Dodging Bullets

Hank – We knew we’d be riding in the rain today so we expected the worst and hoped for the best. The temp was 40 degrees when we left St Anthony and the wind was blowing hard. Lucky for us it was a tailwind. Regardless, hats and gloves were needed because of the rain. We made good time covering 15 miles to Ashton where we had a late breakfast. When it came time to leave the rain picked up. But the wind stayed to our backs. The on again-off again rain kept up while we climbed for about five miles. It was a long slog but it went pretty well. Kathy needed to stop about every mile or so because we’re at altitude and it affects her more than me.

We showed up in Island Park, ID just before 3:00 pm. The city sign says Island Park has the longest Main Street in America. Wikipedia says the main street is 33 miles long. Apparently the long, slender city along Hwy 20 was incorporated by a bunch of resort owners to get around state liquor laws regarding sales outside of city limits. Smart thinking.

We parked at the Trouthunter restaurant and five minutes later the hailstorm arrived. Whew! Dodged another one.

We ordered food and drinks and decided to wait out the rest of the rain before covering the last five miles to the campground we plan to stay at. Curtis, a young man working at the restaurant, took an interest in us and our bikes. He was excited to learn about our adventure and thought we were inspirational. So maybe there’ll be a new bike tourer out there some day.

Around 5:00 or so we decided to head to the campground. We still had rain on the way but we got the tent up before it got bad. The camp hosts invited us to come back and warm up by the fire. Kathy got ready for bed and was staying in her sleeping bag. I went back and sat by a toasty fire with Ken and Casey who also treated me to a beer. We told stories and hung out. That’s two more nice people I’ve met on this adventure. Back at the tent I put my woolies on. It’s supposed to hit 30 degrees tonight.

Kathy – So today we climbed, completed 45 miles with over 2,000 feet of elevation. It was only 40 degrees, but with the wind chill I’m sure it was colder. We could see our breath often throughout the day. We were bundled up with our riding gear, jackets, additional rain jackets, wool hats and thick gloves. We stayed nice and warm during our ride, but got really cold with any stops.

The ride up the mountain pass went on forever, but it was not hard. My legs remained strong. I only stopped here and there because of the altitude. Spokane is around 2,000 feet and we are over 6,000 feet now. I would stop for about a minute then go back to riding. I am pleased all the climbing is getting so easy now. I’m slow going up, but I do not hurt during the climbs or after anymore.

We did not hit the Continental Divide today, apparently after some more climbing tomorrow we will hit it. Tomorrow we ride to West Yellowstone entrance.

Looking forward to more time in Yellowstone and happy to find that all the storm activity will move out of the area tonight. Supposed to be sunny and in the mid 70’s the next few days. Good timing to travel around Yellowstone on the bikes. I may even work on evening out my bike clothes tan lines. 🙂

West Yellowstone

Hank – We had a very cold night in Island Park. The rain on the outside of the rain fly and the condensation on the inside froze. Kathy, snuggled up in her sleeping bag wearing a cap, two pair of pants, four tops (one wool), and two pair of socks with hand warmers inside, gives me her big-eyes look and says, “I’m ready for tea whenever you are.”

Who can disappoint those eyes, right? So I get up and boiling water for tea. The stove warmed the tent. And melted the frozen condensation. After my tea I went for a walk in the campground. The Buffalo River runs next to the camp. The ground was frost covered and the rising sun was just beginning to liquify the frost. Mist rose from the river. Ducks and geese flew in and out. I stood in the warm sun and enjoyed the peaceful ambiance.

A funny note about my down sleeping bag. Small bits of down work their way through the material and spread all over me. When I get up in the morning and down goes flying all inside the tent one might think I’ve been plucking chickens during the night.

We got a late start since I wanted to dry our gear out. The sun was out and a cool wind blew on our backs for most of the ride until we hit the Continental Divide. The climb wasn’t bad at all. It was a gentle slope compared to others we’ve done. Stickers are all over the Divide marker sign. I found a blank spot for a GASUP (Get Around Spokane Using Pedals Facebook group) sticker.

We coasted down for 3-4 miles and soon arrived in West Yellowstone. Surprisingly, not one of the RV campgrounds offer tent sites. We’d have to ride 4 miles out of town to tent it. Kathy was pretty tired and we were starving and we needed showers and to do laundry. We got dinner and decided to spring for a room at one of the Best Western hotels. (Kathy is a rewards member.) While signing in the subject of our adventure came up. The manager, David, overheard and after we left for our room he told the clerk to reduce our bill by $100. The clerk later told me about. I thanked David very much and told him of other experiences of generosity we’ve had. His is added to the list.

Kathy – YES, last night was cold! Good thing I packed a few of those chemical hand warmers.  My feet were so cold even with my wool socks on that I was unable to sleep. So i pulled out a pair of the hand warmers and put them in between my two pair of socks.  It did the trick. I got right to sleep once the heat was on my feet.  I was awake for about an hour before Hank woke up.  I didn’t want to wake him or get out of my sleeping bag because it was so cold.  Once he awoke, yes I was ready for my tea.  Hank is such a great water boiler!  🙂

Today we rode 34 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation – according to Google Maps for bicycles.  I must say, I don’t think the Google Maps elevations are correct.  You can only see the elevation gains/losses when you say you are traveling by bicycle rather than car.  Often Google Maps will say a specific elevation but it doesn’t seem to account for the rolling hills.  We have searched the same locations multiple times and found it has given us significant differences in elevation depending on when you search.  And lastly, many times Google Maps will say it is flat when by-golly I know it wasn’t!  I have been pretty frustrated with Google Maps elevation so last night I wrote them a long letter explaining the issues I noted with their maps.  Then I kindly asked them to fix the elevation on the Google Maps for bicycle.  I reminded them that we are only one month into our trip and I would it fixed soon so we can have accurate information.   No doubt they will be all over that and get it fixed ASAP.  🙂  In the mean time, if anyone knows of a great mapping app that shows accurate elevation gain/loss (before you travel) please let me know.  Thank you!

Anyway, good news for today…we hit our fourth state: Montana!  And, best of all…we conquered the Continental Divide!!  Yep, we made it to the top of the mountainside and I wasn’t even in my lowest gear, nor did I stop on the way up!  I’m definitely feeling stronger by the day.  We really never ate a good meal today so by the time we made it to West Yellowstone I was tired and we were both hungry.  We rode around the town for a bit trying to find a tent site with no luck.  We decided to grab a bite to eat and after that I made the executive decision to get a hotel and call it a night.  We still had laundry to do and pick up some fresh produce for our ride tomorrow.  I think we were both happy with this choice and getting the discount was the icing on the cake!  There are so many good people in this world!

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