Monday, June 22, 2009


As I look back on my trip I am overwhelmed with a feeling of gratefulness. In a strange way I don't think of it as a huge accomplishment. It is simply another journey completed. What many people do not understand is this trip always had a way out. I was constantly surrounded by people. At any point during the trip I could have thumbed a ride, used my credit card to get me just about anything and I even could have taken a flight or train if I got tired of being on the road. My trips in the back country seemed much more like an accomplishment because I had to rely on myself or the people in my crew.

I am not trying to downplay what I have just tackled - I will not forget the days that the wind took every bit of spirit inside of me leaving me in tears on the side of the road, nearly peeing my pants out of fear with the crack of lighting above me and no sign of refuge, starring up at countless intimidating hills, the serious and significant pain in my Achilles tendon and knee, my numb hands and feet on countless mornings when biking should have not been allowed, having to dig deep inside on the days when I did not want to jump on the saddle, hoping and praying that each passing car, RV, and 18 wheeler had a focused driver at the wheel and would not accidentally swerve 1 foot to the right, getting honked or yelled at by angry drivers or they days the universe just did not seem on my side.

With those things being said the overriding emotion and thought is how amazed I am at the generosity of my fellow American citizens. People love to help, and my journey gave people good reason to lend a helping hand. Nearly every single human being I met would have done anything and everything in their power to offer me support. The stories are countless - it seems that every blog I mentioned how many random acts of kindness these beautiful people offered me. It is an exciting message to shout from coast to coast that people in America, in a recession or not, are kind, generous and have beautiful hearts.

As I type these words in a state of gratefulness - I am also feeling sad and scared. The root of my mother's numbness happens to be a tumor that also happens to be cancerous. A bittersweet ending to an epic journey. I have to believe that the "bike trip magic" that seemed to follow me every day on my trip was not just "bike trip magic" but it was the universe taking care of me just like the universe will take care of my mother.

I can't say thank you enough to the hundred of people who showed their support in any and every way possible. I will pass it forward.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 66 - Sedro-Woolley to Orcas Island, WA

Total miles for the day: 48

Total miles to date: 3326

The finale day!

Hilary and I cooked Lindsey and Cormac a yummy breakfast as a small wedding present. They took us out for coffee and we all enjoyed a leisurely morning. I went to the bank to finally get some cash after losing my wallet from 3 days previous. The two parties wished each other well and we went our separate ways.

Hilary and Lindsey kept asking me, "How do you feel about reaching the finish line today...Are you excited?" I answered honestly that the end seemed a bit anticlimactic. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt that the trip was about the journey and not the destination. I guess Hilary was a bit disappointed to hear this and she began to plan a special surprise to make the finish line special for me. I suppose it was a bittersweet ending because I heard some bad news from back home. My mom's left side of her body had gone numb several days back and she had gone through several different tests to investigate the cause of the symptom. I would be lying if I said I was not distracted by this and a bit worried.

With only 15 miles to go to reach the west coast we were bombarded with the salty smell of the ocean and the thick humid air. The industrial coast made for a slightly unromantic last stretch of miles. Two miles before I reached the finish line Hilary said, "Go slow, I am going to go ahead!" I knew she was up to something as she asked me earlier in the day if I had some tape and she would not tell me what it was for. I turned down my final hill to see a sea of car waiting in line to get onto the ferry and off to the right surrounded by balloons and a congrats banner, Hilary stood jumping with her pom pom in hand. I gotta say I love this girl!

As much as she tried she did everything she could to make the end seem magical. We did not have much time to celebrate because we had to decide which island on the San Juan Islands we wanted to visit, buy our tickets and head to the waiting area. Since we had arrived two days early to Anacortes, we thought we would tour an island. We randomly picked Orcas island and off we went on the ferry.

One hour later we rolled off the ferry to discover we landed on what I might consider the most hilly island on the planet! The hills were extremely steep! We had 14 miles to bike to our campsite and they were 14 of the toughest hills I can remember. We celebrated by going to out to dinner to a nice Mexican restaurant. We toted some beer to our campsite to keep the celebration going.

