rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth" ~ Steve McQueen
This was to be a solo ride to Sturgis, but lucky for me,
Ruben decided to join me at the last minute.
Ruben works in fire management for the Dixie National Forest and is
Leo's son and my nephew.
He lives in
Enoch, Utah so we decided to rendezvous in Ely, Nevada where we will point our
ponies north to that Montana country.
The day before me is going to be a very long one by the
odometer that is counting each mile.
had planned to meet at the Shell gas station in Ely but when I arrived Ruben not there.
I was sure that he would
arrive well before me.
The clerk lets
me know that there are three Shell gas stations in Ely so I move onto the next
He is not there and that bad feeling begins in my mind.
The last Shell station is
up the hill and Ruben is there looking very relaxed; I can't say that for
myself but I am relieved.
|Pony Express Trail|
Our plan is to camp another thirty miles further, along the
Pony Express Trail
It may be called a
wasteland to some but its colorful history is perfect for us.
We quickly set up camp along a rock
out-cropping and reminisce about the bold riders of that day.
They were young, expert horse riders, tough,
and usually orphans eager to earn a few dollars.
Some say that they carried Lincoln's inaugural address across
Sleep comes easily after 652
miles for my first day.
We have our
traditional cowboy breakfast at morning -- Spam, New Mexico green chili,
tortillas, and coffee.
The days are
warm and it is short sleeve riding.
Because the Yellowstone ranger said earlier that they have had heavy
rain storms lately, the two man tent is strapped on my bike as a back up.
Refreshed, we ride on pass Pocatello, Idaho.
There is a USFS campground that I've seen
before after Swan Valley and we hope to make it there before dark.
We arrive shortly before dark and find out
that they do not have water nor is the nearby stream running.
Our water bottles will have to do for tonight
and we get busy gathering fire wood.
Ruben sleeps in his hammock between two large trees and I lay my gear on
my usual spot on the ground.
we ride into Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
At the top of Teton
Pass, we begin to see hundreds of bikers, so we stop. There are twenty-two bikers there from New Zealand. We talk and take a few pictures. We learn that they did not know each other
before in New Zealand but organized this trip using their own bikes. They rented a cargo container and had their bikes
shipped to San Francisco where their trip began. They are happy, enthusiastic, and heading for Sturgis. They are more than happy for a picture when
I call them "Kiwis". We did
not have breakfast so we are looking forward to a hot meal in Victor,
Idaho. It is a very small cafe that is
playing some very old country western music.
They also have a TV and the movie, minus the sound, is playing 'The
Good, Bad, and Ugly.' I couldn't image
a better setting for our first paid breakfast.
We are content, watching the silent movie.
|Easy Rider - Grand Teton National Park|
Jackson Hole is a tourist town but is very laid back and we
stroll the streets taking pictures along with everyone else.
There are now more and more bikers
everywhere, you feel the energy building.
It is hard to ride pass the Grand Tetons without stopping at every pull
The mountains are
At one pull out, there is
a guy riding a bicycle and I ask if he can take our picture. I
call him "Easy Rider" as he
reminisces about the 60's when he rode a motorcycle.
He looks like he has been on the trail a long time so I ask,
"how long Easy Rider?"
"I've traveled 6,600 miles so far" he says without
Impressive Easy Rider.
We ride on with a new sense of energy and purpose.
We hope to camp in Yellowstone National Park
and know that the campgrounds fill up quickly by 11am so we are cautiously optimistic
about a camp site.
We pull into Lewis
Lake Campground well after 11am and most sites are taken.
There is a loop that is strictly for walk-in
sites and we find an empty spot.
claim it quickly and discover that it sets high on a hill with plenty of
privacy and we like it.
In less than 10
minutes, the entire campground is full.
take a short excursion riding to the general store and visitor center.
Our neighbor below us walks up to our site
and we talk.
I call him "Bear
Man" as he is doing some very extensive solo hikes in Yellowstone where
grizzly bears thrive.
He is very fit
and offers us some fire wood.
not see any grizzly bears but seemed to be an extremist
living on the
He ends the conversation by saying, "if the
grizzly bears ate me, it would have been worth the journey to see
We are not so agreeable but
admire his courage.
His fire wood burns
will into the night.
We are thankful to
Yellowstone is breath taking and we make frequent
stops. The fly fishermen are busy working
the rivers and the scene is peaceful.
