We are three weeks in and have covered over 1500 miles and have climbed Mt. Everest twice (over 60,000 feet) Chris has been keeping you up to date on all of our daily activities and events so I thought I’d add a few Tidbits and Observations to the blogosphere.
Bicycling Across America: During our first 3 weeks, we have come across a number of individuals/organizations who are riding across the country. Many are solo and self contained, some with friends and some with large groups. We haven’t seen anyone else doing it our way, with a SAG wagon and staying in hotels. So far the people we’ve met who are doing it the affordable way seem very determined but I haven’t detected a whole lot of joy in their experience. On the other hand, the young lady we met in Ten Sleep who was riding with a group called 4k for cancer (http://4kforcancer.org/) was bright and cheerful and seemed highly motivated. Her group had 27 riders, who were mostly college age kids, that were riding from Baltimore to Seattle as part of a larger effort to raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. I’m sure her enthusiasm was a combination of age, a great cause, a shared experience with other motivated people and just a general sunny disposition. In any event, her experience seemed to be more consistent with the one Chris and I are having. I think making this more about the journey than the accomplishment has made a big difference in the enjoyment of the experience
Trucks and trains: Throughout our trip, we have seen hundreds of trucks and have followed many train routes. After leaving Gillette, we came across a train that was over a mile long. I know I take for granted how stuff gets on the store shelves etc. but it’s been a great reminder that America really knows how to move stuff around. The network of roads, rail etc. is really impressive and there is an entire culture throughout the country that supports that transportation of all our stuff. Our hotels have almost all been right on the interstate so you can find food, fuel and a place to sleep so you can get up and get on your way no matter where you are in the country. I’ve also enjoyed seeing all the trains because I loved them as a little boy. I had train sets that I built as a kid so seeing the big locomotives is just one more thing that has brought me back to my youth. I’m just happy I sleep so soundly to I didn’t have to share Chris’s “My cousin Vinny experience.
Stuffed Animals: Almost every restaurant a bar we’ve been to since we left California has been adorned with some kind of stuffed animals. The range of animals and their poses has been very impressive. All the way from bears, deer, antelope, lions, cougars, beavers, foxes, buffalo and of course, the ever so illusive Jackelope (jack rabbit with antlers). There was even one place that had an elk with Moose horns just to mess with their patrons. I just think the conversations with the bar owners when they are setting up shop have to be pretty interesting. “Joe, I think we need to have the stuffed cougar on the shelf behind the bar with the mouth open, showing all the teeth with a slight look to the left”. Response “Well Bubba, I’m good with that, as long as we get to have the full size bear at the front door and we have to have the Jackelope in the dinning room for the kiddies to see”.
Adaptability of the human body: Based on some of your comments, many of you are beginning to wonder if this trip is really about the cycling or if it’s truly about the food. I must say it’s about the food. You see, when I started riding with my dad when I was in high school, one of the key lures was where we would ride in the morning for breakfast. So for me, cycling and food go hand in hand. Where the adaptability of the human body comes into play is all about volume. For me ,and many of the 40’s and 50’s crowd, we have a daily struggle with keeping our calories lined up with our daily activity so we can fit into the pants we just bought. That means living on a daily intake of 2,000-3,000 calories while exercising a few times a week for a couple of hours. Now we start our trip, and we are riding 6 days a week for 3-6 hours a day and burning 2,000 to 5,000 extra calories a day. There has to be some little person inside my body saying, what the heck is this guy doing to us. “Scotty, I need more power” Sitting at a desk all day one week and riding every day the next seems like a recipe for disaster, even with all our preparation. The remarkable thing is that we are three weeks in and feel great. We’ve really had few physical issues at all. It just shows me that we are physically capable of doing so much more that we think possible. Most of our limitations are just in our head.
Wyoming and Liquor: Some things just surprise me. As we entered Wyoming, I was ready for cowboys, wide open spaces, guns being carried in public etc. One thing I wasn’t ready for was not being able to buy beer in the grocery store. When we got to Jackson, we went to the local Albertsons to get some food and beverages. When I asked the clerk where I could find the beer she gave me a puzzled look and said next door of course. I subsequently found the liquor store and got our much-needed beer but I am still puzzled about being able to carry a side arm in public but not be able to buy beer at the grocery store. In fact, when you go to the liquor store, many of them have a drive up window. When I got to Newcastle, I finally just asked a clerk at the grocery store why you couldn’t buy beer there. She looked at me and said, “Can you imagine all the problems we’d have keeping the liquor on the shelves with all the minors we have working here” This never occurred to me. Now I can tell the grocery store owners in California where to look when they think the liquor in their stores is being pilfered. Who’d a thunk.
Rhythm of the 8’s: By now, some of you have realized that we are traveling the country via the Super 8 motel chain. While we didn’t start this with specific intention, it has just worked out this way. The are predictably clean, affordable, comfortable (even with the occasional pool) and seem to be in just about every location we have found. Chris is also developing points on their frequent traveler program so we may even stay for free at some places by the time we finish. We have learned though, that it is best to get to the continental breakfast early so we can get our oatmeal. Also, many of the staff working the front desk, don’t want people making their own waffles because they make a mess. The staff will make your waffles for you if you are particularly messy or incompetent. People at the 8’s are mostly one night travelers who are in and out. We have our elderly couples, young family vacationers, business travelers and of course, cross-country motor cycle riders (These folks are everywhere). America loves their hogs! We are currently staying the Super 8 in Custer and I must say it’s the best yet. Pool, relatively new and great staff. So, it you’re ever in Custer, stay at the 8 and tell them Chris and Matt sent you!