Friday, 20 August 2010

America’s Best Kept Secret?

Regular readers of my blog will know that the GPS / Sat Nav I have been using to help me across the US fell off my bike and didn’t bounce. Luckily, with the help of my family, a replacement was bought and sent to me by overnight delivery. Late yesterday afternoon, a brand new shiny unit arrived....




















I downloaded my planned routes from my laptop to the unit and prayed they work transfer properly and they did.

Day 56 therefore saw me leaving the Bear Lodge Resort (basic and cheap, but good fun)....


















After a few days rest, it was good to be back on the road again, today heading for Cody in Wyoming. On the way I went to see a wheel. Not just any wheel, but a very old one – Bighorn Medicine Wheel on the top of the Big Horn Mountain. Medicine wheel is located off US Highway 14A about 3 miles up a very good quality dirt road that is easy to ride along. Once you arrive at the parking area, there is then a 1.5 mile walk to the wheel and back. Here is part of the track you walk along. The wheel is at the top on the ridge....


















The view from near the top is pretty good. Ok, I was having a rest to get my breath back....


























This is the wheel. It is constructed of rocks laid on the ground in the shape of a wheel. There are 28 spokes that radiate from the centre and seven cairns at the wheel edge. You can see one of the cairns in the picture below. The cairns are smaller circles at the edge of the wheel . No-one is sure why it was built. Recent investigations have shown that some of the cairns point towards important positions in the solar cycle, such as the summer solstice. The wheel was used as a ceremony site by Native Indians and continues to be used in this way today.


















Many people have left trinkets on the rope fence surrounding the wheel....



















































Is it worth going to see Medicine Wheel? Yes, if you are not in a hurry and don’t mind walking 3 miles! Also, you need to bear in mind that Medicine Wheel is at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet (2936m), so walking the 1.5 miles there and back at that altitude takes your breath away a little, especially on the up-hill parts.

Soon I was warmer again as the road descended down the mountain and I reached the town of Lovell. I liked the cinema in this town, the Hyart. Very retro....




















I also liked the mural on the side of the firehouse....


























Next I was in for quite a shock. I had heard of the Bighorn Canyon, so I went to check it out. I nearly didn’t as I wasn’t sure whether it would be any good. Just somewhere on the Wyoming / Montana border that had pretences to be something grand, right?

I soon saw that it was a National Park. Hmmm. That normally means something good, but no I am sure it wouldn’t be. I rode on.

Well the scenery started to get better....




















The roads were nice and twisty....




















There was a very nice mountain backdrop....




















When I rode into the car park, my hopes were dashed again. I was the only person there.....


















I walked over to the fence to see what was there.

Holy smoke! What is this???? It was breathtaking.... scroll down and enlarge the next picture.....




































I was flabbergasted! Is this America’s best kept secret?? It is stunning!

The view from the car park area was spoilt by the fence that stopped people from plunging to their certain death. I climbed over the fence and took more pictures.....

























































































I scrambled over the rocks to get this next picture through an arch....


















And then of course I had to get a picture of me on the arch. Gulp, there was one heck of a drop behind me!....


















The canyon continues north into Montana and gets lower to a point where boats can be launched.



I left Bighorn Canyon, very pleased I had decided to go there. Wow, what a place. I wish more people went there!

On the way to the canyon, I missed this sign. I like it – the most understated state line marker I have seen.....


























Any biker would love the roads going to and from the canyon.....


























HOLY CRAP, BATMAN....

I don’t know what type of animal did this, but I wouldn’t like to meet it on a dark night....


























Getting into Cody from the east had its challenges. The road construction didn’t pose too many problems but the wind did! It is quite worrying, having to ride at an angle just to go in a straight line. The wind was mainly constant which helped, but the occasional stronger gusts played havoc with my nerves in the single-lane-in-each-direction road construction. The cars travelling in the opposite direction were just feet away as I leaned over to go in a straight line.... scary!

I have seen nodding donkey’s before, but there was no fence, so I went and had a closer look....




















Just before getting to Cody, I saw a couple of bikes that I know a couple of my readers would consider nothing less than Ural porn....


























































Finally, yesterday was my eldest son’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHARLES!

