Archive for the ‘Wyoming’ Category
The trip was a success! I completed over 4,263 miles from Yorktown, VA to Portland, OR and then down the coast to San Francisco, CA between May 26, 2009 and August 19, 2009 (86 days). I met many amazing people along the way, pedaled through 13 states, and saw a lot of spectacular scenery. I feel like I’ve now seen some of the United States, but there is still a lot remaining to explore.
The first few states were rather ‘familiar’ as far as scenery goes – I hadn’t been to Kentucky before, but western Kentucky was quite similar to Virginia with a lot of horse farms and open fields. Eastern Kentucky was a little more poverty-stricken and was cluttered with trash on the sides of the roads. The roads were in poor condition with potholes (we had to be very careful to pay attention and not hit one)! I picked up a staple from the road in eastern Kentucky and got my first flat tire. We only briefly saw Illinois (I think we spent 2 days biking through southern Illinois), but we met some really fun people, namely two motorcyclists who invited us to their home to camp outside, grill, and play in the lake. Also, we saw Superman in Metropolis, Illinois, which was off-route and not planned. As it happened, we had bike problems that day and had to hitch-hike 70 miles to a bike shop to get a new chain for George’s bike. Missouri was very humid and the Ozarks were filled with hills.
About 40 miles outside of Springfield, Missouri, my shifter cable broke and I wound up hitching a ride with to a bike shop. For the first time since we left on May 26th, I was in civilization again. Springfield was a large city (from what I could tell), and they had a Chipotle and Starbucks. That was exciting! We pedaled through Missouri in six days and then when we reached Kansas, we switched our sleeping and biking habits. Instead of riding during the day, we rode at night and slept indoors at fire stations, libraries, and churches during the day to avoid the 115-degree heat and humidity. It worked fairly well, except that I biked the entire state of Kansas carrying a viral infection, only to realize it when I entered Colorado.
Just 70 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado in the hamlet of Arlington, I found myself extremely sick and unable to continue pedaling. I stopped and told the guys I couldn’t go any further. This was my last opportunity to find someone who could help me – there were approximately three houses and a few shady trees. I stopped, rested, and when I wasn’t feeling any better, I walked to a house to see if anyone was home who could drive me to a doctor. A nice man, by the name of C.D. Anderson said he’d give me a ride to Ordway, CO (25 miles west). We rode there and the clinic said I needed to get to a hospital, but the next closest one was in Pueblo. He gave me a ride all the way to Pueblo, another 45 miles down the road. There, I admitted myself to the Emergency Room and spent the next five and a half hours receiving saline and anti-nausea medicine. I slept on and off until 6:30 that evening when I was released. Lucky to have distant relatives in the area, they came and picked me up and they took me to their home in Westcliffe, Colorado.
A few days later, thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger, Cindi from Westcliffe, I had a car to borrow and was on my way to visit a friend from college. Unfortunately, I got sick again and at this point was very frustrated, as I didn’t know what was wrong with me. This was the only point in my trip where I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to continue if the virus didn’t get out of my system. I slept and rested for another day or two and then went whitewater rafting (already had reservations made) and then drove to Estes Park to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains and take photos.
I finally got on my bike again almost two weeks after getting sick and was now solo pedaling to meet Chase, my new riding companion, who was a few days ahead of me now. Unexpectedly, I spent a few nights in Salida, Colorado when I met Mike. He showed me around town and then guided me up my first 14er, Mt. Elbert. It was an incredible experience to be on the highest mountain in Colorado and one of the highest in the lower 48 states! After a day of recuperation, I climbed 26 miles up and over the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet! There, at the top of the pass, Chase found me and I rode down the other side of the mountain and then hitched a ride back to Pitkin where he and his family had rented a cabin for a few days. We spent a couple days in Pitkin and Ohio City with Chase’s family before we hit the road again on July 14th.
