Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 30- Hot Springs to Crawford, NE- 70 miles

I am finally here. 
Today's ride was definitely one of the most beautiful thus far. In fact, I would venture to say it was second only to Washington Pass. Buttes, rocky bluffs, grassland, a good dose of hills, a big blue sky, and puffy white clouds. It might have helped that I was riding towards a huge bluff that I recognized, and towards people that I love and missed dearly, but nonetheless, the scenery was starkly beautiful. 
Nobody for miles and miles

Roadside lunch break, where I ate way too much trail mix and topped it off with a granola bar. Ugh.
Happy day!
I swear, upon crossing the South Dakota/Nebraska border, the temperature shot up about 5 degrees, and crawled up another 5 degrees over the next hour or so. I downed all the water I could, but still ended up with a headache. Right when I thought I was going to collapse with a heat stroke, the sight of the Crawford Cemetery pushed me up the last little hill and into the booming metropolis of Crawford. Home, sweet home. Rolled into Staab's where I treated myself to an ice cream cone- not an Ione cone, but a frosty treat nonetheless- and waited there for Kim, who picked me and my bike up so I wouldn't have to pedal the last 7 dusty miles.
I am so. happy. to be here amongst familiarity for a while, with no territory to cover, no bike to strain against (although Trevor is threatening me with a ride up the hill)... Life is good.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 29- Hermosa to Hot Springs- 38 miles

Took a much-needed short day today. Tomorrow I will reach Crawford and spend a few days (maybe a week?) with Jeff, Kim, Katie, and Trevor Lund, whom I worked alongside last July-October on their ranch. Their grandparents (whom I'd also gotten acquainted with), Dale and Donna Steineke, offered to host me in their beautiful home in Hot Springs. I knew Hermosa to Hot Springs was only about 40 miles, so, promised a hot shower, a real bed, familiar faces, and an afternoon off, I rode the 38 miles in record time. I started off early in order to beat the wind (was off and pedaling by about 7:30, woot woot!), and arrived around 11.
The clock just chimed 4 o' clock. I've taken a shower, eaten lunch, talked with Donna (Donna and Dale left at 12:15 and are out for the afternoon), and watched about as much television as I can stand (so... About 2 hours' worth). 
Time goes so fast! It's weird not riding my bike. What do people do? I guess I should look at maps, plan out tomorrow, reply to emails, re-organize my panniers, and write postcards. But I'm too busy sitting on the couch. The only productive thing I've done is drink a bunch of water. Life is good.
Jeremy wrote a fantastic (and very relatable) ode to a cyclist's hunger over on their blog at 
(Okay, so Dale and Donna just came home with blackberry beer. Have I mentioned I love South Dakota?)
Anyways, replacing the 3,000-6,000 calories a touring cyclist burns every day is almost as much work as burning it. When your whole body revolts at the thought of another handful of trail mix, and yet you down another mittful of almonds, raisins, and dark chocolate M&M's (my current recipe of choice), THAT is commitment, folks. Phew. Some of my favorite fuel thus far has been goldfish crackers, canned baked beans or pork and beans, breakfast cereal, and my morning yogurt. Also, BURRITOS.
However, balancing quality, quantity, and economy is a very delicate matter. I could fuel fifty miles with a few Little Debbie snacks for a dollar, but I would feel like crap. Or I could run on a nice salad for ten miles at $8 and feel great...
$4 chocolate milk and gum

The riding was beautiful today.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 28-Sturgis to Hermosa- 60 miles

Woke up in my fluffy cloud of a bed in Sturgis this morning, ready to face another day. Bowl of cereal for breakfast number one. Got a picture with Tip, who has grown a fair bit since I saw him last. 
Then the usual morning business ensued. Grocery store for yogurt. Gas station pit stop and water fill-up. A guy came into the grocery store and said he'd seen me riding in and followed me into the store to ask me if I was the girl on television who was riding across the country staying in churches/halfway houses/shelters/etc. He said I looked just like her (very pretty). I was...flattered. 
For the first few miles, it was Washington Pass all over again. Who knew my granny gear would be most utilized in South Dakota. It was a beautiful ride, though, with a cool thunderstorm chasing me. I zipped my rain jacket on and rode in the spitting rain.
 Reached Nemo, where I bought peach rings in order to obey the "bathroom is for paying customers only" sign. I'm such a goody-goody sometimes. Then I ended up having to buy bottled water anyways, since the tap water was contaminated. Arg. I rested and waited out the rain on the porch of the mercantile, and ate a whole lot of food. Because what else is there to do while you wait out a rainstorm other than nom on peachy-o's and frosted animal cookies? 
Then onto Rapid City. The ride was awesome. Until Rapid City. Maybe I've just been in the country too long, but I couldn't stand that city. Here in Hermosa, 20 miles away, I'm almost still on edge. Maybe it's partly the highway, I don't know. Rapid City just seemed like another Havre. Blech.
I did stop at Safeway on my way out, and stocked up on groceries again. My food bills seem to have gone up in the past few days... 
The twenty miles to Hermosa were tough. I had another mean headwind, and I think I'm just getting plumb wore out. I can't wait to be in Nebraska for a few days, setting my butt on a different kind of saddle.
There was a Warmshowers host listed in Hermosa, with sort-of directions, but I didn't feel like using my brain or body anymore, and there was no phone number or address listed, so I stood outside a church, looked up the church phone number, and got ahold of the pastor's wife, asking her if I could pitch my tent behind the sanctuary. She came over to the church, unlocked it for me, showed me around, and told me to make myself at home! Wow. Again with the hospitality thing. Thanks so much, Our Savior's Lutheran Church of Hermosa, South Dakota!
I'm happy as a clam and safe inside. 
Nighty-night, world.
^these were in Safeway. Uhh......??  Has anyone seen them before? 

