Monday, July 16, 2007

AMA IBET - Beartooth Pass, Yellowstone, Lolo Pass

The mid-point of this trip was highlighted by my ride across Beartooth Pass and into Yellowstone National Park, and by the weekend spent with fellow riders in Lolo MT. There would be plenty of riding, even some National Park stamp collecting, but only two AMA Tour photos, taken at Kingston ID and at the Washington state visitors center. This past weekend would mark the second time I left AMA points on the table, when I rode through Davenport WA and completely forgot to stop and take the AMA photo. It was eating at that great little drive-in burger joint, Edna's, that had me sated and nearly comatose with satisfaction! I blissfully rode away, not even giving the AMA tour a thought.

The first week of the trip finished, I left Lolo MT Sunday morning to start my trip home. This day would be spent nearly entirely on secondary roads, as I headed south on US 93 out of Lolo, through Idaho to head toward my day's rewards. I would be picking up AMA Tour photos at the Idaho state line and at Rexburg and taking a slight detour to get a National Park stamp at Craters of the Moon national monument. The highlight of the day would be the fantastic and ever-changing scenery along US 93.

First stop of the day was at the Idaho border, to get an AMA Tour photo of bike and flag and the Idaho sign at the top of Lolo Pass. Coming down the backside of the Pass I was treated to a beautiful doe and two fawns standing in the middle of the road. Since I had been coming around a hairpin turn, I was already moving at a slower speed, and there was absolutely no traffic. I braked and slowed down to a crawl and was able to get quite close to the deer, before the doe moved on across the roadway to the shoulder. She looked back at her two fawns, who stayed frozen in the middle of the road. By this time, I had come to a near stop. Had I needed to come to a full stop, I would have pulled my camera out of the tankbag. But finally the two fawns sprang into action and skipped over to the shoulder to join the Doe. What a beautiful moment! I was thankful that there were no other cars, which allowed me to savor this moment for awhile.

I stopped for gas in Challis, and a good-looking fella in a Jeep Wrangler pulled along side my bike as I was preparing to leave. I took my helmet back off and we chatted at length. He asked if I was headed across Sawtooth toward Stanley, where was I from, and so forth. He seemed very reluctant to leave. And I swear he was flirting a little with me. That big white smile of his! He eventually pulled away, but I noticed that he paused long enough to watch me ride off.

I did not go through Sawtooth NRA - though I really wanted to - but doing so would have gotten me to the Craters of the Moon National Monument too late in the day. I would just have to save Sawtooth for another trip. So I continued down 93 to Butte City, made the slight detour to Craters of the Moon, then backtracked to head toward Rexburg and an AMA Tour photo. I can't help but feel that there won't be too many photos of Rexburg submitted for this tour. But I could be wrong.
I'd never heard of Rexburg until this AMA Tour thing. It's a decent-sized little city and I was glad I'd done my "virtual" research beforehand, as it's a surprisingly sprawled out metropolis. But with photo successfully completed, I headed toward the interstate for the few short miles south to Pocatello. Such a neat name: Pocatello. It conjures up visions of the railroad for some reason. It's a name that belonged in Johnny Cash's song lyrics. I picked it as my stopping point mainly because I'd always been fascinated by the name.

I'd ridden nearly the entire day off of Interstates, and would get up the next morning and continue that trend as I headed toward Fossil Butte National Monument. There would be no AMA Tour photo opportunities this day, as I headed along US 30 toward the national park and then onto I-80 for a non-stop blast toward Cheyenne where I'd be stopping for the night.

The afternoon spent droning along the interstate gave me time to think about my progress with the AMA Tour, so far. My first conclusion was that the GPS has been a big boon and aid to the endeavor. Despite getting lost a couple of times, Jill proved her merit several times on this trip. She would prove her value even more so tomorrow. The other conclusion I made was that seeking out the smaller towns that bear the same name as large cities is infinitely more fun. I already had a trip routed out for the Northeast, which I would be taking in late July, and there are a number of AMA Tour locations on that route. But clearly, I could spend more time with it, make a few changes that would improve my travel efficiency while at the same time eliminating some of the larger metropolitan areas.

That night in the hotel, I got to work on the route to Maine, and also had some second thoughts on my route home. Organizing my photos taken so far on this trip, I was not pleased with my Oklahoma photo. The "sign" at the state line is actually a stone wall and the angle and light were all wrong, making the sign completely illegible in the photo. This photo is worth two points. My original route was to take me south through Colorado, get the Old Bent Fort national park stamp, and then head southeast across Texas, where I'd be spending the last night in Amarillo, and getting an AMA Tour photo of that city. That photo would be worth one point. I thought it best, then, to drop down through Colorado to pick up I-70 then head east through Kansas, spend the night in Wichita, and get the Oklahoma state line photo again, headed south.
Next entry: Re-routing on the fly, and a performance award

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