Saturday, June 28, 2008

Michigan, Kal-Haven Rail Trail

Our last stop on the Pennsylvania to Yellowstone, Wyoming road trip.

We hopped on a rail trail this morning intending to put in maybe 50 miles. Around mile 10 we asked each other how much further we wanted to go. We were enjoying the trail and had thoroughly enjoyed our trip, but we were ready to go home. On mile 11 we looked at each other and said, "lets just go home" We turned around and headed back for the car, then drove straight home. We got in around 2AM. I'm a bit anal about having the house spotless before leaving for vacation, but what a wonderful feeling to walk in to a clean house after a long trip! This worked out perfectly giving us Sunday to relax and do laundry before going back to work.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Dark Wisconsin Tunnel

The rail trail we choose today boasted 3 old train tunnels. Just before entering the first one we passed a big sign advertising flashlights, ice cream, and soda. A home owner along the trail was taking full advantage of his location. We smiled and rode on. Just a little way into the first tunnel there was a turn. From there for half a mile there was no light whatsoever, not even a speck at the end of the tunnel. A distant drone slowly became louder and a small light appeared to be getting closer. Trin said, "A ghost train!" We decided to turn around and did our best not to run. We went back to the small ice cream stand and paid $5 for a flashlight. The "train" turned out to be a park truck doing maintenance on the trail.

The tunnel was damp and eerie. The only sound was that of dripping water and our bike tires on the old rail mound. This was the kind of darkness that makes every horror movie ever seen flash back into memory. This 3/4 mi tunnel was quite an experience.Before leaving Wisconsin we stopped at "The house on the rock" a house built around a pinnacle rock

It features an infinity room. The room narrows as it looms further over the valley below. The windows angle outward, giving a good view of the forest floor below. A number of people walked to the end with feet spread far apart and hands reaching out on either side as if they were going to suddenly fall out of the room.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Greenway, Minnesota

Of all the cities we have biked in, we vote Minnesota to be the best!! At times we felt like the city could be miles away.

Normally on our rides I'm the one that will take inspiration from a slow car or another rider going by to speed up and pass, or race them. Trin is always saying, "Oh, no here we go." Today as we stopped for a red light a road bike (we are on our mountain bikes) pulled up beside us and gave us a superior look. When the light turned green he took off with Trin right behind. I laughed, "Oh no I've rubbed off on him!!" We paced him for a few miles till the road biker turned off the greenway. Next time we stopped, nothing had to be said I just gave Trin a look and we both started laughing.

Thank you to Olga for giving me the wonderful bike map of the Twin Cities last time you visited PA!

Best quote of the day: "uhh, uhh, uhh, (a kind of gut/guttural sound) Come on dude!" On part of the commuter bike trail we came across a small "traffic jam" the inline skaters behind us felt a little angst at our sudden stop. We jumped off the trail giving them more time to stop before hitting the jam. We have now taken to saying this to each other whenever we see someone getting frustrated.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Maa Daah Hey

The day after our attempt up Mt. Washburn we stopped at Mammoth springs then drove across Montana, skipping biking for the day.

North Dakota and we are back in the saddle. The Maa Daah Hey Trail is reported to be one of the best single tracks, something we definitely didn't want to miss. The Dr. said that it would be painful to ride the next few weeks but that it would not cause further injury, so here we go!

I didn't clip my left foot in the entire time; I'll leave that for the ride tomorrow. =)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wyoming, Yellowstone

Yellowstone Natl Park
I have longed to see Yellowstone National Park since I can remember ever knowing about it. It's thrilling to think of walking atop a live volcano. Steam whistles out of small fissures as if a tea pot were forgotten on the burner. Deep blue pools beckon the observer to wade forward and swim as if in the Caribbean. This surface beauty gives only glimpses of the raw power lying just beneath its thin crust.

We rode a few of the bike trails. It was a great way to see some of the park away from the crowds. Still no grizzly sightings, but the bison were in abundance. They owned the park, meandering down the highway as they pleased, glancing at the cars with a look that says, "hey haven't you seen a bison before?" We could have reached out the window and touched them as they walked around our car. Mt. Washburn
Our last ride in Yellowstone was up Mount Washburn, well almost up to the summit. We started at the base of Chittenden road. It was a steady climb, we were moving slow, but steady. The higher we got the more snow we were running into, but the view was gorgeous. Then we came to the fateful snow patch. Evidently I didn't get all the mud out of my clip when we carried the bikes through the last snow patch, or at least this is my excuse. When I hit the new patch of ice I didn't unclip in time. Instead I planted my bike handle bars directly onto the trail and tried to impale my chest on the other end. With the combination of high elevation, climbing, and then this blunt force impact I couldn't catch my breath. After getting up out of the ice cold mud puddle I was quite dizzy, and the pain was excruciating. We failed to make the top. I was extremely disappointed. Someday we will go back and finish it.
The staff at the hospital in Montana was very nice and thankfully the X-rays showed no broken ribs. The impact hit the cartilage between my ribs and sternum. Within a few days I had a nice large purple lump and a number of wonderful memories of Yellowstone.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What is a Blog

So I just finished reading my husbands blog "Bike Rides and Meanderings" He has such a way with words, a way of describing things so that the reader is actually there and can join his bike ride. My blog, well if you can even call it blogging, turns out to be a list of facts. A list of facts that my kind sister reads, right now she is my faithful audience, lol.

