Monday, September 30, 2013

A Boy and His Bicycle

My husband, Chad, took up running about three years ago, but that came to a screeching halt almost exactly one year ago.  On one of his regular evening runs, there was an accident, and Chad's knee was wrecked.  Surgery was done, and the doctor was optimistic that the knee would be good as new. wasn't, and Chad's running was over.

So, this past spring, he decided to take up bicycling and purchased a bike. It's sort of a hybrid mountain bike that's good for riding pretty much anywhere, which is exactly what he needed. Off he went on his rides, and he loved it so much, that he set some pretty tough goals for himself.

Goal #1: Ride 1,000 miles before the end of the summer. Check! That was accomplished by mid August.

This is the decal Megan designed and Chad had made when he hit 1,000 miles.

Goal #2: Ride the old highway to Buffalo. That's 96 miles, and has some pretty good hills. Check! He did that twice in June. Once by himself, and once with a friend that also wanted to make that ride.

Resting at the end of the ride to Buffalo. He was one tired guy!

Goal #3: Ride from his parents' house at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, to the summit of Powder River Pass. It's only about 30 miles from bottom to top, but it's nearly a 5,000 foot rise in elevation, with the first few miles being at a 7% grade (that's really steep!), and the last few at 4% grade (also nothing to sneeze at), with lots of big ups and downs in between. Crazy? Yep, but he was determined. He'd gotten to discussing this goal with brother-in-law, Jesús Rios, and they hatched a plot to try this together. Jesús was just getting into cycling, and figured he wouldn't be able to make the whole ride, but he wanted to give it a try. Plans were made and the date was set.

At 9:30 on the morning of September 7th, The guys took off on their adventure.

I had the very important job of being the "Support Crew". In other words, I had the car, which was loaded with supplies; first aid kit, extra water and gatorade, energy bars, and some sandwiches and chips for lunch. Making this more interesting, cell service ends just a very few miles up the road, so they wouldn't be able to call for help. I checked on them every so often, making sure they had everything they needed. Fortunately all that was really needed were gatorade refills and a tool to tighten a loose seat.

After about two hours and nine miles, Jesús decided to turn around and head back down. It was quite an accomplishment for him to make it that far considering he really hadn't trained at all, and he'd ridden the steepest miles of the entire route. So down he went. What had taken two hours to ride up, only took ten minutes to ride down!

Chad pedaled on, and when it was time for a lunch break, we stopped at a turnout along the highway, and had a little picnic. The only critters around were a couple of squirrels and a few cattle. One calf was watching us intently. I think he wanted a bite of sandwich. It was a pretty area, and high enough in elevation that the aspen leaves were already turning.

After lunch, Chad had about seven more miles to the top. But it was all uphill at a 4% grade, so we knew it would be slow going. I drove on ahead to the summit, where I read for a little while, then decided to climb up to the top of the hill above the parking lot. From there, I would be able to see Chad coming up the road. While I watched and waited, I explored some pretty neat rock formations, enjoyed watching clouds form, join, and then get blown apart by the strong winds aloft. It was sunny and perfect for hanging around at the top of a mountain.

Soon after I took this picture, the entire top of that cloud was sheared off and completely gone.

Finally, at 2:10 p.m., Chad made it to the top! He was a little tired, but feeling good. We snapped his picture at the summit sign, loaded up the bike, and headed back down. But after the hard work of riding up all day, Chad wanted to have some fun going back down. There is a brake check area just above where the 7% grade begins, so I dropped him off there, and he rode down those last, very fast, miles.

Check! Ride to the top of the mountain accomplished!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Summer: August

August had a lot going on. I really had to whittle down the photos, or you'd be here all day...or you'd look at a few and then move on to other things! So here is a sampling of some things that we experienced.

An evening storm was catching and filtering the sunlight, giving us these beautiful golden clouds.

Everything was bathed in the golden light. The camera does not do it justice, but I think you can get the idea. It was pretty, but also eerie.

