Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 51 - Columbia Falls White Fish, MT

Miles biked today: 61
Total miles to date: 2586

I would summarize my first day without Gretchen and Nicole as bittersweet. I woke up when I wanted to, did not have to wait or feel rushed, cooked for myself, I chose my activities for the day and the route and never once got in a fight with myself. During the ride however, when I stopped for a peanut butter and bagel snack I felt lonely and wished Nicole was there trying to steal all of the PB and laughing at her as the PB ran down her face. I cannot decide if I prefer traveling solo or with companions, so many pros and cons exist for both. I think I had the best of both worlds in that much of my trip has been solo and having the company was so delightful. Us three girls have a shared experience we will reminisce for years to come.

My original plan for the day (it is confusing, so see if you can keep up): Wake up in Columbia Falls, leave Jr. Bob behind and bike 30 miles to the town of Kila. In Kila I would meet up with Becky, my couchsurfing host, who lives in Whitefish. (Columbia Falls is only 10 miles away from Whitefish so this day was more or less supposed to be a layover day). Becky volunteered to help her friend shear some alpacas and I wanted to watch. The plan was to meet at the alpaca farm and Becky would be done by 11:00 or 2:00. After the shearing of the alpacas I was going to throw my bike in the back of her SUV and Becky and I were going to Whitefish for the afternoon and then head back to Columbia Falls for a night float trip on the river with two guys from couchsurfing.

What really happened: I biked the 32 miles to the alpaca farm and arrived by 11:00. Three hours later we ate lunch and realized the shearing would last until 6:00pm! I made a tough choice and told the crew I was going to bike back Columbia Falls (32 miles back from where I started). It was an interesting three hours! I learned a great deal about Alpaca's. It took about 5 hands to shear one alpaca, it was a physically gruelling process with a lot of solid teamwork and communication. I was out of sunscreen and asked Ruth Ann (the owner of the farm) if she had some and she gave me the entire bottle! It is my absolute favorite sunscreen that is a bit pricey, it was the greatest gift she could have given me! I gave some hugs, thanked all of the alpaca crew for a great 3 hours of entertainment and biked back.

I arrived to Columbia Falls by 5:00 after biking 62 miles and reunited with my bob trailer and Kristy (my host from the previous night). Kristy and I met the two boys, Luke and Perkins, at 6:00 for the float trip. We flew down the river since the dams had recently been released. I was quite impressed with the boys rafting skills in the 12 foot aluminum boat. Even though rapids did not exist, there were many wave trains, strong eddys and powerfully flowing water. When we finished our boat trip we loaded the truck up and drove back to Columbia Falls to reunite yet again with Charlie and Bob (my gear). Perkins, Luke, Kristy, myself, Charlie, and Bob loaded the truck and drove to Whitefish. Becky (couchsurfing friend from the alpaca farm) met up with us for pizza and beer. The now party of 5 drank, laughed, danced, played pool and even closed down the bar that night! The funnest part of the entire evening was the fact that these 4 people (with the exception of Luke and Perkins who are childhood friends) had never met and through couchsurfing we all came together and had a blast of an evening. In fact, these four have already made plans to hang out and Kristy might even join Becky's softball party.

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