Wednesday, July 30, 2008









Currently in Sioux Falls South Dakota, a little more than 3800 miles into the trip. Haven't had internet access the last several days as I have been riding through South Dakota ranch and farm country.

Had a little excitement in White Lake South Dakota on Monday evening. A major thunderstorm started during the early evening and the sirens announcing a tornado went off, fortunately the storm just produced a lot of wind and rain.

The rolling ranch and farm land of South Dakota has brought back many memories of growing up on a farm in Eastern South Dakota. Endless wheat and corn fields and many small farming communities.

Toured the Corn Palace in Mitchell South Dakota on Tuesday. If you haven't heard of the corn palace, it is a community event center that is decorated outside and inside on an annual basis with thousands of ears of multi-colored corn. It began about a century ago as a way to celebrate the corn harvest and has continued to this day. Over the years numerous entertainers have performed at the annual celebration. One of my memories of growing up was going to the Corn Palace as a kid to watch The Three Stooges perform in person. Also watched numerous high school basketball games, played in the high school band and wrestled in the state wrestling tournament.

The bike is in the shop having a new rear wheel built. The wheel I put on in Denver simply can't take the pounding of the rural back roads and I have had several spoke problems in the last week.

Will be spending the next 2-3 days visiting family and friends before hitting the road again.

Have a great day!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Badlands and Grasslands








In Murdo South Dakota, 3594 miles into the trip. Hot, humid and windy. Whoever said the prevailing winds in the U.S. are from West to East has never ridden a bicycle across the country! Even the cows have take to the water to cool off!!!!

Spent the early morning riding and hiking through more of the Badlands National Park. Tons of great pictures. The close up of the barren landscape gives you an idea of how brittle the land is and how fast water and wind can cause erosion. The Badlands are eroding away at about an inch every 50 years, which compares to 1/10 on an inch for the granite hills of the Black Hills of South Dakota. In 500,000 years the Badlands will be completed eroded away. Better visit now while the scenery is still good!

Headed East after the Badlands through the grasslands of Western South Dakota. Visited the only standing original homestead house made of sod in South Dakota. Note the sod inside the room above. The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed anyone to "homestead" 160 acres of land. The costs were $18 an acre and you had to plow five acres for farming and build a house and live on the land for at least 5 years at which time the U.S. government deeded the land to you. The common joke was that you were betting $18 an acre and the Government was betting you would never last 5 years on your homesteaded land! Because there were very few trees in the grasslands, many homesteaders built their original homes out of sod from the grasslands. The home pictured above was built in 1909 with the last homestead in the area being in 1935. Unfortunately, very few homesteaders were able to make a go of it due to drought and most lost their farms during the dust bowl years of the 1930's.

During the last several weeks I have at least a hundred rattlesnakes, most of them dead on the road and a few alive. I finally decided today to take a picture of a snake that had just been run over by a vehicle.

I have always said I would rather be "lucky than good". Seems like I have had my share of good luck on the trip. Tonight, I discovered a problem with my rear wheel. After a couple of hours I decided fixing it would be hopeless and hitching a ride to the nearest bicycle shop, about 70 miels away, would be tomorrow's first priority. As a last ditch effort, I asked the front desk clerk at the Best Western if anyone in town might be able to help. After 5 minutes of hearing why no one in the town of 736 people could help and the only person who used to fix bikes had passed away several years ago, the owner of the motel came out of his office and said he used to work in a bike shop 20 years ago and might be able to help. After 15 minutes he had my bike back into working order and hopefully I will make it to the next bicycle shop to have repairs completed. All this, after deciding not to camp for the night which was the original plan, and deciding to stay at the Best Western which I normally wouldn't do because of my daily budget.

Advice for the day--"Always best to drink upstream from the herd"--sign in a local shop in Scenic South Dakota.

More grasslands tomorrow and then into the farming region of Eastern South Dakota.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Badlands














I am in Interior South Dakota, population 67 and the Southern gateway to the Badlands National Park. 3500+ miles into the trip.

Rode out of the mountains of the Black Hills this morning and through parts of the Badlands National Park. The Badlands are an area of the country that was once covered by a shallow sea which divided the continent into eastern and western land masses. About 65 million years ago the sea drained and North America become whole. About the same time the dinosaurs died out. The Badlands were created about a half million years ago when erosion began to slice through the prairie and fossil-rich layers of mud-stone creating a landscape that is spectacular and can give one the impression of being on the moon or another planet.

