Push to RMMC, Seth’s house, Then the flatlands

The night before we got to camp we stayed in this small town called Hartsel. There wasn’t much of a town, a cafe and gas station pretty much. We were looking for a place to camp for the night and the guy at the gas station suggested we go camp behind this old  rundown red barn. It was a beautiful spot to camp. Seth was excited to sleep inside but jackson and I chose to set up the tent outside. The place was just a bit too creepy. Turns out Seth might have chosen the better solution for the night. I have never been in a tent when it’s gotten that windy. A big storm came through in the middle of the night. I woke up to the side of the tent smashing down on my face from the force of the wind gusts. Luckily everything stayed dry. We’re amazed that even with such a storm that little sheet (rainfly) we drape over the tent each night was able to perform as well as it did. 

 
We had a beautiful morning of riding and crossed over Wilkerson Pass. I enjoyed watching the progress of a hot air ballon get off the ground, as we rode past it and then saw it from a distance behind us. The downhill from Wilkerson pass was fabulous! I got up to 47 miles an hour! Oh yeah! Once the steep part ended we had an awesome tailwind and slight down hill all the way to lake George. We were cruising at an easy 30 mph. If only all biking were like that! 

From lake George we climbed all the way back up to Rocky Mountain Mennonite camp. Which lies at the base of pikes peak at elevation of 9620ft. We were warmly greeted by some of our Goshen friends who were working summer staff there and the other members of the staff. RMMC is one of my favorite places in the world. And Seth’s second home. Words can’t describe how happy I was to bike a familiar road and see people I knew at camp. It was extremely rejuvenating. We got there in time for lunch and spent the afternoon lounging around and played the disc golf course Seth helped set up around camp. That evening we got a quality dose of hail, mixed in with the sunshine.

 
That you to Rocky Mountain Mennonite camp for so hospitable giving us food and lodging! You have a special place in our hearts. Also if anyone out there has not visited this wonderful place you should! You can rent beautiful cabins overlooking the mountains and spend a quality weekend hiking or relaxing. Anyways that’s my plug, it’s such a great place. 

The following day we dropped 3000ft into Colorado Springs. Talk about a long downhill! It felt like a rest day! We went right through a beautiful canyon along route 24. When we arrived at Seth’s house, we were happy to see friends and family sitting on lawn chairs in the yard awaiting our arrival! One of which happened to be Andrew Glick, our friend from Portland. Together Andrew, Jesse gotwals and Indy, Seth’s sister, we’re going backpacking the following day. It was great to see them and along with Jodi, Seth’s mom, we all went out to eat for dinner, which was awesome. 

 
Then we had a real rest day at Seth’s place. Jodi spoiled us with food. We had a great day off the bikes but it was filled with running errands and catching up on things we needed to do, internship stuff etc. We also were also interviewed by Dominique Chew,  working in Com Mar at Goshen college and Rachel Sommers from MCC. 

The last few days have gone quick. Seth’s dad, Bryan, came back from his week long ‘Ride the Rockies’ tour to bike with us for a day. 

 
We took a long break in Eads, Colorado to get out of the sun for a couple of hours and came across this sign. Apparently we have gone half way! Time flys. 

 
We stayed at some wonderful church last night in Sheridan lake and were able to use their kitchen and sleep in the cool air conditioning. We’d bike 107 miles! Feeling accomplished with our century rise. 

We reached Kansas today. 

  
Because of the heat we resorted to getting up at 4am. So worth it. Today we battled a brutal cross wind coming from the north. Unbelievably windy! Riding basically sideways. With so much surface area win our bags and stuff every time a truck would pass the wall of wind that would hit us almost made us come to a halt. It was crazy how much the wind was able to toss us around today. We rolled into Scott city Kansas just beat. We arent going any farther today, 77 miles today a bit under where we wanted to be but still good. We are aiming to get to Kansas City by Sunday evening. From Seth’s house in Colorado Springs we knew we had to do 700 miles in 8 days. It’s pretty rough, especially when the wknd beats you up all day like today. we are hoping for one day of great tailwind to make up the mileage. We will make it to KC! We are determined  

 (sunrise this morning) 

 (It was a hot one yesterday coming across eastern Colorado) 

Lander, Split Rock, Rawlins

According to tradition, this blog post should be prefaced with a heartfelt apology about the long amount of time it has been since we last posted- sorry guys. As far as you all know, we could have perished a long time ago. Well, we haven’t kicked the bucket yet which is only slightly inconvenient in the sense that since we are, in fact, alive, we have a lot of blogging to catch up on.

So we more or less left you guys hanging in Lander, Wyoming, which felt like forever ago when we were going back through the days between now and then. Lander was a really nice town and a breath of fresh air after having been out in “the boonies” for so long. They have this really nice city park that has a bunch of free campsites set up that anyone can use. That night we made our preparations to attempt to get up at 5:30 a.m., a recent trend with which we have a love-hate relationship, We love almost everything about it- getting a lot of biking done early, finishing early, having more time to set up camp and read, etc.. Really the only thing we don’t love about it is the moment when our alarms go off and we all try our hardest to just ignore them and go back to bed. We eventually do roll out of bed which is actually not even usually due to our alarms, it’s because we always drink so darn much water at night. We usually take to communicating in grunts before our morning oatmeal has been consumed. And that’s pretty much how every single morning goes.

Anyways, there are around 125 miles between Rawlins and Lander, with quite literally nothing between the two. So we had to figure out a place to stay somewhere in between. The day before, we had met a woman who worked at the library who told us about a spot that she always camped at between the two that was a good 70+ mile ride. I believe we had our sights set on staying there when we set out in the morning. It ended up not being the most efficient day of riding, however. For starters, it was a mostly uphill battle and we had a slight headwind. One interesting thing is that we have recently begun to cross paths with other riders doing the Transamerica trail heading east to west who left really early. On this day we met up with two groups who we stopped and talked with. The first was a couple from Australia and the second a group of 8 guys who all ended up riding with each other. It’s always nice to talk to people coming the other way because they have just done exactly what you are about to do so you can exchange advice about roads, where to stay, and the like. So while it is useful to talk to other riders, it is also time consuming. So these stops made us feel like we were making even worse time. On top of this, Seth got a flat after we had talked to both groups.

