TransAm - Day # 75

Trip Start May 04, 2007
Trip End Aug 05, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Traveling from W. Yellowstone to Missoula, MT, we encountered a genuine cattle drive outside of Virginia City. The highway (as well as main street, Virginia City) was temporarily blocked as cowboys and cowgirls manipulated the beef in an orderly fashion to and through an open gated pasture. Virginia City was once a gold mining community. Today board walks and weather-beaten store fronts remain. It virtually shuts down during the winter months. In fact, many businesses, I've noted, in this area of the Country list not only open hours, but open months as well. One DQ (which is always a welcome sight), for example, indicated it was open April through October. In spite of the smallness of Virginia City, we did find a surprisingly excellent breakfast buffet in an establishment so small there were only two small tables indoors.
Crossing Big Hole Pass, we dropped down into Jackson Big Hole, MT. - an expansive, several thousand acres, meadow/grassland/valley. "Hole" refers to a valley surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges. Jackson Big Hole is privately as well as federally owned lush pasture. Both the ranchers as well as the Federal Park Commission preserve the ecosystem such that it is virtually unchanged (allegedly) from the Lewis and Clark exploration days - vast expanse of native prairie grass for cattle grazing and fields of hay. The hay is cut and stacked (rather than baled) in a fashion identical to the method used in the late 19th century. In the middle of this meadow sits the town of Jackson (where there are only ~20 frost-free evenings annually) and more specifically, the Jackson Lodge where we spent a night. There we feasted on a dinner that would match that of any upscale metropolitan restaurant; the breakfast buffet was elegant as well (quiche, no less, was an option).
Missoula, MT, our current location is the home of the University of Montana and Adventure Cycling Association (ACA). The latter organized the trip we are undertaking. Last evening we had group and individual photos made. Today, ACA is hosting a bar-b-que for us.
Yesterday, it was in the mid-90s. That represents an unusually hot day for this area. Today began, however, cool and dry. Everyone (seemingly) rides bicycles. Bicycle paths are a component of many streets in Missoula.
Our Group members are now all looking forward to the end (Florence, Oregon) of the journey. Many, including me, are taking time today to make return trip reservations. We should arrive in Florence August 2nd afternoon.
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