Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back in NYC

Okay my dear friends, I must confess...I am back in NYC. After my partner and I went our separate ways, I decided it was best to postpone the completion of my trip for 3 important reasons: 1) Liam was taken very ill, 2) My camera lens shattered, and 3) I could not find one friend or family member that was OK with me continuing on solo. Therefore, for everyone's peace of mind I am safe and sound on the streets of NYC. Does that sound like an oxy moron to anyone else?

Honestly, I am fairly confident that I would have been plenty safe on the roads of Kansas, but I know that I did the right thing...for now.

I am already planning the next big adventure so stay tuned. I'll give an update as soon as details are available. I promise it will involve a bike and something equally outrageously challenging and fun.

Thanks for your support!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Liam's Hospital Scare

Liam spent the other night in the ER after an emergency run to the vet. I took him in early afternoon just for a check-up. He was fine and healthy. Everything checked out - normal weight, temperature and activity level. Then, by 7pm he was near catatonic and drooling incessantly. By the time I made it to the Emergency Pet Hospital he was quite incoherent and out of it. He was drastically dehydrated and his core temperature was 96 degrees - that's five degrees BELOW normal for pups.

The doctor put him on an IV drip immediately and wrapped him in a heated blanket. After x-rays and blood work we still didn't have an answer as to what is ailing him. It is a mystery still.

I am awaiting the results of one more test - possible salmonella poisoning. Poor little babe is on 2 antibiotics and under house arrest. Little guy is revving to play and I can't let him as yet. Thank goodness he is making a strong recovery.

I am still scared as we don't know the cause and this could be detrimental if it could relapse. Thankfully, I am in a huge city right now, but the cornfields of Kansas could pose a problem.

Keep your fingers crossed for my little guy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day "It Doesn't Matter"

I have lost all track of days, but the way I figure it, I have about 50 more days of hard work ahead of me to complete this trip. I rented a car today and am enjoying the freedom of going more than 15mph. It really is amazing, but then again, I was eyeing mopeds as a realistic way to race in the Indy 500. I mean seriously, I LOVE biking, but sometimes it is a bit daunting to know that a mere four miles can be an hour away if you're climbing. This way I can bum around Colorado and see more before heading onwards.

Anyhow, I really love it here and like resting up, but my mind is getting listless and I need an outlet. I miss going to the gym and dancing. I think I will need to get back on the road soon before I lose all motivation to continue.

Liam has been under the weather so I am taking him to the vet tomorrow to get him looked at. With so many pet food recalls and crap in the media I need to make sure he is 100% okay. I can't continue at his expense. It is a partnership. When he's happy, I'm happy...and if Liam isn't happy...ain't NOBODY happy.

I've noticed my body hurts me more when I am not biking. My back aches and my knees hurt a bit. I think it is because of the lapse in exercise. I am going to do some stretching later.

Anyhow, I probably won't be blogging anymore until I am back on the road.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day 44 - REI Will Ruin Me...And My Bank Account

Had the first leisurely morning in several weeks. I am getting accustomed to rising early, which is in many ways great, but also extremely atypical of my preferred behaviour. I took Liam to the dog park and watched him run contentedly. He played with a couple of other dogs while one of the owner's tried to hit on me. I think I broke her heart...just kidding, but it was amusing and she was a very nice woman.

Went to the bike shop and got my brakes fixed...again. I decided to spice things up and change the tape on my handlebars. I am now rocking out in red. REI's flagship store is here in Denver and that could quite possibly be one of my favorite destinations...ever. My wallet disagrees, but whatever. You can't please everyone, or everything for that matter.

Enjoying some downtime and planning for the next half of the trip. Woo hoo!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Day 43 - I Heart Colorado

I am currently in Centennial, CO at Wendy's mom's house wondering just how to adapt to civilization. I went to Target today and it was a bit overwhelming. I am excited to get Wendy's bike repaired so we can go back out into the wild and conquer the Rockies and the TransAm's highest peak - Hoosier Pass.

I'm looking forward to the break in the Denver area later this week and catching up with some friends.

Day 42 - Interstate Madness

Whoever thought it was a good idea to put someone traveling at 11mph on a highway next to semi-trucks and loggers going 75mph+ is an idiot...or has a sick sense of humor. Riding on the Interstate 80 was NOT scenic, nor stress-free and the gravel on the side of the shoulder made it a leap of faith to survive. Liam was vocalizing what I was feeling and when we arrived at Walcott we took a slight break and a breather before heading onto the quieter, 130.

