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Field notes from my tour across the USA

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Field notes from my tour across the USA

Old 07-20-19, 11:27 PM
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Field notes from my cycle tour across the USA

Riding across the U.S. is something I’ve wanted to do for 40 years.
I realized that dream this summer, starting in Washington D.C. on May 3, I completed the journey on Thursday, July 18 when I arrived on my bike to my home in North Bend, Washington.

I had built up a special bike for this trip. A Woodrup, built by Kevin Sayles out of Leeds, G.B.
A proper British Touring bike suits my personality and it was a good topic of conversation along the way.

Bike is assembled and ready to go by NBend, on Flickr

Heading East to West, I took advantage of several well known and documented routes:
  • The C&O Towpath to Cumberland, Md.
  • The GAP Rail Trail to Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Several map sections of the Adventure Cycling “Chicago to NYC” route
  • Several map sections of Adventure Cycling “Underground Railroad” route
  • A bunch of map sections of Adventure Cycling “Trans America Trail” route
Once I got mid-way through Idaho, I went off route and made my own way home using Google maps and a recreation map of Washington State.

While I was out on the road, I sent out emails via a “bcc” to a small number of friends and family that I called “TransAm Field Notes” so they could track my progress and hopefully not worry so much while I was gone. It was a bit of a nuisance to do but in the end, I’m glad I did because they were appreciated and also I ended up with a journal of sorts that will help me to remember things as time goes by.

I’ve compiled them now to share with you on the forum with very few edits from their original form. They were sent at random points on my journey and numbered so I could keep them straight so as to be able to retrieve one in case I’d forgotten an email recipient which happened a few times. These words are kind of personal to me and I feel like I’m stepping out on a limb sharing with strangers so please cut me a little slack. I don’t claim to be a great writer or photographer, just a guy who has lived vicariously thru the words of others on their adventures and this is my attempt to repay that in return.

Field Note 1
I just settled into my tent after my 1st day of riding.
I started my tour officially at the Lincolin Memorial and followed various bike paths until I connected with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path in Georgetown. The towpath was used by draft horses back in the 19th and early 20th centuries to pull canal barges on the canal. Now it is this wonderful dirt path that follows the Potomic river for 180 miles to Cumberland WV. Tonight I am camping in a free hiker biker site just off the trail near the town of Brunswick Md. after riding a bit over 50 miles today. The camp has a killer view of the Potomic. A light rain is starting to fall and there's some thunder in the distance. Hoping for a quiet night…

The towpath by NBend, on Flickr


Camping along the Potomic by NBend, on Flickr

Field Note 2
Last night I signed off to you with light rain and thunder in the distance. Now to tell the rest of the story.
I had just turned the phone off and was going to sleep when a dozen teenaged scouts and 6 adults descended on the campsite. Awww man, but oh well, the sites belong to all.

Super noisy for the next hour as they set up camps all around me, the adults doing their best to corral the kids. Then the heavens opened up wiping away any negative thoughts I may have held for them. Thunder, lightning and intense rain for the next 2 hours like I've never seen before. Scary and awesome. Must have rained several inches. It was deafening, drowning out the frequent train noise as they ran along the track 50 yards away. Lightning illuminating my tent.
My tent.. Love that thing. It kept me dry though the night. Wow.

So this morning I broke camp glad to get away from all those kids and relieved to have come through that storm unscathed.
I rode up river to Antietum Creek and took a quiet side road to visit the Antietum Battlefield just outside Sharpsburg, Md. The countryside is beautiful, many old farms dot the rolling landscape.

Pennsylvania county side by NBend, on Flickr

The feeling was somber riding through the battlefield. Placards and monuments document the progression of Lee's attempt to invade the north. I was struck by the thought that the victors write history. Here, most of the monuments pay tribute to Union Forces. The losses on both sides were horrible.

Antieum battlefield by NBend, on Flickr

Checking the weather I see more thunderstorms and flash flood warnings for tonight. I played my wise old man card and got a room for the night in Shepherdstown Wv.
My muddy and wet tent is hanging to dry along with laundry. A real gypsy camp, I am watching bluegrass on a public channel and drinking a beer in bed. What a way to wait out a storm.

Drying off tonight by NBend, on Flickr

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Old 07-20-19, 11:31 PM
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Field Note 3
Well, I finally made it to Pittsburgh this afternoon just as a light rain began to fall.
7 days into the journey and all is well.

I am staying in the South Side Travelers Rest Bike Hostel ( https://www.sstrpgh.com ) just a few blocks off the 3 rivers bike trail, and downtown Pittsburgh is just across the river so very convenient for my needs. I'll stay here for an extra day and get some rest.

I took the "Incline" up to the high ridge on the South Side to get the picture that everyone gets of Pittsburgh. by NBend, on Flickr


The 10th Ave Bridge takes you from Downtown to the South Side Flats by NBend, on Flickr


The were plenty of Tattoo parlors in the neighborhood that would love to give you a souvenir if you were so inclined.. by NBend, on Flickr

I have gone a little over 300 miles now all of it on two off road bike trails. I had last written while still on the C&O towpath. That trail is 180 miles long, a mostly double track trail than a dirt road it was very muddy from the storms that had rolled though. It made travel difficult as the ground was saturated and I mostly rolled through about 2" of mud and puddles most of the way. There were detours because of washouts and I had to climb over several trees that had gone down over the trail. That was no easy task as I'd have to remove my Panniers (bags), carry the bike over the tree then fetch the bags and re-mount them on the other side. Sometimes I was pretty frustrated but for the most part, I was caught up in the adventure and didn't mind. 2 days of heavy rain but the other days were sunny at least for part of the day.

Sunny now but still very soggy going by NBend, on Flickr

I ended up staying in motels 2 nights during the worst weather and I suppose other riders on the trail did as well. I saw a few other bikers check in muddy from head to toe looking more like coal miners at the end of their shifts :-). I fared better with fenders so my mud was limited to my feet and calves.

The entire Canal path is very beautiful and I enjoyed seeing lots of critters. Turtles are abundant and so are many bird species. Occasionally I'd see deer. I really liked seeing the old canal lock workers houses (reminded me of Holland)

Reminds me of Holland.. by NBend, on Flickr
and going through the Paw Paw Tunnel. The approach to the tunnel reminded me of something out of a Tolkien story. You approach via a rocky notch on a narrow path, canal just to your right, waterfalls cascading over the rocky walls then you and the canal enter the tunnel....

Canal boats used the Paw Paw Tunnel by NBend, on Flickr

It was quite a contrast to ride the 144 Mile long Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail trail beginning in Cumberland Md.

The trail is wide and composed mostly of finely crushed rock. It seemed more like a freeway after what I'd been on. The trail takes you over the Appalachian Mtns and the eastern continental divide.

