May 2017 Rockies: Tandem Cycling Expedition
Cycling Craters of the Moon:A 200 Mile Detour Rob Didn't Know About
23-24 May 2017 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond
You might think it's impossible for Rob not to know that we just detoured 200 miles to go see some 'lame' (whatever) rocks, especially since he's the captain, but honestly, I do ALL of the route planning. And I do mean all. I pick where we go and he's the lovely driver that takes me there - not because I'm a control freak (though I'm sure my siblings would claim otherwise), but rather due to him just not having an interest in the whole 'planning part' that makes a trip awesome. Just like I don't really care about the whole 'bike maintenance thing' that makes this trip possible. We're a pretty good team like that - when we're both in a good mood anyway. So yes, he really was ignorant to how big of a detour I was willing to take to go see some cool looking rocks. Which is surprising since he knows of my obsession with cool looking rocks and has done so for years now... Though to be fair, I might have left off a zero when I mentioned how far it was, but in my defense I said, "like 20 miles or something" so fair play in my opinion. And yes, he still goes on about my 'ridiculous' detour. But like seriously? Look at these beauties!!! He should be thanking me for having shown him something so awesome.
Though the 'sting of betrayal' was lessened greatly due to the free campsite in Arco I found for us. It's privately owned by a man named Scar (yes, that's his real name now because he's just that awesome) and he just lets random travellers like us pop up unannounced and sleep in his yard. Given that he's the direct neighbour to Arco's paid campgrounds, it's safe to say that the owner of the KOA doesn't like him much - though I'm sure that's only because he hasn't gotten to know him. For Scar, as anyone who meets him will know, is such a great character and has had the most insane experiences that I've ever heard of personally! But what made staying at his place even better and thus, made the 'ridiculous' detour slightly worth it for Rob, was that he got to shoot some wicked guns and then a home-made cannon after a thorough safety lesson. For even though it might sound odd, you can actually be pro gun control and still like to go shoot (like us). Shooting can be safe if a person is actually trained how to use it, is old enough to actually understand the reprecussions, and oh idk, DOESN'T have a freaking mental issue that makes them go all loose canyon. How anyone can be against stopping actual unhinged persons from owning guns but then also be for completely sane people coming into a country to get away from unhinged people is beyond me. Like, should we just lock all the students inside with the gunman??? Should we just start selling ISIS bombs and weapons to use against us because that's only fair??? Oh wait... So jeah, you can definitely be for tighter gun control while still having fun doing this:
And for those wondering, yes, I was a better shot than Rob. XD
Cycling Craters of the Moon comments:
Tandem Touring Through Yellowstone:Seeing All There Is to See
13-14 May 2017 | Mri Grout- A Lifelong Vagabond
After discovering that the only two places in Yellowstone that you could tent camp at in mid May was Madison and Mammoth, Rob and I decided that we might as well cycle the Yellowstone Loop while we were still up in the caldera of this famous supervolcano. After all the whole reason we had arrived early was to avoid the crazy tourist traffic of high season and so once we went down into Jackson valley we wouldn't be coming back up due to the complete lack of a shoulder and too many inconsiderate, selfish, impatient, and not to mention, distracted drivers. A further favourable point in our new decision was that the night before we had discovered that one of the roads was currently closed due to a washout and wouldn't be useable to vehicles for a few days at least. But luckily we weren't traveling by campervan this time and so after stopping at numerous steam vents, mudpots, and other volcanic attracation, we were escorted through the roadworks by a friendly forest ranger and then invited back to his backyard after work for a place to pitch the tent as well as to further chat about our adventures.
Hours later we arrived at his house nearly exhausted after having battled strong headwinds, struggled through a short, but extremely cold storm, and dodged certain death from crazy tourist drivers that didn't understand that their huge vans actually pulled us towards them when they passed so close. Not to say that Yellowstone wasn't worth the hassle because its unique attractions and abundant wildlife definitely made it so; just that there are some places better seen from the safety of a vehicle. However, if you're set on bike touring through Yellowstone then I would suggest doing so in the spring when the park road from Mammoth to West Yellowstone is only open to cyclists (though the only campsite open at that time will be Mammoth as it's open all year round). We learned all of this and more while talking to Ranger James and his partner Anna, but the most interesting chat in my opinion was the one about James' hike along the Appalachian Trail. It was something Rob and I had talked about doing if I could ever get my chronic pain under control (hiking is a serious trigger for a high spike/week long sleep to get me through the pain), but it wasn't just an echange of trail information that made this talk great. No, it was how Ranger James find a tiny kitten abandoned by some jerk and instead of just calling animal services or something like that, he freaking CARRIED IT THREE THOUSAND MILES on the back of his neck!!! That was seven years ago and this adorable ball of fluff is still with him. How adorable is that!? And then when he would go into a shop looking like a disheveled hiker and buy cat food people thought he was so desperate that he was the one eating it. So they gave him money for 'real' food! Ahahahahaha. What a great time we had getting to know these two rangers and if you two are following this, thanks a ton for having us over for dinner and saving us from a terribly cold night outside...as well as being eaten by a bear.
