This is a web page for Pilgrim 2001, also called Pacific Eastward, being the traveling by Avram and Elijah Brown on bicycles from Oregon to Maine in the summer of 2001.
Pilgrim 2001 Home Page
Directions: Since this is a simple web page, please scroll down, or use your browser's "Find in page" feature to get to the day's report you wish to read.
Aryae is an airline pilot and has been on a four-day trip to Orlando. He is on his way home. In the meantime they are going to a bike shop in Hamilton today.
Avram described the climb yesterday to Lost Trail Pass. They went 25 miles and climbed 3500 feet in four hours, a comparatively gradual ascent. The weather was all right for ten miles, rained for ten miles, and snowed the last five. There was snow on the trees and plants, but it did not stick on the pavement. With their rain shells and hoods it was not too bad, and they were working hard, which kept them warm.
Their arrangement with Jeannine was to meet at the top around 4:30 or 5. Since it was 3:50, they started down, a mistake. The temperature was 31 degrees and the wind 20 mph. Their gloves were wet, so their hands got too numb to squeeze the brake handles. They had to stop every five minutes to warm their hands. When Jeannine, Gail and Ethan found them, they were very cold.
They went to a Proclaimers performance last night and a church youth group tonight. They stayed until close to midnight and had a good time. Elijah was able to play a lot of guitar there -- he did not bring his guitar on the trip.
We went to Hamilton today to the bike shop and they repaired Elijah's tire, for the time being. The guy said it was more of a racing type wheel than a touring one so he may have more spokes break now and then.
Tomorrow I think we'll take it easy again because the boys are tired. Maybe we'll go to the lake for a little bit. At least the weather has become sunny. It is a contrast to the snow we had this morning.
The boys' mother told Jeannine she keeps thinking they are just over at the Blocks. Jeannine said, "That's how they act."
Today's report is from Jeannine Block:
Things have worked out so well with the boys being here. The little boys and I go to the VBS that the Proclaimers have had in the park in the mornings and then return about 11:00, just as Avram and Elijah are getting up (they didn't get home from the youth group until about 12:30 last night). Today we didn't do anything exciting but hang-out here at home. Avram and Elijah caught up on laundry, letter writing, reading, bike cleaning and repair (the trek up that pass really coated their bikes with gravel and grease), and resting muscles ( the Miracle Gel came today thankfully). Then when Gail came home from work and had rested she gave Avram a horse-back riding lesson...during a cloud burst. After a while the sun came out and a rainbow appeared and we ran to get our cameras. We all got at least one picture of Avram riding Toot under a fading rainbow.
Gail took Avram and Elijah to 203 (Youth Center) again tonight and they took her guitar with them and some decks of cards. They've been reminiscing about all the silly games they used to play as kids. Gail said, " You know, something I haven't said to any of my friends in many years is 'Can you come play?' Now it's 'Can you come pray?' " Avram said that it wasn't many years ago that he preferred reading to "hanging out" with friends like Elijah did, and yet here's Elijah now always reading and Avram likes to be with people. Gail suggested it was an age related phenomenon. It is so amazing how there has not been the slightest need to 're-introduce' themselves to each other. They act as though they still live down the street from each other.
We haven't taken them to see the lake yet and don't know if they'll want to tomorrow, or if they'll be getting going again. We haven't discussed tomorrow yet. I've been a little concerned that the next part of their trip will take them through some snow covered country. Bozeman got
14 inchesof snow and the trees are breaking and power is out. (This exact situation happened 2 weeksago in Missoula, but with high winds too.) They have to go that way to get into Yellowstone Natl. Park. I'm going to check the situation on the internet, if I can, tonight for them.
. . . Just one last 'Montana" experience to relate. The boys have been treated to wild morel mushrooms that we picked in the woods ( I fried them in a batter) and venison sirloin. Also tonight we had enchiladas with ground deer meat. I didn't ask them yet if they noticed a gamey flavor. I left a note for Avram to call.
Jeannine wrote this Friday night:
Well, they are on the road again. After packing up, fixing paniers and bikes, more planning and checking out road conditions, and finally calling Loren to see if he can drive down to meet them on Sunday, they were finally ready to drive up to the pass again and be on their way. They forgot the sunscreen they'd bought earlier, but I had some in the car and found a lightweight container to put it in. Then we said goodbye and they rode off towards Wisdom at
3:15 p.m.They're hoping to get to Jackson Hot Springs tonight where they can get a tent site and swim (without a reservation tonight) for $7.00. [Editor's note to parents: "they rode off towards Wisdom" has a nice sound to it, doesn't it?]
