I climbed out of my tent around 8:30 AM to loud RV generators and children yelling. Ugh. I ate breakfast and packed up. Meanwhile, two older folks and their grandchild rolled up in an RV to the adjacent campsite. Their grandson, Aden, took immediate interest in me and my bicycle. He came over and I spent about 30 minutes with him putzing around the campsite.
In this picture, we were collecting earthworms and talking about the little worm family. I told him they like spending time together. I personified the worms because he kept trying to take them to his tent, where they’d inevitably meet their doom. He told me he would punch a bison if he saw one, but I told him they were nice and scared of him. Poor little bison.
His grandmother commented on my ability to connect with her grandchild and told me I’d be a great father. It made me want to have a ‘pokeball’ device that I could throw down and out popped a child. Whenever the child would get hungry or want me to buy it something, I would banish him back to his pokeball. Maybe I wouldn’t make a great father.
I rode out to Mud Volcano. On the way, I saw a few bison chilling by the road. The rangers told me that they are 3,000 lbs and can run up to 30 mph. They are very unpredictable animals and often gore people.
I arrived at Mud Volcano. The features were really muddy and smelly.
Stinky Churning Caldron.
And I posed at Black Dragon’s Caldron.
I left Mud Volcano and passed Sulphur Caldron. Apparently the waters are 10x more acidic then lemon juice. I think. I wanted to leave pretty quickly because 8 French people crowded around my bike and were taking pictures. They saw my Swiss socks and probably thought I spoke French. To clear things up, I said, “How ya doin’?” I’ve learned that Europeans have no clue how to respond to that.
After Sulphur Caldron, I passed Hayden Valley. Bison were everywhere, and if I was going to see a grizzly, this would have been the location. Unfortunately, I just saw bison.
shirtless guy at lower falls
I finally got to the Upper/Lower Falls area…the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I was super excited to see Lower Falls from ‘Artist Point’. The view was incredible. I asked an old lady to take my picture. It took her about 20 times to get the right shot. I felt terrible for having to ask her to redo it over and over…and over. She wouldn’t even get the Lower Falls in shot. A French couple sat on the side watching it unfold before their eyes. They were just laughing it up.
Scott, my dear friend from Cartoon Network, had given me a message to put on my bike board. As soon as he sent it to me, I said ‘shit’ out loud. I didn’t know where to ride with it. Definitely not Wyoming. The message was ‘I miss my stalker’. Scott also nicely requested that I be shirtless in the picture. OK. Only because I like you Scott.
At Artist Point, there were literally hundreds of people. How was I going to do this? Where was I going to do this? I was already trying to avoid talking to people about the message on the board. Aggggh. I couldn’t even hike off from Artist Point to get a good shot of the falls. I looked around and saw that there was some hiking to the northeast of the falls. There was another point called ‘Sublime Point’. It was only a few miles to hike it, and ‘Sublime Point’ had to be sublime. Otherwise, Yellowstone lies to people.
I started my hike. Awesome. No one was walking. It would delay getting to the next campsite by an hour, but I figured it would be worth it. I finally got to Sublime Point which overlooked the huge canyon and river. Pretty awesome. I took off my shirt, did a little dance, and partied it up for Scott.
I pouted a little bit because Scott wasn’t there to dance with me.
And then lightning. No! And then came the pouring rain. No! No no no no no! I was going to be soaking wet by the time I hiked back. That was bad, but what was worse was that I was carrying a huge metal tripod. On the highest point of the canyon. Without a shirt on. This was not a good situation. I sat down for a minute trying to think of what to do. What would Scott do?
I walked over to the ledge. Should I just jump off? Would Scott approve? Should I place the sign perfectly into frame before I jump?
I finally decided to wait it out under a very tall tree. Looking back, it was probably pretty stupid, but it was better than carrying the tripod. The storm calmed for a minute, and I figured that was God telling me to hike back. OK. Will do.
I got back to the parking lot soaking wet. The comments started rolling in pretty quickly from all the old visitors.
I bet you weren’t expecting this…Huh?
A little wet?
That doesn’t look like fun.
This was the comment that really pissed me off: “Seeing you on that bicycle makes me happy I’m in a truck.” I quickly responded, “Seeing you in that truck makes me happy I’m on a bicycle.” She was with her husband, but that didn’t stop me. I was annoyed and angry. She noticed the comment pissed me off and tried to back pedal. “Well, I have kids in the car, so I guess you’re in a pretty good situation,” she said as she forced a laugh. I didn’t say anything else and turned away.
A guy walked up to go to the port-o-potty where I was standing. I was trying to dry off under some sort of shelter, but it really wasn’t working. Standing there, I knew I was going to get a comment about me being wet from him. I was just waiting for it…
“I bet you didn’t predict this,” he said smiling. I gritted my teeth. He looked like a nice guy and probably didn’t mean harm. “Yep,” I said.
It was still pouring. The guy came back out of the port-o-potty and struck up a conversation with me. He was interested in what the hell I was doing on a bike out in the rain, so I gave him the story. He told him I was trying to get to Madison but wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.
“I think we’re headed that way. You could throw your gear in the truck and we could drop you off,” he said.
My eyes lit up. YES! The negative raincloud dissipated, and I felt a huge rush of positive energy. He helped me load up my bike, and I hopped into his truck. His name was Kent, and his wife’s name was Susan.
For the next 20 minutes, I talked their ears off. They were probably ready to dump me off at the campsite. Actually, they were very nice, and we spoke a lot about their home and family. Before dropping me off at the Madison campground, they gave me trail mix, twizzlers, and a bag of Doritos. Susan and Kent made my day. Otherwise, I would have been pedaling in the cold, pouring rain for 2 hours.
the floridian, the brit, and the swiss
I got to Madison around 4 PM. I was super happy I had time to set up my camp and fix up a nice meal. Well…as nice as it gets for me. Mac and Cheese. I walked to the hiker/biker area, which happens to be behind the ranger station, and to my surprise there was a huge tarp set up over a few tables. It made out to be a great shelter from the rain.
A park employee from Florida walked up to me, and we started talking. He had set up the area in order for bikers/hikers to keep dry, and he told me I could pitch my tent under the tarp. Superb. Lenny was a cyclist from Florida that works at the park in the spring and summer. He offered me a cup of coffee from inside the ranger station and told me to give a knock if I ever needed anymore. The emloyees evidently offer coffee and tea to all hikers and bikers.
A tall lean chap came walking up to me out of the brush. Where the hell did this guy come from? I looked around and saw his touring bike along with his camo tarp and bivy sack. Bill was doing a cross country trip and only had a 90-day visa. He was only in Yellowstone and was approaching 2 months. He was taking his time and seeing stuff, which is what the tour is about. We spoke for a while about his home and his touring setup. Lenny, Bill, and I sat under the cover of the tarp and spoke for about 3 hours before Bill decided to turn in for the night. Bill would wake up at 6 AM and go to bed at 8 PM.
Around 8 PM, a couple cycled up to the station to pay for their camping. I was pleased to see that it was Dylan and Clementine, the Swiss couple I had met the day before. I spoke to them for a while, and we agreed that we’d cycle the southwestern portion of the park the next day, leaving our panniers at the camp. I was pumped and excited to cycle with other tourers.