The past 10 days has, in my opinion, been where I learned the most. Visiting the National Parks was a completely new experience for me because I’ve never been to such naturally beautifully preserved areas before. Specially with ones with so much history. I loved learning about the Lakota Sioux and their Native American history. I feel so inspired by their art and way of life.
It was also fascinating to piece together the Lewis and Clark history. I’ve learned with the places I’ve been to. It’s easy to imagine what was going on through their heads as they traveled westward and discovered all the places like the Dakota Badlands, Tetons and the Black Hills. Overall this trip has been one fo the hardest things I’ve done; both physically and mentally challenging. But it has also been one of the best decisions I’ve made as I can’t count how many amazing experiences I’ve hat that I would not have had the opportunity to do so, otherwise.
Since I’m leaving tomorrow I’m filled with different emotions. I’m upset to go because I know there are so many things ahead in Oregon and California that I’ll be missing. At the same time ‘m excited to go because I can’t wait to tell people I know about my experiences. And, of course, have a home cooked meal.
To anyone who asks me if they should consider going on a trip like this I will tell them to think hard about it. But if they can, go without a backward glance. I’m so happy and appreciative to be able to be a part of this trip and am excited to be a part of this organization and to watch it grow in the future.
Badlands Visit, a set on Flickr.
We packed the wet tents and headed toward our next stop of Medora, ND to camp and visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Paha Ska – White Hills (well known as the Badlands). We learned the Lakota word for it is Mako Ce Wankankil (Mahko Che Wha Khan Kil).
We stayed the night at Sully Creek State Park in ND. It was a nice campsite at the base of a cliff. We quickly setup tents so they would dry from last night’s rain. The ground was gray and muddy. Horses were nearby and our noses pleasantly reminded us of that fact.
When the tents were complete and lunch was had we visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park and learned of his early life. In the visiting center there was the cabin that he stayed in during his visits to the Badlands. The cabin was mostly the original beams with the exception of the header. Some of the furniture was original.
We visited the ND Badlands and had our first encounter with the prairie dog colonies. We hiked along a trail that went above a river which reminded me of a picture out of the Grand Canyon. We saw prairie dogs and bison by the roadside.
Jeimy was nicknamed AJ for Adventurous Jeimy as she loved to explore.
During one of the hikes through the Badlands we found a cute and small horned toad.
SnR Youth Cyclist visit to ND Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
We spent the day learning by seeing and doing. The visit was to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center where there was a walking tour of exhibits dedicated to North Dakota and the L&C Corps of Discovery tour. The YC’s were very interested in the history and enjoyed donning costumes to reenact scenes from the past. Fort Mandan was particularly interesting because it was completed during a time when the temperature was -44* F. Talk about motivating factors. The guard posts could only be manned in 5 minute intervals!
The tour was the bulk of the day. We camped at Lake Sakakawea State Park. By the time we arrived only the primitive sites were available. Which meant, to some degree, the YC’s had to do a little detox on the technology and talk and play with one another. This was a good thing. This morning, one electronic gadget was taken from each. What remained was the item that would take photos. But how primitive is running water less than 200 ft away and an outhouse less than 500 ft away? Oh, and by the way, America’s definition of camping is brining along your air-conditioned living room with the flat screen television, possibly satellite hookup, and all that can fit within. I guess you can say it’s a rolling beach house. But those of us with tents are definitely in the minority.
It began raining just after cooking was completed so dinner was had within the tents. A practice we don’t want to repeat when we get to the National Parks. It stopped soon after and the kitchen area was cleaned up. Just after 11pm CDT it began to rain again. It didn’t stop.
Meeting our French Canadian neighbor in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, ND July 4th, 2012.
Happy 4th from SnR on the #acaLewisClark Tour
Today is a rest day so I only awoke at 6:30 CDT. Nature has a way of creating its own alarm clock when you’re hydrating so vigorously. Some of the YC’s visited a Native American cave dwelling.
Today there is a forecast of thunderstorms so if they come we’ll weather them in the tents.