Day 65 - Marblemount to Sedro-Woolley, WA

Miles for the day: 51
Total miles to date: 3278

Hilary and I leisurely woke up in our cabin and when I stepped outside our door for a breathe of fresh air I found a styrofoam box on our doorstep. I looked inside and someone had dropped off a beautiful cinnamon roll as big as my head for a morning treat. Hil and I made guesses about who might have done this small good deed, but never learned who actually planted the food on our porch that morning.

We rolled out by 10:30 and not one mile down the road we encountered two woman in their 60's on their second day biking across the country headed for Maine. It was so exciting to see women since I have mainly only seen men touring. They also inspired me because of their age. I hope when I am in my 60's I too will be attacking fun adventures!

Later in the day we crossed paths with Lindsay and Cormack (pictured) and spent about 15 minutes chatting before going our separate ways. I could tell they were lots of fun and was sad we were not going in the same direction.

We made it to our destination with no problems to speak of, went grocery shopping and set up camp at the local town park. While eating we saw two cyclists approach us - it was Lindsey and Cormac! We were so confused - we met them 25 miles back and going in opposite directions. Just after we spoke with them they got into a small crash and Lindsey's brakes were trashed. They ended up back tracking via hitchhiking to the nearest town with a bike shop and their return ride brought them to Sedro-Woolley. We shared a campsite and then the four of us went to town for a quick beer before bed. After two games of pool and losing both times we called it a night. By the way - this adorable couple pictured are on their honeymoon. That is right, their honeymoon is biking across the country. I love it!

Day 64 - Mazama to Marblemount

Miles for the day: 74
Total miles to date: 3278

As promised Hil and I showed up for breakfast to find the table set and Dennis and Tom cooking french toast over the fire. We spent a fantastic hour together enjoying the food and conversation. After we packed up our bags we took off to conquer Mt. Washington.

I learned quickly why these mountains are called the Cascades. Everywhere you looked water slid down the mountain side in a picturesque fashion. We climbed the mountain from 8:00 and by 11:30 we finally reached the summit. Hilary is as tough as nails and I was floored by her endurance having not had much training on the bike prior to our trip. As we approached the top a motorcycle rider pulled over and took a photo of us and said, "You two are pretty brave!" I felt overwhelmed with emotions as I looked back on the road Hilary and I had accomplished and at the amazing scenery and realizing what we had just accomplished. After we scavenged some water from people pulled over for photo opportunities and a quick lunch we began to descend the 50 mile mountain. In less than 20 minutes we had traveled 10 miles...and then the rain began. Luckily we had warmer temperatures or it would have made for a miserable descent. It was a serious down pour, we even got pelted by some hail. In the duration of the 50 miles we put on our rain gear and removed our rain gear at least 3 times.
We finally reached a town to fill up on some snacks, moments after pushing off the rain started again. As luck would have it were biking next to the tallest metal electric towers I have ridden next to on my entire trip. Oh yeah, by the way, we were also in a lighting storm. I would say it was a wee bit scary. With some tail winds and a slight down hill advantage we busted out the 15 mile stretch and beat the heart of the storm. We found our oasis in the shape of a restaurant carrying a wide variety of beer and some friendly faces. We treated ourselves to a dinner out instead of cooking in the rain. Opting out of camping my good friend, Holly from Ski For Light, sponsored our evening in a cabin rental. Hilary and I were extremely grateful for the refuge and a good night sleep after a tough 74 mile day!
After laundry and other miscellaneous tasks Hilary and I went down hard for a luxurious night of sleep.

Day 63 - Twisp to Mazama

Miles for the day: 28
Total miles to date: 3153

I spent all morning on the computer sorting out credit card information and Hilary patiently waited as she enjoyed a cup of coffee and a mid morning nap. We finally departed for our first day of biking together on this trip. We planned a short day to get Hil's legs warmed up before climbing Mt. Washington. She did not come as fresh as I had hoped. Apparently she had a sore leg from playing a serious game of kickball the day before she arrived.

