Crossing the Border into the US was an easy going affair although the Immigration Officers wanted to look what was in our bags. One particular officer was very interested in our route to Yellowstone and brought out maps and gave us really helpful directions.
Riding through Flathead Lake in Montana we came across a small camp ground perched on a hill overlooking the lake. That evening at the camp we were treated to a pitch fork fondue, all for free, it is an annual event and we happened to be there at the right time. Basically it was a huge barbeque that all the campers could attend, you just needed to bring a salad.
Shorty and Lorreta from Oregen entertained us for several hours in their most luxurious RV, they had driven to Alaska and were now heading home in a round about way.
Temperatures started to rise dramatically on our way through Deer Lodge and onto West Yellowstone which a most welcome change from the almost continous cooler weather we had been experiencing.
It is hard to find cheap camping in West Yellowstone, we found a camp ground for under $30 US per night! We stayed two nights to sort out a few things like washing before going into Yellowstone where camping is cheaper, but you dont necessarily have laundry or showers.
Grant met Harry, from South Carolina, a few tents down, who was riding a beautiful green and black Kawasaki cruiser.
Harry had heard about us from some Harley riders we had been talking to in Dawsons Creek, Canada. He was very keen to talk about international motorcylce riding.
It costs $US15.00 for a seven day motorcycle pass to enter Yellowstone (we thouroughly recommend that if you are going to hit a few national parks to buy the Annual Pass for $US50.00 - it will save you heaps in the long run). It really helps to go to the Information Centre before entering the park so you can get maps and use the telephone there to book campgrounds, lodges etc.
Whilst in West Yellowstone we experienced our first thunderstorm of the trip. It was HUGE! It rained solidly for about 5 hours. We stayed dry and warm inside our tent.... howver it does nothing to keep the noise out!
Welcome to the first National Park in the world YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK established in 1871.
About 640,000 years ago a massive volcanic eruption, at what is now know as Yellowstown National Park, spewed an immense volume of ash that covered all of the western United States, much of the Midwest, northern Mexico and some areas of the eastern Pacific and left a caldera 30 miles wide by 45 miles long.
This was one of the many processes that shaped Yellowstone National Park, a region once rumored to be "the place where hell bubbles up." Geothermal wonders, such as Old Faithful, are evidence of one of the world's largest active volcanoes.
As well as having all a some 10,000 gysers and hotsprings through out its 2,219,790.71 acres it is a haven for wildlife. A large buffalo (almost extinct earlier in the 20th Century) population, deer, elk, grizzly and brown bears, birds, squirrels, chipmunks all live here in 'harmony' with the perpetual Sunday drivers.
Driving through the park you have to be extremely careful of people just stopping to look at something that has caught their eye. They stop in the middle of the road, they do not pull off - it is scary.
We camped at Madison Campground for 5 nights (tent sites $US18.00/night bookings can be made at the Information Centre in West Yellowstone or at the camp ground, however they fill up very fast during peak season so get in quick). There are no showers but good wash rooms, bear boxes for your food and fire pits and tables for each site. You can get a shower at West Yellowstone or at Canyon Campground.
Yellowstone's geothermal activity is very colourful. The Midway Geiyser Basin is very striking with its red and blue pools.
Orange Spring Mound at Mamoth Hot Springs is beautiful and very unusual.
There are beautiful waterfalls, high mountain passes and Yellowstone Lake is surprising.
Whilst camping at Madison we met Warren and Craig from New York State. Craig was riding a Yamaha and Warren was on his 650 Suzuki V-Strom. Much discussion regarding the merits and quirks of the Suzuki took place as well as the modifications to our bike that Grant has made.
We also met Judy and Robert from Jackson Mississippi who ride a Harley and they were telling us of how they had an unfortunate incident some years ago on thier goldwing in Rapid City, however, the up shot of it was they made some very good friends there and asked us to look them up should we make it to Rapid City.
There are so many more people at Yellowstone that we met including John and John - a father and son riding a Triumph and Harley respectively and the Rhodes family from Gladstone in Queensland.... well they are living in the US until December this year.
Time to look at the map and move on again.
Yellowstone to Rapid City and lots in between.
Leaving Yellowstone through Roosevelt and the North East Gate we head up through the Bear Tooth Pass and down through Buffalo Bill Cody country, across the Big Horn Pass and into Sundance (yes, yes it is where The Kid got his name).
After two hot days (40 degrees C) riding we came to Devils Tower, made famous in the 1977 Steven Speilberg movie Close Encounters of the Thid Kind.
It is such a cool thing to see (entry is $US5.00 per person, there is camping at KOA or about 7 miles up the road camping by donation at Tower View Restaurant), especially once you have seen the film and the significance it plays and the obsession the characters have with the Tower through the film.
