a random smattering of photos from co and wy

Posted in Uncategorized on October 15, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty
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“the mostly dry, desert wheat fields with relentless winds and then some evergreens near the coast state”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty

Our avid followers (of which there are probably significantly less than three months ago due to the nature of our infrequent ramblings) are most likely on the edge of their seats these days wondering if the two remaining amigas were ever able to have their Lewis and Clark (and lets not forget Sacajawea) moment and actually taste the salty waters of the Pacific, and the answer, devotees, is yes. But not before the gods of the road had their last laugh.

The last we left you we had just sent Eliza off to Connecticut, to arrive there a mere few hours later after a harrowing journey of two months crossing the same distance, technology is just crazy these days. Anyway, from the strip malls of Lewiston, Idaho, Laura and Ashley set out to check off their twelfth and thirteenth states along the glorious Columbia river through what they thought would be dense, lush evergreen forests. Well, it turns out that although Washington claims to be the “evergreen state” and Oregon has an evergreen on their license plate, these are deceptive images. They should really be called “the mostly dry, desert wheat fields with relentless winds and then some evergreens near the coast state” but apparently this isn’t as catchy and doesn’t attract the pilgrims of young twenty somethings like us. But forward we charged once again, to Ashley’s delight, following the brave path of Lewis and Clark (and Sacajawea of course).

So for the next few days we zig zagged from Washington to Oregon and back again following the Columbia river. And if the winds of Wyoming and Kansas hadn’t given us enough of a run for our money, the Columbia valley certainly did. Turns out that it is actually the wind surfing capital of the world and obviously those winds were not at our backs. Onward we rode through the endless winds, the kind of winds that wake you up in the morning and put you to bed at night, that just never seem to stop and are always going in the wrong direction. But the beauty of the river, combined with the help of our trusty female vocalists via our ipods, kept us going.

Although the Columbia Valley appeared to be nothing but miles of wheat fields, we discovered that vegetables and grapes are also in abundance. So we made the best of things and collected our diners of fallen onions and potatoes from the side of the road and hit up the wine tastings along the way. As we entered the Gorge and the Mount Hood Valley, the long awaited images of lush evergreens came true and we were suddenly  enveloped by a thick canopy of greenery. And oh how glorious it was! Jutting cliffs, dense, fresh forests, adorably friendly towns, waterfalls galore, it was Oregon as we’d always dreamed!

So we rode into Portland after winding through the crisp evergreen air, with vista after vista of the Columbia river extending in both directions, waterfalls raining down on us everywhere, fruit growing on all the trees and baked goods being handed to us by supportive fans. With tears in our eyes, we entered the great city of Portlandia, expecting a huge archway and banner that read “Welcome to Portland, you made it, good job!”. To our dismay this was nowhere to be found. Instead we found a brewery and bacon cheeseburgers, a comparable substitute. So we scarfed down our victory meals and toasted to our success.

As we unloaded our panniers and became city goers for the next few days, we realized that unlike the majority of our trip, we were no longer anomalies in our spandex and clipless pedals. Quite the opposite, actually. We quickly became blurs among the sea of bikers and found ourselves, with our carefree poke-along speed, being passed by hundreds of bikers whizzing by us. We resolved that endurance, not speed was our strength and didn’t let it hurt our pride too much.

So for the next few days we tootled around the city, getting a little too excited about the plethora of coffee shops and thrift stores. We hopped around between friends couches and continued to be in awe of the ratio of tattoos, mustaches and cutoff jeans per square mile.

And then after getting sufficiently overwhelmed with this hipster haven, we loaded up our bikes once more to complete our coast to coast adventure. And that my friends is where I leave you once more hanging off the edge of your seats in anticipation for the conclusion of this epic journey. But never fear, in the next entry you can expect enough cheese to make you sick, a serendipitous encounter with another clan of bicycling broads and possibly a little poem to sum it all up.

Love and spandex to all,

The Amigas (though in truth we have all dissipated to our respective states at this point and Laura is your lone but faithful blogger)

Microbrews, mountains and mishaps

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty

Again we have put off writing for too long and again trying to report all that has happened seems like an overwhelmingly daunting task. The last you heard we were just crossing over under the big skies of Montana with a new team mate at our side. Currently we are three states beyond Montana and two team mates down, but lets not get ahead of ourselves here.

So that leaves us back in West Yellowstone after a morning of cuddling with grizzly bears and sipping coffee at an all female bike shop. From there we cruised into Montana under the open skies, along the glorious Madison river, with the wind at our back and gravity on our side, we felt like we were on top of the world. We marveled at the mountains and waved at the many fly fishers along the way until we got the cute fishing town of Ennis where we experienced some very serendipitous moments. We stopped at a fly fishing store to fix our stove and simultaneously on the street met someone from Saratoga Springs, found a stranger who gave us the exact spare part we needed for our stove and got invited to sleep and eat at a lovely couples’ house in town, all in the span of about 10 minutes. So we went to bed that night in an RV in the yard of a delightful couple with four kids after being fed a very filling beef stew, again our guardian angels were watching over us.

