Monday, July 30, 2001

Sunday 29 July
Seattle
Wa

just time to say that I've finally made it to Seattle.. a little sleepless from too much snorkling.. and looking forward to some tossed salad and scrambled eggs..

and finding where Jimi got his first guitar etc..

more anon

Sunday, July 29, 2001

Saturday 28 July
Victoria

A city tht has reassuring similarities with London, Nottingham and many other cities over 100,000 populations. like the ubiquitous peruvian pipe band, and the living sculptures, and pipers playing amazing grace..
I wonder if Peru has a demographic imbalance with so many of its young men abroad playing on the streets of the G8 nations cities and others..

ah about to run out of time on the computer again... see you in Seattle.. sleepless or otherwise.. a room mate here woke me the other night because I was snorkling too loud..

hey ho

Saturday, July 28, 2001

Friday 27 July
Victoria, Canada

It's raining.. the kind of rain that I haven't experienced in 12 weeks.. proper continuous rain.. that soaks the jumper and sweatshirt in five minutes and keeps on making your feet wet.. the kind of rain that you stare at mostly from pavillion doorways waiting for the umpires to announce a pitch inspection in two hours time.. and then call off play for the day (for the benefit of american readers that is another cricket allusion, remember, cricket is a summer game that is played over several days and can be affected by the weather..)

Victoria is a charming city.. with houses that are the same age as mine in Nottingham.. and tours for tourists in horse drawn carriages and ar eastern style bicycle taxis.

A bike ride today of 37 miles down the coast to a bay for a lunch of shrimp sandwich and mexican vegetable soup.. and fish and chips this evening.. I could have ordered the mushy peas.. but resisted.

I hope the sense of anticlimax isn't entering the travel updates.. I'm certainly winding down the physical effort.. but the enjoyment of exploration and observation is as keen as ever.. more after the weekend

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Wednesday 25 July
Victoria, BC, Canada

and welcome back to the Commonwealth.. where buses and phone boxes are red, and the queen's head appears on the currency..

Victoria is more british than London, so they say.. well there are pubs.. and there are Irish theme pubs so that much is right.. and the pubs seem to have a selection of canadian and guiness on draft..

And Kelsey Grammer is a frequent visitor according to the advertising hordings..

meanwhile.. the bike is in the basement of the Ocean Island backpackers hotel and the tent is clean and rolled up for the last time.. the ferry back to Seattle is booked and the plan to cycle further round the Puget Sound s definitely on the back burner.. in fact the pilot light has gone out..

so the final tally is over 4,600 miles and 80 days.. which feels a neat symmetry.. someone else went on a long journey in 80 days remember.. and then forgot that he travelled through the international date line.. well I've crossed four time zones and gained four hours in the process.. all extra.. and I've biked up the equivalent of Everest twice..

and now for w few days relaxation and behaving like a tourist rather than a cyclist..

cheers everyone.. as we say in the colonies..

Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Port Angeles
Wednesday 25 July

today I cross over to Victoria on Vancouver Island for a few days in Canada before heading home via Seattle.. the feeling of not wanting to travel much further comes and goes.. there is a part of me that really wants to head back via the TRans Canada Bike Trail.. 15,000kms - at least I'd have the wind with me this time.. but on the other hand...

greetings and thanks to Dan and Diana from Illinois (that's Illinoy not Illinoise).. I asked Diana if I could take a look inside their holiday home/campervan.. have I mentioned that I think RVs are the new 21st century version of the covered waggon? you can just see the contemporay pioneers heading out across the range with their RVs formed into a circle when the elements or the natives become hostile.. Dan senior I hope will forgive me when I say that he reminded me in appearance of Lloyd Bridges.. in charge of the main runway just as the flight comes in in the snow and blizzard - OK Chuck it's down to you now.. we're all counting on you (no pressure).. Diana admitted that she had packed three TVs into the van for this trip (well you've got to cater for all members of the family...)

Bonny's Bakery in Port Angeles awaits with best latte and bread and pastries in the North West..and there is now a queue for the pc.. so more anon, all you sneaking fans..

ps
Seattle are at home to Kansas this evening - come on you Mariners..

