Archive for January, 2010

Close Encounters

After leaving Spearfish I headed towards Sundance Wyoming and Devils Tower. I spent the night in Sundance at the Bear Lodge Motel. The views were breathtaking and, as I’ve found in so many towns, the people were so friendly and informative.

I was introduced to a group of people who were members of a biking group called the Sundance Chain Gang Mountain Bike Association. Their mission is to promote responsible mountain biking which includes getting the proper access to private property and respecting the land. And although this group is into back country biking, we had a lot to talk about including the fact that my bike needed some repairs. I was always good about maintenance on my car, but I forgot that bikes need an occasional tune-up.

Fortunately this group knew what they were doing and gave my bike the overhaul it needed. We shared biking stories much like veterans share war stories. They began to share information about a cross-country bike trip they just heard about. This trip is designed to help raise awareness about hunger.

I asked them if this ride was called Cycling for Change because if it was my boss’s boss was doing this ride. It was indeed the ride they were talking about and they will be doing the Wyoming leg of this ride.

They asked why I wasn’t joining this group and I quickly told them that I was in no hurry to get anywhere, that my only goal was to go through every state in the United States. And I knew I was no where close to being able to ride a route such as the Cycling for Change in the number of days they are riding it. I average about 5 miles per day and this group will be riding a minimum of 20 miles a day up to 88 miles in one day. For me I’ll keep going the distance at my pace.

After a good nights sleep I knew that I had to start my trek to Devils Tower. My new found friends told me they do this trip all the time in a day. It took me 3 days to get there because the surrounding area was so vibrant with wildlife and views. And the neat thing about heading to Devils Tower is that you can see this monolithic igneous intrusion from miles away. It’s truly awe inspiring.

On my second night heading to Devils Tower I had a close encounter with an elk. I had stopped for the day and was setting up camp. I heard this rustling noise behind me. When I turned there stood this gorgeous elk just staring at me. I wasn’t sure what it was thinking, but I imagined it saying, “What’s this idiot doing in my space?” Well, after what seemed like 5 minutes (it was probably only 5 seconds) this beautiful animal took off for other areas uninhabited by those pesky humans.

Once I reached Devils Tower I took a tour through the visitor center then headed out on the 1.3 mile trail that circles Devils Tower. After that I hiked to the Circle of Sacred Smoke Sculpture which brought me to another close encounter: myself and God. The sculpture was designed to raise awareness of the importance of Devils Tower to several Indian tribes. It was this dedication to their heritage that made me think about my heritage, my life, my family, and God. It took my breath away and brought me close to tears. And although the visitor center of this park would actually be closed this time of year if I were truly on this trip, having been to see this phenomenon 20+ years ago and the beauty that surrounds this area has made me actually think about family, friends, and how wonderful God is to all of us each and every day. Sometimes it appears God has turned His back on us, but He hasn’t; He’s always there. We just need to reach out and ask Him for that help and guidance that is always waiting for us.

And I think about Jason Christensen, CEO and President of Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, making this 5000 mile bike trip for real and am awed by his spirit and commitment to helping those in need. This Cycling for Change event has to be pleasing God. My prayers go out for those who will be riders, for those who will be sponsors, and especially for those that this event will be helping.

As for me and my virtual bike trip, I look forward to be headed towards Montana. My next big stop will be the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I say “next big stop” only because it’s the next stop that is widely known. What I’ve been discovering as I research each town I go through is that each town has something to offer and makes the desire in me to actually travel this route some day to see what these towns are really like. It won’t be on a bike, though. If I ever have the time and money to travel my biking route it will be in a car, but until then I’ll keep going the distance in my virtual world.

May God bless you all and keep Jason and the Cycling for Change team in your prayers as they move closer to their launch date of Memorial Day.

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Rallying in the Hills

When last you heard from me I was in Custer, South Dakota. I have now traveled another 93 miles for a total of 690 miles. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever bike that far, but it’s been a fun and eventful trip.

After Custer I headed into Hill City, a quaint little town known as the “Heart of the Hills”. It’s the oldest city in Pennington County, South Dakota. It found it’s beginning with the mining rush in the 1800s, but is now a tourist hub in the Black Hills with a variety of tourist shops to browse through. Of course I had to do a little shopping in all those shops. And on my way out of town I stopped at the Mistletoe Ranch, a Christmasshop open year round. This place is so full of Christmas it can put a smile on the Grinch’s face.

From there I rode into Rapid City taking time out to go through Reptile Gardens. I know a lot of people are against confining any animal, reptile, etc into an enclosure, but I was truly amazed at the variety of reptiles this place holds. What’s even more fascinating is the number of flowers you see inside this building. When I was a little girl my folks took

me and my siblings there. At that time they sold tickets for rides on the giant turtles. I wanted so badly to ride a turtle, but my mom just knew one of those turtles would bite me so I was never able to ride one. And now, thankfully, they no longer do this, but those giant turtles are still there.

I did decide to bypass Bear Country since I was on a bike. I’ve gone through Bear Country on previous trips through the Black Hills. I think it is a place that is well worth a look see although the last time I was there this one ornery bear kept trying to attack the front tire of this one mini-van. Maybe it didn’t like the color of the van.

From Rapid City I found myself back on the Interstate heading toward Sturgis. It wasn’t the most exciting part of my trip for I’ve decided that Interstate travel can be quite boring, but it does give one a more direct route to their destinations.

Once in Sturgis I had to take in some of the sights. Luckily for me it was not August when they hold the big motorcycle rally. I was able to go through the Fort Meade Cavalry Museum, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and ended my tour of Sturgis at Bear Butte State Park. There was so much history at each of these places that it was almost mind boggling. It would have been nice to be able to spend more time there, but the road was calling me.

So back on the Interstate I headed to Spearfish. This is a beautiful town nestled in the valley of Spearfish Creek and surrounded by 3 mountain peaks. Spearfish is known as the Queen City. I found a nice RV park to spend the night and get ready for my trip to Devils Tower and to ponder on all the grand people I’ve met on this bike trip.

And as I type this in my real life, I think not only about the distance I’ve traveled on my imaginary trip, but all the real places I’ve lived, jobs I’ve held, and people I’ve met. There’s such a diverse difference among all of these people, places, and things in my life much like the diversity of areas I’ve ridden on my virtual bike trip. It makes me know

that we have all been placed here on this earth for a purpose and that God has truly created us as individuals. We may not always agree with everything and everyone, but if we learn to let go and let God we can see the good in people and our lives seem so much easier to deal with. I think me learning to let go and let God has helped me conquer somany seemingly impossible hurdles.

And with each hurdle I’m able to overcome comes a serene feeling of knowing I am EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be. Whether it’s recovering from the holiday rush in my real life or rallying with new found friends in Sturgis. Life is good. And now that we have passed over into a new year I hope to start making faster progress getting from one virtual attraction to the next. May God bless you all and as always, let’s keep going the distance where one day we’ll all meet–in heaven.

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