Riding the Going to the Sun Highway has been on my bucket list for many years. I wanted to hit it when I went down the Great Divide , but that was a missed opportunity. When I mentioned this to my partner, he agreed to go with me. My partner is a good cyclist, but not hardcore. The fact that he's interested in doing this truly thrills me.
I started the process by calling Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana. One of the employees, Vanessa, emailed me back with a lot of information. She suggested that I make sure I have bike rental reservations finished by mid-March. When I had the dates all confirmed and the airplane tickets, I called Glacier Cyclery. I actually got to speak to Vanessa, and she suggested altering my plans. My plan had been to start up as early as possible, believing that everybody had to be off the road by 11 o'clock and there were no other chances to go up. Vanessa noted that leaving early in the morning, it is cold and there's a lot of traffic that makes the trip up quite stressful. Adding to that stress is the time factor, requiring cyclists to be at the top before 11 o'clock. Vanessa also informed me that after 4 o'clock cyclists are allowed again on the road. She noted that it's a fabulous time to go up since the sun doesn't go down until 9:30 at night. She also stated that at 4 o'clock most of the traffic is coming down, and all the people who were rushing to go up to start hikes in the morning are gone. There was an added bonus on top of that; the alpine glow lends a beautiful hue to views on the way back home. We don't have to mention that I do not work for Glacier Cyclery... I was truly impressed by her knowledge of that particular road, and that she's done it several times. The bike rental situation is quite good, especially after I asked her for her advice in terms of timing. Also the rates are quite reasonable and they're going to rent us a bike rack for our rental car. I have had positive dealings with Glacier Cyclery previously, when I was on The Great Divide Route. They took a phone order while we were far away and very remote, for one of my companions who had panniers that failed. The panniers were waiting when we arrived in Whitefish, MT at Glacier Cyclery.
I am more excited to go than ever...
Sunday, March 05, 2017
Friday, August 26, 2016
Breakfast- tried something new. The spirally things are just steamed dough, no filling. Oh, well. I dipped them like I would have dumplings, in the red lightly spiced sauce, mixed with vinegar.
Tiananmen Square southern gate: Zhengyang Gate
Tiananmen sq: looking kind of stormy, but never a drop did fall.
The Tiananmen- first gate into the Forbidden City
I tried to use someone else's ticket they had purchased online for yesterday. Fail. After standing in line at the regular ticket purchasing booth, I was redirected to (via pointing to a little map of the Forbidden City in my Lonely Planet guide) the correct area for the line, which was also the wrong line, but at least I hadn't spent a lot of time in that line. Finally approaching the window I was told it was for the wrong day. BUT I handed the clerk my pre-prepared money and voilà, she sold me a ticket rather than making me go back to line 1.
The Fordidden City is as massive as the Summer palace, flatter, less interesting and even more crowded. I really liked the Summer Palace's lakeside setting, too. There were many of the same types of buildings, like the private opera stage for example, and the Summer Palace's example was in better shape. The Forbidden Palace had slightly nicer Rockeries, but it was much more difficult to get around, I think. The signage of each in english was comparable.
From atop the outer wall
Hall of Literary Glory? After awhile all the halls and gates started looking alike.
This must be where they are storing parts and pieces in preparation for some restoration project.
Outside the walls, on the other side of the moat.
Imperial garden; many are rockeries and almost bonsi trees. Very calming, they have a great dimensionality (making up words now) that flower gardens lack. There was actually one regimented plant garden, but it looked too regimented for my tastes.
The ubiquitous lion, but always fantastic when original.
Steps up the sides for the litter bearers; the emperor rode in the litter suspended over the beautiful carvings in the middle, usually dragons.
I totally did not photoshop that sky; Beijing on a low smog, overcast day. This is one of several sun dials.
This was a form of entertainment; cups filled with wine were placed in water filled channels, flowing from water kegs hidden in rockeries nearby to the building. If the cup lodged next to you, you drank the wine.
There are many of these wells distributed around the compound.
This again is the southern gate south of Tiananmen sq. (Front Gate- Arrow) It is one of my main landmarks.
I saw this in the hostel and laughed. My daughter has this exact image as a sticker. The young lady was from Italy, but bought it from the same website.