Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Big Open

Hello, Mac and I haven't blogged for a while because we've been camping every night since we last blogged.
June 13th - Mac, Ty, and I decided unanimously to take a refreshing rest day at Mac's grandparent's ranch in Highwood, MT. We awoke that morning to a great mixture of aromas coming from the kitchen. It turned out that morning Mac's grandpa, Miles, decided to cook us a ranchers breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and hash browns. Immediately afterward, we set out on one of the few great hidden sites to see in Highwood - Lost Lake. Lost Lake is a neat lake that sits 300 ft. below the observer at the bottom of ancient waterfalls created by the old Missouri River. It has an array of rock formations that we climbed about all morning with many hidden, and dangerous, crevices scattered between these rock formations. It is a little known place among even the locals and you should check it out if you get the chance (that is, if you ever should pass through Highwood). Our group also payed a visit to the Gossick cabin, which overlooks the small town of Highwood from the foothills of the Highwood Mountains. It had a great view of many cows, green grass, and land as far as the eye could see. After this, we all took turns doing our own thing: some of us napped, some watched TV, and others jumped on a trampoline. It was a refreshing day that we needed in order to face the high plains of Eastern Montana.
June 14th - After our day off, it was time to hit the road again. We packed swiftly, said our goodbyes, and were off. Immediately after leaving Highwood, we came to one of the most interesting parts of our journey - the road was littered with horses walking all over it. Although we had to swerve all over the road to miss horses, cars, and horse dung, we made it through that part safely. We then proceeded to ride to Fort Benton, a cool old western town with several monuments to notable people such as: Lewis & Clark, the dog Shep, and to the boat the Mandan. We then rode through flat sections with plains, followed by hilly sections of badlands - making for an interesting ride. We also hit 1000 miles so far for our journey, somewhere between the notable towns of Geraldine and Square Butte! When we got about 15 miles outside our destination Denton, I noticed a peculiar sight, hives for honeybees on the side of the highway. We were instantly surrounded by dozens of honeybees, and I'll tell you, I rode as fast as my legs would pedal out of there! The day turned out to be a long one at 90 miles total for the day.
June 15th - It is amazing that biking long distances can become a routine part of your day, even if you do it everyday. We biked 93 miles that day, and yet it felt like nothing. I guess it just means that we are becoming stronger bikers. We saw our last mountain range today when we hit the Judith Mountains just outside of Lewistown. I should mention before going any further, that I would like to thank Little Big Man Pizza - located in Lewistown, MT -  for providing a free lunch to a few hungry bikers, it was very generous of them to do provide that service! After stuffing ourselves full of pizza in Lewistown, we were a little queasy on the 8  mile climb over the Judith Mountains, but it was worth it as we cruised the remainder of our journey straight down the mountains and into Winnett.
June 16th - We have finally reached what we like to call the "Big Open", meaning that we have reached the flat, dry plains of Eastern Montana. It was fairly monotonous that day as we had rolling hills combined with an increasing amount of heat. There really isn't much to say as we went from one small town to another with a 75 mile distance in between.
June 17th - We awoke in Jordan to a small amount of rain that quickly dissipated as the powerful summer sun opened up the skies. We went out for breakfast that morning in celebration of Fathers Day. After a hearty meal we set out on the highway with a brisk tailwind pushing us along. This isn't to say it was easy, as we literally had nonstop rolling hills the entire day. However, the hills were a lot of fun, as we would get up to 40 miles per hour going down in order to get enough momentum to push the uphill. We were dreading this ride before as we had heard it was difficult, but this was actually an enjoyable day. The only bad part of the day occurred the last 10 miles into Circle when we had a brutal side wind that almost knocked me off the highway several times.
June 18th - Today was a fun, but somewhat sad day. It was Mac's Dad, Tom Sullivan, last day riding with us; as he was set to finish out his 1,000 mile stretch of the journey in Glendive, MT. The day was relatively short as we only rode 50 miles from Circle to Glendive. Tom was feeling a little frisky that day because he decided in the middle of a few mile climb to race me from a mile out to the top. The only problem was, I thought the climb would be a half mile at the most, and rode right past Tom at 20 miles an hour going uphill. We eventually pushed each other to the top, despite the longer than originally thought distance, and decided it was a tie. Although I had never intended to feel that much pain that day, it was the most enjoyable moment of the day for me. After this climb we rode a relatively easy last 30 miles into the city of Glendive. Although we got there early, we spend several hours searching for a reasonable place to stay. It was hard to find a place due to the oil work that sprung up in ND and gradually worked its way into Glendive. We decided on the Makoshika State park, a beautiful park full of badlands. The hardest part of the day came last, when we had to say goodbye to Tom. It was really fun riding with him and I wish he could've ridden a little further.
June 19th - We awoke today to a shower that had soaked our campsite. Luckily, when it was time to take down camp the showers had ceased and we were able to do it painlessly. We set out on the road to what I thought would be the boring and horrible state of North Dakota - it was my first time being there so I was just going off what I heard. It was surprisingly beautiful - at least in the Western half of the state. We rode mostly on frontage roads next to lush green farmlands; and then next to rolling hills of fantastic badlands. We ended up in Medora, ND for a total of 65 miles today. It is worth mentioning that Medora is one of the best towns we have visited so far. It is a place that is set up as an old west town, and it was essentially built for tourists. This concludes the rest of our days through Montana, and we only have 10 days until we hook up with the Jett Ride. I'm getting pumped to finally have all my stuff carried for me!

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