Day: 25; Daily Mileage: 57.3; Total Mileage: 1281.3; Stopping Point: Grant Village, WY
We rode through Yellowstone park today. It made it a long day to try and sight see at the same time.
A big thing was the "animal jams." One person would spot elk or a bison and get out of the car to take pictures, then the next car would stop, and the next, until cars were parked to thick to drive through. Lions might be king of the jungle, but I think elk are the king of the forest, maybe it's just from watching Bambi so many times as a kid. We did see moose, elk, bison (buffalo), and lots of small ground creatures and birds.
While riding through the park, we watched the steam rise from the geysers most of the day. Then we stopped and watched a few. Many geysers have a board walk around them. Signs warn of not straying off the boards, because the ground may not support your weight. In the past, people have fallen into the geysers and been scalded.
We arrived at Old Faithful about half an hour before the next eruption. We planned on having a snack. Before we knew it there was a crowd of people gathered around us and our bikes. All wanted to hear about our trip and many were amazed. We were ready to tape the eruption and I looked up and saw a bison. No one believed me because we were sitting in the middle of a town, until the second one walked by. They were walking down what I suppose was Main Street.
A forest fire came through Yellowstone ten years ago and burned 70% of the park. Everywhere you look it's still the black burnt color. The trees look like telephone polls whittled to a point. The park has very little shade.
Day: 25; Daily Mileage: 33.8; Total Mileage: 1,315.1; Stopping Point: Lizard Creek, WY
We left Yellowstone and entered Grand Tetons all in one day. It's not that hard considering they are only seven miles apart.
Even before we left Yellowstone, we could see the Teton Mountain Range. They were really beautiful. The three mountains the range is named for, Le Trois Tetons, are hidden unless you visit Jenny Lake. The peaks we could see are covered in snow like most of the other mountains.
We saw a sign that said, "Avoid windshield damage 25 mph." They had just repaved the road, but didn't do a good job. Bits of asphalt were laying everywhere, but that wasn't the worst. Some of the road they had just tarred. It makes an awful mess when you ride on it, more than that it was hard to ride in. You wouldn't notice in a car or traveling fast on a bike, but we could feel it trying to stick us to the pavement when we'd slow down.
We passed an Adventure Cyclist tour going the other direction. The tours are organized so that a person doesn't have to travel alone. They normally have only seven people in them. We stopped and talked to the first two, a man from Florida and a woman from Germany. They were impressed and took a few pictures.
Day: 26; Daily Mileage: 76; Total Mileage: 1,391.1; Stopping Point: Dubois, Wyoming
Jenny Lake is supposed to be the most spectacular sight of all the Grand Tetons. We debated going there, but decided an extra 28 miles wasn't worth it. We planned on going over Togwotee Pass and stopping 12 miles down the other side, which would give us a 50 mile day.
We caught up to group of four and rode with them for a while. They were two couples that started in San Francisco and were riding to Wisconsin. At least one of the couples had ridden across country in a previous year. They were "camping with Visa," and stopped at a motel after a few miles.
At one of the rest stops we realized our first problem. Between Dubois and Lander there is 75 miles and no campground. So either we make it a short day to Dubois or get there tonight.
It was passed nine o'clock when we got to town and the first thing on our mind was food. We stopped at the first restaurant, though it was a little over our budget. We planned on going to a campground, but the waiter said we were still in bear country. We didn't have the energy to deal with unloading the bikes and putting away all the food, so we got a motel.
Day: 27; Daily Mileage: 82; Total Mileage: 1,472.1; Stopping Point: Lander, WY
Happy 4th of July to all!
It wasn't all celebrating for us. We got up early and ate out. We had to crank off 75 miles and we wanted to do it early. There were rumors of a rodeo in Lander for the 4th. Luckily the wind and terrain were with us. We started traveling at speeds of 16 to 18 miles an hour. That's a great pace when your loaded, especially if you can keep most of the speed uphill.
By 11:30 we had gone 40 miles and finally stopped for lunch. Right after was the only major hill of the day, all of 300 feet. Our luck had changed and it was now a head wind. It started light and got stronger and stronger.