Both groups of riders we passed mentioned that they had stayed in a church in Jeffrey City. One group, I believe it was the Australians, told us that Jeffrey City was this strange old uranium mining town that had gone from a few thousand people to around 50 people in a short span of time. So, due to our feeling tired from the headwind and also since we had made so many stops, we decided to stay in Jeffrey City, Oh, and they mentioned that there were showers at the church and we hadn’t showered in more than a few days at that point.

A few miles outside of Jeffrey City Caleb and I stopped to relieve ourselves quickly. As Caleb and I dismounted our trusty steeds we were immediately swarmed in a cloud of mosquitoes. At first I saw a few and thought to myself that this would have to be quick. Within the next few seconds those few mosquitoes called in the entire horde to feast on their new-found prey, and my legs were absolutely covered in mosquitoes. So I had to wrap things up a little too quickly while smacking myself all over which was consequently a little messy. I got on my bike and pushed off only to discover that my earbuds had gotten themselves conveniently trapped in my brake pads (don’t ask me how), and that the mosquitoes weren’t going to let me get away so easily. So I was simultaneously trying to fend off an entire horde of mosquitoes while also trying to wriggle my earbuds free. I was, needless to say, quite furious. When they were finally free I got back on my bike and pedaled as fast as I could.

It became clear that our mosquito adventures had not come to a close, however, when we rolled into Jeffrey City. Any time we slowed down enough for mosquitoes to catch up with us, we were swarmed again. So when we got to Jeffrey City we headed straight for the church that we were told would host us. This was off the highway on a dirt road, so we struggled to keep up a pace that would keep the mosquitoes at bay. We first tried the front door and then the back, which were of course locked. Well, we weren’t about to be sucked dry by mosquitoes so we headed back into town and went into the first building we could find, a run down old bar. We sat there for a while and contemplated what we should do.

I jokingly suggested we should just try and make it to Rawlins. At that point we were less than pleased with Jeffrey City. The idea caught, however, because anywhere would be better than Jeffrey City at that point. So our adventuresome spirit was aroused and we made preparations for another long haul. We figured we would make it to Rawlins around 9 p.m.. After we set out, however, we were met with a fierce headwind. There is nothing quite like a good strong headwind to crush the adventuresome spirit. So, when we arrived at the camping spot the library lady had told us about earlier, we felt more than obliged to be done for the night.

This camping spot was not supposed to be a camping spot at all, just a point of interest called Split Rock off of the highway. So we had to wait until all the cars were gone to set up camp. That night after dinner the mosquitoes managed to locate us again. It was absolute madness. At one point Caleb was trying to do the dishes and I was just swiging my arms around his head and hands so he wouldn’t be swarmed and he could actually finish the dishes. We literally dove into the tent and were finally able to relax. When we became quiet, we could hear the whiny drone of thousands of frustrated mosquitoes trying to get into the tent.

The next morning we still had quite a few mosquitoes but we got up early again so they weren’t so bad. I was happy to discover when I started to pack up my bike that both of my tires had mysteriously become flat in the middle of the night. I suspect enough mosquitoes tried to get some blood out of them that they became deflated. By this time, however, the mosquitoes had become worse again and so we hurriedly swapped out my tubes while flapping our  arms wildly to fend off the mosquitoes.

That morning I believe we only had 60 miles or so until Rawlins, and we made great time. Throughout this trip we have been wanting to see a good movie, so we had been tracking when Jurassic World would come out. It just so happened that Jurassic World came out that day and since we arrived so early in Rawlins, we decided to see it. We ended up paying to stay at an rv park, but since we hadn’t showered for 6 days or so at this point we were happy to pay. So we showered up and made preparations to go get groceries and see the movie. We also treated ourselves to some Dominoes Pizza!The movie was a thrill to watch and it felt like a rest day even though we had biked 60 miles. It felt great to do something out of the regular routine.

We finally got a chance to use our lights that night as we biked to the campsite from the movie theater. We got back and just collapsed because since the movie got out at 9 it was way past our bedtime. We were all excited because we were so close to Colorado at this point!

Jackson Bush

Cruising!

We are starting to crank up the mileage. We have been doing 70+ miles a day. Some places we have gone through the past few days since Lander are Jeffery City, Split rock, Rawlins, Saratoga, Rand, Grandby, Kremmling. We are staying in Silverthorn tonight just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado. We were so happy to cross the state line two days ago! 

We are planning on getting to Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp two days from now and are really pumped to get to one of our favorite places in the world! Seth and I worked as counsellors there together a few summers ago. And Rmmc has been huge part of Seth’s life. Then we will go take a rest day in Colorado Springs at Seth’s house. There we plan to catch up on writing some more in depth blogs about some of the events of this past week! The stories are never ending it seems. 

But I’ll give you a bit of insight into our life today. What day is it? Today, is June 15 Monday. I never really know what day of the week it is, I always have to ask Seth and Jackson. That is either a sign of truly living in the moment or just being out of the loop. Oh and we started the trip a month ago today. Woo!

