Access Across America
A 20 year retrospective
Photo Journal of Tim Wheat
Today starts nearly a week off for me, twenty years ago. I had just finished the ADAPT vigil and I made plans to go to the memorial service for Justin Dart in Washington DC. The service was on the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, July 26. I had to make plans and travel arrangements, but mostly I had time to relax and spend with Judy.
This starts the third and final leg of my jornada.
For these upcoming days I thought I would share more photo scans from my cross-country bike trip thirty years ago. I will share four photos and write a little about each one. I will compare some parts of the 1992 bicycle adventure and I will contrast other portions, like the photography. While I was limited by my camera and skill thirty years ago, I was not limited by the spectacular scenery around me. During the Memphis break, I showed photos from Yellowstone and the next set is from Glacier National Park.
Photo left: This is the "Going to the Sun" highway. I was taking it from west to east across the Continental Divide. They tell cyclists they may only use the top section of the road from sunrise to 11:AM, because it is a very narrow, winding road. I was worried about making the climb in time.
Photo next page: The ride into the mountains on the west side is spectacular and the peaks look very intimidating from a bicycle.
Photo two pages ahead: The dramatic clouds make the scenery even better, but the glacial alpine is the highlight from the west side. The east side by contrast shows more slope but is still very beautiful.
My lonely bike on the side of "Going to the Sun Highway." That is my parka liner drying out on the back. It was July, but cold.
More photos from 1992. The four photos today are all landscapes. I did not stick my bike in any of them. The first part of this bike adventure thirty years ago, I really struggled to find landscapes and put my bike in almost every shot. It was my dad who saw the photos and suggested some improved perspective.
I was really limited by my camera, but I hope that I can make some reasonable shots with Adobe Lightroom. On the right is a rare portrait aspect shot, and I blew out the sky. With software I was able to bring out some of the vibrant color, but I really think I could do a much better job with my camera today. Thirty years of experience and technology later.
These 1992 photos are from an album I made that includes maps and some quotes from my journal. There is no digital part of that album. I am putting the photos on the web as I scan them, but I have not decided how I will tell the story from 1992. I suppose this is a test drive.
Photo right: The west side of Logan Pass starts with the beautiful Lake McDonald. This is one of the many streams that flow into the lake.
Photo next three pages: Along the "Going to the Sun" road, the climb to Logan Pass. All scans from the 4x6 photos my parents printed backs in 1992 and I put into an album I have had for 30 years.
Not much of a photo, but it is a very unique stopping point along the Going to the Sun road. This is a window of a tunnel and if you are driving, it is not a place you would stop and take in the view. It is hard to see my bike, but I did get to stop here and view the overlook as well as the construction of the road up Logan Pass.
Looking west climbing Logan Pass in 1992.
Photo 3 pages back: I stop at a turn-out along the Going to the Sun road and try to get a landscape. I didn't know the woman had run into the frame, but it still is a great sample of what the west slope of Logan Pass is like.
Photo 2 pages back: The same turn-out as the previous photo from just below my bike. The range of peaks along this side of Logan Pass is called the Garden Wall. I thought that the steep rocks in the alpine above this point looked great.
I could not stop long at each spot because I had to reach the pass before noon. I still was amazed at the landscapes all along the climb.
Previous page: Another photo of my bike and the incredible views along the climb. Much of the road had that small fieldstone barrier, but it still felt very narrow. I was lucky not to have too much traffic during my climb, but I did take all morning to get to the top.
Photo above: A closer photo of the Garden Wall near the apex of the climb. One minute you could see the peaks, and the next it was covered by clouds. The western route was spectacular looking uphill and down.
On my bike trip thirty years ago in 1992, I did make it to the summit before the noon cut-off. I am not sure what they would do if I took longer to climb the west slope, but I was glad to get to the summit.
The other side I had planned not to take any photos and to enjoy the descent. The photo on the right is my bike at the peak, 6,680 feet. The weather was changing quickly, but I notice now just how cloudy it was at the top.
The plastic container on top of my front pannier is where I kept my food. Typically, it was inside the pannier, I don't recall why I made this climb with it on the outside.
Photo next page: You may be able to see the small tunnel the "Going to the Sun" road passes through. Imanaged to get another person I did not know in the frame of this photo. I was amazed by just how beautiful it gets up in the alpine.
Photo right: Yes, that is a bear. I did not have my camera out for the ride down the east side of the Going to the Sun road. I saw the bear move down out from the brush toward me as I passed by on the road.
I sped up, but the bear stopped and while straddling my bike I got this photo.
My first Bear encounter on this trip was on the C&O Towpath with a small black bear. I cannot tell, but I believe this is a brown bear because of his nose and fur color.
The road was not steeply downhill, but I was moving pretty quickly on my bike. When I saw him bound down out of the trees he was moving pretty fast.
All of the sudden I was standing up on the pedals and moving really fast on the bike. He stopped and I caught his eyes as I zoomed past. I slowed down and stopped, pulling my fanny pack around to my belly. I think I was at a pretty safe distance when I took this photo, but you cannot really tell here because I cropped the photo some.
Photo next page: Once I was down from Logan Pass, I began climbing back up toward Many Glacier on the east side of the Garden Wall. It was also beautiful here along Lake Sherburne.
On my great bike adventure thirty years ago, back in July of 1992, I was trapped in a summer snowstorm high in the mountains at Many Glacier. I was at the campground that cleared out that night until I was the only person camping. I did not feel too isolated because the Many Glacier Hotel was less than a mile from the campground and there was a collection of people enjoying the snow at the luxury hotel.
As a result I took some photos of my tent and the surroundings in the summer snow. I didn't go anywhere for a week, but I didn't consider it a week off because I had to find food and supplies everyday. The Many Glacier Inn had a small store and I was able to hang out in the huge lobby of the hotel with a massive open fireplace in the middle with a huge metal smoke collector hanging from the middle of the vaulted ceiling.
Photo right: My tent and bike in the first night's snow at the Many Glacier Campground. It looks like a wilderness campsite, but the bathhouse is really close by. I was the only camper following the first snow.
Photo next page: In the morning the next day I made an assessment if I could stay at the campground or ride down the icy road. I couldn't make it down riding my bike, but I found the Many Glacier Inn was my lifeline. This photo is my bike with Mt. Tabor in the background.
Photos above: This is a scan I made by placing two photos together on the scanner. It is a panorama I shot with my disc film camera and didn't see until after the trip. I had placed this in the album as a "pull out." Tape on one photo you may pull-out and get the panorama effect. I cannot match these photos close enough so that Lightroom would treat them as a panorama. If you look closely, you may wonder if these are a contiguous scene.
This is from the east side and the peaks in the distance make the Garden Wall. I was able to hike up to Iceberg Lake, in this area with a couple I met at the Many Glacier Inn. Of course, by that time everything was covered in snow and amazingly I had a winter coat and I bought some gloves at the Inn. The hike was listed as two to three hours, but because of the snow, it took us more than six. We had a make-shift pot-luck lunch at the spectacular lake and ran into many more hikers.
When we returned, we learned that a hiker on another trail was mauled by a bear. The US Park Service closed down all the trails and it was the topic of conversation of the little community at the Many Glacier Inn. I was a curiosity in the lobby. I got to meet quite a few people at the Inn, but it was all small-talk and question-and-answer sessions. I sat by the fire and read during the day and made my way back before sunset at night. Fortunately, I had purchased extra film discs and I did not have to ration my photos. I still did not know how long I would be stranded in the snow.
Photo Above: While I could not create a Lightroom panorama with the non-snow photos, I was able to stitch these two photos of nearly the same area together. Being able to edit this in Adobe Lightroom makes a big difference. Of course there is also a dramatic difference because of the snow, but I am so pleased that I was able to think of comparing panoramas. I was awestruck by this scene on my way to Many Glacier Campground, and I am so pleased that I had the foresight to try the panorama again in the snow.
You may see a selection of my 1992 photos that I have edited at my Flickr.com account. The Album's link: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzTeBM
Twenty years ago I was on a bus that left Denver Colorado at 6:35 PMM headed 13 hours and 35 minutes to Washington DC. I would make one scheduled transfer in Cleveland Ohio. On this trip I called The JD Mission, I was going to share a hotel room with Greg Jones from Kansas, who was at the Boise ADAPT action last week. I also made the trip without my computer but I did bring my camera.
Below I will provide my written journal in black type with my current thoughts in blue. I use a shorthand in my journal with time: 6:35 pmm is PM Mountain Time; 6:36 amc is in the morning Central time; and 6:37 pme is Eastern Time. While typically riding my bike I set my camera time to the local time, I didn't on this mission.
6:40 pmm (July 24, 2002) The bus is scheduled to leave at 6:35. It is unbelievably hot on the bus, stagnant and humid air - hot air. Bus 2111.
I believe that Greyhound split the ridership west onto 2 buses -although the line was long there is room on the bus and I think most people have double seats to themselves. I have my backpack in the seat next to me and my extra shirt and hat in the overhead above me.
At 6:44 the bus begins to move, but the heat does not seem to dissipate at all. The windows are closed and there is still no circulation of air. This is a really poor start - the heat is horrible and I am sweating. I expect to hear or feel some breeze soon - surely there is some kind of air conditioning. Bob is our Greyhound driver. At 7:16 because of passengers complaints, Bob opens the top hatches to let cold air in. At least it seemed cold. I am covered with sweat.
At 7:30pmm the open hatches in the top of the bus do the trick and the ride seems bearable. We enter the great flatness of eastern Colorado as the sun goes down behind the bus. At 8:11 we make our first stop in Brush CO. Bob tells us we can get something at McDonald's, "but make it quick," he says. I need water.
In Brush CO, the Greyhound stops at a Conoco Station with inaccessible bathrooms. The McDonalds next door may be accessible, but their is a very iffy path there. As a matter of fact, the store is not accessible. Possible lawsuit?
At 8:27 the bus is off again. The rumor is that the air conditioning is working this time, but the overhead hatches are still open and it is very hot and stuffy in here. A bicycle sign as we get on the Interstate tells cyclists to keep rar right- evidently bikers can use I-78 out here.
9:13 pmm It is dark out now and I think I may have crossed into Central Time. The bus behind me is totally dark, only the first 4 rows have lights on for reading. Maybe the "back of the bus," is a carry-over from grade-school; good students in the front, discipline problems in the back. I set my watch to Central Time.
9:02 pmc The bus seems to be about 20 minutes behind at this point. The air conditioning is working and the trip is now smooth and pleasant.
Photo right: At the REI in Denver, I purchased a bike trailer called a Uni-Bob. I thought it was the solution to my constant problem with rear spokes. It is a single wheel trailer that connects to the rear axle.
In my journal I made a little diagram of how I would load my bike (right). My sleeping bag remains on the back rack, toiletries, food and cooking gear in the front panniers. Everything else is in the Uni-Bob. I did not determine a place to store the tools and ground sheet.
12:04 amc (July 25, 2002) I should have moved my watch Forward, for Central Time. I survived the Ogallala Nebraska stop. I did not buy any food and refilled my water. I also got out the GPS and found that it is 1,300 miles to Washington DC. I will try to get running speed in the morning.
I called mom and dad to tell them where I was. Dad is still working on the house in Georgia. Strangely, my breathing is not good and I left my inhaler in my checked bag.
I did not call mom and dad after midnight. I must have been just reporting this here because I called at the previous stop. Dad drove to Adairsville Georgia during this time to build a house for Mr. and Mrs McPhereson, who were great friends and the second preacher they had a Huntsville Christian Church.
2:01 amc I was able to sleep very little at a cost to my neck. The bus stopped at Lexington Nebraska, 1,212 miles from WDC and I bought some Pop Tarts to eat. Oddly, when I returned to the bus, the guy who in in the seat behind me was in my seat. I think he smells. No one could mistakenly sit in this seat, it has a bright yellow backpack that clearly was not his. Why he did that is a mystery to me, I cannot help but think that Smelly had some evil intent.
Nothing happened, but I did have anxiety trying to sleep with this weirdo close to me. I grabbed my backpack and set a row back and across the aisle from him. I wanted to stay close to the items I had in the overhead. I still did not feel safe and looked through my pack to see if anything was missing. I don't know what I would have done if something was not there. I thought twice about leaving things on the bus after that.
3:41amc The bus stops at an Interstate Rest Area that tells of the Fort Kearney Cut-off. Everyone on the bus had their lights off before we got to this stop, I was sleeping also. There is a full moon tonight which is noticeable at every stop.
6:32 amc Omaha Nebraska - The bus stops here for an hour for cleaning and refueling. There is no place to go in Omaha and zero to see from the Greyhound Terminal. I got a newspaper but was uncomfortable the entire time. I got onto the same bus I got off, bus 2111, but I do not understand the line concept of Greyhound. It seems that all lines go to the same place - maybe it is the herd mentality, everyone gets in line because it is a line.
The new driver introduces herself as we leave Omaha, her name is Marcia.
Photo above: This is me on the bus somewhere in Iowa. This is the only photo I took on July 25. Note the wire rim glasses, I did not wear these on my bike.
7:49 amc Sunrise in Iowa. Des Moines is 66 miles to the east. I woke up with my neck hurting. We arrived in Des Moines right on time at 8:50 amc.
10:57 amc I was able to use the GPS from the bus to find that WDC is 787 miles to the east. I am still about 24 hours from Union Station. Lots of corn here in Iowa, there seems to be no photo opportunities. Interstate and corn.
12:03 pmc Walcott Junction Iowa. I have some roast beef sandwiches and call Deborah Cunningham to ask about MATA. Nothing new. I forgot water and brushed my teeth. I must remember that I can check email at that Pilot Stop on the way home.
Before I began the JD Mission, Deborah and Reneé had blocked a bus for failing to stop and made the news in Memphis. Michael Heinrich had sent me photos of the event and I published a story on the MCIL site. Apparently, the Pilot truck stops offered a way to check email. I didn't have my computer so I must have done a quick web search while we were stopped.
12:44 pmc I know I was not impressed by Illinois roads earlier this year on my bike, but this Interstate looks great. What is bothering me now is that Deborah Cunningham had no idea what I was doing. That hurts me personally, but as a result I think I will send her a paper version of my trip so far and future plans.
What I meant by the personal harm was that the phone call made it clear that she was not following what I was posting on the MCIL website. She was the audience for my bike jornada and I felt that I was being very productive at this phase. I had just finished the Colorado ADAPT vigil and made the trip to Bosie. It hurt that she did not know about the work I was putting in.
2:35 pmc Outside of Chicago the bus gets a little rain. I will have an hour and 15 minutes layover here and worry about the rest of the trip. I am not scheduled to get to Cleveland until after midnight. I put down my book for this segment and take time to watch the endless expanse of suburban Chicago pass by.
6:28 pmc The hour layover in Chicago was not an hour of "free time." I spent my time mostly in line for the bus to Cleveland. I didn't know what happens if you are so far back in line that here is not a seat for you on the bus, but by the way people are eager to get into lines, I don't want to find out.
For the leg of the trip between Chicago and Cleveland I have to share the pair of seats with some long-hair who does not say a word to me. He sleeps with his back to me, pushing into my seat with his butt. He seems to be an experienced bus rider who perf;ers he back of the bus.
Northern Indiana is pretty typical from the Interstate. I overheard a fellow in Chicago explain why he was on the bus as "a great way to see the country." Well I think that this method does not compare at all with the bicycle. The experience I am having is with the bus and bus passengers.
7:27 pmc The diver stopped the bus and made a woman with at least 4 kids move into the seats where people had complained about her kids putting gum in their hair. She made an announcement to everyone on the bus not to disrespect others.
I am sorry that I did not explain more clearly what had happened. I don't know where the bus driver had made the woman and her children sit. I believe she made them all sit together so the mother would have more control.
This continues my JD Mission Journal. Link to the explanation: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Qr-YvyDEG7_FXZkWyD_PZZ_vZ8IojxxR8GDNEmHNhTk/edit#heading=h.q3vbcherf5i9
1:44 amc Cleveland was just standing in line. The bus to WDC is packed.
8:14 ame July 26, 2002. North of Hagerstown Maryland the driver of the bus is the "captain of the ship." Before I got to Cleveland, the driver responding to complaints of passengers, made a woma trade seats so that she had to sit with her delinquent children. Before we left Pittsburg, the current driver made a guy get off the bus. He refused and the Pittsburg Police came to help him move to another bus. Some passengers had complaints about his behavior and he seemed to be whacked-out to me.
Photo right: Justin Dart's iconic hat. His wife, Yoshiko Dart often brought Justin's hat when he could not travel. I used this symbol for many graphics that I made.
At a short stop in Breezeburge PA I tossed my shirt up into the overhead and left a sleeve dangling down so I could grab it from my seat. I saw the bus driver's eyes in the mirror, she scanned the cabin and he paused seeing my shirt.
"Would the person with the jacket hanging out of the overhead," the driver said over the public address system, "please stow it properly."
You don't question the bus driver. I quickly pulled my shirt down and smiled in complete compliance to Laura the bus driver.
I had very little bus experience before this 1,300 mile trip. This was my first experience on an Greyhound and I did not have much experience with the city bus service in Memphis.
There is good coordination of people on the bus. Stops are not excessively long. People move onto and off of the bus quickly and bags are moved around quickly. The woman with the delinquent children - she really smelled had and many people on the bus complained about it. But unlike an airplane cabin, the air seems to circulate more on the bus and I was only bothered by her stench when she walked past me. And when we were in line at the Burger King.
Photo: The main speaker at the memorial service was former President Bill Clinton. While Justin Dart had been a Republican when he worked to pass the ADA, President Clinton caused him to change political parties and work with Democrats and Republicans throughout the 1990s. I met Clinton at the event and shook his hand. I also talked to him in Memphis during his campaign. My friend Jay never forgave Clinton for stealing his camera at an event in Little Rock. Jay had no evidence, but he was pretty sure that President Clinton was the one who took the camera.
It is rainy here in Maryland, about two hours outside WDC. approximately 40 hours on this bus. I have spent many rainy hours in Maryland this summer.
Thirty-eight hours of bus travel has brought me from the Mile High City to the Nation's Capitol. The bus is not a good way to "see America," the environment dominates the experience. I am here for the JD Memorial Service and I will write about who is at the service and what is said in the MCIL Journal.
8:59 ame The bus maneuvers through the downtown streets of Fredrick MD to a multi-model area that has little cover from the rain. Frederick is a good looking community and marks only 10 minutes behind schedule.
End of the July 26 entry.
I made the trip to go to the Justin Dart Memorial Service on the twelfth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. You may recall, back in May, I included a photo of Justin Dart, often called the Father of the ADA, in this retrospective. He died on June 22, 2002. Following is my report for the MCIL Journal of the service:
Memorial Service and Celebration of the 12th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
By: Tim Wheat
(WASHINGTON DC July 26, 2002) A memorial and celebration of the life of Justin Dart was held today on the twelfth anniversary of the singing of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Justin Dart was truly the father of the ADA and a great humanitarian,” said Dick Thornburgh the former US Attorney General and a featured speaker at the memorial, “but most of all, he was our friend.”
The service was held at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington DC and drew dignitaries and grassroots civil rights activists from around the world. The church was filled with signs from the Disability Rights movement and memento’s of Justin’s life.
Photo above: Bob Kafka of ADAPT spoke at the memorial. He was dressed like an activist. You may recall, I stayed with Bob and his wife Stephanie Thomas while I was in Austin Texas. Stephanie gave me a ride to the airport rental car.
Photo right: The New York Avenue Prespertarian Church in downtown Washington DC.
“Hillary and I were just nuts about Justin,” said President Bill Clinton. “He stood by anybody big or small that he thought was the victim of arbitrary discrimination . . . I was profoundly honored to give him the Medal of Freedom.”
The highlight of the service was the reading of Justin Dart’s final message. His granddaughter, who Marca Bristo reported was the “light of his life,” read the powerful final communication of Justin.
“Justin Dart always identified himself as an ADAPT member. He believed in direct action,” said Bob Kafka the national organizer for ADAPT. “Justin, we will free the two million people in institutions, we will free our people.”
Much of the tribute was directed at Yoshiko Dart who had a long and special relationship to Justin. She and members of the Dart family sang the song “Sakura,” a song in Japanese.
“I will remember the boots, I will remember the hat, but most of all Yoshiko,” said Ralph Neas of People for the American Way, “I will remember you (and Justin) side by side.”
“He loved with premeditated passion,” said Joe Washington for the Dart family.
Following the Memorial Service there was a celebration at Union Station that featured music by the Dart family. Hundreds of people came to the gala where Senator Tom Harkin made a toast to Justin Dart.
“In the 16 years I knew Justin he never talked about yesterday,” said Sen. Harkin. “Justin Dart’s tomorrow is MiCASSA ... Here is to Justin Dart’s tomorrow.”
When she spoke at the Justin Dart Memorial service Elaine Chao was the Secretary of Labor. Later she became the Secretary of Transportation. I thought I may have a use for this photo but never used it anywhere. She gave real Republican balance to this event and Justin's past conservative history. Justin Dart, back in the Reagan Administration, did a lot to start the Independent Living movement as well. Many people don't credit the long conservative history of IL.
Photo top left: The iconic boots of Justin Dart. I remember when Yoshiko Dart brought his hat in his wheelchair to the ADAPT action in San Francisco in October of 2001. She put only one of these boots in the leg-rest because he had recently had his foot amputated. I do enjoy thinking about what that symbolizes.
Photo Above right: I don't know her name, but I believe this is one of Justin Dart's daughters who lived in Boulder Colorado.
Photo right: I did get this flash photo of President Clinton in the scrum following the memorial service.
Photo above: Now you know about me and Jim Glozier. We were at the reception following the memorial service and I took a photo of Jim kissing his wife Laura. Laura took this photo of me, I think I am really attacking Jim. If you recall, I stayed with the Gloziers back in Pennsylvania. That is Yoshiko Dart in the background.
Photo above right: Senator Tom Harkin giving a toast. Sen. Harkin was the most accessible politician to ADAPT in these years. He introduced the ADA in the Senate and he gave a speech on the Senate floor in American Sign Language. I got to meet him many times, including in 2017 in Iowa with Tom Olin driving the ADA Legacy bus.
Photo right: The reception was a party at Union Station.
Why I am not on the bus is a sad tale of my own stupidity, costing approximately $314.00. I forgot my ticket, I left it in the hotel room and Greyhound does not replace tickets. It is just as if I lost $158.00 in cash.
I didn’t want to carry my ticket to the memorial or the reception, so I put it in the desk drawer. I should have kept the ticket in my backpack, or with my camera because that ticket is the only thing I “unpacked” during the trip.
Photo right: This shot taken out the window of a moving train is not good at all. But I was really amazed to see the C&O Towpath, it was like running into an old friend. If you cannot make it out, that is understandable, but the brownish area in the middle of the frame is the two tracks of the path. The canal is between the pea-gravel path and speeding train. The canal is overgrown and long dried-up in this section. It was the rail traffic that put the great American canals out of business in the twentieth century.
I got the ticket as a round-trip and they printed two tickets for me. Even if I had the ticket, I had to make the bus or I could not get any discount for a later bus. I was really bothered by the money. On the road I had become frugal and saw the loss as many days I did not have resources to camp and cross the country. What I didn’t say in the journal is that I only had only a few minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave. I argued at the counter until the bus was gone and I had no option to return to the hotel. If I had noticed the missing ticket and just returned to the hotel, I think I could have made it. We stayed at the Harrington and the Greyhound terminal is at Union Station. Twenty years ago I think I could have ran to the hotel, grabbed the ticket and ran back in about 30 minutes. But I didn’t, I got in line used up this time searching for a Greyhound solution.
My good consumer decision was not to purchase a second ticket from the folks that already had my money to get me back to Denver. I took my cash to AMTRAK and bought a ticket there.
The agent asked me “when?” And I said: “now!” The agent told me I should run because the train leaves in three minutes. I signed the receipt and the next thing you know I am looking out the window at Rockville Maryland.
I rode intercity buses a lot when I lived in Boulder, but my first and last cross-country bus adventure was over. This is my first cross-country train experience.
Photo: I took a photo out the window of the train in New Brunswick Maryland. I remember this city along the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath that I biked the entire distance back in May.
Losing my bus ticket really sucks. But the train seems very cool. I am currently sitting in the lounge car as Maryland quickly slips by. How fast? I think I will go check the GPS.
Wow! I cannot express how neat it was to look out the train window and see the C&O Towpath. I was really shocked, it was a great feeling. I don’t know why. I guess I have a connection with the towpath; a kinship, bond. I don’t feel so alone.
I used the GPS to find Brunswick Maryland. Of course, I recognized it. We left the C&O as we crossed into WV at Harper’s Ferry. I remember having breakfast and coffee, calling Mom and Dad from the train terminal there.
Only two photos today. I caught the train sometime just afternoon and had no time to buy supplies for the trip. I didn't know what to expect on the train, it was a great new experience for me. I actually made three photos, but the other one of the C&O was more blurred than the one on the previous page. On the train I am using the low-resolution format, because I don't have confidence that the photos out the window will be any good. Also off my bike I feel that I am just taking snap-shots and not the kind of photography that will be displayed anywhere but my website. I will move from taking photos to making pictures, but not until I am back on my bike.