It is a warm night tonight, our windows are open and a number of small gnats have managed to find their way in. As I slap at another I muse out loud, "why are bugs drawn to light anyway?" Without missing a beat my husband responds, "because they are descendants of Icarus." See how does he come up with these things! I lists facts and wonder at the mundane. He looks around and easily reflects a picture of words, overlooks the ordinary and makes it interesting.

It seems I can think of so many things to say while riding my two wheels, maybe its just too late and I should call it a night. Tomorrow I shall try again!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wyoming, Grand Tetons

The Grand Tetons!

The first night we took a short easy ride through Antelope flats. A heard of Bison were grazing next to the road, one was rolling around in the dirt. They lazily watched as we road next to them. After they were out of site Trin and I dared each other to sprint back to the car at the speed of a Bison. LOL, we barely reached the 35mph, but didn't keep it up for long.

We spent the next day on the RKO trail. It is an old gravel road that cuts between the Tetons and Snake River - breathtaking views! We didn't see another soul the entire ride!

Grassy Lake Road:
The following day we headed out onto Grassy Lake Road, an old Indian trail between the Tetons and Yellowstone Natl Park. We saw a number of bear tracks, but no bear sightings. We met two other riders who were ridding the Great Divide. The started at the Mexican border and were headed to Canada.

The further we progressed the more snow we were encountering. We ended up turning around due to the amount of snow still remaining. We felt like wimps until we saw that the Great Divide riders turned around as well. We felt much better. If they couldn't make it! Of course we later saw them doing an elevation climb in Yellowstone, OK, we are still wimps. Riders like that keep the bar high, always more to achieve.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

SD Black Hills

Mickelson Trail
We loved the Mickelson Trail through the black hills of South Dakota. We only rode about 50 miles of the Mickelson trail, but thoroughly enjoyed it!

Wind Cave

At Wind cave we got in line and purchased tickets for one of the three main tour options through the cave. Then we noticed a "wild cave tour" An option of following a guide through a "unmaintained" portion of the cave. It warned that participants should be under a certain size, be in good physical condition, be ready to climb and get filthy. This sounded like fun! Luck for us there were two spots left that day. We returned our tickets then went back to the car to put old shirts long sleeved shirts on. No cameras, phones, keys etc allowed. We geared up with the required knee pads, gloves, flashlights, and helmets! It was a fun interesting way to see the cave.

Mammoth Site in Hot Springs:

Elephants are one of my favorites so a stop at the Mammoth archaeological dig was a must!

Scenic Drives
Two scenic corkscrew roads not to miss!
Iron Mountain: Each tunnel on this road had a nice view of the carvings on Mt. Rushmore

Needles Road: This road wound through some excellent rock formations.

Hells Canyon

Driving out of South Dakota in the evening we stopped by a scenic turnout. There we noticed a small single track. The sign said it was only 5mi. Why not, we quickly changed unloaded the bikes and headed out. Unfortunately we didn't complete the entire trail as darkness fell very quickly. By the time we got back to the car we were following the trail with flashlights. We also found our clothes covered with ticks!!! We took them off as quick as possible shook them out and tied them tight in a plastic bag to be washed later. After scanning for ticks on each other we got dressed and headed down the road. Thankfully this was a very remote trail and no one else was around! It was a fun pit stop.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

South Dakota

We traveled miles and miles across the flats of South Dakota. Billboards continually reminded us that we would soon be at Wall Drug where they offer free ice water, or that we would soon be near the world’s only corn palace! Then in the middle of this never ending plain we seen an announcement for a scenic overlook, we both looked at each other and laughed – its flat land as far as the eye could see – or so we thought! The landscape suddenly dropped before us revealing a beautiful valley – it was gorgeous!

In this valley we stopped at Casey’s noted as having the “Perfect burger” - according to Readers Digest. The burger was good, but the service was great. A lot of restaurants will charge you extra to split a meal, and only if you ask will they bring a separate plate. Here they cut the burger for us and brought the meal out on two plates without us even asking. It’s the little things that count. The waitress was very friendly! I enjoy good service and am at the point in my life where I will pay extra for it. I’m not rich, but I’m no longer so poor that I scrape ice off the bedroom wall in the winter either. When that was the case, I sometimes had to put up with poor service as the best price was an absolute must. Now that I’m comfortable, I won’t do business with business rude people. Life is too short to throw dollars at mean people. If possible I’m a customer to those who hire employees with people skills and pleasant personalities. They deserve a little extra and a good tip.

The best part of this road trip so far is just being free and enjoying this life with my husband. South Dakota, flat open country, big sky, green grass, open space, grazing cattle (which for some reason my husband and I have taken to the habit of making mooooing sounds each time we pass a heard). A comfortable car, long flat roads, and a thoughtful, kind, selfless man in the seat next to me, contentment and freedom!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chicago Biking

First Stop, Chicago

We spent the afternoon riding along the Lakefront trail in Chicago. This was a beautiful way to see the city.

The route is an easy ride through parks along the Lake Michigan. We ended the day with a great meal from Isla Pilipina - EXCELLENT food!