Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere

Please excuse typos of all sorts, im writing this from my phone with crappie Internet coverage.

Hello from Elkhorn Hot Springs Lodge in Wisdom, Montana! Today is our rest day on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. I slept in a bed and didn’t get up until 8:45, largely because my legs refused to move even though I baited them with the promise of coffee and pancakes (once I woke up I ate 5 pancakes and 3 cups of coffee). Yesterday, upon check-in, we learned that the postal worker, Cindy, from the next town over and with whom I’d been conversing about picking up our General Delivery packages, dropped off our packages for us at the Lodge, saving us a trip and a good deal of frustration. So today I swapped out what I no longer wanted to haul with the stuff I’d sent myself (and that Evan mailed me), and we moved into a cabin for tonight.

I spent a few hours in the hot springs pool, soaking my legs and writing in my journal, then ate an ice cream sundae and watched the last half hour of Hook, and only now am I clear headed enough to write a brief summary of life in the saddle thus far.

Calgary was an awesome town, lots of travel difficulties for all of us, 90 miles from where we stayed in Calgary to where to stayed in Banff. Banff was kind of lame, but:

Alberta and British Columbia were beautiful in a way for which I wasn’t, and perhaps could never be, prepared. Actually breathtaking. We rode for days over single-track and dirt roads, past lakes and mountains, through the dirt and rain and rocks and mud.

It was beautiful, but it rained on us for 9 days.

It was hard on morale.

We met Internet superstars, town heroes, countless doubtful cows standing in the road and running from our approach, a grizzly cub with whom I made eye contact for a few moments before she ran back into the woods, a moose who stayed with us through the night, deer with black eyes and noses who were striking to look at, friendly nobodies like ourselves who fixed our bikes, cooked our hash browns, and made our lives easier in those important small ways. We stayed in Skip’so old jailhouse house, at Barbara’s llama farm, Tom and Pat Arnone’s yard, and of course fields and forests, by lakes and streams and on mountain tops. And now here at the Elkhorn Lodge, which has all the charm and natural comfort of a grandparent’s living room. I can see an alternate life where I wasn’t in love with a person and a place, where I stayed here soaking and drinking white wine with guests, talking about the origins of death metal with the kitchen staff, and hoping for an easy winter.

But of course the road calls, as it always does, and tomorrow we will mail off our packages and hit the trail again, towards Idaho and dreaming, forever, of New Mexico, the smell of lavender and sage, and the wide night setting behind my husband’s dark eyes.

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