T R I P   J O U R N A L

W E E K   # 4

GOLD HILL NORTH - Monday, July 26, 2004

After experiencing a bit of frustration with my webhost provider in the morning, I decide to go mountain biking to blow-off some steam. Having waiting until the early afternoon to go riding, I'm greeted with hot, muggy weather which threatens to thwart my steam venting plans.

I've chosen a rather gnarly trail (Gold Hill North), one that will test not only my endurance, but also my expertise at mountain biking, which of course, I have very little of. But, as they say, one only improves their skill level with both challenge and adversity. I drive a short ways from Sandpoint, ID to the biking trailhead. After arrival I inspect the foot of the biking trail and, not surprisingly, I get spanked with an eye-full of up, up and away!

The bike ride proves to be challenging indeed, frequently I'm forced to stop to catch my breath and mop off the sweat. Payoff for my efforts, at the top I'm treated with many great views of Lake Pend Oreille as it reaches out its watery ways in every which direction. Descending the bike trail's lofty heights, I experience biking nurvana, and become one with my bike as I careen down narrow, forested bike trails.

Back at the van I pack things up then head back to Sandpoint for a refreshing dip in Lake Pend Oreille. After cooling off I head over to Chez Spud's Rotisserie and Grill for a bite to eat, then walk around town for a bit before retired for the evening.

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ROAD TRIP TO KALISPELL, MT - Tuesday, July 27, 2004

After sleeping in for a bit I drive over to Sandpoint's City Beach where outside I cook a fine breakfast of oatmeal and eggs. Once fueled, I mosey on over to Starbucks to do some webmastering. Within a few hours I grow antsy, for the time has arrived to hit the road to Big Sky Country, Montana!

Late in the afternoon I start my drive to Montana. My initial intention is to drive all the way to Glacier National Park but given my tardy departure time, it looks like I'll fall well short of that goal. I pass through smoke and haze during good portion of the drive, perhaps originating from forest fires? It's my understanding that this is the time of year for that sort of thing.

Day surrenders to night and I find myself still driving. I quickly grow weary and end up spending the night in Kalispell, MT.

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GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I wake to a strong scent of flowers. My curiousity is piqued, and I start wondering what is the source of my morning's wakeup call. Poking my head out the van's double doors, I quickly realize I've struck paydirt, I've parked next to a spectacular flower garden.

After snapping many shots of the garden, I jump in the van and head northeast to Glacier National Park. On the way I visit Hungry Horse Dam, which proves to be both interesting and a little scary at the same time. Soon, I roll through Glacier's Entrance Gates and I settle into one of the park's campgrounds. The afternoon is growing older by the minute and I speculate whether or not I have time to fit in a bike ride. After some planning, I decide to go for broke, to bike to Logan Pass, some 15 miles away and 3000+ feet up.

The bike ride turns out to be interesting indeed. The narrow, twisting road to Logan Pass is rather steep and, at times, uninviting due to all the road construction that is going on. But, who cares about the road, it's all about what borders the road, right?!?. Along the roadside, sheer drop-offs into massive volumes of empty space can be found, separating me from the wonderous views of mountains and mountain valleys. Surely the Gods live in such a beautiful place.

I slowly make my way up to Logan Pass. With each peddle stroke I lose physical energy due to exertion but gain spiritual energy from the ever-heightening views that surround me. It's an interesting dynamic, a yin and yang, a push and pull, a fight between exhaustion and salvation.

At the top I revel in having successfully completed the uphill climb. The final reward to all my efforts is the downhill portion of the return leg. I ride back down the winding road, easily keeping pace with my steel and glass-enclosed traffic companions. It's a lot of fun, kicking back and letting gravity do its work. It's the least it could do, having fought it for so hard and so long on the uphill run. I make it back to the van just before nightfall. I take in dinner, do some travel writing, then hit the hay.

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ROAD TRIP TO HELENA, MT - Thursday, July 29, 2004

Having spent all my energy reserves yesterday riding up to Logan Pass, I sleep in until 11am. After waking, I make plans for the day's drive out of Glacier National Park then due south to Helena, MT, the state capital. While planning I get an unexpected visit from a Park Ranger, my first and thankfully only mishaps for the day.

