Monday, June 29, 2009

Havre to Malta 3

I rode up on this roadside fire when it was about 5 feet square, so it had just started. As I watched it the fire spread in 3 directions very quickly, about as fast as I could walk, even though there was no wind to speak of, it was moving. Although there seemed to be a lot of green plants there was an underlayer of dried plants that must be like tinder. I rode on and looked back about 2 miles down the road and there was a huge plume of smoke rising up. I wonder if this was a big deal right now. There were several vehicles who passed my including a couple of state highway patrol cars and a sherriff's truck, so I figure they could check it out.
I can only wonder what a situation like this would be like later this summer when all is dry and there is a strong wind blowing. There are not many natural barriers to stop a fire like this from going a long way..

Saw a bunch more of the white crosses today on Route 2. This grouping was just outside the little town of Dotson.

This second grouping was about 15 miles away on route 2 and in between there were probably 10 more singles. This is a straight stretch of road with shallow side ditches. I have to wonder if at least some of these were a result of Montana not having a speed limit for many years. It was whatever was "reasonable and prudent". Now it is 70 mph on a 2 lane road much like route 118 in Darke/Mercer County in Ohio.

These 4 horses got all excited when they saw the bike. This has happened before , several times some horses get all agitated and start running like crazy. Maybe someday they will make me king of the horse world.
As I write this the mosquito bites are just starting to itch . It feels like a bunch. I remember reading Lewis and Clark reporting about how bad they were and I do not envy them having to deal with mosquitoes w/o all the protection we have today , let alone a motel room at night. Although mosquito netting is referred to several times, but so is getting caught out in the open and having to spend nights w/o it. I wonder how the Indians handles mosquitoes, what did they use to keep them away?
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Havre to Malta 2

This is the side ditch mower who stopped to check out Gary's 10 Mile Pee Creek.

When I crossed the Milk River I had to check it out because it was a key detail in the book Lonesome Dove. It was the goal of the cattle drive to end up in Montana territory near the Milk River.

The next time I buy seed potatoes I will be buying from the Reeds.

Must have seen 200 of these during ride today. Some were very near the road but as soon as I stopped to take pic they would bolt. About 2 seconds aafter I snapped this they were gone.
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Havre Mt to Malta Mt.

This is Jamison who was my helper in packing up stuff this morning and hooking up trailer. This kid is sharp and made me describe the function of every part of the bike. He also asked more personal questions than any kid I have met so far. Also, he filled me in on a lot of personal stuff regarding his family and neighbors. Very interesting lad. I offered to let him sit on bike but he refused because "he does not sit on other people's bikes".

Historically Havre is like a lot of western towns , actually most western towns.

This is a rattle snake laying along the road. I have been warned that they are thick around this part of the state but are basically not a threat to anyone because they run away if they hear you coming and if that does not work then they rattle to let you know they are around so you can avoid them. Apparently neither tactic worked for this snake, it was not fast enough to get out of the way and the car obviously did not hear the rattles of this guy.

Almost exactly 10 miles out of Havre nature called and I had to take a leak. There was not much cover (bush/tree) in the immediate area, actually there was not much cover within 5 miles of me . So I came upon the unnamed creek and decided to break it in. As I was doing my business over the railing I recalled a poem written by that real biker Gary Buck who along with his bud Larry Albert made this trip a couple of years ago and are really modern day Lewis and Clark guys.
Anyway Gary did this poem called the 10 Mile Pee which is a master piece of what happens on the road when biking --it is brilliant and there is talk of Bruce Sprinsteen putting Gary's words to music and cutting a record.
After finishing up I decided that this spot needed to be marked , so out came that purple magic marker and all was documented. I may have missed the date by a day. I have kinda lost track of that although I am pretty sure it is a Monday. I will get squared away in morning.

What is kinda funny is that the only person who saw me do what I did was a guy moving the side ditch grass . He was nearing the bridge when I was writing on the guardrailing. After I rode away I looked back and he had gotten off his tractor and was standing by the marked spot looking at what I had written.

