August 12, 2001

8/12/01 Big Bend Camp

73.6 / 6143 miles

Yesterday was one of the hottest yet. I know everyone says "it's a dry heat" but a blast furnace is still a blast furnace. At one point four vultures seemed to be circling my general vicinity towards late afternoon. There's just something about having one of those shadows cross your path that makes you check your map once more and make sure you have enough water.

It seemed as if I had the road all to myself this morning. Surprising me though were the three people I saw out for a Sunday morning run. Besides the runners, one dog decided to run with me for over two miles. I think he was a Collie-Golden Retriever mix that stood about thigh high. He actually brushed up against me several times as he kept even with me. When the pavement got to be too much for his paws, he followed on the road shoulder. No matter what I did or said, he wouldn't stop. Finally on a long downhill, I got too far ahead, and I lost him. Other than that, no other animals, not even a moose.

You know you're in the Rockies when people stop talking about individual mountains, instead they mention mountain ranges. Had a good view of the Cabinet Mountain Range. From there, I join up with the Kootenai River and busy Hwy 2.

But hey! It's lunch time, so I took a side trip to Troy, MT. At first, I thought I had made a mistake because it's a long downhill into town. But I had time, and what's some more climbing? Anyway, it was a good choice because the tacos at R-Place Restaurant were huge. One couple asked about the trip. He laughed when I told him how far I've come already, "everyone's gotta' have a dream." he said.

Now here's the strange part. I make the climb back out of Troy, then I start a series of long downhills. The only weird part is that I'm biking upstream. Go figure!

The Kootenai Falls were marked on the map and judging from all the cars, looked to be a must see kind of place. I wasn't disappointed! After a foot bridge across the railroad tracks and a long trail, you come to the falls. Just spectacular! One local said these were the falls in the Meryll Streep's movie "River Wild." Kind of hard even to judge their size until you see the little people off fishing in the pools.

After that it was a pretty easy ride into Libby, MT. It cooled off a bit as some cloud-cover moved in. But the overcast skies gave the town a 'tired look.' Maybe it was just trying to recuperate from its annual rodeo that ended yesterday. I checked out the camping behind the Chamber-of-Commerce building but the tent pads were only 20 feet from the highway. The map indicated a few RV campgrounds further out of town, so I decided to move on.

The first rule of cross-country touring is "never go back." The first campground looked very green but was only a couple of miles out of town. I decided to try further. The second was a lot cheaper but no shade, so I pushed on. Ended up a Big Bend RV Campground, complete with it's own bar/restaurant. The previous RV parks might have been better, but I wasn't about to turn around.

Got a spot for the tent right next to the river so I could hear the water flow over the rocks. Had one weird incident. There was a camper truck off the one side along the bank about 200 yards away. After I got the tent up, it looked like he was going to leave. The truck started, backed up but as he reached halfway up the incline, it stopped. I watched for awhile, and nothing happened. The truck was still running and it looked like the driver's head was lowered. I thought 'heart attack' and went over to see if the guy was alright. Good thing the door was between us because as I woke him, his startle reaction was to take a swing at me. He apologized, and I went back to start my dinner.

After a bit, he drove the truck right up next to me and my stove so he could talk. He said he was from Libby, out for a bit of fishing but his pinched nerve in his back just hurt too bad. After a while, he finally left but headed to the restaurant. I later found out he never got out of the truck, probably fell asleep again. Then about 2AM I woke up to the sound of his truck starting up again in the place I saw him first. This time, he did find his way all the way to the road and drove off. I hope he make it home safely. The next morning, the couple that run the restaurant asked if he'd bothered me. They didn't tell me his story but his actions didn't surprise them.

Later after dinner, I took a walk and met Gene and Kathy. They were just down for a few days of fishing. They were retired and from Wyoming, but had a couple of months to travel before heading for Arizona for a camp host job. Turns out they'd done some short tours and loved cycling. Kathy was just getting back into it after ACL surgery last year. A real nice couple.