Friday, July 17, 2009

The Great Rocky Mountain Tour '09

Ah...the wind in my face, the sun on my nose and the gravel in my ear! Good times! Wow, I don't know where to begin. I saw some incredible things, let me tell you. My quest: Yellowstone National Park and whatever else I could see from my faithful '02 Honda Shadow ACE 750. The plan was to camp in a tent every night so I didn't feel the need to make any reservations at any campgrounds and since I was going alone I didn't have to ask anybody's opinion.

I left Texas on July 3rd and traveled northwest to Raton, Mew Mexico where I spent the night in a beautiful little city park where I didn't even need to pitch my tent. I just threw down my sleeping bag next to a park bench and slept like a baby. Well...a baby with one hand on a Taurus .40 pistol.

I bragged to my wife that I was prepared for any kind of weather and that I fully expected to be rained on but that it wouldn't be a problem. And I was prepared for rain just not driving, pouring, slashing, blinding, freezing rain with hail that lasted all day long which is what I got the second day as I crawled pitifully into the Pikes Peak area of Colorado. Genius me didn't think it necessary to make reservations even though it was 4th of July and after asking every place in town if they had room for an 8x8 tent, I wound up finding a hotel room in Monument, Colorado. Maybe I should have said "yes" to the nice old gay Marine who asked me to stay with him but I didn't.

The next day was better and found me in Estes Park, Colorado where I slanted westward over the Trail Ridge Road. This was one of the absolute highlights of my trip and is the most beautiful country I have ever seen in person or on TV or the movies or internet. No exaggeration. Wow! Taking pictures only made me mad because the picture just couldn't hold the wonder of the scene. Alright, I'm going to use three words that I have never really used before that come to mind to describe this place: "vast", "breath-taking" and "majestic". Yes, they sound dorky and literary and over-used but if you can't use those three words to describe what I saw then take them out of the English language!

Night 4 found me in an ocean of sagebrush and nothing else at the Big Sandy Recreation Area on the southern Wyoming plain with nothing and nobody probably within 50 miles. It was pretty incredible when the huge full moon came up over the rise of the earth that night. It was as if God said, "Here, Todd, this moon is for you and you only!" I didn't put up the tent so I could appreciate it all night.

Night 5 cooled me off with the beautiful Tetons for babysitters in Colter Bay. Massive, snow-covered knife edges blast out of the prairie and after riding toward them for hours it looks like you could reach out your hand and cut your fingers on the top. Again, pictures and postcards just dissapoint compared to the real thing.

My sixth night was spent in the clouds above Gardiner, Montana on Jardine Road with elk for company and some horses in a pen nearby looking like they were waiting for David R. Stoecklin

to take their pictures. If my mansion in Heaven is built on that mountainside, I'll be very content.

I headed back south into Yellowstone the next day and camped with bison and deer within 50 feet of my tent in Pebble Creek Campground. I'll tell you in person the story of the bears I saw nearby. It's too good of a story not to tell audibly. Incredible sights, friendly people. Yellowstone did not dissappoint.

I had some of the most fun on my trip in Pinedale, Wyoming where they host the Pinedale Mountain Man Rendezvous. Free breakfast, parade, rodeo. It was the only place I spent two nights in the same place which was in a campground right in town that actually had showers and laundry services. Wow, I needed those! Even the mountain men were grateful I had cleaned up.

I left there Sunday morning and was headed to Moab, Utah to finish the last leg of my trip before heading home. The Utah mountains are beautiful and the warm sunshine and lower elevation warmed me and relaxed me probably a little too much. I remember crossing the Wyoming/Utah border thinking, "Well, isn't this nice! I'm getting a little bit slee..." My next memory was waking up in the emergency room in Vernal, Utah. The nurse said I took out a roadsign but she thought my bike was ok. She left and I realized I didn't know why I was there. The concussion left me very foggy-brained but I started the anatomy check. I first put my hands to my head. A little sore but I couldn't feel any bandages so I figured that was ok. My arms were ok. One of them had a new band aid but no problem. I pulled the sheet back that was across my lower body and prepared for a shock but everything seem attached where it was supposed to be. Then I noticed my good Wrangler's had been cut from my ankle up to my hip and I saw my knee was swollen like a grapefruit. Pretty painful but even then I knew it could have been alot worse.

My wife disobeyed me and she and a dear friend from church came and got me the next day and drove me home. Well, there you have the skeleton of the trip. I promise to tell some of the stories that happened in those 12 or so days here soon but now you know the basics. The doctor says I broke my tibial plateau and have to stay on crutches for 8 weeks. So between all that and my thoughts for getting Teddy home, I should have plenty of blog fodder for a while so stay tuned and I'll try not to bore you with pictures. They can't tell the whole story anyway!


The Donald said...

So, are you gonna use that song by The Safaris on the soundtrack to your road trip biopic?

The Donald said...

I think Teddy would've kept you safe...

Anonymous said...

So you didn't accept the gay Marine's offer? Who knows, he might have been Semper Fi-abulous.


Don Dodson said...

Wow, I'm glad you ended up with all body parts attached.