Entering his fourth week on the road, Woon Chi motored north from Grand Teton National Park toward Yellowstone National Park. Or as Woon Chi called it … Yhellastone. Bumper sticker, anyone? Yhellastone is America’s first national park, established in 1872.
Perhaps the only thing that could rival his excitement at being there was Old Faithful, known as “one of the most predictable geographic features on earth.” That sounds really boring, but in reality it’s pretty cool to see this percolating geyser spew between 4,000 and 8,000 gallons of boiling water straight into the air every 60 to 110 minutes. Wait for it …………….. or just get the app. Yes, there’s an app that will tell you when it’s about to go off.
Woon Chi noted simply, “Excited earth.”
Driving further into the park, he looked for camping at Norris Campground. No sites available, but his bike (and slight resemblance to a Stormtrooper?) attracted a young family who struck up a conversation with him. When they found out Woon Chi couldn’t find a campsite, they gave him their reservation they had at Canyon Campground to the east. The family had decided to stay put at Norris instead of moving on to Canyon. So, what are the odds of crossing paths with the ONE family that just *happens* to have an EXTRA campsite reservation at the EXACT moment that you need a campsite in the middle of summer at one of the most popular national parks in the United States of America??? It seems Woon Chi found a unicorn in Yhellastone.
Driving around Yhellastone, Woon Chi admired the sites and colors. As he parked his bike on the side of the road, he offered this thought:
“I never knew there was this much green in the universe.”
He stayed only long enough to see the sites and smell the air — at times thick with hydrogen sulfide gas from the geysers.
“Smells like boiled eggs.”
He snapped a departure photo at the stone archway out of Yhellastone and continued into Montana.
He arrived at Three Forks Campground where he pitched his tent for the night and met a French couple camping at the site next door. They were on a six-month road trip in a camper van and, like Woon Chi, had experienced a mechanical breakdown right at the start of their trip.
That evening, the Singaporean and the French forged a friendship over burgers, beers and breakdowns. They plugged in the disco dance lights for a certain … je ne sais quoi … and the sun set on another day in Big Sky Country.
“Van has a character!”
Over breakfast and coffee the next morning, Woon Chi decided to alter his route and go to Glacier National Park avec les amis nouveaux. Allons-y!
While filling up at the petrol station, Woon Chi’s bike attracted yet another inquisitive conversationalist. This guy was riding free and fearless, with no helmet. He shared a life story with Woon Chi that happened to him years ago, then noted the time on his watch as the two of them were talking.
“Had a chat, talking about no helmet laws, said he’s not afraid to die cos he had an out of body experience. Said something like he was in bed at 9:07, when he returned it was 11:11. Said something told him “not yet.” He thinks it was God or an angel. Then he showed me the time … 11:11. Crazy!”
Regarding his own bike, Woon Chi added, “Ya it’s crazy how much attention I get with this bike, ha! People talk to me at campsites, gas stops, traffic stops, visitor centers, grocery stores, cafes … I guess it looks ‘friendly.’ Harley riders look more menacing but they are hella nice.”
Woon Chi and his French friends entered Glacier National Park, and when he sent me this unbelievable photo I remembered his thoughts about green and the universe.
After camping together in Glacier, Woon Chi bid adieu to his French friends and continued north into Alberta, Canada. The featureless border crossing gave no hint of the mountainous terrain ahead.
It was right about here when Woon Chi’s route started orienting back toward Vancouver. In the photos he sent, the weather turned dark and cloudy, mirroring that dreaded feeling of a once-in-a-lifetime vacation coming to an end.
“I’ve that sinking feeling it’s going to be all over soon! Man, time flies when u’re having it good.”
Frustration set in, too.
“I’m trying to get to Banff. In Calgary now. I keep getting lost on the highways. They use trail names instead of numbers, arghh. Like Cowboy Trail, wtfff”
But Woon Chi channeled his inner Taylor Swift, shook it off, and found his Cowboy Trail.
After camping in Banff, he moved on to Revelstoke and Kamloops. Woon Chi noted, “Yeah, all the ski towns are cool! Banff is the fanciest of them all, haha. Wanna snowboard at Revel, Kicking Horse, Lake Louise n Banff in the winter!!!”
On the last night of his road trip around the western U.S. and back to Canada, Woon Chi pitched his tent in Kamloops, B.C. But this isn’t where the story ends.
“Camping at Kamloops. Tho it was raining, the scenery was dramatic and I enjoyed the ride, a very zen moment, I guess there’s no more destinations, no more plans, it was all about the ride. Will be in Vancouver tmrw. n chill for a few days before leaving for Tofino.”
On the way back to Vancouver, Woon Chi “took a longer scenic route on highway 1. Was awesome.”
Next up: Tofino and the final chapter of Woon Chi’s road trip, including additional illustrations of some of his memorable moments on the road.
Until then, Woon Chi says, “I want a campervan omg.”
Missed part of the road trip? You can catch up with Woon Chi here: