Last week we were enjoying the trees and beauty of Wyoming as we crossed the state on our way toward Yellowstone National Park. Theodore Roosevelt once said the miles between Cody, WY and Yellowstone were the prettiest he'd seen anywhere. I have to say that section of country certainly ranks right up there on my list and Yellowstone itself was gorgeous.
We planned to spend a week in Yellowstone so we could rest after the two major mountain passes the cyclists had to climb and so we could enjoy the place. I was looking forward to not having to find lodgings for us every night for the next week and just being able to set up tents and call it done for a few days. First we had to wait for another resident to vacate our campsite though. I took this picture while sitting in the car about 30 feet away. It was just a wee tad unnerving to think that when we slept we'd have nothing but a layer of nylon between us and these guys. I was thinking even the Chevy Citation would prove little barrier should this bison decide to evict us from his land.
Pete's parents and brother Chris had met us outside of Yellowstone for a visit and his brother planned to remain with us during our stay there. Chris was a dry witted and funny guy and we all enjoyed his company. We also enjoyed the use of his truck in the park. The distances between various sights in the park would have made pedalling to them impractical. Let's see, 11 original cyclists, plus Mark, and now Chris, that makes 13 people to cart around. We all piled in to the truck one day to drive around. Did I mention it was not a full sized pick-up? Oh I forgot to mention that? Well, it was small, and rather tight in the back. BUT, no one had to pedal! We spent the day checking the various sights and natural wonders and they were stunning. However, we were out late and night fell, and gasoline began to run low and we got lost trying to find our way back to the campsite. We drove around feeling more and more cramped. We found a gas station and it was closed. We were getting a tad desperate and running on fumes by now. No one was terribly excited at the prospect of sleeping in the truck. We found a ranger station hoping maybe they could help us get some gas or something but it was closed for the night. It was decided that we would siphon some gas from the ranger's truck and leave money to cover it in an envelope with a note explaining. We got home and collapsed into our sleeping bags.
Some of the sights...some mineral terraces. This picture doesn't do justice to the bright colors or the vastness.
One of the many hot springs by the river.
Sometime during the week it was announced that Mike would be departing to NY for his sister's wedding and returning to us afterward. This would extend the one week stay here to two. Except for Mr. Lime, Gus and me, everyone had finished with school and had no hard fast date when they had to complete the trip. The three of us still in school realized very quickly that we would not make it to the end if we stuck around for another week. After a bit more calculating it became apparent that even if we left now we might not be able to continue the course we planned, which involved heading from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park way to the north before crossing Idaho and Washington and then following the west coast to just above Los Angeles. It was discussed at length how to solve this problem and since Mike's return ticket was to the airport nearest Yellowstone part of the group absolutely had to wait for him. This necessitated the 3 students leaving the larger group and reworking our route to cut across a little blip of Montana, southern Idaho, miss Washington completely, cross Oregon as quickly as possible and shoot down the west coast to our final destination. We pulled out the formerly abandoned panniers from the car and what belongings the other cyclists had been stowing there. I am not sure how Gus and Mr. Lime felt but I was really sad to be saying goodbye to all these other people and especially the members not from Pennsylvania. Addresses were exchanged, tears were shed, hugs were given (Pete even gave each of the 3 of us leaving a letter from his heart to us). Would this group of wanderers who started as strangers and grew to be friends who relied so heavily on each other day to day manage to keep in touch with each other? Only time would tell.
Next week...the Three Musketeers or the Three Stooges?