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! :)
Yay! You are almost to North Dakota!
Yeah, the heat and openness of the middle of the continent can be tough. We “lucked out” during our big tour in 2011 by going through the Canadian Prairies instead. The middle US was under a heat dome but we were just outside of it, and we basically saw 75F the whole way through. That wasn’t the reason we took that route, but it was a nice side-effect!
We are in North Dakota now! It is fricken HOT. So we’re in the public library in Bismarck currently, trying to soak up some AC and bring down our core temps, ha. That’s funny too, we were planning to go through Canada for a bit instead of the Montana plains, but then the border crossing near Glacier was closed (still cuz of COVID, apparently), so we ended up jettisoning the whole Canada thing there. Maybe it would have been the better option, though this has been fun except for the heat. We’ll be in Canada later probably, after the Upper Peninsula of Michigan:)
You were going east to west, right? I can’t remember where you were north-or-south-wise, but do you have any thoughts for us about good routes or cool spots generally between Fargo and Duluth, or in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? I wanna go see the headwaters of the Mississippi River, but after that, we’re totally making it up as we go.
If you ride on the north side of James can you catch a little shade? :)
Ha! This is an excellent idea. We actually joked about propping our bikes up and trying to hide in the shade of our panniers, or of finding random random hay bales to take breaks by, but man — from like 11-4, when you reeeeeally want the shade, it feels like there’s so little shade from anything that I’d have to be pretty small to get any benefit from James’ shadow;)
Sorry, just saw this! It looks like you are already in Michigan so you figured this out.
(And I know you are not going to fix this on the road, and I’ve said it before, but it would be really nice if I could get notifications about comment replies. Didn’t think you would respond so (relatively) soon, so didn’t make a point of checking back until now.)