Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 42 Thunder and Lightening

Oregon Trail, California Trail, Mormon Pioneer and Pony Express

Treeless Miles and Wide Open Spaces

Lunch On The Shoulder

The Road To Nowhere

The Highlight of a Tough Day (Wyoming #4 and this one has the cowboy!)

Jordan rescued us from the lightening storm and many miles of nothing...
Thank You Jordan!

Date: Aug. 30, 2009

From: Lander, WY (population 6,867 and home of NOLS)

To: Rawlins, WY

Route: Hwy. 287/789

Passes: Two Continental Divide Crossings…(in a truck)

Miles: 34 miles (+ About 90 miles in a truck)

Top Speed on this trip: 47.7 mph

Weather: 90 degrees and baking early afternoon & thunder and lightening late in the day

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates and 4 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle)

As I sat on my sore seat and sweltered in the 90-degree heat grunting up the Beaver Rim (a 6% grade that seemed it would never end) I could never have imagined our day would end with us flagging down a truck in a thunder and lightening storm!! We planned to do just 40 miles today to Sweetwater Station (a tiny town where we were told to check in with the ladies at the “used bookstore”). As we drove through Sweetwater we saw that the bookstore was basically the entire town. The other small towns on the way to Rawlins weren’t much of anything either so we were so thankful that Jordan (a sophomore at University of Wyoming and Lander native) answered our distress call and saved us 3 days of cycling in the middle of nowhere and for me on an uncomfortable saddle.

My saddle sore was one worry today but the “new” saddle I was riding on was doing a number on my private parts. Mike adjusted the nose down a couple of times and this helped a little but I still think we are going to need to invest in a saddle with a cutout in the middle. That is if we can find one. We’ll check here in Rawlins tomorrow but may have to order something and have it shipped ahead. Ugh. That means I might have days of uncomfortable riding still ahead of me.

At least tonight we are in a cozy KOA Kabin and I had a hot shower to follow doctors orders and do a hot compress on my sore two times a day. Do you know how hard it is to do this when you are free camping and cycling all day?

This morning was especially rough because I had a huge breakfast and then remembered that I needed to take my antibiotics about 3 miles into the ride. Between the heat, the food and the meds I was feeling very nauseous. At the top of one of the climbs I had to get off the bike and sit on the side of the road, my head between my knees with the dry heaves and tears running down my face. It was not a good start. I sucked on a peppermint candy to calm my stomach and drank lots of water. It was not a good morning.

We didn’t expect much of a climb but it just seemed to go on forever. Around each bend we’d hope for the top but no luck. We were struggling through and happy to finally get some cloud cover until it turned into thunder and lightening. You don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere in a lightening storm. That was when I threw up my arms and used the distress signal to flag down Jordan in his truck. Bless his heart he took us right on board and drove us in to Rawlins. On the way we saw the results of one of the lightening strikes…a house (or barn) fire. It was already down to the ground and charred. It is pretty scary to think that could have been us!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pictures for days 39-41 in Lander, WY

Gregory identifies arrowheads at the Fremont County Pioneer Museum in Lander, Wyoming.

Welcome to Lander! What a fun place to be held over for 3 days. We really enjoyed our meals at "Cowfish", "Gannet Grill", and "The Wildflour Bakery", The Fremont County Pioneer Museum, NOLS, Gannett Peak Sports and the beautiful city park where we were allowed to camp for free.

Gregory's 3 Wyoming Plates

Gregory and New Friend Devon

Homemade Dehydrated Food From Mom

Cool Caterpillar

Birthday Money From Grammy and Papa

Check out that biker's tan!

Mommy's New "Biker Chick" Haircut

The beautiful lobby of the NOLS Noble Hotel where we spent one night. It is set up like a hostel with bunks and shared showers. Students and instructors stay here when they are taking courses.

Devon, Mike and Gregory outside the NOLS store.

We got a kick out of this sign at the "I Scream Stand" in Lander. Apparently, Obama screams for ice cream too.

Day 39, 40 and 41 Resting the Bahootie (as Gregory would say)

Date: Aug. 27/28/29, 2009

From: Lander, WY (population 6,867 and home of NOLS)

To: Lander, WY

Route: Hwy. 287


Miles: 16 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 47.7 mph

Weather: Hot and sunny

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates and 3 Wyoming plates (2 motorcycle)

Between bike repairs (new spoke) and resting my bum we decided to take some much needed rest in Lander. 140 miles in two days on saddle sores is not something I hope to repeat. We’d like to get back to 40 miles a day but the distance between towns sometimes precludes this.