After about 35 miles I took a roadside lunch break and was laying on a blanket when Wendy and a State Trooper simultaneously appeared. He asked me if I was alright and I replied that I just needed some nourishment and was taking a break. Wendy, however, was in a bit of distress. Her armadillo tires have disappointed her yet again. She somehow got a rather large gash in her rear tire and doesn't have a spare. Fortunately, the trooper towed us into town 8 miles away. He took Wendy and some of my stuff while I pedaled on since he couldn't fit us both in one trip.

There isn't a bike shop for 200+ miles and a patch job probably won't work, especially since we are in no man's land and tomorrow is Sunday. I have a spare tire, but Wendy is too concerned to use it as it is considerably different from her current armadillos. It could throw the balance off. I probably wouldn't use it either.

We have decided to send out an SOS and her mom and step-dad are going to come get us. We'll make the necessary repairs and then we will backtrack to conquer Hoosier Pass and the Rockies.

In the meantime, why not stay at a motel?

Went to the 24/7 hot springs. Smells like egg-butt and beer. Seems to be the local dating scene. Very interesting. Oh yeah.

Day 41 - Life is a Gift and I Don't Intend to Waste It

Well said, Jack Dawson. I made it to Rawlins and plunked myself down on the bed...YES a bed. Stayed at 1st Choice Inn and Titanic was on. Of course I watched it...who wouldn't? I crossed the Continental Divide twice more today and enjoyed a hot open faced turkey sandwich at Grandma's Cafe - a truck stop in between civilization.

Like I said, sage brush is wearing thin on me.

Day 40 - Land of Silent Hill

Woke up to my tent encased in frost. I felt like I was in a winter wonderland. Waited for the sun to burn off some of the cold and headed to Jeffrey City. I swear that is the backdrop for Silent Hill. It was so creepy I kept expecting a zombie to come out and get me...queue the mist/fog machine.

There was one open bar and they let me bring Liam inside to warm up. Ate some lunch and met a hiker, Todd, who was hiking the Continental Divide Trail. He has been on the road since June and plans to complete it.

Wyoming is still in a state of eternal 5pm. It never looks any earlier and is getting on my nerves. Liam decided to bark at some horses and they responded by running wildly. It was beautiful to watch as the dust kicked up and they ran in unison for yards on end.

Pitched the tents behind a fire station in Muddy Gap next to a mobile home from hell. The land was filled with bunnies so I watched as Liam fruitlessly tried to chase them. He is hilarious, but I didn't mind because I was pretty certain he wouldn't catch them. My tent was just yards from some cows who seemed entertained by the whole event.

I'm getting to the point where talking to cows is normal for me. They seem to really listen. (Remember...I'm in towns with population nonexistent and the only building a service station. My outlets are limited).

Day 39 - Hello, Can Anyone Hear Me?

It's a bit lonely out here sometimes. Especially, when you spend the day racing tumbleweeds and they keep beating you. I haven't seen much in the way of any other life form for a while and it is getting a bit tiresome. I am worn out on sage brush and pretty much over Wyoming. I want Colorado and I want it NOW...please?

Had a fight with a thunderstorm today. I wanted to outrun it and it thought otherwise. Once I became the highest point around I figured it would behoove me to get off my metal bike and seek shelter in a ditch. The thunderstorm and wind were pretty tame considering, but I didn't feel like becoming Mountaintop bar-b-que. I covered everything and got my rain gear out with Liam and sat in a gully to wait it out. It passed relatively quickly, but I am glad I got off the saddle for a bit.

Stopped in Sweetwater Station and stayed with some Mormon Missionaries. They were very nice and gave me the history of the Church of Latter Day Saints. It was an interesting lesson, but I had to refuse a bible as I haven't room for another book. He seemed disappointed but understood.

Day 38 - The Wyoming Chainsaw Massacre

Well, Liam was in one helluva mood. Chewed through his harness entirely. Fortunately, the rest stop had a lot of horse equipment and I was able to rig something new. It is lucky I enjoy these obstacles! I saw Crowheart Butte and Sacajawea's Grave Site in Fort Washakie. We camped 10 miles North of Lander in the creepiest campground. I didn't even think it was open it was so overgrown and scary. Wendy got bitten by the owner's dog after the damn canine decided to baptize my bike in urine. I was peeved and the owner just laughed and said, "Well, at least it is just the wheel." Hmmm...

Day 37 - Thunderstorms and Snow

Well, another night at the KOA in Dubois was in order. It rained terribly all day and the next viable place to stop is a good 65 miles off - too much to push through in this cold and wet weather.