Jackson had to wrestle me out of my sleeping bag this morning. We camped in national forest in this valley, in the mountains, by this stream, all factors including a very clear night which led to an unbearably cold morning. We all bundled up and we savoured the warm oatmeal and tea. It was hard to make sandwiches my hands were so cold, and the peanut butter was hardly spreadable and the honey practically frozen. We all were doing jumping jacks to get the blood pumping. I was moaning and groaning the whole morning, for some reason complaining about how cold it was helped. As soon as we started biking we realized Seth was one smart cookie for bringing gloves that extend over the fingers. Jackson and I, unaccustomed to cold Colorado mornings thought our fingers were about to fall off as we rode. We finally came to this part in the road after what felt like forever where the sun was peaking over the mountain. We all stopped and soaked it up and put socks on our hands. After a little while the sun covered the road and after riding in the sun for 5 minutes we had to stop and strip the hundreds of layers that we were wearing, I couldn’t believe the almost instant change in temp. Riding was really smooth today, we had long downhill all the way to Kremmling. Then long gradual climb to Silverthorn. We were going to stay at this campground outside of town about 8 miles before Silverthorn. But when we got there there wasn’t any water.  Well shoot, I guess we will keep biking. From the map we have it looked like there was some camping in Frisco. We tried contacting some warmshowers hosts in Frisco, but that didn’t work out. As we rolled into Silverthorn we stopped at a gas station to go to the bathroom. Seth and I were just sitting on the curb and I saw a guy carrying a bike wheel, I gave him a smile and he came over to talk with us. Kirt, our hero. Seth and I realized later that we probably looked like death just sitting exhausted on the sidewalk of the gas station. Kirt, also a biker, invited us over to stay at his place, which was literally just accross the street, but not before he bought us all cold drinks. He grilled us up some pork and chicken breasts and we ate sweet corn, asparagus and honeydew melon. Kirt has been very kind and generous to us this evening. Would you invite three strangers who you meet at a gas station over to your house?  Also he was the first person we have met that when we told him we went to Goshen college he stopped for a few seconds to think then said “oh yeah, Mennonites right?”. Turns out one of his good friends from when he lived in Atlanta was a Goshen alum, Nate Osborne. Kirt is extremely bright, and comes across as very respectable with great wisdom. We were glad to be so fortunate to meet him and appreciate his on the spot generosity! 

Hoosier pass tomorrow, but not before some pancakes!! 

Finding a Rhythm 

We have been on the road for just over three weeks now. And we have been cherishing our rest days. Our time at Jenny lake was absolutely amazing and we had a very enjoyable day off the bikes. We decided to get into a new rhythm and set the alarms for 5am, ouch. But soo worth trying to ride early and beat some of the winds. We have also been making lunches and doing other things before we go to bed so we can get on the read asap in the morning. Riding along the eastern range of the Tetons was some of the most beautiful riding of our trip! With the early start, we got to watch the sun continue to rise and the transition of the peaks from a pinkish color to their white rocky cops. We were constantly looking back throughout the morning as we rode east. 

  
Oh I almost forgot! We had an unexpected visit from an animal in the middle of the night our second night at Jenny lake. Jackson and I were in the tent and see was in his hammock as usual. Around 2am Jackson nudged me awake and told me there was something in the camp. We froze. Neither of us dared to breathe. After being taught about all the bear rules by Seth we were on high alert. As we laid there listening and sweating, I kept thinking “please go away , please go away” and had the image of a bear slashing through the tent’s walls and attacking us stuffed in our sleeping bags something similar to a bear’s version of pigs in a blanket. Jackson was thinking the whole time “please let there not be food in the tent, I hope we don’t have any food in here”. We try to be really hydrated when we go to bed so we usually wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, Rather than cramping up. So naturally as the animal is sniffing and breathing right next to jacksons side of the tent we are trying to hold extremely still with bursting bladders. I was glad Jackson was between me and the beast! Jackson was sure the sounds we were hearing was a bear clawing through our panniers and the end of our trip was upon us. After what seemed an eternity we scrambled out of the tent to relieve ourselves before diving back into the protection of the tent, both glad that we weren’t alone like Seth over in his hammock over yonder. Well turns out the night does funny things with the imagination and Seth informed us it was just an elk grazing close by.

   Probably this elk, who came back in the morning when we were packing up to leave
  
  
Ok back to the biking. We were trying to get to Dubois Wyoming. Unfortunately we had done about 30 miles when Jackson was starting to really feel bad. Head cold and nausea. He had been feeling bad during the rest day and we decided that it would be best for him to hitchhike to Dubois and Seth and I would meet him there. It was going to be a big day and we didn’t want him to try to push through it, and feel even worse the next day. So we flagged down a truck and a young man heading towards Dubois said he’d be happy to take Jackson. So we threw in his bike and I snuck my rear panniers onto the bed too. Haha! Seth and I had a really solid day of riding, we went over the togwotee pass, the second tallest on the transam route, got up to about 9600ft. Seth was a tank, I was breathing hard and I had half my gear! There were some great views of the Teton range in the distance. Crossing the continental divide I posed for a picture holding up my bike. I teased Seth that my bike was higher than his! It was awesome to ride along and see snow still on the ground.
After a long uphil grind we were expecting to enjoy the steep downhill. But of course the wind was ripping up he valley on the otherside, preventing us from getting our speed prs. We fought the wind all afternoon on the downhill towards dubois. At one point we stopped to consult the map on how much further, and of course discovered that the river that runs along the valley we were following was called wind river. Name was very fitting. Fortunately with the early start we still rolled into Dubois around 4pm. Jackson had met a guy named Steve at the public library while he was waiting for us and Steve invited us to camp in his backyard and shower at his place. We hung out a bit with Steve, Matt and Noah in the evening. Steve had a record collection like none other. I’ve only seen more records at the records store in Goshen ignition garage. His guy knew music! As we lay in the tent reading and relaxing before bed we listened to the music coming from Steves house. I don’t know if it was the records or the speakers but it really sounded like here was a band playing right next to us, the quality was amazing. 
Today we woke up early again and hit the road by 7. We had for the first time a slight downhill and a small breeze at our back. For the first couple hours we were just cruising at 18-20 miles an hour! As the morning wore on we were happy we were making great time. It was so beautiful going thru this Wyoming country. We saw large red and white layered sandstone hills and rolling prairies, along with many prong horned antelope. It was fun to see a herd of them running thru the prairie, legs springing as the went. Had some rolling hills along the way but they weren’t bad at all. We made it to Lander, Wyoming in record time arriving around 1:30pm after a 75 mile day. We treated ourselves to subway and are now hiding from the rain in the public library. We always try to seek out libraries. 
 We often think back to Mackenzie pass when we weren’t nearly in the shape we we’re in now and how terrible that was. When something is going bad Jackson likes to bring up the game ‘would you rather’. It pretty halarious and takes the edge off when we are all frustrated. For example, after riding into a headwind “would you rather ride for 10 miles with strong headwind or do Mackenzie pass?” Or “earwig morning in brogan or Mackenzie pass?” Anyways it helps put things into perspective and remind us of the difficulty we had with Mackenzie mentally and physically. Of course now we would do just fine on Mackenzie pass. 
Tonight we are going to run to the grocery store pick us some supplies for a couple days and then go set up camp at the city park. Heading to Jefferson City and then on towards Rawlins. 

