Sunday, July 19, 2009

AK '09 - Day 29

This morning we were supposed to be at the bikes at 7am. What was I thinking? We only had 175 miles to go and even with stops we getting there before noon. For some reason my brain wasn't working, it didn't dawn on me what time we'd get there. John suggested we try out the free breakfast since they had omelets and other breakfast items.

After breakfast we checked out and went to the bikes. It was 7:45 as we pulled out of the parking lot. Due to a GPS user-interface issue, we had a little issue getting out of town. Eventually we got out town on Hwy 287. In the sky there were lots of dark clouds and it looked as though we might get into some rain.

Some how we managed to avoid the rain for the most part as we snaked through the valleys between mountains. Eventually 287 took us to I-90 where we headed east. About 80 miles into the ride, my rear was bugging me so we stopped for a break. Afterwards we resumed our travels until we got to Hwy 89 in Livingston.

We headed south on 89 for the last 50 miles. Since it looked as though we were going to get into town before noon, Reagan and I talked about going into the park to get the park information packet and maybe checkout a visitor center. About 15 miles outside of town the rain briefly caught us as we rode through a mild sprinkle. Reagan noticed the oncoming traffic didn't have their wipers on so it was safe to assume the rain wouldn't last for long and it didn't.

The Super 8 was on the main road into town so it was easy to find. I went in to inquire about check-in time. The clerk said it wasn't until 4pm. We had 4 hours to kill and the rain looked like it was heading right for us. We left the hotel, fueled up, and went looking for a pharmacy. No luck on the pharmacy but since we were at the north gate to Yellowstone we went in to get the park information.

Once inside, we decided to head on into the park to Mammoth Visitor Center. I was hoping there would be a movie or 2 we could watch and pass the time. As luck would have it, the rain caught us before we got to the visitor center. Reagan and I were mostly dry on our top halves but the bottom halves got soaked thanks to the mesh pants. John and Lydia got soaked top and bottom with their mesh gear. We all thought we could beat the rain to the visitor center and we lost.

The visitor center was packed with people since it was raining and it was a free park fee weekend. But we did manage to get into the theatre and watched 2 movies about the park. They weren't the best movies I've seen on this trip, but I did get a little out of them and it helped to pass the time. Fortunately, the air conditioning wasn't doing too well or we might have been uncomfortable in our wet gear.

After the movies, we went outside to find the sky had cleared and the sun was out. We spread out our gear on the bikes and went across the street to the dining hall where we had a great lunch. In fact the service was probably some of the best service of the whole trip.

When we came out of lunch, mother nature had something different in mind. The sky had filled with dark clouds again and the sprinkles had returned. Since it was after 3 we headed back to town, being sure to stop at the 45th parallel for a photo op. John found a pharmacy so we stop so Reagan could get some things. John and Lydia went on to the convenience store for some Moose Drool, while I waited outside. The rain was coming.

With Reagan back on the bike, I hustled through town the 1/2 mile to the hotel. I went in hoping to check in early and the clerk was fine with it. In fact he probably would have let us check in an hour or 2 earlier. As we were checking in, the rain finally came. The girls went to the rooms, while John and I moved the bikes. It wasn't a hard rain but enough that you didn't want to stand out in it for long. Once we got the bikes unpacked it seemed like the rain stopped.

We sat around drinking some afternoon totties and enjoying some Moose Drool. Our totty of choice was hot cocoa and crown. Tip, skimp on the water, and be generous with the Crown. After some time we walked down to a pizza place claiming to be the best pizza in the west. It can keep it's claim, but what really surprised us was the incredible wait staff. While we were their they had several large parties come in and it didn't slow them down. Pretty much every table was full and service remained good.

As luck would have it, when we walked out of the restaurant it was starting to rain again. This was starting to become a theme. We tried to walk back and sought shelter in a nearby building. Finally the rain stopped and we walked to the hotel.

Tomorrow we go to Beartooth pass, and explore some of the northern part of the park. We are planning to start our day a little later, we are meeting downstairs at 8am to try their free breakfast.

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