The locals are into big stuffed animals. I saw a giant jackalope and bear on my way to the grocery store. It was our first real rest day of the trip!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Day 36 - Everything is A-OK at the KOA

Alrighty. Left Yellowstone and made it to Grand Teton National Park. I can't think of anything more to say than WOW!!! It was beautiful. The vistas were mesmerizing and I could have stayed a lot longer had it not been for the fact that I have another 2800 miles to go! Fortunately, the weather cleared nicely and we were able to see the mountains clearly. We headed for Togwatee Pass...that is one rough uphill! It is the second highest point on this trip!

Said goodbye to my dad and Uncle and continued on our crazy adventure.

Ended the day in Dubois at a KOA where we learned it would thunderstorm and possibly snow. Oh boy. It is only September!

Day 35 - That's Illegal You shitheads

A direct quote from my Uncle Grayson, as we drove by some people pulling dead trees on top of their car for firewood. The timing was perfect and we all started to laugh.

Prism Lake was absolutely incredible. Definitely one of my favorite moments thus far. Went to see Old Faithful again and took some time to read. I watched her erupt from the balcony of the lodge. It is an amazing structure - so beautiful for log lodges. Thank goodness it didn't burn down!

Went swimming in the river near dusk. It was great! Almost lost my shorts in the current! Whoa!

Day 34 - Generators are Cheating

Since when did camping become an indoor activity? Down with all those generators. Ugh! Woke up early...too early...all because someone wanted electricity.

Grayson did some fly-fishing and I saw a few snakes while hiking around the river with Liam. The Mammoth area is amazing...almost winter land-like. Saw so many amazing things...again. Amazing seems to be a reoccurring theme this trip.

Day 33 - Yellowstone!!!

Since it is Labor Day weekend our first order of business is to attain a campsite, Check! Next, see those wild animals and major attractions before the herds arrive! Managed to see Old Faithful and Morning Glory as well as many other geysers and falls. It smells like egg-butt everywhere. Stinky, but hey, I fit right in!

It was nice to have a car to get around the park and see everything. We spent the evening star-gazing and philosophizing the meaning of life. Clearly, the meaning is to live it up!

Day 32 - Rocky Mountain Museum

Okay...note to self. NEVER EVER, take my father anywhere that has something to read. We spent the entire day at the Rocky Mountain Museum. Not that it isn't interesting, BUT sheesh! Saw 3 shows in the other words...I had 3 naps. I love planetariums, but not one show was about stars! Bummer! Went back to my cousins and ate some pizza and played some Wii for the first time. It was fun and hilarious.

Good times!

Day 31 - Oh It Won't Rain

My Uncle Grayson's famous last words. I slept horribly and was so nauseous the whole night. It started to rain viciously and fortunately, I had opted to put the rainfly on about 30 minutes before the down pour.

Today, we made it to Nevada City and Virginia City. It was pretty cool. It was right out of the old western pics - with a two-story outhouse indeed! The ghost towns were interesting and the music hall was hilarious. I caught Grayson on tape dancing. The entrance to Nevada City has an amazing old house - reminds me of the Winchester Mystery House, but on a smaller scale.

After our tour de ghost town, we headed to my dad's cousins' house in Bozeman. I was able to see Jimmy and Sandy after 21 years and meet their two daughters, Sarah and Ellie. They have four horses so we went riding for a bit and then off to dinner in Manhattan, Montana. Who knew?!

It was nice to see my relatives after so many years! Oh and I even played Rock Band for the first time. I suck as a guitar player in case you care.

Day 30 - A Day of Adventure and Blair Witch

So I went to the Adventure Cycling Headquarters today and signed the log and took my Polaroid picture with Wendy and Liam. The photographer there wanted to give me a special "photo shoot" with the possibility of using it for publishing in one of their magazines. It was rather fun and exciting. It would be cool to have a pic with Liam in the mag!

Ran into Rob again and he was photographed as well. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing the HQ and eating some ice cream for breakfast.

After that, I popped over to the other bike shop to get my brakes fixed. That was a blessing. I didn't want to be whizzing down some of the Rocky Mountain Passes with no braking ability.

Stopped off the road at the Testicle Festival. No joke, the testy festy is for real. Hmmm...never saw so many brass balls in my life. Funny what these small towns do for entertainment. And we all thought small towns were conservative!

We went to Phillipsburg and went to an amazing little diner and picked up some sapphires that my dad had left there over 30 years ago. Such a procrastinator!

