Quantum Pearls - Thursday, September 14, 2023

Quantum Pearls - Day 2

What behaviors bring me closer to people? What behaviors cause separation?

Now that I have committed to answering thirty questions, I realize how challenging this is actually going to be. Talking about yourself “in public” is not an easy. It can also be interpreted as a vain activity. That’s not my intent. These are not my questions. My hope is that in trying to answer them I will provide myself with some guidance and reinforcement for how I want to live my life, and encouragement to follow that path. The answers I give will be good for the current moment at least. I plan to come back here and look at them from time-to-time and see how my opinion of them has or has not changed. That is as much the point of this exercise as providing the answers in the first place. So with that…

What I think brings me closer to people is listening to them. Listening without judging. Of course we judge. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t. So the idea is to judge as little as possible. That’s easy to do if what you are hearing aligns with your own beliefs, what if it doesn’t? If you disagree with what you are hearing, that’s when it’s probably time to avoid giving a response. Your explanation is likely to fall on deaf ears. (Perhaps as deaf as your own.) When this situation occurs, it’s better to wait until the other person asks you for your opinion before offering it. If your opinion is never asked for, that tells you something about the other person. If the other person matters to you, it becomes your job to show by your actions why you have a different opinion. The hope is that in time they will notice the message you are offering.

Journal Entry - Sunday, September 10, 2023


”…for a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.”

Henry David Thoreau

It pains me to think that I can elaborate on this thought. At the risk of trying to place myself in the same company as Thoreau, a vain thought, not one that I would entertain for a second, let me say that what we live without is more defining than what we live with. This knowledge comes from age and experience, but it doesn’t hurt to have someone as wise and eloquent as Thoreau to occasionally remind us.

Journal Entry - Saturday, September 9, 2023

Proper Punctuation

I’ve been reading “The Elements Of Style” by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. It is a fascinating book that attempts to teach people how to be better writers. This may be a cause lost on me but I find it worth the effort regardless. I discovered this morning that all of the titles to my journal entries have been improperly punctuated. Complete dates, like the one used in the title of this post, contain parenthetical clauses (as does this sentence). The separate parts of the date should be delineated with commas, like so:

Saturday, September 9, 2023 not Saturday September 9 2023, as I have been doing my entire life.

I find it utterly useless to acquire this knowledge this late in life, but also utterly charming.

You have probably noted that I created a sentence above that contains two parenthetical clauses, one separated by commas and the other delineated using parenthesis. I have no clue what William Strunk would have to say about that, but I suspect he would find it appalling.

Quantum Pearls - Saturday, September 9, 2023

Quantum Pearls - Day 1

What is causing pollution? What can be done about it?

The current news cycle is disturbing. Causing polluting is putting it mildly. I don’t understand how we have gotten to a place where we are so eager to not listen to one another. How can all of us be right all the time? (That is a rhetorical question.) I don’t understand how anger and narcissism have reached such a critical threshold. They have. The answer to this situation has to be tolerance and understanding. I will leave it to the Social Scientists to determine how we got here. My job, as I see it, is to be the change I want to see. (Thank you Mahatma Gandhi.) I should listen, try and understand, while maintaining my own conviction that the world is a better place when people choose to compromise rather than fight.

Quantum Pearls - September 8, 2023

Quantum Pearls - An Introduction

What follows in the next 30 days or so is a series of questions taken from the book “Quantum Pearls” by Christopher M Jones. I accidentally ordered this book not realizing it was a Christian Devotional. I am unabashedly not a “Christian,” but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to learn from those that profess that particular faith. The questions pondered in each of the following entries are taken directly from the book but translated in a way to make them personally comprehensible to me. (Not all bible passages are comprehensible to me.) Naturally, I advise you to consider what follows unique to me, not necessarily useful to you or anyone else. When picking up a piece of writing that is so centrally associated with a strong religious belief, it raises the question: Is there a God? That’s not what this is about. I’m going to leave the answer to that to ChatGPT-5. What this is about is a brief consideration of what makes a worthwhile and ultimately satisfying life. Forgive me for being so bold. (I say forgive me for being bold because I’m prone to unnecessarily qualifications - that’s just my nature.)