Last night at 203 (youth center) they took the video camera and, according to Gail, made a hilarious movie about an earthquake. Everyone there participated (even Isaac, The Serious One) and they laughed until they couldn't breathe. My brother Karl took the video home and is going to edit it so we can send it to the DeMartimpreys. I can't wait to see it. Gail said it was like being in some kind of time warp to be watching Avram and Elijah playing music with, and just messing around with, our Montana friends like Isaac and his parents. We've always compared Isaac to Elijah and Gail said after seeing them play music together for hours the other night, she sees even more similarities. Of course, they are both very unique fellows in their own personal ways. It was just very special for our dear friends to meet each other.
Just before they left I was checking their route on our map and noticed that they will go through Gillette, Wyoming. We have friends who moved from here to pastor a church there (they were in the Ukraine for a year before that) so I gave Avram their number and they may get ahold of them. Hope they can, because Dave and Rita are very special people....homeschoolers too. We didn't get to take the boys to see our beautiful local lake and Elijah didn't get that close-up picture of my friend's llamas from her ranch down the road from us. Oh, well. They need to come back sometime !!!! The first thing Avram said this morning was, "This was way too short of a visit. Way too short."
Avram says the scenery in Montana is his favorite yet. He said the prettiest part was the ride to Wisdom, but then he said the stretch to Jackson was real nice, and the then the part to Dillon was really pretty.
Elijah telephoned in the late afternoon
Avram also wished me Happy Father's Day, and said they will reach Yellowstone tomorrow night. A guy in Boise told them they should not have any trouble finding a campsite at this time of year. Avram says everywhere they have camped, the RV spaces are filled, and everybody else has a trailor. The tent sites are empty. There have only been one or two other campers in tents in the campground.
Avram telephoned in the evening. Today they rode
Elijah's story: There was no place for breakfast this morning, and later they passed a restaurant thinking there would be another -- there wasn't. It turned out they rode all day without food. (They had a good dinner of lasagna in an Italian restaurant before they called.) Their father repeated his admonition that the most important thing they have is not their bicycles -- it's their health.
There were no lights in the campground, and they tried to follow the directions the man had given them, in the dark. There was one light, for the sign to the campground, and it illuminated a big tree that was shaking in the wind. It was the only thing they could see, and it looked like the Burning Bush. They heard the sound of the river, and the hill was sloping down -- they set up their tent in the wind, pounding the pegs in securely.
Avram suggested they eat in the bathroom, as they had the key, but Elijah didn't want to eat in a bathroom. Avram thought they should check it out. They went, and stepped into the most beautiful campground bathroom they had ever seen. The walls were wood, there were flowers next to the sink, there were some chairs, it was warm and out of the wind. They ate their bags of salad, the kind with a packet of dressing in it, and cold hot dogs. Elijah tried warming a hot dog under the hot water faucet, but it made it wet and not very good.
They took showers and went back to their tent. By this time there was a driving rain. The tent has a fly to keep rain off, and their panniers kept dry under the wing of the fly. The rain was pattering on the fly, and it was a cozy night inside the tent.
In the morning
Avram writes on August 20:
Entering Yellowstone felt epic because it conveys itself as the heart of the pristine Rockies. After amusing the waitress at the Old Town Cafe in W. Yellowstone by the size of our order for breakfast, we rode east (or would that be obvious for this trip) into the park. Here we passed our smallest State sign yet, as Wyoming's border in the park was inconspicuously indicated by a small park sign. The road followed the river closely, making a fun ride for bikes.
Choosing to go north at the junction to loop the park put us into road construction. We rode on dirt past a line of about
50 stoppedcars--and a stopped buffalo. I had forged forward when Elijah stopped me to point out that what I had thought was a mound of dirt was a large recumbent bison chewing its cud--about 10 feetoff the road. You are somewhat less protected on a bike than you are in a car.
We managed through the five miles of torn up road to discover that the rest of Yellowstone's roads even when not under construction are still pretty bad. From my journal: "Saw elk, ate lunch. Grew tired of the bumps and all the traffic in the late afternoon. Saw a Black Bear beside the road after getting ice cream at Hamiltons."
Entering the obviously full campground at Bridge Bay a man in a straw hat invited us to pitch our tent in his trailer site, and gave us some of his wife's chocolate cake as he looked over our route.
