Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hey Hey from Sunny California!!

Emma wishing she were near the water
3000 miles
brrr.....chilly....brrrr
With the bike ride over I hadn’t planned on writing many more blogs but the last blog wasn’t that exciting. Almost similar to the end of our trip, it was simply over we were at the beautiful Pacific Ocean sun setting and all; and there was no where else for us to go except into the Pacific. I don’t plan on writing much for this entry except that I wanted to inform you that there is method behind my madness in not revealing the last secrets of our adventure. On January 3rd we will hold a library talk at the Rogers Memorial Library we hope everyone can come and enjoy old and new stories with pictures, video footage and a whole lot more. Until then we will be spending the time in California visiting family and friends. You can also enjoy a couple pictures to tease the mind. We want to have some new things to show in January. This will be the last time I post (most likely) so thank you all for reading and commenting back through out the trip.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

WE DID IT!!!

more to come later sorry but we did it. 75 days more then 3500 miles

Monday, November 13, 2006

Seven Days

When we leave this house tomorrow morning we have seven planned days of riding left. Even writing it makes me so excited. We are almost done it feels utterly amazing. Daily we remind ourselves ‘seven days.’ However it has been a mountainous journey to get to Phoenix (where we are now). We left Socorro and immediately traveled up into the mountains. The next days were primarily spent traveling over and through them. During the day the temperature was reasonable but by night the weather got chilly. We were able to stay warm but waking up and getting going was hard. We warmed up though quickly climbing through mountain passes. After a couple more days in NM we finally crossed over the AZ boarder just after night fall. Since it was all ready dark and we just wanted to jump into our tents we didn’t plan on eating warm dinner. We found the campground after traveling up hill for a couple miles. After using the bathroom we went to look for a spot to set up our tens. Once we found our spot a guy came over and explained how he had done some touring and invited us to warm up by his fire. Even after setting up our tents he came back over to re invite us and explain how he was chef and would love to cook us a warm meal. So after politely saying oh no you don’t have to he just started knowing that we wouldn’t say yes. While waiting for our delicious meal to be prepared we warmed ourselves by the fire. He ended up creating a potato, onion, cabbage curry that was absolutely amazing. We talked about touring and it also happened that he was a bike mechanic, so if our bikes were in need of working on it would have been meant to be. We are so grateful for the warm meal and the company for the night.
In our last major decline from the mountains we had a fun journey. It was a pass at about 4,660 feet on a very busy road. It was going to be a lot of fun. At the top of the pass a trucker was stopped and he asked us how we were going to get through the tunnel. Emma just told him bike fast. I started out first on the descent and didn’t see Emma or Gen until it was over. All of our journeys down the mountain were just as exciting as the others. As I was traveling downward I noticed a huge semi behind me and I decided to let it pass since there was no shoulder and winding roads. At the point that I decided to let the truck pass there was also a large line of cars and trucks slowly making their ways down the mountain behind the semi. For me to stopped I had to quickly slam on my brakes running off into a gravel patch on the side of the road. After starting again it wasn’t far before I got to the tunnel. It was long and dark but the sketchiest thing was the insane wind currents that started pushing me around the road. Before the tunnel I noticed that I was going about 33 miles I glanced down at my speedometer while in the tunnel and I had increased speed by ten miles per hour. The wind was literally sucking me through the tunnel. After the perilous tunnel was over there was a large bridge suspended high over the ground with more strong wind currents. Once the bridge was over the road widened and there was again a shoulder.
That same day we were planning on making it all the way to Phoenix to the friend of Gen’s where we staying. We were a little concerned about time but we knew we could make it. Gen however got a flat tire and had run out of tubes. Luckily we were only two miles from a bike shop and Emma and I zoomed off to pick up much needed supplies. After fixing Gen’s tire we still felt like we could still make it. However we weren’t so lucky. Or really Emma wasn’t so lucky. We started out again from the bike shop and only made it a short bit before it all happened. I was behind and wasn’t sure what was going on, but the first thing I thought was what was Emma doing. What it looked like she was doing from my prospective was falling off her bike hitting nothing in the process, similar to that of tripping over nothing. However when I caught up I realized it was not nothing. Her front pannier had dislodged, and had gotten caught in her spokes and then stuck in front of her which caused her to flip over her handle bars. Thankfully there were no cars traveling down the busy road or Emma would have been smashed. Her bike and her fared okay, her knee is pretty torn up but there are no broken bones or major trauma (that we know of) and her bike was fixed quickly (the next day) with just some broken spokes. It ended up being more of a blessing (in hiding). I quickly called the person we were staying with to see if he had any friends that he had to pick us up with a truck. Within seconds he had a friend on his way. With our bikes packed and on our way I soon realized that we were not heading in the direction we were planning on going. It ended up that we hadn’t found where the house was and would have ended up in the completely wrong neighbor hood. So everything works out in the end. And even if we have to transport Emma around in shopping carts for the rest of the trip, hopefully it will still take only take seven days. Talk to you in seven days. Sorry for no pictures. And thank you so much for your help, you know who you are!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We Love Josh!