$2 yogurt
$4 peachy-o's and water
$20 groceries
$26 total

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 27- Buffalo to Sturgis- 35 miles (wait, what?)

Today was a doozy of a day. Went to the grocery store for breakfast. Yogurt, honey, cereal, a banana, and a can of vegetable beef soup (don't judge). Yum. 
Stopped at a Sinclair's on the very edge of town to fill up my water bottles and ran into a really nice couple (Laura and... shoot! I can't believe I forgot) who were curious about my trip. 
Seven miles of 20mph headwinds outside of Buffalo, I heard "PING!" and immediately knew I'd busted a spoke. I stopped at a hay bale to regroup, solar charge my phone, call my dad, and pee in almost full view of the (empty) highway. A hair tie fastening the broken spoke to the next one over, I rode back into Buffalo, wincing at every bump and seam in the road. Back at the grocery store, I borrowed a tape measure and measured my spokes so my dad could overnight a replacement and spares for me. Being in a small, friendly Midwestern town, everyone going into the store wanted to know about me and my trip and tried to help with my predicament. One lady told me to go ask Linda inside if she knew of anyone going to "the hills" today (the nearest bike shop was in Spearfish). Soon, everyone going through the checkout was being addressed by name and asked if they knew of anyone going to "the hills". All the nice ladies in the store were fretting over me like little mother hens. And then, who pops out of the store? Laura! And she wants to give me a ride! She runs home to drop off her groceries, and comes back in a bright, shiny white beast of a pickup truck. I loaded up all my things, and off we rode down the nightmare of highway 85. I am so, so, so thankful for her and for that fun ride. I didn't have to battle the horrible shoulders, crazy traffic, and dumb drivers on 85, nor did I have to battle a 15-25 mph headwind on the 79 with nothing but ramshackle chances of convenience stores every 50 miles if I was lucky. Spearfish was beautiful, and I got doorstop service to the bike shop, where Laura waited while I watched my spoke being repaired. Besides, it doesn't count as a ride because it doesn't help my west to east progress. Right? Right. 
I was ready to go in no time, and Laura and I parted ways.
Laura, Linda, Mary, everyone else at the store, all the guys who checked their bicycle graveyards for spare spokes, thank you for EVERYTHING. Wow. I cannot believe the people I've met today. 
From Spearfish, I rode the 21 miles to Sturgis, all up and down long hills with a nasty headwind. I think I ended up spending about 5 hours on my bike today, despite getting an 80-mile ride in a car.
I ended up at a friend's house in Sturgis. Karen and Tip graciously took me out for an awesome dinner- salad and a Thai chicken wrap with sweet potato waffle fries. Ohhhh boy was it good. Thank you so much! Like I said, I cannot believe the generosity of some people! These folks are running around cleaning their house for guests before leaving tomorrow morning to head out of town while the motorcycle rally is going on, and yet they are hosting me in their cute little rental house! 
My heart is so full, and I am so tired. Goodnight. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 26- Baker to Buffalo, South Dakota- 92 miles

