Thursday, November 16, 2006

bittersweet







We arrived in Yorktown, VA two days ago. It was weird to ride, ride, ride and then--all of a sudden--stop. You think you'll never get there and then, before you know it, you're there!

The episcopal church in Yorktown owns this beach cottage that they make available to cyclists for however long. So, once we got into Yorktown (and after the requisite hour of staring at the water and pondering life), we spent the next two days watching re-runs of Full House at the beach cottage. Not too shabby.

We managed to get our bikes shipped off two days ago. We got a ride from one of the church members into Newport News, where we had the sad task of disassembling the bikes, which have become almost like our quiet and dependable friends over the past couple months.

Yesterday we took the Greyhound up to D.C., where we are right now, getting ready to fly back to CO tonight.

As we have been saying, this is the end of one adventure and the beginning of a whole lifetime of others.

Today the United States, tomorrow...the world!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

the greatest day ever





we both agree, yesterday was probably the single greatest day of our cross-country journey.

it started out in vesuvius, va, an itty bitty town on the west side of the blue ridge. the night before, we had camped behind a BBQ shack/convenience store called Gertie's. we woke up early yesterday morning and climbed the four-mile-long steep grade up onto the blue ridge parkway. this

tonight we're sleeping in the united methodist church here in mineral, va. the pasto here, a friendly woman named carol, welcomed us in warmly and said we could make ourselves at home. this road is a cyclist's dream: pristine pavement, gorgeous views, rolling hills, and not a car in sight.

around lunchtime we rolled into afton, va, to visit June Curry, the fabled cookie lady of the transamerica trail. she's been hosting and visiting with trans-am cyclists since 1976. what a neat lady! she sat down and talked with us for a while and then let us look around her guest house, which is a veritable museum of trans-am history.

we then rode into white hall, va, where we met up with dick vail, a cyclist whom we had met nearly three months ago in sisters, or (think: place where we rescued the red-hat lady's car). dick went on a beautiful bike ride with us, showing us the incredible views in the hills just west of charlottesville.

afterward, we rode into charlottesville and rolled up to the house of joe forrester, our friend and fellow cc alumn who is in his first year of med school at uva. after getting situated, we cleaned up and got ready to go over to dick and betty vail's house for dinner. dick picked us up in his snazzy bmw and took us back to his house. we had the pleasure of visiting with him and his wife betty as we ate delicious homemade pizza and sipped beers from a local microbrew.

dick and betty drove us back to joe's house after dinner. we spent the rest of the night hanging out with joe at his house and then at a nearby bar. it was great to catch up with him and to see a little bit of charlottesville.

today we rode from charlottesville to mineral, va. we called the united methodist church here, and the pastor, a really nice woman named carol, welcomed us to stay in the church. we'll be here for tonight. tomorrow, we hope to make it to mechanicsville or beyond, and the day after that will be our last day of riding. we're both so excited. Yorktown, here we come!

Monday, November 06, 2006

just goin' continya

We're in Virginia! We ain't goin' stop, we just goin' continya.

We're about a week or less from the coast.

Take that, United States of America!

Virginia has been beautiful so far. Green rolling hills and better roads than Kentucky. Cold, but pretty. We're supposed to have nice weather for the next week though, which will hopefully make for a safe finish.

Friday, November 03, 2006

quick post from near-Virginia




Ghaa! We're soooo close to Virginia. I can practically spit on the land of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson from here... but alas, we are still in Kentucky. We'll be in VA tomorrow morning and hopefully it will only be another week or so to the coast!!

It's quite frosty here, but we only have another week of this, so I think we can take it.

Gotta go.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

gettin' hiemal



We're in Kentucky!! Woohoo! We passed from Illinois to Kentucky yesterday, crossing the Ohio river in a ferry.

While boarding the ferry, Robin's bike seat broke in a major way, so we spent the ferry ride and the hour after the ferry ride frantically trying to fix Robin's seat before it got dark.

