Tuesday, June 2, 2009

day twenty-three: "big sky country" and Yellowstone

Well, we’re back.  A long day in the saddle has allowed us to end up in Wyoming, our 18th state!  Wyoming, you may ask (a little play on words!)  For one reason, there are many famous people who originated in this great state.  Jackson Pollock, the famous artist, Curt Gowdy, the AFL/NFL commentator and Patricia McLachlan, the writer of  Sarah, Plain and Tall, to name a few.  Then of course there’s my favorite Wyoming native, Bud Shevick, a cultured, sophisticated, man about town.  If I came all the way out here and didn’t see Wyoming with Michael, neither of us could show our faces around the Shevick household ever again!


We planned a long ride today and a long ride is what we got.  The temperature this morning was about 40 degrees when we left Great Falls , MT at 7:30.  We headed south on Hwy 89 and were rewarded with another beautiful ride.  Almost immediately we headed into the hills and draws and small canyons I mentioned yesterday.  We descended through a series of small canyons to the towns of Monarch and Neihart crossing and re-crossing Belt Creek, which flows out of the Little Belt mountains into the town of, well . . . Belt!  You see, this saves having to come up with different names so frequently.  You simply attach a modifier like little or leather or suede or brown (you’ve got the point) and re-use that name as often as you need.  Mike and my bike’s have heated grips but these were largely ineffective today.  My palms felt like they were burning but a scant two cell layers deeper and both my hands were freezing.  From Neihart we headed through the towns of White Sulphur Springs, Ringling, Wilsall through Livingston on our way ultimately to Yellowstone Park.  This is just an aside but all through the day at Yellowstone people kept coming up to me and asking how they might be able to have neck muscles as huge and rippling as mine.  They didn’t always use the specific words “huge” and “rippling”; some may have used words like tight and twitching but the effect was the same.  I was gratified to be able to help them.  All they needed, I told them, was to ride their motorcycle from Neihart to Livingston in the prevailing gale-force winds the area is known for and they too could have huge and rippling neck muscles just like mine.  I just hope their cervical vertebrae don’t feel like mine as a result of the one-day workout.  Back to the story.  About 10 AM clouds began to fill those draws and small canyons I spoke of and pour over the surrounding mountains.  We were OK as long as they didn’t pour over us.  This was not to be the case and by 10:30 it had begun to rain.


Mike and stopped in the little town of Gardiner, MT for lunch at a local bar/café/casino (ever establishment out here has “casino” attached to it, e.g.- hotel and casino, bar and casino, hospital and casino, etc.).  We ordered a great pizza, ate half of it and packed the rest for later.  We headed into the park about 1 PM and began our tour.  The park was even colder than the towns we had passed through this morning and there was snow in the trees and along the side of many of the roads.  Michael and I saw some neat animals and got some great pictures.  I saw Elk outside the park as well as inside but the coolest pictures we took were of the Bison, which roam the park at will.  Free-range Bison cause the same concerns as the free-range horses and cattle I mentioned yesterday.  Also, they are not inclined to move away and prefer to stand in the road and chat with each other.  Mike and I had to get off our bikes and allow the Bison to inspect them.  Predictably, they found nothing of interest and eventually moved off.  Michael and I were surprised that we saw no Grizzly bears in the park.  We were fairly certain that the leftover pizza we took into the park would draw them out and that we would have a sizeable herd of Grizzlies loping after us as we rode.  We did see a young Grizzly after leaving the park.


One last note and I’m done.  I know this has been long!  Today for me was like an Oreo cookie.  It was great on the top and bottom with a delicious inside.  We began the day on Hwy 89, which was beautiful.  The park was the great inside.  The last part of the day we rode through the Absaroka Range (ask Bud Shevick how to pronounce it!).  This was, in many respects, the prettiest part of the whole day.  The Absaroka area has tall spires and chimneys and caves of a red color surrounded and partially covered by the greens of cedar and sagebrush. (Bud, is this making you homesick!?). So, I guess you could say that the Absarokas were the “icing on the cake.”  I know that I’m mixing metaphors but don’t they sound great!  See you tomorrow.


  1. Daily Highlights:

    1) The cloudy skies in "big-sky" Montana. I've tried to think up a way to describe it in my head and can't really find good words. But imagine enormous clouds as far as your eyes can see in every direction--different shades and colors creating different depths...like looking into a sea of cotton candy. Even though those clouds brought the rain that froze us, they were neat to look at!

    2) Yellowstone. Everywhere we looked, there were geysers or steam vents, and the ground looked like melted plastic (of various colors)...dad commented that it didn't even look real. Old faithful (which we included a picture of) was neat but a bit anti-climactic.

    3) This brings me to the highlight of Yellowstone which was having the road taken-over by the herd of buffalo. Contrary to popular belief, the big bad white man didn't kill ALL of the wild buffalo in the west!! Haha. Once they got within a few feet of us, we decided to vacate the bikes and climb onto a rock beside the road...I didn't want to be sitting on my bike when one decided to push it over!! As dad said, they both came and left in peace--what a treat!

    4) The mountain lake just before Cody, WY. I think it was called "Buffalo Bill Reservoir." Picture a crystal-clear, blueish-green lake surrounded on all sides by mountains of limestone shooting strait-up from the water to heights of hundreds of feet tall. Top this all off with the beautiful clouded sky and you've got some idea of the beauty of it.

    That's all I've got for now! The weather's kindof lousy here (rainy and cold)--what's it looking like at home??


  2. Montana & Wyoming are so beautiful (by the looks of y'alls pictures!) (: I'm a little sad there will be no buffalo coming home with y'all! Too bad! A buffalo head would've looked nice next to my blow-up moose head from Colorado! Hah!

  3. Singing "America the Beautiful" will have new meaning for you guys, won't it? Awesome pictures!
    As for the weather back east, it is HOT!

  4. {Wiping tears from my eyes...} No really, I'm okay...
    One of my favorite things out west was watching the skies, seeing the clouds, the storms, the sunsets -- what an Artist God is! Oh, and don't forget to look at the stars when you're away from city lights!

    Looking forward to seeing all of your pics!