Day 20 Friday, July 29 Bozeman to Livingston, MT 32 miles
I don’t know if this pilgrimage can be broken down into distinct stages, but I felt today that I was entering the second stage of what may be a four or five stage journey. We’ll see how it unfolds. What I do know is that I have the same type of anxiety, deep sighs, and nervousness that I had the day before I embarked on this pilgrimage on July 10. As I posted yesterday, I just didn’t feel like I should be leaving until I had everything in order.
I spent the day this way. Early on I went for a nice breakfast in downtown Bozeman. I always love to eat at places where there is a wait for a table on a weekday. That’s always a good sign and the food was as good as the wait was long. Then I marched my bike a few blocks away to see if I could get a front rack and two more panniers. I had a number of issues I was trying to solve with the front panniers. I had so much weight on my back tire that I was wearing through the tread at a very rapid rate. I still think I’ll need to replace it by the time I enter Ft. Collins, Colorado. Secondly, I had a few nervous moments when I was hitting speeds of 40 mph plus with a crosswind grabbing at the bulk in the back and pushing me around. Splitting the weight between front and back will stabilize me considerably. Lastly, I believe I am about to hit some stretches where there just won’t be water for many, many miles. Hydration has already been an issue for me and I want to make sure that I have a way to carry an extra four liters of water through the Wyoming high desert.
The bike shop found a way to fit me in for which I was very appreciative. Bike shops sometimes have 1-2 week waiting lists to work on bikes in the summer. While they worked on the bike, I finished up my wash, bought postcards, and went through my gear to see what I could dispose of. It wasn’t much, but it will help. I sent back home exactly one-tenth of an ounce less than a pound (the post office told me this!) of receipts, a broken pair of glasses, a digital recorder, and two manuals I brought for my camera and the recorder. Every ounce counts when you are climbing for 20 miles!
I had decided that I would not leave until I had these issues addressed. Finally at 3:20 p.m. I was ready to go and off I went in 93 degree heat! It was a toss of the coin whether I should just stay another night in Bozeman or get as far as Livingston, about 30 or so miles away. With the heat and my dehydration issues it wasn’t the best time to set off, but I just was too itchy to get back on the bike and keep moving.My host’s next door neighbors, Susanne and Ralph, are experienced cyclists and they sent me over an alternative route that added some significant climbing and also some breathtaking scenery. They told me there was a steep section, but short. They were right about the first part. My legs were questioning the second part! Ralph also described perfectly the last 15 or so miles into Livingston. He said it will have that same feeling you get when you are landing a plane. A long, consistent, and delightful descent into town.
I am staying at the historic downtown Murray Hotel next to where the train depot is on the recommendation of Ralph and Susanne. Something about being on my bike brings out the best in people. The clerk knocked an extra $10 off my room rate knowing it was a bit out of my range and now I am sitting in his private office writing this as the wireless in my room is not cooperating with my computer.
Tomorrow I will set off and if all goes well I should be camping or staying someplace nice close to the entrance of Yellowstone. I am not sure what I am in for. I suddenly feel like I have returned to the same sense of excitement, anxiety and sobered feeling I had just before I embarked three weeks ago. It could be the change of physical terrain. It could be that I am about to encounter another landscape of my soul. I expect to come face to face with something unnamed–my deepest self, fears, yearnings, demons, God–I am not sure. But, I can feel it out there waiting for me.
I will breathe and trust.