Back among the living!

My private dining room in the Holiday Inn – soon to be joined by another COVID+ rider. Yes, it’s a storeroom.

Frost on the tents in West Yellowstone. Going to sleep at 70 degrees (21 C), it was hard to imagine that it would be 36 (2 C) by morning. We had to sleep with a pile of clothes to put on as the temperature dropped. Again I rued my decision to leave the sleeping bag in the closet.

The creeping cold comes like an Ambush in the Night.

We slept on the high school football field, with meals in the Holiday Inn – white tablecloths for dinner, red for breakfast. 25 miles in the COVID bus followed by 40 on the bike as I work to get back into riding shape.

As I finished the last dose of my 5 day drug regimen, things started to look up. It took the full 5 days, but I feel better. Now it’s mostly the rigors of life outdoors on the road; that and the need to regain the strength I lost.

We rode through Mesa Falls on a Scenic Bypass. I was going to ride the COVID bus to the water stop to leave 40 miles to ride. Due to circumstances I wasn’t dropped until the Scenic Byway so I rode part of the route twice to get to the 40 miles I wanted for conditioning purposes. I have no pictures of the falls from 4 years ago because we rode out of West Yellowstone in a hailstorm and cold rain continued all day. Today’s 75-80 and sunny was highly preferred.

Lower Mesa Falls
Alpine meadow

At 10 AM, Grand Teton appeared on the horizon, perfectly framed by trees on both sides of the road. We were aimed straight at it, though it will be a while before we get there.

At the end of the ride I found a root beer float with my name on it.

COVID-19 has changed my life in ways I hadn’t imagined. Riding alone early in the pandemic made me realize I wanted to make this trip and that I was willing to retire in order to do so. COVID helped me decide to retire earlier than I planned to.

I look for places to eat/drink outside; now to protect others from me instead of vice versa as it has been for 2.5 years.

Sitting with a dying man as he enjoyed possibly his last pleasurable moment helped me to savor those moments. Having COVID-19 myself this week put me through a lot. I still have flashes of “COVID brain”, like today when I got out of the shower and realized I hadn’t brought clothes with me. I put my wet cycling clothes back on and made my way to my tent for clean clothes.

I found emotions much more powerful, with tears easy to come by. I bought a plane ticket home, ready to throw in the towel on this ride, and now every mile feels like a gift. Tomorrow will decide whether I get on that plane or give up my seat and prepare to ride through Wyoming next week.

Riding today felt good. I had the occasional burning sensation in the main stem bronchus, for those of the anatomical persuasion – windpipe to the rest of us.

Tomorrow we climb Teton Pass and descend into Jackson Hole for a day off. We’ll be staying at a science center outside of town. If I make it over the pass, I’ll let you know.

Sleep ‘til noon!

“He will sleep ‘til noon/but before it’s dark/he’ll have every picnic basket/that’s in Jellystone Park.”

We can sleep in Friday. We don’t load the trailer until 6:45. We have our shortest day yet scheduled – 64 miles. On the other hand, the forecast is for thundershowers all day along our route, with temperatures in the 40s and low 50s.

We’re just outside of Yellowstone. On our own for dinner and breakfast. Dad gave us our allowance last night in Ennis. Here is the link I wanted to add yesterday. We’re now at 6666 feet.

 

As most of you know, Yogi Bear is a paean to the great Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, who taught me that “you can observe a lot just by watching.”

On the topic of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, have y’all noticed that The Flintstones is The Honeymooners set in an earlier time? Fred Flintstone is a dead ringer for Ralph Kramden.

Thursday’s ride was a gorgeous trip from Ennis to West Yellowstone. It was a chilly start but I was properly dressed. I was finally able to delaminate after lunch. It was windy, but we all know that when the going gets tough, the half-fast go for a beer.

We passed the Blue Moon Saloon early; not to be confused with the Blue Moon a few blocks from the hospital, where surgeons stop for a quick one to steady their hands before a long day in the OR.64472540-2CBC-43EC-8DC1-385ABFD95C48Next up was Sphinx Mountain. Recognizing it is kinda like recognizing constellations – it helps to have someone point it out, and it helps to have a good imagination. The wilderness doesn’t come with big signs pointing out the attractions.E2F2D1E7-5E5F-4E0D-9825-6F92E156C9CDWe rode on to Earthquake Lake which, like Lord Voldemort, is “great…terrible, but great”. Earthquake Lake was formed by a great quake in 1959, which caused a huge landslide and rerouted a river, inundating a valley and wiping out a campground. It struck in the middle of the night. There were no survivors.

The last ten miles were into a headwind, which seems to be a theme. The end of several days has been about making it in. To add insult to injury, Ally changed clothes and went for a run.

To paraphrase Commander Cody, “She was riding up Grapvine Hill/passing bikes like they were standing still.”

I’ve been thinking about road signs. We were lied to all day today. Signs kept saying “Bisons on roadway”. I never saw any bisons. At the first sign I asked Ally to scout ahead for bison. She said, “that’s what Corey is for”. He was ahead of us at the time.

We spent a couple of days riding through country with signs saying “Watch for bighorn sheep”. I watched but never saw any. Maybe the sheep have signs saying “Watch for humans” or “Hide!”.

That made me wonder about those signs that say “Deer Crossing Next 4 Miles”, with a pictogram of a leaping deer. Do the deer have the same sort of signs in the woods so they know where to cross? At the end of the 4 miles is there another sign with a pictogram of a dead deer on the roadside so they know not to cross there?

Since I seem to be having success uploading photos  (4 bars here), I’ll add a few of those I described earlier.

The view from Flesher Pass (continental divide) and your correspondent at the divide.

The Canyon Creek Store (and Victor Allen K-cups).450FD7E1-EDF7-4451-B680-3EF095F1535DAs the former host of “Rutabaga World News” on WORT-FM, I couldn’t resist this one. This tune was my theme song. The live version here (at a 40th reunion concert) goes on for a while and includes a duck call solo.

While we’re at it, I’ll throw in a couple of pictures from Ennis, known chiefly as a fly fishing destination. The number of great trout streams around here makes me wish I were reading “Troutfishing in America” by Richard Brautigan again. Horse and rider statue, two views of fly fisher, full moon over campsite.