Salt Lake City to Denver August 28-Sept 7, 2015 …including The Rockies!
Note: I wrote this on my iPhone very night after riding. So there’s a lot of editing that could be done but I prefer to in it’s original. that’s how it was.
Day 0: Salt Lake City, UT to Herber, UT
Yesterday, when I got to Salt Lake City, UT, a voicemail was waiting for me. It was from the bike shop I shipped my bicycle to telling me that it never arrived. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out what happened and what to do.
I started the day with sad tears and three locks on #113 Motel 6 door in the bad neighborhood. hey it was only $50 a night and it was clean. From there I went to Starbucks carrying my pannier bags and had 2 grande cappuccinos.
At Starbucks I talked with Roz Newmark who help me tremendously. She has long distance cycled with her husband extensively in this area and lives in Salt Lake city. She is the sister of a good friend of mine. She knew all about bike shops and bikes as does my friend Josh who is so amazing, I think someday someone should write a book about him.
Between Josh and Roz I know about different bike options and different bike shops and I decide on the closest and the cheapest as I’m walking around the city (a mile or so) in my flip flops carrying my panniers
Long story short I buy a TREK 520 from Salt Lake Cyclery. Roy helped me and they were fantastic I got such a deal. So here is my advertisement for Salt Lake Cyclery: They were the best. I got fully outfitted better than I was before for $1500.
I am now ending my day in my tent in the campsite it’s really really nice with a swimming pool and a hot tub that’s open at night.
Josh took me here. God bless him. This is a little where noah and I left off. I passed by the places noah and I were and it was a little painful but the swimming pool at night made me miss my kids the most. There is nothing better than being a mom with your kids at a pool late at night. In fact on our first bike trip (The one the kids and i took starting in Oregon and ending in Wyoming which is the beginning of this blog ) we even had to climb over a high fence because the pool was closed after a certain hour.
I am now here, 45 miles from salt lake city and one mile outside of Heber City. Josh took me here. He picked me up frim the bike shop and we drove his electric car to his home near Park city and then we got his other car because the electric car was out of electricity. It was really fun to see his house it’s an Alpine mountain house and he has two jobs he’s an important engineer with the Utah government and he also has a company that makes cool bike bags. it was fun to see it, especially his sewing studio and his blackboard painted refrigerator. The garage was superb. It was like a sports equipment store. He absolutely does everything .
Noah and I met him two summers ago after we had just ridden up emigrant Canyon and over Pawley’s pass which is a 3000 foot climb that we were totally unprepared for with the altitude adjustment. Noah and I were walking our bikes because we couldn’t get in the bicycle position any longer without having massive spasms in our legs and Josh stopped his car and said “Are you guys OK ?” and we said “No” and he helped us and here he is helping me again! You see, he has trendous time demands and still goes out of his way to be helpful to strangers. He’s really an incredible guy. Left home at 13. Can you imagine?
So here I am now in the valley I’m surrounded by mountains on all sides of me I’m at 7000 feet and tomorrow 1 flat mile out of here and then it’s 18 miles up to pass that I think is 10,000?
The views I’m going to see are going to be wonderful as in full of wonder as in breathtakingly amazing and huge and all around me
The sky above me is the biggest sky you can see sky 360° here it’s so marvelous
Day 1 Morning, Heber City, UT to Daniel’s Pass UT
This is Josh dropping me off at my campground.This is Josh Van Jura in his garage in front of all his bike race numbers.
New Dawn is not my old bike Silver. Her brakes ate in a different place ( Silver had intermittent brakes which i was very used too so my instinctual reach is wrong each time. Im working on that. Ditto for gear changes.
woke up a bit scared for todays climb. Up at 6 and at breakfast at 7. Couldn’t eat it all so i wrapped up half if it in a napkin which i forgot after filling up water bottles in the bathroom, i left the extra food there. Its an hour later here and i just don’t eat breakfast that early.
we are put of the bay area which means the coffee is weak and there are more dry cleaners than tattoo parlors. There were even dry cleaner drive throughs in salt lake city.
in San francisco if you are the guy wearing the suit and tie you’re not the guy making the money. Now the Guy in the jeans with the tech T-shirt that’s the guy making money.
starting out after a few miles i realized i didn’t have my bike shorts on as I never wear them at home so i stopped at the point of entry station where big semis stop.Guy there was nice. Says he sees all kinds of people like me doing this. To me thats encouraging. He says he knows i will make it and promises to follow blog. Ah, the kindness of strangers.I talk to flowers at the side of the road and animals. And myself
At The restaurant at the top of the summit has glass lamps with copper cut outs! incredible right?
Day 1, afternoon: from the Summit to the Ranch
I made it to the sumitt at 11:15 and my destination at strawberry reservoir was only 6 miles away so I hung out at the lodge at the summit texting and then I called strawberry lodge and canceled because I didn’t want the day end at 1 o’clock
So I decided to try for Duchesne which is 50 miles away and Fruitland which is closer. Five miles past Strawberry I start to have a stick iny right side. I’ve never had them before so I didn’t know what to do and it was excruciating and I got off and walked my bike for a while even though it wasn’t hilly and then I got three texts in a row and I realized “oh my goodness this is not nowhere, there’s Internet
So I Google and I find out what to do which is a lot like a self Breema or even more like kundalini yoga so I’ve got my hand over my head stretching that side and breathing specifically.
Is getting quite a bit better and I think that I will actually maybe make it when a man and his wife pull up in the car and he asks me if I am OK
I say not really and explain about my side cramp and he offers for them to take me to the ranch where I can camp which is nearby. He suggests for me to leave my bike there and come with them to the ranch where he can get his pick up and then drive back and get the bike.
I offer that I’d rather ride my bike and he can get the pick up and we can meet that way. After he leaves I continue to do my exercise and my stitch continues to improve. I pass several entrances to campground roads that I could have stopped at which is good to know because I would have made it without the kindness of strangers but thank the mother of God that I didn’t have to.
So Johnny comes with his pick up which I expected to be old and beat up (why?) and its not. It’s top of the line nice. We turn off Hwy 40 onto a small side road and go down and down and down the windy road to the end which is perfectly their house.
