Day 21. Stanford

61 miles 2,792 feet

I started out the day waiting for the 9:30 opening of Bighorn Outdoor Specialists where I had reserved a replacement Helinox Chair Zero I lost in Many Glacier. I love this chair—it is light and allows me to relax without sitting on the dirt when I want a break. When Bighorn opened, it was clear it was like a small REI of an earlier era—not only did it have my chair but was stocked with backpacking and climbing gear and extremely friendly folks. And no guns!

Today was the opposite of yesterday's riding conditions: Sunny throughout, uphill, and a consistent 10-15 mph headwind. My mileage was shorter, I arrived later and more tired. Most days, I hope, will be in between. The scenery was similar to yesterday with wide views of wheat and other crops and mountain ranges in the distant. The road has mostly a good shoulder with high speed traffic on my left.

I found a wonderful small town—Belt—that was historic and looked like it was doing well. Old buildings seemed to be occupied by businesses and it was full of charm. Belt was Montana's first coal mining town but when the smelters switched to natural gas in the early 20th century, the boom was over. Today remnants of the boom days and the Finnish immigrants can be seen all around.

I finished the day in Stanford MT. The town is not named for Leland, but for another Stanford who was prominent in the town's history. It is small but has sections that are well kept up with tree-lined streets and nice lawns. I had dinner in the Waterhole Saloon, a classic saloon with a nice server and cook and a fair number of locals, including a retired rancher I sat next to at the bar while I had my dinner. He's not wild about Uncle Joe and has health problems but was very nice and talkative. I had what one should have in this country: a small steak with salad and onion rings, The clientele was mostly young people but my companion said most young people leave as they do from other small towns.

Tomorrow there are limited options within striking range, assuming winds are not favorable. I'll have to wait to see wind conditions to decide.
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Old and new in Stanford MT

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