6:07 amc Sunrise on the train somewhere in Indiana, I think. I slept great and may get more sleep. I am wondering about Chicago, how long I will be there and if I can catch a ballgame.
I had always heard that you could get off the train and if you missed getting back on, your ticket was good for the next train (assuming there was room). A better explanation is that it is a ticket to Denver, you may take as many trains to get there as you need. I was thinking about trying this out and stay for a game and catch the train tomorrow. If the Mets were playing in Chicago, I would go to the game and either get a hotel room or try to bunk with one of my Chicago ADAPT friends. They were not in town or they had a day game Sunday, twenty years ago, but the Mets were in town tomorrow, but that would mean I logistically would have to stay two days in the windy city.
I used the GPS to find out that we are in Toledo Ohio. The conductor was on the public address this morning telling us the delay was due to a "derailment" ahead of us.
This was before the iPhone. It really was unique to have a navigation tool like that. I am sorry I do not seem to have recorded the trains speed, I would like to know that. I am sure it traveled at various speeds and I checked that on the GPS, but I didn't write it down.
8:40 amc A hard rain outside. The train is by my guess three hours behind schedule. I suppose I will be getting into Chicago around noon. Food, headphones and music or DVD in Chicago.
Photo: I did have enough time to get a photo of me in the Chicago Terminal.
New estimate of arrival time in Chicago is 1:20 pmc. The GPS tells me I am only 23 miles from Chicago, be there in an hour.
11:21 amc The train gets to Chicago - what about my transfer to Denver?
I recall running around downtown Chicago searching for food and headphones. I did not find either. Because of my experience with Greyhound, I was concerned about missing the train.
3:40 pmc I was not able to find headphones in downtown Chicago. I walked several blocks over the river, under the loop and found only closed drugstores, Walgreens, CVS and something like Ogelmans. But, I got on the train without a hitch and I am headed to Denver. I cleaned-up and put on my last set of clean clothes (except for one sock). I am going to try dinner tonight.
Missing lunch in Chicago was my justification to try out the expensive dining car. I thought that I may eat with other passengers, but I had a table to myself and I got the steak.
7:18 pmc Now twelve hours from Denver.
8:24 amc Looks like I am close to Denver.
At this point I realized that I was still on Central Time.
7:58 amm Forty-two hours on this train and I am anxious to get to Denver for the 90 minute commute south.
Riding the train west
(DENVER, CO) From Washington DC I caught the Amtrak "Flier" to Chicago and the "California Zephyr" to Denver. The train is really great and nice to sleep on. Sleeping is essential when you spend 42 hours on the train. I also met a few interesting and intelligent people on the train. You have the ability to get into lengthy conversations on the train that I don'ts think is possible on other types of transportation.
Photo: Me on the train headed to Denver.
I am resting today in Denver, packing up my bike tomorrow and leaving for Salt Lake City.
This was a short piece I prepared for the MCIL "Where in the World is . . . Tim Wheat?"
Photo next page: This was the only high-resolution photo I took on the train. I remember passing through much of the rust-belt at night. I didn't take a photo of the lights in the distance, but there were also many times when the train stopped passing through cities at night.
Photo above: I don't recall how I engineered this photo, but I guess I am holding the camera with a shutter delay. I try to look candid for the shot of me looking out of the train window.
Photo top right: Another attempt to look candid on the train. I am wearing my ADAPT shirt with Sher's drawing on the front.
Photo right: This is actually a merge of two low-resolution photos of the Chicago terminal. The train was very late getting into Chicago and I only had a little more than an hour. I set out looking for food and some headphones, but everything was closed downtown on Sunday.
My journal has a lapse of two days at this point. I got back to Littleton and my bike, but Judy had already left for Chickasaw State Park in Tennessee to see her family. Judy and I had laminated about our logistics, but neither the bus or train were going to return in time for me to see her. Additionally, I was in a time crunch, I was headed to Salt Lake City for the ADAPT strategy meeting that started Friday, August 16.
There was clearly enough time for me to make that trip on my bicycle, however, I had planned to start heading north out of Littleton and heading over the highest paved road in the US: Trail Ridge Road. This was going to be a tough climb, but it was going to be difficult from anywhere in Colorado. The real time constraint was going to be how much time I would spend in the Rock Mountain National Park and the Dinosaur National Monument.
Twenty years ago today I began to get ready to get back on my bike. The only photo I have today is of Judy's cat Jinx. She is lying by the hub connection of the new bike trailer I purchased before I headed out on the JD Mission. The Uni-Bob trailer connects with the bike's axel. I had cleaned the bike up and was working on a completely new method of loading my bike.
Photo: Jinx in Littleton Colorado next to the hub connection with my new bike trailer.
Twenty years ago I was preparing to get back on the road, but I have no photos and no journal about this day. I did make a list of items I wanted to accomplish. First, I wrote down "look up CCPWD v. RTD and see if the settlement is on the web." I am pretty sure that this is what we consider to be the ADAPT lawsuit against the public transit system, RTD. Wade Blank was known for creating organizations and being pretty lackadaisical with their names. Barry Rosenberg told me this when I was looking up early 1970s information about the beginning of ADAPT and Atlantis. I didn't write down the name, but it could have been Colorado Coalition for People with Disabilities. I have never found this case.
Second, I wanted to find a brochure on the RTD website. Third, I had a reminder to post to MATAplus.com. This is a website that Michael and I had produced to accept and note complaints with the Memphis paratransit system. That site is gone, but it was a thorn in their side that Michael owned it and not the public transit authority.
Fourth in this list of things to do is to "send book to DC." Well I just returned from Washington DC, but I don't think that is the reference because I typically abbreviate the nation's Capital as: WDC. You may have noticed that from my journal already.
I think DC stands for Deborah Cunningham; but, what book? Right under this I had written: "- Most recent sighting on the web." I suppose that is what I wanted to get done before I left, but I may have meant to put all the text on paper and send it to Deborah, calling that a book. I had written earlier in this retrospective that I knew Deborah was not reading my stuff. It did hurt, I may have done this just so she knew what was happening and all the things that I had done. But I may have just wanted to send her the book I had recently finished, I did just spend 42 hours on a train.
I also have a short "Albertsons' List," that includes "dry food;" which I believe refers to food that I would pack on the bike. My favorite was to have Rice-A-Roni (it is really Pasta Roni) Angel Hair Pasta and add a tuna-size can of chicken. I never had a can of tuna growing up because my father did not like fish. We just did not have it around the house. But riding my bike across the country, I had learned to make-do with the items and food that you can find in any convenience store. I was surprised to find this canned chicken almost everywhere.
I had one full-sized pot that was the basis of all of my hot meals. The idea is what can you add to the one-pot meal, there were no sides. I often would add a whole can of corn or peas, to a can of Chef Boyardee pasta. It does not sound very appetizing, but it would make a whole pot of dinner and be easy to clean up one pot when you are done. That was the general thinking as I would look around the shelves of an out-of-the-way gas station convenience store: "Will that can go with that can for dinner tonight?"
Finally, my journal has a "to do" list with two items. Number one, "chain." I am sure this is a reminder to clean the bike chain. Number two: "money." I am not sure what this is, but probably just a reminder for me to get some cash before I get back on the road.
Today is the trailer test. I know from my photos that I took the bike and trailer out for a test ride twenty years ago today. As I look at the photo I have a great feeling about the machine and think it looks great. However, that feeling is obvious "choice bias," because I know that in reality the bike and trailer did not work. At this point I was overwhelmed by the sleek look and the large amount of stuff that the trailer would hold.
I was mainly concerned about the cornering feel that I would experience on long dowhills. I was afraid that my muscle memory would feel that I could take downhill turns quickly. Even with the large cross-country bike load, I did not have any problems with control in fast downhill turns. The trailer was not only shifting the weight, but I had a third wheel on the ground with my center of gravity shifting back and lower. I thought that this would make a big difference. I thought it would not only feel different, but I would have to learn new mechanics for the turn. The next step in that reasoning is that if I did not learn the new dynamics of the bike and trailer, I would ride off the road or into traffic.
I also worried about braking. I had added another wheel and weight, but there were still only the two cantilever brakes on the bike rims. I was worried that going fast, it was going to be hard to stop that train. I knew that it would be different, but I had to know just how much farther it was going to take to stop the new load. Bike breaks also have a difference. The front brake can cause instability or if you break too hard you can "face plant" over the front handlebars. It is a lot harder to get that kind of braking power with the rear brake, but I was just not sure how good my brakes were or how they would hold up with the trailer and load.
As I look at the photo I made on my test ride, I see the rear bag seems full. I have moved the rear panniers to the front and I have the tent and sleeping bag on the rear rack, with no rear panniers. It looks like it would be helpful. You can see the rear wheel. Those heavy panniers are not right on top of them, the bulky but light sleeping bag and tent are stored on the back rack, but most of the mass moved to the trailer and distributed between another back wheel.
I did not record the results of my test ride, but I look at photos from the road and see that I did not make many changes from this set-up. The general load was simple, the heavy stuff was on the trailer and the other stuff was on my bike. I thought I could carry more clothes, food and water. For convenience I added a backpack with my computer, journal and a fleece.
There is a flexible mast with a yellow flag that did not put on the trailer for this test ride. I also have everything in the yellow bag that came with the Uni-Bob trailer. The bag is waterproof and would be great in the rain. I sold the trailer when Judy and I moved to Memphis, but I still have that yellow bag.
I took the two photos of my test ride on the road just behind Judy's apartment complex. I'm sure that the open field is filled with apartments now. I recognize that area and the Front-range in the distance. In April I rode into those mountains and into the snow. Now, at the end of July it is hot and sunny.
One more day of delay before I head out west with my new trailer. I don't have any photos from twenty years ago, but please step back thirty years ago on my bike adventure in 1992. If you recall, I was snowed in at Many Glacier in Montana. I was spending my days in the huge lobby of the Many Glacier Inn.
One morning I joined a couple of women who were hiking up to Iceberg Lake. I had to wear my running shoes in the snow because it was all that I had. I was able to borrow some work gloves from the hotel. I am sorry that I do not recall anything else about my companions that day. Their names are Carmella and Lynn. At Iceberg lake we met another couple and had a trail-luck lunch together. They joined us for the hike back to the hotel.
Photo: Carmella and I trade photos of each other. I suppose she has a photo just like me.
The people we met at Iceberg lake and hiked back to the hotel.
I really didn't have the camera for wildlife, but it was great to have a photo of a Marmot, a critter that you don't see much in Alabama.
Photo left: Iceberg lake from the shore. This was the best photo I took on the hike. It really was spectacular. We watched the weather move in from the west, over the "Garden Wall." The hike was great fun. The snow was unexpected and beautiful.
Photo above right: This is from a clearing on the hike back to the hotel. Glacier National Park is fantastic and really unique. I was so fortunate to be able to see it with snow and without in the same week.
NOTE: My 2002 Journal will be in black and my 2022 retrospective thoughts will be in blue.
I have come down with a bad case of the blues. The trigger has been that the trailer I bought to improve my traveling capacity and better distribute weight has failed. Actually the rear wheel of my bike is not adequate for the weight that I have been carrying this entire trip. It is so frustrating that my solution to make a solid cross-country machine is not functional. What makes it more frustrating is that I have learned by experience the type of bike that is good for this and I ignored my own experience.
Twenty years ago today I was back on the road with my bike and a new trailer. I had packed more clothes, food and water. I see from the first photo I made of my new rig that I had added a tripod. I was motivated to head into the mountains with this new mobile ensemble.
Photo: The Flat-Irons from Chautauqua Park in Boulder.
I headed northwest to Red Rocks, took photos of me crossing I-70 and rode through Golden and north to Boulder. My route was to by-pass Denver to the west and I thought the ride went very well and the trailer was working well. I was able to climb and make high-speed turns without trouble. I really felt that the new system was working well.
About 50 miles down the road, just as I was coming into Boulder, I could feel that not all was well. I stopped right as I got into town at Martin Park to tighten my spokes. I had felt the loose spokes, something I had learned on this bike adventure, but I thought it may be just an unfamiliar feeling of the trailer. It wasn't. Many of the spokes were loose to the touch. I had taken extra time to "true" the wheels myself, and this was really unexpected. I didn't unpack the bike, I only tighten spokes that were loose, but I knew that meant that the rim would warp some.
I would end up living near Martin Park, and buy a house near this spot in seven years, but at the time I didn't know much about the city. I struggled on the highway until I noticed the bike trail off to my right. I stopped in Central Park at a large oak tree near Boulder Creek. I noticed at this point that I had to intervene and do something about the rear wheel. I took off the trailer and unloaded the bike. For years I remembered this spot as I would pass by on my bike after I moved to Boulder. I was sad when the city cut down that oak.
I flipped the bike over and used my newly acquired skills to true the back rim. This took me longer than usual, but although I believe I am competent at this, I still do not have much experience. I also felt that there was something else wrong. I put the bike back together and I headed out. I had been working to take care of the rims more since the pea-gravel path of the C&O. I expected that this may become a more frequent maintenance issue.
Photo: My bike and trailer at Chautauqua Park in Boulder.
I started out the wrong way. I rode east down Boulder Creek for a while before I realized that I was not paralleling the highway out of town. I rode past the University of Colorado and I was able to consult a map along the multi-use path to reorient myself. I turned around and rode past the Boulder Library. I parked my bike and visited the bridge over Boulder Creek, checked my email and looked at a map of Boulder to try to unravel the web of bike paths.
The trailer made the bike much more difficult to walk, the center of gravity was much further back from the handlebars. I wanted to walk my bike down Pearl Street to see the downtown while I was there, but there were too many people and it was inconvenient. I got on my bike and headed north.
Not far past the last building in Boulder, I could feel the insecurity of my rear wheel. I was devastated. I was looking forward to being in the mountains tonight, but this feeling was devastating. I got off my bike and confirmed the diagnosis: My back rim was coming apart. I tightened up some spokes, like I had done on the south side of Boulder, and headed back into town.
After two days of attempting to fix the problem myself, I have turned around and spent most of the day in Boulder looking for a new "beefier" wheel. I thought Boulder would surely have it, they have many bike stores and more bikes on the streets than cars. I visited three stores and called around to two other stores, but no dice.
The day after my test ride I noticed that my wheels needed to be trued. At the time I did not think that the weight or the trailer was causing the problem. I had not been out on my bike loaded for cross-country since Mt. Carmel, Illinois. I took the time on August 1st to true my wheels, which made the discovery of my loose spokes more concerning.
The problem is that my rear wheel is not designed to carry the weight that I am putting on it. The trailer is not a fix for the weight because as the bike shifts from side to side, the trailer puts torque on the back axle and therefore the back wheel. Although I have divided the weight among three rather than two wheels, the rear wheel is still not strong enough to carry the load.
Photo: Another view of the Flat-Irons above Boulder.
It was nearly 5:PM and I did get a photo of my bike on Pearl Street. I also found a bike shop on the west end of Pearl Street: University Bikes. They confirmed my fears that my rim would not work. They also explained that the trailer was putting not only more weight on the back hub, but it was also "twisting" the back hub and putting strain on the spokes. This made sense, but I had not even thought of it. What they did have was an idea of how to fix it. It was the "MAVIC T-519 700c 36 holes rear wheel 9-speed." They told me that it had to have 36 or more holes and there were rims with 48 spokes.
I have not had a catastrophic failure yet, but the rear wheel spokes continue to come loose until the feel like spaghetti. I can feel the loose spokes especially when I am climbing. I have been stopping frequently and tightening the spokes, which has the effect of making the wheel wobble, because some spokes are tighter than others. To prevent the wobble, I have to take everything off the bike, flip it over and "true" the wheel. I can get close with this method, but without a special stand to true the wheel the wheel also is getting more out of the typical "round" shape.
I am avoiding catastrophic failure, but it is slow going. I plan to return and attempt to get a stronger wheel in Denver. The T-519 is a double wall and has four more spokes than my current wheels. Roughly the same set-up with a stronger wheel.
This current set-back is in addition to my car unable to start and my wisdom teeth being extracted. The mountains out here are beautiful, I really expected that once I was underway, that I could leave the set-backs behind and concentrate on some serious cross-country cycling.
This is the end of my journal for this day twenty years ago, but it is not the end of the story. It was getting late and I needed to find a place to sleep and I had a few ideas as I had passed through Boulder. First, I returned to NCAR, thinking that it may be a good place for some urban camping. But as I waited along the multi-use path, I saw a security truck drive around. The large building was probably mostly empty, but my plan to camp on the far side of a small clump of brush would either be visible from the road, or by the security guard.
Photo: My bike and trailer on Pearl Street in Boulder.
I just knew there was some edge of the city and Flat-Irons that would be invisible and a great place to camp. I headed uphill to Chautauqua Park, I didn't know anything about Chautauqua at the time and when I got there I felt it was perfect. I would wait until dusk and sneak into the woods just to the south of the park and camp. While I waited, I took some photos of the Flat-Irons and one of my bike and trailer.
Just before sunset I pulled my bike and trailer into a secluded area and started to set up camp. It wasn't long before people started to walk through my area that I thought was secluded. I had chosen a spot that was between the Chautauqua Auditorium and the neighborhood, it was actually close to the bus stop. I did not have experience of people who rode the bus and walked to events. I thought if I was away from the parking, I was away from the public.
I was wrong. I don't know what the event was that evening, but people just kept walking through. I packed up. Most people were nice, but they had to know what I was doing. I didn't know if they had reported me. I just know that this attempt was very different from downtown Cincinnati, I was busted. I packed up the bike, and started back for NCAR. If I had thought about it, Martin Park would have been perfect, and close. But I am thinking about what I know about Boulder now, not back then. I had not expected to be flushed out by so many people. I ended up heading to the Motel 8 on 28th Street near campus.
Back on the road. I was proud of my new rig and took this photo with I-70 as a backdrop. I have the yellow "Bob" flag up on the trailer and I can see that I added a tripod to the rear rack. I have the backpack and ground sheet above the yellow Uni-Bob bag.
Photo next page: I recognize that mine from the drive between Golden and Boulder.
Twenty years ago today I was retracing my route into Boulder, headed back to Littleton to get the holy grail of rear bicycle rims. I spent my morning in the Boulder Motel 8 truing the rear wheel and reinforcing the evidence of failure. The trailer had a terrible effect on the rear wheel.
Photo: I was still making photos in high and low resolution so that I could quickly get them on the web. This photo I made as I left Boulder to the south. There were so many bike routes in Boulder I got lost on them again headed out of town. Twenty years ago I did not know that I would come to memorize those bike paths.
On my 1992 trip, I did not have any problems like what I was experiencing here. The bike I used then was a mountain bike. Rather than having thick knobby tires to get traction on dirt, I used thin high-pressure tires that had no tread at all; they were slick. The real difference was that the rims were about an inch less in diameter and about three-quarters of an inch more width. The spokes were thicker and it had fewer gears, making the spread of the spokes a little wider from the rim to the hub.
The reason I had the cross bike for this trip was to be more efficient. The thinner wheels and tires are more efficient and wider selection of gears make the bike more versatile and a better climber. Obviously, I have discovered after three thousand miles is that it is not as good at carrying weight.
From the Boulder bike store I had learned of the ultimate rim that would fit my bike and I headed back to Denver to find it. I had started early on August 2, but I had spent so much of my day in Boulder, I thought of it as a short trip back. I was also motivated by the beautiful route. On my way back, over the same road that I was on the day before, I took seventeen photos, as opposed to four. I may have felt that my desire to move on down the road kept me from stopping and smelling the roses, or in this case cactus blooms.
I was captivated by the beautiful mountains just south of Boulder. I loved the road in from Golden, there was not much of a shoulder, but there was open space and wonderful landscapes as you approached the town. There were also some dramatic clouds on this day as I headed away from the Flat Irons.
This is a landscape south of Boulder. Twenty years ago I took side-by-side photos to make a landscape of this area. But, twenty years ago I did not know how to meld two or more digital photos together. It was one of those things that I thought I would do later. Really my thinking was that I would just digitally lay them beside each other and violá, instant panorama. I don't know if I ever attempted this and failed. But here are those photos, twenty years later stitched together by Adobe Lightroom.
Above is the combination of two photos. I may have actually intended it to be a five panel spread. But as I put it together, I did not make the panorama level enough to where the photo looks good stretched out that much.
This photo is also a combination of two adjacent photos. It is clearly not as dramatic as the other combination photo. I also don't think it really adds to the previous panorama. I could not match these up and it may be that they just are not adjacent photos.
The reason I did this panorama is because of those that I produced back in 1992. I did not have any idea how to shoot a panorama back then either. But when I got home and simply put those 4x6 photos next to each other in an album, I thought they looked great. I like the panorama for landscapes and so I attempted the same thing with these digital photos.
I am amazed that twenty years later I can go back to edit these photos and be able to combine these sets. I hope they are good, however, looking at the next photo, makes the stitched panorama seem not as dramatic.
Riding south to Golden, Colorado I looked back at the Flat-Irons. This may have been intended to be another part of a panorama, but I could not fit it into another photo. It is interesting that this part of Boulder would become an important part of my life and so significant years later. This was the first time I had been to Boulder and I seemed to have a connection to this landscape.
I got these photos as I left town, I think the photos that I didn't get were of Boulder Creek. I spent some time at Central Park near Boulder Creetk and followed the creek east without snapping a photo. I also didn't get a photo of the Boulder Library and the café on the bridge over the creek. I did take a photo of my bike on Pearl Street, but now that I know the town, I think I would like to have photos of many other landmarks.
I believe the reason I made so many photos today is that I did not take these photos yesterday when I had traveled over the same road. I think that I am documenting my regrets. Maybe I am attempting to make this repeat trip more meaningful.
I stopped frequently along this highway, not only to take photos, but I was also checking the back rim. I was concerned that I may have a catastrophic failure of the wheel and I constantly was stopping to tighten the spokes. I had planned out in my mind how I would get home with a broken wheel. I would take off the chain. Switch front and back wheels and walk the bike as far as I could. I thought I could camp overnight and make it to Littleton walking the next day from any point south of Golden.
East of Denver near Red Rocks I unloaded my bike and trued the back rim. I hoped to make sure that I could make it all the way to Littleton. It was a final repair and I would just use up the rim. I still had to stop and tighten the spokes, however, I made it back before nightfall.
Twenty years ago today I was back in Littleton, depressed by the failure of my new trailer and unsure of what I was going to do. I had a meeting in Salt Lake that I intended to ride my bike to, and the leisure time that I had built in to the trip across the Rocky Mountains was evaporating quickly.
Photo: The peak of Chief Mountain. This was visible on the east side of Glacier National Park as I headed down and toward Canada.
While I don't have a journal piece from today, I do have a long list of bike shops that I called. University Bikes, the shop in Boulder, had convinced me that I needed this rim called the MAVIC T-519. It sounds so futuristic, I was determined to get it and continue my journey. It was Sunday and my notes show that some of the stores were not open and some only had only 32 spoke wheels. Other notes show that I must order the rim and I wrote down some prices.
I had learned to deal with so many mechanical issues of the bike and I have experience with repair and maintenance. However; this was different because the problems with the rim and spokes were just those that I had little experience with. You just don't know the things you do not know. Because I did so well with the mountain bike rims, I did not see the veiled problems of using the more efficient bike wheels.
I will turn from my obsession with bicycle wheels to my 1992 bike adventure. After I made that hike to Iceberg lake, the hotel was buzzing with news about a hiker who was mauled on a trail at Many Glacier. I thought about just staying in the lobby that night at the Many Glacier Inn, I could just read in the corner and sleep in a chair. I thought that no one would bother me. I didn't ask how much it would cost to stay at the hotel, I am sure they had rooms available.
I went back to my lonely campsite that evening. My food was in a "Bear Box" in the campground. It was a brown steel box the size of a foot locker with a bolt through the latch. I didn't have any trouble sleeping. To this day I tell people the best nights I have had are in a tent on the ground in my sleeping bag.
Photo: The Swiftcurrent Motor Lodge is closest to the Many Glacier campground, but because it does not have any public area or lobby I didn't get to know any of the people who were stranded there. There was no one in the campground, and I believe a few campers got rooms here when the snow came. This photo was made on my way out. The summer snow had cleared up and I headed down from the Glacier.
I also think about people. I have told the story of the guy in the Paducah bike shop that was sure I carried a gun because of "bears and snakes." I wanted him to believe I had a gun because I didn't want him or other people to know I didn't have a gun. This was another instance where people have much more impact on me. The people in the Many Glacier Inn were very helpful, they loaned me those big orange gloves I took on my hike, because I didn't have any. I was afraid that if someone said I couldn't sleep in the lobby, I would have to walk my bike a mile back to my tent in the dark. For some reason, I was more frightened by the people at the hotel than "bears and snakes."
In the morning I read the notice that the Park Service had posted on the trail head. They closed the trail and said that one person was seriously injured and gave the general area of the incident. The other trails were open, but I don't think that anyone was going out. It is really ominous to see that trail closed sign, it was on my path to the Many Glacier Inn.
