Hi again from Circle, Montana!
So the other night, James and I were camped at a super swank rest stop in Mosby, MT (maybe the only thing in Mosby, MT?), and there was a continually circling recording of the Montana weather channel that played whenever you were in the building. It was very adamant about a high heat advisory for Wednesday, temps up to 104F. I heard this warning circle over and over again each time I entered the building to pee, brush my teeth, fill water bottles, read the informative posters, or whatever else. “Avoid strenuous activity!” the weatherperson said. “Stay indoors!” he said. “Drink plenty of fluids and check in on neighbors!”
Recently, we have been very carefully planning our overnight stops around where we’ll be likely to have water, so we can both end the day and then start the next with it — since it is sparse out here, and starting the day without water sounds somewhat precarious. And unfortunately, Wednesday, today, the heat advisory day, was the day that we were going to have a 68-mile stretch between the city we were planning to stop in Tuesday night, Jordan, MT, and the next city, Circle. And when I say 68-mile stretch between cities, I mean like nothing in between them other than sunny open space, sunny cows, sunny sheep, and some random sunny deer and antelope (actually, we didn’t even see any antelope today) (and did I mention sun?). It did turn out that there was actually one rest area, with water, so that helped, but we didn’t know it would have water and we weren’t counting on it for anything when we left, including the much-coveted and these days hard to find break in the shade.
(every so often it kinda looks like there are trees, but they never actually shade you)
Thus it was that we got up at 4:30 this morning, biking by 5am, so we could get some of those 68 miles in before it got too hot. And thus it was that we got to Circle by like 12:30, bought some also-coveted cold beverages, ate a whole pint of cold blueberries and a whole juicy cucumber along with our typical tortilla meal, and have now posted up in the air-conditioned library for a while. Even though there’s still so much time left in the day, we’ve already gone pretty far; we’ll just stay here, let the heat do its thing, and hopefully take a shower:)
It’s funny the different flavors our days have taken so far on this bike trip. At the beginning, in lush western Washington, the thing was planning around rain; we never had to think twice about water. Supermarkets full of fresh things were fairly close together, and we were able to find “health food” stores way more frequently than we expected, full of delicious bulk goodies and lots of fresh yummies. Cities or creeksides or random places on the side of the road were all about equally good to stop for a snack and a break.
Now, we plan around the shade and the water. Cities offer potable water and the buildings and cultivated trees that create shade, unlike the miles and miles and miles between them. Cities, as small as they are (maybe we should call them towns, or “two streets with buildings on them and maybe a bar”) have become the thing we aim for, since breaks in between them, especially after about 11am, are kind of just brutal sunfests for this poor little moss-hearted Pacific Northwest chica. Next, further on down the road, who knows what will become most important, the thing we plan around?
That’s what I love, the constant figuring and refiguring of how best to exist in this transient world.
So, hello from itty-bitty Circle, Montana, the only incorporated city in all of McCone County, in a state where, I just learned from an interpretive sign, if you spread each person out evenly over the land, everyone would have 1.3 square miles to themselves. We are less than 100 miles away from North Dakota (I think) and truckin’ along! :)