Miles: 122.7

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 3244.6

Weather: Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 1

Roadkill: 19 (6 Birds, 3 Snakes, 6 Chipmunks, 4 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0


I dedicate this entry to my close friend and expatriate, Greg Frost. He was a humble park ranger in North Dakota before he became the James Bond of international journalism.  Now he covers ballyhoo hot air conferences in Davos, runs shoulders in Cannes and monitors important decisions made by the IAEA, but there was a time when he was writing about red winter wheat for a remote Reuters outpost in Kansas City, where we met and became pals for life. 

I never got to see Frosty G in a funny hat and khaki gear, but I was thinking about him when the route took me to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just west of Dickinson, ND.  We listened to a ranger tell us about how the young, skinny TDR came to build a cabin in the Badlands so that he might slaughter one of the last remaining bison in the area.  I imagined my friend giving this lecture being compelled to use the term "harvest" in regard to the big hunt.  Greg lives in Paris now, but he just sent me a message about his fond memories of the park and North Dakota.

Picture
This chump would have never built the Panama Canal or waged Bully Diplomacy without the lesser known shadow figure next to him, here, the Fat Captain America.

Today, near Greg in Élancourt, west of Paris is France scaled down to its significant icons in a diminutive "amusement" park known as "France Miniature."  Models of monuments, castles, and cathedrals are arrayed for the tourist with only a couple of hours to see the whole country.  A Cliff's Notes holiday tour!  Everything built hyper-realistically to 1/30 scale to remind passersby that this is no fantasy land.  It's not exactly enchanting, but is entertaining like an enormous electric train set.  


I found the time I spent in Theodore Roosevelt National Park to be a similar kitschy experience. This was, no doubt influenced greatly by our time spent being dwarfed by mountains in Glacier National Park.  Instead of grizzlies and sheer cliffs, TDR Park has prairie dogs and hills.  To be fair, if you squint at the furry vermin on the barren green ridges adorning the place and  imagine they're ferocious predators, it looks the same. 

I did run into the only dangerous animal on the trip so far--a prone bison sunning himself and chewing cud. 


On this warm summer day, my son had precisely the same reaction he has at any park or adult museum.  Curiosity quickly evaporated to boredom and while staring at the landscape, he said,  "At first this place is cool, but then it's just lots of mountains and animals and stuff and  they're all the same. How many days until Mom takes us to the water park?"

 
 

Miles: 52.7

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 2112.8

Weather: Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 7 (1 Cat, 2 Birds, 3 Snakes, 1 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0


If you ever want to ride a bike across Kansas, but don't like sunflowers or smelly cattle yards, try eastern Montana.  It's got it all.  Prairie, boringly long climbs, nasty headwinds and abandoned farm houses.  It will send the staunchest yokel  running for the city. 


The daily roadkill tally today was the only thing breaking up the monotony of the ride.  A distraction or two to fend off the fixation of festering little aches and pains that accompany me like my hillbilly uncle-in-law making appearances for food on holidays and special events would have been nice. 

I was a mere puppet today, dropped by a velocipedic deus ex machina into the hellmouth of purgatory. I crawled to the truck stop hamlet of Circle, MT. Shellacked by yesterday's winds and dizzied by the revolving scenery--a handsome reticulated periaktoi designed by the Devil--I drank the sweet nectar of soda fountain Dr. Pepper and it was relief beyond an I.V. drip. 


Yeah, this sounds like pretentious James Lipton "Actors Studio" rhetorical horseshit, but the description is apt.  Of course, it's not the way simple folk here would  categorize it.  I heard a big rig man at a rest stop say, "It's a goddamned sumbitch of a gusty day."


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Ah, beautiful support vehicle. Leaving me so soon.

 Without much to report, I started thinking about this blog and my narcissistic histrionics. I wondered how someone might distinguish themselves as supremely selfish in this age of narcissism.  The self-indulgent norm of Facebook, Pinterest and the Twitterverse leaves an enormous obstacle for anyone to reach a vainglorious summit. So, like my previous gift of simple avian classification, I hereby grant the modern operational definition of a narcissist:   Someone whom masturbates to their own sex tape.


