Monday, 11 May 2015

Guns, Arguments and Mountains

Location: Jackson, WY, USA

We met Dave in The Stagecoach Bar, where for nearly every Sunday evening for over 40 years the Stagecoach Band plays, its a bit of an institution in Wilson and they've even had Bob Dylan up on stage with them.  It was happy hour and we indulged in a few beers and listened to the band and watched the old timers dance, chatting away to Dave and his neighbour Pete.  Dave informed us he'd pot-roasted some elk which we were welcome to share back at his house and so having heard three or four songs, we got some beers to take back and got a lift up to Dave's with Pete.

We made the most delicious elk burritos, drank beer and talked.  The conversation between Dave and I headed towards the political and our differing opinions on Islam.  We're both feisty people and enjoyed our little altercation, but there was no hard feelings and there was no risk of us losing our bed for the night.  Dave then showed Tom his impressive gun collection, including something from WWII era which Tom was particularly taken with.  I held a Magnum, felt like Clint Eastwood.  And we discovered that although I am right-handed I am left eye dominant so anything rifle-y that requires looking through a scope is tricky for me.  Guess I'll just stick to the Magnums.  All in all it was just a really fun evening hanging out with Dave and Pete and despite getting a bit tipsy we still managed a pretty early night ready for our ride around Grand Tetons National Park the next day.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and we headed into Jackson to meet up with our Warm Showers host for that night and drop off our stuff in his truck so we could ride unloaded around the park.  We timed it pretty much perfectly and met Ross outside the bike shop where he works, bought a load of bagels for breakfast and lunch and headed for the park.  There is a great bike path that runs all the way into the park from Jackson and at this time of year they open the roads in the park to non-motorised vehicles but not to cars so once we were in the park proper we had the run of the roads too, along with dozens of other cyclists.  The Grand Tetons are big, jagged, imposing peaks and they are often shrouded in cloud, but we were lucky and as the morning passed they revealed themselves.

Although the roads were clear there was still a lot of snow on the ground so we couldn't do much exploring on foot, but with all the signs about saying 'bears frequent this area, be bear aware' we didn't really fancy straying too far from the roads anyway and we were on high alert.  We sat on a log in the car park for lunch and got a shock when a bird landed a couple of feet away and tried to muscle in on sharing our food.  I informed the bird it was illegal for us to feed it, but it wasn't convinced.

We rode back to Jackson, calling in at the National Museum of Wildlife Art on the way, and then headed off to Ross's for the evening.  We had DIY sushi rolls (a great way to eat sushi!) and talked with Ross, Sam, Cameron and Kirsty about their tours around Europe and South East Asia.  The next day we had to climb Teton Pass which we had been warned about by numerous people.  Its just shy of 8500ft, about 2500ft of gain and we'd been told it was a steep grade.  They weren't joking.  The majority of the climb is at 10% with a few short sections where its an 'easy' 8%.  We were passed by three other cyclists out on day rides up the hill and back down and a totally hardcore lady running up it, who all offered encouragement.  It was slow going, but we made it to the top without having to get off and push.  I felt this was a real achievement and really proved that our fitness is improving.

We enjoyed a long fast descent into Idaho and admired the view of the 'back' of the Tetons as we passed into farmland and enjoyed another great bike path between the towns of Victor and Driggs.  We had no destination in mind as the Warm Showers host we'd contacted in St Anthony had turned us down so after about 80 miles we rolled into Sugar City (population 1377 so 'city' is pretty aspirational) and started asking around for a place to pitch the tent.  The lady in the gas station was of little help, but we'd spotted a guy mowing the park so thought he might be a good bet to ask.  As we pushed the bikes towards him he was joined by another lady and on asking if they knew anywhere to camp was told that the city didn't welcome people camping in the parks.  This was not looking good.  But then the guy asked if we'd camp in someone's yard, well sure we answered, we just don't know anyone.  He then kindly offered up his yard, introduced himself as Glen and gave us directions to his place.

While we were doing stretches in his yard the lady from the park showed up with a food parcel including fresh strawberries, crackers, cookies and other goodies and introduced herself as Whitney.  Glen then invited us in for dinner and showers and we got to meet his family who invited us to join them for breakfast.  We went to bed well fed and once again amazed at the hospitality of strangers.


  1. Another great blog, as always I enjoy the photographs, the bison didn't look too friendly to me, I hope you kept your distance and what great folk the Americans are, their generosity is unbelievable, it restores your faith in mankind...Mr P

    1. Yes, we have been totally blown away by the kindness we've been shown! Really does make you feel good about the world! :D

  2. I had been meaning to read this for a while having been intrigued at the prospect of a gun being pulled! Hahahahahahhahahahaha! Love the post, and so pleased that the gun wasn't pointed at you! All my love x Lex x

    1. I'm sure there's many people I've had arguments with that would have liked to pull a gun on me, but Dave wasn't one of them!! Glad you enjoyed it! xxx