Tag Archives: day trip

Cycling in Yellowstone [Day Trip]

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This spring I finally had the timing right and was able to bike in Yellowstone before the park opened to motor vehicles. Every spring, depending on the snow melt and clearing, there is a two to four week window where you can ride your bike in the park from the west entrance. That means the dates are never the same, but typically in April. For the first time since moving back to Montana, I was able to make a ride happen this year.

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It was awesome. The Sexy Master Electrician and I loaded up our road bikes, a picnic, beers and our tiny camp chairs and headed to West Yellowstone. There was a larger group of people who had talked about going but couldn’t for one reason or another when the day came. I maybe shouldn’t have gone because I was still trying to kick this endless cold. It was worth the hacking cough afterward. We were worried the weather was going to suck, and it was a bit chilly, but layers fixed everything and the sun was sun was shining. I will admit the last couple miles with a head wind did suck, but it was great for a 30ish mile ride in to Madison Junction and back out.

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It was so wonderful to be in the park without cars or motor homes and big fifth wheels. There were several people out biking. Most probably doing the same ride we did. It’s pretty flat and easy and with all the stopping to look around and what not, it only took about three hours. Next time we want to go a bit farther up to Norris or maybe try to make a one way run up to the north entrance, but that is not a flat ride and its pretty long. I need to get back into better biking shape for that.

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The road follows the Madison River and buffalo were all over. I was surprised we didn’t see more elk. The scenery was breathtaking. The mountains were still snowy and the ground was green. We didn’t spend much time at the junction before turning around to claim a picnic spot at one of the turnouts. On the way back, TSME had to race who ever he could catch on the road. I took a slightly lazier approach. It was a great way to spend the early afternoon.

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Taste of the Trails [West Yellowstone]

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Last year, a random group of friends headed down to West Yellowstone for the Taste of the Trails.  I didn’t really know anyone except the one person that invited me. No one had been to the Taste before and we didn’t know what to expect. It was so great, we came back and talked it up, resulting in a return trip with new people this year. This year the sky stayed grey most of the day and we did get snowed on a little bit, but it was still a great day to be out.
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The Taste of the Trails is a 5k cross country ski event by the West Yellowstone Ski Education Foundation.  They have four food stations set up along the pristine Rendezvous Trails. You begin with appetizers, (elk strudel and candied bacon anyone?), followed by soup, (your choice of four different kinds), then the main course, (payaya!), finishing with dessert (too many to list but the chocolate chip bread pudding so so good).
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Payaya
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Dessert! So many to try. 
The course was super easy. They removed the one steep hill that was before the soup station this year to make it even more beginner friendly. The course has a biathlon shooting range on it. This year there were people training as we came along for our main course stop.
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The hill that took many down last year

The cabin that they serve the main course is an old ranger cabin that they moved over  to save it from demolition.Untitled

After we finished our course and warmed up in the warming hut, a couple of us went back out to do a little bit more exploring. The trails are so well taken care of and the maps and markers make it so easy to not get lost as you weave in and around the forest. I need to pay more attention to the events they have going on. They do a fun/beginners biathlon that I would love to try out and several other fun races.
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One of the hills we would realize was not so bad later on

When we were done, we meet up with the others at the local Buffalo Bar before heading over to the Norris Hot Springs to finish the day off before heading back to Bozeman. I’m sure we’ll have another great crew headed down again for next years Taste!

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Last year’s crew

The Black Hills [Mount Rushmore &The Needles Highway]

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Last spring I ran home for my brother wedding in the Black Hills. The Sexy Master Electrician has never spent much time in the Hills and we’ve never really spent any time at my parents, just quick trips through. We still didn’t spend much time at my parents but we did do a little afternoon trip in the Hills. (There was a misunderstanding that made us think everything was set up for the wedding, not that were were overtly excited to spend the day doing that anyway.) We did a drive from the Deadwood area down to Mount Rushmore, through the Needles Highway and ended back up in Deadwood to meet TSME’s parents for dinner.