Well it turns out this man Johnny and his wife Donna are just incredibly amazing people. First thing about them is: one is instantly completely comfortable with them. it’s almost strange.There such a warmth and familiarity about them.
They are amazing he’s some of the things he has done. Johnny has been the captain of search and rescue for this entire county for 25 years!
The short story is, he found me and and rescued me. Donna did the same. They both noticed me when I was climbing the summit earlier in the morning. She was worried about me I think, God bless her, and so was he.
Jjhnny has also been a private pilot. They owned a cattle ranch which is where I’m sleeping also sheep and goats. And they grew hay professionally.
They’re real comfortable team: 54 years married with four children and lots of grandchildren and lots of great-grandchildren.
They are 74 and they’re in amazing shape. They also owned the Heber City hardware store and they owned had a Western clothing apparel business.
This is their log cabin ranch home complete with s river stone chimney.
And this is them. As you can see there both very cute.
This is the view out my tent
Day 2, From the Ranch to Duchesne UT to Roosevelt UT
Well i left paradise at the ranch and Johnny and Donna a bit reluctantly because they were so great.
Johnny took me back up the canyon from his ranch to hwy 40.
It’s kind of like Highway One in BigSur in that you think there’s nothing on the other side of the road from the ocean but when you go off on one of those roads, there’s all kinds of houses tucked in here and there, some of them worth 20 million.
This picture is Johnny dropping me off. He also showed me a great app where I can see what my altitude is.
He hates having his picture taken. As soon as the camera is present he freezes up. In person, this guy is very attractive. For all he’s done, there was nothing pompous about him at all. Both of them had amazing stories and it was a big joy pleasure inspiration and blessing to have met them.
I did about 43 miles yesterday (w a big pass) and am doing a lttle over 50 today with no huge climbs. I’m now in Duchesne (about 26 miles) and am eating breakfast and powering phone. Johnny gave me a banana, an appme and trail mix packages to get me to Duchesne.
I am going to gp to the town museum and then take off for Roosevelt UT, 28 relatively easy miles away where i have a hotel reservation.
There was nothing from the ranch to here but beauty and this is LITERALLY a one block town. I love that in this block, they have a museum!!
After Duchesne UT, There is not so much to say about this part of the ride except that it was beautiful.
Real estate is cheap here.
Here is what a difference water can make: irrigated land.
Un irrigated land
Because I knew I would reach my destination early I started to take lots of breaks and pictures of the road.
I especially like pictures of the roads intersecting highway 40 going off into who knows what.
Nearing the end of the 50 some miles I stopped for a salt break because I could tell I needed salt from so much sweating. As I was eating a pack of planters salted peanuts an old man in a red car stopped on the other side of the road.
I had just taken a picture of this road.
He asked, “are you giving up for the day? ” I said, “no just refueling, I’m needing to eat something”. So he says, “why don’t you come home to dinner?”
I thank him for the offer and tell him I have friends to meet in Roosevelt so he says, “OK “. And then his red car shoots down the road i have just photographed and my greasy salty hands can’t get the phone out quick enough to catch that.
But i caught another car i liked.
About ten miles out of Roosevelt, it starts to get very very windy. The big sky is getting darker and darker. I take off my sunglasses but I have to put them back on again because the wind is blowing all this stuff in my face and eyes.
Tumbleweeds are tumbling across the road and the whole 9 yards. The wind gathers a lot of momentum when it’s running across those vast expanses of beauty and hitting me hard from the side so I had to bicycle a certain speed or else it would knock me over. It was that strong.
I haven’t written much about the wind because the wind is either behind me or it’s in my face and it seems to be equally both so I’m not writing about it but this was different.
When an 18 wheeler passes me and scores of them have passed me on hwy 4, you feel a little gust of wind. It’s almost like a push from behind because you’re going in the same direction but this wind was hitting me broadside.
It was about to pour rain and at first that seem like a good thing because it would be like an early shower until I remembered all of the trees by the road I’ve hit seen that have been hit by lightning.
I haven’t taken pictures of them because they’re not pretty but I’ll try to get a picture of one so you can see what it looks like.
Most of the fires in Utah are started by lightning. I pedalled hard to reach Roosevelt.
And I made it in time.
I booked into a luxury hotel for under hundred dollars and it is marvelous! I have a room across from the swimming pool and the hot tub. I even have a bathtub in my room and a large flat screen TV which I haven’t turned on.
After I took my shower and washed my clothes in the sink I went to the grocery store and got my food for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow.
The next town is 28 miles out tomorrow morning so I’m going to try to get a really good night sleep in this really big bed. My destination tomorrow (Dinosaur Colorado is 64 miles away) which is a bit intimidating.
Day 3: Roosevelt UT to Dinosaur CO
I was on the road by eight and feeling good about it.
Right out of town was this cemetery. All the cemeteries around here-abouts (meaning, the wild west) have colored flowers on the graves. Of course, they are not real. You could not get a real flower like these within miles and miles and miles of here.
And lots of cut steel metal art, For signage. It survives the elements. The sun and wind are tough enough, The winter seems like it would be tougher .
And nothing but land for miles
Miles and miles and miles of beauty.
After 28 miles of all this earthly harmony and peace I got to the real town of Vernal
As you can see, i am nearing Dinosaur national park. Utah is fantastic in many ways but not when it comes to highway shoulders.
Those bumps are so the 18 wheelers dont fall asleep. God bless those guys. All of them gave me tons of room (there is not a lot of oncoming or any huge amount of traffic on 40).
Tons of roadkill in utah. Deer rabbitts skunks racoon big snakes and things i can’t identify. I don’t really get why they are on the side of the road. They get killed in the middle of the road, dont they? What do they do? With their last breath do they scrurry to the side of the road, or what?
In Vernal I bought lots of food to carry because I knew there would be no real food for 90 miles. I met the man who makes the sushi in the grocery store there. He was proud of it and happy I liked it. Asian fellow. Not a lot of Asians around here. Nice guy. Great sushi.
There were no towns between Vernal UT and my 64 mile day destination in Dinosaur CO but there was evidence of more happening times in these remote areas.
As I rode the sky got darker and darker and I could see storms happening on either side of me.
I was afraid of the lightening. It seemed like I was the tallest thing on the horizon for as far as the eye could see.
