When people ask where I’m headed next I usually just respond with what ever state is next on the map. When I started telling people that Im headed to Montana they would respond “Oh Montana. You can’t go home with just any cowboy in Montana. Be careful, young lady.” Well, so far, I’ve only encountered kind people in this state – much like every other state that I’ve traveled through.
I left Yellowstone National Park and entered West Yellowstone, MT. That was a beautiful ride. I followed a river flowing west, so it was a relatively flat ride, especially compared to the day before. Right when I left the Madison campground I noticed traffic piling up. OH! WILDLIFE!!!!!! OMG. Naturally I slowed down to see what kind of critter we’re dealing with, just in case I needed to put a grizzly between me and an RV. It was a bull elk. He was really magnificent. I think I counted 6 prongs. It would have been great to have a photo, but I feel pretty strongly about giving an animal it’s space. (i.e. like when the Japanese guy in Grand Teton was trying to get the perfect shot of a moose and kept getting closer and closer. Had the moose charged him, I probably would have laughed and called him an idiot.) So I kept pedaling towards the west gate. When I got to West Yellowstone I stopped by the McDonalds to try to find wifi and charge my phone (I was pretty unsuccessful at both). Then, Kathleen and Jeffery walk in! It was really nice to see them again and exchange hugs. They just stopped in long enough to say hello and they were back on the road again. I eventually found a place to charge my phone and then hit the road myself.
The second half of the day was just as beautiful as the first half. I rode long the edge of a lake, which was dammed up, and then continued on to follow the Madison river. I ended up camping at a little campground by the river. The next day I pressed forward 80 miles to Twin Bridges. I had to climb up and over a pass, but it was all downhill from there and the winds weren’t too bad. I rolled into a cyclists only campground to find a couple, Pata and David, and another solo rider named Odie (not sure of the spelling…) a little later in the evening after the sun had set, a guy named Spencer showed up. He was riding a tall bike!!! I will definitely have photos to share late. He used a different geometry than what one usually sees on a tall bike. Instead of welding two frames together he used one and added steel piping from home depot for extra support. Then, he used a tandem drivetrain. It was pretty neat looking. He was headed south, back to L.A. Ca.
The following morning we all packed up and headed out of the bike camp. Me, Odie, and the couple – I come to learn now – all rode to Dillon and stayed the night. Odie stealth camped, I’m not sure what Pata and David did, and I camped in Farmer Wade’s yard. I had just finished buying propane canisters and a dust mask from the hardware store (the wild fires are really bad in Idaho right now, so I bought a dust mask just incase the smoke gets worse while riding) when an old farmer pumping gas asks me what I’m doing. I tell him the story and he invites me back to the farmhouse to have lunch with him and his wife. Of course I say yes, it’s hard to pass up free food! I get to know wade and his wife Gail along with their son Jim and their grandson, Kale. They offered to let me camp in their yard, and even though I only rode 28 miles I accepted their offer. This is what riding across the country on a bicycle is about: meeting wonderful people in small town America. I spent the afternoon helping out with the farm chores. I moved irrigation pipes, watered the horses, caught injured ducks (thanks to the raccoon or skunk) and helped doctor them up, and fed the chickens. When the sun set we fed the horses a couple bails of hay.
While Gail and I were taking care of the evening chores, the men when deer hunting. They called us around 9 pm asking us to bring flashlights. They had shot a buck and a doe! Gail and I follow their request and eventually make it out to the field and help spot the blood trail. All five of us search and search, we found the blood trail, but no deer. We decided to turn in for the night. Either they crossed the river or a coyote got to them before we could.
This morning I woke up origins 6:30 to meet the family for breakfast. I was the first one up! It wasn’t my place to scold them for sleeping in. 🙂 Gail made a delicious pancake and hash brown breakfast. Her raspberry jam won first place at the fair during labor day weekend. She’s kind of a badass and the queen of canning. After breakfast, the guys went back out to try to track down the deer they shot the night before. I don’t know whether or not they found them. I hope so.
Today’s ride was okay. Lots and lots of smoke and not much of a view. I climbed up and over two mountain passes. I now have three out of four out of the way until Missoula. One more tomorrow! On top of the first pass today I was pleasantly greeted by Odie. We rode together for the remainder of they day. I stopped 30 miles short of my goal. The wind picked up just before the second pass and became pretty unbearable. Hopefully I’ll be able to make up those miles tomorrow. It’s all down hill for a while after the next pass. I’ll be as low as 3,000 feet by the time I get to Missoula!
Well that’s all for now. I need to finish this gin and tonic and go cook dinner.