The adventures really picked up once Chase and I met and started riding together – we found ourselves first taking a short-cut from Telluride, CO to Moab, UT in two days and meeting a really nice woman by the name of Lauren. As it turns out, she invited us to have dinner with her (grilled steak and peppers along with pickled asparagus) and sleep in her camper van just outside of Paradox, CO. Then we met Wayne, who gave us a lift from La Sal Junction to Moab and then into Arches National Park, where we toured the park in the afternoon together. It was a great time and nice since Wayne hadn’t had an opportunity to see the park before! After Moab, we rode down to Monticello (I had to pick up mail) and then onward to Hite, UT (Lake Powell). This was one of the worst days (from Blanding to Hite) as the heat was cranked up and the 88-mile stretch without services was brutal. We each carried 1.5 gallons of water and pedaled all day to get to Hite campground.
What would have been a long journey across the deserts of Utah and Nevada turned into a spontaneous adventure where we found ourselves 700 miles north getting dropped off in Yellowstone National Park. We caught a ride with Jack and his 7-year old who were on their family vacation. We were like family for 3 days and it was amazing. We had such a great time! Once we parted from Jack and David, we left to go to West Yellowstone where we ran into five cyclists that Chase last saw and rode with in Missouri! Who knew we’d end up back on the Transamerican Route in Montana weeks later and run into them!
A few more mile of pedaling as we rode through Montana to Missoula where I bumped into my best friend’s ex-husband in a bike shop, saw my last chiropractor of the trip (6th one), got my second (and last) flat tire, and did my last long uphill climb (before reaching the coast) of 46 miles over Lolo Pass into Idaho! Just into Idaho, we met a great family from Frederick, Maryland who invited us to eat dinner and camp with them. Thanks again to nice people, we camped with a couple from British Columbia at a campground in Washington, camped on someone’s front porch in Walla Walla, Washington, and found ourselves chased out of a campground after we spotted three large snakes within five minutes. Needless to say, we camped on the side of the road that night only six miles from the campground, as we were exhausted from riding 106 miles in the blazing heat with headwinds!
Finally into Oregon, we were excited to reach Portland. However, it wasn’t over yet! We hit horrible headwinds in Columbia River Gorge (apparently the windsurfing capital of the world), yet no one gave us a heads up about this! We battled the headwinds for about 100 miles or so (on and off with the intensity), but once we were within 150 miles of Portland, the winds picked up even more! Chase wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I. We agreed to hitch a ride the last 90 miles into Portland so we wouldn’t pedal away for two more days to get there. Instead, we wanted to enjoy seeing Portland before having to continue down the coast (or in Chase’s case, before he had to fly home).
On August 9th, we reached the Pacific Coast at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I had 3,570 miles at this point. Our last evening of the ride (coast to coast), we camped in a city park as all the campgrounds were full and the motels/hotels were all booked. To make our story more fun, we camped illegally (in a city park, as there was nowhere else to go) and the next morning the police came at 5:55am asking us to leave.
The last leg of the trip, I rode solo down the coast from Nescowin, OR to San Francisco, CA. I met a lot of really nice people along the way and rode with several groups of riders as well. I met four motorcyclists from Victoria, British Columbia in Bandon, OR and then we reunited again in Brookings, OR the next day, 100 miles later. It was fun to see the same faces again on several occasions and we really had a great time exchanging stories and hanging out at the campsites together.
At last, I reached San Francisco on August 19th at six o’clock in the evening after riding my final 72 miles. From August 19th until August 25th, I spent the time in San Francisco sampling some of the most delicious ethnic food while hanging out with one of my best friends — Iman, who flew from the east coast to meet me! On August 25th, we departed on a train back across the country. Again we met many interesting people, including Thane and Brenda of Sioux Falls and the friendly Amtrak staff. My arrival into DC was mixed – the trip was officially over and I would have to re-acclimate to life back home and return to my full-time desk job.
Saturday, July 25th – Lewis Lake in Yellowstone Park to 8 miles north of West Yellowstone
We woke up fairly early, or at least I did. I got up at 6:40am and walked around the campground while I waited for the rest to rise. Once they were all up we started packing up and had breakfast (kid cereal again, which was awesome!) I had trix and apple jacks again which was amazing! We rolled out of the campground around 8:45am and headed for Old Faithful (the geyser) and watched that around 10:30, I think it was. It was pretty neat and there were tons of other geysers in the park that we could have seen, and we saw some from the roads, but not shooting the water up in the air like Old Faithful. Nonetheless it was pretty neat. I also met some Germans who were visiting and was able to practice my rusty German again which was nice – they were from Hannover and Mainz, and visiting a relative who lives in Illinois.
