traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Thursday, June 28 — Happy Camper to Not so Happy Camper

I can’t say for sure why the pix posted first, but scroll down for the text.  Thanks!

A happy campground

The boys

Notice the helmet

Flower of the Day

I was the first of the group to awake this morning.  I laid awake in my tent until I had cabin fever.  It’s impossible for me to be quiet in this thing.  My air mattress rustles with every move, the zippers are loud and I have two of them, one for the tent and one for the rain fly.  I always put up my rain fly even if I’m certain it will not rain because of privacy.  One of the reasons this tent is so light is because much of it is just netting.  So anyway…rustle rustle zip zip and I’m finally out.  Then of course I start the Jetboil which sounds like…well, I don’t know what it sounds like, but it isn’t quiet either.  Soon I had everybody awake.   All four guys look like zombies walking around in search for caffeine.  After awhile everyone starts to get chatty as we’re packing up.  A few pictures posed for and some farewells and I’m the first out of camp anxious to get to the post office.  The packages had not arrived yet.  RATS!  So do I take a day off and wait for them? Or have them forwarded down the road?  I decide on the latter but I have to go get my North Dakota maps to figure out where to send them.  That’s right folks, I’m soon into North Dakota!  Maybe…just maybe tomorrow.

David joined me at the post office and fixed an issue with my back wheel and then we both decided we’re too hungry to leave town without eating.  On the search for food we find a rather large café with only one round table full of elderly women chatting and having coffee.  No waffles on the menu, but they do have French toast.  David ordered poached eggs on toast.  He has mentioned several times that it has taken some getting used to American food.  He wants to be polite, but evidently, it’s not all that appealing to him.  The last couple of times that I’ve ordered French toast, they used regular bread rather than Texas toast.  It tastes the same of course, but it’s a whole lot less filling.  I always have to tell the waitress to leave out the spices.  I do not like cinnamon on my French toast.

When we left the café, I asked to take a picture of David and his helmet.  You’ll have to see the picture to understand what it looks like.  There are zip ties poking up through the vent holes.  I asked him what was the purpose and he said that in New Zealand, if you get too close to a Magpie nest, the parents will dive bomb.  He said that it is a big jolt to the skull when they hit the helmet.  So the purpose of the ties is to deflect the birds from getting so close to the head.

We finally were on the road at the crack of 10:30.  Oh my…more hills for the first 20 miles.  Then the road actually descended into Glendive as all creeks dump into the Yellowstone River.  David and I said our goodbyes as he needed to ride further today.  I was very happy to stay right here with 53 miles for the day.  I tried to find a Dairy Queen and found what used to be one, but some independent bought it and turned it into a not so clean ice cream joint.  I ate half of my ice cream and just wanted to get out of there.   I got to the library about 4:00 and there was a young man talking to himself and dressed perhaps like he was homeless and smoking right where I needed to park my bike.  I hesitated for a moment but then rode right up to the front of the building and he promptly started a conversation with me about canoeing into town.  He’s also an inventor and he gave me one of his business cards.   I’m not even going to tell you what he is inventing as it will turn your stomach.  I locked my bike to the rack and got inside pronto.  I sat very near the front door where I could keep an eye on my bike worried that he might try to get into my bags, but instead he came in and signed up to used the computers.  Thankfully they put him on the other side of the room and he didn’t bother me anymore.

My plan was to get yesterday’s blog posted, but first I wanted to look at my emails.  By the time I got to my blog, the librarian announced that they would be closing the library at 5:00  Jeemanee!  That’ll teach me to mess around.  So I just had to close my laptop and gather everything I had brought in to put back in my bags for the trip to find a campground.  The librarian locked the door behind me and she stopped to visit a bit about my trip and when I gave her one of my cards, she handed me a cash donation.  I was so touched.  She gave me some advice on a campground and I peddled on.  It was quite a long ride to where she thought there was a campground only to find out that a motel chain had bought the ground and was building a motel there.  I stopped and asked a guy where another one was and he directed me onto the interstate two miles west (west? – but I don’t want to go west!!!).  I did just as he suggested and found this campground full of oil well workers.  Much like the campground in Circle only on a much larger scale.  I paid my $15 and was directed to the back of the lot a quarter mile walk to the bathroom and showers and water hydrant.  Not a happy camper tonight. 

I took inventory of my pantry and the cupboards are getting bare.  I must stop at a grocery store to pick up several things.  I only have one package of oatmeal left and my instant coffee supply is getting low.  I do have a couple of suppers I can fix and eat, but I only have one more Payday .  The pantry is in a sad state of affairs.  On the good side, my bags are lighter.

Well friends, another night that I can’t post to my blog.  I promise to get caught up soon!

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Wednesday, June 27 — A gentleman

Look at me, sitting here in Glasgow being lazy in the morning!  I don’t usually even turn on the computer in the mornings, and I might regret it later, but here I sit drinking a second cup of Folgers Instant and eating my oatmeal.  I slept better last night than I ever have in my tent.  I felt safe in my secluded spot; the temperature was just right; and I was sufficiently tired without being too tired.  I got to talk to Cody and Tristan, and John and Angie last night.  Life is good.

I have an ongoing problem with a creak on my bike and I have decided that this morning I’m going to try to figure out what it is.  I feel pretty confident it’s related to my carbon seat.  No cracks in this new seat, but the wing nuts won’t stay tight even through the bike shop used Blue Locktight on them.  My ever-loving husband has tried to diagnose it from afar and today I implement his suggestion.

Speaking of John, he has sent me two care packages for me to pick up in Circle, Montana two days from now.  Could I be more excited!?!  He says there are surprises contained within 😎

Speaking of joy, when I get in every night (and when I have an internet connection) the first thing I do is open and read and then re-read all your comments to my blog.  It’s just like my birthday every single night as each comment is a little box wrapped in colorful paper with ribbons and bows.

