Spokane

(To clear things up: I am home now, but will continue to recount my trip to the end.)

Coeur d’Alene to Spokane was only 38 miles so we slept in the best we could then took the morning off.  What we did was spend the morning searching the city park for an electric outlet to plug in at.  There were either no outlets at the restrooms, pavilions, library, or docks, or the outlets did not work.  I charged my phone the night before at the Qdoba, but my backup and Quinton’s devices were all dead.

Near a group of flagpoles on the West side of the park I found light poles with outlets and benches at the base.  There I sat, watching all of the morning runners, cyclists, and dog walkers.  I was semi-clean, having taken a bird bath in the park bathroom before tearing down camp.   After riding every day it is difficult to sit still.  I became antsy and wanted to push on.  I told myself I would ride along the bike path towards Spokane and stop somewhere with breakfast.  I texted Quinton and he was already at a McDonald’s, but it was in the wrong direction.  He told me he got a hit off Warm Showers and we had somewhere to stay that night.

Warm Showers, the organization that helps connect cyclists to hosts is great, but has some flaws.  Quinton and I divided the list of contacts in Spokane and sent messages to every one.  It would be easier and convenient if we could send a mass message to everyone within a certain radius.  Of those people we contacted only one contacted us back.  The couple that offered us housing lived right off of the bike path in the middle of Spokane.  

I stopped at a couple of breakfast places, but they were either too expensive or had a line out the door.  I kept riding, now looking for somewhere to change into my riding shorts and shoes, when I saw the sign for the rest area.  Still no outlets, but I could plug in when we get to the hosts’ house.  I ate the rest of my veggie dogs and salsa and then snacked on apples while typing a blog post.  Quinton showed up some time after.  

The ride to Spokane was short and we took our time getting there.  We stayed on the bike path all the way to hosts’ house.  We were worried about camping in Spokane because of the size of the city, but along the path were many perfect camping spots along the Spokane River.  At one spot we found a structure that looked like it was built for us to camp in.  It was hard not to get distracted by the river and all of the activity on it.  

We arrived at the Doctors’ house a little after six.  They were waiting for us and had dinner prepared.  We were ushered into the garage to drop our gear.  The wife told us that we should shower and throw our clothes into the wash before dinner.  We quickly gathered our dirty clothes and put them in the washing machine and followed her downstairs.  She showed us the room we would stay in and then asked us to change out of our dirty clothes so they too could be washed.  It was a little awkward, but we didn’t want to refuse.  After my shower, I found Quinton upstairs surrounded by grey heads.  We were having a dinner party.  We were offered drinks, but Quinton and I both opted out for water.  Before dinner, they showed us their son’s book from his trip.  He too kept a journal and they had it professionally printed. 

For dinner, we moved out onto the balcony overlooking the river.  The Doctors were adventurous and they told some of the stories from their trips. They had travelled to several countries and were avid mountaineers.  I spoke mostly to the husband, who was an orthopaedic surgeon before retiring.  And like most of my conversations with Doctors, I felt somewhat talked down to.  

Towards the end of dinner I could see the many glasses of wine taking effect.  The three couples were tiring and when the men started telling uncensored war stories it was time for bed.  The next day I asked Quinton how he felt about it all and he too was made to feel like a lower class.  It is hard to say no to a bed, shower, laundry, and food, but I would rather stay in the woods than in that atmosphere another night.  The husband volunteered to ride with us in the morning to help us find our way to Highway 2, which would take us all the way to Seattle.  His tour of Spokane did a great deal to ease my feelings of the night before. They were such an interesting couple and we were thankful for their hospitality, but it was hard to shake that feeling.

Apple Pickin’

We started the morning with free fresh coffee and donuts from the volunteer stand.  Well, Quinton had coffee and I had hot cocoa.  Another one of the “hippie” buses pulled in during the night and we talked to one of its occupants.  He was much nicer than the last guy I tried to talk to.  He told us about their mission and what they stood for.  

In Ennis, at the distillery, I fixed my ground tarp to the bottom of the tent.  This kept it from moving around and made setup and tear down much easier.  Another idea I had was to leave the sleeping pad inside the tent when packing.  Otherwise it gets rolled up and put into its own stuff sack.  Now, it gets rolled up inside the tent, making the setup and tear down of camp much faster and easier.  I’ve gotten into a routine and it takes me maybe 3 minutes to get everything packed onto the bike.  That routine includes checking to make sure all of the bolts on the bike are tight and checking the air pressure.  For some reason, I didn’t check the air pressure the day before.  My front was sitting at 30 lbs and the back at 80 lbs.  I run both of them around 95 lbs.  That is probably why I felt so tired the day before.  I was rolling flat!

