Sunday, July 20, 2014

1200 mile tour

Our total tour odometer reading is 1200 miles by bike.

We've made the decision to end our tour. Dave's Achilles Tendon seems to be responding to the ice, Ibuprofen and rest but the hip arthritis is still an ongoing problem.

We reached Dickinson on Sunday, July 13. The route between Medora to Dickinson as the map laid it out, had some short stretches on Interstate 94 with most of the route on Old US Highway 10. We started out on the Hwy. 10 section but quickly realized that there was a lot more of the ups and downs on the secondary road. Interstates tend to be built so they cut through many of the hills. While there are terrain changes they tend to be more gradual and long. The interstate wasn't too bad to ride on although not as fun as the less travelled road would have been if the health issues weren't a factor. Dave's ankles were already swelling, but it was his hip that was the most painful. 

Dickinson is in the middle of an oil boom since the shale oilfield known as the Bakken field extends over most of the western half of the state. Even though Adventure Cycling moved the bike route from Williston in the north, to the south, I wonder if they will continue to encounter the road congestion and lack of housing for bicyclists. The saving factor in this area is that the Interstate runs through here which can bear most of the truck traffic. 

Dave and I got into town and tried calling an RV park that was on the Adventure Cycling maps. The woman that answered initially said that they didn't offer tenting, changed her answer to "yes" when I said we were bicyclists. Apparently the owner wants to support pedal powered traveling. However when we began on the route to the campground it was hilly. We started to pass a Rodeway Motel and Dave said that he wanted to stop and see if they had a room. At that point his legs were swollen and his hip was hurting. They had a room downstairs and we were able to maneuver the bike down some steps and into the room. 

After he iced and took a shower and rested I put in to words what we had both been thinking. Dickinson was a big enough town that they would have a U HAUL dealer. The next town that would be big enough after Dickinson would only probably be Bismarck which was 177 miles away through very hilly country. We were both quite depressed about it but couldn't see another option. 

Things we have learned:

At our age you can't ride yourself into shape. We had so much going on this winter with our continuing kitchen cabinet construction and the high turnover and tenant problems that we didn't train like we should have. We thought the 800 miles we put in in May was good training (and it was) but it didn't take the place of the weight I needed to lose this winter. 

The climbs in the west were long but they were also steep and amazed us with the difficulty. And they come right away in the trip. The tandem was probably not the best bike to do a cross country tour on. Loaded with panniers and us it is really difficult to do hills, much less mountains. Dave thinks his Achilles Tendonitis started when we were walking, pushing the tandem on the road to Rainy Pass. We didn't train for that!

It's very difficult to give up a dream.  The same determination it takes to continue each day makes it hard to end prematurely. That being said, we didn't want to screw up our crosscountry ski season this winter so it helps to look beyond the present. 

On a bike we were visible and approachable. I got so used to having people come up to us and talk to us that I missed that when we started to travel in a vehicle again. Even though a U HAUL seems quite distinctive, no one approached us when we went to the campground in Mandan on our drive back to Fergus Falls and Minneapolis. 

I was surprised by how much time we spent on finding lodging and food. On a previous un-supported tour towns were plentiful. 

And lastly, sadly, the towns just east of the North Cascades National Park (on the dry side of the mountains) are having huge wildfires. Twisp, Winthrop, Omak have lost electrical power and citizens are on an alert status that they may need to evacuate. Twisp was the town where we stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast after Peter, one of the owners,  offered us a ride down from Rainy Pass. The last word I've heard is that Highway 20 at Loup Loup pass is closed so I don't know how bicyclists will be able to bike through the Cascades.  Adventure Cycling is recommending that bikers go up to Canada prior to getting near the fire area. Of course not every biker has a passport...

Just the smoke alone makes biking problematic. We could see the haze from the fires in the Canadian Northwest Territories when we were in Montana. I would have hated to bike through smoke. I was using my inhaler because of all the haying around me. See to read about Steve who is biking east to west. We met him in the little town of Saco, fighting a headwind.