We were happy to sleep in at our motel and do two loads of laundry. This was the first time we’ve had to pay for laundry this trip. I’ve either washed out our bike clothes by hand or we’ve had an opportunity to do laundry with host families. It always feels wonderful to have clean clothes! When you are living a “normal life” this doesn’t seem to be much of a luxury but on the road it definitely is! We also had a stretch during this trip when we didn’t have a hot shower for 5 or 6 days!! We went swimming and washed our hair in cold water but no hot showers. That was a little tough but doable. It makes you think of what it must have been like for the pioneers!

Lander is a great little town. We hooked up with Mike’s buddy Geoff and had delicious burgers at Gannet Grill for lunch. It was great to get caught up with Geoff and hear how he came to live in Lander. We also met Brian at Gannet Peak Sports who has been more than generous helping us get our bike dialed in and letting us store in on his premises. Days ago we discover that my helmet was cracked (probably during the same incident that cracked Gregory’s –the bike blowing over on top of them) so we finally had a chance to replace it.

Mike decided I needed another good nights rest so this time we made arrangements to stay at the NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Noble House. It is like a hostel but in this incredible old building with rich dark woods and a lobby with small hexagonal tiling and high ceilings with taxidermy including a bison, moose and pronghorn antelope. The showers are shared and the beds are bunks but we were psyched to get to stay in this neat place with so much history.

We decided this layover was our 1,000-mile celebration! We ate out all day and even treated ourselves to a movie! “The Grand” Lander theatre was still showing “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and Gregory and I have been reading the series and wanted to see this before we left but didn’t. It was a 9:00 showing so Gregory got to stay up extra late! We were warned that teenagers run the movies and to let them know if the sound or picture weren’t quite right. It was actually pretty good except for the twitching blue spot on the middle of the screen!

I slept comfortably in my bunk in our room on the second floor overlooking Main Street. The cruisers had gone home by the time we finally settled down around midnight. The temperature was perfect and I slept on top of my clean sheets all night and relished the use of a “real” towel the next morning. (Pack towels are just not the same.)

Gregory was thrilled to find that NOLS has three iMacs with free Wi-Fi so we let him have some Cartoon Network time. When we bought our Mac Book Pro we made sure he understood it was for the blog and homeschooling and not for games. He did type his journal for the first time yesterday while Mike was working on the bike. I think he liked it but is a bit frustrated with having to hunt and peck. It slows him down and takes him a long time. He really wants to learn to type.

This morning we had yummy bagel sandwiches at the Wildflour Bakery (I love this name) and Mike and I got haircuts at Dashboard Hulas (another great name). The salon is decorated really cute with the little car dashboard hula-type dolls you would buy in Hawaii as a souvenir. Ray gave us both really short cuts that look super cute if I do say so myself. Thanks Ray!!

Brian from Gannett Peak Sports set Mike up with his massage therapist to get his neck straightened out and he had an hour of work on his upper body. Meanwhile Gregory and I went back to NOLS Noble Hotel to use the computers.

Later in the afternoon we went over to the clinic. I cringed as my “boil” was injected with Lidocaine (to numb the area) and was then lanced and drained! I was prescribed antibiotics and it was left to my discretion whether or not to ride tomorrow. I was also instructed to do warm compresses two times a day. I’m not sure when I’m going to do that since we are free camping in the city park tonight. I hesitantly and very gingerly got back on my saddle so we could ride back to town and fill my prescription.

We were thrilled to hear from our friend Devon who had ridden over Togwotee Pass today and hitched a ride from Dubois to Lander (our killer 80 mile day) and was waiting at the bike shop when we returned. We gave her a warm greeting and all set up camp in the park before heading back to the Gannet Grill and Brew Pub for a dinner of delicious pizza and a crisp Greek salad. She is nearing the end of her travels so we toasted to her trip and future endeavors.

Good fortune shined on us again when we connected with Chuck and Carla who are friends of Brian at Gannett Peak Sports. They heard about my predicament and that Brian didn’t have a saddle that would work for me. Carla generously gave me her Terry touring saddle and hand delivered it to us at Gannet Grill. We offered to pay her something but she refused. This is just one more example of the generosity we have encountered.

We spent our third day just hanging out with Devon and we went to the Fremont County Pioneer Museum. It is newly opened and a beautiful museum with some amazing displays and artifacts. Gregory especially enjoyed the sections on arrowheads and the outlaws.

