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IKE ON HER BIKE

Awesome and awful, at the same time, is how some people decsribe my bike ride across America.  I expected the first couple of weeks to be difficult because of starting up in the mountainous terrain, the next couple of weeks I would feel stronger and the last couple to be cruising into the east coast.
 
The scenery was awesome in Washington which made up for the awful weather a few days.  The awful weather made for a most exciting and challenging ride through the wind/rain storm.  The weather and land changes over the mountain passes were distinct and dramatic from the coastline to the Idaho border.
 
Idaho lived up to its reputation of picturesque landscape.  I think that the ride around the Couer d Alenes was the prettiest, most pleasant day of the entire trip.  The sky and water was blue and clear.  The trees and air were green and crisp.  The animals were at home.  The company and conversation with Bob were interesting.  It was the epitome of a long distance bike ride, just as I imagined it to be.
 
It was great to see the little places as much as the well known places along the way, commercialized or not.  There was a sense of the ‘west’, the open road mentality, the big sky, joined by our country roads.  These roads were clearly built for cars, but could be shared with bicyclists, with some cooperation.  Just pass through Sturgis or Keystone SD to see that.  You can see the motorcycles in one and Mt Rushmore in the other and plenty of good roads and badlands in between with native people residng there and visitors passing through the state.  The lights of the towns didn’t reach out or distort the colors of the land and set a stage for taking pictures of the Milky Way in the night sky.  It was awesome to capture the mass of stars in a photo, thanks to Arne. 
 
Nearly halfway across at this point.  The fields stretch on through several states, connecting the west to the east, changing slightly from cornfields to pastures.  I didn’t take any pictures of those poor, dead, little froggies who couldn’t cross the road, but I did stop to take pictures of other animals and the hues and lines of the land.  The cows and horses knew that I was taking their picture, no doubt.  Some of ‘em didn’t like it.  They showed me their back end.  The smell of sweat, manure and urine, no, not me, was potent!  There were some days that were so hot that I didn’t know if I was sweating or drooling down my chin!  Wiping it off only served to smear it in deeper.  My skin felt like putty!!  Truly awful.
 
Closing in on the east, the land and people became more varied.  The lakes were laaaarge and lovely, surrounded by trees around MN and WI.  Even though we have ridden through too many towns to keep track (I have much more sympathy for musicians performing in different towns every night and not knowing where they are that night) the riding here was steady enough to look around and have a little time to spare to check out local signs, banners and murals depicting their communities.  Pride in the hometowns were evident.  Particularly awesome was riding over the bridges in and out of the USA and Canada. 
 
I say that starting early each day and riding for hours made for some very long days, while crossing the country in six weeks seems a very short time!!  I look at the map to remember all the places we passed.  I have ridden a little nearly everyday since I returned.  I feel stronger and faster on my old routes.  People ask what is next.  I would do another ride some day, up or down the coastlines, maybe, with a smaller group, maybe, self-contained, to make it more of an adventure… 
 
In any case, I feel fortunate to have done this ride and I will keep looking for fun things to do and carry on.