Day 10: Fairview to Lambert, Montana
The lightening storm was long gone when we awoke to a perfect day for cycling. There was a cool breeze, and the temperature would climb no higher than about 80 degrees. We cleaned up the camper, loaded gear onto the bikes and thanked our generous host, Mr. Lebsock, who was clearing brush in preparation for the wedding of one of his daughters this Friday. Taking care of wandering cyclists must have been an annoying distraction from the preparation for this big family event, and I’m sure he thought my attempt to cycle 1,700 miles to the Pacific Ocean with my two young children was ludicrous. But he hid his judgment and politely wished us well on our journey.
Before cycling out of Fairview, we returned to the café where we had eaten dinner. Letty Villarreal, a kind-hearted woman who runs the café, greeted us as old friends and gave me a discount on our breakfast. As we rode out of town, we passed Mr. Larkin, who, with his wife Jennifer, had told us about the café the day before. He waved with a smile and wished us good luck. In less than 24 hours, I already felt at home and welcome in this friendly town.
We were on the road for 8 hours today, although that included a lunch break in Sidney, MT and frequent stops to send photos of roadkill to Professor Shilling at UC Davis. We sent 22 photos, mostly of dead birds, but there were also two deer, a snake, a cat and what looked like a badger. The route from Sidney to Lambert included a series of long climbs, and my legs protested at the amount of weight on the bike. With four loaded panniers, a handlebar bag, Saya on the trailer cycle and a packed bike trailer, each pedal stroke up the hills was a challenge, and progress was slow. But Sho and Saya didn’t mind, filling the hours with duets and entertaining, stream-of-consciousness commentary. Saya told me, “Daddy, I just saw Nature’s Mother! She was on a bicycle and dressed just like me.” She also delivered an extended monologue about the virtues of worms. “Even though they are yucky, they actually help trees grow by digging in the dirt. And we all need trees to breathe.”
Near the end of the afternoon, as we were cycling at a crawl up one of those long inclines, a truck pulled beside us. Ken Torgerson was driving, and his wife Pat was in the passenger seat. She leaned out the window with a concerned look and asked where we planned to sleep that night. I said, “In Lambert, wherever I can find an appropriate place to set up our tent.” Ken and Pat live in Lambert, and they offered us a place to sleep in the church basement near their home. I was happy to accept her offer, especially when she mentioned that they had leftover roast beef, potatoes and peach cobbler. When we pedaled into Lambert – a town with perhaps 150 residents – at 6:30 p.m., the couple was waiting for us. As they showed us the church, Pat mentioned that Lambert used to be the poorest school district in Montana. But after the oil boom, it’s now one of the richest. “They’re pouring lots of money into our high school. The teachers used to live in temporary trailers, but now they have real houses.” I gave the Torgersons a card with my blog info and promised to post a photo of them. Pat said they don’t use the Internet but thanked me anyway.
There is no cell phone service in Lambert, but the local bar has an Internet connection, which I used to post this blog. It will take nearly a week for us to reach the next major town (Lewistown), and I don’t know when I’ll next have a connection. So be patient with me if you don’t see any blogs over the next couple days.
Here are some pics:
The camper we slept in. Luxury!
Sho and Saya's thank you note to the Lebsock family
Sho and Saya with Letty Villarreal
Saya taking photo for the roadkill project
With Ken and Pat Torgerson in Lambert, MT