We are home and trying to get back into regular life. Mike has told me several times how much he misses riding his bike 100+ miles a day, especially when the ride is through stunning scenery. We made it through the week with no crashes or serious injuries, meeting many interesting people, seeing so much wildlife and some of the most beautiful places in the world. There is a mention of the ride in the Deseret News.
Here is a rundown of superlatives, moments, memory keepers...
Friday, July 15th - Provo to Salt Lake on the Tandem. Mom was there to see us off at the Provo Temple. Everyone else was sleeping in after dressing in costumes and going to the midnight showing of the final Harry Potter movie. One of my sisters looked exactly like Bellatrix, another exactly like Trelawney. But Mike and I were ready to go early in the morning. We geared up to self support. The weather was perfect, and we made good progress to Mount Timpanogos, up over Eagle Ridge to Draper, and west to Oquirrh Mountain. That was when I wondered if we made every single red light across the valley. We spent more time waiting at lights than riding the bike. When we headed toward the Jordan River Temple we changed the route and found some residential roads with no lights. Our first real interruption came after leaving Jordan River when I was stung by a wasp. After a short break we continued. Charlotte and Reed met us at the cemetery with cold water. I realized what a difference it makes to have support. We rested and visited by Dad's grave. I had been drinking plenty of water, but did not want to eat more than an apple. I (with the metabolism of a slug) can't stand all the energy goop Mike (with his race horse metabolism) fuels himself with. We were doing the final climb to "This is the Place Park" when I said, "I feel strange" and "Whose idea was this?" and "Why are we doing this?". Mike made me sit down on the lawn in front of the house where my grandparents used to live and eat a whole granola bar, every bite, even though I didn't want to. I think Charlotte got a kick out of that. I felt better after that. At the park I told Charlotte about visiting the monument each time we would come to Salt Lake to visit family when I was a child. My grandpa would lift me up so I could climb on the statues, and he would point out which figures were our ancestors. Then we coasted all the way down to the Salt Lake Temple. It was nice to sit by the reflecting pool, talk about the memories and connections we have with this temple, and watch so many people visiting this place. Most of them did not speak english, but managed to communicate when we offered to take their pictures for them. Then we biked to Charlotte and Reed's place where they fed us and helped us recover. A good day.
Highlights - having Charlotte and Reed support us the last few miles, and cooling off with the water from the temple reflecting pool.
Saturday, July 16th - Salt Lake to Logan. Harry and Nef met us at the Salt Lake Temple to ride with Mike. Amy and Anne saw them off with me and Amy joined me in the support vehicle. Joel met Mike to join the ride within a few blocks. At the Bountiful Temple, we met a group of young women who were driving to as many temples as they could. They got a kick out of seeing the bikers ride up the same road they had driven.
In Layton we went past the house we had lived in and restored for 13 years. The family who has it now has done wonderful additions to it. They let us go in and look at what they had done. It was nice to see such a home in the hands of people who love it so much.
The Ogden Temple was a construction zone, Brigham City Temple is taking shape. We sat next to the irrigation ditch across the street and cooled off while remembering wading in irrigation ditches when visiting grandparents. Mike was born here, and we wondered where that hospital was.
Once the bikers had made it to the top of Sardine Canyon, and refilled with cold water, they blasted past us at the next support stop calling out, "See you at the temple!" Logan Temple was closed for maintenance, but some of the grounds workers let us in for a picture. It was nice having the place to ourselves. We talked about this temple and this place. My dad was born here.
Highlight - Our dear friend Nef telling us that he was dedicating his ride to his cousin who had recently died. He was only in his 40's, had a young family, was healthy, but cancer had taken this good man. I like seeing people deal with loss in positive ways.
Monday, July 18th - Logan. Mike Perdue and Mark Bolton, along with Juanita Bolton, son Trevor and friend Wyatt, met us at the temple for an early start. It was a beautiful morning. When I stopped at a store to pick up supplies, the clerk there asked me about my Temple to temple jersey. Then shared with me several amazing experiences she and her family had had at some of the temples. A little moment of grace.