I sit here writing to you in the Days Inn of Socorro New Mexico. I know, that’s right we are in New Mexico, that last time I wrote we were still in Kansas. Of course we had huge help leaving Kansas, and we practically flew through Oklahoma and Texas. The last you had heard was that we past a Dutch man traveling around the world who inspired us greatly, however that day we only ended up going 30 miles since strong head winds basically stopped us in our tracks. We camped out that night leaving early the next morning to avoid wind and get a jump start on our longish day. Needless to say about eight miles out of Pratt, KS Gen stops in front of me with that oh so familiar clanking sound of a broken spoke. Really not again I think stopping to get the duck tape out of my bag for the ‘quick fix’ that would hopefully let us continue on our way. But seconds later Gen again stops, or did she even start moving, whatever it was her rim had bent and she no longer could move, a slight problem when biking is your only form of transportation. At that point we had no other choice but to stop right there, the only catch was that Emma had taken off and was miles ahead. Quickly I took off after her sprinting as fast as I could. By the time I had become in sight of her (after about 5 miles) I was hyper ventilating with a line of snot running out of my nose and tears were pouring out of eyes. Would she ever stop? I started screaming for her to halt but the lack of oxygen circulating in my lungs prohibited me from screaming very loud. The sound ended up coming out as more of a screeching panicked yelp. At about the point I thought I might collapse she stopped and I slowly rolled up to her. With the lack of breath and teary eyes I thought in my head shoot she’s going to think Gen has been hit by a car or something, later to find that Emma had actually thought that. Between heavy breaths I explained how Gen had another broken spoke and that her rim was bent and wouldn’t turn. We waited a couple of minutes so I could regain my breath and then turned back towards Pratt. We found Gen chilling on the side of the road with information that the next bike shop was in Liberal, KS two days the future of our trip and about 140 miles away, or it was back to Wichita (we were not going backwards). So we did what any like minded stranded traveler would do, sick out their thumb. Of course we were no normal group let along single hitch hiker with a backpack, we had in tow three bikes loaded with gear. Luckily pickup trucks are a common find in farm country and it wasn’t long that some one had stopped and was willing to take us to the next town, about 20 miles down the road. Once in town we fashioned a sign that read ‘To Liberal, Please Help’ and continued our search for the perfect ride. After about ten minuets of sign holding on the side of the road we tired calling AAA, but they weren’t much help and at the end of the conversation they still thought we were on motorcycles. However at about the same time a small red car pulled up and a young man stepped out questioning our situation. We explained and he quickly got on his cell phone calling any one of his friends he thought could help. He soon got his friend to let him barrow his pick up, the only snag was that it was back in Pratt. We quickly hide our bikes in some bushes, and piled into his car meeting his dog Shellie a black lab puppy with the calmest composure. Back in route to Pratt we introduce ourselves and started to learn a little about each other. He’s 22 enjoys hunting, grew up on a farm in a small town in Kansas, and is in school to become a paramedic in a large town. He explained to us how the other day his car broke down and he had to walk seven miles to get it fixed, along with this and a slew of other things that had happened recently he proclaimed how he must know how we feel, miles from any one we know and any help. We were overly joyful to find such a charming helpful person, and it was only the beginning. It was about lunch time when we reached Pratt again and he quickly offered to take us to lunch. We first tried to find a Pizza Taco place but both we closed so we ended up at a Mexican restaurant. Quietly between ourselves we decided to treat him to lunch, the most we could do for him, but he insisted he pay. After full stomachs and filled brains with information about life in Kansas, the land, and more information about him we were on the road again to get the pickup truck. After getting the truck we headed back to our bikes, loaded them up and headed toward Liberal. Along the way we he showed us the secrets we would have missed off the road, including a historical round barn and a beautiful lake with colorful fall foliage. There was a pit stop to meet his mother and show her Shellie and then off to Liberal. Once in Liberal we found the bike shop and were dismayed to find it closed, however he quickly called the number and the owners showed up soon enough. They fixed Gen’s bike putting a new rim on that will not fold under the pressure, but she lost some speeds in the change. After they fixed bike he insisted on putting us up in a hotel. There was no stopping his kindness, but only by treating him to dinner. He is defiantly the nicest person any of us has ever met. And the coolest part of the day was hanging out with some one our own age that could tell us so much about life. Even cooler was the simple fact that he shares the same drive in life to live and try and die without regrets (he’s SCUBA certified lives in Kansas and has never seen the ocean, should I say more—awesome). It was refreshing and just what we needed. And that’s why we love Josh. We can’t say thank you enough. He is our true angel. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. After two days were squeezed into one with the long car ride we were on the boarder of Kansas and Oklahoma. Leaving in the chilly morning we soon stopped in the town of Hooker, OK home of the horny toads. We got a chuckle out of that and pushed on. We had planed on staying in a town on the boarder of Texas and Okalahoma, (Texahoma) but decided to push all the way to Texas. It was the first day we had been in three states in one day. We ended up in Stratford, Texas on Halloween eve after traveling 80 miles. Why stay in Texas for too long so we decided to again push big and were planning on going for a hundred mile day, but why hundred when you can go a hundred and twenty miles. Dressed in our Halloween costumes we set out early. Though I soon started to feel a bit out of place, perhaps it wasn’t Halloween and we were just idiots dressed up riding our bikes. We got a couple honks from tuckers and some long stares form passing cars but that’s about it. I think perhaps it’s the first Halloween I have gone with out eating a single piece of candy. After seventy miles of biking we stopped for lunch in a deserted town just over the boarder of New Mexico. The entire day I had been lagging behind and thought it was because I was tiered. However it really was because I was stubborn and had a flat tire, I suggest never try riding seventy miles with a flat tire it’s really not fun. By the time we had the tire fixed the sun was almost ready to set (it sets at about five here very inconvenient). We still had a while to go before we were going to stop and knew we were going to have to ride in the dark, we didn’t mind, there was less wind. We watched one of the most beautiful sunsets we have seen and were awed by the open space and different landscape. By 9:30 we reached our 126th mile and the motel Emma promised to pay for if we reached the city of Tucumcari. Chilled to the bone we were glad to have hot showers and a warm bed as well as take out pizza. We crashed soon and slept well. The next day we slept in (awake by eight out by eleven) and made it sixty miles (a now short day for us) to Santa Rosa. The entire ride to Santa Rosa was on the interstate which was pleasant and unpleasant at the same time since most of it was being repaved and the traffic was condensed into on lane. However Gen and I have discovered that interstates are very convenient to find licenses plates (I collect one from each state I have visited). About two miles before the rest stop we were going to eat at Gen got a flat and I had to go back and rescue her. After a bit of time changing the tire, we then stopped to remove a California plate form a bumper on the side of the road. Only about an hour after I thought I would get to rest stop we arrive to find Emma sitting there patiently reading. We ate lunch and I questioned when we would start to see mountains. Before leaving we again changed Gen’s tire, patching the tube and pulling a staple from the tire. We again arrived after night fall and stayed in a hotel to do laundry and use the internet (sorry no blog update I was too sleepy). Emma and Gen were however to look at the future and realize that the next couple of days might be scarce on the lodging and camping ability and we would most likely end up on the side of the road. After a very late start stocking up on food and resenting the wind (Emma hates the wind) we made it eight miles from Santa Rosa and found a good spot to camp hidden from the road. It was about two o’clock and we enjoyed greatly our nap. At about four we got up to cook dinner. Emma and Gen had set up one tent for the both of them and it seemed to work fine. Remind you that we have very small one person tents. We cooked up a concoction of refried beans, salsa and cheese, which I soon started calling bean turds after we had to put half of it into a zip lock bag for later. The next morning we awoke early to beat the wind and to our surprise instead of the usual layer of condensation on our tents there was frost, our first frost. That day we made it a little further, still however with strong winds (Emma really HATES the wind). We made it forty miles, past a town named Vaughn which to our shock was 5,600 feet elevation, when did we get that high? And we still hadn’t seen any mountains. That night we didn’t find a nice hidden place to camp but we did have a picnic table. To be less obvious we decided to set only one very small tent, we thought it would be fine, two people was okay what would three do. It was NOT a good idea, suggestion number two don’t put three people in a one person tent if you actually want to sleep. We woke up early, perhaps we were already awake, and got biking before the sun had fully risen. For most of the morning we road in a cloud it was fun, but we couldn’t see very far. The wind was still in our face (Emma really really hates the wind), but not that harrowing. The excitement for me was at the top of one hill there were suddenly mountains off in the distance. We decided to stop in Lucy for lunch, but when Lucy didn’t exist so a roadside picnic table did fine. It over looked a beautifully scenic large salt marsh. Of course we first weren’t sure if it were salt, so after a lunch of top roman Emma and Gen hiked down to the edge of the marsh. They came back bearing gifts, Emma with a large chunk of salt and Gen a handful of gushy mud. They said how they tried to walk out towards the inch of water but were soon being sucked in by quicksand. Not soon after their return a joyful couple showed up. Steeped with information on the mountains, the surrounding area and New Mexico itself they educated us on everything we wanted to know. They were there collecting salt for various reasons. Reassuring us that there were no venomous creatures to fear that they were all frozen and that after Mountain Air (our destination for that night) it was downhill, we were on our way again into very strong wind. After fifteen miles into the wind we had made it to Mountain Air elevation 6,500, with the peaks of the Manzana Mts. Reaching up to 10,000 ft shadowing over us. It was all the way downhill to Socorro where I now sit and we completed the 66 miles day in less then five hours. We passed over our first mountain range with only a couple more to the future. We plan on being in New Mexico for three more days (if all goes well) and the mountains don’t test our strength. We will again resort to road side sleeping, this time legal since it will be in national parks. We feel like we are almost done and every time we talk about it makes us feel all bubbly inside. Perhaps we will be done in twenty days? Or even sixteen? Now that would be pretty awesome.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Can We Tell Someone To Turn the Wind Off?

