It was cool again in the morning when we got up, especially with the cloud cover. We ate some remaining nutri grain bars and made some peanut butter sandwiches. A few minutes after we left camp it began to rain. We already had our jackets on as it was cool enough, so we were fine. The rain was short lived which made for nice weather for our ascent to the top of Kings Hill Pass at 7393′.
We weren't sure how far we had to go, but the grades weren't too tough. I had a mental goal to make it to the top in an hour of biking time. I missed it by 3 seconds, but was still happy with the easy 9 mile ride to the summit. Paul followed shortly after, and we hung out a bit up top as we shed the jackets to dry out our under shirts as the sun shone through.
Once dry enough, we put the jackets back on for our long descent that we expected to last most of the day. We cruised downhill for a good 15-20 miles. Passing a small town with some food. At the very bottom of the hill we came to a small bar in Monarch. We figured there would be more ahead and as we stopped to take our jackets off for good, we decided to march on after having covered nearly 30 miles.
We continued on prepared to stop at the next convenient food location. The miles kept falling off as we kept a good pace, and the food places kept not showing up. We passed one that would have been a mile turn off the road we were on so we kept going forward. I assured Paul that there would be a few spots in between, as the map suggested and as they never materialized, his patience began to grow a bit thin.
This continued for miles, and we began getting close enough to get to Great Falls that we decided we would do it all in one stretch. We ended up traveling about 75 miles straight all the way to Great Falls. We were pooped. We stopped at a gas station and asked if anyone in town had a buffet. They gave us some advice that was down the street in the direction of our hotel so we took. We found an all you can eat Chinese buffet a few blocks down and headed in there. They had nice comfortable seats, and we just gorged and took our time. It was a nice reward.
After about an hour and a half passed, we decided to get up and check in to the hotel. We had made it in plenty of time to make it to the bike shop after checking in to get Mark's bike.
We located the hotel with no problems and checked in. We were in need of showers, yet this particular room didn't come with a shower curtain. Seriously? It took them a while to get us one, so I decided to substitute with a pool hop. The pool was actually quite gross, but it was nice and cool and refreshing as the sun was shining pretty strongly later in the day.
Once we were ready, we headed for the bike shop. We ended up going the wrong way, as they had a confusing downtown street scheme, but fortunately ran into a farmer's market on our errant path. We got some carrot cake there, and left for the correct way to the bike shop.
We had no problem getting the bike once we located the shop as the owner was ready for some Italian name to come and pick it up. We also inflated his tires, which he had somehow missed, and did the same for mine.
We wanted to greet Mark with our favorite new beer, Fat Tire, and figured we deserved a relaxing evening in Great Falls too. We made a couple stops and eventually found a 12 pack and picked up some milk and cereal for a snack later.
Fully loaded we passed a dog on the way back to the hotel. I pet him and he seemed like a tame good boy, but when Paul went to, he snapped at him. In one fluid motion Paul retreated with the petting hand, and also caught the 12 pack of Fat Tire that was in bad shape. It was a legendary move, but should have something to worry about as the dog apparently sensed evil? Remains to be seen.
We returned to the hotel and did exactly as planned. We cracked a few beers and watched Big Daddy… Classic. After a while of that, we got too hungry for just cereal, so we went to go take advantage of Subway's 5 dollar foot longs as we hadn't in a while. They were closed at 7:30 everyday of the week. We couldn't believe it, so we got some Hardees instead.
Returning to the hotel, we did a load of laundry and put the tv back on. American History X, one of my favorites was on, so we watched that as well. We had a few more beers and made sure to save one for Mark's arrival.
Ring ring… we get a call from the lobby. "Mark wants to know if he can come to his room." He had arrived! After flying all day, the exhaustion hadn't shown at all as Mark was geared up for his week with the boys. We gave him his inaugural beer, of which he had maybe 2 ounces. Eventually reality took over, and he fell asleep with the lights on. Rest assured he would be the first one up in the morning as he was still on east coast time and gets up at 3:00 AM as it is.
After having been packed two weeks in advance, toothbrush and all, Mark had finally arrived. I'm not sure who was more excited, Paul and I with our new partner, or Mark beginning his week long journey with us that would take us all through the supposedly most scenic road in the states through Glacier National Park.
After some late night work doing my best to have the week planned as much as possible for Mark's visit, I went to bed. It should make for an interesting trip in the next week, and we were honored for Mark to take a week's vacation out of his year to join us out on the trip. We'd have to make it worth his while.
Lfe was good.