The photographer Robert Adams once imparted a set of guidelines for the aspiring artist: What did you do? Did you do it successfully? Was it worth doing? As I sit here back in Brooklyn, wondering what my next move is(by that I mean that while in the immediate sense my course is set, the future is dark and somewhat foreboding), I am happy to reflect upon the last few months. My goals with this trip were quite simple: Take pictures; ride my bike on a long journey. It was as simple as that. Perhaps in a more profound sense I needed to learn something about myself, but ultimately I wanted to start something and finish it. Not that what I did was all that special, after all, I met people on the road who were traveling much farther for much longer. I suppose I needed to prove something to myself.
Through much of my trip my cell phone didn’t work and I was ecstatic. For days on end I read no newspapers, saw no television and barely had a clue to what was happening in the world. What a relief not to be bombarded incessantly with advertising, media hype, political baloney, Internet Spam and all the rest of it. The only thing I had to worry about was water, food, where to rest my head for the night, and where my next picture would be. I think my mileage tally was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 miles. Here are some pics of what I saw along the way:
For you touring bicyclists out there, these are the most scenic roads that I took, beginning with:
1) Route 83 between Swan lake and Salmon lake, especially south of Seeley lake. Extraordinary stretch, possibly the most beautiful stretch of road in America.
2) Going to the Sun Road in Glacier Park.
3) Route 191 going north out of West Yellowstone. The last 3rd of this route, south of Bozeman is spectacular, with anglers galore and a class 4 rapid on the Gallatin River.
4) Route 200 between Paradise Montana and Clark Fork Idaho. Very deserted stretch of road. Fascinating little towns along the way like Perma(just one guy and a store) and Clark Fork which reminds me of the town in the TV show “Northern Exposure”.
5) Route 84 between Bozeman and Norris Montana. For a stretch it follows the Madison River through one of the most extraordinary wetlands in America. Paradise for bird watchers.
6) Route 1 between Anaconda and Philipsburg Montana. After I left Butte on July 13th 2010 I was greeted by a ferocious Chinook wind that slowed my progress down to about three miles an hour even though I was riding on flat road. I passed through Anaconda (before which I was greeted by this enormous smelter and a desolate landscape which reminded me of Mordor from the Lord of the Rings) before I decided to camp on the side of the road because of the relentless winds. It was freezing that night. The next day my fortunes changed and I was greeted by the Pintlar Wilderness Area and an amazing descent down a mountain pass through it. I ended up in the town of Philipsburg Montana, which resembled a Confederate Museum. I regret not spending more time in Philipsburg.
I should also mention that my luck in terms of the weather and for the most part mechanical issues was quite good. I am hoping that the next time I go on one of these trips I’ll be able to afford a few more hotels and better meals. Convenience store food is wretched so I would plan a few mail drops along the way. An alternative to motels is to hook up with couchsurf.com. More to follow on this trip wrap-up.