One day of terrible roads follows another. Our relief at leaving the Park's poor system left when we entered about 11 miles of construction=mud filled, potholed, dirt roads: not what our laden road bikes were designed for. The day does have the distinction for being the one we got the dirtiest on. We had an amazing descent leaving Yellowstone though, as terrifying as the scenery was stunning, and the canyons outside the park were spectacular. Dinner that day also stands out, as Elijah and I agree, as being the worst of the trip: unsure of when our next chance to find food would be, we stopped in a roadside diner which turned out to be a snobbish elegant rustic place serving things like duck in grape sauce, so we paid a fortune for tiny portions which were, even to our starving appetites, pretty tasteless. On the other hand, if that was the worst, we weren't in too bad a shape.
A couple eating there gave us some pointers on where we could camp for the night, and we set up our tent overlooking a river--was it the Elk River--and for the first time didn't need to put a fly on our tent. We tried to hose some of the grime off of our bikes, and slept with rocky bluffs on all sides.
A long ride through nothing. Cody is 16 or so miles from Wapiti, and then you cross central Wyoming to get to Greybull, some 60 miles or so with absolutely nothing in it. Barren, dry, under the unescapable sun. We broke out the subs we'd brought sitting down in the middle of nowhere and ate on the side of the road--
It was dusk when we got into Greybull, but we noticed on our way to the campground that the parish church had an early weekday mass, so we planned to catch it in the morning.
Aryae, their older brother, fills in some details:
On which day the brothers rode the longest climb of their ride in the Wyoming Bighorn mountains. A
25 mileclimb, climbing 5,000+ ft,and taking 3 hours, 56 minutes.The pass was about 9,300 ft.
Probably the most beautiful day of the whole ride for me. Also possibly Elijah's toughest, as he was suffering a miserable cold. It turned out we were at the parish of the Sacred Heart on the feast of the Sacred Heart--a beautiful little church. The pastor invited us out for breakfast afterward and reassured us that either of our two alternatives over the Bighorn were brutal. We decided on the tougher one, since this was our last pass in the Rockies, before heading out into the never ending plains, and set out for Granite Pass.
As I said, possibly the most beautiful day of the trip. We rode up through a stunning canyon which threatened to overwhelm us on each side--and when I say up, I mean we were crawling up one of the most grueling inclines of the trip. This broke open, after we passed a cascading waterfall, into an imposing vista behind us and an intimidating incline before us. We wove up through what seemed like planted gardens, pockets of wildflowers and shrubbery, interspersed in the cascading rocks. Finally as the climb ended, we opened out into huge rolling meadows at a heady altitude of
Saw our moose off to the left, a creature Elijah had been waiting to spot throughout the trip, as we descended to (need I say) the east. We were very disheartened by a false descent, where we dropped after the summit but then had to climb again for another good
40 minutesor more, which was far more than we were willing to take at the end of the day.
But the descent out of the Rocky Mountains was unforgettable. A massive Flat region opened off into the distance from our elevated perspective. For the first time we could see a distant horizon, as we melted out our brakes on a never-ending grade.
A shorter day during which Elijah struggles with a newly acquainted cold.
The night before when we rolled exhausted (and sick, 50% of us) into Dayton a Bed and Breakfast owner took pity on us at
9:00 pmand fixed us dinner before sending us to bed--much appreciated on our part (stay at the White Horse B&B,next time you need a spot in Dayton, Wyoming). Then in the morning we devoured a delicious blueberry french toast cobbler thing, before riding a tiny 22 milesto Sheridan, where we hoped to spend the day resting. Unfortunately I spent the afternoon in a bikeshop getting Elijah's spoke-crazy wheel adjusted; but we were able to find a Saturday evening Mass at Holy Name Parish.
Longest ride of the trip up to this point:
98.8 miles.Elijah and I were counting down to a century as the light grew low in the sky, but friends of the Blocks, the Berger's were kind enough to come and pick us up and bring us home to a pizza dinner, a washing machine (for the clothes), shower (for us) and the last half hour of Castaway.
Another one of those desolate days in the West: nothing for miles, wellwater that tastes so bad you mentally dethirst yourself to not have to drink it. But rugged has its own beauty.
We got a ride back to where we'd been picked up, 10 miles before town, and rode past a massive surface coal mine, where gigantic tractors look like micromachines rolling around far below.
Massive headwinds which had hindered us earlier leaving Yellowstone continued to plague us: where we had expected a late afternoon/evening arrival into Sundance we instead found ourselves still out on the Wyoming interstate,
past 7:00, past 8:00riding into the darkness up a gradual incline making itself known in the presence of a headwind which reduced our speed to 5.5 miles an hour. This is so much more devestating than a difficult mountain climb, because the climb at least you can see, but the wind just saps the energy and momentum from you so you just pedal into weariness without accomplishment.