We met some bikers from MI in Montana.  They are also biking east to west.  They met a guy doing west to East who just made it through Loup Loup Pass before they closed it. You can read his account at (You'll have to copy and paste, sorry). 

So anyway, I'm living the tour vicariously through others' blogs. Hopefully with the physical therapy that Dave's doctor has prescribed, Dave can heal the shoulder, tendons and hip that are plaguing him. We would like to do a short trip with Lorriann and Dale when they bike through MI and more touring next summer. For now, it's back to finishing our kitchen cabinet building project! And, we also came back with enough summer left to enjoy outdoor concerts so there are compensations. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Oh we love those U Haul trucks

Sunday, July 13 Medora, ND to Dickinson, ND
39.5 miles

We did a short day today and found out that even when Dave ices several times and uses Advil in prescription doses, he is still having ankle swelling and leg cramps. He also is having hip pain in the hip that was dislocated previously. (Long story.)

Unfortunately the terrain is still hilly and will be through much of North Dakota and that makes the tendon problem worse.

So, since we are now in a big enough town to have some U Haul dealers we decided to again rent a U Haul and drive to Minneapolis where we can stay with family and he can rest up and see if this improves. Hopefully it will improve enough to continue on, but if not our van is there and we can drive home. 

The U Haul company gives up to 4 days to drive to Minneapolis so we can drive for shorter days and we can stop and camp and Dave can put his feet up and ice.

Hopefully everything will improve, but if not we can still do some traveling later this summer and/or fall with the dogs and our camper.

If it all works out well we could possibly connect again with our traveling buddies, Dale and Lorriann, and do some more biking with them. So we'll see what the future brings.

I'll post more tomorrow about our travels the last couple of days.
The picture is of the Painted Canyon in the Theodore Roosevelt national park.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A new state, North Dakota

July 12th, Glendive, MT to Medora, ND
63 miles, 12.3 average speed. Max 29 mph Time riding 5 hours, trip time 7 hours.
We entered Montana on June 23rd and left it on July 12. We were in Montana for 20 days!

Medora is a cute tourist town I was surprised to see more cowboy boots and hats in Medora than I saw through the whole state of Montana. 

Medora is in a shale oil boom area. One person we met is a rancher and he said that a well near his land had a brine spill which leached into a creek where he had pastured his cows and young calves. They notified him of the spill but didn't advise him whether it would be toxic to his cattle or not. (The company cleaned up the well site itself but not downstream). Every one of his calves died because of the toxins (the brine itself is highly saline plus it has other chemicals in it). The company won't admit to any fault so he is hiring a lawyer. The more frightening thing to him is that the water may not be any good anymore because of the spill and that would make his land worthless. He also does not own the mineral rights on his land so he can't prevent fracking on his land.

It's clear that the oil boom has brought prosperity to North Dakota. The signs are everywhere in the towns, from new hotels, new housing, a brand new community center in Dickinson. We saw well sites in every stage of development.  But, whatever you believe about fracking, spills like this are unacceptable, especially since the company apparently isn't taking responsibility for what happens downstream.

Well anyway...The area around Medora is gorgeous. There were badlands and our route was on lightly travelled Old Highway 10 for the most part. Theodore Roosevelt national park is a place that I would like to visit again sometime. The terrain was rolling and seemed to have more trees, a welcome sight after the immense plains in Montana. 

We had been told that the North Dakotans are friendly. Well it must rub off on others because even though many of the folks we met in the campground are from other places, they were helpful and interested in our tour.

Yes we were glad to leave. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Rest day, more doctoring

11 miles
Dave's tendons let him down again. Diagnosis : Achilles Tendonitis. Treatment: deep massage with ICE and lots of Ibuprofen and possibly fewer miles, hills and lower speed. 