This natural lake is very low but very beautiful especially following the summer snow.
Twenty years ago today I was attempting to get the ultimate bicycle rim suggested by University Bikes in Boulder. I think I have been excessive in my description of this problem and in my mind the trouble with my wheels was a significant quality of the entire jornada. It impacted the overall trip and was a concern nearly each day. Even though I got the magic bicycle rim, I did not trust the trailer and I decided the computer was too heavy for me to bring it on this final leg of the trip.
In 1992, I also think I got the bike handlebars right. On that mountain bike they were about 32 inches wide. That is more than twice the width of the bike I was riding in 2002. The width was not about control, but it was great for keeping my head up. On both bikes I had aero bars that stuck out in front of the handlebars and I could ride with my head down to be more efficient in the wind. What I found, however, was that so much of the trip you do want your head up and looking around.
The photo on the previous page is the only one of me on the bike. A couple that I had met at the hotel lobby took that photo for me somewhere down the road. That jacket doesn't look warm, but it is a tight nylon and really kept the wind off me and kept me warm. I also had some long wool riding pants, they were very warm, but I didn't seem to need them leaving Many Glacier.
Photo: The mountains in Waterton Lakes are spectacular. I got to see them with this early snow. The photo is far from spectacular, but notice the small highway that leads into the Canada side of the park.
There is nothing sleek about my bicycle loading. Even with that trailer and bag, I preferred to have things hanging on for easy access. I put the light, bulky items on the top of the rear rack: sleeping bag, tent and pad. My idea is to keep the heavy items: cooking, tools and liquids close to the hubs, lower down not to raise the center of gravity.
I seem to say that there was some work put into the physics of packing my bike; but, there was none. As I look back twenty and thirty years I can't help but see the beauty in the bicycle that I feel no one else can see. I used a bungee cord to stack my coat on top of the front pannier. A single bungee cord held my sleeping bag, tent, pad, tent poles and ground-sheet on the back rack. I also slipped an extra bottle of water under that one bungee.I guess, I am proud of it, except for the part that doesn't work.
Today I will add some photos from thirty years ago. These photos are from after the snow, when I rode down from the glacier and north to Canada. I crossed into Canada from Glacier National Park and into the Waterton Lakes National Park. Together they make a large international park area and at the time I believe the Waterton Lakes was also called an International Peace Park or the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Photo: Another view of Chief Mountain. It is on the US side, but very dramatic from the Canadian side. Right at the border, looking into the US the peak is really fantastic.
I have included a photo of my bike by the National Park Sign that says Canada, but that is not the border. In 1992 I rode into Canada from Glacier National Park on a small, winding mountain road. I was looking for the border because I wanted a photo. I had a passport at the time, but was reliably told I would not need it. I thought I would have a nice talk with customs and they may wish to search my bike.
Some people at the Many Glacier Inn had suggested I smuggle a carton of cigarettes across the border. They said I could get double the price. I thought it was pretty kitschy, a cross-country cyclist carrying a carton or two of cigarettes on his bicycle. I believe that each person was allowed two cartons of cigarettes crossing the border. The Many Glacier Hotel did not sell cartons, but I seriously thought about this money making idea as I rode.
The story has a very anti-climactic conclusion. As I approached the border, there were signs that noted the border was coming up. There were wide lanes and turn-around areas on the small road that anticipated traffic back-ups if the border were closed. There was no other cars on the road that made me feel like I may have to turn-around because it was not a crossing at this time. At the US - Canadian border there was a guardhouse in the middle of the road. It was about the size of a brick bathhouse with a window facing the traffic on each side. covered with signs and explanations about the international border. However, there was no one at the checkpoint.
The thing that was bothering me was that there was no US side and Canadian side that I could get a photo of. I could have stacked my bike with all the cigarettes I could carry.
This was not the US, Canada border, but I used it as a crossing sign.
Twenty years ago today I made the decision not to continue with the bike trailer. I needed to get to Salt Lake City for the ADAPT Strategy meeting and I just did not trust the trailer to get me there in time. Although I did find the suggested back rim with a second wall and more spokes, I was afraid that it would not be robust enough to handle the long haul I had planned for it. Ultimately, I decided to use the new rim, but also lighten my load to better handle the stress I put on the wheel.
The biggest change was that I decided to leave the computer behind. The computer was the smallest I had seen at the time, it was simply the best machine that I knew about and it was working well. I did worry about vibration, but it had survived three thousand miles already without a problem. But it was dense and I had to include the AC brick and power cord. This really does not seem like much, but if I was really going to shave off weight, that was the heaviest non-essential item I was carrying.
I believe a good decision I made early on was not to carry a backpack on my back. I revisited this as a way to carry the computer because I would act as a shock absorber. But, if you have ridden a bike a long way with a backpack, you know how uncomfortable it is. Back in 2002, I did not have the regular connectivity to the web to get online each night from my tent. As a matter of fact, I did not have any "wifi" at all. I was connecting to a phone or public ethernet to get that computer on the Internet. My regular connection was on public computers where I would keep up to date and update "Where in the World is … Tim Wheat?"
I had updated the site from some motels, but that had not really worked well. I had organized the site by states I had visited, and selected a handful of photos. I linked other things in. It was very labor intensive as far as code-writing can be considered labor. I composed all of the pages with Windows Notepad and edited photos with MS Imagemaker. It was pretty primitive stuff compared to the M1 Mac I am writing this on and Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom that I use for photo editing. I was still crestfallen about leaving my beautiful new computer on the sidelines.
Photo: Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada, my fanny pack and inner thigh.
I also cut down on clothes, food and water. I would have to stop and resupply at roadside grocery stores and gas stations daily. I didn't need as much bulky cold-weather clothing and I would rinse-out my bike shorts when I could to keep them ready for rotation. Obviously the tripod was out. My camera created small CDs, or minidiscs that were the photos I produced and what I am reminiscing about in this retrospective.
Of course, today I do not have photos from twenty years go, so I am presenting a handful of photos from my bike ride thirty years ago.
My bike is still the subject, but the Waterton Lakes National Park makes a fantastic background. Note the extra water strapped on the top of the back rack.
Doumont, CO Day x+1
Leaving Littleton at ~6:45 I quickly made my way to Morris where I started climbing into the front range. The view behind me was spectacular but it would not make good photos because the sun was low in the east. It wasn't long however, until the view all around was mountains.
I followed the Interstate up, but have only been on the actual Interstate for about a mile and a half east of Idaho Springs. There are frontage roads and a bike path so far that follow a creek into the pass. I stopped at Burger King and enjoyed the endless supply of Sprite and recovered from my climb. Before noon I had already done 35 - 40 miles of hard riding. I took two hours to relax but now it looks fairly overcast to the west. I still have Loveland Pass to climb.
Photo: I don't think I have a subject in this photo, but it obviously started out to be a very clear day.
There is this "No Bicycles" on all US Interstates except where there just is no alternative. I knew from my Bicycling in Colorado handbook, that I got at REI last month, that some parts of I-70 did allow bikes. I had altered my route to be more direct to Salt Lake City and save some time.
4:38 pmm - Miles from nowhere, I got caught in a downpour. At between 7 and 9 thousand feet, the rain is horribly cold. I stopped at the mud trail that leads to Loveland, there was a camping area just off the path. I stood around freezing, with the Alpine giving me some cover until I just had to get warm. Without a coat, I just decided that I would camp here- enough for today. Total traveled is approximately 65 miles.
Well, I did make some changes to lighten my load. The first thing I mention here is my coat. I did have my nylon shell and a fleece, I thought that would be all I needed in the summer, but that nylon seems like it will hold three times its weight in water. It gets soggier than a cotton t-shirt. I had half of a towel and my long wool riding pants. For the cold I had my sleeping bag that would be more than enough if I could get dry in the tent.
If you are driving on the Interstate, this old mine goes past in a flash. I was on the service road when I saw this. I didn't take much time, I made this photo while straddling my bike. It was a good omen, I wanted to take a more scenic route, that I had not been before. Because I was attempting to get to SLC quicker, I thought that this route would not be as spectacular as the northern route I had originally planned through Rocky Mountain National Park.
I love this railroad and it is really a beautiful setting.
The light version of my bike [2 pages back]: Note the many spokes on the rear wheel. I have nothing over the front panniers and only the tent and sleeping bag on the back rack.
Silverthorn, CO. Day x+2, 12:19 pmm
The thunderstorm yesterday is gone and a new one seems to be moving in. Cold and wet, I slept really well last night in the alpine east of Loveland. This morning I mostly walked the dirt road into the Loveland ski valley. There were some deep washes across the road that will be a bike path in the future. I put on the only long sleeve t-shirt I have with a nylon pull-over and my long pants.
Here I am, twenty years later, second-guessing my decision to leave the trailer, the computer and not having a coat with me. Very noticeable to me, when I look at the photo of my bike on this segment of the jornada, is that I do not have the jacket-length coat strapped on the outside of the pack. I had it at easy reach because I would slip it on when I stopped. I would be warm, but the jacket was comfortable as I cooled off. I also did not have the extra canvas shoes.
Photo: In the bright summer sun, these barries stood out in the greens and browns of the high altitude.
Loveland was closed for the season so I started up the pass: 11,990 feet. It was sunny with a spectacular view the entire way. I took some photos and met some cyclists going both up and down. At the top I spoke with some avid cross-country cyclists from Florida. They are in their 70s and use a camper now, but they gave me some advice about the road ahead.
Rain. I am stopped here at Arby's. I believe I will wait it out, by my calculations it will pass within one hour. However, there is no telling how many more thunder showers wait down the road.
At this point the US Interstate goes into the Eisenhower Tunnel and I turn south to climb Loveland Pass. Loveland to Siverthorn on the Interstate is about a dozen miles, climbing Loveland Pass, riding through the Arapahoe Basin, climbing up to Keystone and around Dillon Lake is about 25 very hard miles.
Back to Loveland Pass. Loveland is above the Alpine and has some really cool geology and some rare plants. Few things live that high up and for most of the year the snowpack does not melt. But there was no snow this time as I made that crossing, like there was back during Jornada del Sol .
I remember the first time I climbed Loveland Pass, from the other direction thirty years ago, the weather would move in and out quickly. It would be raining one minute and the next you couldn't see any dark clouds. The winding road also changes your perspective often and the view goes from nothing to a wonderful vista with dramatic skies.
I loved the trip down, it was very spectacular. The trips down always raise my spirits. The rain seems to have passed but it is still overcast and windy out. I think I will head for the library.
NOTE: It was too cold to update this yesterday.
My note is to say that I did not write this yesterday, but I was writing it on August 9, about August 8. The journal up to this point I had written at Silverthorne while I was waiting for the rain to let up.
At the Silverthorn Library I could update the "Most Recent Sighting" but I could not get my email. They only allow 10 minutes use. So I was on the road quickly. It was mostly clear, until I made it up Vail pass.
Photo: The beautiful countryside at every turn climbing the mountain passes.
Vail Pass was a gradual climb from the east, it is mostly a bike path between the east and west lanes of I-70. It is the only pass that has followed a creek all the way up, then down on the far side. Where I camped was spectacular. Rocky peaks on the horizon with a small creek just outside my tent. There was a set of mountain lakes at the peak, it was a great campsite.
To highlight today's ride I took nearly 40 photos. I made Twenty-one photos as I climbed up and down Loveland Pass all before noon. The rest are from Dillon Reservoir up the east side of Vail Pass. From the base of Loveland Pass to the peak of Vail Pass is about 25 miles as the crow flies. But my mileage today was about 55 miles.
Cyclists do not wave to each other. Sometimes there was camaraderie among cyclists and sometimes riders were not social. The riders in this photo climbed with me and talked a little. They passed me but I believe I intimidated them with the large load on my bike, they didn't want me to pass them. It is strange some of the etiquette you experience on the road. Motorcyclists will wave to each other, often holding their hands down below the handlebars. Strangely, all bicyclists wear helmets, but about half of the motorcyclists don't. Motorcyclists are called Bikers and Bicyclists are called Cyclists.
I wish I knew just how much lighter this load was from the one that included the bike trailer. Another advantage of the lighter bike is that I don't have to pull that extra weight uphill. Loveland is such a beautiful ride, I remember it from thirty years ago when I made the climb from west to east over the Continental Divide. This time I am going from east to west.
I took quite a few landscapes in the mountains that have no real subject. I note that because this photo has no subject, but the trees in the foreground help to show the scale of the image.
I am so glad that they have these signs at the peaks of the mountain passes. It makes a natural crossing and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. You also know the rest of the way is downhill. I set my camera on the steps of the lookout area to frame this photo. I have been over Loveland twice on my bike and another couple of times in my car, but I have never climbed those steps.
Highway 6, the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, honors the American Civil War veterans association, is a main route of the U.S. Highway system currently runs east-northeast from Bishop, California, to Provincetown, Massachusetts.
It is a very steep descent from the peak of Loveland Pass to the Dillon Reservoir. It is also very beautiful. I note the gray takes over from the brown rock on this side of the Continental Divide, but I don't know if that has anything to do with the geology.
I have produced a lot of photos that show the road in today's shots. Sometimes the road is up ahead, like this one and some show where I have climbed, like many on the other side of the apogee. I believe the landscapes that show the road are what I wanted people to see, not just what I passed by, but also the road, the steep climb and the scale of where I was is part of the road photos.
Similar to the photo on the previous page, this one shows a wider angle. The other shot seems to have a more remarkable sky, but this shot has more drama in the scale.
This image makes me think of all of the great views, simply from the side of the road, that I did not take a photo of. There are even more vistas, mostly behind me, that I never even saw. You certainly see a lot more from the saddle of a bike, but there is also a lot that you miss.
This valley is geologically amazing. There are no trees that have made it up in the alpine and the rocks that have slid down I suppose will soon fill the valley. I wonder what this area looks like today? Twenty years later, I wonder if there are more trees in the valley and maybe higher up in the rock.
The SONY CD Mavica seems to have great color, if only I knew how to compose a good photo. The ride around the Dillon Reservoir was really great. I had just zoomed down the Loveland Pass, and I had the chance to just look around at the formidable landscape.
Photo top left: Tenmile creek that runs into Frisco and the Dillon Reservoir from the southwest.
Photo top right: Another shot of the wild berries that grow along the road near the alpine.
Photo left: The blue skies as I begin to climb Vail Pass
This old mine entrance was along the road. Most of these old mines are closed and covered up. The old wood structure is really great to see and a relic of the past.
I had already run into rain twice on this segment of the jornada. With so much more of the horizon to see, there were often dark clouds in one direction and clear skies in the other.
Photo previous page: The frontage road along Interstate 70 was where bicycles had to travel, but heading up Vail Pass, there was a bike path. Often this path was away from the Interstate, but never so far that you couldn't hear the traffic. The path itself was beautiful.
Photo Above: The blue skies and rocky peaks of the mountains were all around in the Vail Pass.
Photo top left: I liked the small splash of color in the rocky setting. I took so many landscapes on this day, I am glad I also was looking at the small stuff.
Photo top right: This is a 640 x 480 I intended to be able to upload from a public library computer. Without my computer, I had to develop a way to get files from my camera onto the public computers.
Photo left: Near the end of my trek up Vail Pass, the beautiful countryside was becoming shaded by dark clouds. Note the ski runs on the mountainside.
The shadows and dark clouds make this part of the climb seem ominous, but the Vail pass was stunning and I did not have trouble until my hands froze speeding down the other side.
Photo previous page: Gore Creek runs through Vail and down into the Eagle River. I am amazed at just how little gear I have on the bike.
Photo above: The mountains near Vail and climbing the Vail Pass.
It was a cold morning and I had to stop a few times down the Vail Pass in order to warm my hands. It was a good ride into Vail where I saw lots of people in the off-season resort town. I had a good breakfast and found the Vail Library. I only had 20 minutes so I did the essential things, washed dishes and headed out of Vail.
I made it sound like you could only spend 20 minutes in Vail. But what I meant was that the Vail Public Library would only allow 20 minutes on the public computers. I did the essential check of my email, updating the "Where in the World is … Tim Wheat?" and probably sent Judy a message. Without my computer or smartphone, public computers were how I stayed in touch.
Vail is a pretty unwelcoming resort town. There is not a big public park or recognizable space to see and meet people. The streets are narrow and much of the parking is gated. There is nothing to see as you pass through the town and there are few places to stop. After I left the library, I was looking for a place to get coffee, but I remember I spent a lot of time avoiding cobblestone roads. I was on the other side of Vail before I found a palace to stop.
Now I am on US 6 facing sun and a strong headwind. I do not expect to see other bicycle riders as I have the past two days. The postman at the Vail library said I could expect a headwind at about 5, but the wind has been strong and constant since 1:PM.
NOTE: Again it is cold and I am tired, this update is from the next day…
I really pushed hard against the wind. I was helped by the general downhill of the countryside. Strangely, I was able to use the frontage road and bicycle path, not the Interstate, all the way to the east trailhead of the Glenwood Canyon bicycle path. The Interstate through the canyon is truly spectacular. There is I-70, the bike path and a railroad track packed in with the Colorado River in the canyon. I waved to the AMTRAK as it passed, thinking of seeing the C&O out the window of the train last month.
I made a slow trip through the Canyon stopping often at the rest-stops and attempting some photos. Every turn was a postcard. I-70 was interesting, divided into east and west lanes, they often crossed each other and tunneled through the rock. At only one point did the bike path lose sight of the Interstate, but you could still hear the cars coming out of the tunnel at the far end.
I opted to camp along the bike path and found a good poach at the west end terminal called "no name." I read by candlelight for a short time and fell into a sound sleep. Although it was cold I slept great and got up late, at around 6:45 amm.
While it was too cold to write, it was nice and warm with my arms inside the sleeping bag.
Climbing Vail Pass, following the Eagle River to the Colorado River and into Glenwood Springs their is a frontage road and a bike path the whole distance. Without the concern of traffic the ride is wonderful. The countryside is even more stunning. The photo above and the inset in the previous page is a bridge on the bike path over the Eagle River just past Vail.
Photo next page: A bridge over the river, it seems to have been washed out before. You can just make out the manufactured homes on the far side. I can't help but wonder what supports that small village and if it is still there after 20 years?
One thing about biking across the country you realize all of the enchanting little places that you can find. In the overwhelming beauty of the canyon, there are parts that are precious and seemingly undisturbed. That appeal is true for even smaller and smaller parts. My bike trip points out more of what I don't know about and more places that I have missed rather than those places that I have been to and seen.
I cropped this photo to show more of the stream, and I blurred the edges to highlight the subject.
Photo next page: From down in the canyon, it is the rim above that seems fascinating. You can make out some of the twisting Interstate lanes that hang over the bike path, railroad track and river.
Photos: The unique and powerful rock formations that make up the canyon.
It is hard to fit the train, river and two Interstate lanes in Glenwood Canyon. Sometimes the Interstate lanes, east and west, are stacked up one on top of the other. The I-70 lanes will duck into tunnels and curve around and over each other as they snake through the canyon. It is a beautiful drive and a fantastic trip on the train. But I prefer the bike path. I have traveled Glenwood Canyon using all three methods.
I spent the night in Glenwood Canyon, at the rest area near Glenwood Springs. I had the chance to watch a white water kayaker try out his skill in the Colorado River. There are a handful of stops along the Interstate where you can stop to view the canyon. At the most narrow point, the bike path is only as wide as a city sidewalk and just beside one Interstate lane.
9:amm Glenwood Springs CO
I felt like I got up late, but I met my goal of getting to Glenwood Springs by 8:AM. I did dishes at the Rest Area that I poached a campsite at and rode the three miles into GS, to have breakfast at a Village Inn. It was cool at the start, but I expect today will be warm because it is clear and sunny out now.
My journal this morning catches up from what I failed to put in from yesterday. I camped near a Rest Area (often there are signs that say you cannot camp) and that is where I did dishes. Twenty years ago I was not familiar with the Village Inn. It is a restaurant like IHOP or Denny's. There was a Village Inn near where Judy lives in Littleton and we liked to visit the restaurant there.
My journal skips ahead to the afternoon…
Photo: Me doing Laundry in Meeker.
I met all my goals so far today. I rode up Colorado 13 to Meeker, getting there around 5:PMM. The first 18 miles of Colorado 13 out of Rifle were all uphill climbing from the Government Creek watershed (Colorado River) to the White River watershed. I marked the summit of the Government Creek climb on my GPS.
Since I did not have my computer with me, I was using my GPS to set landmarks for my trip. Some of those waypoints were preserved, and I have put them into the Google Map that links to this document: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1aUL80t6rmWdlCbYNce2lRVVEVmUEkQI&usp=sharing.
I was really beat when I got to Rio Blanco, a town that consisted of one closed truck stop. I still had 22 miles into Meeker and I was struggling at that point. I rested and drank all of my water, opened the spare and refilled the 2 main frame bottles with Evian water.
I don't know where I got the water if the truck stop was closed. When I say Evian water, I mean that I had to buy bottles of water. What I am attempting to communicate here is that I finished off all of the water I had on my lighter bike system. There are three water bottles on the frame and I used to carry a large bottle in the rear pannier, or on the back rack. My process changed so that I had to get tap water in route to keep the two main water bottles full. I needed those water bottles full when I camped so I would have water for dinner, breakfast and coffee. If I wasn't near a water source I also needed water to wash dishes and myself, along with water to drink.
There were eight more miles of hilly terrain until I caught Sheep Creek and headed mostly downhill into Meeker. I planned to stop once, before I got there, get off my bike and rest. But I just kept pushing for Meeker. The combination of no shade and no palace to lean my bike kept me going.
At the crossroads of Colorado 13 and Highway 64 I met Trevor at the Kum&Go. Some toothless guy bought me a sandwich and chips, Trevor offered me a place to stay and a shower. Trevor drew me a map of how to get to his apartment. I was interested in doing laundry first. Trevor called his girlfriend to make sure it was alright, but she was not enthusiastic. I have to finish my laundry and then smooth things over with Jessica.
I feel terrible I called the person who bought me a sandwich and chips a "toothless old guy." The Kum&Go was a Colorado convenience store and I don't recall how the guy decided I needed a sandwich, but I had my bike splayed out on the sidewalk while I was doing laundry next door. At this place I also note that I met Trevor.
I did wish to meet people in my travels and I was glad to meet Trevor and I took him up on his offer. I believe his motivation was just that I was passing through and he had traveled some himself. He told me that he had walked from Provo, Utah to Rifle, Colorado. I was interested in how he had made that walk and I assume that he was interested in my travels.
Photo: Lyndon and Levi talk with me until after midnight.
Now twenty years later, I don't recall the girlfriend. I don't know what I meant by "smooth things over with Jessica." But I believe she was not interested in me as a guest.
Trevor, Jessica and Lyndon all live together in apartment 14 in the big city of Meeker.
So there are errors in the first draft of History. I wrote down the apartment number without the Apartment address or name. I looked at a map of Meeker, but I don't recall where they lived. It was a very strange encounter, but I had a shower and a place to sleep. I feel that that is what I wanted.
So these are my notes that I also kept in my journal because it was all I had to write on. An email that I had seen in Vail was about Dexter Lake Apartments in Memphis. They had heard about the MCIL lawsuit, but were not in the survey. They were looking to make sure that they would not get sued and if I had thought about it, that would have been the job that I could excel at. The first item is the case for MiCASSA, which I had done a part one already and put it on the web, this is a note to finish it.
I finished the Laundry at 7:pmm and quickly found Trevor's place. I met Lyndon and Jessica and took a long, hot shower. Jessica was seemingly gone when I got out of the shower and Lyndon was playing a computer game. I took off for the Gofer Foods to get something to drink. I drank some milk, but ended up at CLARKS' sitting at a table waiting for a chicken chimichanga.
It is hard to figure this out and I hate that I am keeping a running journal rather than a diary. I update the journal when I can, and I am writing paragraphs like the last one that make little sense and I write about things with little perspective. So the paragraph above fills in a block of time without any reference to everything else that is happening.
For example, I had written about the rain yesterday, but the rain did not dominate the day, it just started raining and I was able to sit down and work on my journal. It stopped raining and the next paragraph I wrote it was like it had not rained all day. The journal is sometimes piecing things together rather than a diary may help to make an overall feeling of the day. Whatever may be best, the combination of the journal and diary make up what I write.
I need to get an address for a thankyou postcard for down the road. That should include:
Again, my journal is also where I keep my notes. That sounds like a good idea, but I never did send the thankyou cards.
I sat and read until Jessica got to the apartment with Megan and Levi. We listened to Limp Biscut while Levi made some kind of a bomb, he was dissolving stryfoam in gasoline.
I wish I had a good explanation of what I just wrote. But that is what Levi was doing. He was not on drugs, he just saved styrofoam so he could make what he felt was some kind of home-made napalm.
You may think that I would be running for my life. Why would I stay here when my hosts seem so demented, psychotic and potentially violent? But I did not feel that they were dangerous. They just talked about danger, and antisocial behavior. I suppose there was a much better chance that they would kill me in my sleep, but I still felt the overall chance was very low. In fact, I did survive.
