Sorry for the long delay in posting about the remainder of our trip, but I'm going to do my best to finish it off soon...
After we left Hunter Peak Ranch in Wyoming, Jim and I pretty much just picked an eastward direction and went. We started towards Cody, WY on Hwy 296, which was fairly uneventful. Lots of open road, little traffic, occasional twisty mountainous bits to get over passes. The best bit in the morning was Dead Indian Hill Pass. We stopped to take some scenic shots (after tackling the seriously twisty road to the top at some excellent speeds). ;) There were the usual historic markers and placards, but there was also an interesting metal sculpture thing as well. I had to stop and get some pictures of my steed with the others. ;) Luckily another pleasant tourist did the picture taking, so I'm actually in the shot this time.
Coming down from Dead Indian Hill we stopped again in the Shoshone National Forest for more scenics. We then continued on and passed an actual cowboy herding cattle! It was smthng completely unexpected, but cool. I didn't get a picture because he (and his herd) were on a curve and there was no where to pull off. :( Still, it's cool to see that the cowboy life still exists somewhere.
We then made it into Cody for gas, coffee and a bit of time to catch up on voicemails and such (we hadn't had reliable service for about three days by this point). From there, it was US 14 to Greybull, then into Elkhorn National Forest.
US 14 through Elkhorn NF is basically a giant canyon straight out of a spaghetti western movie. Red rock walls on either side, stream at the bottom. It was getting pretty warm again, so I climbed down to the stream and tossed my shirt and "doo rag" into the stream for a nice cool down. That's good for about 45 minutes of extremely comfortable cooling on the bike. :)
We continued on a bit, had to stop for construction, then continued on for a bit and then stopped at "Fallen City". Fallen City is a rock formation in the Bighorn National Forest. The rocks look vaguely like square buildings, which is where it gets it's name.
After leaving fallen city, Jim was in the lead, but was starting to irritate me a bit. We actually got overtaken by a Ford Escort, who then proceeded to outrun Jim in a major way. Of course, when asked about it later, Jim had all sorts of excuses. ;)
I eventually got tired of watching Jim's brake lights and I could see on the GPS that the "fun" parts of this road were about to end. Due to Jim's incredibly slow progress, we were in the back of a long line of traffic. I decide I was going to have a little fun before we ended up having to switch to an interstate, so I slowed WAY down to build up some space between me and everyone in front of us. About 3 minutes later, I had enough open room to enjoy the next set of curves, so I hit the gas. The first corner was excellent, but Jim had slowed down in order to make sure I was okay. I blitzed past him (maybe a little quicker than was prudent) and had to nail the brakes to prepare for the next hairpin turn. I got a little too eager and lifted the back tire off a bit, which promptly caused the bike to step out sideways. Keep in mind that it's a 650 pound bike, with a 200 lb rider and a ton of gear... we were probably topping the scales at about 1000 pounds. It takes some serious brake action to stop that much weight when it's going, uh... fast!
Anyway... I scared the jeebers out of Jim, but was able to correct my horrible trajectory and made short work of the next few corners. It wasn't exactly how I'd planned it, but it was still quite entertaining. ;)
We then hopped on I-90 and kept going... for a long time. Interstates are horribly boring after fun mountain passes. :( We stopped in Buffalo at a Subway, then I took the lead back on I-90 for another "long time". We finally jumped off of the interstate at Moorecroft, heading towards Devil's Tower (the big "thing" in Close Encounters of the Third Kind). This was at about 7:30 pm or so. We were running out of daylight and still had to get to Devil's Tower, so we hit the gas and made it to the tower around 8 pm. There was still enough light left to check out the tower, so Jim decided to take a walk around the base of the tower. I was pretty tired, so I decided just to chill out in the parking lot and take a couple of pictures.
45 minutes later, Jim wanders back over. He'd gotten lost... figures. We get suited back up and head down from the tower. I had to stop and get some pictures of the prairie dogs in the field at the bottom. Prairie dogs are kinda cool. :) So I'm taking pictures of prairie dogs and some guy in a minivan pulls up next to me and asks if I left a camera at the tower. I didn't, but apparently Jim did. It was way cool of the guy to track me down, as Jim brought "the big camera"... probably about $1200 worth of camera.
I thank him profusely, take a few shots that will surprise Jim when he downloads them and head on down to the entrance where Jim wanted to stop and see if he could get a cell phone signal at the trading post.
Unfortunately, Jim not only found cell service, but he also found WiFi. I don't know all the details, but apparently some work thing he'd been whining about all week had finally blown up and he needed to take care of it. So, he whips out the laptop and spends 20 minutes or so trying to get the wireless connection working. I finally get tired of him messing with it and swearing, so I step in and get him a connection. Then, he finally gets to work. We ended up rolling out at smthng like 9 pm. It's dark, we're on little twisty back roads, we're tired and I'm pretty much driving in "angry mode". It ain't pretty.
We again go "a long way" on some road and end up stopping for food at some little mom & pop place in Upton. That was, uh, interesting. It's pretty much the only place open in the entire town and all the local kids apparently hang out there. The obviously don't get many people passing through, because the waitress wanted to talk to us... a LOT! Of course, it could have just been Jim's effect on her. ;)
We roll out about about an hour later to dire warnings of deer everywhere and a list of bikers who'd recently got killed by hitting them. I saw exactly two.
There was a little bit of road that looked like it would have been fun if it weren't dark and foggy. As it was, it was just "work". But, we did arrive safely in Hill City, which was to be our starting point for visiting Mount Rushmore the next day. This is now well after midnight.
Jim's reservation was with some little no-name inn. It was closed. Jim woke them up. They weren't happy. I kept my mouth shut. We eventually got a room. We slept.