Day 22. Grass Range

77 miles 2,126 feet

After a restful night in Stanford I woke to a bright cool morning. I wasn't sure what the day would hold, because the only town with a motel and camping within striking distance was 45 miles away—Lewiston—and that seemed too short a ride. The only other option was camping in a truck stop campground 77 miles away in Grass Range, which I thought was too far because of predicted easterly (head) winds. So I didn't make any reservations and decided to bike east and see how it went.

The winds were gentle, at an angle or headwinds, for the morning. I stopped in a truckstop for lunch with other Sunday travelers. Continuing on I met some bona fide Northern Tier cyclists who had started in Maine in early May and were heading to Anacortes. Both were roughly my age; Ben was from Maine and Barry from Minnesota and they both looked very fit. We compared notes then parted. It was inspiring to meet people who had just about finished the trip!

I reached Lewiston* and stopped in an outdoor store—this one was gun and hunter focused—and asked advice about camping options 20 miles east. They were very helpful. The answer was there were none. It would be wild camping or Grass Range. So I decided to head to Grass Range and see how it went. It was hard initially, in the high 70s, a long climb, and sideways wind. But when I finished the climb the wind became a tailwind and it was almost all downhill till Grass Range! So I made good time and found the truck stop campground only to learn that it was closed. However I caught the proprietor just as she was leaving, closing early at 5 pm Sunday, and she gave me permission to camp in the grass anywhere. The only open restaurant was the bar and grill and when I arrived I was told it would close in 30 minutes, so I just made it. I had a simple chicken salad dinner and chatted with a young man who will be working there. He has lived in more than a dozen places in his 20+ years and works where he can find it. The server/bartender/manager was 2 years out of high school and wants to become an apprentice electrician after services in the Marines.

During dinner it started to rain and the radar app on my phone showed it was going to be a red zone downpour. The server said I should stay in the community church because it would be dry, entering through a door that is never locked. The rainstorm passed but rather than sleeping on wet grass I took him up on his offer and am writing this in the simple sanctuary of one of the 2 town churches. All the folks in the restaurant knew each other and they seemed very friendly and generous. So I had food and now shelter for the night!

*Lewiston is considered the geographic center of Montana, so I'm now in the eastern half of the state.
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Breakfast spot in Stanford

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Fellow Northern Tier cyclists, heading west

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Approaching rainstorm

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