Another early start. That’s three in a row. But then we always knew this part of the trip was going to be tough on our sleep quota. The alarm goes off at 0600 and we’re on the road for 0630.
We decided yesterday it wasn’t too much of a detour to take in the “Grand Tetons” national park, especially when our park entrance fee to Yellowstone includes it too. So we figure brekkie at a picnic site later and just get going see if we can catch any animals out and about early before the roads busy up.
As we leave we see the elk family again, the ones who were in the middle of the road last night. Tee hee hee.
The tour around Grand Teton is amazing. Totally stunning views of the mountains which we realise we are only seeing because it’s early in the morning … as time marches on they disappear behind a weather front. Talk about lucky.
On the road we stop lots for photos but the only animals we see this morning is an osprey in it’s nest high above the road. No bears 🙁
That is until we are on our way, we have just taken photo’s of the osprey and are on the road to head south when Bernice spots yogi in the field to our right. We stop the car and watch as he bounds across the field towards us. He’s a brown bear and a reasonable size. He stops a couple of times just checking his surroundings but is making his way to the road. Which luckily is still quiet, the only other vehicle is a roadworks pickup and they pull a bit closer to watch too. He’s pretty smart right enough, knows his green cross code – checking for traffic before he crosses over and makes a beeline for a berry bush. 🙂 So yogi was in Grand Teton for a change of scene … nice 🙂
Excited by our luck we drag ourselves away only after he is out of view and get on with the long drive south … we have about another 6 hours to do. Which is lengthened by a whole heap of roadworks – Bernice always seems to be driving when we get these. Some of them go on for over 10 miles and they insist you follow a pilot car.
It seems to take forever but we finally make it to the next town of Dubois where we pick up fuel and swap drivers. There’s no real wifi option so we decide to carry on another hour to the next town of Lander. This is more like it. It us pretty big and has a huge Safeway (another free wifi find across America). As we’re leaving Bernice spots a highway patrol car – it’s brown, not the white we’re used to seeing back home. One to note for the road.
We contact Nick and let him know roughly what time we should be with him, we guess at 4 or 5 latest and we grab some rolls and make lunch before setting off again.
The rest of the journey is across a huge expanse, a very bleak plateau above 6,500ft. The roads are really straight and just go off into the abys. Some way into the journey we see a car way in the distance stopped on the other side of the road. Bernice jokes that it might be a police car, it is the middle of nowhere, towns are at least 60 miles apart, with nothing in between, so unlikely?!
Bonkers suggestion as it is, she’s right, and as we pass him he does a u-turn and follows us for way over 10 minutes! We think he’s running our plates through the computer, see if the car is stolen, you know, like they do in the movies. Anyway we guess we’re safe enough the longer he’s there as if he had something to do us for he’d have done it right away!!!
He eventually slows up and does another u-turn and pulls a different car over going the other way. He was using us as cover. We got warned that they have forward facing radar in their cars … What we don’t quite get is how this can be accurate at detecting the speed of a car coming towards them when they are travelling at speed themselves …
Excitement over, or is it?!! The next town of Jeffrey city – really is in the Rse end middle of of nowhere 87 deg in summer, snow drift preventers everywhere so winter won’t be any fun either. Then as we leave we pass signs for “green mountain campsite” … Why? Who? It makes no sense at all…
The only thing of note up here worth mention is that we drive through the Continental divide basin – a bowl on the plateau where the rain water has nowhere to run to the Pacifi or the Atlantic and only disappears by evaporating. Weird!
No more than an hour after the last encounter we come across another highway patrol car. We are behind a few other cars going at least if not quicker than us (speed limit is 65mph on these long crazy straight roads) and when we pass he turns around in the road again. The pickup behind us pulls over, he ignores him, we pull over, he ignores us (phew), the pickup at the front pulls over he says something to him and the car that hadn’t pulled over now pulls over. The cop takes them both down! As this is all happening another Highway patrol car passes. So much for us thinking it’s unlikely there’ll be any cops up here, there’s not just one, we have seen three in an hour.
Crazily we’ve had 3 monster trucks behind us for a while just before this happens, going just as quick and in fact from time to time we think they’re going to overtake us. We figure they’d have the whole cop thing covered you know “smokie and the bandit” styly…
We stop at a fuel station for the toilet and swap over and no sooner have we have done this and we are back in roadworks again, Bernice’s favourite!!!
About another hour down the road not far from the state line, Bernice wakes Huw up so we can be sure to get a photo as we cross it, when a light comes on on the dash. Huw looks it up, the tyre pressure has dropped. Initially it doesn’t feel like a flat tyre but we think we should find a garage and check. Easier said than done!! Going no more than 60mph (for sure), no overtaking and becoming more and more concerned as there’s no sign of a fuel station, we suddenly have a police car behind with his lights flashing. Doh!
He claims we were doing 73mph, but as soon as he realises we’re Brits he follows that up with “I’ll give you a warning this time”. No need to argue with this. Still concerned about the possibility of a flat tyre, we try and have a look without getting out the car (Dan I remembered to keep my hands on the wheel, he did unclasp his gun, but didn’t draw it thankfully, even when I went digging for my licence. Dumb Brits was probably what he was thinking. No threat here)
Anyway he helped us move the car further off the road to where the ground was a bit flatter so we could change the wheel, while he wrote out the warning. He then drives down the road where he says he’ll watch out for us, make sure we are ok. All a bit too exciting!
It is official though, there are more highway patrol cars up here on the top of Wyoming than they know what’s good for them. Their taxes must be pretty high too is all we can imagine.
Now limping the last 50 miles into Ft Collins as we have the spare wheel on and are restricted on the speed we can do, we finally get to Nick about 7pm :-/
Guess we’ll be talking with Hertz tomorrow. Hopefully it’s easily resolvable. The highway patrol guy was pretty surprised when he had a closer look at our tyres, that they’d leased us the car like this, they’re pretty much on the limit. A conversation to have with them tomorrow too. We have to bare in mind we have done over 3,000 miles so far … With probably another 1,500 to go.
Nick’s room mate Kyle and girlfriend Sarah are in too and after intros and a bit of a chat we fall in with their Thursday night ritual – a visit to “Buffalo Wild Wings” where on a Thursday night you can get boneless wings (yes boneless) for 60c a piece. A few more of their mates join us too. We still can’t get over the 21 rule here but join everyone on a soda nonetheless. We get a crash course on the rules of American football while we eat, there’s telly’s everywhere!!