I feel better about myself for babbling about how great or how rotten my experiences are, knowing full well that some celebrity producing their obligatory unauthorized porn (Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Screech) is getting rich committing the sin of Onan as their video goes viral.


Almost a month into this venture, I pause to think about the many cyclists visiting the site for good instruction, only to be barraged by tales of the white devil, Vladimir Putin's machismo and bug ingestion counts.  This isn't Pollyanna's travel guide to cycle touring, eh?


I'll make sure that I comment on the landscape in detail in the next post. I want to serve my fellow riders. Just don't expect descriptions you'd find in National Geographic. 

 
 

Miles: 48.8

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 636.5

Weather: Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 1

Roadkill: 9 (1 Chipmunks, 1 Birds, 5 Rabbits 2 Skunks) 

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

The Wind and the Sun were persuaded by Don King to have a rematch on pay-per-view to settle, once again, which was the stronger. They saw a weary cyclist coming down the road, and the Wind said: “Remember that vagrant wearing his winter coat in August?  That was a pretty cheap shot. Below the belt. An easy KO for you.  This time, whichever of us can cause that jackass to dismount off the bike shall be regarded as the stronger.  You begin.” 


So the Wind retired behind a cloud, and the Sun began to broil as hard as it could upon the cyclist, but the harder he tried, the more water the cyclist drank as he pedaled and thanked the sun for the hydration reminder.  The sun gave up in despair.

The wind came out and blew a mighty tailwind in all his glory upon the cyclist giving him a great boost.  Then swiftly and dastardly reversed the direction of air, creating s headwind so strong that the cyclist felt like an insect on flypaper.  Every rotation of the crank-arm pained each corpuscle in his body and the psychological effects were worse. Exhausted, cranky and sore, the cyclist stammered to a halt and got off the bike, clutching his intestines.  


Unfortunately, for the cyclist, this was a 12 round bout. Yet, he only stopped 10 times because the Sun, fearing the loss of the title belt, went into a rage in the 11th and bit the ear off of the wind.  DQ'ed and angry, the Sun flared and tore up a Vegas casino. 

George Carlin's "seven dirty words" looped in my head all day as I trudged through a headwind that was a tailwind just yesterday.  I'm just an eighth-grade educated Quaker boy and I'm befuddled how such a drastic change could happen so quickly.  The Chinook winds trounced, battered, shellacked and winnowed my efforts today.  I should have noted the omen when Katy said to me, "It's gonna be a short day, only 48 miles."   


Two-thirds of the way in, I needed a rest and took a long break on a Sioux reservation 12 miles from Wolf Point, MT.  I met Thomas Firemoon, a local entrepreneur, running a small convenience store.  He's a wunderkind;  former Navy, headed various store start-ups for Wal-Mart, acted as retail manager for 400 people and is a consultant to the flagging ALCO chain. Thomas' main interest is helping out the Sioux and we chatted about how treaty violations are still prevalent all these years after Sitting Bull's time. 

I asked if he had to pay taxes from his business to Uncle Sam and he nodded affirmatively. When I said "How does that square with the Sioux being a sovereign nation?," he smirked and we bid farewell.  

If any reader gets near Fort Peck, MT, stop by the Nakoda Trail Stop where friendly service isn't just an empty slogan.

I pushed my guts back in and slugged out the dozen or so miles to the end.  I asked Kathleen to find us any place in town where I could shovel pasta down my gullet. We ended up in a motel restaurant and while I waited over an hour for my Chef-Boyardee style chicken Parmesan with horrible service, it was as delectable as anything one would find in the best Parisian bistros.

