Wyoming begins somewhere high above the Shoshone National Forest, south of Red Lodge, Montana and just before the Beartooth Pass.
There’s still snow up here, which I had expected after reading some online reports about the road being closed for a day just a couple of weeks ago. This isn’t a place you take dry and passable roads for granted, not even in summer.
We stop for a few photos along the highest section of roads, and to play in the snow for a minute. After following summer south for two years, this is the first deep snow I have seen in a long time.
There are markers on the side of the highway to help the plows see the road when it’s covered in snow, which can happen any month of the year up here.
There are some guys climbing an ice wall down below the road line and we stop to watch them climbing back out.
And finally we reach the summit and start down the other side.
We stop at the Top Of the World for a bathroom and hot drink break. And just before Cooke City we turn south toward Cody on the Chief Joseph Highway.
The ride is spectacular, and we stop to enjoy several of the scenic overlooks. A couple of hours later we ride into Cody where we stop at a local pizza place for some lunch.
As we park on the street alongside the beer garden of the pizza restaurant, a table full of guys on the patio start to talk to us. A man named Tom from Meteetse is working at a Boy Scout camp somewhere near the entrance to Yellowstone National Park with his wife for 6 weeks this summer. It’s their regular summer job, and in that time they serve 26,000 meals to the boys. He is here on his day off with some other guys from the camp enjoying a break from what must be a zoo at times. I remember my Girl Scout camp days and have a healthy respect for camp counselors and organizers.
Tom asks us about our travels and tells us he is a retired Marine. He is a super nice and easy going guy. And after a few minutes, and no doubt aided by my road-weary appearance, Tom says he will let us go get a bite and rest. So off we go, to an inside table to get food coming our way. A little while later, Tom stops by our table and asks if he can buy us a drink, to welcome us back to the United States, “whatever you like” and we gratefully accept while saying it would be great to have a beer but since we aren’t done riding for the day, a Pepsi will do just fine.
And off he goes, this friendly and warm local, after making my day. We finished our lunch and asked for our check and the waitress takes a while to get it. After a bit I ask again and then a woman comes over to explain that the man who we had been talking to, our new friend Tom, had not bought us a drink, he had bought our whole lunch. And he asked her to tell us “welcome home” too. I’m genuinely moved. It’s such a nice and thoughtful gesture from a complete stranger, and it makes me happier to be going home. Thank you, Tom, wherever you are. Oh wait, you’re probably in the camp kitchen as I type this.
Off we go to Grey Bull and then to Worland, and then on to Ten Sleep. We plan to ride as far as Buffalo tonight and then make Sturgis the following day. As we approach the Big Horn mountains from the west I can see storm clouds building and roiling over them. No doubt we will be getting wet.
Up the canyon, ever eastward.
And sure enough, we hit the rain….but the best part of rain is usually there too….a rainbow. This was one of the most vibrantly colored ones I have ever seen. The photo doesn’t do it justice. And the low arc of it allowed me to see both ends of the rainbow, which I usually never see. The far right end touched down in the wet grass of the meadow as I rode and followed this moving rainbow for nearly ten minutes in the high meadows of the Big Horns.
And the left end of the rainbow touched down right smack-dab onto the open road in front of me….how fitting is that? Apparently at the end of my rainbow is the open road. That’s better than a pot of gold to me.