Boomers return to Grand County after 7,000 mile odyssey
April 6, 2017
"All good things must come to an end." That sentiment, first coined by the English poet and writer Geoffrey Chaucer over 600-years ago, is something with which the Boomer family of Grand County is becoming intimately familiar.
On Saturday April 1, at around 3 p.m. eastern time, Grady Boomer finally reached the Atlantic Ocean at St. Augustine Florida. His arrival at the coast marked the culmination of a 3,000-plus mile, 35-day journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. The trip was filled with adventurous joy for the Boomers who were driving across the wide-open expanses of Kansas on their way home when I talked to Grady Wednesday afternoon. Grady said he expected the family to make it back home to Grand County sometime Thursday.
When the Boomers do finally reach home they will have crisscrossed the US twice in the past few months; driving from Grand County to San Diego and then on to St. Augustine before turning around and driving back home to the high Rockies. Grady estimated the entire round trip at around 7,000 miles, give or take.
The last time I spoke to Grady he had recently entered the Florida panhandle and was in Pensacola. The low-lying coastal regions of Florida offered some of the best cycling territory Grady encountered on his entire trip.
"From a cyclist's point of view, Florida was absolutely the best state to bike through," Grady said. "They had really good bike lanes and bike paths everywhere. They were smooth and clean and traffic was really nice. It was such a pleasure to ride through Florida."
For Heather Boomer and young Kylee and Eli, though, Biloxi Miss. was the highlight of the trip. "Biloxi had these super white sand beaches," Grady said. "We had a great time playing on the beach there and hanging out. That was the family favorite."
Grady also highlighted Texas as a pleasant surprise on his biking journey. "I was really surprised by Texas," he said. "I thought it would be windy and dusty and flat. There was some really pretty country there. The hill country was beautiful with trees that were starting to flower. I thought Texas was going to be long, drawn out and windy, but it was nice."
Texas wasn't all sunshine and roses for him though. According to Boomer, out of over 3,000 miles of bicycling the short stretch through El Paso was one of the toughest parts of the ride for him as a cyclist. "El Paso was the toughest town to get through and was the least cycling friendly. I was riding on busy highways with no shoulders, with lots of traffic that didn't want a cyclist on the road."
Another challenging section of road was Louisiana. "In Texas the people driving were really respectful," Grady said. "There were not a lot of shoulders in Texas but most vehicles gave me space and slowed down. That changed as soon as I crossed into Louisiana. I have never been chased by so many dogs or run off the road so badly as in Louisiana."
The trip featured numerous highlights for the Boomers, including a somewhat harrowing and exciting experience in Georgia that occurred on the family's return drive home. The Boomers had just stopped in to a very large antiques shop in the Peach State when some intense weather moved into the area.
"There was a huge storm going through Georgia that had a bunch of tornados with it," said Grady. "We had just left the antique shop when the sirens went off. We ran back to the shop. They locked the doors up and took us down into the basement. Fortunately there was no damage right there, but there was damage around us."
Grady, who grew up in Minnesota, had some pervious experiences with tornadoes and the ominous warning sirens that accompany them, but for his wife Heather and the couples two children it was entirely new. "That was some excitement for us," Grady said with a chuckle.
Other highlights from the families drive home included stops in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Once the family crossed the Mississippi though thoughts of home took hold and the Boomers decided to push hard across the Great Plains.
The trip from San Diego to St. Augustine took Grady 35-days total, with three rest days, equaling 32 days of cycling. In the beginning Grady said he averaged around 85-miles per day, but as he continued further east and the topography became flatter his average daily riding distance increase, eventually climbing to around 95-miles per day.