Lake Superior Circle Tour

She’s a vast lake, deep blue waters reach from her shores as she spreads out across a great region. This van tour will circle Lake Superior and we will have the opportunity to explore some of her hidden gems as we go.

Depart Monday July 22, 2019 Depart Ontonagon, MI, overnight at Memorial Park Campground-Washburn, WI

The plan is to keep the daily driving to a minimum and take our time as we make our way around this large body of water. We drive west toward Wisconsin and end up camping at Memorial Park in Wakefield, WI. This park is located on Lake Superior just south of Bayfield.

Tuesday July 23, 2019 Lakehead Boat Basin-Duluth MN

Highlights: Houghton Falls State Natural Area, Bayfield WI, Bayfield Penisula Sea Caves, Duluth Waterfront

Just north of Wakefield was this incredible nature preserve. The hike was short but it took us through a remarkable ravine to the edge of Lake Superior.

Bayfield, WI is a delightful town but quite touristy. We enjoyed a pleasant stroll after a visit to a great coffee shop.

This was a difficult location to get to, we attempted first by driving into Meyers Beach but left quickly as it was wall to wall cars and no parking available what-so-ever. We backtracked onto a narrow, gravel road and found ourselves at a dead end. This was perfect. After a short walk, we were able to link into the Bayfield Penisula Sea Caves Trail. This was phenominal and the views of Lake Superior was pristine.

Wedneday July 24, 2019 Lakehead Boat Basin-Duluth

Highlights: Fitger’s Brewery, Duluth Rose Garden, Blacklist Brewery

Fitger’s Brewery did not disappoint! We enjoyed a relaxing lunch while sampling some of their on-tap delights.

The Duluth Rose garden is a showy delight of flowers and roses. It was a pretty long walk today, but well worth it.

Two breweries in one day, what’s not to like!

Thursday July 25, 2019 Little Gulch Lake Campground-Lake George, MN

Highlights: Driving, lunch on the Mississippi River near Jacobson, MN and camping with Haley, Dena and Maple

We stopped for a quick lunch at a rest stop in Jacobson, MN where we saw the narrow spance of the Mississippi River. It was pretty mosquito infested so we did not explore. We did locate a wonderful campsite at Little Gulch Lake where we were joined by 3 fellow travelers, Dena and her daughter Maple and Haley from Alaska. These bold young women were delightful as I watched Haley tackle some remarkable bead work and Dena was creating a pair of buckskin pants. Such talent! Dena and Maple live in a recently purchased school bus.

Friday July 26, 219 Six Mile Lake Campground-North Cass, MN

Highlights: Lake Itasca State Park

The headwaters of the Mississippi River, where the great river begins. I have wanted to see this state park for a very long time and we had the time now so here we are. We dipped feet into the river before heading out on a hike along Lake Itasca. Great areas of wild rice grown along the banks, butterflies and dragonflies were in abundance. This was so incredible to finally get to see.

Saturday July 27, 2019 Four Mile Lake Campground-Toft, MN

Highlights: Gooseberry Falls State Park, Visiting with friends Bill & Gina

Zig-zagging across Minnesota took us back to the North Shore. We stopped by old family Friends, Bill & Gina’s house in Proctor but they were not home. We left a note and continued on to Gooseberry Falls State Park. This place was packed but within a short distance on the trails, the people dispersed and we enjoyed a great hike up.

Bill & Gina called and met up with us at Gooseberry Falls. I was still in diapers when Bill first met me. Our family lived in a house near Fish Lake and Bill was a great help to my mom while dad was overseas in the military. It was wonderful seeing them again.

Sunday July 28, 2019 Wild Camp near Eagle Mountain, MN

Highlights: Palisade Head Park, Hike Eagle Mountain 2301′

We walked up the hill to enjoy this location, it was rather busy though.

Mushrooms and fungi, I love these things, so many varieties, including the Indian Pipe flowers. Not many flowers today along the trail up to Eagle Mountain, but still plenty of things to look at.

