Saturday, August 7 we had dinner at the only diner in town, Legends Grill. Rosie put a load of laundry in at a nearby laundromat while I secured a table and tested the beers. Now, don't get the wrong idea. Rosie has lost weight, but she doesn't trust me with reducing her cup size prematurely. After we were pretty much spent for the day, watched some stupid TV and read we called it a night.
Sunday, August 8, as we were leaving our room we met an elderly man leaving an adjacent room. He was using four different oxygen support devices while he traveled the country. I helped him load them into his car. We had a pleasant chat and he was excited about our adventure. Just goes to show you the tenacity of individuals not content with sitting on their front porch bemoaning their weaknesses and playing the victim card. Unfortunately, the whining SOB's are increasing in number as they sit on their government subsidized front porches spending their delusional lives chasing the candy man.
We left Ranchester, WY and rode to Hardin, MT. From the border to Hardin we rode in the Crow Indian Reservation. We traveled on I-90 until Lodge Grass, about 30 miles, where we took our first break. We met Joyce, an elderly lady, at an IGA who had plenty of questions about our trip. The man in Ranchester and the Joyces' of the world make our day. From Lodge Grass we took Route 451 and other frontage roads into Hardin, stopping one more time in Gerryowen, down the road from the Little Big Horn Battlefield. Off I-90 was a plus. The roads were flat and nearly traffic free.
In Gerryown, we stopped for a bite to eat. While I guarded our goods, Rosie forged for subs. As I waited, I met Mike Dench, who resides near London, Ontario. His son Ryan attended and was hoping to work at the Texas Longhorn Ranch, owned and operated by Fred and Gail Cahill. It truly is a small world.
Options were few in Hardin. Thought about staying at a KOA, but that cow pasture was dismissed given we rode 73 miles and the temp was 90+. AC, indoor plumbing, a complementary breakfast and WI-FI made the choice simple.
Monday, August 9 we rode to Billings via Old Route 87 instead of I-90. Few cars. Forty miles out we entered a small canyon, then uphill for about two miles to a panoramic view of the valley where we first saw Billings. The ride down was on a switchback road. Without a car in sight, I used the entire road banking around turns. Rosie was a bit more conservative. At the bottom we met a guy from St. Louis that has been biking/touring for 2.5 years. Said he has visited all the National Parks and every state. It seemed the road had taken it's toll.
We entered Billings in the industrial section. Not a good first impression. The city backs up to a cliff in the north and spreads east and west. I wouldn't put it on the top 100 places to visit. Having said that, our short stay did not afford us time to see the other half.
Our first stop was the Spoke Shop to buy new tires. Still had some tread, but the road was chewing them up. About a mile from the shop we got our second flat. I picked up a half inch brad that flatten my rear tire. I changed it out in quick order and made it to the shop. Dean handled our transaction, providing us with a couple Blue Moons, to the chagrin of a co-worker, while we waited. I guess they get cross country riders in there everyday. Another customer warned us of an impending storm. We had about two miles to our overnight and made it before the sky opened up.
Tuesday, August 10, we decided to avoid I-90 and ride north on Route 3 to Route 12 which is part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Leaving Billings we took the Zimmerman Trail up to Route 3. The last mile was an 8% twisting climb. Rosie powered through it like a champ even with a hundred foot cliff to her right.
Route 3 started with a great shoulder. About 30 miles out it turned to a loose chipseal and then to a narrow shoulder. The chipseal was jarring. It makes for a longer day.
Our destination was Lavina. We arrived after 47 miles. Like many of the towns that once serviced the railroad, it is now a quiet hamlet. In yesteryear towns were built every 15 miles to service the railroad. Some survived. Many didn't.
I visited the only occupied building in town, the Post Office. There I met Kim who welcomed us and said the church and school were available for our personal needs and we could stay in the city park. Rosie met Ellen Lenfeldt who was working at the American Legion/Town Hall. We had a great chat with her. She told us about her biking adventures in New Zealand back in the 70's. She and her husband are ranchers. His family apparently began ranching in this area over 100 years ago. They have 1000's of sheep and Angus cattle. She gave us the key to the town hall which was adjacent to the park. Came in handy the next morning.
We also met Junior. He maintains the city park. Said he just turned 82 and had a catfish fry last week. He caught the fish. The park is a labor of love. The lawn was like a carpet. We had a pavilion for our bikes. He turned off the automatic sprinkler system, scheduled to come on at 4 AM. If he hadn't, it would have been in addition to the rain that Rosie said came down all night long. I said, what rain..
Wednesday, August 11 we rode to Harlowton on Route 12, stopping in Ryegate for breakfast. Harlowton was 45 miles, Ryegate 17. Before leaving Lavina we policed the grounds. Rosie mentioned everything was as it had been accept for the matted grass where we setup the tent. I rolled my eyes and said, "You're thinking of fluffing up the grass, aren't you? I'll leave it to your imagination.
We had a relaxing coffee at the gas station at the corner of Routes 3 and 12 around 0730. The bar next door was open, but they didn't serve food. We had a congenial conversation with the owner. She mentioned that the Lenfeldt's use the sheep and ship the sheep to other ranches to eat a toxic weed that affect cattle.
Our first 16 miles on the Lewis and Clark Trail were easy. We arrived in Ryegate to find the Buffalo Trail Cafe. Rosie gave the diner a "10". The food was great. We learned that the toxic weed is leafy spurge. It is an invasive weed and the plant's milky sap is toxic to cattle. Other people eating breakfast are a wealth of knowledge where ever we go.
Our day ended in Harlowton. We had our bath, bread and beer. Bon Soir.