Day 18: The C Word

Robert and I ride together for a while longer before parting ways. He just flew in from Alaska where he has been working at Denali National Park. I ply him with fresh brewed coffee and instant mashed potatoes and ask questions about biking in Alaska.

The green tunnel of trees is replaced by flat grasslands from horizon to horizon. I suddenly have more solar energy than I can use in a day.

The winds have been fierce for the last 24 hours. Last night, my bike stand snapped under a strong gust of wind. The wind continues to plague me today. I have to pull off the road and lock out the trailer tilt mechanism to keep it from being blown sideways into traffic by wind gusts. One section of road is almost unrideable due to crosswinds.

I almost miss the green tunnel. Almost. Riding for extended stretches at 28 mph (45 km/h) is a welcome change.

“California” by Phantom Planet is playing on the radio in the hardware store. “California, Califooornia, Califoooooornia. Here we come!” I point it out to the cute cashier and get a genuine laugh. “California” is a dirty word in Montana.

The joke is that Californians suck and that all 40 million of us are moving to Montana and generally ruining things by bringing in new money and new ideas. That most Montanans are recent descendants of immigrants is conveniently forgotten.

I have been told several times not to tell people I’m from California. I ignore the advice. It’s too much fun watching their faces scrunch up when they hear the answer. If you don’t want to hear where I’m from, then don’t ask the question.

In fact, I’m only most recently “from California.” I could also say Connecticut or Czechoslovakia. Or even Colorado or Canada if we’re counting all the places where I’ve spent time. All C words. Weird.

When I open up my merch store, the second item I sell will be a trucker hat with the words “NOT shopping for real estate.”

The RV park in Cut Bank, Montana has some cool hoodoo rock formations. I feel like I’m in a scale model of Cappadocia, Turkey. I sleep under the stars and wonder where I’ll be sleeping tomorrow night.

Day 15: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Last night, I drank a beer in a city park where I pitched my tent and this morning I’m going across the street to use the bathroom at a gas station. Truly embracing the solar hobo lifestyle.

Random motorist, “We saw another bike like yours a few days ago.”
“Really? Where was it?”
“It couldn’t have been you. It was really far away.”
“I don’t think there are very many bikes like this around here.”
“It was in Idaho, about three days ago.”
“I’m pretty sure that was me.”

I temporally changed my Insta username as a joke and now Mark Zuckerberg’s minions won’t let me change it back. I’m just going to lean into it. The California DMV should have no problem with putting “DJ Phresh Bearskat“ on my driver’s license, right?

This shows the difference between a horizontal panel and a tilted panel at solar noon in Montana in September. The sun is only 40° above the horizon at this time of year here so the tilt makes a big difference.

I made it to Whitefish, Montana tonight. Huge thanks to David and Joan for hosting me for the night and giving me a chance to get cleaned up. The Grin extended family came through once again for the solar traveler!

Tomorrow, it’s off to Glacier National Park!