We met up in Preston where Juanita and the kids enjoyed looking for Napoleon Dynamite souvenirs. Wherever we stopped, the kids would find a way to have a great time. It was fun to see them play. The Boltons had their RV, so we always had a place to set up to make lunch.
We drove and rode through National Forests, green valleys and historic towns. It was nice to be out of the cities and in gorgeous country. I drove a little way off the route to Paris, Idaho to see the historic tabernacle there. It was built by a shipbuilder that had emigrated from Europe 150+ years ago. It is nice to see the pride these little towns have in their historic buildings.
As the day went on, the bikers got further apart, and we had no cell phone coverage. I was trying to shuttle over 20 miles between Mike and the others. At one point, Mike was out of water and waiting for me at Salt River Pass. He went up to an RV that was parked there and asked for some water. They were some kind Norwegian tourists who insisted he take 2 bottles of cold water. I got there a few minutes later and he took some time to rehydrate. With support the other two made it to the pass. It was a beautiful place to end the ride for the day.
We had to keep a close eye on one of the bikers who was not recovering well. But he was better by morning.
Tuesday, July 19th - Afton, Wyoming to Jackson. Mike enjoyed riding Trevor's bike while we finished breakfast. I think the bikers were glad with the way today started, 15 miles coasting downhill. Riding through Star Valley and then along the Snake River was stunning. It was greener than I have ever seen, and the river was high and dramatic. Everyone did well, and we made it to Hoback Junction, where the Boltons and Perdues (Michele and daughter Tana joined us here) were camping, in good time. Mike decided to keep riding his bike on to Teton Village to where we were staying in a hostel. I went ahead, checked in and unloaded in time to walk out and greet Mike as he came in on the bike path. This is a beautiful place at the south end of Grand Teton National Park. 5 minutes after Mike got there, a furious storm hit with stinging rain blowing sideways. Nice timing.
Highlight - Talking with a woman in Afton whose sister organizes biking events, and will teach us how to get sponsors and raise money for humanitarian causes. Several people have asked if we were raising money for something. I think it's a great idea, so I will work on that with anyone who is willing to help me.
Another highlight was coming into view of the Tetons and the stunning cloud formations over them.
Wednesday, July 20 - Jackson to Yellowstone. Since Mike loves riding through this country, he rode into Jackson to meet the others for breakfast, then back out with them to ride through Teton Village into the Park. At the park entrance, we put all the bikes on the rack, and the three riders crammed into the car until I rode into the park. It was quite a feat.
Grand Teton is beautiful, and we soon learned to avoid the crowds. An amazing thing about this park is that the perspective and view of the range changes with each mile. So as I was stopping every few miles to support the riders, I was seeing new angles of canyons, peaks, snow fields and lakes.
After leaving Teton, I was waiting for Mike at the entrance to Yellowstone so I could drive him in. A motorcycle club drove into the pull out to take pictures. They all went nuts over our dog Sam. They were fussing over him and giving him treats and talking about their dogs and how rescued dogs are the best. Sam was loving it, until they got on their motorcycles and started them up, then Sam wanted to eat the tires.
Mike and Mike both got there for me to drive them into the park. Just inside the park the Mikes went swimming under some falls next to the road. It refreshed them for the final climb and 22 miles to West Thumb. After we all met up there, we split up for the night. Mike and I were staying at West Yellowstone. Unfortunately, the Boltons and Perdues had no cell reception so we were hoping we would somehow know where to find each other the next day.
Can I just say how glad I am that Mike really wanted to get a hotel room with a full bath rather than camp out after a long ride.
Thursday, July 21 - Rest Day. We were hoping to see some of Yellowstone, leave Sam in the air conditioned RV while we rode the tandem for a few hours, then see more of Yellowstone. We were able to see many sites on the Grand Loop, including elk, bison, moose and bears, but were not able to meet up with the others, so there was no way to leave Sam. We finally found the others when we were waiting for Old Faithful to be faithful. After dinner, and arranging to meet in the morning, and seeing Old Faithful do its thing, we walked the geyser trail as the Sun set. The mosquitos tried to carry us away, but it was beautiful seeing all the geysers. As we drove back out of the park, we saw a wolf, and a herd of bison walking down the middle of the road, with a police escort. Good night, World.