That morning we woke and stuffed ourselves with a delicious french toast breakfast at a local diner to celebrate Ashleys birthday and headed on our way following the rivers north through Montana. That afternoon we came upon another delightfully cute town, Twin Bridges: “The little town that cares”. And they really do, they set up a biker camp in their city park on the river with a shelter, picnic tables, a grill and bike stands, all free for touring bikers. So we decided to call it a day there, got our daily ice cream and a fishing license and spent the rest of the afternoon fishing and swimming. So with the help of our new team mate, Roger, we ended up catching two trout in the river to grill for a birthday dinner. We wrapped up Ashley’s birthday with fresh caught grilled trout, a big pot of pasta and a bottle of wine, a pretty nice way to start the year.

From Twin Bridges we continued north up and over Chief Joseph Pass and down one of the most spectacular rides we’ve had. In town we encountered a very zealous group of older bikers from Texas who agreed to share their dinner with us if we entertained them for the night with stories from our trip. So we gorged out again on beef stew and garlic bread and recounted all the trip highs, lows and everything in between for them.

Then it was off to the much anticipated Missoula for us, home of Adventure Cycling Association headquarters, microbrews and bike lanes, we were very excited to say the least. So after some last minute unexpected headwinds and highways, we arrives in the marvelous Missoula and rushed to the ACA office to have our picture taken, sign the guest book, get our free ice cream sandwiches and weigh our bikes (turns out we’ve been pushing around 70lbs each across the country). After settling into the apartment of Eliza’s friend Jeff from home, we hit the town and taste tested the many microbrews Missoula had to offer and created our own little dance party in the street. The next day we hit up all the samples at the farmers market as usual and went for a dip in the river and were just blown away how welcomed we felt as bikers in the city.

After a feast of a breakfast at Jeff’s it was off to Idaho for team fanny pack as we left Roger in Missoula to continue the microbrew sampling. And oh what an entrance into Idaho! We summited Lolo Pass (on the exact same same Louis and Clark did 205 years ago!) and then spent an entire day cruising down the mountain along the lush, gorgeous Lochsa river, taking dips as we went.

And then Idaho took our journey on some unexpected twists and turns. We left the lush river valley and continued south back into desert plateaus. We arrived in the town of Grangeville after a long climb and after picking up some groceries started the steep descent to the little town the Whitebird. The road was one of the steepest and scariest we’ve been on and as we whizzed down at around 30-35 miles an hour with Eliza leading the pack, she hit a rock and flew off her biked into the gravel shoulder. Ashley and Laura found her quite shaken up with a thumb the size of a golf ball, road rash all over her arm and shoulder sporting an impressive color pallat and a helmut that looked like it had been chucked against a concrete wall.

After taking some deep breaths and realizing that there were no dramatically serious injuries, we hailed down a car to take us to the nearest hospital. We soon became the talk of the town in Grangeville (the Sheriff got involved when a rumor started that Laura was abducted and that there was a small child involved) as the nurses cleaned up Eliza’s wounds, took some x-rays and determined that she probably broke her right thumb and tore her AC in her left shoulder in addition to the pretty serious abrasions covering the left side of her body. They informed us however that we would need to go the the orthopedic clinic in Lewiston to have it further examined and get a cast. We were graciously taken in that night by a woman who runs a local transportation service and drove us the 70 miles to Lewiston the next day. We were again taken very good care of by the nurses who put a cast on her and informed us that she probably wouldn’t need surgery but that it would take a good couple months for everything to heal. In Lewiston we checked into the Holiday Inn Express to set up camp for the next few days and figure out our next move (we found out that at least the Holiday Inn has complimentary continental breakfast and milk and cookies every night, we can never pass up free food). After a few pretty painful days for Eliza in which brushing her teeth and eating proved to be pretty difficult tasks, we decided that it would probably be best for her to go back home and heal in the comfort of her parents house and come back out to Portland when she’s in a better state. So after boxing up her bike and panniers and shipping them off to Portland, with many tears we sent Eliza off on a plane to Connecticut with promises to finish the trip all together when she heals.

For now we will leave you with that. Since then Ashley and Laura have made their way to Portland through Washington along the Columbia river and are headed off tomorrow to dip our front tires in the Pacific. More details about our Washington and Oregon adventures soon, if you’ve made it this far in our post, congrats on that. Hope everything’s well in your many corners of the world, much love to all!