They were kids, nondescript children attempting to find meaning in the shadows of existence. My experience, liberal pursuits and groovy stuff were of no interest or use to them. When Trevor got home Lyndon and I talked until 2:amm and I slept on the floor. Lyndon's alarm did not go off (AM - PM mixup) so I woke him for work as I left.
At the town of Rifle, Colorado, I turned north, away from the Colorado River into the very colorful Government Creek watershed. The remains of a recent fire also helped mark the unusual topography.
South of Meeker, Colorado (photo)
2:01 pmm Rangely Colorado
I left Meeker at about 8:am and got to Rangely 55 miles down the road at just past noon. I had lunchat the Maritions Family Restaurante, The Hot Hamburger. It is hot today, about 90 degrees with little wind. As I started out it was cool but 10 miles into the ride, it was hot. Now at 2:PM it is very hot with only tiny puffs of clouds on the horizon.
I followed the White River from Meekly and it was a very desolate desert river. Many green ranches were along the route, but the green corridor of the White river is pretty narrow. There were buttes and rocky canyons all along the route. Few cars were out on Sunday and the ride went well. The traffic picked up, however, 10 miles from rangely as I got to the Kenney Reservoir. It was a blue oasis in the brown desert.
Now I am noticing the wind picking up, of course it is a headwind.
This was a cycling day I made 80 miles across the desert like country of Western Colorado. I updated my Journal in Rangely but at the end of the day all I had to say was:
I made it to Dinosaur, mostly climbing. I camped for $11 at the Blue Mountain RV park.
Photo: The sign in the photo says: OPEN RANGE NEXT 9 MILES. The reason I took this photo was to add to the "Where in the World is … Tim Wheat?" I took it in the low-resolution format. I also don't know what I put the camera on to get the photo, I can tell it is off the ground, but it is too far away. But going back 20 years, I love the barren landscape and blue sky. It must have been a really great day on the road.
These are six low resolution photos I took to add one of them to "Where in the World is … Tim Wheat?" I am recalling the "Three Days in the Desert" photo back from when I crossed the High Desert in New Mexico. Parts of this retrospective are introspective. I believe that in some way I am trying to recover some of the fellow I see in these photos. Twenty years ago today, he was motivated enough to ride 80 miles through western Colorado, meet new, bizarre people and live in a tent.
These photos are from the picnic shelter along US 64 beside the Kenney Reservoir. I hate the vanity that taking photos of yourself, however, my bright red nose reminds me that my rosacea is a reminder of this bike jornada.
These pronghorn were obviously impressed by my transportation. This was near Dinosaur Colorado where I ended my day and camped. Of course you see the high fence and barbed wire in this photo, but so much of this country is not fenced.
I took this photo while straddling my bike. The pronghorn and I looked at each other for a while and they walked off.
As they walked on, I was able to take a photo through the fence. You can get some perspective on just how thick the underbrush is and how tall and thin the grass is.
I suppose the pronghorn were wondering why I was following them. They could clearly see that I could not outrun a pronghorn, they are the second-fastest mammal on the planet. For me it was a beautiful day and looks like it was a fantastic sunset.
10:53 Vernal Utah Public Library
I stopped at a 7Eleven for a big gulp of milk and as I was drinking it I noticed a wheelchair symbol across the street. It was a sign for "RE-Entry" some kind of IL Center. I walked in and told them who I was and they told me a little about RE-Entry. Actually, Karen said she was "kinda busy" and directed me to Judy who got a call just after we shook hands.
While Judy was on the phone, a huge ugly doberman began to smell my butt and crotch. Karen said something supposedly cute about dogs to which I did not pay attention to and did not respond. Karen gave me a brochure about the Ombudsman program and a general info brochure. I asked her if she had heard of ADAPT. She gave a blank stare and asked if it had anything to do with Assistive Technology.
I asked if she knew Barbara Toomer, but she did not. Well, I assumed we had nothing to talk about.
Now I am in the Uinta County Public Library. I had lunch at Betty's. Because they do not have a bathroom, I rode down the road to Wendy's to write this and relax before phase two of today's ride. No it is hot and clear and I still have many uphill desert miles ahead of me.
Fort Duchesne Utah 9:10 PMM
The wind from Vernal To Ft. Suschene was horrible, a headwind that paralized the bike. Often it was like riding in a thick syrup. I could not stop pedaling, even downhill. After about 7 miles my toe straps were hurting my feet. I put the new ones on, but they did not help. I finally made the 25 miles to Ft. Duschene in about 4 hours and opted not to go on against the wind. Now, after sundown, ther is no wind so I am optimistic that I will not have to face that torture tomorrow.
I made camp here at the "Country Villa'' near the Uinta River. I met the owner at the Ute Petroleum and she said to pitch the tent anywhere, nothing was said about payment. So, I might be staying free. Of course, not only does this place have no showers, it has no bathroom either.
As I was looking around for a trash can and bathhouse, Wiley drove up to me and said: "Hey biker dude, I hope sleep is not important to you because my band will be playing here tonight."
I have pitched my tent "Wendy," near the closed restaurant, using it for cover in the fierce wind earlier. I told him the noise would not bother me and I got an invite to the event; but I really don't know what it may be.
Photo previous page: The front of ACTIVE RE-ENTRY, a Center for Independent Living in a very rural part of the state. The staff was so focused on getting people to Salt Lake City for medical services that they did not know much about the Independent Living movement.
Photo above: The beautiful open countryside along US Highway 40 is spectacular. There is often a clear horizon with few trees. The highway follows the Duchesne River so there are often ranches and towns along the route.
The color and countryside are great, but they are also seemingly endless. It is a beautiful panorama, and I just took photos as something different captured my attention. This photo was from my bicycle seat stopped on the side of US 40.
The swells in the topography slowly changed from brown to orange as I got closer to the Duchesne and farther from the Green River. This photo makes me think of all of the areas that I just didn't photograph but I was in awe at the time. I have not driven this route since I was on the bike jornada, but I wonder just how much seeing the area from my bicycle makes me feel the view is more spectacular than had I driven past in my car.
8:20 amm Roosevelt Utah
I got to sleep late last night waiting for the noise of a party that never happened. Some kids had thrown rocks at my tent earlier in the evening and I saw them later, I wanted to look like a deterrent to more crime.
Twenty years later and I do not remember the rock throwing at all. I suppose I did not think it was very threatening. I got to sleep late because I was expecting a band to show up. I thought that I had an invitation to listen, but nobody showed up.
Photo: Starvation Reservoir in Starvation State Park along US 40.
I got up before sunrise and slowly got packed up at about 7. It was a short trip into Roosevelt, but very cold. I wore my long pants and stopped at McDonalds to warm up. The wind does not seem as strong today and there are clouds on the horizon to the west. I mostly want to avoid the wind like yesterday.
My long pants would be my wool riding pants and I wore these nylon wind-breakers over them. Now twenty years later it is hard to imagine a cold morning in August.
12:04 pmm Duchesne Utah.
I mailed a disk back to Judy and found the library does not open until 3pmm. So I had lunch at a café with a chinese food lunch special today - it sucked.
I am sorry I did not explain more about a library that does not open until 3:PM. I suppose it had something to do with summer school or just limited hours, but I did not record those details.
It has been a cool ride this morning, but a little slow as I start climbing into the Wasatch Mountains. I followed Strawberry creek for about 10 miles into Duchesne. There was a very distinct difference between the green valley along the creek and the brown barren hills; around the valley. The wind has been no problem today, but I am concerned that it will pick up after noon. Watching the flags outside the window now it seems I may have a mild tail wind, but I doubt that it will feel that way after I start climbing.
Duchesne is about 40 miles from Fort Duchesne. I ended up riding over 80 miles this day, but I just did not take time to update my journal regularly and so it seems to miss spots. Where I don't miss spots, I miss details.
Photo: Starvation Reservoir, a real stand out in the desert of eastern Utah.
I noticed on my bike I had a third-page notepad that I used to make for notes. I used them at ADAPT actions and I often gave them to people with a pen and asked them to get quotes for me. I still have some, and I observed a pad like that sticking out of the rear pannier had a blue cover. What was I writing in that notepad? Where is it?
When I see that I can't help but feel like I have lost part of my life. I cannot recall those kids throwing rocks, and I have lost this written archive of this trip. I have lost computer files, web files and emails that I intended to save from this trip. My retrospective is becoming a long list of things that I have lost and forgotten.
Fortunately, the photos are here. They also help me to remember.
I am sure I took these photos because the water really looked out of place and added color to the terrain. Although I had been following the Strawberry River, the Duchesne River and others, you could really only see the water when you crossed. The strip of land with trees, gave away where the river was, and in some really barren stretches, the river may be hiding in a canyon, out of sight.
You may be able to make out the lonely boat on the lake. This photo I believe suffers from my consistent lack of subject. I am sure that on the shore of Starvation Reservoir I was attempting to catch more of a feeling than that tiny boat. At the end of the day, I rode another fifty miles to the Strawberry Reservoir and camped on Soldier Creek.
Near Soldier Creek (photo 2)
I didn't stop and search the area, it was getting late and I needed to make it to the campground by dark. I can't help but wonder what you may find in the ruins, besides snakes. I also try to picture what the log cabin looked like and if it was a home or just a storage building. The roof may have collapsed in or it may be the structure you see behind the foreground.
I am a little disappointed that my journaling does not reflect the tremendous views that I am experiencing on this voyage west. I feel that this section of the US is not only remote, but stereotyped as a vast desert. I suppose it is a vast desert, but not in the way that it is an expanse of nothing to see. Twenty years ago today, even more spectacular was my climb into the Wasatch Mountains from the Heber Valley.
Back in 1992 I took this same route through eastern Utah along US 40. Thirty years ago I followed the highway up to Park City and Interstate 80 over the Wasatch summit. Twenty years ago I turned left at Heber City and took a very remote route over the mountains and into the city.
7:55 amm Soldier Creek Campground
I had to pay $12 for a campsite with no shower. The park host caught me, otherwise I would have dropped $5 in the night drop and been off. I have made good time but I am expecting to do a lot of climbing today. The camp here is on a mountain lake surrounded by brown desert mountains. I anticipate some alpine ahead of me.
I had this general self-guide for campgrounds and how much they charge. Not many cyclists stay at RV Parks and sometimes they would give me the standard price, the same that a 30 foot motorhome would pay. My requirements were a bathroom, water and a shower. I can use a little electricity to recharge camera batteries, but it is not a requirement. If they had a shower, I would offer $5 and tell them I would not need a "space," to camp but some spot out of the way. Often campgrounds did not have all of my requirements, but they would generally give me a break in price.
Photo: The trailheads up the Guardsman Pass all had these accessible pit toilets. I took a photo for the web, but I never uploaded this photo.
The Soldier Creek Campground was intended for campers using the Strawberry Reservoir. They had a pit toilet, but no bathhouse or shower. I really felt put out by the $12 price. Many campgrounds, especially at state parks, have a pay stand or "after-hours" drop. When I got to the campground I was not going to volunteer $12, so I skipped the pay-stand, but the park-host walked around before dark and shook me down. Staying at the Soldier Creek campground is a lot like paying $12 to poach a site.
I remember camping at Yellowstone thirty years ago. I rode past a line of more than a dozen motorhomes, trailers and fifth wheels to get to the Grant Village Campground at West Thumb. They were waiting in line in case people did not show up for their reservations. They told me it was $30 a night if you could get in. I felt a little odd skipping ahead in the line. As I got to the front, a Ranger ran out to greet me. I didn't have to get off my bike, they told me they had a bike camping area and that it was $2.
Soldier Creek Campground is at about 7k. I stopped at "Daniel's Summit," 17 miles south of Heber City to have breakfast. I think it is a false summit between the Uintah and Wasatch mountains at nearly 8k. A road sign tells you to check your brakes and indicates you are about to make a 6% grade decent.
Daniel's summit has a lodge, restaurant, gift shop and store. It is well suited to becoming a tourist trap. They only need a hook. Currently the hook is 1880 style, but what isn't around here. Even the music they play "Raindrops keep falling on my head," preceded by "Help Me Make It Through The Night." 1880s.
There is no newspaper in Daniel's Summit.
Photo: I always think about this photo when I am reminded of the Heber Valley.
At this point in my journal I had my niece's phone, address and email. I must have talked with my sister while I was in Heber. I also had these coordinates below. I believe I was using them with my GPS to help navigate over this small mountain pass.
160° S - Midway 5.78 miles
10° N - Park City 4.43
260° W - Alta 5.84
7:13 pmm Poach on Guardsman Pass at 8,431
It was a fast ride down Daniel's summit (38 mph) into Heber City. I forgot to list a "Most Recent Sighting," while at the library. Instead of the plain Highway 40 route over the Wasatch I have chosen Guardsman Pass, most of it a dirt road. It has given me some exceptional views of the Heber Valley, but it has been tough, I walk my bike most of the way.
The miles per hour down Daniel's summit tells me I had the GPS on for that stretch. I didn't have my map program or a cell phone. I could get a lot of info from that GPS like the elevation of my campsite on Guardsman Pass. This was really a beautiful climb in the mountains and I was on time for the ADAPT meeting.
I have camped in a big mountain meadow where I believe I can see the ski lifts of Park City. I still have more than 3 miles of dirt road to climb over the pass and down into Salt Lake.
Well this is difficult to explain. In this photo and the next three, are these geothermal pools of water that were just along the side of the road. Twenty years later I learned that the largest one has been made into a spa, the Homestead Resort. But as I was cycling past, there was no explanation. The water is a consistent 96°, but there was no fence or sign telling you about the hazards of jumping in (or of the wonderful experience you may have in a natural hot spring).
The photo above is the largest crater that is now a resort. There is a tunnel to the water's edge and it is the only warm water scuba diving destination in the Continental US (According to their website: https://homesteadresort.com). When I was there twenty years ago it was just an oddity in a strange place.
This is the first photo I made riding up Guardsman Pass looking back down into the Heber Valley. This was so beautiful I am so glad that I took this road rather than Park City. The steep gravel road was hard to climb, so I walked my bike much of the way. There were parts of this road that were paved, but the majority is packed gravel.
As I climbed higher in the Wasatch Mountains, the view became more dramatic. It was a clear and sunny day. There was almost no traffic and it was like I had the mountain all to myself.
About three miles from the summit, I found this beautiful mountain meadow to camp. The photo above was a natural pond close by and the Aspen around.
A really perfect campsite. I had a wonderful view and cool mountain air. Twenty years ago Elizabeth Smart had been kidnapped in June of 2002 and was held captive and terrorized on the other side of these mountains. I did not know anything about it at the time, but I have this thought that it could not be as nice as I remember it, because it just has some evil mojo.
This morning (2022) my computer calendar reminded me that I got to Salt Lake City twenty years ago today. In retrospect, I am pleased by my trip and I love revisiting the photos, but I also have this odd regret that I lost three or four days and changed my route. Those lost days are the time I would have spent bicycling over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park and visiting Dinosaur National Monument and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
Photo: Arriving in Salt Lake City Utah for the second time by cross-country bicycle. I made my way to Temple Square.
Now that I see that on paper, it really seems impossible. I did wish to make it to the ADAPT strategy meeting, but I really had over-estimated my speed. The fact that I was able to make the trip with my much lighter bike makes me think that I could have made the longer trip with the trailer, however, The longer trip included more mountain ranges to cross and more distractions. To be clear, Rocky Mountain, Dinosaur and Flaming Gorge would have taken more than three days, you just cannot cycle through. Trail Ridge would be a "pass through" National Park, but both Dinosaur and Flaming Gorge would be "in and out" visits. I think had I been on schedule, I would have had to alter my route to make the ADAPT meeting on time.
That does minimize my regret some. But I have never been to Flaming Gorge or Dinosaur. On the other hand, I have had many fantastic visits to Rocky Mountain National Park. Judy and I had a season pass. I loved getting up very early on Sunday morning, before sunrise. Getting a travel cup of coffee for Judy and heading out over Trail Ridge Road. We would drive through Estes Park and see the sun coming up as we crossed the Continental Divide. The destination was the "Fat Cat Café" in Grand Lake on the west end of Trail Ridge Road. The Fat Cat would have a brunch on Sunday with lots of baked items. It was truly great.
Judy would hear the story of my bike trip in 2002 to the east side of Trail Ridge Road where I had to turn around because of my wheel. And she would also hear about my trip in 1992 where I crossed the Continental Divide at Berthoud Pass and rode up to Lake Granby before turning back west to cross the mountains into Steamboat Springs. I think Judy would mostly sleep on the drive.
2:58 Salt Lake City
From my mountain meadow campsite it was at least three miles to the Guardsman Summit. It was a dusty dirt and gravel road all the way to the top, 9,736. At the summit however, there was a spectacular shift in the landscape. From the brown desert with stumpy sycamore trees, to tall aspen and rocky alpine. The road was paved down the Salt Lake side as well. It was one of the most beautiful descents I have ever had. Fifteen miles of rocky peaks, mountain lakes, aspen, creeks and ending with Cottonwood Canyon.
Photo left: In the city they attempted to get people to hold an orange flag over their head crossing the streets. The Winter Olympics were going to be in SLC that year and Utah was trying to show off. The sign says: LOOK LEFT & RIGHT WHEN CROSSING FOR ADDED VISIBILITY CARRY ORANGE FLAG ACROSS WITH YOU.
It truly was a phenomenal descent. And then it abruptly ended in the cesspool that is Salt Lake City. I really had no view of the city until the final turn out of Cottonwood Canyon. As clear as mud, in a treeless sea of suburbs the spires of downtown SLC loomed in the brown smog of the horizon. "This is the place," I said.
In 1992, when I rode my bike into Salt Lake City from Park City in the mountains, I recall how underwhelmed I was. Of course back in 1992 I was cycling into town on Interstate 80. I am sure that subtracted from the first impression. Twenty years ago I had a similar let-down, the beautiful mountains dropped into the smoggy and congested metroplus. Cities like Boulder on the east side of the range don't seem to have the same trapping of smog like LA and SLC. When you are downtown the brown-gray smog is not apparent at all, but my two bicycle visits to Salt Lake have really made an impression. I have flown into SLC once, driven in from east and west and I have passed through both directions by train. Salt Lake City has never impressed me. "This is the place," I said sarcastically.
Photo right: Same intersection, I was amazed by this act of social safety.
I slowly weaved my way through the city and quickly toured Temple Square, being prostlitized only once and to the hotel. With 30 minutes before my room would be ready, my objective was a Salt Lake kinda' beer that I found at the SLC Brewing Company (light). My first beer in at least 10 days.
I visited Temple Square for the first time in 1989 while driving back from the Bay to Breakers with my parents. I visited Temple Square myself and decided to take this one tour that was more of a theological explanation. There was a wait time before the tour started so I stood around and waited. About five minutes before the tour, a woman my age walked up and started a conversation. Wow! She was from Alabama. She knew a lot about Mormon history and she said she would be happy to give me the tour.
I was completely charmed. What great luck, but I wanted to ask some difficult questions, I thought she was a perfect guide. She told me about Joseph Smith and the beginning of the LDS church. I remember thinking she had a lot to say for an impromptu guide. I recall that the issue I pushed back on was the witness of the gold plates. I asked her something like: "didn't most of those guys recant their statements." I don't remember how she answered me, but I was not really curious about Mormonism.
We were talking in a curvy hallway with dioramas under glass and pictures on the wall to help usher the history and visitors along. I certainly felt that we were in a private discussion, there was no one else around. Shortly after my question, some man showed up and interrupted our tour to discuss the witness of the gold plates recanting their statements in court. It was awkward and I was ready to end the tour. I politely continued to the end but I didn't ask any other questions.
Talking with my father later, I told him that I thought the guy that stepped in was listening to my guide and I from behind the dioramas. My dad suggested that the whole thing was a sit-up. He thought that when I walked in and gave them my name and where I was from, they quickly organized a female guide my age to coincidently be available to give me the tour. I don't know that I fell into a trap that day in temple square, but that encounter made me feel like a dupe.
As relaxing as the mountain meadow was, I was able to sleep in last night and overcame Guardsman Pass. I am also relaxed and comfortable sitting here at the bar of SLC Brewing Company. The major frustration of today has been dealing with other cars, mostly in the city but also on the descent through Cottonwood Canyon. I don't know why I should not feel that my life would be incomplete without this journey. There is so much I have missed and will miss along my route, but to have seen the things I have seen is somehow priceless. It makes me unique in the world of people attempting to mold their souls into a television tube. So I am unique, how do I scar this planet? Can I just go away with my own special unique experiences or do I need further to find a longer lasting memorial to mark my passing? How do I scar the planet?
Maybe I was too relaxed and comfortable there in a Salt Lake City Brewery. I think that I was also anxious about seeing my ADAPT friends. My role had been an organizer in Memphis and I did not tell anyone but I was not planning to go back to Memphis. MCIL was paying for my room over the weekend and I was sharing it with Michael Heinrich from Memphis. But I really did not have a place at the ADAPT strategy meeting. I was a cyclist with no home. I was not organizing a group anywhere. I was welcome for the organizing work I had done in Memphis, but I guess they all thought I would just ease my way back to Memphis and continue there.
Photo: A really out-of-focus photo of me at the SLC Brewery.
It was a beautiful morning high in the Wasatch Mountains. This is not the meadow that I camped in, but I had about three miles of dirt road to the summit. Here you can see the switchback and how far I have climbed from the Heber Valley below.
It is hard to show how steep a climb is in a photo but that is what I was trying to show. I also note in my journal the difference between the eastern side that shows a lot of dirt, grass and trees, and the western side that shows granite spires, peaks and steep canyons.
In my journal I note the difference in the east and west side of the mountain pass. On the east side I thought brown dominated the mountain color and here on the west I saw gray. Of course this photo shows a lot of green and a still alpine lake.
I don't know if that cut in the trees is natural or man-made. There are a few ski slopes on this side of the Wasatch, but most are on the other side. I looked up where Elizabeth Smart was being held, and it was about ten miles from where I camped last night. It made me feel a little better, because that would be a long way in these mountains.
Coasting down the west side was a beautiful descent. I followed this creek down and stopped to rest in the shade. There were just too many postcard like turns in the road with spectacular views.
In 1992 when I rode into Salt Lake City I thought I would get a photo of me by the capitol building. I did not have a city map and my dead reckoning put me street east of the capitol with a canyon between. I took a photo of me with the tiny capitol dome in the distant background.
Twenty years ago it was a Friday. The National ADAPT Strategy Meeting was scheduled to start at around noon, have all day Saturday for business and continue on Sunday until about noon. Barbara Toomer, the Salt Lake City ADAPT organizer had her local people helping with airport transportation and bag duty, typically one of my jobs. Barbara asked me to make one trip to the airport so I could help find the group from Washington Pennsylvania.
In the afternoon, I brought my camera downstairs for about 20 minutes and took a dozen photos of ADAPT activists. I was attentive to the meeting and I only took photos during our break. I was a "delegate" from Memphis and had to sell this fiction that I was going to continue to organize Memphis ADAPT.
I am not going to copy my notes from the meeting. But I have an inscription in my notebook that was for my presentation on "What is happening in Memphis." I started by letting everyone know that I only spent a couple of weeks in Memphis. I know now that it was a little more than three weeks. I am sure that I wanted my compatriots to know that I had organized things on the fly. I told them about our demand for more time for public comment on the Memphis ADA Transition Plan. I did my best to make it sound more interesting than it was.
Colorado presented about the two weeks of the "Tent City" and I put in my notes, very clearly, 13 days.
I also made a note for me to write a history of New Orleans. That city was going to be the target of the Fall ADAPT action. The history of NOLA I was thinking about would be nursing homes and long-term home care. My idea was to have the information we needed for the press and media for the action. I didn't know anything about Louisiana but I realized ADAPT needed someone to get this information together.
Some interesting tidbits from my notes include that I counted people at the National ADAPT meeting. I made a note that 17 states were at the meeting, only a third of the United States. Bob Kafka was afraid that Senator Harkin may lose in Iowa. Who would be the next sponsor of our legislation called MiCASSA? I wrote that Memphis should be at Senator Bill Frist's events and attempt to get him to sign onto MiCASSA.
There is also an "IDEA ● March from Liberty Bell to FDR." Later I will call it a march from Philadelphia to Washington DC, but I put FDR in the note because the statue of FDR in a wheelchair was just added to the FDR memorial. This is the first I hear of the idea. Dawn Russell sold me on this idea over the weekend of the Strategy Meeting and I volunteered for the committee that will produce the "Free Our People March," in the Fall of 2003. It is really something to look back and see that little note in August of 2002 that will become a big part of my life. In 2013 I had a show in Denver of fourteen photos I took of that March looking back ten years.
Photo top left: Babs Johnson of Denver, Atlantis ADAPT.
Photo top right: Dr. Erik T. von Schmetterling, MD of Philadelphia ADAPT; and in the right side of the frame, Clark "Weasel" Goodrich of Ohio.
Photo left: Bob Kafka who I stayed with in Austin.
Photo right: Jimmi Shrode, my choice for MC of the ADAPT 25th Anniversary Celebration.