After some unscrewing and re-screwing and some jabbing at things with pocket knives, we finally got the seat rideable, but the hour delay caused us to get into our destination (Marion, Kentucky) as it was getting dark and cold.

Not having camping planned out yet, we knocked on the door of the Methodist church to see if we could sleep on their floor for the night. Not only did the pastor, Brother Wayne, let us in, but he wanted to make our stay in Marion so pleasant that he took us out to breakfast this morning!

Somehow you can be cold and wet, stranded with a broken bicycle in the dark in Kentucky, and the kindness of a stranger will make all of that seem ok.

Brother Wayne is one of a whole plethora of nice people who have done kind things for us in the past couple days. Two nights ago, in Goreville, Illinois, we were given lodging by a Baptist Church. The night before that, a pastor and his wife saw us camping in a park and brought us each a hot chocolate and a cappucino!

Thank you to all of the nice people of the world, and especially to those of the southern United States!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

oooohzarks






Compared to the Kansas flatlands, Missouri has been a rollercoaster of a state. Up and down and up and down these rolling hills they call the Ozarks. The leaves are changing here though and, aside from some spotty weather, Missouri has been beautiful.

There are no shoulders on the roads here though. We haven't ridden on a single road with a shoulder since coming into the state about a week ago.

Even so, we made it to St. Louis. Right now we're visiting our friend Joe Toomey here, who goes to St. Louis University.

The day we came into St. Louis, our best friend Casey met us on the road. He just started riding his bike south along Highway 21 from St. Louis, knowing that we were riding north on that highway. All he had was a sleeping bag and a bicycle, but we all managed to meet up on the road and ride in together, the triumberant united at last.

Our friend Emily Pabst drove in from Columbia, Missouri on Friday nigth too and we also met up with our friends Balin, Steph, and Miles since being here. All Colorado Collegers.

We leave St. Louis tomorrow morning, riding south to meet back up with the TransAm Trail near Murphysboro, Illinois.

Be well.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

how do you know if you have rabies?

Seriously though, how DO you know if you have rabies? This is something we've been wondering ever since our food got broken into by potentially rabid animals and ever since we decided to eat the remainder of that food anyways. At this point we would know if we had rabies, right? It's been almost a week since eating the potentially rabies-tainted products and I've only seen Robin foaming at the mouth once. He denies it, of course. Only time will tell.

We're in Erie, Kansas right now, on the Kansas/Missouri border. We rode our longest day yet today: 105 miles! And we feel just fine, I think. Will be in Missouri tomorrow.

God, we wound up staying with a slew of nice people over the last week. We'll write more about all of them and post some pictures in the near future.

Until then, pray for warm weather. And pray that whatever ate our tortillas last week was healthy and clean.

Monday, October 09, 2006

of tarantulas and caterpillars






it's been a long week of riding since we left pueblo. the terrain through kansas has been pretty flat and monotonous, but ari and i have still been able to get in our fair share of adventures.

we've had a few encounters with insects on this leg of the trip. during a short water break on the side of the road, i was nearly attacked by a gigantic tarantula that happened to be crossing the road. also, there seem to have been as many caterpillars as cars on the roads in kansas. every few feet, we'll see a little black worm crossing in front of us. we're careful to swerve in order to miss them.

another memorable event from this leg was our stay in dighton, kansas where a woman named kimberly, a 1986 cc alumn, lives. i now refer to her as st. kimberly of dighton, because when we called her to say that we'd be passing through, she decided to put us up in a hotel for the night. kimberly owns a bowling alley and cafe in dighton, so she also fed us a delicious dinner when we arrived and saw us off the next morning with a hearty breakfast. ari and i had the chance to sit and chat with her (and her son clayton) for a while. we both really enjoyed hearing her story, from graduating from cc with a math major to owning a bowling alley in dighton, kansas.

after dighton, we rode to rush center. the next day, we fought strong headwinds and finally reached sterling, kansas. the next morning, we woke up really early so that we could get into witchita early. we were looking forward to our visits with our friend from cc, melinda morgan, and pat peddecord.

