Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Calgary Here We Come!

These folks are pretty excited! We're traveling the third to the last day of our journey, from Pincher Creek to Maycroft Camp, HWY 22. Biking with us are Edwin and Nancy, their dog, and Curtis, helping us celebrate the final days.

The "stats" of our arrival home. 4:32 p.m. August 23, 2009, 5 hours 17 minutes of ride time that day, 85.81 km, and a trip total of 14,206.6 km ridden.

All the clothes we carried washed and drying in the sun. Edwin and Alice Knox hosted us for a wonderful evening and ride out the next morning from their home in Pincher Creek, AB. We'd met them on the road 9 months earlier as we both traveled down the salt plains of southern California near Barstow.

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta. We certainly didn't rush our ride home, but took in the beauty on the way. Our day off in Waterton, included hikes to waterfalls and campfires, hosted by a fun household of park interpreters. We were rested and ready for the 3 day ride into Calgary.

Align Center
Our friend, the cricket, tickles Tarn's arm.

Haircuts for all, schools starting soon after all! We stop in Geraldine, Montana for a swim and a shortened day. As we approach the end of the trip, we savour each day.

Another game of cards, a light game packed with hours of enjoyment.

14,000 KM
6 birthdays (Tanya x2)
17 USA States
2 Canadian Provinces
6 Mexican States
innumberable thumbs up
multiple friendly homes
three sets of tires
three sets of chains
several switch-outs of tent poles
same Thermarests - one new patch
4 pairs shoes - Tarn
3 pairs of shoes Markos and Sampson
2 pairs of shoes Rick
1 pair of shoes Tanya

one year (July 15, 2009 to August 23, 2010)
five people - healthy, happy and home

We're back in Calgary. Bags and boxes are in various states of dispersal. Sampson, Markos and Tarn are off playing with their friends. School starts day after tomorrow. We've been back a week, yet it feels like yesterday that we rode into town. Every day is a new day. We're enjoying a relaxed immersion into a different, yet familiar way of life. Things that haven't changed: we're eating well, we're spending lots of time with each other, our bikes are still integral to our lives. Instead of talking with new friends every day, we're catching up with old ones. We sleep on beds, but keep the windows open to feel the cool of the night. I can sense that the impact of the past year effects our every decision and move. I feel the success of imparting upon my children an experience that will effect who they will become. They are strong, open minded, world-wise, yet trusting and fun loving. Sampson, Markos and Tarn know that working hard and playing hard equal a great life. The variety of the extreme, the constant of the unknown, the oddity of fun surprises and the constant of family - these joint experiences have created within our family unit a bond of respect and trust for each other which will forever be with us.

Last night of the journey journal entries, Aug 22, 2010:
Sampson: Tomorrow is going to be our last day of our trip and I am going to go to William's house when we get back. I liked La Paz (Baja California Sur) as the best place we went because there was a "Serpentario" (reptile zoo in Spanish) and I got to hold a corn snake. I also liked biking down the Baja Penensula through the desert and green. We did a longer day (today), we went 90 km - Maycroft campground to Longview. In Longview we got some of the "Best Beef Jerky in Alberta". Last night Tazman and Kadin and Diane and Peter came out and so did Tom and Mo (friends from Calgary who camped with us.) We are about 80 km from Calgary and we will probably make it there tomorrow if we have tail wind. We are going to meet a newspaper man from the Calgary Herald. He is going to bring out some TimBits for us. We did 14,120 km on this trip.
Markos: Today is the last day on the trip. I liked biking down the Baja because we saw lots of cactus and lizards. I liked La Paz too because we stayed in a hotel for a week. In that week we rode our bikes with Lanier to La Ventana to see Joe. This is the last day of the trip and I am writing in my journal for the last time.
Tarn: I liked Dad making pancakes.

For those of you who have followed our blog, thank you for your energy and support. As you have read, we have met so many amazing people who have been integral to the success, learning, comfort and fun of our journey. Thank you!!! The journey is done, we are back. Of course the boys have already dreamt up our next bicycle expedition, but you can wait a few years for that! We're enjoying the friends and community of Calgary, a wonderful place to call home.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wheat Fields and Wild Weather

The Mosby rest area offers us shelter from a wild storm that blew up. North Dakota and Montana plains stir up some crazy systems. Thankfully we've found shelter and met some great people in the process.

