Day 34: “Sometimes the world of the living gets mixed up with the world of the dead.”

Day 34: “Sometimes the world of the living gets mixed up with the world of the dead.”

June 4, 2014: Muddy Gap to Rawlins, WY – 44 miles

*Author’s note: I just wanted to warn you readers ahead of time to mentally prepare for a VERY long blog. It’s worth the read though! It’s filled with history, ghost stories, and cats/dogs.

After several days of hard riding, we decided Rawlins was the place we wanted to take our rest day. According to our research, the town was supposed to be very historical with a lot of museums and a haunted prison! With Rawlins only 44 miles away from Muddy Gap, today would be an easy day of riding and only a little bit of climbing. So we say goodbye to the little Muddy Gap motel and head South to Rawlins.

We ended up running into a lot of trouble on the road. Literally. Running into trouble. Trouble called RUMBLE STRIPS. Not only were there rumble strips but the side of the roads were cracked as well. It made for a very uncomfortable, butt-numbing (and hand-numbing) ride, which slowed us down on our supposed “easy” ride. When the roads were clear, we would ride in the street and look out for cars coming from behind with our rear-view mirrors or we would try to ride in the grass. When there were cars present, we just had to rough it.

We had the pleasure of meeting one cyclist today and he was biking across the country in the opposite direction and on a recumbent bike no-less! I can’t remember now but he was from some Eastern European country and he was loving his trip across America. Since we were having such a rough day on our butts on the broken road, the thought of riding a recumbent bike and being able to recline back into the seat sounded really nice. Our backs and shoulders were usually sore from having to hunch over on our bikes; today mostly because we had to grip our bikes extra hard riding on such a technical road. Most of everybody we seem to meet were going in the opposite direction. Since we started earlier than the average cross-country cyclists, we hadn’t run into many cyclists yet because they were probably still on the other side of the country trying to make their way over here. We were more likely to run into them once we reach the middle of the country.

We continued back on the road…riding, riding, riding…

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And there’s the sign! We’ve made it! Even on this last stretch into the town, I had a deer run along side me by that fence. He was actually trying to find an opening to get back into the fields, and, luckily, he made it. When we did get into the town, we were actually confused on where to go. The map was a little confusing here. We either had neighborhoods to our left or some government building to our right. So we had pulled over to that government building and found someone coming back from their lunch and waved them down to help us find our way to the middle of town, which was a little more downhill. We had arrived around 4 PM and Healthnut parents were already there driving around checking out the town.

We found benches to sit on while we called the motels in town to check their availability. While we were sitting there, we met a group of backpackers walking through. They were backpacking/hiking the Continental Divide Trail. These guys were truly amazing. They actually only met each other on their own previous backpacking/hiking trips. They each were all hiking on their own when they befriended each other on the road and stuck together ever since. They live in different parts of the country, but whenever they have an itch to go hiking, they would just call each other up and plan their trip. They said they would hike an average of 40 miles a day and just set up camp wherever they ended up being. Truly incredible! *Side note: one guy is missing from the photo because he ran off to go buy snacks.

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After they left, we began calling the motels. EVERY motel in this town was booked, besides having single person, smoking bedrooms on the 4th floor. We weren’t sure what to do since those were all the motels listed in our maps. We started going online looking to see if we could find some place else in this town. Then we were met with two more incredibly nice towns people walking back from their lunch. The older woman worked in writing grants for the city on renovating it, restoring historical buildings, or bringing events to the town. The younger woman worked as the secretary. They saw us and our bikes and wanted to know our story. We caught them up and told them how we ended up here with no place to stay. They immediately got on the phones to call people they knew. Turns out, all the motels were taken up due to hired contractors from out of town here to work for a month. The woman had a friend who owned a bed and breakfast that was just a couple streets down, so she called her to see if she had any availability. The bed and breakfast had four bedrooms: two were just taken and we got the last two! We were ecstatic! Not only did we have a place to stay, we found out that this bed and breakfast was…HAUNTED. The woman that we met in the street assured us that it was a friendly ghost and that no one had ever been harmed there or had bad experiences there. The ghost fanatics (Anthony & Aileen) instantly lit up! We thanked the two helpful ladies and went on our way to…the Ferris Mansion.