Eight miles to the top of Lookout Pass and then it was all down hill.  At Mullen, a few miles West of the summit, we found the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, a paved bike trail following I-90.  This trail was a highlight of the trip.  We didn’t pedal all the way to Wallace.  Outside of Wallace we started seeing Apple trees and of course had to stop to pick.  Once our bags were full we moved on down to Wallace. 

In the middle of downtown and along the bike trail was some kind of market.  There were vendors stretched out for a mile.  The food from the food trucks was alluring, but expensive.  One guy offered me some type of sandwich with every type of smoked meat on it.  I had to decline.  We were forced to  get off the bikes and walk through the chaos.

It was nearing lunchtime but we decided to push another 15 to a Walmart.  Along the bike trail were these concrete poles.  They were placed at road crossings and occasionally for reasons unknown.  Rather than putting them on the side of the trail they stand right in the middle.  I was leading with Quinton on my left hip.  When we came to one of the random posts I let the bike drift to the right of it.  Out of the corner of my eye I see Quinton drifting to the right with me.  He was looking down at his phone and not at the trail.  Like in slow motion, I watch as he and his bike crumples over the top of the post.  He somersaults over the handlebars and lands a few feet away with his bike hanging off of the post.

Other than his pride he was fine.  The bike not so much.  The collision bent the front of his frame just behind the fork.  The next 30 minutes were spent trying to bend back the frame so that the front tire would clear the frame when turning.  Besides the small bubble in the frame, you could hardly tell anything happened.  For the rest of the day I made sure to point out any obvious obstacle so he wouldn’t be tempted to hit anything else.  

The ride to Walmart was pleasant.  There were so many people on the trail, either walking or riding.  The trail was littered with fruit trees.  We stopped and sampled from many of them.  The plums were not as ripe as the apples, so we kept them for later.  At the next town we ran into a peach vendor so I got a couple.  The vendor was from Coeur d’Alene and told us about the trail leading up to it.  He said we probably wouldn’t make it over Fourth of July Pass, but if we did to give him a call.  

Smelterville wasn’t much of a town, but it did have a Walmart.  We may have splurged at Walmart.  It was the first time in a while that we had the opportunity.  We both bought a bag of cereal and a carton of (almond) milk.  I got fresh tortillas, veggie hotdogs, salsa, and some things to snack on.  For lunch I had hotdogs with salsa and a couple of bowls of cereal.  We had to drink as much of the milk in that setting otherwise it would go bad.     

It was hot now and smokey.  Without resting after lunch we got back on the bikes, determined to make it over the next pass to Coeur d’Alene.  We followed the bike trail as far as we could before getting forced to get off and back onto I-90 in order to get into Coeur d’Alene.  “Peach’s” warning about Fourth of July Pass was warranted.  Quinton followed me as we started to ascend.  Without knowing how far it was to the top we rode until seeing a sign that said Fourth of July Pass.  I was so excited for it to be over, but for some reason the road kept winding up.  Assuming we were close to the top, Quinton took off.  Since my bike is geared lower than his it is hard for him to maintain my slow cadence.  It caused him to grind on the pedals when I was easily pedalling.  I settled in to my pace, stopping occasionally to rest.  The angle my body is in while ascending puts alot of pressure on the pudendal nerve, causing pain and numbness.  

I caught up to Quinton at the top of the pass.  By this time we were both out of water and in desperate need of it.  Coeur d’Alene wasn’t far and it was mostly downhill.  Still on I-90 we decided to stop at the first creek, pond, bar, restaurant, or gas station with water.  We must of been in better shape than we thought because we passed up a few water spots.  We came to another construction zone on the interstate and had the West bound lanes to ourselves.  Finally with some cell service we check the map to see where we were and what was up ahead.  Just to the South of I-90 following the lake was a bike trail.  It woul take us along the lake and straight to a bar!  To get there we had to Frogger across the interstate traffic and then descend a cliff.  Quinton opted to go straight down the cliff face.  I rode down a half mile, crawled through a fence, and then rode back to where he was.  There was a group of people coming off of the lake that sat watching us get down to the trail.