Twenty years ago today I did not take any photos. I wished to focus completely on the ADAPT business and I wanted to show my commitment to all the ADAPT activists who were at the National Strategy meeting. I volunteered to coordinate all the flyers used at the ADAPT Action.
I made a brief proposal. I started by suggesting we could do a much better job with the fliers at the action. We had produced flyers, seemingly as an afterthought by making one-sided copies on the hotel xerox. I suggested we use a one-third of a page flier that is double-sided. I made the case that one side of each flier should have an explanation of who we are, and the other side could be a simple, direct explanation of the issue, and we could customize the message for the issue that day.
This idea was a hit and I don't think I stepped on anyone's toes. I also think that giving out fliers was also seen as a "non-disabled" task. The people who could walk, and the attendants seemed like the people that passed out the fliers. I know that while I was distant from the group taking photos, people would often feel that I was more approachable because I was not disabled. The best response I came up with was, "why don't you ask them?"
Early in my activist career, Stephanie Thomas, who I stayed with back in Austin during this jornada, had taught me to be quick and clear. "Don't try to start from the beginning and think you can explain the whole novel," she taught me. What I settled on, when anyone would ask me, is quickly to come back with the question: "Do you want to live in a nursing home?" While they thought about that, I would hit only the highlights, discrimination, independence and dignaty. It really made a difference for me. On the other hand, my friend Dawn never needed any preparation. She was much better without it.
I look back at the notes I wrote twenty years ago today and I miss the challenges that I had at the time. National ADAPT was planning an action in New Orleans, Louisiana. The big street theater we were planning was a NOLA style wake for people who had died in nursing homes. Jimmi Shrode was going to play Blanch DuBois. The theater makes it sound fun.
But the outlook for the Big Easy was hostile. We would be in a deep south city without any local agencies or institutional support. ADAPT would be countering the American Health Care Association ACHA, the lobbying group for the nursing home industry. The ADAPT leadership was expecting arrests and jail.
At the end of the day an impassioned discussion broke out about a civil rights march from Philadelphia to Washington DC. The group was split between those that liked the symbolic and historic power of a march and those that felt our strength was in direct action, not symbolism. The meeting broke up and the group would talk more about the proposal Sunday morning. Back then, all decisions were made by censcent, and Saturday night there was no agreement among our group. That night I remember staying up late with Dawn as she attempted to sway ADAPT members to support the march. The real decision was not made in the meeting room, but that night in many small discussions.
My journal begins on this day twenty years ago: "March - everyone is hip, yet many concerns.
The decision was made, the necessary hold-outs had swung over to the other side. Dawn's work in the evening was successful, or her work and others had successfully made their case and all ADAPT was on board with the idea of a Civil Rights March in Fall of 2003. I did not record any notes on further discussion, but some people didn't like the idea. It was not as confrontational as they liked. But all I wrote about this decision was "everyone is hip."
I did list the names of the people on the Planning Committee, but I did not include my name. Either I didn't need to include it, because I believe I know who I am; or I was not part of the original committee.
Nancy [Salandra] and Bob Liston Co-chairs of PLANNING COMMITTEE:
The rest of my notes from twenty years ago today do not suggest any further discussion about the March, but it was all Dawn could talk about. Dawn and Nancy were good friends back then, and Dawn had a lot of influence on the March even though she was not on the committee.
I saw a lot of people off to the airport, but some stayed and we all talked about the strategy meeting. I showed everyone my bike, I was headed out in the morning and I answered their questions. In one early draft of my bicycling idea I would head up to Washington state and the Columbia River canyons, but I really wanted to go to Moab while I was this close.
Photo: The meeting on Sunday.
I didn't really have a plan of where to go and I now had the new responsibility of flyers at the next ADAPT Action in October. I was not going to ride to New Orleans, but I could catch a ride with Atlantis ADAPT like I had to Boise Idaho. I had until October, so I would spend some time in Moab, see Arches National Park and head back to Denver on a different track.
Photos top: Dawn, Nancy
Photos bottom: Mike Eakin, a guy from Memphis who I don't know his name and Barbara Toomer.
Photo Left: Tony
Photo Right: MO
Photos bottom: unknown.
Monday, 7:01 pmmdt
Riding my bike through the city of Salt lake and out through the highly trafficked Wasatch Front Range is frustrating and difficult. I did not make it to Provo before I quit and poached an urban site in an open field near many businesses. I made the decision to camp watching a violent wind-storm. Rain is all around, however, I am still quite dry, but ready for rain.
Photo above: The Utah Transit Authority Paratransit Evaluation Center
What I never developed, on any of my biking adventures, is a skill at writing in my tent. I had no portable desk except for a hard-back comp book. I had a similar problem with my computer. Twenty years ago, no one had any experience at using s tiny keyboard or had even heard of a "swipe keypad."
I tried some things for both typing and writing, but I never developed any expertise. I needed to sit at a table or desk. My journal seems to have become dominated by the stops I make for breakfast.
Early in this jornada, back in eastern Texas, I remember stopping at a sheltered picnic area. I had a snack, took some photos, worked on my computer and made a long entry in my journal. By the time I had finished my "break," nearly three hours had passed. I am afraid that colored my stops since Austin. I did take a lot of breaks, but I tried to focus on what I had to do to get back on the road. I didn't get my journal out at each stop.
Photo below: The exterior of the UTA Evaluation facility.
I regret not writing more. It may have helped to have a general style to follow. In the first half, I told the story of the day, a kind of diary. But since my trip to Justin Dart's service, I have been trying to keep an "update" style. I will tell about what has happened since my last entry.
My brief end of the day journal entries are really no better than my brief en route entries. "Very tired," may be expressed in a variety of creative, expressive and deeply felt ways; however, when you are tired you just say very tired.
On the way south I stopped at the UTA Paratransit testing facility and got some info. They would not allow me to take photos, but I plan a journal article about it.
Paratransit was a big issue in Memphis. Making the fixed-route accessible becomes secondary to many people with disabilities who demand a special service. I think that this also represents a failure of the ADA and the disability community. As the typical bus routes became more accessible, paratransit was expected to vaporize.
ADA eligibility for paratransit is for people who because of their disability cannot ride the fixed-route. In Memphis, eligibility for paratransit was any doctor or social worker that signed off on you needing the paratransit service. This Evaluation Center represented the transit company determining if someone could not use the regular bus because of a disability. A equality principle of the ADA, functional ability, not diagnosis.
Back in 2002, the ADA was just 12 years old and there was still a need for paratransit. Memphis' fixed route was not fully accessible, but now in 2022, our community has become dependent on the "short bus."
Now that would make a blog.
I hope for more motivation tomorrow to breeze through town and get into the desert.
Photo: Expecting rain I found an urban concealed campsite.
This was my hope to finally get out of the traffic. It was difficult with the loaded bike to pause at each traffic signal, and get going with traffic close by. I was putting a lot of time in the saddle and working hard against the many traffic lights and the stop-and-go at almost every intersection for very little mileage. I was also expecting rain at about any time.
Finally, I quit. I was expecting rain and so I found a secluded area and pitched my tent.
Expecting rain I was able to find this secluded area to camp in the urban corridor south of SLC.
7:25 pmm US Highway 6; 40 miles from Price Utah
I got a late start, I did not look forward to the traffic I knew I had to face, but the traffic was not as bad as the day before.
I went slow and easy today. First because I have pain in my lower back. Generally, it does not bother me when I am riding, but I do not feel 100%. I really have pain getting in and out of the tent and even getting up from a chair. Second is the scab on my lip. It is much better now, but it hurt most all day. And finally, I think I have - post ADAPT strategy let-down. There are so many other things that I could be doing for ADAPT now from a desk and here I am in central Utah.
I don't remember the pain in my back or the scab on my lip. I don't know how I acquired either injury. It is a strange part of the journal that leads to more questions than it answers.
Looking back, I am going to guess that two days of riding in traffic was part of my "let-down." I made it out of Salt Lake City, but I was in this urban corridor along the Wasatch.There were beautiful mountains off to my left all day, but I just kept going traffic light-by-traffic light through the suburban collection of fast-food and car sales. I took State Street south until I rejoined the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, The highway through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and headed up into the mountains again.
Ultimately I think I rode 35 miles today. Mostly I have been reading "Band of Brothers," by S. Ambrose. I made many "milk" stops today and read. I even paused at the summit of the first big climb into this canyon (Thistle Canyon?) and read by the side of the road for maybe an hour. The wind, while I was at the summit, was incredible. The gusts were so strong I knew they'd blow over my bike. I read for a long time and suddenly I could hear insect noises in the tall grass, the wind was gone.
Photo: I attempted to stop in and find out this facility's connection to Independent Living. It was just medical model hippotherapy that wanted the acronym CARES.
I was surprised to see a gas station along US 6 here and unfastened my straps, instead it was a truck stop that had closed. There was a camp. $10 for my tent and I gave the kid my money and quit for the day around 4:pmm.
So that paragraph is hard to figure out. Let me try again twenty years later:
I was surprised to see a gas station along this remote section of US Highway 6. I had already unfastened my straps when I saw that it was a old closed-down truck stop. Rather than tightening my straps back up, I stopped any way to find out that the old truck stop was now an RV campground. I decided to quit early at 4:00 PM Mountain Time.There was a kid at the campground office who I paid $10 for my tent to stay overnight.
I took a shower and read, then I took a swim in their indoor pool. I went for a walk looking for a pay phone, but there is none. Now I am watching the sunset and a storm. The storm seems like it will pass to the north, but it is amazing to see the rain and hear the distant thunder.
Photo: My example of the beautiful mountains in a sea of suburbs.
When you are outside all day and camping at night, you have a lot of time to notice the sky, clouds, stars, moon and sun. They are not always what you find interesting, but sometimes the most mundane things will be entrancing. This photo and the next are times, twenty years ago today, I found looking up was as faciniationg at the mountains surrounding me.
9:20 pmm Price Utah
Slow day. I had a flat a couple of miles below Soldier Summit (7477). I got a ride around some road construction from some folks. My back pain does not bother me much in the saddle, but is very troubling. I got a motel room in Price.
Twenty years ago today, I did not write much about what I was doing. I had more than two days of back pain. I do not know the origin, but I guess the pain must have been debilitating. I made about 40 miles into Price. I put some information in my journal, but I miss some details that I would like to know twenty years later. I suppose that I just thought the details would come back to me. I had always thought I stopped in Price Utah because there is a CIL in that town.
I don't remember the back pain, although I mentioned it twice. I don't recall any particular feature, or how bad it was. It clearly was chronic enough for me to change my plans. However, a strong wind could make me change my plans on this trip.
I do recall some details about getting a ride around construction. There were two flagmen out of sight of each other, so I could not see how long the detour was. I also had trouble communicating with the flagman who just asked me to wait. I had done this before many times. I would always end up leading a line of cars on a sprint to the distant flagman, I typically don't think it was a problem. The cars behind me could only go as fast as I went, I took up the whole lane, but at the far end I would pull off as the line was past the obstruction.
Photo: This is a mystery. It is a dog and my thumb (that is not the mystery). I believe it was at the campground I just stayed at, but like the back pain, I just did not include any details.
It was a long wait, which I know was also a long distance. An RV driver walked up and said I could put my bike in the boat he was towing. I got back to the RV and suggested I just ride in the RV with my bike. I was afraid the bike would bounce out of the boat and I just held onto my bike in the cabin of the RV. I wonder how much my back pain played into this decision. I was glad he offered and the RV ferried me safely to the other end. But I don't remember much about the RV or driver. It was two men, not a family and I got out on the far end. Obviously I did not record their names or addresses like I had done for other people who helped me.
I did take quite a few photos on this day.
Photo: Soldier Summit Spanish. Friars Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante are credited with discovering the pass in 1776. The summit takes its name from a group of soldiers who were caught in an unexpected snowstorm on the summit in July 1861. The soldiers were Southerners, previously under Union General Philip St. George Cooke at Camp Floyd, on their way to join the Confederate Army. A few of them died in the storm and were buried on the summit. There is a Confederate soldiers graveyard nearby.
Photo next page (Castle Gate photo 1): The Soldier Summit led down Price Canyon to what is called "Castle Gate," a distinct rock formation that looms over the Price River. All through the canyon were spectacular views.
Butch Cassidy robbed a train near here, but the Castle Gate is best known for a huge mine explosion that killed over 170 miners. In 1924 the explosion was the third largest mine disaster in the US and is still in the top ten today. It was a coal mine and there are ruins of buildings and homes up and down Price Canyon.
Photo two pages ahead (Price River photo): This river flows from Soldier Summit through Price Utah and into Soldier Creek. You may recall me camping at the base of Soldier Creek before I got to Salt Lake City. That Soldier Creek is a different one. It is only about 50 miles north, as the crow flies; however, it is over two mountain ranges. Yes, Soldier Summit is the watershed of another Soldier Creek that flows to the west, away from Soldier Creek southeast of Price. These two Soldier Creeks are about 35 miles apart.
Photos three and four pages ahead (Castle Gate photo 2 and 3): This is the rock formation that gives Castle Gate its name. It is visible from a long way off and very noticeable. Of course I am riding downhill through this canyon, but it is known for being steep. The town at the bottom is named "Helper" after the extra locomotives that were added to help the train make it over the mountain pass.
From Price Utah I don't only have a view of the rainbow, I also take this photo of the surrounding terrain.
From Price I enjoyed the scenery and took a day off to visit the Center for Independent Living, go to a museum and help recover from the pain I had in my lower back.
Although I described today as "taking the day off," I got up early and interviewed the staff at Active Re-Entry when they opened. I met and took a photo of Louie Santillanes. In my notes I have him saying: "I don't take a very adversarial approach." I am certain that I did not think much of the Center based on that response alone.
I typed my notes and I was going to put them in here, however, I did produce an MCIL Journal article for this CIL. What was interesting was reading my notes and then seeing the article that came from them. The quote above is the only one that I did not put into the piece from my notes. But it is interesting to me to try to read between the gaps, to see what I can recall from my notes twenty years ago. The motel had a shared computer where I could write the article, so I do not have a draft in my journal.
I note that I was using my day to recover. That must be a reference to my back pain. My recovery consisted of doing this interview and writing the article, laundry and buying a new inner tube. I also note that today I "got turned down at 2 dentists offices." I cannot write down in my journal the right details. In 2022 I don't need to know that I did laundry, I need to know why I was walking into dentists offices. I can't believe that I was having additional tooth issues. Maybe I was supposed to have an examination in a month or two to see how the sockets remaining from having my wisdom teeth out were doing. But I just do not recall having any additional tooth issues.
Photo: The Active Re-Entry Office in Price Utah.
For more irrelevant details, I bought an inner tube for an additional spare. I don't know if I got it at a bike shop or Walmart. At the same time I have photos from a museum with dinosaur bones, but I did not note that I visited a museum. It is probably the Prehistoric Museum and I likely asked Louie to suggest something to do. The strange mix of details that I remember and record.
In looking for the Price Utah article, I found a journal article about the UTA Evaluation facility. I don't know when I wrote the article about the paratransit evaluation, it is also not a draft in my journal. I probably wrote it on a library computer or the motel computer in Price. I will not include it here. Paratransit Functional Assessment in Utah, is a course in disability transportation that is now even more behind the times. But it was nice for me to see that I was keeping up my work. I did not include these articles in the general "Access Across America" website.
East Utah is a large area with many miles between cities. Active Re-Entry has a daunting job in providing Independent Living Programs to the area.
By: Tim Wheat, Price, Utah
East Utah is a large area with many miles between cities. Active Re-Entry has a daunting job in providing Independent Living Programs to the area. With offices in Price, Vernal and Moab, Active Re- Entry is committed to promoting the rights, dignity and quality of life for all persons with disabilities.
“Transportation is a huge issue in rural areas,” said Louie Santillanes, the Assistive Technology ADA Specialist, about the National Demonstration Project acquired by Active Re-Entry in Price Utah. “Different agencies volunteer their vans for transportation over the mountain to Provo (Utah).”
The goal of the National Demonstration Project is to help meet the transportation needs of people with disabilities in rural areas, further their own independent living goals, enable full participation and to evaluate the effectiveness of accessible rural transportation options.
The consumer-controlled program, called “Traveler’s Cheque” incorporates car pools, ride-share, paratransit and taxis to increase the transportation options for people with disabilities. The Traveler’s Cheque program is in a demonstration phase held by only ten Independent Living Centers in an assortment of rural communities throughout the country. There are over 200 Centers for Independent Living, which serve rural areas in the United States that may benefit from better rural transportation.
In October of this year all the Centers for Independent Living in Utah will begin to coordinate a grant to allow people in nursing facilities to transition to a community setting. Utah was one of only five states to curate the Nursing Facility Transitions Independent Living Partnership Grant.
People in Utah, precisely as people all throughout America, would prefer to live in their own home rather than in an institution. The Utah Transitions Grant is a positive step for Utah; however, people all across the United States make evident the need for national Medicaid reform; like MiCASSA.
Photo: Louie Santillanes
Along with transportation, rural communities also have unique dilemmas that arise from people with disabilities in the agricultural community that are working for independence. Active Re-Entry provides a program that aims at the specific needs of individuals doing farm work. The AgrAbility Program is part of a national focus to meet the unique needs of the agricultural community to live independently.
One of the system advocacy successes in east Utah is teaching the good sense and value of automatic door openers. The public library had a reasonably compliant door, yet some patrons still criticized the difficulty to use it. The director of the library had ruled out an automatic door opener, thinking that the price would be restrictive. Working with Active Re-Entry; however, the library found that automatic door openers were sensibly priced and provided quality access to all patrons. The superintendent of the schools was also swayed by the common sense of automatic door openers and now they are provided in all the schools.
Photo left: From the balcony of the Prehistoric museum in Price Utah. I don't remember my visit or why I stopped here. It was my day off. I didn't make any note in my journal about this place, but I have evidence from the photos that I spent at least 25 minutes here.
Photo below: I also had a chance to try more macro photography. This picture of ants was like all the photos I took twenty years ago on this day; they were in the low-resolution format except the final photo also of ants.
Editor's Note: The first two paragraphs of today's journal entry were about yesterday, so journal begins with paragraph three.
7:04 pmm 20 miles NW of Green River UT
At Woodside UT I stopped at the only place there. The owner, Roy, let me through the gate. The place was closed because he told me he did not feel like doing any business. He let me in because I asked for water, he sold me a gallon for $2.11.
As I was getting ready to leave, Roy mentioned the cold water geyser out back, so I waited until it was at its peak to visit it. Roy and an off-duty state patrol officer told me to be careful of the llamas and which llamas to look out for.
While it is not a geothermal geyser, it is a natural phenomenon. The carbon dioxide powers the spurt of water out of the earth like a geyser. It also builds up and keeps a schedule. As strange as it sounds, Roy knew when the geyser would be at its peak and that is what I meant in my journal when I wrote that "I waited until its peak." Roy and the off-duty sheriff had said it would be at its peak at a quarter-after the hour.
Photo: The carbon dioxide Woodside Geyser.
I don't know what the schedule was like, but I did think that I was being played by the locals. "Let's tell the biker there is a geyser over there and turn the sprinkler on." But they didn't ask me for money to see the geyser show, if they had, I would not have trusted them. I also thought they were playing a joke on me about the llamas. It was not a long walk, I took my bike with me and I did not see any llamas nearby as I walked to the geyser.
The geyser was actually built to be a tourist trap in the 1940s. In the 1880s the railroad had dug a large water well, which turned into a cold bubbling mudpot driven by naturally occurring pressurized carbon dioxide gas. In the 1940s someone developed it into a geyser like the Crystal Geyser near Green River, not far away. Crystal Geyser was drilled in 1935. I did not know it was a geyser from a drillsite, twenty years ago I thought I was watching some strange natural event, like the geysers in Yellowstone.
The Woodside Geyser did not disappoint me. I had my camera out and photographed the spout of water. It was similar to Yellowstone, but cold and no steam mixed in. I really felt fortunate to be in this remote site and be able to witness this odd event at this bizarre site. I recall how many people had crowded around Old Faithful when I had gone to see it erupt in 1992. In this unexpected roadside stop I had a similar show to Old Faithful all to myself. I am easy to entertain.
Photo: The Geyser spurts water out at about four feet. Up to fifteen feet at its peak when I saw it twenty years ago.
There was a ring of rocks about ten feet from the geyser. I understood that to be the viewing area, but you could get closer. I did, but I didn't get so close to look down the hole. It was gently erupting all the time I was out there. It was spitting and foaming about five feet. It was well over my head, at its peak, to about fifteen feet up.
Then came the llamas. A herd of llamas ambled toward me and the geyser. When the llamas got to about ten yards and I thought I had seen enough of the geyser, I slowly got my bike and headed toward the road. The llamas were not interested in the geyser, they were after me. It was a slow chase, but I didn't know anything about llamas. They don't really look deadly, but they outnumbered me. They also have a very menacing look about them. Even if I cannot make this llama encounter sound frightening, I was terrified.
I attempted to zig-zag to keep my distance from the leading llama. I also attempted to keep my bike between me and the llamas, but they spread out and I was feeling cornered. My bike was not the easiest to get on quickly, and I cannot really accelerate very fast. If I tried to jump on and outrun them, I was not going to have much of a lead and I would have to ride across the dust and gravel path.
I put my head down and walked quickly for the road. The llamas could keep up, but they lost a little interest and the space gave me the chance to jump on my bike and put some distance between us. They didn't follow.
As I left Woodside, I realized that I was on the trip that I wanted to be on. Between 1964 and 1979, that geyser was a tourist trap on US 6. Now the foundation of the café is all that is left and of course, the eternal geyser.
I can imagine that fifty years ago this was quite a stop on this remote road. It was also, I believe, a destination, because there were several old roads and foundations around the area. A marker in the town states that the peak population was 300 between 1910 and 1920. The town was named Lower Crossing back at that time.
When I was there, twenty years ago, I thought the foundation that was near the geyser was from an old motel with the café beside it. The foundation had a 90° turn that in my imagination I saw as a motel courtyard. However, that foundation was the café and gift shop that burned down in 1970. Back in its peak, it sat just off of the highway, I visited from the modern highway over 300 yards away. The old café was built to conceal the fountain from the old highway and you really had to sit in the restaurant to view the eruption. The old highway bridge is still there across the Green River, I wish I had not been scared off by the vicious llamas, I would have loved to see that old structure.
I am sure that Woodside is not a place that many people have visited. But if you have passed by, you may feel regret that you did not note the ghost town that is there. The film Thelma & Louise shot the tanker truck explosion scene in Woodside. In 1897, following a train robbery at Castle Gate, Butch Cassidy hid under one house outside town.
I poached a spot off the side of the road although still somewhat visible, hidden mostly by sand dunes. Putting up the tent was difficult with the wind, but almost as soon as Windy was up, the desert air was cooler and calmer.
I did get a photo of the intimidating llamas before they charged at me. At this distance llamas seem cute and harmless. The llamas in Woodside just roam free around the area.
The Book Cliffs are a series of desert mountains and cliffs all along the eastern edge of the Price River Valley. They are named because the cliffs of many of the south-facing buttes appear similar to a shelf of books. The Book Cliffs are known for sequence stratigraphy.
On this section of my jornada, the road had an extremely desolate feel. The open area along the Book Cliffs made the barren countryside seem even more remote. I take many landscape photos with no subject and I take road photos that vanish in the distance. I really love those road photos. I think they can convey some of the power of the open terrain. Many drivers see that same stretch of road, but I looked at each mile without a windshield or air conditioner.
These campsite sunset photos were taken at my poached campsite along Highway 6, just northeast of Green River Utah. Without any cover around I pitched my tent behind a sand dune that shielded me some from the road.
The wide open scenery swallowed my little camp and provided me with a spectacular sunset and sunrise.
The photo on the left is a composite of two landscape photos. I do not know if I was attempting this kind of panorama when I took the two photos, but one was mostly of the foreground with the sunset and few clouds, the other with just a sliver of the horizon and mostly the sky and clouds.
I added the lens flare in Adobe Photoshop to help it seem like one photo.
Twenty years ago today, I was again attempting to show the desolation and beauty of the remote desert. I wanted people to get the feel of being out alone in a wild and secluded country. Because the area I was in was so isolated, I wanted to show how small a single bicycle and rider feel in the expanse of the inhospitable region.
7:22 amm NE of Green River UT
The sun lights up the spires of "Castle Country" just outside my tent. There is a mild cool breeze (a tailwind I think) and I am highly motivated for whatever it is I am doing.
Photo: On the frontage road for I-70, the area seemed so remote and so little traffic, I used the road to take a picture of me in the desert.
I get a late start because it is difficult to pack the bike without it standing up and because I am enjoying the poach so much.
I did take a photo of the tent with nothing around. You can just barely see my bike on the far side of the tent. The dark area you can see in my tent is a pair of cycling shorts hanging up to dry. I liked the spot, but there was no place to sit, except on the ground. I mentioned that it was difficult to pack, the bike had to lay down on one side while I packed away my gear. I had to hold the bike up while I put the sleeping bag, tent and pad on the rear rack.
