Monday, June 28, 2010

Dew Boys!

Had a pretty cool run in just a little while ago. Sitting in the Library here in Dubois, WY. Went to get a cup of coffee and offered to Valet this older dudes quad.(4 Wheeler) Seems to be the vehicle of choice here in town. So he let me take it for a spin up and down main street. Pretty cool, I've never driven one before. Pretty easy to drive, all automatic.

Then we get to talking and he asked where am I from. So I tell him NYC and he starts to tell me about how he served in WW2 with a guy from Brooklyn named John Smolenski. He told me how the same day John was killed he took some shrapnel to his leg. He regretted never contacting John's family. He told me how he had only told that story to about a 1/2 dozen people in his whole life. He was pretty graphic in describing how he saw his friend go down and what happened when he went up to him after. They were both medics and medics didn't usually get fired upon. But he told how a sniper hit John right in his red cross on his forehead.

Orville is this gentleman's name. He said John was probably his best friend at the time. He remembered that John's family had a mortuary in Brooklyn. I suggested we come here to the library and look up his family. He was into it. So we hopped on his 4 wheeler and headed off to the library.

First off we had to get the spelling right. Tried to do some searches for funeral homes with that name in Brooklyn. Also searched for his name and nothing. Then I found a casualties page for WW2 vets by state. We went to the county of Kings and looked up the SM's. Sure enough we found him, KIA.(killed in action) Then we did a search with the correct spelling and found the funeral home in Greenpoint. I pulled out my phone and called. It was a new owner but she knew the family. They are all deceased except for a few cousins out on Long Island. So I put Orv on the phone with this lady Irene whose husband bought the business from the Smolenski's but has since passed away. She had been in the neighborhood for 50 years and knew the family. Orv gave her his phone number just in case she ran into or heard from any of the cousins.

This felt really good to help him get that off his chest. He told me that is something he had always wanted to do and regretted never getting around too. Felt like that show on MTV where they go around and help people turn a dream into a reality, The Buried Life. It was so funny, listening to this 86 year old cowboy telling the story to this woman on the phone in the middle of the library. He was talking so loud everyone knew what was going on.

Woke up today and said to myself I need a rest day. A true rest day! Everyday off has been running around and being busy checking things out. One of my hardest days of riding was on a day "off." My calf muscle felt like it separated from my bone yesterday when riding. Today it is feeling much better. I'm still super grateful to be happy and healthy this far into the trip. Today is day 50 of the trip and it has been a blast the whole way.

My phone is acting up quite a bit here in Wyoming. There is no AT&T coverage. Went to WalMart in hopes of purchasing the new IPhone. The lady in the electronics dept told me, "it cost to much for us to carry." Lady, there's $1000 flat screens right behind your head. Anyways since there is no coverage in WY I'll have to wait til I get to Seattle to get it. So my blog entries will most likely have to come from Library computers or wherever I can get Internet. That means no pix for a while. Also means no more Vlogs until I get to the coast.

Yesterday was a 75 mile ride from Lander here to Dubois. It was the best weather of the trip so far. My friend Lilly drove up from Boulder to hang out for the weekend. So that meant we had a car to do some exploring. Last night after the 75 mile ride we drove to Jackson Hole, WY. Lilly left Lander about the time we did and drove her car to Dubois. Then she hopped on her bike and biked towards us for about 30 miles. That meant she got a day of riding in as well.

The trip to Jackson was about 85 miles. We took the scenic route through Grand Tetons National Park. Those mountains are so majestic. The road we took is also the road we'll be biking on tomorrow so it was good to get a lay of the land. Jackson is a hot little town. The town square has four entrances that are all arches made of Elks antlers. They have been there for ages and we're collected by boy scouts here in WY. The rest of the town is a bit touristy. Tons of t-shirt and artsy shops to spend some loot. It sits right at the foot of the ski resort as well. Staring up at the green mountain with all the trails nicely groomed is quite a sight from town. Heard at least five different languages while I was there. Hasn't happened since I left NY. The ride back to Dubois was wild at night. There are signs to be careful the whole way. Watch out for moose, elk, bear and bison. We did get pretty close to a 500LB elk. The moon was almost full as well, so it was awesome to see all the stars and watch the moon reflect off the river on the side of the road that we were following.

It's a nice time to be here in WY. Supposedly it is never this green. There has been so much rain that all the mountains and hillsides are super lush. Truly a sight to see. Next thing I have to work on is figuring out which is going to be the best route to take through Yellowstone Park by bike. Not sure I want to do the whole figure 8. That is how the drive is layed out. Tough choices, I know.

Thanks for reading along! Hope to able to post something with pictures in the next couple of days. Have a great week, go out and live!


  1. Hey Ryan! How can I check out the Vlog????

  2. Ry, amazing story about orv. sounds like you are having the experience you were looking for-hope you see some beautiful lights on the 4th xxoo

  3. It is so awesome to do research about people that have gone before us, especially if it is in a good cause. So frustrating that none of the funeral homes had any information for you. Hitting roadblocks like that are enough to make one want to give up, but I'm glad you stuck with it.