As we ride through the park, I reminisce about an earlier journey. In 1973, Denise, Keith and I moved from
Pinnacles National Monument in California to Bighorn Canyon National Recreation
Area in Montana. We packed up all of
our belongings in a U-Hall truck and towed our Dodge van behind. The memory of Bear Tooth Pass is still
there. I'm not sure that I would do
that trip down this steep winding road again with the U-Hall. Honestly, looking into the past, I do not
remember the beautiful surrounding. I
must have been so scared of going off the cliffs that I rarely took my eyes of
the road. Today is different. We love this pass. The vistas are endless and the road drops straight down for miles
and miles. It is cold on top and the
clouds are dropping rain further away and the curtain of rains are bending
towards us. Snow is possible. We stay alert. We push on towards Montana in hopes of staying ahead of the rain
but it will catch us.
|Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone|
|Big Horn River|
Our camp along the Bighorn River is perfect.
We decide to spend two nights here and the
layover helps us considerably.
but no luck.
Our neighbors offer us
some freshly caught brown trout and we cook them over our open fire.
Across the river, Ruben spots three black bear
cubs, their little legs running fast.
We can not tell if something is chasing them but they are going at full
We then spot the mother about
200 yards further ahead and she is also running.
She stops, looks back, and continues running.
A beautiful sight from across the Bighorn
We do not know why she was
running her cubs but all seems well.
are on the Crow Reservation and they do not sell beer.
Our neighbor, Jeff offers to get us some as
they are driving into Billings in the morning to get more fishing gear.
When they return from Billings, Jeff joins
us in camp for a beer, and we immediately like him.
We call him the "Corn Husker" as he grows corn on his
3,000 acre farm in Minnesota.
sure have good country western music playing" the Corn Husker says.
"Is it coming from your
He is surprised to hear
that it is coming from my little transistor radio.
We explore Bighorn Canyon and fish along one of the most
beautiful rivers in Montana.
The Battle of the Little Big Horn
|The Battle of the Little Big Horn|
is historical and a real
pride for the Native American Indians.
The artist renditions of the battles are real, yet painful to see but
this is what happened a long time ago.
The rolling hills are now peaceful and you can see for hundreds of
We ride on towards Devils TowerNational Monument
with the lingering thoughts of the battles fought at the
It is easy riding and
it is always pleasant to see new country.
Ruben rides a 2000 Yamaha Road Star and mine is a 2007
Yamaha Road Star; our bikes prove to be dependable and run tirelessly. There are maybe 5,000 bikers heading towards
Devils Tower and I am very worried that we will not find a spot at the
campground. With that many bikes on the
road, we are on high safety alert. I look
over the bikes and see that they do not have any gear and realize that they
must be on a day ride. Our bikes are
loaded and carry plenty of highway dirt.
We find a camp site. The
campground sits at the base of Devils Tower and we are surprised to find that
they have 'free' firewood.
We take a
short 1.3 mile walk around the Tower and it feels good to walk. That night our sleep is disturbed by the
rain on our faces and we quickly toss our sleeping bags into the tent. We set the tent up as a back-up when we have
'that' feeling. Our fire burns well
into the darkness despite the rain.
"See how nature-trees,
flowers, grass-grows in silence-see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move
in silence" ~ Mother Teresa
We are here
and so are thousands of other bikers.
We hear that they have
estimated 200,000 bikers within a 50 mile radius of Sturgis.
The roar is overwhelming at times.
This is one bike ride that you MUST travel
to and get your own T-shirt.
buy it on EBay.
The ride is worth it
and we absorb the energy of this town.
As I rest on a balcony having a beer, you can see thousands and
thousands of bikers rolling into town.
Melissa and Darin may be down there as well; they rode to Sturgis from
Those unlucky tourist in cars
or RV's who ventured into Sturgis are trapped.
e are not staying in Sturgis long but heading for Badlands NationalPark
where we hope to camp at a primitive site called Sage Creek Campground
where the buffalo roam.
It is late when we arrive in Wall, South Dakota.
We ask for directions to this primitive
campsite and quickly head out to find this spot.
It is along a 15 mile dirt road crossing the prairie.
We come across a heard of buffalo that do
not want to move off this isolated dirt road, so we rev-up our bikes and they
begin to run.
