Friday, June 10, 2011

Laurel, MT and Camping in Gallatin National Forest

No post yesterday, ended up camping in a semi-remote area in Gallatin National Forest, just a few miles  north of Yellowstone with no cell access.
(that's the Gallatin River in the background)

The trip yesterday was altered by rain and the fact that Yellowstone had an unusually high amount of rain and snowfall this year and Beartooth Pass is still closed ( )  So, upon the advice of a gentlemen in Laurel, I took I-90 west to Livingston and then went south from there to the Gardiner entrance of Yellowstone and was able to bypass the closed routes. I was able to ride about three hours through Yellowstone and up over one of the open mountain passes (the roads were still carved through the snow though).  Was able to see some buffalo (or bison, but I didn't ask him which he was), elk, a geyser, and lots of excellent views of the park. 

During the ride, I was able to see a lot of the very swollen Yellowstone River.  It has gone over its banks in several areas. 

I think we could retire in this house

After exiting Yellowstone, I moved north on Hwy 191 through Gallatin National Forest and found a neat camping area, RedCliff, a couple of miles past West Yellowstone.  The weather wasn't excellent, dropping to the thirties at night with a steady sprinkle/light rain.  But thanks to the excellent sleeping bag borrowed from Belinda, I was able to stay plenty warm through the night.  It was a fantastic experience being alone in the middle of the forest throughout the evening and night. So quiet, nothing around except huge fir trees, a stream, and some animals.  I was able to read a bit from Mike Yanconelli's Messy Spirituality which I connect with so well.  The entire evening was a neat, spiritual experience.  I would highly recommend spending a night camping by yourself. 

This morning, I got up and packed and rode further through the forest towards Bozeman and the University of Montana, where Robert Pirsig taught.  I found Montana Hall fairly easy and was able to go inside.  I asked a registrar if she had heard of Pirsig and she said no, but then after I explained him a bit she said, "Oh, the Zen guy" and pointed me to his office.  It is located up a side-stairway and the door was locked.  She said it is only used for storage now. 
Montana Hall Where Pirsig's Office Was Located

After camping and having worn most of my clothes for a few days now, I thought I should stay at a motel. I settled into Bozeman and ate lunch in a small cafe located in their neat restored downtown (I've learned that I really like the small-town restaurants and the people who frequent them).

Another great cafe with homemade pies

The Raddison is my home for the evening and I'm now typing this as my laundry is drying in the $1.25 dryer.  Tomorrow I will head towards Missoula through a couple of mountain areas.  I'll meet up with Brian and we'll decide where to camp.  The weather is forecast for storms, but the weather changes often up here so while we may not be able to camp we'll at the least stay in a cabin somewhere.  Still having a great time, but can see the day coming where I'll begin to miss my regular life.  It's weird waking up each day in a different place and then hopping on the motorcylce which is now providing the stable part of the trip.  When I am on the bike now it feels like the comfortable place to be (don't necessarily want to call it home, but certainly it is the most constant and familiar item in the trip).  Man and machine, I am understanding how it works now.  It seems trite, the phrase "I was a part of the machine", but being on a high-quality machine like the BMW for so long does make you feel like a part of it.  The trip would not have been what it is without this great bike.  I've been trying to imagine Robert Pirsig and his son Chris hauling their stuff across this sometimes tough terrain on their little Honda.  Very glad and thankful to have my big Beamer!

More to come from Missoula.


  1. Hey Kevin, Looks like you're experiencing a whole lot more of everything than when we were riding together. Can't say I didn't enjoy the ride but is sure nice to be back at home. Sure proud of you for what you're doing. Testicles have to be a lot bigger than pop's. Enjoy the ride. Later, Pop

  2. Kevin,
    Still think you two were crazy!!!
    Dad got home with big blisters all over his looks like he's been on a 2000mile ride(which he has).
    You're an interesting writer and it's been fun to read your postings..(maybe you could use that as your second profession instead of being a bike rider!)
    Be safe, call whenever you can.