The eastern continental divide by NBend, on Flickr

The GAP trail in general is drier, there are fewer critters and more people using the trail and you pass by many more towns. The trail became more scenic as you drop down the other side of the continental divide and follow the Youghenny (sp?) River. It narrows a bit and is more shaded. Camping along side the trail was quite nice as I spent 2 nights camping along the GAP. One night on a covered stage in a fairground and the other inside a camping shelter made by a local boy scout troop.


My Hobo Chalet on the GAP trail Wednesday night. by NBend, on Flickr

I was also impressed with how well the local community groups support and maintain the GAP trail.

A thriving tourist industry is growing and revitalizing these small towns along the trail. My favorite small trailside town was Ohiopyle, Pa. I stopped and had a beer on the patio at a place that looked like it came out of the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes". This town is near Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Waters" house and I wish I'd had the time to go and see it but I felt like I needed to get as many miles in on the trail yesterday as I knew from reports that rain would be coming back Thursday afternoon. I ended up putting in over 70 miles for the day and fell asleep in my hobo camp last night listening to wild Turkeys calling in the woods by the river.

So there it is, I got into Pittsburg today and I'm none the worst for wear.

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Old 07-20-19, 11:33 PM
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Field Note 4
I am writing to you from Columbus, Ohio this morning after a restful nights sleep in a great little youth hostel near the Ohio State University.

I left Pittsburg feeling nervous about the route ahead. Navigating is not my strong suit and I was soon off course pedaling thru neighborhoods on the South Side stopping frequently to get my bearings using Google maps which sometimes doesn't really help much. Pittsburg is HILLY and a wrong turn at times is very painful as you pedal back up some steep hill to get to a place you're not really certain is the right direction anyway but after an hour or two, I finally made my way into open country to a fantastic rail trail that was on course and followed it all the way southwest to the West Virgina border. I enjoyed it so much not having to worry about route finding that I took it too far and had to back track some :-)

West Virginia is quite hilly, forested with broad leaf trees and the roads I followed narrow and twisty. Really pretty.

West Virginia ridge line hopping by NBend, on Flickr

I eventually ended up rolling into Wheeling, WV alongside the Ohio River on a bike path and straight into their very 1st Gay Pride festival. Even in WV, times they are a changing.
No camping nearby and its late so I check into a hotel.

The next morning It's raining when I cross over the river into Ohio on the historic Wheeling Bridge (built in 1847) and I wasn't prepared for the shock I received. I had this impression of Ohio, being all hometown 'merica: farms, neat orderly houses and towns but here it was like I was in the movie Deliverance.
Dingy towns lined the river bank, pot holed streets. Gaunt folks sitting on the front porches of houses rotting on their foundations staring at me. Had me a little nervous.
I of course got a little off course and stopped to check my map and this old feller with missing teeth wearing a wife beater shirt shouted out to me "where ya going? Need help?" I rolled over to the sidewalk and his family poured out the house offering me directions. The littlest one, about 10 years old said he wanted a bike like mine.

I thanked them for their help and rolled into the hills outside of town. The eastern part of Ohio is NOT FLAT.

Ohio ain't flat by NBend, on Flickr

Nasty steep little hills going up or down with very few level areas. It was exhausting work. The secondary roads I was following were not always marked and there were very few signs pointing to towns. Local knowledge was assumed I guess. I soon came to appreciate how helpful and friendly folks are in those parts. If I was stopped at any intersection looking at my map, someone would stop, roll down their window and offer help.
I rolled thru a town called Quaker City on Sunday and sure enough, saw a couple of families coming home from church in black horse n buggies.

I found a place to camp in a park on Seneca Lake and slept really well.

It rained over night and I woke up pretty depressed, sore, and tired. I didn't want to get out if my warm sleeping bag.

I finally got going for another day of incessant ups and downs of a cold drizzly day. I met another tour rider going the other way. These types of encounters are really nice because you don't feel so alone you know you're on the right track and you share info about what's ahead. Dave was travelling from Chicago to NYC.

Meet Dave, a rider travelling from Chicago to NYC by NBend, on Flickr

After I left Dave, I missed a turn and rode an hour and a half north of where I should have been. I did mention, a lot of roads aren't signed in these parts.
Thanks to Google I was able to find my way to Zanesville where I got a motel for the night to dry out and rest. Went out for a nice Italian dinner too. All that seemed to help as yesterday was the easiest day I've had so far on the bike. Of course the sun finally came out all day and I was finally out of hill country.

I made about 70 miles the next day into Columbus.

My bed for the night in Columbus is this Hostel right behind me in the red house. Really nice and friendly young folks, we sat around a fire ring in the back yard and talked till I started to nod off. Time for bed. I had a really good day today. by NBend, on Flickr

This morning, I feel pretty good, the sun is out and I need to get going.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:35 PM
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Field Note 5
Weather. It's been in the news a lot lately. I've witnessed a bit of it but most of it is North or West of where I've been riding.
It's not to say I haven't been acutely aware of the possibility of getting caught in a violent storm. I check weather reports often and am ready to revise plans if there's a possibility of one coming thru. Then there are the clues: wind picks up, distant thunder. You know its coming soon when on the horizon a wall of dark blue/grey appears and it's upwind from you.

The latest example happened on my last day in Ohio. I was riding along the banks of the Ohio River thinking to myself if I should cross into Kentucky at Maysville and camp in the park by the river or check into a motel in Aberdeen Ohio based on a friendly strangers recommendation he'd given to me earlier in the day.

It had been nice all day. Warm, humid and sunny.
There was some reports of possible rain. It was getting on in the afternoon and I had put in 70+ miles. As I rode into Aberdeen, clouds had been forming on the other side of the river and some thunder could be heard. I decided to motel it for the night, better safe than sorry. So I pull into the Beverly Hills Inn just as a few rain drops fall and ask for a room. 47 bucks for the night and their bar Jethro's was serving food.

Classy joint by NBend, on Flickr

Seemed good enough to me.
The skies open up while I was checking in. Thunder, torrents of rain blowing sideways like a cheap movie, I waited under the eaves for 15 minutes till the worst of it passed thru before going across the flooded parking lot to my room. Here's a little video I made:



I changed into some street clothes and went to the bar for dinner. I quickly ate my burger and retreated to my room after a really drunk customer decided to try and become my best friend at the bar. His loud slurred speech and heavy southern accent made it nearly impossible for me to understand him.

Anyways, I am sure some of you may be worried when you see the news reports of violent weather in the Midwest. I am being careful. Today, I cut the ride short and checked into a hotel because high winds, thunderstorms are expected this afternoon and evening. I started early and revised/shortened my route so I'd be in sheltered before 3pm. I look outside my window and see the winds are blowing pretty hard now.

I'll spend the rest of the day washing clothes and watching tv.