It was four o'clock and we were six miles from Lander and guess what . . . a flat tire. We rode through a patch of glass and Dad picked up a piece. It had also started to thunder storm. We could hear the air coming out of the tire so we didn't spend much time looking for a leak.
We spent time looking for a bike store that ended up being closed. We camped behind a hotel near to the rodeo. We set up camp and went to the rodeo that started a seven.
I guess rodeo is one of those things that you really have to know to enjoy. It was neat to watch the events, but it is one of those things I'll do once for the experience.
First was bull riding. A man rides for eight seconds holding on to a rope with one hand. The more they spur the better they score. If they don't make eight seconds, they don't get any points. Todd's least favorite was the calf roping, mainly because he thinks they are cute. The calf would be released and the man would come chasing after it on his horse. He roped it, tied a front leg to the back legs. The number of times he put the rope around was up to him, but if the calf came untied in six seconds it was a no score. Some men did it in under ten seconds. Women's calf roping was called breakaway. They would rope the calf and let go of the rope. This task could be completed in 2 seconds. Bareback and Saddle Bronc looked almost the same except one was saddled and the other wasn't. They had the same basic rules as the bull riding. There was a funny little addition of Businessmen's Ribbon Roping, where a team of three would rope the calf, grab a ribbon off his tail, and release the calf. The "half time show" was done by Robin Wiltshire. He had taught horses to do tricks like walk on a balancing beam. A man sitting next to us told us that Wiltshire was the man that trained the Budweiser horses to play football in one of the Super Bowl commercial. We watched barrel racing by women. They had to run in a certain pattern around three barrels. The winner did it in 17.9 seconds.
The rodeo was supposed to end at ten and fireworks at 10:30. At 10:15, the rodeo has half over and we were tired of sitting. We left and went back to camp. When I went to bed, they still hadn't started fireworks.
We took a day off from riding today and stayed in Lander, WY. Every so often we need a day of rest to refresh body and spirit. I am giving Jodie a day off from journaling by doing it today.
Lander is one of the oldest towns in Wyoming. The downtown is a historic district because of all the 100 plus year old buildings. Supposedly, Butch Cassidy (adults will remember the movie), the famous train robber/outlaw called Lander home, and used to frequent the saloons on his forays into town.
We didn't hit any saloons, but did sleep in, then attended a local church. One of the employees at the campground lent us his car to visit Sinks Canyon State Park, outside of Lander. The Sinks are a geologic phenomenon. Water from the Popo Agie River flows into an underground cave, then emerges 1/4 mile downstream after a two hour delay and in greater quantities than it went in. Geologists don't know where it goes or where the extra water comes from.
After examining Sinks Canyon, we hiked 3 miles round trip to a 200 foot high waterfall.
We spent the evening doing laundry (very necessary) and relaxing in the campground's hot tub (also necessary). We also enjoyed a four course feast (something hard to do with two pots and a one burner stove): fresh hotdogs, fresh fruit salad, no-bake peanut butter pie and Pepsi. It sure was good to eat something besides canned or dried food.
Day: 29; Daily Mileage: 38.6; Total Mileage: 1,510.7; Stopping Point: Sweetwater Station, WY
Today was short but very hot. We've had enough 80 mile days for a while.
There was one hill of 1,500 feet. I stress hill not a pass. It was gradual for a long time, but got steep at the end.
Mom calls this area the High Desert. We've seen a few cactus on the side of the road. The ground is dry and cracked. Everything is sage brush with very little tall brush. To find shade for lunch today, we went under a bridge. At one time there was a river flowing under it, but is now the same cracked ground.
We are camped by the Sweetwater River. Sweetwater River was crossed by the pioneers on the Oregon Trail. The river got its name from a mule that was crossing the river and spilled his load. His load happened to be sugar and hence the river got it's name.
We met a couple from Virginia on a tandem riding our direction and our route. They had heard about us from Emily. They had caught up to another man, Matt, and were now riding with him. He was going from Portland to Illinois.
Day: 30; Daily Mileage: 85.7; Total Mileage: 1,596.4; Stopping Point: Muddy Gap, WY
How easy a 40 mile day turns into an 85 mile day. The plan was to go to Muddy Gap and the next day go to Independence Rock, a 20 mile detour one way. The map said it was a private campground, so we expect showers. We arrived there and found no shade and no running water. The outhouses were the worst we've had all trip.