on our way into wichita, we had another run in with the law. ari and i didn't realize it, but as we rode into town on kansas highway 96, the road merged with an interstate. we were riding on a narrow, nail-strewn shoulder with cars whizzing by. all of the sudden, we heard a siren from behind. it was a highway patrol car, and the officer in it was pulling us over. we stopped. he got out of his car and instructed us to drop our bikes and hand over our licenses. as he went back into the car to scan our IDs, ari and i couldn't help but laugh at the hilarity of the situation. we even got some pictures. when the cop came back out to give us our IDs, he was very courteous. he gave us a free map of kansas, reminded us that cycling is prohibited on interstates, and gave us directions to melinda's house. it was the most pleasant and humorous run-in with the law that either ari or i have ever had.

right now, ari and i are relaxing for a day in wichita, kansas. last night, we stayed with the family of our friend melinda morgan. they were incredibly welcoming hosts. they gave us beds to sleep in, fed us a delicious steak dinner, insisted that we soak in their jacuzzi, and let us use their van to run errands in our day off. what incredible hospitality!

tonight, the dynamic duo is headed to the home of pat peddecord, a cousin of robin's who also lives in wichita. the denver broncos are playing on monday night football tonight, and luckily pat, like ari and myself, is a broncos fan. we're looking forward to an evening of watching football and catching up with pat.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

deus ex machina


We high tailed it into Colorado last Thursday, pedaling like bats out of hell (excuse the mixed metaphors) to get into our home state and to get out of the wasteland of southern Wyoming. (Sorry to be so harsh, Wyoming, but for as beautiful as your northern and central parts are, everything south of Lander...well... sucks).

After some extreme cycling, we finally made it into our home state, which kindly sent a snow storm up north to welcome us.

Just when our fatigue was at a maximum and a fierce Colorado blizzard was about to eat us up, Danny Dunn (Robin's Dad) drove a massive truck to Walden, CO and saved the day. We threw our bikes in the truck without a second thought and got a lift back to Denver, only spinning out of control and nearly crashing to our deaths once on the way back.

We're resting in Pueblo right now, observing Yom Kippur before leaving early Tuesday morning. The past week has been a rest week for us both, full of massages, enchiladas, and fluffy beds.

We're both excited to get back on the road soon. Virginia, be afraid; the TransAnimals are coming to get ya.

Friday, September 22, 2006

photos… finally







photos from top to bottom are of:
1. Will and Sue Berg who we stayed with in Dubois, Wyoming. Will is a Colorado College alumnus from the class of 1953 and is now a minister for the United Church of God. His wife Sue has a PhD in Family Studies.

2. Ari and Robin with their friend Althea (CC class of 2006) who drove all the way to West Yellowstone, Montana from Colorado just to hang out for a couple hours. What a friend!

3. Rob and Ari with Carol Chidsey in Lander, Wyoming. Carol graduated from Colorado College in 1981 and now works for NOLS in Lander. She and her daughter Emma, along with their friend Steve, made us dinner and put us up for the night!

4. Robin and Ari with Tikker Jones (Colorado College class of 1972) in Ennis, Montana. Tikker is a builder. He and his wife Donna made us dinner and introduced us to Moose Drool Beer (worth the drive or the bicycle ride to Montana, for those of your considering).

5. The Grand Teton. This is a photo of Grand Teton National Park, which is breathtaking. We both wish we could have spent more time there playing in the mountains! I guess we'll just have to go back....darn!

Monday, September 18, 2006

god willing and the crick don't rise



In the past week, we have undergone a series of Adventures of Epic Proportion (AEPs, as it were). Most of the epicness stems from Wyoming being cold as all hell (i've begun to think of hell as cold) and from Forest Rangers (see photos).