First order of the day: laundry and showers. This morning was freeeezing. Forty-five degrees, breezy, and cloudy. First I hit up the convenience store, and asked if there was a grocery store in town. I got: "Yeah, you're gonna head over to the four-way, make a thataway (here she motions with her hand all twisted up weird), go down the little hoopla, and it'll be on your right."
Uh.  Thanks. Needless to say, I had to go the wrong way and ask the nice old man at the auto parts store. 
When I did finally arrive at the local Reynold's, I spent a small fortune, then I rushed over to the RV park, where I'd inquired last night about a shower.  I got an un-timed shower for free! Thanks, Lakefront RV Park! Last but possibly the best part of the day, I hid out in a laundromat getting all my clothes clean, charging my phone, and stuffing myself with breakfast. 
Finally on the road at 11:30 or so, I started out with a headwind.  But crossing the Montana/North Dakota border totally made up for it. Montana is DONE. 
I stopped in Marmarth to chow some more and use the restrooms. Also got one water bottle filled with purified water- a treat out here. The tap water the last few days has been disgusting. 
Twenty-five miles later in Bowman, past a bunch of windmills and sunflowers and finally some corn!, I ate two cheese sticks, Ritz, an apple, and a pint of chocolate milk. I love bike touring. I also stopped at the visitor's center to get a South Dakota map, and got the usual "are you insane?" shpiel from the kind old man there. 
Off to Buffalo, I raced daylight. Crossing the North Dakota/South Dakota border was cool until they decided to not replace the shoulder along with the rest of the road, and put rumble strips on the microscopic shoulder there was. Thanks, South Dakota. 
Thank God for Ludlow. I had to pee, and Wikipedia said there was nothing in Ludlow. In fact, there was a bar/restaurant manned by a very vibrant middle-aged woman who pretty much ran the town. I hurriedly walked in, and she said, "Hi, you okay?" To which I replied, "Yeah, I just really gotta pee!" She had me sign the special spot at her bar- the spot in the corner that rarely gets wiped, so the signatures will stay. She was really fun. Ludlow was really cool. 
Off the last 20 miles, and sunset was approaching.

It was beautiful riding in the sunset. Some people just don't know how to drive, though. If you've got a dotted yellow line, do not fly past me honking your horn! I am allowed to be on the road! You are allowed to be in the other lane!
I rolled into Buffalo just in time, and stopped at Cenex for a can of pork and beans, water, and directions to the campgrounds. At "Roadside Park", I just enjoyed my pork and beans, the rest of the sleeve of Ritz, and frosted animal cookies for dessert. You think I'm bad, but these are actually relatively healthy foods considering what's available around here. Plus, there's the whole needing-4000-calories-a-day thing, which is hard to attain on carrot sticks and yogurt. 
Off to bed I go.
Goodnight, Buffalo.

P.S. I really appreciate all your extra prayers as I'm on the road without companions now. 
$28 groceries
$3.25 laundry
$3 groceries
$2 groceries
$36 total

Day 25- Glendive to Baker- 85 miles

Casey had a bit of an adventure last night. He was pretty drunk coming to camp from the bar last night. Apparently he has had trouble drunkenly sleepwalking, but this time he walked 2 miles back to Makoshika, came to, headed back towards town, and fell asleep in the gazebo we'd rested at after yesterday's lunch. All without shoes on. It was a little scary for all of us- Zandy, his girlfriend, had even called the police and filled out a missing persons report. But we all had a good laugh about it, too. 
When our crew was accounted for and ready, we rolled back out to Makoshika and explored the park a little more thoroughly. 
It was beautiful, but I was feeling like crap. I wasn't getting enough oxygen or sugar or blood or something! to my brain. So before leaving town, we stopped at a gas station to refuel. 
You'll all be proud to know that I, Sara Schripsema, stood next to a Loaf n' Jug, chugging a Muscle Milk and chowing down on frosted animal cookies. I know. Disgusting. But, 30 miles later, rolling into Wibaux, I felt great!
Ah, Wibaux (pronounced Wee-bo). This is where I left Jamie, Jeremy, Zandy, and Casey to head south. We stopped at a gas station, where an awesome dude bought us snacks, and then said our goodbyes with sorrow and anticipation for meeting back up again in Michigan. Jamie and Jeremy have been such great brother/sister figures to me, and I have thoroughly enjoyed traveling with them, (and all the antics that ensue when we get tired:))... See you soon, guys!
I'd thought about calling it a day in Wibaux, but after downing a Clif bar, a banana, trail mix, and more frosted animal cookies (which, by the way, were a parting gift from Jamie and Jeremy! Thanks, you two!), I decided to take advantage of the tailwind and book it to Baker. 
It was one of the most beautiful rides of the trip thus far. Some challenging hills, rolling farmland, awesome rock formations... And I had a bright sunny tailwind to boot. 
I got to Baker with daylight to spare, and am now in my tent in the city park getting sleepy. Goodnight!
This little guy was hitching a ride with me today.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 24- Circle to Glendive- 45 miles

The five of us hit up the grocery store for some brekkie, and then were on our way to what might have been Wibaux, MT, if not for a thunderstorm. We stopped in Glendive for lunch at a Mexican restaurant, where I ate this burrito:
...and could've eaten a second.
We then rested for a few minutes in a gazebo, where we noticed an enormous storm front closing in on us. After hemming and hawing about what to do, we raced to Makoshika State Park to check it out before the rain came. It wasn't long before we were feeling fairly threatened, and so we booked it back to town and hung out at the bar for an hour or two, our bikes locked and tarped under an awning. At 7:30, we all ducked next door to watch Turbo. Cute, but could've been better. Afterwards, the second storm front moved in, and we hung out at the bar for a while longer. Jeremy manned the jukebox for a bit, and Casey played "ducks" a few too many times. I rested my head in the corner, making my underagedness invisible, and wished that the rain would stop so we could just get to the park and go to sleep. I'd been sleepy since lunch. 
Finally, the rain let up enough for us to scoot over to the park and set up camp inside the picnic table pavilion. My tent isn't free-standing, so with Jeremy and Jamie's guidance (and my lack of cohesiveness) we draped a tarp between two picnic tables (just in case) and I slid under it and slept on my air mat on the concrete. What a day.