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The lovely ladies were making their phone calls to hook us up with a place to stay.

We gave the address to the Healthnuts parents to have them meet us there. We all arrived at the same time and we were all in awe of how cool the house looked. I, then, decided to tell my parents that the house is supposedly haunted. Immediately, Healthnut Papa said, “Nope! Nope! Nope! I’m not sleeping here!” and proceeded to walk backwards to the car. Healthnut Mama, on the other had, was intrigued! We explained to them that we called every place in town and this is the only place with vacancy, and he had no choice! Reluctantly, he went in. The house reminded me of the one featured on the T.V. show, Charmed. Does anyone remember that?

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If you zoom in, the 3rd window from the right of the 3rd floor has Elvis Presley staring out.

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The Victorian-style bed and breakfast mansion was old fashioned and charming. You instantly feel warm and cozy when you are inside of this house. We also felt very at home with all the pets running around. Kaye-Marie Wilder was the owner of this bed and breakfast, and her and her family lives up on the 3rd floor of this bed and breakfast. Their pets include Satch and Zoom (the two dogs), Callie and Flapjack (the two cats) and a runaway albino iguana that they were looking for and still hadn’t found when we left. Zoom was said to be their guard dog, and upon first impressions, we thought so too from his barking. In under 2 minutes of barking and trying to scare us off, Zoom immediately ran for a frisbee and came running to us to play with him. Some guard dog! All these pets were so friendly and so ready to be around people, and we loved that!

This mansion has a lot of history from being built from the ground up in 1903. You can read more on the history of this mansion on their website: Ferris Mansion History. You can also browse through the other pages to see photos of the different rooms. We were charged about $100 per room and we were happy with that. Healthnut parents got the Blue Room, which came with a fire place and a bathroom with a claw foot tub. Actually, all the bathrooms had claw foot tubs! How can you not love this place?!

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The three of us got the Rose Room, which comes with the Maid’s Room because the two are connected. Anthony and I shared the Rose Room while Aileen slept alone in the Maid’s Room. In the living room of the mansion, Kaye-Marie keeps a pretty neat library of cool, old books. She also has binders set on the table filled with stories of the hauntings of this mansion written by guests who have stayed here or by paranormal investigators who have visited here. One of the main hauntings recorded were of a little boy. Story goes that there used to live two little brothers in this house. The older one had gotten his hands on his father’s gun and accidentally killed his little brother. It’s said that the ghost of that little boy haunts this house today. So there was another story that a little girl had lived in the guest house in the back of this mansion, which is now converted into a 4 apartment complex. A little boy would come by to her house and offer her his toys to play with. One day, he showed up and said that he can’t be friends with her anymore. When she told her parents that she had a made a friend with the neighbor’s kid but he won’t be her friend anymore, her parents said that the neighbors didn’t have children…DUM DUM DUM!

There was a letter written by a guest that read something like, “Dear Kaye-Marie, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay here in your beautiful home, but I feel like we should explain why we had to leave in the middle of the night. I had woken up with a feeling of a presence in the room. I saw a woman with a white night gown standing at the foot of the bed. I actually wasn’t scared. Her presence was very warm and calming. I nudged my husband to wake him up and he had seen her too. My husband could no longer sleep and did not wish to stay, so we had to pack up and go. We wanted to thank you for your hospitality and to let you know not to be startled when you could not find us in the morning. -Signed, Guest“. It was funny and scary at the same time. There were several letters that spoke up about other guests who also saw a woman in a white nightgown, and every account stated that she was very welcoming. Anyways, there were so many fascinating accounts of hauntings in this house that you’d have to spend an entire evening sitting there reading through them all. I did, however, take a picture of one of the letters and it was similar to the one I mentioned above:

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The paranormal investigators that had come through did not catch anything majorly significant. The one thing I do remember reading in the files was that a noise had come up on their EVP (electronic voice phenomenon – used to help the spirits communicate with us) or on one of their sensors right by the stairs that led up to the 3rd floor. The stairs that were right next to the Rose Room and the Maid’s room (OUR ROOMS!). The only thing separating Aileen from the stairs were room dividers. So every time Aileen had to go to our room, she’d have to walk past the dark aisle that looks over to the stairs that the spirits were supposedly found by the paranormal investigators…Scary for Aileen. Not only that, Aileen’s room was filled with creepy portraits of children. Knowing that a little boy haunts the house, these portraits were definitely unsettling.

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Rose Room

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Rose Room

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Callie is a yogi

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Maid’s Room

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Portraits in the Maid’s Room

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Bathroom for both rooms

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Here is a video tour of our rooms:

As you can see, the rooms were very cozy and cute (besides the Maid’s room, haha!). Our room also had the claw foot tub and fireplace. Kaye-Marie was really sweet and offered to do laundry for us for free! We were happy about that because our clothes really stunk. Now that we settled down, we finally went to dinner at Buck’s Sports Grill. Get ready for food pictures:

When we got back to the house, Healthnut Papa was happy to just have a TV so he went to shower and watch some sports. Healthnut Mama went straight for the bookshelf and got herself cozy to read a book. That’s when the three of us started reading through those binders of ghost stories, while also playing with the cats. Kaye-Marie also sat down and talked with us for awhile. She talked about how she came to own and care for this house, and how she’s actually thinking about selling it soon because it had been stressful and tiring after working so many years. She talked about how she acquired this ugly lamp with ugly spots (featured picture is below) as a gift and wants to get rid of it once and for all. She was also the one who taught us what smurgling was! You cat owners and cat lovers should know! It’s when your cat paws/kneads/massages/purrs at soft blankets or pillows. They are mimicking milking their mother when they were kittens, so it’s their way of feeling comforted and showing affection.

Here we are playing with Flapjack and Callie:

This had definitely been an interesting day. Thank you, Readers, for reading through this very long post about our very interesting first day in Rawlins. Rawlins in the deep…you had our hearts inside of your hand. Adele reference, I’m sorry, I had to!

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Day 33: Muddy Gap – Population 3

Day 33: Muddy Gap – Population 3

June 3, 2014: Lander to Muddy Gap, WY

After a comfortable night of sleeping in our tents, we woke up to the sight of deer on the campgrounds. That’s something we could definitely get used to. It’s a nice change of scenery of the wildlife we would generally see in our own backyards at home (birds, squirrels, possums…).

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With 80 miles to ride, the weather was not on our side. When you head out on the road and see this sign, you feel pretty defeated already.IMG_9715IMG_9717

Today was a pretty uneventful day with not much to see. The toughest part of the day was just fighting against these crosswinds and the occasional mosquitoes that found our bare arms and legs. On our way to Muddy Gap, we passed by two towns: Sweetwater Station and Jeffrey City. Sweetwater Station had no services besides a campground, and Jeffrey City had a population of 58 people and would have only made for a 58 mile ride. We wanted to make it a little further so we set our destination to Muddy Gap, population 3! We had crossed into Carbon County.

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Goober is seeing the world from my back pocket

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Did some climbing today…6% grade.

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Through the rearview mirror of the Healthnut minivan

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The last break we took was at the top of the hill after our long climb at Split Rock. Split Rock was a famous landmark used for navigation on the Oregon Trail as people from the east were traveling to the west. We snacked on our apples and walked around a little bit before we headed downhill to our final destination.

