August 28, 2001

8/28/01 West Yellowstone, MT

71.7 / 6866 miles

Stayed up way too late talking with Clyde. So, when I heard Christopher packing up this morning, I just rolled over and went back to sleep.

I eventually got up, packed and headed out of town by 8:30AM. On the way through town, I took a minute to say hello to Kelley at Cowboy Heaven, a bagel-espresso café. When I came through here three months ago, we sat around talking while I had a root beer float. "I remember you" she said, "your beard is a lot longer."

My original plan had been to do a short day, 34-miles, but I decided to keep open the possibility of going all the way to West Yellowstone. If I did that, I could have a long day tomorrow to do errands, email, and laundry. Especially the laundry!

I was expecting today to be a hard one because of the winds. My ride from West Yellowstone to Ennis early this summer was on of my fastest because of a great tailwind, one of the few this whole trip. So you can imagine my surprise when I hardly had a headwind riding south. Not very many fishermen on the river either. That's a stark contrast to before. As I took a few pictures of the awesome views, I noticed the picture indicator on my new camera was at "0".

I popped open the film compartment and wanted to cry. When I bought the camera in Helena four days ago, I must have forgotten to load any film. That means my last two days with Mike, Todd and Whitney weren't captured on film. Most of the pictures I could live without but the one of Todd pulling the other two as we rode into Butte was a classic. I was so distraught I even started to get sick.

A few deep breaths and I was better. I loaded the camera with "real" film this time, and got rolling again. A good thing too, because a few miles down the road, a cattle drive was headed my direction. Sonny Smith said the whole family was helping move the cattle from summer pasture back to their CB Guest Ranch. "It's 20-miles but we've taken too long." He said. "Some of the calves are already having trouble in the heat." But they were almost there, so I hope everything went okay.

Get along, little doggy...

I saw the campground off to my left at about 1PM but I didn't even slow down. West Yellowstone here I come! I seem a lot stronger after those ten days on the Divide route. The winds and hills didn't seem so hard, even with the increased mileage. I didn't even stop to eat anything, just another Coke from the Crazy Lady Outpost. Then it was back on the road.

Like I said before, heading in the opposite direction gave me totally different views of stuff I've already seen this trip. At Earthquake Lake, I was able to watch some kayakers shoot the rapids of the Madison River as it emptied out of the lake. And a small miracle happened. As I began to climb, I got a slight tailwind. Sweet!

Up, up and away, I climbed past Earthquake Lake, then the Hegben Dam and started my ride along the lake. Again, I stopped to visit old friends at the Kirkwood store. Jamie, Craig's sister-in-law from Washington was manning the store because he was off to "parts unknown.' But just like Craig, she was interested in my trip and about my cousin Nancy too. After there, I only had 20-miles to go.

A kayaker at Earthquake Lake

Off in the distance, somewhat obscured by haze, you could see a massive mushroom cloud of smoke from a fire burning near the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. As I rode toward town, you could see tanker planes headed that direction. I took a moment to think about all those men and women who spend their summers battling these fires. May they be kept safe.

Another tanker plane

By now, I'm really pushing it, trying to make it to town before the library closes. I wanted to surprise the librarian, Mary. She has kept in touch by e-mail since I gave a talk to the kids for their summer reading program aptly called "Reading Roadtrip." Got there with 5 minutes to spare and was rewarded with a big smile as I walked in. Liz, who got me working on this reading project quit this summer and has hopes of starting a competing local newspaper. Mary said I had great timing because the going-away luncheon for Liz is tomorrow. Cool! I promised to be back in the morning to check my e-mail, then headed over to the Madison Hotel to get a hostel bed.

I'm sharing the room with Michael who is from Germany. He spent two months near Philadelphia working at a summer camp for handicapped kids. Now he's got a Greyhound bus pass and will spend another two months exploring America.