"Dances with Wolves" was filmed
here and I feel that I have gone back 100 years in time.
The buffalo explode in a wild stampede.
We arrive at the primitive campground and
quickly set up camp.
Fires are not
permitted so we light a candle.
skies are clear but the lightning in the distance persuades us to set up the tent
as a back-up.
The rain drops on our
faces during the night again move us into the tent.
Neither of us likes to sleep in the tent but we are glad to have
cover when rain pours down.
sleeps on the high side of the tent and though I'm just a bit lower, all my
stuff is wet in the morning.
our stuff to dry on the nearby corral.
The view in the morning is everything I would hope them to be.
Wolves" all over again.
very free and in touch with nature, I think about the words of Mother Teresa that I saw earlier on the Devils Tower nature walk.
is truly a work of art.
We stop shortly as the clouds are getting
darker and head off to Crazy Horse
They have a great film about this 'work in progress' but the weather is
changing quickly for the worst.
leave and within minutes the temperature drops dramatically and the skies are
We ride on but soon the
rain hits us head-on from the South.
are now in Wyoming and heading towards a town called Lusk.
The lighting bolts are fierce and worrisome,
the rain is heavy.
I think the sign
read 20 miles to Lusk but I'm not sure.
We push on and our boots are quickly collecting water.
There are three motels in Lusk and we find
out that there are 4 rooms left in town.
We get one of them and we feel lucky, though costly.
This unexpected stop will push us back some
three hundred miles that we will have to make up somewhere along the trail but
tonight we can dry out here in Lusk.
Lusk, Wyoming to Colorado National Monument
is 606 miles
We are tired and it is dark when
we arrive at the park's campground.
talk some and it is not long before we both are asleep.
There is no rain.
In the morning, we see where we are at and it is beautiful.
Large canyons, sweeping views.
This is a great spot.
We made up our 300 miles from Lusk and will
head for Cedar City, Utah soon.
has work tomorrow.
Ruben's house is set in the country side and the views of
the nearby mountains agrees with me. We
change out my headlight bulb that went out and he surprises me with a
gift. It is a wooden carved road runner
and it brings a smile to my face - "Thanks Ruben."
Miles still to go.
point my pony towards Las Vegas and this will be another long day.
Seventy miles outside of Las Vegas I run out
Not fuel for my bike, but my
body is strongly objecting to the ride and the 'tired' hits me.
Motel 6 is my goal in Las Vegas and I crash
quickly on my bed.
In the morning, I
meet another biker who is off to California and just returned from a solo ride
I call him "Smokin'
Gary" as he is constantly smoking.
"So you want to run together," he asked.
"Sure," I reply.
From Las Vegas to Barstow, some 160 miles,
we share the road.
I can tell by the
way he moves his bike, that he is a veteran biker.
I lead him over to highway 58 on the back roads once we hit
He will continue on to San
We shake hands and he is
I stop by to see Gilbert but he is
Paula is not home either, but
Leo is at work but will meet me at his house where I have lunch.
Irma joins us a bit later and they see
pictures of our trip.
pictures of their son, Ruben.
|"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth" ~ Steve McQueen|
The ride from Barstow to Three Rivers is only 225 miles but
to me it feels like 525 miles.
The sun is directly into my
face and staying hydrated is hard to do but I down the water during my frequent
I arrive home in Three Rivers about 9:30pm and Denise is
there to greet me.
It feels good to be
home but the miles are still rolling across my mind after eleven days on the trail. I sleep well into the next morning until 11:30am.
The odometer records 3,904 miles . . . . .
|Ruben Griego, Pony Express Trail|
|Our Pony Express campsite|
|Grand Teton National Park|
|Yellowstone National Park|
|Yellowstone National Park|
|Beartooth Pass, Montana|
|Ruben Griego, Campsite on the Bighorn River in Montana|
|Bighorn River, Montana|
|Robert Griego, the Battle of the Little Bighorn can not be forgotten|
|H-D 110th Anniversary, Sturgis|
|Testing a H-D in Sturgis|
|Robert Griego, Sturgis|
|Ruben Griego, Mount Rushmore National Park|
|Our bikes, Mount Rushmore National Park|
|Campsite, Badlands National Park|
|Robert Griego, I once worked here|
|Ruben Griego, Colorado National Monument|