 
 

Miles: 71.1

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1000.6

Weather: Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 2

Roadkill: 12 (1 Chipmunks, 3 Birds, 1 Skunks, 5 Snakes, , 2 Turtles)  

Bugs Swallowed: 2

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

I'm beginning to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.  The plains, cattle and sky looks the same day after day.  It's a shame that such brilliant greens, blues and whites can be rendered as a monotonous 9th Circle of Hell after a while. The only interruption is someone pulling a 5th wheel too close and too fast to the shoulder.  

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the route is fairly flat and I'm catchIng good tailwinds for long stretches.  Yet, for those of you that ride, such conditions don't necessarily make the course easy. It requires constant pedaling with little coasting relief. All of that translates into more pressure on the saddle.  Just for a variety, I switched the Bottechia saddle for the white Felt. It's like having vinyl seats in a Bugati and is an insult to the Colnago. No matter, I wanted to mix up the pain points.


One challenge about being in such an open environment:  You can tell when you're on a false flat and psychological attempts at denial are futile.  If I'm riding on a tree-lined road or a mountain path with a rock wall, the grade is obstructed.  Out here, there's just infinite space to the right and left. If the pavement is askew ever-so slightly before you, the ascent is obvious.  It's not as bad as the sinking feeling I get when I see mile markers, but an annoyance nonetheless.

Non-cyclists:  A false flat is a low-gradient climb, usually occurring partway up a steeper climb. So-called because while it may look deceptively flat and easy (especially after the steep climb preceding it), it is still a climb.

Beyond that, not much to report today.  A relatively short ride to Wolf Point, MT tomorrow, then I face pure headwinds for a while going South.

The negative kvetching is just banter, I'm still thrilled to be doing this.  A dream come true. Thanks to all of you posting encouraging comments and the folks that made it possible, namely my mother and top-shelf wife.  Mwaa!


 
 

Miles: 88.3

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 721.8

Weather: Mostly Sunny, Cool

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 15 (5Chipmunks, 4 Birds, 2 Skunks, 2 Snakes, 1 Raccoon, 1 Teddy Bear)  Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

In 1993, Robert Townsend wrote, directed and starred in "The Meteor Man."  The film is about a reluctant superhero that gains extraordinary ability from an errant asteroid. He destroys crack houses using x-ray vision, superhuman strength and speed, invulnerability, freezing breath, telepathy with dogs and telekinesis.  Although he can take to the air, the Meteor Man never flies more than a few feet from the ground due to his fear of heights.  


I see a lot of roadkill when I ride and most of the time the victims are poor rodents.  I rarely see birds.  Not so through Eastern Montana. I wondered why these avian victims kept piling up, so I started paying attention to see if it was the same kind of bird getting hit. Sure enough, I put two and two together and figured it out, sort of.  I have to confess that I have a very limited knowledge of different bird and plant species.  To me, all birds are classified into three genera:  sparrow, pigeon and eagle.


I spent my boyhood in Brooklyn and the local "wildlife" in my neighborhood consisted of Latin trannies and plenty of pigeons. My grandmother would take me to feed stale breadcrumbs to sparrows while she'd yell the "dirty bastard rats with wings" away.  We didn't have any eagles, but I learned about birds of prey on Sesame Street and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. I can name obvious birds now, but my classification system works well enough for me.  I'm not a biologist, after all. Just a guy on a bike.  So, anything the size of a robin or smaller is a "sparrow."  All other birds that lack talons and sharp beaks are "pigeons." Yes, the albatross is a pigeon.  The predators are all "eagles."

So, back to Meteor Man.  


Miles and miles passed by and I stopped being startled by the birds frightened out of brush as I rolled by. One particular species of "sparrow" that looked like a smallish robin would take flight, but just inches off of the ground. This acrophobic bird made no attempt to get higher than a foot from whatever lie beneath it whether it was water, grass, gravel or the road.  Sure enough, it was the recurring remnants of these animals that I kept seeing splattered before me.  As I recalled Robert Townsend flying on the streets at the level of a four-door sedan, I spied one of these sparrows nearly taken out by a Honda Civic.  I cried out, "Evolve!  Spread your wings and fly!  Get above ten feet for Chrissakes!"