I got rained on a bit but not much. I found out later that storms were so bad near Vernal that there was 3″ of hail on the road! Hail is hard to imagine because its way hot here and I havent had any, i mean NONE, shade thus entire trip
I finally made it to Colorado
For some reason I thought Colorado was going to be enlightened in some way. I guess because they passed recreational marijuana.
I was shocked when I got to Dinosaur.
It was a third world dump.
What hotels had been there were not anymore open. So I had to set up in the town park because there were no campgrounds. I booked a hotel that I was told was in Dinosaur but it was actually in Rangely which is 18 miles away .When I booked the room I asked them if they were on Highway 40 and they said they were but in fact they are on Highway 134 so I was very bummed but it turned out that the “city” park was quite nice.
There were very clean free showers which people come from close to 100 miles around to use! Especially in hunting season and horse competition season. Quite a few people were using them because the hang glider contest was in the area. Still, it wasn’t quite the rest I wanted after 64 miles of biking.
This guy was my neighbor
That store is on the corner of highway 40 and Colorado 134 so it’s open 24 hours and most of he 18 wheelers turn off. I didn’t get much sleep but the coffee at least was real like really strong coffee.
Before that is a place called “the depot” and the lady in there makes homemade ice cream so I had a chocolate milkshake that was one of the best in the entire world.
She had tons of Christian stuff in her place and a bunch of dinosaur stuff and books on the subject of evolution and she wasn’t nice. The word BELIEVE was prominently posted everywhere.
The word “believe” is a bit more understandable what they mean (in Jesus) than when you see hear the word “freedom” tossed around everywhere but still…what are these people talking about. “Freedom, thank a veteran” I’m like uhhh, I don’t get the connection.
After the ice cream store I went to the liquor store because I wanted to buy a glass of wine and the lady in there was super nice and she had this beautiful moon necklace on and I told her about the unfriendly Christian lady.
She was all anout the unfriendly Christians in town and told the story about Her adopted father who had been the town pastor for decades and how they meanly kicked him out when he started to have dementia.
I ask her about her moon necklace and she tells me that she’s pagan; wiccan specifically. I tell her about my friends and I doing equinox and solstice rituals and how I was at a stonehenge in Avebury England on the summer solstice.
I tell her about our Facebook page called 1 “o’clock on the dot coven of irreverent witchy business”. She then tells me that she is for real a witch from generations of witches and was in fact born with a veil. I don’t even know what that means.
She asks me where I’m staying and I tell her I’m staying in the town park and she expresses concern because she’s afraid there’s going to be a huge storm coming through and tells me I have no idea what kind of storms come through there.
She suggests I stay in her backyard or in her grandmother’s backyard and I thank her but I tell her I’m already all set up and I think I’m OK.
She writes down me her name and her phone number and gives it to me and makes me promise to call her if The storm comes in and she says she will drive by and pick me up right away! Wow.
I try to drink the wine but I’m afraid it will keep me up so I don’t. I end up staying awake most of the night anyhow listening to the trucks.
Day 4: Dinosaur CO to Mabel CO
I wake up in Dinosaur and the first thing to say at loud to myself is I’ve never felt so lonely mostly because my immune system is down because I haven’t gotten any sleep.
Like I said Dinosaur is not pretty. Check out the sign on this restaurant.
But the people were great (except for the ice cream lady ). the two guys that clean the restroom and shower were great and I’ve never seen a cleaner shower or restroom; nothing but the basics no mirror or anything but still it was clean and those guys were really friendly.
Here’s the floor I love floors like this I grew up with the bathroom floor like this. since I’m a pattern maker I love to look at patterns I can’t figure out … especially when there’s no pattern
After I get done whimpering I pop out of my tent and I find on top of my clothes, which I left on the picnic table, is a note a pen and a large bag of gummy bears.
The note turns out to be from a fellow named Jim and it’s very encouraging it explains that he saw me arrive last night and that he also is a fellow traveler and is here for the hang gliding competition.
He leaves his number and tells me to call him and that he is just in the house 80 feet away and he gets up at six. What he means by “the house” is one of the hotel bungalows that has gone out of business a long time ago here’s what they look like from the picnic table.
It’s a super nice note; I especially liked the line where he told me that my manifestation was amazing. I write him back a note and explain that I am on a schedule and can’t hang out and left him my two glasses of wine and told him to imagine and that I was drinking one of them.
I took the gummy bears even though I have never eating gummy bears nor have I ever wanted to but I didn’t want to be rude and leave them.
After strong coffee in the gas station I head out for the next ride which was 57 miles to Maybelle with nothing in between nothing at all except beauty, Space and sky.
The ride was hard in two ways: number one there were a lot of hills a lot of long hills going up up up: gradual but tiring. I am riding always under the sun all the way not a tree ever, not one, has been on the road giving shade. It is not so bad as I riding in early September and at high elevation so it is not terribly hot.
Even though I am riding on the Colorado Plateau these hills do have down hills so that’s pleasant and I can get roaring up to 44 miles an hour. (Inspired by Lily Moriarty at 14 karats, the jewelry store on college ave. who does that speed going downhill).
Once, when I was doing that, there was a black line on the road and it was coming up too fast and I thought to myself if that black line is three-dimensional I’m done for and if its two-dimensional I’m fine and of course It turned out to be fine or I wouldn’t be writing this.
The second way that the day was hard was that it was 57 miles with nothing in between.There was not a gas station or anything in between so I carried my food and water from Vernal. Carrying the food and water wasn’t hard. What was mentally and emotionally challenging was being so vulnerable on the highway all alone with nothing for so many miles.
You really realize how bad sugar is for you when you’re doing something like this. At one point I even threw an Apple away after eating two bites of it because I just couldn’t stand the sugar. What I needed was protein.
It’s infuriating when you look at the map and there’s a dot that says BlueMountain and there’s another dot that says Oak Springs and you think these places are towns but they’re not. They are just signs. Later I realized that perhaps there’s a coal mine nearby and that’s why they on the map because otherwise I don’t know why they’re on the map.
At some point along the ride I see a sign that says rest stop 1 mile and I wonder to myself what could I use at a rest stop. I don’t want anything from a vending machine and I don’t need a bathroom because I can go to the bathroom anywhere. And then I think “Shade!… a rest stop is going to have shade!” so I go the rest stop.
