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

North to South Tour - Day 28

07/22/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Grant Village, Yellowstone NP
To: Colter Bay, Grand Tetons NP
Today: 47 miles - 1562 miles total

We had an EXCELLENT buffet breakfast at Grant Village after we packed up a soggy Prince of Wales II. We then cycled 20 miles to the south entrance of Yellowstone. Our cylcing found us following along Firehole River and the large canyon it formed. We stopped for a short hike to see some falls, and then crossed the Continental Divide (our seventh time on this trip). After exiting Yellowstone southern gate, we cycled along the John Rockafeller parkway, it seems like there was an explosion of wildflowers along both sides of this highway. What a beautiful ride, and this was before the first views of Jackson Lake and the Tetons.

We then entered Grand Teton's National Park, and there was Jackson Lake and the Teton's. WOW!!! Imagine riding for a couple of hours, with a large lake and snow dotted mountains. The neat thing about the Tetons, is that there are no foothills, the mountains look like grow right out of the lake. The Rear Admiral took photo after photo, and we stopped and stopped. This is one of the Rear Admiral's favorite National Parks.

We stopped in Colter Bay, and set up camp at 2:30, then spent the rest of the day staring at the scenery. Before returning to our campsite, we spent some time at the visitor center. We watched a presentation on the Grand Tetons. It answered a number of questions I have been asking myself. Are the Rockies getting taller, and why Jackson Hole? The Grand Tetons are indeed growing at the same time that the valley is shrinking. The Grand Tetons are getting more impressive with every earth shift in this region! Also, a "hole" is another name for a valley. The first trappers that came west would always call the valleys between the mountains a "hole". So, it is the town of Jackson, which is located in Jackson Hole (along with Jackson Lake). I have mistakely called the town, Jackson Hole, for a long time. Guess who was at the campsite next to ours? Yup, our fellow bicycle tourist Lavern. We never expected to see him again! Here in Colter Bay we are at the hiker/biker sites, which are also clustered together with the group camping sites. It is a beautiful campground and as we set up and dry out it is very quiet and peaceful.

The Prince of Wales II had time to dry out, but it looks pretty good for another soaking. The clouds coming over the mountains are casting dark shadows, and there is a smell of rain in the air. No showers tonight, because of the extra long line at the showers.

North to South Tour - Day 29

07/23/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Colter Bay, Grand Tetons NP
To: Dubois, Wyoming
Today: 66 miles - 1628 miles total

Todays ride is dedicated to Aunt Sheila and Uncle Al, we're in cowboy country now!

Touring lesson number 157, Never sleep near the group camping sites if you can, especially if a youth group of young energetic teenagers pulls in a 10 pm and have to prepare dinner and wash up after. the Rear Admiral was kept up by all the noise coming from the group sites. As for me...well I was in the Prince of Wales II, it was raining....and it was a dark deep sleep. For the second straight day, we packed up a soggy Prince of Wales II, and headed for breakfast buffet, this time at Colter Bay. The buffet was very good, and priced correctly. Then we cycled the rest of Grand Teton's National Park from Colter Bay to Moran Junction. The Rear Admiral asked for so many photo stops, that I didn't think we would get anywhere today. Which was just fine with me. The scenery was spectacular. Too soon we were at Moran Junction. Next up, 26 miles to the top of Togwotee Pass (9,658 ft.) and another Continental Divide crossing (our eighth for this trip). The elevation in Moran Junction is about 6800 ft.

We have been asked many times if we ride SeeMore up all of these passes. The answer is this: in all the miles we have been with SeeMore, we have only walked SeeMore once, for about 50 feet in Nova Scotia....until the Rear Admiral called me a wimp.....(talk about hurting a man's pride). Today we did not walk SeeMore again, however, today we did "cheat". We weren't given a choice. Due to road construction on Rte 26/287 (they are trying to widen it), we had to ride with Seemore in the pilot truck through two construction zones. At the first flag person, we were told that the construction was 2 miles long and we were not allowed to cycle it. So when the pilot truck came by, SeeMore, the Rear Admiral, and I were hoisted into the back of the white pick-up truck. We gained 300 free feet of elevation as we rode in the pilot truck. At the second flag person, again we were not allowed to cycle. This time we rode in another white pick-up truck (the pilot truck) for an 8th of a mile, gaining 150 free feet of elevation. So can we count climbing Togwotee pass? We will let you be the judge. Togwotee Pass was a steady climb, only a couple of times were we in the lowest gear. The Rear Admiral's main comment was that this was one of the prettiest "non-parks" climbs we have done in all of our riding. I have to agree. Rte 26/287 was not very busy (we expect this to change when the road widens) and we had most of the ride to ourselves thanks to the two major areas of construction. We could tell when the pilot truck lead a group of vehicles, because there would be a line of vehicles....then when they were gone it became very quiet. The views were mountain meadows with a profusion of wild flowers. Nine miles down the other side of the pass, we stopped for a Philly cheese steak, fries, and a hot fudge brownie sundae!

