July 2008

North to South Tour - Day 37

07/31/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Granby, Colorado
To: Granby, Colorado
Today: 78 miles - 2097 miles total

Rocky Mountain National Park......WOW!!!!!

We had oatmeal to begin our day, and began cycling with Bertha (our backpack) and the yellow dry sack staying behind in our motel room. We quickly joined Rte 34 heading toward Rocky Mountain National Park and the Trail Ridge Road. Rte 34 had a wide shoulder, but the traffic was semi busy and we were hoping that it would lessen the closer we got to the National Park. We cycled by million dollar vacation homes, Lake Granby, Shadow Mountain Lake, Grand Lake, and marinas. What a noisy, but gorgeous ride into the town of Grand Lake. We then cycled down and around the town Grand Lake, stopping at a restaurant for our second breakfast. Grand Lake is a small touristy type town, but it is very quaint (per Mary).

The Trail Ridge Road begins at Rocky Mountain National Park. It winds itself through the Rockies and has many hiking trails off of it. We knew it was going to be a GREAT day (besides the 16 miles to Grand Lake) because as we were taking a photo op at the park's entrance sign, the Rear Admiral spotted a moose! A little too far off for a photo, but things were looking up. We climbed and climbed all morning, we had started of at an elevation of 7880, and hoped to reach the park's visitor center at an elevation of 11,796. Imagine traveling at 5 mph for 23 miles with snow dotted mountains on the horizon and millions of wildflowers next to you. Reds, yellows, whites, purple, blues, and orange wildflowers along both sides of the road. The vehicle traffic was not bad, we had a lot of stretches that SeeMore was the king of the road. We also had many thumbs up and also shakes of heads. There is a lot of pine beetle damage, which made the forest look like it was autumn or that a brown forest fire had taken place. We made it up to Milner Pass (our twelth Continental Divide crossing on this adventure) and had a break with an orange and some gorp.

It was then a four mile climb to the park's visitor center, where we lost the trees at 11,000 feet. At the visitor center, we met another couple who ride tandem, and three guys who are doing the Trans America who were quite taken with SeeMore, they were really fascinated with the seats (they must have had sore buts, which I'm sure they did). The Rear Admiral and I both had to use the rest rooms (SeeMore seems to never have to go!), but could not get away from the questions. Finally, we made it to the rest rooms....and then had lunch at the Park's cafe while looking out the window at elk and mountains.

We spent almost the same amount of time going down as going up. We stopped for many photo breaks....and just plain soaking it all in. Close to the bottom of the descent, we spent an hour at one of the rest areas. Neither one of us wanted this day to end! We cycled slowly (on purpose) out of the park, and all the way back to Granby, and just before exiting the park, we encountered some more elk on the side of the road! Three miles from our motel, SeeMore got some more retread wire in his front tire. Because it was just a slow leak, we just filled it with air, and patched the tube when we got back to the motel. We had Chinese food (a first on this trip) for dinner, which was very good! There was some sad news, at 2:30 (while we were in the visitor center) two cyclist fell going down the Trail Ridge Road. We don't know how bad, but it is a reminder that anything can and will happen so ride alert, ride carefully.

North to South Tour - Day 36

07/30/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Walden, Colorado
To: Granby, Colorado
Today: 55 miles - 2019 miles total

Today's ride was a 10! If you have a chance to cycle Rte 125 in Colorado, do it!

We woke to find frost on both the Prince of Wales II and the freshly cut grass of Walden's city park. We also noticed that the 4 cyclist from Oregon....had been forced to move their sleeping area. Well, they can't say we didn't warn them! I had one of my best nights, while the Rear Admiral spent a bit of a chilly night.