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Tuesday 24 July
Port Angeles, Washington

So much for losing motivation for riding.. yesterday I rode 72 miles to get here, which is well close to my average daily ride.. Port Angeles is not to be confused with Los Angeles.. though the library is as far out of the city centre.. because no one walks to the library, remember..

and I'm here because I've just taken it into my mind to ride across Canada on the way back.. there is a bike trail called the trans canada trail which is 15,000 kilometres coast to coast.. and it starts in Victoria on Vancouver Island ..

ok, relax Mother, I'm joking.. I'll think about the trans canada trail another time.. but the news is that I am crossing over to Canada tomorrow to spend a couple of days on Vancouver Island and to bike along the Galloping Goose bike trail..

so add sea otters and dolphins to the wild life viewed from the bike.. as well as Danish riders who have suddenly appeared in large numbers in the pacific north west.. this must be one of their migratory routes at this time of year.. interesting that they fly in pairs usually and you can tell the male by the tall thin trousers and the facial hair..

so hi and tak for the company to Mortonand Lena.. and to Jesper and Dora.. and happy travels..

america continues to astonish in its contradictions.. lots of people are concerned about their health, it features as regular sections in news and newspapers, and many people sign up for gyms and work outs.. but then the sales of ride on lawnmowers have just hit a new peak.. I can't think of anyone in Britain who would say go for a saturday morning exercise and then spend saturday afternoon riding round the garden on a lawnmower... lots of people here seem to follow the Fonda Workout regime.. that is the Peter Fonda version.. smoke lots of stuff, ride Harleys and drink with guys who look and sound like Jack Nicholson..

hello and thanks for the offer to Kristi and Kristin.. as you can see from the update I'm heading for Canada.. before hitting Seattle..

cycled past a lavender farm yesterday called Purple Haze.. so that's where Jimi got it from.. as well as the John Wayne State Park.. there was a hitching rail that you could use to tie up your RV and lots of dust to kick in the little guys' faces but not a lot else.. there was a wooden cross that you could stand under, however, and intone the immortal lines - truly this man wuz the son of gawrd..

and the other big news - Mum and Dad logged on at Louth Library a few days ago.. and caught the final few pages of the travels.. and sent an email.. of all the achievements in all the days I've been away this is the most exciting and given as much pleasure as seeing the Mississippi River or crossing the Continental Divide.. so a big cheer from all readers please to celebrate the entry into the cyberworld of Bryan and Sheila, in Louth Lincolnshire...

I'll try to send another update from Canada.. see how it works over there..

Monday, July 23, 2001

Oak Harbour
Monday 23 July

Three Dog Night had hits with Mama, Told me not to Come and one other that I have now forgotten.. thanks to Stafford for the nostalgic reminder.. actually they weren't all that good.

cheers
Monday 23 July
Oak Harbour, Puget Sound

so Australia easily passed the combined England score by only losing two wickets (only two of their men were out).. so they won by eight wickets with a day to spare.. just like the Seattle Mariners beating the Twins really.. ok?

I'm in Puget Sound.. not literally but just moseying around the islands before heading into Seattle.. if it's any consolation to our English readers.. the weather is chilly in the mornings with sea fogs rolling in from the west and brighter later..

in celebration of arriving on the west coast.. I ate the tin of peaches that were given to me as emergency rations on the campsite in Shiloh, Tennessee just before the thunder storm..
and very tasty they were too, in front of a blazing log campfire and with a bottle of Fat Tyre (a light amber ale brewed in Colorado to a Belgian recipe - but don't tell the par warden that I had it)..

all motivation to keep riding has drained away.. and I'm rolling slowly around the isalnds looking at the ocean a lot... and it still feels great.. I could just do with a few more degrees..

heading south and west again towards the Olympia Peninsular.. may even think about a ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island.. and heading into Seattle at the weekend..

thanks to Oak Harbour library.. more anon

Friday, July 20, 2001

Friday 20 July
Anacortes WA

just for the benefit of our american readers...

England have been bowled out for a measly score in their first innings and Australia have already overtaken us in their first innings... it is the second day.. there are three more days and two and a half more innings to go..

got that?
Friday 20 July
Anacortes Washington..

I'm here.. I've arrived on the west coast and it feels marvellous..
I've arrived after 75 days, 4,460 miles and over half a million ups and downs of the knees.. and it feels marvellous...

I'm north of Seattle in the islands that tuck into the armpit of the Puget Sound.. which means I am north of the line of the border with Canada..

and because I'm just a little ahead of schedule, I've decided to explore the islands and the coast line around here.. a mighty fine coastline it is too.. lots of islands and twiddly bits.. it looks like another award winning coastline design by Slarty Bardfarst*

Seattle awaits further south.. it is the 12th most expensive city in the world to eat in apparently.. and already the prices of things is up a tad.. and there are expresso cabins, or cafe shacks (or maybe that should be expresso shacks and coffe cabins?) anyway - they are everywhere and very tempting just to call in and grab a flavoured latte and a cookie.. and it's a warm hello to Alethea from the cafe coffee cabin in Conway for her time and conversation this morning.. I managed to tell her the buffalo/bison joke this morning as well as the tulips from Hamster Jam..

and it's a big thank you to Gina and colleagues at Anacortes Library for this update.. especially as they are in temporary accommodation... and hello to Pauline from Settle (yes that's Settle Yorkshire not Seattle WA)

