September 18 (The End)

September 18 (The End)

Just like when I left Bar Harbor, there was no fanfair, no parade in my honor, I had gone for a ride that day in July, and now the ride has ended. As simple as that sounds, I am forever changed in ways I have just begun to comprehend. I think it is much easier to understand why people have been making pilgrimages and traveling in other various ways since recorded history began. We may set out to discover new places but we will inevitably discover new places inside ourselves.

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August 29-30 (Renting a U-haul)

August 29: Upon waking up to another cold morning, I made the decision to rent a U-haul in Valley City. I could say this was a difficult decision. I could say that the reality was if I kept at my current pace I wouldn't make it to the west coast before snow covered the mountain passes. I could (and did) say that I needed to get safely past the wildfires in eastern Montana. While all of these things are true, I will also say I was a little bit sick of biking. I had traveled almost 2500 miles to date on a bicycle, towing almost 100 pounds behind me. That's like trying to run with a parachute attached to your back. I calculated I had approximately 6 weeks left on my trip, which would put me well into October before I finished. Some mountain passes in western Montana and Washington close in early to mid-October, and I really didn't want to take any chances of coming so close to my goal and falling short. I have zero regrets about the decision to drive through some of the route. 

I loaded my bike into a 10 foot U-haul truck, (the smallest option you have if you're not bringing the vehicle back to the same U-haul location) rented in Valley City, and laughed at how little space I took up with essentially everything I currently owned. You really don't need nearly as much stuff in your life as you think. I had to reacquaint myself with driving since I hadn't driven a vehicle in almost 2 months. I don't think I exceeded 50 miles per hour for the first 100 miles, which I'm sure made the other drivers on I-90 super happy. I drove most of 600 miles and stopped at a rest stop somewhere in Montana. The great part about all that extra space in the back of the U-haul was that I had plenty of room to set up my sleeping pad and bag, no tent-pitching necessary. I closed the gate to the U-haul, leaving it open just a few inches to allow fresh air and a breeze inside. It was an incredibly peaceful night.

August 30: The next morning, I drove the rest of the way to the U-haul drop-off, located in Havre, Montana. I spent most of the day in the library, updating a severely out-of-date blog (like I'm doing right now). While sitting in the library, my phone went off with an alert about a wildfire twenty miles south of town. I returned the U-haul around 4:30 and biked back into town to Havre RV Park. The tent camping was really just a grassy area next to a gas station but it was quiet, had the nicest showers and even had laundry! I thought I might not want to get back on the bike, but it was like coming home. I might officially be a cyclist! Sitting outside my tent eating dinner, back up against a tree trunk, the ash falling on my tent was reminiscent of snow.