Wrapping it up

So Tuesday night a friend texted that a photo was not a blog. I promised that tomorrow was coming. Well, it did. So did a few others. Sorry Jeff!

Now it’s Sunday and time to wrap up leg 2 of our epic bike trip across the country.

The last day, like the day before, had a headwind. This time it was a little stronger. Montana’s way of trying to keep us? Probably not. More of a punishment for daring to cross. That might explain how it was mostly uphill again too.

And there was a little miscalculation on the map on my part. You have to understand, we were using biking specific maps, which are broken down into approximately 30 mile segments. Typically you go from one section to the next right down the line. The route is clearly (well, somewhat clearly) marked and mostly uses bike friendly roads and trails. So I wasn’t looking at the big state map. Anyhow, for whatever reason, at the edge of the state where I thought we had 12 miles left, we needed to go from segment 1 to segment 3! So that added some miles in. Whoops.

It was probably our hardest day, in my opinion, but not nearly the longest, so I guess it worked out. I know we were both pretty happy to see the North Dakota border.

And now we have a month or so to fix up what we may have dinged up and keep working on those glitches that haven’t quite been worked out. Next trip we might need both heat and air conditioning and we want to be darn sure they’re both going to work.

My bike couldn’t seem to lean against the RV and stand up at the end. Pretty much mirrors how I felt.

2 days later…

We did indeed take all of yesterday off. It was great! The balloon festival was good and we were up until after 10. That’s our latest night yet. I slept in, we did a whole lot of nothing and then slept like babies last night. Well, I did. Can’t really speak for Michelle, but that’s never stopped me before.

So since we stayed two nights at the same place in Billings, when we went back to Miles City we stayed in the same place we’d been on the way out. Plus there was an added bonus of getting my toiletry bag back. Today I got to wear contacts on my ride!

But back to last night in Miles City. We decided to take a leisurely stroll around the park in the evening with a pocket full of dog treats. We didn’t come across many dogs and the cat on a leash didn’t care for it.

But you know what we did find? A family playing bocce ball. The dad was wearing an SDSU shirt. Of course we had to stop and ask about it. He didn’t go there, she did. They were a really nice couple originally from Fedora, now in Sioux Falls. Shot the breeze there for a while.

And today’s ride. For the first time this leg of the journey we had a headwind. That was hard to take after all of those tailwind days. And it sure seemed like there were more uphills than down today. But we managed to get our miles in. There may have been a couple of mishaps here or there, but nobody is injured.

We are just short of getting to the North Dakota border, so are staying one more night in Montana. It’s a different sort of campground and that’s all I’m going to say about that. I’ll try to write one more time after we cross that elusive border.

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I was hearing the beep beep beep of an alarm throughout the night, but it really got regular about 4:10. I stayed in bed until 5:45 anyway, but didn’t get much sleep. Eventually we figured out that it was the inverter, which is under the bed. I flipped the switch enough times that it quit and called it good. Walking to the resort bathroom one last time before leaving, there were several hot air balloons ascending over the Yellowstone River. We had seen a poster about a balloon festival but get so tired by evening we dismissed it.

As you might know, our plans change like a baby’s diaper. We drove to Pompei Point as our start spot and got in a great 22 miles. Then somehow we made a wrong turn. Michelle rode five miles up a difficult road before we figured it out, so then she got a great downhill by riding back. Then we resumed our routine of taking turns riding and driving. All in all we each rode about 30 miles and finished around 2 in the afternoon. The thing is, they are hilly miles and though a little cooler today at the upper 80s, the humidity is up there higher than it’s been. We were shot.

During our ride time we had talked over various plans and agreed on one that would take us back to Billings for the night, we could do our laundry and get more groceries, then go the festival after napping a bit in the afternoon.

So far that’s still the plan. We are back to the same RV park as last night, have had our showers, sandwiches and naps, in that order, and the laundry is drying as I write. Tomorrow we will take the morning off because we both need down time. Yes, we also want to get home, both of us have work to do waiting for us, but we also want our trip to be enjoyable.

So far it sure has been!

The end is sort of in sight

Day three of the riding portion of our trip and it was another cooker out there. But we are doing alright. It wasn’t easy, but we both managed to turn our odometers over to 100 miles today. Then we came back to Billings to camp and we will pick up 20 miles ahead where we left off. We might actually be home sometime Tuesday! Barring unforeseen circumstances, of course. So the translation of the end being in sight is we think we are halfway done with leg two of our epic tour.

Oh,and we plan to go through Miles City again, so I should be able to pick up my lost but not forgotten toiletry bag. The really necessary items have been replaced, but I sure miss my contact lenses and electric toothbrush.

It’s bedtime now so I’ve gotta go. Hopefully I’ll check in again tomorrow.

We are doing this!

No blog yesterday, sorry but that happens sometimes. We kept pretty busy. We were up and riding by 6:30 and had a tailwind. It was a good day to ride. Let me modify that, it was a good morning to ride. By noon or so the temperature was up in the 90s again and we called it a day. Before going to our campsite we took a tour of Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. I’ve been into lots of caves, but this one was really nice. It had a lot of full columns that really looked carved. We had to whisper because they were concerned about startling their baby bats, but Michelle remarked (quietly) that now she knew where they got the design for the leaning tower of Pisa.