P.S. Ohio has an amazing set of interconnected bike trails running from Lake Erie to The Ohio River near Cincinnati. I spent 2 glorious days riding on the paved rail trails from Columbus to nearly Cincinnati. I cannot tell you how pleasurable it was to spend those days riding along without worrying about navigation or cars. Truly stress free. If you ever have a mind to try bike touring consider the Erie to Ohio bike trail. It would be super easy to do a 400 mile credit card tour on this route. Small towns along the way have really embraced the trail and the business it brings in.

Exceptional hospitality in small town Ohio. Camping in a city park. by NBend, on Flickr


The little Miami river trail by NBend, on Flickr

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Old 07-20-19, 11:37 PM
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Field Note 6
In my last entry I focused on the weather and not so much on the route I was travelling so I'll try and catch up on what its been like riding along the Ohio River that forms the border between Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. One day I may be riding in Kentucky and the next, in Ohio then back into Kentucky. Then as I've made my way southwest, Indiana replaced Ohio as the pattern continued. The land is flatter here and the river forms giant loops as it flows downstream to the Mississippi River so my path is indirect passing through many miles of rolling farm country with few towns. The Adventure Cycling Underground Railroad maps I’ve been using were designed to take advantage of the many secondary roads in this region for safety but also for historical content as well.
Many of these roads are quite narrow, less than 2 lanes wide paved in asphalt in surprisingly good condition.

Some great riding in Northern Kentucky by NBend, on Flickr

Drivers in rural areas are very patient giving me plenty of berth when passing. I try to reciprocate by pulling over to let them pass when its safe to do so when sightlines are not good because of hills and corners.
As I move farther west though the drivers are more impatient and drive faster (usually near the larger towns or cities).
It seems like in rural northern Kentucky everyone have expansive yards all neatly mowed. I mean like lawns of several acres. It seems like everyone uses industrial sized riding mowers and its a matter of pride to keep a well groomed lawn. I had mixed feelings about this as it seems like a huge waste of resources just to keep up appearances but they sure do look nice. The saying "A man's home is his castle" comes to mind on a daily basis...

Folks are super friendly and patient out in the country waving as they drive by kind of like they do on Lopez Island back in Washington State.

I really enjoy the older towns I've passed along the way. You can be riding for a few hours and you know you're approaching a town when you spot the old church graveyards. Towns like Old Washington (Ky), Jeffersonville, (In) and Madison (In) were my favorites with streets lined with buildings dating back as far as 1789.

This house was built from planks from the flat bottomed boat the settler used to float down the Ohio River. 1787 by NBend, on Flickr


Harriet Beecher Stowe house, Old Washington, Ky by NBend, on Flickr

Madison had a really nice campground in the hills outside of town in Clifty State Park. After a long day it was a painful slog getting to it but it was so nice and quiet. Very few campers in the tent area. I had the best dinner that night. Riding the twisty road down to the restaurant located in a huge mansion inside the park with the bags removed from the bike. I had only a Chefs salad and a beer looking out at this tremendous view with Madison below, the Bridge I had crossed the River on illuminated in the sun and eagles riding the thermals off the bluff on the hunt for a supper of their own. I felt like a king.

My view at dinner in Madison Indiana. The bridge I used to cross the Ohio River from Kentucky. I only had a 1/2 sized chef salad and a beer but I felt like a king. by NBend, on Flickr

I was so energized afterwards I rode the loop road at a fast clip around the park. I stopped and hiked a trail down a ravine to view Clifty Falls before turning in for the night, a really neat little trail carved out of the limestone down to the overlook was the real attraction.

Clifty Falls trail by NBend, on Flickr

The weather has been much better the past few days. It's been windy, hot and humid but at least no thunderstorms. I was hoping to leave Kentucky soon but Memorial Day weekend got in the way. The campground I had planned to stay the weekend in was first come 1st served as are all in these parts but when I reached the park I found it was closed for renovation. Worried now about finding anything beyond this point, I check into a hotel for the next 3 days just south of Evansville, Indiana across the river in Kentucky. Its been two weeks without a rest day and the down time will do me good. I get lonely on the rest days but I can do some bike maintenance, laundry, re-seal the rain fly on my tent and do a little sight seeing.


I will be crossing over into Illinois by ferry at Cave in the Rock Monday afternoon in all goes well.

Last edited by northbend; 07-21-19 at 12:10 AM.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:38 PM
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Field Note 7
I finally crossed the Mississippi today! It seemed like a big milestone after days of fear and loathing about the weather and flooding that were always looming on the western horizon in Missouri.

Fear and Loathing before riding into Missouri by NBend, on Flickr

I think I lucked out the past few days. I waited out the Memorial Day weekend in Henderson, Kentucky holed up in a hotel in a town that was not all that interesting - to give you some idea, going to the Wal-Mart was the main attraction. I used my time doing bike maintenance, sealing up the rain fly on my tent and doing laundry. A few storms blew thru which made me feel good about my choice to hotel it.

I finally got on the bike on Memorial day and left Kentucky for good crossing the Ohio River into Illinois on a small ferry at Cave in the Rock.

Cave in Rock ferry by NBend, on Flickr

I met a couple of Dutch guys on the ferry who had ridden up from Mobile Alabama and once we got on the other side, we all rode into the Cave in the Rock state park where there is a nice campground. The campground host put me in the tenting area next to an English couple who were very interesting and friendly. They had been travelling the Transam route from Virginia with German Couple they had met along the way who were renting a cabin in the park for the night.

Meeting other riders on the road is always uplifting and that night was really special. We all met for dinner and I enjoyed hearing their perspectives about America.

Fantastic evening with my new Dutch German and British friends by NBend, on Flickr

The Dutch guys headed east the next morning but I spent the next few days riding with my new British and German friends.

One night we all stayed in a church that opened up their basement to Transam riders. Each of the couples had their own rooms and I ended up sleeping in a very plush pew upstairs. I slept really well that night joking with Robin the next day that it was because the peace of the Lord had descended upon me and Robin wasn't there to nudge me to stay awake like she does when I drift off during a Sunday morning sermon :-)

My bed last night.. by NBend, on Flickr

The weather seems to always be a constant source of worry and we were getting reports that the flooding around the Mississippi was getting worse. The one bridge that cyclists can use to cross for many miles is located at Chester, IL. The forecasters were expecting flood waters to rise even more and the bridge was going to be closed through the weekend if we didn't a cross by Friday. The German couple decided to take a train to Colorado instead taking a chance with the weather. It was just me and the Brits now.

It was a mad dash to get to Chester even though it rained through the morning and thunderstorms were heard maybe 15 miles away. I'd check the weather radar on my phone and see waves of rain coming in and that pushed me to go on.

I reached Chester before the violent storm hit that evening and checked into a hotel for the night. A warm bed and hot pizza delivered to my room and I fell asleep hoping for clearer weather in the morning to have any chance for getting across the bridge.

In the morning, the skies were clear! I called my British friends and said I wanted to get across the bridge as soon as possible. An hour later we met and crossed together into Missouri under clear skies.

