Exploring the Heart of Wyoming
Hello family and friends! Thanks for being patient for an update as we’ve been spending all day on the bike and far from technology. A quick update before we hit the road again…We spent Thursday – Saturday biking through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National parks. Thursday was our favorite day of leisurely biking with the Tetons as a stunning backdrop, beautiful 55 degree weather and a lunch break/nap at Jenny lake. Not a bad life we decided. We only biked 35 miles and camped at Colter Bay on the edge of Yellowstone and enjoyed our first smore feast over a campfire. Passed the milestone of 1,000 miles and felt great! Friday ended up being a much more challenging day than expected, biking 80 miles from Colter Bay to Madison on the West side of the lower Yellowstone loop. It was beautiful biking through the winding roads of the Yellowstone forests, seeing lots of wildlife (bison, elk, moose, mule deer, lots of birds) but the climbs were tough and we peaked at 8,391 feet on the Continental Divide. Also a bit terrifying to bike 12 feet from a 2,000 pound bison munching grass on the roadside, but it kept our adrenaline pumping. Enjoyed Old Faithful on Friday afternoon and arrived at Madison beat by 7 p.m. It rained much on the night and us girls discovered our tent is anything but waterproof.
Waking up soaking wet and cold, we were blessed by a friendly French camping neighbor on Saturday morning when he delivered a pile of wood for us to make a fire and hot pot of coffee! As a solution to our light breakfast we decided to roast hotdogs and smores at 9:30 a.m., I guess there’s a first time for everything. Saturday we biked the rest of the lower loop of the park, about 60 miles, but we caught a nasty afternoon crosswind and the temp high was 45 degrees so it was a struggle to stay warm in the afternoon. Honestly it was a bit discouraging feeling so exhausted and winded these few days, but we learned that biking at 8,000 feet is a different ball game and we like to think we’re stronger because of it. Katie ran into her friend Francis who is working at Yellowstone for the summer and it was a pleasant surprise to sit around the campfire with her eating huckleberry chocolate and reminiscing on our trip so far.Saturday night was cooolllddd and we squeezed the five of us into the three-man tent for warmth but none of us slept much. We woke up to snow on Sunday morning and morale was low. Good thing we can already laugh about his experience, but it was legitimately miserable packing up and biking a bit with half-finger gloves and not enough layers. The plan was to bike to Cody on Sunday but because of the snow and snow-tire warnings for the road out of the park we decided to hitchhike. Thankfully within five minutes of standing by the roadside Don and Marnee stopped and offered us a ride (not a small feat for five bikers and their bikes). We had the best time getting to know them on the ride to Cody and they graciously took us out to lunch once we arrived – and as the guys say “we ate an indecent amount”. Thanks again to Don and Marnee for being so encouraging after a few tough days in the parks! We spent Sunday afternoon with some of Katie and Tess’s connections, Erica and Scott and their four young boys who were so fun to hang out with! They set us up with their friends Nancy and Mike who also have four young kids and offered us their warm, dry living room to sleep in, showers and laundry. It’s amazing how these every-day things are the greatest blessing to us this summer. Monday morning Nancy made the best cinnamon rolls we’ve ever tasted and Erica and her four boys joined us for breakfast as well. We were humbled by how these two busy families made the time and space for five more hungry people! Erica sent us off with homemade granola bars and we biked out of Cody feeling refreshed and thrilled about Western hospitality.
The next three days we redeemed ourselves as bikers and have fallen deeply in love with Wyoming for all of its open space and natural beauty. Monday was one of our favorite days yet, biking 96 miles from Cody to Worland. Most of the day we headed straight towards the Big Horn mountains, relishing the scenery and our ability to feel good after so many miles. Calvin and I had our first day-dreaming conversation about our wedding and have loved the excitement of engagement without needing to plan . About 12 miles from Worland we met Roger and Dave, two friendly bikers from the area who rode into town with us and then gave us a tour of the Pepsi plant where they have been working since the 70′s. Gotta love the unexpected experiences like this! We stayed with a young couple named Anna and Ty and their two young girls who are Nancy and Mike’s friends and once again we were thankful for showers and to sleep inside.Tuesday we biked 70 beautiful miles from Worland through Thermopolis and the Wind River Canyon to Shoshoni. Perfect 75 degree weather and the 25 miles stretch through the Wind river Canyon was absolutely stunning! Yesterday was our longest distance day yet, biking 105 miles from Shoshoni to Casper, and although locals say there’s “nothing” in between we loved the openness of the range and time to think about anything and everything. Praise the Lord for an afternoon tailwind as well! It truly is amazing how much the wind and weather affects our progress (and attitude), so keep praying for those east-bound winds! We made what we thought was good time in the morning, stopping for “first lunch” at 11:30 and 40 miles in. But to our pleasant surprise a tailwind picked up and when we hopped back on our bikes we HAULED for the next 30 miles…at some point Calvin was cruising ahead of me on a gradual downhill at 38 mph! These are the times that biking is the best thing in the world and we’d rather do nothing else. (Don’t ask us what we thought of biking when we woke up to snow Sunday morning . We were thrilled to get into Casper by 5:30 p.m. and pleased with ourselves for biking a century in about 6 1/2 hours. We stopped for delicious milkshakes at a diner (yes, dessert before dinner) and then downed a few pizzas sitting on the curb. We ended up asking for a place to stay at a church in town and Lori and Jeff graciously offered us to stay in their backyard and get showers. Yesterday evening ended with us sitting in their kitchen eating chicken and pasta salad and getting to know their family, a great ending to a big day. Wyoming is a place of diverse terrain, from the Grant Tetons to the Wind River Canyon to acres and acres of open sagebrush, and we are thankful for the time we’ve had to explore and wind our way through this wild state. We’re headed past Douglas to somewhere close to Lusk tonight. Then north on 85 to New Castle on Friday and into the Black Hills for the weekend! We’re excited to reach South Dakota, to see Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Rapid City and to continue meeting wonderful people along the way. Please continue praying for our energy, recovery in the evenings and mental stamina as we’ll be putting on lots of miles every day across South Dakota. Also, if you know of someone in Rapid City that we could stay with we would love to connect with them! We’d be looking to stay overnight either Sunday or Monday night. Please have them call me at 651.245.1323. Thanks!