Day 23- Wolf Point to Circle- 55 miles

Got held up in Wolf Point with a rainstorm. Hung out in the library and started reading Jerry Spinelli's latest, Hokey Pokey. Jerry Spinelli is a road trip tradition for me (also a road trip tradition: fun flavors of gum!) so it's quite fitting that his latest novel has much to do with a bicycle.
Finally got back on the road. Stopped in Vida for a sandwich at the only business in town; the bar. My "ham sandwich" was a 3/4" thick slab of salty spiral-cut on a white bun with a sorry stack of pickles on the side. But it was $4.50... 
When we rolled into Circle, we caught the gas station/grocery store just before closing and picked up a few things. 
After okay-ing it with the police,  we camped in the city park. It was a great little park, and a big, yellow, full moon rose from the horizon. 
$5 sandwich
$6 groceries
$11 total

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 22- Glasgow to Wolf Point- 56 miles

Today's exhaustion brought to you by a headwind. Fifty-six miles of headwind. Started out by running errands in town- I needed some flip flops, quick-dry underwear and a bike shop to look at my tire. No bike shop, and no flip flops, unless I wanted $25 Nike flip flops or "fashion" flip flops that would have melted in the slightest dampness. However, we did score on underpants, and they immediately gave me a bit of a wedgie, so I wrote a little ditty: I bought a new kind of pants for my butt, and upon application, my derrière said, "what?"
I know, it's beautiful.
So still nursing a soggy, slowly leaking tire, we rolled out. We stopped about 15 miles into our ride for a lunch at a place called Bergie's, where our waitress obviously hated her job. Jamie and Jeremy ate cheeseburgers, and, not quite hungry yet, I sat and drank all the water, and discussed scandalous issues with them. 
Casey and Zandy then rolled up, and we took off with them. We pedaled into the headwind forever and ever. 
Ten miles from Wolf Point, a very drunk Native American man stopped us to discuss our route. His sweet little granddaughters gave us bottles of water and let us pet their little puppy. The man, who's name was supposedly Mocassin, was hysterical, and very kind. The girls were sweet and starved for attention. 
When we finally reached town, it was what we expected. Drunks staggering around in the park. Sketchy people scoping out cute girls. We ate in a restaurant, stopped by Albertson's for cookies and cookie dough, and slugged out our last mile to the city pool/park, where a plethora of kids- mostly Natives- swarmed the pool and locker rooms. Showering in the locker rooms in our underwear with little Native Americans begging for attention (and shampoo) was an awesome experience in itself. It was like being in a third world country. 
After our second dinner of duplex cookies, vanilla Oreos, and cookie dough, I took my back wheel off and took everything apart. This time, I carefully ran my hands over everything and finally found a little tiny piece of wire- probably 1/4 millimeter long- sticking into the tire. Jeremy worked at it for a few minutes with a needle nose pliers, and finally got it out. Ridiculous. 
Thunderstorms are predicted for tonight and tomorrow, so we have our rain flies staked out and everything safe and sound under tarps. Goodnight!

$13.50 dinner
$5.50 groceries
$4 camping 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 21- Dodson to Glasgow-90 miles

Another beautiful day of taking in the plains.
I woke up to a bit of a soft tire again,  and nursed it all day, pumping it up every stop. Will get it checked out tomorrow at a bike shop in Glasgow. 
Free breakfast at the fairgrounds! I love the Midwest!
Met up with Zandy and Casey on the trail today! Rode together, and are camping together at Sullivan park in Glasgow, MT. 
Our lunch stop in some tiny town I forget the name of was lovely. Peanut butter cheese crackers, a cheese stick, an orange creamsicle, a banana with peanut butter, 2 Tootsie Rolls, and a lot of ice water revived me for the last 30 miles of the day. While there, a little pickup truck crammed with 4 teenagers drove up and yelled, "Hey, bicycle lady! Wanna go tubing down the river?" I declined, to which they protested loudly, and teased me about being a west coast yuppie. I betcha they've never skinned a squirrel, or even know how to drive a tractor. Anyway, I might have missed out on an underaged drunk fest, and sorry Mom, looks like I also lost my chance to pick up that Montana rancher. Darn. 
The now five of us rolled into Glasgow, where we picked up groceries, got permission from the police to camp in the park, and cooked dinner amidst the cloud of gnats and mosquitoes that has been following us around with evil intentions.  

