Libby, Montana

Libby is in the far northwest corner of Montana, and I left on the bike about an hour ahead of the support wagon, which would mean Maxine and family in the Subaru, heading west into the LoloMountains and Bonners Ferry, Idaho along the Flathead River. I did the same thing leaving the Campbell Lodge in Glasgow, towards the eastern side on the state a few days back. It is a swell way to ride, not having to loop back, with no destination and no program at all other than to press miles and enjoy. Both times I covered about 30 miles before they caught me, felt great and remain totally in love with my new Trek Madone carbon fiber treasure of a bike. That’s it with the similarities, though. Eastern Montana is the true big sky, rolling landscapes of forever wheat fields irrigated by the Missouri country that awes in its uniform mass. Right now it is gold-yellow and ready for combines bigger than some homes. Beginning at Glacier Park and not ending before Spokane , Washington are the Rockies, and while not as crazy as in Colorado below or jasper up in B.C. They draw you in with their variety of rivers, grades, and rock. There’s an intimacy of scale trading quickly for a fearsome long view off a high drop.

A short comment on Bonners Ferry, Idaho. I couldn’t help but subject Maxine to a bit of history here, and we searched out some grounds I once filled. I reckon we’re talking on and off over a 3 year period about 30 years ago. I won’t go into it here, but the stories that survive include Bill and I working as cutters in the woods where we lived in an old (even then) truck camper without the truck, at a shake mill owned by some of the birthers of the Arian nation thing back then, and where lunch times ALWAYS included vicious arguments against their tenants that the communists were the military wing of the Jews, who control all media and had faked the holocaust, which never happened, and etc. and crazy, but we were there. Even today I can’t drink Coors beer, because it was all they would drink, with an understanding nod to each other.

Yes, life in Bonners in those years was different than you might expect. One story has it that because we didn’t have any fresh water available, each Friday we’d hitchhike into town about 15 miles away and pay 75 cents at the hotel for a long hot shower. Sometimes the men nearby would pick us up and bring us into town, since they knew that if we were there, they wouldn’t have to dance with the wives. I think this is a true story, but you may have to check with my friend Bill Robertson.