Someone threw a switch somewhere, and the world transformed. Actually, we pried ourselves away from the Issac Walton Inn, climbed the 17 miles to Maria’s Pass over the Continental Divide under a sunny sky, then blew down the eastern slope with a tailwind at 30 mph to big sky and rolling plains. So different it is from the tortured canyons, roaring white-capped rivers and towering mountains that crowded out the sun on the western slope. Our view to the west and north is of those mountains of Glacier Park, and they are a compelling presence but better they be behind us now. We’ve crossed the Cascades and the Rockies now. The plains are ahead. We’ve been tested and survived the two mountain ranges. Our trip name keeps evolving with the experience. The current rendition is “the dogged contemplative crawl across America.” If the tailwind we had from Maria’s Pass persists, we will drop the crawl - and maybe the dogged. We’re camped in East Glacier under aspen trees, looking back from where we came. $5 a night, showers 25 cents for two and a half minutes, if you need one. Beans and rice for supper. Pepper Jack, crackers, plums and apples for appetizer. You can’t get food like this just anywhere.
There is gradually developing a network of communicating cyclists working this route. Individuals and groups going each way - and this far out now, as this or that group overtakes, falls behind or passes another - there is talk of who each has seen, who might be seen, how they were doing, etc. Blog sites are being exchanged. It is a rolling community of sorts that is coming into being. We heard today of Double-Jointed Party Trick Brooke, who was encountered on Loup Loup Pass by seven riders who started in Bellingham. Yesterday, John and Laura caught us at the Issac Walton - laid up luxuriating as we were - and they had been forewarned about us. When a cyclist is encountered, we stop and take all the questions from opposite sides of the road, with cars flashing between - oblivious to them; “Where you going, when did you leave, who have you seen?” The Northern Tier community cycling group; no dues, no scheduled meeting but a strange consensus that this is worthwhile. “It’s the people,” as Andrew Yapp said in Eureka - and not something we anticipated.
*Small political note: Small because this is a politically and religiously-neutral journal.
Met a couple at the Issac Walton Inn, Will and Shelby Young. They manufacture and then sell water testing equipment to businesses and universities in 70 countries. Will was subjected to a lot of disgruntled feedback from the world over from his customers who were so angry and disappointed in the United States under the Bush administration - and who have expressed to him much satisfaction with the changes being made by Obama to mend our ways and our relationship with other countries. He looks through a small, but loud, window to the world providing good information to us here at home. For those of you who disagree with this small politically-neutral note, you may turn the page and agree to disagree.
Being in the sun today is like emerging from a cave. Three days of rain and inside living. Ever wonder if you had been raised in a cave and never went outside what you would think; how you would be? How about if you never had met a person? And if you did, they were always mean? What would you think about people? Is this even worth thinking about? What would you know about anything but the inside of that cave and mean people? You might pass up Mother Theresa as a meanie. This could be considered a second small political note except that’s not allowed in this journal.