Woke up to a cool, brisk morning today. We spent some extra time getting ready and setting up all the new things we'd bought yesterday. April packed up her new handlebar bag and added some reflective stickers to her back fender that she had bought all the way back in Walla Walla. I got busy putting on my new speedometer. We also started a bag of things we're going to ship home because we don't need them. The bag is almost full enough to justify sending a package home. :-)
So, as seems to be the case more often than not, we left late. The goal was to make it 20 miles to the southern tip of Flathead Lake to a town called Polson, where we would find some wi-fi, figure out where we were going to spend the night, and get some groceries.
By the time we got to Polson, we were really hungry. So after returning and exchanging a few things at Wal-Mart, we ate at 4B's Restaurant. I had a burger and fries and April had an omelette/breakfast burrito thing (it's hard to tell once she's done mixing it all together) called "The Matador" and described by the waitress as being "a ton of food".
Feeling full and content, we headed to the grocery store, which contained a Starbuck's and wi-fi. While I got groceries, April searched for a place to spend the night. When I returned with our supplies, I surprised April with a little container of ice cream (pretty sure I got some bonus points there)! Yum!!
April had found a place to stay in Arlee, about 45 miles away. The place was called Orange Acres and the write-up said the guy was really passionate about helping people. He had free beds, laundry, food, kitchen, and showers! It sounded awesome!
Enthused by our find and energized by lunch (and the ice cream), we hit the road...right into a fairly strong head wind. In addition to the wind, the road was rather rolling with a few pretty big hills thrown in for good measure.
As usual, the scenery was amazing! And we hit a huge milestone today: our first thousand miles! It was pretty exciting. We stopped and high-fived and toasted our water bottles. Then as a joke, April said, "To our next thousand miles, and our next thousand, and the next, and the next..."
Suddenly it wasn't quite so fun ;-)
The wind was really taking its toll on both of us. Even on the downhills, sometimes we wouldn't make it over 10 mph! April wasn't sure how much longer she could go or if we could even make it to Orange Acres. But at last the wind stopped. Unfortunately, by that time we were both so tired, it almost felt like it was still there!
As we rode on, we passed through the National Bison Range and saw a bunch of bison out in the fields. We also spotted a wildfire up in the hills. There were three or four aircraft flying around the smoke. Suddenly, one swooped down low and dumped a bunch of red fire retardant. It was pretty cool to see. Then as we rode on, we came to a helicopter that was filling a huge bucket in a lake by the road and flying up and dumping it on the fire!
The last three miles to Orange Acres was slightly uphill, but we finally arrived! We were greeted by six enthusiastic dogs of various sizes, and no people. A little nervous about the dogs, though they seemed friendly, we just kind of stayed on our bikes and hoped all the barking would bring out Jeff, the guy in charge (according to the web site).
Eventually, someone did come out. They said "Hello, Jeff's not here right now, but let me go get Rick." And off he went. Soon Rick appeared and introduced himself and gave us the tour.
Orange Acres, it turns out, is part temporary housing, part hostel, and part travellers shelter. It sits behind Orange Acres used car lot and has a variety of housing from a big barn, to a mobile home trailer, to shacks made from old pallet pieces. The barn serves as kind of the community center with showers, laundry, kitchen, computers, and TV's on the main floor, and the group bunk room on the upper level.
Outside there was a garden, some free range chickens, pigmy goats, and of course the dogs. There were quite a few people staying there and even a couple from France. Rick explained that Jeff's vision was to eventually have quite a few cabins available so more people could be housed.
We went to the kitchen, made our dinner, and met some of the other people that were staying there. Many were between jobs and looking for work. Orange Acres was allowing them get back on their feet. After we were done eating, Jeff arrived and introduced himself. He was younger than we expected and he obviously has a heart for helping people. He's got a giving spirit and a good heart and makes a great host.
Some of our water bottles are leaking around the lid, so I bought some silicone to try and make a seal. We'll see how it goes...
All in all, Orange Acres wasn't what we expected, but we think it has lots of potential. We got to have a warm meal, take showers, stay in one half of a trailer on a double thick mattress (it was like sleeping on a giant pillow!), all for free!
And now it's time to go snuggle up in our cozy little bed and say good night. Thanks for reading!