Yep, the sun beating down on me, dehydration and denial of discomfort give me time to embrace absurdity.  I wonder how I'll turn out when the kids commit me to the dementia ward one day.

28 miles into the ride, I took a break at the Town Pump in Chinook, MT.  It's 40 miles short of the Canadian border where following a five-day battle and siege, the Nez Perce gave in to Whitey and stopped fighting around the  Bear Paw mountains in 1877 and Chief Joseph gave his immortal speech: "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever."  Now the place has a mostly abandoned main street, a couple of bars/casinos and a kwiki-mart.  


"Hey, where you from?!  Is that a Hawkeye Jersey?  We passed you yesterday out of Browning and honked at you. You know, in the white car," a voice rang out when I was about to remount.  

It was Ida Mountain Chief, a friend of Genevieve Cochran.  This friendly duo, recent basketball playing grads of a nearby tribal college, stopped to ask me about the ride.  Genevieve told me to stop by her place in Harlem, MT as she's listed on the Warm Showers App.  It was a kind gesture, but not far enough to justify the stop. She gave me good advice about the only place to stop in Dodson (The Cowboy Bar) and let me know that the swarm of mosquitoes would grow thicker.  

Man, she was right. If I stepped off the bike to take a picture, let water or adjust something, I'd be blessed with a dark halo and no fewer than a dozen bloodsuckers on each leg and arm.  The ride into Malta near dusk was disgusting.


Felix attends Pine Ridge Elementary School, home of the fighting Pine Martens.  There's a kid a grade or two above him named Destiny Thunderhawk.  I'm pretty sure she's just an Oregonian or a transplant from California with interesting parents, but now I'm not so sure.  

I made my second stop 52 miles into the effort at the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation kwiki-mart.  It was a bit run down and had no place to sit. The nice young woman behind the counter said, "You can go outside to the smoking hut on the side, there's a bench, but I'm not sure if there are any drunks back there."  I decided to loiter near the register with my cherry Slush Puppy and began to read the Xeroxed copy of the Hay's Newsletter.


I flipped the pages and took a look at the Hay's Elementary School Honor Roll and discovered that Western names are boring. The kids that made the list had the most excellent appellations.

Aiyana Has The Eagle.  Nature Andrew Bracelet.  Mulleeah Stiffarm.  Madison Plainfeather.  Amil Has The Eagle.  Wait, who has the eagle?  I'm confused.  I'm thinking about renaming my kids: FeliXbox Minecraft Addict and Camille Shortfeather Flipflop.  

Anaconda, Harlem, Malta, Zurich, Glasgow. The town names along the highway continue to baffle me.

 
 

Miles: 126.7

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1945.5 Weather: Mostly Sunny, Cool

Hillbilly Insults: 2

Roadkill: 16 (8 Chipmunks, 7 Birds, 1 Unknown)  

Bugs Swallowed: 1 (Mosquito)

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

I decided to use fresh legs, stored fat and a light bike to make mileage today.  126 miles with only 1950 feet of total elevation gain!  It's plain to see that the plains are sloping downward. 


When you start choosing a cloud to chase, you realize that the scenery change from the mountains is dramatic; the ways to pass time are limited and why Montana is truly "Big Sky Country. I haven't experienced an expanse this vast since I was in the pre-Sahara.   The ride felt like the countless spins I'd take across the rolling hills of Kansas, but the Sunflower State loses its claim to the open space title. 

I procrastinated at the start as I'd become accustomed to the lethargy of sleeping in with Katy and the kids. It turns out that the storm we endured in the Glacier log cabin was a rager.  I finally got news today that over 100,000 people were evacuated around Calgary due to flooding.  The churning cauldron of rain, hail and lightning stretched from Jasper, WY far into Alberta Province. I guess the kids were terrified for a reason.

