Day 33: Great Falls, Montana to Fort Benton, Montana

59,07 Miles for the day, 1255 miles total. One of the aspects of being on such an adventure is seeing things that one would not normally see. Parked outside of the breakfast restaurant was a 1977 Cutlass Electric Transformer automobile. They only made a very limited number of them and to see on the road is a very rare event indeed. It only had something like an 80 mile range and the owner doesn’t take it very far, mostly outings on a nice day.

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A rare seventies American made electric car.

 

The ride out of Great Falls, MT, was eye candy. The route followed a bike trail that parallels the Missouri River. There are supposed to be five falls along the river, but my route only took me by one dam.

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Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea were all trying to tell me I was going the wrong way.

There was one point where the trail went under an underpass tunnel and I missed a turn and rode on for another mile. Once I realized my error, I doubled back. I then missed another turn and started down the road that runs in front of the Malmstrom Air Force Base. I decided to follow it as it meets up with the intended route. Along the way I stopped to use my bank card at an ATM and it was declined.

The lamination on the card was coming apart, so I begged some adhesive tape at another ATM and was able to get it to work. Now I await a new card.

The terrain is changing dramatically. Gone are the green mountain forests that I have been riding through. They have been replaced with fields of wheat and oats that go off to the horizon. The roads are straighter and the climbs and descents are less dramatic. The heat is also increasing, gone are the cool nights. I’m entering the high plains of the mid-west.

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I have been seeing these rather lethal looking plants along the way, I certainly wouldn’t want to fall on them.

The day’s ride was long, hot and when I arrived at Fort Denton, I called it a day. I was just spent with the heat on the prairie.

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In Fort Denton, Lewis and Clark and Sacagawea were still trying to help me find my way. Now Sacagawea has her son along.

I roamed around the town for a while, found food and talked to a few nice ladies in front of the hotel. They advised me on accommodations and I went to check out the town park. I couldn’t figure out the sprinkler schedule they had posted, so I went to the private campground, the Benton RV Park in town and set up there. The showers and the WiFi were excellent. The town park was free, but had neither. After setting up my tent a fierce wind storm blew up, so I ran for cover in the bathrooms and worked on the WiFi connection from there until it ended. The tent survived undamaged.

The campground was loaded with rabbits and I was fearful they would try to chew their way into the tent to see if I had any interesting food. Some of the other campers complained that the rabbits would come right into their tent if they left them open. Later, a cat showed up and the rabbits all magically disappeared.

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Monty Python warned us about rabbits.

The air got dramatically cooler and I went to bed.

Day 24/25: Powell, Idaho to Lolo, Montana

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Mr. Moose goes for a dip.

Another state, another timezone. I’m finally in the Mountain Time Zone, only two hours from my timezone in Florida. Only 11 miles to Missoula, Montana.

Upon leaving Powell, Idaho I encountered numerous deer. Then I spied this male moose off to my right. The photo doesn’t do it justice, he was much closer than it appears. He kept looking up at me on the road and then decided to wade out into the pond.

He had a ball. He kept splashing his head in the water and making big waves and then would just watch them. Every so often he would look up to make certain of my whereabouts and then do more splashing. He was fun to watch and I spent about twenty minutes there. He was like a big kid with his own kiddie pool.

Today I was facing a climb over Lolo Pass, 5235 feet (1595 m), which would bring me into Montana. I was anxious to see a new state, one I had not been to before.

The climb was a few thousand feet, but the road was gradual enough that it wasn’t a killer and I was feeling good at the pass. Idaho has a visitor center there and I filled up my water bottles and rested for a bit. I tried to call Jane using Skype, but, as usual, the WiFi was powered by potato (see previous comments in another post) and we were only getting about every third word of the conversation.

Just beyond the center was the sign for Montana. I ran into David there, he is a retired police officer following the path of a book he read recently about an attempted murder case. The book, A Strange Piece of Paradise, is about two women cyclists that rode cross country and were attacked in Oregon. A man ran over their tent with his pickup truck and then proceeded to attack them with an ax. Amazingly, they both lived.

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David was riding an Indian motorcycle. It was an impressive machine and it was nice talking to him. We parted ways and I was in Montana.

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They have finally named a creek after me, how nice.
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The cows always view me with suspicion.

In late afternoon, I arrived in Lola, Montana. I tried to hook up with someone from the WarmShowers.org, but it was late in the day and I gave up. I had a quick meal in Lolo and then pedaled back to a campground that I had passed earlier, 2.5 miles (4 km) out of town. The campground, Square Dance Center and Campground was full. It was getting dark and even though they had a dance in full swing, the owner took me out to show me where I could put a tent and find a shower. I’m forever grateful. Additionally, the campground has the best WiFi service I’ve seen since leaving the Pacific Coast! Kudos.

As I was signing in they offered for me to join in the dance. There were at least a hundred people dancing and they have never seen me dance. It would have been like rolling a giant bowling ball into the middle of them. It would have been chaos. I can’t dance a step, just ask Jane.

The campground is very nice and I felt quite at home with everyone I met. I liked it so much, I decided to spend the next day there before heading off to Missoula, Montana.