213 Miles of Mosquito Hell: Havre, MT to Wolfpoint, MT
Today as we rolled into Wolfpoint, MT Dustin and I thought of a new slogan we’re going to submit to the Eastern Montana Chamber of Commerce: “Eastern Montana: Where wheat grass, casinos, and Mosquitos the size of pickup trucks are with you every step of the way.”
Since our last post we’ve traveled through Chinook, Harlem, Dodson, Malta, Saco, Glasgow, Oswego and Wolfpoint, MT (where I am currently writing this blog post). Here are some highlights.
Havre to Dodson
Leaving Havre we had a crazy 30mph tailwind which had us moving in our manliest cogs at around 18-20mph. We originally planned to camp in Harlem after Havre, but — after stopping in Harlem for lunch and in Hindsight missing a very poignant Harlem Shake opportunity — we decided to pushed onward to Dodson to make it a 73-mile day.
In Dodson we paid $5 to camp at the “Stagecoach B&B” — aka — a woman’s backyard in a town of 124 (Dodson, MT). The Mosquitoes were very hungry in said backyard and that 30mph tailwind was now just a 30mph all over everything everywhere cluster-eff wind so we double staked the tent and hid inside eating road snacks and sandwiches for dinner. Then…….. we fell asleep at like 7pm. And slept all night. For like 13 hours. It was amazing.
On a mostquito hell scale of 1-5, with 1 being a standard day in Michigan, 3 being a swarm of skeeters around your head Pig Pen-style and 5 being a rabid relentless attack of Mosquitos that bite you through your clothes and refuse to die Bebe’s Kid’s style, our night in Dodson was probably a 2.5.
Dodson to Saco
In the am we packed up from the che le backyard and headed toward Saco, MT. Still chugging along on the highline (US2), we rode most of this day alongside the Milk River (which, fun fact, was named such by Meriwether Lewis who said it had the color of tea with milk in it) and the freight train (which, actually, is always beside you in a Eastern Montana on the highline, I think…). We saw some dive bars and some casinos. There were some cows. There was a lot of grass. And there were Mosquitos. About 1,000 of them that bit every last inch of my ass through my shorts, actually.
On the 1-5 mosquito hell scale (see scale reference above) I’d give this ride a misery rating of 4.
Our night in Saco (population 197) was pretty alright. We slept in a city park for free. I imagine it was free because our tent was literally about…7.5 feet from the railroad tracks, where every 2 hours or so a freight train rambled by blaring its freight train horn (which they have to do when they pass through towns). It was kind of funny. It actually shook the ground we were sleeping on it was so close. But! It didn’t rain. And our tent didn’t get blown over by 30mph winds. And I read about 100 pages of my book. So the night was overall successful.
Saco to Glasgow
This day. Sigh. This day was the worse day ever. Seriously the worst day — in my opinion — that we’ve had this whole trip. On the 1-5 mosquito hell scale this day was a 7. They were riding on our pannier by the dozens; they were on my face; they were eating me non-stop. If you smacked two off, three more appeared. I felt like that messed up wildebeest you see on the Discovery channel with Mosquitos covering it’s eyes and swarming him like a giant steak dinner. We had to stop on the side of the road to reapply Off repellant twice. They bit me through my gloves (!!) and my shoulders look ridiculous. I tried riding on the roadside rumble strip to try to machine gun bounce them off my pannier Rambo-style but it was no use. Apparently Mosquitos in eastern Montana actually have the ability to RIDE ON YOU and bite you. If it didn’t suck so bad it would be amazing.
I’ve never been so happy to see the end of a day. When we arrived in Glasgow I bought more Off and some doughnuts and we ate crap for dinner because it was too mosquito-ey to cook. On the plus side: we camped in an RV Park where we got to take long warm showers in the pm and the am.
Glasgow to Wolfpoint
From Glasgow we rode 54 miles to Wolfpoint, where — as previously mentioned — I am right now. On the 1-5 mosquito hell scale the ride here was only about a 2, but the campsite we’re in is easily a 4. I can see those buggers swarming around inside the vestibule of my tent looking hungry. Luckily, I am safe inside the tent. Another eastbound cycle traveler pulled up to camp next to us. It looks like he’s sleeping in a hammock, which seems entirely crazy to me, but he seems alright.
Today the weather was hot and I managed to get myself a dandy shoulder sunburn (sorry mom!) But! On the plus side, I also managed to eat some yogurt that wasn’t refrigerated all night and not get massive food poisoning, so bonus for me! I’ve really been testing the limits of consumption on this trip. I ate some day-old cheese in Glacier, I eat jelly that hasn’t been refrigerated in weeks every day, and today- old yogurt. All successfully. Possum stomach isn’t letting me down yet!
On that note….come to think of it, cycle touring really tends to expand all of your boundaries regarding what it ok and what isn’t. I’ve actually been wearing the same shirt for about a week now. It doesn’t smell so I just keep wearing it. I’ll go a week without showering when I have to (thank you baby wipes!) I’m sleeping in a tent the size of a twin bed with a full-size man (only one person can sit cross legged in the tent at a time). Sometimes I pay $60 to sleep in a no-tell Motel (with an m) and it’s the greatest thing ever. (Eeeevvveeerrrrrrr.) I eat a lot of Pop Tarts (which totally should not be considered reasonable “breakfast food” by any measure).
Oh, and I ride my bike 50-80 miles a day every day. Even when it’s pouring down rain or there’s a swarm of rabid relentless mosquitoes.
So life on the road is interesting and really can only be described as an adventure.
I sure will be happy to get out of these plains, though. If you’re planning a tour, you might consider riding from Anacortes to the Continental Divide and then teleporting to Minnesota. 😉 Unless you’re really into dive bars, wheat grass, casinos and mosquitoes that is. If you love those things, you’ll love Eastern Montana.
Tomorrow…. On to Circle where I hear the townsfolk may be….. extra shitty. I’ll let you know if this rumor ends up being true. After Circle, Glendive! Then onward to North Dakota.