9:51 amm Green River Ut
Oh man this is phenomenal! The Book Cliffs provided a fantastic finish to my ride on US 6. The Green River lies ahead in a canyon of rocky precipices. The horizon is filled with "castle" formations on the desolate desert landscape. My motivation is high although my back hurts and my shoes are filled with sand. Today really "feels" good. I am smiling and positive. Maybe it is madness, I love to sing out in the desert; thank buddha I don't talk to myself in the tent or in this café (Ben's Café, Green River).
1:29 pmm Crescent Junction UT
Following the most spectacular ride on the frontage road to I-70, I got on the Interstate for a short ride to Crescent Junction, the turnoff for Moab. On the Interstate I started to hear a strange noise and rather than push on to a rest area one-half mile ahead, I inspected the tire and found a worn spot and bulge. The tube didn't last to the rest area and blew 100 yards before I got to the top of the hill where bathrooms and vending machines were. The tire was flat and not replaceable.
The rest area is a magnificent pinnacle that rises above the desert all around. On the horizon are cliffs, buttes and mountains, a tremendous distance off, it is breathtaking remote and beautiful.
I walked down I-70 to the intersection of Highway 191. Some people stopped to help, but they had no room. The first pick-up that came by stopped and gave me a ride to Moab.
I measured this on the map and it is one mile. There is no frontage road so I had to walk down the Interstate, I assume that is why people stopped. I must have looked pretty despondent, but I started out so optimistic.
Cleland was originally from Moab, now he lives in Price with his wife. He doesn't really like it as much as Moab. He drove past the dead horse turnoff and entrance to Arches, he dropped me off at the frist bike store in Moab and there are many.
I got a new tire just like the one that blew and a tube. At a picnic table next door, I fixed the tire and put on the new chain. I cut the front quarter of the rear fender off and feel that my bike is in good shape.
I saw Cleland again at the grocery store and he introduced me to his father. As I was putting my groceries up, I blew the front tube. I fixed the front tire in the shade of a tree and headed for "up the creek campground."
This is a truly nice campground. For $10 I had a very hot shower. This is not a campground for RV's, but exclusively for tents. My site is on a creek in deep grass with a picnic table (which I am sitting at now). I thought I heard a ballgame across the creek but as I went to check it out I ran into the most feared of all small woodland creatures: the skunk. He raised his tail and I quickly backed off. When I got a safe distance back I thought of getting a photo, but he ran off. The game turned out to be a Highschool football game, so I returned to my campsite sprinting by the place I saw the skunk.
I have some tough decisions tomorrow: -back to Arches? -to the LaSalle Mountains? -goof off here in Moab? All great possibilities. There is no loser. Finally, I am having the vacation I dreamed of.
I am not sure when I thought this trip was going to be a vacation. I am not sure why I wrote that, except that I was going to spend some time at a National Park. It really bothers me now, twenty years later that I would use the word vacation to describe my bike adventure. I suppose I may have been stressing that I was doing whatever I wanted to do and not visiting a CIL or becoming part of a demonstration. Maybe this was my vacation.
In 2002 I had not heard of a selfie. I was making these low-resolution photos with my camera so I could easily get them up on the web to show people where I was. Those are the Book Cliffs in the background. I am riding on the I-70 Frontage Road that you may see in the foreground. In the bottom photo I am in Ben's Café, Green River, Utah.
Photo next page: Out of sight of the Interstate, I had this frontage road to myself. I felt so alone in the wide open country. Those shoes on my front panniers I purchased in SLC so I would have something comfortable at stops and at camp.
11:21 amm Moab, Ut
I had many beers last night, visited Woody's Tavern with live music. This morning I had breakfast at the Moab Diner. A woman suggested the "sweetwater potatoes;" they were very good. It is a beautiful, hot day. I am dragging and not well hydrated. I read the Denver Post at the Moab Diner and plan to head into the mountains. Hell, I can do whatever I want.
7:11 pmm Arches Campground
On the north side of Moab I had a flat tire. At the tower of babble in Arches NP I had another flat, now at the campground is the third flat for my front tire. Although the ride inside the park is only 18 miles, I am beat. I am surprised at how tired I am. I did all the mileage in the afternoon heat, possibly that is the problem.
Photo: Me at Arches National Park
The park is spectacular, although I have only seen one arch. The ride starts with a huge climb from US 191 along the Moab fault line. The switchbacks seem to take you straight up the solid rock cliff. Once into the climb, you can make out rock formations that get hidden by the massive red rock.
For 18 miles there are towers, precipesis and jagged rocks all along the road. At the balancing rock the road falls into the Salt Valley where there are very colorful formations. The road then climbs out of the Salt Valley and back into the beautiful red bulbous rocks. From the campground there is a panoramic view north of the huge open desert. I think I may be most impressed by that view. My campsite is great. I have an old tree trunk to rest my bike and a large red rock to protect from the wind.
Post Card: The sunsets and sunrises over the desert are spectacular. Here in Arches National Park it seems that every turn in the road is another postcard view. I wish you all could hear just how quiet it is right now after sunset. I am having the greatest time imaginable sometimes going down an empathy highway laughing out loud. I cannot believe that I am here.
Twenty years ago today I took 82 photos riding from the entrance to the campground at the north end of Arches National Park. I just do not want to put 80 photos In this journal at this point. So I am going to pick out 10 representative shots. If you wish to see more, I will link to a Flickr Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA4qEv
The red color comes from the presence of oxidized iron–that is iron that has undergone a chemical reaction upon exposure to air or oxygenated water. It is hard to imagine this part of Utah all underwater.
You may be able to see the tiny road snaking north through the National Park. I had a perfect day to be there, but I had three flat front tires that day. There was very little traffic and I almost felt I had the park to myself. I camped up north at the end of this road, and there were just a couple of other campers. I was the only cyclist.
Devil's Gate at Night! I got up at about 3:30 amm and with three-quarters moon, I braved Devil's Gate. It was spooky, about two miles and I don't think the photos are any good. It was fantastic in all the odd shaped towers around punctuated by leafless tree limbs visible in the moonlight. The most frightening was the trail that was shaded from the moonlight and very dark. My adrenaline was pumping for the entire hike. It was an inspired idea.
I know I call this idea inspired, like it was a revelation. However, I know where the idea came from to make the hike at night. Thirty years ago, while I was in Yellowstone National Park at the bicycle camping area, the two cyclists from Boston, talked about riding Hell's Canyon at night. On the Snake River, the canyon is mostly in Idaho. They had a full moon for that ride and talked about how beautiful the canyon was, not as hot and a unique experience.
Photo: Me at the Delicate Arch. The cover photo from Part 3 of this monograph is from near this spot. I took it on my hike back from the Delicate Arch.
I was thinking about striking the tent and heading south in the dark. But I had three flat tires yesterday. It may have been cool and distinctive, but it was also pretty dark. The campground was adjacent to the Devil's Garden hike. I would have to leave my bike behind to do the hike. It really was a great idea and it was truly extraordinary. I did try to take some photos, but they are almost totally black. After a while I could see pretty well. Strange part of the hike is that there are some large rocks that shade the trail from the moonlight and those were very dark areas.
5:36 pmm Moab Pizza Hut
What an unbelievable day! I rode down from the campground into the salt valley and kept going down to the Wolf Ranch. From there I hacked a mile and a half to Delicate Arch.
The hike was fantastic, mostly a climb out to the arch. You pass the 100 year old Wolf Ranch with one room, very remote Three quarters into the hike there is a huge slanted rock face that tilts up maybe 400 feet. Finally you make your way along a cliff outcropping until suddenly, there it is.
The Delicate Arch is massive, and what is amazing is the surrounding landscape. There is a huge dry pool about 150 feet deep, carved by wind, which creates this amphitheater type formation under the arch. All around are amazing vistas, it is really a phenomenal place.
I crawled out on a ledge to get a photo of the arch and realized that my next step could be more than 600 feet, over the far side of the rock formation. I was lying down on the rock dragging my butt back from the edge. On the hike back I got some photos of the Ute petroglyphs.
I had a long climb from the Wolf ranch and up out of the Salt Valley. I stopped at the top to have lunch under a mesquite. Although I drank a lot of water(all I had but the reserve) I still did not feel 100%. Fortunately it is mostly downhill out of the park from Balancing Rock, but I still had a long climb from Courthouse Wash to Park Avenue.
Photo: The Wolf Ranch.
The final downhill out of the park, I decided that I had plenty of photos and I would really enjoy the descent. It was great! Many switchbacks among the huge rocks, It felt great.
Now that I am in Moab, however, I feel beat up and will take tomorrow off. I will run errands in the town and relax.
Again today I took about 40 photos. I will pick out a dozen for this monograph and will include them all in the Flickr.com album: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA4qEv
7:03 amm Moab, Up The Creek Campground
Peak Experiences in my life, in on order:
I notice that the first two things on this list are things that I have accomplished mostly on my own. The additional three items are accomplishments with others. I also won the state debate championship my senior year, but I feel that that was more my partner, Gary Thompson's success.
Photo: I took this photo on August 26, in a low-resolution so it would be easy to go with my summary of what I was doing. The photo is at the Park Avenue viewing stop in Arches.
So today, my day off, among the errands and resupply, I will examine the meaning of life and the value of my life. I am here for no reason; yet, I feel comfortable here. This feeling is because I have not made a "home" anywhere. I have wanted to get away from Huntsville for many years now and have finally abandoned my hometown without accepting a new residence.
Twenty years ago I suppose I was struggling with what I was planning to do after this bike adventure. I believe I have said that I really had no intention to return to Memphis. This is punctuated by me having all my personal positions in my 1990 Honda Civic at Judy's apartment. Some items were still at my parents home, but they had a yard sale and got rid of my stereo speakers that I miss the most. I just say that, because I really was not planning on returning to Huntsville either.
Moab was really nice, but I was not considering a life on the road, or in a campground. I think about it now and I feel that I had a lot more to offer while on the road and I could have done more to earn money while traveling. What I have found was that traditional desk work is not compatible with living in a tent. It is also hard to work from various libraries and out of motels. It is hard but not impossible. I just did not structure my work to where I could make any money. Writing about my journey, like I am now, I think I undervalued at the time.
Now the real world and problems start pressing in on me. Yesterday I was laughing at the great red rocks all around me, now they are red rocks of my past. I am generally not one to fully escape my life, but now I don't seem to be able to escape. Yesterday it was easy to escape. Television is an escape, msic is an escape (escape to the Beatles), drinking is an escape.
Photo: I only took two photos of the petroglyphs at Arches. I included the other one yesterday. I do like the symbol, I wonder what it means.
I really thought that being on this quest would help me to figure out my life, set goals and understand what I really wanted to do. I believe what I found was that the journey was so fulfilling, that I was having a good time taking this absurd journey and that I was not going to be filled with purpose and direction. I did not carve out a new life for myself. I was becoming happy with who I am.
Pensive time over. If the meaning of life is a real question, then it should have a realistic and rational answer. Yesterday is my best answer to that question.
To be direct. I was trying to say spending the day visiting Arches National Park does give meaning to life. But I don't know why and I do not know how to explain it. Now twenty years later I find that the photos that I have of this time in my life makes me happy. I am proud of the life I have had and these photos help to remind me how much I treasure the odd and unique experiences of my life.
I had the most inspired thought yesterday. Because there was a three-quarter moon, I hiked the Devil's Garden Trail in Arches National Park at night. There I was in the cool desert all alone with the eerie and magnificent rock formations lit by the moon. It was beautiful and unique.
I went back to bed and slept late, but later that day I hiked to the Delicate Arch. It is an amazing sight, so remote and so beautiful. I rode out of the park and down to Moab where I am camped by a shady creek. I plan to take the day off today to soak in all that I did yesterday, then head into the LaSalle Mountains tomorrow. The desert, the mountains and life are so different from Memphis. My problems are simple, exclusively depending on my skill to solve them. My rewards are simple to see these majestic arches and just being here.
Those last two paragraphs are what I intended to send for MCIL's "Where in the World is … Tim Wheat?" Twenty years ago I did not take any photos. I caught-up with communications at the Moab Public Library, it was just three blocks away from the campground. I left my bike and tent and walked around town. I got a water bottle from the "Spider Bikes" store and resupply of food.
I don't know who is on the extreme right of the frame, but they help to give some scale to the Delicate Arch. It really was a great hike, but I had to leave my bike and all my gear back at the trailhead. I really was not worried. I did not try to hide it, I left it outside the Wolf Ranch house but I still felt like I had to get back and start the long climb out of the Salt Valley.
Twenty years ago I got up early and left the Up the Creek Campground with all my gear for a ride through the La Sal Mountains. My update journal style seems to work for today. First I write about climbing up into the mountains and going out near sunset to get some photos.
6:13 pmm La Sal Mountains ~8,200
The ride today was a lot longer than I had expected. I rode almost 20 miles South of Moab cutting back sharply northeast into the mountains and poached a campsite where I believe I will have only a long downhill into Moab tomorrow. The vistas from these mountains are spectacular. On the horizon one can see far off Canyons, Butts and other mountain ranges. The vast open area is breathtaking and it is much cooler up here than in the desert below. There was just a small rain that didn't last 10 minutes, but I still had to put up the fly. Now I don't want to pack the fly until it is dry.
Photo: Bison south of Moab.
I found a Forest Service road poch a campsite. It looks down on what I am sure is Castle Rock, a huge formation. I put my tent in the small hardwoods, it is great cover. Wendy, my tent, would be moving around quite a bit in the strong winds that are following that short rainfall.
In 2022 as I look at Google Maps to find where I camped, I found a Forest Service Campground up in the La Sal Mountains. I do not think it was there 20 years ago, but I also did not expect to have any difficulty finding a place to camp.
My hope is to get some good evening and morning shots of Castle Rock.
9:03 pmm La Sal Mountains
As I walked down the dirt road outside my tent to get a good sundown view of Castle Rock, I noticed a black bear about 30 feet in front of me just off the road. I had my camera on and I took one photo without looking at the screen. I backed away and took a second shot. The bear noticed me and I noticed a cub with her.
Photo: This is the best photo of the bear. A cub may be seen on the far left edge of the frame. You may make out some of the landscape in the background. I was headed down the road, but I never found out if there was a better vista from there. I am not far from my tent when I took this photo. I went back up the Forest Service road away from this area where I could overlook the Castle Valley. I was frightened when I took the photos, but I had nothing else to do. I was thinking that the bear would smell my lunch packed in my front pannier.
I continued to back away and mom ran off with two small bears following. I am camped less than 100 feet from where I saw the bears. Is it safe to sleep here tonight? I am writing this by candlelight, every noise sounds like a bear. I have left the fly up because the weather seems as if it might rain and the fly will keep me warmer. I cannot see out, however. It is a little frightening knowing there are bears outside the tent, no phones, no gun, no help, no one probably within two miles of me.
I didn't get any good sundown photos and I decided not to eat dinner, less food smell. I packed my pot and empty Campbel's Chicken and Stars can. Although the Park Service says the bears can still smell that, I hope that it will at least be less tempting.
I attempted to seal the used can of soup and the still dirty pot in a plastic bag and in my pannier. I had food for my dinner, I do not remember what it was, but I did not eat.
Photo: I don't know what these berries are, but they also are bear food that may have saved my life. I do not forage for food, but I am pretty sure that these taste a lot better than I do; even with cheese.
Thirty years ago, on my 1992 bicycle adventure, some racoons broke into my front pannier with a tupperware box of my food. Somehow through the plastic sealed container they could smell my Pop-Tarts, bread and Rice-a-Roni mix. I assume the bears have a sense of smell comparable to the racoons.
While it was getting dark, I thought about my options. It was a beautiful area with a fantastic overlook of the Castle Valley. I felt that it would be dark by the time I packed up, and I would be attempting to ride at night or set my tent up in some other dark clearing.
Eventually, I just hoped the bears moved on. I went back to my tent and could not see out which was also terrifying. After a while, I relaxed and eventually got some sleep.
Again today I took about 40 photos. I will pick out a dozen for this monograph and will include them all in the Flickr.com album: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA4qEv
I climbed all day to get to this photo. Now it seems better than I remember. I was disappointed I did not stay up and watch the sunset, but I did not want to be out in the dark, away from my tent, in the rain and with bears around.
Twenty years ago I wrote my best journal entry. It was partly because I had a lot of energy and adrenaline because of the fantastic surroundings. Mostly, I had time and the entry was just following my morning ride. I was wet and stopped in downtown Moab for breakfast. I was planning on camping again so I was done before noon and I had time to reflect on what had just happened.
Many times I notice that my journal is a last resort, an optional task. Even if I don't say it, I pull out my journal when I have additional tasks to accomplish or even get back on the road. It is hard to just relax and plan not to do things or carve out time to exclusively write in the journal. It is hard to see the critical importance of this task at the time, especially when there are material needs, bike maintenance and daily routines that must be done. Looking back twenty years, I wish I had learned to stop and write. I regret not having more first-hand memories, descriptions and details.
10:32 amm Moab Utah
What an incredible day! I woke up to the sound of distant thunder. I packed the tent and fly up; they were dry, and it did not rain much at night. I couldn't see the size of the storm until I got out of the cover and back to the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. It was huge. The road behind me ended in a navy blue sky. In front of me was Castle Valley lit in some small areas by the rising sun, but mostly shrouded by the approaching rain. I could see a few small clouds below me in the canyon. Lighting blazed on the horizon accentuating the eerie Castle Rock in the Center of the valley boarded by a rainbow.
As I started down the canyon, the first drops of rain fell on me. The rain and the speed downhill (punctuated by my wet breaks inability to slow me down) made my adrenaline rush. I started reciting "Terrance This is Stupid Stuff," at the top of my lngs, which startled a black bear just off the road. He ran into the trees as I flew past. About a mile later down the hill I watched a bear cub scramble up the right bank of the roadway, the fifth bear I had seen in the past 12 hours.
Now the lighting was overhead, one time apparently looping back on itself. Castle Valley was barely visible as dark monoliths in the navy blue haze. Lighting struck between what seemed to be a moraine at the bottom of the canyon and me. Frightened, wet and speeding madly down the steep curvy canyon road I began to laugh. This was just the absurd experience I was looking for. To be here now seems invaluable, magnificent and rediculucious.
The rain became much harder as I reached the floor of the canyon. My hands hurt from the cold and wet. My "Memphis Redbirds" cap kept the rain out of my eyes (I folded my glasses up in my tent this morning in my rush to leave bear country). Ahead of me I could see the sheets of rain hitting the pavement. My shoes were wet and heavy, but I peddled anyway to keep my exposed legs warm.
Ahead of me the sky was a lighter blue shade. I thought of seeking shelter once I got to the old town of Castleton, but as I rushed past, my exuberance and the hope of clear skies ahead kept me going down the canyon. I have made it this far.
The road straightened after the old town of Castleton and the rain became less fierce. Although I was flying downhill, the extreme chill of the higher altitude was gone. Castle Rock changed from a silhouette to a huge contoured formation looming above me. For nearly five miles the road sped me down to the Colorado River as the Canyon walls closed in around me. In the middle of the road I stopped and turned around to look back up the canyon. The storm was now full into the mountains that were barely showing, backed by the rising sun. Misty clouds hung between all the monstrous rock formations and a light rain now fell on me. It was a terrific sight.
The Colorado River Canyon showed rain and dark clouds to the east, to the west I could see a small hole with blue sky and white clouds. The Colorado River Canyon was massive and beautiful. I loved heading down river enjoying the expanding blue sky above me in the shade of the great canyon walls.
5:01 pmm Moab
Another storm moves in. I envy the wind direction. Yesterday, I fought a headwind headed south, I watch the wind blow strongly to the south now. But, of course, I don't envy dealing with the rain again. As the rain builds, the wind subsides.
Now I am away from my tent and bicycle having dinner and continuing to relax. I can see the peaks of the La Sal Mountains still bright in the sunlight, soon to be swallowed, I feel sure, in this current rainstorm. I predict now that the rain will end by 6:30 pmm. I just do not believe it will last long or many hours like a Memphis rain. I feel this way because I can see the edges of the storm, it does not engulf the entire horizon. Out West where one can see so far, the huge size of a stormfront also seems to have its limits. I rarely predict the weather, but see how I do. Already the sun is gone from the La Sal Mountains.
Photo: Castle Valley in a rainstorm. From my vista up in the La Sal Mountains, I was going to be headed down into that valley and the rain. My camera was in a ziploc sandwich bag to keep it dry. I had covers for the rear panniers, but on rainy days, everything was packed into plastic bags. Even my sleeping bag was stuffed into a plastic garbage bag and that was stuffed into a nylon stuff sack. My food was all in a tupperware container and my sleeping pad went into the nylon sack for the tent poles. The tent poles had to tough the rain like I did.
You may make out the rainbow on the extreme left, and if you look closely, you may see the double rainbow. I did get to see a full double rainbow when I worked in Alaska, but this one is faint in the photo. I think the rainbow highlights the Castle Valley. Somewhere in that Valley is the Colorado River and Arches National Park is on the northwest side of the River. The Colorado flows southwest into Canyonlands National Park.
7:03 amm Moab, Utah
I am working for an early start today, there is a lot of desert ahead of me. I could not get a newspaper this morning and it seems that there will not be any services until Monticello. There was a dusting of snow on the peaks of the La Sal Mountains last night bowling the storm. I hoped that I could get a photo this morning, but the sun is on the mountain rim just now and I can't see the snow.
This is an example of how I did not prioritize my journaling. I even say I am trying to hurry. I just don't put in any details, or tell how I was feeling, how I slept or what I ate for breakfast. I was staying at the "Up The Creek'' campground and I suppose I am concerned about having enough water to get to Monticello.
There were services. I took a photo of the Hole n' the Wall, but I did not stop. There is a collection of tourist shops under a huge orange rock. Someone has painted in eight foot letters: HOLE N" THE ROCK. It is a home that someone carved out of the stone and now you can tour for a price and buy souvenirs. There is a really beautiful rest area just north of the HOLE that I stopped at and got water. When I got back on the road, the HOLE was just around a shallow bend less than half a mile away from the rest stop. I did take a photo, but at the time, I didn't even know what it was. I took a picture from the north side and the white paint advertisement is only half the size of the painting on the other side. When I got to the other side, I didn't think it was worth a photo.
Farther down the road however, was the Wilson Arch. Now it is photogenic and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking. Today's photos are dominated by this Arch that is about 50 miles south of Arches National Park.
3:42 pmm Monticello, Utah
The early ride was necessary to reach Monticello by 4:pm. The wind was against me the entire way, but the big surprise was that Monticello is on a 7k plane. I climbed out of the Moab Valley and had a short downhill near Wilson's Arch; but again I had to climb up here to Monticello.
Winson's Arch was really spectacular because of the fantastic vista to the south. The La Sal Mountains are visible from here and have been behind me on the horizon all day. The ride has been good, but I really faded in the strong wind at the end.
I made it to Monticello and I am sure that I found some store to resupply. But my journal does not mention where I stayed or any details. It does seem strange to end my day at 4, I suppose I did not want to venture into the high desert or I was exhausted fighting that wind.
The Wilson Arch is right on the side of the highway, it is hard not to stop for it. There are wide shoulders on both sides of the road to park. There is no ranger, interpretive or fence. There is no sign telling you not to paint the arch.
There is nothing delicate about this arch, it seems substantial and strong. The photo on the left I climbed right up underneath it. I am sure you can climb over it, but I didn't take the time.
There is a view from the arch, and I attempted to get some of the surrounding landscape in the photos. From the highway the hole does not look very large in this arch, but from underneath, I was impressed by the size. I did not take a photo that shows the scale, I was there alone, no other people around.
This photo is a composite of two photos. I don't know if I planned to make it a panorama shot, but if you bisect the photo on the left you can imagine what the two original shots looked like. The bottom with some landscape and the top, just a large column of rock against the blue sky.
It was really fortunate to have this right on the side of the road. I believe I just was not stopping enough to enjoy the unique terrain. When I think back on this twenty years ago, the landscape was so different from what I was used to in Alabama and Tennessee. I had seen wonderful countryside from the East Coast, and the Blue Ridge Mountains; but, this scenery was truly phenomenal.
This photo is another composite that I have put together with Adobe Lightroom. Twenty years ago I was standing under this arch and I took a photo with the arch and the left background and I took one with the arch and the right background. I don't really know if I had a method of combining the photos at that time.
Thirty years ago I had made some photos that I did intend to be panoramas. Back in 1992, my plan was just to tape the two photos together to make the panorama effect. This seems like a recovered photo to me; lost somehow for twenty years. I know what it is, so I think it is more meaningful to me. I am afraid that any viewer, that has not been to Arches, may have a hard time figuring out just what this is a photo of.
Wrecked cars on the side of a remote highway are not that unusual. You just don't notice them at driving speed. From a bicycle seat, there is a lot in my view that drivers miss. I had a chance to see quite a few wrecks. They typically are overgrown with weeds and begin to look more and more like the surrounding topography. I know this is a retrospective twenty years past, but those body styles look like the 1940s or 50s to me. I wonder how they got there? I can dream up a much more romantic and exciting story than likely how those cars really ended up on the side of the highway.
Looking back north toward the La Sal Mountains near Monticello Utah.