After checking in we drove a couple miles down the road and visited the headwaters of the Missouri River. That’s where the picture is from.

Looking at the map, it’s going to take us longer than a week to get across this state. That really doesn’t come as a surprise, because it takes a week to cross South Dakota and we do much longer days on that tour. We may modify our route a little bit and I’m hoping to take a detour back to Miles City where I left my toiletry bag. That’s where my contacts are, so I’m riding in glasses. It’s harder on my eyes than the usual wrap around sunglasses.

But we will make it. And if I ever complain about our harsh climate and changeable weather, remind me that I could be in Montana.

Ready to ride

Our mechanical problems seem to have gone away. The guy who ran last night’s KOA sent us to his personal mechanic, Cliff. After running diagnostics on it at no charge, Cliff advised us to take it on the interstate, get it up to speed and see what happened. If the light didn’t come on, we should assume it was a glitch. So that’s what we are assuming.

After a long day we are safely parked at the Dillon, MT KOA and will be leaving bright and early in the morning. Do you know how many people bring their dogs along camping? I don’t either, but it’s a lot! Our site is right next to the campground dog run so we’ve met a few of them without even walking around. Always ready to take a walk after spending all day in a vehicle, we wandered around the campground after eating and visited with a lot of people. And petted a lot of dogs! Only one was too feisty to pet. They said it’s old and cranky. I told them I can relate.

Our remotes for both the television and fire stick are lost forever, it seems, so television has been out. We did pick up a universal remote so the TV works, but we don’t have any channels. I’m in the process of downloading an app to use my phone for the fire stick, so hopefully tomorrow we can watch something, if we choose to.

Ok, the only picture I’ve taken today is of the toilet seat. You see, it’s broken and when we stopped at an RV place I wanted to get a new one. They didn’t have anything that would work. Anyway, I don’t want to post that picture. Maybe I’ll snap a quick selfie of us after a really long 95 degree day. Scratch that, it’s really bad! Here’s a sunset on Enemy Swim Lake. It’s got nothing to do with our ride, but it’s pretty.

Tomorrow we ride!

Darn you Montana!

First off, we didn’t leave on Sunday as previously planned. One of us has a harder time getting away from work, and it isn’t me. But that doesn’t matter. We have no firm date to get back and we do plan to finish, once we start.

So after noticing a low tire before we left Michelle’s driveway we went to a tire place in Aberdeen to have it looked at. Four new tires later we were on our way. And we needed them. Looking at the picture of the one that is low I think you’ll agree.

The unplanned time spent in Aberdeen was time well spent. Fast forward a few hours. And you’ll find us somewhat in the middle of nowhere in Montana still looking at maps and planning our route. All was right with our world until we lost power going down a hill. And a little light that looks like a wrench came on. We have a manual for that. It says we are in limp home mode. The trouble is, the nearest town that with any sort of mechanic was 99 miles away. We weren’t planning to go to Miles City, but we made it! We called the KOA from the road and they were full, but they called back within a couple of minutes and had a cancellation. So not only did we make it to Miles City, but we also had a place to stay!

Alright, we were thinking that we were having a pretty bad day. However, upon heading into the ladies room at the campground, there was a young woman with a full cast and a one legged scooter heading in as well. Yesterday, on their first day of vacation, she got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night and fell out of their cabin. She shattered a few bones. We decided we are doing alright after all.

And don’t worry, once we get things looked at we will be back on the road again. If we have to spend some time in Miles City at least we will have our bikes!

We fought the good fight, but Montana won

We are not quitters. When we have made up our minds to do something, we usually do. And we fought Montana hard. We spent five days here and were able to ride four of them.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time on a bike seat, but you feel the weather. Temperatures anywhere in the 50s up are good with me and yesterday most of our miles were in before it hit that magic number. Rain spit on and off most of the day. The wind beat us up pretty badly too, but at the end of the day we stayed in an RV park with hot springs. That made it better.

This morning we woke up to temps in the 30s and no hope of getting out of the 40s for several days. There comes a time when you just have to cry uncle. We did ride for awhile this morning, but we knew we would never make it across the state at that pace. So we called it.

That doesn’t mean our ride is finished. We are coming home a few days early, but will schedule a week this summer when it’s warmer and get it done.

Montana may have won the battle, but she hasn’t won the war.

Sapphire fever

Yesterday we woke up to a nearly flooded campground. Seriously, an RV just a few spots over was surrounded in at least ankle deep water. We got up and out while we could. It would be interesting to go past the place again today, because it just poured all day yesterday.

Anyway, we drove across the road to higher ground for breakfast and met some great characters. Two we passing through, like us, and one stays there a lot. He told us about a great small town where you can mine sapphires.

Being way too wet and miserable to safely ride, we drove to Philipsburg and bought a couple of bags of rocks. It was so much fun! We ended up staying all afternoon. But this afternoon is supposed to be dry for at least a few hours so we will be back on the road on two wheels again.

If there’s wifi or a cell signal I’ll try to post again.