Emerson said, "God laughs in flowers." “On a bicycle journey across America, you pedal through, along and past billions of flowers of every color, shape and description. God's laughter speaks to your visual senses. If you hop off your bike, you may enjoy glorious fragrances given off by flowers. Poets say that flowers gave flight to butterflies. Both delight your life. As you grow older, giving a rose to your loved one means, "I love you." Just for a moment, on your journey, you pedal through Milford, Ohio when you ride up on a bicycle at the edge of town exploding with flowers. A plaque reads, "Bikes in Bloom." You take a shot. You remount your bike to travel down Main Street, and to your delight, you instantly fall in love with dozens of bicycles blooming with flowers in front of every storefront. You smile, you laugh, you delight in the glorious beauty of bikes blooming with all the colors of the rainbow. You mutter to yourself, "Gosh, life doesn't get any better than this." Yes, you laugh with the flowers.” FHW, Golden, CO
(Bicycles in bloom in the summer in Milford, Ohio, up and down Main Street.)
After our triumphant ride to the top of Towogatee Pass, we camped out in a grassy mountain meadow among a zillion wild flowers. Next morning, we pointed the bikes down the mountain for a 14 mile gravity-powered joy ride.
As always Gerry provided off the cuff humor. His quips ripped right to the foundation of my soul. People like Robin Williams, George Carlin and Gerry touch more than my funny bone. They lodge their words into the deepest reaches of anyone’s psychic being. They release a flood of pent up emotions that explode from a person’s belly, lungs and heart.
I’ve laughed so hard at George Carlin and Robin Williams’ comedy routines that my jaw and stomach hurt.
(Gerry riding into the Grand Teton National Park.)
At the bottom, my legs engaged the pedals, which drew the chain taut around the triple chain ring that wound around the freewheel that drove the wheels forward. Once cycling engrains itself inside your soul, you pedal like a bird flaps its wings.
A 25 year old with two kids told us at a scenic rest stop that we were crazy.
“Have you ever seen wider smiles not only on our faces, but the length of our bodies?” Gerry said.
“You guys look pretty happy,” she said.
“Me old dad used to say,” said Gerry. “A man with a big foot wears a big shoe.”
“What that got to do with cycling?” I asked.
“As me father said….” Gerry explained.
We laughed our heads off at the punch line.
Gerry said, “As my father said, headwinds well, I hate fookin’ headwinds.”
“How do you feel about head winds?” asked Dave.
“I hate fookin’ headwinds,” Gerry said.
“You’re just like your old man,” I said.
“Fookin’ A,” Gerry replied.
“When it comes to headwinds,” said Dave. “I’ll second that comment.”
(Gerry and Dave’s first look at the majestic Grand Tetons.)
Headwinds do a number on my mind. They frustrate, debilitate and demoralize. Yes, they constitute a part o the cycling experience, however, in a few words, they suck.
After 10 miles, we arrived at Oxbow end on a river. In the spring and autumn, millions of birds stop over for a rest on their bi-annual migrations from Canada to South America and even Antarctica. (Arctic Terns fly something like 15,000 miles and more to their nesting grounds in Alaska.)
Beats the heck out of me how Mother Nature figured out such incredibly intricate migration and child-rearing paradigms. To see them drop out of the sky at dusk and land in dozens of different styles—plop, ski, glide,coast and kerplunk—creates an extraordinary array of flying acrobatics. In the morning, each species of bird takes to the sky in various patterns. Some start flapping and walking across the water to gain speed. Others power up almost vertically from a spot on the water. Others explode from the water while flying wing tips nearly touching the water until they gain speed to lift into the wild blue yonder.
John Muir said, “Surely all God’s creatures, however serious and savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes—all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of un in them.”
Indeed, I’ve seen loons up on the Boundary Waters play a game of hide and seek at sunset on the bow of my canoe. Darnedest playful display that I have ever witnessed. Almost magic with them tagging each other, flapping their wings, flying away and coming back to the group!
In 1999, I met Hans and Erika Matzke at Oxbow Bend. We became friends for life. On my cycle trips, I’ve gained lifelong friendships that grow my life.
After viewing a few birds, we reached Jackson Lake with the majestic Grand Tetons thrusting their jagged shark teeth peaks into a hazy blue sky.
(Frosty’s Condor at the water’s edge with a view of the Grand Tetons.)
“You are about to enjoy the Mount Everest of photographic moments on this ride,” I said.
We checked into the Grand Teton entry booth. Soon, we pedaled along a wondrous highway that offered dramatic views of the Grand Tetons later in the day. We reached Colter Bay on Jackson Lake for a grand, first class dinner and hilarious conversation.
(Gerry and Dave taking pictures and reading the historical markers on Jackson Lake with a fabulous view of the Grand Tetons.)
At sunset, I walked down to the water’s edge to see a stunning symphony of life on the mountains, water and sky. Life is good. Life is grand. Life lives, thrives and creates such a brilliant mosaic for all of us to enjoy. Dave and Gerry retired to their cabin while I slept on the water’s edge with rippling splashes from geese coming in for a final landing to rest for the night.
(What a great shot of three cyclists in front of the Grand Tetons. It’s hard to describe such moments in life, but you can bet those three guys soaked life into their beings like a sponge soaking up the Pacific Ocean. Joy, ecstasy, triumph, harmony, brilliant energy and just plain fellowship of the ride.)
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America. In 2013, he bicycled 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide, 150,000 vertical feet of climbing and 19 crossing of passes. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis facing America: what to do about it.” www.frostywooldridge.com . His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click: www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Live well, laugh often, celebrate daily and enjoy the ride,
6 Continent world bicycle traveler
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