As I ride, I am always looking for the unusual photo opportunity. This morning it came in the form of tires half buried in a field in a Stonehedge fashion and a dinosaur in the middle of absolutely nowhere, nothing within 20 miles of it. Also captured a shot of a very unique bar in Scenic South Dakota, which is basically an old Indian Trading Post town. Scenic got it's name as a result of being totally surrounded by the Badlands giving a "scenic" view to the original homesteaders.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Playing Tourist











Currently in Keystone South Dakota, 3408 miles into the trip.

Rode through Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park yesterday. Wind Cave is the world's second longest known cave and Custer State Park (Named after General George Custer of Custer's Last Stand) is the second largest state park in the U.S.

Today I toured Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore. Crazy Horse Memorial is the world's largest mountain carving in progress. It will depict Crazy Horse, a famous Lakota Sioux Chief setting atop his horse pointing to his lands in the Southern Black Hills of South Dakota. The carving was started in 1948 by Korczak Ziolkowski, a Boston born sculptor who won first prize at the 1939 New York World's Fair. The dimensions are staggering. A mountain sized statue of an Indian Chief and his spirited war-horse that's as long as a cruise ship and taller than a 60 story skyscraper. Since Ziolkowski's death several years ago, his wife Ruth and 7 of their children are continuing work on the mountain. Through a friend of my brother, I was able to meet Mrs. Ziolkowski today and also tour the top of the mountain, something I will never forget. At 82, Mrs. Z, as she is affectionately known by all, is clearly in-charge of the project. In addition to the massive sculptor, the site contains the Indian Museum of North America and a university for Native Americans is planned upon completion.

Mount Rushmore was every bit as awe inspiring as I remember seeing it as a kid. The 2 mile 10% grade climb up to the visitor center was somewhat of a challenge, but will worth the effort. Got some great pictures of the Presidents on the mountain, unfortunately, my camera was on a very high setting and I can't download the pictures.

Caught a great sunrise on my way out of Hot Springs Thursday morning. Saw a lot of wildlife Thursday in Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park, including approximately 300 buffalo. Seeing buffalo roam free in their natural setting was amazing, yet a bit scary when you are riding a bicycle and they are within yards of the road with no other vehicles within sit.

If you haven't visited the Black Hills, I would encourage you to do so. While there are many "tourist traps", the beauty of the mountains and parks are unmatched.

Spent Thursday afternoon and evening in Custer South Dakota with my best friend from high school, Harry Parry. After 20 years it was great to get caught up on everything from family to old friends and good times. Life-long friends are precious and something to be treasured for years to come.

Tomorrow I will ride out of the mountains and head toward Badlands National Park. For the next several days I may not have internet access or cell coverage as the next 250-300 miles heading East in South Dakota are very remote with very little in the way of services.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

South Dakota





Currently in Hot Springs, South Dakota, 3335 miles into the trip. Rode in rain this morning through Northern Neb farmland and wide-open grasslands in Southern South Dakota this afternoon.

Awoke early to a tremendous thunderstorm, although very little rain. Mostly lightening and thunder. Reminded me of growing up in Eastern South Dakota. Hot and humid this afternoon and a thunderstorm has just started.

Hot Springs is located in the Southern Black Hills of South Dakota. It is famous for it's hot springs which were initially used by the Sioux and Cheyenne Native American tribes to soak away their aches and worries. It is home to Evans plunge, the largest warm-water indoor swimming pool fed by a 5000 gallons per-minute spring which has been flowing for centuries. A site at the edge of town has yielded at least 55 mammoths, along with 40 other species of Ice Age animals that apparently died in an ancient spring-fed sinkhole 26,000 years ago.

Off to Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park tomorrow. Plan on doing some sightseeing and visiting my best friend from high school.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wide Open Spaces






Currently in Alliance in Northwestern Neb., 3227 miles into the trip. Rode through wheat and corn country early this morning. One of the great things about crossing the country on a bicycle is you are going in "slow motion" and you have an opportunity to witness some great scenery as well as capturing some pictures that you wouldn't normally shoot during a driving trip. It was very overcast early this morning which gave me an opportunity to "capture the moment" when the sun came through the clouds over a corn field.