Work on that for us please. This wind is killing us. We thought maybe we would make it out of Kansas in three days but with strong winds (never in our favor) and all we don’t travel very far on any given day. But that’s biking and we are dealing with it. Today we met an inspirational man who was not only biking across the United States but around the world. I was biking along thinking to myself how we would not see any more bikers for some time and then up ahead I saw something. Straining my eyes I could make out a flag on the back of a recumbent bike. I thought to myself it couldn’t be annother touring biker the possibility of another “off route” biker to be on the same road at the same day was crazy. As I got closer I realized it was another biker and not just any biker but a Dutch man that has been biking around the world for 16 months. He was presently surprised and excited to see other bikers on the road and very impressed to see three women making the trip across the country. We talked for a bit and then were on our way again into the wind. But not before warning him of the up coming interstate that we rode on the previous day that was riddled with construction. Riding on the interstate was a pleasant adventure, except that Emma was in constant fear that we would be pulled over and ticketed for illegal riding. We even ate lunch on an over pass to escape the wind. It was very pleasant and we all agreed on why people might sleep under them. Hopefully we wouldn’t have to. But it’s all about the adventure. Till next time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Who Turned The Flat On?

With the parents sent of on their way we were alone again. But of course their last day with us wasn’t without adventure. Just after lunch my dad’s bike broke and was beyond rode side repair. With that complication mother told me to go on and they would met us at the hotel in Marshfield Missouri. I peddled on catching up with Emma and Gen and explained what had happened. It was going to be our parent’s longest day, 67 miles and it was getting cold and darker but we pushed on. Twenty minuets or so later they passed by in a pick up truck; we quickly ditched our bags with them. What a relief we hadn’t done any ridding with out them for a very long time. Because of strong wind it didn’t seem that much of a difference but we wonder if we had our bags if it would have gone even slower. At the top of a small hill we met yet another biker had a long chat with him (he hadn’t seen bikers since Utah) exchanging funny sorties and exciting adventures. By the time we got on the rode again it was getting dark and cold. About eight miles out of Marshfield we reached our 2,000 miles and stopped to take a picture. We reflected today on how our 1,000 and 2,000 miles were drastically different. At 1,000 miles we were hot and sweaty peddling up a mountain (the one we sat at the top of for 5 hours) and our 2,000 miles was that of frigid with small, hilly fields. We made it to Marshfield just fine and were glad to have a warm hotel room to sleep in. Meanwhile my dad had rented a car since they still had twenty-five miles to ride the next morning into Springfield to catch their plane.
We are now in Kansas completely off the route. For those of you who don’t know let me explain. Our planed route was to go through Colorado, Utah, Nevada ending up it San Francisco (TransAm to Western Express). For a long time we dodged back and fourth between the idea of going through the periling Colorado Rockies during winter our heading south and facing the Rockies at a more reasonable place with some added warmth in general riding (it sure is getting cold). We sat down one night to plan out our trip through the Rockies, however we soon realized that it was going to be more of a problem then we thought with very little places to stay and taking much longer then we had imagined. From that discovery we then started to plan out our southern descent. With one morning spent on the computer Emma had very day planned out until we meet up with Adventure Cycling Maps for the Southern Tier route in Arizona, ending up in San Diego. Which brings me to the beginning; we went off the route a couple days early and