Roll of the dice

July 30, 2014 : Missoula, Montana : [ Day 64 ]

Wyoming was a chance. A last-minute choice, a roll of the dice. So far on this journey, these things have been the norm, and so far, they’ve been working out almost perfectly. But by the time I finally left Rock Springs, it felt like my luck had run out.

I know I promised to come back and explain the end of an earlier post, when I found the right words. I mentioned that it felt like the searching was over, and that now I am just screwing around on a motorcycle. Well, I haven’t found any better words than that, but maybe I can explain what I mean a little better.

I didn’t know it when I left, didn’t know anything really, I was just fed up. But I was really searching for two things – a way forward, and a reason to come home, wherever that might be. When I left, I felt empty. The future, and all thoughts of it, were blank.

But now, I feel something so close to happiness that I’m almost inclined to believe it. Thoughts of the future aren’t blank anymore, they are filled with color. With balance and meaning. Love and adventure.

This might sound a bit dark for some of you, and I don’t intend it that way, but I feel like there are reasons for existing now; aside from the instinctual, biological desire to continue doing so. I know that while I haven’t yet found my Path, I have found the means to continue to seek it while also being satisfied in the journey.

That is the way forward that I have found.

When I left, I also felt lonely, as much as I never would have admitted it, or even realized. I had given up on the very notion of love, the idea of it, even. Surely, I had forgotten what it even felt like. Then I met Melissa. She became a part of this story, and through her I came to see the depth of all the things I’d been missing. And she is about to become a bigger part of this story, as a little over a week from today, we are meeting in Colorado for a week of exploring. She is riding out from Tennessee, three days each way on a 500 cc motorcycle, just to see me.

She might be the reason to come home that found me.

It took a mechanical breakdown, a lowside, a gravel road in the Wind River range, and catching up with an old friend to reflect on how far I’d come, both personally and geographically. So I guess maybe my luck didn’t really run out in Wyoming. Maybe Wyoming happened exactly the way it was supposed to. Maybe I’m too happy to give a shit about the difference.

In any case, even if I am just screwing around now, this ride isn’t over. There is still a little money in the bank, and a lot of country left to see.

But I am curious now, perhaps for the first time since leaving, about After. To see just how this story will play out. Or if there even is an After – does this journey just continue on in perpetuity, manifesting itself in different ways as the pressures of the world of the future requires? That’s the way I’ve come to think about it. This ride may end, but the journey is just beginning. The entire world is open for discovery.

But for now, all soap-boxing aside, here are some photos…

Red Canyon

Looking down on Red Canyon from Highway 28, approaching Lander, Wyoming. One of the coolest exposures of the Chugwater formation that you’ll find anywhere. The dirt road at the bottom is apparently part of an old Westward wagon trail, as the continental divide here is a gentle hump rather than a sharp ridge typical of the Rockies.

Sinks Canyon

I met an oilfield buddy at Sinks Canyon, outside of Lander. Here are the “sinks,” where the south fork of the Popo Agie River flows into caverns in Madison limestone. The river reappears several hundred yards downstream.

American iron

The Tiger hanging out with some American iron (and a Honda).

Wyoming

Northbound, somewhere between Lander and Jackson, Wyoming. I don’t remember exactly where this was, other than it was the far side of the Wind River range.

Teton range

Approaching the Teton Range, in Grand Teton National Park.

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. I stopped here on my way to the Amphitheater Lake trailhead – I needed to go for a good hike to get the blood flowing in my legs again!

Wildflowers

There were a ton of wildflowers here. I don’t know what these are, but they were everywhere at lower elevations. As the trail climbed, Indian paintbrush, lupine, and mountain laurel took over.

Higher

The trail worked higher, toward the “saddle” below Amphitheater Lake.

Higher still

And higher.

Jackson Hole

At the saddle, the views of Jackson Hole, the fault-block valley adjacent to the uplifted Teton Range, were astonishing. I turned around at the saddle, because I was 4 miles in and the weather was changing fast. My main concern was not having a dry bag to protect the camera. When I got back to the trailhead, I rode to Signal mountain to make some overdue phone calls, where the rain started. My camera thanks me for the turnaround choice!

The Tetons are beautiful, and there looks to be endless possibilities in the surrounding national forests. But I really wanted to get to Glacier and breathe familiar air in Montana. So I packed up and left early the next morning, heading North with the cold and rain providing a fitting backdrop for the mood I was in. There’s only so much busy, popular national park I can take at one time.

Black Sand Basin

But I did stop to check out some of the geysers. Yellowstone is a place that every geologist has to see. It’s fascinating, if you can manage the tourist hordes. I always meant to ride through in the late season when I lived in Red Lodge, but I never found the time. It was nice to finally see some of this stuff. A kid about 11 or 12, while standing in the steam, said that it “smelled like breakfast.” I walked over, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t smell just like sausage and pancakes!

I am spending the night in Missoula, heading for Glacier tomorrow. From there, I have about nine days to loop back to Colorado somehow… we’ll see what happens!

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