Grand Teton National Park and the Rest Day

On the morning of Sunday the 7th we had a delicious breakfast courtesy of Peggie and Glen, complete with a glorious view of the Tetons. We got off to a bit of a late start because our stomachs were so full of delicious food. We said goodbye To Patty and Glen and got on the road. We were in a valley heading directly east towards the Tetons, which was absolutely stunning. The closer we got to them, the more magnificent they seemed. The grand Teton in particular is stunning from the west.

We went through Driggs and got on a bike path for about 9 miles south to Victor. We stopped in Victor to eat some of the delicious lunches that Peggie packed for us. Coming from eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches every day for lunch, these lunches, complete with wraps, cherries, grapes, nuts, macaroni salad, and a cookie, were a veritable feast. Afterwards we got back on the road and began climbing up Teton Pass. This was by far the steepest climb we have ever done. I’m still not sure whether I like to climb on a steep grade or not. This grade was 10%, meaning that for every 10 feet we went on the road we climbed a foot. That may not seem like much but it is actually a steep climb! Even in my lowest granny gear, my muscles were burning. I ended up doing most of the climb out of the saddle, standing on my pedals, and just grinding away. In my opinion, there is no better time to listen to music than during a climb, because it takes a lot of motivation to work so hard and turn around to realize you’ve only gone 100 feet. Partway up the climb we crossed into Wyoming, which was honestly kind of a relief. While we had great hosts in Idaho, we just didn’t have great days of riding, with headwinds, dirt roads, etc.

image

When we got to the top of the pass we were all pretty drenched in sweat. We were, however, rewarded with a stunning view of the Jackson Hole valley below. The surrounding thick pine forest was a sight for sore eyes after looking at nothing but sagebrush for a while.

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There we met two recreational riders who told us that there was a bike path on the descent. This was great news, because it meant we wouldn’t have to deal with crazy RV drivers flying by us while we’re cruising along at a good 30 mph. Unfortunately the bike path had a lot of sharp twists and turns so we had to ride our brakes a lot on the way down, which pretty much kills the fun of the descent unfortunately. It was, however, more enjoyable than the climb of course.

From there we made our way to Jackson, Wyoming. It was a nice change to be in a bigger town, Jackson has a population of around 9,000 I believe. Believe me, when you’ve been rolling through dinky towns in southern Idaho every 50 miles or so with a whopping 100 residents (including livestock), it is quite refreshing to feel like you’re back in civilization. We were planning on taking a rest day in Grand Teton National Park so we went to a local grocery store to stock up on food. From Jackson we only had 23 miles left to go to get to the campground we wanted to camp at by Jenny Lake. This campground is apparently really competitive to get into. However, Seth had heard from Neal Friesen and another source that there are Hiker/Biker dedicated sites at this campground that almost never fill up so we would definitely be able to have a spot. When we checked at the park visitor center in Jackson, however, the clowns at the front desk had never heard of such a thing. “There are hiker/biker rates, but no designated campsites that I’ve heard of” they all said.

Well that put us in quite the conundrum. We knew that the campsite filled up quick, but no one seemed to be able to get a hold of them to check whether it had filled up or not. So we decided to just risk it and head to the campsite anyways. If the campsite was full when we got there then we would have to turn around to find someplace else to camp. So we took off, knowing full well that we probably weren’t going to get a spot at Jenny Lake. Caleb and I were pretty tired from the climb, but sly dog Seth had some energy up his sleeve, so he took off to race to Jenny Lake to see if he could get a campsite for us. So Caleb and I took one for the team and hung back while Seth sped off into the distance.

There is a bike path from Jackson all the way until Jenny Lake, so we didn’t have to deal with all those pesky cars that are always on the roads.

wpid-wp-1433982063257.jpeg (bike path)

The ride from Jackson to Jenny Lake was simply breathtaking. We were riding north, with the setting sun and the Tetons to our left. The incredible thing about the Tetons is that they have no foothills, they just jut up out of nowhere. So we biked right alongside these beautiful, jagged peaks partially covered in snow as the sun was setting behind them, which made for a breathtaking view.

wpid-wp-1433981990025.jpeg (sun setting behind the Tetons)

I kept running off the bike path into the sagebrush because I was looking at the Tetons and not the road. Along the way we tried to call the campground again and were granted the information that the campground wasn’t full yet. So we texted Seth to say godspeed!

We arrived at the campsite to find out that, sure enough, there actually are designated hiker/biker campsite spots. This could mean one of two things. Either everyone we talked to at the park service had no clue about what they were doing, or those hiker/biker sites are part of some larger conspiracy that no one in the park service may talk about. There is a reason the campsite is so popular, Jenny Lake lies right at the bottom of the mountains and the campsite offers some spectacular views of the peaks. Anyways, we set up camp, made dinner, and went to bed as fast as we possibly could. That is, of course, not without throwing more or less everything that we own that could come remotely close to attracting a bear into a bear box and doing several bear dances/rituals/chants to keep the bears away from our campsite. We were all so excited for our rest day the next day!

