I really appreciate my rest days: it’s not only a break for my legs but my bottom too. I usually have some admin stuff to catch up on so I enjoy not having to write about anything.
But my break in Missoula is simply exceptional. I am staying at a “double” host: Debbie, who’s a friend of a friend, and Bruce, who is THE WarmShowers host of Missoula whom I have also contacted.
Debbie and her parents, Julie and Tom, help me realise my dream and take me to the Glacier National Park. Not only is this place beautiful but also full of excitement: on our last stop we accidentally get locked out of the car. With no network and no human habitations in sight, I instinctively hail a car and ask the driver to take me to the nearest ranger station. My instincts might have been right, except that I haven’t thought it through: I don’t have Debbie’s registration plate number, I don’t know what her insurance company is, how much she is willing to pay for the rescue operation neither what even the make of the car is. In the end, no need to call the firemen nor the insurance: a park ranger has all the necessary tools to break into the car…
On Monday, I pay the Adventure Cycling Association a second visit. They give out free ice-cream to all the passing bikers and since it’s the ONLY reason that I’m doing this tour in the first place, I go back for more.
4th of July come, I’m at my new host’s – Trevor - who lets me hang out with him and his friends at the afternoon barbeque. I also take my bike for a spin to the local airport for I need some bear spray and sunscreen lotion. Why the airport? Well, since I’m not spending any money I need to, somehow, get these items for free. Can there be a better place to dumpster-dive for them than at the airport security? We know all the drill: all container bigger than 100ml must be disposed of. I’m in luck and manage to dig out some sunscreen and body lotion. No bear spray though: today being a bank holiday, the traffic is slow and there’s very little trash.
I leave the airport when a police officer comes running after me:
“Ma’am, ma’am! You cannot be digging through the trash at the airport!”
“But I’ve asked…?!”
“You have not done anything wrong but it’s due to liability issues.”
Even though I really can’t see how I could hold the airport liable for any issues related to the items I dug *myself* out of garbage, I am not going to argue with the police. I start telling him about my trip instead, about the what and the why of my endeavour and 15 minutes later he is fetching me himself some bear spray from his office.
And then Wednesday comes and I can finally go to the community bike shop “Free Cycles” to change my gears. One of the fellow cyclists at Bruce’s has taken a look at them and said it was no wonder I cried every time there was a hill in sight. Following his suggestion, I ask the “Free Cycles” team for help change the triple. It’s Erik who takes me and my sorry bike under his wings and helps (= does most of the work) with the maintenance. It’s basically like Christmas, only better: I get a new triple, new pedals, shoes clip-ons and a tyre, to go. And an ice-scream scone!
I finish off my Missoula experience by spending the last night in a retro van, courtesy of yet another wonderful WarmShowers member: Bruce. The night is tumultuous: there’s a 5.8 magnitude earthquake just miles north of the city. People get woken up as far as in Idaho and California. I, on the other hand, sleep through it like a baby. I’m gutted to have missed my first chance at an earthquake - the strongest in 12 years – but on the bright side, I think I can officially call my sleeping issues… RESOLVED.
Very important point of my stay in Missoula: I managed to moneylessly get my phone repaired! I have not mentioned it before, but two weeks into my trip someone offered to take a photo of me and a friend and… BAM! They dropped my phone and cracked the screen! They offered to pay for half of it but since I am not spending ANY money, unless for a medical emergency, it was not of much help. The phone was still working after all… Until just recently, when it started to die. I talked about it to Bruce, my first host, explaining that I was looking for someone willing to trade a screen replacement service for a GoPro-like camera that I bought for the trip and… he was interested!
The moneyless quest continues!