Having never been to Montana prior to rolling into it a little over 20 days ago, my picture of it was built by truck commercials and friends' fly fishing stories. My image of it failed to capture the ever changing beauty of the state, the small towns that make it up, and the people who take pride in their state, their town, and their bears. It was powerful riding through such a state. We could feel the history it held in its fields and mountains, from Lewis and Clark to the Indian Wars. It's hard to escape it.
Our last few days in Montana flew by. We had a day off in Billings, and used it as a chance to replenish our bike tube supply and treat ourselves to new, slightly larger real tires to deal with the weight. We went to the Spoke Shop in Billings and they just kept giving us stuff. We left well after close with bellies full of beer, free socks, and some great tips for the road ahead.
We rode 50 miles to the town of Hardin, which was just on the edge of the Crow Reservation. We had heeded the warnings we heard from everyone we passed that we don't won't to end up on the "Rez" after dark. In Hardin we stayed with Darrin and Deedee. They were amazing hosts and cooked us dinner and breakfast. Deedee served gluten free pancakes in the morning, made me feel like we were in Seattle.
After our gluten free flap jacks we hit the road to make our 70 mile push for the Wyoming border. Though I enjoyed Montana, I was ready for something new, especially the further east we went in the state. As my grandmother told me, "God forgot about Eastern Montana." I laughed when she told me this, but it came to mind as the green and mountainous landscapes turned into dry brown rolling hills.
We spent the day riding through the Crow Reservation listening to episodes of This American Life on our speaker. It was a great day of riding. We stopped for lunch in a shady lawn on the Reservation. The home belonged to Marshall Lefthand, a retired social worker. He came and chatted with us while we at lunch. His son-in-law and grandson were in the yard as well making teepee poles for the upcoming CrowFest. He told us we need to come back for it in a few years, we said we would.
Wyoming greeted us with a very underwhelming "Entering Wyoming" sign and a tailwind. We road the last few miles to Ranchester, Wy fast. We averaged around 30 mph for the last five miles on flat ground. As we turned the corner into town, the wind nearly knocked us off our bikes. A car stopped and told us to take cover, they were expecting 60 mph winds and rain. We could barely hold our bikes up in the wind. We ran them down a steep grass hill and into someone's backyard. A nice older woman popped her head out the window and said "you're going to get rained on." As if on queue, the rain began to pour. She let us into the garage to take shelter and later let us sleep in their basement. Nice folks.
Photos: locking up our bikes and new tires in Billings to stop and have a beer//Entering Wyoming Sign//Hank Scobee, the 88 year old cowboy who's house we took shelter in