Journal Entry - Wed August 30, 2023

My Cat

I saw a fellow walking along the road, not far back a truck was parked. The truck was set-up for overlanding. I figured what the heck. I stopped to see if the fellow needed a ride, he did. I asked if that was his truck I had just passed and he confirmed that it was. I told him to hop-in and I’d give him a ride wherever he was going. I also said, “as long as you don’t mind riding with a cat.” He laughed and said “that’s a little weird, usually it’s a dog, but that’s cool.”

I can’t find it in myself to trade-in my cat for a dog, so the cat is just going to have to live with me. I’m pretty sure I like him, and I’m pretty sure he likes me… Although with cats it can be hard to tell…

Journal Entry - Wed August 30, 2023

Moral Code

I chose the title “Moral Code” for want of anything better, that seems to be what this list is all about. These have become known as Hutchins’ Laws, first widely published in 1947. Hutchins was Chancellor of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951. Trained in Philosophy, this appears to be something of a manifesto of his moral code.

  • The Good American tries to stay in good health
  • The Good American controls his/her emotions
  • The Good American Is self-reliant
  • The Good American is reliable
  • The Good American plays fair
  • The Good American does his/her duty
  • The Good American tries to do the right thing
  • The Good American tries to do the right thing in the right way
  • The Good American works with friendly cooperation
  • The Good American is kind
  • The Good American is loyal

These look to me a lot like slogans. Like the infamous “Make America Great Again.” That phrase was first used by Ronald Reagan, then appropriated by Donald Trump. Regardless of that little bit of history, these slogans have power that can be weirdly for both positive and negative purposes. Beware of the person that insists some moral code has been lost and must be reestablished. When that happens you are probably listening to someone that is attempting to control you.

You cannot go back to the past, whatever that is. What you can do is learn from it, hopefully not repeat events that were detrimental while finding a way to create events that are beneficial. This is not always a clear process.

The first thing I did when examining this list was to take the word “American” out of these phrases and substitute the word “person.” That removes at least one bias. It also seems to me you have a man that is taking his inspiration from the Bible. Be that as it may (I have no idea if that is the case here) these are all good ideals to strive for, in any time, and any country. Don’t be blinded. These words can be used for good purposes as well as not good purposes, it depends on the person wielding them.

Personally, I like this list, I even try and do most of these things. But if I were to tell you that you should live by these rules I would be stepping into a place where I am assuming too much authority over you.

Journal Entry - Sun August 20, 2023

A Watershed Moment

We are living in a watershed moment in American History. We face a Constitutional crisis no less crucial or important than the events leading up to the Civil War in 1860.

George Washington in his farewell address in 1796 laid out the grounds of citizenship clearly and unequivocally:

”The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.”

“All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency …”

“However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Simply put, we as citizens are obligated by our adoption of the Constitution to recognize and check any person or persons involved in acts that are designed to circumvent or betray the Constitution. Failure to do so is failure to support the principle which we consider to be fundamental to our lives and livelihood, Democracy.

Journal Entry - Fri August 18, 2023


Never trust a man who speaks ill of another, it’s likely ulterior motives are in play. If someone’s speech makes you angry, rest assured that is the intent, for by this path the one that seeks to anger you also seeks to control you.

Journal Entry - Thu August 17, 2023


It is a rhetorical rule of thumb that every good speech or piece of writing should begin with an expression of modesty.

That is my new defense. I’ve been told that I make a habit of following that rule a bit too enthusiastically. Let me just say:

I’m not an expert in these things,

but I disagree…

…I think modesty is a virtue, what I have failed to mention is that this rule was the norm in the mid-ninteenth century. I’m not 169 years old, I just sound like it.

TransAm Journal - Wed August 16, 2023


Redmond OR, 0 miles


I had intended to drive to Redmond Oregon and catch a flight back to Missoula, as I neared town I encountered the worst wildfire smoke I have ever experienced. Visibility was less than ¼ mile. While that may sound overly dramatic, it’s really an understatement.

I’m putting the rest of the tour on hold. I don’t know when the fires will abate, but I don’t expect that will be before September. I’m saddened by this turn of events, but the situation does not warrant the potential health risks that would be encountered if I were to return to the road right now.

Sadly, I won’t be returning to Missoula soon…

TransAm Journal - Tue August 15, 2023


Seattle WA, 0 miles


I’ve been enjoying this view for the last couple of weeks but the thought of returning to the road has never been far from my mind.

