Day 29: Missoula, Montana to Lincoln, Montana

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In the morning I asked about a decent place to get a good cup of tea and Julie directed me to Butterflies and Herbs, not far from ACA. Without a doubt, I had one of the finest pots of tea and a bagel that I have had since leaving home. I didn’t want to leave the place, that, and it was pouring outside. It started raining just as I arrived at the cafe. The cafe is known for their coffee and I would add their tea. It was a fabulous way to start the day. I stayed long enough that the rain ceased and I rode out of town.

Americans generally just don’t know how to make tea. It is a pretty simple process, good hot water, a warm cup and a pot to brew it in. Most places with put some lukewarm water in a cold coffee mug, give you a tea bag and you’re good to go. What really drives me nuts is upscale cafes seem to feel if they give you an herbal tea, that will make a fine tea. Wrong.

The folks at Butterfly put loose tea in a large pot, added lots of hot water and gave me a warm cup. For breakfast, one should have a good English or Irish blend of breakfast tea. The previous day I had gone to a cafe that professes to have fine dining and they gave me a coffee mug with warm water in it and sent me to their tea selection:

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Herbal teas and not a black tea to be seen.

The selection was a collection of fancy, expensive teas, but nothing suitable for breakfast, especially if one likes to add milk or cream, which is customary with black breakfast brews. The tea I selected was Rocky Mountain High blend. When I looked at the bag carefully, I wasn’t certain if I was supposed to drink it, or smoke it.

Sorry if I rant, but tea is just as important at breakfast as coffee, but is treated as an afterthought in most places. Enough said.

The streets were wet, but I was off. Thus far, for the entire thousand miles of this ride, I have not yet ridden in the rain. I headed out of town on S.R. 200. There were mountains everywhere, but then this is the Rocky Mountains, isn’t that what I should expect? The temperature was only 49 degrees F (9.4 C) and would get cooler as the day and altitude progressed.

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Riding beneath the clouds leaving Missoula.

It was about 08:30 in the morning and it was nice to see so many commuting by bicycle, I thought I was in the Netherlands. As far north as Missoula is, they have a great attitude about using the bicycle for more than just recreation.

My plan was to ride to Lincoln, 81 miles. My fallback plan, should I get too tired, would be to ride to Ovando, MT. The problem with Ovando is that it would put me in an awkward spot to start from the following day. Starting out from Lincoln would give me a 56-mile ride to Augusta, MT, the next major resupply point. Starting from Ovando would give me an 83-mile ride with a major climb over a pass. Lincoln would be a much better starting point.

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The road to Garnet, MT, a ghost town.

There are a number of ghost towns in the Pacific Northwest. Most are mining towns that have gone bust. There was a sign pointing down a side road that indicated it led to Garnet, MT, a ghost town. I took the turn to see if there was any indication as to how far it was. Another sign said it was 11 miles. That ruled out a visit. Of note on the road, however, were the cattle barriers that one sees in this area of the world.

They’re used to keep cattle and wild animals from having immediate access to a roadway. If they step on the grate, their legs slip through and they tend not to cross the barrier. Deer can sometimes figure them out, but cattle usually don’t. The idea is to prevent animals from getting out onto fast highways and it does work reasonably well. They’re no fun to ride over on a bicycle since it is a bone-jarring experience, like that of riding across a large washboard.

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Cattle barrier. There are some that use a triangular shaped rod and even though it seems counter-intuitive, it gives a smoother ride than the rounded edge ones.

While investigating going to Garnet, I spied what I thought were blueberries. The bush looked like blueberries, but the berry didn’t have the little “crown,” that one sees on a blueberry. I broke open a berry and tasted the juice. It was more tart than a blueberry, so I didn’t eat any. Maybe a Montana native can comment on what the berry is?

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A blueberry look-alike in Montana.

Even though it had rained all around the region during the day, I avoided any riding in the rain. When I arrived at Ovando, I stopped in town to get a light lunch. Out on the main road there were signs for “Trixies,” and I avoided it, figuring it might involve pole dancing and bars. In town, there was the Stray Bullet Cafe. I spotted a few other bikers going there about a mile ahead of me and figured they were heading in for food as well.

When I arrived at the cafe, the other bikers were at another building discussing something. I went in and ordered a hot dog and the soup of the day. The others came in and we all sat together and had a fun time. The cafe closed at three pm, so we had to hurry up and order.

The other bikers were on a mountain bike trip and looked like it had been tough but fun. Some were pulling trailers. One was injured and is scheduled for an Achilles heel operation in a few days. Riding with one foot?

The food arrived and the soup was superb. It was creamy chicken and rice…hot and flavorful. The hot dog wasn’t just any hot dog, it was some local concoction and it too comes highly recommended.

The other riders agreed they were going to get a room in town, so I bid adieu and headed out. It was still cold and the wind was picking up. Fortunately, it was a tailwind and pushed me along for the last 25 miles (40 km). It had gotten so cold that I had stopped earlier in the day and picked up some plastic shopping bags and used them to help keep my feet warm and dry. It raised the temperature considerably and I was comfortable. Jane and I had used this same technique in Spain.

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A couple of plastic grocery bags can make a big difference in a pinch.

When I arrived in Lincoln I saw this sign at a casino. I thought it humorous that the Casino owner is going to make America great again by having a Mexican food night. I thought we were supposed to build a wall?

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In all, in spite of the cold weather, it was a good day. I rode about 82 miles:

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81.71 miles for the day. I felt good enough to ride another twenty miles, had there been a town to ride to.

And, I am now over 1000 miles for the total trip:

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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.

3 thoughts on “Day 29: Missoula, Montana to Lincoln, Montana”

  1. I think the berry plant is a mahonia (Oregon Grape Holly). Not being Oregon proud here, it is what it is called and planted them in Colorado. This is an educated guess on my side, I am not a botanist.

  2. hey i found lincloln on the map. looks like you’re headed for great falls. i think a benefit of riding cross country would be to not get political news. warm here in oregon and no rain.

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