of Jackson Hole. It's home to the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar...right on the main square in the middle of town.
Speaking of the main square, it has an archway at each corner...made of elk antlers.
This monument stands in the center of town, honoring those who have served in America's wars.
It's a quaint little place.
The local pharmacy.
Stage coach rides for the tourists.
Inside the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar...the stools are real saddles.
Every cowboy bar needs a stuffed bear.
And a collection of spurs.
The place is huge...as one would expect. Everything seems bigger out here.
This is my sweet buddy, Kat. I had lunch at her place across the square. She was interested in why I was in Jackson Hole and as it turned out, she went to SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design. She thought what I was doing was cool...and what's more, she's a biker too. I'll be seeing her buds at the bike shop on Bull Street when I get back.
Then it was on to the Grand Tetons National Park. Here's a shot if the view I had as I entered the park.
Here is another. Notice how the weather looks different in one side of the peak than the other. I should have paid more attention to those clouds.
Buffalo roaming free in the park.
Just beautiful scenery all along my way.
Lewis Falls. By this time I'd left the Tetons and entered Yellowstone.
More beautiful scenery.
I passed over the Continental Divide and thought that this was the highest altitude I'd see today.
Stopped by the Old Faithful Geyser...not to be missed.
It blows hot, sulfuric water and steam about 30 feet into the air...like clockwork.
Here I am as she's about to blow.
After the visit to Old Faithful, it was time to head for Cody, Wyoming, my planned stop for the night. Soon after the stop at the geyser, things started to look bad. The sky turned as black as the devil's riding boots and before I knew it, the bottom dropped out. I managed to get to a gas station (they are VERY few and far between in Yellowstone) and there was an overhang under which I, and a couple of other bikers took shelter while we waited to see what the weather might do.
The station had a TV and the weather update showed more of the same the rest of the night. There were not many choices. Staying there was not an option. Going back to Old Faithful where there is a lodge was at least 20 miles. Cody was about 80 miles. In the weather that we were having, that meant a two hour ride down the mountain in the rain. The only thing worse to contemplate was to wait too long and make the ride down the mountain in the rain...AND the dark...and in falling temperatures. I didn't want to go backwards, so I decided to go for it. The guys who were with me under the shelter warned me that there was road work underway and to be careful, and...that, in addition to that, I had one more maintain pass to get over before I could begin to head down...one that was "about 9,000 feet."
I wrapped my Arab do-rag around my neck, put on my clear goggles, swung my leg over the saddle, and told my buddies that I was "gonna give it the old college try" and off into the rain and fading light I went.
Almost immediately my goggles fogged up and it was hard to see. I pulled them out a bit onto my nose so as to let some cool air in and get rid of the fog, but it didn't help much. It was raining so hard that I really needed a set of tiny windshield wipers attached to those goggles. The "road work" was a bit if an understatement. I got a few hundred feet down the road and all of a sudden, there was no more road, only gravel where there should have been a road. There was a big, orange sign about there that said "motorcycles use extreme caution." Great. I picked my way though potholes and ruts, never getting out of second gear, and then went though a small lake about a foot and a half deep that cars were balking at. I said out loud "here we go, big fella," and just poured a slow, steady, low throttle to it in hopes of not bogging down or getting water in the air intake. After what seemed like forever, we made it through the six miles or so (that felt a lot longer, too) and finally reached pavement. I was lucky because some other bikers were in front of me and though the conditions I could just make out the tail lights of the one closest to me. So, even though I couldn't really see much of anything, I just kept those lights in sight and did what he did up and down the mountain. At one point, I glanced at my watch thinking that maybe we were halfway...but it had only been about 30 miles. 50 more to go. There was nothing to do but push on. Eventually, we drove out from under the weather. Here's a shot of some very welcome dryness.
From there, I made the run on into Cody for the night. Soaked, freezing, and tired, I was whipped.
It was the best day so far in terms of beauty and great riding, and the most challenging, all in the same day.