St Ignatius to Florence MT – 19th July 2021
Ok the feedback on the sleeping arrangements last night.. well sweaty is my only comment, I hope the sheets and sleeping bags get washed between stays!
Due to this I am up really early, I take myself over to the greenhouse to get a coffee and on the way bump in to another guest who is staying in one of the several ‘glamping’ tents Greg has set up on the property. I mention to the guy re the shower being cold, he tells me I need to switch on the gas and start the boiler, there should be information on a sheet in my ‘house’… nope no info at all, but am grateful for the heads up so I get my gear and go to try it out. There is indeed a huge gas bottle and boiler around the rear of the porta-shower. I turn on the gas and press the ignition switch on the boiler and it fires up… great. I go in the cubicle and start the shower, yes it is running hot…. get myself ready and am just about to step into the shower when the water hits my foot and it’s cold!!! GRRRR… I wrap myself in a towel and take a look behind the shower. It seems the gas has run out, I mean it could only happen to me, right.
Well, I’ll just have to smell today… I pack up the bike and then head up to the main house to say goodbye. Greg answers the door with a big dog, not sure what breed, but very friendly. Anyway I mention re the gas running out, he doesn’t seem very bothered, but thanks me anyway. I also ask if the ‘bunkhouse’ is a project and he says oh yes, so I do say he might want to consider some curtains, especially for the female guests, he laughs and agrees. So it is a quick thank you and Bibi… I am very grateful to have had somewhere to stay, but I hope the bunkhouse does get finished soon.
As I’m leaving I take the opportunity to try and get some photos of the mountains surrounding us, Montana is known for being mountainous and due to the haze it has been really difficult to get a clear photograph
Hazy but beautiful still… I also see this in the distance
Ha! the water towers and coming thick and fast now folks… and just as I pack away the camera ready to set off I am passed by this
I quickly manage to get the camera back out and get this quick snap… only my second Amish, I presume.
Yesterday as I passed through St Ignatius
I saw that there is an old ‘Indian Mission’ here, I most definitely would like to take a look at that so make it my first port of call today, and what an interesting one it is too
I think given the recent discoveries and controversy surrounding the Catholic Church and Canadian Nuns, in particular, made this visit so very much more poignant, making me think are they considering searching the area to see if there are indeed any First Nation children buried here too? I was also struck by the obvious subjugation of the native language and culture, so reminiscent of Irish history and many other colonised peoples, the use of English names in particular is so very prevalent here. The final point for me is the two life sized paintings inside the church, the male model is named but the woman is not, how very unsurprising… yet another example of where female herstory has been erased. I also notice in the ‘writings’ that a couple of the buildings had burnt down, is that mysteriously? I don’t know, but it would be hardly surprising if it was, again who knows what went on back in those early days?
So where to next? I am not sure, I think I will head down to the next large town, Missoula, get some breakfast and check out my options.
On the way I stop for petrol in Arlee
Isn’t it great to see the signage in the native language too, very impressed with that and as I am filing up with petrol I see this street across the way
I find somewhere to stop to eat and check out my options. The next ‘attraction’ I would like to see is Old Faithful, the famous hot water geyser in Yellowstone national park. That is some 300 miles away, a little bit too far for me as I like to limit my day to a maximum of 250 miles, I also need to find somewhere to stay and that isn’t going to be in the national park, which will probably add several miles and I need time to do the actual visit, so not happening today, therefore I need to find something on the way. I look on booking.com, no way am I paying those prices, all between £250-450 for one night… stop it! I check out Bunka, there are very few ‘pins’ in this area and they are all either too near or too far away… what to do? I think maybe I should just ride for a while and see if I come across a cheap motel.
After a while I realise this is a stupid idea so I stop again and have another look. I do contact a couple of Bunka’s but they are either booked up or don’t answer so am starting to panic… I turn around and decide to head back to Missoula, I can at least maybe find something there. I also decide to try the Bunka’s close to Missoula and there is only one that is possible so I send him an email. It is now getting late and I still haven’t heard back from the guy in Florence, so I text him and decide to make my way there and see if I hear from him by the time I arrive in the area.
Finally I’m just a hundred yards from this guys address, stalker or what!! I decide the only thing left to do is give him a call. Karl aka ‘Doc’ answers and saves my bacon… yes he can give me space to put up my tent tonight no problem.. “where are you?” ummm awkward… “Oh I’m just down the road from you” “Ok, how long will you be?” “2 minutes, is that ok?” “Yes come on down”. I turn the bike around and am soon gingerly riding up his gravel driveway and there he is to meet me at the top, with a huge dog.. Great Dane I think. I park up and he shows me where I can pitch my tent. He seems like a really nice guy.. I am camping, but have the use of the facilities in the house. Doc explains that they just had a friend to stay and so the room isn’t available tonight but I am to help myself to whatever I want, take a shower, watch tv etc etc. How kind of him. His fiancé is still at work so she won’t be home yet, they don’t have any plans for dinner so maybe we can all go out. I say I am happy to pay for dinner as a thank you for letting me stay, after all it will be way cheaper than a motel that’s for sure; I am very grateful for the space and paying for dinner is small recompense in my book. He makes me a coffee and I unload my bike and get all my ‘new’ camping gear out. As I’m walking back around the house I see an older guy with a long beard sitting in the garage, didn’t notice him before.. maybe he’s Doc’s dad, but none of my business anyway. The tent is actually really easy to pitch and everything is soon done.
Doc and I sit out with our coffee and chat, he tells me he is part of another BaB group… Bikers Against Bullying, they go into schools and colleges to educate young people about the evils of bullying… what a great group. Apparently there are groups in lots of areas and countries including England, well I didn’t know that.
Soon after this he receives a text from his fiancé to say she is working late and we should just eat. Doc suggests a place we can go and I get my first ride in a pick up truck, it is a great experience. I guess if I lived out in this huge country this is something I would probably want, so comfortable too.
We go to what I would call a ‘Sports Bar’, there is a baseball game on the TV’s and we sit up at the bar for our food. I have one of the best pizzas so far this trip, it’s only a very small one too so am able to finish most of it. I also have a local light beer which is very nice. A grand evening.
Back at Doc’s I meet his fiancé, Angie, who is very nice… she looks tired and has been at work since 7 this morning.. wow no wonder she is whacked.
We all sit out in the fading evening light.. oh oh, I think I’ve been bitten again, grrrr. Before long I must admit I’m pretty tired too so head off to my tent for my first USA camping experience… wish me luck!