The hike to the top of Eagle Mountain is 3-1/2 miles each way. We enjoyed the trail today immensely and when we approached the summit we were surprised by wild blueberries.

In the summer of 2002, 17 years ago I attempted the climb to the summit of Eagle Mountain only to stop short. I was fat and I couldn’t make it. I just didn’t have the endurance to do it. Today, 17 years later and a fitness level that I am proud of I did it.

The two photos on the left are from my trip to Minnesota in 2002. In 2003 I began the journey to a lifetime of better health and fitness. Wow, what a difference!

Monday July 29, 2019 Wild Camp Little Dog Lake, Ontario, Canada

Highlights: Grand Portage State Park, Border Crossing into Ontario

We picked a bunch of blueberries yesterday at the top of Eagle Mountain. This morning we enjoy the spoils of that and indulge in blueberry pancakes.

Grand Portage State Park, a quick side stop before crossing into Canada.

Tuesday July 30, 2019 Ontario Wild Camp

Highlights: Kakabeka Falls, water lily bath time

Kakabeka Falls is incredible and we spent the better part of the day here.

The hiking trail to the lower falls was tough but worth it.

Wild camps are best when near water and tonight we were next to a beautiful pond with water lilies near the edge. It was so incredible to “bathe” in among these beautiful flowers. Besides, it’s been a while since our last good scrubbing so getting cleaned up was a plus.

Wednesday July 31, 2019 PicNic Lake Campground-Ontario, Canada

Highlights: Aguasabon River Gorge, Casque-Isle Hiking Trail 6Km

It seems our Lake Superior Circle Tour is one for the hiking, today we completed a 4 Km hike to the water and back.

Highway 17 in Ontario, Canada plain and simply SUCKS. We sat snarled in this traffic jam for well over 2 hours. It seems an 18-wheeler and an SUV opted to occupy the same space at the same time causing a head on collision. The driver of the SUV was taken away in a body bag. Traffic drives too fast, trucks drive too fast, people are in way too much of a hurry. So sad.

Thursday August 1, 2019 Pancake Bay Wild Camp-Ontario, Canada

Highlights: High Falls to Silver Falls Hiking Trail 6Km,

This trail was only 3 Km each way but this was the most difficult trail we’ve done EVER. It was spectacular though and we are glad to have completed it. There was a lot of steep up and downhills to traverse.

Happy Birthday Curtis and welcome to the Pancake Bay Wild Camp. There were so many amazing places to boondock here and looking back from a series of rocks our van sits atop the hill overlooking a spectacular bay.
Good Night from Pancake Bay.

Friday, August 2, 2019 Tahquanemon Falls Area Camping

Highlights: Depart Ontario, Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Coffee in the morning, listening to the waves lap the shoreline of Lake Superior. We watched as a small sailboat slid through the waters while a loon kept us entertained.

Crossing the Ontario border back into the USA.

The waters of Lake Superior are so crystal clear here at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse.

Boondocking in a field of flowers .

Saturday, August 3, 2019 Tahquamenon Falls Camp

Highlights: Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Clark Lake Trail 5.2 miles

More hiking today, the road into Clark Lake is not suitable for a large vehicle. But, despite that fact we took the van down it anyway. The hike was easy and so few people! Loved it!

Pitcher Plants, so many pitcher plants on the Clark Lake Trail today. These are so cool to see.

Smooth Green Snake, this little fellow looks very well fed.
The trail to Clark Lake was well marked and very enjoyable.

Sunday, August 4, 2019 Tahquamenon Falls Camp

Highlights: Tahquamenon Falls State Park-Low Falls to High Falls Trail 10 miles

A 10 mile hike was on the agenda for today. This was a beautiful trail along the river.

Monday, August 5, 2019 Painted Rocks Camp

Highlights: Fixed rear tire-picked up a screw

Other than stop into a tire shop in Newberry, MI it was a pretty non-eventful day. We picked up a small screw in the rear drivers side tire which was slowly leaking air. Today we got that fixed. Other than that, we spent the day driving.