We had an uneventful 28 mile, but we were both ecstatic about taking yet another adventure together. Hilary impressed me with her strength on the bike. She had worried about slowing me down, but the fears rested when I had to pedal hard to keep up.
We arrived to our campsite elated to find a spot next to the river. Linda (my couchsurfing host from Omak) sent me off with some of her homeland Malaysian curry powder so Hilary and I cooked up a gourmet curry dinner. When we initially arrived I characteristically made the social round meeting the fellow campers. I found Tom and Dennis to be the perfect pair for our evening social hour. The four of us played a card game of hearts, talked over the fire and shared stories. It was also perfect that I made friends with these two because after dinner and before bed it down poured and Hilary and I had no refuge. Tome an Dennis had a large canopy that sheltered us during the brief yet thunderstorm. Before leaving their campsite we accepted their generous invitation to breakfast.

The picture of me meditating by the river with the four cigarettes in my mouth is just a funny photo. We found 4 cigarettes lying on the ground so I took advantage of a humorous moment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 62 - Omak to Twisp, WA

Miles for the day: 40
Total miles to date: 3125

Linda my host cooked up a great breakfast to help me tackle my 2nd to last climb through the North Cascades. I made a plan to meet my couchsurfing host for the evening, Scot, at the top of Loup Loup pass as he is an avid cyclist. Although Loup Loup stands shorter in stature than some of the other climbs, the steepness of the pass had my attention. I made it to the top on time to meet Scot and we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch looking over the mountains. After we grabbed a bite to eat we proceeded to fly at high speeds down the mountain side to arrive to his town of Twisp.

Several hours later after tending to mundane daily tasks my total BFF, Hilary, arrived to town with her gear and bike in tow ready to join me for a week of adventure. Her Mother, Bev, dropped her off and took Hil, Scot and I to the local brewery and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner on the patio overlooking the town's river.

Introduction of the new character Hilary Law: In May of 2003 Hilary and I met in Breckenridge where we interned at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center. We lived in a house of 12 interns and Hilary, another friend Erin and I shared one bedroom. We hit it off that summer and Hilary has been one of my closest friends since. She has been a wonderful travel partner on countless adventures (even backpacking Europe). Hilary and I even attempted and completed our first bicycle tour in 2005.

The picture of the house with Hilary standing in the front is Scot's adorable house.

The night went smoothly until I realized I officially lost my wallet. I had put my Ziploc baggie wallet in my pocket earlier that night and biked to dinner. The slippery sucker must have made its way out of my pocket and onto the roadway. The four of us did everything we could think of to recover the wallet but to no avail. I had a dedicated search and rescue team. Bev with a two hour drive still ahead of her that evening stuck it out and chauffeured us around town trying to locate the all important plastic baggie. We threw in the towel, Bev left Hilary with me and soon after we all hit the hay. My saving grace had to be that I placed my passport in a separate location so I will be able to board the plane at the end of my trip. We

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 61 - Republic to Omak, WA

Miles biked for the day: 68
Total miles to date: 3,085
Other cyclists crossing paths: 9

I had another climb to tackle that day and found little motivation to go outside when I peered through the plastic windows of my yurt to see gloomy fog and clouds all around. It was one of the hardest days to get myself together and saddle up. Nearly one hour into the ride the clouds had lifted and I was happy as a clam and super glad to be on a bike. There seems to be something incredibly medicinal for me when the sun beams down on me.

