Archive for the ‘Travelogue’ Category
Posted on November 18, 2012 - by Nadia
Originally published in the Skagway News –
It wasn’t in the original plan, but it felt pretty good to step off the ferry at Skagway next to Stroller White. Together, we made our way through the crowded street to the Skagway News. More than a century ago, when Skagway was in its founding growth spurt and news overflowed its docks and saloons, The Stroller was a newsman at that paper, though he hadn’t yet adopted the name he would make famous in his column, Strolling Around the Yukon.
Skagway, and specifically, the newspaper, had been my destination for the past two months as I kayaked the Inside Passage in a three-part pursuit of my Klondike roots. It was a quirk of timing that my mother and father, who is named Stroller after his grandfather, arrived in Juneau in time to join me on the ferry to the finish line.
The Stroller’s name has some cache. The shoulders of Mount Stroller White square off above the face of the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. He spent years chronicling the personalities along the way to the Klondike, served in public office and pontificated about local politics for decades.
Posted on July 5, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 30: July 3, 2010
Lick Creek Campground to Joseph, Oregon
Joyful easy ride to meet Sarah and Michael for July 4th weekend.
Rubin and Mandy started my day with a cup of camp coffee and a doughnut and I was fueled for the morning climb and glide to see my friends.
The town of Joseph is mostly a tourist destination and this is its time of year. RVs and folks in a hurry to start relaxing are surging through town toward Lake Wallawa. I’m glad to be getting off the road and out of their way.
I hadn’t been worried about holiday traffic until people in Hell’s Canyon started talking about it, but now I see the wisdom in surrendering my shoulder space for this couple of days.
Posted on June 22, 2010 - by Nadia
Day 18: June 21, 2010
Tabiona Valley to Park City, Utah
Wolf Pass proved a nine-mile pull past a dozen great camp sites – mine was fine, but these would have been better. Life’s like that, you can’t keep looking around the corner for what might be there. The descent was a screamer into the land of Suburus and soccer moms. On the way down I realized I was looking at the back of Brighton Ski Area, the shoulder of Alta and the face of Park City. I had to call my friend Jan if I was that close to Park, so I did. About 20 miles and two monster hills later I pulled up at her door with a loaf of fresh French bread squished in half by a bungy cord on my trailer and a backpack full of produce for a salad. How great to stay with old friends!
Posted on June 7, 2010 - by Nadia
A herd of pink elephants whizzed by me as I crested Bobcat Pass, headed down the way I’d come. What a circus, I thought. Indeed, if those clowns survived the descent to Eagles Nest at the speed they were going, they may well have the last laugh. Yep, it was a carnival caravan going at break neck speed as I crawled to the pass. The climb wasn’t as bad as I’d feared, but the descent into the odd ski town of Red River was breakneck, made more breathless by booming thunder and a driving rain right behind me. I made it to shelter without a moment to spare.
Posted on June 3, 2010 - by Nadia
Summer Patterson is headed back to Paragon Lanes in Dickerson, North Dakota, after visiting Spokane for her grand twins’ third birthday. She manages the café at the bowling alley she and her late husband have owned for decades. Business is booming along with the rest of Dickerson’s oil field frenzy. She bowls with her women’s league team every Thursday. “I still enjoy it,” she said. “But the score isn’t what it once was.” She’s curled up with a pillow and one of the passel of new novels she bought at a used bookstore in Spokane. “I don’t know if I’ll be taking this bus trip again.” Since she turned 70 her joints don’t sit for long periods the way the once could.
Steven gets off in Shoshoni, Wyoming. A shaman and spiritual healer from Australia, he is riding a wave of hospitality and open doors in America. He hopes to spend time with Shoshone elders, sit in on a sweat, and maybe, if his luck holds out, see a Sun ceremony.
Robert and the nicotine club engage in a tug-of-war banter with the driver who is trying to make up for time lost to road work in Wyoming. “Are we going to get a smoke break, soon?” asks Robert. “Not until we make up some time,” the driver answers, for the third time. And Robert returns to his twin tasks of orchestrating a smokers’ coupe and making the blind guy laugh a lilting, happy giggle.
Lightning Lonnie Smith is only on the bus because his car broke down in Denver. He’ll be back to get it next time he comes up from Colorado Springs to coach at his boxing club. A two-time world boxing champion, Lonnie knows that plans can change.Smith takes title from Costello He lost his chance to fight for team USA when Jimmy Carter declared an American boycott of the 1988 Olympic Games. “Jimmy Carter cost me my Olympic gold, he said matter of factly. Lightning Smith has moved on from that.