Tucked deep into the Hiawatha National Forest

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 Painted Rocks Camp

Highlights: Lake Superior Trail 7 miles

The road was very narrow and we ended up with a few branches stuck in our to rack but it was well worth the quiet solitude.

Today’s trek was 7 miles total. The trail is incredible and the campground has a ThunderBox, a very useable outside toilet. The trail was very well maintained and the rocky beaches beyond beautiful.

A small token of my appreciation to the Goddess of the Lake.

The Log Slide area is high sand dunes darting into the water. People actually will walk down them in minutes yet the climb back up on all fours takes about an hour!

The Au Sable Lighthouse, it was 1-1/2 miles walk to get here and then 2 more miles to get to the Log Slide. This made for a beautiful hike today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 Ontonagon Township Park

Highlights: Drive to Ontonagon

It rained most of today and we drove back to Ontonagan, MI. It was pretty uneventful but we were glad to be back.

Thursday, August 8, 2019 Ontonagon Township Park

Highlights: A do nothing day of rest, we did get the bikes out for a short ride to downtown.

Friday, August 9, 2019 Home is where the heart is

Highlights: Closed on our home

WHAT??!!??? Closed on a house??? Over the past 3 years we have lived with the daily saying of Home is Where the Heart is and today we finalized the purchase of a small house in Ontonagon, MI. It is located 1/2 mile from the beautiful Lake Superior shore and a mere 20 miles from the Porcupine Mountains State Park.

We are great believers that when the path is right things happen with ease. We knew that we would know the property when we saw it and that if it were meant to be the path to it would be easy. And here we are now, keys is hand.

April 2016 we sold our home in Longview, TX and on June 1, 2016 we embarked on the journey from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. We followed our hearts and here we are, 3 years and 4 months later. We’ve had quite the adventure and the Lake Superior Circle Tour was just one more aspect of it.

Buying a home is not the end of our journey but the beginning of a new chapter in our continued adventures. We now have a base to call home where we can retreat to in between new adventures and the Lake Superior Circle Tour is just a start.

MUP Tour 2019 : League of Michigan Bicyclists

July 7-13, 2019 Upper Penisula, Michigan

Curtis, Jenny and Moni at the start of MUP 2019

Organized bicycle tours are a fun way to meet new people and forge life long friendships. Over a decade ago I participated in a ride across Oklahoma taking me from the Texas border into Kansas. One such encounter in 2007 brought me face to face with Moni and a friendship was born. Now in 2019 here in UP we meet up again to enjoy a week of fun, fellowship and cycling as we explore a region of the country that we have never been to.

Moni and Jenny at Kitch-iti-kipi, the largest fresh water spring in Michigan

Day zero, which was a pre-ride for the official tour was a fast and fun 20 miler to a place called Kitch-iti-kipi. This translates to Big Spring and is the largest fresh water spring in Michigan. The crystal clear, emerald green waters were incredibly beautiful!

Sunday evening we hung around the fairgrounds for the official start on Monday morning. As the sun set over the fairgrounds, more and more cyclists rolled in. The eerie fog that rolls in from Lake Michigan created a very interesting sunset.

Monday morning came along and we hit the road, today will be a 65 mile day as we make our way to Escanaba.

From Escanaba we pulled two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) that were 74 miles plus. Our route took us from Escanaba to Cyrstal Falls on into Marquette.

On this tour we camp, the tent goes up every night. I have always found the traveleing tent city fascinating. The cell phone and electronics station is something of an electrical chaotic mess.

The youngest participant was a 5 year old little girl. She was so awesome! Not only did she not complain or fuss, but she was helpful with setting up. After she completed her chores she showed off her artist skills. This little girl was talkative and the giggle and laugh was fantastic. What a delightful child!

