Day 27: Missoula, Montana. Decisions, Decisions.

Missoula is a really bicycle-friendly town with lots of bike lanes, bike shops, and courteous drivers. I decided on a second night in the motel, so I’m still in the same place.

Today I had several chores that needed doing. First, I needed a haircut and beard trim. I was starting to scare little children and dogs were barking at me…it was time.

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Finally, a haircut and beard trim.

Next on the agenda was a stop to Adventure Cycle Headquarters. The folks there put together amazing maps of various bike routes around the country. I talked to Beth there and she was very knowledgeable and helped me chose the best route to Newburyport, Massachusetts, my destination. Did I mention they offer free ice cream to long distance bikers? They won an instant friend.

I met briefly with Greg. Greg does their magazine photo work and promised I would return tomorrow with the bike loaded up for a photo.

Last on my list, but not least, was doing my laundry. I packed up everything I have, including my sleeping bag, and headed to the laundromat. Once there, I removed my shirt and put on my raincoat, I was already wearing my swimsuit. Everything I have for clothing and sleeping went into the washing machine. I looked like a pervert standing there in my swimsuit and raincoat. Oddly, I don’t think anyone noticed. Either they are accustomed to perverts, or long distance bikers…I hope the later.

While waiting, I received a phone call from a fellow named Brian. Earlier I had gone to QRZ.com, a ham radio database. I put Missoula in the search and it gave me a list of ham radio operators in the area. I started searching through and found Brian, call letter AG7KZ, had an email address. I sent him an email asking if he knew where I could find some parts I needed to replace a cable that I had lost, probably back in Baker City, Oregon, when the police officer chased me out of the park. Brian called to tell me he had some cables and parts I needed to do the repair.

He invited me to meet with him across from the hotel, next to the Kentucky Fried Chicken place. When I returned to my room I changed into more acceptable clothing, I figured showing up in a swimsuit and raincoat might be a bit much for a first encounter. I thought he said he’d meet me in the parking lot, but I couldn’t find his vehicle anywhere. I called him back and he explained that he wasn’t in his vehicle, he actually lived on the other side of the restaurant. Of all the few hundred ham radio operators in the region, I managed to coincidentally pick the one that was across the street from my motel room. What are the odds? Yesterday nothing went right, my luck had changed.

Brian invited me in, handed me the needed cable and parts and, over a Moose Drool, I proceeded to put together the cable. Brian was a joy to talk with. Then his wife arrived. Maggie is originally from Costa Rica. She introduced me to their huge cat, Max. Maggie said Max doesn’t see many strangers but he let me pet him and invade his turf.

Brian and Maggie took me off to dinner at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill and we had a wonderful time discussing all things Costa Rica, hiking, and biking.  Costa Rica is now officially added to my bucket list. A thunderstorm blew through while we ate. It was the first real rain I have seen since starting this journey; I hope it isn’t a harbinger of things to come. As I am writing this, I can hear another storm approaching.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds. Then again, that is what is so wonderful about these long adventure bike/hike trips, you never now what you will be facing, and that makes it exciting.

Author: Dennis Blanchard

Dennis Blanchard was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He and his wife Jane moved to New Hampshire in 1980 where he has climbed thirty 4000-foot mountains, biked the trails and enjoyed the wilderness. Never living very far from the Appalachian Trail, Dennis was always aware of the seductive siren’s call to hike it. Dennis is an electronics engineer who has freelanced for amateur radio, technical and motorcycle adventure magazines. He now lives in Sarasota, Florida.

7 thoughts on “Day 27: Missoula, Montana. Decisions, Decisions.”

  1. Sounds similar to a zero day from the Long Walk, Dennis. And a wise move IMHO taking the 2nd night to R&R. I’m sure all of us who follow you on this journey appreciate the lengthy updates you are providing along the way. I know I am.
    Could be a PSK or CW eve from Missoula!

    Happy Trails.

    73,

    de W1PFZ/Jack

        1. Gotta know when to hold ’em, Dennis, and when to fold ’em. And sounds like you have a good bead on that! Both 20 & 40 were in reasonable shape on the PSK and the CW bands earlier to tonite… more north/south or west-south-west which would’ve made it tough going to “7” land… sultry night here in the greater Boston area… Dog Days, but the apples will be crisp and fresh for your arrival. Send a pic of your mobile set-up if you can.
          Ride safe.
          73,
          W1PFZ/Jack

  2. I am happy to read that you found the bright side of Missoula. I’ve only visited Missoula once, a few years ago, and I was impressed enough to believe I could live there. The Iron Horse was one of the places I thought of suggesting you try.

    Ken – N0VA

  3. hi dennis-
    good to hear things are going smoothly.
    i’m looking at the map of montana and
    it looks like a big state.
    where are you headed next. ?
    i’m having an exciting day, getting tested for a hearing aide at noon.
    now that i’m 70 i guess i can wear one.

    peace***philip

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