For just as we were heading out of the park after our three days of bike touring through Yellowstone, we came speeding around a blind corner at 20mph and braked just short of a mamma grizzly and her cub... Now up to this point we hadn't yet decided on whether we were disappointed or relieved to have not seen a wild bear from the exposure of a bike, but as we stood there not even 30 yards/27 metres from a startled duo, we finally decided. Rob was temporally frozen with fear and I was over the moon estatic. Unfortunately however, I was still too rational to take out my camera first and so grabbed the bear spray instead. I mean, what kind of smart person does that!? I totally missed out on an amazing photo opportunity due to my intelligent instinct when everyone knows that if you only have a memory of something it isn't as cool. Urgh. But despite my disappointment in Rob's quick thinking, he claims he saved our lives due to your tips on how to safely deal with a wild bear. And I guess given we're both alive it's hard to argue with his logic. Lols. Seriously though, people, don't be stupid when it comes to wildlife for even 'cute and cuddly' bison can fuck you up. Instead, invest in a camera with a good zoom (like the Canon Powershot or the Sony Cybershot) so that you can view animals both from a safe distance and in a natural environment - like we did when we got the amazing opportunity to film a coyote hunting through the snow in Yellowstone.
Tandem touring through Yellowstone comments:
Tandem Touring Into Yellowstone:Trying to be Bear-Aware...and Failing Badly
11-12 May 2017 | Mri Grout- A Lifelong Vagabond
Neverthless, with no other option of surviving the night, we cycled over to their registration desk and hoped they accepted either English cards or euros (European dollars) as we didn't have that much in US dollars. However, before we reached their door, we spotted the ranger who had been called over to keep an eye on the grazing bison and decided to ask him if we could spend a night in one of the closed campgrounds (the one we were originally planning on staying in before discovering it was closed). A long shot, sure, but if it worked that meant we wouldn't have to cut our trip short by a month; it didn't. However, he took pity on the two idiot cyclists who decided to tour through Yellowstone at this time of year due to misinformed local advice (innocent car people not understanding distance on a bike) and showed us a place where we could pitch the tent for a single night. Thinking that we were safe surrounded by other rangers and park workers and given it was really cold at such a high elevation...obviously we ate inside the tent again. Yep, we're going to be bear food one of these nights; just not tonight.
Tandem cycling into Yellowstone comments:
Cycling From Somewhere to Sweetwater Station:The Complete Oregon Trail Experience
2-4 May 2017 | Mri & Rob Grout- Lifelong Vagabonds
As we cycled out of the most remote place we’d yet been (an area who’s name I cannot even tell by looking at maps - though the closest description I can give is that it was southeast to the Ferris Moutains), we came across a fork in the road as it’s so common to do when traveling across the Rockies. One way was on good gravel and led to a paved, relatively quiet road in the distance. The other was a rutted track spotted with bushes, hidden cacti, and soft sand that looked as if it never got better. With those two choices ahead of us, it was an obviously easy decision of taking the latter. After all, this was supposed to be an expedition and never was there an expedition made along proper routes.
But with no treasure found, the next day we had decided to continue on our current voyage instead of calling uber and within a few miles we had cycled through Rattlesnack Pass and into the Mormon pioneer village at Martin’s Cove. There we had a delightful surprise as we were given a free, in-depth tour of the place by an Elder. We pulled a pioneer handcart along a section of the Oregon Trail, had a lovely picnic and hike over the rocks at Devil’s Gate, conversed with some newly made friends, and learned so much about the struggle of the Martin Handcart Company; I would recommmend visiting this fantastic place to anyone in the area.
After saying our goodbyes, we left on the Oregon Trail heading westward to Split Rock. However, like the Martin party we faced many a hardship including bad road conditions (miles and miles of soft sand; who would’ve thought?), harsh weather (the sun had finally come out, but after nearly a week of bad weather we weren’t used to the rays and simply burned without enjoyment), a river crossing defended by wild beasts, and even the sudden realization that we were nearly out of both food and water and there wasn’t a town in sight. Fortunately though, unlike the Martin party we weren’t digging a grave at every campsite and we would probably hit a restock point sometime tomorrow. So obviously that meant we could eat everything we had that night because there was no way Jeffery City could be a ghost town (SPOILER ALERT: it was; the bar lady even showed us a book called ‘Ghost Towns of Wyoming’ and Jeffery City was in it).
So despite meeting two lovely people and being offered a free night’s stay in a bus by a great character of a man called Bryon (who anyone passing through needs to meet), Rob and I were forced to carry on another eighteen miles to the next Mormon Handcart Center in Sweetwater Station in hopes of finding/begging for some food – which despite being eyeballed by a 25yo llama and barked at by a ferocious guard dog we eventually managed due to the kindness of the egg lady and the Mormon couple at Sweetwater Station.
Tandem cycling on the Oregon Trail comments:
lifelong vagabonds 2017 cycling expedition