We were getting there as the sun was going down, which made for a wonderful view across the lake.  When we got to the bar Quinton went straight in and I got stopped by some locals asking us about the trip.  I walked in with them and stood at the bar as the bartender filled up my bottles.  Quinton was jealous of my cold water since he got his from the restroom.  There were lots of places to stealth along the bike trail, but we had already settled on the dog park in town.  I wanted to sleep on one of the many empty docks, but he was too cautious.  We split up at the dog park.  I went to Qdoba for a burrito and he went to find a campsite.  Qdoba was 3 miles uptown so I got a good tour of the town.  The park and town was full of people.  The bars downtown had people waiting outside and I even saw a party bike, which is a bicycle that seats 7 people and has a bar in the middle.  

After dinner I went back to the park and tried to find Quinton.  He was hidden so well I had to call him.  Behind the dog park was a wooded hill with paths cut everywhere on it.  He had found probably the only flat spot on the hill.  We had to push/carry our bikes through bushes and up a steep, rocky, path, but from the flat you could see the lights of Coeur d’Alene downtown.  I was a little afraid that we had grabbed some homeless guy’s spot, but he never came around.  I was also afraid that the guy in the park that thought he was a zombie might come up the path and try to eat us.  That also never happened.  It was a good night. 

Cherry Country

Nobody bothered me during the night and I only woke up a few times from noises, but I was safe behind my locked door.  No service, so no way to contact Quinton.  Only thing left to do was ride on.  

Limited fruits, but plenty of assorted liquor

We had made plans to meet and stay with a cousin across the mountain pass.  All we had to do was get there.  I got up early, wanting to get as many miles in before it got too hot and smokey.  My first stop was at a truck stop and grocery  where I filled up on water and made a peanut butter, honey, and banana burrito.  Inside, was a large gift shop with free popcorn to eat as you shop.  I took full advantage, eating a couple bags.

The rest of the day was agonizingly slow.  I was exhausted and each pedal stroke seemed to take all of my effort.  I blamed it on the heat and smoke.  I must have stopped at every exit to rest and wait for motiviation to strike.  I even got a coffee drink in hopes that the caffeine would get me going.  Fifteen miles from the top of Lookout Pass and the Idaho border I stopped at a sign saying last chance for cherries.  For the past 100 miles there were signs everywhere for cherries, so I figured I might as well.  And, it was another chance to rest.  I bought a bag of Rainier cherries and sat down in the cold creek.  I had never tasted cherries so sweet and fresh.  Not sure if it was the cherries, the cold water, or my exhaustion that made them taste so good.  

Surely I could go another 15 miles to the top and then coast downhill the rest of the way to Wallace, ID.  I mounted the bike determined to make it up the hill, but only made it 5 miles when I saw another rest area sign.  I wouldn’t have given in if it weren’t for the free coffee sign.  That sign means someone is setup with homemade baked goods and drinks.  Seemed like a good enough spot to wait on Quinton.  Two ice cold lemonades, a brownie, and two cookies and I was ready for a nap.  I asked the lady at the stand to direct the next cyclist to my napping spot and then laid down in the grass behind a pavilion.  

When Quinton arrived he looked as tired as I felt.  We caught up after he took advantage of the free snacks.  I told him all about my stealth the night before and the rest of my day and he fille me in on his adventure.  As much as I like being on my own it is nice to be able to share the experience with someone that understands.  We decided the rest area would do for the night.  Still no service, I used the payphone to get a message to my cousin that I would not make it.  

Quinton, nervous about getting run off, scouted the woods around the rest area for a place to pitch the tent.  I liked the pavilion and setup there.  I angled the tent and bike so that it couldn’t be seen from the road or building.  We met the rest area attendent and I tried to build a rapport so he would be less likely to kick us out.  No problems!

Expert Stealth or Breaking and Entering?

Leaving Missoula.  Quinton and I split up that morning, I to the Post Office and him to the grocery store.  I had to ship my second package home.  It included my old sleeping bag, the minions, my long pants, and some other warm stuff. I waited this long to get a new bag and now it’s warm enough that I’m sending home my warm clothes and don’t even need the new, warmer bag.  But, I dropped 6 more pounds and only added 3 with the new bag.  As soon as I get back I will look for a lighter option for future outings.

