“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor
enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity,
different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament,
individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.
And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after
years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters,
schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to
wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the
blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the
frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to
be wrong is to think you control it. Anyone who hasn’t experienced it wouldn’t
understand it.” John Steinbeck
, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
If you ever read Travels
with Charley, you may enjoy a firsthand account of America from back in the
50s before we changed into a different country.
Back then, rural America dominated along with Norman Rockwell paintings
that depicted the innocence of youth and country life. “Andy of Mayberry RFD” made us feel
You may still enjoy that “rural” feeling today in small
backwater towns of America. Folks smile,
shake your hand and invite you in for a cup of coffee and dinner. Big cities like LA, Atlanta, Detroit and
New York—not so much.
As Steinbeck describes in the above quote, “a trip takes
us.” When I started out on this journey
from Mexico, I pedaled alone in the hot desert.
I met some interesting people I shared with you on this bicycle adventure
up the Continental Divide. Half way
through the journey, I met up with the Irishmen Gerry and Dave, then Robert
from Alabama. Also, two dozen other
touring cyclists! Such a journey can
never be repeated as to the characters that enter your life and leave it
quickly, or, in some cases, remain friends for the rest of your life.
On my journey from Nord Cap, Norway on the Arctic Circle to
Athens, Greece, I met Jan, Anneke and Marlose, whom I expect to remain friends
with for my lifetime. My friendships
with John, Uwe, Gerd, Doug, Denis and other travelers in my life bring a smile
to my soul because what we shared cannot be duplicated. So yes, the trip forms us, it takes us, it
guides us to our highest and best. Each
new friend teaches valuable lessons.
As Steinbeck said, most folks never understand his quote
until they too have traveled with others.
It doesn’t take long on a bicycle trip to find out whether you get along
with someone or not. You share such incredible emotional and physical experiences. Bicycle travel brings out the best and otherwise
in others. On some of my travels, I
lost friends because we found out we did not share the compatibilities
necessary for a positive relationship on such an arduous journey.
(Traveling through history gives each one of us a sense of
the enormity of the journey, but like Lewis and Clark, they took it one day at
Robert and I rose with the sun burning its golden rays
across the Montana plains. Before us,
magnificent glacier-filled mountains awaited.
Amazingly, because of its latitude and mountains, Glacier National Park
doesn’t open until July1st most years because of heavy snows and 30 foot snow
banks. We discovered that it only opened
a week before we arrived.
We packed and made our way into Browning to see the “Museum
of the Plains Indians.” We also loaded
up on food for our journey into Glacier National Park.
(At this field, we stopped to take our pictures in a flower
bonanza. Near the fence line, a herd of 50 buffaloes ran up to see what we were
Out of Browning on Route 89, we busted our tail feathers
over increasingly mountainous terrain that climbed, dropped and climbed some
more. The further west we traveled, the
mountains became more personal.
(Buffalo take you back to a by-gone era when a reported 1
billion of them thrived on the Great Plains of North America.)
Pedaling the fabled “Road Going to
Late in the day, we reached St. Mary’s at the eastern end of
Glacier National Park. We filled our
water bottles and headed along Saint Mary’s Lake that stretched for miles
beneath humongous mountain peaks. To
ride along such stunning beauty, mile after mile, carried us into some kind of
silent bliss. I looked over at Robert
(Heading onto the “Road going to the Sun” into Glacier
“We’re blessed my
friend,” he said. “I’ve heard about this
‘Road going to the sun’, but to ride it, well, that’s tops in my book.”
“We are truly blessed,” I said. “This must be my 20th
time over Logan’s Pass and it feels like the first. I feel like I’m traveling through ultimate
wonder. I really think Glacier is the
most wondrous of all the national parks.”
“No kidding,” said Robert. “Why?”
“You’ll see tomorrow when we reach the top with Mt.
Clements, Bird Woman Falls, the Weeping Wall and the two canyons that suck the
breath out of you,” I said.
(Mama deer along with her two babies crossing a river along
our route. It happened so fast that I barely snapped this beautiful picture of
Nature in action. When I see something
like this in the wilderness, much like the grizzly bear taking down the elk, I
am thankful that all is right with the world.)
After 10 miles of pedaling bliss, we stopped at the
Hiker-Biker camping spot at the Rising Sun Campground. Sure enough, five other cyclists gathered
around a campfire. We pitched our tents,
prepared dinner and shook hands with three guys and two women on various
bicycle tours around America. Two guys
headed toward Alaska from their start in Key West, Florida.
(Frosty with Condor on the “Road Going to the Sun” along St.
Mary’s Lake and monster mountains awaiting his journey the next morning.)
As the campfire flames licked the twilight air, everyone
told stories from their trip and other tours.
We enjoyed instant fellowship on so many levels. I swear that I wouldn’t be surprised if John
Muir walked up and asked to sit down at our campfire. Those who love the wilderness find solace in
its spiritual bliss.
To sit around a campfire and poke the glowing embers may be
one of the most tangible of all visible mysteries of the universe. I have sat by thousands of campfires in my
life and each time, I see God looking back at me. I see life sharing
itself. I see living creation burning
brightly. I see marshmallows, bubbling
stew and hot chocolate waiting to warm my being. I share conversations with friends and
strangers that have become my friends. I
see Uwe Rothe, John Brown, Gerd Bollig and Doug Armstrong. I see Robert, Bob, Gary, Gerry and Dave. I see Sandi, Sarah, Ashly and Pam. I see the universe glowing with life, light,
warmth and fellowship.
As we sat there beneath huge pines and gargantuan gray rock
slanting down from the mountain side beside us, a giant Prevost motor home
rolled into the campground. The driver
pulled up two spots over from us.
“Have you ever seen anything so big?” Robert said.
“It’s going to be interesting how he gets 20 tons of steel
backed into that small space,” I said.
Suddenly, the electric door opened and a woman stepped out
with a walk-talkie. She walked to the
back of their 45 foot traveling land yacht.
While she directed his backing-up procedure, we made a few comments
about global warming, carbon footprint and Peak Oil being accelerated by such
monster vehicles. The diesel engine
smoked up the campground very quickly.
Soon, the traveling mansion settled into its wilderness home.
The lady walked back up to the door of the Earthbound Star Trek
Enterprise. The electric door opened.
She stepped back into the steel monster.
The door closed quickly. Seconds
later, an electric curtain pulled across the front windshield. A satellite TV dish popped up and oriented
itself to the perfect “Nature Channel” station.
We never saw them again that night or in the morning. Meanwhile, the campfire offered us warmth, a
starlit sky, a few coyotes howling in the distance, a couple of shooting stars
and the moon rising over the waters of St. Mary’s Lake.
“I feel like this is a dream,” said Robert.
“Only difference,” I said. “You’re living it.”
Several travelers from India walked over to talk with us,
and a couple with their kids from Australia.
Robert leaned over to me, “Man, I think we made the right
decision in our lives to sit around this campfire instead of traveling in that
motor home cage.”
“Roger that,” I said.
“I’ve made it a lifetime choice and I wouldn’t trade one single campfire
for watching TV in the middle of the wilderness.”
As John Muir said, “Camp out among the grass and gentians of
glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the
mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as
sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you,
and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
(Racing rivers flow into three different watersheds that
reach the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans as they rage out of Glacier
National Park. Condor ready’s himself
for the climb over Logan’s Pass the next morning.)
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 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
unique cards today: http://www.howtolivealifeofadventure.com/