I’ve been sharing family events and summer activities with loved ones. I’ve been able to recoup some strength and put a couple of pounds back on. I’ve had the rare treat of consuming (a large portion of) four coconut cream pies in two weeks. Getting out of shape is not hard to do. Now that I’m packing to resume my journey, I could not be more excited.

I’ll be returning to Missoula in two days…

TransAm Journal - Tue August 8, 2023


Seattle WA, 0 miles


When I was camping in Yellowstone at Grant Village, I shared a campsite with a friendly Brit. He was riding a mountain bike from Anchorage Alaska to somewhere, he wasn’t all that clear on when or where he would be ending. He was eleven months into his tour and had no plans to stop any time soon. He will probably end up in Patagonia before he’s all done. It turned out we each asked the other a question that made for an interesting conversation.

I asked him why he chose to bicycle across the interior of North America. He was avoiding roads as much as possible and following the Continental Divide. He told me he was watching a YouTube video one day and saw a fellow that was making the same trip and he simply decided he wanted to do it too. I think it was clear by my expression that I was looking for a bit more detail, so he went on. He said he had nothing better to do so he sold everything he owned, bought a bicycle and some gear, and set out. That made a bit more sense to me. He was planning to make his own YouTube video when he finished. I think that is his true inspiration. He showed me some of the video he had captured and it blew me away. Even though I couldn’t completely relate to his explanation, I noticed he rode a Brooks saddle so that spoke well for him…

When it was his turn to ask me a question, he wanted to know what my favorite piece of gear was. I could have easily said “my Brooks saddle,” but I paused and thought about it for a couple of seconds and then replied, “my light-weight down jacket.” The jacket has saved me on a couple of occasions and it has been just damn comfortable on lots of other occasions. Naturally I asked him what his favorite piece of gear was, he said it was his sleeping bag liner. I got it immediately. I have frequently noticed how nice it would be to have an extra layer inside the bag, not just on cool evenings, but also on hot ones. I was kicking myself for not having come up with that before I started my trip. My emphasis on carry-weight made me blind to that gear choice.

I’ll be returning to Missoula soon, with a sleeping bag liner…

TransAm Journal - Mon August 7, 2023


Seattle WA, 0 miles

What is a Bicycle Tour?

It’s a bit more than getting on a bicycle and going for a ride. You’re stepping out of your normal existence and you are entering into an entirely new world. It’s a lifestyle apart from what constitutes “normal life.” Every day requires focus, but on a limited number of tasks. The result of this narrowing of awareness is increased observation of your surroundings, your own feelings, of everything you are experiencing. It makes other people’s opinions and attitudes less relevant. Not less important or less valuable, but less impactful on you. That allows you to appreciate other people without obsessing on the “rightness” or “wrongness” of what they may be projecting.

Your day begins with a simple meal and a cup of coffee you make with your own hands. It’s enjoyable because you created it. Packing your gear for the day’s ride is done deliberately and with intention. So it is with a myriad of details throughout the day. The simple process of stopping and securing your bicycle becomes a ritual that is satisfying and affirming. Setting up camp, preparing to sleep, sleeping, waking, these are things that take on a significance that has no counterpart in “normal” life. They are immensely satisfying.

You see things in a whole new way. You are forced to slow down your perception of time, and also your observational perception. At the same time you are slowing down, your mind is embracing thoughts and ideas that wouldn’t normally be observed. “Mind expanding” may be a bit of an overstatement, but it’s a good description of the mental experience that comes with the physical exertion of riding for ten hours and covering 50 to 100 miles in the time it would take an airplane to fly half way across the world.

While all of this is part of the experience, the real thrill is completing your adventure and looking back on the experience. You can’t help but grow from the accomplishment. A tour is an accomplishment to be proud of. If you’re like me, after you complete your tour, you’ll be asking yourself, “what discoveries will I make on my next tour.”

I’ll be returning to Missoula soon…

TransAm Journal - Mon July 24, 2023

Day 76

Missoula MT, 65 miles

Today I chose another pre-dawn start. There are no cafes open in Darby until 7:30 AM so I’m going to ride to Hamilton for breakfast, about 20 miles down the road. That will also give me a good head start on the day. After breakfast I’ll ride to the ACA Headquarters in Missoula to hang out for a short while. It’s been one of the many goals for this trip. I’m excited to get my photo on the wall. It’s a small thing, but small things can be big things.

