Hello from Dubois, WY!
It is Tuesday, July 7. We traveled 88 miles today. This is the 16th day out of 50 days riding. We climbed to the Togwotee Pass, which is the Continental Divide, at an elevation of 9650 feet, which was another amazing climb. However, I can say yesterday’s climb still was much more difficult. We started off our day really early again, getting up at 5 and doing the breakfast thing between 5:30 and 6, leaving at 6:30. It was a nice peaceful ride out. We passed the Jackson airport, saw some planes taking off.
Hey out there to the Stratton’s, I saw the Federal Express plane taking off, which was really awesome, since you wonderfully shipped my bike Federal Express to get it out here. I just want to thank you again, Scott and Sustin Stratton.
It’s been a beautiful day again. We started off at about 48 to 50-degree weather in the morning, so it was a little chilly in the morning. We had to have on our leg and arm warmers, and then of course as the day goes on we’re able to take them off easily. It climbed up to about 84 degrees. Seeing the Tetons was just absolutely stupendous. I just can’t even express how magnificent, I don’t really even have words for how gorgeous the views have been. We’ve had the beautiful clear weather and seeing the Grand Teton Mountains on our left as we’re riding. We’re just on these little teeny bikes on these roads, and just the magnificence of everything around us is so grand and so incredible, with the skyline and just the beauty of everything, it’s really breathtaking. A portion of the roads this morning were really, really great. Then we did some significant climbing. We entered the Teton National Park and went through the park very nicely, everything was great. We had a SAG stop just after that. Then when we headed to go to the Togwotee Pass to get to the Continental Divide, there was a little section that was at about the 52-mile mark where we hit a major construction area. They’re working on the road there on Route 26 East and Route 287 South, and it’s going to take another four years, they say, to finish it. But there was no way that we could pass with the construction. So we had a construction truck take three of us at a time and they had some other trucks that brought some of the rest of our group over.
I got to meet a local man named Matt who works for the construction company. I got to sit in the front of the truck. He has a family, a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old son. He said his wife worked at the Sundance Café here in Dubois. We didn’t get there, but we did go to the Cowboy Café, which was really fun. It was nice to meet him. He gave us a wonderful ride and we got safely to the other side of the construction. We still had some very rough terrain to go on, kind of gravelly, which was a little bit nerve-wracking for a little while going through there. Then when we got to the other side of the construction, because the construction was holding up the traffic, we had an incredible ride down, the descent was absolutely fabulous. We descended back down, although unfortunately that means tomorrow we have to go back up. We descended down into Dubois with some uphill but mostly downhill, down to 6917 feet elevation. That gives you an idea of how much we go up and how much we go down. The uphills are really long and arduous and we really have to dig in and dig deep, moving along at 6 mph for mile after mile after mile. I did want to mention something about yesterday. From the 44-mile mark, we climbed up to the Teton Pass Summit at 77 miles, from just over 6000 feet up to 8500 feet elevation. That’s how many miles we climbed uphill. Yesterday’s climb was by far the most difficult climb I’ve ever done in my life, and I don’t think I could do anything more difficult than that in my lifetime!
Today the climb was steep and it was a lot of mileage, but it still wasn’t that steep. Anyway, seeing the eagles and the hawks, a lot of ospreys, seeing the flowers along these mountainous pathways, little beautiful purple and pink and yellow and white and blue wildflowers that grow up, it’s just amazing to see the little beauties and delights along this trip, and the magnificence of the mountains. It’s just unbelievable.
I hope this is encouraging you all to get out there and see America, whatever way you can see it, whether it’s by bicycle or by car, by traveling to see friends, learning about our nation. I think it just makes your heart well with much more gratitude instead of focusing on the critical and the negative and the things that are wrong around us. We all know there are plenty of things wrong, there are plenty of difficulties. I’m sure you as well as I have gone through your share of difficulties, but when you start focusing on the positive things and the beautiful things and the things of this country that can really make you proud to be an American, it’s really good to spend your time that way. Reflecting and seeing the beauty is really wonderful.
As I’ve gotten into Dubois, I have to say Wyoming is just a dashing area! It’s really fun to see these winding canyons and these deep valleys, and you see the winding rivers like the Snake River, it just winds like a snake. I don’t know why the river isn’t straight, but it just winds with these rushing, gushing currents. It’s just absolutely gorgeous. And the sound of it, even when you’re way up high, you can hear the sound of the water rushing way down below. It’s amazing to hear that when you’re up at such high elevations, really gorgeous. We rode by a lot of ranches with beautiful, gorgeous horses, like picture perfect, shiny, real studs, just so gorgeous. It’s been fun getting into Dubois. It’s a real country little town.
