Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hills.....Hell ....Colorado

Now that Wyoming was under my belt, I headed to Colorado.  With an appointment to keep in Montrose the following day, I drove straight from Jackson to a little place called, Fruita.  Now, I ask you, who would name a town Fruita?  Well, obviously, at one time there was a lot of fruit grown there...In 1886, for the cost of $500, a farmer could buy five acres, 200 fruit trees and water.  In 2011, it boast fabulous mountain biking, Jurassic age dinosaur fossils, the Colorado National Monument and the Book Cliffs.

The following morning, disappointed at missing Dinosaur National Park, I decided I would bicycle Monument park instead; unfortunately, I overslept, and I didn't have time to ride and make it to Montrose for my appointment.  I would have to be satisfied with driving through the park instead.  I would ride in Colorado later in the day, anyway.

I headed out to the park; I was told the vistas and scenery were not to be missed, and it was on the way to Montrose.  As I entered the park, I unsuccessfully convinced the ranger that I was a Senior citizen, and had to pay full price...not even telling her that Kroger considered me a Senior worked.  She didn't believe I was under 15 either....  

Once in the park, I passed a lot of cyclists heading up the pass, which was long and steep; my  four cylinder KIA seemed to be straining more than they were. Up we climbed and as the valley floor became smaller and smaller, the drop offs more severe, I began to sweat and clench the steering wheel.  The views were certainly breath-taking, but who was able to look.  We were so high, and I am very afraid of heights!!  It was indeed fortunate that I woke up late, as I don't know if I could have cycled these roads, with no guard rail and a plunge of many thousands of feet if I were to go over the edge.  
Stopping to take pictures at the marked turn-outs, I clutched the fence in one hand, while snapping to photo with the other.  This proved to be quite amusing to some young Danish tourists, who thought it hilarious that the edge made me so nervous.  As the boys then began to 'plank' on overhanging rocks, I left; I could't bear to watch.  Walking down the trail, I could hear their peals of laughter at my cowardice.....

I made it to Montrose on time, then drove on to Durango, which took me on the "Million Dollar Highway".  Again, the plan had been to cycle here, but fortune was shining on me again as it was raining....and I don't cycle in the rain if I can help it--too dangerous, too unpleasant, (usually) and too much clean up after the ride.  So, once again, the 4 banger KIA and I struggled up the steep, winding incline.  It was obvious to me at this point that Monument Park was just a precursor for this adventure....it was to get me ready.  I was so scared that I actually had tears running down my cheeks....and I was going to cycle this??   I guess riding in Colorado will have to wait......
Million Dollar Highway....and you wondered why I was scared.....
Enjoy the following pictures; I risked life and limb taking some of them....
Dinosaurs everywhere in Frutia, CO
Colorado Monument Park
Beautiful red cliffs in Colorado Monument Park
Tunnels in the limestone
You've seen this in car commercials with the car on top
People are pigs; cig butts in the limestone
Colorado Monument Park
Colorado Monument Park
It's a long way down.
Clouds moving in on the Million Dollar Highway
View from the Million Dollar Highway
Old cabin on the highway

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Size Matters..... or Does It? ....Wyoming

I pulled into cool temperatures in Jackson, WY, (aka as Jackson Hole because the settler for which  it was named thought the valley looked like a big hole in the mountain range), at a relatively good hour--4 pm.

Since the sun didn't set for 3 or 4 hours, I decided it would be a good opportunity to ride; I may not get the 50 miles in, but I could get in some.  Plus, I was stiff from being in the car all day, and was ready for some exercise.  So I pulled on my clothes, pulled out my bike, and commenced to ride.

Now one does not just jump on a bike and begin to pedal in a strange location.  I try to find routes that have been previously mapped on mapmyride.com or garminconnect.  To be perfectly honest, though, I am too directionally challenged for these to be effective tools; they do, however, give me some idea where to go.

Jackson made me nervous....the traffic was as heavy as the shopping mall at Christmas, and all the routes I was finding took me on a busy highway.  I had come in that way, so I knew it had a good shoulder and had seem others riding on it.  So off I went....

