Friday, July 31, 2009

Incredible Adventure Completed

Week 14 of my bicycle trip proved to have the most incredible scenery I could imagine. The decent out of Washington Pass on Hwy. 20 was unbelievable but pictures and video just don't quite compare. I experienced mixed emotions as Larry and I rolled into my sisters place where they had a very nice reception for me with dinner, drinks and friends. It was a fantastic way to conclude an experience of a lifetime.

In all the excitement of the end of my adventure and a rush to get a "wrap up" type video posted, I forgot to post pictures from the last week of my trip. Now it is February 2nd 2010 and I'm finally getting around to posting these forgotten scenes. Riding through the Cascades was some of the most incredible scenery I have ever experienced. Many of the amazing visual moments from this week, and from the entire trip, were captured only by my eyes - I wish I could share them all. I hope you have enjoyed the few that I did capture with my cameras like these from the final week.

Washington Apples

Visiting my sister Evelyn who lives in the Seattle area was a really great excuse to ride across the USA from corner to corner. Evelyn is the oldest of 5 sisters and we are close in age so as children we always hung out together. Even though we moved as far apart as we could without leaving the continental United States, we have still remained very close through the years.

Evelyn and Jeff have had a very difficult past two years. Both parents on Jeff’s side recently passed after long battles with cancer. His mother passed a little over a year ago and his father passed just one day before I arrived. Jeff and Evelyn provided intensive care all the way through his Mother Pennie's illness and after she passed his father Jim, who was recently diagnosed himself moved in with them. During the last part of his illness he required intensive care that Evelyn and Jeff again provided without question, and Jim was truly grateful.

My family is fantastic and Evelyn and Jeff are just 2 more examples of “good apples” that just happened to fall a bit farther from the tree. Not so far that I couldn’t visit by bicycle though.

Twitter Updates - Month Three

For those not following on Twitter, here are the last month's updates. Read bottom-up to get proper sequence.

Hills, heat & heavy traffic as I rode the last 68 miles to my sister's place in Edmonds, WA. I MADE IT!!!! from txt

New video posted on blog from txt

Rode 44 mi to planned dest. Sedro-Woolley, WA which is over 50 mi North of my sisters house. Oops! LOL Nice hot weather. Camping. from txt

Thankful for perfect weather to cross my last big mtn pass and into the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. Camping Marblemount, WA 80 m from txt

Weather cleared as I crossed 2nd of 4 Mtn passes then got up to 97 then threatening clouds but not much rain. Camping in Okanogan, WA 74 mi from txt

20 miles slowly up (3 hrs) to Sherman Pass then 20 miles down in 20 min - first of 4 big Mtns this week. Camping in Republic WA rain now. from txt

Rebooted Odo & it is working again. Rode over small Mtn Pass & continued on for 77 mi with temps over 100. Camping Kettel Falls, WA from txt

Odometer totally not working but maps show I rode 59 mi from Sandpoint, ID to Usk Washington (woo-hoo-hoo!). Nice warm (hot?) day & scenic. from txt

New videos posted on blog from txt

Rode 25 mi to Sandpoint, ID & got to see Harry Potter movie. Staying with warmshowers host & taking a rest day tomorrow. from txt

I am in Pacific time zone now. Daily updates may be slightly later. from txt

Found I can sleep through party animals just not wild animals. Nice day nearly 100 deg. Rode 85 miles to Clark Fork, Idaho (woo-hoo!) campin from txt

After no sleep last night (bear activity) I stopped a bit early in Plains, MT 50mi. Camping free at fairgrounds w/shower & elec. :) from txt

Stopped @ Adventure Cycling in Missoula for pic & free icecream then rode on to Superior, MT in nice warm 90s. 72 miles camping from txt

Passed 4000 mi. on way to Missoula. MT. camping just south in Lolo as it is cheaper. Nice warm day. 54 mi. Harry Potter will have to wait. from txt

After rain delay yesterday, left Jackson Hot Springs, over pass & out of Big Hole Valley then on to warmer Darby, MT. Camping 75 mi. from txt

7/12 climbed over 2 mountain passes & into Jackson, MT camping $10 w/use of hot springs. New Timers Fest & free food!!! 51m - no cell srv. from txt

