Medora to Billings (“Here Comes the Sun”)

Billings, Montana
October 4, 2014

Dear Family & Friends:

I checked out of the hotel in Medora at 9 am. The temperature was 32 F. My bike refused to start, and I drained the battery trying to get it running. This was a protest over the fact I left the bike out in the open in this arctic zone the entire night. The first person I asked had jumper cables, and the bike started immediately.

The sun was out and the sky was clear, blue and cloudless. But, the air was frigid cold and the wind was unrelenting. The ride West on Highway 94 was tough, and I stopped every 40 miles to thaw out. My clothing consisted of the following, from the bottom up: socks & tennis shoes; two layers of pants; a long sleeve shirt, wrapped in a heavy green sweatshirt, wrapped in a light jacket, wrapped in a heavy down jacket; two layers of gloves; and a head cover inside my helmet.

I finally crossed the border into Montana. This was a joyous moment. By the time I reached Miles, Montana, the sun was directly overhead and I began to feel warmer. The wind didn’t let up, but it was nice to stop shivering.

Putting aside the hissy-fit in the morning, my bike has performed great. The engine purrs like a kitten, and, because of its size and weight, the bike stands its ground pretty well when buffeted by winds and passing trucks. I couldn’t be happier.

As I rode further Southwest towards Billings, the weather steadily improved. Even the wind abated a bit. For the first time, I really enjoyed the ride. The improving weather allowed me to crank up the speed to 75-mph, which was a big morale booster as I approached my destination faster.

I’m sure the weather is in full War Council mode, plotting the next attack, perhaps a cyclone or typhoon. But, not to worry, we’re ready for anything that comes our way. It can’t get much worse than the last few days.

I arrived in Billings around 6 pm and checked in to the Best Western Hotel in downtown Billings. I had dinner at Jake’s Steakhouse. Fabulous ribeye steak dinner. Here’s the capper for the day: when I asked for the bill, I was told the bill was paid by some fellow diners who preferred to remain anonymous. I have no idea why these wonderful people paid my bill. Perhaps, they took pity on me because the road wear & tear was so obvious. I was wearing my green University of Oregon sweatshirt in honor of my Saintly, departed Mom. She applied to the University of Oregon upon graduation from Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. She was accepted, but could not attend any college or university because, as she told me, ” I didn’t have two pennies to rub together.” I have never forgotten that statement, which broke my heart. Perhaps these Jake’s benefactors were sending me a message and gift from my dear Mom.

As for my next destination, I had hoped to ride through Yellowstone National Park, but the temperature this morning in the Park was 25 F. I’ll plan to ride West to Bozeman and Butte, and then drop down South into Idaho. The temperature in Billings right now is 49 F and is expected to reach a high of 70 F. Yippee!

The bike started right up, so I guess I’m forgiven from yesterday in Medora.

Bill

montana montana2