And there I meet another guy name Jim. This Jim is not a vagabond. This Jim is extremely wealthy with homes in Washington DC, Colorado and Costa Rica.
We talk a lot about Washington DC and have a lot in common there. His eyes are as blue as his turquoise shirt as is the sky as are his fancy glasses.
He is having an adventure in his car with his well bred poodle driving around the vastness. He’s a super nice guy and I’m very glad to have met him but I am also noticing that the wind is strongly in my direction and I want the benefit of that over these many hills that I mentioned earlier.
As I am climbing gradually these hills I am wondering how the hell I am ever going to get over a rabbit ears pass if I am in lower gears on these hills because these hills are not even having passing lanes .
Finally I get to Maybell and I am thrilled when the lady in the café says, “You came all the way from Dinosaur? Wow, you’ve gone over a whole lotta big hills!”.
She tells me that there are a few climbs around Craig Colorado but really it’s mostly flat to Steamboat Springs. I am glad to hear this.
Maybelle doesn’t have much. It has a hotel café and a gas station and the church. Here’s the sign by church. I react to this like the “Freedom” signs in that I try to figure it out. The money part I get. But the rest of it? Tell the truth and someone will give you a break?
Here’s the sign by my hotel
This hotel has been operated by the same couple since 1959! Before that the man’s father ran it and before that the grandfather ran it.
The bed there was as comfortable as mine there was no TV but there were lots of books and the Internet sucked so I couldn’t blog from there and I couldn’t plug from the dinosaur Townpark so that’s why am behind in blogging.
Here’s some of what the hotel looked like
I was their only guest that night. When it’s hunting season, its packed.
Day 5, Maybell, CO to Yampa River CO
In Maybelle the diner is wonderful and the food is fantastic. the few people in the diner are locals except me.
I order a burger that is in memory of someone. I ask the waitress who that person is. I am imagining that this person died of old age and lived here forever and is remembered for such and such. Well, no such thing. The waitress is also the owner. She explains that the burger is her son’s favorite burger and she lost her son her only child.
This strikes me as super sad obviously and I don’t ask how. I don’t want to know really. Here’s a portrait of them together. The husband is the cook and as I said the food is fantastic .
This painting is over the cash register.
The few people who come in the café after me also are all locals. Locals as in 50 miles away this direction or that direction. they catch up on news. They talk about the mine. They talk about the new foreman who is too young. They talk about the danger of credit cards.
Outside, there are pay telephone booths!
The next morning I notice there’s a post office in Maybell and I go there to mail off whatever I can get rid of to make my load lighter. I’m riding a steel bike and caring 22 pounds of stuff (clothes,camping gear, toiletries, food,drink). With hills ahead I am shipping back anything I can. Each long distance bike trip I send back my lock. They are heavy. You’d think I wouldn’t take it to begin with it. As if I’ve learned from the past. However it’s hard to leave Oakland without a lock. In Oakland, it’s hard to imagine a world without locks.
The lady at the post office tells me the whole story of the son that died. the short version is he was drunk and he was driving.
I leave Maybelle to have an early day 30 miles to crag which is a big city supposedly and then another 17 to Hayden.
once I got to Colorado I started to see skeletons .skeletons of animals that are completely clean and white. I felt like I was in the far side cartoon.
When I was biking is 57 miles of nothing all alone I wondered about those New Age people who have VisionQuests. Like they sit somewhere in the woods for 24 hours and if something happens they blow a whistle which signals someone to come and rescue them. I wonder what I am doing is to that and what is a VisionQuest anyhow?
What I received most from this trip: the taste that has been written deeply upon me, is a great awe and connection with Mother Earth.
I sing all sorts of songs from childhood. I don’t sing them out loud because the altitude is too high but I sing them in my head songs like Archie Bell and the dells or something like that singing “25 miles to go now ,over the hill just around the bend” or Cat Stevens “miles from nowhere guess I’ll take my time oh yeah to reach there Got a mountain I have to claim oh yeah to reach there” and so on.
When I pass by the cows or any animal but especially the cows I always say hello and they always turn their heads and look at me and then I always thank them for the milk and they always listen to me and if I hold up my camera to take a picture of them they turn around and walk away. now if you ask me that’s an intelligent animal.
When I’m home I never eat beef like never ever but here I have had to twice simply because I need all the protein I can get and it’s not easy to get in the gas station and that’s often all I have to choose from; that and or a food desert grocery store.
I make it to Craig pretty early and I take my bike to the one bike store there which is basically a man and his wife and their 3 year old in a garage.
There is a TV like box hanging from the ceiling which is playing Disney movies for the three-year-old who is on the ground on the sleeping bag.
It’s a brand-new bike and I’ve ridden it a couple of hundred miles at this point and it needs to be adjusted. Or at least I will feel better if it is adjusted. I’ll feel safer going over the hard rocky mountain passes which are coming up.
While the husband is fixing the bike I go to an Internet café and blog a bit and also get a used book which is quite welcome in my tent at night when I can’t sleep and I’m looking forward to reading it tonight as well.
I also get a cappuccino which is like a miracle.
The coal mining thing is everywhere and it’s sad because of course that’s not going to last because energy from coal is not a good thing.
Minimum wage is $7.25 here and things are expensive because everybody so far from a distribution point.
I tip largely because as the poet Rusty Rebar in San Francisco said at Peter whitehead’s last performance “if you’ve got slack and you don’t share it, you’re an asshole”. compared to these people I’ve got slack.
30 miles in the town of crag after I’m done with the bookstore café and the bike shop I go to the grocery store because I need food for dinner. When I go into the grocery store it’s a bright sunny day when I come out of the grocery store it’s a dark gray sky and the wind is blowing everything in the parking lot everywhere. It looks like big rain and I’m not sure whether or not to stay in Kreg or by the 17 miles to Hayden.
But I’m getting ahead of myself sorry. In the grocery store I meet a Menonite women. She is light itself her expression of Christianity cancels out the mean ice cream lady. The Menonite women is positively glowing with Goodwill and health.
This is saying a lot for Craig, CO. Most of the people there look bad. their skin is bad their teeth are bad. Most of the women are obese Life in the coal mine is not looking good on these people.