I will close for now to do my bike maintenance and to pack up.  The flag is blowing to the east which means I will have a tail-wind.  Can this day get any better?

 When I got out on the highway ready to head east I stopped to take a picture of the Canada arrow sign.  As I sat there, up rolled David from Christschurch, New Zealand.  He is the first biker that I have met since very early on who is actually heading east like I am.  So we did a quick introduction and rode together with the magnificent tailwind for 48 miles to Wolf Point.  One of the great things about a tail wind is it’s quiet and you can hear each other talk.  I asked David about his city two years after the big earthquake.  I asked him about his family and home and how did they fair.  I asked him about his work.  He owns a nursing home for dementia patients and is also a nurse.  David and Mary Ann have been together 18 years and have raised six children.  Their house was not destroyed in the part of town that he lives in, but his business had incredible damage and he lost many friends in the initial quake as well as others in the months after.  David is a quiet and reflective man and a gentleman to be around.  He is riding to raise funds for dementia research.  He has only six weeks to complete his trip (from Oregon to New York City), so he rides big miles every day.

He bought me lunch at Wolf Point and I decided to ride further with him even though Wolf Point was my original destination.  Only 53 more miles to Circle, but we will change highways and head south.  Which will mean no more tailwind.  What we didn’t know is how hilly the road was going to be.  Holy Smokes!  It was a very tough ride with the road zigzagging and up and down.  We would zig with a tailwind down and then zag with a headwind up.  We saw wheat fields and harvesters heading north, but the wheat looks like a long time from being ready to cut if you ask me.  David can climb those hills faster than me and I told him several times to go on ahead and that I’ll be there later, but he wouldn’t leave me.  I think he felt a little responsible that I decided to ride with him to Circle (which was not the case).  Doesn’t he know I’ve got another 3,000 to ride alone?  Poor David got pretty sunburned but I remembered my sunscreen.  My bottom lip is a little swollen though from the sun and I look like I’ve got a fat lip.

We finally pulled into Circle about 6:30 and headed to the RV Park which was more like a very run down trailerpark.  There was no office to check in and other than a drunk woman yelling at us to come talk to her, we didn’t see much to make us happy about spending the night there.   We decided there was no need to hurry to set up our tents and we headed downtown to find a café.  Three young men had just pulled into town from the other direction.  They just  graduated college (they are from Vermont) and decided on a whim to ride across the U.S.  So we are all looking for a place to put up our tents.  We asked a man who was standing in his yard, and he suggested the fair grounds.  So here we all are, me and David and three young men tenting at the fairgrounds.  The city pool is near and so I went to ask if we could shower and thus…two nights in a row going to bed clean.

These boys are so nice and polite.  Whatever they had for supper did not satisfy them so two went back to the grocery store for cereal and milk and they asked me if I wanted anything.  I replied, well yes, if the store has a Fuji apple, to buy me one.  They came back with one fresh Fuji!  I will save it for tomorrow when I need a snack on the road.  Tonight I had some dried black bean soup that I rehydrated with boiling water.  Ouch, I burned my bottom lip!

One of the boys was whistling the tune to:  Skip Skip Skip to maloo Skip to maloo My Darling. What’s a maloo anyway?  The song is stuck in my head.  Please forgive me if it’s now also stuck in yours too 😎

Everybody needed to charge their electronics so I pulled out my power strip.  We’re a little uneasy because the townspeople are driving by to see what the circus brought to town so all bikes are locked to the picnic tables.  It’s 9:00 and we’re all in our tents ready for bed.

Since I beat my package here, I will wait a bit impatiently at the post office tomorrow.  Once my boxes get here, I’ll pack everything up and head on out.  Tomorrow I will be heading east again so I’m hoping for that same west wind.  It’s really cold tonight so will bundle up and I’m sure will sleep sound with so many capable men around to protect me 😎

My happy spot at the campground

David crossing the Missouri River

Flower of the Day

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Tuesday, June 26 — The Good, The Bad, The Good Again

The good news is that the wind is blowing and keeping the mosquitoes off.  The bad news is the wind is blowing.  The good news again is that the wind is supposed to blow tomorrow, but the tumble weeds should be rolling in the right direction!

I set a record this morning getting packed and on the road.   I was riding by 6:20.  The wind was blowing in my face at 20 mph from the get go so I was determined to not stop to dilly dally, but to only stop when necessary.  The destination for tonight was up in the air based upon how I felt riding and how bad the wind was going to blow.  Also, camping places are few and far between these days.  Of course I would rather ride 40, 50, or 60, but it seems like I’m on a pattern that makes me stop at 30 or ride to 70.  So, what I did was ride the first 30 and then called for a weather report.  The wind was supposed to actually do an about face at 2:00 p.m.  So, while I was eating my French toast at the café in Saco, I made the decision to ride further.  The wind actually made that turn around 5 ½ hours later when I was 5 miles from my destination.  I made it 75 miles to Glasgow.  It got a bit toasty today at 103 but when the wind is blowing at me, I really am not affected that much by the heat.  I just had to laugh to myself when I felt the wind go to my back when I was close enough that I could see Glasgow.

