Friday July 3
Our night at the Fish Camp along the Madison River was interrupted twice over night with rain and even some thunder. These were brief episodes that didn’t wake up anyone except me. Before morning had actually set in it started raining in earnest. So we settled in our tent and waited it out. By 9:00 the rain had turned into sprinkles and then dissipated completely. We packed up everything except the tent which was drenched. Then we headed back into Ennis to have some breakfast and look for a wifi spot. An old fashioned pharmacy that served breakfast and lunch is where we enjoyed a good old fashioned eggs and bacon stick to your ribs type breakfast. As this is the day before the 4th, the public library was closed. An alternative wifi source was the local coffee shop. A second cup of coffee later I was checking e-mail and downloading pictures. The first e-mail I responded to was from our friend Peter Breach. Peter is a friend we’ve known since we first moved to Washington and lived near Spokane. He has been talking about joining us for a portion of our ride for quite a while now. I haven’t mentioned him until now just in case something prevented him from joining us. We had tentatively agreed to meet him Friday night in a campground near Yellowstone. He showed up a day early and was desperately looking to find us. When I called his cell phone he was just a few miles outside of Ennis and agreed to meet us at the coffee shop. He arrived within minutes of the phone call as he had traveled here by SUV. He parked his vehicle, pulled out his man powered wheels and an hour later we were pedaling away from Ennis in the company of Peter B from Spokane. We stopped back at the campground, packed up the tent and were about to hit the road when another cyclist pulled into the Fish Camp.
Sheryl had ridden an undisclosed distance earlier that day and was prepared to call it quits. She had toughed out the rain and was now ready to relax for the remainder of the afternoon. We introduced her to our friendly neighbors who took a liking to her. She was going to occupy the space that we were just vacating. As we were making the final preparations to leave, the Fish and Wildlife Officer happens to show up. He starts checking permits to make sure everyone has paid for their campsite. Since we didn’t officially have a campsite but were sitting on the edge of Dallas’ (as his guest is how I viewed it) I didn’t think that we should have to pay. I’m not sure what Dallas told him before he departed to go fishing, but the officer didn’t force the issue. He did however warn Sheryl that she had better pay for the priveledge to camp because $12 is a lot better than the $135 ticket that you might get for ripping off the Dept of Fish and Wildlife. At this point we frantically finished strapping and packing as I felt that Officer Pinhead might go look in the fee box and discover that we were negligent.
We left the Fish Camp for good sometime around noon. Now we were 4. Peter is an unconventional touring cyclist. Actually Peter is unconventional concerning lots of things. I think that’s why we like him so. Anyway, he had all of his gear in a backpack and was riding basically a racing bike. There wasn’t one bottle holder, pannier, or rack on his sleek blue machine. There was one huge internal frame backpack strapped to his torso. It extended well beyond his head. But everything he needed was in that one bag! He had no problem keeping up with us as his baggage was considerable less than what either Donna or I had. The miles came easy early on as we continued our traditional approach of riding an hour or so then snacking or stretching for 15 minutes before resuming the riding and then again eating for a bit followed by some more riding.
The day that had started out with so much rain had progressed to partly cloudy and just a bit muggy. The mugginess was soon replaced with a refreshing cool breeze that eventually became a very significant headwind. Donna is quickly learning that the worst riding occurs when you pedal into a strong wind! Our average speed once again dropped significantly until we were crawling along at all of 6 mph. This was in part due also to the gradient as the days ride was a slight but steady uphill climb. The partly cloudy skies began to churn with quite a few greyish ominous clouds thrown in. It was looking like we were going to be in the middle of some weather sooner or later. We stopped for a break at a rest area and began the process of deciding just what our destination for the day should be. At barely half way to the campground that we’d hoped to reach, with several shorter options available, we opted for a shorter option. So now it was a race to see how far we could get before the thunderstorms got us. And we were racing at all of 6 mph.
Since we had not had any lunch and it was approaching 5:00 a decision to stop at a lodge/restaurant was an easy call. We pulled into the Grizzly Café and each had a Grizzly Burger and a side (I had the fries, Donna had the side salad, and Peter had the Onion Rings). Lewis had mac and cheese from the kids menu. We were savoring our last bites of food when in walks Aaron and Lolo. They were camping just back up the road a quarter mile and informed us of the great deal. $12 tent site with free showers! It didn’t take long to decide that this was for us. So we paid up and headed out. The skies that had looked threatening before we went into the restaurant were now screaming and cursing and swearing at us. Things like ”You idiots better find some cover or you’ll be sorry!” So we raced (this time at racing speed because the wind was pushing us) back to West Forks RV park. I no sooner paid for our $12 site when the skies opened up. There was a covered area where some other people had set up their dining screened in thing and that’s where we headed. We stood around under this shelter for the better part of 45 minutes while the rain was being blown sideways, and impressive bursts of lightning were all around us. And then just like that, it was over. We were so close to being caught in this and yet we escaped with only a sprinkle or two. As the last of the storm was passing, we were treated to a double rainbow! Shortly after the rainbow the skies began to clear and we proceeded to set up camp. We still had an hour or so until sundown. Initially Peter thought he would sleep on the ground under the shellter but we were able to convince him to join us as we have a luxurious 4 person tent with only 3 occupants.
During all of the meteorological activity and setting up of camp, Lewis was absent. Upon reaching this RV campground, he immediately located a couple of trailers that were chock full of kids. He was instantly assimilated into their group and become one of them. This was such a relief for us to see Lewis find some kids to play with all on his own. Most of the time we have to walk around with him and help him break the ice or make introductions or just tell the kids about the bikes. So whatever Lewis did or said, it was all on his own. He’s learning how to make friends! For the remainder of the evening we would only catch glimpses of Lewis as he raced by on someone elses bike. It’s become quite obvious to anyone paying attention that Lewis has too much energy left at the end of the day. That’s because he’s not exerting much while situated behind me. But I can’t complain. I’ve said from the very beginning that I would drag him across the country if I had too. And it looks like that is going to be the case. Fortunately for all involved, I won’t be dragging him kicking and screaming. Our little man is actually enjoying himself!