Thursday, January 26, 2012

Riding through Yellowstone on a motor scooter

When we went to Yellowstone National Park last September, we hauled our motor scooters along and rode them in America's best-loved park. People ride motorcycles in the park, so why not scooters.

I'd been to Yellowstone many times before, but this was a first on a scooter.  It won't be the last time, however. Riding through the park was an incredible experience and provided me with a whole different perspective on Yellowstone. It feels like you are so much closer to nature, and, indeed, you are. You are especially much closer to the animals, such as buffalo. While the park service requires you to be 75 to 300 feet away from animals, depending on the type, even in cars, this isn't always possible, especially where buffalo are concerned. Bison rule the roads!

I was nervous whenever I road around buffalo on the road. After all, I didn't have a car to protect me, though I am not sure how much good that would have done me if a big shaggy beast decided he didn't like my car. At visitor centers, you can see videos of buffalo tossing people around like throw pillows and elk attacking cars. My scooter is a Yamaha 125, capable of speeds of 60 miles an hour, so I was confident I could outrun a buffalo if I didn't panic and the road was flat. Luckily, I didn't have to do this.

The park is divided into two loops, and we took a day to ride each one. What I call the north loop was the hardest because there are so many hills to climb, which I usually went up between 20 and 30 miles per hour. The maximum speed limit in the park is 45 mph, and I had no trouble doing that when it was flat. Still, on the hills, the only vehicles I passed were bicyclists, and, boy, was I glad I was on a scooter!

We took a few days off between riding the loops, and did shorter runs on the other days, returning to places we wanted to spend more time at or had skipped on the long ride because they were on the last leg and we were pretty tired.

Touring the park this way was such an incredible experience, I wrote a short book about it, Yellowstone on a motor scooter. The book is available through the Amazon Kindle store in text-only. If you like pictures and maps with your books, surf on over to Guidegecko for a PDF version. I'm told PDF books also work on Kindle, through the pictures aren't in color.

If you have a scooter or motorcycle, where's your favorite place to ride?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

NOT a winter wonderland!

This much snow fell in 12 hours yesterday. It
took me 15 minutes to clean off my car.
Washington, where I live, is covered in snow. It's not a winter wonderland, though some areas may look like a scene straight off a Christmas card. It's freezing, nasty, treacherous stuff that is causing a lot of problems.

My! How my opinion of snow has changed since I was a kid. Lo those many decades ago, as soon as the first flakes fell, we started figuring out how much snow had to fall before they'd let school out early or cancel it the next day. Because most of the students rode buses and the town was surrounded by high hills, we deduced that six inches of snow were needed on Bald Peak Road before we could shelve the books and make snowmen.

Then I moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where snow from mid-October to April, sometimes May, was just too darned much snow. Winters are so long there that many people get severe cabin fever. Spring is known as "suicide season" because some people don't feel they hold out any longer and kill themselves in March. After eight winters there, this concept began to make sense to me, so I left.

But my winters there left me with a profound hatred of the white stuff, and I now suffer from seasonal dysfunctional syndrome, sometimes so severely I have to be sedated when the snow starts to fall.  One of these days, my husband and I will become snowbirds so we can bask in warmth in January.