When WE Are The Wildlife!

 These are the bikes on the pick-up truck we borrowed in Lander, WY.  

These are the bikes on the pick-up truck we borrowed in Lander, WY.  

Since the last blog post, we were so kindly transported over Togwotee Pass by my sweet friend Clair. She has some very generous friends who let us borrow a pick-up truck to transport the bikes from Lander to a point where we could bike from (Jerry did this 4-hour round-trip bike drop-off the day before) and then another friend let Clair borrow a minivan so that she could transport us to that point. We knew that with our timeframe and the considerations regarding distance, climbing, and camping available- that it would not be feasible to bike the 70-mile climb from Lander to the next possible camping area. We’re glad we made that decision because it allowed us to spend more time biking to the Yellowstone Park area and exploring so much of what Yellowstone has to offer.

 South entrance to Yellowstone National Park. 

South entrance to Yellowstone National Park. 

 Here are the three boys on the triple all together- just riding around a campground together during some free time. They have really formed some tight bonds on this trip, despite the normal moments of conflict and arguing that you might expect. 

Here are the three boys on the triple all together- just riding around a campground together during some free time. They have really formed some tight bonds on this trip, despite the normal moments of conflict and arguing that you might expect. 

 This is a view of a huge gorge in Yellowstone that we enjoyed while on a snack break headed up to Old Faithful. 

This is a view of a huge gorge in Yellowstone that we enjoyed while on a snack break headed up to Old Faithful. 

 Here is an elk meandering through our campsite. She acted as if nothing was unusual. “Pardon me while I forage here.” I guess we were the ones invading her territory. 

Here is an elk meandering through our campsite. She acted as if nothing was unusual. “Pardon me while I forage here.” I guess we were the ones invading her territory. 

As we paused this past week to take pictures of sites all around Yellowstone, such as the elk near our campsite and the geysers and hot springs, other tourists were doing the same. But there were multiple times that tourists from many different cultures visiting Yellowstone stopped to take pictures of US- as if WE were part of the wildlife. Perhaps there are some who think that we are just that: wild, crazy, unusual, etc. I’ll admit that we are a sight on our double and triple bikes loaded down with all of our gear!

 We made it to Old Faithful just as it was beginning its eruption that occurs about every 90 minutes. So cool! Or, more accurately I should say, so hot!

We made it to Old Faithful just as it was beginning its eruption that occurs about every 90 minutes. So cool! Or, more accurately I should say, so hot!

 Such power, generated from all of that heat and constructed waterways underground to produce predictable bursts of water and steam at Old Faithful. 

Such power, generated from all of that heat and constructed waterways underground to produce predictable bursts of water and steam at Old Faithful. 

 These geysers and springs were such an amazing expression of the effects of volcanic activity in the area! The water (super-heated from underground igneous rock)- bursting up to the surface from a network of constricted natural plumbing- was a sight to experience, as were the hot springs that provided a unique habitat and ecosystem for microorganisms that are thermophiles leaving behind a beautiful mat of color for all to see! (Thank you for letting me indulge my biological tendencies!) 😁

These geysers and springs were such an amazing expression of the effects of volcanic activity in the area! The water (super-heated from underground igneous rock)- bursting up to the surface from a network of constricted natural plumbing- was a sight to experience, as were the hot springs that provided a unique habitat and ecosystem for microorganisms that are thermophiles leaving behind a beautiful mat of color for all to see! (Thank you for letting me indulge my biological tendencies!) 😁

 Grand Prismatic Spring- the largest and most vibrantly colorful of all the hot springs we experienced in Yellowstone. Just to give a little scale, the diameter of this spring is about 300 feet.

Grand Prismatic Spring- the largest and most vibrantly colorful of all the hot springs we experienced in Yellowstone. Just to give a little scale, the diameter of this spring is about 300 feet.

 On our way to and from Yellowstone, we passed over several continental divides. This one was particularly intriguing because the lake at the top of the pass emptied into both sides of the divide- having an ultimate destination of either to the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. 

On our way to and from Yellowstone, we passed over several continental divides. This one was particularly intriguing because the lake at the top of the pass emptied into both sides of the divide- having an ultimate destination of either to the Atlantic or the Pacific Ocean. 