Our new buddy Brian from Gannet Peak Sports gave Gregory his second Wyoming motorcycle plate. It came off a BMW Brian just sold and still has a valid registration. He made Gregory promise not to put it on a motorcycle and get into any trouble. Ha!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 38 Tears and Triumphs

The Elk at the Dubois KOA


Iron in these spectacular geologic formations gives them their red color.

Lunch In Crowheart (PB & J and Cold Drinks)

Two Wyoming Plates and The First Motorcycle Plate

Crowheart Butte

Artsy Color Accent Setting on my Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS

Uphill and downhill views on one of our climbs
Gregory didn't want his picture taken.

Date: Aug. 26, 2009

From: Dubois, WY

To: Lander, WY

Route: Hwy. 287

Passes: Togwotee (9,658’)

Miles: 80 miles

Top Speed on this trip: 47.7 mph

Weather: Hot and sunny, 85 degrees

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates and 2 Wyoming plates (1 motorcycle)

We knew today would be brutal because we estimated we’d have to ride at least 75 miles with no services between Dubois and Lander, Wyoming and we had ridden 60 miles yesterday which was our longest day yet. Our planned 40 miles per day has kind of gone out the window. Sometimes it just can’t be helped but we swear we will never do this long of a day again.

For me it ended in two bouts of tears (one about 15 miles from our destination and another when we saw the “Welcome to Lander” sign and Mike said, “We made it.”) I just lost it because I’d been in so much pain the last 20 miles or so that I didn’t think I’d make it. My saddle sores are back and I had a pulled groin muscle on the same side. I donned two pairs of shorts and literally had to ride on my left bum with my right leg flopping out to the side in a very ergonomically incorrect riding position. I’m sure it did wonders for my back but I couldn’t bear the pressure.

Gregory saw Mommy at her worst today and I’m not proud to say that I shouted at my husband in front of my 8-year old. I knew there would be days like this from previous touring experience I just didn’t know how and when it would come about. 15 miles outside Lander and what turned out to be only a few miles from Fort Washakie (our cold drink stop) I locked up my left leg for a stretch right in the middle of a pedal stroke which is a definite no-no and caused Mike to get upset and insist on a little more communication. I hopped off the bike and began my rant, “How do you think it makes me feel when I can hear in your tone that you can’t believe we have to shift down again for such an inconsequential uphill grade. Weren’t you just giving Gregory a lecture on his tone? How do you think that makes me feel? I’m pushing as hard as I can. We are all tired. I’ve been trying not to complain but I’m in a lot of pain here!” After I’d walked up and down the highway shouting I finally plopped down on the shoulder and had a good cry. I knew Mike was in a lot of pain too. His neck was bothering him again and he’d put on his knee brace. He apologized and agreed that this was totally the pits to have to ride this far especially after doing a 60-mile day yesterday. But, when he said, “We just have to suck it up and get there.” I absolutely lost it and screamed, “Shut up! I don’t want to hear suck it up!” I couldn’t believe it came out of my mouth. These words just aren’t used in our family and I felt ashamed to have said it. Something inside me just snapped and I needed to release some pent up tension.

Mike apologized and we went on in silence to Fort Washakie (Wind River Reservation) where I downed a PowerAde Zero and ate a corn dog with mustard and deep fried cheese sticks (not typically on my diet). I felt a little better but was not looking forward to the last 15 miles. It was sheer mind over matter that got us to Lander and the fact that I knew Mike was going to treat us to dinner at “Cowfish” the brewpub in town. (One of his former coworkers from Mt. Sports in Chico is the chef there.)

As I sobbed my way down Main Street Mike jokingly said, “I can’t very well take you to the pub crying now can I?” He was very concerned for me and asked if we should stop but I insisted we just get there. I did feel more human once I’d had food and gotten off that torturous saddle. We visited with Geoff and I was ecstatic when Mike said we’d push the bike next door to the motel. When we found they were booked I almost cried again (for the third time today) but found they’d managed to book us the last room at the motel just up the hill next door. A gentleman had turned down the room and we slid (via phone) just before he came back to reclaim it. Again, we felt we were seeing our good karma in action. We had a Jacuzzi, hot shower and a comfy bed to sleep in and we were happy to call it a day.

Gregory was a trooper the whole day and if it weren’t for his extra effort I don’t know if we would have made it. He was holding up far better than Mom! We had another record-breaking day, 80 miles.

Friday, August 28, 2009

More Pictures From Day 37 Togwotee Pass Construction

Oftedal Construction, Inc. invites us to their annual BBQ

John from Missoula, MT invited us to dinner when we met up with him on the highway.