The ancient rituals seemed to have helped, because in the morning our camp appeared to be untouched. We got up semi early in order to snatch up a regular campsite that someone was leaving because it was cheaper for us to stay in a regular site (the hiker/biker rate is $10 per head while a campsite is $24 so you do the math). So there we were, three vultures vigilantly stalking the campground looking for any signs of people packing up and leaving. We eventually found a site that hadn’t been claimed yet and I stood watch, ready to do battle with anyone who tried to claim our site. After moving camp we set out to do a little hike around Jenny Lake. Unfortunately anything you do in a national park like that requires covering a lot of distance, and we weren’t exactly keen on hopping on our bikes on our rest day.

Anyways, I had woken up with a headache which began to worsen as we were hiking. I was also feeling completely devoid of energy, light-headed, and my body ached. So unfortunately I just headed back to camp without having done much hiking. Once I got back to camp it was all I could do to just blow up my air mattress and lie down in a shady spot to fall asleep. I could tell I was fighting something and my body needed rest. I ended up sleeping on and off from 1 until 6. During this time Caleb hung out at the lake while Seth completed the hike to see the hidden falls. wpid-20150608_124626.jpg (hidden falls)

While I was disappointed at not exploring the park more, my body clearly needed the rest. I felt a lot better in the evening and was even able to go to sleep at a regular time. My plan was to get properly drugged up on cold meds and try to bike in the morning. I believe Caleb will be posting on how that went.

Jackson Bush

Battling the Winds of Idaho

We woke up in Arco and went to the story to get some groceries for the day since we hadn’t the night before. We had to make our peanut butter and honey sandwiches for the day before we left town, so we put our stuff down next to the top of a submarine in one of the parks. We left town with high hopes for the day as the sun shown before us. An hour or so in the ride we stopped at a rest stop for a break and to reapply sunscreen. We chatted with some folks and they were all amazed at our trip. We quickly got back on the road and headed out into the prairie. Today there wasn’t much to look at. All the beautiful mountains were behind us and we were surrounded by sage brush. Off in the distance we could see two buttes which were our only landmarks for the day. Quickly, this day became a monotonous struggle for distance ad we encountered a stiff headwind. About the only interesting thing about his part is that we went past the Idaho National Laboratory way out in the middle of nowhere. We struggle and cursed against the wind and prayed for relief. There was none to be found.

We finally made it to Idaho Falls where we had contacted a Warmshowers host for the night. First we looked for a bike shop, so Caleb could get another pair of bike shorts, and I could get my brakes fixed. Oh yeah… I had been riding with no rear brakes since I fixed my flat outside of Boise… The bike shop we found was pretty sweet. They had tons of awesome bikes out front and great workers. A woman helped me fix my bike by showing me that I had put my wheel on crooked which was causing my brakes to rub. Then she also readjusted my brakes because I had fiddled with them and messed up everything. She was super helpful and gave me a bunch of bike mechanic advise that I hopefully won’t have to use again on this trip. After hanging out at the public library for a bit, we headed southeast of town to the Black family residence. Jonathan Black and his family were gracious enough to feed us and let us stay with them for the night. We were Jonathan’s first Warmshowers group because he had just signed up to host. He was planning on using it for his own upcoming trip has he mountain biked along the Continental Divide with some of his friends. We had an amazing night of homemade pizza and chilling in their hot tub as we swapped stories of backpacking and talking about different gear options for our trips. We went to bed with full bellies and clean bodies. What bliss.

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Now in Arco we had done some more changing of our route. We tried to figure out how we were going to make it to Yellowstone in the least amount of days possible. Our route just wasn’t coming together the way we wanted it to. The towns in Idaho were not at good distances for us to ride. After looking at what we could even do in Yellowstone, we decided to instead go to Grand Teton National Park and spend our rest day there. GTNP looked much more biker friendly and we could then stay with my Great Aunt and Uncle, Peggy and Glen! So we left Idaho Falls in pursuit of Driggs which was on the western side of the Tetons.

We attempted to trust Google Maps again on how to get there. That was a mistake. We were doing find until we got to the base of a large hill and realized that the road over the hill was dirt. We were not about to do that again. Luckily, a woman in a SUV saw us looking around and pulled over to talk to us. Her family were big bikers and she knew the way we were trying to go was solid dirt for a long time. We decided to make our way north around these hills through Rexburg, ID. Unfortunately this made our 75 mile day into a 90 mile day. We were not pleased. The day was looking great until we got north of Rexburg and started heading east. A large storm front had moved up from the south and was making its way to cut us off. We also had to battle huge cross winds.

Now let me tell you something about the wind. I hate it. Really, the wing ruins of makes worse almost every outdoor activity that I enjoy. Ultimate Frisbee? No way. Volleyball? Nada. Hiking? Worse. Climbing? Nope. Cycling? Get out of town! After so many days of battling the wind in Idaho, I was sick of it!

We continued to push and push through these strong gusts as the day went on. We debated calling it and getting a ride from my family for a while, but it wasn’t until we saw lightning ahead that we made the call. Peggy and Glen were got us in there cars and we loaded up our bikes into their trailer and went by those last couple of miles of the road in the car. Looking at the road we were thankful we had called them because the last couple of miles were all on dirt and up some muddy hills from the rain. Our bikes got a bit muddy from the ride, but I had some fun spraying them off once we got to their house.

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Peggy and Glen’s house sits among the base of a small mountain range across the valley from the Tetons. The view from their living room was to die for. I really enjoyed the time we got to spend with them because I usually only see them at my mom’s side family reunions every three years. We just had one last summer and it was the first one where I was more of an “adult”. Now that I’m older I can actually connect with my extended family and build better relationships with them. This chance to spend an evening with them meant a lot to me and made me realize more and more how much I appreciate my family, intimidate and extended.