5:38 pmm Blanding Utah
I didn't leave Monticello until afternoon. I ate at the MD Ranch Steakhouse, had a patty melt and read the newspaper. I began slowly and again faced the wind all day. I also faced more climbs, up and down valley's until about 4 miles outside of Blanding where I coasted down a long fall out of "The Cedars."
I really was not making sense when I wrote my journal entry for today. I did not note where I had camped or why I was so late leaving town. I know I said I ate at the MD Ranch, but was that dinner on Friday, or lunch Saturday, August 31? I do put some facts together, but I believe when I wrote this I was expecting to remember the details of my day. Twenty years later, I don't know where I slept or what I was doing in Monticello. I could have visited the library but I did not put those details in.
A family was out on their bikes making the ride from Moticello to Blanding. They passed me as I read alongside the road on an odd shady spot.
I don't know if any details would help me to remember this event. I don't recall this cycling family. Did I talk with them? How do I know they were a family and where they were headed? What was I reading?
I searched around town for a motel and found the Sleep Inn $25 a night. Today is to rest and recover. I thought I could see Monument Valley from the Adjbo Mountains, I estimate ity is 60 miles distant.
The MD Ranch in Monticello is now a Ja-Roen Thai Restaurant and there is no longer a Blanding Sleep Inn. The Edge of The Cedars is a state park and museum on the north side of Blanding. I passed the Adjbo Mountains between Monticello and Blanding. It is possible I could have seen Monument Valley, that is a long way.
Photo: Authentic Puebloan village at The Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum.
My journal is pretty thin today. I am riding from town to town because I do not want to get stranded out in the desert. I believe I could have resupplied and rode right past the last two towns, but they are about 50 or 60 miles apart and I cannot tell if there will be amenities available between the towns. I got a room at the Sleep Inn and it really sounds like I needed a bed for the night.
The Recapture Reservoir is right along the highway between Monticello and Blanding Utah.
Photo left, previous page: An example of pottery from this area. I don't think this coffee mug is that old, but people lived in this area when Athens was a new city. Photo right, previous page: This is one roadside attraction that is different but does not change. I compare and contrast this old barn with those I was photographing just three months ago in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. MAIL POUCH TOBACCO.
Photo left: This is the oldest sandal in the Edge of the Cedars Museum collection; dating back to the early Archaic. This 8,300 year old sandal has an open-twine construction. The wefts, straps and loops are formed from one continuous twined piece. Location Comb Ridge Cultural Period: Archaic - Just think, someone lost this shoe about three-thousand years before the Great Pyramid was built in Egypt.
Photo right: The really groovy thing I like about this old pot is the design on it that could have been done yesterday for Target. The Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum has the largest collection of Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) pottery on display in the Four Corners Region. There is little known about the people who lived in Southern Utah that long ago, but the climate has preserved some things. I am amazed at just how connected I feel to these mysterious people, I like the patterns on the pottery they made. I know it is a very slim connection.
Photos: I don't know the age of the pottery, but I may be quite new. The stone settlement that still stands was built about 1,200 years ago. That is a long time, but not nearly as long as the evidence of people living in this area. I do love the patterns.
You can find out more at the Utah State Parks website that is strangely branded with UTAH DNR. That stands for the Utah Department of Natural Resources, but I cannot help but think of Utah, Do Not Resuscitate.
The Edge of the Cedars Pueblo is a village that was inhabited by the ancestors of contemporary Puebloan peoples from AD 825 to 1225. When I was there, twenty years ago, they let you climb down a ladder to a 1,000-year-old kiva. The state museum was mainly designed to move herds of grade-school kids through, but late in the summer and late in the day I had the place nearly to myself.
11:10 amm Bluff Utah
It has been a great morning for riding! From Blanding to Bluff is downhill and I have not had the usual headwind. The final drop to Bluff was a beautiful, tight canyon.
In Bluff there is an historical site of an old Morman settlement. I am seated in the cool log meeting house replica (that is not accessible). The spires and mesas of "The Valley of the Gods," were looming in the distance as I got a good look from the higher altitude.
Altitude really makes a difference. From Monticello to Blanding there were cedars, but south of Blanding (~6,000 feet) there were few trees. It is also somewhat cooler in the higher regions. Bluff is at about 4,500 and on the San Juan River, 20 miles from Mexican Hat.
3:38 pmm Mexican Hat Utah
"The Valley of the Gods" was somewhat a let-down. Highway 163 really does not provide good vistas, one must take the 17 mile loop. My plan, however, is to push on the Monument Valley. I had a flat just outside of Bluff, I did not mark it with the GPS. I quickly changed the tube and patched the hole.
The Valley of the Gods is also a very large open place. I could have made the loop and it was the perfect time of the year to do it because it was not too cold in September. The loop was a dirt road and I just had another flat. Thorns are the evil cause in many cases. I did not note how I got the flat, but I did not have some of the heavy protection on my tires for thorns.
Photo: From sunset in Monument Valley.
Without the computer with me, I was using the GPS to mark points where things happened. My plan was to transfer information from the GPS into my map program when I got back. I cannot find any evidence that I ever saved that transfer information. I could tell you the exact coordinates of that flat tire, but I do not have the data.
The Comb Ridge was impressive, falling into the Valley of the Gods was great. As I passed through the Comb Ridge the color of the desert changed from light brown to deep red.
If you look at all of the photos, you may notice a theme today. Many of these photos are taken from the seat of my bike. One evidence of this is the large number of road photos, where I intentionally include the road in the photo. Because I often did not get off of my bike to make the photo, they are almost all at a standing height perspective. It just was not practical to get off of my bike, there was rarely anything to lean the bike against. An additional result is that there is only one photo of my bike from today. I am in that photo also. I don't recall who took the picture, but a tourist offered to take the photo of me and my bike. The only thing I recall about them is that English was not their first language but we were able to effectively communicate on how to operate the camera.
Blanding to Monument Valley is 73 miles. I did not note it, but that distance is about what I rode the past two days combined. I took more than 40 photos today so I am renaming the Flickr Album from Moab, to From Moab to Monument and I will include photos from today and tomorrow in that album. https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA4qEv
LIST OF ADAPT/MCIL Things to do:
My journal was also my notepad. This outline is of work that I wanted to get to. It is strange that out in Monument Valley, I was thinking about work and the upcoming ADAPT action. The number 2 entry, Case for MiCASSA, was to finish part two of the article I had started. Part One I was keeping in my pocket for the New Orleans ADAPT action. Because the NOLA action was canceled, I didn't publish Part One for nearly a year, in August of 2003. The end of that article says: "Coming Soon! The Case for MiCASSA Part 2: Institutions perpetuate dependency, poverty and death." That sounds like it would be a great pair of articles, but I ended up using all my material for Part 2 in the fifteen pieces I wrote about the Free Our People March in September of 2003.
Photo: My tent in Monument Valley. You may be able to see another camper on the extreme right.
I made it to a campground on the north end of Monument Valley, in time to set up my tent and take some photos at sundown. I left my tent and rode out to a couple of spots to view the sundown. It was really a beautiful experience. More photos are in my Flickr album Moab to Monument: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjA4qEv
6:54 amm Monument Valley, Navajo Nation
I enjoy sunrise in Monument Valley, I don't take a lot of photos. The wind is still and the desert is cool, so I am anxious to get on the road because I can see a shift in those two features soon. My campsite is great, overlooking the vast Valley and huge "mittens." There were many stars out last night and I saw a falling star, it reminded me of East Utah, when I saw three in one night.
I had a wonderful view out of my tent and I attempted to make three low resolution photos that showed the vista. I wanted one to go onto the web, but I was so remote, that I didn't get to a computer for a few days and had other photos to put up by that time.
Photo: crossing into Arizona from Utah. My campsite was right along the boarder and I had to go into Arizona to get there, but I camped in Utah. This is the state welcome sign on the highway as I headed southwest. I typically did not wear that long sleeve fleece while riding, but I would slip it on anytime I stopped.
The sun is fully up over the horizon now, although it still gives off a reddish glow to the already red rocks in the valley. Today is the day I start heading back to Denver. Start early - end early.
I had been headed southwest from Moab and much of the day I was going to continue in that direction. At Kayenta I would turn back east. I would have loved to blaze a trail across Monument Valley and cut this southwest corner off my trip, but I was reliably told there was no road, not even a dirt shortcut across.
12:06 Kayenta, Navajo Nation
I pull into town, but I have not got a lot of motivation to get laundry done and move down the road. Heading east, the ride this morning was nice. The red desert slowly changed back to light brown.
6:28 pmm Tes Nez lah, Navajo Nation
Leaving Kayenta I blazed into the desert. Unbelievably I had some strong headwinds that made me angry and unmotivated. How can the wind always be in my face?
This is a strange feeling about the wind. Unless it is behind you, it always seems to work against you. At your sides you still have to fight it. At any angle to your front, it is a headwind that you have to fight, you feel it and hear it. Most of the time the wind also is loud and that adds to the general frustration. On the other hand, a tailwind makes the world quiet.
I stopped at an abandoned gas station in the shade of what used to cover the gas pumps to rest and read. I have a long way to go and a lot of desert to cross, the stop was mostly because I am low on motivation. Once I got going again, I knew I had to, the wind died down and I made some good time.
Photo: One of the few items I purchased on my trip. I bought a dream catcher for Judy from this guy in the small Navajo trading post along the highway. He had a great repertoire and talked a lot. He told me what a dreamcatcher does and how it works. He said that he sees a few cyclists every year, but rarely alone. I wish I remembered more about our conversation.
An SUV tossed a bag of garbage at me. It did not come close. As the SUV passed I heard it hit behind me. This marks only the second time someone has thrown something at me, in consecutive days. Someone tossed a beer can at me as I approached Monument Valley, they missed me also. Both times I have had things thrown at me have been in the Navajo Nation.
Twenty years later, I do not recall either event I just mentioned. No telling the motives of whoever they were. Since I have been riding a bicycle, I have not once been able to tell what someone has yelled from a car. It is just not comprehensible, good or bad. But the meaning of someone throwing trash at me is certainly more understandable; however, it is still a mystery.
I pushed on until I ran across a large group of people parked in the desert. A sign on the highway read "Bull Riding," so I stopped to stake a look. I had to pay $5 to get in. Packed around a fence were 75 to 100 people, their cars and trucks parked as close to the fence as possible. Some people sat on their cars, others had a tarp, they made shade with and sat under.
From the distance I could see the large collection of cars and people. The really striking thing was this crowd was in the middle of nowhere. The collection of cars, well off the road, was just so unusual for the barron and remote landscape. I believe I would have rode out to the site to see what was going on, even if I had not seen the handmade sign: "Bull Riding."
I found the only place I could park my bike in the fence and the next thing you know a guy is riding a bucking bull. There were two clowns that guided the bulls back to a maze of holding pens. Guys with yellow three foot long cattle prods were directing the bulls through the maze once the rider fell off.
Later the more expensive bulls and seasoned riders did their thing. Horseback riders were used when these bulls came out, but they never lassoed the bulls, just drove them back to the bull maze.
Photo: Sunrise from my tent over Monument Valley.
It was neat to watch, the people there did not say much to each other and nothing to me. I enjoyed watching but got some water and got back on the road.
I did not have a clue what was going on. I often try to explain my own ignorance with the example of television wrestling. I can see everything that happens, I just don't understand. My mind just cannot get past the hokey moves and fake fighting to comprehend any story. While I do not understand bull riding, the whole event was compelling and exciting.
I said it was neat to watch. I took a bunch of photos. I just didn't know what was happening or how long it would last. I was just a tourist at a very local event. It must have been obvious to the people who were there. I didn't belong.
The rest at the Bull Riding did me good because I made good time to Tes Nez lah. I camped on a roadway cut above the gas and convenience store on Chinle Creek. I have the tent in a pocket that is difficult, but not impossible, to see from the road.
I looked up this location on Google Street View, but I could not recall the exact spot. The store I mentioned is no longer there. I could see the abandoned building with a feature that shows the area in 2008, but it has been torn down. I didn't take a photo of this campsite along Chinle Creek or the store.
Photo above: Unnamed Feature. This is across the highway from Agathla Peak but it does not have a name posted. I looked on Google Maps and was unable to come up with a name.
Previous page and following page: Agathla Peak. Notice the change in color from the deep reds and orange to this gray and brown desert.
9:44 amm Mexican Water, AZ
Five miles from my camp I stop at a roadside store, restaurant and laundry to eat, get supplies and do laundry. Breakfast is nice, but the Navajos do not say much, I don't feel very welcome.
I am sure some of that unwelcome feeling is just the adrenaline that I was experiencing compared to the daily life of the people who live around Monument Valley. It was not just another day for me, but it was to the people I met. I am sure that they had to eat and do laundry just like me, but for me it was not as routine.
Late last night (actually early this morning), I put the fly up because of some rain. As I got up, there was rain all around me so I packed for rain but only a short sprinkle actually fell on me.
Photo: I did take a photo of this campsite. This is sunrise at Tes Nez lah.
It was beautiful this morning riding into the rising sun with rain falling all along the horizon. Sun rays were poking holes in the clouds ahead and unbelievably I had a tailwind.
I feel a little guilty I made this stop at Mexican Water. Although I got a lot accomplished, I did not keep the pace into the cool desert, meaning, possibly more time in the heat this afternoon. It has been a good pause however and heading east has not kept my motivation up.
I did have to do laundry and eat, however I feel guilty that I was letting the good wind and weather pass me by. I am afraid that I will hit a wall of heat and headwind down the road and I spent the cool tailwind in Mexican Water doing laundry.
1:52 pmm Teec Nos Pos, AZ
I encountered some rain, it seems to be from the north. Now that I am turning north, I am facing a crossing headwind. I have made good time but a recurring pain in my foot is troubling me. I thought it was related to wearing the toe straps, but it was also painful without the straps on. Now that I have stopped it is nearly completely gone. This pain could really hurt me on my climb tomorrow.
I have passed through some small Navajo villages. They seem to be a group of HUD homes scattered around a water tower. Many do hot have a convenience store on the highway so they seem very isolated, not welcoming communities. It is as if one has to be invited in to be part of the milieu. I try to relax at the TeecNos Pos stop, but I cannot help but feel that I should be on my way. It is mostly cool right now and I am sitting in the shade writing.
One benefit from my fading motivation is that I am stopping more and writing more in my journal. I have explained it as the last thing to do, but here in remote Navajo country I seem to pull out my notebook to extend each roadside stop.
6:08 pmm The corner of US 160 and 666 Ute Nation
Four corners is a tourist trap! What a silly reason to gather and take photos. Many people were doing just that. I was one, but I did not stay long. I cannot believe I paid $3 to do that.
Photo: Welcome sign to the Navajo Nation.
I also had to ride a half-mile, both ways to visit the man-made attraction. It really is nothing like the natural beauty in the terrain. Now I know that the four corners point is not in the right place. I just measured it and found it is 41 feet off (that is my Google Earth measurement).
Just outside of 4 corners I crossed into Colorado and the San Juan River. I also crossed into the yellowish-brown desert. It was the most desolate area yet. The road was mostly good with a good berm, but I climbed gradually and of course, headed into the wind (crossing, not too bad).
Looking up the road - US 666 to the north does not seem to provide me any cover. I am considering staying here, at the CLOSED TRIBAL VISITORS OFFICE. I am sure I would if the car that is parked on the north side was not there. I am charging my camera right now at an outdoor outlet they have next to this shady bench I am relaxing at.
The landscape has been really phenomenal although desolate. I can see "Ship Rock" more than 20 miles south of me right now. I was impressed as I crossed the San Juan River and could see it about 14 miles off. There are also small mesas and buttes around. Just in front of me is "Chimney Rock" which is a lot like the buttes in Monument Valley (only this one is yellow-brown not red). Up the road I saw other interesting formations that will surely get into a photograph.
During the ride this afternoon the Sleeping Ute Mountains have been to the north, now to the west (as I turn on 666). They stand out in the middle of the brown desert, but I don't think I will get much closer. I certainly will notice them as I climb up their foothills to the north.
Twenty years ago Highway 666 was called Devil's Highway and ran from Monticello, Utah east to Cortez, Colorado and south into New Mexico. Now that highway is numbered 491.
The mysterious pain in my foot is back. It is painful on my right foot at the toe strap binding, even when I did not wear the strap. The rest at Teec Nos Pos helped today, I hope that I don't have to go another 10 miles today.
Photo Left: Crossing into Colorado. This is my last state of this bike adventure. In the last six months I have been to New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Utah, Arizona, Navajo Nation and now Colorado. By car I drove through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. I traveled in an RV from Alabama through Tennessee to North Carolina. And that same RV from Indiana through Illinois and Kentucky to Tennessee. I took a bus from Denver to Washington DC and rode a train back. With ADAPT I traveled from Denver to Boise Idaho and back. Here is a photo of me at the southwest corner of Colorado headed back to see Judy in Littleton.
I did end up poaching a campsite at the Tribal Visitors Office. It was an old gas station at the intersection of Highway 160 and the Devil's Highway. I pitched my tent in the back of the lot, away from the building and no one came by.
Photo Right: My pose at the Four Corners tourist trap.
Top left is my first attempt at the Navajo Nation sign, I left the grass in the frame. Top middle and right: When I arrive at Four Corners, I realize it is a trap. Flags at 4 corners: Left top: New Mexico; Left bottom: Arizona; Above is Colorado; Right top: Utah and lower right is the Four Corners Tribal flag.
6:55 amm Intersection of US 160 and US 666 (now US 491) Ute Nation
The sun is just now coming up. I am about to get on the road. My sleep last night was not as sound as usual. I got up and put up the fly after midnight, but it didn't seem to be raining at all. The fly helped in the strong wind however. My lips are very chapped, even though I had a maximum amount of water yesterday. It is either sunburn or 2 days straight long desert crossing has finally affected them.
Last night I watched a storm in the Ute Mountains that was fanatic. Flashes of light from both sides of the peaks and from behind and above them. It was powerful. The storm had to be 12 to 20 miles away. I could not hear thunder and sometimes I could see the bolt of lighting, but mostly I saw the flashes that lit the sky and showed the mountains off in silhouette.
Photo: My tent in the sunrise at the Tribal Visitors Office. In the background is the Sleeping Ute Mountains. Can you see the sleeping Ute?
I attempted to take a dozen photos, but they were all black, save two that had a yellow blur in the middle. I did not change the ISO from 100 and I kept the shutter speed at about two seconds. I really don't know what I tried, but I did not make it work.
12:33 pmm Cortez, Colorado
Once I got out of Ute Country, the ride up to Cortez was easy. I got into town at 10 and made my way to the visitors Center for a map. At the library I could not upload a photo, so I sent off some email and made a post from Teec Nos Pos Navajo Nation.
First, I believe the reason I say that I post from Teec Nos Pos is because I had not been able to post for a week and I did not want my posts to skip so much country. I thought my posts would catch up with me so it was similar to back-dating a post. What I mean by not being able to upload a photo was because many libraries at the time would let you use a computer, but you could not upload or download any files. On the other hand, in 2002, I found quite a few public computers that I could upload a photo from my camera to put on the "Where in the World is … Tim Wheat?" site.
Now I am at McDonald's taking advantage of free refills to rehydrate myself. I promised my bicycle that we would camp in the mountains tonight. Cortez is a city. I have not been in a city like this for a long time. Since Provo, I think. All the towns have been basically one road through the commercial district and goodbye. But Cortez has ballfields, public parks, a municipal swimming pool (that was closed) and grass on the side of the road.
I am looking forward to getting back into the mountains. A local tells me that there is always a tailwind that blows up the canyon, a tailwind! I think I will drop the extra water bottle and just go with frame water and my Poison Spider Bottle.
The Poison Spider Bottle was a souvenir that I got in Moab. I had to purchase tubes and a patch kit at a bike shop in town and that was one practical item that had their logo on it. The really great thing about plastic water bottles is that the water has a very consistent taste. I didn't say it was a good taste, but after a while on the road I believe that I prefer the knoable plastic taste, to the variety of water tastes that I could have.
9:11 pmm Stoner, Colorado
Before I got to Deloras, I turned to visit the Anasazi Cultural Center. It was the best museum and Interpretive Center I have ever been to. It was large and self-guided with many items to put your hands on and many things to read and learn about the Anasazi at your own pace. The ruins were above-ground Pueblo style and were interesting but not as impressive as some of the cliff-dwelling photos they showed.
I don't think there is a Stoner Colorado. I stayed on Stoner Creek and I just named the little village there, Stoner. Again at this museum the stoneware is very impressive. The highlight is a cup that would make a great modern coffee mug.
Photo: I would love to have a mug like this. I don't know specifically the age of this mug, but archaeology place the ruins in the twelfth Century, the time of the Second and Third Crusades.
Deloras was a neart community, beu I blazed through and up to Stoner above 7k. It is chilly up here with trees and water. It is so different than the days I have been in the desert, since the La Sal Mountain ride.
This has been the most gradual climb so far that I have ever made. I am following the Deloras River up and it has been really beautiful and easy. I anticipate more of the same tomorrow, but I have a long way to go.
Jared Polis, who was my Congressman when I lived in Boulder, is now the governor of Colorado. He created the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board and is asking for public input on more than two dozen Colorado features that are currently named "squaw." Twenty years ago, when I took this photo, the formation was named Squaw and Papoose, but it may have a new name next year.
The Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum located in Dolores, Colorado, is an archaeological museum of Native American pueblo and hunter-gatherer cultures. Two 12th-century archaeological sites, the Escalante and Dominguez Pueblos, at the center were once home to Ancient Pueblo peoples.
11:08 amm Rico Colorado ~8,800 ft
A cold morning getting up in the mountains. Even colder because I think the campground changed the bathroom combination on me. I rode out of Stoner with long pants, my fleece and tunic on. I have not been making good time, but the climb has been so gradual and there is a headwind early in the day (the local told me the tailwind was in the afternoon).
I would start conversations with cyclists by talking about the headwinds and tailwinds, but in the mountains, I really don't think you can count on any good information. But it was a conversation starter. My fleece was long sleeved, but not good protection from the wind, my tunic was great wind protection, but it was sleeveless. I really don't know what I looked like, but it was what I had to keep warm.
On the way up some of the hardwoods along the Dolores River are showing some fall colors. It isn't hard to believe when you can feel how cold it is this morning, so I got some photos to prove it.
About three miles from Rico I finally get a glimpse of the rocky peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Rico is a really nice mountain town and very accessible. There are some buildings here that proffer they were built more than 100 years ago.
I noticed that when I lived in Boulder, anything over 80 years old was an old building. The threshold for being old was a lot lower than it is here in Memphis. My house is 100 years old. My dorm at the University of Alabama was older than the entire Boulder community, but they tore down the old Freedman Dorm a couple years ago. There is a plaque on campus where the dorm used to be, I suppose it is a lot like the Esclante Pueblo.
Photo: My bike at Lizard Head Pass. I kept the load pretty light. I had to store that dreamcatcher somewhere, but it was not heavy. On my front panniers are the shoes I got at a SLC roadside sale.
4:06 pmm Telluride, Colorado
Lizard Head Pass is one of the most spectacular roads! The gradual climb turns away from the Dolores River and into a steep climb to the lizard head, a spire peak.
The apogee of the climb at 10,250 near the top of the alpine. The descent is steep into the ophir valley that is surrounded by jagged high rocky peaks, it is incredible. I climbed out of the ophir valley, the only time I recall a climb after the peak of a mountain pass to another descent into Telluride. The mountains around Telluride are also breathtaking, the gray jagged rocky type.
In 2010 I rode up this pass from the other direction in the Colorado Peace Ride. I was with a group of hand cyclists who invited the Executive Director of the Center for People with Disabilities in Boulder to use one of their extra hand cycles. Ian Engle was my boss and friend. The three day ride was fantastic and as you can expect I have additional photos of Lizard Head pass from that experience.
I didn't know what to do with the camera. I kept looking around, stunned by the surroundings. Do I take a photo? Eventually, I decided that the ride down was "my descent" and I should enjoy it as much as I could and take some pictures when I stop to remind me of the experience. It has been a great day, finally sitting in the Conoco in Telluride I am warm. Strange how I went from burning up in the desert to being cold all day today.
6:31 pmm Poach along the San Miguel River
I carried the bike down a very steep bank to a dirt service road along the San Miguel River, I will not be able to carry the bike back up, so I hope this service road goes somewhere. I will find out tomorrow.
Tonight I am enjoying being beside a running river (a creek back east) and this huge red rock canyon. I can just barely make out some of the rocky peaks well beyond the canyon. There is definitely some permafrost in these peaks, although they also looked very sun-drenched.
7:53 pmm Sundown
Dinner tonight sucks! I really need to get some food I like. I feel obligated to eat this crap too because of possible bears. Well, I think I'd rather take my chances with the bears than eat the rest. So I packed it up and it is back to the "Smoke Jumpers."
I added some details about my daily routine. I didn't like what I made for dinner, but I didn't say what food I didn't like. "Smoke Jumpers," by Nicholas Evans was a paperback that I bought to read. I remember hearing about the Smokejumpers when I worked for the Forest Service in Alaska. That year the Tok Fire took a lot of the Forest Service personnel away from their usual tasks so they could go fight the fire. I was a volunteer, so I stayed on and worked on some additional projects with the Stikine Area District Ranger. The book however is a dud, Nicholas Evans puts more romance into the story than Smokejumper lore.