$18 groceries
$4 lunch food 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 20- Havre to Dodson- 74 miles

We'd hoped to get on the road early, as we'd heard scary things about the stretch between Havre and Chinook, so I woke up and told myself to get a move on. Buuuut glancing at my phone, I found it was already 7:55. It has been a long night. 
We finally rolled out around ten, to find I had a flat. I changed my tube, but found nothing wrong with the tube or tire... 
We stopped at a bike shop and got our tires topped off, another spare tube for me, and Jeremy's Brooks saddle tightened. While Jeremy chatted with the bike shop guy, Jamie and I hit up the farmer's market, a pretty sad little pod of tables set up, and scored some carrots and fresh green beans. Yum.
Havre to Chinook was bad, but not horrible. We got smoked out by a pickup truck, and buzzed by a few RV's, but nothing terribly out of the ordinary. 
In Chinook, we got groceries. While sprawled out all over the sidewalk, wolfing down cereal, yogurt, fruit, and candy, and congratulating each other for our caloric milestones, many a friendly Montanan came up and made conversation. One man even bought us tickets to the Wildlife Museum! It was fantastic- a must see in the charming little town of Chinook. 
We saw a baby coyote today! Just chilling out on the side of the road, its cute little head poking out of the grass, watching us curiously. 
We'd hoped to make it to Malta, but Dodson-about 17 miles from Malta-ended up being our stopping point. 
We camped and showered for free! And much kettle corn was eaten. The bugs are insane. We threw legitimate hissy fits at them. 

$2 gum
$13 groceries
$2 kettle corn

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 18- East Glacier to Galata- 93 miles

Sam and Jo are awesome. They have 3 cats, weighing between 15-22 pounds. They are huge. They are awesome. Jo made us the best breakfast I've ever eaten. Fresh veggie frittata, whole wheat English muffin with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam, and a fantastic watermelon. 
Behind us:

In front of us:
Our camping spot was awesome.
The RV park on our map was closed, so we stealth camped next to it, by an old hay wagon and two abandoned for sale houses.

$12 groceries

Day 19 Galata to Havre- 80 miles

Havre sucks.
We rolled in, exhausted, hungry, and in need of a shower. We were so in a daze that we rode around and sat in a park trying to figure out what to do. The strip of chain restaurants was exhausting and irritating to even ride past. Finally, we decided on Subway for dinner number one. I ate a footlong tuna sandwich with avocado in about three minutes.
We then scoped out the city park, cleared our campsite with the officials, and were warned by the man across the street about the sketchy neighborhood the park butted up against. 
Time for dinner number two, Jamie and I ran down to the sorry corner store and got ice cream. It was good ice cream, but not exactly what the doctor ordered. 
Our tents set up, we took bird baths in the gross bathrooms, and did some sink laundry. 
At about 11:30, having just dozed off, there was a nice little rain shower. We staked our rain flies down, tossed our wet laundry into the tent, and stuffed everything we could under the tarp our bikes were under. The rain shower ended up being the hand of God warning us of the chaos that was to ensue at 3am...
The sprinklers came on. 
It was hilarious. Jamie and I scurried around, trying to figure out what to do. In our fluster, we heard older kids vandalizing the playground. And when I say older kids, I do mean college-aged. Really, Havre. Find something to do. 
Finally, Jeremy put his army general voice on and told us to scope out the enemies and stick water bottles over them. It worked! The force of the sprinkler actually kept the water bottle down. Five minutes after we crawled back into our stinky, now-clammy tents, we were bombarded by the next set of emerging sprinklers. Water bottles saved the day again, and Jamie and Jeremy moved their tent to avoid being flooded out by the puddle that was about to form under the thwarted sprinkler head.

$1.39 Chapstick
$4.00 snacks 
$6 Subway

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 17- almost Essex to East Glacier- 40 miles

Today was a shorter day. We stopped in Essex, 10 miles from our campground, and it was disappointing. No grocery store. One overpriced restaurant inside the kitschy hotel. Found a shady spot, stretched, ate some snacks, and went on our way. Five miles from Marias Pass we stopped in at a little cafe and had bowls of soup with the rest of yesterday's $20. Marias Pass was an easy little hill, one of the most beautiful passes, and giantly rewarding- we crossed the continental divide! Water is now flowing east. It's all downhill from here. 
Now, I'm cozy in my tent at our hosts' house, having enjoyed a dinner we threw together from an overpriced "trading post", and a delicious green salad provided by our hosts, Sam and Jo. They have three cats. This is Boo, who weighs 20 pounds, and the other two aren't far behind... 

