Facing Number Hill

I’m sitting in a plastic patio chair on the parking lot in front of the D-K Motel, across the road from Number Hill in Arco, Idaho, the first city in the world to receive (on July 17, 1955) nuclear-generated electric power. I’m sitting in the parking lot because the D-K Motel’s wireless Internet service does not extend to our motel rooms, and this is the first time we’ve had Internet access since Friday morning. “We” is the nine members of the 2007 edition of the WYMPS tour. Since Saturday morning we’ve biked round-trip from Colter Bay Village to the top of Togwotee Pass–35 miles one-way including an 18-mile climb, and if you think the 18 mile downhill return is easy you are wrong–, 65 miles from Colter Bay Village to Old Faithful, 90+ miles from Old Faithful to Rexburg, Idaho, and 85 miles from Rexburg to Arco, Idaho, the first city in the world to receive, etc. We’ve climbed and descended more than 12,500 feet of road and have the sore hamstrings and tight calves to prove it, drunk about 2 gallons/day each of water/Gatorade/grapefruit juice/V-8 (yucky in my opinion, but it takes all kinds), even more wine/beer/gin/club soda (I’m the permanent designated driver), eaten a number of very bad meals (the southwest chicken pizza at Brownstones in Idaho Falls was to die for-literally), attended the opening night of the Applebee’s restaurant in Rexburg (operating under a provisional liquor license in the dry Mormon-dominated town, in one night our party helped the local Applebee’s achieve its alcohol sales budget for the month, even though it ran out of its one bottle of tequila before we arrived), taken a personal tour of the Yellowstone Geyser Basins with Ranger Mike (seeing first-hand the ridge where Harry Walker was eaten by the bear and the pool next to Castle Geyser where the young boy . . . never mind, it’s really gross), and seen some of the most spectacular country imaginable (samples here, here, and here). We’ve seen traffic stopped by a mama grizzly and her three cubs–a few weeks ago a jogger was mauled at 5:30 in the morning by a mama grizzly with three cubs behind Jackson Lake Lodge, a few miles from our digs at Colter Bay Village (the jogger survived)–and by a group of bison, including one stubborn old guy who stood in the middle of the road, just refusing to move. We’ve seen a herd of elk and a herd of bison, a bald eagle perched on a tree limb above the Firehole River and another circling a thousand feet up near Grand Teton, a flock of white pelicans, deer, two young moose swimming and gamboling across a lake and two more standing in a bog like moose ordered up from central casting, an antelope (John did, anyway), innumerable hawks, and muskrats. And prairie dogs. To protect from intense dry heat we’ve consumed mass quantities of sunblock (30 and 50 SPF), chapstick, and zinc oxide. We’ve done laundry once, about 15 minutes ago. We’ve avoided getting the jelly in the peanut butter (the one in-joke in this post). Two of our party saved two itinerant Belgian tandem bikers from [choose one] (a) a 40-mile uphill ride to Grant Village, (b) a night in the Yellowstone Park pokey, (c) another day without showers, or (d) the consequences of their own poor planning.

We are having fun. More to follow.

5 thoughts on “Facing Number Hill”

  1. wow! what a cool trip. sounds just like my summer, life in ny…always getting tracked down by grizzly bears and mysterious creatures, well ok not really, just dogs and cats that people keep in their tiny 300 sq ft apartments…my point is: your story is so interesting, it takes me away from ny when I read it (as a book would do, that is if I had time to read one, but who does in this city) and I hope you will continue to fill us in as your journey progresses

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