I awoke around 6:20, no doubt hours after Mark was awake twiddling his thumbs in bed. I roused Paul, and we headed out for some breakfast before we finished packing. We had spec'ed out a good breakfast spot the night before, which was nice and close.
We got about halfway to the diner before I realized we had left the remaining milk from last night. I ran back and brought it into the diner so we could have some milk with our breakfast at a reasonable price. Score.
Mark didn't have the bikers appetite yet, and got a significantly smaller meal than we had. I helped him finish the last of his pancake, and we went back to the hotel to pack up and leave. We got dressed, packed up, checked out, and we were on the road for the first time with captain Mark .
We figured we'd have some long stretched without services so we decided to pick up some nutri grain and nature valley bars. We rode about 10 miles along a stretch where we shared the road with a busy highway, but with ample shoulder. Mark spotted a tractor on the road in the distance, a vehicle that we were going faster than. We would get a chance to pass if it didn't pull into the field adjacent to the highway. Sure enough, it didn't and we got a taste of what passing felt like. It was nice.
After the tractor we stopped to get those snacks, and to ask the locals where good stops would be ahead of us. With plenty of goodies for the next few days, we were gone like a flash. We paid though…
We were enjoying some nice, easy terrain for biking; a good way for Marky Mark to start the week (little did he know what lied ahead). Another 20 miles passed by and we took our first real stop in Fairfield. For miles before pulling in, we could see massive towers for some sort of grain processing. Mark asked and apparently the area produces a lot of malting barley for Anheiser Busch, which I heard was just bought out by someone. They are huge.
We got some fruit at a grocer, and had a few other light snacks. They had some sort of Christmas in July thing going on that weekend coming up according to this girl who was painting some grinch stuff on one of the shop windows. Apparently all 12 people from the town come out and have a celebration; must be interesting.
We peaced out of Fairfield and made another nice long stretch of flat riding to Bynum, which was a dinosaur bone excavation area. There was some museum that we didn't go to, but we did go to the other building in town, which was a bar. In the bar we all got burgers with fries and loads of water.
I found a jukebox that played 5 songs for a dollar. Jackpot. They had some good ones on there. Once the burger had vanished, I felt incomplete, so I ordered a big hot dog as well. The hot dog was good as well, and we were ready for our last stretch of the day to the town of Dupuyer that was on one map we had and not the other. Yikes. We had been warned by someone in the bar about the Grizzlies in Dupuyer and to be careful if camping. Double yikes.
We began hitting some hills towards Dupuyer as we were fast approaching the Rockies again. There were some fun up and downs and some windy sections. As Paul and I say, we never finish easy. We had been efficient all day, however, and we were able to get into Dupuyer by around 5:00.
Again the town consisted of 2-3 stores 2 of which were bars that were open. Score. We entered the first bar, and asked about camping in the area. They said two blocks down there was a residence that had camping in their yard; we would check it out after we ate. They big boys ordered some food, and I wasn't really hungry yet from the recent meal in Bynum. With some serious teeth pulling, Paul and Mark eventually convinced me to order a meal, and as most of the dinner options were out, I ended up getting breakfast for dinner. No problem. Everyone's food was good, except Mark got jipped (sp?) a little on his chicken, again not a big issue as his appetite hadn't kicked in. Besides, I saw him eying the apple pie ala mode, one of Mark's favorites, on the specials board. We'd be back.
We strolled down the street to check out the campgrounds. As we pulled in, the owner stopped by as he was about to leave town. We asked him if we were okay, and were to settle up. He let us pick the spot, and told us we wouldn't have to pay for the night. Gravy.
We began setting up the tents, and that's when the mosquitoes began coming out. They were in full force, and were drawing blood from all of us at an unhealthy rate. We had unfortunately run out of bug spray, so we tried to setup as quickly as we could. I struggled a bit with the one man tent I had originally purchased for the trip before Paul was part of the plan. Mark brought it so we would have plenty of room. I eventually got it up well after they were done with the other tent.
After our beds were made, we sought refuge back at the bar we had come from. Figuring 30 minutes was enough time in between our meals and dessert, we ordered the pie and ice cream for all of us. The portions were hearty, and it was great way to end Mark's first day. There was an officer there who we began talking to who also warned about the grizzlies in the area. They were quite common apparently, as we had now heard it twice, but what could we do? We knew the drill.
The family that owned the place was very nice, and made arrangements with us to open earlier the following day for breakfast so we could get on the road at a decent hour. Thanks. We decided for 8:00, and went back to our mosquito infested, grizzly meal campground. We packed all of our smelly stuff carefully and tightly in the panniers and I stuck them under a large propane tank near the house and away from the tents where a grizzly might not be able to reach. We hopped in the tents with our fingers crossed that Mark's first day on the road wouldn't be his last.
The next day we would be in Glacier National Park, potentially the most beautiful place in our ride thus far. Day 1 of Mark's trip was down and he was holding his own with the boys. We were happy to have him, and his first day was a fairly easy, nice start. But what would tomorrow bring? We shall see.
Life was good.