In Anaconda, where I have some family relatives, we stopped off and strolled down memory lane a bit. Went to the famous smoke stack (which the Washington Monument will fit!) and saw all of the smelt. I climbed through a couple of rogue caves in the local park with Liam and splashed around in the creek. Liam actually jumped in until he realized the current was too much for him. We went down a giant slide. That was fun! I felt like I was 5 years old. Liam seemed to get a kick out of it.

I fed some fish at a local hatchery and enjoyed traipsing through history. It had been 21 years since I had last been to this area. I saw my Great Aunt's old cabin and we camped outside. My memory served me well and I remembered my way back into the woods and found the other cabins I used to play in as a kid. The creepy thing was that it was past dusk and I was losing light with out a flashlight and all I could think of was the Blair Witch Project. I was alone in the woods and certain there was something out there. It was a bit creepy, but fun nonetheless.

Oh...another thing was the Washoe theater there is marvellous. Classic and amazing - especially the art deco and the prices. A movie for $4 and popcorn and drinks for under $2! That is sheer insanity...wished I could have gone to a flick, but such is the life of a rogue road time for the luxuries!

Day 29 - The Infamous Neck Scarf

So, Jack has opted to part ways with our entourage and took off this morning. Unfortunately, for him he left us a trail. His skull and cross bones neck chiller scarf was found on the hill en route to Safeway. We accosted him whilst in line and told him that this is the LAST time we will save him from heat exhaustion. Wendy and I went to REI and dreamed of spending money we didn't have. Finally, made it to the KOA. We did some laundry - thank GOD. AND most importantly, we had a heart to heart talk. We learned a lot about each other and realized that our relationship had changed quite a bit with the addition of another rider. We are much more comfortable now that we have talked.

My dad and uncle arrived from the Bay Area for a week long visit. Dad fortunately heard me plead my case about how water resistant is NOT the same as water proof and bought me a rain coat. It has made a world of difference.

Ran into another biker with a dog. His name is Rob and he is actually moving on a bike! I mean like moving, moving...without the U-Haul and boxes. It was wild! He is a great guy and I wish him well.

Spent the evening in the pool and hot tub. I feel clean for the first time in a month! I guess it is all the chlorine...or the little kiddy's pee. Well, you know those pools aren't that clean. I spoke with a gentleman from New York - the Bronx to be exact. He was a hoot.

Day 28 - Bitch on Wheels

That's right. I was in one hell of a mood this morning. I needed some serious alone time. Took Liam and headed for the library and some ice cream. I found an organic frozen yogurt shop and got some green tea yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. All is well again! It was nice to bum around Missoula and take in the city. My brakes are all screwed up so I need to get them fixed...again. I took it to a shop and the guy made it worse. I am going to try another shop shortly.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 27 - 1,000 Mile COMPLETED! Pacific Time to Mountain Time to Pacific Time to Mountain Time

Yummmm...breakfast was good. 13 miles to summit Lolo Pass. Not so bad. Conquered it with plenty of energy. Crossed the time zone and state line all at once. It feels weird to have gone from Pacific standard time to Mountain time, back to Pacific time and then again to Mountain time, but whatever, time means nothing to me. I live in between day and night, light and dark, between cold weather and hot weather, hungry and not hungry. As long as I get home before winter, I am content. It is the journey of this trip that matters, not the destination. Quality, not quantity.

I have trekked 1,000 miles thus far and am feeling great. Jack called an old friend of his and we are resting up in Missoula. It has been so wonderful so far. Enjoying every minute!

Day 26 - The Day of Horrid Rain

Packed up ASAP and moved my stuff to the pavilion to dry out as best as possible before stuffing everything into their dry sacks. It was a wet one and it didn't look like it would let up. We had no place to go but onwards. After deciding that it waws far too wet and cold to bike we opted to try and hitch a ride up the mountain a bit. After standing in the rain for a long time under a tarp on the side of the road with the only cars passing us being Mazdas, Minis and Corvettes, I started to wonder what happened to the trucks of the Northwest. Where were they now that we needed them? Alas, two elk hunters pulled up during their scout for a place to kill and sure enough they offered us a ride. I think they were going to say no, but then I pulled out all the stops and stood under the tarp shivering and looking worked. We got a ride to the Lodge -phew!!!

Turns out the lodge didn't have any room for us either. Sooooo...we were still homeless. Fortunately, the mountain rangers came to our rescue and let us stay in their bunker to dry out and warm up. It was great! Especially, when two other weather-worn cycliscts pulled in. They were coming from the east and on the verge of hypothermia! They had come from Lolo and told us that they were recently married and about to go for their PhDs so this was their big trip and semi-honeymoon before hitting the books again. I don't know if this is the type trip I'd angle for if it was my big day, but hey, to each their own. They were adorable together. We wish you well Kristen and Nick!

