Happy Holidays 2021

Dear Family and Friends,

What a year! We made it. High fives all around. We are grateful that the year has passed without major stumbling blocks for our families in the face of COVID. We hope to continue to have a healthy year in 2022 and find a way to keep a smile and an outstretched hand and heart to others. We wish you and your family a healthy and happy 2022 as well.

We spent most of the year at our cabin and enjoyed the usual winter sports and summer activities. Like every where else, Serene Lakes saw a large influx of home sales and new families moving in. It felt like a real community as we had opportunities to meet and get to know our neighbors during walks, bike rides, and driveway parties. In the past, it was a vacation community with families only coming during weekends. Now there are many more permanent residents living here year round.

Chickadee daily feeding of peanut butter and seeds to help them make it through the winter
We hosted two socially distanced drive way parties at the cabin. We cooked pizzas and chicken

During the summer we took a two week van trip to Oregon and visited our friends Eric and Katie in Corvallis and a short visit to see Jasmyn (a JGI colleague of Erika’s) and her family in Portland. Corvallis is a gravel bikers dream destination with miles and miles of trails close to town. Let’s keep that a secret so as not to attract more cyclists. We also went on a month long van trip to the south west in Utah and Colorado for mountain biking in the Maze District in Canyon Lands National Park and road cycling in Colorado. Another little cycling insider tip we will share with you: Colorado has many cycling/hiking bike trails that are long and spectacular. Amazingly all 50 miles from Frisco up and over Vail Pass was on a bike trail and even included a climb peaking at ~10k ft. Another two scenic bike trails both start in Glenwood Springs, one goes East along the Colorado River and the other South all the way to Carbondale. Back in Glenwood Springs there’s a Hotsprings resort which includes a super fun inner tube course for adult children :). Though it’s not a designated bike trail, The Colorado National Monument is a more scenic bike ride than the Grand Canyon. Really! The road is positioned right along the canyon rim and if you’re not careful you may end up in the canyon. We closed out the trip with a visit to Bishop, CA and enjoyed seeing our friends the Schober’s, mt. biking at Matt’s playground, and visiting the White Mountains.

Gravel riding month old growth trees in Corvallis, OR
A challenging day long scramble/hike in the Maze district of Canyon Lands lead to a large intact petroglyph panel.
View from Colorado National Monument. It’s a must see if you’re in western Colorado and it’s better by bike.
View of the rockies near Ridgeway, CO while riding “Ride the Rockies” bicycling event.
Off the beaten path in the White Mountains in Owens Valley. Great views of Mt. Whitney with few people.

In September we joined 25 cyclists on a two month 2,600 mile cross country cycling trip on the Southern Tier bike route from Santa Monica, CA to Savannah, GA. Our favorite adventure tour bike company, TDA Global, offered the ride. We were spoiled on the tour with great support from the 5 TDA staff. They cared for us, made excellent food, and created a scenic off the beaten path journey across the country. Our job was easy, ride and set up our tent at the end of each day. The daily average mileage was 70 miles. The trip had a few challenging sections: West Texas head winds, rattling chip and seal roads throughout the ride, and fast driving cars with narrow shoulders to ride on. The best part of the trip was to see the country slowly by bike and share the experience with a great group of people. We laughed, commiserated, huddled together on cold nights and mornings around the fire, and enjoyed the awe of sunsets and sunrises in the desert. It was an uplifting experience and it renewed our faith in America and

American people. We found on the trip that one-on-one people are good, friendly, and very caring of each other no matter their political affiliation or location. We cyclists were offered money, food, free meals, a helping hand, and encouragement all along the way from strangers we met. A few middle fingers from impatient drivers as well but those events were not as memorable as the positive experiences.

Favorite part of the ride for Erika: riding on lonely backroads with few cars, exploring on foot the many campsites and towns we stayed in, spelunking in Carlsbad caverns and riding the Gravel sections!

Mayumi: Cycling in CA desert: few cars and barren like landscape scenery to look at. Falling to sleep to the sound of howling coyotes. Unobstructed sunsets and sunrises.

Erika leading the pace line through the hot CA desert near 29 Palms. Picture taken by TDA photographer Coby
Large Satellite array near Socorro, NM. E.T. phone home! Picture taken by TDA photographer Coby
Climbing to Flagstaff from Sedona. Beautiful and challenging ride. Picture taken by TDA photographer Coby
Arizona was full of surprises! We saw many tarantulas on the rode, rode through many forests, and rode through high elevations and had cold mornings and evening from Flagstaff to New Mexico
The camping in tents was great but a night stay in a hotel was a real treat! Time to wash clothes, retool bikes, and relax. Socorro, NM.
Drying chilis in Hatch, NM. It was harvest time so we were fortunate enough to see the chilis being harvested. A stores we visited had a wall full of different jared salsas. YUMMY!
One mile deep in the caverns.nIf in West TX, a visit to Carlsbad National Park would be worth an overnight stay to see the thousands of bats fly out of the cave. We did not see them so we need to come back. Picture taken by TDA photographer Coby
Spotted an Alligator watch in a small body of water near Boutte, LA. Luckily the TDA lunch truck was near by and Micah on the TDA staff was able to take this picture.
The gulf coast was beautiful surprisingly cold. Picture taken by Drone photograph taken by TDA photographer Coby
After two months and 3,700 miles of riding we made it to the end point in Savanah, GA. It’s always bitter sweet to end a ride. The group became a family and it’s hard to say goodbye to the people and the adventures on the road. Picture taken by TDA photographer Coby.

We are happy to close out 2021 and look forward to adventures that life brings us in 2022. We wish you a healthy and prosperous 2022. Keep on keeping on! Best of everything! Erika and Mayumi