The highlights of my day have shifted dramatically from counting the silos in the plains to now talking to passing by cyclists. I usually stop to talk to each one passing me and we talk anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. My cup of enthusiasm gets filled up and when I depart from my new friends as they head east and I am usually grinning from ear to ear.
I tackled the pass by 12:00 and stopped in for a nice picnic lunch in front of a convenience store. During the 30 minutes of sitting on this picnic table the clerk from the store kept me company and shared all of the small town gossip of the town of Wauconda (population 100). I proceeded for my 20 mile down hill descent.
One shocking storey: One mile outside of the next small town I had a steep downhill and I was biking about 30 mph when a truck pulled out in front of me. I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting the truck and when I realized I had a large shoulder to bike on to the right of him. I passed the truck on the shoulder and one quarter mile later I stopped into a convenience store to fill up on water. While shopping in the store an officer fronted me and asked, "Were you just biking down that hill?" After I said I was the biker he said, "I don't know where you come from, but in the state of Washington bicyclists must follow all of the same laws as vehicles. You illegally passed a vehicle on the right. I was going to pull over that truck that cut you off and give him a ticket but when I saw you pass him I decided not to give him a ticket. I could give you a ticket right now." I must have passed through a town with very little crime because the police officer had nothing better to do than track down a cyclists in a convenience store just to show off his authority.
Feeling unwelcome in this town I swiftly departed. It was a hot one and I passed by yard after yard with sprinklers on their lawn. I thought, "How nice it would be to stand in a sprinkler." So that is what I did. I pulled over and stood on the sidewalk of some one's yard and enjoyed the refreshing spray from the sprinkler. The elderly woman of the house came outside and asked, "Are you alright?" I replied, "Yep, just coolin off because it is a hot day." She went back inside after advising me not to drink the water and having a brief conversation about my trip. Just before I left she came back out and said, "Can I give you these cookies? I just baked them, they are snickerdoodles." I exclaimed, "That is my favorite type of cookie!" and gratefully accepted the gift. This was a nice turn around from almost getting a ticket.

I had the world's perfect couchsurfing host, Linda, that evening! She picked me up in town as her house was three miles away up a 6% grade hill. When I arrived she had dinner waiting including seafood curry, fresh fruit salad, and a green salad from her garden. She is from Malaysia and the food she cooked was traditional. She even baked a cake with strawberry rhubarb topping with vanilla ice cream! Her 22 year old son was also at the house and he had also done some bike touring in the past. It was such a pleasant evening all the way around. I thanked her for going above and beyond as host and she replied, "I want to take good care of my guests in hopes that when my son travels other people take just as good care of him.on when he travels"

Day 60 - Kettle Falls to Republic, WA

Miles biked for the day: 41
Total miles to date: 3,017
Cyclist passed: 5

After talking with my host for the evening, Janine, she asked if her boyfriend Paul could join me for the Mt. Sherman Pass. I exclaimed, "Are you kidding me? Heck yeah he can join me for my biggest climb!" I met Paul at 9:30 at a junction and went spent the entire day together. Paul is a true avid cyclists and has competed in all sorts of bike competitions and loves being on the bike as much as I do! It was a 22 mile climb that day bringing us to the summit at 5,575 feet.

In the middle of the climb I saw a truck pulled off the side of the road and as we approached the truck a man stepped out of the truck. I could not believe my eyes, it was my friend Roger from Ski For Light. He had been tracking my blog and snuck away from work to surprise me! I had no idea he worked in that area of Washington and had no clue he was planning to meet up with me. We made plans for later that evening to meet up for dinner.

Paul and I had 5 miles of the climb left when the temperatures dropped to 50 degrees and significant rain began. The rain actually felt good since we were working so hard climbing, although I was worried about Paul because he did not have any rain gear and we had a 20 mile descent ahead of us. When we summited I changed to step into dry clothes and put my rain gear on and could offer Paul nothing since he would not fit in my clothes. I felt toasty to begin the downward journey and I wish I could say the same for Paul but it was a chilly ride for him.

We made it to the town of Republic, took care of showers, laundry and had a celebratory beer just in time for Roger to turn up. He took Paul and I out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. I had such a nice time chatting with Roger since we typically do not have much of a chance to socialize at the Ski For Light event. What a great surprise he pulled off!