I took the Bitterroot Trail into Missoula. Its a paved path, about 45 miles long, from Hamilton all the way into Missoula. That makes three major bike trails I’ve checked off my bucket list on this trip. It was also nice getting off the highway. The last stretch of highway into Missoula is very busy, it was much more relaxing to be on a path rather than having traffic buzzing by at insane speed (compared to me).

About nine miles outside Missoula I got a flat. I looked at the tire carefully and noticed a worn spot on the casing. These tires only have about 1,500 miles on them. I was very disappointed in their performance. I got a new tube in the tire and remounted the wheel and the tube wouldn’t hold air. I had to start all over again. I was using a patched tube. All four of my spare tubes are now patched, apparently I hadn’t gotten this one patched in all the right places. I was working on another attempt at repair when a very nice local cyclist pulled up to see if he could help. He gave me a new tube and we talked about all his cycling adventures. When all was said and done and I was on the road again, I arrived in Missoula about two hours later than I had planned. Thanks to my pre-dawn start, that wasn’t really an issue.

This is the end of my TransAmerica bicycle journey… for now…

I originally planned to complete the trip by July 31 or August 1. Getting sick in Colorado for a week threw a wrench into that plan. There is a lot going on at home in August that I don’t want to miss. My plan is to return to Missoula late August or early September to finish the ride. Besides, I miss my cat and some of the humans back home… Actually, I miss all of the humans back home and even the ones that don’t live in Seattle.

I wanted to complete the journey in one-go, but life has a way of intervening. There is no rule that says you can’t take a “break.” I’ll be back to finish and when I do, I’ll be posting here the final two weeks of the ride. Pop in occasionally to see what I’m up to. I appreciate all of you that I have met along the way. Happy trails, and may your journey’s end be as wonderful as mine is… and will be.


Arrived in Missoula. Took the tour of the ACA Headquarters, got my picture on the wall, and hung out in the cyclist’s lounge.

TransAm Journal - Sun July 23, 2023

Day 75

Darby MT, 57 miles

It turns out that today’s climb was another tough one. My optimism last night about the difficulty of today’s climb is evidence that staying in the town of Wisdom had no beneficial effect on me…

My pre-dawn start got me to Darby in plenty of time to relax and settle in to a good early linner. Today was another superb scenic adventure. The day began with a stunning sunrise in Big Hole Valley followed by a beautiful climb to Chief Joseph Pass. After topping-out, it was a steep seven mile descent, braking all the way, followed by a glide through the Bitterroot Valley with stunning views of the Bitterroot Range to the west. I would make this trip again in a heartbeat. There are no mountain ranges to conquer tomorrow, it should be a relaxed day.

Without question, the highlight of today’s miles was a stop at the Big Hole Battlefield National Historic Site. Perhaps it was the early morning light, or simply the stunning uniqueness of the terrain in front of me, or the tragedy that occurred here, but I was blown away with emotion. I realize it’s not advisable to apply today’s moral standards to the events of history, but it’s difficult not to feel both sorrow and anger for the event that occurred on this beautiful site. A sizable group of Nez Pierce led by Chief Joseph were peacefully migrating to Canada where they could live a life free of the confines of a reservation. They were pursued by a contingent of U.S. Cavalry. In a surprise pre-dawn raid almost 100 Nez Pierce women and children were slaughtered by the U.S. force. Today this site is hallowed ground to the Nez Pierce people and is an example of our not always glorious continental expansion.

There are several opportunities in this area to get “off road” and explore the route taken by the Lewis and Clark Corp of Discovery. I want to come back with my off grid setup and follow along and camp using the National Forest trails and roads that follow this historical route.

Big Hole sunrise just a few miles from Big Hole Battlefield National Historic Site.

TransAm Journal - Sat July 22, 2023

Day 74

Wisdom MT, 67 miles

 I’m in Wisdom Montana. I hope some of whatever gave this town its name rubs off on me…

I made it over both passes and pulled into the town of Jackson at 1 PM. There is a great cyclist hostel here. I spent a half-hour hanging out and chatting with the owner, nice guy, full of information. Even though it would have been a great place to stay, it was early, so I decided to push on to the town of Wisdom. That was a good decision, an easy 18 mile add-on.