One thing I recommend for traveling around the Black Hills, most gas stations, tourist stops, etc. have this 11x 17ish sized paper map that has all the big places to stop and ways to get there and it’s free. They’ve been doing it forever and they still are. If you’re going to run around the Hills, I highly recommend it as a go to reference. You may also want some Dramamine depending on your route, there are some pretty winding roads. We tried to avoid main tourist roads if we could and still see all we wanted. It has been probably about 10 years since I had last visited these places. It was a great little afternoon. 

Black Hills map overall

Our drive from Deadwood through Lead to Mount Rushmore took us along Lake Pactola. It is a man made lake that is named after the town that lies below it. It’s also the place we went cliff jumping way back in the old days.

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We made it to Mount Rushmore late in the afternoon. There was hardly anyone there. It was perfect for a quick stop. We watched the little video and went through the exhibit about how they made the sculpture and the creator, Gutzom Borglum, and the politics behind it. For the record, I know it is a massive carving in the rock, but it does not seem that big. Especially when you see Crazy Horse. However, it is impressive.  We were pressed for time, so we didn’t do any of the longer walks up closer to the heads, but there are trails you can take through the hills that are lovely if you have time.
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After that we took off to go along Iron Mountain Road toward the Black Hills Playhouse and the Needles Highway. This was basically a short cut to get to the Needles. On top of that, it is this windy, barely two-lane road that goes through a few tunnels that purposefully frame Mount Rushmore. I don’t know why, but I have no pictures of this. I don’t know what happened. It’s really cool though to drive and beautiful.  I recommend it.
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Mt Rushmore from US16A.jpg
Via Kimon Berlin, user:GribecoOwn work, CC BY 2.5, Link

Once you get to Highway 87, you have to get a park pass to Custer State Park. There are lots of things to see in there, including Jewel Cave and Wind Cave, but we’ve saved those for another trip. The needles are these amazing rock formations. Back when I was a climber, I’d been up there to do just that. It’s a beautiful area and one of my favorite drives. We also missed taking pictures of this area too.
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The Eye of the Needle via
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The road ends at Sylvan Lake, also the starting point of the hike up to Black Elk Peak, (formerly Harney Peak), highest point east of the Rockies in the US and and easy hike if you need one.
sylvan-lake via https://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/campgrounds/sylvan-lake/
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That concludes our little afternoon in the hills. We headed back through the cute little town of Hill City and back to Deadwood for dinner. While this post may have been focused on Mount Rushmore, I fully encourage you to explore the Black Hills beyond it and other touristy things. They are a beautiful little area filled with lots of surprises.

 

Natural Bridge

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Back in Mayish a friend did a little solo road trip over to the Natural Bridge on the Boulder River about two hours away.  She posted beautiful pictures of the back road she drove instead of the interstate. K, J and I decided we should do the same trip. The bridge itself had been on my to do list for awhile and after showing people images, it was easy to get them to go along too for the day.

We went in June to make sure everything was green. Swingley Road was absolutely gorgeous. The mountain views were amazing. I have done the interstate route time and time again and it has become a bit boring. It was good to travel a new route and renew my appreciation of those mountains. We did the road both ways, both times it was different and amazing.
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Once we arrived at the bridge, we walked all over the place. There is a beautiful wood bride in place now to cross the river.
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View from wood bridge of water disappearing below ground.

We went on the trails, but then we ventured down into the canyon and got as close to the opening as we dared.
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From the far rim of the canyon.
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Climbing down was pretty fun, there are climbing routes set up too!
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We walked along the top of the canyon until we were cut off by private property.
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Of course we wondered down on the bridge itself.
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This is the side the water comes out, you can’t see much, but it’s still cool.

The bridge as it is now will end up with water flowing over it when the water is high enough. There used to be another section of bridge that collapsed that was the original land bridge. That would have been pretty cool to see. Even so, for just being a hole in the wall where water comes out, the natural bridge is still a sweet site to visit.