Crossing into Missouri by NBend, on Flickr

We crossed the low lying floodplain into the hills west of the town of St. Mary. Riding up those hills felt so good knowing the chance of flooding closing roads is diminished. The sun was out all morning and a moderate breeze kept temps just about perfect. Tonight I am staying in a really cool bike hostel (Al’s Place) set up in the old city jail in Farmington, MO.

Al's Place, the TransAm bike hostel in Farmington, MO. by NBend, on Flickr

The British friends plan on taking a rest day tomorrow so this is where we'll split off. The forecast looks good for the next few days and I want to take advantage of it.

One thing I've noticed now that I'm on the Transam route is that it is very easy to follow. This route is now 40 years old and its marked with US 76 bike route signs at all intersections. There are many more places to stay in the form of churches, city parks and biker only campgrounds. That's pretty cool.

Southern Missouri by NBend, on Flickr
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Old 07-20-19, 11:41 PM
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Field Note 8
I am at heart a romantic. It explains a lot about why I ride old fashioned bikes and seek out beauty on my rides. Well, southern Missouri today was one of those magnificent days. The Ozark plateau is gradually giving way to the great plains. The hills, less steep. Gently rolling terrain. The Black Oak forests are thinning creating expansive views. Farms, grasslands and groves of trees now nestled mostly near river bottoms and the roads are these wonderful magic carpets that are laid out before you making you forget about any pain or fatigue. Today was filled with moments of La Volupte

https://www.cafeducycliste.com/en_us...te/la-volupte/

I rode until 6pm and am writing to you from a city park where I am camping for the night. Who knows? Maybe Kansas will come sooner than expected.

All I can say is today was one of those days I will never forget. The bike and I were one and my spirit was soaring.

Roadside beauty by NBend, on Flickr

Field Note 9
Do you remember that video arcade game "Frogger"? The game where you try and cross a busy multi lane highway without getting run over.That's how I felt trying to cross Missouri and now Kansas with all of these strong weather systems. Dashing when I can, stopping and seeking cover inside when the weather dictates.

There are reminders along the way of how wicked ma nature can be.

I passed through Hartville, Mo. stopping to have lunch on the courthouse lawn. A nice family from town came over and visited with me while I ate. They told me about the tornado that plowed through about 2 weeks ago, destroying their grocery store, ripping the roof of another business and making a mess out of their cemetery on the outskirts of town.

I was reminded again as I left the town of Golden City, Mo. after having a late lunch, 60 miles into the day with over 30 to go to Kansas with reports of another storm system moving in. I was riding as fast as I could sustain, trying to reach Pittsburg Ks. before the storm rolled in. Just a few miles out of Golden City I saw two houses reduced to rubble, scraps of debris scattered everywhere and shattered trees next to the road with metal roofing wrapped around their trunks. It was quite unnerving so much so that my pace picked up even more. As I got close to the Kansas border the temperatures dropped and it started to rain. Above me, a big black boiling cloud in the shape of a crescent stretched across the sky, clear and blue before it and afterwards. It looked ominous so I stayed in a motel that night in Pittsburg to avoid the weather but also to recover from the effort to get here.

Golden City.

https://www.ky3.com/content/news/3-d...510310801.html


Hartville:

https://www.ky3.com/content/news/PIC...510235061.html


That put a real fear in me.

I’ve let the weather decide if I should move on each day. I rode a little over 50 miles to Chanute, Ks. Reports of T-storms blowing by mid afternoon made me stop early..

I spent the night in a neat old hotel downtown to avoid the weather (which never materialized). Oh well, better safe than sorry. Up early the next morning I made the dash for Eureka Kansas. The weather was fine during the day but reports were calling for locally heavy thunderstorms starting about 3pm and flash flood warnings were in effect with another storm expected the next day. The ride into Eureka was not easy: did you know there were hills in Kansas?

I can testify there are hills. That coupled with headwinds all day made for a really tough day. Time for a break.
I took the day off in Eureka spending 2 nights in a motel next to the highway.

Did some bike maintenance and swam in the pool to while away my time. Thunderstorms boomed at night making me feel good about my choices.

Anxious to start this morning with the weather forecast calling hot but calm weather the next 2 days, I made my break riding about 100 miles to Hutchison Kansas today. I am staying in the air conditioned basement of a church here that is opened for cross country bikers like me. Right down the street is a pretty nice brewery. What's not to like? Pretty sure I'll sleep well tonight and hope for more good progress tomorrow.

The riding today was frankly, pretty boring. Straight, flat, not many towns and hot and humid. I almost get a sense of vertigo not being able to discern if I am on a hill or not because of the flat, featureless views coupled with the wind. I find myself searching for the right gear a lot of the time. Very strange sensation.

K.....a.......n.......s........a...........s by NBend, on Flickr

I do like the fact that I'm heading west in nearly a straight line. Looking forward to seeing Colorado soon.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:44 PM
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Field Note 10
I'm in Pueblo Colorado tonight sitting outside on the Patio at Brues Ale House which overlooks the Arkansas River. The city has developed the waterfront here and it's a very pleasant spot to relax, sip a brew and people watch as they come and go along the "Riverwalk ".

Folks out enjoying the warm evening.
Rain makes a 1/2 hearted attempt sprinkling every so often. Just a tiny drip on an arm or leg. No pattern to it at all.
The clouds didn't form into the beasts of thunder that I've seen so often in the evening in the Plains. These are low with soft edges.

I feel pretty good. More relaxed than I've been on this trip so far...

I am in familiar ground.

My family lived here back in 1967-68. I have fond memories of that time. In the summer we lived like monkeys in the Apple trees that grew in our back yard. Apple fights with the neighbor boys. Sneaking out at night, The safaris out to the gullies and onto a mesa where we'd hunt lizards, shoot our slingshots and explore.

The first thing I did when I got into town was ride to Alexander Circle and look for our old home.

I didn't have an address so the best I could come up with was the group of a few houses on one side of the street between the blocks of Lexington and Concord.


The old neighborhood by NBend, on Flickr
The houses are all so small and look the same. Overall, the neighborhood was tidy and gave me the impression that a lot of young families must live here. I visited the old grade school we attended and that brought back memories.

Tonight, I'm in a hotel downtown. Kind of expensive but I was having trouble finding a room anywhere else downtown. There’s a big Square Dancing convention going on here as well as some sort of baseball championship. Scads of women sashaying about in those hooped skirts.

I've ridden in Colorado before and I'll soon be on the same roads I used before.

I plan to divert off my route to visit my son Philip and his wife Katie. They just moved into a new place in Longmont and I'm excited to see them.

I get to visit some new Mountain Passes and plan to cross back over to resume the TransAm route via Rocky Mountain National Park.

I'm also relieved and grateful to be away from Kansas and the Great Plains of Eastern Colorado.