Strong storms and big wind continue from yesterday afternoon. Was planning a rest day in Missoula but decided to take it here in Jackson, MT from web

No cell srv. here in Jackson, MT - today's message will be delayed until I get into service area. Camping behind hot spring lodge free food! from web

Very nice day for planned short ride to Dillon, MT & camping. Meeting a lot of other bikers. Tomorrow up again with cell srv not likley. 28m from txt

New videos posted on blog - from txt

Nice warmer day - climbed to over 7000 ft then down and continued to Twin Bridges, MT. Camping in free camp for bicyclists 56 miles from txt

Morning temps in 30s last 3 days & storms with hail I managed to avoid. Rode 74 miles to Cameron, Montanna (woo-hoo!). Camping from txt

7/8 expected to leave park today but bad weather didn't allow. 28 miles in strong gusty wind. Camping at Madison in Yellowstone. No cell srv from txt

A good climb to 8400 ft & a long day of dodging RVs but very scenic. Camping in Yellowstone at Canyon Village. 44miles from txt

Rode 50 m to east ent. of Yellowstone - 27 m uphil to next campground, camping not allowed (bears), staying in cabin out of budget see blog from web

Great weather for 59 miles of very desolate plains between Greybull & Cody, WY camping at nice campground in Cody. from txt

New weekly video posted on blog from txt

Left the top of Big Horn Mtns. & 20 mi down in a much nicer day. Continued on to Greybull, WY where I'll enjoy the rest of the 4th. 46 mi. from txt

20 mi up & then 2 mi down in cold pouring rain & thunder before I stopped at a church camp that welcome me in - still raining - staying here from web

Mix bag of weather today but not terrible. Rode 62 mi & camping at foot of Bighorn Mountains in Dayton, WY. Tomorrow . . . . Up from txt

Sprinkles as I left the comfortable home of Doris & Buzz then good riding weather for 71 desolate miles to Clearmont, WY. Camping city park from txt

Monday, July 27, 2009

Maybe It's French

This week had more incredible scenery, new friends and a language lesson.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Big Chill

Remember the story of the day I nearly fell victim to hypothermia crossing the Big Horn Mountains? If you recall, a total stranger named David pulled his van over and took pictures of me as I battled the elements – a scene I could never capture myself. He sent the pictures this week via email and I think they really tell the tale. Also pictured are his two daughters who were with him – the youngest of which had blue lips that day too. Hers were from eating a popsicle while mine were from turning into one.

A New Friend in Sandpoint

Let me introduce my Spokes to Paula Lund. I met Paula on, but I suspect if I hadn’t contacted her first, she would have chased me down and offered a place to stay as she does so many other bicycle tourists. I really enjoyed my stay with Paula and her pets (kids were at Yellowstone with Dad), she was a very gracious host and a fun person too. Who else would have me out on the side of a mountain way past sunset picking huckleberries for the first time in my life? Mother Nature shines on Paula’s yard with food of all kinds growing in her garden and orchard. I enjoyed picking raspberries and cherries and grazing on snow peas and other delights. Circumstances allowed me only hours notice before my arrival – yet I felt like I had known Paula for years. I suspect I will keep in touch with her long after my trip is completed and I’m sure Paula’s adventurous personality will bring her to my home in South Florida one day soon.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Big Hole and the Great Divide

OK Spokes - get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family show. :)

I spent this week riding along the west edge of Montana. I left Dillon, MT and climbed into the "Big Hole" which is a circular flat valley high up and surrounded by mountains. The scenery was incredible but the weather was not perfect. I ended up spending an unplanned rest day in Jackson, Hot Springs which isn't a bad place to spend some time. Then, as I climbed back out of the Big Hole, I crossed the Continental Divide which means I should be half way there - right? And that it's all downhill now - right?? Well, false on both counts but not in a bad way. Here is this weeks review.

As I rode out of the Big Hole, I recorded 20 minutes of downhill that I am posting basically unedited. There is no music with it so it may not be terribly exciting, but it was fun and I hope you might enjoy riding with me. It is posted in 2 parts.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Despite a few periods of unpleasant weather including hail storms and some morning temps in the 30s (brrrrr!!!), western Wyoming and the first part of Montana turned out to be amazing. There was so much scenery I made two videos. The second one has a bit of Montana video and then the pictures of the week. It was amazing.