We've seen really understanding Physicians' Assistants both times we've gone to the medical clinics. This PA emphasized to Dave that he has had some tearing of the Achilles Tendon and instead of using the warming pads that make it feel better temporarily, he needs to do a deep massage with ice as often as possible but at least every night. He also talked about doing prescription level Ibuprofen (with food) for at least a few weeks.  He emphasized that if Dave ignored the issue he would probably be facing a ruptured tendon so it was good we came in for some advice. Dave tends to continue on even through the pain.

I did ask him about my feet falling asleep but he said that was fairly common.  He even gets it horse back riding (never would have thought of that) and to keep doing what we're doing.

We did some errands ( thus the 11 miles) biked up the hill to the motel three times...Don't know where the time goes on a rest day but it sure goes fast. We didn't get to go to a dinosaur museum I was interested in. This area on the sea used to be a giant prehistoric ocean and there have been full skeletons of dinosaurs discovered here on the plains.  There is a second museum near us that explains them from a Creationist point of view. Not that they advertise it that way which I think is a little trickstery...

We've decided to send back our sleeping bags and use a sheet and small fleece blanket instead.  Too hot for the down bags, especially for the human furnace next to me! If it gets really cold somewhere we'll take a motel.  We've been using motels far more than I've expected. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What a difference a day makes

Thursday, July 10
Circle, MT to Glendive, MT
49 Miles
Average speed 12.8
I added to yesterday's blog so please re-read.

The Cenex was our breakfast spot and we talked to a farmer who had a "small spread of only 6000 acres".
We got on our way late because of a thunderstorm.  We heard a Montanan say in tones of complete disbelief " what about all this rain!" It has rained twice in two weeks and it seems to us to be more showers than heavy rain but is a lot for this area.
We found out that the terrain was so much easier than the day before. The elevation chart I had seen the night before looked a lot more scary. The first 14 miles was a climb but it was a gentle grade with no downhills where you lose all the elevation you just gained. Then at 14 miles there was a "divide", a gentle switchback getting us up to the final 3300 feet (from the 2500 feet at Circle, MT). Then we had 35 miles of a gentle grade which was almost all downhill! Oh yeah, this is what heaven will be like on the other side of the great divide!
We stopped for a break in the little town of Lindsay, MT which is the first place we have been treated like "biker trash." It began when we went into the only place that was open for business, the Farm Union service station.  Dale noticed one guy roll his eyes when he came in. They didn't greet us or say anything other than the bare minimum response to a question or to tell us what something cost. This is really different than the way we have usually been treated all the way through the states. We bought several bottles of lemonade and iced tea and got out of there preferring the hot sun to the surly attitude. Too bad for them. Almost without exception other shopkeepers have been pleasant and interested in what we are doing.

We booked ourselves into a motel because Dave has had swelling in the ankle which is the same leg where he has has a cramp in his calf. He will see a doctor in Glendive on Friday. Meanwhile he will elevate and ice it. There are three new motels here because we hear that the oil boom is starting to spread to Dickinson, and points west and they are doing some new Bakken oil permits in this area in Montana. Hmm. 

We will be on Interstate 94 for short stretches as we travel towards North Dakota because there are no other alternative roads. Not looking forward to that but there are large shoulders. 
I've included a picture of what the elevation chart looked like for the trip into Glendive. The reality was so different from what the chart would seem to show.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The 3 H day, Heat, Headwinds and Hills

Wednesday July 9
Wolf Point, MT to Circle, MT
53 miles. Average speed 9 mph

Sorry, going to sleep so we can get up at 5 am to ride before the heat so no blog tonight.
We did however make a milestone today; we have now biked 1000 miles!
I'll write more tomorrow....snooze time.

