Much like a previous red state (Kentucky), my opinion of the state greatly improves as you move further West (or in this case, Northwest). The scenery has drastically improved and the people's demeanor has changed for the most part, but then again.. it seems everyone near the Teton and Yellowstone Parks are from other states/countries. Towards the top of the pass, I found signs warning me of construction and telling me "Be Prepared To Stop." I was fine with stopping after climbing for the last hour. Luckily for Eastbounders, there's road construction on the Western side of the mountain and require you to throw your bike into a pilot car (or in this case, truck) and ride for a few miles. Unfortunately for me, I had to forgo the thrill/satisfaction of riding down the mountain I just climbed. Instead, I had to hold on for dear life and bounce around with my bike on bumpy dirt roads.
I was hoping I'd run into Chris & Chris on the top, but I never did. I headed down the rest of the mountain towards Moran Junction and found an impressive first view of the Grand Tetons. Accompanying this view, was an incredible headwind that would bring my fast descent to complete stops. I used these breaks in momentum as opportunities to snap photos. And snap photos I did! I'm apologizing right now for the overt amount of photographs I've taken today and will, most likely, tomorrow. I'm just afraid that these beautiful scenes of majestic nature will coax you to promptly leave your jobs/families and head west in a personal manifest destiny. Actually, who am I kidding? I want you to do just that!
I met Chris and Chris at a diner and we tried to stomach more food. I couldn't finish the fries I was eating and donated it to my friends. Fighting the wind again, we took into the valley and headed into the Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Tetons, when translated from French, virtually means "Big Breasts." Either the French were as immature as those who changed the rocks to "Fart Washakie," or they really thought it was a fitting name. I don't know.. all I know is that I was witnessing the most majestic/impressive mountains I've seen in my life (yes, they ousted the French Alps).
In the park, we found a campsite near Colter Bay. In spite of the extortionist price of 12 dollars per cyclist, we got a site and read up on the "Be Bear Aware" pamphlet the park ranger gave us. They have bear boxes for each site, where you place all your belongings that may attract a hungy grizzly or curious black bear. Unfortunately, the site they assigned to us had no such box! Therefore, we had to utilize a nearby site. The funny thing is, there were no other occupants all around us in the hiker/biker site, with the exception of a few curious deer. Christopher and I gathered sticks for firewood and pitched our tents. We later met Aaron and Saz and left to check out the local scene.
We hung out in the bay for a bit and took a few photos. Feeling the hunger pang, we headed to a somewhat poshy restaurant with horrible service. Aaron and I ordered eggplant pasta dishes with garlic bread, but our bread came in the form of two little stubs that resembled croutons. The waitress was somewhat sympathetic and helped us get a proper meal. With full stomachs, we hung out and chatted for about an hour. Finally, we setted back to the campsite and roasted some marshmellows.
It felt like a good night to end my ride with these guys. I'm heading all the way through the Yellowstone and into Montana tomorrow, while the rest of the guys are going to spend the next three days in the park. Chris and Aaron are going backcountry hiking/camping and the girls are going to relax with spa-like luxuries. I wish I had the time to stop and truly enjoy the scenery; however, I've made a plan and I've got to stick to it. Good night, and don't let the bears bite!