Tomorrow looks like an easier day (maybe) than today. I’m at a pretty good elevation here so the climb up to Chief Joseph Pass and Lost Trail Pass might not be too bad. Famous last words. I’ll be into Idaho for a short distance tomorrow before weaving back into Montana. I’ll be passing near the Lost Trail Ski Area. I want to ski some of these out-of-the-way areas.

The Big Hole Valley where I am now is on the East side of the Continental Divide. Honestly, this is a bit counterintuitive. The Big Hole Valley might be one of my favorite places in terms of scenic vistas. A place worth returning to. Tomorrow I’ll pass over the divide again and be on the West side. Between Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, I’m not sure how many times I’ve crossed the divide.

When I go into a local restaurant for a meal, I’ve taken to sitting at the bar. I don’t like waiting for a table, or taking up an entire table for just myself. Besides, sitting at the bar is much more entertaining. It’s haying season and listening to the local ranchers talk about their haying progress is interesting. There are also fun things to watch. My bartender chews tobacco and trims his fingernails with an automatic knife while tending bar. He also uses his fingers to put the vegetables into the Bloody Marys. (Not my Bloody Mary, I usually have water with my food, I can’t get enough water at the end of the day.) Tonight I had some coconut cream pie. It was excellent. Small towns are full of surprises.

Near the top of Badger Pass. The shoulder you see is not that bad. I don’t mind a day of riding on 18 inches.

TransAm Journal - Fri July 21, 2023

Day 73

Dillon MT, 0 miles

Rest day.

Looking at the map elevation guide, it appears that tomorrow might be my biggest day of climbing yet. Certainly the biggest day of climbing in Montana. I’m going to get an early pre-dawn start to give myself as much daylight as possible to make it over Badger Pass (6,760 feet) and Big Hole Pass (7,360 feet). The starting elevation here in Dillon is a bit over 5,000 feet. The net climb is 3,760 feet over 49 miles.

I’m feeling better today. Yesterday’s traumatic experience on Highway 41 is behind me. That in no way changes my assessment of the hazard I encountered yesterday, but time is a marvelous thing when it comes to one’s perception of past experiences. Even 24 hours can make a huge difference. Am I going to give up travel by bicycle? No, not at all.

I’m getting lots of rest today. I realized I’ve been cycling every day for twelve days without a rest day. During that time I’ve covered 723 miles, not bad for an old man. That’s an average of 60 miles per day. When I was planning this trip I was hoping to be able to hit that mark. It’s rewarding to know that over the last 12 days of challenging terrain I have been able to do that.

I mostly agree with that quote, however, I would say “as important.”

TransAm Journal - Thu July 20, 2023

Day 72

Dillon MT, 72 miles

I’m going to share this post with the ACA. I think I have a responsibility to do that. I understand I am just one voice but I believe every voice should be heard

The climb out of Ennis was a big one, about 8 miles of significant grade. Once I made the pass I dropped straight into Virginia City (see below). I had an easy ride from Virginia City to Sheridan. From Sheridan to Twin Bridges was the fastest eight miles I have done on the tour. Downhill with a shoulder that lets you really put the hammer down. From Twin Bridges to Dillon was another story…

Twin Bridgets to Dillon follows State Highway 41. It’s a 28 mile stretch of road, but the first 20 miles has no shoulder. Literally zero shoulder in many places with a significant amount of broken white line in other places. To put it quite simply, it was a nightmare. The speed limit is 70 MPH and that is what most cars and trucks are doing. Bicycles don’t belong on a road like that. I got the distinct impression from the behavior of a lot of the vehicles that passed me that they are basing their driving behavior on a similar belief.

When I went through Yellowstone, I saw a fellow wearing a bright pink jersey, the back of it read: “Please Don’t Hit Me.” At the time this struck me as a somewhat obvious notion. A concept that I assumed at the time that everyone agrees on. Now that I reflect on that a bit, along with today’s experience, I’m having a different reaction.