Here is video #1

Don't miss video #2

Bonus! another unedited video of a traumatic trip through a narrow tunnel I wasn't expecting outside Cody, WY. When I saw the tunnel approaching I quickly mounted the "Larry Cam" and I didn't do too good of a job. The camera is mostly showing the ceiling of the tunnel but I wanted to post it anyway for my my own memories. It may not be dramatic to you but I was shaking when I got out - there was no shoulder, it was dark - despite the lights - and I was worried one of those huge bus type campers was going to go through at the same time. It was also slightly uphill. I made it through and I was thankful.

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Expensive Night In a Beautiful Place

I left Cody, WY this morning hoping to make it well into Yellowstone Park but I ended up in several short storms - one of which had small hail enough to make the ground white. Around 5:30m I stopped at Pahaska Tepee resort, just outside the east entrance of Yellowstone for a bite to eat. I asked how far the first campground was inside the park and was informed it was 27 miles - uphill - against the wind - in questionable weather. So I asked how much it would cost to tent camp for the night and was informed it was not allowed by State Park rules because of grizzly bears. So I had little choice but to spend $127 for a cute little cabin (but without a TV). That is at least 6 nights worth of camping fees. Eeeek! On the bright side, it is a very scenic area and I even got to see a moose cow and 2 calves drinking by the stream. I'll post pictures in the weekly update. Several folks who also ended up here said all the motels in Yellowstone were booked and were over $400 a night - I guess I should count my blessings. But I do think tent camping is allowed in the park - I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I Was High On The 4th of July

In the past 12 years, I've spent many July 4th holidays at work in a cold windowless box. This one was quite different.

Friday, July 03, 2009

More Random Acts of Kindness

I started my journey over the Big Horn Mountains today full of anticipation and curiosity if I could even do it. It was a (very) slow but steady 20 miles up into the shrouded mountain top and I was doing pretty well (I thought) even as the chill started to set in. Then came the rain. At first it wasn't too bad and I put on my rain gear and warm clothes and continued up the road. As I passed a van pulled over in the fog I noticed the driver leaning out taking pictures. He stopped me and said he was a biker as well and knew it would be hard to get a picture of myself climbing a mountain so he took down my email address and said he will send me some (I'll post them if he does). David was driving with his two young daughters and he invited me into the van to warm up for a bit - a welcome invitation I could not refuse. We had a nice chat for a while before I had to continue my assent, the peak of which he said wasn't far.

No sooner had I started the down side of the mountain when the real rain started along with some lightning and thunder - plus it was very cold. It wasn't long before I was soaked through and chilled to the bone. I didn't get but a couple miles down before I realized I needed to stop or I could be facing a dangerous situation. Just then I saw the sign for Camp Bethel. I rode in as a pickup truck followed me in - it was a gentleman who worked there (Mark Boyles) who said I could warm up in the dining hall. There I met the manager of the camp who also offered me a hot shower while I waited out the storm. I didn't realize how cold I actually was until I tried to determine the temperature of the shower and couldn't tell how warm it actually was. Feeling much better after the shower, I waited some more for the storm to pass while I fixed myself a sandwich from my soaked gear. But the storm didn't let up and I was offered to stay the night - another offer I couldn't refuse. I was also invited to join the small crew (the camp itself was not in session this week) for a birthday dinner for one of the employees. After a nice meal the manager and his wife & kids (Matt & Sheri Tremain, Braxton, & Savannah in the picture above) invited me for a drive to look for moose. We drove for quite a scenic while before we did see several moose and also deer, elk and antelope. They had binoculars so the view was fantastic.

I was offered to sleep anywhere - even an empty cabin (which were very cool) but I decided to stay in the dining room as all my gear was spread out to dry. I can assure you I will sleep much better here than I would have in a wet tent at 40 degrees. Oh, and even though there is no cell service in this area, they do have wi-fi!

I also wanted to thank Colleen at Rochport, SD who offered me a free place to camp next to her store last week when strong storms were predicted.

I am so thankful for all these fine folks for helping out a stranger on a bicycle in a time of need. I feel very blessed.