We had our last meal with Jack and Dave at the lodge and then Chase and I packed up our bikes and changed back into biking clothing and started to look at the maps again under the awning of the lodge as it was raining now. We spoke with one guy from Seattle, Washington who seemed to know the roads in the northwest fairly well, so he was trying to give us suggestions or tell us if the roads we were looking at would be good to ride and so forth. So we think we’ve come up with a new route to get back to the coast in time for Chase to get back to Texas and hopefully in time for me to ride down the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco.
Finally, around 2pm we headed out of the park and started riding the 30 miles to get out of the West Entrance towards West Yellowstone. Spotted buffalo, a bald-headed eagle, and elk in the park before leaving. About 3 miles before we exited we saw another touring cyclist so we stopped to chat and it turns out he’s also riding to Astoria, Oregon (the end of the Transamerican Route). Craig (the cyclist) also had ridden the Northern Tier back in 2003 and now he’s doing the TransAm Route as it’s his last free summer for a while (he’s studying at UVa’s Medical School). We rode to West Yellowstone together and just as we were about to take our photo of the entering Montana sign, Chase sees some cyclists he knows from WAY BACK on the bike tour. He ran into his “Z-team” buddies (the 5 guys who just graduated from JMU this past May). He last saw them back in Eminence, Missouri on June 25th (Day 30). So it was really odd to bump into them again such a long time later and especially since we were supposed to be on the Western Express Route and they on the Transamerican Route. But we’re caught up now and who knows, maybe we’ll finish with them or before them.
So we stopped and ate at this pizza place which gave us a 1/2 off discount for cyclists, so that was awesome! Chase, Craig, and I all got 12″ pizzas and then shared them and they were decent – not the best, but not horrible either! After eating, we went to the grocery store to pick up some things for breakfast and lunch the next day or so. We wound up with plain bagels, ham, and cheese for lunch, and cinnamon raisin bread and peanut butter for breakfast, along with some apple sauce. Pretty yummy and odd, but tasty:) The three of us rode out of West Yellowstone then in search of a place to camp – we rode past a campground that was full and decided to camp in the National Forest Land, so we went back on an access road and pitched tents on this track that was pretty nice with grass and pine needles. We hung our bear bags (filled with food, toiletries, and anything scented), pitched our tents, and called it a night around 9:30 or so.
Posted by Kiki | Wyoming | Posted on July 24th, 2009
Friday, July 24th – Flaming Gorge, Wyoming to Lewis Lake in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Woke up about 7am or so, and then I packed up my tent and did my whole organizing routine and then showered and got all clean! It was the best shower of the trip probably – well, aside from being in a real house with a shower. But I could shower for as long as I wanted and didn’t have to feed it quarters – it was great. I must have been in there forever…scrubbing off layers of grit and grime (not really), but enjoying some hot water for a change and a shower!
We all had breakfast – an assortment of cereal was amazing. It was like being a kid but never having had that kid cereal when I was little. I had trix and then apple jacks (kid cereals!) and they were both tasty, probably because of the sugar content, haha! We hit the road around 11am and continued the 300+ mile trek to Yellowstone. We stopped at a few small rinky dink towns along the way and got groceries and then Jack bought some buffalo jerky from a roadside stand and we stopped before Jackson and got ice cream. Then we stopped at Jackson’s visitor center to pick up some state maps and Montana and Idaho maps as well, which is nice. Now we can start to plan our potential route to the coast from Yellowstone. We’re on a bit of a time crunch with Chase needing/wanting to be back home in time for his sister’s graduation from Texas A&M.
So we drove through the Teton National Park and then entered Yellowstone – both of which cost $25 car, but luckily I had my National Park pass, so it was free for us! We came to the first campground to find that it was full, but we noticed a campsite that didn’t have a tent on the pad, so I went and talked to the people who were staying there and asked if we could set up a tent on the pad if they weren’s using it. They weren’t and said it was fine, so we camped there on their spot for free which was awesome, especially since all the campgrounds in Yellowstone were booked and full! They did however have a special biker/hiker campsite that wasn’t occupied, so we could have camped there if all else failed. But this way, we were all able to camp together and Jack just set up the big 4-person tent he had just bought.
