“You’ve been so long in the rain, you feel like a dirty dish rag. But despite the misery of your water soaked body, you look around to see verdant leaves dripping with water. The air entering your lungs smells vibrantly clean. To experience adventure, you must be willing to be uncomfortable at times and enjoy the loneliness by being happy with your own singing. A song pops out of your mouth… "It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was fine…””
- Frosty Wooldridge, Golden, Colorado, camped out in Hyder, Alaska
(Statue of a mountain man in Montana. Mountain men lived rough, tough and dangerous lives. They trapped beaver, shot their own food, built their own cabins, traded with the Indians, got killed by grizzly bears and lived hard lives. Watch the movie “Jerimiah Johnson” with Robert Redford to give you a “romantic” glimpse of mountain men.)
Up at the crack of dawn, Robert and I packed our gear, ate some snacks and hit the road with the rising sun. A detour route took us past a nest of beautiful hawks where we could hear the babies chirping. Both parents flew over our heads. Such beauty in the early morning hour!
We hit Route 89 northbound on a flat spot in the terrain while we pulled away from the pristine waters of the Yellowstone River. We covered so much history and so much agony for the Indians who lost everything to the conquering settlers, mountain men and U.S. Army. We rode on a main artery heading north. Lots of “land yachts” with trailing SUVs blew past us. Those monsters cost $250,000.00 for the Prevosts and up to a million bucks for the fancy ones. Later, I’ll tell an interesting story about such a moment in a campground with one of them.
I swear that most folks go so fast on their vacations, their souls can’t keep up with them.
Route 89 belongs to the www.Route89Society.com , which declares it to be a fabulous travel highway.
(How about this 1959 Chevy Biscayne four door sedan in great condition. Every small town across America houses old cars from the past. It’s quite a treat to discover them as we pedal into towns.)
As we powered forward, a line of mountains to our east and west provided fabulous views with green trees while snowfields lingered in the high country. Contrasted with a cobalt sky, the route gave stupendous beauty for 360 degrees. Along the road, Canada geese paddled in another river that sidled up alongside the road we traveled. Lots of red-winged black birds sang for us. Muskrats dove and swallows bolted out from under every bridge we crossed. They nest underneath them for protection from the weather.
The day rolled along in a peaceful manner. Robert talked about his plans to move West. “I can’t live in Alabama anymore after riding through these mountains. I think I am becoming a mountain man.”
He talked about his work with www.NeverThirst.org where he raises funds to bring water to children around the world. Over 4,000 children die every day from lack of clean water. He hopes to raise $100,000.00 to help countries drill wells to secure clean water.
He said, “It’s amazing to think that today, in a world of iPhones, space travel, and unprecedented wealth in the American Church that there are almost 1 billion people living without access to clean water - but sadly, this is the truth.
“Maybe it’s that the number seems too staggering or too big to be true. Or as long as we don’t have a problem with it, it’s alright if others do. One of our desires in all of our work is to be used to awaken the heart of Christ and of His compassion for the poor and less fortunate.
“In order to do this, we know that we need to change numbers to names. We ask that you allow us to take that 1 billion and introduce you to some of them - to Charity Jackson or Louis Martin from Sudan. Or maybe Ranjana who lives the life of a typical teenager in India - only she doesn’t have access to clean drinking water.”
At every stop, I found Robert to be as passionate about drinking water for children as I am about human overpopulation worldwide. Along the way, both our passions may help bring positive change around the planet. I found myself really liking Robert more and more. At half my age, he proves to be yet another idealist who takes action.
As we pedaled along, I emptied my mind and sang some of my favorite songs. A bicycle tour provides simple living which means I slow down so my soul can keep up with me. Today’s society races so fast that a person’s soul struggles with balance.
(Relaxing in Sarah’s backyard hammock. It’s tough being a long distance cyclist, but somebody’s got to do it. You know something? American folks are so kind and good hearted. You can host touring cyclists by joining www.WarmShowers.org . You will meet really neat people from all over the world.)
Near the end of the day, we stopped at White Sulfur Springs at the Buck Stop Saloon for a Chef Salad and fries. Robert downed a huge burger with all the fixings. Outside, we met Jackson and Ashly riding a motorcycle. Jackson proved to be a funny, funny guy. A very tall and gorgeous Ashly happened to be a country-western singer-song writer. We struck up a conversation that we needed a shower and place to camp. Ashly said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
She walked across the street to a store featuring a marquee “Red Ants Pants” and came back with a very tall, attractive brunette. Sarah said we were welcome to take a shower at her place and stay in her Air Stream trailer. “You’re also invited to dinner,” she said.
While we just ate, no long distance touring cyclist turns down dinner. Before we knew it, we stood in the middle of a party with wine, cheeses, crackers, candles, elk burgers, salad, beer and outrageous humor. Jackson proved a comedic genius. He could turn any conversation into laughter. We couldn’t keep up with laughing so much.
(Sharing dinner with Ashly, Jackson, Sarah and the crew at the Red Ants Pants culinary hot spot in White Sulfur Springs, Montana.)
Later, as things calmed down, we discovered that Sarah owned the “Red Ants Pants” store, which featured working pants for women in rural areas that fit them and complemented them. She showed us her store and goods. Sarah also organized the annual
www.RedAntsPantsMusicFestival.com that featured some of the finest country music stars in the nation.
About 12,000 people attend from all over the country. It’s family oriented and exceptionally well received. To tell the truth, it’s a country “Woodstock” held in a farmer’s field in White Sulfur Springs, Montana.
Her mission and values statement:
· To develop and expand leadership roles for women
· To preserve and support working family farms
· To enrich and promote rural communities
· To recognize and cultivate strong work ethic
· To encourage and build self-reliance, especially for women
· To educate the public on the importance of maintain traditional work skills
· To provide opportunities for people with different perspectives to connect, build bridges and discover common ground
Sarah could be called an entrepreneurial icon: she worked Outward Bound for years. She creates projects for technical skills, conferences, music festivals and community grants. Country Living featured her on their front cover. It sold out! She knows Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker and Guy Clark personally. She won “female entrepreneur of the year” and more to come. Check her out at: www.redantspantsfoundation.org
Have you ever enjoyed yourself so much that you didn’t want to leave? Did you ever find the folks you shared great times with that you wanted to take them with you? Both Robert and I didn’t want to leave the next morning. We wanted to stay for the country music festival. But, the border of Canada beckoned us. I think Sarah carried a crush on Robert or maybe Robert carried a crush on Sarah. She cooked up a fancy breakfast for us to power us down the road.
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as nine times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2010, he cycled 3,400 miles coast to coast across America. In 2012, he bicycled the northern tier 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, 10 of the Continental Divide. 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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