Monday, May 28, 2007

Glacier National Park

Greetings to all from Glacier National Park. Today we're coming to you from East Glacier, MT, just before the continental divide and on the eastern side of the park. Tomorrow we'll be crossing the divide and heading into the park for a couple days of hiking and biking before continuing on to Idaho and Washington.

We've had a busy week:

Monday, May 28, 2007: East Glacier, MT (45 miles)
After a 10-mile stretch of dirt highway out of Cut Bank, with NW winds at 30 mph gusting to 40 mph, we saw the worst weather of the trip. After a cold and windy (but partly sunny) start, the skies darkened, the mountains disappeared, and it started to hail/freezing rain. We made it 15 miles before we took shelter at a farm. The farmer let us use his dryer and fed us sandwiches and described his 40,000 acre farm to us, then he took us for a ride in his GPS tractor. That was exciting, especially for Jay. He also had a DVD player in the tractor and showed us a Shakira concert. That was interesting. Since the weather wasn't letting up, he offered to drive us the remaining miles into East Glacier, which we graciously accepted.

Sunday, May 27, 2007: Cut Bank, MT (71 miles)
We met our first west-east bike tourers today, and they were happy to have west winds as we fought our way to Shelby for huckleberry milkshakes. Also in Shelby, I ate a chicken, bacon, and ranch foot long sub from Subway that was 1100 calories. The last 20 miles were extremely difficult into the wind and rain, but we finally made it to Cut Bank, where we ate Pizza Hut and had ice cream at McDonalds.

Saturday, May 26, 2007: Chester, MT (66 miles)
Today was a bike maintenance day as Jay took his bike to the shop to cure a broken spoke and I purchased some new tires. The bike shop owner was also a tax consultant and was mourning the loss of his alcoholic mother by downing Black Velvet and showing up at the shop extremely hungover. After some world famous ox-dogs at the Oxford Bar, served to use by a Vietnam veteran, we got a late start and had a ride to Chester through the prairie dog graveyards. There were literally spots with 10-12 dead prairie dogs on the road, flattened by traffic. Each of us nearly hit one on our bikes.

Friday, May 25, 2007: Havre, MT (112 miles)
I bathed this morning in the bacteria-infested luke warm cesspool while Jay watched on in horror. We got an early start and made good miles with an east wind, and we also saw our first mountains of the trip, the Bear's Paw in central Montana. There was pure sunshine all day except for our arrival in Havre, during which there was sunshine while it downpoured simultaneously.

Thursday, May 24, 2007: Buffalo Hot Springs, MT (105 miles)
Mary set us on our way with a healthy dose of granola for breakfast, and we had a hot dog brunch before leaving Wolf Point. After a day of rest, it is impossible to describe the glorious feeling awaiting us on the bikes. Our butts had a whole day to relax, and getting back on the saddles felt like sitting in comfortable leather couches. Our legs also felt renewed strength, making an easy 105 miles under clear skies and light winds. Our excitement for the hot springs died as we arrived and noticed there was a health department warning posted on the doorway, yet people we're still swimming (toothless people, we might add). This place had sort of a Deliverance-esque feel to it, and we camped in a yard in the back and tried not to stir the pot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007: Weather/Rest Day
Today we awoke to torrential downpours and extreme wind. The hotel workers were digging channels in the dirt parking lot with shovels to drain the massive puddles that were forming. After milking the continental breakfast for all it was worth, we went back to bed for a couple of hours before heading over to a warm showers stay with Mary Madison, aka Red Hot Mama. Mary is a twice widowed 73-year old who is still bike touring despite her recent knee replacement. For her 70th birthday she rode from Montana to Maine and back (solo) and she also rode to her 50th high school reunion and back (solo). She gave us a car to use for the day and was extremely hospitable, and we spent the remainder of the day either eating, reading, or both.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007: Wolf Point, MT (99 miles)
This day was completed in four increments, each roughly 25 miles and all of which included substantial rain. There isn't much to mention here, because it would be depressing to read about how miserable we felt riding in the rain the entire day, but it was uplifting to finally leave North Dakota and enter Montana.

Monday, May 21, 2007: Williston, ND (74 miles)
Today was not too hot and not too cold, and we had a hard time deciding what to wear. Several clothing changes were made throughout the day. This was definitely the prettiest day of North Dakota riding, with almost badland like appearances. We also passed a stretch of fence that was roughly a mile in length in which there was some form of footwear on every fence post. Lots of posts had boots, some had tennis shoes, others had high heels. It was a little different. We made it into Williston and had some Dairy Queen, then we connected with Anna Hoffman, another warm showers stay. Anna was very friendly and cooked us an elk roast and potatoes. Her house felt sort of like a coffee shop, and we spent the rest of the evening reading, writing, and listening to James Taylor, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, and Ray Charles.

Sunday, May 20, 2007: New Town, ND (78 miles)
The Fogartys fed us a beautiful, amazing breakfast of waffles and fruit (with fresh, super tasty strawberries) before we took off into a not so fun headwind heading south out of Minot. We eventually turned west onto a strech of road with more road-side crosses than we'd ever seen before, a gas station closed for high school graduation, lots of tribal police with people in the backseats, and a couple of older gents riding for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation. We arrived in New Town after being chased by several dogs (chased, or stalked) and we couldn't find a single place to stay. Eventually someone showed up at the cheapest hotel in town, so we took a room, ate some ice cream, and didn't visit any more of New Town, ever.

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