We decided to take I-90 West until we ran into Highway 2.  Interstates tend to be flatter and faster than highways.  Both of us have been talking about future adventures and what we will do once we reach Seattle.  Not tired of riding or exploring, but wanting to mostly get out of the smoke and see something different.

The interstate was not fun.  The smoke limited vision, the temperature was up in the 90s, and the shoulder was littered with debris.  After 10 to 15 miles the interstate turned into a one-lane with construction on the West bound lanes.  I couldn’t see any construction workers on the road and the road look was not tore up, so I jumped on and had the two West bound lanes all to myself.  I eventually ran into a construction worker and told him to watch out for another cyclist and to tell him to ride in the construction zone.  This lasted another 15 miles before the traffic returned to the lanes.  

Looking for lunch, I pulled off the Highway into Alberton.  The map said it was the last stop with food for a long ways.  I followed three firetrucks into the Flyin Cafe.  I reasoned that if they drove 30 miles to eat there it must be good.  One of the firemen warned me about the fire up ahead.  He said I would be able to see it from the road. My options for lunch were french fries or a salad.  They also had a cardiac burger, which was two grilled cheese sandwhiches with two beef patties and bacon sandwiched in between.  So, french fries again…

After leaving, I spotted Quinton riding ahead of me.  The wind had picked up and I struggled to catch him, but did after some time.  He hadn’t stopped for lunch yet and was searching for somewhere to stop.  He was out of water and could not eat without it, so I offered my spare bottle.  Rather than taking it, he rode for another hour and spotted a turn off that dropped down to a creek.  He took it, and I rode on.  Not a half mile from leaving him and a sign for a rest area apearred.  I scouted it and he caught up to eat there.  We talked about staying there for the night, but he was hesitant about sleeping at a rest area.  There were signs everywhere forbidding overnight camping.  I assumed those signs were for motorists.  

Quinton’s lunch

After snacking and watching a movie, I started to get antsy.  If we weren’t camping there then I wanted to find a place before it got dark.  As I was packing up a school bus covered in graffiti artwork pulls in and a pack of dogs and their humans poured out.  They caught everyone’s attention with their ragged clothes, dreads, and obvious lack of hygiene.  I spoke to one of the men to ask what they were doing and he was not very open about it.  I imagine he judged me and decided I wasn’t worthy enough to talk to, because of our differences.  I told Quinton what had happened and he said he too gets tired of people asking him what he is doing.  I learned later from a similar bus and a much friendlier representative that they travel around and provide food for homeless people.  The people on the bus give up everything to help others.

I hit the road and left Quinton napping.  I was going up to the next exit to check things out and look for a place to camp.  Quinton would meet me later.  The next exit was only 5 miles away.  The first thing I noticed was a large field to the right of the off ramp.  Across the road from the field was an the abandoned Stagecoach Inn, an RV park.  I wandered around looking at all of the options. The place was well built in a log cabin fashion.  The electricity and water were both shut off, but I had my battery bank and filled up on water at the rest area.  I kept it as an option, but we would be a little exposed right off of the interstate.  I went North to the river and found a couple of places along with an apple tree that I foraged.  

I then went back up to the road to wait for Quinton.  I sat there for an hour and a half before giving up.  He either passed out at the rest area or found somewhere in between.  I started to setup in the open field because it had decent coverage, but decided to check out the abandoned RV park again.  For some reason I pushed on one of the doors, and it opened.  It opened to an large room void of furniture.  The building had a bathroom, closet, office, and the large open room.  I found a broom and cleaned every room before deciding which one to camp in.  The office had a window to the large open room as well as one to the outside.  It also had a lock from the inside.  The blinds to the outside window had fallen off so I reinstalled them and then set up an alarm on the front door to keep someone from surprising me.  I locked myself in and went to bed.  

House of Bruce

I took my time getting around in the morning.  I guessed that Quinton was only 15 miles behind and if I left out late he might catch up.  As soon as I get on the bike to leave the hotel I see him roll by.  I whistled and caught his attention.  We caught up the last couple of days before I lost him again.  

