Wednesday, July 5, 2017

~ From Yellowstone to Hollister ~

“Look deep into nature, then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein.        

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.    
Yellowstone National Park is an American icon, after all, it is America’s first national park.  That is where this story begins.  I usually don’t reveal the ending but this trip will end in Hollister, California for the annual motorcycle rally, after all, it is the birth place of the American biker.

Of course, Albert Einstein was right.  I must look deeper into nature for my answers.

This trip into the wilds of Yellowstone is with my family where Denise has rented a fully furnished cabin just outside of Gardiner, Montana.  It is called the Grizzly Den Cabin and is a stone's throw from the Yellowstone River.  In fact, our grandkids – Evan, Kai, and Malia – tossed a few rocks into the fast flowing river.  It is quiet here, very relaxing.  Nearby, there is an osprey nesting on a tall man-made pole.  Occasionally, it sweeps down from its perch and glides above the water in search of a tasty trout to feed its chicks.

Our family at Joffe Lake

Our son and daughter – Keith and Lori, and son-in-law – Teo are with us for a week exploring this vast wilderness called Yellowstone.  I once worked here and then it was work; today I am a tourist and the scenery is breathtaking.  There are hundreds of bison grazing freely in Lamar Valley and several cross the Lamar River.  It reminds me of the movie Dances with Wolves.  We are all surprised by the huge size of these animals.  It is the beginning of summer and they are shedding their fur that kept them warm during the winter.  There are also herds of elk with newborn calves, and pronghorn antelope can be seen on the hillside.  They all seem to be in perfect harmony.  We keep a watchful eye for the grizzly bear but do not see one.  We spot several black bears.  Near the Lamar River, Lori spots two wolves that are from the Soda Butte pack. 

A herd of Bison crossing the Lamar River

Today, I am not riding my motorcycle and I greatly miss that part of traveling as another biker passes by.  I know it is odd on a nature trip to Yellowstone to take pictures of motorcycles but that’s what I’m doing.  One biker is heading towards Bear Tooth Pass and the views he will see are breathtaking.  Several have their rain gear on as the afternoon showers begin to fall.  One year, on our way to Bear Tooth Pass, the rain turned to hail and then snow.  I can still hear the hail bouncing off my helmet.  I loved it.

On our way to Norris Geyser Basin, we spot a lone fox digging for rodents.  It has a long, fuzzy tail that it uses to keep warm in the winter.  He digs but does not catch what he smells or hears.  All the grandkids, almost at once, say “It smells like rotten eggs.”  Yep, we are here kids.

Fox near Norris Geyser Basin.  Photo by Denise Griego

Yellowstone is huge and you cannot see everything so we pick and choose.  We all want to fish, so we head off for Yellowstone Lake.  On my first cast, I hook and catch a nice rainbow trout.  It weighs about two pounds.  My grandson Kai helps me place it into our fish bag and he continues fishing.  When I see his pole bending radically, I know he has a big fish.  His dad helps him reel in another rainbow trout.  His is bigger and weighs about two and a half pounds.  We all feast on fresh trout for dinner.
Grandson Kai caught a big rainbow trout

Kai, Evan, and Malia each earn their Junior Ranger Badges and being close to nature is now second hand to them.

Our week in Yellowstone goes quickly and we return to Bozeman for our flight back to California.  It is Saturday.  The attendant at the United Airline counter says that our flight to San Francisco has been canceled due to mechanical problems.  We needed this flight to catch the last plane tonight to Fresno.  “I am sorry, but there are no other flights available,” he says.  He is a big guy with a beard and hears my story.  “I have jury duty on Monday in Fresno,” I tell him hoping that might make a difference.  He barely moved his eyes away from the computer screen.  He looks like a biker so I try another approach.  “Honestly, I don’t care about the jury duty, but I was planning to make the last day of the Hollister Motorcycle Rally on Sunday and test ride a 2017 Indian Springfield.”  “Oh, now that sounds like fun,” he adds.  He makes a call and mumbles some words to the person on the other end of the help line.  “Your flight in San Francisco is running late and you might just make the connection, but I can’t guarantee it,” he finally adds.  To make a long story short, we missed our connecting flight but they put us on a later flight and we arrived back in Three Rivers at 2 am on Sunday.  Somehow, I think that guy made some good moves on our behalf.  I do not know where his flight came from but we were on it heading for Fresno.  

Swan Lake area

Roosevelt Arch.  Photo by Kai Griego

Robert taking pictures of bikers.  Photo by Denise Griego

Heading up towards Bear Tooth Pass

NPS photo.  Park Rangers patrolling on motorcycle, circa 1919. Yellowstone National Park

Indian motorcycle at Fishing Bridge

This biker about to enter the North Entrance
Robert Griego at the Grizzly Den Cabin
My alarm clock is set for 7 am.  I quickly eat breakfast and pack my motorcycle and by 8:30 am I'm off for Hollister.  The cool air keeps me awake.  Thanks United Airline (biker) attendant!

I’ve been to the rally before but this trip is different.  Hollister Powersports is hosting the 2017 Indian Motorcycle demo rides which end at 3 pm.  I arrive at 12 noon and see the bikes next to a huge semi-truck.  I register quickly, show my driver’s license, and get my wristband that allows me to ride any demo Indian Motorcycle.  “How do I get started,” I ask.  “It is simple, pick out the Indian Motorcycle you want to ride and place your helmet on the seat,” says Sells Manager Neal Zook. 

Hollister Powersports

My demo wristband #07346

My 1st ride on this awesome Indian

Riders getting ready for our 1st ride

Sorry pal, this is my next ride

My favorite, the 2017 Indian Springfield

Awesome Indian Motorcycles
There is a leader with a yellow vest at the front, 4 or 5 riders like me in the middle, and another leader with a yellow vest in the back.  The loop is about five miles and I have a big smile on my face.  The Indian Springfield is powered by the remarkable Thunder Stoke, 111 V-Twin.  This bike is air-cooled and powerful.  I am not used to having six gears on a motorcycle and I am impressed with how it accelerates, and how smooth it runs and handles.  I love it.  My eye is on the 2017 Indian Springfield but this is an opportunity so I also ride the Roadmaster, Chieftain, Vintage, and Dark Horse.  I wanted to hear the Stage 1 pipes and they impressed me.  One of the Indian Springfield’s (with Ape Hanger Handlebars) had Stage 2 Performance Cams providing over 13% more horsepower and over 7% more torque. Fast, powerful, beautiful. 

This Indian Springfield came with Stage 2 Performance Cams
The crew at Hollister Powersports is awesome.  They answered our numerous questions.  There was “zero” pressure and they made this trip for me, so rewarding.  Riding the Indian demo motorcycles provided me the confidence to look seriously at the Indian for my next motorcycle – Springfield, Thunder black!

Thanks Indian ~ "One mile - One dream"

The Hollister Rally was winding down when I left the Indian Dealership but I accomplished my goal to test ride some awesome Indian Motorcycles.  Absolutely dream machines.  Thanks Indian.

Iconic Johnny's on Wentz and San Benito Street

GEICO welcomes bikers on San Benito Street

Cool bike on San Benito Street
Robert Griego.  My 2007 Yamaha Road Star ~ 135,000 miles

Yesterday, I was taking pictures of bison and motorcycles in Yellowstone National Park; today I am riding the Indian demo motorcycles at the Hollister Motorcycle Rally.  There is a big smile on my face.  I love it!  I can't believe I have 135,000 on my Yamaha Road Star.

Both American icons!

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