My abode for the evening was an adorable yurt which sat in front of Janine and Paul's house. I even had my own wood burning stove.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 59 - Colville to Kettle Falls, WA

Miles biked today: 14
Total miles to date: 2976
Other cyclists: 0 (it is funny when you sit in a coffee shop all day how few cyclists you see)

I woke up to a bustling house of kids getting ready for school, Angie making homemade pancakes and Dennis preparing to work the hay. After breakfast the black clouds began delivering water to the much needed dry land. I, on the other hand, did not need a load of rain, thunder and lightning on one of my biggest climbing days of the trip. I opted for a lay over day so Angie and I went downtown to the Talk n Coffee local shop. After a bit of time Angie went back home and I stayed. In fact, I stayed ALL DAY at the same coffee shop. The only time I left was to go to the library and to grab lunch. Not only did I befriend Scott the owner, I also got to know pretty much the entire town of Colville and all of the small town drama that goes along with it. Scott, the 29 year old owner of the coffee shop, knew the name of every single person who walked in the door. People would come into his shop and instantly feel welcome and would dump their stories onto Scott. I think he should have been paid as the town's therapist.

I arrived at the coffee shop at 9:00am and I finally left at 4:30pm. I met a local character by the name of Doug and after a long conversation and mentioning I did not have a place to stay in Kettle Falls, he offered up his couch for the evening. Before I left I gave some business advice to Scott as you can see in the photo. I also learned from a billboard as I pedaled from one small town to the next that "Marriage is good for your finances." Soon after seeing this billboard a truck pulls off the road in front of me. A young woman stepped out of the truck and held up a familiar looking blue rain jacket. She had just left the coffee shop and was on her way to Kettle Falls so Scott (the owner of Coffee n' Talk) asked her to deliver the jacket the forgotten jacket to the girl cycling to Kettle Falls. Karma must have been on my side!

After 14 miles of biking Doug (my host for the evening) appeared and asked if I was ready for a lift to his house. I did have a long, tough day of sitting in the coffee shop, so somehow I figured I deserved a 4 mile ride up the gravel road to his place.

Doug is one of the most fascinating characters I have met on this trip, not to mention somewhat of my hero, and deserves a quick blurb here. Doug is a semi-retired bee keeper and his work has taken him all over the world. He has converted his bee keeping barn into his home and lives on the property free of rent as a caretaker of the land (owned by Steve). Doug told me stories all night about his work and travels. He was a peace corps volunteer in Jamaica and also worked in foreign countries hired by the US government to train bee keepers. When he travels he picks a country, has no agenda or plan and when he arrives he looks up in the yellow pages the local bee keepers and makes his way around the country teaching others and helping out with the bee farms. That night I cooked him dinner (coconut curry - my favorite dish of the whole trip) and the owner of the property stopped by randomly. He ended up joining us for dinner. Interestingly Steve has traveled very little and worked as a college professor his entire life. Steve gave much appreciation for the dinner and company - I can imagine this was one of his most exciting nights of his week. After Steve left Doug and I had to fight going to sleep because we wanted to share stories all night and ask each other a million questions. Yet another kindred spirit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 58 - Ione to Colville, WA

Miles biked for the day: 42
Total miles to date: 2962
Total cyclistst seen for the day: 11

I woke up in my cushy hotel bed, which was a gift from my parents, and took some time to enjoy the morning sun, the lake and the scenic mountains on the porch. I met up with Ned and Kay (the cyclists from the evening before) and we went out to breakfast together. We had such an enjoyable breakfast and as we finished our meal the restaurant became overwhelmed with Harley bikers. We went our separate ways as I tackled my first climb of 4 I will see over the next week.

As I continue to head west in Washington I will be crossing the Cascades and I must bike over some serious mountain passes. Since I only had 42 miles to accomplish and the weather was brilliant I took my time and enjoyed the perfect weather. When I made it to the top of the pass I stopped into a deli that had bikes sitting outside the shop. I walked in and found 3 cyclists enjoying a cup of coffee and with enthusiasm they invited me to join them. We shared stories and advice and laughed for nearly an hour. Out the window we saw 5 women pull up on their bikes without hauling gear. These 5 Canadian women are credit card touring - meaning they are on a 3 day tour together and hotelling and restraunting their way through the area. I found myself staying another hour and immensely enjoying their company and conversation. It feels good to see woman travelers as I usually only see men.

Photo of BIG bike: Todd pictured in the photo with the group of ladies stands at a towering 6'7". For a funny shot I took a photo standing next to his bike.

