August 13, 2001

8/13/01 Eureka, MT

80 / 6223 miles

Thought I could see lightning last night but there were stars above my head. But with the morning, the sky was covered with clouds. As I left, it started to sprinkle but that was all. Actually great weather for climbing because it was cool.

After Libby Dam, I followed the shore of Lake Koocanusa for over 40 miles. I don't know how long it is but it stretches all the way to Canada. Hence the name (Koo)tenai river (Can)ada (USA). A very peaceful ride, wide shoulder and only the occasional truck. My surprise came when I saw another cyclist approach from the other direction.

Shinji Uga had traveled all the way from Japan, across Asia, Europe and east from New York. In Seattle, he'd either go home to Japan or try and get a visa so he could bike Korea. He figured he'd done 14,000 miles already. Kind of makes me feel like a lightweight.

My original plan had been to stop in Rexford, at least for lunch. But the café was closed and it seemed like a good idea to push on. That would give me a shorter day tomorrow.

At the intersection, I could either turn south toward Eureka or go north to the Canadian border. I figured I was this close, only 7 miles, and that would make it an official "border-to-border" ride. So I turned north.

Walked over to talk to the customs agent at the Port of Roosville. Jack said I could go on ahead to the Canadian side if all I was going to do was take a picture. His first two questions were "where are you from?" and "are you American citizen?" But after that he was real pleasant. He said working at the border crossing was ok, but sometimes he had to work extra days and longer hours. At the Canadian side, they were surveying everyone crossing. The guy laughed when he asked how long I planned to stay in Canada and I replied "less than five minutes."

Eureka looks like a town with a lot of potential. The few blocks of downtown are full of shops you wouldn't expect in a rural town of a thousand. I found two health food stores, a bookstore, a potter's studio and the like. But down here at the city park, I am surrounded by guys drinking beer driving loud trucks with no mufflers. If I had a choice I 'd move on, but the next campground is 15 miles away.

I did meet Wenedelin from Austria here in town. He'd started in Georgia, went to the Grand Canyon, then started heading north toward Jasper, British Columbia (Canada). I tried to convince him to camp with me at the park but he seemed like he wanted to get closer to the border. I wished him well.

The park was just getting too crowded with the wrong kind of people. I know I said I'd stay away from city parks and this is just the reason. I just don't feel safe. Not that anything has happened but it sure is hard getting a good nights sleep when you're worried about being harassed by kids or drunks.

I know I saw a sign for a mobile home/RV park as I rode into town, so I headed back that way. No luck. But as I passed the Holy Cross Lutheran Church and decided to take a chance. Like most people, I'm reluctant to ask for charity. So I'm sure I stumbled over the words when I explained my situation with Pastor Chris Talbert. I just asked for a spot to put my tent and he was fine with that.

After I'd gotten my money back from the town hall, and made a last check of the park for any other cyclists, I rode back to the church relieved. Another prayer answered (thanks Nancy!). But as I got to talking with Chris, he decided that he'd open the community hall so I could use the bathroom. And he said that he'd just had weekend guests using the pop-up trailer. But since he hadn't folded it back up, I was welcome to use it instead of setting up my tent. I was so flustered with my good fortune that I think I talked his ear off. (I'm sure that doesn't surprise anyone!)