WYom-i-working-so-hard-and-going-nowhere

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty

So last you heard we were sailing into Wyoming with the winds at our backs and the promise of the national parks in front of us. Many of the east-bound riders that we had met told us that Wyoming was a miserable state to bike through and sort of equated it with Kansas. We completely disagree, because the open plains filled with ranches and grass fed beef (angus) spilled into valleys of soft mountain ranges, red open rock faces, canyons, and rivers. We had a few thrilling downhills that we wouldn’t have exchanged for anything! At the end of our first day in Wyoming we found ourselves in none other than Saratoga, Wyoming.  Quite entertained, we discovered that this Saratoga was also equipped with Saratoga Lake, Hot Springs, and unnecessary boutiques. Felt just like home.  A delightful woman in town bought us tickets to the Saratoga Blues Festival at the Whistle Pig Saloon and we enjoyed an evening of rip roaring blues music (which was actually very good) under the Wyoming stars. Let’s say we stuck out just a little in the crowd with our fanny packs and spandex (and Ash’s tevas) in a sea of cowboy hats and excellent 90’s hair-dos.

From there we experienced our most unattractive ride yet as we had to spend a nerve wracking 13 miles on Interstate 80 (only in Wyoming) and then biked through the oil refinery in Sinclair, and ended up in the strange metropolis of Rawlins. Here we enountered a really good Amish grocery store, a really bizarre and useless bikeshop, and then hightailed it out of the city and into the Great Divide Basin where we ended up in the 7 person town of Lamont.  Here we happened upon a little bike haven and got to spend the night in a Tipi run by a very generous woman who opened her yard and her fridge to long distance bikers. At the site we met a German couple who was 3 months into a trip taking them from Anchorage, Alaska to the tip of Argentina! Certainly put our trip into perspective. 

From Lamont we embarked on a 94 mile day to the town of Lander, which would have been quite delightful through the sage brush and red rock cliffs had it not been for the resurgance of the wind. A wind that makes standing up a challenge, and makes riding a bike feel like the most fruitless effort possible. Even with the road sloping down in our favor we had to pedal with all of our might just to move forward. riding into Lander we hit our most pitiful point as the rain kicked in and started diagonally pelting us with freezing droplets. Reaching the town at last, we took refuge in a coffee shop and got in touch with a couchsurfer for the night. It turns out that Lander is a really neat town with the headquarters of NOLS and a young and more liberal population than the majority of the Wyoming we had experienced.

Our couchsurfing host of the night was named Juan, an avid dumpster diver, black and white photographer, world traveler, caver, and packrat. He made us a delicious scavenged dinner and provided a much needed shower, and many entertaining travel stories. The next morning we headed towards Dubois, our last stop before the Tetons, and found that yes indeed, the wind could get worse. To give you an idea, we met two bikers going in the opposite direction enjoying a healthy average of 20 mph while we trucked along at around 8, when we were lucky. We spent the day following the Wind River (should have been a warning sign) and finally reached Dubois, found a church to take us in, and devoured a huge and much deserved diner meal.

The next morning, up and over Togwatee Pass, we got our first glance of the Tetons, which were the incredible backdrop to the rest of the day’s ride as we sailed down the pass, into the valley of Jackson Hole, and then slowly but surely made our way into the town of Jackson (yes, still against the wind) and met up with Laura’s friend Annie who put us up for the next couple of nights. In Jackson we enjoyed a 10 mile float down the Snake River and a reunion with some other Skidmore alums (of which there are quite a few in jackson). The Tetons provide the people of Jackson with a huge outdoor playground and we could see how ski and climbing junkies get sucked into the lifestyle.

We left Jackson and enjoyed a beautiful bike path as we crossed into Grand Teton National Park with its pristine lakes and endless views of the peaks. We ended at a campsite at Colter Bay and had a glorious afternoon in a secluded rocky inlet on Jackson Lake and after a refreshing swim we relaxed for the night next to the fire. We woke up to find frost on our bike seats and learned for the first time how important the sun is in the elevated mountian mornings. That afternoon we crossed into Yellowstone! and proceeded to enjoy the incredible geology, scenery, some wildlife, and of course those unique odors that waft from all of the geyser basins. We trecked around the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, survived the shoulderless roads on Labor Day Weekend (which was a feat) and got to witness the ever popular Old Faithful and her surrounding geysers. The visitor center at Old Faithful answered many of our questions, and we kept reflecting on the massive store of magma simmering beneath our feet as well as the potential of the Yellowstone Volcano and all of its energy.

