It is 1:00 in Lewistown, Montana. We are eating pizza at LRM Pizza, courtesy of the grand-parents of Drew Gottman, one of the High school seniors I am cycling with. I apologize for being out of touch but Internet access is hard to come by out here. From Lewiston we are planning to travel another 50 miles this afternoon to Winnett, to Jordan tomorrow, Circle on Sunday, and arrive in Glendive on Monday. We are entering the section of Montana called “the big open”: few services, towns can be as far apart as 70 miles, rustic camping, sage brush, and heat. I’ll quickly try to update you on the last three days.
We broke camp on June 12 at our wonderful campsite on the banks of the Missouri River. The big-horn sheep watched us with their powerful gaze (they are not in this picture);

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The riding was gentle rollers with the wind at our back. As we approached the Great Falls Airport, I saw the largest weathervane I have ever seen;

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I had put on over 1,000 miles and my tires were pretty worn so I replaced them in Great Falls. We continued through the city, past Maelstrom Air-force Base where the keep the secret pools of poison germ gas and maybe a nuclear missile or two (right about now my blog is popping up on the screen of an NSA analyst sitting at his desk 200 feet underground somewhere in Virginia). We arrived in Highwood which is where Mac Sullivan’s grandparents, Miles and Doris Swan live on their ranch at the base of the Highwood Mountains.

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We took a day off at the ranch, did a little sight-seeing, and ate them out of house and home. Miles taught me how to be a rancher and a wheat farmer. Here is a sunset from the bench above the farm;

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Update; it is now 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, (Father’s Day), June, 17. We are camping in the town park in Circle, Montana.

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I will continue with my update of our day off at the Swan Ranch and then post some more about subsequent days.
Miles Swan let us borrow the ranch Silverado and we drove to Lost Lake. I am not sure how Lost Lake got it’s name but I am sure it has something to do with the size of Montana and it is location 10 miles down a dirt road. Several thousand years ago the Missouri River shifted course. Before that it cascaded over the cliffs at Lost Lake, a waterfall that would rival Niagara Falls.

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There were some interesting water carved rock formations as we approached the precipice. Imagine the water swirling around these rocks as it traveled relentlessly toward the Mississippi River;

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We then did a quick tour up into the Highwood Mountains which encompass part of the ranch. Then we all went back to the homestead and took naps until Doris cooked us a 4H cattle steak.
Miles taught me everything I know about ranching. Did you know that wheat can be just a week away form harvest and a hot dry wind can cook it on the stalk and greatly diminish the yield? I was told that cattle will eat the flavorful tops of the grass first and they chew them down to the ground. Miles moves his cattle from field to field before this occurs and the grass grows back quickly.

OnThursday, June 18, we bid farewell to the Swan Ranch. Miles drove us down the five miles to where we left our bikes at Lisa’s house (one of his four daughters). I find it interesting that in this small town (28 kids in high school, all four years), five miles up a dirt road, all four of his daughters went on to college and excelled.

As we started out, we had to maneuver through dozens of horse riders and wagon trains making their way up into the mountains on an organized ride. I don’t think they were all real cowboys and cowgirls as it was 9:30 in the morning and some of them were offering us beers.

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Then we quickly encountered the “toilet paper”. Road crews were putting down fresh tar into the cracks and applying a protective covering;

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We fought a crosswind all the way to the descent into Fort Benton and the Missouri Breaks. I am not sure what the “breaks” are, but it was an exhilarating downhill.

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Fort Benton used to be a tough place to be a tough person;

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We were striving to arrive at Denton and camp in the park next to the town pool. All of us were running low or out of water. We thought we would find a store in a very small town called Coffee Creek. It was as close to a ghost town as you can get,

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A cross wind tortured us until we finally struggled in to Denton, Montana, did a little food shopping, and set up at a free camp site on the far side of town.