Our 3 H day had constant ups and downs.  It was daunting because no sooner would we get to the top of a hill than we would see three more in the distance! The wheat fields continued but we also started to see bluffs of striped sedimentary rocks which is a forerunner to the colored cliffs and even some hoodoos that we saw today.
The heat and the continual headwinds were sapping our strength.
I am having more problems with my feet falling asleep.  This is something I thought I had improved by forgoing cleats and returning to toe clips. I will still get "sleepy feet" but after 30 miles or so rather than every five miles. Well, with hot weather it goes back to an every five mile problem.  We either need to stop so I can stand and get the circulation back or we coast and I "shake out my feet". It's worse on hills because I'm pushing harder on the pedals with each stroke. It wouldn't be so back if they just went to sleep but actually they ache.
Dave also started having leg problems.  His leg cramp is continuing but we were also concerned to find out at the end of the day that he has edema in the same ankle as the leg cramp. So he called to make a doctor's appointment in Glendive for Friday morning.
We had a very nice conversation with three ladies who have been lifelong Circle residents at the Cenex station when we finally reached town. There is a convenience store at the station with a small seating area and within 10 minutes of meeting us one of the women invited us to camp in yard. We weren't sure what was happening with Dale and Lorriann since they hadn't arrived yet and it was a little awkward to ask if it was ok for them to camp as well but she readily agreed it would be fine. How nice.
Circle didn't have a lot of lodging options.  One motel that the ladies agreed wasn't very good or a "trailer park" that allowed tents. Lorriann had had a phone conversation with the owner which seemed a little disjointed and rambling.  This ended up being our choice however (and yes he rambled a fair amount in person too, it might have had something to do with what he was drinking under the Koozie bottle cover). When Dale and Lorriann rolled in it turned out they had had several flats and they were stopping every 20 minutes to add air to the tire. Dale wanted to get the tire under some water quickly to try to diagnose what was continuing to create flats and the camping place was right behind the Cenex. 
It turned out to be a fine piece of wire from the steel belted tires that are on semi trucks. When they have a blowout those little wires get spread out on the road and a lot of them end up in the shoulder where we travel.
The place was behind the Cenex and had no showers but the Cenex offered showers for $5.
We didn't end up getting up very early because a thunderstorm rolled in at about 3 am. It was still raining in the early hours so we slept until 7.
The photos below show our attempts to hold up 1 finger and show zeroes with our hands to commemorate our 1000th mile that we have biked on this trip. As you can see it took us several tries and we still forgot that the camera would reverse the image leaving it 0001, but you get the idea. The other picture is on one of the nice downhills (followed of course by an uphill) and the 90° heat. Of course a Minnesotan would add "it ain't the heat, it's the humidity that gets ya". Well we have that to look forward to!
The other pic is to five you an idea of what we saw at the top of each hill. There are times that it is not a blessing to be able to see to the horizon. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Oh the days start blending together

Monday, July 7  Malta, MT to Glasgow, MT
70 miles
Tuesday, July 8 Glasgow, MT to Wolf Point, MT 52 miles
Yesterday's miles seemed to go much more easily even though there were more hills. The wind was blowing quite fiercely which was great when the road was headed in an east/southeast direction.  If we turned east, which it did somewhat frequently, it became a crosswind. The trouble with a crosswind is that you bike to accommodate that but when a large truck or RV comes by it creates a sudden vacuum which goes away as quickly as it came. The bike wants to go in the direction of the vacuum so Dave was constantly compensating for that. It's a bit unnerving and we were glad for the wide shoulders there. Luckily, most often the road headed in the best direction for a tailwind.
The views were expansive since we were often on ridges. I saw two small flocks of white pelicans which seemed weird until I realized that we were passing the Bowdoin National Wildlife Preserve with a large lake. Later we passed the Nelson reservoir which is where I saw the other flock.
I haven't seen any antelope although Lorriann and Dale have seen some mothers with their young (which are called fawns according to Yahoo).
We surprised a mother sharp tailed grouse who had her chicks gathered together by the side of the road. Just as we biked closely a truck came by and the chicks were blown back from the road, somersaulting from the blast of air. The mother flew across the road just missing a car. I got off the bike and herded the chicks back into the tall grass. Hopefully the mother will come back to the chicks and take them somewhere less dangerous.
Our campground was an open expanse of grass with a guy upwind of us who decided to wash both his car and his RV with a hose in a howling wind, lightly spraying us in the process.  We just closed up the tent and went to dinner. I wonder if he waits for a tornado to wash his house?

