Greg’s Travelogue

This is the story of our trip from Spokane back to our (mostly) smoke-free Minnesota home. Only a small portion of this travelogue involves the actual riding of a bicycle, but I’ll try my damnedest to make some kind of connection between each of my pictures and cycling — no matter how specious that connection may be.

Day One:

We got a late start, which is something I’ve come to expect every time we leave Spokane because The Feeshko is slow to pack and it takes her a long time to say goodbye to her parents, her brother, her three sisters, her nieces and nephews, and all the family pets. For obvious reasons, it took even longer this time.

The smoke followed us eastward all afternoon. For some reason I thought we would escape most of it once we crossed Lookout Pass on the Idaho-Montana border. I mean, smoke can’t go over a mountain range . . . can it?

THE PICTURE: The orange sun (color corrected again courtesy of Samsung Galaxy) setting above the distant hills and smoky sky outside of Butte, Montana.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: A few miles back, I did see a pair of cycle tourists on that little road that runs alongside Interstate 90.

We spent the night in Butte-iful Butte. Have you ever slept in your car in a WalMart parking lot before? Lot’s of people do it. The Feeshko and I have done it too, and we considered doing it again tonight for Covid reasons. But we were just too tired. We broke down and got a motel room and were very impressed with the anti-covid precautions that were taken at the LaQuinta Inn.

Butte is an interesting old copper mining town sunk in a bowl with mountains all around. The city claims that its downtown area is the largest National Historic District in the U.S. I’ve been there before, but not this time. Sorry, no pics.

Day Two:

This is one of the pictures that was actually taken while biking. It shows the sunrise above the mountains east of Butte. I think my phone camera actually allowed a bit of orangeishness to show through. The temperature was a brisk 39-degrees (F) and I did not bring enough warm clothing to ride more than a couple miles.

A couple miles was enough to get me back to Joe’s Pasty Shop. I forgot to take a picture of it last night. As a couple of transplanted Yoopers, The Feeshko and I are big fans of pasties and this is the only place outside of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where I know I can get them.

Yes, we did get pasties from Joe’s the previous night and took them back to the La Quinta for voracious consumption. We had ordered them from the road for pickup and, knowing they closed a half-hour before we could get there, we paid in advance and asked them to leave the pasties outside the door for us. To our surprise, the owner and his wife waited for us to arrive and they were as friendly as can be, which added to our very positive pasty experience.

We got back on the road. We drove and drove a long time before our next stop which was about 40 miles east of Montana’s largest city, Billings. The Feeshko will not use a restroom at a gas station, so we use state rest areas for that purpose. This one is probably our favorite I-94 & I-90 rest area between St. Paul and Spokane. It has a short hiking trail up into a juniper forest with great views. Diggity and I took advantage of the outdoor facilities while The Feeshko used the indoor facilities.

THE PICTURE: Nobody else was up there, so I let Diggity run free for a while. He loves hiking trails.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: I sure wished I had my mountain bike here.

THE PICTURE: I’m not afraid of no rattlesnakes.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: I saw a rattlesnake once while on a bike tour.

THE PICTURE: The Feeshko hobbles back to the car on her crutches. The sign shows we are near the confluence of two very scenic rivers — the Yellowstone and the Bighorn — but neither one of them are visible from here.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: The Reckless Mr. Bing Bong is attached to the back of our van.

A few more hours of driving brought us to another one of my favorite places on this earth.

THE PICTURE: The descent into the Theodore Roosevelt National Park through my bug splattered windshield.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: I did ride through here on one of my bike tours a few years ago.

THE PICTURE: While The Feeshko spent some time at the visitor center and gift shop, Diggity and I did our thing on a trail.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: At first I thought it would be a cool place to do some single-track biking, I soon came to realize that would be impossible.

THE PICTURE: More scenery from the trail.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: I would like to see my bike on the top of that mesa.

THE PICTURE: I’m smiling because of the badlands scenery.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: That’s the same smile I have all day when riding my bike.

THE PICTURE: Diggity made it back out of the canyon and he wanted some kind of documentation of being here.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: Somewhere in my journals, I have a picture of ME and my bike in the same place after wanting some kind of documentation of being here.

THE PICTURE: A bison deposit bigger than my shoe.
THE SPECIOUS BICYCLING CONNECTION: I’m sure glad I didn’t run over such a thing while riding my bike.

From Teddy Roosevelt’s park it was only another 30 miles to Dickinson, North Dakota. We took another chance on a motel, with our newfound confidence in the La Quinta Hotel chain. I know North Dakota is very unpopulated and very rural, but that state seems to have no respect for the Corona Virus. It was clean, but the staff wore no masks and almost none of the guests did either. They even served pizza, buffet-style, this evening for everybody to help themselves. There must have been fifty pizza boxes there. It all looked delicious but we decided to pass after seeing all those hands and un-masked faces so close to it.

I took a little ride around Dickinson in the early evening in search of an arch or two. The only thing I could find was that sideways arch of the “C” on that Cenex gas station sign.

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

6 response to "Greg’s Travelogue"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: September 18, 2020

    I especially enjoyed the sideways arch in the “C” of Cenex. I bet Scott feels the same way!

    • By: gregblood Posted: September 18, 2020

      Thanks Bill. I liked quite a number of my pictures for aesthetic reasons, but I definitely got the most fulfillment in finally finding that sideways arch. I truly wish I could have found some more prominent arches, but Dickinson just doesn’t have them. I just hope Scott doesn’t disqualify my arch for being sideways.

  2. By: Suzanne Posted: September 19, 2020

    Nice series of pictures! Maybe you weren’t on your bike, but your bike was on your van. A traveling bike travelogue certainly qualifies. Anyway, I’m glad you posted it!

  3. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: September 19, 2020

    Pasty makers and eaters are the nicest of people. Enjoyed the road trip.

  4. By: The Navigator Posted: September 19, 2020

    Definitely looking like autumn in those pics. Glad you made it home safely (bar the 14-day virus incubation period). So what is a pasty like there? The pasties here SOUND like something I’d like to eat, but I’ve never found one that wasn’t kinda soggy and gross (pastry shell with carrot, onion, pea, etc mix inside). What characteristics does a good MI, MN or ND pasty have?

    • By: gregblood Posted: September 20, 2020

      My problem with the Butte pasties is, and always has been, that they use little chunks of steak instead of ground meat. Also, the crust is a little too thick and they’re not spiced very well. AND, they do not use rutabaga, which I consider to be the secret ingredient of a great pasty.

      The best pasties are made in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there can be no doubt about that. U.P. pasties are a simple mix of ground meat, potatoes, rutabaga, onion, and spices in a lard-based pie crust. They are never soggy and gross. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Nevertheless, a Butte pasty is better than no pasty at all.

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