We rode through Yellowstone Nat'l Park and Grand Teton a few days ago, which were maybe the most astoundingly beautiful places I have ever seen, minus the frigid icy rain and bumper-to-bumper RV's (which we heard another cyclist term 'rolling obsenities').

We decided to camp illegally in Yellowstone because we're crazy like that. It turns out that forest rangers don't take kindly to illegal camping. We got busted and fined and then later that day we found ourselves caught in the bone-chilling sleet storm mentioned above. Not the best day ever.

But out of the oppression was born our new team name: the Trans-Animals. (A combination of the words Trans-America and Animal). And out of the name was born our new team song, which is just too powerful and potentially offensive to appear in the blog at this time. But we sing it whenever we're in need of some motivation and whenever we finish a map (the song has taken the place of dancing to Michael Jackson; it's that amazing).

Right now we're in Lander, Wyoming. Robin is preparing to interview for the Rhodes Scholarship (his phone interview is at 1:00 today) and I am downtown, well, blogging. God willing and the crick don't rise, we'll be in Colorado in three days and we can't wait to see and hug those of you who live there.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Big Chill in the Big Hole & Dillon w/the Storeys



Hey all,

Right now, Ari and I are safe, happy and very well fed.

I'm writing from a public library in Sheridan, MT. Ari and I have to get on the road soon if we hope to make it into Ennis, MT tonight, so I'll make it quick.

We left Missoula a few days ago and headed south along HY 93 towards Darby, MT, where we stayed the night with Bud and Sue Hall. We arrived late in the afternoon and brought an apple pie to thank them for their hospitality. Ari and I spent the evening with Bud and Sue, hanging out, eating pizza, and talking about all of our mutual loved ones back in Colorado.

The next morning, we rode over Chief Joseph Pass and into Wisdom, MT, which sits in a high mountain valley known as "The Big Hole." Wisdom happens to have a microclimate that makes it one of the coldest places in the entire country - a fact of which Ari and I were unaware until we tried to camp there. We ate dinner at a nearby tavern and watched the football games before heading to bed. When we woke up the next morning, everything at our camp was covered in frost or frozen solid. Ari and I made some hot oatmeal for breakfast, but we were still unable to get warm. So we went over to a nearby restaurant to sip on hot coffee until we regained feeling in our hands and feet.

We finally left Wisdom mid-morning and headed off towards Dillon, MT. We summitted two passes along the way (Big Hole Pass and Badger Pass) and covered nearly 70 miles, before we rolled into Dillon, home of the University of Montana Dawgs as well as Dick and Martha Storey.

Until they moved to Montana a couple of years ago, Dick was the Dean of Students at Colorado College. So when Dick and Martha so generously welcomed Ari and myself into their home for the night, we had a wonderful time chatting about all things we love about CC - the people, the classes, the activities, and the like.

Dick and Martha's hospitality was a godsend. They fed the two of us well, with a lasagna dinner and a pancake breakfast, and they even sent us on the road with the leftovers.

Today, we are headed to Ennis, where we hope to meet some more CC alumns. Then, the next day, it's off to West Yellowstone where we will be able to meet up with our friend Althea.

That's all for now. I look forward to blogging again soon. Until then, remember that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Peace,
Robin

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oy vey, what a schlep!






Wow. A lot has happened since last blog. As you will recall, on Labor Day we were offerred the opportunity to ride our bikes in the "Lumberjack Days" Parade in New Meadows, Idaho. Of course, we seized that opportunity without a second thought, riding our bicycles down Main Street to cheers of "Yay TransAmerica Cyclists!" and "Are you sure you're supposed to be in the parade?!" As we slowly rolled down the street, sandwiched between an old-fashioned logging truck and a semi, a woman in the crowd saw our Colorado College jerseys and shouted "I'm an alumna!" Turns out CC alumni are everywhere, even New Meadows, Idaho.

We rocked the rest of Idaho, riding through the whole state in about 5 days.