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-Seth

Updates

Hello everyone! We’re sorry for the confusion and the delays in posting. All of the posts should now be finished and in order, complete with some pictures as well. Enjoy and thanks for following!

Boise paradise, Running Bear, Crators of the Moon, free BBQ

After our quite adventurous days from Bakers city, we enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of Karen Miller and Sean Hassinger, some of our family friends who also attend Little Eden camp with us the same week in July every year. I’m bummed that I’ll be missing the fun in northern Michigan this year. We enjoyed sleeping in and getting up and making breakfast and relaxing. We should have wrote some blog updates while we were there but we were all feeling super lazy and just wanted to enjoy our vacation at the Millers. With a 9 year old Levi and two 6 year old twin boys, Seth and Isaac, there was always entertainment for us to enjoy and be a part of. Karen drove us around Boise during the early afternoon and gave us the grand tour. It was only after I sat in the front seat and we started driving down the long hill which there house rests on, when I realized how much I missed riding in cars, it just makes transportation so easy! You are all spoiled! We visited the statehouse downtown, saw the Rosa Parks memorial and of course went on our sticker hunt. Karen took us out to eat at Bittercreek Brewery, and I had the most amazing Rueban sandwich, the meat, the house sauerkraut, the sauce, the crispy bread, ahh my mouth is watering as I write this. When we got back to the house, Seth and Jackson went for afternoon naps but I couldn’t pass up swimming in the neighbors pool with Levi. Swimming and just messing around in the pool was a big highlight for me. Levi and I went to jump on the trampoline but after about 5 mins I realized that this was a terrible activity for a recovery day as my legs became jello. We enjoyed some delicious haystacks and ice cream for dinner. The boys had fun teasing Jackson about his girlfriend Emma. Another big highlight for me is that Karen let me borrow her thermarest sleeping pad! The last couple nights have been way better than the glorified yoga mat I was using. Also I gave her about 7 pounds of stuff that I was carrying but didn’t need. I had to say goodbye to my beloved jeans, unfortunately.
After a wonderful nights rest the millers loaded us up with Cliff bars and Gatorade and we were on our way. Beginning back up on the bike was not easy for me, it was a bit of a struggle to leave the relaxing vacation off biking we were enjoying. That and I was chaffing pretty bad, but that has gotten better now thanks to Chamois Butt’r and Button Hole, both great products with great names, high recommendations to both. It took us what seemed like a long time to get through the city. Well we had to stop at the Wilco to pick up some groceries too. Because we visit so many grocery stores and buy many of the same products we now know good deals or bad prices when we see them. We also realized that buying our beloved gummy bears in bulk is way cheaper! So we buy gummy by the pound, obviously. I’m afraid that we will all get cavities.

We had a lot of issues with Seth’s rear wheel in the early afternoon, which made for a long day. The route to get to where we wanted to go was another toss up. We had to choose between going over 12 miles of dirt roads or and extra 10 miles on paved to avoid it. We chose the dirt. It was beautiful scenery and only a little bit of climbing. What we weren’t expecting were the multiple climbs after we got back on the pavement. Our legs were shot when we rolled into Running Bear RV campground around 7pm.

  (Running Bear RV Camp, Seth)

The days just start blending together, its fun for us all to remember back to the different parts of the trip we have already experienced. Yesterday was probably the most typical day of the trip. Here’s what yesterday looked like:
7am Alarm. I hit snooze. Jackson and I groan and roll over. Cold outside sleeping bags. Oatmeal. Tea. Oranges. make Peanutbutterhoney sandwiches. Make Gatorade. Change into gear. Pack panniers. Sunscreen up. Roll out. 3 mile dirt road back to highway 20. Take off jackets. Morning Climb. No descent. Plains. Cliffbars, Gummies, Sandwiches. Eating/drinking constantly. Stop at least once and hour for brief rest. Larger midday rest in Fairfield ID under shade at gas station. Afternoon music session. Slight Headwind. 70miles, 5.5 hours. Butt Feels good. Get to free camping at Haspur Hatchery. Pasta dinner. Cookies. Read. Journal. Watch sunset. Sleep.
  (Seth and Jackson at our camp site at Hayspur Hatchery, ID)
Right now was are all posting our blogs from the community Library here in Arco, where we are staying tonight. We had a rough headwind today, all day, non stop. It was such a mental game, and I struggled. A large part of the ride today was large open landscape, where you can see the cars on the same road as you way in the distance. That makes days like today a bit overwhelming for me, and I have to remind myself to take it one pedal at a time, small goals. This afternoon was a grind! Nevertheless, we were able to bike through Craters of the Moon, a national monument! The landscape was just gorgeous, we were out in the middle of nowhere riding along the lava fields for miles. Just Got word that there is a free BBQ in the city Park tonight!!! Woohoo!!

  (My view from the tent last evening while reading)
We are headed to Idaho Falls tomorrow and then on to Driggs ID, to visit some of Seth’s Family. Hope everyone is enjoying their summers. Can’t believe it’s June already! Wow.

  (Greg took this after the long climb out of Mt. Vernon/Prairie City area. I kept swerving by accident while going up because I kept trying to look over my shoulder at the spectacular view. I took some time at the top to marvel at the sight.)

Ok, update on the BBQ. Basically the whole populatikn was in the city park. Apparently the local cable company does this annual BBQ for the townspeople. We had no dinner plans before we were invited and so we were thrilled. burgers and hotdogs and pasta salad.  We met our warmshowers contact at the BBQ a guy who goes by the name Scar. Ha don’t worry he’s been very hospitable and we are camping on his property for the night. 