Riding through Kansas was really tough and mentally taxing. The wide open landscape stretching on forever looking the same in all directions.
Arrow straight Roads stretch onward until they get so small, dissipating before they meet the horizon as the sky swallows them up in a Mirage.

Mirage by NBend, on Flickr

The wind seems to be ever present, 10mph and up. A lot of days, gusts were common. It felt like I was continually pedaling up a hill..

As I rode west, the land became drier and towns, more sparsely spaced. After riding through that hot landscape for hours I'd sometimes get desperate for a town knowing how great the break off of the bike will feel.

I'd start to scan the horizon looking for the water tower that marks any town of a decent enough size that can support a convenience store. Many city parks are shady and allow you to camp. Just phone the sheriff and let them know you're there.

In the great plains, you look for water towers. They are your oasis. by NBend, on Flickr


No trip to Kansas is complete without some Black Eyed Susans by NBend, on Flickr

Most nights, I'd scan the sky and read the weather forecasts and radar. I played it real safe in Kansas. I camped out only once the entire time I was in state, that being the last day I was there..

I never trusted the weather in Kansas. It could be so nice and benign then the sky's could change so quickly becoming mean and ugly.
Seems like most mornings were nice, most afternoons and evenings, nasty.

I don't have any desire of riding through Kansas again. Once is enough..
I will say the people I met in Kansas are so friendly, direct, and honestly caring for everyone. There's a certain charm when you walk in some small gas station /convenience store to buy some food. There's always a table or two set by the side where you can order a microwaveable burrito and something to drink. Pop it in the oven and you have a sit down hot meal. Other folks doing the same and the conversation includes you naturally. Folks are always curious about my trip.

Ah but now I can see the mountains. That's where I want to be :-)

The forecast tomorrow is for thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. I'll get up early and ride up to Canon City and motel it there. Cheaper rent and some progress made.

If the weather on Sunday allows, I'll try for a little more progress to a bunkhouse inn and maybe save a little more money. Afternoon storms expected the next 3 or 4 days.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:47 PM
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Field Note 11
At last, I am in the Rockies! The past few days have been wonderful. Open vistas gained as you reach a high spot overlooking a valley, roads that curve and follow the terrain feeding that primal curiosity to find out what's around the next corner. The lack of those things is what made Kansas so hard.

Ahhh. Much better! by NBend, on Flickr

I rolled out of Pueblo early to take advantage of the calm weather in the morning. As I was passing through the large city park on the southwest of town, I saw the old picnic area where a fresh and clear memory flooded my mind of my mother. She had taken us kids to a birthday party at the park that a friend of hers was having. My mom was an LPN (nurse) during those years. She worked with the birthday girl who had a large extended Latino Family and my mom was included like one of the family. I had never seen my mom in that light before. Cultural differences were not a boundary for her back in 1967. She was a free spirit. I had forgotten that about her and all my memories since her death in 1980 became stale and faded.

So I left Pueblo, crying my eyes out and thankful for the fresh memory of mom. I felt cleansed. I enjoyed riding into the foothills west of town. Hills were now mostly gentle grades and much longer. Perfectly suited for my taste.

I stopped in Canon City for the night, riding in ahead of a growing thunderstorm. It was too early to check in so I got a haircut. Never done that on a bike tour before..

The cheap motel had a nice awning protecting the area in front of my room. After dinner I rolled my bike outside and did some maintenance. A group of motorcyclists were also there that night and soon a couple of them wandered over and talked bikes with me for a while. I really enjoyed that.

Up early again the next morning to stay ahead of the afternoon thunderstorms, I rode another short day, taking just what the weather allows..

The road I was riding had a fair amount of traffic. I was entertained by the passing of a large caravan of hot rod streetcars. Mostly vintage and modern muscle cars, also a sizable number of old trucks and rods.

They passed by in groups of 3 or 4 the entire day.
One of them was parked by the turn off to the town of Guffey. I talked with the guy as filled his car with Ethanol from 5 gallon cans he had strapped to the bumper rack which also carried a pair of racing slicks.

It turns out it was the Annual Rocky Mountain Race Week. Drivers have to drive their racing cars carrying everything they need to race on the car to 4 different racetracks around Colorado then drag race at each track. They had raced in Pueblo the night before.

I guess folks come from everywhere to do this. This guy drove his rig from Indiana with his two young boys in tow.

Racing family by NBend, on Flickr

I stopped for the night in Guffey, Colorado. I had heard about a bunkhouse located there from an eastbound TransAm rider a few days earlier. He handed a faded and wrinkled flyer and said "you gotta check this out"...

So I turn off route and climb the road into Guffey. It's really small. Maybe 200 residents. There's a few modern structures but mostly buildings are old and rustic. You can tell artists live here. I see some iron work and sculptures here and there. The flyer I had mentioned no street address so I stopped and had lunch at the bar asking where this place was.
"Oh that's Bill's Garage just up the street. If he's not at his garage, he in his home across the street"

So I ride up the street and find Bill holding court surrounded by a group of motorcyclists. He sends the bikers off and asks me over to the garage for a beer.
I ended up talking to him for several hours and 3 beers. His garage was fascinating.

Old, stuffed to the gills with an eclectic mix of items.

Guffey Garage, a most unusual place by NBend, on Flickr


Stop at the Garage and Talk to Bill about renting a bunk for the night.
by NBend, on Flickr


Evidence of Bills creative energy is everywhere by NBend, on Flickr

Bill had been supporting bikers on the TransAm since its beginning in 1976. He had been a resident for almost 50 years and owned most of the town. In several lots he'd built a bunch of small cabins that he rented out to travellers. One of the largest, was the bunkhouse.

Bill is an Artist, and a top notch mechanic working on piecing together new cars from the parts of old cars. Real rat rods.

Bill bought the old City Hall building really cheap back in the day and he filled it with Artifacts of the town but also of his own interests and creations.

Inside the Guffey Museum. by NBend, on Flickr

Anyway, my visit with Bill came to an end when a Dutch couple showed up looking to bunk for the night. For 10bucks a night you get a bed in the bunkhouse.

Mind you, the Bunkhouse doesn't have electricity or running water but the out house is just a short 50ft walk from the kitchen:-)
The bunkhouse was rugged but also fascinating. The kitchen stuffed with antiques for decoration, stuffed game animals looking at you.

The Dutch Couple snagged the bottom bunks so I used the antque barber's chair to climb in my top bunk.

A Dutch couple got the bottom bunk. I used the old barber chair to climb into my upper bunk. by NBend, on Flickr

I had to get up in the middle of the night and go to the out house. Outside, the air hadn't cooled off enough to give the chills and the clouds had broken up letting bright moonlight through.

Walking the wet grass colored silver by the moon I was struck by the view. The old cars, pieces of cars, farm implements, stuck out of the silver grass they were sinking in looking like head stones. In my mind, I'd like to think that Bill had arranged everything that way on purpose.

