Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Day Thirty-Three: Is it Really 100 Degrees out Here?

Today we rode about 43 miles from Colstrip, Montana to the tiny town of Ashland, Montana, passing through the town of Lame Deer, and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation to do so.

But the dominant theme of the ride, for Bob and me, was weather-related: wind and heat. For the first 24 miles of the ride, when we were heading South, the wind was most definitely in our face, but it was a temperate 80+ degrees. By the time we hit Lame Deer and turned East, it was in the 90's, but we had a decent tailwind. But also a 1000 foot climb over 7 miles. By the time we got to Ashland, at about 1:00 p.m., it was 97, with 100 forecast for later in the afternoon.

But at least our laundry dries quickly.

Unfortunately, tomorrow's forecast, when we ride to Broadus, Montana, is for 104 in the afternoon, so Bob and I will try to get on the road early.

Not much to say about Ashland. It's another one of those Southeastern Montana towns that kind of makes you wonder why it's here. But it does have a motel, two groceries (of sorts), and two restaurants, so it's certainly larger and more populated than Ingomar. It's also less bleak, but, perhaps as a result, less interesting. To our chagrin (but, in truth, consistent with our expectations from advance research), there is no cell phone service (other than Verizon) or wifi -- I'm posting through the largesse of the Western 8 Motel's owner, who is letting me briefly use his office computer.

Scenery along the route was pleasant, but not scintillating. Probably the most interesting part came as we crested the aforementioned climb and began descending (for six miles!) towards Ashland. This area has been hard hit by wildfires, and the evidence was all around us in blackened grass and charred fir trees without needles. At one point, over a hill to the South, I could see a thick plume of black smoke still billowing skyward. Bob had checked-in the day before with the Rangers (the Forest kind), who had suggested we would see smoke in this area, but that the fires were otherwise pretty much well-contained at this point. Hope that's a piece of local information that's solid!

As a coda to our evening yesterday in Colstrip, we had a delightful time hanging around outside with a road crew of about 10 guys (yellow shirts in the pictures) who were out on assignment for a couple of weeks -- and staying in the same motel as us (the highly underrated Fort Union Inn). We shared beer (and yes, some of them even accepted our return offer of wine), and they graciously let us use their portable gas barbecue grill for dinner (Bob effortlessly conjuring up grilled pork chops and corn) when the motel-provided one looked a bit dodgy. Thanks Earl and Tim! It was nice meeting and chatting with you.

Here are today's route and metrics:









  1. Since the terrain seems a bit dull, I thought I'd chip in with some helpful suggestions of possible future roadside attractions. If you're willing to backtrack, oh, say, 400 miles, you could see the Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho. It's a drive-in (duh), with a '46 Chevy flatbed truck holding a two-ton blob of concrete painted to look like -- wait for it -- a potato. Classic!

    I don't know if you're heading as far south as Alliance, Nebraska, but if you do, you'll not want to miss Carhenge. 38 autos, painted gray, arranged like Stonehenge. (Why didn't I think of that?)

    You probably won't detour far enough south to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine in Kansas, but you should run smack into the World's SECOND Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin, Minnesota. Hey, if they're outta Coke, you drink Pepsi.

    Don't bother to thank me. It was my pleasure.

    1. Greg, I would thank you, but I'm too busy working Carhenge into our route.

  2. Laura Schwed11:33 PM

    I love Greg's suggestions, especially Carhenge. That sounds incredible and saves you the trouble of travelling all the way to Salisbury Plains! I am disappointed the world's largest ball of twine is not on your itinerary, but I guess you can't have it all. I continue to be amazed at this journey you and Bob are undertaking and look forward to reading your blog everyday! Love you.