Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saturday July 11

What a difference a soft bed makes to a 51 year old body. Thanks again gang from the lab! We took our time leaving the comfortable beds behind. The strategy was to visit the bike shop on the way out of town as we didn’t get around to doing it yesterday. At 10:00 we pulled away from the Quality Inn and within 10 minutes we’d found the bike shop. That’s pretty good for us as we usually go around in circles when trying to locate something in a larger town. The bike shop was a little disappointing as they didn’t have the tire I was hoping to purchase. The rear tire on the tandem is showing significant wear as it is now pretty much bald. The front tire still has some miles remaining so I’ve decided to rotate the tires to get just a few more miles before tossing them. They were purchased this spring and now have just over 2000 miles on them. I wasn’t expecting to have to replace them in the middle of the trip. Oh well! We’ll see if we can find a better bike shop in Pueblo Colorado when we get there in just over a week.

We left the bike shop and within 5 minutes were pedaling our bikes East down I-80. This is by far the biggest road we’ve ridden as it is a divided interstate with 2 lanes in each direction. We’ve ridden plenty of roads that have carried more traffic though. I-80 was mostly truck traffic. We’ve noticed that the drivers in Wyoming are more courteous to bicyclists than in any other state. This includes the the semi-truck drivers who almost always moved over to the far lane when passing us even though we had an 8 foot shoulder of our own and we usually rode as far to the right as possible. Montana has had the most aggressive drivers to date. Another interesting side note is the number of people in Montana who drive pickups. It seemed like 3 out of every 4 vehicles that passed us was a pickup. Now back to today. We rode 20 miles on I-80 before leavi ng the interstate behind. While riding I-80 we were headed due East. When we left the interstate we immediately changed direction to due South. While pedaling east, we had a light tailwind that came from the Southwest. Once we started riding south, the wind picked up again and became oppressive as it so often does here in Wyoming. But we had only 20 or so miles left to finish our ride for the day.

The final 20 miles took us nearly 3 hours but there was no hurry to finish. Pulled into Saratoga to discover a tourist community nestled amongst the dry semi-arid hills. They actually had some trees as the Platte River bisects the town. Coming into town there was nothing but sagebrush and the occasional flattened rattlesnake or rabbit on the side of the road. The town has some similarities to an old west settiing but it’s inconsistent. Our late lunch/early dinner was taken at JW Hugus. Donna and I both had burgers and Lewis had chicken tenders. The food was good and the staff was friendly.

We found out about the town pool and the free hotsprings located just behind the pool, so that’s where we headed next. After standing around watching and listening to the locals, Donna and I decided to use the free showers while Lewis opted to take advantage of the pool. So he paid $1 and swam for the better part of an hour and a half while we watched from the deck for free. We promised to swim with him tomorrow as we are planning to take the day off Sunday and just hang around Saratoga. The skies that had been partly cloudy all day (86 degrees)began showin signs of rain so we rounded up Lewis and headed for the campground located a mile outside of town. We had already passed it on our way in so this was just a bit of backtracking. We pedaled the 2 miles and managed to get everything set up before the rain started. And just like that the rain stopped. This kind of rain we can handle!

That is about it for now but I have a feeling that Donna is finally going to put her 2 cents worth into this blog. I’ve been after her since the first week to just throw in a comment so people could get an idea of what was going through her head. Since Sunday will be a day off it just might happen. I’m signing off for now and won’t be reporting anything again until the end of the day on Monday. Sayonara!

My First Trimester (by Donna)

I’ve had lots of time to think on the bike, and writing my thoughts down to share with my friends and family is long overdo. Let me start from the beginning. This trip has had some challenges way before we hit the road. (What are you looking for this time, Alan?) I promised to at least try it and told everyone I was supporting Alan’s dream. Alan promised me a kiss every day of the trip, and Lewis gets a penny a mile. For myself, I haven’t had a challenge of this magnitude since I had Lewis!