We are living large, in a hotel in Dubois, Wyoming. The Rear Admiral's sister Shelia and her husband Alan once called Dubois home . Tonight on the phone we got good advice from them about where to eat, and what to do from them. We promise not to wander too far off the road into the sagebrush during the ride to Rawlins. Living one pedal at a time, putting one foot in front of the other sure feels right, even if you don't have cowboy boots.

North to South Tour - Day 30

07/24/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Dubois, Wyoming
To: Lander, Wyoming
Today: 75 miles - 1703 miles total

A tale of two rides, in one day.

We had a nice stay at the Rocky Mountain Lodge. It is located on the northwest side of town. The owner is a fellow cyclist, and went out of his way to make sure SeeMore was taken care of properly! Thank you! We were debating whether to take a day off in Dubois or venture on. We needed to visit the bank, which didn't open to 9:00. Because it was going to be a hot day (temperatures in the high 90's) and it was going to be a high mileage day, we needed to be on the road early. Dubois is a one street town, with a population of about 1,000 people. It has charm, but not really that much to do. So we had breakfast Cowboy Cafe, and were not disappointed. After the bank and an Rear Admiral break, we were on our way at 9:30 am.

The red buttes and the Wind River for the first 10 miles were beautiful and had us captured. Then the landscape changed to nothing but sage bush and desert. Rte 26/287 was very quiet (BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING OUT HERE!); we had a tailwind and we were losing elevation on the rolling landscape. We must have been averaging 18 mph, which for SeeMore, is a Tour de France winning speed. We made it to Crowheart (population 165, maybe) with little effort, and had Gatorade. You know you're in the a remote area, when they charge you 50 cents to fill up your water bottles. We then continued to sail to the rest area near the intersection where 26 breaks away from 287. A great place to have lunch. The information sign at the rest area describing this area as a dry, desolate, desert is very accurate. So we had cycled 35 miles by then, and I made the comment...if there was a stop beyond Landers....this would be an easy 100 miler day. Boy was I wrong.

We had a short but steep climb for the first 2 miles on Rte 287, then as we were almost on top of the butte, a white 2003 Honda van with a group of teenagers in it...threw a water balloon at SeeMore, hitting me in the left shoulder blade. It didn't break until it hit the ground, and because we were so surprised...we did not get the license plate. It was really no big deal, but in the middle of sage bush after sage woke us up! We all had moments in our teenage years that we have something we thought was cool, it was just payback time for us. Then we started down the butte, and what should have been fast sailing, turned to a hard grind against the wind. Imagine miles and miles of sage bush, it looks like your going down hill...and your pedaling as hard as you can, going 5 mph. Then things went from bad to worst. There were dark clouds on the horizon, and the wind started to gust at 50 mph (we are guessing). It blew SeeMore clear across the road, after correcting and getting back on our side....the wind blew SeeMore again across the road AND blew his front chain off. About a quarter mile, down the road there was a side road which we finally cycled to. We were 8 miles from the nearest town, in the middle of sage bush with gusting wind. So we just sat for an hour and a half. At some point, the wind knocked SeeMore over. He was leaning pretty heavy on a stop sign post, and he is no light weight (at 100 + pounds), so you can see just sitting there on the side of the road was quite challenging!

With the black skies heading away from us, we resumed our cycling into Fort Washakie (population 300, maybe). As you can imagine, it was a tough ride. We filled up our water bottles again (50 cents per) and had an ice cream sandwich and candy bar to go along with our Gatorade. The last 15 miles into Landers was headwinds, crosswinds, or tailwinds. We are here in Landers living large in a hotel. We are a little weather beaten, but are in good spirits.

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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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!) 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!