We all went to happy hour at the lodge. I had a great glass of wine and some horrible broccoli cheese soup. Yucky.

Returned back and Liam decided he didn't appreciate my leaving him so he commenced to pee on my sleeping bag. That was a big no no...we had a long talk about that one! Saw the most amazing rainbow and took an easy evening.

Day 25 - My Dog is the Sworn Enemy of God

Awoke early to gloomy weather and started to pack anyhow. I wanted to see what the chapel looked like in the church we were staying in so I wandered upstairs to find that my dog shit in the middle of the chapel aisle! I surely hope God does love all of his creatures. I think that falls under sacriligeous, but I found it rather comical at the same time.

After only 6 miles we stopped at an espresso cafe and were warned about the grey wolves of Lolo Pass and to be aware of their presence. It sounded exciting. The owner was a dog show breeder and had some champions on her land. She was concerned for their well being with many dogs having gone missing in the recent months.

Continued on and stopped at another cafe for lunch. This is the pace that Wendy likes to call the "Idaho Mosey". We only made it 16 miles and already we were lunching! BUT we did forge on and ended the day after 50 some odd miles. I set up my tent just in time as the thunder and lightning started. The camp host was a real jerk and wouldn't let us stay in the pavilion to stay dry. Instead, he wanted us to stay in the rain. Fortunately, my tent kicks ass and Liam and I stayed dry all night long.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day 24 - Preparing for Lolo

Packed up with a pretty sunrise on the edge of a cliff, on the side of a highway, with no water and 11 miles to go...great place to, really. I highly recommend the experience - quite entertaining.

I decided since it was 6am to forge onto the new highway...the traffic wasn't so bad and it was a straighter shot than continuing on the old highway. Made it to Grangeville pretty quickly and enjoyed a great iced Mocha and biscotti. The thunderstorm/rain is just starting. Brrrr. How can it be 106 degrees and then in the low 60s? Crazy! We're seeking shelter and then trying to make it another 50 miles today if it clears.

I do pictures yet again! AND I HAVE SOME REALLY GREAT ONES! Hopefully, when I get to Missoula I can upload!

Day 23 - Sleeping on a Highway

Left the RV park and headed to Riggins where we had an amazing breakfast. Have you noticed a theme of food here? Yeah, I thought so. Eating is crucial to this expedition.

The ride was nice until we started to get closer to White Bird (the base of our ascent). We stopped at the Ranger station and found out about a beach where we could hang out. We took a dip and kept trying to wait out the sun, only to find out it was 106 degrees and getting we forged on. It was hot, hot and hot! Made it to White Bird and had the best meal thus far! Chicken Parm and a Rum and Coke. (Note to self...DO NOT DRINK BEFORE A MAJOR CLIMB). Mac's in White Bird is delicious. After that we headed out at 5pm to see how far up the pass we could make it. It would be 21 miles before we saw human life again. We opted for the old Highway 95 because the newer one has virtually no pull outs and is steeper and more dangerous. The old highway took us past the battlefields and old farm houses. It was really quite nice, but the headwind was brutal. Jack got blown over and fell off his bike. I was rerouted into gravel more times than once. It was a bit annoying. Wendy got a flat in her armadillo tires, which is extremely rare! AND the cattle guards were very precarious. It was rough! But, it was so desolate that I was able to let Liam run freely alongside of me. He is becoming quite the little billy goat! The view, though, unimaginable! Once night set in we put headlamps on and continued for a bit, but it got to be too dark as a thunderstorm was brewing and we needed to make camp. So what to do? Camp roadside of course! Pitched my tent with the help of Wendy and Jack. It was so windy we had to hold it down at all times. I am glad I opted to put the rainfly on because it soon started to rain. I've learned that mountaintops and rain can be rough and I didn't want to wake up wet. Jack ended up sleeping in my tent because we thought 3 tents would be excessive on a shoulder turnout.

I can't say it was a great night's sleep. We heard 3 cars pass the whole night, but it scared us every time. The wind was fierce and kept ripping at the rainfly. It was crazy! We heard strange things and kept expecting there to be some wild mountain lion or something, but Liam was on the job. He let us know if anything was happening. It was a cramped and sticky night...again no shower! I also lost my emergency water which pissed me off royally.

What an adventurous evening!