I woke up this morning after the sun came up. I roll onto my back and stretch.
I open my eyes and realize for the 1st time that a Big Horn Sheep head was keeping watch over me as I slept, 2ft under his chin.

I woke up this morning and discovered I'd been 2 ft under this guys chin by NBend, on Flickr

I got ready really fast this morning and rode into the town of Fairplay just head of thunderstorm. I checked into a creaky old Hotel called the Hand. It's apparently haunted they say....

Getting close to Fairplay by NBend, on Flickr

That'll be another story

Last edited by northbend; 07-21-19 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:49 PM
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Field Note 12

Rocky Mountain High. It's for real.

Maybe it's the altitude that intensifies the experience. Try drinking a couple of double IPAs at 9000 feet and you'll know what I mean.

But for me, it much more than that. I have history and family here and I simply love the mountains and Colorado has them in spades.
In my last email, I was in Fairplay staying in the "Hand" hotel. Reputedly haunted but alas, no ghosts were seen. I checked out in the morning and rode a short day over to the ski town of Breckenridge via Hoosier Pass. I was not all that impressed with that climb. Not much to see and the top was below timberline.

On my way to Breckenridge. by NBend, on Flickr

It was a cold drizzly day and I was glad to stop in Breckenridge for the day staying in a Hostel there just 2 blocks off the main street. The host was a retired British army officer who resembled Peter O'Toole. I especially enjoyed a soak in the hot tub there.

Originally, I had planned to make Breckenridge a rest stop for 2 days but after walking about Breckenridge for a few hours I realized it wasn't for me. Too touristy and high priced. The next morning I checked out and rode down to Frisco for a late breakfast then went looking for a camp site closer to Dillon which I found on Lake Dillon near I70.

It was perfect for a jumping off point the next day to cross the continental divide to go visit my Son and his wife on Longmont.

I was up early the next day, riding over Loveland Pass heading east. Loveland pass is more impressive than Hoosier Pass which I had crossed earlier. It is higher, above timberline. Snowfields surround you on all sides.


Got high again today.. by NBend, on Flickr

Dropping down off the pass, I descend maybe 3000 ft to the Loveland Pass ski area just off of Interstate 70. There is a wonderful bike path there that takes you all the way to Idaho Springs. It's all downhill, for hours.

Sweet bike path that keeps you off I-70 by NBend, on Flickr

I encountered a trail closed sign at the town of Silver Plume and there were no detours. I was tempted to go onto the closed trail and take my chances but decided not to do that when I saw that a narrow gauge steam train had a terminal just a block away. I rolled over there and asked if they'd allow a bike on their train. "Sure!" So I boarded the narrow gauge steam train with all the other tourists for a ride 4 miles down to the historic town of Georgetown bypassing the trail closure.

Tight fit by NBend, on Flickr


On the way to Georgetown by NBend, on Flickr

It reminded me a bit of a time when I heli skied in Canada when they landed us at a hot springs resort after a day of skiing. I felt like an alien of sorts surrounded by people who lives which were so different than mine.

Once off the train, I raced the afternoon thunderstorms to Idaho Springs, getting a room at a motel just as they overtook me.

Up early the next morning I rode the same route I had done 2 years ago when I rode to Colorado from my home. I was able to ride west of Denver, staying in the mountains passing by Central City and riding north on the Peak to Peak highway to the town of Nederland. From there I went down Boulder Canyon road. It's a really neat road that follows Boulder Creek through a narrow canyon dropping something like 3000 feet in elevation. There was road construction along the way with several single lane road stops. At the last one the flagger told me to go back uphill a mile or so to use the multi use path that parallels the road. I was happy to comply as it took away the stress of traffic and rough roads.

Boulder Canyon trail by NBend, on Flickr

My timing was pretty good. I arrived in Boulder on Friday around 1pm. Perfect for my son to go out for lunch. I met Philip at his office on the University of Colorado. We went out for lunch then soon afterwards he left work early and drove me home to Longmont.The next 2 days were wonderful. Lots of rest and hanging out with Philip and Katie at their house in Longmont. Philip made gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was good for the soul.

Nice haul.. by NBend, on Flickr

Monday morning came too soon and it was time to move on. Up early, I had breakfast with Philip before he rode his bike into work, I left a little while later heading for the Rocky Mountain National Park. I rode a very busy highway to Estes Park and then from there, into Rocky Mountain National Park, camping just inside the Park at Aspenglen. The ranger told me the road going thru the Park was closed and had been for a couple of days because of heavy snowfall.
It rained hard overnight but cleared early in the morning. Frost on the ground, the tent fly frozen when I woke up.

Perfect weather for the day! Checking with the ranger, she told me the snowplow had been moved off the mountain indicating they had punched a lane thru. That was good enough for me, I'd take the chance and ride the 12 miles up to the roadblock hoping they'd let me thru...

3 hours of hard climbing and I reach the roadblock at "Rainbow Curve", scads of cars waiting for the road to open. Making my way to the roadblock I asked the ranger if I could proceed and he waved me through! I had 1.5 hours before they'd open the road to cars. I cannot believe my luck! One of the most scenic roads in America and I had it to myself. Car Free!

I made the best of the time given me, stopping only a few brief moments for photos. I was able to reach the highpoint of over 12000 ft before they opened the road. I was nearly out of the park before cars began to overtake me.

A cut thru the rocks by NBend, on Flickr


Windy and cold by NBend, on Flickr


I got over the summit before they opened the road to cars. by NBend, on Flickr


Tonight I am in Granby in a cheap motel happy to have beat the afternoon storms.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:51 PM
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Field Note 13
I spent the 4th of July riding from Madison Campground in Yellowstone to Ennis, Montana which is a bit over 80 miles. Things got nasty at about mile 70. Afternoon T-storms rolled down from the mtns from the west into the Madison river valley and caught me out in the open. Strong gusty sidewinds blew me off the road several times, cold hard rain. Lightning got close...maybe 4 or 5 miles away. This on a 70mph 2 lane country highway. By sick coincidence, the wide shoulder I had been enjoying all day narrowed down to 2ft which wouldn't have been a problem except someone with Montana DOT decided to cut rumple strips in the shoulder cutting the rideable area down to at best, a foot. I spent the last hour riding that tightrope cursing DOT at the top of my lungs. It helped alleviate the fear I had.

On a positive note, I survived and got the last motel room available in Ennis that night and am shared it with 3 other riders who came in after me just as soaked and beat up as I was. A hot shower never felt so good. Waking up this morning I discovered my rear tire was flat. A small piece of wire from a shredded truck tire punctured the casing while I was on that terrible section of road but the leak was slow enough that it was not noticeable when I was riding through that storm. I feel very fortunate I didn't have to repair it on the side of the road. It was the first flat I've had on this tour.

