Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Give Blood! For Juvenile Diabetes?

Well, I'm in Utah now and the trip is going well.  Still haven't met any jerks and people are treating me with kindness at every turn.  Yesterday, I experienced two of the high points of the trip.  At Garden City, at the foot of Logan Pass, newlyweds Patrick and Shirlee Wyman stopped to talk and ask me about my trip.  At one point, Patrick asked, "How old are you?  I'd guess about 45."

I could have kissed the young fellow.  Man, shedding a few pounds hasn't hurt a bit.

Then again, I have to be honest.  Patrick and Shirlee aren't your typical newlyweds.  I mean, they looked like a sweet couple.  But Patrick is 80, and Shirlee didn't say and a gentleman doesn't ask.  They met on an internet site:  LDS.planet.  So I assume they're both Mormons.  It turns out Patrick is also a type-1 diabetic, but looks fit and trim entering his ninth decade.

That makes me feel good about my daughter's chances for a long and healthy life; and Mr. Wyman makes it clear, "The key to controlling the disease is exercise."  Then he turns pensive and admits he lost his daughter Wendy to type-1 diabetes in 2000, when she was only 31.  She died suddenly from a heart attack.

So I tell him I'm sorry and remember why it is I'm out here riding in the first place.

From Garden City, which sits on the shores of beautiful Bear Lake, you have to rise 1,800 feet in about six miles to go over the pass.  Then you get to coast down Logan Canyon, which has been carved by Logan River.  It's a beautiful ride.

I mentioned two high points:  the other was at the top of the pass when I stopped at an overlook and had a nice chat with a couple from Australia.  Before we parted, the husband reached in his wallet, said, "I know this isn't much," and handed over a $5 bill.

It's the little gestures that reinforce my belief that humanity is good.

Last time I tried to blog I got rushed a little by an officious fellow at the library in Jackson, Wyoming (another member of the library staff had gone out of his way to help me load pictures).  So I didn't get to fully describe my visit to the Staeblers...or the blood that flowed later.

Joking aside, a REAL high point of the trip was visiting the Staebler family in Bozeman.  Sydney, as I said, is a type-1 diabetic, about to turn 8 and enter second grade, her first time in a regular school.  (The family just finished a two-year trip around the USA, with father Dan working from his van "office" on computers every day and mom home-schooling Sydney and raising son Sam, 4.)

Mom, Rebecca, worries about Sydney starting school and how she'll manage her diabetes when she's away from home.  Rebecca worries a lot about her daughter and even after more than two years dealing with this disease (and raising two cool kids) I get the feeling she's still almost in shock.  I know that's how my wife felt, when our Emily turned up diabetic in 2005.

It's hard to believe.  One day you're raising a normal, healthy child.  The next you're looking at a lifetime of doctor's appointments and all sorts of potential medical issues.

Anyway, the Staeblers and their friends, Tim Bradshaw and Mary Lynne Wilmore--and the other people I'll mention later--are leading unusual lives, and I mean that as a compliment.  Tim and Mary Lynne also returned recently from a two-year journey around this country; and like Dan they're in computers and could still do their work while on the road.  Over dinner the five of us agreed that it's good to be adventurous and not just plunk down in front of a TV and let life pass you by.

The Staeblers make sure of that by dispensing with the TV completely in their home, although they do admit to an affinity for NETFLIX offerings "on demand."

It's a good way to insure you raise children who like to read and like to play outside and Sydney and Sam both take a role in raising the family's array of animals.  In my last post I noted that Sam had a pig named...and then left it out.  His pig is "Slugbutt;" and I, for one, love the creativity.  The family also has a llama, which keeps coyotes away, chicken, sheep and three goats named "Goat Boy," "Cutie" and "Mary."
Rebecca laughs and admits all three are males.

Mom is an environmentalist and health-concious.  So the family eats the meat they raise, which means they don't get any second-hand doses of steroids and antibiotics on their dinner plates.  They gather their own eggs and raise most of their own vegetables and for breakfast mom juices me some vegetables.  It's a long way from the day, when I was still teaching, and considered a Twix Bar from the stash I kept in my desk a good way to start the day.

Unfortunately, as Yoda once said, "To see scenery good and good people meet, pedal you must do."  So, after a good bit of procrastination, I was off again next morning, headed south toward Yellowstone Park again.  The ride up the Gallatin River was wonderful, rising generally, but only a gradual climb, the beautiful river nearby, white-water rafters to watch along the way. 