The “incident” in Eugene was an eye opener. I still think of some of my things that were stolen in exchange for what we learned. “They’re just things” Alan said. I realize now that you can’t put a price on what we’re experiencing during this adventure, including family bonding and personal growth (while Alan shrinks!).

Every day is a plesant trip down memory lane for me; the smell of fresh cut hay and livestock (my nose still knows the difference between dairy and beef cows) the sound of the Meadow Lark, the smell of the big tree we used to have behind our house, popping tar bubbles, thunderstorms, Indan fried bread almost as good as Grandma’s, and our neighbor’s bull that used to scare Dad on his electric wheel chair adventures. During my practice drives Dad used to tell me “Look at it. Don’t drive at it”. I still do this on the bike, and have somehow managed to stay out of the rivers and ravines.

The first part of the trip was a mental and physical adjustment for me. I was sore most of the time and exhausted. Now I’m sore some of the time and passing Alan on the inclines (I wonder if this gives him goose bumps) unless Lewis wants to race. The tent seems like home now—home is where the heart is—so I’m sleeping better at night. The only thing I miss is not being able to collect special rocks, and baking. Alan does all the camp cooking. There’s no sense in both of us singeing our knuckle hairs!

I’ve been through these states before in a car but it’s not the same. I see and experience more on a bike; the Lewis and Clark Trail, Oregon Trail, and the very sad flight of the Nez Perce Indians. So far Wyoming has been my favorite state, but I say that with every new state we pedal through. The roads and cow folks are very friendly here, plus I have more photos of this state then any other so far. Wyoming women were the pioneers of the women’s suffrage movement and were voting before Wyoming joined the USA. They were hard workers and the men knew they couldn’t make it without their women.

Alan realizes he couldn’t do this trip without me. He’s the captain (or is it chief in Wyoming), I’m the support person/photographer, and Lewis is the moral officer. Lewis’ endless supply of energy and happy disposition has saved this trip countless times. When I’m tackling a hill or strong head wind, he’s singing “Meet you at the bottom!” or pretending to fly with his arms. His arms move more than his legs on the back of the tandem. I can’t tell if he’s pointing at something or playing Transformers.

Now that the “incident” in Eugene is behind us, the worst part of the trip has been mosquitos, eye ball bouncing rumble strips, and very strong head winds. I’ve gotten used to riding in the rain and even wore a perma-grin on my face when we were pelted with hail. The hill climbs are compensated by exhilerating down hill rides. Yeehaw! I think of Moms words a lot, “What goes up, must come down”. She was referring to my good moods, or hers. Happiness is a choice, and it’s more fun when you have someone to share it with.

So here I am over 2,000 miles, 43 days, and less than 20 kisses later (but who’s counting); well into the second trimester. I am sporting an attractive biker’s tan, a tatoo of a bike chain on my right calf, and permanently chapped lips. Too late to back out now! We’re in it together until the happy end. Or is it just the beginning…


  1. This is to Donna: We loved your journalism--it was terrific. Congratulations! It sounds like a wonderful family journey, bonding and educational for Lewis and all. We are really going to miss your blogs when you get back. We really look forward to reading them. Paul is very enthused also, we have the map out and a magnifying glass so we can follow your route easier. Yee Haw, wish I was there!

  2. Now that's the sister I know and love! Your voice sounds GREAT! And you were wondering what type of tatoo to get for your 50th--looks like that's been taken care of for you.

    Alan--you'd best get busy on those kisses. As a great man once said, "A promise is a promise." (Forrest Gump)

  3. Hi, Donna! Loved to read your first blog! It is great to hear about the trip from your perspective. Hope to hear from you soon! Know things on the home front are being lovingly cared for. The cat is fine. The lawn is growing again after Jenna mowed it, twice. The water from the stream has dried up. The fish are still very hungry buggers. How many black fish did you have before you left? We think there is more, now. Jenna says there are 9 orange and 4 black. I saw a fawn that still has it spots last night at your house beside the strawberries. Cute, little baby. All is good. Sent package to Moritz! When will you be in Kansas? I will be arriving in Wichita on July 31. Jan