July 24, Day 22 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
We started our bike ride today at 4:30…pm! It is not that we are slackers…we just had much to do before hitting the road. Deciding on a route out of Missoula and beyond was top priority today.
Before today, Tim and I were not in total agreement on how we wanted to venture across the country. I had my heart set on taking the TransAmerica route because I could see my sister in Denver and my friends in Colorado Springs, where I lived for 20 years. However, with aging bikes and bodies, climbing up to 11,000 feet in the Rockies, and no civilization (and little to no water or services) throughout the Transam route in Wyoming, we chose a better route for us, one that we could both embrace.
When planning routes, it sure helps to be in the right place at the right time. We spent several hours at the Adventure Cycling Association’s headquarters in Missoula yesterday (a rest day) as well as today. We had the best of the best helping us plan and play out several possible routes. Another helpful resource is the AAA maps for the upcoming states. Unfortunately, their office is on the other side of town. Alas, we left Missoula behind schedule and headed east. Tonight we arrived in Drummond, Montana, at around 9:15 pm, after repairing our first flat tire of the entire trip.
I would love to live in Missoula. People are friendly, happy, and healthy. The scenery is beautiful, bicycles are everywhere, and a river runs through the heart of the city. It is a clean city of 65,000 people, with a wide selection of restaurants, a large university, and many activities to choose from. And from first impressions, it is filled with young people. People here seem laid back and engaging. Many make eye contact and greet you.
Indeed, toward late afternoon, that was beginning to contribute to our delayed departure. Everywhere we stopped, people started chatting. Maybe it was the bicycles and our loads that attract their attention, or maybe it is our smiles that encourage others to talk to us. Whatever it is, it is a shock to our reserved New England state of mind. I find it refreshing and invigorating to be in Missoula. I was sort of sad to leave. The friendliness makes me proud to be an American.
Once out of friendly Missoula, we were riding along Interstate 90 (you can ride on interstate highways in some of these western states) when we stopped at a rest area. A woman came over with a bag full of cherries and offered us some. After I took a handful, she asked if we wanted anything else from her wide open cooler. How’s that for hospitality? Maybe the open sky and the vast vistas open up people’s hearts and faces around here. It makes one think about what makes a good hometown.