I finally motivated myself to leave and thought I would have a fast cruise to my destination town when I discovered some head winds. I had run out of food and felt a bit of hunger come on so I pulled over, set up my camp stove and made popcorn on the side of the road for a bit of a snack. I am excited to share my new popcorn recipe: Curry Kettle Corn. I addes salt, sugar and curry to the popcorn and I found heaven!

I continued the final 10 miles to reach Colville and my amazing host Angie picked me up as her house was 5 miles off of the route. Angie and her husband Dennis have 4 children and oodles of animals. They have quite the variety including but not limited to: 1 emu, milking cows, sheep, goats, 1 donkey, ducks, horses, dogs, 1 cat, pigs etc. They grow hay, milk cows and goats and many other tasks. The family pulled together to clean the house for my arrival, one of their daughters made cookies, homemade bread and butter. I tried raw cow's milk, raw goat's milk, homemade goat cheese and homemade yogurt. It was quite the dairy fest and I hope I do not have to pay the price. After dinner they gave me a tour of the animals and showed me how they operate their farm. I had so much fun asking tons of questions and hanging out with their beautiful and amazing kids!

Day 57 - Sandpoint, ID to Ione, WA

Miles for the day: 89
Total miles to date: 2920
Cyclists crossed past: 6

I woke up bright and early and took off by 7:00am. I got the variety pack of weather that day starting with some sweet strong tail winds. I cruised the first 40 miles until I saw my first cyclists. We shared some camaraderie and when I left the young couple I found the next couple only 5 miles later.

I stopped on the side of the road and ate lunch with those two gentlemen. We swapped hosts information and we will be staying with the same hosts but in opposite directions. When I left the winds shifted and I now faced some headwinds. Later down the road the headwinds stopped as the rain started coming down. Throughout the 89 miles that day I probably changed my clothes 10 times to adjust to the weather. It was quite the variety pack of weather.

I suppose nothing of significance happened on the ride that day until I reached my destination. I arrived to Clark Fork and the rainy clouds above me did not make camping an appealing option. I stopped into the first motel I saw and ran into two other cyclists, Ned and Kay. They are biking from Anacortes, WA to their home in Vermont. After weighing all of my options in the town I decided to take my parents up on their standing offer for one hotel room on the trip to avoid a cold and wet night. I went to dinner with Ned and Kay for the company because I chose not to eat from the all meat and fried food menu. This of course was not the preferred dining choice for Ned and Kay, but traveling through these small towns as I have mentioned these dives often are the only options. I did enjoy the beer and a dinner salad and they even picked up my bill. When I made it back to the hotel I cooked up a proper vegetarian dinner on my cook stove and crashed hard.

I am not sure how to interpret this but someone told me today, "The shallower the Brook, the louder the babble." Hmmmmm....I will have to ponder that one.

Day 56 - Clark Fork to Sandpoint, ID

Total miles for the day: 28
Total miles to date: 2831

I woke up and made some oatmeal and leisurely departed for Sandpoint. People have told me along the way that Sandpoint is a bike friendly town and when I arrived I learned that it was the first day of a bicycle festival.

I arrived to Sandpoint by 11:30 and landed at the local bike shop for a tune up before I hit the mountain passes of Washington. I called my couchsurfing host, Dave, to get directions and when I told him my I was at the bike shop he said, "Look out the window, my office is across the street." I walked over to meet Dave and he gave me directions to his house.

After hanging out with the dudes at the bike shop I made my way to the library to catch up on some Internet action. I biked to Michael (the wife of Dave) and Dave's house while they were still at work and showered, took care of much needed laundry and even took a nap because I was exhausted!

Michael and Dave came home from work and after talking in their yard for nearly an hour of chatting we made our way to downtown Sandpoint. When we arrived to the local brewery their friends' Meghan and James who are also on couch surfing joined us. We chose a great night to eat out because one of the local bands performed some wonderful jazz.