Southern Wyoming wasn't as bad as I was remembering it to be when I passed through 2 years ago. Maybe it was because of my new perspective heading West and seeing the topography change for the better heading towards the Tetons but I also saw a vast improvement of the road shoulders! A lot of work had been done since then, creating wide clean shoulders which make a huge difference in safety and comfort. So what if I had to deal with gusty head and side winds. I felt safe.

Getting close to Lander by NBend, on Flickr

I have been riding with 3 guys since my second day in Wyoming. 2 Americans I had previously met in Kansas and a Swede. We all ride at different paces during the day but end up in the same place each night. I am grateful to have company.

With Rob, Magnus and Dave by NBend, on Flickr


Leaving Jackson Lake by NBend, on Flickr

Another wonderful coincidence was riding into Yellowstone Park and being able to camp one night with my son Philip and his wife Katie! They were on their way back from a wedding in Canada camping at Grant campground on Yellowstone Lake for the night. I took them out for a fancy dinner at the restaurant there and later they treated me to my first ever S'Mores cooked over the campfire as we traded stories.


Family reunion at Grant Campground by NBend, on Flickr

S'more time with Philip and Katie :-) by NBend, on Flickr

I rejoined my new riding partners the next morning and rode thru geyser basin camping at Madison Campground, leaving the park the next day so I hope you can see, I've had a pretty charmed life even if every now and then a difficulty arises. I credit this to my wife's prayers as well as those who have been praying for me on my trip. Every time I see or hear a humming bird (happens daily now..) I am reminded of this and am extremely grateful.

I figure I am now about 2 weeks from home. It's been great adventure but I am really starting to get anxious to get home.

Bike trail by NBend, on Flickr


GANG by NBend, on Flickr
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Old 07-20-19, 11:53 PM
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Field Note 14
I am reaching the end of my bike ride soon. Just a few more days actually. Since my last note, I've ridden through Idaho following the Lochsa and Clearwater rivers through some very remote country. You descend Lolo Pass out of Montana and for two days there are no towns, just a few little lodges and private homes.

Lolo Hot Springs by NBend, on Flickr


Following the Lochsa River by NBend, on Flickr

The road closely follows these wild rivers turn for turn down a narrow valley. Trees are primarily fir and pine and my riding companions Dave and Magnus probably enjoyed this section the most. For me, it reminded me of home and the drive up the White River valley to Crystal Mountain. With each hour, I felt more desire to finish this trip and get home. It's not to say I didn't enjoy it (I did) it's just that my mind and heart were increasingly looking towards home.

Even with this mindset there were times where that was all pushed away and I'd be swept up in glorious moments of moving through stunningly beautiful landscapes, the road adding fluidity to my movements when the pavement dips down increasing my speed and easing the effort to make it over the next rise. Sometimes I'd get caught up in this momentum and get far ahead of my companions. We camped those nights alongside the river, falling asleep to the sounds if water coursing its way through the Rocky river bed.

Morning fog by NBend, on Flickr

By the end of the second day, the narrow green walls of the valley opened up, the river widened and the hills became softer and rounder. More female in nature as the the wilderness gave way to a more settled landscape.

The river widens the hills rounder by NBend, on Flickr

By the time we got to Lewiston and camped by the Snake River the hillsides were dry and bare.
Time to cross into Washington State.

Dave and Magnus decided to follow me to Seattle instead of finishing in Astoria, Oregon. I think they had a bit rude surprise crossing into Washington. A 2000 ft climb in the heat of the day greeted them on the other side of the river.

On the climb out of Clarkston by NBend, on Flickr

They were so surprised when we got to the top to find a flat plateau with views of wheatfields in every direction.

At the top of a 2000ft climb from Clarkston - a plateau by NBend, on Flickr

A long day of heat, wind and hills to our campsite just west of Dayton at the Lewis and Clark S.P.

Another fairly long day of riding in heat and wind greeted us again today. Tonight we opted to get an air conditioned hotel room in Pasco. Tomorrow we start following the Yakima River up towards Ellensburg. At this point, it appears my ride will end in North Bend this Thursday, July 18. A few friends may meet me up by Hyak on that last day and ride the last few miles to the finish. I hope that works out for them.

I've had a wonderful adventure and am so grateful for the opportunity to do this.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:55 PM
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Field Note 15
I am home now. Arriving yesterday around noon. I figure I better write the end of my journal while the impressions are still fresh, the legs still twitching and my writing ability practiced enough to create coherent sentences.

After crossing into Washington State at Clarkston amid the heat and wind the first few days, the temperatures relented as Dave, Magnus and I followed the Yakima River on quiet farm roads stitched along Interstate 82. Clouds started to thicken and headwinds let us know ma nature wasn't going to make this section too easy for us. The guys had enough by the time we got to the town of Sunnyside so we opted to stop there for the night getting a hotel room.

One of the advantages of travelling with companions is that it dramatically lowers the cost for those nights when you split the bill for a hotel room. Sure the room is cramped with an extra roll away bed, 3 dirty bikes and clothes hanging in every imaginable space but the rest you get indoors out of the wind and rain is so much better. A pool and hot tub, true luxuries.

Dave and Magnus rescheduled their flights out of Seattle with Dave's leaving Friday evening so we were now committed to getting this trip done under a time constraint. We had to put in another long day on Tuesday to ensure he'd get to Seattle at a decent time on Thursday to prepare for his flight home.

We rode about 80 miles that day to Ellensburg via the wonderful Yakima River canyon. Headwinds resisting our movements nearly the entire day. Riding out of Selah to the entrance to the Yakima River Canyon, dark clouds and rain threatening to spoil our day when a Black Toyota Forerunner approaches from the opposite direction. The vehicle stops and the window rolls down: it's my oldest and best friend Mike! He was tracking our route in other direction hoping to find us. "You guys want a beer?" He asks with a big grin on his face. We hug and talk for a few minutes and make plans to meet later next week. He's rushing to Yakima for a round of golf. It was so good to see him if even for only a few minutes.

Up into the canyon we go and on to Ellensburg, camping in a KOA there for the night.

Yakima Canyon ahead! by NBend, on Flickr

Wednesday greets us with thickening skies and more strong headwinds. We ride up to Roslyn for lunch then get on the Iron Horse Trail twords Snoqualmie Pass, thinking we'd camp at Lake Easton state park.

The cafe was closed today by NBend, on Flickr

Those plans were dashed when the rain overtook us. We decided to make a break for the Summit Inn on top of Snoqualmie Pass.

On the way to Snoqualmie Pass by NBend, on Flickr

Cold and soaking wet, we check into the Hotel just 32 miles from home now..
It felt so weird to be spending the night so close to home...

Slept in late on Thursday morning, 45 degrees outside, foggy but thankfully no rain! I play "Going Home" by Alvin Lee and 10 Years After at full volume stuffing into my pocket as we make the final push to complete the journey.

I lead Dave and Magnus through the 2 mile tunnel under Snoqualmie Pass and down the trail hoping to see some dear friends who were riding up to meet us.

