The Trip Sort of Begins: "Whitefish" is real - Grampies on the Go - Again! - CycleBlaze

May 5, 2012

The Trip Sort of Begins: "Whitefish" is real

Since we started this blog we have been asking ourselves when to declare the trip actually underway. Lots of people start their blogs before departure and use the space to describe the reasons, equipment, and other preparations. But we have also used the space to describe journeying to the bike factory, and then down the coast, East to Tucson, North to Missoula, back to Vancouver Island, and back to Missoula again. Sheesh!

But today we left Missoula, more or less in the actual direction of Europe, and not to return until we have pedalled to Vienna and back to London. So is this the real trip? Is this Day 1? Dodie says yes. I say naw. We documented this darn train trip across the continent last year. I think I will just carry on with occasional check ins for the next 10 days, rather than our "trademark" complete coverage.

In this checkin, then, the news is that Whitefish is real. Did we ever suggest it was not real? Well no. But here's the thing. In the long distance travel game, lots of places that you never heard of pop up on your computer screen. Until you actually see them for yourself, they have the quality of something in a movie. The whole of Europe is like that (for me, anyway - Dodie is less silly).

So Whitefish, Montana popped up on the screen as the nearest Amtrak approach to Missoula. Prior to that it was "only" known to hoards of skiers, visitors to Glacier National Park, and logging families that have been here for 100 years! But hey, like I say, I believe it when I see it.

I've seen it! Here it is (believe it or not):

Whitefish, Montana
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Whitefish is a little like Banff, Alberta, Jackson Hole, Colorado, and suchlike small towns near major mountain parks. Rustic wood and stone, pottery shops, pizza. It's nice. But for us it also has the big feature of the Amtrak station: Rustic wood and stone, museum, and the Empire Builder train to the East!

We managed to check in our stuff for tomorrow morning's early train departure, and to lug the remainder to a nearby motel. There were some glitches. The bike cases weighed in at 50.8 pounds. The limit is 50.0 pounds, said the ticket agent. Long experience is that when a person or organization is going to be that picky, there is no arguing. For example, speed limit 50 kph - you were going 50.1, rest of traffic going 80 - you are GUILTY, the judge will say. We cracked open the cases and removed a bike lock from each, swapping them into our other checked bags. Happy now?

Even with four bags checked, we were still left with eight bags of various sizes to carry around. How can that be? There is a good reason for each bag, we say. This one has veggies for surviving on the train, that one has our helmets and fleecies, another one the computer, and so forth. It will all be pared down when we get to the plane trip, and of course, when loading onto the bikes all will be mean and lean (at least until our first mailback)!

So for now, it's watching hours and hours of "Mythbusters" - seemingly the least irritating thing on the TV in this motel room, as we wait for dawn and the Empire Builder to come to "Whitefish".

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