We sat at breakfast one morning in Wise River, MT listening to the Scottish owner of the 3-in-1 motel/restaurant/casino tell stories of the Divide racers coming through in the middle of the night, knocking on their door at odd hours, their beards frosted and lips blue, hoping for a place to get warm. He told us of the riders that would come through for breakfast, wolf down six pancakes, fourteen eggs, guys that were thin as the rails running alongside the dirt roads. After he walked away, we all looked down at our plates, two eggs, toast, bacon and hash browns, all of us bloated from our meager attempt at a “Divide breakfast.” We sat there bleary-eyed and consumed with tracing our fingers along the lines on the map, contemplating where we would meet up, seeing no distinct town for the next couple of days. As my dad slipped the next map on the table, I caught sight of a town outside our trail limits, the hometown of a favorite author. Pocatello, Idaho, a place I thought was home to him only in his narratives, but alas, it was real! After a few hours in the backseat headed south, the landscape reminiscent of Manitoba, my mom looked back to me, "So. Are you ready to see Idaho? We're thinking of staying the night in Pocatello." I couldn't believe it. I sat in the back for another hour with the stupid smile plastered on my face, my eyes scanning the farmland for some hint of what caused the crude genius of all the works I love.
We drove through, only catching glimpses of storefronts and the eyes of the truck drivers passing through the city. My mom caught my eyes in the mirror. "Not how you pictured it, huh?" No. Not at all. We drove back through, back onto the interstate, up towards the Wyoming border.
In Ashton, we restocked on beer and ice, searching for a place to camp for the night so that we could start riding in the morning. On our way out Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, we passed semi-trucks piled high with dirt covered potatoes and we entertained ourselves by scanning the shoulders of the road, wanting to add to our potato supply, my dad consuming them as if they were candy. We drove twenty miles before we noticed the signs that we were entering Yellowstone and somewhere along the way, we ran into a Ranger, informing us that the road we were searching for to get back on the trail was closed until the following Friday which meant another bypass. Luckily, the fastest way to get back where we needed to be was driving through Yellowstone and Teton National Parks.
After stopping at the ranger's station, the older man's fingers tapping against the forest maps, we made our way to a lakeside lodge. A man in a pickup truck waving us over, telling us about the grizzly bear up ahead, "Just take your next right and you'll see it before the bridge." Instead we saw a moose swimming across the water as we pulled up to the lodge, calling for it's mate, wandering through the woods on the other shore. The next day, we drove through Yellowstone, unable to ride because of the shoulders of the roads, the tourists looking everywhere but the road they were driving on. We continuously pulled over, ready to pull the bikes from the back of the truck, but as we would look from car to car, we decided it would be too dangerous...most likely we would be hit by a passing RV rather than accosted by a bison.