Major Milestones in Wyoming + Melody’s Musings About Bears & People


MARK (Day 18/19)



The past couple of days are a blur!  So many wonderful things have happened and I can hardly keep track (made harder by the fact that we didn’t have the much internet access or cell phone service in the wilderness over the past few days). I got to witness (and film) some of Mark’s biggest accomplishments of the #OregontoDelaware trip. I was so excited for him to reach the 1000 mile mark that I had to take a picture of both of us at the moment.  I also gave him a personalized Swiss army knife to celebrate the accomplishment.  You never know when that kind of thing will come in handy, right?

1K milesmark knife

Later that day Mark reached the peak of the Teton Pass and I had a hard time filming because I was so excited for him (yet again the problem of being the filmmaker and the wife!).  That night we camped in the forest and celebrated quietly in an incredible spot in Jackson, Wyoming called Curtis Canyon Campground. Did I mention it’s on the same land as a national Elk Refuge? Truly memorable experience.

US at curtis canyon

Me and my honey

By the way, that view costs only $12 a night, if you can believe that. Priceless.

While taking in the impending rainstorm,  we met David an avid skier, mountain cyclist and artist from Vancouver who was sipping wine on the incredible overlook.  He told us a story about a face-to-face meeting with a bear in the woods and said the only thing that saved his life was the bear spray he carries with him everywhere.  I was thinking that everyone has bear stories like “fish tales” but I believe him.  We sat with David around a campfire that night talking about America, politics, the Holocaust (he recommended a book  The Zone of Interest) refugees,  life and art (he had an art show opening at a Jackson art gallery the next night).  PS: The next morning I promptly went out and bought my first Bear Spray.


David shows some of his artwork on Instagram


Cocktail hour at the Curtis Canyon Campground overlook






The next morning, we were invited for a lovely breakfast made by Louie Armstrong, who I first met when he was a teenager doing “urban exploring.” I filmed him and his dad for my documentary Urban Explorers: Into the Darkness while exploring an abandoned satellite dish in Virginia that was once used by the White House to send messages about the Vietnam War.  His segment did not make it into the documentary, but I cherish the memory (and he still has the pictures!). That was 10 years ago and now Louie is all grown up and living life fully in Jackson (loves biking and skiing) and works as ski host and in restaurants.  So great to reconnect with him!


Louie pointing at a pic he took of me climbing the satellite dish with my camera (and in chunky sandals!).

mel climbing satellite dish

Tighter shot of pic– will get original from Louie so you guys can see it!









While Mark was biking in the Grand Teton National Park (truly incredible!), I met this sweet couple from Florida who were having a picnic lunch in their rented convertible after a hike.  When I asked what makes him feel alive, he said: scuba diving.  That was the first time I heard that one!


Had a great chat about life with Dr. Barry Peskin and his lovely wife!

Later I went on a hike at Jenny Lake where I met Tatiana (72)  and her friend Vance (70). At one time they were dating, but now they are just friends.  There is a long back story about Tatiana (she is originally from Russia, lived in Georgia (the country) and has been married twice, was a math teacher, loves hiking, has 2 grown daughters and had breast cancer).  There are many things that make her feel alive (I will put her answer in a video I’m working on right now), but what I found most interesting about her is that she told me that she loves being nude.  She and Vance went on a special nude cruise last year. There she got her breasts painted in a spectacular design by an artist with body paint and she felt proud of her breasts for the first time in a long time.  Vance then went on to tell me that he loved the cruise for other reasons (TMI,Vance!).  Oh, and he’s a Mormon so I am not allowed to use his full name when telling this story. The things you learn about people while hiking. Who knew?


                                                           Vance & Tatiana (with dog Molly)

Oh, and there were more people. Like the woman who left the campground to start a new job (and new life) in Jackson after getting a job offer earlier that day.  The college student athlete who is a waiter at Denny’s. And so on.

Sorry for the long post.  I just love talking to so many people from so many walks of life!  Traveling like this gives us an excuse to talk to just about anyone.  We’ve lived in Chicago for the past year and I think we have talked to more people in the past 3 weeks than we have in the entire year in Chicago.  I feel like myself again and I love it.


                               Never thought I’d have to buy some of this!



                                Mark is ready for the bears on the road!










8 Responses to “Major Milestones in Wyoming + Melody’s Musings About Bears & People

  • A. Friend
    8 years ago

    From Barnes and Noble
    From Amazon
    From Christian Books
    My Coast-to-Coast Adventure and the People I met Along the Way

    After Paul Stutzman finished hiking the Appalachian Trail, he found himself longing for another challenge, another adventure.

    Trading his hiking boots for a bicycle, Paul set off to discover more of America. Starting at Neah Bay, Washington, and ending at Key West, Florida, Paul traversed the 5,000-mile distance between the two farthest points in the contiguous United States.

    Along the way he encountered nearly every kind of terrain and weather the country had to offer–as well as hundreds of fascinating people whose stories readers will love. Through cold and heat, loneliness and exhaustion, abundance and kindness, Paul pedaled on.

    His reward–and the readers’–is a glimpse of a noble yet humble America that still exists and inspires.

    Anyone who longs for adventure, who loves travel and stories of travel, and who loves this place called America will enjoy this book

  • Kyle Renell
    8 years ago

    Methinks the $12 campsite was worth more than the most expensive room in town. I’m starting to hear the ol’ Tune! YIPPEE! Welcome back!

  • Bev Larsob
    8 years ago

    So excited to be following you on your joint adventure! So many of those places my husband and I have visited but from a tamer form of transportation! Love seeing the vast expanse of this country and being reminded of the, also,vast cast of characters and visitors we get to call America. Mark has more guts doing this than I can even imagine. Looking down on Jackson Hole was a thrilling reminder of all that is good in this world. BTW, I am Jen Roesler’s mom.

    • Thanks, Bev. Thanks for the kind words. The world is, indeed, a wonder.

    • Melody Gilbert
      8 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words. We appreciate the feedback and are happy that you are enjoying our journey. Looking forward to meeting you one of these days :).

  • Jeff &Shirley Knisley
    8 years ago

    Mark and Melody, Shirley and I really enjoyed our visit over dinner at the Cowboy Cafe in Dubois. Mark, what a challenge you have set for yourself. We know with Melody supporting your every effort and your drive to accomplish this goal you will do just fine. Safe travels and keep us posted. Hope to see you both again someday.