We had a lovely evening ride out of the park, into Montana, and the very touristy town of West Yellowstone. Luckily we found a delicious dinner (BBQ!) and a very hospitable fire station. The next morning  we got to watch the grizzly bears and wolves wake up at the refuge in town (from behind a fence, don’t worry) found an all female run bike shop/coffee shop, and encountered a fellow biker hailing from Boulder, CO and headed in our direction, so the 3 became 4 for the next 5 days through Montana. Roger added wonderful energy, enertainment, and fishing skills.

Sorry for the cliffhanger, but we’re at the visitor center at Lolo Pass where we just crossed into Idaho, so you’ll have to wait for the next installment of our Montana travels.

10 states down, 2 to go!

Laur, Ash, Lyz

ColoRADo…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 6, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty

Well, it’s been a while, so this might be a little bit scattered. Currently we are in Twin Bridges, Montana spending the night along the Beaverhead River at a “bicycle camp” set up by the town. We are celebrating Ashley’s 23rd birthday with a french toast breakfast, multiple ice creams, and a home caught trout for dinner!

But back to where we left off, after spending a night under a rock wall at a local church in Pueblo (when we actually knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore) we began the epic ascent into the Rocky Mountains. Even with the wind at our faces we were overwhelmed with delight and excitement leaving the dry plains behind as the Rockies engulfed us and we ventured into the first cool weather we had experienced in months. Our first night in the mountains led us to Guffey, CO with a booming population of 19 but more spirit than we could have hoped for. We spent the night in our own little rustic cabin and got a tour of the town and inducted into Guffey’s Garage Gang by Bill, the hippy union electrician turned antique fanatic/junkyard artist. We were excited to learn about the annual Chicken Fly and Testical Festival that are quite unique to Guffey.

From Guffey we continued to gain elevation as we headed up towards the continental divide at Hoosier Pass. Along the way the scenery continued to blow our minds as the mountians both surrounded us and tantalized us in the distance. We had a lunch break in Alma, the highest incorporated town in America, then trucked the next 6 miles up to the highest point of the whole trip at over 11,000 ft, no big deal 🙂  Once over the pass we sailed down into the beautiful yet touristy ski town of Breckenridge, CO. We were immediately welcomed into the home of our new couchsurfing friend Danny, a previous Transam rider who was full of fun travel stories and goofy conversations. Our plan was to get to Denver the next day, but we learned that a huge and very unpleasant mountain pass stood in our way, and decided to make the journey by car.

We left our bikes at Danny’s (with just a little bit of separation anxiety) and stuck out our thumbs in the direction of I-70 towards Denver. 2 rides later, after making a few new friends, we landed in the heart of Denver to meet up with Laura’s friend Hope from abroad. We explored the city a little bit then met up with Ashley’s friend from abroad, Ben, who told us that Railroad Earth and Yonder Mountain String Band were playing that night at Redrocks. This was Eliza’s longtime dream come true, and having no tickets didn’t stop us so we trecked up the back side of the hill facing the venue and enjoyed the music from a distance with the starry night sky, Denver Skyline, and a lightening storm dancing in the distance. So far, so incredible.

After a morning at the farmers’ market we met up with Eliza’s friend Beth from abroad (SIT was having a big weekend) and explored the funky streets of Boulder for the afternoon. After being sufficiently overwhelmed by life in the big city we ventured back to Breckenridge to reunite with our bikes and Danny for a relaxing evening. The next morning we got up early and tackled our first 14,000 ft peak called Quandry Mountain. This was a very special day for Ashley, as we came upon a lone Mountain Goat upon the mountainside (for those of you who aren’t aware, this is Ashely’s spirit animal). We let them have a moment, snapped some photos, and finished the steep rocky climb to the top. The breathtaking 360 degree view of the Rockies amazed us the whole way up and we spent over an hour at the summit reveling in the beauty of it.

The next morning we said goodbye to Danny and Breckenridge and ventured north to the town of Hot Sulphur Springs. Along the way we enjoyed a 15 mile beautiful bike path through the woods and along a lake, and a lunchtime plunge into the gorgeous teal colored waters of Green Mountain Resevoir.  The ride into town led us through a huge canyon with red jagged rocks surrounding us on either side and down to a campsite along the Colorado River. It turns out that the resort has a late night deal, so at 8pm we headed over to enjoy 2 hours of soaking in the 24 different mineral baths under a cool, clear, colorado sky.

The next few days led us out of the Mountains and Colorado (it was sad to leave) and into the wild open plains and ranches of Wyoming, Forever West.

Kansas to Colorado!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 24, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty

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((The  Missouri State Fair, Kansas morning cornfields, Hoosier Pass!, a trip to Denver/Boulder, 3 victorious bikers on top of Quandry Mountain, one of Colorado’s 14,000 footers! ))

From Missouri to Colorado by Camera

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2011 by biketolivefranklincounty

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