I was raring to roll in the morning, and being all packed up and mostly pain-free, we agreed that I’d get a head start and Greg would catch up with me. I took a little detour at a visitor center that sent him sailing past me unknowingly, and we rode independently for the day. It was a gorgeous ride past the limits of the hot, flat desert and through the quiet stretches of forests, climbing once again up hills that seemed tame in comparison to the steep slopes of the east.
The solitude and silence of the forest allowed me to be alone with my dog and my thoughts until a wonderful 7% grade downhill run that careened alongside mountain cliffs and revealed dazzling valley views that whizzed by each bend in the road. I met a couple along the way who just graduated college and were doing a perimeter tour of the U.S, and stopped for water and snacks at the one shop along the way. The woman at the counter had lots of questions about Petunia, and when I removed my helmet, she exclaimed, “Oh, the guy you’re riding with is up ahead by 30 or 45 minutes. He asked if a woman with a shaved head had already stopped by.”
Petunia stopped to scope out some deer on a hillside along the way, and finally we came to rest at a campsite along a river in Montana.