The Day From Hell and The Long Haul to Boise

After a great time spent in Baker City with Will and Julie we were a little reluctant to get back on the road. It seems as if it is always more difficult to get on the road when we get to sleep inside and don’t have to fix our own food. I think it’s because subconsciously we are thinking- hey wait, we’ve got a good thing going here, why on earth are we leaving to go out into the middle of nowhere again?

I think I can speak for all of us in saying that the morning did not start off well. In Baker City we decided to divert off of the Transamerica and head southeast through Boise instead of going all the way up to Missoula. This, however, meant that we had to backtrack on highway 7 for a while before we could get on 245 to head toward Boise. I know we were all a little resentful of the fact that we were going back the way that we had come into Baker City. It was also overcast, sprinkling, and we had a headwind. So it was more or less the prefect recipe to put us all into bad moods coming out of Baker City.

Since we were diverting off the Transamerica, we didn’t have our special little maps that tell us where to go and where everything is. At first we were all kind of excited about getting off the Transamerica, because it felt a little more adventurous to be off such a well-traveled route. We simply put our trust in Google maps to guide us through to to our destination- a little RV park in Brogan, Oregon. Little did we know, however, that Google maps was to betray our trust and lead us through easily the worst day of our trip so far- the day I have taken to calling “The Day From Hell” ever since.

After backtracking on highway 7 we finally got on 245 which was more sheltered from the wind. If I remember correctly we began a climb almost right off the bat. It wasn’t a huge climb and we finished it relatively quickly. By this point the sprinkling had subsided. Following the ascent we had probably the most enjoyable descent we have had to date. It was relatively steep with a lot of twists and turns to wind around. There is nothing quite like flying around a turn at 30 mph to give you an adrenaline rush. Sadly, this was to be the only truly enjoyable part of the entire ride.

It looked as if Google maps had figured out a nice little shortcut for us, saving us a good chunk of mileage by taking us on some back roads. However, as we were riding toward our nice little shortcut a farmer stopped us on his 4-wheeler. “There ain’t nothin’ that way but dirt roads” he said. As he spoke we all noted the he had literally one tooth. As Seth went to check the route on his phone he cracked a joke saying something along the lines of “Yeah ask that thing, it’ll tell you the truth. I wouldn’t know, I’ve only lived here for 30 years”. You can bet Caleb and I had a good laugh at that one. As the farmer motored off we had a decision to make. We could either turn our butts around, get back on 245 and do a good 20 mile detour to avoid the dirt roads, or we could plow on and put up with some dirt roads, which aren’t exactly the most pleasant to ride on. In the end, our adventuresome spirit was our downfall. It couldn’t be that long on dirt roads, could it?

Oh yes it could. Sure enough when we got to Bridgeport we came to a fork in the road, and both of the roads were dirt. We took one and started our dirt road journey. Almost immediately after getting on that road we started to climb. At this point we have gotten pretty used to climbing. You really can’t ride in the pacific northwest without doing some big climbs. In fact up until this point it seemed as if we had a big climb just about every day. Climbing on loose gravel and dirt, however, is an entirely different ballgame, as we soon learned. The hill was steep and long, and our tires were constantly slipping in the gravel.  

 This made the going extremely slow and frustrating. We all ended up walking our bikes for a significant portion of the hill. I can clearly remember standing on my pedals and chanting a particularly obscene mantra over and over again as I maintained a painstakingly slow pace up the hill. The mantra was along the lines of “this is the worst”, but with an obscenity or two thrown in there for good measure.

One of the best things about a climb is the downhill you are rewarded with on the other side. Riding in loose gravel and dirt, however, all but completely takes this reward away. The faster we went on the downhill, the more dangerous it was in terms of wiping out. So we were forced to ride our brakes every time we had a downhill. After the hill we were truly in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to keep us company but cattle and miles and miles of rolling hills covered in sagebrush. If we all weren’t in such a foul mood it would have been quite beautiful.  

 After riding for a while over the rolling hills two farmers in a pickup truck stopped us to inquire as to what on earth we were doing out there. They then informed us that we had a good 15 or more miles left on dirt roads. This was, or course, the information we had been expecting but dreading to hear. The roads had worsened considerably since the start, going from packed dirt and loose gravel to larger rocks and dried, cracked mud.

At one point we had been looking for a right turn for a long time until we realized that we must have missed our turn. How on earth did we miss our turn, we wondered out loud, there is nothing out here but sagebrush so we surely would have seen if there was a fork in the road. So we turned around and began looking for the turn that we missed. Sure enough, we found something that could be called a road if you widened your definition of road to include “cow-path”.  

 And sure enough, that was the “road” that google maps wanted us to take. It was quite literally two ruts of dried mud with a generous helping of large rocks thrown into the mix. It was also a slight downhill, so there was really nothing to do but stand on our pedals so our delicate hineys wouldn’t be beaten to death and ride our brakes for a few miles. By the end of that horrific path all of our hands were sore from gripping the brakes so long.

  
(Feeling defeated)

After the cow path, we got onto a better dirt road and rode for another 7 or 8 miles or so before we finally made it out of our dirt road nightmare. When we finally got to paved road Seth and I kissed the pavement and thanked god that we had escaped certain death out in the eastern Oregon desert, only slighly kidding. From there it was only 2 miles to Brogan.

We rolled into the bustling metropolis of Brogan (population 90) around 6 and arrived at the biggest dump of an RV park I have ever seen. It was, however, only 7.50 for us to throw up a tent and we were so tired that we didn’t care one bit. We showered in the less than satisfactory facilities, made dinner, and promptly crashed for the night.

I forgot to mention that The Day From Hell was a package deal- it also came equipped with The Morning From Hell the following morning. We were planning on doing a long haul this day, 90+ miles all the way to Boise.