When I met Michael she gave me a huge hug! I knew this girl was my kind of people. We had an instant connection and had so much fun talking all night. Michael and I are definitely kindred spirits and I very much we lived in the same place. In the afternoon I got tickets to a free bike film to kick off the bike festival, but I had no interest in seeing the film after I realized how much Michael and Dave were. I must say I fell in love with the town of Sandpoint - lots of great vibes, very outdoorsy and healthy conscience people, mountain biking, winter sports of all sorts and even a beautiful lake!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 55 - LIbby Dam, MT to Clark Fork, ID

Miles biked for the day: 80
Total miles to date: 2803

I woke up very early and started biking by 7:00 and after 14 miles I decided it was time for a small brunch. Huckleberries are a popular speciality food around Montana and the cafe I stopped in told me people drive all over the place to get their huckleberry flapjacks. I chose not to argue and happily ordered an appetizing flapjack. While dining the waitress informed me that a fellow customer shared some concern about my bicycle trailer. As the 80+ year old man looked out the window to my bike set up he told the waitress, "That girl is not going to get very far, her trailer is dragging on ground and it will wear out." Once I told him I have traveled 2,600 miles from Maine with that particular set up his concerned dissipated as his jaw dropped in amazement.

Further down the road I saw two cyclist heading in my direction. In my excitement, I crossed the highway and stopped my bike to have a chat with them. As they approached I started waving and they both FLEW by me at lighting speed and said, "Hi" and kept riding. I was disappointed, but only until I saw yet another cyclists, Butch, who crossed the highway to have a chat with me. We had a good time swapping stories and giving each other some important helpful information. Butch was traveling solo but met another solo cyclists, Dick, and they decided to travel together for a week or so. Since Dick was so far behind Butch, 5 miles later I met Dick and we chatted for a bit. Another 10 miles down the road I saw another solo cyclists and we chatted for about 15 minutes. Lastly, I went another 10 miles or so and saw another solos cyclists. I still had about 25 miles to go so I did not spend nearly as much time with him. I saw a total of 6 riders today all headed for Bar Harbor, Maine. I saw one couple and 4 men in their 50's/60's all traveling solo who all started their journeys two weeks ago.

The route I am pedal biking on is called the Northern Tier route organized by Adventure Cycling. Most people typically tackle this west to east and begin around May or June. This is the reason I went nearly 45 days heading west before I saw a cyclists heading east. I am also the first west bound cyclists all of the east bound cyclists are seeing (and may see for quite a while) and so many of them are thrilled to see me.

My mantra, "It will only get warmer" proved itself strong today as the temperatures approached 90 degrees. I found great relief in the many streams, creeks and lakes I past throughout the day for a brisk splash of water. I had to pay $.25 to fill up my water bottle today at a bar and for some reason I thought it was noteworthy.

I crossed into Idaho which put me in my final time zone. I chose a good day to tackle 80 miles since I gained an hour. I arrived to my destination and set up camp. Meriwether Inn is a local hotel allows travelers to set up a tent in their lawn and for only $10 they even provide showers! Bob and Frita, who manage the property, were the sweetest hosts and went out of their way to help me with whatever I needed. I cooked up a yummy lentil and quinoa soup with sauteed veggies with my camp stove. I love to cook outdoors and now that the weather is nice I feel more comfortable and anxious to cook.

I cruised down to the local tavern for a night cap and to meet some local Idaho folks. I have some bad news to report though, they allow smoking in bars in Idaho which I did not enjoy. The locals unsurprisingly took care of me all night and were just as friendly as all of the people in the other states. I finished my evening and headed back home to my tent for a peaceful nights rest.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 54 - Rexford to Libby Dam, MT

Miles biked for the day: 46
Total mileage to date: 2723

Donna made us a huge breakfast with veggies from her garden and fresh carrot/apple juice. I told my hosts that I only had until 1:00pm to play around and then I needed to hit the road. Greg and I took off on a motorcycle ride up a mountain pass. We made it to the top and hopped off of our bikes for a sit and took in the peaceful and serene mountains. As Greg and I sat on the top of this mountain with the sun beaming down, blue skies above us, and sounds of nature all around us he said, "This is where I find my spirituality." As I mentioned before in a previous posting when I approached the mountains of Glacier National Park I felt like I was coming home, not because I had ever been to those mountains before, but because I also find my spirituality in the mountains and it always feels like home.