I rode straight for the Dairy Queen (two nights in a row) and this time had a Flamethrower.  I love spicy normally, but I was not impressed with the flavor or the mess of the Flamethrower.  While I’m waiting on it to cook, a dust storm overtakes the town.  I’m not kidding… everybody at the DQ went to the window to watch the town turn brown.  After about 30 minutes, the dust settled, but the wind was HOWLING.  I grabbed my bike and tried to walk it down the sidewalk, but it was walking me instead.  I had to grab the brakes to slow it down.  The first campground I went to had a very open tent area and I was not crazy about setting up my tent in the wind with it probably blowing down in the middle of the night anyway.  It was just ugly outside so I decided to get a motel room.  However, I checked three motels and they were all full.  I was feeling a bit stressed about my sleeping arrangements by that time.  Just then, I saw another sign for a camping area and I headed here to the Shady Rest RV Park.  I got some great service when the lady comes out of the office to greet me and says “I’ll bet you need a tent site”.  She walked me over to a well-secluded spot and I immediately set up my tent and then went for a shower.  Here it is after 9:00 and I’m just now beginning work on this blog.  It’s way past my bedtime folks!

Today I was thinking about a list of my favorite things that can happen while riding my bike.  At the very top is when a car is coming towards me and gives several very short honks of their horn like they are saying “you go girl!”  Another favorite thing is when it’s hot and I ride past an irrigated field.  The temperature drops by 10 degrees and it is so refreshing.  I love it when a car driver or passenger waive vigorously to me as opposed to one finger being lifted from the steering wheel.  That is extremely hard to see and besides, I don’t think they are being sincere.  When I’m climbing a mountain pass, no matter how badly I feel, I always manage a quick smile to the cars I meet.  I know they are used to seeing grimaced faces but not from THIS Kansas girl.  I will expand on this list of my favorite things at a later date.

I got to talk to Tristan tonight as he was taking a bath.  He is very excited to be seeing his Grandpa race this coming weekend.  Whenever I see a train, I always think of Tristan.  He LOVES trains.  So…I’ve taken about a dozen pictures of trains for him and will post one tonight just for my little guy.  When he comes to visit, his favorite story is The Little Red Caboose and we both have it memorized.

One of my good friends, Carol gave me some great advice on how to treat mosquito bites as well as to prevent them.  As I sit here typing this, I have one bite on my neck giving me the fits.  So I brought out my Sensodyne Tartar Control Plus Whitening toothpaste and dabbed a little on the bite and Walla!  The itching went away.  I am very anxious to try the other remedy of using a dryer sheet to repel the rascals away in the first place.  I just happen to have one stored away for a purpose not nearly so important.

I about ready to turn into a pumpkin so better close for tonight.  I hope you enjoy the pix as the pickens were mighty slim today.

 

Look Tristan, a double decker!

Just a stream

I wish you could have heard the frogs

Flower of the Day

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Monday, June 25 — Grammy, are you happy?

Whenever our Grandson, Tristan (age 4) comes to visit, he asks me:  “Grammy, are you happy?”  Today (Monday, June 25, 2012) Grammy is definitely happy!  Today is what bicycling across the country is supposed to be like.  Meeting the road with a light wind in my face, blue skies, and warmth.  All the pain and anguish of two days ago is gone with the wind.

This morning I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and there is plenty of light in the sky to be riding.  However, I see no rush and I am not willing to give up my two cups of coffee and oatmeal.  It was so fun yesterday to visit with a fellow bicyclist, especially one from England.  I don’t know how many times I asked him to repeat himself because of his thick accent.  Also on the road today (Highway 2), I met three young people heading in the opposite direction.  They had left from Chicago and were on the Northern Tier even though they were riding without the advantage of Adventure Cycling maps.  I told them about a not-so-secret side road that I had just came off.  In addition to the sweet low traffic and scenery, they would be able to avoid some nasty road construction that Nigel had told me about.

About the aforesaid road:  a county destination low traffic road that crossed the Milk River more times than I can remember.  Wild flowers galore.  Connie the cow (I asked her what her name was) standing just off the road.  A log home with the aroma of breakfast floating out to greet me.  Yellow finches darting here and there.  Cottonwoods.  Only two pickups in eleven miles.  A recumbent rider’s dream road.  SNAP OUT OF IT TRACI!  There was also 100,000 bazillion mosquitoes and one dog chase.  The road was too short and I was re-routed back to Highway 2.

I took a lot of pictures today and I have the mosquito bites to prove it.  The yellow bush/flower/weed that is so prevalent on this highway I have ridden for several days is so amazing beautiful yet, I believe, I have the scent burned in my nostrils.  I am honestly tired of smelling its sweet scent.

I have not seen nor sensed any danger either from Indians or from snakes.  I think those two guys were pulling my leg.

My plans to eat breakfast at a café in Dodson was dashed when told they didn’t have a cook.  It was also a convenience store that had a few cans of corn on the shelves and candy bars at the register.  I told him I had my heart set on pancakes and he laughed at me.  Onward East.  Wishing I had some sunglasses.  I believe, summer is finally here and I am not complaining…just saying.

I really think 50 is my magic number for maximum pleasurable riding in a day.  After about 40, I start looking at my Garmin too often.  Today when I saw a Dairy Queen sign five miles from Malta, my heart skipped a beat and I was on a mission.  As I pulled into the parking lot, there was another woman getting on her bike and obviously a cross-country tourist.  She is from Germany and I asked her name twice but could never quite comprehend what she said it was, but she is riding solo leaving from New York and finishing in Glacier National Park.  I’m guessing her to be about 10 years younger than me.  I sure wish she was heading my direction, I told her.  She stays in motels because she doesn’t enjoy the windy nights in her tent.  She told me that I am the first solo woman that she has met on her trip.  I thought she might ask if I wanted to share a room at the local motel, but she didn’t.  HAHAHAHA!  I guess she needs to know me better first 😎

I then found the library and here I sit where it is cool and where internet is free.  I rode by the campgrounds on my way here and wasn’t too impressed so I’m not in a real rush to pick one out for the evening.  When I leave here, I need to find a pharmacy or grocery store to find a pair of cheap sunglasses.  More later.