I'm in danger of becoming a Miami bore.. you know the type of person who tells you within 30 seconds that their gifted offspring has got in to Cambridge to study Greek Mathematics... it takes me about the same length of time to announce that yes I set out from Miami ten weeks ago... and it's been 4,460 miles and half a million turns of the pedals..

so sorry america for being a british bore..

this part of the state is full of the widest range of crops imaginable.. berries are on sale at every road junction.. barley is being malted you can smell in the air for the micro breweries.. peas are growing fiercely in the fields just waiting for the man from BirdsEye to turn up with his tenderometer to give the go ahead for Stafford to get in there with his pea viner.. and potatoes and brassicas are well on..

it's a beautiful fresh countryside.. the air is cool and damp first thing in the morning.. dew and condensation cling to surfaces and bike saddles and the day warms up appreciably around noon..

and this afternoon, I'm planning to catch the ferry over to Friday Harbour in the San Juan Islands.. it is Friday and I'm looking forward to some fish and chips..I might even see if I can get them in newspaper.. or maybe I might just treat myself to a celebratory glass of wine..

more anon

Oh by the way america.. we are trying another cricket match at the moment.. now just to remind you this is like baseball except that there are four innings - played over five days for six hours a day..

Friday 20 July
Anacortes, WA

* Slarty Bardfarst - award winning designer of coastlines for the planet Magorathea who won his award for the design of the fjords and the coastline of Norway - featured in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams...

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Thursday 19 July
Monroe, Washington
just 15 miles from the coast

the day before yesterday, I biked along the Rock Island railroad.. aka the Rock Island Line as immortalised by Lonnie Donnegan in the rockabilly hit of the same name.. er, on second thoughts, can you immortalise something that is inanimate? like a railway line?
anyway it's a good tune and a great railroad..

I'm so nearly there it is tantalising and scary.. the climb yesterday was excellent.. but I am so glad that I came at the mountains from the east.. to have climbed from the west would have been tough.. and now that I have completed the climb through the Black Hills of South Dakota.. and the Continental Divide through the Rockies.. and the Cascade Mountains through Stevens Pass.. I am so resentful of even the slightest gradient round a bluff or over a bridge..

must just mention the slugs... those of a nervous disposition.. or if you don't want to know the result.. look away now..

the slugs.. I know everything in America has to be bigger than anywhere else in the world.. but for heavens sake, do you really need the biggest slugs in the world too? at the Deception Falls just west of Stevens Pass (did I mention it was 4,061 feet?) there were green and black slugs.. big long and slimey.. the black slugs were the size of sea lions, I kid you not.. OK I kid you just a little bit.. but they were BIG slugs.. indeed the sort that would make fantastic slug burgers.. (see entry for Tennessee many many moons ago)

hello to Ron from Hawaii cycling the other way to Leavenworth..
and to Polly Fehan in Wenatchee, thanks for the directions - I hope you made it to pick up your daughter from music lesson on time.. my neice Catherine has just taken her 4th grade exam in cello - the grade that transforms her from scraping christmas carols into Jacqueline Dupres (with out the tantrums I hasten to add)
and hello and thanks for your company to Max.. and enjoy the rest of your outdoor break.. (Max is 74 and walks, bikes and skis when he can..)

the end of the ride is now in sight.. I can now definitively say that I'm nearly there.. the coast is just 15 miles down the road and the plane home waits on the tarmac at Seattle in about 15 days time..

so the plan is now to bike round some of the islands around Puget Sound and get into Seattle by the ferry from the west.. and hopefully take a picture of the waterfront and the sky needle.. you've seen the Seattle skyline from the opening credits of Frazier..

and gosh oh golly oh gee.. the sections of the ride through Florida, Mississippi, across Missouri and Nebraska, through the Black Hills and in Wyoming.. and across the Rockies in Montana seem like a dream to me now..

dream on..
Thursday 19 July
Monroe Washington - about 15 miles from the Pacific Coast.. well Puget Sound

yesterday I crossed the pass through the Cascade Mountains.. Stevens Pass at 4,061 feet.. I'll just repaet that - 4,061 feet.. the climb was a long and steady drag.. and the descent on the other side fast and steep.. I dropped 2,000 feet in 20 minutes.. and got three dog cold in the process.. camped in the woods by the Skykomish river last night and there is a distinct change in the air.. the trees are covered in moss and there are ferns - we are in moist westerly winds.. with frequent showers..

and it's beautiful..

there are so many wild flowers growing by the roadside.. including foxgloves and further down the slope, sweet peas.. two eagles soared over the pass on the way up..

add some further strange road signs.. Slide Area.. not sure if that refers to the road or the driver or the slopes on either side.. and bizarrely out in the wilds in a layby the sign read.. 15 minute parking max...

it's not as if there was a queue.. or even a traffic warden to enforce it..