When the TransAmerica bicycle route was established in 1976, we lived in a different era. Of course what I am about to say can be easily dismissed as subjective, but sometimes even subjective observations can hold a truth. In 1976 I suspect behavior on the road was different than it is today. People likely drove more slowly, cars simply weren’t as well built or as powerful. People might not have been in as big a hurry. Bicycles were a curiosity, now they are an annoyance to a lot of people. In other words, people were likely more courteous back then. I could go on about the attitudes of drivers and respect for each other as fellow humans, but I think you get the idea where I’m going with this…

I think the TransAmerica Bicycle Route is an important part of our country’s history and culture, and an endeavor worth undertaking. I wish that local, state, and even federal resources could be dedicated to making stretches like today’s Highway 41 safer for bicyclists and drivers. Giving the times we live in, I’m not holding out much hope for that. I admired what Nelson D. Rockefeller Jr. did to establish Grand Teton National Park. Perhaps our best bet is that some day someone like him will help provide the means to make the TransAmerica Bicycle Route the world’s premier (safe) bicycle experience.

My day did end on a very positive note. As I was leaving the Best Western here in Dillon to grab some dinner, a couple of fellows were tailgating in the hotel parking lot. I stopped to tell them their grill smelled really good. On my way back from dinner I stopped to chat a bit more. They asked me where I was cycling from and to. I told them a little bit about my trip. As I was walking away I heard one of the men say to his buddy, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have that kind of freedom.” Well there you go, that says a lot about this journey, and why I have undertaken it.

Virginia City is worth a visit. The history of placer mining here is a fascinating one. Some colorful characters made their home here during the Montana gold rush, not all of them were looking for gold in the river. A handful of lawless men made a profession of getting their gold any way they could until vigilantes stepped in and put an end to that practice, and to those men…

TransAm Journal - Wed July 19, 2023

Day 71

Ennis MT, 71 miles

Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This trip feels like it’s nearing its end. I still have a long way to go (MT, ID, OR) but it feels like the end is in sight…

My goal today was 71 miles. Looking at the ACA map, it looked like it was all down hill. By the time I stopped for a late breakfast at the Campfire Lodge cafe I was beginning to have some doubts about the elevation profile on the map. While I was tending to my breakfast special, I mentioned to my server that the map indicated it was mostly down hill to Ennis. The cook was just a few feet away and he started laughing… I knew at that point I was in for a longer day than I had planned on. The cafe had a sign that read: “Born to fish, forced to work.” That got me thinking, I feel like I was born to ride, but I’m fortunate in that I no longer need to work.

After my late breakfast I finished riding through the Madison River canyon. The canyon is a geologic wonder. In 1959 there was a 7.5 Magnitude earthquake that rocked the canyon and caused a massive landslide at the mouth of the canyon. The landslide completely blocked the river and formed a new lake, now named Earthquake Lake. I stopped at all the interpretive road-side displays that explained in great detail how the event unfolded. I would put this in the same category as the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington in 1980. I remember that well. I was in Tacoma and the ash plume caused by the eruption darkened the sky. My sister remembers it well too I’m sure. It was a Sunday morning and people were coming out of church to a dark sky filled with ash. Some people thought the world was ending, it was so dramatic.

Sometime mid-afternoon I had a flat tire. A Deputy Sheriff (not a Sherif) stopped to make sure I was okay. We talked a bit. I think he was trying to be helpful when he mentioned that the next six miles in front of me was referred to as the Bermuda Triangle. I asked why. He said because there were so many traffic deaths on that stretch of road. Not a confidence builder. I did appreciate his concern.

Strolling the streets of downtown Ennis a 92 year old man stopped me to chat. He had a great sense of humor. The first thing he asked me was could I give him a ride on my bicycle. After getting to know him a bit, I learned that he was born on Main Street in a cabin that was later moved one block away as the town started to grow. He said he had never lived outside of the one block radius in Ennis except when he worked heavy construction in Everett Washington. He helped to clear the land that the Boeing Everett assembly building was built on. A coincidence almost too weird to believe.

The Madison River between Campfire Lodge and Earthquake Lake.

TransAm Journal - Tue July 18, 2023

Day 70

West Yellowstone MT, 42 miles

Another beautiful day for cycling. I’ve been incredibly lucky. The weather has been almost perfect for me since I left Virginia.

Shortly after I started up the second climb of the morning, a group of French cyclists, about seven, cruised past me on racing bicycles. I know they were French-Canadian because of the jerseys they were wearing. They all said “bonjour” as they went past, it’s the only French that I speak, so I said, “bonjour” right back at them. The last of the group went past me and patted me on the back. He said a phrase in French, which naturally didn’t understand, but if I had to guess it was probably something like “nice work.” Of course my bicycle is a bit heavier than the ones they were riding, hence the pat on the back…

“Old Faithful.” Not my bicycle, the other one.