Photo: I poached a site just outside of Telluride along the San Miguel River. Except for dinner, it was a fantastic camping site.
Twenty years ago today, I took over 50 photos on my ride in the beautiful San Juan Mountains. I want you to see every one that I took. But I am only going to choose a dozen, the rest will be in a Flickr.com Album: Colorado.
Those are horses along a distant fence. I used a top and bottom liner gradient to lower the texture in the foreground and background of this photo. The subjects are faraway, but the effect almost makes them look like toys in the distance.
1:09 pmm Ridgeway Colorado
I got up fairly late, I waited until it got warmer and slowly made my way down to Sawpit and Placerville. But once I turned on Colorado Highway 62, I made great time on the climb to the Dallas Divide summit at 9k. The descent was fantastic! I made the first 6 miles down from the top in about 14 minutes. I almost broke my speed record (44.5 descent to Rio Grande) at 44 miles per hour. Still I was above 30 most of the descent and I was in Ridgeway before 12:30. 90 minutes going up 20 minutes going down.
The GPS had an odometer function that would give me my speed and show the highest speed while I had it on and connected to satellites. It really was a battery hog, so I only used it selectively. But I see my typical speed was about 26 mph (s=6/.23). Generally how I kept up with my speed was to divide the time into the distance between landmarks. I did not record this at all, I just worked it out in my head when I wanted to know.
Photo: Near the end of my day I ran into this fellow cyclist headed the other direction. I turned around and we spoke on the side of the road.
I would say my average speed was about 12 miles per hour. I know that is a poor guess, because I often worked out my speed over the times when I had a strong headwind or some trouble. I didn't care about my speed when traveling was easy. Now, twenty years later, I wish I had periodically recorded my speed so I would have some kind of realistic average. When I began this bike jornada, I had kept up with my daily riding distance, but at this point I was putting in more miles, but I was not keeping track. When I started I had that mapping software with me, now I have a paper map of Colorado to guide me through the mountains.
I stopped for lunch at a student bakery and had a good omelet, but my mind is on the road. I have chores to do to get back disn the saddle.
Twenty years ago I was afraid "chores" were keeping me from writing in my journal. It also seems to hint at my fading love of living on the road. These are very beautiful mountainscapes I am traveling through, but I seem more motivated to move on. While I took more than 50 photos yesterday, today I took only five.
Rain early. Rain in the face as I go east on US 50
Incredible day for bicycling. GREAT DAY!
In Gunnison I watch the Alabama game. Alabama v. Oklahoma, lose 27-37.
Alabama played in Norman Oklahoma. The coach of Alabama at the time was Dennis Franchione. He really did help turn the program around after the NCAA sanctions from 2000, but Alabama Football was crippled by the bowl ban. Although Franchione was not responsible for it, he was not going to help Alabama through the ban and suspension and quit.
Photo: My tent at sunrise in the San Juan Mountains.
Alabama started the game with an onside kick and got 3 points out of that aggressive strategy. Oklahoma then scored 23 unanswered points. But in the fourth quarter Alabama came alive and took the lead 27-23 with only three minutes to play. But OU came back strong and ran over Alabama to score a go-ahead touchdown. The Tide was driving to come back in the final 38 seconds and were just about in field goal range when the quarterback was sacked and he fumbled the ball. OU ran it in for a score to extend their win 37-27.
It was a great game to watch and on the brink of Alabama coming back and winning, we lost. It is hard to think of Alabama not being in the hunt for the national championship from the first game of the season. Judy got to know me at one of the lowest times for Alabama football. She never saw how captivating a national title pursuit can be. Since Nick Saban became head coach in 2007, football season has been very different.
Judy has no admiration of the game and is appalled by my seasonal involvement. I visited the Alabama Alumni chapter game viewing in Denver a couple of times; but moved to watching the game at the Lazy Dog in downtown Boulder for many years. I met Chris, a University of Georgia graduate there. Both of his parents graduated from the University of Alabama so he was a Tide fan. He still is, although I am sure that he follows the Dawgs since they are doing so well.
Twenty years ago I was a typical "fair-weather" football fan. But now, I cannot help but follow the team. I have been Institutionalized where my past allegiance with the school makes me irrationally connected to University of Alabama football. It is Nick Saban that has really made things hard on Judy. Alabama had an undefeated season in 2009, beating Florida in the SEC championship and Texas in the BCS championship game. It was Saban's third season at Alabama. From there Alabama won the national championship in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2020. Right now as I write this, Alabama is ranked number one. Roll Tide!
This has been a real treat to have photos that I took in a panorama style, but did not attempt to stitch together until twenty years later. Above is a photo that I made to capture this rock wall in Gunnison Canyon. These are two photos, however, when I took them twenty years ago I did not have a clear way to meld them into a panorama. I am sure that it was something I thought I could do, but it is not until today that I accomplished this task.
On my 1992 bike adventure, I did take some panorama shots. I knew that those 1992 photos would be 4 by 6 prints and my panorama was to take two photos with some overlap and I would just place the prints side-by-side. With Lightroom I can stitch these photos from 2002 so you cannot see a seam and I used "content aware" to fill-in the upper left and lower right corners where my framing did not match.
I was just thinking about how many photos I have made as a panorama that I never fashioned into a panorama. When I came to this photo, I noticed it looked like the one I just posted. I went back to lightroom and stitched these photos together. Honestly, the photo on the right looks pretty good without the photo on the left. It is a road photo and I don't know if the panorama adds to the rainy long road look. But here they are together, the way I intended them twenty years ago.
I will keep my eye out for more panorama photos. I attempted to blend in another photo to make this a tryptic. I thought I may have attempted another photo on the right, but it does not fit. Still, I hope that I do have more undiscovered treasures that I have not yet found.
In addition to photos that I am pleased to find, there are also photos that I feel that I have to fix.
This photo is an example of one that really does not have a subject, but I was attempting to show the mountain stream. I used Lightroom to blur the distracting pines in the foreground and cropped most of them out. I attempted to highlight the creek by sharpening it and pulling out the highlights.
I did a lot of editing to a photo that is not going to be very good. The "dreamy pines" may help the photo to be something other than a brook that I don't know the name of and can't recall where it is.
On the other hand, this photo gave me a chance to be a little creative, I didn't have to make a photo that shows what I saw 20 years ago because I don't know what it is in the photo.
10:30 amm Gunnison Colorado
My Rocky's Motel Strategy seems to have worked: It is clear and cool today and I am reasonably warm and dry. Ahead of me lies Monarch Pass at above 11k. I am tackling today very slowly. In the rain yesterday I took very few photos. Still I did not recharge my camera. I expect some good photos today.
I believe the Motel Strategy was just to get out of the rain. What I was worried about is stopping at a motel, drying everything and then heading back out into the rain. I wanted to avoid multiple days in a hotel like what happened in Cincinnati when the rain canceled the game. I was stuck in a hotel for another day with a non-refundable ticket. This time I did not have anywhere to go in the small mountain town of Gunnison. The "Rocky's Motel Strategy" can probably be summed up as just staying out of the rain.
I suspect the real reason I was "tackling the day slowly" was that I had many beers during the football game.
5:52 pmm Poach on the west side of Monarch Pass
I ride through some rain as I climb up to Monarch Pass. Because I am worried about visibility on the misty road I stop early and leave the steep part of the pass for tomorrow morning. I am at 9k now, so I have 2k+ to do tomorrow.
Photo: My Campsite climbing Monarch Pass. This photo was the only one I made in the lower-resolution. For this day, I wanted people to see my campsite. I don't believe I actually put this photo on the web until after I got back to Littleton, but I was very proud of this campsite. Even though it was cold at night, when I could I did like to sleep without the rainfly. The top of my tent is mesh and you can hear the wind and see the night sky.
The weather is always unpredictable in the mountains. I have never had problems on the mountain passes, but I always worry about the tight turns, small shoulders and limited visibility. Mist and fog are not difficult to ride in, especially when you climb. I worry, however, about what the drivers can see in fog. While you may be able to see everything you need to see at a slow climbing pace, it is the cars and trucks that need to be able to see you. It can give you a strange vulnerable feeling especially when there is no shoulder to retreat to and possibly a huge drop off the pavement. I seem to regret stopping, when the sun comes out, however, I ended up taking more photos of my campsite than I did of the Monarch climb.
I camp in a beautiful spot in the mountains. There is a lot of fall yellow showing in the trees. Not much of any other color. Of course, after I stop. The sun comes out and I think the road is pretty clear, but I can use the extra rest. Besides, I worry that it will be excessively cold up at the pass itself.
I have a love of US 50. When I was on my bike adventure in 1992, US 50 brought me into Colorado and up the Arkansas River Canyon. It was spectacular. I rode with a cyclist from California I ran into around Pueblo. I wrote about him earlier, but it helped endear me to US 50 and the beautiful Arkansas River Canyon. I had been on US Highway 50 since Hutchinson Kansas and rode for almost 500 miles on that road, most of it was not very scenic. But, that changed in Colorado and the picturesque climb up the Arkansas River to Salida.
Photo: I believe this is where a bear has marked an aspen. I don't know what it means, but I have hiked with people that have looked for this landmark. After my bear scare in the La Sal Mountains I was very cautious. I had all my food, snacks, clean and dirty dishes in my front pannier, which I tied on a nylon cord and hung in a tree.
I take a little nature walk around this area and find some beautiful rock formations in the alpine. The trees right outside my tent show signs of bear scratching, I photograph one. I also saw plenty of what I believe is deer sign, so I will keep my eyes open for some wildlife out tonight.
I do think it is odd that I started out today saying that I thought "I expect some good photos today," and I only took a handful. I assume that it may be the overcast skies and intermittent rain that dampened my photographic spirit, but I was worried that I did not have enough battery power. While I did not have a charger with me, I did have at least one extra rechargeable battery that I could recharge in the camera. I noted that I did not recharge my camera, I suppose I was conserving battery power for the upper reaches of Monarch Pass.
Here I am at my mountain campsite posing for a photo. Notice I still have my rain cover over my rear pannier, but no rain fly for the tent. I took a short hike that I called a nature walk, but the only thing I photographed was me and a scratched tree.
9:59 amm Monarch Pass (crest)
Lots of rain last night, but Wendy held up great. It started raining as I went off to hang my bear bag. No evidence any bears made a play for it. The climb this morning was good. The rain mist and fog got me wet and cold - but I made the summit at 9:30 amm. All along the climb I could see clearings in the fog that hinted at high rocky peaks, but I did not glimpse any.
I have been dealing with the rain for the past four days. It has only rained a little and the wet roads dry pretty quickly in Colorado. But last night, after dinner, twenty years ago, I had rain and thunder in the mountains. The mist and fog in the aftermath of the rain did not seem to hold me up in the morning.
At the crest there is a gift shop and coffee bar. The word is that the fog will continue and possibly snow. It looks "socked in" to the east, but it is also downhill, so I will take a long rest here and take off at a favorable time.
I love the photo I took at the Monarch Pass summit. I wish I had made it in high resolution, but I was still trying to make it easy to upload the tourist style snapshots. My camera is sitting on the pavement with a rock aiming it up slightly from the parking lot. I set the timer and ran to grab onto the sign. I like that the photo shows where I am, my bike and I have an active pose. You can see a ski lift heading over the nearly treeless peak behind me.
Photo: Me and my bike at Monarch Pass, 11,312. Notice my long pants and rain cover over my rear pannier.
These place shots were just an afterthought. When I crossed into New Mexico six months ago, I just leaned on the sign telling me that I was welcome in the land of enchantment. But crossing into Texas I climbed to the top of the sign. Filled with adrenaline, because I had only 10 seconds to hit the shutter and make the climb, I threw my arms up. I tried to capture that excitement as I crossed into other states, but I just didn't have a way to pose. I crossed into Ohio on a ferry, and I just stood on the deck with the Ohio River all around. At Monarch Pass I was filled with adrenaline again and I think it is a much better self-portrait as I come to the end of my ride.
I'm looking at some $15 gloves here at the store, but they would only be good for today, the next 10 miles or so. My socks should do for that job. I am procrastinating here at the shop. I was not expecting this place to be here.
I did not get the gloves at the gift shop. My extra socks performed well. I suppose the gift shop was also a ski supply store with a ski lift out the back. Years later I got the perfect mittens that I wish I had back then. They are thin nylon mittens that cover your gloves and have a slit along the palm so you can expose your fingers to work, or slip your fingers in the mitten to protect them from the wind.
Photo: US Highway 50 and 285. Now at the end of my journey I am feeling nostalgic about these two roads. Thirty years ago I followed US Highway 50 across windy Kansas, 500 miles to the Mountains of Colorado. Six months ago I followed US 285 from South Park to Fort Stockton Texas over 500 miles.
5:20 pmm Poach 5 miles East of Salida on the Arkansas River.
The wind was so stiff leaving Salida I thought continuing was of little use. Of course, another headwind, going east. I poached a beautiful spot, right in the Arkansas River. In this stiff wind, I needed some good cover. It seems very obvious that a front is approaching from the north. Dark gray clouds are looming over the north rim of the canyon. I feel sure it will bring rain, but also hopefully, the wind direction will change for tomorrow.
Now I am sitting on a rock with the Arkansas river bubbling past me. The wind is so strong it is hard to write. I have my hat fastened on under my chin. It is shadowed almost everywhere but for a few patches of sunlight highlighting different parts of the canyon rim.
Across the river from me appears to be the remains of an old mine. The tailings fall toward the river at the top there is a disheveled wooden structure. The gray timbers nearly match the rock in color.
The ride down Monarch was not as cold as I was expecting. I photographed some of the fall colors in the higher altitudes, but mostly I enjoyed the ride down.
In Salinda I did laundry, got supplies and updated email. For the most recent sighting I said I was in Telluride, to do a little backtracking since I have failed to deep coles on the email.
I don't know my altitude, but I am out of the alpine so I don't think I will have any bear problems tonight. It was quite frightening last night.
Wherever I camped, I would try to use all the daylight time I could outside of the tent. I took a hike around the area I camped twenty years ago. Sometimes I rode my bike around when I felt the campsite was secure or I was in a campground. The night before I had seen the tree scratching, but I was rationalizing that the bears were at higher altitude at this time of year. I don't know why I would think that and I am pretty sure that it is in no way valid.
I just saw a fish jump here. There is wildlife all around. Well, here comes the rain.
I have a thirty year old folding fishing rod and reel. I have packed it on my 1992 and 2002 cross-country bike adventures. Both times I have mailed it back in the first week of the trip. I like to imagine that I would have the time to sit and fish. That I could catch dinner. I have dreamed that I would sit by a lake or stream and enjoy this practical past-time.
Photo: I took a photo in the morning of the bear bag I hung at dark last night. It is my front pannier stuffed with food and dirty dishes (also, a plastic ziplock bag of cookies).
7:57 pmm Poach 9-9 on the Arkansas River
Always expecting rain, it finally came following dinner just at sundown. The light rain lasted for about 20 minutes and the strong wind is still blowing some drops on the tent fly.
The map notes that Salida is 138 miles from Denver. My GPS tells me 86. I have to make a try for it. Probably 120 to Littleton.
What I am thinking about is an all-day, all-out ride. Without having to rinse out my shorts, clean dishes, take photos, resupply, fill water bottles and keep my journal, I am thinking that I can ride the 120 miles from the west slope to Denver in one day. I have been traveling farther before lunch than later in the day. Typically, I would ride in the morning and use that as a guide to how far I would ride after my midday stop, lunch. This final push would be simply staying in the saddle all day and pushing to the last hours of daylight because I did not need to find a campsite.
4:11 pmm Cañon City, Colorado
It rained early in the morning so I stayed in my tent and read. I was not on the road until 10:amm and facing cold rain and of course, a headwind. I struggled along to Copaxi where I got out my dry long sleeve t-shirt and orange gloves. Overcast most of the day, the Arkansas River Canyon (aka Bighorn Sheep Canyon) was covered in mist and fog. It was great in some places, but traffic and the cold headwind dampened my spirits. It became clear it was still a long way to Denver. I just could not make it in one day. Especially with that headwind.
My plan to "sprint to the finish" and ride 120 miles to Littleton was not going to work. Twenty years ago, I credited the headwind from keeping me from doing it. But the rain, the late start, traffic and road work all make it clear that I was not going to sprint home, I wonder if that was a realistic attempt. Even if I was really trying my best, I didn't even make it half-way and I did not make it past the largest obstacle, Colorado Springs. The large cities are hard to navigate traffic and the starting and stopping really slow you down.
As I entered Cañyon City, I remembered the town. Earlier in this journal (this is from 2002) I reflected that I was recalling Buena Vista earlier this spring (2002), however, the memories of 12 years ago became richer and I could tell that the memory was from 12 years back. I was not expecting to remember such a nondescript city such as Cañon, it just struck me.
I don't know why I thought my bike trip through Colorado was twelve years ago. It was ten years ago in 1992. It is really hard to explain why I put my struggles with my memory in my diary of memories. I was trying to simply say that I remember riding my bike through Cañon City in 1992. Buena Vista and Cañon City have the same franchise stores as you approach, but they are small enough that the main highway goes through a recognizable part of town. In 1992 when I rode my bike through Cañon City, I rode in from the east up US 50. This time, I rode in from the west, down into Canyon City. The highway rejoins the river at the west end of town.
I was thinking about my trip in 1992 because I had viewed the Royal Gorge Bridge from US 50, ten years before I had ridden across the bridge with Dan who I met just outside Cañon City. He was gregarious and talked his way (with me) across that bridge. If they did not let us walk our bikes across, we would have had to ride about 12 miles back to the highway.
That day thirty years ago was sunny and nice. It was my first experience climbing into the mountains on my bike. The terrain was beautiful and so fantastically different from the eastern US. The people visiting were interested in what Dan and I were doing. We were like rock stars as we pushed our bikes through the families that were gathered at the tourist trap.
Dan wrote me a couple of times, but I never wrote him back. It makes me feel so guilty to write that. I liked him, we had a great time together as we rode west for a couple of days. He went up Monarch Pass while I went north from Salida. Somewhere, in the boxes of paper I have in my attic, is that letter from Dan.
I did the dishes and got dinner, now I am hydrating thanks to Arby's. The traffic here in Cañon is particularly frustrating, I was not expecting it earlier. It is more chronic because of some road construction. I hope that I can get another 20 miles in before sundown.
6:27 pmm Colorado Highway 115, 30 miles south of Colorado Springs.
I found a poach along the highway just out of Penrose. It is not my best, but it may be my last. The GPS now tells me Judy's house is 76 miles away. I feel I can do that tomorrow. Although, Colorado Springs will be difficult.
The sky has been gray and ominous ever since I got to Cañon City. Before that I suppose it was also gray and ominous, I could only see above the canyon however. I could sure use a tailwind tomorrow.
"I could sure use a tailwind tomorrow." That is the last sentence in my journal. But it is not the last story.
- END -
There is nothing in my journal for today. I don't know when I added the word "end" to the diary, but it is not in the same blue pen I had on my jornada. The next page in my journal is a press release for the ADAPTfest at the Center for People with Disabilities in Boulder Colorado. Judy and I both attended and we both got jobs at CPWD the next month.
But now I should tell you the story of my last day on this jornada.
I estimated that I was less than 80 miles from Littleton, but when I got up, it was raining lightly. I waited for the rain to let up and it was a light mist as I packed up my tent and took a photo of the rain clouds in the mountains. I also took a photo of a cactus bloom near my campsite before I got on the road at 9:AM. I rode up Colorado 115 beside Fort Carson and into Colorado Springs.
Photo: a very low-quality and low-resolution photo of the person who stopped traffic in Colorado and gave me a ride home to Denver.
I had dried off on the road, I made good time into Colorado Springs, but I had a long way to go. I struggled to the north end of town. I knew from other cyclists and the Colorado Bike Handbook, that you could ride Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Denver. I can see two other routes on the map, but they are rural mountain highways and I was working to make good time. My long jornada was no longer a sight-seeing trip. I was attempting to make this last 55 miles, most of it on the Interstate up to Castle Rock and west over to Littleton.
I don't recall which intersection, but just north of the Air Force Academy, I got onto the Interstate and the traffic was backed up, single file. The right lane was blocked off and I was supposed to share the lane with the cars and trucks. I rode inside the orange traffic barrels for about a mile until the lane was blocked off with concrete barriers. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper, but they were traveling faster than I could ride. I would sprint beside the traffic from barrel to barrel and stop along the concrete barricade behind one of the orange barrels that were also against the concrete wall. It gave me about two feet of relatively safe space. I would try to merge in front of the next car that would give me some space and ride about 100 to 200 feet to the next barrel and let cars zoom past.
It was miserable. I think that the drivers could see what my problem was, but they did not want to be the person to follow me and slow everyone else down. Before I could make it to the exit ahead, the overcast skies opened up and it began to rain. For about 20 minutes, I just stood on the side of the road. I straddled my bike, but I was not going anywhere. The rain was hard and the noon skis were dark. I was afraid that I would be invisible to driver's who were using their headlights and looking at the car in front.
A driver in a pick-up truck paused, she was holding up traffic and she yelled something out the window. I don't know what she said, but it was not negative, so I jumped on the pedals and sprinted as fast as I could out in front of the truck. I took up the whole lane until I could see the next Interstate exit ahead. It seemed like an eternity, but I stayed in the lane and piled up the traffic behind me. I glanced back to make sure that the truck was not attempting to pass, but I did not try to let her pass. I was freezing in the rain, but I was pedaling as hard as I could.
In reality, the Interstate exit was probably not very far, but I could feel the pressure behind me. It was a huge relief to turn onto the exit and let the traffic speed into the vacuum that I had created. The truck exited with me and I coasted for a while and pulled over in the rain. The truck did not pass, but inched up beside me. With the window open I think I said something like "you saved my life."
I said I had to stop and recalculate my route. I don't know who suggested the Denny's ahead at the exit, but we met there and she offered to ferry me past the construction or take me into Denver. She was a cyclist too and she was familiar with bikes on the Interstate between Colorado Springs and Denver. She was also familiar with the traffic and construction on the Interstate.
Photo: I did take a better photo of the woman who helped me north of Colorado Springs. I still did not record her name. She stopped and we had lunch at Denny's.
I hope I paid for her lunch, but I don't remember and I did not record her name. I feel a little guilty about that. She helped me get my bike in the truck and shuttled me toward Denver. Sitting in the passenger seat, I remember seeing construction that reinforced my feeling that I could not take the Interstate. But on the map, I was looking for the last leg of the journey.
I took 4 photos on my last day. I did not record what time I got to Judy's apartment. But that night, we celebrated. We went out to Chili's, one of our favorite places. I'll bet I had ribs.
Wet and homeless, Judy took me in. We lived at her tiny Littleton apartment until we rented a home in Boulder Colorado two months later. We bought a home together in Boulder and in 2014, Judy and I moved back to Memphis.
Rain in the mountains (photo)
Twenty years ago today was the end of my bike jornada. These past six months have been wonderful as I have been recalling the past, re-editing the photos I took and unraveling the mysteries of my memory.
Today, I was a volunteer for the Multiple Sclerosis Society at the MS Bike Rockn' Ride. I took photos of other cyclists. I did take a photo of my car, with camera equipment in the back. The connection here is that I made myself a cup of hot coffee along the side of the rural Mississippi road with the same campstove I used on my bicycle adventures. In the photo you may be able to make out the stove and my Memphis Camera Club coffee mug.
This is a photo I took today (2022) and used some of my Lightroom tools to make the single rider sharp in focus while the rest of the photo is softly blurred. The weather for the MS Bike riders was much like the overcast rainy day that I had twenty years ago in Colorado. Over the weekend ride, I took about 700 photos. But it is just a handful that I think are really good. This retrospective of my bike jornada has included almost every photo I took.
Something I have always tried to include in my photography are candid shots. It is because I started taking photos of disability rights activists. When activists pose, they look phony and it feels wrong. When I candidly catch an activist passionately chanting or confronting an official, it can be really powerful.
What I think I have found about photography is nothing new. I believe that there is something very strong in a person's expression that a photo can show. Sometimes better than a video. I am still learning.
I love landscapes. I hope that the landscapes I do now are better than what I did twenty years ago. The really great thing about the landscapes you see in this retrospective is that I was in some really fantastic places. I have these photos to remember the locations, but I also am really critical about the kind of photos I took. I really did not even try to get a subject in many of the landscapes and when I did, it was most likely my bicycle.
Now I can think of some things I didn't write about: Like a feeling of freedom when I woke up at night to see the stars in that clear western sky; The fear of truck coming up from behind on a narrow road; The exhilaration of speed down a mountain pass and the love I felt from a distance from Judy Neal and my parents.
I don't want my bike adventure to end.
Access Across America a 20 year Retrospective
By Tim Wheat
Moab to Monument (Part 3)
Gran Jornada Del Sol (1992)
Best of Jornada (2002)