Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trials and Tribulations and Suprises in Missoula

Friday June 26

Our day began with a whimper and progressed from there. As previously mentioned, Donna and I had interrupted sleep due to cold feet. So when things started warming up we were finally able to doze off. Too late! We awoke with a start when realizing that it was 9:00 in the morning. This is the latest we had slept since leaving Shelton. And we’re supposed to meet Julie at Adventure Cycling around 1:00. So we hurriedly pack up and get over to the bar where we spent part of last night. We were hoping to snag a quick breakfast and be on the road by 10:00 or so. This is when we realized the rumors of the water quality issues were actually not rumors. The Health Department had closed down the restaurant until further notice as the establishment has to install a chlorination system to insure the water quality. In an effort to keep customers from complaining too much they have instituted a complimentary continental breakfast. We had a few muffins and bagels and coffee and milk for Lewis which took all of 10 minutes. We made our self imposed deadline of 10:00 with 15 minutes to spare.

The first 15 miles were slightly downhill with a pleasant tailwind. The clouds were abundant but non threatening. We stopped a bit later for a picture at Fort Fizzle where Lewis learned about entrenchments and how the US Cavalry used them in an attempt to wipe out the fleeing Nez Perce Indians. The tactic failed as the retreating Indians skirted the Army by sneaking around them. The placque describes this as a battle that neither side wanted to pursue. I guess that’s why they named the place Fort Fizzle.

We got back on the bikes and another 5 miles down the road we came to our first real town in several days. This would be LoLo Montana. Over 3000 people live in or around LoLo. We chose not to stop in order to pedal into Missoula for lunch instead. It was only another 8 miles and it was approaching 12:30. With a bit more effort than I expected, we pulled into Missoula at just a few minutes past 1:00. Our meeting point to touch base with Julie (Adventure Cyling Headquarters) is located in Old Downtown Missoula which is on the opposite side of town. This took us another 20 minutes but we managed to pull in by 1:30. They had been expecting us so were prepared to rush us through the usual routine that they have for visiting cyclists. When I mentioned that this was a return visit for me, Greg Siple (photographer at AC) went to the vaults and retrieved the pictures of me that were taken 13 years prior. Some of you have seen the photos of the Alaskan Adventure and will have an idea of what my appearance was. To the uninitiated, the closest resemblance would be to think of Charles Manson and add just a few more pounds. Lewis has seen these pictures before but was still surprised to see the maniacal snapshot of me that Greg pulled out of their vault.

We ate the complimentary ice-cream, filled out release forms and were just about ready to leave when Greg found out about our incident in Eugene. I have been intentionally leaving this detail out of any conversations that I’ve had since the day we left Eugene. Donna and Lewis are still reliving that by sharing it with complete strangers. Anyways, this might have been the trigger to get them interested enough in our trip to possibly put us in the magazine or at least feature us on their on-line version. Otherwise we were just another group of cyclists passing through. I’ll have to fill out the post bike ride questionaire that Greg said I failed to do after my first visit to Missoula. Oh well, I got enough publicity out of that bike ride to win the attention of one Donna Jean Wardin from Hemlock Michigan.

Julie was patiently waiting for us to conclude our photo shoot and then we all pedaled away from AC headquarters towards the house of Julie and Ron Huck. Julie rides to work as every good employee at AC does! A mile or so later we pull into their driveway and deposit our bikes in the backyard beside their deck. We will not be needing these for at least 36 hours and are looking forward to the opportunity to put our walking legs back on again.

Julie gave us a 5 minute tour of the house and then in a frenzy she began packing for her weekend on the water. Both Julie and Ron are avid outdoors people and their house is a veritable shrine dedicated to the adventurous lifestyle they lead. Whether mountain climbling, kayaking, or mountain biking; it’s obvious that they work and live in Missoula in order to enjoy the outdoors during their free time. We wished her a fond farewell and then she was gone. A half hour later her husband Ron arrived and it was pretty much the same routine. He spent a little more time around home but we were on our way out to get our late lunch early dinner so we likewise only spent a short while with him. We chose to eat at ElDiablo, a taco burrito place within walking distance of the Huck household. After our delicious pulled pork burritos we wandered over the the Harvest Grains bread store and puchased a loaf of Dakota bread for $5 and a package of scones and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Our last stop was at the Grizzly Grocery store for a dozen eggs and a package of ham. We were now prepared to spend the next day and a half in quiet seclusion in our own little house in Missoula.

When we returned to Ron and Julie’s place he was just preparing to depart. It is such an odd feeling that people could trust almost complete strangers with probably their most valuable posession. But for the second time now, it’s happened. When we’ve hosted bicyclists we have always accomodated them and included them in our lives. But if by chance both Donna and I have to leave before they do, the doors to the house have been locked. We may need to rethink this policy. Thank you Julie and Ron. Sorry we didn’t arrive a day earlier and get the opportunity to know you!