Gregory has fun in the hay bales at the construction staging site.

Sue drives us through 17 miles of road construction just over the top of Togwotee Pass at 9,658 feet. (This was the second highest pass of our route and we road it up to the construction!!)

The Road To Success Is Always Under Construction

Bridger Tetons

Our Favorite Sign!

The Painted Hills of Wyoming (at sunset near Dubois, Wyoming)

Dubois KOA Heated Pool! Yippee!

Day 37 Togwotee Pass – 17 Miles of Road Construction

Our new friend Devon borrows our computer to book a host family with in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Mike scores some free samples from the Schwann's rep

Michael from NY gives us a spoke

Trembling Aspen (populus tremuloides) "This relative of the cottonwood often dominates recently burned areas and provides cover for new conifer growth." (Adventure Cycling Map)

Loving the Grand Tetons!

Date: Aug. 25, 2009

From: Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton Natl. Park

To: Dubois, WY

Route: Hwy. 287/26

Passes: Togwotee (9,658’)

Miles: 60 miles (+17 miles transported through road construction)

Top Speed on this trip: 47.7 mph

Weather: Fair and sunny

License Plates Collected: 5 Montana plates

It was 30 degrees this morning and brisk! Wiping down the tent fly in gloves my fingers were still freezing. We packed as quickly as possible and headed back to the restaurant in Colter Bay Village for a repeat of the delicious breakfast buffet with organic oatmeal, fresh fruit and yogurt. Devon joined us for breakfast and we loaned her the use of our computer so she could arrange a warm showers host for herself in Jackson. We had about 5 miles of riding together and then we said our goodbyes on the side of the road. It felt like we’d know her a lot longer than the brief 18 hours.

We really kicked it on Togwotee Pass and did our longest day ever at 60 miles! Most of the climbing was about 6% grade and we road the whole thing. Mike even did it without knee braces! We all knew that we would have to be transported through 17 miles of road construction but we didn’t know where that transportation would begin. All day as we slowly climbed the pass Gregory kept looking for our ride. This is one reason we like to avoid telling Gregory what is coming up because he gets fixated on it and it is especially bad if it doesn’t happen. Well, the ride was at the top of the grade not at the bottom but we felt really great about completing this climb. We are definitely getting stronger!

As we neared the top we saw a large group of vehicles and workers off to the left and I suggested stopping to talk to them and see how they wanted to transport our 14-foot rig. Mike insisted we go on until the construction started and we could figure it out then. (Ladies, does this sound familiar? You want to ask for directions but your spouse wants to figure it out on his own…) Anyhow, it worked out because about a mile up the road we pulled into an Exxon gas station to get a cold drink and one of the Oftedal Construction workers was sitting there in his truck. This time I didn’t ask Mike I just approached the guy and said, “It looks like you guys are having a meeting down there so we didn’t want to stop but we wanted to find our how you guys would be able to transport our bike. We’d heard from other cyclists that you were moving us through on trucks.” John replied, “Oh, that isn’t a meeting it is our annual barbeque. Why don’t you come have something to eat and we’ll figure out how to get your bike through.” We asked if he needed to check with someone about inviting us to dinner but he assured us it would be O.K. So, we rode back down to their staging area and had a feast of barbequed chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, coleslaw, grilled onions, chips, cookies and soda. It all tasted amazing and we were ever so grateful. Gregory made friends with one of the supervisor’s kids and they climbed up and down a large stack of hay bales finding holes and tunnels. After dinner Sue put our bike on a flat bed and hauled us the 17 miles through rough road construction with over 100 pieces of heavy equipment.

It was 6 P.M. when Sue dropped us off and we still had 28 miles to ride to Dubois, WY. Fortunately, it was downhill except for a couple of rollers. We rode into Dubois as the sun was setting on the magnificent painted hills. (See picture.) The Dubois KOA brought back memories of our 1994 crossing with its grand elk at the entrance. The owner had changed and the bakery (fresh homemade brownies) was no longer on site but the heated indoor pool with kwanza hut covering was. It was 7:30 by the time we arrived and they were having their end of the year party. (We learned in Yellowstone that Aug. 25 was the Christmas celebration for them and here it was, Aug. 25 and the KOA was partying too.) The owner checked us in at only $22 for a site by the river, use of the pool until 9 P.M. and hot showers. We thought that was exceptionally good for a KOA and she didn’t charge us extra for Gregory.

We threw up our tent in record time and hit the pool. After blissfully hot showers we snuggled down in our bags and went to sleep to the gurgling of the river.