The ride to Missoula was all downhill.  I pushed through lunch, eating on the bike and made it to Missoula by 4 PM.  My first stop was the Adventure Cycling Association’s headquarters.  I got a tour and explanation of everything they do there.  I got to see the wall with all of the other cyclists that stopped by and they gave me access to their fridge.  Everything was a bit rushed because it was so close to closing time.  When I left there I went to the famous House of Bruce to set up for the night.  

Bruce runs a Warm Showers community house.  People come and go and several have moved in over the years.  He is so experienced that he has a guidebook that he points you towards when you get there.  He said, “the book explains everything”.  I sat down and read through it before contacting Quinton.  I sent him the address and then went for dinner.  

Everyone I talked to said I must try Five on Black.  It was a Chipotle style restaurant.  The food was ok.  The coconut curry sauce they put on my bowl of rice and beans made me miss coconut curry vegetable soup.  While I was sitting there I kept looking at the guy next to me thinking he looked so familiar.  I asked him if he was from Arkansas and he said no.  He asked if I watch Netflix, so I asked if he was an actor.  Turns out, he made a documentary called Minimalism.  His name is Ryan Nicodemus.  In his usual fashion, he gave me a hug and asked about my journey.

From there I went back to the house to find Quinton making himself at home.  We decided to take a rest day the next day and were not in a hurry to get up in the morning.  I made some cinnamon rolls and after breakfast we went out shopping.  I needed a warmer bag and Quinton wanted to see what REI had.  I spent an hour picking out the bag, which I will now probably trade for a different one.  We then went to Adventure Cycling Association for Quinton’s tour.

After we had eaten the celebratory popsicles and drank as many lemonades as we could stand we went to Free Cycles, a community bike shop.  Quinton needed to fix a bad tube and get a wobble out of his wheel.  While I was there I went ahead and built up and tuned a bike for the shop to give away.  The rest of the day was spent doing laundry and lounging.    

Bitterroot

Getting up to have my Poptarts eaten was not fun.  The rest of my food was safe inside my pannier.  I would be eating what was left of my peanut butter and Nebraska honey, which I mixed together back in Dubois.  I went to the bathroom and on the way said good morning to someone that had just pulled in with a camper.  I told him about the facility and then about the wifi.  When I returned from the restroom he asked the “where from, and where to” questions and then offered to share his breakfast.  He was about to prepare pancakes!

I went back to the shack, changed clothes, and packed the bike before returning to his camper.  He was in his 70s, traveling locally hitting all of the fishing spots.  Trout fishing is a big deal around here.  After eating 6 pancakes I took off.  

It was a slow climb up to the top of Chief Joseph Pass.  It would be 30 miles up and 30 miles down for the day.  About halfway to the top I stopped at a visitor center which described the war between the local tribes and the “white man” settlers.  Everything about the scene was sad.

From there the climb got more aggressive, the smoke thicker, and the day hotter.  The two lane road wound through thick pine trees following a small creek up the pass.  At the top was the Idaho/Montana border.  I would stay on the Montana side going down and not pass into Idaho for a few more days.  The rest area at the top was a welcomed sight.  I stopped for lunch and played with the fat ground squirrels.  The hard part was over.  I had 30 miles of downhill to Darby.

There was a hot spring at the bottom of the pass that tempted me to stop, but I kept going.  The hill I would have to climb to get out of the hot spring is what convinced me to keep going.  On the way to Darby I met two couples.  The first two were doing a short trek of a few hundred miles, but the second couple had been riding for 10 years.  They had everything in their packs, including a pressure cooker and laptop.  When I showed them my keyboard and phone they almost lost it.  I spent probably half an hour with them hearing their story.  You can follow their story HERE, but they have not updated in a while.

I stopped in Sula for a snack and to get off of the bike.  I was out of the steeper grade and now having to battle the smoke and headwind.  Just 15 more miles to Darby.  I talked myself out of camping and into getting a room.  I used the smoke and cold nights as my excuse.   The room was cheap and dirtier than some of my campsites, but I could regulate the temperature and it was out of the smoke.  I slept on top of the bedding with the minions between me and the bed.  It would be my first good night sleep since leaving Dubois.  

Wisdom Nero

I didn’t sleep much the night before.  It was so cold I thought about going in the Bunkhouse and claiming one of the empty beds.  When it was warm enough to go out I walked over to the only restaurant in town and had breakfast.  I was probably a sight walking up in my wool long underwear, but I didn’t care.  

