The lovely Duchess and one of her well loved, soggy toys:
The bird, Picasso (I think) - got jealous if I played with Duchess too much and would ring the bell and rattle things in the cage for attention!
Finally, after packing up, I noticed that my front fender was missing a few bolts - so I got on the road with my fingers x'd that I would find a spot to pick up replacements. Not too far away, at Sheridan's Big Horn Powersports (http://www.bighornpowersports.com/), a young man named Vaughn was able to hook me up ith a couple bolts and put loc-tite on the other two bolts which were also starting to loosen up.
Given the distance to Old Faithful, I decided not to take the detour north into Montana to go over the famous Beartooth (http://www.beartoothhighway.com/) or even up to see the Medicine Wheel (http://byways.org/explore/byways/2164/) - and instead opted for the more direct route into Yellowstone.
After getting away from Sheridan, I putted along 14 and stopped when I saw a sign for an outdoor outfitters. It turns out it was now operating as a craft store in the front and a gun store in the back - something like Sonny's Gun Shop & Crafts store - I had a nice chat with the elderly gentleman who owned the shop, bought some local honey and headed off in search of lunch.
Approaching lunch time, I came upon a cafe called "The Branding Iron" in Dayton WY with a big parking lot - as good a place as any. I stopped at the same time as another motorcyclist who was (of course) on a Harley and riding without gear (of course) or a helmet (quelle surprise!). Amazingly - the Branding Iron had a salad bar (ok, that was really a surprise!).
The other motorcyclist & I struck up a conversation and while I enjoyed my lunch from the salad bar, I asked him about the whole helmet thing.
He had clearly thought this all out, without any actual statistics or facts to back him up, and was pretty sure he was right. This is what I learned from my luncheon companion:
- Helmets do not save your life or prevent injury in motorcycle accidents because they are only good for speeds under 20 mph and only glancing blows at that.
- A helmet will not protect you if a car runs over your head.
- Most motorcycle accidents are caused by cars and you don't stand a chance.
- Motorcycle racers wear gear because most of their accidents are by themselves and sliding so they don't have to worry about hitting their heads.
After eating a snack, I prepared for the final leg of my trip that day into Yellowstone. Sadly, skipping Cody though friends told me there were fun museums to explore there. I saw so many police in this stretch between Cody and the East Gate of Yellowstone, that I held down my speed and kept super alert for state troopers.
I finally arrived at the Yellowstone East Gate at 6:30 - the sun was going down and the speed limit in the park is something like 30 mph. Having seen so many people pulled over before - I kept to the low speed limit but people were tailgating me and some passed me (not so safely) so they could zip along at well over twice the speed limit. The wind picked up and the temperatures dropped - it seemed like I was so close and yet so far! My fingers froze.
I arrived at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and couldn't even unbuckle my helmet but a super nice helpful lady, Mary Ann from Tennessee, came around the front desk and did it for me. She checked me in and advised me to hop right into a hot shower, "You've got about 30 minutes before Old Faithful will be putting on the next show!" I got to my rustic cabin - more like a trailer with low ceilings - had a very nice hot shower (apologies to my neighbors if they didn't get hot water later!), made some hot tea and got out to see Old Faithful put on a show while the sky still had the fading colors of sunset. I went back to my room and made some noodles and listened to another audio book, falling asleep soundly!
Day 9: 326 miles
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