Once I got moving, I gingerly assembled the racy, sexy Colnago.  It's a temperamental beauty, so I always clean it up for a ride.  I snuck into the motel's lobbyl bathroom and dId the best I could, but in the end I was only able to offer up an undeserving French whore bath to the object of my affection. 

I didn't feel good about this sloppy preparation because I wanted to honor the name. On top of that, the tortuous saddle mounted on the bike is stamped "Bottechia."  Colnago and Bottechia, two of the greatest Italian legends in the sport.  The saddle came courtesy of my pal Ted, whom purchased an Italian/Chinese bike, so it was fitting that I had it atop my Italian/Taiwanese mistress.  Very exotic. 

 For those still reading, here are a few tidbits to keep you in the know:


Ottavio Bottechia  was an uneducated, illiterate cyclist,  and the first Italian winner of the Tour de France.  The rat bastard Tour organizer, Henri Desgrange, despised Bottechia and said of him, “The only words of French he can manage are 'No bananas, lots of coffee, thank you'...'His ears stick out so far that I call him butterfly.'"


Defiantly, Bottechia dropped the butterfly moniker in 1924 by winning the first stage of the Tour and holding the yellow jersey every day to the end. The French predictably criticized him for "winning without trying" and were unimpressed with the lack of drama in the race. 


Bottechia was an outspoken opponent of Mussolini's fascism and was found dead by the roadside in 1927.  His death remains a mystery, but by all accounts, it appears that he was assassinated by Blackshirts. 

Before Trek and Armstrong, before anyone cared about doping in cycling, there was the innovative team of Eddy Merckx and Ernesto Colnago.  The greatest cycling duo of all time allowed the Cannibal to achieve what no other cyclist will ever do:  Win everything, solo.  Colnago made the bikes and Merckx supplied the engine. The. Greatest. Ever. 


Merckx was the cycling equivalent of Mike Tyson, Tom Brady and Michael Jordan rolled into one. He wasn't a pampered dandy like today's elite road riders and he won it all. The Giro? Yes. The Spring Classics? Yes. The Tour? A bunch.  Yet, while he probably could have ridden a sawhorse with wheels, he credited Colnago for giving him the edge with his unparalleled designs. 

Ernesto Colnago abandoned his family farm to race, then crash out and finally to work in the cycle trade as an apprenticing mechanic.  Eventually, he was employed as head mechanic for the Molteni team and with the Belgian Merckx started making history. 


His bikes all sport the famous 'Asso di Fiori' or Ace of Clubs logo. I'm fortunate to own two of them (one is retired) and I know that my lardass is not worthy of them. It was my first Colnago that got me calling my steeds "jealous mistresses." I bought the bike and knew I had no business on one of them because I wasn't fit. So, my wife had to endure the storage of it in our bedroom for three months. I would stare at it, much like I stared at my Farah Fawcett poster as a boy--a reminder that I needed to take action to be able to mount it. 

Okay, so much for boring and nebbish cycling history. The readers want all of my narcissistic insight regarding chafing, hillbillies and road kill, so I'll continue now. 


Inverness. Havre. Kremlin. The town names along Highway 2 or the "Hi-Line" were either named by diverse clusters of immigrants making their way to homesteads near railway construction or someone put on a Montana funny names contest.  The seemingly infinite expanse of green prairie is dotted by towns with fewer than 300 people with good humor. 


US 2, follows the old Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, organized in 1919 to link Portland, Maine with Portland, Oregon.  That historical note was lost on me, since the only thing remarkable about this road is that it's infested with 100 million trillion mosquitoes. 


"We've had an unusual amount of rain lately," said a shopkeeper.  I think I went far today because I didn't want to stop.  If I pulled over to take a picture, I was assaulted.  I recall smashing eight of the bastards on one leg as they were feasting on my highly nutritious, cholesterol infused, blood. 

