John Pickett, Sr. - July 1999

Yellowstone National Park Tour

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[ I am sorry to report that my friend Dean Matthews passed away July 23, 2002 having contracted multiple myoloma about 18 months earlier.  He had just turned 50 years old the week before his passing. ]

In July, 1999, John Pickett, Sr. and his friend Dean Matthews and Dean's 12 year old son, Matt,  took a 4 week bike trip to Yellowstone National Park.  Along the way they covered 14 states and 5,200 miles.  

The map shows the original route but the trip was terminated at Dean's Uncle's farm in northern Illinois so Matt could spend a few days playing farmer.   John Pickett came on back to Atlanta after having lunch at the farm.

The first night out the trip stopped in Memphis and a tour of Elvis's Graceland was the order of the day.  Then it was on to Springfield, Missouri to the Gold Wing Road Rider's Association Nation Convention.  There we visted the Bass Pro Shops Headquarters and Wild Life Museum.  After that it was out across Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.  We fought a fierce wind for 2 days and finally got to Jackson Hole Wyoming on July 4th.

We went into the Grand Tetons and in the south entrance to Yellowstone on July 5th.  Unfortnately, we discovered that John Pickett's alternator in his blue '85 GL1200A had gone out when we were about 15 minutes into the Park.  One night was spent in one of the Park campgrounds.  It was the only night in a tent.  After 2 days of getting the battery charged at service stations, we got into Montana going over Bear Claw Pass at 10,500 ft. and down to the Custer Battlefield south of Billings.   Unfortunately, that is where the blue Aspendcade gave up the ghost.  Taking advantage of a GWRRA member benefit, a tow truck was called from Billings.  Dean and Matt continued on the trip with arrangements to be called on Dean's cell phone that night.

At Montana Marine and Honda in Billings it was determined that the alternator and pulse generators would have to be replaced and the parts would have to be ordered.  The repairs would take a week to 10 days.  A trade was worked out for a used '86 GL1200I and John Pickett was back on the road after a 4 hour delay.   Making it down to Sheridan, Wyoming for the evening, a phone call to Dean revealed that he had pulled up short that afternoon due to bad weather and that he and Matt were just 100 miles down the road in Gillett, Wyoming.  Arrangements were made to meet in Gillett at 8:30 am the next morning and continue on down to Rapid City, S.D.

After an afternoon stop at the Devil's Tower north of Rapid City and a tour of Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial the following day, we were off to Pierre, S.D.  After touring the Badlands National Park and seeing the famous Wall Drug Store, a night was spent a a KOA Kabin just south of Pierre.  The next day we continued on into and across North Dakota spending that night in the Picket Fence Motel. (seems appropriate).  The next day took us past Minneapolis and on into Northern Wisconsin to Clear Lake where Dean's Mother was raised and is buried.  Dean's grandfather was the Methodist Minister there in the late 1920's and his Mom and Dad met then but were just small children at the time.

The trip continued on down the Wisconsin River Road which parallels the Mississippi to Pepin, Wisconsin where Dean's grandfather had a church when his father was a teen.  After spending the night in Pepin, the trip continued on down to Monroe, Wisconsin where Dean's grandfather finished his career.  There are pictures of the church, the home and the grave of Teo Matthews.  Dean and Matt just happened to spot the grave marker while riding through the cemetary.. a stroke of good luck.  After spending the night in Monroe, the trip moved on down to Shirland, Illinois where Dean's Uncle and Cousins have a real, working farm.  Following lunch, John Pickett headed on back toward Atlanta and spent the night in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and then on back to Atlanta on day 17.

Dean and Matt spent 3 more days on the Illinois farm and then headed back to Atlanta with a side trip to Normal, Illinois to visit a cousin and a short stop in Tennessee to take a swim in an old mill pond.

Except for "the recent unpleasantness" (old reference to the Civil War) involving John Pickett's '85 Aspencade, there were no other problems on the trip.  We did not even have to put our rain gear on once although the streets were wet when we left Atlanta and it rained in front of us and behind us, above us and below us for more than 3 weeks.. we rode dry the entire trip.  The only part of the trip that was not pleasant was the 2 days crossing Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming and the wind was so strong it kept blowing the helmet visor open.