Friday, July 22 - Yellowstone to Cooke City, Montana. Today would have been Dad's 78th birthday. He has been gone now for 10 years and I miss him more all the time. We continue to add things to his website EugeneEngland.org and I dedicate my part of this Temple to Temple Ride to him and the difference he made in the world.
Each day just gets more beautiful. Driving into the park as the sun rose, steam was rising off the river which had been heated by the hot geyser water that flowed into it. We saw a mother elk and her tiny calf next to the road, with steam rising behind her. As we drove by middle basin, a large geyser erupted and poured into the stream. Maybe Dad was saying hi.
Soon after the bikers met up and started, I drove ahead. There in the middle of the road was a huge bison, slowly walking forward. I passed it and pulled off to get a photo of Mike passing it. But he rode by me as I got out of the car, pausing with a huge grin on his face and saying, "Wow that's cool!" before taking off. I was able to get a photo of Mike Perdue with the bison. At one of the viewpoints I was able to see a mother grizzly and 2 cubs playing in a meadow next to a bison herd.
When I was waiting for them at Dunhaven Pass, I met some retired couples who were riding their bicycles through the park, carrying all their gear with them. These couples were definitely enjoying their 70's. They would sing as they were riding to keep the wolves and bears away, since we could see bear sign all along the road.
After lunch we were on the road in the northeast corner of the park. This is where there are the fewest people, and the most bears and wolves. At one viewpoint, I stopped to looked at a huge herd of bison, hundreds spread over a long distance. Then I noticed a large grizzly in a meadow next to a bunch of mothers with calves. As it got closer to the calves, the mothers ran them off and a number of male bison moved to surround the grizzly. It was fascinating to see him try to get through them and there was a skirmish before I drove off. It was a great National Geographic moment, but I was a bit worried about the guys riding their bikes on this lonely road with bears around.
Most terrifying moment - after seeing Mike just before he left the park, we agreed he would wait for us at Cooke City. There the three bikers could decide how much further they would ride today. After checking on the others and going back to the little town, I could not find him. I went back and forth, in and out of town before seeing him in front of one of the cafes there. It was an emotional day anyway, thinking of Dad and how much he would love all this. But that part was not fun.
After they rode 15 more miles to a great waterfall, we drove to a cabin that a friend was loaning us. There were bear tracks around the cabin, and a large fox that would boldly come up to us because the neighbor fed it. So we decided to keep Sam inside.
An amazing day, with much to be grateful for. Happy Birthday, Dad.
Final day. Saturday, July 23rd - Beartooth Pass to Billings, Montana. In every direction we saw different dramatic mountain ranges. Several times I heard the guys say, "I can't imagine it getting more spectacular, and each day it does." The 27 mile climb to Beartooth Pass went up through forests, rocky gorges, waterfalls, alpine meadows, hundreds of lakes, then snowfields as the switchbacks got sharper. I missed seeing Mike at the pass, which is really a peak, and I was several miles down the other side before I turned around to look for him. He was at the top, shivering and waving me down. I made him stay in the car and thaw out before he started the descent. I got a picture of the Mikes looking down at the sharp descent. After a 20 mile descent, we met up for lunch at the bottom, and they had an almost 60 mile stretch of long flat road into Billings. I led them along the farm roads that skirted the city, and we got to the temple at 6 p.m. Since it was closed for maintenance, we had it to ourselves. It was a quiet ending to this epic ride in a beautiful setting.
Mike will be posting the route and other links at temple2temple.weebly.com
In the end, it was almost 700 miles of riding, and over 32,000 feet of climbing, taking us to 11 temples and many heritage sites, meeting many people who asked many questions and shared so much with us.
Come September, we will head to Nauvoo where Mike and his brother will bike from there to Kirtland, Ohio. I could say, "What a long strange trip it's been", but it really has been a great ride.
On to the next.