Today's ride seemed longer. We didn't have much wind so we had to do the speed that our muscles could do. We are getting mighty sick of Hwy. 2 but our route did put us on a BIA road through the Fort Peck reservation. A few days ago we were on a BIA road that we really enjoyed but today's road had frost cracks every 20 feet. A loaded bike tends to just "tha dump" into every one of those cracks, so we headed back onto Hwy. 2. Of course just as we did that the shoulder disappeared into rumble strips with a pockmarked narrow shoulder beyond that. But we made it into Wolf Point and tomorrow we will be on a completely different road heading south to veer away from the oilfields and the traffic in northern North Dakota. According to a guy we met yesterday the route tomorrow is quite isolated so we plan to bring a lot of water with us. We will also be starting in an area called the Big Sheep Mountains. Oh boy, I thought we were done with those! Our Adventure Cycling maps don't have any more elevation charts until the Adirondack so they apparently don't think they are significant. We shall see...

Oh and by the way, we did not find mosquitos in Saco.Of course the 20 mile an hour gale might have discouraged them. Even some Saco locals said the mosquitos were terrible there on a normal day. We had a worse problem today but a little Deet solved that!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mad dogs and Englishmen Out In the Noonday Sun

90 miles, Havre, MT to Malta, MT
16.6 average speed, 9 1/2 hrs travel time (with breaks)

Montana is one big state! Even the counties are huge. It takes us a day to cross one county.
We decided to do a 90 mile day today because the towns are so small they have very few services. Many of them look like ghost towns. Malta is a town of 2000 and has motels, camping and restaurants, not just one of the three. We had originally talked about stopping in Dodson and camping at a campground a little way out of town. Dale and Lorriann have just made the milestone of biking 1000 miles and Dale said they could make it a three milestone day if we did 90 miles. 90 miles is their longest day. Can't remember the third milestone.  I'll have to ask. It sounded good to us to knock off more Montana miles just to get through it
(we have made the milestone of traveling 1000 miles with alternate transportation for 215 of those miles).
We've had to Malta locals say with some forcefulness that the little town of Saco ahead of us has the worst mosquitos anywhere.  I'll post an update tonight on that! Could be just small town competition.  The motel owner sold us on a motel room saying the mosquitos were bad in the campground. But we still have MN ahead of us and we can't motel it every night!
Heading out for a 70 mile day...good tailwind right now if it doesn't shift.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fantastic Tailwind!

July 5, Saturday

Chester, MT to Havre, MT
63 miles,  average speed 19.6 MPH on a fully loaded bike! We had a heck of a tailwind today, it was awesome! Our top speed was 37 mph down a fairly shallow hill.

Strange little tent site between the Best Western and a Conoco gas station.  Just a little patch of lawn and a train locomotive right behind us.
Went to see a movie, Transformers.  Dave loved it. I liked the popcorn and the air conditioning.
This area is called the Golden Triangle for its production of winter wheat; a high protein wheat. We've seen brown fields where the wheat has been harvested and green fields where it isn't ripe and slightly yellow fields where the heads are starting to ripen. Oh and one huge brilliantly yellow field of mustard.
Lots of small towns all nestled up against the railway line and each with its own grain elevator. I kept track of our mileage when we passed a train that was stopped on a side track and it was a mile long and just had oil tanker cars, probably from the Bakken oilfields. Another train was a mile and a quarter.
Dave has a new ache, a deep muscle cramp in his calf. I found a heating patch at the pharmacy and he says it is helping. He thinks it came from pushing the bike up hills in the mountains. No, I didn't kick him...Sure hope his body stops offering up new aches and pains.
Last night the Chester townsfolk shot off all kinds of rockets.  We tried going outside to see some but the mosquitos found us immediately and we didn't want to spray bug spray on us, so we went inside and fell asleep.
Slept soundly until 7 am and then by the time we ate breakfast and got started it wasn't until 8 am. The day started out cloudy which was actually nice. We didn't feel the wind until we stopped for a snack since we were going with the wind at about the same speed (21 mph)! It was a fun ride!
Good night all, hope to have repeat tailwind tomorrow.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Tiny little prairie town of Chester

July 4th, 42 miles, Shelby to Chester MT
904 total miles, 699 miles by bicycle, Elevation is 3127.