 On our way out of the Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone, we noted this sign. It was hard to believe that we only had 79 miles left of our bike trip!

On our way out of the Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone, we noted this sign. It was hard to believe that we only had 79 miles left of our bike trip!

 Some beautiful falls we enjoyed in south Yellowstone. 

Some beautiful falls we enjoyed in south Yellowstone. 

 Wohoo! We made it to the Grand Tetons, signaling the beginning of the end of our adventure!

Wohoo! We made it to the Grand Tetons, signaling the beginning of the end of our adventure!

 Upon entering Grand Teton National Park, we stayed at a beautiful campground (Lizard Creek) on Jackson Lake. We found so much satisfaction in watching the boys playing, creating, and innovating with the things around the water. They made a “dam” out of rocks, driftwood, and grasses, and they used a drifted tree trunk as a floating “raft.”  They also attempted to use a very long (40 feet long?) washed up tree trunk as a canoe. This was quite entertaining to observe!

Upon entering Grand Teton National Park, we stayed at a beautiful campground (Lizard Creek) on Jackson Lake. We found so much satisfaction in watching the boys playing, creating, and innovating with the things around the water. They made a “dam” out of rocks, driftwood, and grasses, and they used a drifted tree trunk as a floating “raft.”  They also attempted to use a very long (40 feet long?) washed up tree trunk as a canoe. This was quite entertaining to observe!

 Russell (head sticking out of the water) pushing Douglas on their tree trunk raft. 

Russell (head sticking out of the water) pushing Douglas on their tree trunk raft. 

 Gross-out ALERT!! We later discovered that all of that playing in the lake yielded some first experiences with being host to parasitic leeches. All three boys found at least 2 leeches on them. Here is a picture of Douglas pulling off a leech on the back of his knee. Look how securely it is holding onto his skin!! Fun fact: Did you know that in leeches’ saliva is an anticoagulant (to prevent its host’s blood from clotting and to allow continued sucking) and an anesthetic (which numbs the  area so that its host does not feel the attachment)?  

Gross-out ALERT!! We later discovered that all of that playing in the lake yielded some first experiences with being host to parasitic leeches. All three boys found at least 2 leeches on them. Here is a picture of Douglas pulling off a leech on the back of his knee. Look how securely it is holding onto his skin!! Fun fact: Did you know that in leeches’ saliva is an anticoagulant (to prevent its host’s blood from clotting and to allow continued sucking) and an anesthetic (which numbs the  area so that its host does not feel the attachment)?  

 Our final night of camping was here at Jenny Lake. Such a beautiful place with the Tetons as a backdrop. This campground is so popular that when we left at 8:00 AM, there was a line of cars waiting to get in to claim a campsite for the next night. We were so thankful that there are designated hiker/biker sites reserved for people like us who bike in and need a place to pitch a tent!

Our final night of camping was here at Jenny Lake. Such a beautiful place with the Tetons as a backdrop. This campground is so popular that when we left at 8:00 AM, there was a line of cars waiting to get in to claim a campsite for the next night. We were so thankful that there are designated hiker/biker sites reserved for people like us who bike in and need a place to pitch a tent!

 Here are the boys doing their respective jobs to help with the packing up of our camp in the morning: Russell and Douglas taking down the tents and Avery washing/drying the breakfast dishes. 

Here are the boys doing their respective jobs to help with the packing up of our camp in the morning: Russell and Douglas taking down the tents and Avery washing/drying the breakfast dishes. 

 A fun rock the boys climbed on during a hike we took around Jenny Lake. 

A fun rock the boys climbed on during a hike we took around Jenny Lake. 

 Our peaceful view while cooking dinner on our last night (Jenny Lake). 

Our peaceful view while cooking dinner on our last night (Jenny Lake). 

 Our last camp dinner: on the shore of Jenny Lake, using up our freeze-dried contingency food. 

Our last camp dinner: on the shore of Jenny Lake, using up our freeze-dried contingency food. 

 We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day and magnificent view during our final day of bike riding. The Tetons are so dramatic and “in-your-face” the whole time you’re in this area! We were really thankful for a nice bike path all the way to Jackson. It allowed us more opportunity to look around and not be as distracted by traffic and safety. 