There are different Native American Indian tribal Ledgends that are associated with Devils Tower from Cheyenne, Sioux, Crow, Kiowa and Arapaho thus making it a very spiritual place for alot of people. (See http://www.nps.gov/deto/stories.htm for more information)
It rises 1267 feet out of the middle of a prarie. It was proclaimed as the United States frist national monument on September 24 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
When you get up closer to it you can see the detail of the columns that make up the outside.
We camped up on the hill at the Tower View Restaurant and had a beautiful sunset to watch the colours of the rock change by.
We rode on from Devils Tower to Rapid City through Deadwood - yes thats THE Deadwood all you Calamity Jane fans "whip-crack away!", through the famous Sturgis (for those of you who are motorcycle rally fans) and into Rapid City.
On our way into town, searching for the ever illusive camp ground, Brad and his son Rhoan in thier little white convertable pulled up and showed us the way. Half an hour later Brad phones the campground and invites us for hamburgers at his place. Brad and Brenda entertained us and fed us very well. It was a nice welcome to Rapid City. Baby Oona was asleep!
We stayed in Rapid City for about 5 days where Grant performed a full service in the campground. At one of the motorcycle shops we managed to pick up a 100mm nail in the rear tyre. Luckily it was imbeded into the middle of thick tread and not the side wall and Rosco of Roscos Motorcycles was the only person in town who was even willing to repair it. (Roscos Motorcycles and ATV - 1125 Kennel Drive, Rapid City, South Dakota - 605 348 3946) Once again, THANKS ROSCO!
After an excursion to the Ellingsworth Airforce Base and Museum we managed to look up the friends of Judy & Robert from Yellowstone Bonnie and George. They fed us, took us out for icecream and generally showed us a lovely and memorable time.
Quick Note: Try not to ride in Rapid City at Night as there are Deer EVERYWHERE! We came across about 4 in the space of about 5 miles.
So leaving Rapid City we had a look at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, they were amazing.
We headed through Newcastle - not in New South Wales! - and stopped for lunch in Donnas Kitchen.... where... yet again... Julie announces her birthday was only a few days away and was spoilt with the most delicous 4 Berry Shortcake on the house.
Hot and uneventful ride to Cheyenne and then on throught the Deer Pass at 12,500 foot pass in the Rocky Mountan National Park ($20 per vehicle just to transit - see how handy the National Park Pass is!). It is very beautiful.
We then headed to Kremlings where we enjoyed yet another fine example of a very loud thunderstorm.
We also were treated to some home made Beef Jerky from Harlan at the Middle Park Meat Company. They have very delicous meat there and the Jerky (our first every) was fantastic!
On to Rangely through Steam Boat - a very trendy Ski Village - where Julie had her Birthday Breakfast.
Rangely is a very neat place. It is in the middle of the high desert of Colorado on the Utah boarder.
There are lots of things to do there including a ride out to Dinosaur National Monument, take a ride through Canyon Pintadas, eat at the fantastic Mexican Restaurant and drink with Harley Riders at the Main Street Pub.
Mike, Mitch and Dave entertained us with there wit and banter.
The morning we left Rangely we met up with 5 buddies that were travelling a loop of Colarado. We rode with them for a couple of hours until we left them at Grand Junction. Only to meet up with them again in Silverton.
Through Ouray, Durango and into New Mexico to Farmington where Mark & Lisa who we met in Alaska/Canada opened there home to us.
We stayed for a week where we were able to use their workshop and tools to make a new aluminium carry box and do some work on the bike such as cleaning and servicing the chain, checking the sprockets.
We also ordered a new front tyre as it was getting very worn, ordered sprockets, fork seals and a new chain so that we would be prepared for when they needed replacing.
Whilst at Mark and Lisas we were introduced to thier many toys including thier Scooters and we were fortunate enought to be able to go for a ride "Scooter Trash" style out for breakfast and to the Aztec Ruins National Monument.
We took Yellow, Lisa rode Crumpet - the Vespa and Mark rode The Rat Bike. Scooters bring a whole new meaning to riding. They are great fun though.
We also were treated to a barbeque at Tori and Sarahs place. Sarah is a feminist artist (check out her web page www.goddesses-art.com) and we were able to go through her studio and see lots of her work.
Mark took us out for a day ride to Mesa Verde, a Pueblo/Anasazi ruin up on top of a mesa.
We had a two week wait till our parts came in - so we took a ride....
Goodbye to Farmington New Mexico for now anyway and off to Canyon de Chelly.
Canyon de Chelly is in the Navajo Indian Reservation and is a beautiful and intimate Canyon. You can camp (for free - no showers, however you can get them at the Chapter House) at the shady Cottonwood Campground.