After the Ranger takes leave of me, I leave the campground and drive back up and over Logan Pass to check out the eastside of the Continental Divide. It proves to be just as scenic as the westside. It is here, while admiring the view, that I have my trip's first revelation.

I make my way out of the park then head due south to Helena, MT. On the way I encounter two oddities of worthy mention. On the drive I soon realize it's this portion of Montana that they call Big Sky Country. Wide open spaces are the flavor of my driving day, and I have to admit, after a while it gets rather boring. So much so, I'm starting to fall asleep at the wheel.

Soon enough all the driving is over and I reach Helena just before nightfall. I drive around the city, find a suitable street camping spot, then settle in for the night. I cook dinner, do a little travel writing, then quickly drift off to sleep for I am still exhausted from yesterday's biking adventure.

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EMERALD LAKE - Friday, July 30, 2004

The plan for the day is to drive south to a challenging mountain bike trail located near Bozeman, MT. The high altitude bike trail will take me up to Emerald Lake, a pretty lake sitting almost 10,000 above sea level and buried deep within Gallatin National Forest.

The drive to the trailhead was rather boring at first due to my Interstate routing but soon becomes more interesting as I drive south of Bozeman on roads less traveled within Gallatin National Forest. I arrive at the trailhead with a full head of steam and a desire to reach for the sky on this alpine bike ride.

The ride is a tough one, the air is thin up here ya know! I manage to reach Emerald Lake after a bit of biking toil and am justly rewarded with grand views received from my heightened vantage point. However, the bugs are quite persistent so my stay is cut short, and soon enough, I'm back at the van after partaking in some fun-filled downhill biking adventure.

Once at the van, I clean up, then drive to Bozeman, MT where I find an internet connection and settle in for the evening. I cook dinner, work on the website for quite a while, then in the wee hours of the morning, I finally retire.

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DAY OF REST - Saturday, July 31, 2004

Today is a day of rest and relaxation, no traveling or sightseeing. I decide to spend the day at one of Bozeman's city parks. I select Lindley Park as my destination and after a short drive I arrive, park, and get down to the business of cooking lunch.

Soon thereafter, a car pulls up along side, and I notice it's filled full of biking gear. I start chating with the driver and quickly learn that he too is on a road trip adventure. Partick and I talk for more than three hours. I learn Patrick is homeless but not without hope. We spend some time swapping stories of car camping and travel.

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BOPPING AROUND BOZEMAN - Sunday, August 1, 2004

Guess what?!? It's time to shave my head! Once a week I enter into the realm of hair removal insanity. During my shave I have a big revelation about the burden and uselessness of hair. After shaving I attend to my laundry, a necessary task I really dislike, but not as much as the little green pig who always holds out on me until threatened.

After finishing my laundry, I walk around Bozeman for a bit, checking out all the sights and sounds. I then pay a visit to a cool coffee shop, The Leaf and Bean Coffee Shop, to have a coffee, and do a bit of travel writing. I eventually grow restless so I venture outside for some fresh air. Close by I spy a sign for the Museum of the Rockies. Adequately inspired, drive over to the museum for a looksee.

While not being a huge fan of museums, this museum turns out to be a really interesting one. During my visit, my attention focuses primarily on the dinosaur artifacts. There is also a mechanical dinosaur riding machine that quickly catches my fancy.

The day winds down into evening and I go to Montana Ale Works for some beer and camaraderie. I stay until 11pm then hit the hay.

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South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon, AZ
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Bed and Breadfast, Coochs Beach, Kennebunkport, ME
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Somewhere in Central Utah
Mount Rushmore, Keystone, SD
Adobe Designed Home, Taos, NM
The Painted Desert, Petrified National Forest, AZ
Lake Champlain Ferry, Port Kent, NY
Polar Bear, San Diego Zoo, San Diego, CA
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, CA
The Graceland Mansion, Memphis, TN
Vermont Countryside