It’s a bitter-sweet feeling to know that the trip is basically over. I’m happy that I can finally see my old friends and my family. But, I made new friends on this trip that are just like family. When we get back to Chapel Hill I will tell my friends all the stories but they won’t understand me fully because they weren’t actually there. If I want to talk to Mahlique or Jeimy about the things we did on the trip they will, of course, know exactly what I’m talking about. For example, the clothespin game! It was lots of fun while it lasted. This is where you secretly attach a clip-on clothespin somewhere on a person’s clothing. Very similar to a game of “Tag” but with a big surprise in the discovery that you’ve been TAGGED!
Also, Jo Jo would laugh hysterically when I reminded him of the time that he tossed a frog onto Maysa’s back but no one else outside of the tour really knows that story. It is one of the many things we share amongst the group. I am never going to forget this trip and the people who I journeyed with. The North and South Dakota Badlands, Yellowstone and the Grand Teton are only a few of the memories of the National Parks that we’ll share. Natural beauty, the friendships that were strengthened or the new friendships that were created made those locations some of the most enjoyable and memorable moments of my life.
There are a lot of people out there who can’t say that they’ve been to half of the places that I have this summer and I’m proud to not only say that I’ve seen the places in person but, most importantly, that I was able to enjoy those places with people close to my heart.
We are finally on the coast and it is gorgeous! I have never been out here and it is everything I dreamed it would be and more. After a long day of riding it feels nice to know that I can sit down, relax and watch the sun fall beneath that gigantic blue horizon. On days we would stop and just take a break on the beach most of the time we would find starfish or crabs. If we found them we would take the time to take photographs so our families could see what we did.
Once we made it to the campground we often had ocean lookouts and we would go as a group and search to water for signs of life. Almost every single day we would see whales resurfacing for air or see seals sunning themselves on large rock formations and often large colorfully billed birds. I have never seen anything like that before in my life.
Once we made it to California we decided to go to the Redwood forest, the tallest trees in the world that can only be found in this one specific spot in California (and as I just learned there are four here in Chapel Hill). When we actually got a chance to hike through the Redwood Forest we saw trees so tall that you would become dizzy in the effort. Banana Slugs, a sign of a healthy forest ecosystem, were found everywhere. We were able to walk through a hollowed out base of a tree and you could tell that the temperature dropped at least 20 degrees! Now I have bragging rights in saying that I have been to the Redwood National Forest.
So today we left from Council Bluffs Iowa. This ride, actually, was not that hard. I was extremely surprised that I didn’t cramp, since I had to completely stop riding on the first section of the ride during the UGRR tour. Personally, I’m proud of myself, because I did not think that I would make it through the whole entire ride. Once we started riding though, I realized that I could easily finish without having to stop and stretch.
After riding for a while we all took a break and met a man from the town that we stopped in. After having a short conversation with him, we invited him to ride with us. He rode with us for a couple of miles and told mr. Brogden about a huge cross-state ride that had about 30,000 riders, he told us that it was one of the largest cross-state rides in the U.S.
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.
Cycled 76 miles today, passed dead frog lane, rode on flat straight endless roads, and got chased by ducks. Also got to see cute little muskrats 🙂 Now camping at Lewis & Clark Heritage City Park in SOUTH DAKOTA! (Lewis & Clark ACTUALLY camped here!!!!!!)
Oh and still not tired.
Can’t wait for tomorrow!