Day Three: Yellowstone & The Grand Tetons, Wyoming

Sunday, August 31, 2008
156 Miles

By far the highlight day of the trip, Sunday began with a fresh cup of coffee, the clouds breaking up from the previous night’s storm, packing up and waiting for Old Faithful to show up for her photo op…

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

Once we had our obligatory experience with Old Faithful, we took the same approach as the Glacier National Parkway leg of last year’s trip: no schedule and no hurry. There is something uniquely peaceful and restorative to me about being high up in the mountains just after a rainstorm. The air smells cleaner, the colors more vibrant, and something about it restores my soul. As Pete said, “the road is great therapy.”

As an aside, Pete is one of the easiest going traveling companions I’ve had the privilege to share the road with. I don’t recall us talking all that much — just kicking back, and enjoying the road, signaling the other when one of us wanted to stop, and intuiting when it was time to move on. The first part of the day was virtually perfect.

As we headed north to do the lower loop, we ran across this old chap who didn’t seem to be all that thrilled to have been woken up from his nap by the bikes.

"Go away. I'm not due for another public appearance for at least an hour."

“Go away. I’m not due for another public appearance for at least an hour.”

Here are a few shots on the way up HY191 & HY 89 to the Norris Canyon Road cut-over.




After brunch along the way at a standard Xanterra managed restaurant (only notable for its expected bland industrial food and surprisingly friendly service), we turned south on HY 20.

I didn’t take this route last year, so Pete and I took advantage of our lack of schedule to loiter along the vistas. The combination of another storm blowing in and the sun still shining made for a great canvas of scenery.



The wind was picking up, making it more than a little difficult to light our cigars.

Pete lighting his cigar...

Pete lighting his cigar…


Continuing south we catch our first glimpse of the storm coming over the Tetons at Willow Flats.


It was getting cold, windy, and as the first sprinkles of rain began to fall we stopped at Leek’s Landing for a great pizza and several cups of coffee. Pete mentioned this in his post as a place named in honor of Stephen Leek, the “Father of the Elk.”

Here is shot of me in the rain that Pete took at a stop alongside the lake.


And here is where the story gets a bit more difficult for me personally. We stopped to admire the scenery and I stepped out into a field to take this picture once we were in Grand Teton National Park proper.


Right after I took the above picture, I received a message and returned the call to hear that Sue Chambers had finally lost her battle with brain cancer the night before. I spoke to her daughter-in-law on the phone for a few minutes, certainly no more than five, and when I ended the call and looked up, this was what I saw…


This is a zoomed in shot on the same scene. It matched my mood perfectly and was a sobering moment. Sue, her husband Dave and their entire extended family mean more to me than mere words can express. Sue was known and loved for her unshakable faith, the joy with which she approached people and life, and the inspiring way that she, Dave, and their family fought their three year struggle against cancer.

As the wall of rain approached, and in a much more somber mood, Pete and I rode into Jackson to find a dry place to stay, a beer, and a decent steak. On the trip down I spent a significant amount of it in tune with the fact that none of us knows how long we are going to be here. We have no idea if we have 30 minutes, 30 days, or 30 years left on this planet. And as I pondered these things I recalled one of the reasons that I enjoy riding motorcycles so much is that riding keeps me in the “now.” To stay safe you have to stay aware and you can’t do that if you are focused on the road you’ve already ridden or too far up the road you are going to be riding. Being “here, now” is something Sue demonstrated in spades throughout her life and it is one of the many things that I appreciate her for over the years.

In Jackson, we easily found a nice motel that would get the bikes in out of the rain. Armed with a strong recommendation from the front desk staff, we went to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. There, we had a couple of beers, shot a couple games of pool, and then retired downstairs for an excellent steak and no small amount of reminiscing about our friends Sue & Dave.

Route Day 3

Route Day 3

  • skandalon

    Amazing stuff.

    FYI Colleen and I LOVED the one trip we took to Wyoming / Montana. It is the most untarnished, beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. Your pictures bring back lots of memories of our trip in 2003 . . .

    Thoughts & prayers to Dave & the rest of their family . . .