TransAm Journal - Mon July 17, 2023

Day 69

Grant Village Campground, Yellowstone National Park WY, 44 miles

I’m overwhelmed by the natural beauty surrounding me. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to see all of these natural treasures from the seat of a bicycle. I don’t know why anyone would want to drive through Yellowstone. Even if people go the speed limit, which most don’t do, you can’t begin to get the same experience.

The first twelve miles into Yellowstone from the South Entrance is an uphill climb. It makes you wonder, can I do this? It’s best if you empty your mind and simply look around without caring about making progress. Eventually, at the end of the day, you end up where you want to be. Maybe I’m just lucky…

I pulled over at a turn-out and there where a dozen motorcycle riders there taking a break. One of the fellows asked me how far I had come and where I was headed. When I described the trip he was impressed. Respect from a Harley Dude is much appreciated. He took my photo before the group started rolling again.

I’m in a group campsite tonight, a “hiker/bicyclist” site. The fellow sharing the site with me is from Sheffield England (home of the Brooks Saddle). Next month he will have been on the road for a year. He started his mountain bike trek in Alaska and is now in Yellowstone. He has amazing photos and video of wildlife and his journey, he showed be a good sample of them.

I met another cyclist during the day and we ended up having dinner together at Grant Lodge. He worked as an independent stock trader in Manhattan. In 2002 when the industry consolidated he bought a Volvo tractor and trailer and he is now an independent hauler six months out of the year. He spends the other six months hiking and cycling wherever he feels like going. He has crossed the country, hiked the AT, the PCT, and done numerous other cycling trips. We had a very nice time chatting over Bison Burgers.

For those of you who indulge me, for those of you that love me, and even for those of you that tolerate me (or any combination of the three).

TransAm Journal - Sun July 16, 2023

Day 68

Colter Bay Village, Grand Teton National Park WY, 77 miles

It took all morning (and a bit more…) but I made it over Togwotee Pass, 9,584 feet, approximately 30 miles of climbing. It’s pronounced TOE-go-wee Pass. It’s named after a powerful Shoshone chief who first led white men over this route. At the top of the pass is Wind River Lake, the headwaters of the Wind River. The Wind River feeds three major river courses, one of them is the Snake/Columbia river system. The ride down from Togwotee Pass is stunning. The Grand Tetons are in your face all the way down to Grand Teton National Park.

I only post one photo a day, but I could easily have posted a dozen today. The mountains are majestic and awe inspiring. These are actually words too simplistic to do the landscape the justice it deserves. Metaphorical skills are called for when trying to describe such overwhelming beauty. I was captivated by Wind River Lake at the summit of Togwotee Pass. You can’t see it from the pass, but it is just a few hundred yards off the highway on a dirt road. It reminded me of some of the beautiful alpine lakes around Mt. Rainier in Washington. (It made me want to go back to Mt. Rainier and re-discover them again…)

I’m staying tonight in Grand Teton National Park at the Colter Bay Campground. Our National Park Service provides campsites without reservation for hikers and bikers. What a wonderful benefit, not one lost on me. Tomorrow I’ll be in Yellowstone National Park, the first National Park in the world. As a matter of note, there would be no Grand Teton National Park of it weren’t for John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who bought up a large swath of ranch lands east of the Tetons then deeded them to the Federal Government for the formation of a National Park.

A beautiful alpine lake and the head waters of the Wind River. Reminds me of Reflection Lake in Mt. Rainier National Park.

TransAm Journal - Sat July 15, 2023

Day 67

Dubois WY, 75 miles

6:15 AM

As I look out the hotel room window, I see a beautiful day dawning. I have to admit. I’m a little bit reluctant to get moving. Today is going to be tough and spending the night in a hotel spoils you.