We let the Prince of Wales defrost, and had breakfast in town. Nothing bad, they had Cowboy French Toast on the menu (this time with almonds and raspberry sauce), so I went for it. Returning to the city park, the other cyclist were up and their sleeping bags were in the trees being dried by the morning sun. We packed up, and headed out on ultra quiet RTE 125. It was so quiet, that SeeMore decided to ride next to the center line, for 90 percent of today's adventure. We cycled through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge, where we saw hundreds of ground squirrels, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. There were also lots of raptors (hawks, eagles, and falcons) keeping an eye or two on the ground. There was almost NO road kill on Rte 125, all day long. However, the pine beetle has done HUGE job on the pine trees. It looks like aftermath of a brown forest fire. Thousands of acres have been destroyed by this bug.

We stopped in Rand Colorado, at the only store. It was more of a gift store, but they also had cold drinks and a rest room (privy). We had oranges, Gatorade, and gorp; then proceed up and over Willow Creek Pass (elevation 9683 feet). We crossed the Continental Divide (our eleventh on this trip) when we finished this mountain pass. We did not use our low gear ring, so it was not hard at all. It was, however, beautiful (except for the pine beetle damage)! Snow dotted mountains, trees, small water falls, Willow Creek.....what more could you ask for ( maybe a moose or two).

We had a picnic lunch at Denver Creek campground, at a water front picnic table right on Willow Creek. We are living semi large in Granby at a motel. We have no Internet (no big deal), but have a railroad running by across the street. Tomorrow we are going to ride light (with very little in our panniers and no Bertha backpack) into Rocky Mountain National Park. Depending on the riding conditions, we will ride as far as we like....then turn around and spend another night here in Granby.

North to South Tour - Day 35

07/29/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Riverside, Wyoming
To: Walden, Colorado
Today: 55 miles - 1964 miles total

Happy Birthday Aunt Patty!

Last night we had dinner at the Bear Trap cafe/bar in beautiful downtown Riverside (population 58, maybe). We had ShockTop beer (on tap), the Rear Admiral had Chicken Fried Steak, and I settled for the Bear Trap burger. This morning at the Bear Trap I had Cowboy French Toast (French Toast with Frosted Flake coating!). What great eats! So if your beautiful downtown Riverside Wyoming, with the North Platte flowing through town....stop in and enjoy the great food and drink.

Route 230 (which changes to 125 in Colorado) was very quiet and rolling. We spent the morning seeing the same prairie grass, sage bush, snow fence...etc... as the last couple of days. We have cycled a great deal in Wyoming, and we can take it off our lists of things we need to do. About a mile from the Colorado border, we met Daniel, another adventure cyclist on the Transamerica route. Daniel is of college age, and is from New Zealand. He is enjoying this view of America from a bicycle. We must have talked for a half an hour, in the middle of no where (well about a mile from Colorado's border!). It was then on to the border, and (it seemed) the farther we cycled away from Wyoming, the prettier things got! Still a lot of sage bush, but now snow dotted mountains and trees on both sides of the road appeared. We cycled into Cowdrey Colorado, where we had a picnic lunch by the two ponds in town. While we ate we watched them move a heard of cattle down the road to a new pasture (see photo below). It was then on to Walden Colorado (you can now start humming the tune from Gilligan's Island).

We were two miles outside of Cowdrey (about seven miles from Walden Colorado), when we noticed the sky turning BLACK. In our favorite state, Wyoming, when black skies appeared every afternoon they never produced anything but wind. Colorado black skies produce liquid sunshine....hum....rain...hum....lots of rain...hum....mega rain....hum....cold mega rain....hum...HAIL! Oh well, we just cycled through it. Two miles from Walden, it was sunny and 72 degrees. and we pretended SeeMore was a huge blow dryer. Walden has a population of 734 and has 5 motels. Every motel was booked solid by oil well workers or by an automobile club. No big deal, the Adventure Cycling maps state that camping in the city park is ok, as long as you ask the sheriff and you can use the city pool's showers (for $3.00). The park is beautiful, has lots of flower beds, green grass, picnic tables, flush rest rooms, and is very quiet! It is also located next to the ball field, so you can watch a game of slow pitch softball. It is 2 blocks from downtown. We suggest you skip the motels, and set up your tent. But be warned, set it up on the north side of the park and be sure to tell the sheriff or they will turn the water sprinklers on you at 6:00 am.