40 years ago, President Kennedy challenged his fellow americans to walk 50 miles in 24 hours to demonstrate their general fitness.. America, it is time to revive the Kennedy Challenge.. I wonder how some fat people reach the parts they need to reach sometimes..

Thursday 19 July
Monroe, Washington..

and so much to relate.. sorry for the break in transmission on Tuesday.. the queue for the pc was getting a tad bad tempered... I was going to mention an odd conversation I had on the road to Rock Island with a back packer..

he - where you riding from?
me - Miami
he - no way, wow man.. I'm walking flat footed because the doctor glued my heels together
me - how far are you going?
he - to Wenatchee and then to Mexico to pick up my step dad.. I'm all american (shows his identity tags)
me - well have a good trip
he - yeah I grow a few tomatoes back near Ephrata.. but in Mexico it's gotten really bad..

and so on...

this morning was a three dog morning.. I was in Skykomish on THIS SIDE of the mountains - that is I'm now on the down slope to the coast...

Thursday 19 July
Monroe, Washington...

* three dogs? - the Inuit people judge the severity of cold at night by the number of dogs required to lie with in order to keep warm... so a three dog night is quite cold.. it is also the name of a 70s rock band whose major hit record was????

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Tuesday 17 July
Wenatchee, Washington

This is Apple City, USA.. but just a second, wasn't Nebraska City also Apple City USA? shurely shome mishtake..

The central area of Washington would be a wild and lonely wildeness if it were not for the irrigation scheme of the Columbia Basin.. there are fruit trees on all sides, hemmed in by the raw and barren rocky outcrops.. there isa kind of anomolous beauty about it all..

the road sign said.. Dust Storms area..

Towns in Washington State sound ilke those english actors of the fifties.. names like Dusty Colfax, Winona Endicaott, Willada Steptoe and St John Oaksdale are to be found..

there is a huge paradox in the riding at the moment.. I rode 182 miles in two days upto yesterday.. in a need to get to the finish.. but at the same time I'm quite tired and ready to stop and wind down. I must just say thanks to the family from Idiana at Spokane, who brought me a cup of Early Grey Tea on Sinday morning.. it revived me as far as the Grand Coulee Dam.

Just noticed a coupe of freudian slips in the last sentence.. which I think I'll leave in.. they some how seem appropriate..

so just the Cascade range ahead.. I'm hoping to get halfway up today and stop at Leavenworth, described in the handbook as a Bavarin style village.. kinda scarey.

I've had some more thoughts about Idho and East Washington.. there are rather too many people who look like charcters from Raymond Carver..

This was a conversation I more tomorrow.. there is a queue at the computer.. must finish..

thanks Wenatchee library..
Monday 16 July
Quincy Washington

just a quick update to say I'm now in Washington State.. number 15 so far and probably the last unless I have an apocalyptic conversion and decide to head back to the east coast.. ho ho, that's a joke, everyone

I've pushed into central Washington and tomorrow hit the mountains again.. I'll do another update tomorrow.. but thanks to the library in Quincy for their help
thanks to Sue at Coulee City Middle School for this morning log on
and hello to Carol from Yakima

and finally today, happy birthday to Helen White in New York...

Friday, July 13, 2001

Friday 13 July
Sandpoint Idaho

so this is my own private Idaho.. and very pleasant it is too.. logging lorries beating me to woodpulp along the hard shoulder of Highway 2.. where there is a hard shoulder that is..

they are big on logs in Idaho.

and today I pass through the psychological and actual 4,000 mile mark.. it's a bit like the FTSE or Wall Street going through the next barrier... cyclist confidence was high today as Rick went through the psychological and actuall 4,000 mile mark.. trading in bicycle tyres rose and shares in soda fountains soared on news that he was tired and emotional and dry as a dog in the 80 degrees of Idaho..

soda costs more than petrol over here (sorry all you Brits.. it's about 35p a litre) and so it would actually be cheaper to have done the ride by car.. given the amount of soda pop I consume..

Sandpoint hit the international news headlines a few months back when a family of children held the authorities at bay with a combination of dogs and weapons including firearms.. a sad tail now out of the news of course.. and the family are still presumably in a crisis.. but why have guns in the house?

There are supposed to be a number of right wing extreme groups holed up in the Idhao backwoods.. so far the only scarey sign has been 'Moose Area'... but didn't see a moose or a pointy head anywhere..

greetings to Joan and Megs at the State Line Inn on the border of Idaho and Montana.. Joan has most of her house in Montana but her outhouse is in Idaho.. still doesn't qualify her for an Idaho library ticket.. I suggested she told them she only reads in the outhouse.. I'd like to have seen it.. and to see where the state line passed through..

thought for the day comes from Garrison Keillor - but you'll have to go to that page to read it..

enjoy your weekend.. I'm off to Spokane next..



