Day 31: Augusta, Montana to Great Falls, Montana

After a bagel at Mel’s Diner, I was ready to head for Great Falls. I really try to avoid a heavy breakfast, it leaves me wanting to just take a nap after a few miles. I stopped at the general store and picked up a package of doughnuts and a large container of Gatorade.

The countryside is looking desolate and forbidding.

Everything is looking brown and dry. The mountains had streams flowing everywhere and lots of green forests. I have a feeling that from here on it will be much different. I’m leaving the Rockies behind.

Numerous deer ran out in front of me on the road leading out of Augusta. Here is why so many of them get killed in traffic (I’ll shorten this video a bit, once I have access to video tools, it is 1:19 min):

I made it to Simms and was ready for a snack. Simms was where I would have ended up had I taken the shortcut I considered yesterday. The folks at the gas station also wondered why the maps took me to Augusta. They said the SR200 was better road and wider and would have saved 25 miles (42 km) of riding. The station didn’t have much for food, so I just had an orange juice and continued on.

The road from Simms to Great Falls is a straight shot and was reasonably flat. The map showed several very small towns along the way that had food opportunities, but when I arrived in them, the cafes were shut down and out of business.

More and more I was seeing places out of business and closed. Potential ghost towns?

Hungry, I continued on. Finally, near Vaughn, MT, I found a deli and had some lunch.

I had been trying, via email, to find some of the radio amateurs in Great Falls, but hadn’t been having much luck. I was hopeful I could find someone to let me use their antenna for my little station to give it some extra “umpf,” since my little wire in a tree isn’t that great. I was also hoping that one of them would do like a host and give me some bedroll space, but it wasn’t to be.

As I rolled into Great Falls, storm clouds were gathering in the west. I decided to find something quickly. I stopped at the first motel I spotted and for $40 got a very nice room. The motel is the Alberta, in Great Falls, Montana, and I highly recommend it for bicycle travelers. The room is nice, the staff is very friendly (as are their dogs) and the motel is well situated on the main drag.

A few minutes after arriving, I had a Skype call scheduled with some friends at my Toastmasters Club in Sarasota, FL, Positively Speaking Toastmasters. They asked me to participate remotely in our weekly meeting. The connection wasn’t great, but we did manage to meet and have a few laughs and I updated them on my progress.

I rode to downtown and stopped at Bert and Ernie’s Tavern and Grill and Grill and had a BLT. The server/bartender is a young man that is going off to the Marines in a few weeks. We had a nice chat and I wished him well.

I returned to the room and intended to update this blog, but laid my head on the pillow for a few minutes, just to rest, and before I knew it, I was asleep.

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.

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