We talked to the owners and they said we could leave our gear there while we went to Independence Rock for the afternoon. If the pioneers reached Independence Rock by Independence Day they had a good chance of making it over the Rockies before it snowed. I feel that the Rock was kind of a let down. In recent years, people has carved their names in he Rock in acts of vandalism. It was discouraging to walk around and see names from 1990. There is one side of Independence Rock that is fenced off. In here people have placed plaques in remembrance of people who played important rolls in the early years of the Rock.
Independence Rock was only one of the three major landmarks, we saw today, that the pioneers used to navigate while on the Oregon Trail. The other two are Split Rock and Devil's Gate. We could see Split Rock from over 20 miles away, which would be a good day for the pioneers. Devil's Gate was named because it was difficult to pass or completely impassible. Other's though have referred to it as a heaven, not only because it contained water, but the change of scenery.
Day: 31; Daily Mileage: 55.8; Total Mileage: 1,652.2; Stopping Point: Rawlings, WY
We camped with four other people, including Sean and Kyle. We caught up on stories that had occurred in the weeks we hadn't seen one another. They were traveling with another man who they had spent Fourth of July with. The fourth person was a man that had started on Virginia. He gave some good advise on the road ahead. (One was about a place for good homemade pies, so we stopped there for breakfast and still had pie after pancakes.)
We saw many Pronghorned Antelope. A group of 10 or 12 were grazing right across the road. When I stopped to film they ran over the hill. I walked up to the fence and I could just see their heads through the tall grass. Their curiosity got the better of them and they started o walk back. They were in full view before they turned and ran.
We finally got Dad's brake fixed and the clank in Todd's crank. We rode around and around town looking for bike stores that had been closed. On the other side of town was the only store that sold bikes. It also sold everything else. The man tightened a few things and replaced Dad's chain and that was it.
Day: 32; Daily Mileage: 48.8; Total Mileage: 1,701; Stopping Point: Saratoga, WY
We rode on our first interstate today and let's say I don't want to do it again. The shoulder was a good six to eight feet most of the time, but the traffic was heavy and whizzed by.. We watched prairie dogs race around on the grass.
We got to town at 12:30 and enjoyed sitting in hot springs. The actual pool was 120 degrees, but there were little springs that opened into the river. If you sat near one the temperature was just right, though the water on top was hot and on bottom was cold. Just like a natural hot tub. It sure felt good on our sore legs.
A tour called Pedal the Parks of 50 people met up with us at the hot springs. They were taking an organized bike tour of several of the area's highest peaks. They had vans carrying their gear and people arranging the meals and camping spots. We enjoyed talking to them. They camped at the same spot as us.
We camped in the City Park for free, so we went to Pizza Hut. The four of us finished off two large pizzas in the middle of the afternoon.
Day: 33; Daily Mileage: 69; Total Mileage: 1,770; Stopping Point: Walden, CO
There are ranches are all over this country. Big Creek Ranch is located in Wyoming. We saw signs for miles that said "No trespassing, Big Creek Ranch." When we finally saw the buildings of the ranch, it was amazing. All the buildings were white with red roofs and set way back from the road in close proximity. There wasn't a house that we could see, but there were trees behind the barns and we figure it was located there.
The highlight of our day was entering a new state, Colorado. Our first few miles into Colorado it decided to rain. It poured just enough to wet the pavement then quit. Of course the second we crossed the border, Todd got out his Detroit Red Wings flag that he's been carrying. The Wings and the Colorado Avalanche are rivals in hockey. We constantly joke about him being hit by a Colorado fan because of the flag.
Just about quitting time it rained hard enough to chill the body. First thing we looked for were showers. The city park offers free camping and the pool has showers for $3 and 50 cents for a towel.
We met a lot of cyclists today. First we met a couple from Dearborn, MI that had started on the east coast and were traveling about the same speed as us. Next we met a group of six. They all looked to be college students. Most of them had met up along the trail. Tonight, we camped with two men, Chris and Mark, that met up a few days ago. Chris has a web page going also. We will try to include his info, or a link on home page.