It’s later.  I found a drug store and spent a whopping $7.50 on a pair of Oakley wanna be’s.  They will work fine for sun protection.  The thing that makes Oakley’s so expensive (besides their name) is that they are supposed to be shatterproof.  Never tested that myself.

I was then going to go to the grocery store for some fresh fruit, but there were some people just hanging out where I would need to park my bike, so I skipped that stop.

I found this campground and am happy with it.  There was already a bicyclist here (Zack) heading west.  We chit chatted for awhile and then he went to bed.  I’ll just bet he’s an early bird like me.  We’ll see tomorrow morning at 5:00ish.  Have I complained about the mosquitoes today?  I think I need to stop somewhere and buy some super duper deet and soak my clothes in it and use it like lotion all over my body.  I look like I’ve got the creeping crud with all my bites…not to mention they inch like the dickens.

It got up to 91 degrees today and so my life is changing on the road and in my tent and new problems and new solutions will present themselves.  I do believe that down deep, my bones have finally warmed up from my near hypothermia of just a few weeks ago.  It is sprinkling outside now and is supposed to storm tonight.  I’ll weather it fine.  No worries!

When you look at the pix today, check out the butterfly on the Flower of the Day.  Her (the butterfly) name is Bonnie.

Thank you EVERYBODY for your comments.  It’s like I’m actually having a conversation with you and it keeps me from talking to the cows and butterflies.

I also want to sincerely thank all those who have donated to New Hope on the Plains.  Donations and pledges are still coming in and we are very grateful!

Nigel from Manchester, England

Flower on crack. HAHAHAHA!

For my Uncle JB Barlow

One of many passes over the Milk River

Connie the Cow. I asked her name and told her to stay off the road.

Flower of the Day

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Sunday, June 24 — Oh no! Where are my Oakleys?

Here I sit at Harlem, Montana and wonder just what yesterday was all about… I’m such a whiner and ball baby!  I woke up this morning at 6:30 and had an anxiety attack because I haven’t slept till 6:30 since I was in high school.  Besides, everybody knows that the wind is blowing at its least very early in morning and here I choose to sleep in.  I THROW the covers off and start packing in a rush.  Just when I’m about to leave my room, I realize I can’t find my Oakley sunglasses.  I searched everywhere (except where they actually are of course).  After thoroughly searching the room, I went to the front desk, I retraced all my steps from the moment I got out of the Adams’ Jeep.  I ask at the laundry mat and at the desk where I first registered for the campground.  I’m just sick about this turn of events.  Worse case scenario, I dropped them when I got out of the Jeep or when I was manhandling my bags from the campground to the motel.  In any case, it’s sheer carelessness.  I just tried to call Bobby and Taffie and left a message to check in their Jeep.  If they find them, then it’s an easy fix of having them mail them to me down the road a bit.  I’m already expecting another care package from John at Circle, Montana so that would be a good place to send them.  Meanwhile, I think back to yesterday or the day before when I was mentioning that I should have brought some clear glasses so things wouldn’t always seem so gloomy.  Well, it worked as today I had to ride with no eye protection but at least it wasn’t quite so dark outside.

I rode 44 miles today to Harlem.  Set up my tent behind the Harlem City Hall and am quite happy to be here.  The wind was not nearly so tough today and I may have even broke 10 mph at one time.  I got here early enough that I actually have time to enjoy myself a little bit before going to sleep.  There is not much to Harlem, but I made a stop at the grocery store and bought me some necessities:  jar of peanut butter and cherry flavored Frosted Pop Tarts.  There are no café’s open today so I also bought a Lunchables.  Tonight I will find something hot to cook out of the stash in my bags.

Do you ever consciously think about word association?  For instance, today I rode over the Milk River and thought of my sweet mother-in-love (Flora Lee Walton).  Not because of milk, but because of juice.  Please bear with me.  Milk made me think of juice.  Flora Lee was diabetic and when her blood sugar was low she would say in a pretty loud voice:  “juice….I need juice!”  I can’t really explain the milk/juice connection but anyway, after seeing the Milk River sign, I started thinking about her and I will say here that she was the best mother-in-law ever in the history of mothers-in-law.

The other day I saw a sign that said something about elder.  I don’t remember if it somebody’s name, or a town, or just what exactly that it said, but it automatically made me think of the movie:  The Son’s of Katie Elder which then made me think of John Wayne, which then made me think of my Dad (Larry Barlow).

One day I saw some bindweed flowers and it made me think of my Mom because she battled bindweed at the farm.  She hated bindweed!  But as a little girl, I remember picking the little flowers (mostly white but sometimes yellow) and bringing them in to her as a gesture of love.

Today, I very much enjoyed my ride.  It was windy and cloudy, but after yesterday, today seemed pleasant (or at least until the pickup incident that I will tell you about in a minute).  I stopped several times and even took some pictures today.  Excuse me while I go make some hot tea and get me another package of Pop Tarts.

I’m back.  Just about an hour ago a couple of older guys came by to chit chat.  They are from an Indian Tribe to the east.  They are having a beer and talking between themselves.  They wanted to warn me about their “brothers” as I travel through the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation the next few days.  They told me to travel during the day and stay at the larger towns at night.  That was what I was planning to do anyway.  Adventure Cycling has found the safest places for us to stay so I’m not worried.  They also have warned me about snakes and to stay out of the grass on the sides of the road.  Good tip I thought.

Now to tell you about the pickup incident.  I was riding on the six inch shoulder when this pickup truck pulls beside me and slows way down, then he guns it with the expectation that the black smoke he creates will fill my lungs.  I got the last laugh though because the wind was just enough out of the south that it blew the smoke across the highway rather than at me.  This incident will go under the heading of:  You know you’re a jerk when….