We had fun on the road and along the way. Lunch was provided on Tuesday and Wednesay. Long rows of bikes lined the fences and buildings where we stopped to enjoy box lunches.

Marquette, MI was a layover day. We had a day off and we enjoyed it immensely! We rode bikes downtown and toured the Historical Society Museum. The woman recommended a couple of restaurants for lunch and we took her advice and enjoyed lunch at The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery.

We checked out the local bike shop and cruised along Lake Superior. The lake is so beautiful!! I love the clear blue waters and the many nautical sites.

Black Rocks Brewery is incredible. There is so many bicycle themed things in there and the beer ROCKS. We met a number of other cyclists at Black Rocks, Mike, Bob and John who joined us for a lot of tall tales and laughter.

When we got back to camp, Curtis took a nap in the beautiful sunshine.

The flowers of UP, I am in heaven. The vibrant colors, wow just wow. Seems like I cannot pass up the colors as I cycle past them. Flowers have been and will always be a prominent part of my existance.

Leaving Marquette we cycled along beautiful Lake Superior. The sun was bright as it rose into the sky.

One of our rest stops was at Lakenenland, a local artist that created incredible beauty and humor with junkyard art.

The artist produced a lot of sculptures about greed, politics and corporate corruption. This one states “Caution Genuine North American Corporate Greed Pig” and it is shitting on the “Average American Worker 2004”
Yep, this one is pretty accurate.

Our final day was from Munising back to Manistique. We cycled through the village of Christmas where there is a huge cut out of Santa Claus as well as Christmas themed everything, street names, buildings, you name it.

We rolled into Manistique where our van awaited us. Moni camped in her tent Saturday night and we enjoyed the comfort of our van. We were tired and just enjoyed the relaxation.

The week long ride was pretty short at 343.5 miles with a nice bit of climbing; 8,978 feet. It took us through some beautiful countryside, on some relatively busier roads but that was simply because there are not a lot of alternate options. We met some great people along the way and on the ride. This gave us yet another good look at this region, UP Michigan from the seat of a bicycle. This was fun, the ride was fun and UP Michigan has not seen the last of us.

It was great getting together with Moni again. This ride is now one for the history book as we continue our journey.

Looking out over Lake Superior between Marquette and Munising, MI

Western Upper Peninsula – Michigan

West UP Michigan Meander

Day 1    Ironwood to Upson, WI : 16 miles

Day 2    Upson WI to Little Girl Point Campground : 22 miles

Day 3    Little Girl Point CG to Porcupine WC  : 47 miles

Day 4    Porcupine WC to Lake Superior WC : 29 miles

Day 5    Lake Superior WC to Ontonagon Campground : 26 miles

Day 6    Rest Day

Day 7    Ontonagon Campground to Emily Lake Campground : 31 miles

Day 8    Emily Lake Campground to Hancock Rec Area : 33 miles

Day 9    Hancock Rec Area to Lady Slipper Wild Camp : 29 miles

Day 10  Lady Slipper Wild Camp to High Rock Bay Wild Camp : 36 miles

Day 11  High Rock Bay Wild Camp to Cliff Drive Wild Camp : 23 miles

Day 12  Cliff Drive Wild Camp to Hancock Rec Area : 36 miles

Day 13  Rest Day

Day 14  Hancock Rec Area to Obijiwa Campground : 25 miles                            

Day 15  Obijiwa Campground to Courtney Lake Campground : 35 miles

Day 16 Courtney Lake Campground to Stannard Township RV Park : 35 miles    

Day 17  Stannard Township RV Park to Ironwood : 52 miles

Getting to know the true feel of an area is easily done from the seat of a bicycle, the attitudes of the people, the “feel” of the locals, atmosphere of the region.  We want(ed) to get to know this area of the country.  The cooler temperatures, the changing of the seasons, the slower pace of living all appeal to us and we want to get more acquainted with this area.

