North to South Tour - From Edmonton, Alberta to Durango, Colorado

North to South Tour - Day 21

07/15/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Missoula, Montana
To: Lolo, Montana
Today: 28 miles - 1119 miles total

Just for your information, it is only 14 miles from last night's hotel to this one.....if your not exploring Missoula. We started our day, rolling out of the hotel around 10 am. Our first stop was Adventure Cycling Organization, they supply our maps for this Great Parks tour. If you want to have an easier time bicycle touring, we recommend purchasing maps from Adventure Cycling. See the link on the right side of this page.

We had a polaroid taken (including SeeMore) by Teri in the front of the building. She offered us ice cream, water, water bottles, juice, and soda. A very nice lady. Then Gary asked if he could take a picture of SeeMore (because he look so unusual) for a chance to appear on the back cover of their magazine. It was done in black and white, so all my work shining SeeMore up in the morning (while the Rear Admiral slept in), was for naught! We talked to Phil (a fellow bicycle tourist) who was riding from Seattle to Ohio (his home) with very very little gear. He was "credit carding it", which means he was spending his nights in hotels along the way. While we were talking to him, SeeMore overheard the conversation about carrying very little...and promptly fell over, crushing the Rear Admiral's "pretty blue" helmet. We then talked to Richard (a fellow bicycle tourist from New Hampshire!) , who arrived just after us. He started in New Hampshire, and is riding to Oregon.

We then cycled all over Missoula. First finding a new helmet for the Rear Admiral. They didn't have a "pretty blue" helmet, so she got a black one. Now she looks like a biker babe! Then we cycled the bicycle paths to the University of Montana (see above photo) and explored as much of Missoula as we cared to( we even went shopping at the mall!). Missoula is a bicycle mecca. Bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, bicycle stores, bicycle racks on buses, and bicycles of all shapes and sizes being pedaled all over the city. With a population of 60,000, the University, and the love affair with the bike, this is a town that I could settle down in!

Tonight we are in Lolo, the next town over. We had a go slow day, and that's what we did. Saw bald eagles flying over our heads, and saw a herd of bison(see photo below). I just finished putting on a new front chain on SeeMore, hopefully my chain maintenance has improved since going down Sunwapta pass.

North to South Tour - Day 22

07/16/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Lolo, Montana
To: Sula, Montana
Today: 75 miles - 1194 miles total

Today we spent cycling the Bitteroot Valley, between the Bitteroot Mountains to our west and the Sapphire Mountains to our east. It was another great day. Even though we spent the majority of today's travels on Rte 93, it had wide shoulders which let us not concentrate on the traffic. The farther we got away from Missoula, the less traffic.

The Bitteroot Valley is a south-north valley, made from an old lake that makes this land very fertile. The Bitterroot Mountains had snow dotted peaks, while the Sapphire Mountains were covered with trees. The valley was full of ranches and log cabin retreats. There was a number of log home manufacturers along the route (see above photo). Our first 16 miles was on bicycle path, that ran along Rte 93. We cycled into Florence and had Breakfast at Bud's cafe and casino. Bud and his wife came from southern California last year, and are very happy in Florence. After breakfast, the bicycle path ends in Stevensville...where you join 3 miles of road construction. Not bad, because the speed limit is 25 mph.

We cycled into and around Victor, where the Rear Admiral mailed some stuff home (good less weight!). We then cycled around Hamilton (population 4,000 with FOUR grocery stores). Had a picnic lunch at the McDonalds in Hamilton (orange, sandwiches, gatorade, and cowboy cookies). After lunch we continued pedaling through Darby. All day...the further we cycled, the better the day got. Out side of Sula, we saw deer, eagles, and bighorn sheep. There is also evidence of a large forest fire some years ago? , as you pedal towards Sula.

We are on a portion of the Transamerica Rte (Adventure Cycling Rte) which connects the two Great Parks section together. The Transamerica is the original route that Adventure Cycling designed. Other routes (Great Divide, Lewis and Clark) also share this section, so you see lots of cyclists.

Tonight we are in Sula, with The Prince of Wales II set up near the Bitteroot river. Two tent sites over is Lavern. We thought he would be long gone when we last spotted him in Columbia Falls, and if he didn't take an extra day in Missoula...he would have been. Sula is a one building town, campground/general store/gas station/ restaurant. If you pass through here and need a place to camp, we highly recommend it. We're in Sula setting up for tomorrow morning's climb, which will be two passes, Lost Trail Pass (7040 ft.) and Chief Joseph Pass (7241 ft.)