pushed out some long miles to reach Wichita, KS for out much needed break. The day leaving Missouri into Kansas was like a miracle we got to the top of a hill and it seemed like some one turned of all the hills. It was flat and flat for a very long time. The surroundings had also changed a lot as well, wide open spaces for miles to see it was exciting and new. Our first day of the route we stayed on one road for the entire day going 70 miles into the wind, not fun. And to top the day off we ended up staying at a public town park in the bathroom. By the time we reached Fredonia, KS we were to tired to pitch our tents and just crashed in the bathroom building, which was very nice indeed. They day after that we planed to bike within twenty miles of Wichita and then since it would be raining the next day wake up early and get into Wichita and take the day to explore. However with the lack of wind and “flat” terrain of Kansas we flew and decided to just push for Wichita in one day. The scenery has changed a lot and we were again on a single road the entire day with very few stops. Emma was in the front for most of the day so when Gen and I reached Augusta (a planed stopping point) and Emma was no where in site we thought perhaps she just wanted to get to Wichita only eleven miles further. We decided to continue and stop at the Comfort Inn, which we had planed to stay at. Upon reaching the Comfort Inn, which yielded no Emma we were stating to get worried, it was unlike her to just lose her self. Gen and I decided to try another Comfort Inn closer into the downtown area of Wichita and started out on our bike then on our 86th mile. After riding for a short time in some busy congested traffic area we soon realized that we were on the wrong road (perhaps an interstate) and quickly exited through an entrance ramp. From there we deiced to head back towards the way we came lucky as we waited at a corner to cross the street Gen’s phone ran. We took a breath hoping it was Emma, not having a clue where she might be. Gen called back the number and thankfully it was the first Comfort Inn we had been at and sure enough Emma was there. Gen and I quickly rushed back to the hotel. Quick in the sense that we had to rush back through the congested rush-hour traffic avoiding pot holes construction detours and ending sidewalks (every annoying) in the end we were moving faster then the traffic. Back at the Comfort Inn we heard Emma’s side of the story. She had stopped at the only rest area (about 50 miles before Wichita) to use the bathroom. At that point Gen and I pasted her with our realizing it. Thinking she was still ahead of us we continued on persistently like two dogs trying to find their lost master for Emma holds the secrets to all direction. Emma explained how she had started talking to a lady, and stopped to take a picture of the wind farm we passed and after that she tried immensely to catch up with us but her legs just wouldn’t move any faster she said. Finally reunited (and it feels so good) we got a hotel room and started our vacation. First though Emma and Gen went of in search of food. A while later Gen calls and beckons me to come outside and help them with their purchases. I went to the front door and wait a small bit and then head back to the room and to call Gen to she where they were. To her request I meet them at the back door and to my surprise they have a shopping cart in tow. Emma is quick to explain how they had to travel two miles to Wal-Mart and back pushing the shopping cart along the grassy side of the road that had no shoulder. I was just happy to have some dinner. Today we left our bikes at a bike shop to get tuned up and continued on to explore Wichita. However we got fascinated at our first stop the Exploration Museum a fun and exciting hands on children’s museum that had many fun things to play with. The intense massage chairs being on of our favorite exhibits. From here we continue downward through New Mexico (it will be an adventure) and into Arizona and then California, we hope to be completed around Thanksgiving time. If anyone has any tips or fun facts that we should know please leave us a comment we love all the information we can get.