So, in order to do so we mapped out a near 500 mile loop on the western side of the UP of Michigan.  Yoopers are what they call themselves, we found the majority of these fine folks as pretty laid back, helpful and pretty down to earth.  We like that.  We were not looked at as oddities, no one stared at us in disbelief that we were on bicycles, we got more of the attitudes of cool and good for you.  This was refreshing. The other refreshing thing was the temperatures, it is mid-June and we are wearing jackets and/or long sleeves the entire time.  So much better than baking in high heat and humidity.

We left our van in Ironwood, MI and enjoyed lunch at a local café.  Ironwood has a history deep into mining and there was an exquisite mural in town dedicated to miners of the area. 

We made a slight detour west into the sister city of Hurly, WI before stopping in the small village of Upson and the local city park.  The Upson Park has a handful of campsites, complete with electricity and a hand pump water source.  There is a beautiful river running near by that has a pretty waterfalls.  The water is heavy in tannins creating an almost tea like look to the water.  We rolled in to the park in time to get our tent set up, build a quick fire and then settle into our new routine of camping.  Our tent is new yet it is familiar.  We replaced our MSR Hubbahubba tent when we returned from South America.  The original tent was pretty tired, zippers were worn out, small holes here and there had been patched over with tape, bug stains dotted the interior where we had smashed them into the fabric.  The new tent is pristine, it is bug gut free, the poles are still interconnected on the center support, the zippers slide easily and the fabric is shiny and new.

The sleeping pads came along from South America and we are still using the 2 pad method, a ZPad on the bottom and an air mattress on top.  The sleeping bags are still dirty from South America, we had planned to wash them but never quite got around to that.  We left behind the liner sheets as we found that we really didn’t use them much.

Camping is something we both enjoy and our campsites on this short tour were varied and a lot of fun.  We camped in organized campgrounds as well as bushwhacked our way into the woods and wild camped. 

Roads were mainly paved and traffic was light.  We discovered a Rail to Trails trail outside Mass City that headed north.  This was fun, hard at times due to soft sand and rough sections from the ATVs that race up and down (although we only saw 3).  Animals are plentiful, we saw deer every day and a lot of birds.  We even came across wolf tracks on the rail trail.  They are huge!  Snapping turtles lay eggs along the sandy trails in the boggy areas.  We saw a number of laying turtles.  We also saw one painted turtle.

We also saw many birds, the Loons are our favorite.  The Whistling Swans are giant compared to many other water fowl.  There are many babies on the water right now and we saw baby swans, Canada Geese and others. A momma Grouse and baby were crossing the road when a car came through. Momma ruffled up and went head to head with the car when her baby zipped under it. Luckily the car stopped, Curtis had to climb under and catch the baby before letting the tiny chick go back to it’s protective mother.

Loons also have babies and they will ride on the backs of the adults.

Flowers, oh my the flowers that are blooming are magnificent!  We saw four different types of orchids, two were Slipper varieties and the other two were just beautiful.  The blooming season is here and it seems no matter where we looked, whether open roadsides or deep forests we encountered something in bloom. 

The ride was tough at times, the hills were steep and the roads were sometimes remote and difficult with the wider tires of the Salsa Fargos.  The ride into Copper Harbor was beautiful, along the majestic Lake Superior. 

We were able to stop in town, enjoy Thimble Berry Turnovers and some really good coffee before continuing on. The ride past Copper Harbor was tough.  US41 starts just north of Copper Harbor, beyond that is a gravel, rutted, potholed road leading to the Point.  This was hard, we had a number of water crossing to tackle but the destination on the point to camp at no charge was too tempting to pass up. 

This was our favorite remote campsite.  The views of Lake Superior were stunning.  The lack of light pollution allowed us to see the Milky Way Galaxy very brightly as it reflected off the massive lake waters below.  My camera doesn’t due the night shots justice.  We camped on the edge of a small cliff that dropped into the clear waters of Superior.  Many others came to the point to marvel in the beauty of it, others pitched tents as well.  This is a place we will return to.

