After leaving Lander, we headed north to Grand Tetons National Park. We had one of our most beautiful rides, surrounded by the mountains, pine trees, and rushing rivers. Family friends, Jeff and Kathy of Jackson, took us out to a marina restaurant where we enjoyed trading stories of bicycle touring and environmental projects. Kathy has ridden the Northern Tier tour (Seattle, WA to Bar Harbor, ME) and extensively in the southern U.S. Thanks again for meeting up with us!
We spent the night in a hiker/biker campsite and then headed on to Yellowstone National Park. The tourist season is in full swing, which meant lots of RVs and loaded cars were constantly passing us on the narrow shoulder. For the first time on our trip, we were no longer the only travelers. We saw some neat wildlife, including moose, elk, and bison. We learned from Kathy that the best way to avoid getting gored by bison is to ride alongside a vehicle (making sure to tell the driver that the average bike speed is about 10mph). One sign commonly found in the park told us that bison can run up to 30mph and for those who think they can outrun the bison, that is three times faster than a person can run!
Our second night in the park, we met Andy, Gary, and Nick from upstate New York. They came to share our campfire and swap biking stories. We’ve since seen many more touring cyclists, including many who are touring the Pacific Northwest.
Soon after we faced one of the most challenging rides in a while, which took us over two passes on our way to Jackson, MT. Luckily we had the promise of soaking in hot springs at the end of the day.
One morning, the company Lightfoot bicycles caught our eye, as they had a recumbent bicycle (a more reclined frame than traditional bikes) sitting out by the road. We test rode a few of their bikes, including a two-wheel recumbent, trike, and cargo carrying model. They also gave us a tour of the shop, where we witnessed the frame-building processes. Their mission to build reasonably priced and practical vehicles that are outside of the mainstream is inspiring.
We finally made it to our much anticipated destination, Missoula, Montana! This city is the home of the Adventure Cycling Association, the creators of the TransAm maps that we are following. We were fortunate enough to find a place to stay on WarmShowers.org, and Brent and Bruce put us up for a few days in a beautiful home right outside of downtown Missoula. It turned out that several of our trail friends had also been welcomed into this house. We enjoyed falling asleep and waking up to the jazz music played by the house members and sharing meals together outside. One night, a friend from college, Duncan, and his younger sister Molly, joined us for dinner. We had a great dinner of pasta (with local vegetables from Turner Farms) and enjoyed hearing about Duncan’s trail work through the Montana Conservation Corps.
We found Turner Farms via Localharvest.org, a wonderful web resource for finding farms, CSAs, and markets anywhere in the U.S. Erin Turner gave us a full tour of their 4 acre farm, which is right on the edge of Missoula. She explained that the surrounding farmland is being infringed upon by housing developers, causing controversy in the community. Due to the current economy, however, little development has actually occurred in the last few years. The farm started because the three Turner boys wanted to earn money for a bunk bed, and soon realized how profitable selling fresh vegetables could be. On their land, the Turners raise hogs, chickens, pumpkins, and a variety of other vegetables. This year they have a twelve-member CSA (community supported agriculture) program; the members pick up a bag of fresh produce every Wednesday afternoon. We helped put the bags together for the CSA while visiting the farm.