This trip began as what I thought would be an individual feminist journey, where I proved that women could be solitary and strong, and I would do lots of soul searching and stay real lonely.
(Most of the feminist points are already outlined nicely here: http://againstthegrind.com/blog/)
Anyway, it's sort of been how I imagined it, except I am almost never alone. I'd like to talk about some of the people I've been interacting with, because they're awesome.
First, all of the wonderful new friends I meet at rest stops and roadside attractions... i.e. cookie wielding moms, retired ranchers force feeding me finger sandwiches and iced tea, that cycling veteran who told me I would be a legend for decades to come, motorcyclists giving me raised fists of glory, other cyclists trading advice and stories with me.
Please let me tell you about this saint I met - my Most Gracious Host Caleb Klaus of West Yellowstone Mt.
EAT AT HIS RESTAURANT, 'CAFE OLD TOWN'!!!! Seriously, this guy was pretty much a stranger, and besides lending me top notch hiking gear, storing my bike, letting me sleep on the floor of his really cool 1800s log cabin and driving me all over the place in his crazy old truck, he cooked me the most delicious meal of all time - we're talking fresh trout and chocolate souffle, everybody. P.S.! If you are on bike tour and eat at Cafe Old Town, you get a 20 percent discount, so you know it's worth it!!! Go there!!!
I would also like to express my admiration for two lovely ladies, Mi and Kelly, (http://appetiteforadventures.com/) who are the only the only other women I've seen cycling without male company. They have been doing it for four or five months on old mountain bikes, carrying full cooking gear and making coconut milk curry every night. Dude!
In the park, I met two young Swedish postmen who are absolutely killing it coast to coast. They managed to get sponsored by some clothing company and the Swedish Post, never pay to sleep and have great taste in beer and conversation. Their English language blog is airbournewithme.wordpress.com. YES!
Last night in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, I was happy to be able to find a campsite at Sweet Water Station, a historical area memorializing part of the Mormon trek. A bunch of Mormon missionaries live there, and every summer hundreds of youth group kids come for a sort of living history re-enactment church camp. So there were hundreds of teenagers and adults pushing handcarts around in pioneer garb. I got to watch a bunch of videos about the area (in air conditioning!), talk to the world's sweetest people about Iowa living and travel and ranching, and they even invited me to eat dinner in camp with them (best food ever, cheesy potatoes!). I was also practically drowning in offers of religious tracts and Books of Mormon by the end, but I was able to decline gracefully, having no room for extra literature in my bag. :)
And finally, the first leg of my trip so far wouldn't have been nearly so wonderful if my own worried mother had not conspired to extend the visit of my very special guy friend, the eternally chill Coyote Almitra, who taught me by example how to stay hydrated while biking up mountain passes, or else you'll get really sick and puke a lot, and proved that men can be useful after all.
Besides being an endless wealth of high fives at the tops of mountain passes and a sympathetic ear to my complaints of a sore butt, he also did my laundry for me once, which was nice, even though he did use weird smelling dish soap instead of proper detergent.