p.s. we also met some cool people biking east of course from Colorado College that started a scholarship for the school. They are biking to raise money for their scholarship. You can check out their blog at apprecciate.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

At the End of the Day Everything is Uphill

My mother mentioned something about writing less so I am going to try that this time. If you have any questions please comment and I try and answer your questions with interesting stories or simple sentences. Last you heard we were in Carbondale IL, and I hadn’t even mentioned that fact that our parents were coming to bike with us for the state of Missouri. It is a nice vacation having them along, since they are treating us to hotels or bed and breakfasts along with meals and pretty much everything in between. After one more day in Illinois we crossed over the Mississippi River by bridge into Missouri, it has now been four days in Missouri and we have almost decided that it might have been our hardest state. What makes it hard is the consistent climbing and falling of steep hills. We also traveled for our first full day in rain, a truly wonderful experience really it wasn’t horrible more fun and exciting. However the scariest thing that has happened (well for me) was the dog attack. It was our second day into Missouri and we had just turned a bend and my mother declared that this is what she had thought the Ozarks would look like. An old wooden fence climbed the road as we passed by a white farm building. I was leading that pack and before I knew it the dog had come out of know where with no warning growl. I could tell that this dog was not looking to chase the tires and I started to peddle faster but it caught up and latched onto my ankle. Well it didn’t really latch on more of a kind nibble before it retreated to the request of its owner. The only problem with being by a dog is that know I am in consent fear of them. Today I even sprayed my self with the Halt, which as caused my arm to burn for the entire second half of the day. The funniest occurrence was as followed. On our first day of riding with the folks we took a short break after a long time of flat peddling into the wind. We were all sitting down eating our yummy Milk Pail apples and home made trial mix when Gen calmly states to Emma that she has a stick bug crawling on her. To all of our surprise sure enough there was four inch walking stick climbing around on Emma. Wanting to document this process Emma went to get her camera and mom offered to have the bug be placed on her yellow jacket for nice contrast. However every time the bug got anywhere near her she started to scream in fear. This procedure happened ten or so times each one making me and Gen laugh harder, nearly until we cried. We soon realized that that tree we had leaned our bikes on was covered in the funny looking bugs and they were no where else to see. More stories to come but the library has to shut down. But for all you that are concerned that parents are holding up wonderfully.