I wake up around ten in the morning, a bit late because I was so mentally tired after the deer fiasco the night before. I get out of the tent and start the stove to boil some water. While the water is boiling, (takes a while because it’s so cold) I decided to explore the surroundings. I find a bunch of mushrooms, some edible, and decide to pick some to make for dinner the next night. I also find the reason for the “loud running water” sound I heard the night before and the reason for why everything was so wet – I was camped about a hundred feet from a waterfall.
I return to camp and the water is boiling. I make myself some hot tea and oatmeal. With breakfast out of the way, I start packing up all my gear and loading it on the bike. Half an hour later the bike is loaded up and I am ready to go. There is only one problem – the way I parked the bike the night before, so as to be more hidden, made it very difficult to get the bike out. The big Beemer was stuck between a hill to the rear (there is no pushing this beast up the hill) and a fire pit to the left. Backing out the bike the way I drove it in is not an option. I mount the bike determined to turn it around. After ten minutes of back and forth, abusing my clutch and a ton of effort, I make some progress but the bike is still not turned around. One more try and suddenly, my left foot slips on the wet ground and down she goes…
Now I am standing before a fully loaded, heavy as can get, bike. Before taking off on this trip I did practice picking up the bike on the lawn and was somewhat successful. The reason I say somewhat is because it is possible to pick up this bike, but it will take everything you have and then some to pick it up. On top of that, you have to unload the bike because all the gear makes it very top heavy and significantly more difficult (read: nearly impossible) to pick it up. I start the arduous task of unloading the bike. With everything off the bike I grab onto the left handlebar and lift with all my strength. Finally, the bike is upright and I get lucky because in the process of dropping and lifting it back up, the bike cleared the fire pit and the bike is now pointing downhill. I carefully ride it out to the road and load up all the gear – I am finally ready to get on the road!
My ride through Montana is uneventful and I am soon about 20 miles from Glacier National park. I take a side road that is supposed to lead me to the local dam. It’s a great little road – very twisty with great pavement. I stop at the dam to take some pictures. Since the weather is gloomy, there is only one woman at the dam. She introduces herself to me as Savannah and would later go on to tell me that her brother was also named after a geographical location. (the actual name escapes me) According to Savannah, her mother literally threw darts at a map to pick out names.
For Savannah, coming out to the dam on the twisty road is a daily ritual, because that is usually the only way her two year old son would fall asleep. I see that she is grasping a scratch-off lottery ticket in her left.
“Any luck?” I inquire.
“Don’t know.” she replies, “I always get one before coming up here and then scratch it off right before I head home,” implying that the view of the dam, the windy road and a small glimmer of hope of a more prosperous life, if she get lucky, is what she really comes here for.
I wish her luck and inquire about my camping options in Glacier park. She looks at me as if I am a crazy for camping out in such cold temperatures and tells me that “[she] doesn’t want to read about another tourist being eaten by bears.” She tells me that I should head to the local bar, “Packer’s roost,” and ask for the owner; he should be able to tell me about lodging options around these parts. Before we say our goodbyes, she asks if she can take a picture of me with her phone.
I am back on the bike and off to the local bar that Savannah mentioned. I get there and it is one of those trucker bars that most of us see on the side of the highway but don’t ever go inside. (or at least I don’t) I go inside and ask the lady at the counter for the owner. Turns out that she is his wife and she informs me, in an unhappy voice, that he is no longer available today. I tell her about Savannah and ask about local camp sites. She responds that going into the park is a bad idea due to bears and poor weather. Instead, she tells me that I am more than welcome to set up my tent in the backyard of the bar. The only other person that lives back there is Tom, the bar swamper, (the guy who cleans the bar) and he is a friendly fellow. “Camping at a trucker bar, well this will be a first,” I think to myself. I thank her for the offer and agree.
With the help of one of the bar patrons I get the gate to the backyard opened and ride my bike in. With the tent set up, I go inside to have some clam chowder at the bar. Afterwards, I take some pictures of the bar and meet up with the swamper, Tom. He lives in a tiny trailer in the backyard of the bar, which he tells me is an upgrade from living in his truck for a number of years. I also note that he has a roughly forty inch LCD tv in his trailer which is taking up about a third of the trailer, lengthwise. It reminds me of my roommate Ryan and his ridiculously large (60”) TV in the relatively small living room. As far as the proportions go, I think Tom has Ryan beat, as he has to sit about two feet away from his TV.
After a long day I crawl into my sleeping bag and fall asleep to the smell and noise of the local bar.