We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day and magnificent view during our final day of bike riding. The Tetons are so dramatic and “in-your-face” the whole time you’re in this area! We were really thankful for a nice bike path all the way to Jackson. It allowed us more opportunity to look around and not be as distracted by traffic and safety. 

 We got an early start on this final day- that we were able to stop for breakfast at this cool outdoor restaurant overlooking the Tetons. 

We got an early start on this final day- that we were able to stop for breakfast at this cool outdoor restaurant overlooking the Tetons. 

 Another possible seating area at the restaurant was inside of this massive teepee. Looked like a good photo opp.!

Another possible seating area at the restaurant was inside of this massive teepee. Looked like a good photo opp.!

 This is the hole in the inner tube and break in the side wall of the tire. 

This is the hole in the inner tube and break in the side wall of the tire. 

As we were preparing to leave the restaurant where we ate breakfast, some folks struck up a conversation with us about our bikes, the trip, etc.  And all of a sudden, POP! A flat tire- as the bike was just sitting propped against the fence. It was almost comical that we would have a flat tire on our final day- only 12 miles from the end. But we were thankful it didn’t happen while we were pedaling, and it served as a good reminder that God has been caring for us in many ways- both seen and unseen- during our whole bike adventure!

 Jerry certainly has had some great practice on our journey changing flat tires (this was our 5th one). And he did this one fast!

Jerry certainly has had some great practice on our journey changing flat tires (this was our 5th one). And he did this one fast!

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And... we made it!! With my loving Mom welcoming us into Jackson, capturing it on video. We have had a mixture of emotion as we end our biking journey. On the one hand, we are looking forward to getting back, reconnecting with friends and family, and resuming some normalcy. But on the other hand, we will miss being on our bikes each day exploring the sights, smells, terrain, geography, history, and nature of our country. And we will miss the unique and formative experiences we have had meeting so many great people, setting and meeting goals as a family, doing hard, challenging, and meaningful things together, overcoming small adversities along the journey, and learning to trust God in new ways. 

 Whew! We did it!!

Whew! We did it!!

But only our biking journey ends in Jackson Hole. From here we will fly to Florida to spend a few days at the ECHO farm in Fort Myers to tour the farm, do a bit of volunteer work there (to “get our hands dirty”), and meet some the folks that work at ECHO who make their mission a reality. Then, it’s back to reality in Richmond on August 26. 

 Celebration dinner for finishing our journey. 

Celebration dinner for finishing our journey. 

 Here we are finally getting ready to eat 100 Grand candy bars in front of the  Grand  Tetons to celebrate our  100 th honk of the Honk-O-Meter. 

Here we are finally getting ready to eat 100 Grand candy bars in front of the Grand Tetons to celebrate our 100th honk of the Honk-O-Meter. 

 Mmm! 100 Grand candy bars!

Mmm! 100 Grand candy bars!

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We finally saw some wild bison today. And a few days ago on our way to the Grand Tetons, we also saw a mama bear and two cubs on the other side of a ravine. That was exciting, but we weren’t able to stop and take a picture... safety considerations (park rangers were making sure traffic- including us cyclists especially- was passing through quickly). Unfortunately, we have not seen any moose, which is disappointing. We learned today that moose can get as tall as 5-6 feet, not including antlers, and that they can swim quite well. In fact, they can dive down 20 feet and swim at 6 miles per hour for up to 2 hours. I had no idea that these huge, heavy animals could even swim!!

 And here are some of the bison up close. They are such massive animals!

And here are some of the bison up close. They are such massive animals!

 This is a real, stuffed moose that we passed tonight in downtown Jackson Hole. (Note: Avery is donning his new “moose” blanket that he got as a souvenir.) 

This is a real, stuffed moose that we passed tonight in downtown Jackson Hole. (Note: Avery is donning his new “moose” blanket that he got as a souvenir.) 

We anticipate sharing at least one more blog post during or after our visit to the ECHO farm. So, stay tuned!  Thank you all for your incredible support of our family along the way- to those of you who have prayed for us, shown kindness to us in many ways and been a part of our story!