Saturday, August 1, 2015

Day 17. Jordan, MT to Circle, MT

By the time I packed everything up, it was 6:30am when I left Jordan, MT.  Frankly, I was ready to depart and move on. The people in town weren't very friendly, quite a contrast to what I had previously experienced.  Whether it was the cafe where I ate and enjoyed some pie and ice cream, or the grocery where I picked up some water and fruit, or the unsuccessful attempts to use their laundry mat, I seemed to be annoying people. It was Friday, and I thought people would be in a good mood, but they seemed to be in a less than pleasant state of mind.  Perhaps it was the weather, it is certainly hot.   Perhaps it was simply the aforementioned need for me to wash my offensive clothes. Regardless, it was time to move on. 

With the dry, arid climate, the temperature here changes dramatically.  I left with temps in the high 50's, wearing arm warmers for the first several hours. It warmed up quickly though, with the heat rising to 90's in the afternoon.  

The route included many rollers today.  Rollers can be fun and the most enjoyable of rides as you gain speed during the decline, maintain the speed up the hill and power over the top of the hill, catching acceleration on the downhill again. These, however,  were not those rollers.  Perhaps I was not in the mood, or perhaps I did not have the strength.  Regardless, they were reasonably enjoyable in morning with some work up hill for a bit, followed by the relief of coasting downhill , in short intervals.  

The landscape was much like the previous days during the first part of the ride, with the views dominated by rolling terrain, harsh shrubs, buttes and domes. Black and red angus were the primary residents of this area. At about the 20 mile mark, into a bit harder climbs, much of the nearby land was cliffs and colorful striated small canyons that had been carved many years ago. They were striking.   As I cycled further, the sheep population grew.  At one of my break stops by the Big Dry Creek, I enjoyed watching and hearing the bleating cries and interactions of the ewes and their lambs.   Some of the lambs were quite whiny children, to the point of annoyance.   

There were no towns or service areas between Jordan and Circle, so I had packed extra water and food for the trip, with a plan to stop often along the way.  My favorite part of the breaks is the absolute quiet.  Then you realize it is not quiet, with the wind rustling the grass, the chirps and calls of the birds, the chatter of some insects and perhaps a distant bellow of a cow. It is not so silent, but the air is certainly filled with the sounds of silence.   Peaceful. Solitude.

My favorite stop occurred early in the ride, when I was scanning the horizons with my Bushnells. I spotted a fox stalking through the fields, a grazing herd of antelope who had spotted me before I spotted them, along with a pair of falcons perched high on the telephone poles. 

The road today was rough, with the expansion cracks much deeper, jarring with bicycle with a "ka-thunk" every few yards or so. Some of them rattled my teeth. After about 50 miles of that, it starts to get under your skin, in more than one way. Enough complaining though, because the end of the ride smoothed out and the winds picked up at my back and shuttled me into Circle, MT

This, like many of miles before, is hard-living area.  The historical signs I read as I entered the city said as much. It is hard work making a living in this area, but many have been successful.  The population in the McCone county works out to about 1 person for every 1 1/2 sq miles, with cows out-numbering people about 20-1.  That pretty well describes the area.  

Tonight I am camping an RV park, where I hope to find a shade tree.  Tomorrow is through Glendive (where I plan to have lunch) before ending up in Wibaux, MT.