My plan is to do 80 miles and get close to West Yellowstone and re-enter the park the next day.  My check of Google Maps shows a campground along the way, right about where I want to find it.  So I enjoy the ride all day.  At the 50-mile mark I pass the last town where I might stop.  Bah!  I'm riding 80!  At about 60, I see cabins for rent:  "$50 for the night."  Pshaw!  I'm riding 80.

At the 75-mile mark I start looking for the campground.  Nothing.  At 80.  Nope.  I pass 82, 83, 84, 86.  I don't see no stinking campground!  And now it's getting on toward late evening.  I pick up the pace and zoom along with darkness settling down over the land.  Soon I'm trying to keep my tire close to the white line.  Then I'm bent low trying to see the white line. 

When I crest one hill I can see West Yellowstone lights far, far in the distance.  By now, I'm stopping to dismount when cars pass, or switching sides to ride in the dark, with lights behind me.  Finally, traffic coming out of West Yellowstone picks up and the headlights keep blinding me.  So I get off and walk when I have to.  Then, one last time, I aim for the side of the road to dismount and turn my wheel too much and go crashing to the pavement, bloodying my elbow and scuffing up my helmet.  (Better a scuff to the helmet than the head.)

So I walk, grumbling, the last two miles into town, arriving well after dark, and with almost every hotel sign flashing, "No vacancy."  I manage to get a room at the Brandin' Iron Inn, where a sign says:  "Room price established at check-in time."  I figure the clerk sees my bloody elbow and jacks the price up $25 and figures it's dark outside and sees I'm on a bicycle and adds another $25.

Call it the Rope-a-Dope Inn.  They charge me $134 for the night.

Otherwise, the trip is going great of late.  In Yellowstone they now have a policy to save camping spots at every campground except one for hikers and bikers.  So a couple of nights ago I had a chance to talk to Brice, a 125-year-old French hiker, a mechanic back home in Dijon, who is visiting the U.S. on a three-month visa and trying to improve his English.  Our other companion was 23-year-old David Rothschild, like me pedaling across the United States.  David and I talked politics (he's a liberal, too), environmental trends (he's an agricultural major and also studied environmental issues) and of course the trials and pleasures of bicycling across this great land.  Later a bicycle tour company at the next camp site sent over ice cream they had left over...and did the same the next day with breakfast.  Brice, the French hiker slept late.  So I never got his picture.  David, I will try to post today.

The kind gestures have been many along the way.  Ben fixed my shifting problem at a bicycle shop yesterday.  Back in Yellowstone the Shealy family stopped to talk, helped me form the O-H=I-O sign and donated to JDRF.  And in the Grand Tetons three young women out for a ride offered me a place to stay with one of their families when I hit Logan, Utah.  (I came up just short and camped at a Forest Service campground in Logan Canyon instead.)  Ken and his wife, riding around the USA on a motorcycle after selling their computer-technology business, treated me to great conversation at Coulter Bay campground in the Tetons.  And the Aho's gave me great cinnamon roles and an awesome breakfast sandwich at their deli in Montpelier, Idaho.

Sydney and mom.
Now I'm heading for Salt Lake City and then maybe an off day, before heading off along Interstate 80, across the Great Salt Desert.
Give blood whenever you can.
This is my route in the Yellowstone area.
Stopping near Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park.
Riding for a cause.  Grand Tetons.

Note the boats in the marina (lower left).  Grand Tetons.

The famous Oxbow in the Grand Tetons.

This would be a lot cooler if they added a little picture of a bicycler.
Closed school:  Ovid, Idaho.
Three states to go, including Utah.

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE!

(This single click takes you to my fund-raising page. There, click again on "donate to this event." Then click "Biking and Painting for Diabetes."


  1. John: Ah riding in the dark, coming into W. Yellowstone. That's the same road that, summer of 1966 and working at the W. Yellowstone Airport, renting cars, we'd drive them the 3 miles into WY, wash them at a quarter car wash, then note how well they would air dry when we hit 100 MPH heading back to the airport. Lucky you did not get passed by the car rental boys!

    Your pictures are equal to, or better than mine; boy, I do envy that ride through that part of our hallowed USA. Glad to hear you got your shifter fixed; perhaps you should have also gotten a head and taillite! Ride Safe, dear brother, Tim.

  2. So glad to hear that the Garden City-to-Logan day was so beautiful. Riding in the opposite direction, in rain and snow, it was one of the worst days of our trip. And glad to hear you got your shifter fixed.