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Grandpa Lost His Mind
A Journal - Crossing America by Bicycle

May 17, 2007      Miles 56      Total miles 1049


Ian and I broke camp early this morning. It was still pretty chilly out. There is a lodge across the road and down a bit from where we set up camp last night and we wanted to get a big breakfast before climbing the last 3,000'. While we were eating, I noticed there was a very nice helmet camera on one of the tables. I asked the manager, Stann Honey, who it belonged to and he said it was his. Then he told me he uses it to video tape his powered paragliding. Well! Since that is one of my things, we had a long conversation. It turned out that he knows a couple of people I know. It is a small world! Stann's mother has owned this beautiful lodge for about 15 years. There is also a natural hot springs pool and spa there too.
It was getting late in the morning and I told Ian we should get going before it started to get hot. He said he couldn't travel on a full meal like that and decided to relax in the spa. He wanted me to join him and assured me there would be some of those fine Montana babes we could pick up. I told him I had the prettiest babe in the country at home and I was going to go ahead and start riding. I left and I don't know if any of those babes ever showed up.

Just as I was getting onto the highway, along came this gentleman, John Hyde, walking his dog, Lightning. John works at the lodge but had truck trouble about two or three miles down the mountain and walked uphill to the lodge. John was a Navy Seal back in the seventies, was a special operations commando, then got out of the navy and went to work for, "another government agency." He and his wife are writing a book and he recited some of his poetry to me. He was a very interesting character and is red, white, and blue all over. If a person has a liberal slant on life, John is not the person they would want to push it on. John told me I had a hell of a climb coming up. I told him I had been putting them behind me all through Oregon and Idaho and he said, "But you ain't rode up no Montana mountain yet. Them in Oregon and Idaho are just molehills!"
The climb to the top of Chief Joseph was hard but it never occurred to me that I wouldn't make it. The scenery is out of this world. The roads were good and I never felt threatened by the traffic because there was so little of it. A couple I met the day before, from Canada, passed me and waved and honked. The picture on the left is a ski slope.

I was only a couple miles from the top when I met Frank Kramer coming down the mountain, going pretty slowly. I hollered at him and said, "If I was going down, I'd be going 60 miles per hour." He pulled over and we talked. He told me he likes going slowly to take in more of the beauty and he once had a mishap on his bike which broke both his arms. So, it made sense. Frank is a pediatrician in Layton, UT and said he likes to ride when he isn't working. He is from Germany but has lived here for thirty years. He has been riding bicycles seriously for about six years. He rode once from Mississippi to Utah on the Mormon Pioneer Trail which was 1,600 miles. He rode from Mississippi to Ohio for another 800 miles. He said he really enjoyed riding on the Eerie Canal from New York to Vermont which was 600 miles. He has two daughters who live in Seattle and that is where he is going now. He estimates it to be 1,100 miles. We visited for a long time.

The route I am on has me zig zagging all over the place but the general direction is south and east at this point. I turned at the top of Lost Trail Pass on Hwy 43. It happens it is right on the Idaho/Montana border. Just for the heck of it, I rode back into Idaho long enough to cross the border and turn around to get on Hwy 43. It took about a minute.

This was a big moment for me. I think I will cross the Continental Divide several times because of the way I am zig zagging and also because of the way the Continental Divide zig zags. All the water in rivers on the west side of the divide flows towards the Pacific Ocean and all the water in rivers on the east side flows towards the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. I had a one man party and celebrated by eating an apple which Hattie back in Riggins, Idaho gave me. I know these self portraits are a bit much but you will have to suffer.

There is still a lot of snow on top of Chief Joseph pass. I had a very fast downhill run for about two miles but the elevation on this side of the mountain is around 6,300' so it wasn't like some of the others where I had a downhill ride for 15 or 20 miles. The fencing on the right goes for mile after mile after mile on both sides of the road. This is national forest land.

I have had a lot of those, "Oh good grief!" moments and this is just another one. You can't tell so much by the picture but this road goes all the way to the base of the mountain to a town called Wisdom.

On the east side of the divide things changed quickly. This is valley land and big ranch land. The drivers are much different than on the other side of the mountains. I'm not kidding, when a car passes ... well let me correct that ... they don't drive cars in this part of Montana, they drive trucks ... big trucks ... Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge ... big trucks. Anyway, at least 75% of the drivers wave. It isn't one of those raise a couple of fingers off the steering wheel waves. It is one of those Montana, "Howdy Pardner!" waves with their hands flailing all over the cab of the truck. They give me the whole highway and don't get near my bicycle. My fear factor has dropped to near zero here when it comes to being hit.

This is Dude. He and his partner were rounding up this cow to put on the other side of the road. Now this isn't one of those 500 acre ranches. This is a 70,000 acre ranch and it is on both sides of the road. I expect it is owned by a corporation because Dude mentioned the headquarters was, "over yonder." Headquarters sounds big time to me. He says they usually use horses but to go out and cut out one or two cows it is quicker using these four wheelers. I expect Dude is another one of those guys you might not want to give a lot of lip to.

I can't help it. I like these nests. If you will notice, they put wires up on the poles to try to keep these birds from nesting on the power lines.

This is Jackson, Montana. Population is 30. There is no place to camp around here. Everything is fenced off. Jackson has a motel. My room is in an old trailer. There is no TV, and no air conditioning. The sign by the door says, "No cooking in cabin (sounds better than trailer), No hot plates, No microwaves, No coffee pots, and No BBQ's." I wonder if anyone ever tried to BBQ in here. It was $50 but the hot shower was worth it.