The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015

7th - 28th June 2015

Day 17 - Cody to Idaho Falls via Yellowstone

Park Life

Today we had a transit day, an opportunity to gain some distance without any timing, thereby allowing the crews some time to appreciate the beauty of the world famous Yellowstone National Park which we would pass through in the way to Idaho Falls.

So, unusually we left Cody without seeing so much as a timing chip or a control board and passed over the Shoshone river and into Shoshone country by way of The Chief Joseph Scenic Highway named after the leader who, in 1877 led his tribe, the Nez Perce in an attempt to flee the US Army and resettle in Canada. Dead Indian Pass with its breathtaking mountain views and long looping turns allowed us into Yellowstone whereas Chief Joseph used it to escape from the same. The Rally organisers had also arranged for fresh Tarmac to be laid that very morning which added to this very special driving experience through the Absaroka Mountains.

The Bear Tooth All American Road led us into Cooke City, the Coolest Small City in America according to the town sign, and out of Wyoming into Montana. Cool it may be but Cooke City can certainly lay claim to having the best bakery we've seen since Halifax. The  Bearclaw Bakery excelled itself in every respect save one. Their espresso machine was out of order until Thursday. After a busy few days it had burned out over the weekend.

Full of pastry and filter coffee we ran along the road into Yellowstone and were straight back into Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park covers an area of some 3,500 square miles, it was established as a National Park in 1872 and is a Unesco World Heritage Site. At the centre of the park is the Yellowstone Caldera, which is still considered to be an active volcano despite the fact that the Yellowstone lake sits right on top of it. Year round it hosts millions of visitors who, like us come to enjoy its stunning surroundings.

Far from being a theme park however, Yellowstone is also stuffed to the brim with wildlife and natural forces. Buffalo stepped out in front of us with their calves tagging along nervously behind. Eagles soared overhead scanning the grassland for potential prey, geysers blew and hot springs bubbled.

The Rally crews were free to explore the Park however they wished although an official route had been provided by the Rally Organisers taking in some of the best roads and sights. The big geyser, Old Faithful proved a very popular draw for many and, with a display every hour and a half or so there was plenty of time to grab some lunch and a coffee.

Most of the crews thoroughly enjoyed the day, but for the Rally leaders it was to spell possible disaster. After weeks of nursing their Triumph Stag through long days on the road, in and out of tight Regularities and mixing it up during hectic track sessions Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown broke down today. Or at least their Triumph did; it lost its transmission and, ended up on a flat bed truck heading straight for Idaho Falls.

The news might not be all bad though, we hear that a differential and seals are being shipped in from Arizona on an overnight service and that a garage in Idaho Falls where they 'work on old cars' has offered to help them put it all together.

We're all willing them on to the finish line but this is a tough repair to make in the time available. The clock starts ticking again tomorrow and with only seven seconds on the Lovett Porsche their lead is all but over. They've never not finished an Endurance Rally and we fully expect that they won't change this habit.

We leave for Elko tomorrow. It's a long day of around 655 km into Nevada.

Syd Stelvio



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