So it was
at 10:00a police officer stopped us as we rode out from a Texaco where we'd bought chocolate milk and trail mix. Riding without lights is against the law. And we were invisible: we could hardly see eachother in the darkness. But he let us ride the 2 mileson into town to find a place for the night: we checked into the first hotel we passed.
The excitement of riding into South Dakota was that Aryae and Dad were going to meet us there--we planned in Pierre, halfway through the State: so we had a clear destination. This was our last day on the interstate: once we got to Sturgis we were able to head northeast on smaller roads.
90 some miles across rolling green plains: so many miles, and yet so little change. We actually were in hills at the beginning. We had to ride through a herd of cattle as they were being rounded up--cattle were with us this whole trip, from Oregon to, well, Vermont. But
The biggest surprise of the trip: as we ride on through nowhere, a truck coming on ahead pulls off and a couple get out: "Stopping to watch the sunset", I surmise, and then am surprised to see the sun still has a strong hour or two left in the sky. As we ride up to them, the man calls out, "Avram?" How do people in the middle of nowhere know who we are?
So they turn out to be Dad's cousins from Pierre, whom I'd actually met back
in '84when Dad and I had come out for a visit with Aryae. Terry and Frances had driven 100 mileswest to meet us, and brought with them bottles and bottles of cold water--incredible!
So we knew where we were heading to the next day, but before then we had: our most miserable night. Elijah's story on this is much better, so ask him about the night on the Cheyenne River, but we were on the side of the road in the tall grass with plenty of deerflies--and the humid heat never let up! We survived, and that's what counts.
Running out of water about
37 milesbefore coming to a town was the highlight of the day. We pulled into the ancient gas station and picked up about 12 beveragesto put on the counter: "Is that all?" the lady asked.
We rode into Pierre in the late afternoon: another
90+ milesweltering day. As we were navigating our way to Frances and Terry's house, Frances passed us on the road! How cool. She led us to there home, where we discovered Air Conditioning, and Showers.
Avram's and Elijah's father and their older brother Aryae, join them in Pierre at their father's cousin's.
What fun! Plus Frances has tons of family photos and records of Dad's Mom's family--so a whole new part of our family tree.
Aryae writes on July 10 about this day:
On which day we get up at 4:30am to get an early start. After a delicious and fortifying breakfast of eggs, toast, coffee, and grilled bacon (yay, Terry), we head out of Pierre and turn East on
Route 14.The sun was just rising and the air still cool. I had re-tensioned Elijah's wheel the night before, and after about half an hour we stopped so I could fine tune it. As the reader may know, Elijah has had a spoke problem that has reduced him to sputtering. That is to say, the spokes in his wheels have been breaking on an all too frequent basis, this leaving him short of words--and spokes.
After about 40 miles of riding, we slow for construction and stop at the flagger. We explain that if we wait for the pilot car, we will subsequently be left behind (in the asphalt dust, so to speak). We are let through, and cruise on new pavement in the middle of the left lane. At
55 miles,we pull into a wayside rest and collapse on the grass to stretch out, eat energy bars, and rejoice in the wind picking up at our backs.
After a fluid replenishment stop at a gas station, we notice a a dark cloud moving overhead, and a strong tailwind pushing us. We clicked into high hear, tucked down on the aerobars, and began to put in some miles. No rain ever developed, but we managed to stay with the gusts for some time...much more to write, but that's it for today (7/10). This day turned out to be the longest of the ride so far, and probably will stand as such
Obviously, the next day we were pretty tired and sore, but we put in a good
82 milesand entered an new state, the State of Minnesota, that is.
We pulled off the road to take a nap, laying down in the grass in the ditch, leaving our bikes by the road. A car stops and a lady jumps out to ask, "Are you OK?", to which Elijah responds, "Yeah, we're just taking a nap." This apparently wasn't what she had expected--to her we must have looked like a massive accident: three bikes tossed by the road, and three prone cyclists yards below them in the ditch: "Pretty dumb place to take a nap, buddy!" she yelled.
Here we did well,
130 miles,quite a lot of Gatorade. Dad carrying our luggage in the car these several days made an impressive difference in our trip mileage, as did the enthusiasm of the three of us riding together.
What an excellent day: a victory ride of just
50 miles,but in which the three of us marked the halfway point of our cross-country trip, and in which we rolled into the lovely front yard of our brother's house, wherein live 4 preciouschildren who call Elijah and me uncles.
Rest is good. Family is better.
Pilgrim 2001 Home Page
The author and web master is their father Dwite Brown.The URL of this page is case sensitive: http://www.psln.com/brown/pilgrim2.html