We just returned from a weeklong motorcycle trip. Four couples and five bikes across Arizona, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho (briefly), and South Dakota, arriving back at our home in Minnesota tired, cold, and wet.
Who says global warming is a myth? During our time away, tornadoes ripped across the South, as well as through North Minneapolis. In Pierre, South Dakota, the Army Corps of Engineers were frantically holding their finger in the proverbial dike hoping to save a neighborhood of new homes and a multitude of businesses from flooding. All across South Dakota we encountered rivers, streams, and lakes spilling over their rims onto roadways and over farm fields. We stopped watching the news at night before bed and started watching the Weather Channel.
It seemed as though Mother Nature had become Mommy Dearest.
This is our fourth year on this trip, traveling with friends from Arizona back to Minnesota along various routes. This year, we would go through the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. The Tetons, particularly Flaming Gorge, were amazing, although heavy clouds clothed her highest peaks. That night, we stayed in Afton, Wyoming and awoke the next morning to clouds spitting snowflakes – which we were sure would dissipate as the day matured.
We stopped for breakfast in Cheyenne and checked the weather forecast as well as the road closures. We would enter Yellowstone through the West Gate and had hoped to exit through the East Gate. We had hotel reservations in Cody that evening. But the East Gate was only open for two hours in the morning and then closed. They’d had so much snow and so many avalanches this spring that they were having trouble keeping the roads open. Though it would make our “short” day (measured in miles) into a longer day, we would have to exit through the North Gate and loop around. Oh well, we would get to see more of the park, right?
The snow kept increasing, rather than decreasing. At times we were driving in white out conditions barely able to see the motorcycle in front of us. The snow seemed to annoy the animals as well. A lone buffalo wandered down the middle of the road. Our rumbling Harley Davidson pipes agitated him, and he swayed back and forth across the centerline, leaving no room for passing. When one of the bikes passed him, he became even more agitated and chased the next bike as it squirted by. We, as luck would have it, were in the rear. By the time we came upon him, he was quite cranky. I wondered if my leather chaps were gore-proof. We encountered several herds of buffalo, all with calves, as did the cars in front of us, who would stop to take pictures from the safety of their cars . . . completely oblivious to the exposed and vulnerable motorcyclists behind them. The black bears and grizzlies really didn’t take to us. As a grizzly lumbered across the road and scaled the hill on the other side, he turned to show us his teeth . . . I don’t think he was smiling.
We only stopped for three reasons, to eat, to go to the bathroom, or to fuel up. If you wanted to sightsee, you did it from the bike – which meant that the drivers missed a lot. At one point we stopped at the lodge near Old Faithful. As we drank hot coffee and fueled up for the rest of the ride, the snow began to fall harder. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I realized that we hadn’t even looked at Old Faithful – in fact, the idea had never come up. We were on a mission, and our mission was to get to Cody. We exited out the North gate in error and had to backtrack to the Northeast gate. As we passed through Cooke, I asked why we couldn’t just check into a hotel there. My suggestion was met with headshakes. Thank God we pressed on or we would have been snowed in. The next morning, the roads had accumulated snow and were icy. Our safest choice was to keep pressing forward without stopping.
Snow accumulated on the windshields. The only windshield wipers were the driver’s gloved hands, which quickly became soaking wet and frozen and useless as blocks of wood. As snow accumulated on our helmets and became heavy, it slid into our laps. We were soaked, and so cold that our muscles ached from shaking. When we finally arrived at our hotel in Cody 13 hours later, I was trembling so hard I couldn’t unzip my own jacket.
The next day, as we drove through the Big Horn Pass out of Tensleep, we were met with more snow and even colder temperatures . . . 28 degrees. The cold penetrated through long underwear, a turtleneck sweater, a heated vest, a lined leather jacket and leather chaps as if they were tissue paper.
When finally we descended the mountains, I could feel the warmth of my vest cranked to high, and the sun shining on my face. I started rethinking our annual vacation. Perhaps next year, we should try a Fakation I mused. Three years ago, Staycations became popular when the economy crashed. How about a Fakation – one in which all the activities would be indoors or simulated? We could go to an indoor water park with a wave pool and lazy river. An indoor amusement park would save us from a rainout. There were even simulated golf courses where you could tee off into a screen with images of world-famous golf holes. And how about those simulated racecar machines – that should please my guy right?
I think the idea might catch on. What do you think? I’m forming our itinerary now so that when my husband brings up the subject of the annual ride, I’ll be armed and ready. If you have any suggestions, I’m open for comments. Just don’t suggest a reconciliation with Mommy Dearest, I’m not quite ready to forgive.