So we are prepared to settle down for the evening and do a little maintenance on the blog and maybe some e-mail. The first e-mail to be answered happened to be from Daimon Doyle. Daimon being one of our most dedicated followers and the husband of Katie Doyle(Donna’s closest friend in Washington) and also father of Sam Doyle (Lewis’ closest friend in Washington). Daimons message was terse and seemed almost desperate. Call me ASAP. It was sent while we were out having our burritos. I made the call and discovered that Daimon and Katie and Sam and Joshua (6mos old) were currently just outside of Missoula, ordering a pizza for dinner. I thought that they probably could have found a pizza place just a bit closer to Shelton but who am I to question someone elses thinking. Just as there are easier or quicker ways to get to Washington DC than by riding bicycles!

The Doyles had driven and rested and breastfed for a total of 18 hours in order to head us off at the pass. Literally, they had hoped to surprise us as we were struggling up LoLo pass. Unfortunately, we had beaten them to the pass by a full 24 hours. I hadn’t understood why Daimon was so interested in our particular route until now. And the fact that we were without internet for a few days made his prediction of surprising us (on his 45th birthday) just a bit off. He hadn’t expected us to make as many miles as we did.
Daimon has a good friend who lives near Missoula and that’s where they were headed with the pizza. He talked his friend Dan into picking us up and carting us back to his place. We had planned on a quiet restful evening which was now evolving into something different. However, in the spirit of what the Doyles had done in an attempt to surprise us, giving up a quiet evening for something else was the least we could do. So when Dan showed up, we hopped into his car and off we went to places unknown. A short drive of 15 minutes found us at the house of Dan and Angela (and 7 year old daughter Freya). Pulling into the driveway we first noticed the placards that the Doyles had intended on strategically placing along the arduos LoLo pass. Keep on pedaling, Sore butts, stuff like that. And then standing in front of the house was none other than Sam Doyle holding a bowl of our strawberries that had been picked from our very own garden in Shelton Washington some 24 hours previous. They were still wonderfully delicious!

We spent a couple hours visiting and sharing pizza and beverages before my asthma kicked into high gear. They have 2 indoor cats that were getting the best of me. We might have opted to spend the night there but it would have been a tough one for me. Instead it was decided that Lewis would spend the night so Angela drove Donna and me back to our house in Missoula. We would connect up with everyone on the morrow. When we stepped back into Julie and Ron’s place we were exhausted and immediately retired to the futon in the basement. I was out like a light and as far as I know Donna was too.

Saturday June 27

Since no riding was to occur on this the Birthday Daimon, I’ll not be starting a new entry. We’ll just expand on what occurred Friday night. Donna and I slept until 8:30 before crawling out of our sleeping bags to head upstairs and begin our day. It was eerily quiet without Lewis around. It felt strange, awkward, and just not right that he wasn’t beside us. But we were able to dismiss this feeling as we knew he was having a better time hanging with Sam and Freya than he ever would have had with Donna and me.

We spent the morning enjoying our pastries, drinking our own coffee still using our French Press, and using Julie and Rons washer and dryer to get our soiled laundry cleaned. It’s so nice to be able to start with all clean clothes again as we had been dragging around an assortment of dirty socks and shorts and t-shirts. I then proceeded to finish updating the blog and doing some more e-mails. It was while waiting for Katie or Daimon to call that the weird factor settled in again. Our only child is on the other side of Missoula and we have no way to get in touch with him. We still don’t know Dan and Angela’s last name and there’s no way we’d be able to find our way back to their house. I’m not even sure which direction it is from where we are. The calming factor was the knowledge that Lewis was with Katie and he’s spent the night at their place a handful of times. So it really wasn’t much different. And yet it was. We thought about calling Daimon on his cell phone like we did the night before but remembered that he had no signal while at Dans place. So we waited..

Eventually Katie called and plans were made for the rest of the day. The Doyles and Dan and Angela and Freya would meet us in Missoula. Katie and Angela and Freya were waiting for Daimon and Dan and Sam and Lewis to return from their male type expedition involving a couple of quads (4 wheeled buggies). The women eventually gave up and left a note for the men to meet everyone at the Carousel in town. See Photo. We were all finally gathered at the carousel by late afternoon. Several hours were spent wandering through the park and watching the Kayakers on the Bitterroot River. (Photo) The plans for the rest of the day were still up in the air although a barbecue was planned as Angelas dad was arriving from places unknown to me. We decided to opt out of this as I didn’t want to repeat the asthma episode from the night before. The final plan fell into place. Lewis would spend another night away from us at Dan and Angela’s with the Katie, Daimon, Sam and Joshua. The Doyles have obligations in Olympia that requires them to be on the road back by no later than 10:00am. Since they will be passing right by in the morning before getting on I-90 they’ll drop Lewis off on their way out of town. For the second night in a row we’ll be sans Lewis. But after tomorrow morning I don’t think we’ll let him out of our sight again.

We are now settling down for our quiet evening albeit more quiet than either one of us is comfortable with. We miss our little man! Tomorrow we get our son back, pack up the bikes, go see the movie ‘Transformers ll’, do just a bit of shopping at the Walmart and then Safeway before finally leaving Missoula behind. I’m just a bit antsy spending such a gorgeous day not making any positive miles but it certainly does the body and soul good. Yes, today was another wonderful day weatherwise. It seems a pattern has established where every day that is taken off turns out to be spectacular! Lets see how long this weather system stays in place. Honestly, another 70 days like this one and I’d be happy! Good night!

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