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The only thing in Muddy Gap was a gas station with a mobile home-type lodging available, called Three Forks. The trailer was able to accommodate 2 parties: one room that was suited for 2 people and the other room had two bedrooms (3 beds), a living room, and a kitchen! Let me tell you, it looked a lot bigger inside than it looked on the outside, though it did not have a restroom. If we wanted to use the restroom, we’d have to go inside the convenience store of the gas station. Luckily, we arrived there in time to take the last room, for the smaller room was already taken by two other cyclists biking across the country. We didn’t get to meet them, though, because they arrived there before we did and left in the morning before we did. So we got the only room left and it accommodated us all. We got to speak with the owner of the gas station and lodging for a little bit and she was very sweet. She just warned us about possible snakes on the road. She told us about how she encountered a really ignorant gentleman and his friends once. A guy had come running into the store asking her what animal that was out there. She didn’t know what he was referring to, so she stepped out of the store to find that his friend was kicking around a snake and poking it with a stick. Luckily, the snake didn’t attack, though she wouldn’t have been surprised if it did.

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Healthnut parents came prepared and had stopped at a grocery store before we made it here to Muddy Gap and prepared an amazing dinner for us while we showered and winded down for the day. Clam chowder (with tabasco), salad, chicken fettucine alfredo and one princess prawn, and a cup of orange juice. Cue saliva! Thank you Healthnut parents for feeding us so well! Goodnight!

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Day 32: Goober’s high flying adventure

Day 32: Goober’s high flying adventure

June 2, 2014: Dubois to Lander, WY

After our century ride, our planned ride from Dubois to Lander being 75 miles (mostly downhill) didn’t seem so bad. We even grabbed some good breakfast before we left that morning!

There’s nothing like pancakes, bacon, and hashbrowns to give you the energy you need to start a bike ride. There was even a donut counter at the front of the restaurant. How could we resist and not buy some?!

We stopped at the market to pick up some more PB&J for our sandwiches for the lunches that we have on the side of the road, and guess who we found?? Goober is famous! You’ll find him featured on Smuckers’ PB&J jars at your local grocery store. So, we say goodbye to Trails End Motel and the beautiful deck overlooking the river (that we didn’t get to properly enjoy because of our long trip that day before). Off we go!

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The roads were smooth and the rock formations were a sight to see. So we decided it would be a nice place to stop and have our donuts. One thing led to another…next thing we knew, our childish antics kicked in and Goober and Muscles (Aileen’s wombat) were flying through the air! This may have easily been the highlight of our day.

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Click on the individual photos below for the full view of their high flying adventure:

 

Our journey continues down, down, down…

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How now brown cow?

As you can see, the cars here were very generous in giving us a lot of space. We really appreciated this as we biked through these back roads of America. Cars would pass in the opposite lane even though we had an entire wide shoulder to ride on. In the cases where there weren’t room for cars to give us space, our rear view mirrors (that we wore on our glasses) made for one of the best items for us to have on this trip. Thank you again, Lori Passarelli, for donating those mirrors to us! We even loved how friendly everyone was. Cars in the opposite direction would wave or honk to say hello. We felt very welcomed!

All was well until…

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Anthony hit flat tire country again. That’s strike 4! We still weren’t used to changing tubes. During the time we were taking to put in a new tube, two older gentleman (both about 6’3 in height)  in a pick up truck pulled off to the side of the road to check up on us and see if we needed help. Turns out they had lunch with the Healthnut parents on an outdoor picnic table at a diner on the side of the road and got to know us pretty well. They identified us immediately and had to stop to say, “Hello”. Unfortunately, I don’t remember their names, but I do remember their story.

They’ve been best friends for years since they served in the Vietnam War together. They were able to bond with my parents over that. After the war, they both came back, went back to their homes on opposite sides of the country, got married, had children, and are now semi-retired. Once about every 10 years, they make a trip out to see one another. Now that their children have grown up and fled the nest, Gentleman #1 (from the east coast) decided that he had all the time in the world to make a road trip instead of flying to see his friend, Gentleman #2 (who lives here in Wyoming on a cattle farm that he manages). These two guys were cracking jokes at each other and how Gentleman #1 still cannot believe that Gentleman #2 is here raising cattles now, and that he HAD to come and see it for himself. He said he might even help a little. What a great example of long-lasting friendship! 