There were two other amazing things I saw at the grocery store that I haven’t seen since Salt Lake City. One was a Starbucks. The other was an African-American man. Not only was he African-American but he had an Oakland T-shirt on! It didn’t have the word “Oakland” on it. Instead I recognized immediately the Oakland the tree logo and I said “Oakland!” and high-five him.
I don’t quite make it to the town of Hayden because the Yampa River State Park is 2 miles west of that. It’s quite nice. I set up my teeny tiny tent in the tent site. I am the only tent. I always am. The rest of the park is filled with large RVs but I’m away from them. The entire facility is really nice even though they make you pay for showers.
Day 6: Yampa River CO to Steamboat Springs CO
When I wake up and I’m close to leaving after having packed up my tent and clothes the guy in the RV closest to me comes out and asks me if I want oatmeal before I set out.
I thank him but say I’m looking forward to breakfast in Hayden. (The park ranger told me there was a breakfast place in Hayden that opened at six and I am looking forward to this because I didn’t really have a real dinner and I’m hungry. He looks at me like I’m crazy and he looks sort of offended. OK he says and walks away.
I get to Hayden and there’s a gas station. Nothing else is open. There’s a pizza parlor and a bar but they don’t open until the afternoon. So I make the best of that and have breakfast at the gas station which basically consists of coffee strong coffee thank you and a premade sandwich which is pretty good.
I figure it’s only 28 miles to steamboat and steamboat is going to have everything. Besides I have some almonds and a yogurt and water so I’m fine.
I have a conversation there with a guy who has a completely cool car.
Every now and then on Highway 40 and they were be a sign that says point of interest. I usually stop at these. Why not?
I stopped at one that had picnic tables so I ate my yogurt there but there was no trashcan I thought that was a little strange to picnic tables without a trashcan. So I carry my trash.
The point of interest was a sign telling all about the coal mines that used to be there and the towns that used to be there. These towns had everything. They had theaters and hotels and restaurants and all kinds of stuff.
The sign listed the names of all the guys that had died and all the accidents and it was really quite moving. I was glad I stopped to read the sign.
The Yampa river has been my friend for quite a while now.Highway 40 has been following it. that’s why i haven’t had a lot of big hills lately. But it coming into steamboat the road got a little dangerous.
At one point there was a 30 foot cliff on the left of me and no shoulder (the white line was the shoulder)and the guard rail was next to the white line separating the road from a 30 foot cliff down. And the road was curvy. it was scary. It didn’t last long however thank God.
Then there are the signs that say “falling rocks”. I mean what are you supposed to do with a sign like that?
Outside of Steamboat Springs I go to a thrift store and a pawnshop. The pawnshop is like the one on the TV show. It was incredible. When Noah and I typed highway one we were going to the thrift stores and pawnshops.
Highway 40 takes on different names in different towns. sometimes it’s brontosaurus Avenue often it’s Lincoln sometimes it’s Jefferson sometimes it’s Main Street and sometimes it’s victory way.
It’s a 2 Lane Highway so when it goes through a town it just becomes the Main Street in the town.
I got to Steamboat Springs early and it’s like an oasis in the desert. It has everything even a real health food store. It used to be a ranch town and now it’s a ski resort also so there’s a mixture of people and the money.
I am staying at a truly superb hotel which is listed as two star I don’t know why. It’s called Nordic lodge and it’s a run by a guy named Greg and his wife. The breakfast was like I’d ever seen and Greg is helpful and talkative it was a true pleasure staying here I g it seven stars
It’s been famous since the time of the American indigenous people for its mineral waters. The indigenous used to call it medicine waters.
I took advantage of those and spend the afternoon in various tubs. I had conversations with hunters. My hotel the Nordic lodge wonderful. I met a man in the laundry mat there who is also Hunter. He and his buddy almost got chased down by some bears this afternoon. He showed me a video of it on his phone. You can see the Bears and you can see them coming after him and then you know he drops the phone and the whole thing is chaos really quite amazing.
What’s even more amazing is I can have these wonderfully friendly and perfect conversations with people like hunters.
I don’t think I’ve ever known a hunter before. it’s really quite wonderful to be able to cross over like that and be part of a different culture and watch this guys video and listen to his excitement telling his story.
I had a similar conversation in the mineral water tubs with a guy who shot an elk yesterday. it was the best experience of his life and i actually got that.
I’m experiencing a different kind of peace than I usually have. Ha! I usually don’t have any. Just a lot drops away when you do something like this. And part of what drops away is judgment.
I have no idea what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes and everybody shoes are different.
Tomorrow I do the big pass RABBITT EARS. It’s a very big deal. I hope I make it.
When I was having lunch I met two German guys who are backpacking the continental divide, from Canada to Mexico.
. They are young and gorgeous and friendly. They hitch hiked over rabbit ears!
Day 7 Steamboat Springs (over Rabbitt Ears Pass) to Kremmling CO
The breakfast in the hotel was amazing! An array of pastries fresh from the bakery ditto on the bagels. Fresh fruit lots of watermelon good coffee with real milk. Peanut butter hard boiled eggs and more.
I ate some with plenty of salt and stocked up for the ride. 52 miles up and over the continental divide with not so much as a gas station in between so I was carrying a lot of weight with all my food and water in addition to everything else.
The climb starts right out of steamboat.
I started out at eight when the health food store opened and bought another tube of Arnica
Quickly it turns into a pretty tough grade of about 7% and it goes on for 8 miles. With my steel bike and all the gear it was relentless.
I stopped a lot to eat and take photographs and stretch.
There are many turnouts for exhausted vehicles and for people to look at the views or take photographs. At one of them I met a couple and they took a photo of me.
So here is me looking like a complete bike nerd covered in my white zinc sunscreen.
7% isn’t bad when I’m at home doing tunnel or the Oakland hills on my aluminum bike with nothing on it but this is a different story.
I started to wonder if I would make it. I told myself that the mountain would still be there and I could camp on the way up if I wanted to.
The views are amazing. Despite the advertisements for the iPhone 6 not even that will do these views justice. One just can’t really get it on the camera but I try.
I get texts from people on my way up and read them at my brakes that’s encouraging.
