Day 84, to Ennis, Mont.: Some light drama, some great relief - Chris Cross America - CycleBlaze

July 15, 2022

Day 84, to Ennis, Mont.: Some light drama, some great relief

Dani follows me between mountain ranges in the distance on each side of the road, each covered by dark rain clouds. Luckily the clouds above us and the road were a little less threatening.
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Friday stats

Start: Fox Den RV Park, West Yellowstone, Mont.

End: Ennis State Park/Fishing Access Site, Ennis, Mont.

U.S. flags acquired: 1! It took more than 3,000 miles (new milestone this week! woohoo!), but, as I expected would happen eventually, today I finally came across an American flag on the side of the road. I was so confident that this would happen that I almost left home without one, but I decided I did not want to risk going most of the ride without one. Now that I have two, Blue will fly both — the new flag from this tour and the old one representing previous tours, especially those between D.C. and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Daily Progress: 72.1 miles

Climb: 2218 feet

Descent: 3858 feet

Elevation at endpoint: 5035 feet

Ice cream flavors: N/A

Beer flavors: A Scotch ale from Missoula and a black German ale from Burnt Tree Brewing here in Ennis; Dani had their plum sour.

Lodging expenses: $18

Food expenses: $60 for late lunch, 15 for beer, 16 for salad dinner

Friday self reflection (by Chris)

Although I did not expect this tour to yield any life-changing revelations, I did expect a lot of self-reflection and potentially some self-discovery, especially since I would be alone for at least the first half. The miscommunication that Dani very briefly describes below, about how far we were aiming to go today, was a moment for me to realize just how bad I am at remembering conversations. Of course, I  remember the parts that fit my desires, but I tend to forget the parts that don't, until the other person reminds me and then of course it sounds familiar and I realize I screwed up. I clearly need to work harder to make sure I'm walking away from a conversation with a solid understanding of the other person's hopes and expectations, not just my own.

Here's another thing this made me realize: For some reason (maybe because I'm an introvert), I had always thought that the biggest self discoveries would come from extended time on my own. There are some lessons to be learned that way, but obviously I'm not a hermit. We all need to interact with other people to see how we can be better. This should have been more obvious to me. Hey, better late than never.

Okay, enough about that. Today was a very cool day. I'll let Dani tell it:

Dani's daily digest

Today began with an emotional miscommunication about our distance goals for the day. Chris thought we were aiming for Ennis (71 miles), I thought we were planning on stopping at a campground 20 miles earlier. Ultimately, we decided to aim for Ennis with the option to stop short if we needed to, but the process of reaching that compromise was more fraught than it needed to be (and it was mostly my fault). 

Though we resolved our fight, it still cast a pall over the early miles of the day. The mood softened once we entered the Earthquake Lake Geologic Area, a stretch of road dotted with interpretive signs describing the effects of a 7.5 earthquake that struck in August 1959. I will set aside any disagreement for interpretive signs. First we learned how the earthquake cause the ground to tilt, moving the existing lake several feet south. The earthquake also caused a landslide that dammed the river, creating a new lake called, appropriately, Quake Lake. You can still see the massive scar on the mountain, the earthen dam, and the long-dead trees standing in the lake. You can also see how the lake is draining as the earthen dam erodes; the lake is ringed by young trees less that 20 years old. I thought the interpretive signs did a great job of communicating the main points of the story. I left the canyon with solid understanding of a natural disaster that I had never heard of before.

The mountain on the left still shows a huge scar where the landslide took place. In front of it is Earthquake Lake, which still has some dead trees poking out from the lake floor.
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By the time we finished the interpretive trail we were 30 miles into the day, and Ennis seemed achievable. There was generous cloud cover, no headwind, and a long descent. The next ten miles flashed by.

The next big excitement was storms. We biked through the periphery of one nasty cell that was dumping rain to the east, but only causing wind and drizzle where we were. Still, it was enough to add drama and motivate me to pedal pedal pedal. Feeling confident that we were through the worst, we stopped at the post office in Cameron to mail some postcards. This turned out to be a fatal mistake. By the time we emerged, we were 11 miles from Ennis and right in the thick of the storm. We sprinted through the rain (on the 18 inches of shoulder that were not rumble strip), and arrived at Ennis tired and wet. We ate a medicinal hot meal at The Gravel Bar and even considered getting a hotel for the evening, but there was no availability in our price range (Ennis is a major fly fishing destination, and it was packed for the weekend). We decided a laundromat would go a long way in getting us warm and dry (and good-smelling) again. 

After laundry, we secured a camping site at the Ennis Fishing Access point and returned back to town for beer and dinner under the outdoor pavilion at the Burnt Tree Brewery. There was live music, pizza, beer, dogs, families -- all the essential ingredients for a first-class summer night in the mountain west.

A two-person band performs on an outdoor stage for the patrons of Burnt Tree Brewing and Gravel Bar sitting under a small pavilion with pizza and beer. If this isn't fine, I don't know what is.
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Today's ride: 72 miles (116 km)
Total: 3,115 miles (5,013 km)

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Scott AndersonIt’s refreshing to have some honest commentary about the challenges of cycling as a couple. No matter how solid your relationship there are always challenging days that test it. Sounds like a day you’ll remember,
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