Return to the Elkhorn

Day 26 Monday 29th July 2013 – Idaho Falls, ID to Bondurant, WY

The ride from Idaho Falls to Bondurant wasn’t going to be a long one, at just over 100 miles. I was in no hurry. If the South Fork Hotel had had wifi as advertised, I’d have probably taken advantage of the noon check-out time to catch-up on the blog. But it didn’t, so I was out as soon as I was up and showered, and heading again to Starbucks, only this time for a coffee I both wanted and needed. One post later and I was on the road again.

The ride up along the Snake River is beautiful and lush by the river, with the Rocky mountain range in the distance.

From Idaho, July 2013
From Idaho, July 2013

While I was parked up taking those photos, a big RV towing a pick-up truck behind, pulled into the rest area parking. A Harley-Davidson Road King was strapped to the bed of the truck.

I hazarded a guess, “You heading for Sturgis?”

He was, and he seemed as excited about it as a small child on Christmas morning. He told me how he’d heard that there had been a line of RVs queueing to get into the Buffalo Chip as soon as the gates opened. Perhaps this was going to be a busy year at Sturgis.

As I continued down the Snake River valley, I spotted a parking area near to a cultivated field and I just had to pull over to take a photo.

From Idaho, July 2013

I’d seen so many of these irrigators during my travels here, but never had an appropriate opportunity to take a snap. These things really sum up agriculture in large parts of the US, especially in the high plains and deserts. Nothing much grows unless they are continually showered in water, and these machines are seen in the fields surrounding nearly every community.

As I was parked up taking that photo, another Harley rider pulled up to check if I was OK. Nice gesture. I signalled I was, and as I was about to pull out anyway, I followed that rider into the next town. When he pulled into the gas station, I thought I could do with a break anyway, so I pulled up beside him to say thank you properly for checking on me.

He looked just like your stereotypical biker, beard, leather and denim, and wearing a cut. But it turns out that Brian and Michele were part of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. He was a nice guy. He gave me his card and said if I ever got in trouble on the road to give him a call, as his association had branches all over that would help people out. That was generous of him.

When I got back from visiting the restroom, Brian had left a little parting gift on my saddle, a book entitled “Hope for the highway”, which is basically a whole load of extracts from the Bible. I really wish people wouldn’t do this. I had another guy at a gas station a few days back trying to foist some propaganda of his particular view of religion on me. I don’t push my very strongly held convictions about religion on other folk, except perhaps if they ask, and I wish other folk would resist doing it to. Much less likely to cause offence that way.

As you cross over in Wyoming, the terrain becomes more mountainous and the rest of the ride down to Bondurant really is a treat for the eye.

From Wyoming, July 2013

I got into Bondurant about quarter to three, and parked up outside the Elkhorn, only to find that it didn’t open until 3pm. So I waited.

From Wyoming, July 2013
From Wyoming, July 2013

At a little after 3pm, the doors opened. I went in and was met by two ladies I didn’t recognise. There was also a For Sale out front. Seems things may have changed around here since Doreen and I last visited.

On our 2011 adventure, this had been one of our most memorable stays. We’re ridden all day though strong, blustery wind, with the intention of reaching Jackson, WY. We stopped here for gas, and Doreen just enquired if they had cabins free. I didn’t take much persuading to stop here instead of continuing to Jackson.

From Wyoming

The cabins were great. The bar that evening was full of quirky, but extremely friendly and hospitable locals. We watched thumb and indian leg wrestling, with Sam, the local champion taking on all-comers. We drank beer and whiskey and whisky together. Sam’s partner Alix easily convinced Doreen to go for a ride with her the next morning, so we did and had a brilliant time as Alix, and her horse-riding dog lead us up in to the hills for some spectacular views.

From Wyoming
From Wyoming

We’d had such a good time that I promised to send over a bottle of proper single malt scotch, but time quickly got consumed by organising a wedding and we never did. But I didn’t forget that promise and I made a special trip to Bondurant to deliver it in person.

The bar looked the same, but things had apparently changed.

From Wyoming, July 2013

They’d been some occurrence that meant the locals didn’t visit as regularly as before. I’d messaged Alix and Sam to tell them I had something for them at the Elkhorn during the day, but of course I’d left it too late to let them know. But on a motorcycle tour, you can never be sure exactly when you will arrive – weather and break-downs can occur at any time. Alix replied that she had to go to the airport that evening to pick up a client and wouldn’t make it into the Elkhorn.

I spent time catching up a little on blogging and then chatting to the bartender, Tasha, about life and the universe. She’s a real nice girl with a lot of responsibility on her plate as a single mom with a four and a one year old. But I was very glad of her company. A little later we were joined by Mike, an ex-horse trainer, and the three of us sat chatting and drinking.

About 9pm, in strolls Alix. I was thrilled to see her, especially after carrying her whiskey across 15 states. I gave her a big hug and she bought us both drinks. Her airport connection was delayed but she couldn’t stay long as she needed to be up early to collect him in the morning. She was thrilled with the whisky, she’d forgotten my promise, I hadn’t. And it turns out her and Sam are getting married in 30 days. Congratulations guys, you make a lovely couple. Doreen and I wish you a great day, and a long and happy life together. If you are half as happy as Doreen and I are together, you’ll be very happy indeed.

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