Got great shots of a herd of buffalo and a couple of horses. Also took several shots of Courthouse and Jailhouse Rocks, a landmark on the Oregon-California, Mormon, Pony Express and the Sidney-Deadwood Trails. The Rocks stand 400 feet above the North Platte Valley. Ever wonder where old tractors go? I think I found out, they are all in a tractor parts yard in rural Northwestern Neb.!!!!!

Got an early start this morning. Stopped riding at 2:30 pm and achieved my goal of avoiding the hottest time of the day. First day this week the temperature was below 100 degrees when I finished for the day, just a cool 99 degrees. Had an opportunity to meet some of the colorful characters at the local "watering hole" and stay out of the heat.

Many people have asked about my route maps. There is an organization in Missoula Montana, Adventure Cycling, that has mapped out 38,000+ miles of cross-country bicycle routes. I started on the Northern Tier route from Sandpoint to Anacortes, Washington. I then went down the Pacific Coast route to Astoria, Oregon where I picked up the Trans Am route until I reached Gramby, Colorado. I am now "off route" traveling through Northern Colorado and the panhandle of Neb. I will ride through the Black Hills of South Dakota, then travel East until Minneapolis where I will pick up the Northern Tier route again. At this time, I am looking at changing my original route and plan on going to Bar Harbor Maine and then down the East Coast on the Atlantic Coast route. I don't think this will make much difference in my total miles and it will allow me to see the Northeast during the fall as well as travel through Ontario, Canada. Much of the ride after Minneapolis will be determined by when I leave Minneapolis in August and weather. All total, I will use 7000-8000 miles of the Adventure Cycling national route maps.

Off to Hot Springs in the Southern Black Hills of South Dakota tomorrow.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nebraska




Currently in Kimball Neb., 3126 miles into the trip. Kimball's claim to fame is it is in the center of the country and is surrounded by missile sites.

Another very hot and windy day. Started the day riding through wheat country in Colorado and ended in Nebraska. Short day today due to the heat and wind. Plan on starting early tomorrow to avoid riding in 100 + degree temperatures. The combination of heat and wind literally sucks the energy out of you!

Had an opportunity to take some great pictures of a herd of horses.

Off to Alliance Neb tomorrow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

On the road again




Back on the road today after taking Thursday through Saturday off in the Denver area to visit friends. Currently in Brush Colorado, 3048 miles into the trip. Long(130 miles), windy, hot(100+ degrees) ride today. Not many photo opportunities. Road the majority of the day with a former partner and old riding partner from my days in Colorado. Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo above, he didn't make it past the hay bale coming into Brush Colo!!!! Seriously, I spent the day trying to catch up with him, he is a great rider.

Had a great time seeing many old friends, partners and co-workers the last three days. It was great seeing many people that I haven't seen in 6-8+ years. Had an absolutely great dinner with my former Denver partners from Arthur Andersen. We had a very special group and it was like we were still working together. Thanks to Clayton Peterson for arranging the dinner.

Went to a Colorado Rockies baseball game with a couple of old buddies last night. The Rockies won and hopefully are about to begin their second half run for the World Series again.

On a sad note, had an opportunity to visit with a dear friend and former Partner who a serious health condition. Makes you realize that all the issues, problems and concerns we have are really trivial in relation to having your good health. Also confirms my belief of living in the moment as one never knows what the future will bring.

Thanks to Kathy and Eric Kufeldt and Roger and Jeannie Christensen for their great hospitality the last several days.

On my way to Scottsbluff Neb tomorrow and then the Black Hills of S. Dak later this week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rocky Mountain National Park












Sitting in a Panera Bread store near Boulder Colorado enjoying the great Colorado weather, thinking how lucky I am to have had an opportunity to visit three national parks in the last 10 days, Yellowstone, the Tetons and Rocky Mountain National Park. I have seen some of the most awe inspiring views in the world, not to mention buffalo, moose, coyotes, deer, elk and eagles. Each park has it own unique features, from Old Faithful to the awe inspiring mountains of the Tetons and the numerous 14,000+ peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. I have previously visited each of these parks over the years and this visit was by far the best. Picture yourself on a scenic drive in your car through the parks and image it in slow motion, which is the sensation one feels while riding a bicycle.

