This morning, it finally happened. The cold weather and high altitude combined got the temperature below freezing, and we woke up with ice on the outside of our tent. ICE!
Needless to say, I did NOT want to get out of my sleeping bag.
Nathan got up first and went outside to make oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast. I stayed in the tent and rolled up our sleeping bags and sleeping pads, trying to put off actually stepping out of the tent as long as possible - even though I had to go to the bathroom!
Finally I put on all the layers I could find and went outside. And brrr was it cold. We could see our breath! By the time we were done with breakfast our fingers and toes were really, really cold. We finished packing up and headed out, because we knew we weren't going to get warm until we stared riding.
Our first 10 miles were either at or above the clouds. It was totally breathtaking. I wish I had stopped to take a quick video now, but I didn't. The clouds were all around us, and the mountains were above us, and it was awesome, in the truest sense of the word. We did take a video a little while later though, after the clouds had lifted. It's really cool too. :-)
After 15 miles, we arrived in Wisdom, MT and stopped at a little diner for another meal. In the parking lot, a lady looked at us and exclaimed "You made it!". I think she must've passed us in her car earlier in the morning.
I ordered pancakes and eggs over easy because breakfast is my favorite meal, and Nathan ordered a hamburger with their "famous" sweet potato fries. And, as we've come to expect from small-town diners, it was delicious as usual.
Then we bought some super expensive groceries from the only grocery store in town (we've also come to expect small towns to have really expensive grocery stores), and continued heading south.
It was around noon now, and the sun was bright and hot. So hot, that I was sweating and needed to change clothes. The only thing for miles around were fields with cows in them, so I waited until we couldn't see any cars coming in either direction and I changed my shirt right there on the side of the road!
So now I've peed on the side of the road (back in the desert in Washington) and changed clothes on the side of the road - ha!
We had two more mountain passes to do today, so we decided to follow the same eating routine as we had yesterday, and we stopped about 20 miles out from the first pass in the town of Jackson, MT. When we got there, this long line of cars was coming towards us down the main road. I thought it must be a funeral. But as they got closer, I realized it wasn't a funeral.
It was actually a huge, old car convention/road trip. There must've been 100 cars. My dad would've loved it! One of the first cars had a big sticker on the windshield that said "Mustangs Across America", so I thought they must all be Mustangs. Nathan informed me later that I seriously don't know my cars, because they were definitely NOT all Mustangs. By that time though, I had already taken a video and said several times they I thought they were all Mustangs. It's funny to watch it now knowing that I'm wrong and just embarrassing myself - haha. But the cars were cool, and since no one else was out on the street, it felt a little like our own personal parade. :-) Here's my "embarrassing" video.
After all the cars went by, a man on the porch of a nearby bar said "what took you so long?". I didn't know who he was, but Nathan said he had talked with him at the restaurant we ate at in Wisdom. We walked up to the porch, and sat down with him to have our pre-mountain-pass meal. He was really nice, and we talked about the mountains, the weather, and wild animals.
Nathan and I split one of the best sausage and cheese sandwiches I've ever had and a coffee.
He waved goodbye to us as we left and wished us well on the passes.
These passes were quite a bit smaller than the ones we did yesterday. They were each only a mile or two long, and the elevation gain was negligible enough (between 500-1,000 feet) that there wasn't even a sign at the top marking the pass. Here's a view from about half-way up one pass. As you can see, it's definitely not a huge climb compared to some other Rocky Mountain passes. The fact that we can take a picture of it is pretty telling. :-)
As we rode down the hill after the 2nd pass, the realization of what Nathan and I are doing (biking across the country) hit me again. I just couldn't believe we were actually doing it! I was filled with so much energy and excitement, I wanted to jump off my bike, run around, and just scream with joy! I felt wild, free, and very alive. The view was beautiful, and we were going super fast. We actually hit our new top speeds of the trip: Nathan got up to 43, and I got up to 42.
The mountains are exhilarating and marvelous, and I am so happy to be married to a man who is so adventurous and such a risk-taker. I don't know what is ahead for us or what we'll do after this trip is over, but I am so excited for it none the less!
Because the passes were so relatively small, we were able to make it over the 2nd one sooner than we thought, and because of that, we were able to make it all the way to the town of Dillon, MT. This was a good thing, because there is nothing between Jackson and Dillon, so if we didn't make it to Dillon, we'd just have to camp on the side of the road, and we didn't really want to do that.
We happily arrived in Dillon around 6:30pm and started looking for a place to stay. Along the way we saw an interesting sign on the road.
We ended up meeting the pastor of the local Presbyterian church in Dillon, and he said we were more than welcome to camp on the church's lawn. He was a super nice guy, and his wife gave us a bunch of homemade zucchini bread! We told them all about our travels, and they told us all about theirs. They are a really cool family.
After Nathan took some artistic pictures of our tent in the dark, we called it a night.
It had been a long day, and in addition to hitting new top speeds, we hit a new daily mileage record of 80 miles!! That is incredible, especially in light of the fact that we had done 4 mountain passes in the past 2 days. It's pretty amazing the things we can do that we didn't think we could. The human body really is pretty cool.