Day 17 Tuesday, July 26 Dillon to Three Forks, MT 96 miles
I am now entering personal sacred territory. I am in the town of Three Forks, Montana where some of my fondest memories still have a home. It was here where my dad, my sister and I would visit great grandpa Amberson. It is strange, but I have very few memories of him, yet he holds a revered place in my heart. I can remember one fishing trip (there were more, but only one I can conjure up). I remember the “pills” he would dole out to my sister and me before bed (now I know they are called chocolate chips!). And I can remember the Mickey Mouse-shaped pancakes that he would cook us in the morning.
I am now just 33 miles from Bozeman, the place of my birth. I have very few memories of Bozeman as well. If I have the story right we moved before my second birthday, returning a couple years later so my dad could finish his engineering degree at MSU, and then permanently relocated to Colorado after his graduation. I was six years old then.
I am going to leisurely get into the morning tomorrow. Bozeman is just a two hour or so bike ride away and my legs are really starting to cry out for some rest. There is a museum here in town and my grandpa was known for his beautiful carving of canes, knots and wooden belts. You’d have to see them to appreciate the craftsmanship. I know grandpa has some of his work in a museum in another town and I am hoping they saved some here in Three Forks as well.
Then off to Bozeman where I’ll stay at the home of another Warmshowers host. Thursday I’ll rest, take care of some errands and mostly reacquaint myself with this town that shaped me in the early years. I am becoming keenly aware of how much the mountains call to me and I do wonder how much of that was shaped simply by my early exposure to them here in Montana.
It was a day where I felt like the gods were playing with me. My goal was to get to Three Forks, but I entertained the possibility of riding on into Bozeman if my legs had any oomph left at Three Forks. I knew it wasn’t realistic, but the thought of getting into Bozeman and taking a much needed day of rest left me open to the possibility. As I started out from Dillon almost immediately I was pushed along by a consistent tailwind. The longer that went on the more I thought, “I might just be able to ride this wave all the way into Bozeman.”
Bozeman was about 120 miles out, but at mile 51 (Whitehall) I was still being pushed by this tailwind that lifted my average speed by about 3 mph. I was thinking seriously of making the push into Bozeman. There was one section getting from Whitehall to Three Forks that wasn’t clear on my map. I got some help from the local cashier in Whitehall who told me how to avoid the freeway and the major climb by taking a frontage road through a canyon. I appreciated the help.
Unfortunately, something got missed in the translation and I missed a rather important turn. According to my map I was supposed to make a big sweeping semicircle from Whitehall to Three Forks and because I was going in that general direction I continued riding for over 20 miles. But, something didn’t feel right. In the first place I never encountered the canyon she had mentioned. In the second place she had said that this was good route for avoiding a major climb and I just kept climbing and climbing and climbing.
Finally, I reached a T in the road, where I knew that left would take me in the general direction I wanted; right would take into Yellowstone. I asked for some help. The man confirmed that I was now going in the right direction, but that I was 20 miles off course. I decided not to ride into Bozeman. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away!” Actually, I can give the gods credit for the tailwind. But, I need to take some responsibility for going off course. I hate to admit it, but I had an inkling something wasn’t right early on and I had two opportunities to ask for directions and didn’t. Men!
I want to close this tonight saying that I had the beginnings of a breakthrough on the “spiritual schizophrenia” I am trying to work through(see “Meet Brian” page). I intend to put some more thought into that and post a separate blog about that. I don’t know if I turned a corner on this, but something happened today that took my soul from a sort of restless wrestling over this issue to a feeling of clarity and strength. There is a lot to flesh out, but I think I had a revelation today.
Could it be that the yearning to return to my birthplace was more than mere curiosity and about some new life emerging from me?