Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hot Spring Bacteria

The closer in you look at this slimey, squishy bacterial mats, the easier it is to forget what they are. All I see are bright colors and soft shapes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red Rock Cliffs - Lander, WY

I'm loving Wyoming. Hot dry days, cold nights, welcoming people, windblown plains and ridges. I stopped at some amazing red cliffs on the way to Lander and found all kinds of tough little plants clinging to the rock.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Kremmling, CO

Woke up listening to the rain outside, grateful to be inside. The guys where expecting snow. It certainly felt cold enough. The rain never really let up all day. I have my raingear, now, at least. My feet where soaked, I'll need to do something about that...

It let up a little bit in Kremmling, but it was cold enough that it really didn't matter. We all sat in a diner for a while, trying to absorb some heat. It didn't work well. Ended up spending $15 each on a hostel, which was still kind of cold, and I couldn't even heat up water inside. The showers where good and hot, though.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dillon, CO

My bike computer went bonkers after being left near an automatic door sensor, so we'll just say today was around 15 miles. We spend most of the day at the hotel, enjoying the luxury of sitting around without freezing. There was an incident with a fire alarm somewhere in the hotel, resulting in us all being evacuated out into the cold while my pasta turned to glue in the pot. The arrival of a fire engine and several emergency vehicles was a bit worrying. It didn't seem too serious, though, as the firemen on scene looked about as casual and relaxed as one can possibly look in a fire suit and brandishing an axe. After a while they failed to find anything dangerous and let us back in.

I left at about 5pm, after checking out the town and hanging around a bookstore for a while. The weather was the new normal - gray, cold, rainy. The bike trail out of Frisco was smooth and shiny black in the rain, though, and the mountain colors a shade more intense. It was also just about entirely downhill. With the cold weather gear I had mailed to me in Denver, I was fairly comfortable through the ride.

The days are getting shorter quickly, now, and it was full dark while I rode to Dillon. The rain made it hard to see, the trail wound and twisted, and in the distance mountaintops vanished behind thick clouds. Now then then the sky would clear enough to see the lights of Dillon and Wildernest across the reservoir.

I met our Warmshowers host, Dan, at the end of the trail and we exchanged stories for a while, waiting for Ryan and Michelle, who had taken a wrong turn at Frisco. Eventually we all met up and he lead us to his home-for-now in a forest service compound, where good times and beer where had by all. More detail to be added later, I'm pretty much crashing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Breckenridge, CO

It's amazing how day after day, things just turn out. We roll into town in wind, cold, rain or dark, and we find a place to stay. Tonight it's staying at the Mountain River Lodge in Breckenridge. Dan, Ryan's uncle, made some calls and set it up for us. He also gave us a ride from Denver to Fairplay, drove my trailer to Breckenridge so I could actually enjoy Hoosier Pass a bit, and treated us all to a great dinner in town. Tonight we've got secure bike storage, a cozy room with a balcony looking over town, and a kitchen. There are indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a sauna, a steam room... Tomorrow we'll leave our gear up here and hang around town till the afternoon, then take a short ride into Dillon where a warmshowers host awaits. After that, though, it's time to get moving for real.

Heading out from Fairplay

Up ahead: Hoosier Pass.

At this point, I was actually feeling the elevation.

Promptly after this photo, it began to rain. My raingear was mostly in Dan's car. Oops.

Cold, wet, and now in Breckenridge.

Wet, dirty bike in the fancy lobby. No one seemed to mind, much.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hanging out with Manuel and Kelli

Pedi-Cab dude outside the Wynkoop brewery. Inside: Chili beer!

Inside the Denver REI; a photo of the warehouse it was built inside. Apparently it's haunted, too.

Here is Riah, upcycling my old tire into a hula hoop.

Packing up Michelle to go to the cabin

Hiking at Lost Lake

Yeah, there was a Lake.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jefferson, CO - A Brief Introduction to Earthships

Apparently, they involve grinning newts. No, seriously - go here. My friends at AmericaByCycle tell the story of how we ended up helping floor an earthship in Colorado.

If ever I decide to put down roots, I like to think I'll put in the work to go the way of the folks from and several other long-haul bicycle tourists. It seems fitting that prolonged travel by atypical means should transition into atypical home-living. Homesteading, strawbale building, tiny houses - so much to look at!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In which I sleep in a barrel - Fairplay, CO


Great morning, wet, freezing evening. I left Steves place as early as I could stand to, and met up with Ryan and Michelle at the Currant Creek Hostel. It was as charming as I'd hoped, and I hope I have a chance to stay there another year. I rode into the real rockies under darkness, ast night, lseeing only the shadows of tall pines, and today I woke up into a drastically different landscape. This looks like the Colorado I was expecting, and it is amazing.

Camping area at the Currant Creek Hostel

The bunkhouse!

Inside the super cozy bunkhouse.

The infamous bucket shower.

A rare photo of myself...

It's also cold. Unseasonably cold, actually. The cold itself, however, is... okay. Acceptable. The air smells cold, the colors of the mountains look chilly and unhospitable. The blue-green tufts of grass look frosty in the sunlight, even. It feels like it SHOULD be cold here, and that makes it easier to accept. Unfortunately, my newfound tolerance for the cold does not extend to wet, and after a wonderful morning ride, the rain came.

The ride from Hartsel to Fairplay was a freezing dash through varying degrees of rain, mist, drizzle, and downpour. The temperature steadily dropped. By the name I was in sight of Fairplay, I could not shift gears with my frozen fingers. If I'd stood up on the pedals to get more speed and dash to down, I'd probably have smashed in my face on the handlebars. My shoes where soaked through. I stopped at the first gas station to rock back and forth and moan while my hands thawed, then joined Michelle and Ryan at the laundromat, which we exploded our wet gear into. My trailer, and their panniers, had all leaked or soaked through.

Nasty weather incoming.

The aftermath.

While the clothes where drying, Michelle secured us showers at the community center, under the condition that we get there soon. We got there sort of soon, which apparently was not soon enough as the center was closed. This somewhat ruined our plans of smoozing a campsite out of the staff. Poking around the building, looking for signs of life, however, I came across a little barrel-sauna. It was unlocked, and still warm, and it seemed like an opportunity to heed. We spread out the tarps to hide anything reflective on the bikes, stashed them in a dark corner, and moved into the sauna for the night.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guffey, CO


Last night the air smelled like snow. I'm not saying that means anything - I suppose it's just cold-smell and I associate it with snow. I'm certainly not taking it to mean that snow is coming... All the same, the sensory impact of it was so strong I could almost hear it crunching underfoot. This is definitely going to be a change from the consistent 100 degree days in Kansas. I was up and out before the sun, and my fingers went numb on the descent from town.

I probably dawdled a bit too much, gawping at the mountains, dawdling in Canon City. The sun went down as I was closing the distance to Guffey. The moon was bright enough to read a map by, and I passed by several small herds of mule deer. The temperature dropped with the sun. Eventually, low on water, cold, and pulling a flat trailer-tire, I got into Guffey. The town was closed down for the night, but a man driving by stopped to ask if I was alright. He'd seen Michelle and Ryan leave quite a while earlier, and warned me that it might be hard to find the Current Creek Hostel in the dark. He offered to let me sleep up in his loft. I really wanted to get to the hostel, but I've learned not to pass up opportunities in favour of possibilities.

The aforementioned loft turned out to be a pretty sweet upper level in Steve's cabin. He's right on the edge of town, a log place wedged back into the pines. He has pictures on his walls of bears on his deck. I made a big bowl of pasta and we watched Return of the Jedi.