The best memories of the Tour Divide come in bits and pieces. The smell of a certain food will take me immediately back to a cozy diner in Wise River, Denny's in Grants, Bode's Store, milkshakes in Atlantic City or lunch in Whitefish, to name just a few. An aluminum horse trailer on I-25 returns my memory to the top of Cochetopa and the conversation with the horse campers from Durango. A certain song I hear on the radio shuttles me right back to all the places I heard it in my ear while pedaling. I wish I could share these with another human, but it is impossible. No one else can feel the surge of emotions and feelings the tiniest thing will trigger. I remember the small, subtle pieces with amazing clarity as reentry into the comfortable, safe, relatively uneventful mainstream lends to a large amount of daydreaming and reflecting. In my musings of late, I have compiled a collection of my favorite quotes. Some are deep enough to warrant more writing and some are just hilarious anecdotes--an interestingly fitting description of the entire journey.
So in no meaningful or particular order, here are my favorite bits and pieces represented in quotations:
"Baby, baby don't panic, I know how to cook bannock.."
-Dean Brody, Mountain Man lyrics. Music was a huge part of some days, and then would be completely absent for a week. Some feel it interferes with their time in nature. I have found some days it enhances and some it interferes. Songs bring memories, and take me to another place and another time.
"So you are not going home with me tonight? I have always had a thing for girls in Lycra and I haven't seen any around lately...."
-Obnoxious guy in Lincoln, MT I finally had to just ignore as I was chowing down crap food trying to blend into the wallpaper. The Fourth of July rodeo had the tiny town hopping. As I crossed the bridge over the Blackfoot River and into town, I was met with a fleet of ATV's driven by shirtless 30-somethings with hunting rifles slung across their backs. I felt like I needed to crack a Hamms can, shotgun it, bum a chew and use my water bottle as a spitter afterwards. Ah, loves me some Lincolnites!
"Excuse me, but would you like to join us on the Wise River today? Fishing is good right now and we happen to have an empty spot in the drift boat..."
-Hot river guide and his equally hot friend I had talked to at breakfast and saw again as I was sitting outside the grocery store swatting mosquitos as big as Montana, and trying to contain my flock-of-seagulls hair enough to get my helmet on. I honestly thought they were talking to someone behind me, but when I turned around and saw only the fence, my jaw dropped to the ground. Turning them down in favor of slogging up Fleecer and that GOD AWFUL climb away from I-15 before Butte was my biggest (and really only) regret. If my time machine wasn't broken, I would go back and spend the day fishing.
"Can I take your picture?"
"Do you have a gun?"
"Are you scared of bears/being alone/the dark?"
"What in the world made you want to ride to Canada?"
-Every camper in every campground in every state
"Do you want an otter pop? Here, take three..."
-Firefighter at Beaver Head Work Center. Heaven comes in the most unexpected places.
"This can't be a cheap undertaking, how about helping me through the lunch rush and dishes in exchange for your tab?"
-Super stressed out, overworked and underpaid bartender I noticed was favoring a bad knee at the Grasshopper Inn near Polaris, MT. I jumped in and helped him pour drinks, feed and clean up after about 35 people. Wow, did that really happen?
"Hey, are you that girl needing a ride out to Cabin Pass? I saw something posted by the bike shop. I would love to give you a ride, but I don't have a car."
-One of the many awesome, kind and friendly residents of Fernie. This was the common theme as I tried everything I possibly could, short of stealing a car, to get back to Cabin Pass to rejoin the route in time to finish. After some more of the sting diminishes, I will post a detailed and clear account of what exactly occured from Whitefish to Fernie, but after getting back to Denver and being unable climb even 3 miles with the hub that was supposedly "fixed" in Fernie, I can't help but wonder if there was some divine intervention involved?
"I tried to slow way down so as not to dust you out..."
-Dano, a long-time Missoulian and a very chill and all-around good dude. I saw him again, by coincidence, at Trixi's in Ovando after he passed me on a dirt road about ten miles south on his return from fishing. I spent a good hour of really enjoyable and inpiring conversation. The people of Montana truly make it the gem it is.
"Bout a mile off Old Mill Road, that spot nobldy knows, park the truck and we take off runnin, hurry up girl, I hear it comin, got a moon and a billion stars, the sound of steel and old box cars..."
-Jason Aldean, Night Train lyrics A song that I always dream of living when I hear it. After a surreal sunset and a bit of refreshing rain, the song came on my ipod on the descent off Priest Pass toward the tracks just as the train roared through. Magical timing.
Speaking of magic. I learned that it is, indeed, everywhere on the Tour Divide. Absolutely everywhere in everything and everyone. Somedays, however, my challenge was lifting up a tired and lonely mind to look for it......