Leaving a small town like Ten Sleep meant the only was was bigger! Cody is world renowned for Shoot Outs and Buffallo Bill but we were there a bit too early in the season for it all to be kicking off and the town felt a bit sad and empty for its size. However, we are sure that in season it would be buzzing but for us, the Cody charm wasn’t drawing us in and we only spent enough time there to get a feel for the place, a coffee and a brief climb at a local crag – not aesthetically pleasing but did the job.
So Yellowstone was our next port of call despite the fact the weather not being at its best. So, we drove into Yellowstone and arrived at our northerly campsite near the main wildlife area. The weather on the drive in was gorgeous and we got the best views and feel of the place that night.
Yellowstone is somewhere that needs to be experienced by hiking, fishing or on horseback. The bike was not recommended by 3 different sources, as people driving RV’s and the general public are so busy looking at the scenery and wild life that there are regular incidents. Once we saw the roads, we reaslised exactly what they meant so we became tourists in the true sense of the word and drove around the main areas, stopping at the look out areas and posing for photos. It seemed so much more exhausting than cycling everywhere. We have to admit, we prefer cycling or climbing in a place as it makes you feel like you have connected with the area –oh that was deep!
Anyway, we saw the rear end of a brown bear which lasted 20 seconds as the ranger spent 2 minutess telling us to ‘not look at the bear for too long’. Work out the maths on that one! We saw buffalo and the famous geysers which seem to time there natural outbursts to compliment the tourist flow, namely 2 times per hour with a 10 min variation. How convenient.
The Old Faithful Hotel was as impressive as the geysers as it is made from knobbly wood and is still the biggest log structure in the world with amazing features such as the giant clock and fire place and it is fantastic! Worth looking around and it is booked up for a year in advance, not that we are planning on staying but we like to look interested in how the other half live.
We found that 24 hours of being a truck bound tourist was enough for us and we headed for the Tetons. WOW! We love the Tetons!! Amazing mountain range that overlook the flat meadows and rivers in the valley with more moose and buffalo than I dreamed possible. We had only planned an over night stay but couldn’t resist staying longer when we heard our friends were in town and the bike routes and climbing were fabulous and the weather changed to ‘perfect’…..fate was calling us.
The benefits of staying longer in any area mean we get the feel of a town, in this case Jackson Hole, which include shoot outs by cowboys (the cowboys were corny but entertaining), country dancing to a local band (we were corny but entertaining) and of course soaking up the art galleries ( all 27) and café culture.
The Millionaire Cowboy Bar was a ‘must do’ for tourists, so we did it and it involved sitting on western horse saddles at the bar. It was all I could do to stop Phil pretending he was on a bucking bronco – oh how he craves public attention – but he did drag me out onto the dance floor much faster than I anticipated once the band came on – how will I ever get him to adjust back to Radio 2 and ‘popular music’?
This area has invested millions of dollars on safe new bike routes which go for miles and miles. We went from our fantastically scenic campsite, which seemed to host its own local herd of buffalo and moose, all the way to Lake Jenny at the foothills of the Grand Teton. Awesome!
Cycling past buffalo on the road with their young was novel for the first time and became normal really fast but never less than fantastic. Another route took us into ranch country with massive gates and entry areas which made you think that JR had influence outside Texas as every ranch entrance was HUGE. Quiet roads, great scenery and the odd cowgirl/boy on horse back.
We also got some great climbing in, the best route being on The Guides Wall. We walked in from Jenny’s Lake for an hour plus and true Scottish conditions kicked in.
It was cold with the skies threatening most of the time but we managed to keep above freezing so that worked for us. There was a local team ahead of us who were fun but shivered their way up, ( softies). It always makes route finding easy having fast moving locals ahead of you. At the end of the climb we walked back down to the lake in time to get one of the last boats back across the to the car park. Always a joy to short cut a route home and it was sunny! Hooray. Good day.
Then to finish off a great time in Jackson we met up with our pals Jack and Pat Tackle and Rex whom we had originally met in Spain 2 years ago. We met up in a stunning bar with huge windows overlooking the Tetons, gorgeous food and the largest variety of Scottish whiskey we have seen over here. Phil was on form! Needless to say we had a great night and our friendships with our Yanky mates continues to grow.
We made a dash for Oregan to make sure we got to see our mate Whit in Baker City for a couple of nights but managed to stop off for the night en route in another climbing mecca called City of Rocks in Idahoe. We arrived about 7 pm after being on the road all day but managed to get one route in before sunset. Great way to have a stretch. It was a bit of a recce trip for the next time we are in these parts. Then off to Whit who greeted and entertained us with culture, hikes and of course a wee bit of alcohol. We visited Baker Museum where we were into everything now that I am fascinated by the Pioneers but we all spent an extra bit of time in the Jest Stream display where we read and saw how these iconic camper vans first started – we are a bit geeky on the whole camper thing, just in case you haven’t noticed.
First Friday in Baker is when the art galleries host open evenings and free food and wine – oh yeh! We went to all three and ate and drank at all three but more importantly LOVED some of the art and met loads of Whit’s fan club and what a great bunch they are. So diverse. Joel is over 80 and has never been abroad and reared cattle and children all her life. She is an absolute hoot to be with and had me laughing non stop and her beef is to die for.
The nicest ever – sorry mum. Then there was Steve who has lived all over the world working on conservation and then there were the Cooke family who now make wine having moved on from cattle but stunned us with the fact he went to Russia for a month last year to be part of a team that artificially inseminated over 35 000 cows in 30 days…..that has to be a record! So as you can tell we were not bored at all.
We went for a hike into the hills where Whit had his ranch and met the man who is buying it from him. He has moved in and he and his wife and new baby are moving from Switzerland to start a dude ranch and there is a reality show from Germany that is following his progress so Whit is now going to be famous in Europe too. He is a great guy and Whit could not have wanted to find a better person with all the skills to take on his beloved ranch.
We managed to grab a couple of days back in Smiths Rock to finish off some unfinished business and it felt surprisingly nostalgic to be back in the place that we started our trip in earnest last year. We did the occasion proud by climbing Zion and the Monkey Face. Both classics of the area and we do love a good classic.
I have to fast track this last blog as we are flying back home in 2 days and I know I will not do it if I don’t do it now. We are going sea fishing with Tina and Vito this weekend before we fly out and what a great way to finish our 8 month (out of 12) trip ie with the friends we made on our first day here.
More to follow if I get round to it.