Much to my surprise, as I turned to go to  Teton National park , a wonderful bike path appeared, and took me off the traffic-ladened road.  Down and back I went, logging just 21 miles; as I stood at the trail's end trying to figure out how to add more miles since sunset was a long way off, a 40 something man with a pot belly came whizzing  by on his Trek.  I hailed him, and explained my dilemma, to which he replied;

"Come ride with me, I'll get you at least 20 more miles."  

So off I pedaled with Bruce, who was a profession ski instructor in the winter, a heli-ski guide in the spring and fall, and a Grand Canyon boat guide in the summer.

Now, if you ever ride with someone who has a gut, check out their legs.....that gut can be deceptive.  We were soon sailing  along at 19 mph, which isn't normally a problem, except I had my touring gears on my bike, was riding a 5% grade, and was at 6000 ft of elevation.  Heck, my heart rate was 100 beats/minute just getting out of the car, let alone trying to keep up with this animal!   I didn't even try to be macho about this...

"Bruce, you're killing me....." I gasped,  "You gotta slow down; I'm an old lady from Texas!"  

He laughed and obliged... a little..... we rode a fast pace, which was good.  I had gotten into the habit of riding quite a bit slower, but taking it all in.  Once I return to my bike club in Dallas, and put my performance gearing back on, I will have to ride faster in order not to be dropped.  But that aside,  I am putting it out there again, 'Don't judge a rider by his gut'.

And, btw, I got all 50 miles in before sunset.  And, as a side note, Jackson has the most incredible network of bike trails I have ever experienced.  Except for the short jaunt on the highway, I never had to ride on the road again during that 50 miles!

I beat the sun.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Picture Time!! (I did this once, and everything magically disappeared)

Karen Cooper's picture; from Bay View, WA ride
Wild Horse Sculpture above the Columbia River, Vantage, WA

East of Spokane; fields of golden grain, for as far as the eye could see.

Trail Head at Couer D'Alene, ID  The Couer D'Alene tribe erected this in honor of their warriors and veterans.

Out the front window of my warmshowers.org hosts

Along the Couer D'Alene trail; the camera can't capture how turquoise this water was.

I got this chipmunk to climb up my leg and do other stupid chipmunk tricks....like dancing for his food.

Couer D'Alene trail

 Mission of the Sacred Heart Church at the Cataldo Mission, the oldest standing building in Idaho, built 1848.

The ceiling was painted with huckleberry juice 

"Example of the newspaper wallpaper and tin can metalwork"

This wall paper was made with old newspaper

The walls were made by the wattle and daub method.  No nails were used.  It took 3 years to complete.

This raptor was not happy with my presence; soon Dad joined here.  Anyone know what kind of bird this is?

Couer D'Alene trail

Couer D'Alene trail

Couer D'Alene trail

What is Smokey doing?

Big, big haystacks in Montana

Helena, MT is down there somewhere

Long and windy road in Montana

Wolf Creek, Montana

Pesky cows.

Big Sky Country

Absolutely nothing out here but me, cattle and endless miles.  Montana

Do you see the waning moon?

Montana ranch land

Believe it or not, the is the Govenor's Mansion for Montana!

Montana's Capitol building

Gates of the Mountains, near Helena, on the Missouri River.  Named by  Lewis and Clark
(the 'gates" are just starting to open)

"Captain Lewis wrote on July 19, 1805,

this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of 1200 feet. ... the river appears to have forced its way through this immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5-3/4 Miles ... I called it the gates of the rocky mountains."  (Wikipedia)

The 'gates' are open

Indian pictographs in red.

Missouri River, the longest river in the US

Kids trying to get up the nerve to jump off

Early French Voyageurs used the name "les Trois T├ętons" (the three breasts). It is likely that the Shoshone people once called the whole range Teewinot, meaning "many pinnacles". (wikipedia)

Four antler archer at each corner of the park in Jackson, (also called Jackson Hole)  I have been told
these are elk antlers that fall off naturally.  Thanks, Sherry Wells, for that info.

Famous Cowboy Bar; I was too tired to partake....

Smoke in Jackson Hole from a nearby forest fire.

Ruts from the Oregan Trail are still evident in Wyoming

Can you imagine travelling this way, on foot, in a heavy, long dress!!

The Oregon Trail--those settlers were tough people!

Storms brewing in around Grand Junction, CO