onsdag 25. juni 2014

Day 14: Gold mining

90.0 km

It felt so good to just relax in the tent and not be in a rush to get on the road for once. I took my time to look over the route and eat breakfast before I started packing. I was eager to see how the saddle sores were doing, and when I got on the bike I could almost not feel a thing. What great news!

All the other cyclists had gone by the time I got going but after riding about 45 minutes, I caught up with the couple from yesterday in the town of Sheridan. I bought some fruit and youghurt from the grocery store and we chatted for a while before they headed off again. I decided that I was not going to rush today so I hung back and stopped by the post office and bought a bunch of stamps so that I could send postcards home along the way. 

I caught up with the couple again just before they decided they were done for the day, so we said our goodbyes and I continued up the hill to Virginia City. On the way I passed an old mining outpost where you could try your luck in the river to find gold or gems. One of the main reasons for rapid increase of settlement in Montana was the same as in many other western states; gold. Gold was first found here in the mid 1800s and some of the towns I passed today had a typical western look with saloons lined up the main road through town. Virginia City was such a place. Clearly they had purposely kept it that way for the sake of tourism. Although a small town, it's proximity to Yellowstone National Park brought swarms of tourist here to get a feel of the old west. 

After having a bite to eat in Virginia City I continued up the hill. The heat was much more intense than I could remember experiencing any place in Montana, but pouring water down my throat and back helped get me over the steep climb. The descent on the other hand, was all too refreshing.

After descending at 60 km/h around a bend I suddenly hit the breaks. What presented itself to my right was just incredible. The view from exiting the turn was just too good to let pass by so fast. To my right there was a spectacular view of the mountains surrounding Yellowstone from across the valley, decorated by turbulent clouds! I stood there for a while taking pictures and just soaking in the beauty before continuing downhill to the valley floor. 

Here I passed the town of Ennis after stocking up on food and water since there were no services for almost 120 km to come. As I walked out of the supermarket felt the wind starting to pick up in a direction not in my favor, and saw some light rain coating my equipment. I was starting to get tired so I went over my options and after some back and forth I reluctantly pressed on into the hellish headwind, towards some campgrounds marked on the map about 35 km from here, thinking the weather would clear up. The rain stopped after a few minutes but the wind persisted, and since I was on a long straight road reaching as far as I could see, it was quite tempting to turn back into Ennis. I figured this is what I might expect when I get to the plains in the Midwest so I took it as practice. On the way I met another cyclist called Lou who was headed the opposite direction. Lou had started early may on the east coast, following the TransAm. He told me there was an RV park up ahead so I decided to check if they had a spot for a tent. The nice ladies at the reception/bar showed me to the back yard and opened up the restroom and shower for me. I put my tent up as close to a cabin as possible without it appearing too suspicious to shield the thing from the wind. 

I spent the rest of the evening sitting in the tent charging my devices on the solar power i had acquired through the day and uploading some posts to the blog (yes, I had wi-fi in my tent!).

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