North to South Tour - Day 23

07/17/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Sula, Montana
To: Jackson, Montana
Today: 60 miles - 1254 miles total

We had breakfast at the campground cafe in Sula. IT WAS GREAT. The Rear Admiral had her Lumberjack special, and I had the pancakes with peanut butter. It was going to be a climbing day, so we stuffed ourselves...and the cook made sure we were well fed. The 12 mile climb up Lost Trail Pass was a steady climb, but not bad. We didn't stop until the top (border of Idaho and Montana), there is very nice rest stop. It was a beautiful climb, and the traffic on 93 was very light.

We then turned east on Rte 43 (another very quiet road) to cycle over Chief Joseph Pass, and within a mile and a half we were up and over. By going over Chief Joseph Pass, we crossed the continental divide again (our fourth on this trip). We then went down into Big Hole Valley, it was not a very steep down. About 10 miles from Wisdom Montana, the Rear Admiral DEMANDED something to eat, so we pulled into the Big Hole Battlefield National Monument. Oranges and an energy bar seem to do the trick. We took very little interest in the Battlefield, where in 1877 our army waged war on the Nez Perce indians. Why we honor something like this, I have no idea. Basically you look out into a acres of sage bush, valleys and mountains and just feel sad.

Imagine being in Milford and being able to see Manchester (or any other two places 20 miles apart)? As SeeMore crossed the 20 mile width of the Big Hole Valley (from west to east) you could see the other end. We also traveled through 3 different habitats. We started off in the pine forest, then sage bush and pronghorn antelopes, and finally in cattle and hay ranches. On the East side (and at the end of Rte 43 for us) is Wisdom. We had lunch at the Big Hole Restaurant; since we were in beef country the Rear Admiral had a cheeseburger, and I had Rocky Mountain Oysters.

We then headed south on Rte 278 through 15 miles of assassin mosquitos. Some how those Milk River Montana mosquitos moved from 2006 trip to this stretch of Montana. These little buggers wait until SeeMore is climbing a small butte, and attack with force. As long as you are going about 15 mph, no problems. But as you can imagine....SeeMore is no Tour de France participant. We finally got off SeeMore and sprayed each other with bug spray.

Tonight we are in Jackson (population 38), at the Hot Springs Resort. We are living semi large at the Jackson Hot Springs Lodge and Resort? where Mary opted for the trailer rooms. Yes you got it ,we are in this modular affair with dark panelling and decor from the 70's. It's pretty clean, only a little sketchy, possibly one of those nights where we should have opted for the tent? We have enjoyed the hot springs, an ice cream cone from across the street and nice hot showers. We are staying in Jackson setting up for tomorrow morning's climb, which will be two passes, Big Hole Pass (7360 ft.) and Badger Pass (6760 ft.). How bad can a mountain pass named Badger be?

North to South Tour - Day 24

07/18/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Jackson, Montana
To: Twin Bridges, Montana
Today: 88 miles - 1333 miles total

Happy Birthday Dustin! We miss you!

We are sitting in the Twin Bridges Library, and they close at 7:00 on a Friday. So I am going to write this in haste....there will be a lot of mistakes.

The above photo captures our view of Big Hole Valley for the morning pedal. This valley is 460 square miles and you can see FOREVER! We made it up Big Hole Pass without stopping, it was just a steady climb. At the top of the pass was an exhibit on Lewis and Clark and beaverslides. Beaverslides (see photo below) are large hand-manufactured devices made from lodge pole pine and fir, which they use to stack the hay they grow each year to get their livestock through the winter. After the exhibit, we went down the other side of Big Hole Pass and SeeMore has a new maximum speed record, 51.1 mph! It is SeeMore's gift to Dustin for his birthday. The next Pass was 18 miles after Big Hole. Badger was also just a steady climb, and when we reached the summit, we celebrated with an orange. Rte 278 has very little traffic on it, and was a pleasure to bike.

We cycled down into Dillon Montana, just missing a bad hail storm. Bill came up riding his sleek bicycle when we were about 1 mile from Dillon center. He had just come down the pass behind us, and was caught in the storm. He "escorted" us to Papa T's, a local restaurant. The portions were large, the service was good, and the price was inexpensive. Thanks Bill!!!!

From Dillon to Twin Bridges we cycled Rte 41, and for the first 10 miles we had very wide shoulders! Then the shoulders disappeared, but the traffic didn't. We cycled into Twin Bridges with a very bad lighting/rain shower closing in fast.

Tonight we are in Twin Bridges (population 400), at the Kings hotel. We are being taken to the cleaners for this 1950's room, but we will be warm and dry...ready for tomorrow's adventure.

North to South Tour - Day 25

07/19/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Twin Bridges, Montana
To: Cameron, Montana
Today: 59 miles - 1392 miles total

Congratulations Rick and Jennifer! We are truly sorry to miss your wedding!