20 comments:

Donna aka Froggi said...

Thanks so much for the great pics of Bighorn Canyon...something we missed. We'll have to check it out next time we head west (which can't be too soon for me...LOL!)

Geoff James said...

Simply breathtaking Gary. Thank you as always for sharing.

Eve said...

Happy Birthday Charles!!
Wow I really want to go to Bighorn Canyon! I'm going to have to put that on my bucket list for sure. Thanks Gary. I'm surprised you didn't see a Pronghorn Sheep there. Do you have binoculars??? You really should have a pair when you stop at places like that! That dung heap sure is a stumper...do buffalo just stop in one place and all together take a dump??? I have my doubts. Did someone come along and dump a load of great compost for someone else??? Now I want to know...I'll be kept up for days!! hahaha!
I can't believe you ran into those Urals! I noticed on the website the "hammer" is replaced by a Piston but this one seems to want to keep the "old style" alive. Not sure how that will go over in the wild wild west.
Now I'm going to learn more about the Wheel in Cody. That is very interesting.
Glad you're back up and running with your new Zumo!!!
Ride Safe!

Radar said...

Gary,

As always, an outstanding post. I suspect that in the solitude of some of your long riding days, your mind starts to sort the information, compares to previous events, and creates a new outlook on the world. Now that you have hit your 2-month and midpoint milestones, I'm wondering how this trip has changed you or your perspectives on riding, people, and this diverse, crazy place in which we live and call America.

biker baby said...

We rode through MT and missed the canyon. Too bad...looks great. I see you're getting close to Yellowstone. You won't want to miss Bear Tooth Pass or the Chief Joseph Highway. At the top of Bear Tooth, we had to ride through nickel size hail but it was well worth it. We did not have buckets on and had no warning of hail so wear a bucket! The Chief Joseph Highway is truly worth the ride.

Charlie6 said...

Gary, thanks for cluing us in on that park....must go someday.

Too bad about the GPS but glad you've got another one.

Thanks for the Ural porn!

By the way, if you liked the rock formations carved out by the river in Bighorn Canyon, you'll have to visit Gooseneck Park in Utah:

Long Distance Riding - Monument Valley

dom

Redleg'sRides

Webster World said...

This is great. Thanks for the ride.

bluekat said...

I don't think I've heard of Bighorn canyon before. Best kept secret ... It seems like there are a few places everybody knows about, while the lesser known spots remain secret gems to uncover. Nice that you had the place to yourself. Beautiful landscape.

Axel said...

Wow, stunning pictures. How did you make the self-portrait standing on the arch? GoPro 2 sec repeat photo mode?

Rickey Brown said...

Gary, some of my friends from Soviet Steeds would like to know where those Ural's are located. Great ride and keep it up. I also suspect that was Bison crap in the road. you can email me byuphoto@yahoo.com

FLHX_Dave said...

I went through BigHorn once, but I never saw that! Wholly crap...now I have to go back. Awesome picts, awesome ride. Man, you really are living my dream. Some day, yup...some day.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

there's so much history where you have been travelling lately. I have heard of the "Little Big Horn", I wonder if you will get to view it too. There was a famous battle there.

Isn't is just amazing that as you view the landscape from a distance it would appear that there is nothing there, then you see incredible sights. There is a similar "bend" in Utah, but I forget its name. It is near Canyonlands NP

I'm surprised you didn't add to the crap

ride safely
bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Milwaukee Dan said...

You know Gary when you said you climbed the fence to get those shots I got vertigo just looking at the photos. Hope you weren't too close to the edge. Beautiful images though, thanks for sharing.

SonjaM said...

Wow again. Very droolworthy. Thanks so much for sharing this, it's breathtaking.

Mike said...

Gary - I've been reading your posts as a lurker but had to comment this morning. This was a very enjoyable read while eating my breakfast until I got to the pile in the road. ;) Very nice views that you recorded. I too would like to know how you got that shot with you on the cliff. Ride safe. Thanks!

motoroz said...

I had never heard of Medicine Wheel or Bighorn Canyon. When we go back that way they are both on my must see list. Glad all is going well. You are going to love Yellowstone!

Gary France said...