More visitors tonight included two young boys who pumped me for information about my bike.  Another young man riding his 29er mountain bike (Patrick) brought me four bottles of cold water.    And about 8:00p.m., Nigel from Manchester, England just rode up.  He’s riding the opposite direction and is loving the tail wind.  He rode sun up to sun down today and got in 170 miles.  He’s been telling me about all the warmshower.com places he’s stayed at.  I need to take a better look at that option.  I asked him about North Dakota and he smiled and said he cheated and took the train.  He set up his tent about 10 feet away and we visited (me in my tent to survive the mosquito attack) and him sitting at the picnic table fighting them off with swats.  During the night I heard what I thought was him talking in his sleep saying:  “quit singing…quit dancing…you’re a horrible singer…you’re a horrible dancer”.  This went on for awhile until I fell back to sleep.  When we woke up, I asked him if he knew that he talked in his sleep and he told me it wasn’t him, it was someone sleeping under the tree.  I believe him because the sleep talker did not have Nigel’s accent.  I can’t help but wonder if the tree-sleeper was one of my earlier beer drinking buddies.  I’ll never know because he was gone at 5:00 a.m. when I first got up.  Nigel was faster than I packing up but he was delaying his get away and I had a funny feeling perhaps he wanted a picture of me on my bike.  So while he patiently waited he called his “Mum”.  It warmed my heart that this grown man still checks in with his 83 year old mother in Manchester.  Sure enough, I was loaded and ready to leave when he asked if he could take my picture.  We left at the same time, him heading west and me heading east.

I want to thank everyone for the encouragement you are giving me through your comments.  You cannot possibly imagine how much it means to me.  Love to you all!!!!

Sunflowers blown in from Kansas

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Jun 24

Friday, June 22 — Will I Recover?

You know that saying:  “that which does not kill you makes you stronger”?  Well, I’m going to be able to lift tall buildings after I recover from today.Let me back up…last night I peeked out of the tent and saw a bazillion stars.  It was beautiful outside, calm, not too cold.  I went back to sleep knowing it wasn’t going to rain and would probably be a great day when the sun came up.   Move ahead several hours, I woke up at 5:00 and laid there for 30 minutes and when I exited the tent, the sky was blue and there was not a breath of wind.  I took my time getting packed up and even caught up the blog.  The wind was starting to stir and dried out the rainfly (condensation) very quickly.  Ate my oatmeal and hit the road heading east.  By the time I got a few miles down the road the wind picked up to about 10 mph, but that was okay.  I was able to ride with my basic riding ensemble and my vest and was cruising along about 12 mph.  Ten more miles down the road and I had a headwind of 15 mph which dropped my speed to about 9.  Ten more miles down the road and the wind was rip roaring right in my face and I’m guessing between 20 and 25 mph.  My riding speed dropped to 5 & 6 where it stayed for the next 40 miles.

My plan was to stay at Galata where my map told me there was a post office, motel and tenting.  When I got there (45 miles) I was pretty much exhausted.  The motel was closed and there was no tenting anywhere that I could see.  I just didn’t feel good about staying there, but the next town with any camping was another 18 miles.  I really didn’t feel like I had a choice so I bucked up and rode the rest of the way in to Chester.  By that time, I had been taking short breaks every five miles and my quads were on fire.  My knees and back were sore and my resolve was diminished.  It was a “bad scene” as they say.  Oh Oh Oh, I forgot to mention that the sky had clouded up very early on so I didn’t even have any Vitamin D!!!  It was kind of depressing if you want to know…  So, I was riding at 9:00 a.m. and finished at 6:00 p.m.  A full day’s work with not even time off for lunch.

Another thing, my sense of direction was all messed up and I felt like I was riding south all day.  I stopped once and double checked my map which said I was supposed to ride east today.  I changed the mode on my GPS to make sure that I WAS riding east, but I couldn’t shake the fact that my head and body though I was riding south.  With no sun to guide me, I had to trust the GPS.  The more I thought about it, I think that perhaps the fact that the wind was out of the east, when at home, a strong wind like that in the summer is normally out of the south, may have contributed to my confusion.

I only stopped a few times and had not eaten anything “real” since my oatmeal and peanut butter this morning, so that probably had something to do with my near bonk.  But I finally got into Chester at 6:00 p.m. and stopped to ask a couple where the café was.  I rode directly there and ordered an Indian Taco and Peach Pie warmed with ice cream.  Don’t even THINK about trying to deny me those calories!  After snarfing down supper I headed to the city park and set up my tent.  The wind was still blowing and I set up on the east side of the buildings so that I can have some sunshine in the morning (or that’s the plan).  If it is calm in the morning, I will be out of here so fast, I will be in stealth mode!

Tonight is going to be my first night sleeping in my tent with no one but town’s people nearby.  At least I don’t have to worry about bears.  As I sit here in my tent typing this, there are a car load of kids circling the park squealing their wheels and laughing and carrying on and speaking bad language.  I’m certain it is for my entertainment and benefit.  Also, this part of Montana is some kind of Mecca for trains.  There was hardly any time when a train wasn’t going east or heading west.  Just now, a train went through blowing its whistle.  It may be a long night.  Perhaps it will be a three Athlete’s Vitamin A night.

When I’m riding hard, I try to take my mind off the pain, but not so much as to lose my sense of the danger I’m most certainly in.  So here are a few random thoughts that crossed my mind today.

