Day 35 Lincoln to Simms, Montana: Continental Divide? Piece of Cake! - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

June 4, 2011

Day 35 Lincoln to Simms, Montana: Continental Divide? Piece of Cake!

Our gamble on waiting for better weather paid off. It was foggy and cold as we set off, but no rain! We rolled through Lincoln, familiar since we walked it yesterday. Beyond the end of town at the ranger station is the grizzly bear display. Dodie wanted to give it a miss. Grizzlies give her the creeps. Fortunately we were very early and the place was closed. I put my face up to a window and shaded my eyes with my hands to peer in. This is what peered back:

Beyond the grizzly display, the road continued without real hills but through the most typical Western Montana landscape of partially treed low mountains. There were meadows, streams, marshes, ponds. I scanned them all, expecting a parade of grizzlies, elk, moose. Only a few deer put in an appearance. Dodie was relieved, although a moose or two would have been welcome.

After a while I pointed out to Dodie that if the road had ambitions of crossing the Continental Divide, it ought to start climbing. The road, of course, had no interest in my advice but did rather lackadaisically eventually get on with it. In the end it did rise quite sharply, and Dodie resolutely pedaled on. No walking the bike for her on this push into the other "half" of the continent. And yes, she made it, we made it!

We knew from locals we had spoken to that the other side would be steeply down. But wow, it was down, down, down.

Suddenly, like within a few km, the trees booked off and we were in a different world of short grass hills. Some cows appeared. Clearly, no use looking for grizzlies any more. We turned around to see the most attractive of landscapes, with the Rockies behind and the new hills in front.

We know about "big sky country" and of course we are quite familiar with Montana overall, but we were seriously wowed. And we stayed wowed all the way for the rest of the day.

One slightly less wow factor though was the fact that rather than giving us the mountain views in the rear vision mirror while proceeding sedately to the Missouri at Grand Rapids, the landscape went in for a long series of deep rollers. Way down, way up, way down, way up.

We had figured on fighting the Pass and then cruising into Simms, for a long but manageable total day. As it happened, the rollers were tougher than the Pass. Fortunately, the days are now long and the sun was blazing. Not a cloud in the sky. So hey, we could have stayed out there cycling in the parklike wonderland forever.

When our path crossed the Dearborn River, we stopped for lunch. As predicted the Oscar Meyer "Lunchables" that got a bit of a rough ride in the blog yesterday tasted great. Really, they have a good blend of protein, complex carbs, simple carbs, and water.

Also at the crossing was a team of three who were assembling and inflating rafts, in order to float the River, down to the Missouri. They had arranged for someone to pick up their truck, so there would be no need to come back up the River later.

Dodie recounted for these folks how her dad had done fold boating back in Germany, and they recognized the gear, saying they had seen an ad for a fold boat recently on Craigslist.

I of course nattered on about Colin Angus, who had floated the Amazon from its source. They had vaguely heard of him. These were serious rafters, with all sorts of high powered, durable looking stuff. They were out of Bozeman, making them ideal candidates in my mind for a David Quammen article.

The spectacular scenery began to lose its impact, under the influence of the hot sun and continued hills. We kept drinking, having brought seven litres of water, and we backed up Oscar Meyer with a "Charleston Chew" bar (all sugar and corn sugar - good!) and a "100 Grand" (ditto!).

Finally the dry hills opened up with a view of the more agricultural lands around the Sun River. Contrary to the information of Google and Garmin, there was an RV park at the entrance to Simms. In their defence, the park seemed to contain only two semi permanent looking units, and little space for anything else. A young man came out of a house that seemed to be part of the property and we asked him about a place to put the tent. He directed us to a corner of the property where there was some grass, and actually some nice concrete picnic tables and what, if live, will be a source of power. Asked about restrooms, he directed us to the restaurant/lounge across the street.

Across the street, then, in the Fireside Inn, I did visit the restroom. Only one or two other people were in the Inn, so when the person behind the bar asked if she could help me, I asked if indeed there was food available here. She replied "Well, I am< a restaurant!". If this had been Canada, there would surely have been an "eh?" on the end of that. So I asked to see a menu, and the person (who turned out to be Brigitte, the owner) produced one with a full set of breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices. She ran through it, outlining what was available and what not, and suggested I take it across the street to discuss it with Dodie and make some decisions.

This was our introduction to a person who is the closest thing to a mother or a sister or a friend you could wish for in going to someone's place to eat. Brigitte sat at our table and discussed what we would like. Soon we received 100 % home cooked meals, including fries from hand cut potatoes and salad with bleu cheese dressing containing large chunks of bleu cheese.

Brigitte suggested we could go set up our tent, and return for dessert. She would just keep our tab running.

Meanwhile some other customers had appeared, and the room took on a much more family aspect. We answered the UQs for a couple who turned out to be Dick and Debbie. They have invited us out to their ranch tomorrow for breakfast. In so doing they had to explain to Brigitte, who otherwise would have of course been in charge of it!

Dodie and Brigitte
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Brigitte holding forth at true family restaurant
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Brigitte says that many cyclists come through this way in a season. We can certainly recommend her place to anyone who follows us. Also, she has good wifi and that is why you are reading this now!

Here are our photos from today, in chronological order. Sorry, no time tonight to sort or caption them!

Blogging HQ in Lincoln.
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The Lincoln area features giant Ponderosa Pines. This is one of many on the grounds of our motel.
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Misty morning departure
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Dodie is not fond of grizzlies.
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Boo!
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One would be enough
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Lewis and Clark swarmed all over this place, and their name is on everything
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Beautiful roadside lake
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Where is that darn Pass?
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Roadside stream
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Many more of these on this road than any other
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OK cocky guy, let's see you come back in Winter
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The road to the Divide
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Dodie beetles up the Pass, no problem!
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We made it!
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Scenic rock at the top.
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The way down
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Look back up at the road
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More down, on the back side of the Pass
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See the house on top. Commute to work time could be unreasonable.
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Classic Western Montana landscape will soon be behind us
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New scenic vistas on the east side
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Looking back at mountains, and back down a darn hill.
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The mountains behind
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More mountains behind
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Mountains and road behind
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How about this house and location?
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Cows and hills
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Riverside (Dearborn R.) trees
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Lunch spot by the Dearborn. Rafters will float it to the Missouri
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Serious rafting gear
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One person will handle this one
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Riverside scene
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Another shot of mountains and hills behind
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Hard to depict how steep a road is, but this was steep
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Eight or more long rollers stand between us and any flatlands. These are steep!
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Buttes replace mountains
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More lovely scenes on the East side
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Approaching more agricultural area - Simms
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RV site in Simms
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Sunset on Phase I of our trip
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The Inn at Simms
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Today's ride: 93 km (58 miles)
Total: 1,895 km (1,177 miles)

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