We had quite an adventure today. We got off on the wrong foot, The Rear Admiral and I were not in tandem this morning as we cycled out of Twin Bridges. The Rear Admiral DID NOT like the cadence I was offering. What she did not understand was that we were experiencing headwinds and a slight climb. I was in between gears, and not too happy....either, too high or too low. The disagreement lasted about 15 seconds. But I just want to state, for the record, that she was right and I was wrong!

During the morning we were on "quiet" Rte 287, and the cycling was great. We spent the late morning and lunch exploring Virginia City. Virginia City is an old (1860's) mining town that at one time had almost 10,000 residences in the hills surrounding Nevada City and Virginia City. It was a treat to look at the old architecture and furnishings, and walk the wooden sidewalk. In the bank/now jewelry store where they still use the original vault, the gentleman behind the counter showed us red garnets that were found in the area (along with gold). There was alot of dredging mining done around here in the late 1800 early 1900's. This type of mining uses a very big dredge which chews along the riverbed spitting out pile of rock and gravel. As you ride along you see this long winding tails of rock mounds. We read a sign stating that some of the gold taken out of this area, actually helped to finance Harvard University? We had lunch in town, chicken hawaiian sandwiches(which were very tasty). And then it was time to climb up out of this valley, and into Madison Valley. The pass had no name (so we named it SeeMore's pass), it was a steady climb to reach 7000 ft. a little steeper then a few others we've done. We made it to the top in about an hour and it was going down is when the adventure really started for today.

It is a very steep drop into Madison Valley, and at 30 mph; SeeMore's back tire blew! There was a rip in the sidewall, we are not sure what caused it. I thought it was maybe the rear brakes, but under close doesn't appear so. We slowed down, and finally stopped. SeeMore stayed very stable, but still it got our hearts beating pretty fast. We were about 10 miles from Ennis, and had a whole in the sidewall of the rear tire. I patched the tube, and folded up a dollar bill and placed inside, over the hole in the tire. We put everything back on SeeMore and continued slowly down the very steep hill, until we were at the bottom....when the dollar bill trick failed, and the tire popped again, with a really nice loud backfire, BANG! Again I took everything off SeeMore, patched the tube, used duck tape to fill the gap, refilled the tube, and then put everything back onto SeeMore. I have used a lot of "I"s in the paragraph above, but it was a true team effort. The Rear Adminal made the experience painless.

We limped into Ennis and found the hardware store, where they had one bicycle tire left....the exact size we needed. However, SeeMore now has a yellow sidewall back clashes with his orange paint job. We just keep telling him, it's a fashion statement. After 3 tire changes, we needed pie! So we went to the Ennis cafe, and had fresh strawberry pie and homemade banana cream.

Tonight we are in the beautiful Madison Valley. The snow dotted Cedar Mountains are on our east (we are traveling south) and this is RICH ranch land. Cameron is so small, it doesn't have a population on our map. The Prince of Wales II is up, and we are looking forward to some much deserved shut eye.

North to South Tour - Day 26

07/20/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Cameron, Montana
To: West Yellowstone, Montana
Today: 65 miles - 1457 miles total

The Prince of Wales II provided both occupants with a restful night sleep. Two tent sites over from us, was Lavern! What a riot it has been bumping into him! Oatmeal and Oranges comprised our breakfast, we decamped, and were on the road at 8:00. We countinued this adventure by cyling down (south) Rte 287 through the Madison Valley (photo above). Unlike the rest of Montana, there are very little "for sale" signs in this rich area. 11,000 ft - snow dotted mountains were on our left side for the whole ride until we entered the Missouri flats. Our riding was pretty much up and down today, and we did end the day at 6500 ft. (we started off 5300 ft). After the Missouri flats, we were completely surrounded by mountains and trees. What a beautiful ride today!

We stopped by the Earthquake Lake visitor center and watched the presentation on how it was formed. Just like in Frank, Alberta, there was a giant earthquake (hence the name for the lake) in 1959 which triggered a landslide of epic proportions. The landslide (photo below) killed 28 people, and blocked the Madison river....forming Earthquake Lake. Again, Mother Nature will never be tamed.

Wild flowers, birds and forest helped us cycle up towards the junction of Rte 191 and Rte 287. We stopped at a fly fishing shop / cafe for lunch. The food was ok, but there were 6 people running the establishment, and 18 customers wanting lunch. It took us over an hour to have lunch. Our bill came to 12 if one divides 12 by 6 (forgetting the cost of the food, electric, heat, building, etc.) one must conclude the real money making endeavor is the fly fishing store. Since we are not in a rush (if we were...we would not be traveling by SeeMore express) it gave our legs plenty of recoup time. The rest of Rte 287 follows Hebgen Lake, and it was a real treat cycling along the shore of this large lake.