Today was my longest ride so far. It is about 90 miles from Havre to Malta plus I rode over 15 miles checking out Havre this morning before I left as well as Chinook a neat town along the route. I sort of moseyed the whole way. It was not my intention to put this many miles on but it felt good riding so I just kept moving. It was about 9 p.m. when I stopped for the day.
I was thinking about stopping and camping a couple of times but that got changed about the last 25 miles when I hit mosquito alley. Holy mother of pearl , these skeeters make the Wisdom Mt skeeters look like boy scouts . I stopped 3 times to reapply Deet and Cutter to every part bof my body and all that seemed to do was attract them, and when they landed they were ready for business--no wasting time prepping they were drilling the second they lit. One time I stopped to take a picture and noticed about a dozen on my shin (this was 10 minutes after coating that area with Deet) , when I rubbed them off my hand looked like it was bleeding.
Even when I was moving over 12 mph I had to tie handerkerchief over my mouth to keep from inhaling them. When I got into motel room I spent 10 minutes killing about 20 with a fly swatter before I could take a shower. I have heard from other west bound bikers that the mosquitoes are bad in North Dakota. If they are anything like this I may invest in one of those plastic deals that Bubble Boy wears.
It was a 10 liquid quart day --I was sucking down the water like a camel after a trek across a desert. The ride was ok --decent road and wind not a factor--about 5 mph from north . Speaking of wind , when I signed up for this gig I expected to have a least a few days of strong tailwinds going west to east . I have read a lot of bike blogs that tell of big mileage days due to great tailwinds. Well, so far I have seen some stron winds but all have been either right or left crosswinds or strong head winds. No big tail winds . Hopefully some will show up as I head across the rest of Montana, North and South Dakota. That would be nice and very welcome. I want to see how it feels to be floating along with minimal peddling.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Havre Mt.

There are a bunch of fireworks stands along the main roads and this was one of the biggest. The Harve jaycees make this a huge fund raiser every year. They even get the kids involved in the marketing.

This is Harve Mt.

The Montana Hi Line is the upper tier of the state that run along Route 2, which is the major highway across that part of the state. The industry involved is mostly grain farming, ranching and mining. Havre is only 30 miles away from Canada so I guess the border patrol is active here.

Havre, the blue ponies, is like the entire Midwest Athletic Conference wrapped up in one school. I am told that wrestling is king here right now.
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Montana American Legion White Cross Program

Along some highways you see an inordinate number of these white crosses. Each represents a traffic fatality on that spot. On some stretches of highway it is hard to drive 2 miles w/o seeing a white cross. The American Legion has been doing this since 1950 on only certain roads and have put out over 2000. To me it is very effective

It is particularly disconcerting when you are riding by at 12 miles per hour. It gives you time to wonder about the individual stories attached to each cross.

There are many multiple crosses in several locations.

Although many of these crosses are decorated with various momentoes, this one really caught my eye. It has a lariot attached as well as a bunch of pheasant feathers on the back side. I can only wonder what the story is behind this, like all the crosses it has to represent a sad one. .
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Interesting art seen along the road from Fort benton to Havre

This is something you would miss if you were driving by in a car. The use of the stones is very unusual.

I found thisproperty marker interesting enough to stop and take a pic. As I was doing that a pickup truck stopped on the road and asked what I was doing. When I told him he said you better not get too much closer to this ranch. These are a tough bunch,rattlesnake mean , and there are stories about people going up that lane and never being seen again. So I got on my bike and took off down the highway, and did not look back.

Another piece of art (I guess ) that was sitting on an fence post a ways off the road. I almost missed it. Not sure what it all means but there was a rough plate that said "uncouth habit" at the base. It looked kinda like the same wording that was on the stone figure in top pic.

Putting boots on fence posts is a thing out here. I have seen it several times. Again, not sure what it all means.
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Fort Benton to Havre 2

Interesting info along the way. I have yet to see any markers listing any native American's names that were killed in battles like this one. I wonder if there are any.

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Fort Benton to Havre Mt.

Pic taken with the Bennett bunch early this morning. That is me on the left and Connie, Arthur and Wanda.These are good folks and if you are ever close to that part of Montana the Fort Motel is a must stop.

There is a 2 mile climb out of town. That is FB in the distance.

FB has quite the history. A lot happened there in a relatively short period of time, and a lot ofit was the stuff of legends that get told and retold as time passes.

Last look at FB from the road to Havre.