On another trip to the Big Horn Mountains, we took a road way back in and came upon this cave. It was narrow but long, with the entrance in the center.

If you went to the right in the cave and climbed up over some rocks, you'd find yourself on this little terrace, about 30 feet up the rock face.

If you went to the left and did a little climbing, you would find a crack in the rock just big enough to fit through, and climb back down to the ground. It was steeper coming down than this picture looks.

One weekend we took a little road trip to Sheridan, WY and visited the Field of Honor. People could sponsor flags for veterans, both past and present, or emergency first responders. This is the flag for Chad's father, Charles Birdie, sponsored by his sister and brother-in-law.  

There were a thousand flags there, I wish it would have been possible to take a photo showing all of them. It was beautiful and touching to see all those flags.

While in Sheridan, we also visited Chad's sister and her family. Youngest nephew, Tucker, really likes to "drive". He was planning on making a lot of turns. Way to use that signal, Tucker!

At the end of August, we celebrated Megan's 16th Birthday. She had requested a visit from Chris Evans, the actor portraying Captain America. Alas, he was busy that day, so she settled for a Captain America cake. Lots of fun was had by all with that dark blue icing!

The day after her birthday, Megan started her junior year of high school.

How was your August?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Summer: July

July was beautiful, and unusually cool. We enjoyed the 4th of July fireworks from inside the truck because we were in the middle of a strong thunderstorm that brought a deluge. Even with the pouring rain, the show went on. Apparently, fireworks don't mind getting wet, and will still do their thing. The storm's wild lightning seemed to be in competition with the fireworks to see who could put on the best show. I think it was a tie for first place!

Just a couple of blocks from our house sits a lake and wildlife preserve area. Our town had a wonderful path built all the way around the lake, and we've taken some very enjoyable walks there. Ducks, Canada Geese, pelicans, and many other waterbirds are regular residents of the lake, and fun to watch. I could live without the mosquitoes though!

We took another trip to the Big horn Mountains, and investigated some things we had not before. Going to the tippy top of Sheep Mountain to visit the lookout was amazing. We saw breathtaking views from the up there, and it's a place I'd very much like to visit again, maybe with a picnic lunch.

East end of the lake.

A large group of pelicans with a goose guest. It was sunset, so they were probably getting ready to bed down for the night.

Sheep Mountain lookout. It is only in use when there are fires to watch, so the rest of the time, the windows are boarded up. The Forest Service is proposing renting it out to overnight guests when it's not in use. If that gets approved, I think that would be a fun adventure!

Just below the lookout, Megan is enjoying being at the top of the world. I think the elevation was just under 10,000 feet. The wind was really blowing up there, and it was cold! Next time we go, I'll take a warmer jacket.

Cloud bridge over the Big Horn Mountains.

We saw this weird cloud formation when we took a little road trip to pick our daughter up from church camp. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it was totally separate from any other clouds, and looked like a giant airplane wing. There were actually three of these fascinating formations, spread a few miles apart from each other.

July was a great month!

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Summer: June

Camping! We have a great little camper, just perfect for the three of us. Our first camping trip was in June in the Big Horn Mountains. It was beautiful!

Our front yard for a few days.

Our first morning, we were surprised to have a visitor. This young bull moose just nonchalantly sauntered through our campsite.

He stopped to munch here and there as he wandered through. Within about ten minutes, he had made his way back into the trees, and we quickly lost sight of him.

Toward early evening, we went for a drive down some of the back roads, and saw this little buck. He was sporting the latest popular deer hairstyle...spikey blonde fringe.

Our first night camping, the moon was bright and beautiful.

The next morning, we drove a very rough and narrow road for a few miles, down into a creek bottom. It opened up into this beautiful meadow, covered in mountain lupine. The scent in the air from the flowers was heavenly!

Megan looking at the grasshopper she just caught.

Chad taking it easy.

Our last morning camping, the fog rolled in. Soon after, rain, sleet and some hail followed. So we packed up and headed home. We had a great three days, even with the soggy ending.