Another notable happening: We were riding fast down a steep mountain pass into Grangeville, Idaho and all of a sudden, we were halted by three huge cows in the middle of the road. We tried to slow down, but could not stop our momentum. The bovines bolted in front of us and we found ourselves herding these huge beasts down the mountain. They ran at full cow pace, which was over 30 mph (we were clocking it on our cycle computers--I know, we're nerds). They were freaking out and we were freaking out, but eventually we caught up to them and herded them off of the road.

We also met up with a guy named AB (that's really his name) who was cycling through Idaho into Montana as well. We rode with him for a bit. He had a severe face and ended up being too cool to be seen riding with us for long periods of time.

Right now we're in Missoula, Montana, visiting Sam Beranato, who is Robin's best bud from Denver and a good friend of mine too. Today is our rest day here and we're loving it.

We'll keep on truckin'. Photos to be posted soon.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

our first triple bypass...and more




Photos are of Robin applying chamois butter (ouch!), Ari dancing to Michael Jackson when we finished Map 2, and some random creek we don't remember the name of. And now for the post:

Last time we blogged, we were in John Day, OR on Friday morning after our first day of rest.

The sky was overcast and the temperature was relatively low as we rolled out of John Day. It was the first day without intense heat that we've had on the trip so far - thank gosh, because we had to overtake three different 4,000-ft+ passes that day. We passed through Prarie City, OR before starting on the three passes. We completed two of them before stopping for lunch on the side of the road. As the sun came out in the afternoon, we were struggling up the last one, which we finally finished around 4:00 PM. On the final descent of the day, we were able to enjoy the view of the mountains outside of Sumpter, OR - an experience that was enhanced by the satisfaction of having accomplished so much on our bikes.

We rolled into the Union Creek Reservoir campground, where we would stay that night, at around 5:00 PM. We set up our tent at the hiker/biker sites, which had an exquisite view of the reservoir, the banks of which were lined with deep green pines.

The next morning, we woke up early and started riding downhill (yes!) along the Powder River and into Baker City, OR. We stopped there for a while in order to run some errands. We went by a bike shop to get some odds and ends for our bikes and to pick up a package of food/supplies that Naomi had sent for us. We then ate lunch at a little cafe, ran to the grocery store, and were on our way out of town by 3:00 PM, headed for Richland, OR.

Luckily, most of those 30 miles we had to cover were downhill, so we arrived before dark. We set up camp in the Richland county park, ate dinner, and hit the hay. We were tired boys after such a long day.

Just East of Richland lies an extraordinarily steep and long hill. We hit it early the next morning when we took off, and we were shedding layers almost immediately, despite the cool temperatures. That morning, we rolled through Halfway, OR and then followed the Pine Creek into Oxbow, OR. Oxbow is a small town that sits on the West bank of the Snake River, which divides Oregon from Idaho. We stopped there for lunch, and were poised to make the first crossing of state lines of the trip so far.

That afternoon, we rode uphill along the Snake River until we hit Brownlee Dam, where we crossed the river, leaving Oregon and entering Idaho. Finally. We set up camp at the Brownlee Reservoir, and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of reading, journaling, showering and admiring the view of the reservoir and the peaks that surround it.

The next morning, we woke up early because we had a lot of miles to cover. We ate breakfast, packed up camp, and by 8:00 AM, we were headed up another pass en route to Cambridge, ID. We stopped there for a morning snack and then pushed on to Council, ID for lunch. We took our time eating and shopping at the grocery store, and by the time we left for the 30-mile-long afternoon leg of our day's ride, the air was scorching hot and the sun beat down. The climb up to New Meadows, ID took some perseverance, but we made it.

We rolled into New Meadows at around 5:30 PM yesterday and discovered that the town's Labor Day celebration, called Lumberjack Days, was going on in the city park where we planned to camp last night. We were exhausted from the day's 70+ miles and 7+ hours of saddle time, so we weren't about to push on to the next town. Plus, we wanted to enjoy Lumberjack Days. We had to improvise a campsite. Luckily, city hall happened to be open. We knocked on the door, and a wonderfully welcoming lady named Dina answered the door. We told her about our predicament, and she offered to let us camp on the grassy patch next to city hall. We graciously accepted and started setting up camp.

