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!