Day 9 - Sunday
Trip Start Jul 10, 2010
12Trip End Jul 20, 2010
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Where I stayed
Stepping back to the night before - I needed to charge my camera battery and my laptop battery - they were both pretty much dead. I noticed that the campers on the other side of the fence had power panels between them, where the campers to each side would run their cord to plug in. I figured that I could plug into there as well. So on the way back from the rodeo, I stopped at Wal-mart and picked up an extension cord. Got back to the campsite, and ran my cord out from my tent to the nearest power panel. When I lifted the cover, the cord for the camper on the right fell out of the socket and onto the ground. "Oh oh", I thought, as I was trying to do this incognito. But maybe they didn't notice
Not a minute later, this old guy comes out of the camper in a t-shirt and shorts (not pretty!) and goes over to inspect the power panel. I assume that even though I had gotten his plug to stay in the socket, it must not been making a connection when I left it. This old guy just presses hard on the cover as to push in his plug harder into the socket, and his wife shouts out from the camper that they have power again. I don't think he noticed my extension cord coming out of the panel, as it was looped towards the bottom of the box, not in plain sight - plus by this time, it was completely dark outside, it wasn't really easy to see. He didn't see me either, as I was on the other side of the fence (where the tent area was). Finally, we both are good to go as he has power and I now have power to charge my batteries.
Well, now it is morning, and I need to pull my extension cord back out of the box. I tried very hard to keep the old guy's power cord plugged in while I lifted the breaker box cover to pull out my extension cord. Uh, didn't work. His cord fell to the ground once again, so I quickly yanked my cord out and plugged in his again. I jumped back over the fence as fast as I could before he came out - but he never did this time. I figured he was still sleeping
It was quite a nice morning. Temps were still reasonable, traffic was light, and I wasn't too far from entering the Bighorn mountains - which would be the last of the mountains I would be driving through on this trip. I couldn't believe that I was about to be done with the mountains already. I wasn't looking forward to driving hundreds of miles back through the plains again. The drive from Cody to the Bighorns were very much plains, however, and very, very dry. Even the desert grass that I've seen before in the lower part of Idaho wasn't very populated here - it was just mostly brown.
It was only about 60-70 miles from Cody to where I started climbing into the Bighorn mountains on US hwy 14. I was originally going to take the north fork of the road (hwy 14A) into the Bighorns, as it looked like a better road from the map. But I had two instances with talking with other bikers that said the original hwy 14 was a better ride. That's fine with me, it was closer anyways
Entering the Bighorn mountains was pretty neat, because it changed from pretty flat, dry land to steep mountains very quickly. Even though the west side (where I was entering) was very dry and mostly just rock and very little vegetation and trees, it would quickly change to forest the farther east I drove into them. I was quickly liking the Bighorn mountains more and more for a few reasons. One was that there was very little traffic. I guess most people are focused on the Rocky Mountains over by Yellowstone and further west, and therefore, most traffic takes US hwy 16 on the south side of the Bighorns since it's a much easier and quicker pass-through. That is just fine by me; it was great driving around the curves and really not having to worry about campers and motorhomes coming from the other side. Secondly, the road was right next to the steep cliffs. You could look up and there would be almost a 200 ft vertical cliff right next to you. Oh course you just hoped that nothing would fall on you! :) Thirdly, towards the top of the summit was more like a plateau, and was quite flat, with lakes and grazing lands. In fact, I took a few pics of a few hundred lambs grazing in the grass near the summit. From the picture, you wouldn't know that this was quite a high elevation, but it was over 9,000 ft high at this point. And finally, the east slope has a great bluff from where you can look out over the plains to the east just waiting for you to come down
I was really hesitant on leaving this bluff and work my way down the east side - this would mean that the mountain roads were officially done. It was almost like leaving a good friend behind. As so, I had to wave goodbye to the mountains, and I took a pic of me doing so.
The road down the east side is quite steep, and was fun to drive down. It really felt weird being back in the flats again and not having mountains surrounding you on each side. I think it is really weird how close the flats and the mountains can be to each other - there usually isn't much of a transition between the two.
Stopped in Sheridan, WY for gas and an early lunch before letting loose over the plains. I snapped a couple pictures from the station, looking back at the Bighorns.
Jumped back onto US hwy 14 heading east to Gillette instead of having to take I-90 all the way
By this time, it was getting quite hot - mid 90's and not a cloud in the sky. Finally made it to Gillette, and pulled over for gas and pulled off my gear as fast as I could before I would become a thermal meltdown. Leathers do a good job of keeping me from getting burnt by the sun and do keep me fairly cool while riding, but as soon as you're not moving anymore, you might as well throw some steaks on your back because you turn into an oven very quickly
While taking a break at the gas station in Gillette, I talked with another rider on a Yamaha crotch rocket that was actually heading towards a lot of the places I have just been on - mainly around the Glacier and upper Idaho area. So I gave him some tips and told him he's got some good riding ahead of him. I can't remember where he said he was from, but I do remember him telling me he got a big speeding ticket in Nebraska. Someday, I think it would be fun to run through the Glacier area with a sport bike - it would handle the curves much better and would be fun open it up coming out of the sharp corners. Add that to my list of things to do someday...
Out of Gillette, and heading east on I-90. Unfortunately, there was no other road other than I-90 going east of Gillette. Next stop was Devil's Tower, about 40 miles northeast of Gillette. US hwy 14 from Moorcroft to just south of Devil's Tower is quite a nice road to cycle on, with lots of curves and ups and downs. While Devil's Tower is an interesting formation, it wasn't quite the scale I thought it would be. They do have a road that semicircles the tower and allows you to park closer, and I think I've heard that there's a walking path that goes all the way around it. But you had to pay an admission fee to get that close, and I really didn't care to get any closer
Miles Today: 396