Day 16- Whitefish to almost Essex- 50 miles

Our host, Rita, generously cooked us some steel cut oats for breakfast this morning. I had about 3 servings. Thanks, Rita!
We then hit the road, a nice headwind thwarting all momentum at various times during the day.
We hit Essex up and continued on down the road to West Glacier. $12 got us into the park, and, our bikes locked up at the visitor center, we took the free shuttle up to Logan Pass. It was magnificent. Going-to-the-Sun Road is so perfectly named. I can't even begin to describe it. 

We saw gophers, squirrels, birds, mountain goats standing amidst traffic licking the road, and a marmot! The mountains were gorgeous.
The shuttles were an adventure of their own. We made friends with several people on the buses, and one couple gave us $20! Next time you see a touring cyclist, give them a few bucks! It makes their day. In fact, $10-$25 will literally make their day- that's about how much we live on. 
So with that $20, we splurged on ice cream cones that powered a dehydrated 18 miles to the next campground- an RV park/cabin resort with a secluded site for tenters. And it was free! Woo!
$12 park entrance 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 15- Whitefish to Whitefish- 0 miles!

Took a rest day in Whitefish. 
Woke up at 6:30, went for a morning polar plunge, shivered, got dressed, packed up, got breakfast and groceries at Safeway, picked up chain lube at the bike shop, went thrift shopping for some much-needed wardrobe-swapping, dropped our gear off at our Warmshowers host, went to the city beach, ate at Buffalo Cafe (a $9 dinner salad sounded like a good idea, until I could've eaten three), Sweet Peaks for ice cream (could've gone for an Ione-sized cone...), and now... We sit on the porch brewing up a plan for our next few days.
Today was kinda weird. Whitefish is kinda weird. 
I can't wait for the plains. 
That's all for today. 
$20 groceries and breakfast
$6 lube
$10 dinner
$2 ice cream
$38 total

Day 14- Rexford to Whitefish Lake- 64 miles

Today was challenging. We were all anxiously anticipating a rest day tomorrow, and the miles didn't exactly fly by. Most of the day was spent pedaling on highway 93, where there was no shoulder, and vacationers pulling huge mobile houses failed miserably at respecting our space. Fortunately,  I was feeling pretty strong until the last five miles of the day. 
We stopped for lunch in between towns the size of a Lynden cul-de-sac, and I got the taco salad I've been dreaming about (although the one in my dreams involved guacamole and a little less iceberg...).
We're now camping at Whitefish Lake, just a mile outside of town, which has been a bit of another disappointment. We rolled up pretty stoked about a $7 hiker/biker site, only to learn it's $15 for non-residents of Montana, and oh, you have two bite-sized tents to pitch on the communal tent pad of pea gravel it's impossible to drive the stakes of your non-freestanding tent into?  That'll be $30. Happy Sunday. 
The color of Dickey Lake was incredible.
$10 lunch
$15 campsite
$25 total

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 13- Libby to Rexford- 64 miles

After breakfast in Libby, Stacy rode out with us, leading us to the road we were supposed to be on (and never would have found without him). We had an incredible day of riding up and down the hills along beautiful Lake Koocanusa. 
Snacked and laid out on the concrete at a campground.
Chatting with Jeremy and Jamie, and the gorgeous scenery, made the miles fly by. 
Now we sit at our gracious hosts', Richard and dog Lottie's, table in Rexford, having enjoyed a spaghetti dinner and delicious brownies, and ice creams from the corner store. 
Ice cream sandwich: $0.99

Day 12- Bull River to Libby- 50 miles

No bears ate us in the night, and we enjoyed our breakfast in the crisp, peaceful morning air. Jamie and I even kept our warm clothes on for the first half an hour. 
We saw a flock of bighorn sheep on the side of the road. They ran away when we rode past them. Later, at our Warmshowers host, we learned it's not unheard of for them to charge people... 
We stopped at Kootenai Falls and checked out the awesome swinging bridge. 

We caught a supported cycling team we've been leapfrogging the past few days. Their support leader gave us Clif bars and cold orange fizzy drinks. We'll take a free 400 calories any day! Thanks, guys!
We made it to our hosts, Stacy and Stacey, in the afternoon, did some grocery shopping, set up our tents, and piled in the car with Stacy, Stacey, and their son Jacob, to go to the local favorite pizza place, Red Dog. Peanuts were served in a red dog dish, and the pizza was awesome. They were incredible hosts, and we enjoyed camping in their yard with the wild giant rabbits. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 11- Sandpoint to Bull River- 50 miles

This was a beautiful day. 
We rode along farmlands, next to mountains, with osprey, deer, and gophers plentiful. All the farmers were out baling their hay. We stopped in Clark Fork and picked up an ice cream sandwich. Split three ways, the monstrosity was still quite satisfying.
We stopped in another grocery store just after crossing into Montana, and it was much like the first one in Clark Fork- fresh baked bread, bulk foods, slices of pie, all at very reasonable prices. There was no Welcome to Montana sign on our beautiful gravel road route, so we stopped at a realty place a few miles in, and did our Montana jig in the front. 