The ride off the point was a lot faster since it was mainly downhill.  We stopped for more of that wonderful coffee as well as Thimble Berry frosted cake donuts.  Leaving Copper Harbor was tough, the hills were steep, traffic was aggressive and we had a level of fatigue settling in. 

Why is it that vacationers traveling the byways tend to be the biggest assholes?  Many tend to be in a hurry, impatient, impulsive and extremely aggressive.  Aren’t vacations intended to help people relax?  If so, why the obnoxious attitude by so many?  This was the worst stretch of road of our entire UP Tour and they aggressiveness all came from RVs and out of state license plates.  Sad, so sad that people get so stressed while they are trying to relax. 

Despite shorter distances each day, this was tough cycling on the trails and dirt roads.  We were exhausted when we made it back to the Hancock Rec Area so we opted to pay for two nights at the campground.  We built campfires and relaxed.  With a day rest behind us we were back on our bikes and heading back toward to the van.

National and State Forest Campgrounds are rustic but there are typically picnic tables, fire rings and some sort of bathroom facility.  These have a small fee to them but it is well worth it.  The wild camping is our standard disappear into the woods where no one sees or hears us.  Often times, these are our favorite camping areas, they are quiet and remote and we sleep long and deep under the stars. 

The bugs are out though, the mosquitos and flies are pretty wicked but it’s one of those things that we just deal with. There is no reason to get mad or spiteful about the bloodsucking insect invasion, it happens. Deet is our friend and we both use the Repel or Off.

Many small towns have Recreation areas or campgrounds in town and they are nice.  Bruce Crossing has the Stannard Township RV Park that has a hand full of sites with electric and water, a bathhouse and fantastic shower all for $15 a night.  We enjoyed our time in Bruce Crossing and then continued on using the Rail Trail in the area.

The Ontonagon Township Park

It’s time to wrap up this mini-tour and we made a big push the final day back to our van.  We really like the areas we cycled but now it’s time to put the Salsas away and dust off the Roadies.  MUP, a supported multi-day tour is just around the corner and the road bikes will take the place of our Salsas.  It will give us a chance to see a different side of cycling here in the beautiful UP of Michigan.

South Dakota

We would have never guessed the fun and adventure we would encounter in South Dakota. We enjoyed incredible scenery, epic & grand views, majestic animals and fun with family.

We spent May 30, 2019 through June 6, 2019 in South Dakota.

Typically we do not take in tourist regions and activities but we both wanted to check out Wind Cave. We did a cave tour. It was considered a strenuous one but neither of us were even remotely winded from the many steps through the belly of the cave. There are a few interesting cave formations like the box work and the cave popcorn but all in all the lack of stalactites and flowstones made it less appealing to me. I love active, living caves with drops of water falling from above through limestone. This is not one of those types of caves. I did enjoy it none the less.

We got in a few epic bicycle rides on the road bikes. We had planned to go up to a peak north of Wind Cave but were turned around by large herds of bison with new babies that were not only along the road but on the road. These mamas are aggressive and I would rather tackle a car than a bison while on a bike! The Prairie Dogs are hilarious as they chirp and cackle. Antelope look like deer with diapers. I love the cycling thorugh such majestic areas.

We camped at the Wind Cave campground, enjoying the solitude since there were few others here.

There is such a variety of birds and flowers and butterflies and other forms of wildlife. Seeing these from the seat of a bicycle makes it somehow feel more “real”. There is nothing between me and what is laid out before me.

We took the Salsas out on a local trail from Cottonwood Camground outside of Hotsprings, SD. There is an incredible trail and we had a blast. We saw three badgers although only one stayed above ground while we cycled past. After leaving the trail we encountered amazing double track on our way back to Cottonwood. This campground was perched on top of a hill and was incredibly quiet.