The storms didn’t come but the storm winds did and they came strong! So strong, in fact, that the boy’s tent blew over and both arching poles were severely bent. Serious Bummer! So, as I was speaking with the campground host, who strangely enough is African-American, I had to run off and begin tent repair. Because at the time it looked as if the thunderstorms were still on their way.
The Marmot tents that we have come with an emergency repair tube that helps you when you bend a support tube. The wind bent two so I had to use the repair tube from the girl’s tent. With the rubber mallot left at the other campsite I had to beat the bent poles into submission (and correct shape) with a vice-grip plyer that Mahlique had found two days ago. Repair tubes in place and a little duct tape and we’re back in business. What would have been an “haha” moment for the boys if it had happened to the girls became a valuable lesson for the boys. I like learning moments.
The YC’s spent the day blogging and journaling to catch up on days missed. They had to because we were not going to take them into town unless they completed at least two day’s worth of entries. We had shopping, laundry and lunch to get while in town and they got right to work at it.
During that time Frida, the wife of the campground host, came to see us. She was still moving around their camper when we stopped by earlier. The two of them give Suepinda and I hope that we can volunteer in the state and national parks as hosts. Up to this time we’d never seen an African-American couple performing this wonderful and needed service to the campgrounds. Harold and Frida have been volunteering in state parks for six years. They also do the National Parks. They take their grandchildren out to the parks and teach them all they know. They have a great time. They’ve been to all 50 states but claim to have volunteered in only 48.
My duty in town was laundry. What we learned last year is that people don’t respect the hard work that goes into doing laundry. They take it for granted that their dirty, balled up socks and underwear magically get freshly cleaned by the laundry fairy. You put it in the bag, your mom or someone carries it away and the bag comes back with your clothes nicely folded and smelling wonderfully sweet. Well, just like (hold your ears) Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny that myth was dispelled.
As it got toward evening (hard to tell here) we all ate as a group and also enjoyed the company of our French Canadian neighbor. His wife and he are from Quebec. Sammy and Khin engaged him in conversation speaking French.
We saw the Mandan dwellings which were a great and interesting site. They were replicas but the structures were extremely sturdy. Soon it was getting dark and time for the fireworks display so we heading down the hill and picked up Frida and headed back up the hill by van to take in the spectacular view. For at least 30 miles away you can see people partaking in a traditionally American experience. One half of the horizon was alight with explosions. This was a sight never before seen by anyone on the tour, specially us adults. A grand close to the evening, indeed. I hope your fourth was just as cool.
This was a great morning! Seriously! The weather was a grand 72* and there was a 5 mph breeze keeping everything just special. We climbed the 3 miles out of the campsite and turned left with the wind.
We were only going 40 miles today as we are finishing up in Pollock, SD and driving to Bismarck, ND. A new state, finally.
Itza and I rode with Kate who just wasn’t feeling the day, today. I don’t blame her. We’ve been cycling for 10 days now and it’s time for a break. That’s why we’re driving to Bismarck. That’s our destination of rest. Time to allow our minds and butts to heal. We cycled slowly for Kate and during that time Itza and I came up with a song. With Brentton’s help and his harmonica we could maybe do something with it. But for now, here are the lyrics as I currently remember them:
Andando en bicicletta is life
To take away, think twice
Between the land and the sea
There’s no better place to be
When there’s sunshine there’s rain
When there’s joy there’s pain
When you’re climbing the hill
You’ll find no Spanish word for hill
Sobre cuesta means up… the hill
bajando means down… but still
At the end of the day
There’s no Spanish word for hill
South Dakota is hot
Let’s find a shade tree, OR NOT
I guess we’ll suffer the heat
Until the wagon we meet.
Sobre questa means up… the hill
bajando means down… but still
At the end of the day
There’s no Spanish word for hill
El vientro is nice
when you’re by the campsite
But when it crosses your side
your in for a rollercoaster ride
Sobre questa means up… the hill
bajando means down… but still!