Jack fixed us dinner again – hot dogs, roasted peppers, corn, and of course smores by the campfire for dessert. Cindy and Paul (the two who let us camp on their campsite) joined us by the fire and roasted marshmallows as well. They’re from Cedar City, Utah and Paul commutes once a week to Las Vegas where he’s a firefighter. They were pretty fun people to hang out with and after a while, around 10:30 or so I think we all hit the sack.
Thursday, July 23rd – Hite, UT (Lake Powell) to Flaming Gorge, Wyoming (Buckboard Campground)
I woke up at 3:15am and then Chase slowly got up – we ate a bagel and then slowly started up the road out of the camping area to Route 95. Chase was really sluggish and looked like he was about to die. I waited up for him several times along the 2.5 mile hill to the main road and asked if he wanted to just wait and not ride. He looked pathetic and dead practically. He was completely drained and exhausted, yet was still drinking tons of water. We got to the main road and stopped and then Chase sat down and rested and before we knew it, we were on the side of the road for 2 hours just laying down and he started to fall asleep. I tried to get us a ride to Hanksville because he wasn’t feeling well enough to bike and was just too drained. The unfortunate thing was there was almost no traffic whatsoever. We saw maybe 4 cars in 2 hours, and 3 of them going the wrong way. One going the way we needed to go, but they didn’t have space and said they were just going to find cell service.
So onward we went and left about 8:00 and slowly started biking. We had a few nice hills to climb and then about 10 miles in, we stopped so Chase could take a break and try and feel better. He was still feeling pretty crumby and all and then he rested on a bank on the side of the road and before I knew it, he had fallen asleep. I stayed awake in case a truck came by that would be able to give us a ride to Hanksville. A short bit later a truck came by pulling a boat – I tried to flag him down and he didn’t want to stop, but then did. It was an older man and he was pretty skeptical of me and Chase. He was asking questions about if I was Christian, if Chase was, and if I was with a guy or girl, and then saying that in today’s world, I shouldn’t be hitch-hiking. It was a bit weird…and then he said he’d give us a ride if he could preach to us about God. While we were talking to him and trying to figure out if and how we could fit our bikes and gear in his boat, another pick-up truck stopped to see if he could help.
The other pick-up was pretty full, but we seemed to think it’d be better if we got a ride with him instead of the older man. The young guy and his kid are on vacation and heading to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. So that sounded great, especially since Chase and I talked about the possibility or feasibility of getting to the Transamerican Route. So we swapped our bags out of the first truck into the second and piled into the truck with Jack and his 7-year old son David. The truck’s completely full and piled high both in the bed and in the cab. Off we go to Hanksville. There we discuss our option to continue to Yellowstone National Park with Jack and David or to stay in Hanksville and rest and hope that Chase has it in him to continue through the desert of Nevada and the rest of Utah.
We decide to continue on for the adventure and see what happens – we’ll pick up with the original Transamerican Route in Yellowstone and then ride to Astoria, Oregon most likely. We’ll figure that out later once we see some maps and can figure out how many miles it is to Astoria from Yellowstone. I imagine we’ll tack on some extra miles going this way as our ride from southern Utah into Wyoming was really just north bound for 700 miles or so, so we didn’t gain or lose any miles east or west. It’s been a great ride thus far and we just crossed into Wyoming – who would have expected we’d be here on this ride? At least we’ll now escape the desert and get into more scenic areas in Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.
We pull into the campground around 8pm or shortly before and set up camp, then start to cook food. Jack had hamburgers, BBQ chips, grapes, striper fish from Lake Powell (the older man who stopped to give us a ride had caught it and gave one to Jack). We finished the night up with a campfire and smores and then off to bed.
Let the adventures continue!
GPS Stats (hitch-hiking + biking):
08:02 moving time
Computer Stats (bicycle-riden portion):
01:30:54 moving time
7.5 avg speed
40.0 max speed