After lining up a Warmshowers in Libby, MT, we decided to quit at Bull River recreation area. Mosquitos feasted on us, and we feasted on discounted expired packages of spaghetti and rice. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 10- Skookum Creek to Sandpoint- 53 miles

Who in their right mind pays $40 to pitch a tent sandwiched in between several ginormous RV's, very busy train tracks, and a hotel? Why, we do of course!
Really, Sandpoint. You disappoint. That's what you should be called. DISAPpoint. 
In other news...
It was a beautiful ride today. Up and down hills, following the river, through farm fields,with ospreys nesting on stands alongside the road. A bike trail led us the last six miles into the city of Sandpoint, where a sorry search for a place to stay ended with the aforementioned nightmare (it is morning now, and I will say I slept fine).
The evening ended with a bowl of soup at a local pub, where several old and bearded men were jamming and twanging away at some blue grass. Jamie, Jeremy, and I swapped stories, and Jeremy's got me a husband lined up in Maine, so I'll see you on the other side.
Total: $20 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 9- Colville to Skookum Creek Campground- 75 miles

Woke up relishing the comfort of an actual bed. Thanks, Bacon Bike Hostel!
Rolled out for a late start around 10, after a breakfast of oatmeal, peanut butter, yogurt, veggie scrambled eggs, and fried sweet potatoes. Yum. 
We climbed "Tiger Pass" which barely qualified as a pass, but nonetheless was celebrated as our last Washington pass with the hugest $2 ice cream cone ever. Seriously, "Food Court" in Ione is the king of cheap, mass quantities of actually really good ice cream. Picked up a few groceries and went on our way. 
Followed a road paralleling the Pend Orielle River. It was beautiful. We saw a moose, a coyote, several deer, a herd of buffalo, and a shrew on our way. 

Finally, we have reached a stretch of flatness. No more climbing for hours on end. It was nice to get into a groove and just go for a while. 
Apple, peanut butter, trail mix, and wheat thins for dinner. Last night's obscene amount of lentils is still sticking to my ribs, I think. 
Jeremy was a champ this evening, showing me how to adjust my derailleur and letting me use his chain lube. We're all tucked into our tents now, out of the cloud of mosquitos, and praying no bears happen to lumber curiously across this abandoned campground. 

Day 8- Republic to Colville 63 miles

Today was a doozy of a day. Sherman Pass proved itself to be fairly tough, despite the smaller elevation change on the map. In addition to the challenge of the climb, we were also trying to outrun a thunderstorm. I thought we'd had it beat, but on the very long, very chilly descent (temperatures in the 50's, flying down a mountain with sweat from the ascent chilling your whole body...brr), it hit us. First it was raining. No problem. Raincoats on, and Jamie graciously threw a dry bag over my sleeping kit. Then it started hailing. We bailed into a rock bank on the shoulder of the highway, Jamie ripped open a tarp, and the three of us huddled under it, giggling as hail pebbles pelted our makeshift ceiling. 
A mile or two after the hail stopped, Jamie realized she'd forgotten her handlebar bag. She unloaded her bike and sprinted back up the mountain like a champion. 
The descent finally over, we stopped in Kettle Falls for exquisite chicken burritos at Rios Tacos. $5.50 for a huge, delicious burrito? Yes. 
In Colville, we stopped at Safeway and loaded up on groceries, the prospect of a real kitchen at the Bacon Bike Hostel just a few miles east of town in mind. 
Finally, around 8, we made it to the hostel, where we cooked dinner, showered, and visited with Aaron, who started in Lansing and is headed to Seattle!
Finally reached the top!
Second dinner.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 7- Tonasket to Republic- 37(?) miles

Today was kind of one of those days. 
It started off with a fantastic breakfast by Ivetta. Pancakes , bacon, eggs, peanut butter, home canned apricots... Yum. I think I ate about 1300 calories in just breakfast. She loaded us up with cookies, we used her son's pump to top off our tires, and took off for Wauconda Pass. 
^sweet Ivetta.
I noticed a rubbing noise coming from my back tire a few miles in, and stopped to check it out. Jeremy helped me try to true my wheel a little bit and figure out where it was coming from. A mile or so later, on a road full of blissfully unaware and/or ignorant jerks blasting past us, a gunshot rang through the hill. My tube had exploded.
Have I mentioned Jamie and Jeremy are awesome? They stayed cool, helped me unload my bike, and were patient with my inexperienced hands fumbling with my bike. 
We reached the little Wauconda store and sat outside for a bit, snacking, laughing, and cloud watching. At about 3:30, we dragged ourselves up the rest of the pass, and coasted most of the way down into Republic. Being a Sunday, not much was open. I called the owner of the local bike shop, and he ever so graciously interrupted his Sunday afternoon and met us at our camping spot with two new tubes for me.
Lentils, tuna, trail mix, crackers, and peanut butter for dinner. 
Now it is 9:30, and raining. But it smells nice, it's cool, and my tent is keeping me somewhat dry. 
Avocado and 3 apples: $5
Two new tubes: $10

