Sunday, August 19, 2012

Family camping trip

Cooling off mid-ride in the Bear River.

It had been quite a while since I'd been out of the Denver area. More than a year, actually. That is too long to be cooped up in any one place, so the chance to hit the road for a few days on a trip to Wyoming was more than welcome.

Our new-to-us minivan swallowed up the the seemingly half ton of random clothes, food, toys, books and other equipment essential to transport a family of four plus a dog in present day America. Of course, before we left I made sure a couple of bikes were stowed within the cavernous cargo hold. Say what you will about minivans, but I've found this one to be quite handy, and the closest I'll ever get to owning the dream-mobile of my youth, a VW bus.  Besides, a used minivan may just be unhip enough to be cool.

This was our first road trip for both the new baby and the somewhat older dog. Both did remarkably well considering the many hours of driving. We took it easy, stopping every couple of hours to feed the baby and walk the dog. The division of labor by traditional gender roles saw to it that I was in charge of the walking and Julie the feeding. I think the result was appreciated by both adults involved.

A visit to Wyoming is a good reminder that no matter what time of year it may be, Wyoming is generally about a half season colder than surrounding states. Laramie greeted us with chilly sideways sprinkles of rain, accompanied by roiling greenish clouds. As it turns out, that was ideal ball chasing weather for Scout in a roadside park.

Wind and rain? No complaints here.

Evidence of a Laramie-based tinkerer thinking outside the box.
Eventually, we reached our destination in the Uinta Mountains near the Wyoming/Utah border and camping ensued. And, not surprisingly, so did hiking, cooking, and several bike rides. Sometimes, one activity led to another, as on our way back to the campsite from a hike, I took the opportunity to test the roadworthiness of the Pugsley down the highway on a mountain pass. I had no cyclecomputer or GPS with me, so I don't know my attained speed, but I do know at terminal velocity the fat tires were humming like a freight truck with the hammer down.
At Mirror Lake with Bald Mountain in the background.

A formerly wily bucking rock now tamed by a cowgirl.

Little sister finally big enough to be held by big sister.

A rare non-self-portrait of me riding at the beginning of the Pugsley's land speed record ride.

A speeding fatbike is a rolling conundrum of gravity and friction.

One of the primary objectives of the trip was to get Big Sis out to do some real mountain biking. Our location had no shortage of doubletrack and fire roads, so we made the most of it. I continue to be amazed at her skill and persistence when confronted by new obstacles. She powered up climbs and sorted her way through cobble fields with confidence, as if she had much more experience than she actually has.
Riding through a picturesque stand of aspen. 

Indian Paintbrush, the state flower of Wyoming, stood out along the trail.

Deftly handling rough cobble like a pro.

Mastering the art of the out-of-saddle climb. 

Back at camp, she also excelled in post ride relaxing. Scout, my other riding partner, is no slouch when it comes time to take it easy, either.
Roasting marshmallows with Grandpa.

My cowgirl enjoyed helping me to keep track of the coals.

Curled up into a furry little ball.

Putting those almost 2nd grade reading skills to work in front of a nice fire. This is the good life.
On the way home, we stopped in Evanston long enough for a ride or two. The surrounding high plains desert landscape typifies southwestern Wyoming, and trails are invitingly cool during late summer evenings. The landscape has a range of muted, dusty colors with occasional interjections of small, vibrant flowers and even turquoise deposits of oxidized copper ore. The terrain is pretty, but unforgiving.
This toughed-up old Volkswagen seems like a fun car for arid and mountainous southwestern Wyoming.

The Pug ate up the dirt around here, but the ever present cactus made me wary.

View from the top of a ridge overlooking Evanston, Wyoming.

When we rolled back through Laramie, the rain was gone but the wind remained its old dependable self. However, while exploring some of the superb multi-use paths in the area, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many sections have been designed to seemingly reduce the effects of the wind. Not only that, but the paths are among the finest I've seen anywhere; well constructed, marked, and designed to be useful for commuters and recreational bicyclists alike. Laramie has long been a bit of an unsung sleeper-hit of a bike community, but recent efforts to improve bike infrastructure may bring it into full blossom.
Mommy and baby enjoying a visit to the Laramie River.

I was a bit surprised to find a system of well-implemented paths in Laramie, niceties that didn't exist when I lived there.

This little pointy-eared dog is an ever eager riding companion.

When we returned home, we caught the Western Welcome Week parade. As in previous years, we were escorted by our cowgirl on her aluminum steed. Not a bad way to end summer vacation. Tomorrow, school.


  1. Great post. Glad you guys were able to bust out for a few days.

    "A speeding fatbike is a rolling conundrum of gravity and friction." Most eloquently put, sir.

    The mow-bike is gorgeous. You have no idea how much time I have spent dreaming about such a machine.

  2. I thought of you and your high-velocity fatbike experience while I was rocketing down the mountain pass. It felt dangerous and exhilarating, but I don't think I topped 35MPH. Maybe not even 30. I can't imagine your courage (or something else) on a loaded rig going even faster.

    I wanted to seek out the owner of the mow-bike, but wind and pelting rain compelled me to hurry along. I think it was a Magna brand cheapie just bolted to the mower. Looks like it could benefit from some reinforcement, but the general concept is laudable. It seemed to have been recently used.