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Thursday, June 5, 2008


We rolled into Montana on June 3, coincidentally the day of the last two democratic primaries one of which was in this state. Funny, though, the only national campaign signs I have seen since we have been pedaling are for Ron Paul. Well, the primary wasn't particularly important for us either (although I have been following it somewhat over the months and it is interesting to finally see a resolution). Okay, enough about politics. We are in Montana and we will be here for probably another week and a half. Our first day in the state was sunny and beautiful. Our route took us through the Cabinet Mountains, which are east of the Rockies. It was nice smooth riding over gentle hills past more farms and lovely little valleys. We went from a wilderness area, to more populated lands and at the end of the day turned on to Route 2 which we will be returning to for the whole trip through the eastern part of the state. We arrived that night in Libby, and camped in a little park that was "conveniently" located next to the grocery store.

We've had an interesting variety of campsites already. Some towns let people camp in their parks (sometimes for free), we've also stayed at a number of RV parks. Why have I never noticed RV parks before? They are everywhere out here, but I don't know of all that many in the Northeast. It seems like no body uses tents anymore, they just bring their homes on wheels. When we got to the RV park last evening the woman seemed shocked that we wanted a tent site because it was supposed to rain.

Yes, it has been raining more this week than last. On Wednesday we left Libby and followed the Kootenai river to Libby dam which creates lake Koocanusa. We spent the whole day navigating along one side of the lake, which very pretty at some points, but at others quite boring. But it was an important day because this boredom helped me to realize, finally, what we are doing this summer. Everyone's been so excited for us and I've been excited, too, but I knew that until sometime in Montana I wouldn't really know that this trip was real. Riding around that lake, up and down hills for miles helped me to realize that we are on a long and big adventure and we will be doing this for a couple months more. Even though we are only seeing the narrow corridor along the route we follow, it is more than enough to prove the vastness of this country and the world. By now we have gone well over 600 miles, but we laugh when we look at where we are on the map of the USA.

As we ride along I find myself reviewing the places we have been in the past two weeks, sometimes all the hills, trees, valleys, skies and roads blur together a bit, but of course there are many moments that stand out. Already I have a little montage in my head of what I have seen in the western part of this country. The fun part of traveling this way is that I never really know what is around the next corner. Our maps give us a sense of what to expect, but they barely hint at what we will see. I actually prefer the winding roads so that I can't see the big hill until I curve around and know that I have to start climbing. Its amazing to start out each day, following the road, pretty much at the mercy of whatever it will bring. After we spent all day riding around lake Koocanusa we rode up some hills into Eureka, MT and were suddenly greeted by a view of the Rockies, stretching as far north and south as I could see. The sudden presentation of something so stunning that I had never seen before made the day's journey all worth it.

Not only do we not know what is around each curve of the road, we usually don't plan more than a day or two in advance. At the start of each day we know where we will end up, and about half way through the day we decide where we will camp, but we never know too much beyond that. This was especially true in the first week and a half when we didn't always get as far as we thought we would. I think we are starting to get a better sense of that, but mainly I mention this because it is so different from my regular day to day life. Especially in the past several months when I was working multiple jobs I would always know what I was doing each day and often find myself thinking several days ahead. So this way of traveling one day at a time is refreshing and exciting.

On Wednesday night, after riding around the lake we stayed in the Riverside park in Eureka. The park was not equipped with water for campers, but at about 4.30 in the morning we were awakened by the lawn sprinklers around our tent turning on. Fortunately the fly kept us dry. Yesterday we rode, mostly along route 93 south, to Whitefish. Its a nice little town near lakes and mountains for skiing. It seems to be a thriving community and we managed to find a fun bar for dinner, an art walk, a movie theater where we caught Indiana Jones, a fun and hopping coffee shop, a nice library and of course an RV park with an unfriendly staff but showers and laundry available.

This afternoon we are headed to West Glacier. Unfortunately we will miss most of the park because of the snow, but we should still have a beautiful ride. It seems like most of our sightseeing will happen as we pedal along and though we might not catch many of the main attractions we will be seeing A LOT and all the little towns and odd spots in between. The weather today is what I would call partly rainy with spots of sun, it would be nice to have purely sunny day and some warmer weather, but I'm sure I'll be complaining about the heat later on. Mostly we just hope for tailwinds in eastern Montana and North Dakota, but that's still a little while away. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope everyone is well! Lots of love.


Jess said...

I completely agree with you about the RV parks - it's a whole different world! I am hoping you get some sunny days, but like you said, you'll soon be cursing the heat. I sent you some snail mail, hopefully you'll get it!! We're thinking of you (especially while sitting at my desk and staring outside)!

Duncan said...

we've got some heat today ....mid 80's and humid we've all been enjoying following your travels...especially your grandmother, she is extremely excited to be able to see your pictures and thoughts on the computer... it's a whole new world for her!
pedal on!! catherine

Padre Pete said...

In Michigan, if your not careful, a state park campground can be a gathering of hundreds of RVs running their generators! That's why we avoid state parks and head to state forest land. It seems like you need pit toilets and old hand pumps for your water to still ensure some peace when you camp. I'd also mention that we've never had sprinklers start in any of those state forest lands.

Thanks for bringing me along with you!

MER said...

this is impressive. It will be interesting to follow you two