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 6- Okanogan to Tonasket- 28 miles

Today was an "easy" day. Thirty miles with head/side winds made it not so easy. Nonetheless, we had a delicious breakfast in Omak, did more grocery shopping, and reached our Warmshowers host, Ivetta, by 1:30. She had cookies and cold drinks ready for us, and is cooking a chicken dinner for us this very moment.  
$26 groceries
$9 breakfast

Day 5- Bike barn to Okanogan- 60 miles

After a refreshing night of sleep, we rode the six miles to Winthrop and did a little grocery shopping and breakfast scrounging. I ate a cup of yogurt, a banana, and the rest of the granola I'd brought from home. Then, our appetites only slightly satisfied, we rode 13(?) miles to Twisp and split a large pizza between the three of us. Loup Loup Pass was imminent. 
...And it was brutally hot until the summit. 
I downed the last of my trail mix, a ton of water, and Jamie and Jeremy soon rolled up behind me, ready for the descent.  Jeremy leads the descents, because he's brave. And a man. 
And then we turned onto B &O Rd... We were supposed to turn on B&O South Rd. Did I mention we were hungry? 
Six miles extra later, we arrived in Okanogan, dreaming of buffets and burritos, and arrived only to find the only thing open on a Friday night was a 21+ pub. Disappointed and starving, we struggled onto the fairgrounds and ate what little was in our panniers. For me, that included a Clif bar, a banana, and the most disgusting can of mixed veggies I've ever tasted. A very kind, very drunk camper came and gave us more bananas to add to our sorry dinner. 
$7.60 Groceries 
$6 pizza
$5 camping

Day 4- Newhalem to barn bicycle camping

We climbed a mountain! 
Jamie, Jeremy, and I rocketed up Washington Pass like champions. Three times, cars stopped to fill our water bottles. If not for them, we might have died... For reals, doh.
There was a sorry lack of food that day. Seriously, somebody needs to open a taco truck at the top. You would make a killing. Our ride was fueled by a sorry breakfast and trail mix.
We descended into Mazama with an awesome tailwind, and chowed down bratwursts and ice cream. 
Still hungry, we flew the six miles to barn bicycle camping, where we got special 4th of July wine and salad, awesome hot showers, and a beautiful, windy night of sleep.
$2.50 ice cream cone
$6.50 brat
$10 camping
Total: $19

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day three- Rasar State Park to Newhalem. 45 miles

My day started at 4:30 am, when the birds woke up. I tried my best to go back to sleep, but excitement got the better of me. I got up around 6:30, made a chia seed-granola-bruised mango breakfast, packed, dawdled, journaled, etc., and my riding buddies, exhausted from their last few days, were still sleeping. They got up around 8:30, and I left with the hope of waiting up for them in Concrete. I ended up being just a town ahead of them the whole day. I took the 530 detour off SR 20, and it was gorgeous. Two younger women in a car pumped their fists and cheered for me from their car in a driveway as they waited for me to pass. Grocery shopped and met another cross country-er in Marblemount. I believe his name is Bob, and he is lightly loaded doing 100+ mile days. As he graced my little wooden bench corner for some delightful conversation, I unashamedly devoured my second-in-my-entire-life Klondike bar, a banana, and some trail mix. In Newhalem, my parents and little brother, whom they had just picked up from Job Corps, met me. We chatted and sat on the swing set. It was so good to see my little brother. I beat the system by solar-charging my iPhone in the middle of the hydroelectric power park. Ken and Emi caught up with me, and we decided to backtrack 1/2 a mile and camp, as Emi's knee was bothering her a bit. Tomorrow they are riding a short day to Diablo, and spending the day there. I will break camp tomorrow morning with our neighbors, who are also headed to Maine! I hope to make it over the pass and to a cyclists' campground just west of Winthrop. 
I've got a mean sunburn and connect-the-dots mosquito bites. No showers at Newhalem Creek campgrounds. Washed hair in the sink and wiped down with Wet   Ones. 
Tonight's dinner was brought to you ( by an entire can of baked beans and most of a can of cheap beer (shhh...).
$1.99 Can of baked beans
$1.99 Klondike bar
$1.59 can of pineapple
$4 hiker-biker site split 3 ways
Total: about $10. I'm too tired for math.