I had a really nice ride to Denver and back. I had initially hoped to camp the first night in Great Basin NP, but my plan turned out to be a bit too ambitious and when I got to I-80 I stayed on it and spent the night in a border town casino in Wendover. On the positive side, I had one of the best filet mignons ever at the Wendover Nugget. "Wow" is all I can really say to describe it.
On day two I rode through Utah's Wasatch range on UT-35 (incredible road!) where I had my only LEO encounter of the trip. We exchanged the secret handshake and he let me off with a warning, so I continued through Steamboat Springs and over Berthoud Pass.
I spent the week in Denver for the annual Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) convention, which was a spectacle as ever. My Poor Taste Award goes to the garish Nativity scene in the back of a Cadillac Escalade.
Following the convention close and a harried booth tear-down on Thursday, I departed Denver heading north. I blinked and missed the entrance for the carpool lane on I-25, so I had to swelter through Denver rush hour, overcast skies, and 96 degrees.
Finally I escaped, and at Ft. Collins took US-287 northwest into Wyoming. This road rolls through the foothills of the Rockies, and I danced around massive great plains thunderstorms all the way to I-80. I stopped for the night at a roach motel in Rawlings and had a late dinner in "Michael's Big City Bar & Grill." Rawlings is a dusty town catering to local ranchers and oil field workers, so when I entered Michael's I was expecting Budweiser and Toby Keith. Instead I got thumping hip-hop, night club-style bar lighting and decor, and taps pouring Moose Drool, Fat Tire, and Guinness. Michael's is the equivalent of a New York City country bar; it's where the locals come to feel like they are somewhere else.
Friday morning I was up bright and early for the ride north and west to the Tetons and Yellowstone. Many have complained about the crowds which swarm Yellowstone in the summer, but the simple fact is that Yellowstone is popular because it is the best. I set up camp at Madison and then did a loop of the park, exploring areas in the east such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Hayden Valley. I looped back around to the Old Faithful area hoping for a good dinner, but I learned that if one wants a good dinner on a Friday night in this area, one must have reservations. I settled for a deli sandwich and returned to Madison for the evening.
On Saturday I blasted 800 miles all the way home via West Yellowstone, ID-33 and US-20 across central Idaho, and US-20 through eastern and central Oregon. My knees were quite sore by the end of the day and I'd suffered the onset of critical monkey butt, but it was good to be home again with my family.
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