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This was one of the historical markers that we biked by. Scalping was no joke.

We ended our day at the Holiday Lodge Campground and Motel (off route 0.1 miles) in Lander, WY. Healthnut parents got a motel room, in which we luckily got to shower in before we went to the backyard park of the motel to set up our tents. They had a really wide backyard for us to set up our tents anywhere we wanted. We locked our bikes to the picnic bench table in that park and got ready for bed.

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Daily call to Healthnut Grandma and Mom back home to let them know we have arrived

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Summary of the day:

-Good breakfast, good donuts, fun with Goober and Muscles, funny Vietnam Vets, history lesson about Crowheart Butte, and camping

-Flat tires: Anthony – 4, Aileen – 0, Hannah – 0

Day 31: It only took a century to get there…

Day 31: It only took a century to get there…

**To our audience: We AGAIN apologize for the break in our blog posts. Life happens but we WILL get all of our days published on this blog!

June 1, 2014

Our journey continues on what will be known as our longest day (distance-wise) of our entire trip. This day, we rode a century, actually, our very first century ever. We technically rode 104 miles this day, but who’s really counting?…Us..we are. It was 104 miles for goodness sake! If you didn’t think our butts needed a break after this, think again.

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Our day started in West Thumb with our sights set far because all of the campsites in between were still closed due to bear season. We had no choice but to ride on through to the next town, which was Dubois, WY. Not only was this going to be a test of our physical strength, this was a huge test of our mental strength. It wasn’t enough that we knew we had more than 100 miles to reach our destination, but then taking a look at the elevation map should have been enough to make anyone want to quit and call it a day. But we are no ordinary people. We wiped our tears and trekked on.

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Elevation Map: Started by Grant Village –> Ended at Dubois

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Pee Break

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Frozen lake

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Frozen lake

We had the pleasure of meeting one person on the side of the road, and his name was Mike. Mike, the 6’5 cop. He had just retired from the force and spent some time with his dad before he made it out on this bike trip. He was putting in a lot of miles and he was going really fast. When we found out we were headed to the same destination, in two seconds flat, he had memorized the Healthnut van’s license plate in case he had a break down and needed to flag down someone familiar for help. Luckily, Mike got there safely.

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We had heard good things about the area around the Grand Tetons and Jenny Lake, and the ACA maps offered an alternate route to check it out. It would have been a 33 mile one-way detour with a dead-end to Jackson, in which we would have to turn back around and go back onto our trail. It would have been a really nice, flat ride but we would have no where to sleep for the night and time was not on our side. We did get to see the Grand Tetons from a distance, though, and it was amazing. The Grand Tetons and Jenny Lake have gone on our list of places to go back to sometime in our future.

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We were bundled up warm since the weather was still pretty cold with being in high altitude and with snow on the ground. As we biked, we were met with alternating bursts of sun and rain. We even tried chasing the rainbow. We had crossed the continental divide again on this route.

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I caught a rainbow!

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Togwotee Pass (at 9,658′ elevation) was the climb of the day. It was a really tough climb and we were falling behind schedule. I kept cramping and was so sore that I kept having to stop, roll out my legs and throwing on Salon-Pas in attempt to ease the pain. Anthony left me to catch up with Aileen in fear that I wouldn’t be able to make it in time and left me under the watch of Healthnut Papa and Mama in the case that I needed to just hop in the car and drive to the destination.

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Getting to the top was really, really cold. We had to throw on more clothes knowing the descent would make us more cold. There’s no feeling like the feeling of making it to the top of a mountain and descending down a smooth slope. The rest of the ride down to Dubois was smooth sailing. And, yes, we all made it, even me.

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When we reached the Trail’s End Motel, we met the lovely owner. She saw us in our cycling gear and asked us if we were the one’s riding that Togwotee pass. “Yes,” we said. She said her husband saw us biking as he drove down and was terrified for us and proceeded to ask, “Did you see those grizzly bear cubs that you biked by on the side of the road?!” “NO!” “Luckily the mother bear wasn’t there or else she definitely would have attacked you for getting that close!” PHEW! That was another close call with a grizzly bear. Luckily we didn’t see the bears or else that would have put us in a panic for sure. Tonight, we had a good night’s sleep.