The 75 mile ride to Havre was a good one today. Wind was not a factor and the road pretty good. It was close to 90 degrees today and I went thru 9 quarts of water along the way. I waited for over an hour for the nearby convenience store to open this morning (finally at 7am)to get ice but when they opened they were out of ice. The next place along the route was 10 miles away . The convenience store in Loma was closed until noon when I got there so it was on to Big Sandy 27 miles further before I finally got some frozen water to keep my drinks cold or least not bathwater warm .
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Fort Benton Summer Festival 7

The annual duck race is part of the festivities. It is sorta like the Friends of Hole Field duck race in Swamp Creek in Versailles. Just think what Louie Kramer and the Creekside crew could do with a duck race if they had the Missouri River running thru town.

This is stuff you don't see in Ohio very much. At least I do not see it very much.

I have been telling the real story about Jeremiah Johnson of Wyoming fame , at least as I heard it when I was there. I was walking down a hall way looking for a resrroom in the Grand Union Hotel and came across this painting of "Liver Eatin Johnston" hanging on the wall. This was a big moment for me because it provided some sort of validation for what I have been repeating, except there is a difference in the spelling of last name on painting, maybe there were 2 of these guys.

Great fireworks display from the footbridge across the Missouri, actually with the setting and all it was probably the best fireworks I have ever seen. Just a little bit better than sitting in Ned Hemmelgarn's boat in Grand Lake St. Mary's watching thier fireworks during Lake Festival.
What made the FB deal good was that I sat on a bench beside the riverwalk pathway for 4 hours beforehand and chatted with Arthur Bennett's family members, 2 of which came all the way from Franklin Indiana for the Festival . With the river running peacefully by and all the folks strolling by and great conversation it was a very relaxing and the time went by so fast I lost track of it until the first boom.

Well it is early Sunday morning and I am finally ready to get back on the road again after this pleasantly unexpected stay over in FB. As soon as the carryout opens and I can get some ice I am peddling down the road to Havre. Looking forward to seeing what is there but it does not get much better than my time in Fort Benton.
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Fort Benton Summer Festival 6

This cowboy and his remote controlled pet skunk got a lot of attention during the parade. This pair would show up later in the day as key players in the 5:30 "bank robbery " reenactment. The skunk eneded up with all the loot.

The main drag of FB right after the parade.. Everyone was heading to the park to grab some super beef barbeque.

The b-que pit . They cooked all nigt and it was very good.
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Fort Benton Summer Festival 5

The theme for this years FB festival was Irish so a lot of folks got into the spirit. Here is a group of very talented Irish washerwomen doing their dance along the parade route. Each carried a wash board, and they all had good moves.

The Montana "HOGS" (Harley Owners Group)were the loudest parade entrants by far. They revved thier machines the entire length of the route.

Not sure what this was about but what this person was doing with a bike rig did get my attention.

This was a "leprecon" who worked the parade route hard. The little girl in this pic was scared of the guy and sort of had to be held in place by her dad for this pic.

The Fort Benton Summer Festival parade was pretty good. This year the Irish took over and a good time was had by almost everyone. Personally I was very disapointed that Monte, the Grizzly Bear mascot from Montana State U was a no show for the parade , although I heard he did "perform" during the day at a couple of spots in town. I had heard so much about Monte that I really wanted to see him. Actually at first I thought he was a real live Grizzley but quickly learned that Monte is just like Brutus Buckeye and Rocky Rocket (Toledo University). Monte is a big deal in Montana because he has been voted the #1 college mascot in the USA at least a couple of times. and he does over 400 events a year in the state.

There were several cool floats and many threw candy at the kids lining the street. One group the Awanas were throwing out green plastic hats and there was a decent wind so the hats were rolling all over the roadway and kids were chasing them bewteen floats etc. That was exciting.
Every year graduating classes from 10-20-30-40 etc years ago have a class reunion and get their own floats . The class of 1959 was throwing out strings of plastic beads like they do at Mardi Gras and several women on that float thru strands directly at me. Not sure what it all meant but I do have a collection of beads as a souvenir of the parade.

While the Fort Benton Summer Festival is really top notch it has a ways to go before it matches the annual Versailles Poultry Days. Besides serving the best dead chicken east of the Rockies,what sets P-days apart from most other similar events is that somehow the State of Ohio allows 2 state routes running thru town to be shut down for 4 days so that a large beer tent can be set up on the roadway. In FB they only shut the main drag down for the parade and the reenactment bank robbery shootouts.
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