Havre MT to Hays MT. Monday. With all pics.
Travel Time 9 hrs
Saddle Time 5:15
I figured I was going to stay in bed for a while after doing 175 miles the day before. I googled the Havre bike store first thing this morning and the only thing I got was a phone number. I called and left a message asking that they call me when they open. Well 15 min later at 8 am Roger called and said he was in the shop, but only for a few minutes then he will back around lunch time. I quickly dashed over there. We took off the tire and tube and saw that the leak was right at the patch spot from my first day! So I bought a new tire and finally said goodbye to the one that had been giving me headaches.
Roger offered to give me a ride in his truck over the 5 miles of construction I was about to hit leaving town. I thanked him, but didn’t want to cheat. Another stupid decision. The road was all mud and there was no shoulder. I was getting mud in my gears, brakes, hubs…everywhere. I tried flagging down some trucks for a ride, but they choose to spray me with mud instead. As soon as I made it thru these 5 miles, I pulled into a farm and asked the farmer if I could borrow his hose to power spray my bike. I wish I had taken a picture. But I was too caught up in the moment of salvaging my bike.
I had the wind at my back for the 45 miles to Harlem to see the memorial.
After I arrived at town hall and saw the pictures hanging in their meeting room, I asked how to get to the memorial 9 miles away at the crash zone. The women behind the desk immediately called the mayor and he drove over and picked me up. Coincidently, the 80 yr old mayor had gone to the bike store a few weeks back. The door was locked but Roger’s cell was listed on the door. He called Roger, who was out training a horse, and Roger immediately came in to open the store.
While I was sitting at the memorial in town, a car pulled up and a women came over to talk to me. She was my Warm Shower host and happened to drive by and spotted me. We talked, but I told her I needed to put more mileage on, so I thanked her and continued on. I won’t be near Warm Shower hosts for a few weeks.
I turned due south on 66 which meant that the heavy wind was hitting me hard from the right. I had to make 30 miles to the next town or the next anything. The pictures will show that all you see is farm and grazing land. The wind was so hard that I was leaning right just to keep straight. When cars came by I had to reinforce my hold on the bike, because I kept getting blown left. I finally made it to Hays, a small town mostly made up of Native Americans and I pulled into the one store they had. They called the owner, who allowed me to set up my tent on the grass across the street. The picture of the broken down wood building is of a call center used by the locals to sell mortgages over the phone. It was a small boiler room operation in the middle of nowhere!
As I was sitting outside my tent eating my dinner, an old man walked by. We talked for about 15 minutes about his time in the war, his time living off Haights Ashbury in San Fran in the 70s, and about the different farming going on around here. He then walked into the grocery store. On his walk home, he stopped by my tent and handed me a muffin for my breakfast the next day!
In the morning when I woke up. As I was taking down my tent, an old women stepped out from the house on the other side of the grocery store. She yelled over to me whether I wanted a cup of coffee. I don’t drink coffee but I did want to use her bathroom. She asked if I smelled the smoke in the air, I didn’t, but the ash trays around the house were a hint. She invited me in and we spent 20 minutes talking about her deceased husband ( Chief something) their 6 children and the additional 11 children she helped get thru high school.
The reality is that I sat there the night before watching all these bad stereotypical people drive to this store in their beat up trucks, kids hanging out the backs, most smoking and looking very out of shape (considering this “grocery” store is their only source of food for 30 miles). If you judged them by how they look, you wouldn’t get to appreciate who they really are. I was even talking to the grocery clerk about the 6 high school graduation announcements hanging on the wall. One of the cards mentioned that the boy was going to Dartmouth this fall!
Hays MT to Grass Range MT
Travel Time 8hrs
Saddle Time 5:30
Lots of nothing to see, which is something to see! Very glad I went this way. Did need to cheat for two miles for road construction again. I wasn’t given the option.
My favorite TV show is 60 minutes (as the Greenes can attest to). A week or so before I left, they replayed Leslie Stahls piece on missile silos in the Midwest. Obviously I wondered if I would pass one. Well today was my lucky day. I came over the crest of a hill and I saw to the right a fenced area with two military looking vehicles parked outside. No small building and no drive in movie theatre (name that reference). As I was biking closer, I noticed someone on a lawn mower heading along the driveway towards the road I was on. I’m no Matthew Broderick so I wasn’t about to bike up the driveway. I went over to ask him about the site and noticed he was wearing army attire and dog tags. We started talking. It turns out he is from Kingston NY. He explained that the two vehicles were there because there was a small security issue. He said it was a “paperwork mix up”. The next thing I know, two more military Hummer like vehicles pull in and soldiers with guns jump out. They ask me to go back onto the road because they need to talk with this soldier. They ask him for ID but not me. Meanwhile I am taking pictures and no one stops me! I decide I should bike on, quickly! A few miles up I see a similar looking location with no activity.
I am staying at the Four Seasons tonight. Or at least I have set up my tent behind one. It comes with a shower, bathroom, restaurant, grocery store, and casino! Stopped here because the next anything is 44 miles away.
Oh, and I did see an Elk……..sign
Grass Range Mt to Melstone MT
Travel Time 8hrs
Saddle Time 6:30 hrs
Today, the first half of my ride was thru the “Baby Rockies ” or the “Snowie Peaks”. No major hills but just constant up and then down and then up……
I tried to stop for lunch in Roundup MT, it was the only option on today’s ride and it seemed like it would be a good size. As I rode into town, there was a golf course, so that was a good sign. I asked two people if there were any restaurants with WIFI, and they looked at me like I had two heads. There weren’t even places that sold sandwiches, except the gas station. I went in there to buy a cold Gaterade. When I asked if I could fill up my water bottles with water from their tap, they said ” you can’t drink the water in Roundup”. I looked at them like they had two heads!
I made it to the next town, Melstone. There are two places for food. I went into the grocery store and bought my daily chocolate milk and got some cold OJ. When I asked if there was a place for me to sleep, they suggested the park next door. Worked out great because there was a hose for me to use to shower with. The woman from the store brought me down a gallon container of their shipped in water for me to have!
Then I went across the street to the cafe to check out the dinner specials. It was air conditioned and had the news on, so I decided to make myself comfortable. I met Hause, a 60ish yr old cowboy sitting at the bar with me. He told me how he left home at 18, and rode the rails as a hobo for many years. He explained the different techniques of jumping on trains, how it is important to wedge open doors so you don’t suffocate, and how to build a really efficient stove out of a can, some candle wax and a small piece of cardboard. I then started asking him about all the cutting of hay I went by today and the huge bushels. Did you know there are 19 different types of hay ! ( many of you refer to me as Forrest Gump for this trip, so do you want me to name the many types of shrimp/hay?). He thought me why some stacks were round and others square. Why it is important not to build bushels in the heat of the day. And most importantly how the the hay is just redistributed on the fields during the winter for grazing! The large machine I played chicken with on the road was a racker that takes two piles of cut grass and combines them into one. He then taught me about the large sprinkler systems I had been seeing. They are extremely expensive but are very water efficient, which is critical today. When he went to the bathroom, Connie the bartender told me he is illiterate! Meanwhile Connie just got back from Budapest and she has been to Paris and multiple other locations around the world. She lives in a town of 100 people. She is looking forward to her nieces wedding in October in Middlebury VT!