Today’s stretch is long and almost all up hill. It unsettles me a bit because there is really no respite from climbing. I’ll be going from 5,400 feet elevation up to almost 7,000 feet elevation. It’s not a straight climb, when you factor in the ups and downs the total elevation gain is around 3,800 feet. It feels like today’s stretch is going to define how the next two weeks are going to go

I made it to Dubois…

The first 45 miles was pleasant, then the wind came up. The last 30 miles was a slog. That’s my fault for getting a late start (8 AM). Anyway, here I am, and damn happy to be here. I will get an earlier start tomorrow so I can enjoy less wind in the afternoon…

The only wildlife I saw today was crickets. For about a five mile stretch of road they seemed to be all over the pavement. As you rolled along they would jump up. Quite often they would try and jump through the spokes of the wheel. A bad move on their part, very few make it through to the other side. Tomorrow I’ve been told the wildlife will be of quite a different sort. There are some bears that like to hang-out at the pass I’ll be going over. I was told by a fellow here at the church that there are signs saying “do not stop,” I don’t plan to. That said, there is more protection in a car than on a bicycle, and a lot of cars stop to gawk. A fellow here told me to put my bear spray in my water bottle holder so it will be at the ready. There is a hiker staying here tonight that saw a bear yesterday, so none of the stories I’m hearing are exaggerations.

Sometimes I break out with a smile for no reason. That’s a good day. Endorphins: breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions.

Do I ever raise my middle finger at a passing vehicle? Yes. If a luxury motorhome goes past me pulling an F150 pickup, and on the back of the F150 there is a bike rack with a road bike in it, and the motorhome refuses to give me 3 feet of room; I do have a tendency to raise my middle finger in that case.

The road becomes your best friend…

TransAm Journal - Fri July 14, 2023

Day 66

Lander WY, 58 miles

It was another pre-dawn start. I wanted to make Lander in plenty of time to enjoy the town. The best laid plans are often subverted. In this case it was a flat tire three miles out of Jeffrey City. No problem. I know how to handle this and it won’t set me back that much… I removed the panniers from the bike and that’s when the mesquites struck. Struck is not the right word, swarmed is more accurate. As quickly as I could I put some air in the tire, remounted the panniers, and started down the road hoping for a respite from the biting fiends. I got a half mile and the tire needed air again. As quickly as I could I aired-up while simultaneously being bitten to death. You can swat mosquitoes or change a tire, but you can’t do both at the same time. I covered 3 miles, a half-mile at a time, airing-up, until I found some high ground where the beasts weren’t quite as hungry. After I finally got the flat fixed I started rolling and about a mile later I pulled over at another historic marker. The marker explained how pioneers stopped at that spot to dig ice out of the ground to cool their food and drink. The spot is known as “Ice Slough.” The ice was formed by a surplus of ground water that remained frozen well into June. The ground water here flows into the Sweet Water River some five miles down valley. That explained the mesquites and gave me another valuable history lesson about the life of early pioneers. (There no longer is ice formed here. That is likely attributable to the warming we are experiencing.)

Lander is a cool town. The bike shop here is excellent. They set me up with an Ortlieb handlebar bag in yellow to match my Ortlieb panniers. It is very hard to find classic yellow Ortlieb any more. I feel like I won the lottery! The guys at Gannett Sports are awesome.

On a whim I popped into the custom woodworking store on Main just to have a look around. I love all things wood. Of course I’m not going to put a custom built all wood dining room table on the back of my bicycle, but the one they had on display was beautiful. The lady minding the shop was charming. Her Husband and daughter are the woodworkers. She wanted to hear all about my trip when she found out I was bicycling across the country. I gave her and her friend this address. She told me I could hang out in her store (she had a big cushy chair right up front). Who does that? I was humbled by her hospitality.

There’s a big climbing festival going on in Lander this weekend. I’m not a rock climber, but it looks like this is the place to be if you are. (I know some of you are into climbing, you should take note and put this on your bucket list!)

Dinner at the Cowfish Restaurant was amazing. I had the ribs. I was served by the owner. We met out front and chatted and when I came in to eat he picked up my table and served me. I told him the ribs were as good as Pappy’s in St. Louis… they might actually have been better… He told me to chill there as long as it took to finish this post.

I’ve been passing historic landmarks making reference to the Oregon Trial, like yesterday when I passed Split Rock. I’ve been curious what the remnants of the Oregon Trail look like. Today I had my curiosity answered. Shortly out of Sweet Water I saw the trail, complete with ruts made by steel clad wooden wagon wheels. It really makes you marvel at our history when you see it imprinted on the land.

A portion of the Oregon Trial between Sweet Water WY and Lander WY.