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A Montana state of mind...

Never disappoints.

July 21, Missoula, Montana
Day 68, Total Mileage 3,291  Continental Divide Crossings in last 15 days: 9
After covering almost 500 miles in the last 8 days, including rides and camping through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Keith and I worked our way through southwest Montana, pulling into Missoula yesterday. It was great having Keith along for the week - he heads home to Livingston today. I will truly miss him!  
The Parks are truly gems - I lived 90 minutes from Yellowstone for years and every visit knocks me off my feet. As we pedaled into Grand Teton, I had one of my few moments of feeling vulnerable  - after we entered the gate, a flashing sign warned: Sow and two cubs on road next five miles - drive carefully.  Yikes. After thirty years in Montana, I've seen bear from the road, in the woods and on my power pole in Red Lodge. But riding uphill at 3 miles/per, I felt a little nervous about getting between mom and cub, and kind of like a low hanging fruit appetizer. Just another part of the adventure... 
I'm taking a rest day in Missoula - although not my favorite idea of what a rest day should be. For the last couple of weeks, I've developed a pretty painful toothache. On my way into town a couple of days ago, I contacted my Dentist from 12 years ago, and he fit me in yesterday and determined I needed a root canal this afternoon. Oy. The good news - I'll still be heading out of here tomorrow morning, and, it's a root canal... just a speed bump, not a show stopper.
Tomorrow I start the home stretch. After a 40 mile climb over Lolo Pass, I'll take a short trip through Idaho and pedal my way into Washington state, entering in the southeast corner. The Adventure cycling maps continue onto Oregon, so I'll be winging it through Washington. After months on the road and getting this far, I'm sure I can find my way back to Seattle - I asked LaVonne to turn on the espresso machine and stock the fridge with real beer to help me keep my compass point on track. Shooting to arrive home by August 1!
I'll check in again from Washington and continue to share some reflections upon my return - I look at my world a bit differently now... and its all good.
The pics below barely touch the feel and wonder of Montana. It's so unspoiled compared to all the other states I visited. Native grasses higher than fenceposts still dominate the ranch terrain of the SW MT. Unlike all the other states, it feels like it was a hundred years ago... minus an occasional cell tower. Enjoy!
 Next few images:  
Dubois, Wy to Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone: Biking through the park.
Arriving in West Yellowstone, MT after a 70 mile ride, our first town in three days greeted us with a serious lightning, thunderstorm so we found a motel (Great grizzly potential- camping in "West" - not recommended).  
The valleys of southwest Montana
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