Although I'm not on a schedule, I seem to be waking up, packing up, and heading out pretty much the same time every day. I've been on the road by 9:00am consistently. Whatever. There will be schedules to meet and other riders' itineraries when I get to Lake Tahoe.
At the bottom of the pass, I found myself at the front of a line of vehicles waiting to roll out of a construction area where only one direction of traffic at a time could flow. I was staring at my GPS trying to find my bearings when I heard what sounded like Harleys approaching. I looked up to see two good friends from Kentucky who are also meandering their way to Shark Week. They had just finished the Chief Joseph run and were about to ride Beartooth in the opposite direction I had just done. There were no tearful hugs or high fives; just a wave and an acknowledgement that we would see each other soon in Lake Tahoe.
At this point, I had no connectivity and was riding blind, trying to rely on my memory and using the paper route cards I had prepared for just this situation. Still, I got it wrong and before I knew it, I was rolling up to the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I had not planned on riding Yellowstone this year, but there I was and they weren't requiring reservations like many other National Parks these days. Better yet, as a veteran, I got in free. So, I decided to make the most of it and ride the loop south to Canyon Village up to Mammoth Springs and then make my exit at the north gate. This would put me back on track for my ride towards Lolo Pass.
One reason I didn't want to ride Yellowstone again is the traffic. It's one lane each direction and the park is literally crawling with rental campers driven by tourists who drive as if the largest vehicle they've ever owned is a Prius.