highway 89 can take you from montpelier, idaho, to jackson hole, wyoming (and thousands of other places as well), and last friday I let it.
I've ridden that stretch on my bicycle 6 times now, and I was excited to drive it in april to relive those early-september experiences. yes, montpelier to jackson is a long segment of the annual Lotoja race held each september.
last friday it was cloudy, rainy, cold, sunless: weather I've never experienced riding my bike there. the weather was foreign, but the road was as familiar as a long-lost friend, almost every curve and bend and change of grade something I knew and remembered.
it's a long drive that calls to mind just what a challenge it is to travel this road by bicycle. I spent most of my drive in a mind drift, thinking of my cycling experiences, absorbing the quickly-changing scenery, and noting just how different things look from behind the windshield and in the plush leather(ette) seat of a car.
star valley surprised me the most: it's much wider and much more beautiful than I've ever noticed, especially at its southern end. that may be partially due to the snow dusting the tops of the western foothills, adding definition and relief to what may sometimes in the dusty brown of fall fade into itself. I may, this time, have also had more time to notice what was to my left and right and above me, as I trust the steady steering of my car more than that of my body upon my bike. it was beautiful, and next time I ride through the valley I will see and experience it differently.
snake river canyon--the most-used canyon in the jackson hole area--glistened with fresh rain and low-hanging clouds, the river its usual glassy green, thick with bubbles and white froth at the visible rapids. the road through the canyon flows up and down, its lanes--both car and bicycle--wide and even and smooth. in the car, as on my bike, I felt peace and joy to simply be there in this magical spot on earth. with the approach of hoback junction I know I'm close to the end, and this brings exhilaration tinged with a bit of sadness for the loss of all the beauty left behind . . . and then comes a view of the tetons, though friday they were ringed in clouds and visible only in my mind.
my soul and mind slow down in jackson hole. I love this place. I drove moose-wilson road, remembering the times I'd pedaled my way to the finish line. I lowered the window and breathed in cold, clean air, and shivered to be among the stately lodgepole pines.
and not a single cyclist did I see. so different than my usual transit to jackson hole, when I am surrounded by cyclists and cars, smiles and cheers and grimaces and sweat.
I breathed deeply, filled with appreciation for the changing seasons, for the fact that there is a time to dance, and a time to rest, time to sow, and time to lay fallow.