After breakfast I packed up and went nowhere.  I was drained from the 75 the day before and no sleep.  I went into the Bunkhouse and still couldn’t find anyone so I took a shower and used the laundry and wifi.  When all was done, I went back to where I camped and layed out my minion blanket and took a nap.  

Eventually I was woken up by talking around the Bunkhouse and it was two motorcyclists from Arkansas talking with Rick, the owner.  I got around and it wasn’t even noon yet.  Talking to Rick, the next town was Wisdom and it would be mostly downhill.  Only 18 miles away and they had another free camp for cylists.  

Days when all I have to do is point the bike are good days.  The 18 miles went by quick and I was in Wisdom for a late lunch.  I explored the little town and then stopped at the only open restaurant.  It was a bit pricey and I can’t remember what I ate.  Oh, a cucumber sandwich.  I can’t believe I payed for someone to put cucumbers on bread. There were other things and it came with fries, the frozen kind.  

Everyone I talked to told me I should go to the Legion campground just West of town.  I checked out the RV park just because and they were charging $15.  The Legion campground was free, had bathrooms, water, and WIFI!  The RV park did not have WIFI, but it had a shower.  Since I had already showered, that was not a concern.  

I spent the afternoon and evening cleaning the shack and watching movies.  Everything was going good until it started getting colder.  I shut all the shutters I could and found the least drafty place in the shack to sleep.  It was going to be a long night.  

Again, I had everything warm on.  I decided that I have been losing heat through my sleeping pad so I put the emergency blanket under the pad and I think it helped.  However, it did a better job on top.  It was a night for experimenting.  Besides the cold, the critters were keeping me up.  I kept hearing coyotes laughing at me and footsteps on the gravel outside the door.  I may have been paranoid, but there was something out there and I was not in the best position to protect myself.  I was so wrapped up that it took great effort to get my hands free to grab the flashlight each time something came to pester me.  

In the morning, I got up and found that something had eaten all of my Poptarts…not paranoid!  

Quinton takes a Zero

After spending the night at the bike camp, Quinton decided to take a zero.  My next stop would be Jackson, 75 miles and two mountain passes away.  It was a long and uneventful day.  

Quinton’s spot at the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges

The thirty miles from Twin Bridges to Dillon went by fast.  I stopped there for lunch, potato burrito and a 2 Litre of lemonade.  The temperature got to the mid 90’s and I started to feel it after leaving Dillon.  I ran out of water on the first pass, which included my two 20 oz bottles on the frame and my backup 32 oz bottle.  I knew there would be water in the river valley, but not sure how much further to the water.  I already passed a couple dry creek beds before I came to a sign for Bannack State Park.  Seven miles to Bannack or 20 miles to Jackson.  I sat at the crossroads for probably 10 minutes trying to decide which way to go. 

Salt stains from the heat

I opted for Jackson and pushed on.  I found a creek just a few miles up the road.  It was in a cow pasture and the creek bank was covered with cow tracks and patties.  As I was filtering the water I was reminded of Molly-Molly, a hardcore thru-hiker that never filters her water.

I crawled to the top of the second pass less than an hour before sun down.  About 10 miles to Jackson and it was all downhill.  This area is known for having large square hay stacks, the size of houses.  They are made with these giant moose trap looking devices.  Just outside of Jackson I spotted a moose and her calf grazing with a herd of cows.

The main reason I pushed on to Jackson was so that I could take a day or half day off at the hot springs there.  Unfortunately, it was closed, along with most of the rest of town. It would take less than 30 seconds to ride through town.  The Bunkhouse Hotel had a sign out front for a “Cyclist Campsite”.  I set up and then went inside to sign the guest book and read the policies.  Most of the free camps have some sort of guidelines you are supposed to read.  There was nobody around so I took advantage of the shower, bathroom, wifi, and microwave before going to bed.  It was a cold night and I tried out my new wool baselayer in conjunction with my minion blanket, silk sheet, pad, sleeping bag, and emergency blanket.  I was still cold all night.  

Slept behind the hops vines

The First Bike Camp

It rained nearly all night, which caused us to sleep in.  Once we finally crawled out of the tents we were slow to get around, letting the tents dry in the sun.  We had one pass ahead of us and the rest would all be downhill.  I got back on the road while Quinton did ran some errands.  

