Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trip from Billings to Rawlins, then to Greeley

We were up, packed and loaded and ready to go shortly after 7 AM. Continental breakfast today FINALLY had biscuits & gravy!! I had figured we’d be on the road by 9 AM - it was actually about 8:15 when we pulled out of the hotel parking lot. The first 100 miles or so was mostly rolling hills with the mountains off in the distance as we went first west from Billings on I-90, then south toward Powell.

Made our first fuel stop at Powell and got a cold bottle of water. After a short break, we were back on the road - next stop would be Thermopolis, where we’d fuel and grab a sandwich for lunch.

The weather for this entire leg of the trip was pleasant. The warmest temperature I saw was 85 later in the afternoon. We filled at Thermopolis and when I came back out from paying, Mikayla was off the bike taking pictures. A deer had wandered into a patch of weeds 25 yards away from us and was grazing there. It seemed oblivious to people and traffic and eventually wandered back in the direction it came from, stopping in a yard across the street for a bite to eat. We wondered if the animal was somebody’s pet.
A quick sandwich at a brand new Subway and we were on our way again. While we were eating, I noticed a different road on the map that would cut off about 30 miles from the day’s trip. Going south our of Thermopolis, we were soon into the Wind River Canyon area. What a spectacular ride & view! Continuing south one gets a great view of the Boysen Reservoir. After going through Shoshoni, we rode across the south end of the reservoir and to Riverton. At Riverton, we went southeast on Hwy 135. More great scenery along the way. However, if one ever travels this way, be sure you have plenty fuel because there is none between Riverton and Rawlins if you take Hwy 135.

Turning south from Muddy Gap, we encountered some wind the last 45 miles. Sometimes it came straight at us, sometimes from the right, sometimes from the left. By the time we pulled into Rawlins, I was tired of the wind. One nice thing about the day’s ride, however, was that the temperature did not get into the 90-degree and above range. We were sure to drink plenty of water each time we stopped.

I hadn’t made reservations ahead of time, but that didn’t look like it would be a problem as we scouted the motels. We decided on the Travel Lodge, which ended up being nice. I’d probably do some looking around if I were to stay in Rawlins again, but just because they had no restaurant or pool. The continental breakfast was not conducive to a diabetic as it was heavy on pastries, but I was able to have a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee before we got on the road.

We took I-80 west to Hwy 789 at Creston Junction. If you are looking at a map to find some of these places, be sure to see what the population is. They may only be the name of where 2 highways intersect, which is what Creston Junction is. We turned off the interstate and took the highway under it, and we immediately saw a dozen or so antelope on the west side of the road. They were grazing and paid absolutely no attention to us as we rode past. Over the next 50 miles we saw literally hundreds of antelope along the way with a few deer scattered about. I wonder how many deer we would see in Nebraska if our terrain was the same as this part of Wyoming? We drove for miles and never saw a tree!

We stopped at Craig, Colorado for fuel and a quick sandwich from the Quik Stop. Grabbed a couple of cold waters out of the cooler and back on the road. Rode through some awesome scenery on the road to Steamboat Springs. I told Kayla to grab the camera and get some pictures. When we got to Steamboat Springs, I asked how many pictures she got. Her answer…. “I was taking a nap!”

When I was 8 years old, we took a family vacation to California. When we came back, we came through Colorado and Steamboat Springs. It runs in my mind we stopped there for supper. The place has sure changed in 50 years as I only remember a 2 lane highway through town. On Saturday, we parked the motorcycle and walked around for about an hour before taking off again. More great scenery and we stopped at Walden for fuel and lunch. Gas was $2.999 there, which was the most I paid on the entire trip.

We grabbed a sandwich at a cafĂ© in Walden. There was a magazine on the table about the local sights and I found that there is a large moose population in the area. Before two years ago, I didn’t know there were moose in Colorado. While going to Grand Lake in 2008, we saw 5 moose a few miles outside of Grand Lake.

The entire trip from Walden to Ft Collins was beautiful. From seeing “Moose Crossing” signs to the mountain passes, we could have stopped and taken pictures for hours and not make it back to Greeley until way after dark. We stopped at Rustic to stretch our legs and use the restrooms. While there, we checked out the local watering hole where they were getting ready for an evening of festivities. Stepping out on the back deck, we had a bird’s eye view of the river running behind the bar. The water was so clear you could see the bottom, unlike the rivers back home in Nebraska.

The entire trip from Rawlins was pleasant weather wise. The temperature was in the 80 to 84 degree range. Once at Ft Collins, I noticed that it had warmed up and checking the temperature, I found it was 97. So much for those pleasant mountain temperatures. We got into Greeley about 6 PM. Once getting unloaded and cleaned up, Dana took us to Roma’s for supper. This place has GREAT pizza, spaghetti and calzones, and every time we’re in Greeley, it’s one of the places we just have to go eat at!