Rode Trail Ridge Road yesterday, the highest continuous paved highway in the U.S., reaching elevations of over 12,000 feet several times. The views from above tree line were amazing. Some great photo opportunities of a herd of elk. The picture of me with the pole behind my bike was at the highest point on the road. The pole is what they use to measure the snow depth when they are plowing the road in the spring and it was over 12 feet tall.

In some of the pictures you will note that the trees are very brown, having been killed by the pine beetle. At places up to 90% of the trees have died. While it seems sad to see all the dead trees, it is Mother Nature's way of regenerating the forest and has happened several times in the last 500+ years. In some places the forest has already started to regenerate itself. Unfortunately, there are likely to be many fires which will destroy homes and communities in the Rockies.

Many thanks to Theresa and David Madden for graciously providing a nice bed and warm shower in Boulder last night.

On my way to Denver today. Having lived there for over 20 years I will be taking the next several days off to visit friends. Plan on being back on the road on Sunday on my way to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and more mountain passes!

Many thanks to those that have contributed or pledged for the early childhood literacy program of the Panhandle Alliance for Education. If you haven't made a contribution or pledge, I encourage you to do so. Please consider a penny a mile, it will go a long way to helping families get their young children ready for school through PAFE's early childhood literacy program.

I'll be back on line early next week. Until then, enjoy your summer and the great weather.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Colorado Continued

For some reason the text of my posting didn't seem to post. I will try and recreate the text that goes with the pictures.

In Grand Lake Colorado, 2796 miles into the trip.

One of the great things about the ride is meeting other cross country riders and getting to know them. Rode yesterday and part of today with a real group of characters. Two brothers, one of which is pulling his 50+ pound dog in a trailer. The dog gets out on hills and climbs and runs beside the rider. One of the brothers is doing a documentary of "first kisses" and the other is on a "virtual reality bike ride" and believes he has reached level 9. Two sisters who did no training. One has a grant from her college to do the ride as long as she is writing songs about the trip. Two teachers riding separately, one which became known as our "bike angel" as he is also a bicycle mechanic. The other is a lady that I met about 3 weeks ago and finally caught up with her after taking time off last week. Another rider was someone I met in Dillon Montana several days ago.

Camped in the City Park of Walden Colorado last night. Had frost on my tent this morning. Fortunately, I was one of the few campers who didn't have the park sprinkler system hit my tent last night or early this morning.

I went off the Adventure Cycling national route today and will be following my own route for the next 1500+ miles through Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Plan on riding through Rocky Mountain National Park tomorrow on Trail Ridge Road that reaches elevations of over 12,000 feet and is the longest continuous paved road in the lower 48 states. I did this ride 30 years ago, much younger and not pulling a trailer with 50+ pounds of gear. It will be interesting and challenging.

All the best.

Colorado









In Grand Lake Colorado,

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wyoming and the Wind River






Spent the last two days traveling Southeast through the barren Wind River area of Central and Southern Wyoming. It is called "Wind River" for a reason, strong winds all the time and from every direction. Very desolate part of the country that was used by early settlers migrating from the East via the Oregon Trail. In some places you can still see the ruts of the wagons. As you can tell from the pictures, not much other than sagebrush, pronghorn antelope and roads. Split Rock (pictured above) was one of the few highlights of yesterday. It was a landmark along the trail for Native Americans, Mountain Men, and other settlers.

Currently in Saratoga Wyoming, gateway to the Snowy and Sierra Madre mountains and the Rocky Mountains 0f Colorado. 2652 miles into the trip. Saratoga is a mecca for hiking, fly fishing on the North Platte River and wintertime sports.

Had dinner at the historic Wolf Hotel, one of the best known restaurants in Wyoming, built in 1893. It sure beat Fig Newtons in the tent last night and the microwave pizza I had in a little gas station up the road from my camp site (in the yard of the former owner of the gas station).

Just went to the Saratoga municipal hot springs, a natural 115-117 hot spring. Now I know how a lobster must feel when it is first immersed in hot water! Meet several other cross country bicycle riders setting around the spring and compared notes. One rider was someone I had run into in Yellowstone a week ago last Thursday. Continue to see other riders everyday.

Line of the day--"This ain't Burger King, you can't have it your way. It's my way or you don't get a dam thing." Sign on the wall at Grandma's Cafe in Lamont Wyoming. A true cowboy place, complete with a John Wayne Western movie at 7:30 am being watched by Grandpa and Grandma when she wasn't cooking.