At the end of the day
There’s no Spanish word for hill
I’m no John Legend, I know, but this was fun and it did help us pass the time. When we reached the halfway point of 20miles I suggested to Kate that she get in the van. We had another 20 miles to go and it wouldn’t be good to to drag that out with the sun coming out. So, Kate agreed; knowing that today was not a day that she could double her speed.
As we continued on the grande vistas became more spectacular I went against my promise not to take another video or picture of them. I mean all of SD is beautiful rolling hills. So, I took another video.
When we reached Pollock, a town of 397 people, and lunched at their nice City Park. After lunch we repacked the truck and headed to Bismarck, ND then on to Mandan and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park for the night. Mandan was having a festival in celebration of July 4. The whole town was out and coming to celebrate. It looked like a great deal of fun.
I have to say that climbing out of that valley this morning felt worse than it did going in when I was on my 80th mile! It must have been the anticipation. The hills just kept rolling and rolling and rolling. I think the count was 5 hills. I didn’t count. Didn’t want to. Didn’t want to think about it.
This will be a short entry. We had a great ride, no one was overheated and we had nice cloudcover for pretty much of the day. We clocked in about 75 miles today which includes the 9 miles it took to get out of West Whitlock Recreation Area. So, mapped, it was 66p
The nights are getting cooler now. As I type this at 11:45pm CDT the temperature seems to be around 73* with a slight breeze of about 5mph. Fireworks are going off in the distance.
There was a lovely sunset this evening and a beautiful moonrise. The wind was at our backs today and the DFL team was me, Itza, Jeimy, Maysa and Kate. No repairs has to be made today and all was good.
Everyone went to be in good spirits as I’m going to do now. Enjoy the slide show.
What I noticed last night was that not only are we on a schedule (although, not yet keeping to it as perfectly as we would like) so is the wind. We rise begin cycling and almost like clockwork the wind begins picking up during the 8am hour and continues on until somewhere in the 9pm hour (there roundabouts); seriously! It’s done it for the last 4 days that I’ve noticed. Hopefully, it won’t prove me wrong tomorrow.
So, after a beautiful sunset last night there was a storm coming thru the campsite at Northpointe Recreation Center but it wasn’t the type we normally experience out east. It was a dry lightning storm. We battened down the tents and listened as the wind rustled and whipped everything in its path. When asked what they thought about the storm the girls answered “what storm?” Seems they slept right thru it. It must be great to not have a care in the world.
The morning’s ride began with an uphill out of the park. It was a fitting warm up; just enough of an incline to wake you up and not have you mind it so much. Being DFL Leader (DF2L) I now have a DFLL in-training with Itza, my co-pilot. Suepinda was able to join us today and we all rode DFL with dragonflies buzzing about us like dolphins to a ship. We had a combine truck pass us and we did something different in moving onto the other side of the road since he was taking up much of the shoulder and road at the same time. I think he appreciated that, as did we.
With the wind in our faces the three of us caught up with Kate and rode beside her for a number of miles. Itza and I started a game to break up the monotony by racing downhill as fast as we can while I call out the current speed. We were impressed with our best time of the morning with 37 mph; an improvement from yesterday’s robbery of 24.9 mph. But eventually we found another hill where we were able to get up to 40 mph. Suepinda and Kate got up to 37 mph. Their best time to date! We didn’t tell them that 40 was faster than 37, but I think they knew.
Me being a lover of grande vistas I took lots of pictures but realized they meant nothing without the context of a cyclist in the picture. Oh well. But South Dakota, I would say, is home to the rolling hillsides. Miles and miles of rolling hills. What a site. I can’t wait until I see mountains in the background or grande vista. Working on my Spanish this summer: learned to say “Hola, vaca negra, hola, vaca kaffe”
To remind us that we are in the very deepest of the country we only witnessed a few oncoming vehicles and almost NONE coming up behind us for miles. Wow. That’s why I’m DF2L. Because in the country, to quoting one of my favorite movies, “no one can hear you scream”. As we rode on eventually more vehicles past us and two of them were trucks carrying hogs. Dripping, oozing, leaking a foul substance that clung to the road like a paint. And being up wind we began to travel what we now call the “Trail of Stench”! The wretchedness lasted consistently for almost two miles as we could not get away from the headwinds which faithfully brought to us every molecule of that strange substance.