We all woke up to discover that we had unwittingly and unknowingly camped on a veritable earwig infestation of some sort. Maybe the Brogan RV park also doubled as an earwig farm or something. We’ll never know. Earwigs, it turns out, love to crawl into dark, moist spaces. So we soon discovered that we had earwigs in every single dark, moist space that they could possibly get into in all of our belongings. For Seth, unfortunately, that meant into his sleeping bag with him. Luckily those nasty sneaks weren’t able to get into the tent with Caleb and I. After discovering this predicament we proceeded to shake out every single hiding place these earwigs had discovered in our belongings. This meant emptying and shaking out our panniers, blowing them out of the tent sleeves, etc.  

 (Blowing earwigs out of the tent sleeves)

 I had left my cycling shorts out overnight on my bike against a tree, and when I picked them up there were at least 50 earwigs underneath, and shaking my cycling shorts out rewarded me with a shower of at least 30 more. So we made breakfast and packed up camp as fast as we possibly could, because we just wanted to put as much distance between us and the brogan rv park as we possibly could. As we were leaving I put on my helmet and could literally see earwigs dropping from it right in front of my face. So there we all were, completely packed up and ready to get out of brogan and I just stood there smacking my helmet as hard as I could and watching earwigs fall from the cracks between the styrofoam and the plastic. Finally we got off, hoping we weren’t bringing too many stowaway earwigs with us. 

We were blessed with an almost completely windless morning and flat terrain, so we were able to make great time. Aside from the morning the day was relatively uneventful. After around 40 miles or so we finally crossed into Idaho! 

  It was exciting to have crossed our first state. We stopped and had lunch in a park in Parma around one having done about 50 miles or so. At that point it had started to get pretty blazing hot, and as we were leaving the park we stuck our heads in some sprinklers. At around 3 we stopped at a gas station after we crossed I-84 to get in the shade because it was in the lower 90s. It felt amazing to just sit in the AC, buy some cold drinks, and read for a while as we waited for it to cool off outside. We were still feeling pretty good and had put in a good 70 miles. 

We got back on the road around 4:15 after a quality break. The sun had gone behind some clouds as we headed out. Unfortunately that didn’t last long and so our last 25 miles were pretty outrageously hot. We were just gobbling down clif bars and drenching ourselves in water to grind out our remaining miles. I figured out I had a slow leak in my tire and so we had to stop twice for me to pump it up. the people we were staying with, the millers, live quite a ways up into some ridges north of Boise. While this gives some beautiful views of the city, it made for a brutal finish to such a long day. When we finally reached our destination we all just collapsed onto the millers lawn and layed there for a while. Their young boys of course proceeded to try to lasso us with a rope they had lying close by. Our hospitable hosts fed us not one but two dinners and we then marched ourselves off to bed. 
Sorry for thedelay in finishing the update! 

Jackson Bush

Baker City or Bust!

We’ve been busy kicking our pace up a notch, so we haven’t updated you all recently. Be thankful we even have a blog! 

We left the Bike Inn Guesthouse in Mt. Vernon last Thursday knowing that we would have a tough day ahead of us. There were three passes between us and the next town, Baker City. Dick left before any of us were awake, but the rest of  us had a slow start to the day. Shane and Chris left a bit before we did, but we caught them in the small town of Prinville, which was at the base of the first pass. The four of us decided to continue on and tackle the first pass. Jackson and I put on some tunes and slowly made our way to the top. Sadly, Greg was having some front tire issues which slowed him and Caleb. Once they got to the top they were pretty tired and Greg was frustrated with his small hand pump. Luckily the one we had could get his tube up to a higher pressure. After restocking our furnaces, we cruised down the mountains and prepared for the second pass. At this point we were a bit low on water, but luckily we had heard at the Bike Inn that there was a pipe with water directly from a natural spring that we could refill at. Once we found it we were delighted at getting cold mountain water. We were a little skeptical of if we had the correct pipe, but a Department of Transportation truck stopped next to us and the driver filled up his own bottle, so we figured it was safe. 

The second pass was thankfully much easier, but by the time we made the summit we were all tired. Thankfully the top was in National Forest, so we just found a dirt road to pull off and camp. Camp was quickly set up and we ate as soon as we could. We were all ready to go to bed. As it got dark and we were all in our sleeping bags I heard a call from the tent. “I’m still hungry!” I realized that I too was hungry, but didn’t really want to get out of my hammock. “I’ll get the summer sausage and cheese if you cut it”, said Jackson. I wasn’t about to miss out on this, so got up and helped Jackson get the food from the bear bag. Later we invented Greg into the tent and we all broke one of the most important rule of camping. No eating in the tent! We didn’t care, and we ate all of our food to go to bed satisfied. 

The next morning we took off relatively early. The final pass was easier than the first two, and we filled up our waters at a welcoming elderly couple’s house  at the bottom. The ride towards Baker City was pretty uneventful. We stopped at a lake for lunch and called a Warmshowers contact in the city. They already had a person staying there, but would welcome us into their home as well. Once we got into town we hung out at the library and used the Internet to plan the next couple of days. Jackson and I figured out that it would be shorter for us to swing through Boise on our way towards Wyoming instead of heading towards Missoula on the Trans Am. Because of our late start and the bike delays we needed to make up some time so we can make it to Kansas City by June 30th for convention. Sadly this means we had to leave Greg. 

We picked up some groceries and headed to Will and Julie’s house, our Warmshowers hosts. When we got there we learned that Dick was the other guest. He had biked all three passes in one day! Will and Julie were wonderful hosts. We had a huge dinner and sat around taking until it got dark. Will used to race time trials and showed us his modest, but impressive, collection of bikes and equipment.  

 In the morning, Julie made us pancakes, eggs, and bacon to fuel us up for our ride. Greg was taking a rest day to hang out with his cousin, so we parted ways in the morning. Thanks for being a great riding companion Greg. We wish you luck on the rest of your ride, and we hope to meet up again!

-Seth

 (The gang at will and Julie’s minus Dick)