Day 32 Missoula to Clearwater Junction, Montana: A River Runs Through It - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

June 1, 2011

Day 32 Missoula to Clearwater Junction, Montana: A River Runs Through It

Laurie got up to see us off this morning. She reminded us not to die out on the road. It's a strange turnaround when the child has to worry as the parents strike off from home into the wide world. No matter the direction of worry, it hurts to be separated from your loved ones. But we will look both ways as we cross all streets, avoid any bears, probably never even see a moose, and we'll be back soon!

Bikes seem reluctant to leave warm Missoula garage after layover.
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Last sight of the famous Missoula "M" trail.
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Highway 200 East from Missoula follows the Blackfoot River. This is the river from the movie A River Runs Through It. Not that we have ever actually seen the film. We hear it's not that good. But the title sure is evocative.

Because it follows the valley, the road is basically flat. That's a good thing, because both of us magically contracted severe colds overnight. We have chills, are sweaty, and our legs are wobbly. It's cloudy, but no rain. This is also good, because we are too fragile for any chilling.

Our view widens as we pass through Potomac. The broad valley here is lush, and there are pleasant looking farm houses in the distance.

The scenic hwy 200 and the River.
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Broad valley at Potomac
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The road is flat!
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Blue and yellow flowers in the forest.
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Picturesque abandoned buildings.
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Forest and farmland alternate along the route, but forest will soon dominate.
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Laurie, we expect you know about this!
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About 60 km out we begin to look for the campsite we had researched on Google - the Russell Gates Memorial Campgound. The GPS (of course) denied the existence of any such place, and we remembered from Street View that we could not spot a sign on the road. The concern evaporated, though, when at 67 km we came across a fishing access point for the River (one of many) called Clearwater Crossing.

Here we found six riverside campsites in a most idyllic bend in the river. It was just 2 p.m. but we knew we belonged in bed. (See, we can take care of ourselves.) We threw up the tent, took some cold tablets, and went blotto.

About 6:30 we resurfaced to find Dodie worse and me about the same. Outside was a light drizzle, but punctuated with distant thunder. We had spotted a service station in the distance (at the intersection with 83. This place is on the Adventure Cycling route - I'm sure EVERYONE knows where I am talking about.) and I pedalled off to find some Kleenex and also change for the campsite payment box.

At the station I coyly asked the clerk about a good place for breakfast. (The station includes a Casino and Lounge and I have learned that in the US such places can actually have food.) The answer was Seeley Lake, 15 miles north. Errrm, that's 48 km return, often a day's cycle for us. We could be caught here in an endless loop - going for breakfast and back to rest up for the next day's breakfast. Ok, ok, just kidding.

To pay for the Kleenex I whipped out a $20 bill, with the passing thought that it could be too big for this small place. The young lady stared at it for a long moment and then said 'I can't accept this'. Ah, I thought, I was right. I looked down at the note, and Queen Elizabeth's familiar (now aging) face looked back. Aha, this is not Canada. Got it! After this drama, a trucker approached and asked a not quite so usual question. 'How much does your rig weigh?'. 'Well' I said,' the trailer and bags together are about 90 pounds'. 'Yes, and what about the weight of the bike?' was the seasoned trucker response.

As I tried to speak to the trucker I realized that my voice was not working very well, and my chest burned. I slunk back down the road and split some blue cold tablets with Dodie. Tomorrow will be good health and sunshine!

How about this for a tent site! We were glad to find it, since we were sick as dogs, rain was coming, and we could not find the planned spot anyway.
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Today's ride: 67 km (42 miles)
Total: 1,735 km (1,077 miles)

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