Rockaway Beach [Biking Day Trip]

Despite the questionable forecast, Memorial Day was beautiful and hot.  All week before we had been talking about trying to go to the beach during the long weekend, but waking up to rain on Sunday canceled the trip that day and sent us to the movies, even though the day turned out to be fine.  We decided, even if the weather wasn’t beach weather, we would go on a longish bike ride on a loop around Jamaica Bay.  But we woke up to sunshine, clear skies, and a low chance or rain, even in the afternoon, so we packed our bags and biked straight to the beach.

From the top on the way out: Ocean Avenue, Marine Parkway Bridge in the distance, greenway riding, Rockaway!

Rockaway Beach is interesting to me because when I first heard about it, it wasn’t because of the beach, it was because of the ride out there.  From Park Slope in Brooklyn, you can do a 30 mile out and back ride or about 50 around the bay.  My friend and I were just getting in to distance cycling and had yet to do our first century, but we were working up to it, so we decided to check out this Rockaway ride that was suppose to be mostly greenways, which meant much less of the stop and go you get riding in New York City.  We really had no idea what to expect and for some reason we took a really odd route out to the greenway beyond Coney Island.  I ended up starving. STARVING. And on our route there was nothing open. NOTHING.  We happened upon Rockaway Taco, it was like a gift from the gods.  Seriously, we were going down the street next to it and didn’t even see it, we saw a bagel place around the corner and went back to check it out only to see it was closed and noticed people hanging out on the next corner.  We joined the line.  It wasn’t just that I was starving.  It was fucking amazing.  We watched them make the guacamole from scratch and peal the plantains for chips right there.  It was reason to come back. Again and again.  We stopped by the beach that was pretty much empty, it was September, maybe.

My first trip to Rockaway.

That was 2008 and the end of the season.  The next year. we went out again and again. And not to the beach, I mean, we always biked the board walk.  To tacos.  Amazing tacos.  The beach looked nice and clean, but I’ve never been much of a beach person, I’m more for lakes.  Finally we actually made a trip for the beach in 2010, oh and for the tacos.  The beach crew was mostly locals and a few of us Brooklyn transplants looking for a beach close to home and 100 times better than Coney Island.  In 2011, Rockaway Taco teamed up with a couple other vendors, think lobster rolls, amazing Italian ices, and  bar among others to reopen one of the old beach stands that was closed and empty.  I don’t know if we were all slowly migrating to Rockaway or if the word about Rockaway Taco on the beach reached critical mass and everyone started flocking there.  Either way, Rockaway is the current place to be.  The beach is full from one end to the other and I still love it.

Oh the Beach!

You have to go to the original taco stand down on 96th Street because they don’t have the full menu at the beach stand and I always want the stuff they don’t serve at the beach.  This weekend was the first time we didn’t go down the street because we forgot that the menu was partial.  We did bike by on our way home and the line was around the corner, the longest I’ve seen it and I’ve waited in line almost an hour for it.  It’s that good.

The Taco Stand.

There is this area at the far east end of Coney Island  along the Belt Parkway where people kite surf and they are there almost every time we bike by in the afternoon on the way home.  It’s so awesome!   I always end up stopping to take pictures.  Just after we got past Coney Island and back on the Ocean Avenue for the final stretch home, I got a flat tire.  Of course I didn’t have any of my stuff with to repair it.  So that meant a horrible train ride back to Coney Island  to catch the D back home because the train was not running toward Manhattan at the station I was closest too.  It doesn’t help that I misread the map and went to the Q instead of the F.   Opps.  It was still an excellent ride and after 4 hours at the beach, I was done, and a bit burned.  Nothing a few days and some aloe can’t cure.  I can wear skirts again today! Yeah!

The ride home from the top: The city in the distance and Christian rocking it over the bridge, the kites are out!

Bottom line, go check out Rockaway.  And you should definately do it by bike.  Take the short route like we did and it’s only 30 miles round trip depending on where your coming from and it’s a really easy ride.  I promise.  Except the Marine Parkway Bridge, it’s not a hard one, but if you’re not used to going over a bridge daily, you might want to prepare yourself for it.

Love that this guy was pulling a trailer loaded with surf gear with a cooler attached to the back and a baby seat on the bike. No baby.