Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Day 14 Monday 7/20/09
Libby, MT to Logan State Park
622 total miles
My body did not cooperate after yesterday's push in the heat. To make matters worse, today was even hotter. I told myself going into this experience that I would pay attention to my body's needs and respond appropriately. The first sign of that came at 7 a.m. When my alarm rang and I turned it off to get some more sleep. I awoke surprised to find it was past 9 a.m.-- too late to avail myself of the 7 to 9 am $2.99 breakfast special, but more importantly, a sure sign that I wasn't going to even try to make it all the way to Kalispell today. Today was even hotter than yesterday, so I decided to take my time this morning, have a leisurely breakfast, and spent some time at the local internet/networking company's office posting my blog before setting out onto the road eastward. Did I already say it was HOT?! IO don't know how hot, but the forecast when I left Libby was for 95 + and the bank signboard read 87 as I rolled out of town at 2 p.m. Not an auspicious start!
Crosses across Montana: as one journeys across this state one finds roadside crosses placed by the American Legion in memory of the departed travellers along Montana's highways. A sobering reminder of the tenuous hold we have on this life as we thunder along at unnatural speeds-- certainly unnatural to what the body can sustain in sudden deceleration. Although I haven't kept count, I can pretty much count on seeing at least on every couple of miles and some are multiples. True to the immortal Lenny Bruce, I still haven't seen any Stars of David (or any other faiths) represented! One of these markers I passed around US 2 mile marker #65 showed 17 crosses for one site. Just a few miles east of Libby the shoulder all but disappeared. I was left with a 6 inch or less margin of pavement from the white line and there were some mighty big trucks rolling through here , loaded with lumber and you name it. On coming traffic too? ! Do you think that the narrowness of the road or speed limit for that matter would slow any of them down? You already know the answer. 15 miles of that treachery, all the while climbing in heat for the most part, took away the fascination (or the ability) to gaze at the picturesque Cabinet mountains to the south of me. Finally, the shoulder returned and I was able to relax a little and enjoy the ride-- although the new hazard was rumble strips which eliminated 1/2 of the usable space on the shoulder and pushed me closer to the guard rails. Rumble strips, while a good idea for the dozing trucker, are a bad idea for the touring cyclist, especially on downhill, where one might encounter an itinerant hazard and need to swerve to avoid it.
I stopped to cooldown in the chilling Fisher River and then rode through an area called Houghton Creek, where there had been a big forest fire in 1984, and even 25 years later, the mountainsides show the recovery still taking place very slowly. What does Smokey Bear say kids?
By the time I reached Happy Inn (yes, it's on the map!) I was out of water and getting very thirsty and a COLD beer, in this case 2, was in order. Talked a bit with the local barflies, bought some more beverages, and left the station (it's the halfway point between Libby and Kalispell) and headed down the road 5 more miles to the Logan State Park Campground , which turns out is a very convenient, modern and recommended facility: complete with hot a cold running water, showers and cleanup sinks for dishes. Monday night made selection of a lakeside campsite no problem at all. A great swim in the clean water and the song of loons on the lake cap this day off quite nicely.