The majesty of the mountains is behind me now, but people are still friendly.  I was about four miles down the road after a 70 mike slog and realized I left my sole water bottle in a bar near the town of Tahiti, or some such name.  Just as I was in the throes of making a decision about dehydration versus extra mileage, a loud motorcycle passed then stopped in the narrow, rumbled strip of the shoulder.  A grizzled guy jumped off the bike and handed me my bottle. 


"I figured I could catch you," he smiled.  


 
 

The Canadians refer to the aboriginal people as First Nations--the tribes that had Christianity and Christians thrust upon them.  It wasn't until 2008 when Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, delivered an apology to tens of thousands of indigenous people who were kidnapped as children and sent to boarding schools. Many were abused as part of the official government policy to "kill the Indian in the child."

So much for the polite Canadian stereotype!

While the apology came with a $2B settlement, no one was going overboard and giving any territory back to the First Nations.  "First" just denotes an honorary title.  Its kind of like my Premier Class status with United Airlines.  Most of the time, my "Premier" boarding pass has bold print at the bottom that reads "GROUP 4."

The new owners of the Northern section of the Waterton International Peace Park in Canada are quite welcoming.  I gotta say, despite their past genocidal transgressions, the folks in Waterton measure up to the mannerly Canadian stereotype I've grown accustomed to.

We took a tour of Many Glacier before crossing the border for a stop at the Prince of Wales hotel.  It sits atop a ridge at one end of Middle Waterton Lake which is also at the tip of a valley. It resembled a fjord.  When I walked to one side of the joint, the winds pushed me back. Felix had fun trying to stand on large rocks without being blown off.

Camille decided to get all jingoistic and bought a maple leaf cap to "represent."  It was only after her purchase when she asked if we were in another country.  I told her we were in the 51st state.  She's easy to fool, for now. We've convinced her for the last 36 months that she's a year older than she actually is, so she wouldn't blow our cover for putting her in private school early. Dumb kid!

Yet, Camille gets all the props today for being sworn in as a Junior Ranger. Unlike her delinquent brother, she took the advanced course and chose not to dally with the exercises in the pee-wee book.  She stuffed the questions like LeBron James in Game 7 and emerged victorious with her badge. Way to go Milly!

I swooned when a couple of fit, young Canuck women told us that we seem "blended" and "get it."  They were saying that we didn't fit the ugly American stereotype.  It might have been because we're fans of the CBC or Camille's hat, but wait until they read this post's intro, eh?  I've probably ruined my metropolite persona.

Tomorrow my lethargy ends. So does the unnecessary gluttony.  Any weight loss from the first few hundred miles was replaced by pie, glorious pie. 


Peach pie. 

Huckleberry pie. 

Saskatoon pie. 

Mixed berry pie. 

Strawberry Rhubarb pie. 

  

With ice cream. What is pie sans a la mode?  It's gateau merde, that's what. 

My tan has abated too.  The golden farmer sheen hiding my many flaws has returned to the lumpy white finish of an aging mongrel.   Curses to clouds, air-conditioning, auto transport and those hours spent watching the Oxygen network!

Pedaling starts again in earnest tomorrow.  The mini-vacation with the family is at an end. I'm hoping to persuade them to endure the boring high plains for just a couple of days so I can ride the most jealous of my mistresses: the Colnago CLX.--another bike I am wholly unworthy of. 


I'm ambivalent about the ride tomorrow. The anxiousness I had about churning miles each day has passed and I'm gonna miss the family and all of that exorbitant pie. Oh God, the pie up here.  It's better than the cat's ass, I mean it.  

Speaking of the feline backside is a reminder that my own keister has healed nicely from the break.  Now, it's time to render it on the meat-grinding saddle. I think heat is a big factor for derrière issues, so the call for cool rain should help in one area and make me suffer in others. 


What lies ahead on Highway 2 East through Montana and North Dakota looks like an eternal slog through prairie and Chinook wind. I hope that the castigation of the White Man in this blog puts the breeze at my back

Enough babbling for tonight. Now, I dream of mountains and pie...or mountains of pie and friendly truckers that yield me a little more room than the shoulder allows.