Day 30: Bison, paint pots, geisers…oh my!

Day 30: Bison, paint pots, geisers…oh my!

May 31, 2014

Our rest day came and went too fast, but we’re excited to start biking through Yellowstone Park. We had the hotel breakfast, made some PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and went to pick up Anthony and Aileen’s bikes. It wasn’t far until we hit the entrance of the park and only paid $12 as a biker to enter into the park for a 7 day pass. We originally set our destination to one of the campgrounds to camp for the night but, at the information station, we found out that we were early in the season and that all the campgrounds weren’t open until the next day due to bear management. The bears are waking up out of hibernation and they didn’t want to risk campers camping until they can ensure our safety. So we redirected our destination to West Thumb, where there’s a hotel there without having to go so far out of the way or having to bike about 100 miles to get out of the park to the next available lodging/campground. We keep running into these little hiccups because we’re “too early”! Well, we wouldn’t want to camp and be eaten by bears anyway.

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Several miles into the ride through the park, we crossed the state lines! Hooray! Now we are in Wyoming, the 4th state on the TransAm!

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The weather was on the colder side and was very gloomy. We prepared and just wore our rain clothes just in case. The route through Yellowstone was incredible to say the least. If only you were there to see it for yourselves but we’ll put up as many pictures as we can for you to get a glimpse into what we were able to bike through. It’s one thing to be in your car driving through, but it definitely was much better being outside on the bike. And yes, finally we saw bison! An entire hill full of them!

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As we move through the forest, we can’t help but see and smell all the trees. The view really is just spectacular. We also find ourselves still following the Nez Perce. It’s a shame we didn’t have more time to explore the many parts of Yellowstone, but we tried to stop as much as we could. We reached a crowded tourist area to explore the natural fountain paint pots. Let the pictures tell you how incredible it was to see:

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Soon, it started to rain so we decided to get back on our bikes and go forward. The rain stopped just as we reached the Old Faithful Geyser. The geyser was named “Old Faithful” due to it’s predictability on when it would erupt, spitting out steam and hot bubbling water about every 90 minutes. When we arrived, we had missed the eruption so we decided to hang out in the exhibit and eat a little lunch before the showing. We also got to speak to a lot of interested people about what we were doing. Soon enough, Old Faithful erupted and it was awesome!

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As we biked on, we got to see snow that hadn’t melted and cross the continental divide once more. Besides the bison, we also saw a lot of deer and a beaver! These animals didn’t seem to be afraid of us even though we came so close to them. They must be so used to all the crowds of people. The last site to see for the day was the West Thumb Geyser Basin. As it started getting dark, we reached the intersection to head up to West Thumb where the only available hotel was located. It was about 15 miles off course so Healthnut Papa and Mama picked us up and drove us to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel. We didn’t know such a large hotel existed in the National Park! It was so fancy that it even had a bar of soap shaped as a little bear. After we settled in, we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant to eat at the buffet and enjoy some skirt steak and bison meat, along with other delicious items. It was a long day and we were ready for a good nights’ rest.

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It’s been awhile, H&H followers..

It’s been awhile, H&H followers..

Hello H&H followers!

We want to apologize for the delay in our posts! After Kansas, we entered smaller towns, ended up deeper in the mountains, and hardly ever found Wifi to work on our blog. We thank you for your continued support anyways as we made our way home safe and sound! We completed our journey from Oregon to Virginia in 81 days! Now that we’re home, we are going to keep writing the blog so you can experience the rest of our journey with us. So, hang tight and keep reading along! :]

And if you know of anyone who would still like to donate to the Kevin Armstrong MD Memorial Sports Foundation, there are 6 days left on our Razoo account to donate! Click here: http://www.razoo.com/story/Healthnuts-And-Handlebars-Ride-Across-America. THANK YOU!