7/9/17 Day 22 Choteau to Great Falls - the End!
Miles: 54. Total Miles: 1043
Depart: 6:30am - Arrive Great Falls 11:10am - Escape from Great Falls 4:00pm - Arrive White Sulphur Springs 6:30pm
Moon setting during the sunrise in Choteau
Beautiful sunrise and after a quick breakfast (more canned peaches & granola) and bad coffee (the water was not so good), we head out from our final campsite of this trip.
Canned peaches from the can with granola
We have a gentle rolling up then down to the only flat road in Montana at the Freezeout Lakes Wildlife Refuge.
It is pretty barren - so glad that we did not push on to camp here as was the original plan. There would have been no shade cover and plenty of bugs. We climb out of this to a high plateau
Statue on the crest of a hill
with the town of Fairfield “Malting Barley Capital of the World” at 17 miles where we take a break.
For perspective, look to the left of the sign. That speck is Doug on his bike.
Then...it's a lot of downhill that actually feels like downhill because we have no wind or even a little tailwind!
Montana cows always stared at us as we rode by
We cruise on HWY 89 then avoid I-15 with the Vaughn Frontage Road. The miles went quickly (instead of 7mph like yesterday, we were cruising at 15-22mph) and we arrived in Great Falls WAY earlier then we thought.
Entering Great Falls
We have a reservation at the Greystone Inn and should have listened to our intuition - the receptionist was not service oriented and not interested in helping us out at all. If we hadn’t already booked the reservation we would have turned away. She informed us that check in was not until 3pm, there were no lobby restrooms, and only after insistence on our part, we were able get permission to lock up our bikes in their parking lot. Sheesh. We went out in search of brunch.
Bridge over the Missouri
The 5th Street Diner was great - big ol pancake and eggs - and a very friendly waitress. Then a walk about in town - everything is pretty much closed since it is a Sunday. The streets are empty..EMPTY!! No one is walking around and it is a little creepy/unsettling. It reminds us of the movie “Omega Man”. No stores are open. We think - hey we’ll go see a movie, but the only theater is on the other side of town. We have to wait until 3pm so.. We make a go of walking to the Missouri River along the river walk and park. We called Uhaul to see if we could pick up the truck today - maybe at 4pm. It’s so hot that we duck into a Hardee’s for a cold drink and air conditioning.
We wander back to the hotel in hopes of checking in. It’s just all wrong - bad feeling again. Then the sort of scary woman behind the desk tells me that my reservation is only for 1 person, not 2, and that because of fire code, she can’t let us in that room (and clearly thinks I was trying to pull one over on her). And they are sold out of other rooms. So she said she’ll waive the cancellation fee, but we have to call bookings.com and they have to call her and she won’t answer the phone.
I think our bikes will fit in this 15 foot rig.
Time to make the great escape from Great Falls...we go to pick up the U-Haul to get out of town and trouble... our 10’ truck is not there. Sam, the U-Haul guy, tells us it might be tomorrow...but then takes pity our hot sorry state and saves the day by renting us another (slightly bigger) truck and we are on our way.
With our bikes and gear loaded in the U-Haul, we make the GREAT ESCAPE from Great Falls...and get a Subway sandwich on our way out of town (thanks Sarah!)
We drive the road we would have ridden and it is 27 miles of busy highway that we are happy we are driving, not riding. We decide to stay in White Sulphur Springs for two reasons: Hot springs and a brew-pub.
Basset pictures for beer names...
We stop first for a pint at the “Two Basset Brewery” run by a 2nd career couple who left banking and civil engineering to open the brewery a year and a half ago. It was the coolest pub ever - every beer name had a corresponding picture of the basset hounds. Great beer, friendly people.
Our Motel “Spa Hot Springs Motel” had 3 natural springs pools: Hot, Hotter, and Melt Your Skin. OMG - we spent an hour going from pool to pool soaking in the soothing mineral water or lounging on the deck. This was a heavenly end for our bike riding days.
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