The wheat harvest means lots of combines and plenty of bales of hay.

Echinachea is one of the beautiful native flowers that line the roadsides.

The oil boom in North Dakota is "work wonderland but not wonderful" according to Dale, the pastor's wife who offered us the shelter of their Lutheran church basement. "It's hard work and long days." On the road we've been treated considerately by the multitude of oil industry service vehicles and met many workers on our travels.

We've made friends with wandering salamanders, grasshoppers and more. Prong horn/antelope watch us from the fields and hawks from the skies. We've got a whole lot of time to take it all in - westerly headwinds have meant 8mph travel and six hour ride days between tiny wisps of towns.

Tarn's journal:
July 29 - I played with a bottle at the swimming pool.
July 31 - I just sorted out my bag.
August 1 - I weighed myself on the scale.
August 4 - The grasshoppers went nuts today.
August 5 - I found a fake grape in the park.

Markos' journal:
August 2 - Today we woke up and got dressed. After we got dressed we got out of the tent to have breakfast. For breakfast we had oatmeal with craisins in it, on top we had granola. When we were done with breakfast we talked to Scotty for a little bit. He drove the earthmover to make a dirt road flat. When we were done talking to Scotty we got our helmets on and got on the bikes and rode away. In an hour we stopped to have a break. It was a view(point) and we could see the layers of dirt (in the Badlands butte formations).
August 4 - Today we woke up and got dressed. After we got dressed we got out of the tent to have breakfast. When we got out of the tent we went into RaeDeen's house to have breakfast. For breakfast we had pancakes. RaeDeen made us hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows that were not from the box. We are camped out in Brockway. Brockway is not much of a town. All it had was a post office and a bar. We are camped at a park.

Sampson's journal:
August 1 - Today we went through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We went to the visitor center to see if they had a Jr. Ranger Program and they did. The Jr. Ranger Program is a little book you get that has things you find out in the park. After that we went on a hike about a mile down the road called Buckhorn Trail. We just went through the North Unit. Dad told me there would be lots of rattlesnakes in the park so we watched out for them. The ranger recommended the trail closest to the front (of the park) because the buffalo were in the other part. The male wanted the females for themselves and wanted to protect them so they would charge at us (if we rode our bikes in that area.) I bought four post cards and a patch at the visitor center. We camped in Arnegard in the church.
August 5 - Today I woke up pretty early and then I went outside and I helped Dad make hot chocolate for breakfast. We had a really long day and we did fifty-eight miles. In the afternoon we bought some cold drinks cause it was hot. We haven't been having cold drinks for a long time. Now we are in Montana and it is getting to look like the Badlands more. There was not many towns today, only the start and end towns. I drank a lot of water today. We have been having more drink mix than normal now. Tarn found a "pet grape" today ( a little fake grape) in the park of Jordan. There is lots of yucca plant on the side of the road in the Badlands. Dad is making spaghetti dinner right now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Riding the Plains, Small Towns / Big Sky

Small towns have become tiny towns in North Dakota, huge farms of 12,000 acres have replaced 1,000 acre farms. The populations that remain support maybe one small business per town. However there is always a city park where we find a great place to tent for the night.

Align Center

Who is this bright creature? Markos, Sampson and Tarn went on to find many more at our roadside break stop.

Markos, Sampson and Tarn try on leathers and Harleys for size. They decided to give these rides back to Kojo, Marty and Jill, our Minneapolis friends who joined us in Fargo, North Dakota to help celebrate Tanya's 41st birthday.

Fargo - the biggest city we'd see in a while!

Giant combines and barns of past times. The story of farming in North Dakota.

