Posts tagged Wyoming

A Few Good Memories

As I rode into Sheridan, Wyoming my mind went back to when I was 6 years old. My family and I had traveled from Omaha, Nebraska to Sheridan, Wyoming for our summer vacation. It was on this trip that we first stayed at Chadron State Park in Nebraska. We had relatives who lived in Sheridan at the time. Maybe I still have relatives there, but since neither me nor my siblings can remember their names there was no way for me to look them up, not that these relatives would remember me after all these years.

I think the father of these relatives was either an uncle to my father or cousin. This guy owned a cabin clear up in the Big Horn Mountains. After staying at their house overnight, Mom and Dad packed my sister, brother, and myself back into the car and we headed up, up, up to this cabin. I think the cabin elevation was around 9,000 to 10,000 feet, but mostly I just remember climbing rapidly on this highway.

Once we got to the cabin we kids scampered about only to be called back by our overprotective mother who just knew we were going to fall into the river that ran behind the cabin. It was a gorgeous place, very tranquil and serene, but our stay would be short-lived.

As we entered the cabin Mom realized that the only bedroom was a loft bedroom open to the main floor. Again, my mother just knew that we kids would roll right off that loft floor during the night. She has always assumed the worst possible scenario with any situation. Mom started fretting about how she didn’t want to be there while we kids voiced our desires to stay, but Mom insisted that this was not the place for us.

I do believe we kids would have won out had Dad not been feeling poorly for he would have convinced Mom that everything was fine. But to our dismay, Dad was probably having his first high blood pressure episode. He was dizzy and felt hot even though it was quite chilly at that altitude. We had gone up in altitude so quickly that even the souvenir drum my brother, Dan, had gotten at Mount Rushmore was ready to explode. I can only imagine now what my dad’s head must have felt like.

Well, Mom seeing that Dad was not doing so very well added to her fear of the river and bedroom loft, we were soon put back into the car and back down to Sheridan we went. And although we kids were disappointed, we still had a few good memories of that area.

And now, as I ride my bike to the hotel I look around this old town that has been extremely well preserved. I just knew there would be many sites to visit like the Sheridan Inn, the historic main street, and a few museums.

My travels have offered me a slice of life that has taken me from the luxury of Aspen through a town of one to this grand city in Wyoming. Touring the sites of Sheridan gave me a feel for the old west when Buffalo Bill spent time at the Sheridan Inn. Those pioneers were a rugged bunch who endured a lot to find peace and happiness in their life.

And it’s that thought that helped me endure the pain of saying good-bye to my sister who moved back to Nebraska with her husband after 20+ years of living in Colorado. God’s path for them did not include jobs in Colorado anymore so they packed up their 5th wheel, their home, and moved it to where God had jobs for them. And although I knew it was the best thing for them, my heart ached knowing that my best friend was no longer up the road from me. And on the same day that she left I discovered that my Irish setter had terminal bone cancer. April 9th was not a good day for me.

But, like those pioneers of days gone by, I knew that I needed to persevere. I was not raised to wallow in sorrow. I know my sister is a mere cell phone call away and we still talk daily. It’s almost as if she’s still right up the hill from me. And as for my dog, well I’m enjoying every day I have with him. God has given me 12 years with this fine canine so I feel blessed that I still have him. And as life goes on I know that my trials and tribulations don’t compare much at all to some of the trials and tribulations others live with on a daily basis. So I thank God daily for the wonderful blessings He has bestowed upon me.

I have a wonderful job, a wonderful home, a great family, and you, my fellow Biking and blogging fans who keep me motivated to keep going the distance.

May God bless you!

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A Hole in the Wall

Whew!!! I usually start my blog out with the imaginary part of my trip and end with reality. I feel, though, since it has been so long that I’ve written anything that I need to share what I’ve been up to. And unfortunately it hasn’t been riding a lot. Catholic Charities has one signature fundraising event each year so for the past 2 months I have been working hard along side my co-workers to make our annual fundraising event a success. And we accomplished that so life is still good. Unfortunately during the prep time for our annual event my biking slowed way down, but I did manage to stay focused enough to not give up on my goal.

Last I wrote to you I was just leaving Devil’s Tower. I made my way to Moorcroft, Wyoming where I spent a few days just to ride out some bad weather. I then biked on over to Gillette, Wyoming which residents there like to refer to their town as the “Energy Capital of the Nation”. They are vital to the development of large quantities of coal, oil, and coal bed methane gas. I stayed in Gillette for a few days in preparation for the longest leg of my trip without towns in between. Besides, I found a great little quilt shop where I added some more fabric to my stash. And although both towns I just visited aren’t much more than a hole in the wall to most, I enjoyed their hospitality.

Ahead of me was 70 miles of Interstate before I reached Buffalo, Wyoming where the infamous “Hole in the Wall” gang hid out. I knew that there could be some exciting things to see in Buffalo. And right I was. This town is chocked full of western history. I went through the Jim Gatchell Museum that houses over 15,000 old west artifacts. And, of course, I had to take a tour out to the “Hole in the Wall” hideout which delivered in historic richness and beauty.

It’s this richness of history that I’ve seen so far that I find truly amazing. Each day brings me closer to God and makes me appreciate all the things that God has given to us. We are blessed to live in such a diverse country. Once one slows down enough to see the riches before them they, too, will see how blessed we are. I’ve found people living happily in places where, not so very long ago, I would have scoffed at. But because I’ve shed the pressures of this fast paced world we live in, I too can see the beauty that these people see and understand why they continue to live where they do. And I am amazed at the friendliness of people in each town I go through.

Yes, I have met a few curmudgeons, but mostly I’ve met friendly, helpful people and that makes up for the few curmudgeons that I’ve met. So try stepping away from the hustle and bustle of this fast paced world for even just an hour and see what a transformation it can do to you. There’s a whole big world out there waiting for you to enjoy its gifts. And what better time can there be than spring to make a change in ones life. Spring is a time for renewal and new beginnings.

Let’s all get outside and enjoy the gifts God has given us. And as always, let’s keep going the distance. Peace to all of you.

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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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