Also staying at the park are 4 college age young men from Oregon. They are following the Transamerica route also, and are having a BLAST (except they did not like Kentucky because of the dogs that chased them and Kansas because it was HOT). They are very excited about this neck of the journey. We exchanged cycling stores, until they needed to eat. We also told them about sleeping on the north side of the park, but I don't think they are going to listen to us.

The Prince of Wales II is up, the ball game is about to start, and we have full bellies. I think I will only be able to watch a couple of innings....the Prince of Wales II is calling my name.

North to South Tour - Day 34

07/28/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Rawlins, Wyoming
To: Riverside, Wyoming
Today: 62 miles - 1909 miles total

The trees are back!!!

We left Rawlins early, about 7:00, after trying to eat everything the Comfort Inn had to offer (fresh made waffles....yes!). The skies were overcast for our ride all day. We started out wandering the side streets, to the side of Interstate 80 until we got to Sinclair. Sinclair is made up of....a HUGE oil/gas refinery owned by the Sinclair Oil company. The refinery looked to be in full production, and Sinclair's parking lot has seen resent expansion. From Sinclair it was onto Interstate 80, SeeMore's first Interstate highway adventure. This part of the cycling featured vehicles whizzing by at 80+ mph, shredded retread tires lining the break down lane, and hold your nose road kill. We had a number of friendly truckers blowing their encouraging horns at us, which was very much appreciated. The 13 miles of of Interstate 80 we traveled had the same scenery that we have been experiencing since Dubois. So with SeeMore dodging retread debris, boring landscape, and noisy traffic (besides those truckers!)....it was a long 13 miles. We took one relief, by stopping at the Wyoming rest area which was located in the center of our journey on Interstate 80.

We finally turned onto RTE 130/230 (which changes to 230 near Riverside), and it was a pretty quiet ride. Still the same scenery, but pretty quiet. We had crosswinds most of the day, but they were more in our face than our sides. Outside of Saratoga we stopped to look at the remains of the Overland trail (see photo above). Then we approached Saratoga. We began to see strange tall looking green things lining the North Platte River. Could it be? Are our eyes deceiving us? Nope they are real.....the trees are back!!!!

We cycled around Saratoga, and it is a very nice town to spend some time in, so we went to the food store and had a picnic lunch. After lunch our spirits returned to the normal cycling tandem. Again, the scenery in Wyoming can be magical at times.....but it can also be a lot of the same old, same old. After our picnic, we headed towards Riverside and into very powerful crosswinds and liquid sunshine. Just enough liquid sunshine to change your solid colored shorts, into polka dotted shorts. The crosswind slowed SeeMore down, but the sight of trees and green ranches speeded our spirits. About 8 miles outside of Riverside, I noticed that SeeMore's front tire was going soft. Just in time to meet 3 Adventure cyclist going west on the Transamerica. We visited, in the middle of the road, for about 30 minutes. They were very impressed with SeeMore, and he smiled for their cameras...soft front tire and all. Cyclists are so friendly! When they left, I got the tire pump out and filled SeeMore's front tire up. I then checked it about 3 miles down the road, and found out that it was just a slow leak, so we had plenty of pressure when we rolled into Riverside.

Riverside has a population of 58, and the tree lined North Platte runs straight through it. We are at the Lazy Acres Campground and Motel. We opted for the motel, because of the chance of rain and we want to make an early start of it again tomorrow to try and get ahead of the wind. It is an great place to stay, whether you are camping or lodging. The 4 room motel is a trailer full of 70's decor, but very clean. The Rear Admiral says tonight we are having beer and burgers at the cafe in town. I love when she takes command!

