Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lakes and Huckleberries Sept 10-13

September 10 
We wake up and enjoy a delicious breakfast of whole wheat pancakes with huckleberries. What a treat! After this, Fred takes us to do all our errands with his minivan.  With the help of a car, everything happens quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, at the laundromat the dryer burns a huge hole in my expensive down sleeping bag.  This was very sad.  Not willing to let go of such a prized possesion, I am able to patch it up with a lot of gorilla tape back at the house, and it looks like it will coninue to serve iits purpose- at least for now! In the afternoon I bake peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, Fred makes manicotti, and Martha makes a lovely salad.  Our stomachs are all very happy tonight.  Thank you again to Fred and Martha for opening your home to us.  We couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more in Kalispell!
- Tam

September 11th 
In the morning we enjoy another delicious pancake breakfast.  Turns out Fred is quite the cook! Around 10:00 we roll out and Fred and thier dog Sierra escort us to the bike path.  Luckily for us, this well paved path will take us far south of the city and away from the strip malls. After a smooth morning ride, we reach the Swan highway.  We've decided to take this road, even though it is 20 miles longer than our other two options, because it is supposed to be more scenic and have less traffic.  Pretty much the entire road goes through National Forest! It's not long before we reach Swan Lake, the large, sparkling lake which gives the road its name.  There's a whole community along its shores, and each mailbox has a plaque with the last name of the family living there. We also see a lot of swan related decorations- carvings, mailboxes, pictures, etc.  These give each driveway a personal touch. 
We stop for lunch on a small beach by the lake. Beautiful!  As we eat, the wind picks up.  The light tailwind we've had all day seems to be gaining force.  We must take advantage of this good fortune!  For the rest of the day we ride by more lakes, streams and mountains.  We even see a bear cub on the side of the road.  For the night, we stop at a small forest service campground on the side of the road.  As we explore the area, Cameron sees his first bear, a small black bear cub.  After dinner, we enjoy the evening by sharing stories around the campfire.
- Tam

September 12
It's a frigid morning.  Our water has frozen solid overnight.  
Cameron is up early building a fire.  By the time we've packed up our tent, the fire is perfect for toasting bread.  Unfortunately the people who camped here previously must have  cooked meat on the grate.  Our PB&Js taste like hamburgers.  

Sunlight through the smoke

I ride the first 20 miles of the day wearing all my layers.  That's how cold it is.  For awhile we bike on between the two beautiful mountain ranges we've been following, then they vanish as we enter the forest.  Here we wind up, down, and around the trees.  When we reach Seeley Lake, the landscape flattens out and we stop to fill up water and take off some layers.  Finally the sun is warming things up.  My body feels like a giant icecube that is painfully thawing.  
Leaving the lakes, our road takes us out into the plains and rangeland, typical Montana.  
Before long, we reach the junction to 200, the road that will take us into Missoula.  We find a beautiful lunch spot by the Blackfoot River.  It's cool and clear with many rocks and ripples.  As we eat, on the other side of the river I see a deer.

 At the end of lunch, I suggest we check the hours of Adventure Cycling, and we learn that they close at five and aren't open weekends.  It's 2:30, and we have 35 miles to go, but Cameron and Danny are determined to try and make it by 5.  Instead of racing into town, I decide to go my own pace.  The ride into Missoula is very enjoyable, but there's a headwind blowing so progress is a bit slow.  Right off the bat I spend a long time climbing a large hill.  Right before the top, I see a road biker coming in the other direction, and he waves and shouts, "You're almost there!"  I was, and it was pretty much all flat or downhill from there.  The road drops into the Blackfoot River Valley and follows the river into the city.  Not only is the water beautiful, there are forested rocky cliffs rising impressively along its sides.  I see two boats filled with happy fishermen floating leisurely down.  Seven miles out of the city, I almost turn onto the main highway because I see a sign for the road I've been following.  But then I see there's a frontage road, and backtrack in order to ride on that.  The frontage road turns out to be great.  I follow another river past a golf course and several cute residential neighborhoods.  There are a ton of cars going the opposite direction (presumably leaving work and heading home), but only a couple going my way.  When I get close, I find a bike lane on the side of the road.  Hooray!  From there I follow bike lanes and bike paths all the way to Cameron's friend's house.  Upon arrival, I am greeted happily by Lindsay, Danny, and Cameron.  We have a wonderful evening eating delicious food and sharing stories with Lindsay and her son Eli.
- Tam

Danny's perspective: It took me 16 miles to catch up with Cameron, after leaving five minutes behind him.  My legs were burning crazily with the horrible headwind, but once I caught up we were able to draft and thus went more quickly. We really moved!  Even with the headwind we were only a few minutes late to the Adventure Cycling Association; we got there at 5:03.  Oh, well.  Next time I'm in Missoula, I'll stop by.  And it was not totally fruitless; it was a wonderful physical challenge to really hit the gas for awhile.
- Danny

September 13
We woke up and headed to the farmer's market.  We weren't planning on staying today, but Lindsay convinced us, and it would be nice to see Missoula.  What better place to start than the farmer's market?!
 It's situated, as is much of the town, along the shores of the Clark Fork, a beautiful river meandering through town.  Fly fishermen were already wading early in the morning.  We picked up some veggies and bread, and had a tasty waffle.  Then we ran some errands, stopping at bike shops, hardware stores, and grocery stores to get everything done.  Much of the time was spent planning and creating a preliminary design for a combination clipless pedal/regular shoe system.  
Our cycling shoes allow us great efficiency when pedaling, but it also means that we have to carry two pairs of shoes.  Pedal clips, strapes, and cages exist, but we can do better.  The prototype had some flaws, and it's still in the works.  
On the way back from our errands, we stopped by two of my favorite places to stop: the local bakery and the bookstore!  I bought a book by Rebecca Solnit, an acclaimed nature writer, because my kindle is broken and I have to stop stealing Tam's.  We also got a loaf of honey white bread with exactly five ingredients, a nice change from the usual host of 40 you see on supermarket bread. 
Back at Lindsay and Tom's house, we enjoyed a great dinner.  She had been excited to make their favorite veggie dish, a tofu and rice mixture with a mildly spicy peanut sauce.  It was unbelievably good, and so was the ice cream we had afterwards.
Our stay in Missoula would have been much shorter, and much less pleasant, if not for the kindness of Lindsay, Tom, and Eli, who generously shared their space, food, and time with us.  Many thanks!
- Danny

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