At the campsite tonight the youth cyclists played “Ninja”. A game where they get two moves, defensive and offensive to either block or hit the other opponent’s hand. That’s all I can explain but it looks fun.
Tomorrow we plan to continue with the tailwinds and make good time to Fort Thompson.
Short blog today as I get accustomed to the schedule of riding a half day and working till the evening.
The morning was beautiful, cool and with the wind still at our backs. The first ride was longer than expected because the town we were going to use as a break point was a small college town and we were thru it before we knew it and Ibn and Brenton were not there yet. We continued on making our first ride a 40 miler.
Along the way we were misted by irrigation systems in one of the many corn fields and Itza played with sheep. We rode on dirt roads and turned around on roads that were closed. In all, the cyclists completed 84 miles without me. It was a grueling second half of the day!
But Lunch was good
We are now in a cozy town named Springfield, SD
When we ran out of propane during dinner preparation we were given a tank by a very nice man in town!
Today began at 6:30am with a nice cool morning of just under 74* We ate an oatmeal breakfast and headed out of the Lewis & Clark State Park for a fabulous ride with the wind at our backs. We saw a dead mocassin that someone went out of their way to ensure was dead. We also crossed “Dead Frog Lane” while leaving the park. Well, that’s what we called it because there was carnage. It reminded me of what it would be like if sea turtles had to cross a highway to get to the sea. yea, it was that bad.
Now that I’ve depressed you, let me tell you of a guy Suepinda and I met at the park which just goes to show you that leadership training comes in all forms. He had a young man out camping to get him away from home and be out on his own, well, with him and his girlfriend. But the point is that people see the need for young adults to be guided and given the opportunities that they, themselves, won’t get otherwise. Because at this stage in life teens have stopped listening to the expert advice of their parents and outside intervention is of great help.
The youth cyclists are doing fantastic! For the second day they have completed over 70 miles and are staying enthusiastic with lots of energy at the end of the day. Speaking of Jeimy she tells me that she never sweats and is superwoman! I must agree that she is outstanding and is right up their cycling with Bob B.
As usual, Itza says she actually feels great and cannot wait until tomorrow. She’s so excited. She also rides with Bob. But that’s not surprising. Her and Jeimy only held back last year to make sure I didn’t pass out (hahaha).
My daughter Maysa is certainly the rockstar of the group. She was a last minute add on and is having the time of her life! With no training at all she is riding in the middle pack of cyclists and smiling every (hmm… not every step, is it?) rotation of the wheel.
The boys, Mahlique, Kyvon and Damaris are certainly very strong riders. Showing their prowess by catching up with us after they took a rest break at the local Burger King in Souix City, SD.
Sammy rides hard and strong and takes it upon himself to wait for the meanderers (those who take their sweet time). Well, at least that’s what he’s telling us.
Joseph actually accepted Bob’s challenge of a race during the last section of the ride before making camp and, of course, got dusted. But he was proud of the fact that he was brave enough to do so and laughed the whole time.
Khin surprised herself by going over 20 mph during a part of the last leg. During the first ride she was dogging it with the gremlins holding back her wheel. With the wind at her back she was definitely sailing!
Lastly, and I mean lastly. Kate and I are having the time of our lives bringing up the rear and making sure that no one is left behind. Riding on what Itza calls “endless roads” as they went on and on into the horizon as far as you could possibly see and then disappeared into the haze.
I began working today at 1pm so my cycling experiences ended at the Souix City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The place where the only person of the entourage of pioneers died. But there are other wild stories that I hope the youth cyclists will tell. I know a little bit of a guy the group met named “uncle Steve” who was with a friend bar hopping on their bikes. Yikes!! He was given my number to call but I didn’t get it.
Tonight we’re sleeping in the actual campsite of Lewis and Clark as camped along the Missouri River at the Lewis and Clark Heritage City Park in Elk Point, SD.