By 11 o’clock the wind is in my face and there’s a thunderstorm to the North. The sky is getting darker and my legs are very tired.
On my way up to bikers passed me. They’re like the bikers to pass me on Tonnele the skinny guys and fancy outfits on $10,000 bikes and they just whizz pass me.
After a little while they come down the other way. I am amazed. This is like their daily ride. Utah and Colorado are full of mega athletes. People move here for the sports.
Near the top I am starting to wonder whether or not I will survive. I laid my bike down on the road and I put my legs on top of the panniers to get them elevated and I take a 10 minute break just lying there.
Lo and behold I’m almost at the top. I thought the top was supposed to be 11,000 feet so when I was at 9000 feet and saw this sign I was completely bummed.
My spirits revived when I saw the next sign!
WoooHooooo! I did it! I could hardly believe it. There’s no way I can explain how I felt. It’s like doing something you thought you’d never be able to do.
I reach the top at noon. The sky was so dark that the cars had their lights on and so did I. At the top it started to rain and it rained all day. I had my rain suit so it wasn’t so bad. In a way it was soothing.
You think after climb like that which in total was 20 miles that the next 32 miles would be downhill but not so.
The hills weren’t terribly big but there were hills all the way into Kremmling. I got there around four to find that it was a nice little very little town.
Here’s Other photos from today’s ride. It was very dark and grey and misty and rainy.
Cool Huh? This was next to a local artist gallery and next to that was a building full of artist studios! it was amazing because there’s very little in this town.
The hotel I am in is run by a couple who have been running it for two years. Hotel was first established in 1906 the floors are original and beautiful.
There are 28 rooms and this very creative couple has decorated each room according to a theme. I am in the Zane Grey room. He was a Mystery writer and he wrote a Mystery about Kremmling.
On the wall is an antelope skin complete with legs and hoofs, barb Dwyer and fishing poles that are hundred years old.
In the hallway is the wife’s wedding dress and downstairs is her mother’s wedding dress. Everything in all the rooms has significance and Meaning.
It partly feels like a boarding house and it partly feels like a home. It’s a gift to be here.
Day 8 Kremlin CO to Grand Lake CO
Here’s a few parting shots of Kremmling. It was a wonderful tiny town. Highway 40 changes its name to Park Avenue there. I loved that.
I breakfast at a restaurant that was packed. I sat at the counter and met two bikers. What they do is drive to Steamboat Springs and take the ski lift up Rabbitt Ears and then buy down.
The scenery on the ride was beautiful, as usual.
On the road I met a fellow biker going the other way. He was one of those mega Man muscle and an expensive bike in a biking outfit he had a handlebar bag and another tiny little bag hanging from the main by far. He was traveling from Telluride to someplace I’ve never heard of. He had no pain years. He was only staying in hotels and his bike clothes we’re the only clothes he had. I envied that.
Biker man told me how freezing it was at the top of Trailridge Road which he had recently com down. He had gloves on but he said his hands were so cold that he could hardly stand it. He said he thought there was something wrong with his bike because it was shaking all over the place and wouldn’t stay on the road straight so we stopped and looked at his bike and then he realized it was himself that was shaking from the cold and his bike was fine.
I traveled along the Colorado river all day. I found myself loving it more and more. It was such a gigantic source of life. And it had such a beautiful sound.Also for the first time ever, I saw a tributary entering a river! that was so cool! I hope you can see it in the picture.
Biker Man also told me about this gorgeous canyon that was coming up and how much I would enjoy the gorgeous canyon. Well, the gorgeous canyon to me was very scary. There was no shoulder at all and rocks that could fall down were high on either side. I can hardly wait for that stretched and. To each her own. I prefer the river.
I rode along for a while longer.
to hot sulfur Springs Colorado. That place is amazing. Again the Ute Indians felt that these waters were sacred as they were medicine waters. Even though the place is gigantic and has 28 pools I just stayed in one. It was superhigh and all kinds of minerals especially magnesium and lithium. I was thinking this is a good way to reward my body after rabbit Ears and to prepare it for Trailridge Road.
As I said I spent the whole time in one tub. the only other person in that tub was a girl who is a sophomore at Brown. She was a Navajo Indian and her mother wanted her to do something that would make tons of money. She didn’t know what she wanted to do. She had never had a boyfriend or girlfriend. We talked for an hour.
She was extremely stressed out about what to declare as her major. She wanted to know what it means to be successful. I said happiness I thought it went like this, if you’re happy you are successful.
Here’s another guy I met after I left the Hot Springs. He was from Texas and he was elated that he had caught a brown trout. he could hardly believe his good luck. It was his first brown trout! (maybe they don’t have brown trout in Texas?)
And a few parting shots of Hot Sulfur Springs, Colorado.
After hot sulfur Springs I passed by Windygap. It’s sort of like a damn or something. They had to stop construction when they were building it because they found household items from Indians living there from 5500 BC to 500 A.D. It was a very important find because until then they believed that all the Indians were nomadic. But they found evidence there that this was not the case perhaps. They think the Indians lived there year long but they don’t know how they survived the winters.
It came time to say goodbye to Highway 40 which was a little sad because I had grown quite find of Highway 40 but it was time to take a left onto Highway 34 which is famous in its own right. The Indians used this route to traversed what is now the Rocky Mountain national Park for thousands of years.
After all the land beauty I came across a gigantic lake. Because in from Oakland when I hear the words grand Lake I think of a theater and I think of Lake Merritt which is very small. I wasn’t prepared for a lake Tahoe kind of situation which is what Grandlake is and it’s the smallest of the three lakes. These are the water heads where the Colorado River starts. The lake itself is gorgeous of course and commanding but all the commercial activity around it is less appealing
Finally I got to The town of Grand Lake Colorado which I hated. Perhaps i would’ve liked it if it wasn’t Labor Day weekend but the way it happened was I came from wilderness and beauty and space into traffic jams and people waiting in long lines forice cream and I just wasn’t prepared for that.
I left the hubbub of Grandlake after getting some food and went to my campsite which was a mile or two off highway 34.
There’s no way I can describe what happened to me today but I will try.
This is where I stayed last night. I didn’t get much sleep because I had again about 12 at the site next to me partying lovely into 1 o’clock.