Donna – You must go there, it is stunning. In case you need any help, that is an instruction!

Geoff – You are most welcome. Please change you picture in your profile – it is much too formal. LOL !!

Eve – I don’t have binoculars with me and until you mentioned it, I hadn’t thought of that. To be honest I don’t think I would use them much. The dump pile was a mystery to me as well, but some did look fresher than other parts, so I can only think that the same animal used that place on more than one occasion. I see Charlie6 has spotted the Ural porn, but I am not sure if Chris has yet. Surprisingly, I have met many Russians in the last few western states, as many have jobs here, so I think the wild west is getting used to breaking down a few old barriers. Getting the new Zumo was a relief....

Radar – Oh, I could write a book in response to your comment! I have been able to look at the US in a totally different light to what I expected. I am afraid that I have based my view of the US on the main way I have previously seen it – television! I have travelled to the US before, in fact quite a few times, but that has mainly been to big cities or well populated areas such as California and Washington. This tour has taught me much about not just the places I have seen, but more than anything, about the people. From what I have seen, the people are some of the warmest, kindest and sincere folk I have ever met – much more so than the people in the UK. To be honest, the US doesn’t present itself in a very good way internationally and the reality is far removed from the picture your nation presents to the world. The US is not all; about life in the big cities, Miami Vice type violence, a live-for-today sex and the city type culture, MacDonalds eating, war-mongering government and a many of the other stereotypes that are inevitable from the junk that gets put out. It is a fantastic place that is full of diversity and many different ways of life. It has a great deal to offer but why it doesn’t portray these things is a mystery. I guess entertainment like American Chopper is more popular than canyons, waterfalls and many of the other splendid things this country has to offer. One thing has become evident to me- having lived in or near London all of my life and therefore a committed city boy, I have realised I don’t like cities as much as I thought! Each time I ride into a big city I cannot wait to leave, to find the open road again and to see all of the wonderful things out there! Radar, I am going to save the rest of my thoughts on your question for the end of my ride. One thing I will share with you though, is I am already thinking about what to do and where to go next year.... and on what form of transport....

BB – You are so right. Having now done those roads I can truly say they are magnificent. Awesome is a word that is greatly over-used in the US, but Beartooth Pass is truly awesome!

Charlie6 – I am pleased that you liked the Ural porn. LOL. I am going to see Gooseneck State Park. In fact seeing a picture on the internet of the main bend in the river there was the main reason I bought a fish-eye lens especially for the tour! Thanks for the link to your Monument Valley page. It makes me even more keen to get there! Hopefully it wont be snowing like it did for you!

Webster – I am glad you are enjoying it....

Gary France said...

bluekat – I think a few of us should start a new blog and call it something like “Our favourite places that nobody knows are there”. No, hang on, then they will become busy – forget that idea!

Axel – Good question and I see you have now found the answer!

Rickey – I can remember the name of the shop and I just did some digging on the web to confirm where they are. They are in Ralston, Wy. Here is their website... http://www.jaxusedbikes.biz/home

Dave – I was gobsmacked! Is that a saying in the US? Big Horn Canyon was stunning! If I had the time, I would have done it by boat. You can rent these and go right the way through the canyon. Darn it, now I will have to go back as well.....

Bob – When I was a boy, I can remember playing a board game called “Battle of the Little Big Horn”. I think this is why it has stuck in my memory ever since. As Charlie6 has said in his comment, the similar bend is in Gooseneck State Park. I had seen a picture of Gooseneck before and as soon as I saw the Big Horn Canyon, I immediately thought of Gooseneck. Who says I didn’t add to it?

Dan – I remember that you don’t like heights! Sorry! I was a little close to the edge....

Sonja – Droolworthy is a great word for it!

Mike – Sorry about spoiling your breakfast! I have posted something at the end of my latest post called “What a Great Day!” that explains how I took that photo.

Oz – I am glad that I was able to add to your list! I am in Yellowstone now. My next post will be all about what I have seen here and my thoughts....

Chris Luhman said...

I'm adding that Canyon to the list! Thanks for the pics of the Urals, but they are far, far to clean. They need to go find some mud ASAP.

Gary France said...

Chris – I thought you might like those Ural pictures!