  1.  Why don’t motorcycle riders waive at me?  We’re both out here in the elements, so why don’t we have a mutual respect?  This is a teachable moment friends.  When you’re riding your motorcycles, please waive at all bicyclists so their feelings won’t get hurt.
  2. When you see that pretty flower, stop and take the picture.  Don’t wait thinking you’ll see a hundred more.  You might not.
  3. I wish I had brought a pair of clear lenses for my Oakleys.  It might not seem so dreary out all the time.
  4. I’ve ridden one pair of riding clothes two times and they are strapped to the outside of my bags.  This is the first day on the set I’m wearing.  By tomorrow night, I have got to find a way to wash them.
  5. I wonder where Sue is at, is she going to make it to Missoula today?
  6. Why does my rainfly always get so much condensation inside?  Is that normal?
  7. Did I remember to turn on my rear blinker?

Then also, here are some random observations I have made:

  1.  UPS drivers have been consistently more courteous than FedX drivers.
  2. I have seen only one Walmart since beginning this trip.
  3. I have seen only two McDonalds since beginning this trip.
  4. Today I begin my fourth week of this Adventure.
  5.  Usually, people coming up behind me don’t even slow down.  A rare few will slow down even if there is no traffic coming.  An even rarer number slow down so much you’re thinking they are going to roll down the window and offer you a toasted bagel with peanut butter and orange marmalade.

Well, I’m going to try to ignore the kids, ignore the trains, try to ignore my tent flapping in the wind and get some sleep.  My knees, quads and back have a lot of healing to do before morning.

This answers my question as to whether this wind is a fluke or just always blows

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Jun 22

Thursday, June 21 — Is it time to make the donuts?

Do you ever wake up in the mornings and ask yourself:  Is it time to make the donuts?

I had a good day all in all, but I sure am tired tonight.  I packed up and was out of camp by 8:00 a.m.  Rode up the remaining six miles up of Marias Pass and it had warmed up considerably.  There was a rest stop at the top, so I tried to find a trash can to put my trash and there wasn’t one there either.  I’m sorry, but I find that lazy or cheep on the part of the U.S. Government that they can’t provide such a basic need.  While I was wandering around up there, I took my rainfly out and laid it on the sidewalk and it didn’t take any time at all to dry out.  There was a tour group that came through and I took a picture of their buses (or whatever they were).  Quite fancy and bright.

Usually when I am descending a mountain pass, I’m putting on clothes to keep warm, but not today.  For one thing, it is a very gentle fall, but mostly, THE SUN WAS SHINING and it was warm.  I stopped in East Glacier for pancakes and called John to let him know I was okay because it had been a couple of days since hearing from me.

As I was leaving town, I came upon some road construction and was stopped for about ten minutes, but by the time that it was my turn to enter the construction area, the gal stopped me and said I could not ride through because there were too many large pieces of equipment running back and forth across the highway as they were building a bridge.  So…the next time the pilot pickup came back, the three of us women picked up the bike and loaded it in the bed and she had me ride in front.  It was only 1.5 miles and was quite a hassle if you ask me.  I could have ridden through with no problem.  But for the next 20 miles or so, I either had the road all to myself, or there was a line of cars a mile long.

Right away after the road construction, the land flattened out and got dryer.  The temp rose to about 70 and I thought whoop whoop!  I thought that right up until the wind came up and I had to ride 40 miles with a head wind.  THEN…one of my worst nightmares came true as I got a flat tire.  THE BACK ONE.  OMgosh, no one to call…out in the middle of no where.  I take a look at my watch to check the time and dig in.  I had to take all the bags off, take the back wheel off, and change the flat.  I did all that by myself and then I was getting ready to tackle the hardest part of it all which is putting the dang thing back on.  About that time a gentleman pulls over and asks if he can help.  I said:  well as a matter of fact, could you help me hold my bike while I put the wheel back on?  He knew nothing about bikes, but he was a good “holder” and pretty soon it all went back together.  I checked the time again.  One hour had passed.  I was pretty darn happy with myself 😎

Now…30 miles to go with the wind blowing in my face.  By the time I finally got to Cut Bank, Montana, I was spent!  Got me a spot at the Riverview Campground, set up my tent and went for a shower.  I had a bowl of cereal for supper and now it’s way past my bedtime.  Goodnight friends.

Tour busses at Marias Pass Summit

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Jun 22

Wednesday, June 20 — Time to part…

Bye good buddy! Till we meet again!

After a good night’s rest, we were awakened by the trash trucks at 5:30 a.m.  We decided…must be time to get up.  It was cloudy and chilly, but no rain.  I was very optimistic and even put on sunscreen.  In retrospect, it was probably not necessary.  Sue was worried about the amount of miles that she would have to put in the next three days to make it to Missoula in time for her tour, but I encouraged her because I knew she could do it.  We rode together for 10 miles to Columbia Falls where we had breakfast and asked the waitress to take our pix.  We were both teary-eyed and just hugged and said we’d keep in touch and poof, our time together (19 days) was over.  She headed south and I headed east.  The next ten miles was touch and go with heavy traffic and no shoulder, but after that, I didn’t have any issues and ended up with 64 miles today.  I stopped a lot in Sue’s honor and took lots of photos.  Spectacular scenery as I climbed into Glacier National Park.

There were actually two different choices that Adventure Cycling had mapped out for me today.  I could either ride up the “Going to the Sun Road” and head up into Canada by way of Logan Pass which is at 6,664 feet, or I could take an alternate route and climb Marias Pass at only 5,236 feet.  I had made the decision before I ever left on this trip that I was going to take the low road since I was riding by myself.  I just didn’t want to get into any trouble with the weather and have to be rescued.  I did bring my passport in case I changed my mind but also because I will need it if I want to go onto the Canada side of Niagara Falls.  That’s such a long time from now, I can’t even think about it.