Thursday, July 12, 2001

Troy Montana
Thursday 12 July

This afternoon I'll cross over into Idaho.. state number 14.. and across another time zone.. time zone number 4..

lots of people ask if I get lonely or if it bothers me travelling alone..
the answer is that there is a difference between loneliness and solitude which is important and delicious.. I get occasional yearnings for company.. and I miss the folks back home terribly.. but the opportunity to reflect on life the universe and everything while engaging with the natural environment whilst engaging on a personal project is unmissable..

while it was good to ride along with Fritz for a while.. and don't get me wrong on this Fritz.. you are a great guy.. I'm glad that we parted and went separate ways when we did.. even if I had been riding with the Queen Mother, or Ulrikka Jonnson.. (both remote possibilities I admit) I'd want to go my own way..

it's a personal thing.. (mind you if Ulrikka was interested...)

more anon..

Thursday 12 July
Troy, Montana
and thanks to the staff at Troy library

this morning a watched a bald eagle hovering over the Kootenai River.. the Kootenai Falls are breathtaking and it's been a perfect morning.. I also snuck up on two white tailed deer and a chipmunk who wasn't watching out for bikes in the shoulder lane...

the walk to the Falls was through tight woodland with berries and undergrowth.. it looked all the world like perfect bear country so as per instructions I started making a noise and clapping hands.. I felt a bit daft to be honest.. it is a difficult bit of manoevering.. you have to watch the floor for rattlesnakes (all those exposed tree roots look very serpentine) and sing for the bears.. I deceided to hum "Walk On By' the old Dionne Warwick classic.. it seemed to work.. not a bear in sight.

the Falls are wonderful.

and then into Troy and a great latte and sweet snack at the enticingly called Hot Club Cafe.. where coffee, food and guitars are on offer.. the place is jointly run by Frank Chiaverini - mandolin player with the Live Wire Choir.. live entertainment and expresso a great combination..

sadly I've just missed the Libby Loggers Festival.. loads of loggers are in town to celebrate.. sing "He's a lumberjack and he's OK.." and roll logs and display their skills with choppers axes and chain saws..

and now I'm going to miss the Friday night gig at the Hot Club too..

tant pis

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Wednesday 11 July

today is the birthday of Rachel Hannah McCormack Bland

Ray to her friends.. so the message is Happy Birthday Ray.. from everyone in Montana and the rest of the USA

and this may not get posted precisely in time.. England is at least 8 hours ahead of me now.. and I've had a couple of hold ups today.. see following entry

Libby Montana
Wednesday 11 July

a day of mixed fortune.. a long haul up to 4,000 feet and a long descent into Libby.. I'm now as close to the Canadian border as I 'll get to.. it's nearer to Edmonton and Calgary than it is to Seattle.. according to the notice in the Happy's Inn cafe (good pea soup and salad, thanks) Seattle is 530 miles and Miami 2935 from Kalispell (where I camped last night on the side of the Flathead River..

The past couple of days I've been travelling with Fritz from Switzerland.. we went our separate ways this morning.. and I wish him good trails and a following wind.. he's 74.. and an inspiration to us all..

ran into some road works today and I'm completely covered in mud.. not so glorious mud.. in every sprocket and cog.. and sock, shoe and bags..
and the bike needed a quick weld yesterday as the pannier carrier had sheared from stress.. I know how it feels...
actually stress is the furthest thought or problem.. when all you have to consider is whether to ride 54 or 94 miles in the day (I chose 94) the stress level is non detectable..

watched a fledgling egret flapping around the nest perched at the top of a precarious pine tree.. so there have been some compensations for the muddiness today..

as regards mud.. as the other sign in the cafe read - if you've time to lean.. you've time to clean..

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Tuesday 10 July
Kalispell Montana
and thanks to the staff at the Flathead County library
that's Flat not Fat..

the flathead lake is a wonderful glacial feature amid the mountains.. the mountains come down the the water like the Lake District in England.. but of course we're already at 3000' and the mountains go up to 6,500' it's a beautiful holiday oasis with fishing and boating and sailing top of the draw of attractions.. and skiing in the winter of course..

add osprey complete with fish in talons to list of wildlife..

and 40 elk in a herd dragged their hides slowly over the side of a hill in the Bison National Wilderness.. remember the words of Bob Marshall? How many wildernesses does America need, he was asked... how many Brahms symphonies do we need - was his reply... I can see what he meant.. the wilderness is palpable and real and breathing and challenging..

and when the sunset goes about washing the sky in backlit pink the whole mountain landscape becomes unreal and magical and mythic...

