What do you miss most from our residential life?
Old Man: Being clean.
Me: Baking- all aspects of it: the act of baking, the smell of it, and the consumption of it.
Sissy: A home that is always waiting for us.
Otter: My building toys.
Tango: Having a chimney for Santa.
Lil’ Mo: All of my stuffies (stuffed animals) and sleeping in a normal house.
What do you like most about the bike tour?
Old Man: The sense of adventure and seeing new things.
Me: The feeling of triumph after getting up a big hill or overcoming an obstacle; the scenery.
Sissy: Being able to enjoy the scenery without zooming past it.
Otter: Whittling things.
Lil’ Mo: Staying in hotels and seeing Ramona’s family.
What are you looking forward to next on the bike tour?
Old Man: Seeing more of Idaho.
Me: New scenery and the possibility of meeting up with friends along the way.
Sissy: The FLAT plains, with no hill climbs.
Otter: Going through Montana so we can fish.
Lil’ Mo: Eating and camping.
Holy moly, these last two days have been brutal! We logged 89 miles in the last two days and broke ourselves multiple times (a better figurative description would be compound fractures, really). There was no alternative: no campgrounds, no hotels, no public land, no friendly farmer allowing our tents in his orchard. We climbed 4,000 feet in the first 41 miles, most of that climb was in the last half along a steep road of 5-7% grade and switchbacks. The second day we climbed roughly another 1,000 feet along rolling hills and against an unrelenting headwind (*side note: tandem bikes lose their momentum much faster than single-person bikes, and the nature of their design limits the ability to get out of the saddle to more aggressively compensate for that loss). The consolation during the torturous ascents were the epic views. The pictures below do not do them justice. The vibrancy of the colors, the roads so lightly traveled, and the overall bucolic peace cannot be captured in a photo.
We did not document our slog across the Camas Prairie as we had reached the point of ‘get-the-day-done’, and the final 11-mile descent at the end was too needed for morale to interrupt for a picture break, though it was quite surreal in beauty. However, I’ve learned I need to track the boys’ shadows in addition to the road ahead of me during any speedy descent, as I briefly looked behind me to see the boys joyfully not holding onto their handlebars. <insert: parental snarl> It’s all fun and games until someone loses an arm….
I worried that the hearts and minds would not be recoverable following such trying days back-to-back, but my worries proved unfounded. By the time I finished making breakfast and doing dishes this morning the kids put together and performed a talent show for me. It was Sissy’s directorial debut. She presented Singing Lil’ Mo (Jingle Bells, Bingo, Crocus Crocus, Miss Mary Mack), complete with a dandelion bouquet microphone; Otter, The Boy Who Can Engineer Anything (he built a lean-to in the blink of an eye); and Tango, The Boy Who Can Turn into Anything (cat, warrior, baby hippo, fish, and human). The show homed in on their individual personalities and talents. While I was fretting and singularly looking for rainbows along the stunning horizons, I should have been looking at the four blessings buzzing around me, humbling me with their resilience, for reassurance that we can and will endure.
Tomorrow we enter a prolonged area with minimal services, but with much more reasonable daily goals. Internet and cell service will be rare, so there will be no posts, texts, or emails for a while. We will be progressing slowly, with a trailer heavily laden with food, eyes wide as they take in the amazing scenery, hands firmly on handlebars, and hearts full knowing our strength comes from a source greater than us.
I can do all things through him who gives me strength. (Phillipians 4:13)