Meeting up with my sister Juli, her husband Ed and their friends Portia and Sedona was a lot of fun. We cycled to meet them for coffee in Hot Springs, SD. We then drove to meet them later in Interior, SD which is due south of the Badlands National Park. We enjoyed some grilled ribs and roasted marshmallows.

No trip to SD is complete without seeing Crazyhorse Monument.

We also saw a Bicycle Monument along the roadway. This was a pile of bikes with a few “sculptures”. Very odd!

We camped near Mt Rushmore at Wrinkled Rock Climbers Trailhead. This place allows camping up to 14 days. There is no water or electric but there is a vault toilet. This place was amazing and it allowed us to cycle around Mt. Rushmore and then cut back up through on the Centennial Trail in pouring down rain. What a FUN ride!!

The Bandlands National Park is what we would consider a windshield park. It is beautiful and the storms are intense when they roll through. There are pulloffs to see the views and very few hiking trails. We drove through before boondocking our van at the National Grasslands outside the park.

The area that we parked was on the edge of the Bandlands and we were greeted to a most phenominal sunrise.

Good morning world! Life on the road is incredible and full of things to see and do and so many incredible sites to witness.

Our time in South Dakota was incredible and I have no doubt it is a place we will return to.

Friends We’ve Never Met Before – Colorado

The world really is a very small place and meeting friends for the first time is FUN! Although we’d never met before, it was as though we’d known each other for many MANY years.

A couple of years ago we were introduced to Jenn & Ron via our Crazy Guy on a Bike journals. We kept in contact and on May 26, 2019 we got to meet for the first time face to face. What an incredibly fun young couple! We spent a few days together taking in a bike ride and several walks.

Curtis, Jenn, Ron and Jenny
Enjoying a fun day on the bike trails in Centennial, CO

We left Centennial, CO on May 29th and headed on for a quick visit with yet another amazing couple, Curt and Cathy .

Curt and Cathy ride a tandem and have spent over 15 years on the road toruing various locations throughout the world. We would have loved to spend more time with them but our schedule said otherwise. But, I have no doubt that our paths will indeed cross in the future.

Kindred Spirits … NO DOUBT!

Curtis, Jenny, Curt, Cathy and their delightful Granddaughter.

Park County Colorado

BLM, Bureau of Land Management areas are a priceless treasure here in the USA. Protected lands for our use and often time free of charge. We found our way into Colorado, punching our way through a series of strong storms blowing across the plains states of Missouri and Kansas. We opted for long days driving to get past the seemingly daily deluge.

The snow began ever so lightly, at first just a light dusting in the ditches but as we got closer to Colorado Springs, CO more and more snow filled the roadway. Colorado Springs is a remarkable city but way too many people and way too much traffic for our liking. We headed west, out of the city and into the mountains.

May 22, 2019 Camping near Lake George, CO on BLM land.

The BLM lands had ample places to park the van for an extended period. Actually, we could spend up to 14 nights here at no charge. There are no amenities other than a fire ring but we had plenty of peace, quiet and solitude.

Day 1 – May 23, 2019 was an all out snow day, weather was blustery and cold but we did manage to get out in the elements for a refreshing and brisk walk through the wood.

Snow! It’s nearing the end of May and we are covered in snow. I like it! The cold was refreshing. We pulled out the space heater to take the edge off first thing in the morning but other than that, the cold just reminded us of the high mountains and I have to say, I like it!

Surprisingly flowers flourish even in the snow. To see small cactus with buds on them, surrounded by snow was really cool.

Fun in the Snow

Day 2 – May 24, 2019 The sun is out today, the skies are bright and beautiful and we unloaded the Salsa bikes, its time for some fun. We cycled to Eleven Mile Lake and back, max grade was 12% and this was a fun workout.

We opted to take a few gravel roads. Realizing that it is Memorial Day Weekend, the dozens of campsites along these roads were filling in. We walked along some rock outcroppings and watched the Mule Deer and the Chipmunks.