yesterday I met up with a Swiss rider called Fritz.. who is 74 and has been riding seriously since he retired.. mostly in circular trips around mountains and Hawaii in winter.. and mostly on a recumbant.. an inspiration to us all..

and last night late two guys came into the camp site on their ways to Alaska.. I haven't seen them today, yet, they are behind us and well loaded down.. (not - with the fancy cargo, care of Wells Fargo, Illinois, boy.. etc.. oh, hell, I've got stuck on the deadwood stage again..) - just to wish them luck on the way north.. Alaska feels a long way off..

the ride is beginning to make me nervous as I get towards the final stages..there is still a long way to go and more mountain passes to cross.. but whilst the end is not in sight, the beginning of the end is starting to feature in the forward planning... and lots of uncertainty and what ifs are getting in the way..

There's a strange anticipation of finishing starting to creep into my feelings and thoughts.. as if I could wish the final two states away.. and imagine what it would/will be like in Seattle...

I must be careful.. the anticipation must not replace the care I need to plan to get there...

Tuesday 10 July
Kalispell, Montana

I've been having trouble getting the update to publish so I'll use this as a short test piece..
please bear with me a moment..

Monday, July 09, 2001

Monday 9 July
Polson, Montana

well the excitement of the weekend just built to fever pitch.. our boy Tim lost out.. and Australia just piled on the runs and beat England by an innings.. now America, this means that Australia scored so many runs in their first innings that even after England had batted twice Australia had more runs and so didn't need their fourth innings.. so the game was over in 4 days and three innings in total.. ok?

Bonni and Harvey were such wonderful hosts.. al I could do was teach them Froggies in return.. the log cabin was beautiful and the bed was soft and warm...
the next day I rode to Missoula along the banks of the Blackfoot River.. the river that runs through it in the film and book of the same name.. and I saw a moose and eagles being harrassed by smaller birds.. and otters chasing a duck off their stretch of water.. it was sheer delight..

on the north side of the road, there is the Bob Marshall wilderness.. Marshall was asked how much wilderness does America need? his reply - how many Brahms symphonies do we need?

passed a woodyard called the Wood Chuck Wood yard - which prompted the question - how much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

also saw bear tracks - which prompted the little song - Algie met a bear, the bear met Algie, the bear was bulgie, the bulge was Algie..

the Chubby Checker concert was a real gas.. me and Chubby twisted the night away like a pair of veterans.. just a second we ARE a pair of veterans.. and low and behold.. met up with the classic hot rod car drivers again.. the Bud flowed like beer... sorry Sandy, I know Bud IS a kind of beer.. but not as we know it captain..

I need to say hello and thanks to the Bee Charmer at Missoula craft fair.. for the candle.. and to the chiropractor for letting me know that my back is reasonably straight.. and I'm in balance..

David Beckham came home from the physio and explained to Posh that he had been advised to go to choir practice...

No David, that's Chiropractor...

Missoula has a carousel made by the people of the town and a real celebration of the community effort.. do you know that American carousels go round the wrong way.. in Britain we are particular about mounting horses from the left.. or port side so our carousels go round clock wise.. in america people jump on to horses from either side and carousels go round anti-clockwise... now not many people know that..

the 25th anniversary of the Bicentennial bike ride across the states was held in Missoula over the weekend and I met some of the people on that original ride 25 years ago and who had gathered for the reunion.. so my thanks for their tips and congrats to all and at Adventure Cycling who organised the original ride and have grown into the most interesting biking orgainsation for touring...

happy trails everyone..

kindest regards from Polson, Montana...
This was the travel update that I tried to post on Friday...

So much news, such excitement.. today I crossed the Continental Divide
for the geographically challenged this is the line dividing one water table from another.. it is the line which separates the water that flows off the mountains down to the east and the Atlantic Ocean, via the Missouri, and the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, from the water that flows off the mountains to the west and ends up in the Pacific

I celebrated the crossing off the great line in the traditional and time honoured way of testing which way the waters flow

Today is the 16th Birthday of Shannon from Vegas - so we all wish her a very happy day.. and thanks to her bro John for teaching me basic basketball.. my class on basic soccer skills was much appreciated, I believe... especially the penalty shoot out, which I won..<

At the top of Fleshers Pass.. which at 6,130 feet is the highest I've ever cycled in my life to date.. I met up with four fantastic vintage american classic cars on their way to Missoula for a fifties revival weekend.. with any luck I should get to Missoula tomorrow.. and with any further luck.. I could get to the Chubby Checker concert... <

A few friends and relations will remember that I won the Ludford Village Hall twist competition in 1964 - to the classic Chubby Checker hit.. so this really would be a nostalgic moment

