The Yellowstone Road

Trip Start Aug 04, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Wyoming
Sunday, August 10, 2008

The rain finally caught up to me today. On another empty road I saw the clouds gathering to the north. It looked like I was going to be okay since I was going west then a bit south, but every now and then the road - route 20 - would bend north. "What are you DOING?" I would say. Then I missed a turnoff, and I was indeed heading north. It got dark and windy and started spitting rain. On the plains, the weather rules, and everything else - especially bikers - adjust. Finally I was getting too cold and a bit wet so I pulled over to put on my fleece and rain liner, ducking next to my bike for shelter. When I gotback on the road, 1/2 mile later I saw a sign - Rest Area 1/2 Mile. Then it cleared up. Very freaking funny.

Next up was the grand entrance into Yellowstone, by way of the Beartooth Highway, which is a VERY winding road that runs through the Beartooth Pass in the Absaroka Range at 10,947 ft. We had some crosswinds and some rain, but generally made it in good stead. I'd hate to be up there on a bad day. There are still a lot of Harleys on the road, as the Sturgis crows radiates outward to make the most of their excursion, and show off their new T-shirts.

Once in the park, the question was: where to camp? At thispoint time I ran into a friendly guy outside the Canyon Junction store, also traveling alone. His name was Norm and he was heading back to Salinas, CA from Sturgis on his Harley V-Rod. He suggested I check out Pebble Creek in the northeast section, where he was staying, and if it was full he'd share his campsite with me. I thanked him and took him up on this, and he said he'd see me there later.

Pebble Creek is a great campground in the Lamar Valley, which is known for its natural beauty, as opposed to geysers - it's all fly fishing rivers and streams, and herds of buffalo. Ranger Ray toldme thatthey did indeed have a tent lot left, and I dropped $24 for a 2 day stay. Norm rolled in a couple of hours later, and we hung out that evening just chatting.

So Norm set me straight on Sturgis. He said there were a lot of old guys there, but young guys - and chicks - as well. They were all out at the Buffalo Chip, outside of Sturgis.

A guy at the Badlands campground had told me about the Chip. It's a huge fenced-off grasss field that is converted to a festival and campground for bikers, in the tens of thousands. I was in the bike line to get in when I decided that if I did I'd never make it back, so I headed back downtown (A little been-there-done-that, a little rational, and a little chicken. Where wermyfriends to talk me into it when I needed them?). Within that fence, all varieties of two-wheeled and variously clad mayhem ensued - for about a solid week. Norm reported crazy partying, gruesome accidents, and generallly a scene to be witnessed. Music was provided by ZZ Top and Kid Rock, among others. Thanks for setting me straight, Norm - Sturgis lives on, and changes for the better and the worse, as do most things.
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