Markos journal:
July 18 - Today we had eggs for breakfast. After breakfast Dad and Mom packed up the bikes so we could ride. Right now Dad is chopping the onion and mom is washing the broccoli for dinner. Before dinner we found some frogs jumping and we caught some of them and we put them in the water and they swam away. We are camped out at a city park and Dad is helping Tarn with his ABC's and Mom is writing our math pages for the bike.
July 28 - Today I wore a long sleeve t-shirt. For breakfast we had eggs and bacon. After breakfast we packed up and got on the bikes and rode off. In a hour we stopped to have a break and we had snack bars, I had a Clif Bar. After that we got on the bikes and rode for another hour... Today our stats were: Fastest Speed - 32 mph. Average was 10.2 mph. Distance was 4o mph, On-The-Bike time was 4 hours and 10 minutes. Dad made lentils and pork. We camped by the Missouri River. The mosquitoes were bad. I was hot today.

Sampson's journal:
July 25th - Today I woke up and I got out and Dad started making egg sandwiches for breakfast. We camped at the city park of Carrington. In the city park there is a pool but we only got to be in for five minutes so we just took a dip. Right now Markos and I are doing our journals and Dad is making dinner and Tarn and Mom are reading. Today we buried Tarn in the hay at one of the breaks. We are camped right by a big baseball diamond and practice pitching net. We went 50 miles today and we had side wind. We are having pasta with sauce and meatballs for dinner. We went off route today because the Adventure Cycling route goes on Highway 2.

July 26th - Today we woke up and I went outside and Dad had make hot chocolate for breakfast with grits. After breakfast we did school and then Dad called about Argo (our cat) because she is living at my friend's house. They have three cats and a dog (which is not what she was used to.) So they let her out and one day she went away and she has been gone for eight weeks but we know that she is not at the pound. We called the pound and she wasn't there so she is walking somewhere around our house and Henri's house. We camped at the city park of Bowdon. Today we had a side wind all day and we only went 30 miles.

We're scouring the maps and planning our route. Choosing the quietest and most scenic roads means we aren't bee lining it back to Calgary. We predict we'll ride into town in the last week of August. May the wind be at our back at least some of the time!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cabin Living and Canoe Trips

One, two, three, go! This time by canoe. Our seven day canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota was outstanding. After being on the road for almost a year now, we've never had such easy packing and travel on a canoe trip - these guys truck over the portages and are ready for more!

Big sky and towering clouds, the ample rain and sun in the canoe country has brought the blueberries out early - unbelievably we got to pick a quart of blueberries and enjoy a pie before we left our three week stay at Grandpa Dan's cabin on July 6.

This one is for you, Dad, the true mushroomer.

Father's Day banana cake - we came the the cabin prepared to bake and grill and cook and relax. We love "playing house". The refrigerator is a cherished appliance when you are accustomed to travel on the road!

Markos' Journal
June 24
Today we had yogurt and granola for breakfast and Dad had granola and milk for breakfast. After breakfast Sampson and I went fishing in the canoe and Sampson caught a Northern so we paddled back to the dock and we put it on the stringer so it wouldn't get away. Then we fished off the dock and we saw a Bass but we didn't catch it. Then we filleted the Northern to have for lunch. Then we went up to the cabin to cook the fish for lunch. It was good. Sampson caught the Northern.
July 7
Today we had cold cereal for breakfast. After breakfast we played some games. Before Mom and Dad were awake Sampson and I played Monopoly. It was fun. Right now we are at the library and I am writing my journal and Sampson is reading books. Dad is at a meeting on the phone for the a Two Wheel View bike trip. I have a half a page more to write. This morning we were at Tanner and Wyatt's house. Then they left to go to camp and their mom went to work.