Tonight I guess there’s square dancing going on, which is really fun to hear. When we got to this little motel here, behind it is part of the rushing river. One of the gals here, Sherry, and I decided that we would go into the river. We made sure it was clean; we made sure it was safe. We couldn’t really swim in it, but we got ourselves down in the shallow part and the water was absolutely freezing! We dipped our whole bodies down into it with the water rushing over us, and it was just the coolest feeling. My daughter Christina would really appreciate this because she loves the water as much as I do. She’d also appreciate it because it’s ice cold, freezing water. It was just absolutely rejuvenating and intoxicating, it was fabulous. I did it three times and completely cooled off, it felt fabulous before I got ready to go to dinner tonight. For you, Christina, whoo hoo, it was wonderful! I want to thank my daughter Aubrielle for constantly sending me lots of little texts so that we can keep in touch, and my sons Justin and Josh, it’s been great to be able to call you and talk to you to tell you what’s going on. Mom and Dad, I love you. I’m so glad, Dad, that you’re healing, and I’m going to continue to pray for you. Diane and Steve, I wanted to really thank you for praying for me, and anybody else, for my hands and my feet to not go as numb. I can tell you that the exercises that I’m doing, the stretching and also loosening my shoes a little bit, changing my position on my bike more often with my hands and sitting up on my seat more, doing a lot of different things, have really helped that a lot. I haven’t had the numbing problem as much. So thank you to all of you out there who are praying for me. I have to tell you it’s exciting, this trip is dramatic because you’re in danger and excited at the same time. I really do covet your prayers for safety. I’m very, very thankful for that. It’s just been really good. I want to thank everybody and hope that you’re continuing to enjoy your families and loved ones, enjoy your friends, be thankful for every day that you’re alive. We never know how many days we’re going to be alive, but every day that we’re given is a gift. I hope that you’re using your life and spending your time realizing that every breath we take is really a gift. I’m grateful for every breath I’m taking, whether it’s a heavy breath or a light breath. It’s really great to be alive.
Tomorrow we head to Riverton, 79 miles. I hear that it’s not going to be too difficult of a day; we’ll see what that’s like. I guess we’re going to start off with 35-degree weather in the morning, I can’t imagine it being that cold here, but I guess it’s going to be. Then we’ll move into 70-degree weather as we go through the day. The next day we go to Casper, which will be 120 miles. I guess it’s not rough terrain, it’s just a long ride, and then we’ll finally have a rest day in Casper. I love you all out there. Thank you for your encouragement, thank you for your messages, and thank you for following.
Please get the word out about OLT for people to pledge. I’m meeting people while we’re waiting at stoplights, giving them cards for OLT. We met lots of people while we were waiting for the construction, lots of opportunities for me to tell people that I really appreciate them pledging. Just know that I’m loving meeting all the locals, loving talking to everybody. Tonight I decided to go across the street from my hotel to a jewelry store called Tukadeka Traders, and I had a wonderful opportunity to meet the owner there. He carves incredible carvings in elk and deer antlers; it’s just amazing to see the work he can do. The interesting thing is that he also carries jewelry that the Navajo Indians make, with turquoise and opal and all kinds of beautiful gems. They just do incredible work. I bought a really pretty pair of earrings that the Navajo Indians made.
I wanted my students from Bedford High School to know, we studied so much about the Indians, I’m actually in the area where Indians do their work, their specialty of their crafts, and I wanted to contribute to that. That’s really why I bought the earrings. I’m looking forward to showing you Bedford students the earrings when I see you when I get back home and come back to school. Also, I met a couple there who are visiting from Alabama, Steven and Mary Dohoney. They were with a friend named John. They were delightful people who were out on this dude ranch called Lazy LB Dude Ranch, on vacation, having a wonderful time riding horses to different places. It was really cool because when I went over across the way to the Rustic Pine Tavern that’s here in Dubois, they had square dancing going on tonight, and all of the locals from all of the dude ranches come together on Tuesday nights in the summertime. I watched them do this fabulous, fun square dancing, and what was fabulous about it was you could see the wholesome fun that they were having. Soda pop was sold at the back part of the room and they had on their jeans and their boots and they were just having such a great time. I had a lot of fun watching them. I talked to the gentleman who was in the back, Craig, who was taking in the money from the people coming in, and of course I gave a donation because the money goes to their local Presbyterian church. I guess there’s quite a church life in this town, which I was really happy to hear. I stayed for a while and talked to him and his granddaughter was there, she was just an adorable little blonde, as precious as could be. There were little children and teenagers and adults there, and everybody was just having a lot of wholesome, fun family time. It was really special.
I also went up and talked with the couple who was running the square dancing program, and come to find out, the man’s son is in the Marines and he’s going to be deployed for the sixth time over to Iraq. I’m sorry that I can’t remember his name, but I promised him that I would pray for his son. If any of you think of him, please do remember him because he does need your prayers. The dad was really pretty concerned, and who wouldn’t be, about him being deployed for the sixth time over to Iraq. That’s really difficult, very hard on the family and very hard on the men who are going over there and fighting for us.
It was just a fabulous evening of meeting a lot of people. Also, as I was passing through the bar and getting a picture of the people I met over at the jewelry store, Steven and Mary and John, I found out that the guys that were across the way at the bar were the cooks at the Lazy LB Dude Ranch. So I got a chance to talk to them and they were really kind of amazed that I was riding across America. What was really amazing for me was to find out what each of their dreams were. They had some really unique, special dreams. I told them that I’d be praying for them, that they could reach out and achieve those dreams or at least in the process be able to realize more joy and more experience in their lives. We really had a great conversation. I was very, very blessed by all the people I’ve met in this town of Dubois, I won’t forget them.
Thank you to all of you, if you end up following this blog. I gave all of them the OLT cards and asked them if they would pledge and take a look at what OLT is doing as far as helping the troops and families. I hope they’ll take a look at this. It was great to meet them and I really appreciated the time that I had meeting all these people.
Goodnight, and I’ll talk to you again tomorrow.