As we started to cook dinner, a woman in biking shorts who spoke with a British accent approached us, asking us which direction we were headed. Her name was Megan, and she was traveling Westward along the Transamerica Trail, ultimately headed for Astoria, OR, where the two of us started our journey. We invited Megan to join us in camp, and she accepted. We spent most of the evening cooking dinner and sharing stories from the road. It was a really pleasant evening.

Later this morning, Ari and I will be part of New Meadow's Lumberjack Days Parade. Dina, the woman whom we spoke with yesterday, happens to be in charge of the parade, and last night, she invited us to participate. We'll have stories about it later, I'm sure.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Can't Stand the Heat? Get Out of Oregon!





Right now we’re taking a much-needed rest day in a town called John Day, Oregon. There’s an eerie feeling here because a gigantic fire is raging in the hills overlooking the town. The streets are smoky and all of the people seem worried that the fire is going to swallow up John Day, which is possible although not very likely.

The whole town is on edge and many people are loading up their trucks with water and ice to sustain the thousands of firefighters who are battling the flames. It looks to be under control though.

Eastern Oregon is desolate and it inspires those feelings that you might get if you were wandering in the desert. Honestly, I think that we are both itching to get out of here and into Idaho. Don’t worry though—we’re doing that tomorrow!

In some ways, it has been kind of exciting to see how differently people live in places like Mitchell, Oregon (population 170) and Portland. We have been experiencing quite a range of different ways of life and that has been one of the most valuable parts of this trip to us.

Until next time!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

we love Sisters!





Ok. Quick post. Two days ago we finished our first map! Yay! To celebrate we listened to Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' at the same time on our ipods and danced around to it. The photos of Robin doing the 'Bootie Shake' and Ari doing the 'Volkinator' dance move give only a glimpse of the spectacular dancing that could have been seen at the intersection of Coburg and McKenzie Rd. that afternoon.

In other news, yesterday we were in a parking lot and saw a truck roll out of its parking space and, picking up momentum, start careening dangerously close to a row of cars behind it. To try to stop the rolling vehicle, Robin jumped off of his bike and braced himself behind the truck. He soon lost balance in his cycling shoes, so I threw my bike to the ground and helped him. Together, we pushed the truck back into its parking space.

Apparently the one of the cars that would have been hit by the rolling truck belonged to a Red Hat Society member. (The Red Hat Society is for retired women. They wear purple clothes and red hats and encourage each other to live as free spirits). As if out of nowhere, a gaggle of red-hatted, purple-clothed women materialized and started thanking us profusely for saving one of their cars. There was a lot of hoopla in the parking lot all of a sudden and the Red Hatters wanted to write a story in the local newspaper about us stopping the rolling truck! Ha! To thank us, they paid for our camping site last night.

The last photo posted is of us and the red hat women. The others are of us grooving to MJ in rural Oregon.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

it's a blog eat blog world





Currently bumming the wireless from a coffee shop in Corvallis, Oregon, the town which is home to Oregon State University. Seems like a funky town, although we just rolled in about an hour ago. This is the image: two sweaty dudes in blue spandex sitting amongst a bunch of hipsters in a trendy coffee shop, one of them (Robin) poring over a mound of crumpled maps and talking mostly to himself, the other (Ari) typing furiously and surrounded by bags of trail mix and water bottles.

The last couple of days have been wonderful. Yesterday we cycled 56 miles, our longest day yet. Today we put in 50 or so. Camped at an RV park in Grand Ronde, Oregon last night and the night before that we found ourselves in a beautiful camping spot overlooking the beach at Cape Lookout State Park.

We're starting to head east finally, which will be necessary if we are to make it to the other coast.

If you are reading this blog, we love you. If you are not, then you don't know it, but we love you too.