June 27, 2001

6/27/01 West Yellowstone, MT

17.9 miles

Went to sleep last night to the sound of rain, but I slept well. Not many were up in the campground when I packed up to leave.

The ride out of the park was beautiful and peaceful, with hardly a car or RV to be seen. The Madison River was this incredible gun-metal blue. Still, you can see evidence of the '88 fire damage everywhere. A lot of areas, the forest floor is blanketed by new saplings, most just waist high. But some places, the damage might be permanent. Only time will tell if the park will return to its previous splendor.

Leaving the park, with the sun just rising

Arrived in West Yellowstone, Montana early, but found "Free Heel & Wheel" open for business. Besides being a bike shop (ski shop in winter), it's also a coffee shop. Had a good chat with Brenda. A friend of hers, Matt, stopped by. "I did the TransAm nine years ago and this is where I ran out of money," he said, "and I've been here ever since."

At the library, I met with Liz Kearney to prepare for my talk. As part of their "Reading Road Trip, USA 2001" summer reading program, the kids are following several cross-country cyclists. I probably spoke to a dozen kids about my trip, both the good and the bad, and about my cousin, Nancy's, memorial scholarship fund. They had very good questions, and a couple even asked if they could come, too.

The kids seemed pretty interested in the trip so far

But this little guy was more interested in the trailer

I met a few more cyclists today, all going east. I had breakfast with Bob (from California) who is seventy. Met George as I was leaving the park. A few more guys showed up, waiting for a couple of girls they'd been riding with. Sounds like I might get a tailwind on the route tomorrow.

I'm feeling out of sorts today. While I had fun talking to the kids, other stuff hasn't gone well. I'm at the Madison Hotel (which has hostel bunks, too). I just feel so separated from everyone and everything in this tourist town. I'm spending way too much money and taking poorly planned short days. I really need to refocus.

I did have some other highlights, though. Saw a few bison real close. They're doing an article about my ride in the UMKC Alumni News. The head of Institutional Development at TWU will be in Missoula next week and will give me a place to stay. And TWU Public Relations have asked if I would agree to interviews. Cool! So, I'll try and relax tonight and tackle the world tomorrow.