On the other side of me was a rock band live that played until about 2 o’clock I found out later it was a wedding party at a ranch nearby.
Still i managed to get some sleep. When i woke up i was so cold. I could even see my breath. I had on every piece of clothing i had with me. My tent fly and ground cloth were soaked. Since water has weight, i hung them up to dry.
The camp site was huge and full of all kinds of tents and adoreable children like this one
Day 8 Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park, Crossing the Continental Divide Twice in over two miles of elevation
I went to the office and got coffee and work gloves to keep my hands warm on the way down. I hung out in there while my stuff was drying because it was warm.
When I was in there a little girl asked your dad what “maybe” meant. he said “not for sure yes and not for sure no”.
I am not in a super hurry to set out because everyone tells me it’s 30° colder at the top and I’m already freezing. Then the lady in the office tells me it’s good to start early because the winds pick up later.
I had out at 9:45. I couldn’t really have gotten out earlier because my stuff took forever to dry because it was cold.
I’ve got a heavy load. The steel bike all my camping equipment all my clothes my rain clothes my toiletries and food and waterto last me 53 miles.
The National Park Service has an elevation map of Trailridge Road so that’s what I’m expecting. it’s wrong.
It starts out quite gradually and I think oh this is the curve on the map ha ha Ha ha ha ha ha it wasn’t.
Bikers coming down in the opposite direction are dressed like they’re going skiing.
And once again, here’s the sign I like the least
I can hear an ambulance way off in the distance finally passes me I’m glad I’m not the one it’s coming for.
I stop frequently. My lungs hurt a little bit from the altitude. I am careful not to over extend myself and I’m always in my lowest gear.
Just like everyone said, there’s no shoulder. But the cars are quite kind and give me a lot of space usually
At about this point I think I might die. I’ve lived my entire life at sea level
I lay down on the ground and put my feet up on a rock and rest for about a half an hour. Revived I carry-on.
At 10,488 feet it starts to rain. Soon after that I crossed the continental divide again. But this is not the summit for today. Far from it.
suddenly all the cars in front of me are stopped; a long line of them. There is a big male elk in the middle of the road stopping all the traffic so that his herd can cross.
At some point I can see the road ahead of me and I think I can see the top. Part of it looks and possibly steep. The road in the distance aspect I’ve tried to get several times in the photo but it doesn’t really show up in the photo unfortunately.
The steepest part is called medicine curve there’s no shoulder and the wind is incredible. There’s no way I can describe the wind. I have never ever ever ever been in such strong wind.
Here is a picture of the grass in the wind
Just when I think I won’t make it I get to what I think is the top. It’s where the store and the café and all the people are. Tonf tourists. I hang out there from 330 to 430 I ate a bowl of chili which is really good.
I asked the park ranger about the real top because I know we’re not at 12,183 feet yet and he tells me it’s about a mile further. I think this is no big deal. That’s where I was wrong. Very wrong.
I ask about the summit sign he says the wind is way too strong for any sign to be able to stay there so there is no sign but I will know for sure when I’m at the top he assures me.
So I head out of the visitor center tourist place feeling fairly confident.
The grade on the road is not difficult I could have biked that easily but the wind is so strong it’s blowing my bicycle into the cars. There is no way I can describe how strong the wind is at the top. I tried to Google it so I could know exactly how many miles per hour that wind is but I couldn’t find it anywhere all I could find was a quote about how the wind is so “harsh” nothing can survive up there but very tiny little very short grassy things (tundra).
I had to get off and walk my bike. I wasn’t sure I was going to survive it. it was the most intense experience I’ve ever had. I felt like I was in a National Geographic movie or something.
Heres a line of cars stopped for elk. This happened alot.
I think I must’ve looked like I was dying on the road. A couple offered to give me a lift to the top but I could actually see the top by then so I thanked them for the offer but I wanted to do it on my owm steam since I was so close.
At one point I stopped by a mountain stream. I was mesmerized by it. It was like being at the source of all life. It was the freshest water gets in the sound of it running down the hill over the rocks was magical. It felt so very special to hang out there with the stream. It happened by accident. I originally had to stop to go to the bathroom and then I noticed the stream. And then I saw what it was. It was quite humbling Innoway. To see something so pure gave me great hope.
It was odd in that the top wasn’t really the victory point because the wind was still so crazy that I wasn’t saf.it was no shoulder it was the white line and then there was a big drop off the mountain so it took everything I had to stay focused to stay alive up there in the tundra with the wind.
It wasn’t until I got back down to the tree level where the wind was no longer that I have the victory point that I knew I had done it.
It seems like it should’ve been just marvelous at that point going downhill but it was still challenging for number of reasons. The first reason being that it’s hard to stay in that position for so long. Also, you have to break intelligently or else your brakes will give out on you.
The whole way down I think everything I think my legs and think my hands I think the earth I think everything was so very very grateful to be able to do this.
I rolled into town and I couldn’t find my hotel. Thank goodness I had reserved one because it’s Labor Day and everything was booked.
I got all lost and talked to the woman several times on the phone. When I finally got there she was so nice. She and her husband and her daughters working were in the hotel. Today her 11th grandchild was born!
The amazing thing is that this woman looks like she could still be in college. She doesn’t look that much older than her youngest daughter.
We chatted about this and that and my ride. Long story short we bonded and she upgraded me for no reason and gave me a room that was a suite with the Jacuzzi bath! Jacuzzi bath.
I had paid for the most minimal room and that’s what she charge me for but that’s not what she gave me. I felt like it was a gift from her and something unknown.
I feel like a different person.
Day 9 Estes Park to Boulder
I guess it was because of Labor Day weekend that the supply and demand were out of balance in Estes Park The two restaurants the hotel lady recommended to me had 45 minute wait so I decided to make do with my banana and yogurt and almonds and go to Starbucks .
I met a wonderful woman there and we had a great conversation. Her husband and child were also perfect. I hugged her when she left;that’s how much I liked her.she was an inspiration!
Whenever I meet people on the trip there always shocked that I’m doing this alone. But in so many ways I don’t feel like I didn’t alone. First of all I have my bike who became like a very good friend. But mostly I had the kindness of strangers everywhere I went people are so kind really most people are very very kind.