Today was an easy ride, yet by the time I got to this campground my legs were tired.  I am staying at Devil’s Creek Campground which is about 1/3 the way up Marias Pass.  I REALLY didn’t want to stay at a campground named after a creek named after the devil, but I got all prayed up and pulled on it.  My other choice was at a much higher altitude and I didn’t want to freeze to death tonight.  Besides that, did I mention my legs were very tired?  The Host is a crabby woman.  This is the first time I’ve ran across a host that obviously doesn’t want to be here.  I had to pay my $10 for a campsite of rocks with a picnic table.  No showers.  Not even a trash can!  When I asked her where the trash cans were, she spitted back at me:  pack it in, pack it out.  Now, I understand that concept if you’re hiking for free and there are no trash cans along the trail.  But really?  After paying $10 and having to put up with a crabby host, I actually have to take my trash back out with me?  Okay…I’m over it.

This is what I look for when I pull into one of these United States Forest Service Campgrounds:  1) always pick up the payment envelope when you come in 2) locate the host and plan to stay fairly close in case of trouble 3) bathrooms…not too close, not too far away 4) bear box close to keep tabs on your food so no one runs away with it 5) picnic table 6) will there be any sunshine through the trees to dry out the tent in the morning 7) flat spot to set up tent 8) water faucet close 9) where is the nearest trash can?  Once I find this spot…I roll right on in.

First thing I do is take the bags off my bike and unload enough to be able to get my tent out and set it up.  Second) drink my recovery drink and take my vitamins.  Third)  place everything but food into tent.  Fourth) heat up some water and try to get semi-cleaned up.  Fifth)  Fix Supper, eat, do dishes.  Sixth) hang up a clothesline because I’ll need it in the a.m. to dry the rainfly.  Seventh) take all food and toiletries to the bear box.   Eight) study the maps to determine tomorrow’s ride.  Nine) wipe down bike chain and cover up the bike.  Ten)  download pix.  Eleven) blog until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer.  Twelve)  pray for safety during the night and try to sleep.  Somewhere in there, I forgot to mention that I turn on my phone to test for service.  If I’m up in the mountains, that is a waste of time, but it’s habit and if there is any chance in a million that I can call home, then it’s worth it.

Up north here, the sun rises EARLY, so the light (even if it’s cloudy and rainy) helps me wake up pretty easily.  It will be interesting to see how quickly I can get around in the morning with it just being me.  I still have to boil water for instant coffee (gag) before I do anything else.

When I am riding by myself, I get these random thoughts like:  how many shades of green are there?  Or what shall I have for lunch, peanut butter and an apple? Or peanut butter and crackers?  Perhaps peanut butter eaten right out of the jar with a spoon?  Skippy Extraordinarily Crunchy is my peanut butter of choice (just in case you’re wondering).

Well, I had better try to sleep.  This will be my first night in the wilderness all by myself.  I was very careful to not leave any food or toiletries in my tent with me because if I need saving from a bear, I doubt very seriously whether that crabby woman would lift a finger to help.  I do lay here in my tent fully surrounded by my weapons (just in case you’re wondering).  Also, I read somewhere that bears will swat at the tent to see what happens, so the best place to sleep is right in the center and thus…I am perfectly centered as I lay my head down to sleep.   I will post this when I have Internet again.

As Sue would say…what’s that strange glow in the sky?

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Jun 19

Tuesday, June 19th — Forced Rest Day or Mental Health Day

And we take another unplanned day off.  Last night we started looking at the forecast and the weather today is once again frightful.  A winter weather advisory is in effect today for Glacier National Park (where I am heading next) with snow accumulations of one to three inches in the higher elevations and 100% chance of rain and temps in the 30’s tonight.  But…the weather is making a turn-around tomorrow and it’s supposed to get into the 60’s with only 20% chance of rain.  We decide to sit and try to make the most of it.  I keep looking at my watch and for once, am thankful  for a slow- down of time.  It’s raining here in Whitefish, Montana and I’m in the motel room with a blanket over my legs and just glad to not be out in it.  I mean really really REALLY glad…

Yesterday was such a rough day and tears are still so near the surface that Sue and I are calling this a “Mental Health Day”..rest for the mind as well as for the body.  I am trying very hard to not be disappointed in myself and am reminded by my friend, Mischelle, of the scripture which reads:  “Be still and know that I am God”.  Earlier in the day after breakfast, we walked up and down the main street and took a peek in the fly fishing store (don’t ask me why) and the gentleman behind the counter pegged us right away as touring cyclists.  He seemed sincerely interested in our trip and said something very profound (although I can’t quote what exactly he said) but it was something like: memories are made during the tough times and that the interesting story happens when the challenges surface.  Making memories indeed…

I want to tell you a little about my riding buddy, Sue.  She found me after I had posted a request for riding companions on the Adventure Cycling website.  She had done some touring previously and was certainly a more experienced camper than me.  She’s four years older (so we are not spring chickens either one of us).  I think I’ve told you that she’s funny and witty and a joy to be around.  She laughs a lot and is a deep thinker, yet willing to do something on a whim.  We could not have more different backgrounds.  I have lived all my life within 50 miles of where I was born.  My roots run deep in Southwest Kansas growing up on a farm and marrying right out of high school. I grew up as my children grew up and live a good life with the man I have loved since age 17.  Sue lives on a sail boat in the Puget Sound.  She has her Masters in Forestry and I call her my walking talking Encyclopedia Britannica of the Pacific Northwest.  She is who I get the names of flora I post.  She knows the highways and can spot wildlife when I amazingly ride right by.  We’re polar opposites (for starters she’s a Democrat and I’m a Republican) yet we have a deep sense of adventure that makes us more than just compatible, it makes us great friends.  Tomorrow we part as she heads south to Missoula and I head east into Glacier National Park.   I will miss her.