There are guided tours of the Canyon or self guided rim drives. There is only one walk you can undertake on your own and that is down to the white house.
It is about a 2 hour walk switchbacking the canyon wall. Down and then Up again... It is really worth it and it is not to hard if you just take your time.
Whilst here we met Shirley and Tom from Kentucky or Tennesee depending. They introduced us to thier friends including Don whos father was one of the first Navajo Code Talkers.
One of the very exciting things about Canyon de Chelly is Spider Rock. It is a huge monolith in the middle of the canyon, pointing straight up. If you have ever seen the movie Mackennas Gold, Shaking Rock in the movie is Spider Rock
After a few days of wandering around it was time to go. We headed across to Winslow, Arizona to look at the famous Meteor Crater. At Winslow we stopped at a truck stop cafe for a feed and a cuppa. A storm hit just as we sat down to lunch.... and then the roof started leaking and all the power went out..... a very exciting time.... the Cafe owner seemed to think that it was all the patrons fault that the roof was leaking!
The Crater is about 50,000 years old and 500 foot deep (apparently it was 700 foot deep at impact but due to erosion it has back filled 200 feet). It is very cool. We took the rim tour which is very interesting and it expleained the recent history of people who have tried to mine the site for iron and nickel.
Winslow to Flagstaff in another storm - the seem to be following us. At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon and high up in the mountains we decided to make the 3 hour run down to the lower lands of Nevada to Laughlin.
Arriving tired and now hot (freezing up in the mountains to furnace in the valley) we booked into the Flamingo Casino for two nights then stayed for 5! It was a nice break and a great luxury at $US25/night. Food, wine, swimming pool - who could ask for more!
From Laughlin we rode straight through Las Vegas (it was a zoo) and ended up in St George in another storm! Then onto Zion National Park. Zion is very interesting and beautiful. Worth the stop.
After Zion we decided to take in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is quite high up in the mountains in beautiful Ponderosa Pine Forrest. We dry camped up in the mountains (free camping - no services) at 9,000 feet and enjoyed listening to the Coyotes bay at the moon - hoping they were not heading our way!
The Grand Canyon is BIG, what else can we say? It is huge and very beautiful. It is hard to take in, it is on a scale that is hard to comprehend. After spending time at Canyon de Chelly where it is very intimate and close, Grand Canyon is wide and deep.
After the Grand Canyon we moved on to Page and then back to Farmington through Monument Valley and Mexican Hat.
Monument Valley is just like you see in the movies. Big red rocks sticking up in the middle of a flat landscape.
Mexican Hat is really neat, a tiny town on the edge of a river. The Trading Post and motel is very cool to eat at as it is right on the edge of the cliff overlooking the river.
Arriving back in Farmington to the house of Mark & Lisa, much to the delight of Suni!
All the parts, ordered two weeks prior, for the bike arrived and Grant managed to change the front sprocket - which was surprisingly worn - with the greatest of ease, well it seemed like it to Julie! Grant was also able to put the front tyre on using only the tools we carry and with Marks assistance the tyre was ballanced.
Grant also decided that as the first new ally box was such a huge success that another one would be of great benefit.
Whilst in Farmington we were invited to the Four Corners Old Car Club meeting - seeing as we still own the HR, we qualified as guests! We also joined the club for their run which included the Scooter Club.
We went to visit Paul and Desree Edney who have a collection of Route 66 service station memorablila including gas pumps, a baby rattler display, Goodyear Tyre ashtrays! it was very cute.
Jules got to ride on the wee Crumpet Vespa, feeling very Audrey Hepburn, looking very Frumpy Hepburn.
Grant took the Rat Bike Cushman for a spin and enjoyed it imensley.
Leaving Farmington we moved on to Sorocco and out to see the Very Large Array Radio Telescope, you may know it from the film Contact. It was very interesting watching all the 29 dishes move in the valley in sync.
After Sorocco we moved on to Alamogordo and visited the Suzuki dealer for information and the guys there were very very helpul.
Alamogordo is home to the Space History Museum where they have displays on all sorts of cools Space stuff and displays on misiles and rockets which was very interesting. There you can stand next to and touch an F1 Engne which was used in the Saturn Rockets that took the missions to he moon.
We left there past the White Sands National Monument (huge gypsum sand dunes in the middle of the valley).
We are now in Deming, having a short break in a campground enjoying the Deming Duck Races before heading off to Mexico.
We have been fortunate enough to have met Howard and Marilee who have this neat little RV (which is very uncommon) and they run an internet cafe out of it.... just jokes, they very kindly let us use the internet and thier computer. Thanks guys...
We have also picked up a Hitch Hiker! The Suzuki has be christened Miss Piggy as it seems t be getting more buxom by the kilometer so our friends in Farmington gave her a lover!
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