So, our bikes were in good enough shape to make it across the country and back! I can't freakin believe it. The week that led up to our trip, my bike broke down and then a bunch of the fluids started leaking. I replaced the whole charging system, a new regulator & rectifier, stator coils, new wiring, all that shit (and got new gaskets for that leaky business). It set us back two days, but at least it broke before we left, right? Although, I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous everytime that I went to start my bike during this trip, but dammit, she held up!
We left Chicago in the AM and got to Des Moines that night. Stayed with a friends brother and he grilled an incredible meal for us, I felt so spoiled, the first night in.
From there we hauled ass through Nebraska, stopping once to take a snooze in the grass, and then ride straight into a hail storm on our way into Denver. We almost ran out of gas as we pulled up to a small station, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It was a good stop, the sun set, we filled up, and got back into the storm. We crashed at a hotel for the night and met up with some friends in the morning, bopped around the town for the day and headed to the Rockys a little later. I still think the riding through the Rockies is one of the most incredible experiences from the trip. We also got the last staff camp spot for the night (thank you to the nice ranger who let us camp there!)
From the Rockies, we rode to Dinosaur national park. I felt like I was riding into jurassic park. Also, we were the only people at our camp site, besides a few nice germans, and a couple of helicopters that were landing to fill water buckets as we rolled up, to take to the wildfire on the other side of the park. Camped for the night and rode through the park the next day.
After Dinosaur, we hit up Utah. We really wanted to make it to the Bonneville salt flat races, but SLC traffic held us back and we missed it. Thought about heading up the next day, but already being two days behind schedule, we decided to ride on. Next year, Utah. We camped at a campground named "Firefly" after a squirrelly experience on a steep decline rock road - not fun.
From Utah we rode through Bear Lake (Idaho) and into the Grand Tetons. Stayed for a night, still thinking about it though. I would like to give all these places more time on another trip. The Tetons were chilly, and thinking about the heat from Utah the day before, I realized the craziness of what we were actually doing. It was a good kind of crazy though :)
From the Tetons we rode north to Yellowstone and stayed for 4 or 5 nights. Jakes bike got knocked over and his clutch broke, so we rode around doubles on my bike for a while, and then decided to rent some horses. It was a good way to see the park.
After parts arrived, we headed to Montana, and stayed with a few of Jakes family friends. They showed us around, let us shower (we smelled pretty awful at this point), fed us, and kept us in good company. Montana is a wonderful place, and I cannot wait to get back. After a few days in Montana, we began to head back home. We stopped at a small motel in Broadus, and as I got up early the next morning to leave, we met Bill.
When we pulled into the motel, it was about 2AM. There were two bikes in the parking lot next to ours, one from Canada, and one from Alaska. In the morning, I began strapping down the bags, and I turned around and saw a sweet old man in the doorway of his motel room, offering coffee. We got to talking and he was the biker from Alaska. We asked him to join us for breakfast and we went to the local bowling alley (it was recommended, and rightfully so). Talking with Bill about his lifetime of motorcycle adventures made me excited to grow older and keep riding. He showed us an album from his ride from Alaska to Argentina, and told stories that made me feel like I was his buddy his whole life. It was a very memorable interaction, I am looking forward to seeing you again & riding my friend.
It was a good way to leave Montana, and head to the Bandlands of South Dakota.
Pulling into the Bandlands at sunset is something I will never forget. I don't really have many words for it. The Prairie dogs on the way out were one of my favorite stops though. I can watch animals eat peanuts for days.
There is something about living out of a backpack, that I just can't quite get enough of. I need to give all of these stops, and all the little stops we made between the larger ones, more time. I also need to give myself more time to do things like this. In total, we rode over 4,000 miles in two weeks, slept at 11 different camp sites, and three strange motels, visited several national parks, saw birds that i have never seen before, and filled lots of disposable cameras.
This trip meant a lot to me, and I learned a lot about myself from it. Excited for the next one.