Said a big banner as I rolled into Drummond just after 5pm on a Wednesday evening.
I found my way to the community centre where I found out this Pancake dinner is held once a year on “veterans-day” and today happened to be just that.
As I was enjoying my 2nd serving of pancakes and sausages the ladies at my table asked where I would be sleeping.
I knew there was a small camp area just on the other side of the railway tracks. As I mentioned it the one lady said; “Why don’t you sleep in the Library? I got the keys”
The second lady said: “Why don’t you sleep in the Church?… I got the keys!”
And then Jodi said “Why don’t you stay over at our house? We have a spare bed!’
And that’s how I got to stay with Jim & Jodi, who have four children themselves, one of them is in Belgium right now.
I did go to the library, there was a silk-scarf-dying workshop.
(the messy sloppy one in the left bottom corner is mine…) Turns out, I’m better at cycling.
Lena, on the left here, liked my scarf and I liked hers. So we swapped.
With one extra scarf to keep me warm in the coming days I set of along the frontage roads along the freeway. Not all too keen to stick to the highway I noticed a back road that seemed real nice on the map.
“It could be a bit muddy”. The friendly fellow at a Mennonite shop/cafe in Gold Creek told me.
He was right.
I took this picture just when I started wondering if it would’ve been a good idea to put the studded tires on.
Which was just before I slipped and fell on my ass.
lucky I wasn’t hurt.
Unlucky my camera was..
(Lucky my birthday is coming up, it’s all about timing right? 😉 )
Just when I stood at a cross point not sure what way to take a vehicle stopped. A couple of hunters. They pointed me in the right direction and gave me a very detailed map of the whole state of Montana!
Perfect timing as I hadn’t seen any other vehicles on that road.
I made it back onto the main road just before dark. Not the most pleasant time of day to be riding into a town with lots of cars that are not expecting a bicycle on the road this time of year.
I knew Susan was waiting for me in Butte, I made it just when she was getting ready to head out to come and find me, it was dark and getting a bit slippery.
Susan loves bicycles! And told me to stay as long as I liked. It would’ve been great, but with this 90-day limit and lots of places to go and people to see I headed out the next morning on a nice steady little climb she recommended me to take out of town.
I enjoyed it a lot untill I had turned a corner and came upon the plains where a very strong wind tried blowing me off my bicycle.
Even on a road that seems to go down, I had to use all my strength to keep moving along and not fall over.
Suddenly a lady appeared out of a farmhouse, she was waving so I looked around and it seemed I was the only person on the road, so she must be waving at me. I pulled over and she stopped me to say there is a bicycle shelter in Twin Bridges.
I knew that. I’ve been told by various people along the way and this was indeed my goal today. In the meantime I got the chance to sit in her house out of the wind for a minute and have a coffee, while her husband showed me his snake.
By the time I finally got to Twin Bridges it was well after dark.
So when I found out the shelter was closed for the season I figured I better pitch my tent somewhere. I noticed the library just closing and spoke to Edith, she was really lovely and told me to stay with her friend Beverlee,
who lives in a really nice house. She’s 75 and has travelled to almost every State. She also has a real cute little dog.
I had noticed the screw under my shoe had come loose and decided to fix it, just then I stood in a big pile of dog shit.
Ok, maybe not so perfect timing…
Edith the library lady had told me her son Andrew lives in the next town. I should go see him.
It was just over the hill.
The wind was slightly more favourable and I passed an interesting little town. Both Virginia and Nevada city were booming towns in the gold mining era, around 1865. I had no idea.
Also, apparently, the site of The Most extraordinary trial in history.
Apparently he was a road agent and killed a Dutch man. It seemed to be a bit of a rough time to be travelling around as just in the fall of 1863 102 travellers were killed by robbers. So a bunch of locals set up their own law and justice system to weed out those highway men, called the Montana Vigilantes. They prosecuted and hung 24 men in the first two months of existence.
Now there’s only 132 people in Virginia city, it’s nice and quiet and everything except the dairy was closed.
The road kept climbing a fair bit after leaving the two towns.And I was pleasantly surprised by a beautiful long downhill on the other side!
Straight into the town of Ennis. Where Andrew, Edith’s son, is a music teacher.
And “Trombone Bandit”, a name thought up by his students as he “steals” solo’s written for other type of instruments and plays them on his trombone.
He’s got the outfit to match the name 🙂
And played for me.
Leaving the comforts of Ennis behind I was back on a headwind struggle towards Yellowstone.
It’s been on top of my list of places I like to visit (along with the rest of the world I’m guessing) and I have not been sure if I could actually go.
Looking at this road I never make it, as my average speed did not go over 8 km/h all day!
I did find 5 Canadian dollars on the road.Yay.
At mile 33 a car pulled over. Steve had seen me struggling on his way into town and now he was going home. “If you make it to the 14-mile post you got a place to stay!” He told me.
That was a good incentive to keep pushing and about an hour after dark I pulled up at mile 14. Where Steve conveniently lives right next to the Grizzly Bar 🙂
As it was a sunday the bar was full of hunters watching NFL .But it didn’t matter because there was good food and beer.
I got to sleep warm & dry in a large log building that used to be a bar.It was very nice as the next morning I set off, it looked like this:
One thing that surprised me to no end is that many drivers don’t seem to find it necessary in these conditions to turn on their lights.
I was happy my lights were working and I have a serious high visibility rain jacket from AGU.
and shoe-laces to match.
It was another day where I wondered if it wouldn’t have been a smart move to put my studded tires on already, as I tried pushing up an icy hill and my bike slipped one way and I the other.But it turned out to be a lovely day and I didn’t fall off my bike at all! So that’s good news.
In November Yellowstone National park is closed.
For all vehicles except bicycles!
The weather forecast wasn’t great. But with not much time left I decided to chance it and ride to Old Faithful.
Ray, who I met because he works in a bike store, happened to have fat bikes.
He loves to ride bicycles,
And I have nothing against that either. So we set of bright and early as it’s 50 km from the entrance at West Yellowstone to Od Faithful.
We were warned for strong winds.
And it was! But tailwinds mostly, downhill too.
All the way in.
We saw a bunch of animals.
A majestic Elk,and some really large Bison.
An eagle was keeping tab of our progress.
It’s quiet something to be in the oldest National park in the USA, one of the largest tourist attractions, by yourself.
Also pretty useful that we didn’t really needed to worry about these signs.
Although the cycling isn’t too easy when the snow get’s heavier.It is a beautiful place!Nature really does make the best Christmas decorations.And when we finally made it we saw Old Faithful blow.
All by ourselves!
And the weird thing was, on our way back. We had tailwinds and it felt like we were going downhill all the way!
That never happens.
We averaged 16km/h which was enough reason to celebrate with beer & pizza on our return.
By now the temperature is really dropping and it might be a good idea to finally get the studded tires on my bike and hit the road.