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Grandpa Lost His Mind
A Journal - Crossing America by Bicycle

May 20, 2007      Miles 71      Total miles 1240


When I checked out of my motel the clerk told me I would be heading into a fierce headwind. I didn't pay much attention to that because there is nothing I can do about it. I ate a great breakfast and got on the road. Ennis, Montana has about 800 residents. It is a very nice town. As I left town I dropped into sort of a prairie type enviornment between the mountains. The wind started slowly but by an hour into my ride, it was very strong. I knew I had to gain 1,700' in elevation between Ennis and West Yellowstone. Normally, that would just mean a modest amount of exertion over a seventy mile distance. Two hours into my ride the winds were unreal. I don't know if I have ever ridden in winds that strong. It was a very hard day of riding.
These two pictures were taken just as I was leaving Ennis, Montana. It was very hazy today, so many of my pictures were poor quality.

I have thought a lot on this trip about how a geologist must love his job because everywhere you look the earth is like an open book just waiting to tell its history. I know nothing about geology but when I see odd sights or formations I wonder how they happened. The cliff in this picture is a sheer drop of probably 300'. There is also a lot of sage in this area. I was reading that it is not the same sage we have in our kitchens but it does smell so good in the rain.
There were a lot of fly fishermen on this river today, even with the very high winds.

All day, I was getting sprinkled on. I was hoping to avoid getting drenched. I did avoid it once when I ducked into a cafe and ate a hamburger. I wasn't so lucky the rest of the day. I got rained on several times but it wasn't too cold and I had a pancho and some rain pants I bought back in Dillon.
One thing about Montana is, on the roads I have been on, you will not run out of mountain scenery. I have pretty much followed along the Bitterroot mountain range. It is beautiful, it is clean, the rivers and lakes are clear, and the air is fresh. All the people I have talked to absolutely love this state and they are very proud. Many I talked to came from other states. I think a lot of the small towns live in a feast or famine situation. Jackson, Montana, for instance, has thirty residents. They depend on tourists traveling through and there isn't much tourism for six or seven months out of the year. You would think that they would have to really jack their prices up to make up for all the slow months but their prices were no different than at home.
This is an all too familiar sight along our nations roadways. My father-in-law was killed by a driver under the influence and I know first hand how many people are hurt when they loose someone they love and how it changes lives forever. Yes, these crosses are sad remiders of how quickly we can be erased from this life.
These rumble strips were a nightmare for me. They went on for thirty miles. They serve their purpose but for a cyclist pulling a trailer they annoyed me on this road. I always ride on the outside of a white line if I can but it wasn't possible with these because even if my bike were to stay off the strips, my trailer tires would be on them. It will about jar your teeth out.
After climbing hills into a 35-40 MPH headwind the road made sort of a u-turn. I was still going uphill but it was more like being pushed uphill for about 10 miles. This is looking back towards the valley region I had been in for hours.
In 1959 there was a 7.3 magnitude earthquake here. It caused this mountainside (background) to slide down onto the roadway and over a campground. 28 people were killed in that earthquake. The dirt made a dam across the valley and created this lake. The trees are the same trees from all those years ago which drowned. Five miles of highway 287 which I will follow were destroyed.

When I was riding through Oregon, I kept seeing the same motor home on several occassions. It was carrying a couple of bicycles which had custom made covers for the bikes. I kept seeing it along the way and would laugh and wonder if they noticed me. As I was 10 miles from West Yellowstone, I saw the same motor home again. They stopped and I rode on by. They got behind me and saw the wind, which was now blasting me from the side, blow me across the road. I never had that happen to me before. The motor home pulled in front of me and the driver got out and waited on me to get up the hill. I met Karen and Ron Bailey from Silverthorn, Colorado. Ron is riding across country on a Serotta racing bike. It is a real beauty. Karen is following him as his support. After each days ride she picks him up and the next day she
takes him to the exact spot where she picked him up so he can start that days ride. One of the bikes they have is a tandem, so they can ride around different places while in towns. They are also traveling by motor home to some of the wonderful side trips along this route. They have gone fishing at least twice. Karen spends her days in different towns and they keep in touch by cell phone when there is a signal. They have preset spots where she will pick him up each day. They are both retired. They have invited me to stay with them when I pass through Silverthorn. Ron is going to take a one week break to be with his 92 year old parents when he gets to Pueblo, Colorado. We talked for at least an hour and would have talked longer but darkness and rain was rapidly coming upon me.

May 21, 2007      Miles None      Total miles 1240
It is now Monday and I decided to take a day of rest. I was just wiped out from yesterday. The forcast for today was not good and it isn't good for the rest of the week. I will try to press on tomorrow. One problem is that I called the people who handle all the reservations for lodging and camping in Yellowstone National Park and most of them are not open yet. There was a room at Old Faitful Inn but they want $93 per night and there is no bathroom. I'll try to find a place to pitch my tent.