North to South Tour - Day 33

07/27/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Lamont, Wyoming
To: Rawlins, Wyoming
Today: 43 miles - 1847 miles total

We got up in time to notice Grandma drive her van from the house to the cafe (a distance of 50 yards, maybe). With the Prince of Wales II down, and SeeMore packed and loaded up for the day, we sheepishly walked into the cafe. Grandma's cafe (we think it's the only building in Lamont) has never been visited by the Wyoming Board of Health. Grandma's, son (smoking) and Grandpa spent the time we were there reading the newspaper...and not talking to each other. We ordered pancakes, Grandma is an ok cook, she just doesn't know anything about washing dishes. We are very thankful that they let us set up camp behind the cafe, we got to met her grandson, and got to play with the boxers......

More of the same as yesterday. Except that 287/789 (after Muddy Gap) is a major truck route between Casper and Rawlins. The ride was not very quiet. We climbed over the Continental Divide (our tenth for this trip), the elevation was 7174. We made it into Rawlins, where we spent the morning exploring this city of 9000 people. Rawlins was built because of the Union Pacific Railroad. We had chocolate shakes, and root beer floats at a restaurant on the far west of town, and are now at the Comfort Inn at the far east of town. As I type this, the Rear Admiral is asleep (it is 1:30 in the afternoon). We have both had a mentally challenging ride, since we left Dubois. We have at least one more day of Wyoming, and that includes a 13 mile jaunt on Interstate 80. We are looking forward to seeing trees again! Maybe in a couple of days.

North to South Tour - Day 32

07/26/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Lander, Wyoming
To: Lamont, Wyoming
Today: 101 miles - 1804 miles total

We got up, and got on the road by 6:00 am. We were trying to beat the wind and high temperatures, we thought we could pull into Jeffrey City at an early time. The key word today is ADVENTURE. Are we cycling on the moon? (see the above photo). We met a tourist from Dillon, CO yesterday that described it...."We never landed on the moon, they just took pictures of Wyoming".

It was a chilly start, but that did not last long. Route 287/789, all the way to Muddy Gap, was quiet with very little vehicle traffic....and why should there be any traffic...because THERE IS NOTHING OUT HERE but barb wire, sage brush, snow fences, road kill, prairie grasses, and an occasional pronghorn antelope. There are few trees (you don't need a calculator to count them, just use your hands). Being from New Hampshire, where we take trees for granted, it is hard to say that our scenery today was beautiful. The scenery did have a beauty it, but seeing it over and over again, is draining on us. We pulled into the rest area in Sweetwater Station for some shade, the rest area's picnic tables are inclosed in a concrete roof and have two brick walls that are positioned to block the wind. Wyoming has some nice rest areas, and in our case that was a good thing. They have water and restrooms and are a very nice place to take a break. The wind today was, for the most part, a 15 mph crosswind. It was coming out of the south west and we were traveling east for the majority of the day. Sweetwater Station was supposed to have a small grocery and camping....it has nothing...I don't even think anyone lives in Sweetwater Station. We are glad for the water at the rest area.

We followed part of the Oregon Trail while cycling on Rte 287/789. You could see some of the original trail heading off in the horizon. The sign at the rest area that talked about the Oregon Trail best describes our views for the day. ..."For weeks emigrants plodded this stretch of high altitude, semiarid desert. Everyday, more of the same alkali, sage and sand...a continuing American Sahara. How I long for a timbered country wrote one traveler. . . . In a thousand miles I have not seen a hundred acres of wood. All that comes near to arborification is a fringe of cottonwood and willows along the banks of creeks and rivers. These everlasting hills have an everlasting curse of barrenness...". So you can see our opinion of this area is not unique.

