Starting Location: Missoula, MT
Ending Location: Darby, MT
Lowest Elevation: 3140
Highest Elevation: 3891
I woke up and got all of my stuff ready to go, then Ethel made Joop and I oatmeal, coffee and yogurt before Joop and I left her place. We took a few pictures in the front yard (not with my camera though) and headed on our way to the Adventure Cycling Association headquarters, as they are located in Missoula and had free ice cream for cyclists!
When we arrived at ACA, we we greeted by an employee who let us lock our bikes up behind their gate, where all of the employees keep all their bikes. I'm pretty sure every single employee that came in while we were there showed up on a bike. When we opened the handlebar doors we were soon greeted by Mike who had us fill in our information on a sign in sheet and took our picture to put on the wall of cyclists that come through their office.
We were given a tour of the whole office which featured tons of amazing pictures of cycling tours, with many from the bikecentenial ride in 1976 where 4,100 riders road the Transamerica trail to celebrate the bicentennial of America's Independence Day. It was really cool getting a tour of the whole office and seeing all of the effort that they put in to make more trails all across the United States and to introduce more people to adventure cycling. I decided to buy my very first bicycle shirt with a graphic of the Transamerica Trail. I figured it will be a good way to remember my trip, and it's actually quite nice to ride with (I wore it the rest of the day). Joop and I enjoyed a juice and ice cream after our tour, then headed out to hit the road.
On our way through Missoula to get out of town Ethel met up with us on her bike because she wanted to see the progress on the new section of a bike trail that will connect Missoula to Lolo, where a 40+ mile seperated bike path starts and continues just past Hamilton. Ethel road her bike with her dog Leela sitting in one of her front panniers, and it was absolutely impossible not to smile at how happy and cheerful the two looked. A few miles down the road, we said our last goodbyes to Ethel and Joop and I continued on to Hamilton.
Joop and I kept a really nice pace on our way up to Halmilton. We had some great weather and nothing but big blue skies above us and mountains around us. We grabbed some groceries in Florence so that we could make ourselves some lunch a couple more miles down the road where we set up in the grass on a little hill. As we were enjoying our lunch and beautiful day, Joop said "Now this is real freedom!" - He is absolutely right.
We continued on and made our way into Hamilton fairly early. This is where Joop would be staying for the night with a WarmShowers host. We went to the store and each grabbed a refreshing drink and enjoyed our last conversation before wishing eachother on our ways. He then headed to the library and I continued to Darby for my WarmShowers host for the night.
When I got into Darby and turned down my final road, I was greeted by Curtis who was waving to me to welcome me to his home. Right away he offered for me to bring my bike and all of my gear inside and showed me to my room with a very comfortable amount of space. After being briefly acquainted I took a shower to clean up. After I was all clean, Curtis and I started getting to know each other as he was preparing our meal. Curtis is a truck driver and also retired from the army. He is so easy to talk to and our conversations just kept flowing.
For dinner Curtis made us some salmon fillet and sweet potatos, and he made sure that I ate bigger portions to get me what my body needs! The dinner was delicious and accompanied with a beer and many more conversations. After dinner Curtis started getting into showing me his biking and camping gear, and we talked for hours about gear, our adventures, and other stories that we each wanted to share with each other. It was a very pleasant night, and we even made a few adjustments on my bike and lubed my chain! I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to meet such giving people on this trip!