What I experienced everywhere was even though in many ways certain people seemed completely different from me, they actually were different from me at all.
But this woman in Starbucks wasn’t superficially different from me. we were of the same tribe.
I hung out in Starbucks for a while trying to get the blog up-to-date. There are a lot of things bad about Starbucks but you got a love it for the outlets and the Internet.
I stayed outside with my bike once I got my coffee and I watched this older woman go in with someone who looked like her son. The woman had never been in Starbucks before. And she asked the man “Do they have regular coffee here?”
Again the supply and demand was out of balance. Starbucks was like a party you had your you have to nudge your way through the place to get to the bathroom. I’ve never seen a more crowded Starbucks. It opened at five in the morning and closed at 10 in the night time. The line in front of me was about 20 people. It moved quickly. I enjoyed the whole scene. Lots of families on vacation.
I enjoyed watching these Kids playing rock paper scissors. They were outside also. The littlest one asked me what my number was. I didn’t understand so I said nine. And then her sister said “she means how old you are, she asks everyone what their number is”. Reluctantly, I was going to answer truthfully but she beat me to it and said she her number was three.
I thought it was going to be all the way down hill to Boulder and was surprised when I started the ride with 4 miles uphill at about a 6% grade. I knew this could go on for long.I knew the elevation of Boulder was less than Estes Park by more than 2000 feet. I also knew that it was 15° hotter in Boulder.
When I got to the top it was then downhill for quite a while. That was marvelous. Then it was up-and-down but mostly down. I was leaving the mountains for good and that felt a little sad. They were majestic just like the song says.
It doesn’t look like it so much in this picture below but these rocks were huge and there was no cement between them.
I thought after coming out of the Rockies in Estes Park that the area between Estes Park and Boulder would be significantly populated with things to get on the road like food. I was surprised to find it wasn’t.
I only passed one place where I could get food and it was the restaurant that specialized in homemade pies. It was packed and I could see that it was going to take me half an hour before I could even give them my order to go so I left. I might have stayed had they had Internet. However, between Estes Park and Boulder I didn’t even have cell phone reception. That was the first stretch of land in my entire trip that didn’t have cell phone reception.
15 miles outside of Boulder I found the small town of Lyons. It was an oasis of consciousness. It had many rock sculptures that were Andy Goldsworthy copies.
Here’s a picture I took coming into the town
I stopped andtook a seat on the outside patio of a bar and Grill. Everything is a bar and grill out here. I had live music with my meal. It was a one-man band he had a computer and an iPad with him where he could loop himself and play with himself if he was really quite good. I recorded him a bit and send the songs to my kids so they could know what I was listening to when I was listening to it. There are some tech things that are marvelous.
I got some Wind and I got some rain but mostly it was a wonderful, easy ride. Especially compared to what I did the day before. You can tell in the pictures it’s raining especially after the north where there was some lightning.
Finally I made it to Boulder. The first place I made it to and stopped was Pearl Street. It’s the upscale shopping district. It’s very hip. Almost too hip.
I put my bike outside the Häagen-Dazs place and had a chocolate milkshake. I don’t have a lock because when your cross country bicycling you don’t carry lock you don’t carry any weight you can possibly eliminate. So I always take my bike close to wherever I am and just watch it. For brief moments I can’t watch it but no one has ever attempted to take it. I think it’s obvious my whole life is on that bike and I just don’t think someone would be that mean and up to now no one has been.
The bike itself weighs 32 pounds and then add another 30 for all of my gear. That’s one thing I don’t like about the Ortleib panniers; their heavy. If I had to do it again I’d buy the banjo brand. But the Ortliebs are never going to need to be replaced; there so good. Looking on the bright side Banjo doesn’t come in colors.
Having my milkshake I’m on the phone trying to get a bike shop near a hotel I can afford. Additionally I’m trying to get a bike shop to box my bike and ship it the way I want it to be shipped. I ship through ship bikes.com which is infinitely cheaper than any other way to ship. Bike stores here $100 to box the bike and then another $200 to ship it.
here’s some pictures of the guys I met in Boulder.
One of them worked in the recreational weed shop and the other one obviously is a cop. I had great conversations with both.
Finally performance bicycles which is a chain I have benefited from in Berkley is willing to ship the bike with weshibikes.com for $60 and to box it for another $60. A wonderful guy there named Steven was super helpful to me. Cute too.
I felt sad leaving my bike (Who has been my best friend these last 10 days) but it had to be done.
Then I walked the mile and a half back to my hotel mostly through the University of Colorado and the student housing apartments. It was dark by then but I felt safe. My hotel is the cheapest in boulder where most hotels are $200 a night. Here some pictures of my hotel.
Pretty cool place. Rodeway Inn took it over but it used to be called broker inn and it has all this old-fashioned looking stuff so it seems like it’s really old and authentic but actually it was built in the 70s.
It’s funny in that there are two Renoir paintings they have hung in every room and on every blank space of every wall: the same two Renoir paintings. I never realized before how much they look like. In fact it wasn’t until the third time I walk down the hall that I realized they were different paintings.
Day 10 Boulder CO to Denver CO to Home in Oakland CA
I reserved a spot on the most environmentally correct shuttle (this is Boulder ) to the airport. The lady on the phone told me that they could not pick up at my hotel so I had to walk about a mile to their office.
I got there early even walking on the pavement in my bike shoes carrying all my stuff. Since I had some time I went to the Super Cuts and got my hair cut to reenter civilization. Then with a bit of time left, I went to the Goodwill a couple of doors down. I ended up buying a Colorado University T-shirt that said ARTS in big letters over the right upper chest. In smaller letters, it said Addiction Recovery Treatment Services. Thanks CU.
When the shuttle guy finally got there he was upset that the lady on the phone had made me walk. They all made a fuss about it because the girls work from home and this girl had it wrong. They were so upset with her, I made sure I couldn’t remember her name. They gave me the trip for free.
In the shuttle shack, they had a small stack of give away books. I took John Steinbeck’s “The Pearl”. Reading that on the plane trip home from start to finish, was the perfect ending to the perfect trip.
From the San Francisco airport I took the subway to the stop nearest my house. My kids met me there and we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant.
This adventure will has ended and my regular life has resumed but something will remain forever different because of these 10 days.