Live Bison and Dead Horses
Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
18Trip End Nov 30, 2012
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Yellowstone National Park is only 50 miles away from Cody - we'd booked a camping spot at Bridge Bay overlooking the Yellowstone Lake. The booking was essential - everywhere is packed out this time of year. Got to our site and tents up by one-ish and then rode the Grand Loop route.
The secenery everywhere within Yellowstone is Amazing with a capital A. Everywhere you look there's something new - geysers (two thirds of the world's total), lakes, waterfalls, sulphur vents, meadows, mountains - and all just come at you one after the other. Again, the photos really do say a thousand words. The weather also was perfect - cloudless sky but comfortable riding temperature. First stop was Old Faithful - unfortunately arriving just at the end of one eruption so we had to while away 90mins for the next one ! Bang on time the next one came along soon enough. The 145 mile loop took the rest of the day - via Mammoth Hot springs and Mt Washburn and back past the East entrance again to the lake. And at last I have achieved - drum roll - 24hrs of camping without it raining !! Highlight of the park for me was seeing herds of Bison - incredible.
From Yellowstone (wish I'd paid more attention to the BBC David Attenborough documentary by the way!) it was a couple of transition days as they call it in the Tour de France covering ground south to Moab. Route took us through Grand Teton NP and Flaming Gorge and the National Elk refuge ! Also passed the historic Oregon Trail - you can still see the wagon train tracks (allegedly) as hundreds of wagons a day headed west
Second night was in Moab, Utah. Temperature during the day up to 40c. Spoke to a couple from Germany in a camper van. They are also heading for Argentina from North America but are taking a year. Next morning we retraced our steps slightly and went to the Dead Horse Point National Park (Dead Horses featuring heavily so far in this trip!). This gives a phenomenal view across Canyonlands and below to the Colorado River. The name comes from cowboy days when apparently they would corral wild horses in the natural U shape of the top of the canyon, block the exit with brushwood to stop the horses escaping and then select the best which they would keep. The unlucky ones were left trapped and to their fate to die of thirst overlooking the river 2000ft below them but unable to reach it. The alternative, less macabre, and my favourite alternative is that Mormon settlers on seeing the twists of the Colorado thought one section looked like a horse lying on it's side. As long as it didn't look as though it was dead I'm happy with that
We then went off the beaten track to the top of the plateau overlooking Monument Valley. From here a dirt road - the Moki Dugway - drops the 2000ft in about 6 bends to the valley floor. Views again were unreal. Reaching the bottom you turn off the tarmac again and head across a little marked track that runs through The Valley of the Gods. Surrounded by rock buttresses in all shapes and sizes and with the desert sun casting all different shapes and colours it was really something else. Glad not to get another puncture we bounced back on to the highway for a quick look at the famous view as per close encounters. To be honest I'm amazed tourists go there and miss what is just a few miles up the road. Motel for the night (with pool!) was well deserved after another 7hours at 35C in full bike gear. Had to feel for the German bloke - he's camping virtually all the way. With Mexico on the horizon will try and update the blog text as we go and download the pics once a week or so as I have been doing up to now.
Moving on from Bluff across Utah we had a positive National Park fest including Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase Escalante all in one day before arriving at Bryce Canyon for the night. Again, I'm lost for words to describe the scenery. Escalante alone is 1.9 million acres worth - a lot of space filled with a lot of big scenery. My favourite though isn't even a national park - Glen Canyon. Some of the communities along the way were only connected by road fairly recently due to the terrain
Got up early for a ride through Bryce Canyon (and back). Raining but the sight of deer roaming around and the strange hoodoos - stone pillars almost like stalagmites - made up for it. Got caught in heavy showers all the way today but some sunshine dried us out. Strange to think we have followed so much of the journey of the Colorado from mountains to the Grand Canyon
Update 3 (Thursday)
Staying at the Grand Canyon Plaza Resort (not as flash as it sounds) we managed to get caught out by a thunderstorm that went on all night. The ride south across Arizona got us to Tucson back in sunshine at 3pm and straight to Sanborn's insurance. Coincidentally it was on the same street as our hotel which I had tried to get as near to the bike dealer as possible. This was also on the same street albeit all 3 were 5 miles apart ! Got our Mexican Insurance sorted with Vicki and also spoke to a bloke outside riding a GS from Canada to Southern Mexico to be best man at a wedding. He had of course emigrated from Germany when he was 16 ! Also bumped into an old boy who thoroughly recommended the fish and chips in Aberdeen. Everyone seemed to be of the same opinion - be careful in Mexico, you should be ok but just don't hang around near the border. The old boy also stated where we are heading for our first night was fine and his son goes snorkelling there. 10 days TPF+T cover - £40 which I thought was pretty good and will keep the Mexican border guards happy.