Sampson's Journal
June 23 Today I drew the Dome of the Rock, a log cabin, a castle and a zombie. Right now Markos is reading and Mom and Dad are down on the dock and Tarn is having quiet time and I am doing my journal. Today Mom baked some honey bread and we packed for the canoe trip. Markos and Dad went fishing today and Markos caught a Northern that he filleted and we had it for lunch. A minute ago Mom got the bread out of the oven and they were huge. We are going to go swimming this afternoon. Today I played UNO with Markos and Markos played Cribbage with Mom. Last night we scrubbed the canoe in the water and now it's all shiny and clean. Dad went swimming at quiet time because he ran into a bush with lots of ticks and he had them all over his body. After the canoe trip we are going to see Uncle Parnell and Aunt Becky and Grandpa Dan and Grandma Ann.
July 5 Today we woke up and we read and played Monopoly 'til Grandpa Dan and Grandma Ann woke up at eight o'clock. Later Uncle Parnell and Aunt Becky and Eden woke up and we had steel cut oats for breakfast. After breakfast I drew some air planes and then we went swimming. Uncle Parnell and Aunt Becky and Eden all took a soapy before they left. After they left we dug out some"Blue Clay" (from under the water near the dock) that we sculpted into shapes so it could dry. I made Fluffy (my stuffed animal) a big ball to write Fluffy on and a big ball and a medium ball and a small ball. Later we went up and Markos and I played Monopoly and I won because he landed on Pennsylvania Avenue and it had four houses on it. After that we had jam and cheese for lunch. After lunch I went to the screen house and I played Monopoly by myself and then I went back to the cabin and I did my journal. Tomorrow we are going and we will drive back to Minneapolis. Last night Uncle Parnell gave us some little fire crackers and a big long sparkler and a small bomb that made different colors of smoke.

Our Minnesota vacation is winding down, one week left for a family reunion at our great grandparent's cabin in northwestern Iowa. By next Friday we'll be back on the bikes and heading west, the 1500 mile final stretch to Calgary.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Old Home Minnesota

Snowbank Lake - home to Grandpa Dan's cabin and three weeks of off-the-grid living. We get our drinking water right out of the lake.

Dinner - northwoods style. It's been three days and four fish meals.

This eagle has been heckling the loon family in our bay, we hearing the loon calls every night as we go to sleep.

Our returns to Minnesota always include a visit to Camp Mishawaka - where Tanya and Rick met how many years ago? (24! She first spied him when he was eating chicken at the Co-ed Barbecue.)

Though we left our Minnesota home six years ago, and love our life now in Calgary, old friends are always with us. It's great to catch up.

Lakes and trees
Mosquitoes, ticks, flies and bees.
Friends of gold
Good times not old.
Time to relax, reflect and ask.
To what next do we go?
Our past lives we know.
Yet experience and time
Will bring change we shall find.
We follow our hearts, know how we fit in
It's knowing we'll awake to another stage
Of the life we were in.
Just a little bit richer
More peace felt and serene.
Now capable of more - untold/unforeseen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wisconsin, Land of Cheese, Supper Clubs and Small Towns

Cousin Sali gives Rick a much needed haircut - good times and lots of laughs.

Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, lots of boats. It's been fun to be near big water again. We took a different ship, a ferry, to cross Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI to Wisconsin.

A different type of cart at the grocery cart return.

Loren heard them first, "Ride by on the other side of the road - there's a problem up here." -What he heard was a lot of hissing, by the time we caught up we just saw the sweet faces of two little siblings.

Try some? The Union Star was the first of many cheese factory stops - we even got to tag onto a school field trip at one in Rudolph, WI. Did you know that a dairy cow requires three acres of land a year to produce the food it needs (an acre is about the size of a football field.) That's 90 pounds of feed and 50 gallons of water everyday!

Our travels through Wisconsin were a special treat - our friend Loren Madison, who we met biking on the Natchez Trace in Mississippi, joined us for the ride. Not only was Sampson, Markos and Tarn's experience enriched by the perspective of another adult, but Rick and Tanya got to let someone else answer the twenty-questions-a-minute barrage that occurs periodically throughout each day. Thanks for being such a positive and fun travel companion Loren!

We've reached St. Paul, Minnesota - another guidepost on our route. Sampson, Markos and Tarn were born in Minneapolis and Rick and Tanya lived there for twelve years. Having left six years ago via a moving truck, it felt special to arrive back by bicycle - the two flat tires and continuous rain showers did little to dampen our mood!

The next month will be a break from the bikes and the summer vacation we've envisioned over the last two months - living off the grid, but this time at Tanya's dad's cabin on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Fishing, canoeing and reading books. We'll be back on the bikes mid July for the return cycle to Calgary.