The climb started right outside of Ennis, spanned 5 miles and rose nearly 2000 feet.  It was slow and painful.  I stopped twice to give my seat a rest.  My legs are hardened from all of the miles, but long climbs put a lot of unwanted stress on my seat.  The pass was deceiving.  Once I got to the top and through pass it opened up and I could see that it just kept climbing.  At the real top of every pass I stop and look back and think about how it hurt and how I got over it.  I then slip on my arm warmers in preparation of the speeds I’m about to reach.  

The ride from the top of the pass to Virginia City was effortless.  I don’t even remember pedalling.  I have been listening to the radio a lot the last couple of days.  One of the advertisements played over and over was for a creamery in Virginia City.  This creamery has been making icecream the same way for a hundred or so years.  Every 30 minutes I got to hear about this creamery.  So, I stopped and that is where Quinton caught up to me.  

Virginia City was a cool old gold rush town.  Built in ~1862 it had a population of 20,000 after one year (I stopped at the visitor center).  They have the oldest saloon and brewery in Montana.  We explored the town and settled on the old train depot to set up lunch.  Ramen and instant mashed potatoes again.  

Once we ran out of downhill and got into the flat river valley we hit a head wind.  I could see him struggling in the wind ahead of me so I let him draft for a few miles until I fatigued.  He passed and offered to pull, but I was spent and wanted to spin a while.  At the next town I caught and passed him and continued on with renewed strength.  It was probably the Snickers I ate.  

The next town was Twin Bridges and I followed the signs to a rest area.  I was going to fix a snack and wait for Quinton.  That is where I found the Bike Camp.  It was a one room building with a couple couches and a recliner.  Outside was a patio with a grill and picnic tables.  It also had a bathroom, hot shower, and a biker box.  When Quinton arrived, it was mutual that we would be staying there for the night.  While I explored Twin Bridges he settled in.  

 

The further I ride the more I would like to open a place like this.  I did get a hit on my Warm Showers for a couple to stay on the boat a couple days before.  We could only fine one flaw with the place and that was not having a light switch.  The bathroom, shower, and common room all had lights, but no light switch.  We spent half an hour trying to figure out how to turn the lights on.  Eventually we gave up and Quinton hung a flashlight from the rafters.  We plotted the next few days and watched the movies we had downloaded earlier before going to bed.    

Distillery

We got up early, planning to do 75.  We had to get over the pass before the wind picked up.  I took advantage of the shower and Quenton took advantage of the microwave for breakfast.  Packing is always easier when I don’t have to take down the tent.  All I needed for the night was my sleeping bag.  

The pass was not a high one and the day looked to be an easy ride.  I caught up to Quenton about halfway up the pass.  He had stopped to eat some ramen.  I continued on and did not see him again until we stopped for the night.  The climb took us up and around Earthquake Lake.  There was a geologic visitor center there, but I felt like riding.  Coming out of the pass I went by a herd of mountain goats hanging out on the side of the road.  They didn’t budge when cars went by but they scared when I approached.  

From the top, it would be all downhill to Ennis.  Thirty miles of a long, slow downhill.  The road followed the Madison River and it was filled with trout fishermen.  They were all in these funny boats with a bow on both ends and a guide with oars.  Every now and then I would see a transport truck drive by and return with a boat and load of fishermen.

About 10 miles from Ennis I ran into a rain storm.  I stopped just before getting wet and set up against a fence post for lunch.  The storm was moving Northwest just like me, so I sat and waited for it to move up the road.  Before then I was running 18-20 mph.  This was the first time I had to purposefully slow my pace.  I kept pace around 10 mph to not get too close to the storm.   When it finally moved North of the road I passed it by and road into Ennis.  I explored the town, went into a couple outfitter stores, and then settled on an old fashioned soda fountain to rest at before heading on.  

Quinton arrived into town and called to find out where I was.  He was at the library and the librarian told him that Willie’s Distillery allowed cyclists to camp in their yard.  I went to their tasting room to sign up and did a tasting while I was there.  Afterwards I went back to the library to type and download a movie.  

Mulberry Liquor, blackberry liquor, cherry brandy, 80 proof bourbon, 100 proof bourbon

We set up camp and lounged the rest of the evening before going to bed.  If you like the smell of baking bread, you would like the distillery.  I got a whiff of the fermenting yeast with every breath.  It was a warm night because of the storm front coming in and I got a good night of sleep.  I hardly noticed the rain when it started.