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Author Topic: BBB2010 - Exploring Montana. (Part 17)  (Read 1222 times)
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« on: August 04, 2010, 05:19:59 PM »
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Waking up in Yellowstone, I considered my options for the day.  I was only a day's riding away from home, and didn't have to rush.  I decided to see if I could get a campsite for the next night as well so I could explore the other half of the park.  I headed up to the ranger station and found out that the campground was full for the next night.   They were kind enough to check on other campgrounds in the park, and those were also reporting full.  I realized how fortunate I was the previous night to have found a site.  Back to the tent for the daily ritual of packing everything back up onto the bike.  Maybe I wasn't going to explore Yellowstone further that day.  I headed out of the west park entrance to West Yellowstone for a bite to eat and to decide on a plan for the day.  

Remember the Buffalo on the road from last night?  His cousin was my breakfast.  



I sat idling over my coffee studying the map and decided to take the scenic route home, looping through Montana and Idaho instead of spending more time at Yellowstone.  I didn't especially want to run through the friendly Indian reservation I had encountered the previous year in Montana.  That was on the last day of my trip when I was really pushing to make it home.  I remembered riding through a blustery, windy and rainy Montana, and riding through flat boring territory that had little to recommend it.  Even the road surface wasn't in good repair.  When I had finally found a small town, it was clear that everyone passing through was the wrong colour.  White was not welcomed, and the feeling was so strong that you could almost taste it in the air.   It didn't seem to be related to the type of vehicle either cars, Rvs and motorbikes were treated with the same air of disdain.  It was rather odd, especially since it was clear that the businesses in the town made their revenues off of travelers passing through.  What had struck me the most on that trip was having prepaid cash at a gas station and having been scammed out of my change.  That had left a bad impression with me, and I really had no desire to return.  Besides, there were a lot of new roads to explore, that seemed to be calling me.

I headed out of the area at first following the same roads as the previous trip.  And just like the previous year, as soon as I got about twenty minutes away from Yellowstone the skies opened up.  Time to don the rain gear and put covers on the soft luggage.  Most of the day riding through Montana was accompanied by rain and wind.  It seemed to be a constant for riding in that state.  Either that or my timing for Montana is really bad in terms of choosing weather.

When it is raining the camera tends to stay hidden and dry in the tankbag, but I think that I posted enough photos of the Yellowstone area to have earned a light day for posting photos.

Quite a few of the roadside gas stops had sculptures out on the road to attract visitors.  Personally an overgrown brown and white cow has never done a lot for me, nor does it signify an exciting gas stop... but it's all part of the story.  Someone paid a lot of money to have this sculpture created and placed at the corner of their property.   I find some of these sculptures to be amusing.  



As I headed through Montana dusk began to fall and I saw deer at the side of the road.  Not just one or two deer but lots of them.  Every mile or two I saw one more.  They were partly hidden at the edge of the forest, but my senses seemed honed to catch sight of them.  I gave up counting at 30 and focused on finding a place to stop for the night before the deer started dancing with my bike, a very real possibility given the proximity of the tree line to the road.  

Swan Lake.  A small center with a bar, a convenience store, a few houses and a campground.  The convenience store was quaint, and the name "Swan Lake Trading Post" seemed to suit it.  Behind it there was a small private campground.  Perfect for my needs.  I pulled in and got a site for the night.  

As I was setting up my tent I met a biker from Germany.  A mountain biker.  Stephane.  He had started riding in Mexico, was on a tour of the states, and his endpoint was to be Canada on a multi-month ride.  He was trying to find as many off-road trails as possible to ride part of his adventure.  His story was  that he was an avid blogger, and had a website in Germany with a wide following.  His readers were funding the majority of his trip through donations.   He even had his bike donated.  Previous years he had taken his mountain bike on trips through other parts of the world, but it was time for a North American adventure.  He told me that when he wasn't out on four or five month adventures he spent his time as a computer programmer.  Stephane built a fire and we sat in the developing dusk, swatting mosquitoes and sharing stories of our journeys.  Despite the fact I had been on the road and camping for weeks, this was my first campfire of the trip.  

When I camp, I don't take a lot of clutter along with me.  I don't bother to carry along a camp kitchen or materials for building a fire.  I find food along the way on my trip, and I know that a restaurant or grocery store will be just a few miles down the road.   At times it means that mealtimes are a bit random, but that has never bothered me.  

My tent pitched at the side of a small pond.  It had been a nice enough night that I hadn't bothered putting up the fly.  It isn't quite sleeping under the open skies, but at least I don't have to contend with hordes of hungry mosquitoes regarding me as a tasty gourmet meal.  



On the whole I had been very happy with this tent for the trip.  It was spacious enough for me and all of my gear.  If I would have been sharing it with another person, the gear would have had to weather the night under the fly, which extends the front of the tent by a few extra feet.   When packed away the tent was light and didn't take up a lot of space, and was fairly quick to put up and take down.  Three lightweight tent poles, and a variety of snaps and clips.  Most of the time I only put in two tent pegs to stake down the fly.  Nice and simple, the way I prefer it.  

The next morning free coffee was available in the trading post, so I waited for 8:30 when they opened to start off my day.  Stephane was inside updating his blog.  If anyone reads German, his site can be found here (bookmarked to the page of his trip where I encountered him).
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(I came, I saw, I rode away)
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2010, 06:52:30 PM »
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Montana ------------>  Calgary !    I sense further adventure and pics  ! ! !

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