Markos writes:
May 31 Today we had cream of wheat with syrup for breakfast. After breakfast we packed up and we were out at 7:45. We didn't do our math because there were too many mosquitoes. Then we put on our helmets and we rode our bikes away. We said goodbye to the guy that let us camp in his back yard. In his back yard there was lots of goose poos that were very stinky. Today we stayed at a couch surfers. Today we thought it was June 1st but it turned out to be May 31st.
June 2 Today we had egg sandwiches for breakfast. After breakfast we kicked the ball around and it went in the water a few times. The egg sandwiches for breakfast were very good. Today was different because Loren was biking with us. It was fun. We camped in someone's back yard.
Sampson writes:
June 3 Today we camped at a city park that had a tether ball and pole game, and a volley ball net. There is also a big red slide and a metal play structure. Today I sent a letter to Grandma Susan because she sent me a letter. We went to a town called Rudolph. There was a cheese factory and I got Mint Zanzibar ice cream that was green and dark brown. We bought lots of cheese: Swiss cheese and string cheese, cheddar cheese and ricotta cheese. Right now Markos is doing his journal and Tarn is writing and Dad is cooking. This morning we had French Toast and played with Lego and Play Mobile. Then I walked on the tight rope and took a picture with Patrick, Laura and us and Karen. We are going to have homemade Mac and Cheese that Dad made. Today Karen biked (us) to the cheese factory and biked back (to her house) without us. Today we saw two baby raccoons that were really, really cute and we didn't see the mom.

June 4 Today we camped at a county park and there was a playground and a shelter at the park. It was raining on and off all day but at the park it got sunny. Today we saw a Bald Eagle flying above the memorial park after lunch. Tomorrow we are going to see Dad's cousin Sali and her kids Jordan and Kyli. The last time I saw them was when I was three or four and they had a little pink jeep. Right now it is really windy and Tarn is playing at the park and Dad is working on the bikes and Markos and I are doing our journals. We are right by a lake with lots of geese. Today we went through a town named Neilsville and we went to the IGA (grocery). We are in Humberg, Wisconsin and in the park.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Michigan, The "High Five" State

Tarn seeks relief from the heat at the Millenium Splashpark, Grand Rapids, MI.

We visit the US headquarters of Velocity rims, a company that has helped us out immensely on our trip - including an invitation for a landing spot for a few nights! Thanks!!!

Sampson's journal: Today we saw a Woolly Mammoth that was being dug up by a scientist. When we saw him he was digging up the clavicle or the scapula. He had dug up a tool a couple of weeks ago so he had proof that there were people in the time of the ice age. The Woolly Mammoth was found by a creek in the golf course we camped in. Tomorrow morning the owner is making pancakes for breakfast for us.

Sampson's journal: Today we went from Sandusky to Lindsey. We camped at an old farm where some people were plowing farms with horses like in the olden days. We are going to have burritos for dinner.

Are you as excited as I am? The pattern on this new shirt of mine will disguise the salt/sweat stains and looks classy too! Markos kindly gave the "deep 6" to my old biking shirt, Goodwill re-sale shops are an important support system for this crew!

We've just been riding through this state a few days, but true to form, Michigan has it's own unique characteristics as each of the other States has had. For us, Michigan is lots of green. Big trees, blooming peonies, fragrant air and another style of farmhouse architecture. Lots of brick, huge barns and fields of emerging with corn and soy bean plants. Heat, humidity and mosquitoes are a sharp contrast to the cold snap accompanied by wind and thundershowers that we'd ridden through in Northwestern Ohio.

Markos' journal
May 24
Average Speed: 10 miles per hour
Ride Time: 4 hours and 7 minutes
Starting Place: Eaton Rapids, Michigan
Ending Place: Morrison Lake Country Club, Michigan
Temperature: 90 degrees Fahrenheit
Maximum Speed: 23.9 miles per hour
Today we had some cereal and egg dish for breakfast. After breakfast I helped take down the tents and there was a bee in one of the tents. Then we said good-bye (to Warm Showers hosts Mike and Cindy) and we got on the bikes and rode away and the road was dirt for a little bit. The we stopped to put some sun screen on.
May 21 Today we had yogurt with granola for breakfast. After breakfast we packed up. Today we saw some mushrooms growing in a circle and they were white. Today we camped out in some one's back yard...then we set up the yellow tarp to dry and we set up to dry too. For lunch we went to a hamburger place and I had a grilled cheese with apple sauce and some milk. It came with a tootsie roll pop.