By the time we got back to the van we were starving, we filled up water again and cooked up a fantastic lunch

Day 3 – May 25, 2019 There are almost no open campsites along these gravel backroads. We hopped on the Salsas again today and headed up yet another gravel road.

The BLM lands are open to all and they are equisite!

My front wheel is making weird noises and has an off feel. I checked the spokes and they feel a bit loose. Curtis agreed and when we got back to the van he tightened them up and re-trued my wheels.

A master wheel builder in action!

The cactus and other flowers flourish in the sunshine.

It’s always a great time when we can utilize a fire ring and today we were able to pull out the chairs and sit around a crackling fire. Our van, our home is proving to be an incredibly fantastic place to reside … no matter where the location.

Victory Section of the Ozark Trail – Missouri

National Forest lands on the USA are an incredible treasure to be enjoyed by all. Finding flat, dry open areas to park the van for a few days is not always an easy task but we located this beautiful area at a trailhead. The area is commonly used for horseback riding but we wanted to take the bikes out and see what fun we could get into. The region is ripe with trails and backroads that zigzag around. I put together an 8 mile route from the van. It should take us a couple of hours max, or so I thought.

We spent a couple of nights here, enjoying the clear skies.

There are no maps at the entrance and other than the GPS maps we had created on Ride with GPS, we really had no idea as to what to expect.

The trail was pretty easy to follow in most places.

Starting out from the van we headed directly into the forest on the well used horse trail. It was pretty rough with a lot of rocks and roots. Sunlight filtered through the dense trees dotting the ground with spots of light.

Double tracks was more fun.

We opted to move over to a double track old roadbed that was smoother and clear of the big rocks and muddy areas. This was much more fun and I would have to say I prefer the double track over the single.

We were not the only creatures out on the trails today. Snakes and turtles were sunning themselves, warming up in the sunshine.

The trail took us to a creek bottom. We had suspected there would be flowing water or at least we had hoped there would be. It was pretty warm now and the ride down took us a lot longer than expected. So far the trail was pretty easy to navigate. We had to venture off the double track since it forked; one fork dead ending and the other leading to very strongly marked Private Property. We were now back on the single track trail.

We took advantage of the creek in the ravine and washed our hair. It’s been quite a few days since our last shower and this felt great!

Living out of the van we have to adapt and learn new ways of doing things. The journey through the Americas on the bikes prepped us for many of these things so washing our hair and rinsing off in the stream was not all that unusual for us.

The route that I had mapped degraded and we found ourselves on some overgrown areas with thick grasses.

We had to bushwack our way through some of the area. The butterflies were happy with the flowers growing among the grasses.

Well, the one downfall of the tall grasses was what seemed to be a tick infestation. This was horrible and by the time we made our way back to the double track, adding about 2 miles to our route since the one I had mapped was totally impassable and we had to improvise, we were literally covered in ticks. Yes, ticks…AUGH! I hate ticks, tasty little blood sucking creatures. There are critters that I really have to remember to ask the Good Lord, “Why?” and ticks are one of them. It’s not like they are a food source for anything. They are vile, nasty little pesks.

Picking ticks ….

It took us hours, yes hours to traverse the 10-1/2 miles through a portion of the trails. We made our way back to the roadbed where we stopped to brush off literally hundreds of ticks from our clothing. We spent at least 15 minutes doing so. When we got back to the van we had to use some Dawn dish detergent and cotton balls to remove a few that had already imbedded. The bigger ones were easier to feel as the latched on, we could also feel them crawling easier. It was the little ones, the seed ticks that were the hard ones to find. We ended up removing a dozen or so that found there way to us un-noticed.

Blood sucking nasties, the tick unfestation of this region was horrible but the trails are ones that we would like to return to and explore further.

By the time we got back to the van it was after 3PM, the 10 miles had taken us well past lunch time and when we got back we were both starving. We have learned that scrambled eggs with black beans makes a very fast and hearty meal. Add in a number of tortillas and voile we fill our bellies.

Life is good, even when the bugs are bad.