When Rte 191 merges with 287 (our last 8 miles into West Yellowstone) the traffic got heavy. Two miles from West Yellowstone, SeeMore's back tire found a wire (from a blown retread truck tire) and started to hissssssss. So our 13 dollar tire almost made it 70 miles into West Yellowstone! Again, we took everything off SeeMore and then patched the tube. This might sound like sour grapes...but I hope not. We are so blessed that the small town of Ennis Montana had a tire in the first place AND that this inexpensive tire carried a whole lot of weight for 70 miles! SeeMore is now sporting a new touring tire in the back (it is NOT yellow!).

Tonight we are in tourist town USA, West Yellowstone. We are living large in a hotel room. Again we have somewhat nostalgic accommodations, the kitchenette has a Norge refrigerator and the decor in the room is from the same era. There are some vacancies in town. We are sure that this town would be a lot busier, if the gas prices weren't so high. So we are hoping this trend of a smaller crowed follows us into Yellowstone. We been busy doing laundry, food shopping, and exploring West Yellowstone. We will be in the National Parks for a couple of days, so our log might have to wait a bit.

North to South Tour - Day 27

07/21/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: West Yellowstone, Montana
To: Grant Village, Yellowstone NP
Today: 58 miles - 1515 miles total

Everyone....Go and Cycle Yellowstone, but read this log entry first.

First, unless you are running on a bad tire and need to find a bicycle shop, don't go into West Yellowstone. It is very busy with tourist and over priced. Most of the restaurants and grocery stores are very crowded and as a result we had a HORRIBLE dinner at the Coachman Steakhouse on Madison Avenue. Don't go don't go don't go! It sealed our experience with West Yellowstone. We are not into the tourist scene, so if you like gift shops or nick nacks, West Yellowstone is for you. Even in the morning when we had pancakes at Old Town Cafe, and they were shorthanded; the pancakes and LumberJack special were ok but it sure took a long time.

We had a very FULL day today. We started at 7:00 am, and ended at 7:00pm. We entered the west gate of Yellowstone National Park and for the first 14 miles to Madison Junction there was a TON of traffic! Throughout our time in Yellowstone National Park there was little to no road shoulder. However, after the first (seeming never ending) group of visitors passed us, We totally stopped caring about the cars/buses/trucks/campers. We obeyed the road laws, and stayed as far to the right as possible (and safe), but we "zoned" them out. We just followed the mantra "we have as much as a right to be there as anyone else, so tough nuggies!", IT WORKED. Here are some other secrets. Pedal into every turn off, pull in, picnic area, overlook, etc. Most people are trying to get from point A to point B, and these allow you quiet oasis (and great views) of Yellowstone. If there are two lanes, take the right one....ride in the very middle. Traffic has to go between 25 mph and 45 mph, and in most cases you can be seen from a great distances. If you going to eat in Yellowstone (and we highly recommend it, both the price, quality and quantity of the food), eat at an odd time. AND you do not need reservations to camp, there are plenty of hiker/biker sites.

Signs of the forest fire that decimated Yellowstone Park in 1988 is disappearing. There is a lot of young tree growth, and these trees were planted natural by Mother Nature. It was amazing to see the difference from the last time we were here in 2000. Although we did not see a lot of wild life, we had a BLAST. We saw geysers, mud pots, painted pots, funnels, waterfalls, hot springs, and Old Faithful (but he did not blow!). We took in walks and hikes, and just enjoyed it ALL. After lunch (2:30) at the Old Faithful cafe, we climbed two mountain passes; Craig Pass (8,261 ft.) and Gary's Pass (actually our name for it - 8,391 ft.). "Gary's Pass" was our tallest pass, to date, and we have now crossed the Continental Divide 6 times! These passes were just steady rides, and since we were already at 7300 ft. at Old Faithful, they were less challenging.

We cycled into the Grant Village campground tired (and just ahead of the rain!) but not from the cycling. We were tired because of everything we did during the day. We didn't rush, we had plenty of time for was just one thing after another. We set up The Prince of Wales II and stored everything inside. Got on SeeMore, and cycled to the showers as the rain came down. Why did we need showers, when Mother Nature was doing such a fine job! But the Rear Admiral says SHOWERS, and that is what we do. We ended up eating our backpacking dinner in the rain. Later, after dinner, we had a neighbor stop by and talk to us about cycling. He is from St. Louis, and he recommend doing the Katy trail....which is on our list.

For me, this was the best way to see Yellowstone....on a bicycle.