Yellowstone Adventures, Part 1

Sorry, it has taken so long to post about Yellowstone. It’s just overwhelming trying to pare down what to share because there is SO much beauty. I’ll start with a recap of our phase 2 trip which was from June 6 to July 11, 2017.

In all honesty, phase 2 (Indiana to Wyoming) was a challenging phase for us. And here’s why:

  • The weather was incredibly hot.
  • Kansas and Nebraska were not only hot but like a wind tunnel with very few trees for shade for Mark as he was riding.
  • We both were fighting some health issues.
  • Mountains.

With that said, we finished that phase with a bang in Yellowstone National Park. It was the first time to the park for both of us, and we were overwhelmed by its beauty. My pictures won’t nearly do it justice, but I hope they give you an idea of its majesty.

This was our view in early July a few miles in from the east entrance across the lake. Breathtaking.

Yellowstone

Wind River Canyon, Wyoming

Wyoming is a contrast of stark and lush beauty.

The starkness comes from arid, wide open ranches that stretch as far as the eye can see. Dry, sometimes parched land just begging for a good rainstorm where posted warning signs say “Fire risk: High.”

Then all of the sudden you make a sweeping turn and before you lies the lush beauty of Wind River Canyon. This canyon lies between the towns of Shoshoni and Thermopolis. It’s the kind of beauty that you won’t soon forget. Rock walls rise 2500 feet high, towering above the Wind River, which lives up to its name.

So Where Have We Been Lately?

Mark and I have been off the grid, so we wanted to let you know what’s been going on.

By July 4 we were poised just outside of Yellowstone National Park in Thermopolis,Wyoming. Our Internet connection was spotty at best as we camped there for two days enjoying the Hot Springs State Park. It is AWESOME (and free), so if you’re ever there you must go to the mineral springs. The temperature is 104 degrees year round. Mark just soaked it up after all the riding he has done (just short of 3,000 miles so far).

From there we spent a night in Cody, Wyoming, again almost no Internet. July 6-11 we were in Yellowstone at the Bridge Bay Campground. To say it was incredible doesn’t do it justice. We are working on a post that details our stay in the park. Yellowstone is totally off the grid, so for about two weeks we couldn’t post to social media or our blog. Frustrating but worth it.

Chimney Rock, Nebraska

Chimney Rock in Bayard, Nebraska, is a place rich in history and stark beauty. The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, the Deadwood Trail, and the Pony Express all passed through this area.

Historical significance

As we were hiking to see this rock formation, we first encountered Chimney Rock Cemetery. The owner of the Chimney Rock Pioneer Crossing RV park where we stayed told us to be sure to visit it to see the graves of pioneers whose lives ended before they reached their destination. It was a reminder of the dedication and spirit of adventure of the early settlers.

In the Messy Middle

Recently I recorded a short Reflections podcast called Messy Middles for my website OnlyByPrayer.com. The gist of it is that at the start or end of a project, commitment, or goal we are filled with enthusiasm and energy. But it’s in the messy middle that dreams fade, marriages fail, jobs lose their luster, and parenting seems not quite so fun.

Phase 2 Challenges

Well, this week we hit the messy middle of our trip. Since we started Phase 2 on June 6, we’ve been through Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. We’re currently in Nebraska. As we’ve traveled through the heartland, we’ve discovered the beauty and isolation of wide, open spaces on the prairie. As we compared that to the southern hospitality and beautiful spots we found in the south, we felt a bit of a letdown from the constant discovery of people and places that inundated Phase 1.

Lesson Learned

The first week of our trip, Mark and I had a bit of bad luck.

For example, on the third day Mark got a flat tire. On the fourth day the travel trailer flatted out on a really busy road. If you haven’t read that story, you can find it here. So by the time we pulled into our campsite at the end of the fourth day, we were beat. So much so that we decided to stay there two nights. We were in the Tampa area at the time, which meant we were fighting through busy-city traffic. Even our RV campground was in the middle of a city street with a 7-11 just across the road from us.

Consequently, the next day we lazed about not feeling motivated to do much of anything in such a congested area. Finally that evening shortly before dusk, we roused ourselves to take a walk. We set out in the opposite direction of the 7-11 and hadn’t walked but a half-block when we crossed a beautiful large paved bike path.

If only we’d know that was there, we would have been on our bikes exploring it during the day! We weren’t too happy with ourselves that we had missed that opportunity. Later, we found out it was the popular Pinellas Trail, which is 44 miles long.

We kept walking and very quickly walked out of the busy section into a quiet neighborhood. We turned the corner and ran right smack into the coolest section of antique stores, restaurants, ice cream and confectionary stores, and boutiques. Just the type of places I love to explore!

But now the shops were all closed because it was after 5 p.m., and we’d already eaten dinner, so we’d also missed the option of the restaurants. We were really ticked off at ourselves because we hadn’t made any effort to explore the area around us.

We discovered this area was called Ozona when we passed this quaint village hall.

At this point, we saw signs that said “Beach ➜,” so we followed them and just down the block was a beautiful marina and beach. We were able to catch the sunset, which was lovely, but the day could have been so much more.

 

Lesson learned: When the tag line of your blog says “adventure is all around us,” maybe we’d better be sure to explore a place before writing it off as being boring!

Kick up some dust!

Five Days Straight in the Saddle!

Monday, April 17 thru Friday, April 21: 320 miles starting in Old Town, Florida, to Eufaula, Alabama

Here are some random thoughts from the bike saddle (which is torturing me) on week 2:

Florida: Once I biked out of Tampa into the heartland of this state I found it very desolate. Some logging industry was evident, but I had periods of riding for over one hour without seeing a car, home or person. I checked out the Goethe State forest by riding through it, but I did not find much.

Gorgeous Rainbow Springs

Gallery Suwannee River Magic

I grew up listening to my mom sing “Way down upon the Suwannee River.”

I never knew what a magical place it was until this week when Mark and I saw it for the first time while camping at Suwannee River Hideaway Campground in Old Town, Florida. The owner put in a 1500-foot river walk through a Cypress swamp down to the river.