Since writing my last reflection blog on June 9th, I am now behind schedule 236 miles.  That’s almost five days worth of riding.  The cold rain, day in and day out, was just something I did not calculate into my schedule.  The upside of this is that I had six days figured in for getting behind or needing to rest.  So…as long as I can now average 50 miles per day for the remainder of this adventure, I can still be done on August 31st.  That means no more days off or the miles will have to be made up.  I’ve done calculations upon calculations, but if the weather doesn’t change, all that planning goes out the window.  Well, I guess it already has, but with the forecast for warmer weather tomorrow, I am hopeful for a trip more like what I was expecting.

The Town Square Clock Tower just rang three bells and it reminded me of church bells.  Lest I never forget what my mission is really about…raising funds for New Hope on the Plains.

I will post some random pix that you have not seen previously.  Enjoy.

Changing Room Motel Deluxe

Our second moose sighting

Clock tower in Whitefish, Montana

Avoid the dreaded storm grate (notice the long slot at the side) just the perfect size for a tire and wheel

A girl just wants to be comfortable…

He wants to play…he wants to come home with me!

Taken near Rexford, Montana

Just trying to dry out before the next go around

Flower of the Day

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Jun 19

Monday, June 18 — A Day to Forget

Do you ever have one of those days you’d just soon forget?  Today was one of those.  Of course, it really started last night as I spent the night in a changing room with partial walls and mist floating in from above and at the floor.  It rained all night and we were about 30 feet from the beach so the crashing of the waves was also quite loud.  A couple of low flying planes flew over and I wondered to myself (as I lay there wide awake), if they were checking to see if the lake was going to flood and drown the two women in the changing rooms.  Please keep in mind that these rooms were just barely cleaner than the other shelter option, (the bathrooms).

Another reason not to sleep I guess was the fact that the camp host mentioned there had been bears passing through just two nights before.  Then also, there was the fact that my door would not lock and I’m wondering if someone might wander in from the highway looking for shelter and open the door to find me laying there.  Sue said:  well it wouldn’t be any different than being in an unsecured tent, but then I came right back with yes…but no one would accidently try to get in my tent.  Anyway, no sleep was to be had and it was still raining when there started to be some light in the sky.  Yep…still raining as we’re packing up and getting ready to head out into it.

Today would have been a pleasurable 35 mile bike ride if it were not for the fact that it was 45 degrees, very wet, no shoulder and heavy traffic.  Good grief.  As I got to within five miles of Whitefish, we had severe hills just thrown in to make the day a little more challenging.  I think there were eight of them.  Oh, I must mention that the lowest bidder who was selected to repave the road must have been on drugs.

THEN when we got into town, I was looking around to see if I could spot a cheap motel, and rode directly onto a storm grate and my front tire dropped in right up to the skewer.  If I had been going any faster, I would have been catapulted right over the handlebars.  I got off the bike and pulled it out of the grate and the rim was bent and the tire was flat.  I was between wanting to bawl and wanting to scream.  A feeling of deep dread overcame me.

We checked into a motel and I can’t even hardly speak because of the aforementioned dread… and there happen to be a hose outside our door so I washed the sand/grime/mud off my bags and bike and took it all into the room.  A quick shower and then on the hunt for a bike shop.  GRATEFULLY there was one just three blocks away and the young mechanic looks the situation over and says he’ll work on it and give me a call.  He says he has a new tool that he’ll try out to straighten the rim.  He gives me the disclaimer that it might break the rim, but he is cautiously optimistic.  I said, if the rim breaks, does he have one that size that I can buy to get me back on the road?  He says…not of the same caliber as mine.  Oh brother…can this day get any worse?

I head to the laundrymat six blocks away.  Will all these clothes ever come clean enough that I won’t be embarrassed to wear them into a restaurant?  Did I mention that the other night when we were at the campground with the Ponderosa Pines…I sat in some tree sap on the picnic table wearing my Capri’s over my bike shorts.  The sap came right through every layer and onto my rear end and it all stuck.  Now both, my capri’s and riding shorts, have this sap on them that won’t come out.

My day just brightened when I got a call from Tyler (the bike mechanic) and he tells me that he’s got my rim fixed, my derailler fixed, and I’m good to go.   I can hardly believe it and am wondering, oh my…what is this going to cost and dreading telling John about how stupid I was to run over a storm grate in the first place.  A fast brisk walk back to the motel carrying a bag of groceries, my bag of semi clean clothes (well at least they smell better), and this computer.  Then back to the bike shop to settle up and to be convinced that the bike really is fixed.  Tyler…my hero of the day, tells me all is well and he even got the wheel trued up.  He shows me on the stand that the shifting is crisp and I have a full range of gears in my granny and middle chain ring.  The darkness is lifting from my soul and I ask: how much do I owe you?  He tells me $24.00.  24.00?  I almost jump over the counter to give him a hug!  I would have paid $200 to be in this great of shape!!! !!!!!!

Sue and I celebrate by going to eat pizza at the Mckenzie River Pizza Co. and we even had dessert.  Sue treated and by this time I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy (and very stuffed).  We had a good night’s sleep in this warm, clean cheap room and we sit here this Tuesday morning drinking drip coffee (as opposed to instant).  Today we will go our separate ways after 10 miles to Columbia Falls and we’re dragging our feet.

But for yesterday…it was a day the Lord hath made and I shall be glad and rejoice in it.

The pix that follow were taken by Sue over the past few days.  No pix were taken yesterday as our cameras were safely hidden away in our waterproof bags.

Osprey nest

Blogging at a National Forest Service campground

I see why snakes warm themselves on the road

The Kootenai River outside of Libby, MT

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