Serendipity has smiled on me again.. bumped into Terri Maloughney in the Subway sandwich shop in Lincoln.. Terri works for Adventure Cycling in Missoula.. we exchanged website addresses.. what a coincidence

and later an invitation from Harvey and Bonnie to stay overnight in their cabin up in the hills near to the bears.. well I guess I've got to face down my bear fear at some time

Did I mention that I enjoyed a day off yesterday?<

I spent a wonderful day in Helena.. the state capital.. including checking the bike in at the Great Divide Bike Shop.. thanks chaps.. and Oh, bliss.. the Ryan and Maclean Tea Shop.. a proper tea shop.. with proper tea brewed in a pot.. I wept into the cup

and thanks to Sherry and Bobbi at the tea shop for their company.. Bobbi's claim to fame is that she turned on her first computer at Christmas and is now a leading website designer.. so I'm a bit nervous of what she may think of sneakinguponamerica... Sherry is into beads.. soon she plans to graduate onto raffia and basket weaving.. sorry Sherry for that sarcasm at your expense

The cars at the top of the Pass included one driven by the generous Sandy Macdonald.. who is big in Budweiser.. and Micki who is described by her friends as an all Montanan woman.. what ever that means

well I'm feeling pretty chipper as you can tell.. despite puncture number 6 at the top of the pass.. thank goodness I noticed it at the top of the Pass (at 6,130 just to remind you) and not halfway down the other side

Finally - for the benefit of our american readers - our boy Tim is leading in his match at Wimpleton by 2 sets to 1.. game suspended for rain until tomorrow.. come on Tim etc

and also for the benefit of all american readers - the Australian reply to England's first innings of 294 all out in the cricket has reached 332 for 4 at the end of the second day's play.. so just to remind y'all - there are three days play left.. and two and a half innings to complete.. fun eh?

more anon

Thursday, July 05, 2001

Thursday 5 July
Helena, Montana

now I know this bit won't make much sense to the American readers of this site.. but this is just to let you all know that England scored 294 in their first innings against Australia in the first test match aat Birmingham.. and it won't be enough..

for the benefit of our american readers.. cricket is a game of four innings, two each side, that lasts up to five days and may end in a draw.. ok?

cheers
Thursday 5 July
Helena, Montana

so yesterday the states celebrated their independence from the old country.. I lowered the Union Jack at sunset out of respect for the fledgling nation.. from what I've observed so far.. I reckon they can make it as a nation on their own..still a few rough edges to smooth out.. but they'll get there soon enough..

now whether America will make it to 'top nation' or not I don't know.. there's still a long way to go..

America was on holiday and blasted a huge tonnage of fireworks into the night sky.. only the spanish do firework bigger I think..

I was glad to meet up with Art and Maryanne, and Gloria and their families to go and view the display out in Helena.. so you head off down the road and park up along the hard shoulder and watch the display.. and if you have a mind to, you let off a few fireworks of your own by the highway.. all seemed a little too much like Beirut as Art pointed out... he's from Seattle and they do things differently in Washington State..

but it was fun.. and the night sky was lit up and the fire carckers continued into the small hours..

I didn't need any rocking though.. and enjoyed a restful night..

good luck America, and happy birthday..

Thursday 5 July
Helena, Montana

Yes I've made it to the state capital of Montana.. and hey, I've decided to take a day off.. and looking back, this is the first day I've not ridden for over a month. Since I left St Louis, I've ridden every day and at an average of 70 miles per day... yesterday, Independence Day I celebrated by riding from Bozeman to Helena.. over 100 miles, one of my longest days yet..

but it was strangely flat considering that I am now among the mountains.. and the day was still and overcast, the wind slight and behind me when it blew.. so I just kep going..

A couple of further notes on Livingstone.. serendipity smiled on me again when I accepted the very kind invitation to lunch from the beautiful potter Lisa Marshall.. so thanks again for the salad (home grown) and the ceramic fridge magnet as a momento..

and I stayed that night at the international hostel in Bozeman.. Bozeman is named after the intrepid explorer and trail blazer John Bozeman who led wagon trains through the territories in 1861 and 1866.. before the trail was closed in deference to treaties with the Indian nations.. the hostel had many travellers from different lands.. Sweden, Canada.. as well as a few bike riders.. all heading in the opposite direction to me.. well it's too late to turn round now..

gosh the thought of heading back across Nebraska...

Bozeman was hit by a snowstorm just three weeks ago.. 2 feet of snow fall... and there was skiing equipment in the hallway.. the snow brought down branches and limbs from trees that littered every street.. the wood was now drying out and posed a fire hazard according to the chief of fire services, especially with regard to 4 July fireworks..

and a special mention and thanks for their company to John, Wendy and friends at the Burrito Shop and the Dairy Crest Ice Cream parlour (what a sumptuous diet that night..)... Bozeman is bike friendly and John was past president of the bike club.. hope they all enjoyed the holiday ride...

bumped into another trans america rider on the road to Three Forks.. so good luck to Dave Clark (no sign of the Five) on his trip to Maine..