When we returned to the house Donna made us homemade pizzas with even more veggies from her garden. I was spoiled with organic food and 3 great meals cooked for me during my stay with these two. I loaded Charlie and Bob into their truck and we took off for our next adventure. They took me down the Koocanusa River on their pontoon boat. We even crossed into Canada (you can see this on the photos where there is a strip of land without trees) on the water. With the completion of the boat ride we loaded up in the truck again and they dropped me to my desired location. My 1:00pm start time turned into 3:30pm start time, but it was all worth it! I biked a 45 mile, hilly stretch along side the Koocanusa. I was actually thankful for such a late start because the temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees but the cliffs and trees to my right shaded me from the rays.

I arrived to my campsite by 8:15pm and sadly learned that the only option for camping was a primitive site with no running water or showers (but at least it was free!). Thankfully the campsite was on the river because I was able to boil water for drinking as I had run out. The 45 mile desolate stretch offered no services or residences of any kind. During my 4 hour ride only 4 cars passed me. The highlight of my evening was I made fresh popcorn on my camping stove. I am just now getting the hang of my new stove and felt like making popcorn was a milestone. Before I went to bed I talked with a fellow camper and he scared me quite a bit because he told me about the prevalence of black bears in the area. The conversation made for an uneasy start to my slumber.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 53 - Fortine to Rexford, MT

Miles for the day: 42
Total miles to date: 2677

Greg and Linda cooked me a hearty breakfast with the best hash browns I have had yet on this whole trip! I pushed off with a late start and arrived to the town of Eureka where I spent several hours at the library and health food store.

I biked the remaining 30 miles with little to report except continually jaw dropping scenery. I arrived to my couchsurfing host's, Donna and Jeff, house by early evening. Shortly after I arrived the hockey game started and they informed me that all things are put on hold during the Stanley cup and the game is on. This gave me a great opportunity to lounge in the hammock out back and soak in more vitamin D. They live on 18 acres near the Koocanusa Reservoir which is a gorgeous 100 mile body of water lined with cliffs and rolling hills on either side. Their house sits 1.5 miles from the Canadian border. They have a beautiful garden and a chicken coop that produces more than 18 eggs on a daily basis.

After the hockey game we ate a lovely dinner with a huge salad and homemade asparagus soup with veggies from the garden. Nearly every night Donna and Jeff complete their 1/2 mile archery course which they built on their property. They took me along showed me how to shoot . By target 20 out of 24 I finally hit the target as seen in the photo. We made it back to the house and had a fun evening of chatting into the late hours.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 52 - Whitefish to Fortine, MT

Miles biked for the day: 49

Total miles to date: 2635

Ooohhhh - a painful morning. I immediately felt the effects of the excessively fun evening as I rolled out of the futon. I somehow pulled myself together, grabbed a quick shower, packed my things and headed downtown for some morning grub. After chatting it up with some locals I said goodbye to Whitefish and slowly made my way to Fortine.

Another beautiful day in the mountains of Montana with picture perfect skies and outstanding weather. The wind even cooperated with me until the final three miles. I met a woman out on the road rollerblading and we had a nice chat for nearly a mile together. Nothing significant happened all day until I met my outstanding couchsurfing hosts!

Greg and Linda live on 40 acres and have two straw bale houses built by their very own hands. They are completely off the grid with their solar panels and they do not have running water. You might think these two could be social recluses with that introduction, but they are far from that! They have traveled all over the world and live frugally and simply in order to make travel possible. They built their second straw bale home in order to create a space for Greg and other musicians to perform since this particular area of Montana lacks performance venues. Their home will 2nd as a creative venue for artists. Their original home built in 1994 will serve as a recording studio and a guest house for traveling music groups. I took a bath in their wood burning hot tub and then they cooked me a fantastic Asian style dinner. Greg even made a homemade chocolate crepe!
We had a lovely chat that evening and then I turned in to my very own straw bale house.