We started a new map set yesterday. Since we are mostly taking Hwy. 2 for hundreds of miles the maps have narrowed to one inch high by 7 inches. And Hwy. 2 is so scenic that there are lots of points of interest...not! OK Vicki, sorry about that, it does have its own beauty but there's just so many miles of it!

Traffic was fairly light today which was good because the road engineers decided to put rumble strips spanning the whole shoulder. The shoulder only widened when we got near Chester. 

No screaming about mosquitos today. We learned from yesterday. When they started to catch up with us on an uphill we quickly stopped and sprayed with Deep Woods Off. Foiled!
Our lunch spot was supervised by a herd of Angus cows and calves just for a change of scene.
Shortly after that we started downhill for about 4 1/2 miles almost all the way into Chester. Chester is a two water tower town! Our motel is a joint with a large expanse of asphalt; our front "lawn". Our view is the town grain elevator.  And right behind that is the ubiquitous railroad so we can again be soothed by the sound all night long.

Today is the fourth of July and appropriately we are in Liberty County. Apparently this town doesn't have official fireworks but instead a lot of unofficial ones. If the boomers that we are hearing today are an example, they've got a lot of firepower. Jon would enjoy the fireworks here.

This area is so far north that it isn't full dusk until 11 pm. Don't know if we can stay up that late, although maybe we will be woken up! The town is so small we can probably stand outside on the asphalt lawn and see plenty.  Hate to miss fireworks.  At home all the little towns around us have festivals with fireworks so we travel around to see at least four different displays in the week preceding the fourth. 

On a different note. I have found two shoes by the side of the road. I am continually perplexed by why there is always one shoe by the side of the road? I intend to ask God about that first thing when I meet Him. I mean, have you ever had a shoe fall off? Isn't it kind of obvious when that happens? Would you just keep walking?  Maybe some teen might throw a shoe out the window but I find all kinds of shoes, not just teens'. I even found one in Barcelona, Spain so it isn't just an American phenomenon.  So anyway, I collect them and nail them on my shed wall. I'm getting quite a collection, may need to extend to a second wall. 

This trip I have found two. One on the Lake Koocanusa byway and one just outside of Browning.  OK with all the smashed beer bottles maybe he didn't notice when he walked out of his shoe...I'll send these home to nail up. Dave is hoping I don't find any heavy boots, i think he might "put his foot down" at that. (Ok, that's a groaner).

Heading to the big town of Havre tomorrow.  9000 people, it's like the New York City of the plains. We don't know how to pronounce it. Is it like Brett Faavvraaa?

Been singing in my head "Ridin' down that long lonesome highway, where I'm bound I don't know. Good bye is too good a word babe, so I'll just say fare thee well..." Bob Dylan? Which song?

Last picture: how does a Montanan hide his trash? Just build another hill.

We're on the open range

Thursday, July 3rd
East Glacier, MT to Shelby, MT
73 miles
I think we found summer all of a sudden, 93 °

How do I know we're on the open range? See the first two pictures below.
And the obvious clue was the mountains rapidly disappeared in our rear view mirror. :《

But the reward was that "it was all downhill". Well, maybe not quite, but we did descend from 4700 feet at East Glacier to 3300 feet in Shelby.

For quite awhile during the morning it looked as if we were going to have thunderstorms so we were trying to get into Cutbank before they let loose, but when we reached Cutbank the clouds just disappeared!  It may have been so dry that the rain never made it to the ground. But since it wasn't raining we kept going and did 73 miles.