Three Forks is close to the headwaters of the Missouri.. the three rivers Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison flow together to form the Missouri.. and it was good to complete the ride back to the great river...

new signs by the roadside - Artillery Shells - $4.29...

America is in holiday mood - more about 4 July anon..

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Tuesday 3 July
Livingstone, Montana

A town gearing up for the 4th July Holiday in a big way.. just won a bottle of pop on the spin the wheel, and bumped into a Scottish highland band of young musicians on tour to Montana..

and the rodeo is in town.. sounds like this could be the place to be for the holiday..

Chicago Zoo has reported the loss of its giant tortoise.. last seen heading for the hills at the rate of a mile every two days.. I know how she feels. It's hard work up some of these gradients.. and the really pointy bits are still ahead. The tortoise had still eluded her keepers by the way.. one was reported as saying that if they get her back they'll just have to keep a closer watch on the scamp..

yesterday the combination of sun and a drying wind were quite draining.. the last 23 miles were all into the wind.. plus puncture number 5..

The hills and mountains are definitely closing in.. passed by the end of the Crazy Mountains this morning and the valley of the Yellowstone River narrows between bluffs in a quite beautiful and dramatic way..

the dead and living wildlife is getting bigger.. a huge deer had been hit overnight and died by the side of the road.. bad sight of the week by a long way. Two more deer just bounded away as I biked past.. they hit the ground as if it were a trampoline, all four feet together..

Montana has some of the more picturesque county names - Stillwater yesterday, Sweet Grass today.. and odder road signs - skew bridge, lift snow plough.. and, Speed checked by aircraft.. the sign that said.. 'gusty winds' had a wind sock attached to it, which seems sensible.. but strange.

You can see why america is so dependent on energy.. it has such an abundant supply at the moment.. The States are officially sitting on massive reserves of oil.. and the coal and methane and natural gas industries are booming.. coal trains from Montana and Wyoming are heading east at the rate of 130 waggons every ten minutes.. the methane gas in Wyoming is huge.. and comes from coal that they just strip from the side of the mountains... so it is hardly surprising that the oil energy producing and car industries are in control of the political lobby..

and yet Nevada has hit blackouts as the temperature reached over 100 degrees and demand for air conditioning exceeded the power available from the power grid..

more anon.. there's a queue at the library for the pc...

Monday, July 02, 2001

Monday 2 July - start of week 9.. golly gosh
Columbia, Montana.. thanks to the library here at Stilwater County

so Montana.. and the start of week 9 and about 5 to go.. I've cycled over 3,000 miles and there are something like 1300 left.. and most of it is uphill.

highlights of the past weekend.. well the sunsets are starting to be spectacular.. but the main feature of the past couple of days has been the visit to the Little Big Horn Battlefield and national memorial.. very moving in an odd sort of way.. there have been more books written about this battle than any other event in american history.. and yet it was effectively indecisive.. although the native americans scored a notable victory on that day 125 years ago to the week.. they lost the war to retain their ways of life and their environments.. and the battle though important, and casualties are never to be reduced to sheer statistics, it was not a major catastrophic event.. 263 US personnel, army and civilians died at the Little Bighorn, and about 100 memebrs of the Sioux and Cheyanne nations..

Native americans.. like the aboriginal people in Australia have a culture, a spirit life and a relationship with the land that goes back several millenia (40,000 years in the case of Australia).. and yet the clash of cultures as america developed into an industrial and commercial nation inevitably resulted in the loss of the world of the native american..

so now they have an inequality of access to the riches of the new nation.. and the new nation is still riddled by guilt at sweeping away a culture of many generations in the interests of exploiting mining and other commercial opportunities..

the future needs a radical solution to restore genuine peace and a nation at one with itself...
but I don't know what the radical solution is...

up here they have fires in the dining rooms of restuarants.. as it gets cold in winter.. and the air smells of barley and wild flowers..

last night a pint of Boddingtons swam into my view in the campsite in Billings Montana.. I consumed it with considerable relish.. it even had the draft flow widgett.. (for the benefit of our american readers that is the rattling device that gives the beer a head when you pour it from a can...)

and the previous night I shared a can (or rather they shared a can with me, thanks) with Cindy and Don from Southern Cal.. who are keen soccer fans and follow Shearer and Owen.. come on you Mariners.. was a chant I felt compelled to explain to them..

and a thought from the Battlefield site..

Know the power that is peace...
Black Elk

more anon.. as I press on towards the mountains.. and bear country!