We continued cycling into Jeffrey City our final destination for today, with hopes of having a meal at the restaurant listed on the map. This "city" once had a population of 5000, in 1983, it now has a population of 50 (maybe). It is quite literally a modern day ghost town. There was supposed to be a cafe, motel, and grocery. It had a motel (maybe), no grocery store, and the cafe/bar. After walking into the bar side and sitting down, we explained that we were looking to have something to eat. The lady in charge, shuffled us over to the cafe side, where we were offered beef stew (self served out of a crock pot) with white bread, and slices of watermelon (which should have been tossed the previous day). They don't normally serve food on the weekends but the lady told us to eat as much as we wanted, "Because no one goes away hungry." I keep telling Mary "While in Rome" So we ate, the stew was ok and filling. While we ate we asked the owner/hostess/ waitress about the history of the town. She was proud of the fact the the cafe is the only business in town that has been open for 50 years and never closed down. Jeffrey City was an active uranium mine, but in 1983 the mine closed. They still have a school, grades 1-12 all taught by the same teacher. In the bar there were about 5 guys, two dogs and one younger woman, who was blind in one eye (could that be due to some environmental hazard?) and the owner shuffling around in her slippers. It was a bit surreal but were treated well and fed and they seem to prefer that the boom is gone.

After lunch, we shrugged our shoulders and headed to Muddy Gap, there the map shows groceries and camping. The Muddy Gap convenient store was a bright spot in our day. We highly recommend stopping there. We had a Gatorade break, and asked about camping in Muddy Gap. The proprietor told us that kitty corner from the store is a place where cyclist stay. So we went back down the hill, to the ...um....camping site. This was probably a campground, in the early 90's. It has fallen on hard times, it had 3 permanant guest (their trailers have been there a long time, but where the owners are...is anyone's guess, probably abandoned from the looks of the trailers). There is a place to set up a tent (next to the prefab fire station), and two outhouses. I knocked on the door of the house, but nobody answered. Now what? The sky was turning it's usual dark color, in preparation for yet another afternoon wind or rain storm. So up the hill to the convenient store we went to wait out the storm. We cooked a frozen pizza, and read the Wyoming hunting regulation pamphlets while waiting the afternoon storm out. This is excitement, yes?

About an hour later, it was back down to the "campground". I knocked on the door, and nothing. It was time for an executive council and to consult the Adventure Cycling map, it said there was a cafe in Lamont called Grandma's cafe. Grandma let's you set up tents behind the cafe, and if the cafe is open...you can use the restrooms. It was about 5pm and the sun was still pretty hot. Also based on the condition of the out house and the Rear Admiral's proclamation that she wasn't goin within 20 feet of that thing. Off we went. We climbed over the Continental Divide (our ninth for this trip) after Muddy Gap. The climb was painless and the elevation of this crossing is 6,638 ft. (Muddy Gap was at 6,250 ft.). Then into Lamont and Grandma's cafe where we were greeted by a closed cafe. Not to worry, we drove past the cafe and around to the rear of the house where we were greeted by two of the prettiest dogs (boxers). Mary quickly jumped off the bike and armed herself with her trusty water bottle, noting that the female clearly looked like she just had a litter of pups. There was no need for defense because Grandma's grandson (age around 14 ) came out to rescue us,. We asked the grandson (who was very nice, and talkative) if we could put the Prince of Wales II up. He said sure, but let me walk you over there...we just killed a rattler today, and I just want to make sure there aren't any more snakes. Well he had fun filling us in on his days adventure with the rattler that almost bit his Aunt as she was going into the cafe. After confirming that this was in fact the only rattle snake they ever killed on their property, and they don't have anymore slithering around out here, we set up the tent as we chatted with the boy about school (40 mile commute one way per day), snow, cattle drives, and the pesky badgers in the yard.

So here we are, in the back of Grandma's cafe. The Prince of Wales II is up, there are two boxers who think we are their new best friend. We are camped amongst an acre of old oil drilling equipment ( we think Grandpa is a collector). We are tired, dirty....and pretty much beaten up. Crossing Wyoming is very mentally tough.

North to South Tour - Day 31

07/25/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Lander, Wyoming
To: Lander, Wyoming
Today: 0 miles - 1703 miles total

With the next 3 + days of sage bush, high temps, winds, and little shade....we took the day off. The Rear Admiral had a big retail fix, as we walked the length of Lander. There is a GREAT sub shop on the north side of town. SeeMore gets some TLC, and Noel gets a new pair of cleats for his sandals.