On my way to Colorado tomorrow.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

On the road again

After taking 5 days off, I am back on the road again. Left Jackson Hole this morning and had a great ride through the Snake River Valley North of Jackson. Took some incredible pictures of the Tetons, unfortunately, I had my camera on the wrong setting and I can't download any of today's pictures. Climbed the highest pass of the ride so far, 9658 ft Togwatee Pass.

Long day today, 157 miles, my longest ride of the trip so far. In Lander Wy., 2478 miles into the trip. Had a great 50 tail wind for about 50 miles this afternoon.

Unlikely to have internet access tomorrow as there is not much between Lander and Rawlins Wy, the next community of any size on the route.

All the best.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July







Currently in Jackson Hole Wy., about 2305 miles into the trip.

Spent yesterday riding through Yellowstone National Park. Lots of wildlife and Old Faithful. Today finished riding through Yellowstone and road through Grand Teton National Park. Scenery was unbelievable. Unfortunately many of the pictures I took today have files that are too large to download.

Yesterday was my 5th trip to Yellowstone. About 45 years ago we took our first real "family vacation" to Yellowstone. We loaded up the family car and I remember how excited we all were to see Old Faithful as we drove across South Dakota and Wyoming. In 1988 a good portion of the Park burned and I visited again in 1989. In 1989 the Park was barren, gray and covered in ash devoid of much of its wildlife and vegetation. It is great to see that 20 years after the fires, nature is taking it's course and the Park is once again the immense, forested wilderness I remember seeing as a kid. And, Old Faithful is as predictable as it was 45 years ago, erupting about every 60 to 90 minutes. Yellowstone was the first national park or reserve of its kind in the World, having been established in the 1870's, less than 100 years after the U.S. became a nation. The vision to create a national treasure to be enjoyed by everyone is a tribute to the everyone that was involved.

The Tetons were truly spectacular. They are some of the most rugged mountains in the world and dominate the landscape for miles.

Continue t0 meet other cross country riders. Met someone from Denmark yesterday and spent a lot of time yesterday and today with a rider from Pennsylvania. Also ran into several riders that I have previously meet on the route earlier in the trip. I am amazed at the network of riders and how quickly "news" travels along the route about different riders and their trips.

I will be taking the next 4-5 days off and this will be my last post until sometime late next week when I begin the segment of the trip through Wyoming on my way to Colorado. If you haven't already pledged to support the Panhandle Alliance for Education, please consider doing so now. Again, I can't think of a better cause than helping our children get ready for their education. You never know, through your help, they may have the vision to create "another Yellowstone" in the future.

I'm off to watch the local fireworks show!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

West Yellowstone






In West Yellowstone Montana, 2177 miles into the trip.

Overcast and cool this morning. Beautiful ride through the Madison River Valley, including past a stretch of the Madison River that I went fishing on several years ago. Managed to get a few pictures this morning when the sun was trying to break through the cloud cover. I continue to be amazed at the beauty and the vastness of the Western U.S.

Stopped at the Quake Lake information center and viewed a incredible video on the earthquake that struck the area on August 17, 1959. A 7.5 quake hit the area during the evening and caused a partial mountain to slide into the river valley and create a large new lake. The landslide partially buried a campsite and numerous people were injured or killed as a result. The picture at the top is the current view of the mountain that had the landslide.

Meet several cross country riders today headed East. Had dinner with two of them this evening and shared stories about our rides to date.

Off to Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful and the Tetons tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gateway to Yellowstone





Currently in Ennis Montana, 2101 miles into the trip and one day away from Yellowstone National Park. Stopped early today due to thunderstorms, high winds and rain.

Highlight of the day was the ride North of Dillon Montana through the Beaver River Valley. The Valley was a traditional summer hunting grounds for numerous Native American tribes as well as a major route to traditional buffalo hunting grounds in Northern Montana. The picture above, Beaverhead Rock, was a key landmark that was used by all tribes and Lewis and Clark to determine that they were traveling the right route.

Saw two of the largest birds I have ever seen this morning, at first I thought they were deer.

Met six other cyclists today on various cross country trips, including one from the Netherlands who is on a six month trip from Atlanta to the West Coast then on to Canada and East.

Off to West Yellowstone tomorrow and then into the Park.