The Pilgrimage: Day 26
Even after a whole night in front of the heater on full blast, my boots and my gloves were still soaked through from the rain. I went about 40 miles and determined that I wasn’t going to get much further until my boots and my gloves were dry. So, I left Townsend and headed to Helena with the hopes that I might be able to find someone to take me in, so I could dry out. I also discovered that I had no rear brakes.
So, I planted myself in a corner of the Park Avenue Bakery in Helena, and texted and called everybody I knew close by, but no answers. I posted on Facebook trying to find someone who knew someone in Helena, but no such luck. In the end my amazing Grandmother came to my rescue again and got me another hotel room. Sometimes, the weather is just against you. Not the most heroic story, but I’ll pick warm and dry any day.
I took advantage of the afternoon off, and did all of the little things I had been putting off. Took care of some emails, did laundry and killed time by drawing some memories from the Montana Grizzly Encounter. Then I gave Lazarus a bath to see if I could figure out the source of my brake problem. Popped the top off the brake fluid reservoir and sure enough it was empty. Well. That would explain it.
Went and got some brake fluid and bam! Instant rear brakes. I wish everything I had to fix on the bike was that easy….
The Pilgrimage: Day 27
With my boots finally dried out, I loaded up, stopped at the Forest Service office to get some more detailed maps of the area, and I headed to the “ghost town” of Rimini.
There was construction on the road and I was the only one in line to head up the mountain. So, the gal with the stop sign sat and chatted with me about Rimini. Turns out the people who still live in Rimini, aren’t too happy to be considered a ghost town. When I got up there, there were only three older buildings, with big signs exclaiming private property etc.
After getting a few dirty looks from a few of the people I saw, I moved on to my next goal: to find a route through the Helena and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest to Butte without having to get on the freeway.
After hitting two dead ends I finally found the ‘main’ road to Basin. I believe I am now an expert at dodging deep puddles and ruts on forest service roads.
After riding next to the gorgeous Basin Creek for a good 10 miles, I couldn’t resist any longer and stopped to fish for a while. Didn’t catch anything but it was nice to finally get to bust out my fishing pole my Grandpa got for me especially for my trip.
I ended up in Basin and checked my maps again and followed frontage road on the east side of the freeway, until it went under the overpass again and tuned into a rather rough dirt road littered with puddles. I checked the map again, considering going deeper into the forest instead, but the dark clouds coming caught my eye. I determined it was a better idea to stick closer to the freeway in case it did rain again and something happened.
It did end up raining on me again but not as bad as when I went through the mountains. However, the dirt road I chose hadn’t had a chance to dry out, and still had large sections of mud.
Then I found a tunnel that was built in 1911, I was so excited about it, until I got a few feet in and discovered I had no headlight. I couldn’t stop and turn around. I could feel how slick the floor of the tunnel was and feared if I stopped, I was sure to drop the bike. That was the blackest black I have experienced in a long time.
Immediately after the tunnel there was a steep dip and a huge puddle. I saw it just in time to avoid it. See, told you, pro puddle avoider. Eventually the road turned back into pavement but the map lied to me and it closed shortly after. I pulled out my maps again and found a route through the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Forest that spit me out at a gas station in Rocker, just outside Butte.
Success! I found a route from Helena to Butte without taking the freeway. Winning! … I thought.
I filled up the gas tank and went to start the bike to head to Anaconda to hang out with my grandma Mona. The bike didn’t click, didn’t turn over nothing. My heart sunk.
I rolled the bike to a corner of the parking lot and began to methodically go through my checklist. Two of my fuses were burnt out so I replaced those and my headlight came back on, but the bike still wouldn’t start.
After a few more phone calls, watching the sun go down, I determined my best course of action was to get the bike towed to Mona’s house and figure it out in the morning. Progressive covered my tow and I had a good conversation with Jamie of ANA Technical Repair, who towed me to Anaconda. Unloaded the bike at 11:30pm and went to bed.
The Pilgrimage: Day 28
After a few messages back and forth with my brother, I went out to troubleshoot the bike to see what the problem was.
After a little trick with a screwdriver and the starter, I got the bike running. So I knew my starter was working, so I followed the wire up to the starter switch to make sure it wasn’t pinched or disconnected anywhere. Then, after a few mumbles of encouragement to myself (seeing a pattern?) I took apart the starter switch box.
I found a dead spider and a whole lot of web. I cleaned the web out and double checked that the button/spring was making a good connection to the metal contact. Put it all back together and she fired right up. Success.
By this point it was noon so instead of hitting the road I convinced Mona to go play tourist with me in Butte. We had Pasties, went up and saw the Granite Mine Memorial, and then we went on a fun little trolley tour. I had a hard time not interrupting to talk about Marcus Daly whenever our tour guide talked about the Copper Kings, because I’m a giant nerd.
The Pilgrimage: Day 29
I let my grandma Mona’s house after a lot of dragging of my feet. I had been spoiled by a real bed for two whole days, and I was not looking forward to having to sleep on my tired air mattress.
I arrived in Butte again, just in time to join the tour to see Our Lady of the Rockies. A 90 ft tall statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the mountains overlooking Butte, erected in 1985.
I ate one more pasty before moving on and camped in Whitehall. Unfortunately, I slept very little. I couldn’t manage to get warm, vehicles came in and went out all night, not to mention the train never stopped either. Ha. Never camp at the Whitetail RV Park. There will never be sleep. Ever.