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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today was quite the day. We started out in Sun Palms, Florida, at the Tampa South RV Resort. The staff there is stellar and were amazing at helping this trailer-towing newbie. Will and Brian helped me with everything from hitching and unhitching to giving me all kinds of useful pointers on easier ways to do things. Thank you!
So I set off down the road in good cheer for Palm Harbor and the first thing I hear from the GPS are the dreaded words “Do a U-turn.” There’s no doing a U-turn when you’re towing a camper with only two lanes to U-turn it. That set me into a minor panic because the GPS kept blathering “do a U-turn” every five seconds, while I knew I had to find a street to turn on where I could do a square to get back on the highway headed in the opposite direction. I picked a road, praying it would lead to highway access, and fortunately it did. Both Miss GPS and I calmed down. Progress.
What’s on my mind 2 days ’til blast off … its not really the mileage but other weighty thoughts that have me obsessing …
With a moniker of Ozzie aka Mountain Goat (self-given if that is not embarrassing enough), I hope I shall not fail and fall over on the first or any other long/steep climb. Why do I worry? Good question!
First, like playing poker, you have to be all in. Quit your job.
I know, scary! In all honesty I did quit my job but only after spending approximately two years preparing. Preparing means saving, and to this end we accumulated savings in cash sufficient to cover one year with no income plus another 25 to 35 percent emergency funds for the unplanned events in life like basement floods (yes this did happen and will be title of subsequent blog “Headwinds”).
We’re a husband and wife who are ready to kick up some dust by biking across the country. That is, Mark will be doing the biking and Jane will be pulling the trailer and doing a “little” biking on the side and some hiking too.
Along the way we hope to slow down and explore all the side roads and little towns we’ve never had time to do before (that Jane always wanted to do and Mark not so much).
This trip is a bucket-list item for Mark. You see, it kind of runs in the family.