Spending the night on the pass we rode under it this morning by NBend, on Flickr

1st to appear is my friend Bruce and I rush over to greet him! Introductions are made then I rush off to find his wife Dee who's waiting a short distance away by one of the trestles knowing she was probably getting cold.

Big hugs and tears of relief and now our victory parade down the mountain.

My dear friends Bruce and D greet us on the trail! by NBend, on Flickr

The sun breaks thru the clouds and warms us and we descend closer to North Bend. We get another surprise near Rattlesnake Lake when we meet my cycling brother Ty, riding up on his folding Brompton bike.

Ty meets us at Rattlesnake Lake by NBend, on Flickr

More hugs and laughter and we are off to meet Robin at a cafe near home for a celebratory luncheon.

After lunch it's time for me to part ways with Dave and Magnus.

This is where my trip ends by NBend, on Flickr

Bruce offers to serve as Harbor Pilot guiding them to the trail that crosses Mercer Island guaranteeing they reach Seattle with no troubles.

I cannot think of a better way to end my journey. It was perfect in every way.
I am back home with my lovely Ms. Robin and feel more relaxed than I've been in months. I am so grateful to her for all her love and support. I have dreamed of doing this ride for 40 years and it's so satisfying to see it come true.

My homeless days are over by NBend, on Flickr

I had no heath problems, lost 20 lbs, and mechanical issues were nearly nil; only 1 flat and had to tighten the headset once.

Thank you all for showing an interest in my journey I am basking in the glow of it all.
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Old 07-21-19, 12:15 AM
  #14  
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Living your dream,,way to go!

Congratulations.
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Old 07-21-19, 01:00 AM
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Wow, Just Wow.

Do you have a link to your bike build and one for your packing for the trip.
Definitely a bucket list item for me.

Thanks for sharing and I was praying for you also.
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Old 07-21-19, 04:45 AM
  #16  
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The superlatives fail me. The ones I can think of are way over-used these days. Awesome? Epic? At any rate, I'm filled with admiration for this monumental accomplishment.
Hesitant to interject a personal note but Matt, if I had known you were going to be riding highway 287 through the Madison Valley around the 4th of July I may have looked for you. A friend and I were fly fishing the Madison that whole week, staying at the little West Fork Cabin Camp a few miles north of Quake lake. I hadn't fished the Madison in over 40 years so this trip was one of those bucket list things.
I saw several cyclo-tourists on the road as Dick and I drove one direction or the other to the fishing access points. Including a few singles. Perhaps one was you!
I can understand your dilemma on that road as I watched the cyclists hug that ultra-narrow shoulder. Standing on the bridge over the river near the cabins one afternoon, checking the water levels, I met an older couple. The woman approached me and asked "are those insects flying around mosqueetoes?" No I said, those are caddis flies. Which were thick in the air. Turned out they were from the UK, and were cycling from Vancouver to Virginia. They were probably in their 60's. We chatted for a while. I admired them greatly for what they were doing. As I do you. This is one hell of an achievement. Congratulations.

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Old 07-21-19, 05:05 AM
  #17  
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Truly epic.

What a privilege to be able to read this journal. Thank you.

My wife and I drove up Rt. 36 from Boulder, through Estes Park, and into the RMNP.

That is a serious climb.

Congratulations on completing this goal.

My cycling cap is off to you!
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Old 07-21-19, 05:18 AM
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Kudos - really enjoyed reading your dispatches!
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Old 07-21-19, 05:45 AM
  #19  
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Northbend
I enjoyed reading about your adventure immensely.

Congratulations on a such an outstanding accomplishment!

I was able to do an 'almost' across USA trip in 2004 starting in Astoria, OR which I had to end after 50 some odd days
traveling quite a bit of the Lewis and Clark trail.
That trip ended on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan.


Later I was able to do a couple of month long tours across Nevada and then a 2nd from south of Denver to Yellowstone.

I recognized riding a few of the same sections you rode in Idaho. I loved that ride up to Lolo Pass.

Tetons and Yellowstone were off the charts spectacular for me!

Thanks for sharing your great adventure.

And I liked your writing style.

I also would like hearing more about your bike and gear if you have that posted somewhere.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:44 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by cooperryder View Post
Northbend
I also would like hearing more about your bike and gear if you have that posted somewhere.
Bike: Woodrup Touring


Gear: Never made a packing list. I carried too much as most folks do. Total loaded bike weight was 86 LBS as weighed on the scale in Missoula when stopped at Adventure Cycling's bike lounge. With a little self control, I could have shaved 10 LBS off that total.
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Old 07-21-19, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
Hesitant to interject a personal note but Matt, if I had known you were going to be riding highway 287 through the Madison Valley around the 4th of July I may have looked for you. A friend and I were fly fishing the Madison that whole week, staying at the little West Fork Cabin Camp a few miles north of Quake lake. I hadn't fished the Madison in over 40 years so this trip was one of those bucket list things.
I saw several cyclo-tourists on the road as Dick and I drove one direction or the other to the fishing access points. Including a few singles. Perhaps one was you!
I can understand your dilemma on that road as I watched the cyclists hug that ultra-narrow shoulder. Standing on the bridge over the river near the cabins one afternoon, checking the water levels, I met an older couple. The woman approached me and asked "are those insects flying around mosqueetoes?" No I said, those are caddis flies. Which were thick in the air. Turned out they were from the UK, and were cycling from Vancouver to Virginia. They were probably in their 60's. We chatted for a while. I admired them greatly for what they were doing. As I do you. This is one hell of an achievement. Congratulations.
It's my loss, Scott! I would have really enjoyed meeting you in person.
I don't announce in advance or during times when I'm away out of respect for my wife's wishes. She doesn't want strangers to know when she's alone.

I think she is well prepared to defend herself now after several of my tours through bear country. She's armed to the gills with 3 cans of bear spray. (you can't fly with the stuff you know... :-) )
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Old 07-21-19, 08:54 AM
  #22  
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I thought I saw that earlier. Nice, it was one of the inspirations for my Dutch opa-fiets rebuild.
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Old 07-21-19, 09:37 AM
  #23  
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Absolutely great - thanks for sharing!!! Makes me want to book a bunch of trips. Such a big country...

May/June midwest weather was the worst in recent memory - record rainfall.

Was amused by the water tower trick. I did the same thing when I lived in central Illinois. On long rides, I would scan the horizon for towers when I'd start running low on food or water.
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Old 07-21-19, 09:40 AM
  #24  
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Thanks for sharing, Matt. It was a lovely way to spend my Sunday morning. Your writing really takes me along with you, experiencing both the emotional highs and lows, and the remarkable sights and sounds. I'm sorry we weren't able to cross paths in North Bend or along the Yakima River!
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Old 07-21-19, 09:41 AM
  #25  
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Fricken Beautiful!
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