 
 
Old dudes named Pete Beaverhead,  Earl Old Person, Chief Little Dog, Curly Bear, and Louie Adams spin tales of their proud ancestry inhabiting this side of Glacier for thousands of years. They represent the Salish, Pend d'Oreille and Kootenai natives that comprise the Blackfeet Nation and still dispute the 1855 Hellgate Treaty as a white man ruse to steal this pristine wilderness.

I was surprised that the visitor center with friendly park rangers reserved a corner of their building for what amounts to an Indian protest exhibit next to the gift shop.  It was moving to read that the Blackfeet lament that they "only sold the rocks" to the government and that they will outlive the capitalists.  It's going to be a long time coming the way the stuffed animal and poster sales were going today. Isn't it odd that we are now selling trinkets to ourselves?

We took a ride to the top of Logan Pass and skipped hiking. There was a torrential downpour all day. Felix was glad we had thunderstorms because he says the bugs are eating him alive when we march through the woods.  By that, he means that he has two mosquito bites.

My son still took the time to do the absurd minimum to become a Junior Park Ranger. He's certified in three parks now, but if you asked him for a tour you'd be hard pressed to get past the snack shops and trinket dispensaries.

After a hearty lunch of pie at the Park Cafe, we holed up in our tiny cabin for most of the day and night. The thunder clapped and once again, I was forever thankful to our Lord for the divine gifts of iPads, Kindles and coloring books. Without them, I think we'd have a cannibal mutiny on our hands.

 
 

Miles: 0 

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  0

Spouses Present: 1, still

Precocious kids in tow: 2


Phwaaaap!


Lightning and thunder today.  A big storm rolled through St. Mary Lake, the site of our cabin in the woods. The kids hunkered down in their bunks as if it were the London blitz. 


"I don't like thunderstorms Dad!," said Felix sternly.  He still recalls the biblical weather in Kansas. Since moving to Oregon, we haven't experienced fiercely inclement weather. 


It was a lazy day at the campsite.  Holed up in our quaint shack, we had a couple of meals, got needed rest and pored over our electronic devices.  Roughing it was never so easy. I'm sure there are parents frowning upon our kid's allowance of digital heroin, but they can get bent.  Without such magnificent gadgets, I wouldn't have the neat manga framed montage Camille put together (posted).  It made my day.

Tomorrow we'll try to get to Many Glacier and ask the Blackfoot spirits to part the clouds.

 
 

Miles: 8 (Hiking)

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  700

Spouses Present: 1 (Utah was last summer)

Precocious kids in tow: 2


"We're a no stopping talking family, aren't we?!" shouted little Margaret Cho on the Avalanche Trail.  


My daughter, Camille, must have read "Know Your Bears" which says that obnoxious squabbling is the best deterrent against Grizzlies. 


Two million hairless apes visit the park each year and only 10 have been killed by bears since 1910.  The number one killer?  The rivers and streams.   Heart attacks, number two.  Bears rank fifth on the list.  The bears just capture the imagination here, like werewolves, zombies and Sasquatch.  So, all of the warning signs and stories feed the hype.

The kids fared well today, especially Camille.  She's recovering from a broken leg but she soldiered our 8 miles of hiking today, half of which was climbing.  The only danger we faced was an errant rock that ricocheted off of a tree into Katy's chest for a nice welt. The culprit was Felix and the slingshot he was wielding.

 We're moving to the East side tomorrow, where the park rangers say the views are more grand.  We marveled with mouths open at nature's bounty today. Perhaps, I'll shed a single tear tomorrow just like Iron Eyes Cody in that Keep America Beautiful commercial.

I suppose the cycle tour will start up again in a couple of days. I've got to make it to the airport in Dickinson, ND by July 2nd or 3rd to hop a flight to a very special wedding.