Day 13: Winds of Change

September 15, 2002
Deer Lodge to Butte
37 Miles Google Map

Eventually, the elements catch up with you.

It was supposed to be a short, half-day meander down I-90 to Butte. I was in no hurry to get up and out on the road. Which was a mistake. Just before ten, the morning’s light, almost playful breeze began increasing in strength. It seemed like someone was revving up a giant, invisible fan. Cutting across my path, the gusts gradually became strong enough that at times I struggled to maintain my balance. Things then got worse as the highway inexorably turned southeast, directly into the miniature gale.

It was two and a half hours of frustration leading to exhaustion. All those long stretches of what should be easy, level grade stretching out ahead, and here I am peddling in my lowest gears, hunkered down and barely moving. It was a good thing I did the extra mileage the day before or I’d have had to endure another hour (or more) of punishment.

But all bad things must come to an end. I-90 began to mercifully turn back east, away from the teeth of my tormentor. Soon Butte billboards began sprouting up and I knew the worst was behind me.

Once in town, I elected to check out the budget hotels first. These were mostly located in the “Historic Uptown” of Butte. The first one I stopped at had no one but a large floppy-eared dog manning the office. It being Sunday afternoon, I didn’t necessarily expect anyone to be waiting at the counter. However, the animal got me thinking that perhaps this was not my kind of accommodation. I went further up the street.

Hotel number two looked charming. However, there was broken glass all around the front steps — not a feature to warm the heart of a bike rider. Through the window, I saw a sign saying that there was an extra charge for pets. Not the kind of company I wanted to have around in the middle of the night. Losing what marginal interest I had in the area, I returned to I-90 and shortly came across some modern motels situated around the ubiquitous fast food joints. 

Home again, home again. It’s another Super 8 to spend what will be a couple of nights and since I arrived early in the day, I was rewarded with an agreeable, non-smoking room conveniently located on the first floor (which makes it easier to get the bike in and out of). As I’m coming to find out, not all motel rooms are created equal and this one, with its easy chair and sleek, unscratched furniture, is a step above most others. Perfect for spending my day off tomorrow.

Before hitting the hay, I went outside to do some star gazing and view the famous “Our Lady of the Rockies” statue situated on the Continental Divide east of the city. This likeness of Mother Mary is illuminated by floodlights and looks like an angel suspended in the sky. As for my twinkling friends, I couldn’t see much due to the low clouds, which appeared close enough to touch. (At that point it hit me at I was over a mile above sea level.) It felt like I could almost burst through them and into the darkness beyond.

    Today:       37 Miles
    To Date:  696 Miles / 1,120 Kilometers

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