Hill Ranch Oasis overnight was the highlight of the day, and a crowning stay of the trip so far.
Delores and Phil Hill opened their home as a BnB 16 years ago with the theme "Where Friends are Family". Delores said that she and Mr. Hill, whom had recently passed in January, simply loved people and enjoyed getting to know their guests.
Well as you can imagine, Delores and her family (Mike and Gala) were superior hosts and they indeed make you feel like family.
As it turned out, I was the only guest for their five room BnB in their basement. Each room was themed and I chose the Elk room for the night. After a bit of rest time in a welcoming recliner, I went upstairs to have dinner. The table was spread with steak, vegetable stir-fry, mushrooms, salad and ultimately ice cream for desert. After we said grace, I feasted. Delicious.
At dinner I met Elliott and Connie Sue, who were invited guests for dinner. Elliott and his family had been drilling in an area nearby (20 miles I think) since 1941. Much of the crew and others associated with his endeavors often stay with the Hills. Unfortunately, the well they had been working on turned up dry that day. That was an immense amount of work to end up dry...for nothing. I am sure it had to be a huge disappointment, but you would never know that by his gregarious, friendly nature. During and after dinner we sat around and talked about a wide variety of topics. A much more enjoyable evening than sleeping in my tent.
After dinner, I retired to the basement where I caught up on some route map plans and read "Olive Kitteridge" under the watchful eyes of some very large deer mounts on the walls and one gape-mouthed bear rug on the floor. One deer had, by my count, 15 points.
The Hill Ranch runs angus beef cattle as well as a large herd of sheep, but this is also great area for hunters of mule, whitetail deer, elk, antelope and prairie dog.
After a restful night of sleep in the Elk room, we enjoyed an immense stack of pancakes, bacon and cups full of coffee. If I had one more serving, I would have to return to the Elk room for a nap. I seriously considered it. I did not, however, and it was time to head to Jordan, MT.
After we said our good-byes, Gala escorted me out and two border collies came around to make sure I got off safely.
The route today was a short 52 miles. It was either stop in Jordan or make it about a 120 mile day to Circle, MT. Easy choice. It was warm this morning, as I started the day wearing my short-sleeved South Africa kit. It got hot quick, so I was grateful to retire early today. I spent most of the afternoon at the Hilltop Cafe staying out of the heat. As it cools down, and it will cool down quickly, I will set up camp under a cottonwood tree at a local campground.
I did take advantage of the time to do a bit more thorough bike maintenance. Everyday I check the basics, tire pressure, chain lube, etc. Today I gave it a more thorough checkup, adjusting the brakes (and they needed it), dérailleur alignment, tightening the cables, bolts, screws etc. The rear tire is already showing heavy wear under the load, so I will rotate them in a week. I plan to take it to a shop in Fargo for a more professional checkup. (For those that are wondering, I do have a spare tire).
Tomorrow will be another relatively short 68 mile day to Circle, MT. It will be hot, so that will be fine.
This just in, Montana is one big state.