The route goes through the Blackfeet reservation. The sign talks about their history but what I didn't show was the number of 12 packs of empty beer bottles by the sign.  It must be a local party spot. The town of Browning looks poverty stricken. There were smashed beer bottles EVERYWHERE. It was really difficult to ride on the shoulder so Dave mostly kept us out on the highway and moved in when there was traffic. It took about 5 miles before we saw a change in the amount of broken glass on the shoulder. We did see many sheriff cars and trucks.  They were out in force, maybe because of the holiday, so we felt safe enough. 

The other thing we were dodging was prairie dog body parts. They have a habit of running out on the road and stopping to look around. Adaptive when scanning for a hawk, but suicidal when a car comes by. We did actually see a hawk catch one so I don't think they totally successful with that either. Ah well.

A problem with the wide open prairie is when I need to get rid of my morning coffee.  We stopped at the only tree I saw anywhere in the landscape. It turned out to be behind a barbed wire fence so I carefully shimmied under it. The next time I wasn't so lucky. The hill I climbed had no drop off behind it. It did give a grand view for miles so I scanned for cars and was right quick about it.

Dave had less luck, he decided to go behind a handy bush and came out screaming (ok, maybe a manly yell) with a swarm of mosquitos covering his legs and flying all around him. We quickly smashed the ones we could get to and mounted the bike as fast as we could and got out of there. Luckily Shelby was only a few more miles down the road!

We're continuing to follow the railroad (or maybe it's following us. At least by staying in a motel tonight it didn't sound like the train was driving through our tent like it did the last two nights in the campgrounds.  There are a lot of oil tank cars, probably from the Baacken oilfields.  Our route will head south in a few days to drop us into southern North Dakota to avoid the oilfields in the northwest corner of North Dakota.  Besides having dangerous truck traffic on the roads up there, there is also no housing for travelers. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We made it over Marias Pass

Wednesday, July 2nd
38 miles
Glacier Haven RV Park (west of Essex, MT) to East Glacier, MT
1500 foot elevation gain.
Day 21

We got started about 8 am to get ahead of the RV crowd. We had a nice shoulder and the day stayed cool until about 11 am. We didn't climb very much until Essex which was about 6 and 1/2 miles into the ride. Even after Essex it was a steady climb instead of steep grades.
It was so apparent that we are in far better shape than when we were in the Cascades. We were definitely panting but our legs felt strong instead of burning and we only walked for a short time, once.
We reached Marias Pass about noon. The name Marias is in honor of a niece of either Lewis or Clark. Why it has no apostrophe is anyone's guess especially since just like northern MI, apostrophes are used here to make something plural. (A little pet peeve of mine).
So, riding across the country with one pass under our belt. Woo hoo.
I found some gorgeous little white orchids when I stopped for a "comfort stop". I told Dave to remind me to bring my camera when I go into the woods because I find the most wonderful wildflowers that way!
The landscape is much more arid beyond the pass. It opens up into rock escarpment and looks more like ranch country. The Blackfeet reservation extends for many miles from here both east and north.
We are still at 4800 feet here. Tomorrow we will be riding to Cutbank (and maybe beyond to Shelby) which is at 3800 feet. We do have to ascend a line of hills that are east of this town, but afterwards it should be "all downhill from here!" How many times have I heard that from Dave?
Dave's shoulder continues to be sore, mostly affecting his ability to find a comfortable position to sleep.  The waitress at this restaurant found him a zip lock bag and some ice for his shoulder. Prayers for healing for this would be appreciated.
We're still hanging out with Lorriann and Dale. We made it to the Pass at roughly the same time and are now camping at a pokey little campground; the Lazy R.
Well, hopefully I can upload a few pictures using WiFi at Luna's restaurant. We will be heading back soon for an early bedtime although I find it hard to sleep when it stays light so late here in the north.