31 Jul 2010, 8:41am
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previously on big bike adventure

we left our adventurers (that’s us!) in jackson, montana, where they soaked in a hot pool and mingled with locals. in the morning they headed out again–destination: twin bridges!

we stopped in dillon for lunch.

(the university of montana western)

(we’ve seen this kind of anti-meth mural all over towns since eastern oregon. the usual tagline is “meth: not even once.” often accompanied by before-and-after paintings of emaciated bodies and so on)

and onward:

(sculptures at a little roadside display about wildlife and lewis & clark and so on, in front of beaverhead rock)

twin bridges, it turns out, cares about bicyclists!

enough that they’ve created twin bridges bike camp in the city park, with a little indoor space and a shower and a bathroom and even a repair stand!

it was the biggest weekend of the year in town, with some kind of festival going on and all kinds of graduates from the high school home for a reunion. we arrived too late for most of the festivities, but everyone was happy and friendly and the town was really lively. in the morning we got breakfast at a great little outdoor coffeeshop called jumping rainbow, and then set off again.

nevada & virginia cities–
nevada city used to be a mining town, i think, but is not much of a town anymore at all. sometime in the 60s, a couple began collecting old buildings from around the state and putting them in nevada city, so now it’s a sort of sprawling history museum. they’ve even hired some folks to dress up in period clothes and hang out in the buildings. three dudes got to sit in the saloon playing cards while tourists posed at their table… not a bad gig!

(this building was not actually part of the museum-type-thing, and appeared to maybe be a private residence)

(another thing i’ve learned about on this trip–there were lots of chinese living in most of these little mining towns! in eastern oregon at least, they mostly all returned to china. even remains were dug up and sent to china)

the coolest building in nevada city was definitely the music hall, which was full of old music machines in various states of repair and disrepair. many of them worked and accepted quarters.

(a. conducts a mechanical orchestra)

(this machine played the violin… sort of)

between nevada & virginia cities (about a mile of road)–

virginia city is the old capital of montana territory. now it’s a sort of kitschy tourist town, where you can take a stagecoach or horseback ride, buy souvenirs at “trading posts,” and so on. we had a nice lunch and wandered around for several hours, waiting out the heat. i had double chocolate orange ice cream–yum!


also, any ideas what this window is all about? the juxtaposition of the words with the photos of indians below them seems painfully ironic (also hey i am reading bury my heart at wounded knee right now), and it didn’t seem intentional… the same store was hung with army, navy, marines flags and so on. jeez.

it was pretty late in the afternoon by the time we started climbing up the pass between virginia city and eniss. we’d planned originally to go further than eniss, but the heat beat us.

(a. beat me to the top)

outside of town we passed this herd of pronghorn antelope. all the females bolted a few meters away when we passed, and the male turned and stared at us until we moved on.

the sun was setting by the time we got to town.

we settled in for the night, made dinner, and the next morning headed off to west yellowstone. the day was mostly cool and overcast, but it never rained. perfect weather for a 70-mile slightly-uphill day!

(”say cheese!”)


(one of my favorite roadside signs yet, just for the last sentence. but if bridger was the one who knew where the pass was, why did they name it after raynolds?)

in 1959 there was an enormous earthquake that caused a huge landslide, killed a couple dozen campers, created a new lake (the aptly named earthquake lake), shook up and changed a lot of yellowstone’s geothermal features, and generally wreaked havoc. a year after the quake, the madison river earthquake area was created to commemorate it, and they built a visitor center overlooking earthquake lake and so on (complete with hourly showings of a really sensationalistic little video, with minor key accompaniment for the ominous bits). but when you’re riding in and you pass this sign, it’s a little inexplicable–

though there apparently are enormous numbers of tiny earthquakes occuring all the time in yellowstone.

(earthquake lake)

(a., with the slide behind him)

(trees that were drowned when the lake was created)

and, finally, in west yellowstone–

Family story about the big earthquake in 1959. We are doing the big family trip to the western National Parks. We rode horses up Mt. Rainier and I cried because it was so cold. We went to Crater Lake. The family stopped for dinner the day before they were to go to Yellowstone (I don’t know where) and a woman walked up to Mother and said “don’t go to the campground at Yellowstone” and my mother rearranged things and they went somewhere else instead–and all those people died the night we were all supposed to be there but weren’t.

Love you,



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