Thursday, November 7, 2013

Guest blog by Roel: Yellowstone: Part II

(Roel felt so inspired by our final ride to/through Yellowstone that I found him awake early the other morning, staring at the ceiling. When I asked what was up, he responded that he was "writing" his Yellowstone blog post in his mind. As I'm the one who usually does the blogging, I was thrilled to hear that he felt so inspired, and continued to be impressed as he sat in front of his laptop, hour after hour that day, writing about our experience in English, rather than his native Dutch. I'm sure you'll be as impressed with his entry as I am... Enjoy :)

As the door of William’s garage opens, the freezing air flows in. It is only 7 AM but there is a snowstorm coming in and there is a lot of road to cover between Bozeman, Montana and Idaho Falls, Idaho where we will stay with Azure’s best friends parents. As we ride out of Bozeman our visors start fogging up and we have to open them to be able to see where we are going. Before long we find ourselves riding along a river that winds through the mountains. We pass the spot that was recommended to us to pitch our tent last night and however beautifully located we are both glad we stayed with William. The cold is now getting to our bones and the grip heating, however amazing, is failing to keep our fingers warm. A few minutes later, we pull over and start running around and clapping our hands to warm up. While running I spot some beer cans and bottles laying on the side of the river. I have so much respect for the pride Americans take in their flag and country but all that means nothing when their land and mother nature are being disrespected by throwing all the trash out. Especially in a majestic place like Yellowstone National Park. When will we learn... 

I pick up most of the trash, tie it to the bike and we get on our way again. The sun is finally coming up over the mountains and we are looking forward for the first warming rays on our jackets. The river, heated by thermal activity, is steaming and we are considering to pull over again and warm our feet and hands in the water. The road decides to make the decision for us and bends away from it. After 20 minutes of riding I hear Azure sniffing and by the cold I feel in my fingers I can tell she must be crying. We pull over in a small settlement and start our warm up ritual again. Heavily breathing we keep running and jumping around with our helmets on. The people in the heated cars passing us must have had a good laugh. Only a dog comes over to check if we are OK. 

As we want to ride off again we find our vizors covered with frost. We clear each others shields  and ride into our first rays of sun. Our bodies are so cold that we hardly feel the heat and as the road bends we ride straight into the bright morning light. Blinded by the light, I pull out the extension of my helmet peak (the inventor should get a Nobel Prize for this!) which allows me to see again. Azure ’s helmet has no peak so I ride in front and talk her through the icy spots and bends in the road and on-coming traffic. The canyon we have been riding through opens up and to the right of the river a vast grassland unfolds. In the corner of my eye, 3 dark spots in the distance move closer to the road. Assuming they are buffalo we ride on but as we come closer a massive antler becomes clear. 

Simultaneously we shout; “MOOSE”! We stop to let them cross the road and then move closer for some pictures.
Where the Elk and Bison in the park, although wild, are well-accustomed to people, the Moose are still completely natural. I can see the fear in their eyes as they quickly walk away from us with giant strides. The female leads and the two giant males follow in her footpath turning their heads regularly to check us out. Azure is beside herself with joy. After looking for moose in Canada for over a month, finally we get to see these beautiful, gracious animals. 

The frozen fingers are forgotten for a while and through the intercom the shrieks of joy and happiness keep filling my ears. We ride into West Yellowstone and decide to find a place where we can warm up until the sun is high enough to do her job. We order some coffees  and get to chat to Wester from Salt Lake City. He invites us to stay with him when we
pass through. An hour later we walk out, chase the ravens off of our bikes, and ride into the Park towards the Old Faithful Geyser, stopping along the way to check out some hot springs.

We arrived in time to witness the geysers next eruption. Minutes before it was bound to go a female ranger comes running out of a building. With the voice of a drill sergeant she commanded some people to move. “Don’t act like you can’t hear me! Get out of there!” To the right of us, in the bushes, we see some movement. Once more the ranger shouts her commands. Two adults and three kids appear from the scrubs perfectly downwind from the about-to-erupt-geyser and walk off. I can’t believe what I am seeing. Some idiot decided that he wanted a close up picture with his family and jumped off the path and climbed a hill to get closer to the boiling water that was about to poor down on him and his family... Where do these people come from? Where does this  stupidity and disrespect for nature come from? (We also heard stories of parents trying to put their children on wild bison to make pictures.) I had a hard time choosing between witnessing the eruption or following the ranger to hear her chastise the idiot that risked his family for a picture. 
Old Faithful
I expected it to be a similar fast blast as the Icelandic geyser eruptions I have seen. To my surprise it kept blowing steaming hot water up into the air for about thirty seconds. What a beautiful show by mother nature. 

After the show we had to move quickly to stay ahead of what the same mother had coming for us. We rode over a mountain pass, crossing the continental divide, towards Yellowstone Lake. 
Yellowstone Lake
A road sign indicated some hairpins coming up and after two sharp turns the forest opened up. On the blue lake shore, thermal pools cast clouds of steam up in the air. In the background snow covered mountains reached for the sky. What a beautiful sight. We decided to have a quick lunch and enjoy the view. 

We are sad to leave Yellowstone but get exited within minutes as The Grand Tetons show up in front of us. They are just magic. 
The Grand Tetons
I try to make a movie with my go pro while riding towards them but after 10 seconds it is empty. Luckily we have been given a second go pro by Philip in Montreal. (Thanks so much!) To my surprise this camera is empty too. The cold must have drained the battery. Nothing left but to charge the camera and film with one hand while handling the bike with the other.  We sit down at Lake Jenny and take in the view. The last stop before racing to Idaho Falls where a shower and a warm bed awaits.

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