The sleepy guy from Browning is headed to Texas to give his girlfriend some space. “It’s been getting too crazy up there,” he said. He texts her at every stop, thumbing through pictures of her on his phone as the bus hurtles through the deep southern Colorado darkness.
You make new friends on Greyhound, then wave them goodbye at the side of the road or a shuttered middle of the night depot. My 31-hour ride from Missoula to Clayton, New Mexico, was long but unmarred by the wierdos, creeps or inappropriate urinaters I’d been warned about. The baggage handlers at Denver cheerfully accepted my gratuity for watching over my bike and trailer boxes, freeing me to crash the bar scene at the Ritz-Carlton with Sandra Fish. I look like a homeless person, lugging my blanket and packs around, but the waitress at Elways is nice and we spend a couple of hours taking journalism.
I return to the station a couple of hours before my 11:50 p.m. departure time so I could prop myself up against my blanket and lounge on the floor with my new pals. Security guards order a woman to stop cussing in front of so many kids. Bus wranglers tell to the rest of us to stop bunching up and form a single-file line. It felt a little like a refugee camp.
The sun rose brilliantly across the green prairie of the Kiowa National Grasslands and Clayton slowly stirred to life as I stripped bubble wrap and rebuilt my bike and trailer. Tomorrow, with any luck, I’ll hitch a ride to Kenton and get this journey started.
Posted on May 31, 2010 - by Nadia
In 1891, Josephine Keys rode a horsedrawn wagon 45 miles across a prairie deep in sharp, tall grass, to catch the train in Clayton, New Mexico. She was 18 and leaving her parents’ house for the first time and headed to Sumner, Wash., to surprise her sister Annie, who had married a newspaper publisher named Rouseau. When the train came, Josie got on. She never returned to the Oklahoma-New Mexico river valley where she’d spent her late teens, but pressed on to a series of adventures that took her ever farther north.
Tomorrow night I’ll board the southbound 10:50 Greyhound, bound for Clayton, New Mexico, by way of a 31-hour slog through Butte, Billings, Casper, Denver and the big spaces in between. I know where the bus will take me, but I’m still trying to figure out precisely where I’m going once I get off it. The only thing I’m sure of is that I am not going to follow Josie’s route.
It’s hard to say what route that train carried her as it chugged across the many mountains in her way. In addition to the train lines that exist now, there were quite a few railways then that have turned to asphalt, bike trails or simply flat spots in the woods that sweep around a mountain. The southern route to California existed, and she could have taken it north as far as Sacramento, then patched together stage coaches and small rail on up the coast.
More likely, I think, is that she went north to Denver, then onto Cheyenne, Wyoming, and west on the Union Pacific’s famed Overland Route. The daunting Raton Pass rail connection had been completed the year before and the rail from Clayton aims right for it. It would have been shorter, easier and presumably cheaper than either the California route, or the arduous narrow gauge trains that ran through Colorado’s mountain mining districts.
Even today it would be easier, faster and cheaper to go that way. But that’s not what I’m going to do. That’s because in addition to being from a thrifty and pragmatic family, Josie had a sense of adventure. She was heading off on her own, to see what life outside No Man’s Land had to offer. Today, the route she took has become the Interstate corridors that contain I-25 north up the Front Range and I-80 west across the southern tier of Wyoming. It would have been a gorgeous and wild route at the turn of the century. Today, it is a high-speed corridor. Although the distant scenery is still striking through Colorado and Wyoming, it’s a busy route that I’ve driven too many times to consider biking it an adventure.
Instead of following Josie’s route, I hope to engage her spirit. My plan is to cut diagonally north and west, choosing interesting routes and talking with the people who have chosen to live off the fast lane. Instead of a train, I’ll be on my bike.
Here is a rough map of my route. Click on it, it’ll get bigger. After assembling my bike in Clayton, I hope to catch a ride to Kenton on Friday morning to say hello to some folks there who were especially kind to me when I visited in March. I’ll ride back to Clayton, a shakedown ride before beginning in earnest Saturday morning. After a second overnight in Clayton, I’ll head west, skirting north of Mount Wheeler, the highest point in New Mexico. From Kenton to Questa, New Mexico, is about 230 miles and that should pretty well get me warmed up in the first week.