On my way out of town, a youth in a rusty pick up truck offers the perfect send off, “Nice helmet, asshole!”
“Thank you, asshole!” I reply cheerfully. Stay classy, Great Falls.
I start the day with a full battery and wall-to-wall sunshine. The first two hours are WOT (wide-open throttle) all the way, averaging 21 mph (34 km/h). Weee!
Stanford, Montana. Population 400. I park the bike outside the grocery store and start collecting attaboys right away. Inevitably, a local man asks, “Where are you from?”
Not this again, “You don’t want to know… California?”
“The way I see it, there are idiots everywhere.”
“Truth. Just this morning, a young man in Great Falls…”
He directs me to the “hydrant“ so I can fill up my water bladder and I manage to walk through some dog shit hiding in the grass. I wash it off as best as I can and walk into the grocery store still smelling a bit off. I want to explain, “I didn’t smell this way before I came into your town,” but this doesn’t seem likely to win hearts and minds.
The barbershop across the street has an “open” sign in the window. I still have 24 miles to go and two hours until sunset but this feels like an opportunity. As I walk in, Andy the Barber is finishing up with one of his regulars and they’re talking shit about people from Helena, Montana’s capital. I join in on the patter.
Andy is a delightful human being who clearly enjoys his work. He has been cutting hair for 60 years. He shares anecdotes about touring bikers who have come through town in years past and refuses to accept payment for his services. “You have enough expenses on your trip.”
Ackley Lake Campground is empty except for three fishermen who are packing up their trucks and heading home. As the sun sets, I have the place all to myself. Self registration is $0 for Montana residents who have “elected to pay their DMV fees” and $24 for non-residents. Andy he was right. I do have expenses.
Tomorrow, I’ll try to break the 100 mile mark if the sunshine holds.