Dean and Matt had taken a similar trip out to Nevada and Utah in 1998 by themselves. It sure was great to have someone along when something unplanned happened.

Click on the small pictures to get "the big picture".

J.P.C., Sr.  6/15/2000


This is the original route.  After 17 days we were in Sherlin, Il at Dean's family farm.  I came back to Atlanta from there and Dean and his son came back 3 days later.  We missed the ride to Niagra falls.

This is the 1985 Honda Goldwing Aspencade that I started the trip on.

The 1st thing the Matthews did was stop in Corinth, MS and get a short haircut.

The back of Elvis' Graceland in Memphis.  For some reason we did not get a picture of the front or the front gate.

1st night on the road in Memphis.

We stopped in Springfield, IL for the Goldwing Road Riders Assoc. convention.  We spent 4 hours in Bass Pro shops where this picture was taken in their wild life museum.  It stormed the entire time we were there but it was the only rain we saw on the entire trip.


A shot of the Bass Pro Shops museum entrance.

Matt Matthews watching a hugh combine in a wheat field in Kansas.

We estimate that the combine has a rake that must have been 30 feet wide.

On the 5th day we finally got to the Grand Tetons.  We have been across Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and southern Wyoming.

The Tetons.  If you have not been there I recommend that you go and see Yellowstone while you are there.

In southern Wyoming after 5 hours of 40 mph winds from the south.

Same stop.

Same stop

I got this hat in Missouri to keep the sun off of my ears.  Dean has made a slide show CD in which he refers to me in this picture as a "slave to fashion".

Jackson Hole, Wyoming


Jackson Hole

Back in the Grand Tetons.  Don't know why the other 2 pictures are out of sequence but I'm not going to change them now.

More Grand Tetons.  I'm not sure you can get too much of this.

This was really the first picture in the Tetons.  We had no idea what we were about to see.

Another shot of the jaw dropping scenery.

While we were admiring the view across this lake, a small car with 2 couples from Tibet pulled up.  One of them spoke pretty good English.

To continue the Tibet story, they were knocked out over the big bikes.  They wanted to sit on them and have their pictures taken.

This is the English speaking one.  He had just put on Dean's helmet and had pictures taken.

Dean and Matt

This was their Christmas card and it is also Dean's screen saver.


Just 2 happy bikers.

Me while I was still having fun.

Just can't get too much of the scenery.

Last Grand Teton Shot.

Finally at Yellowstone on July 5th.  The average elevation is about 7,500 fasl and it was cold.

About 5 minutes later I discovered that my alternator had gone bad.

Dean and Matt.

There was a sign on the log in front of the big sign asking that there be no climbing.   It had been stepped on so many times that you could hardly read it.

Matt took this picture when I was trying to find out why the battery was dead.

We were able to "bump start" and charge the battery all the way to Custer's Battlefield.


This is the crowd waiting for Old Faithful to erupt.

Matt sitting in snow on July 5th.

Old Faithful.  It looked just like the pictures.

Old Faithful Lodge.  Built around 1907. It is in goodshape and fairly inexpensive.

Yellowstone campground.  This is the only night that we camped out.

Another shot of the campground.

On the way out of the north entrance of Yellowstone.

Bubbling Paint Pots in the geyser area of Yellowstone.

More bubbling pots.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

We saw a lot of buffalo.  Nothing between us and them.  They always looked "front heavy".

Another shot of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Going out the north entrance we crossed over Bear Claw pass at about 10,500 fasl.

Dean dared Matt to roll in the snow.  This is July 6th.

After spending the night in Red Lodge, MT and getting a new battery, we passed Billings and went down to Custer's Battlefield.

There is a mass grave beneath this monument.  It contains the name of all the men who died at the battle of the Little Big Horn.  There were a number of civilians including Custer's brother.

The marker with black is where they found Custer.

Dean and Matt at Devil's Tower north of Rapid City. 
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