“There are maps people whose joy is to lavish more attention on the sheets of colored paper than on the colored land rolling by”
~ John Steinbeck ~ [Travels with Charley]
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I didn’t do so well last week. I remember it and I let it go. Taking it as it comes. Too many memories from ancient past times? The mosquitoes were a non sense. Too many trees as funny as that may sound while starting to feel claustrophobic? Who knows… This now is a good week while on the banks of the Madison River on our West and wide open spaces East of us, three miles from 287 and on eight miles from Ennis. The Gravelly Range Rd is right passed the two bridges. Called Varney Bridge but I don’t know if it is the first one or second, maybe both have the same name.
We settled at the end of the road. A bit further away fishermen are in and out throughout the day putting their boats and floating apparatus in. A shuttle brings them back to drive their own vehicles wherever they landed after fishing all day. This space opens up my heart, my vision and all my senses at the same time. From 9000 feet we have dropped to 5500 and yet no temperature above 80. Shade is our friend. Of course Spirit can never make up his mind. Five minutes in the sun and another five in the shade. He has his own life to deal with. He does it well, stubbornness included but no complains.
This piece of land is peaceful. I am not surprised Real Estate is at its highest price here judging from the signs and the million dollar houses lining up the banks. They must be on 100 or more acre lots and I don’t see anyone when we ride by. What a perfect Northern Oasis this would be. For $6 dollars a night we get to borrow it and enjoy it. The clouds are here daily of all shades of gray bringing on a cool wind by late afternoon. It was even cold last night as the bands of rain surrounded us after a glorious sunset. The road is straight coming here except where it makes a V from the top of a hill and that is where we stood watching the nightly show. Maybe again tonight? One never knows the program and we are always ready to take it all in.
Ennis is not such a quiet town anymore mainly because it does not have a bypass and everyone from South to North and vice versa has to come through. The locals are friendly catering to the many who come here for fly fishing, mainly as I found out after asking, for catch and release. So much for dinner. We took a day ride towards Bozeman today to have a front tire mounted. The only one which is tubeless which I cannot handle myself as my compressor is not strong enough to pop the bead and I am never ready to try the lighter fluid trick. The one with a few drops in the tire, valve off, and throw a match. I only enjoy watching someone else do it!
I thought about lunch on Main street which I like, or maybe "liked". It seems the town has grown, parking in the shade was impossible. The little cafes and taco stands of all sorts where filled wall to wall. It must have been lunchtime. I was glad I always carry some kind of energy bars with us and much water of course. About three gallons of it on light days. So we just came back to this little restaurant in Ennis called the Pit Stop. Great inexpensive food as it should be. Wonderful pizzas and a Ruben as I like. It is only 10 miles or so from camp, has shade and I can sit outside just a few steps from Spirit. It beats cooking!
The days are just flowing. I sometimes have to look at the calendar as we need to be in Portland on the 31st. There is still plenty of time. All is calm. I try to keep it that way. The sound of Life is heard, same from the river flowing next to us never slowing down too much. As Spirit and I were walking near by it last night, moon getting full, just for a moment it made me think of the sounds of a freeway! Those easy avenues which self transport millions of people from the point A’s to point B’s. The sound of the many birds around here took over and that thought went away as fast as it came in.
I don’t know bird names but they have meetings here every evening. The river being West of us they all get together by a cluster of trees East and their loudness is so pleasant while I sit in my chair supposedly trying to read but do not and cannot . I know Hawks and daily two of them together fly by also talking to each other. They are quite a sight. A bit further, Bambis, as I call them, also meet and run together in unison with never a definite pattern. This here will always be a stop for us. It is taking years to find such special spaces but we are getting there.
The stay limit is seven days and I just spoke with Andrew, the State Ranger. Everywhere else in the country, BLM and National Forest lands have a 14 or 16 day limit. They are here trying to avoid for the homeless to move in, but after a pleasant conversation with him and his dog Bear he is allowing us to stay a couple extra days. We share our lives explicitly and it pays off as it did this morning. We are from here headed to Stanley and now there is no rush. Bear has been his first companion as Andrew is now married and has a seven months old son. He bluntly told me none of it would have happened without learning first the life’s lessons from his dog. I am aware many will and do not understand that concept. It is as with us a beautiful one.
Our stay here would not be complete without riding Gravelly Range Rd and the Farmers Market on a Saturday. We would normally camp up there but the local Ranger, the one at the National Forest visitor center, talked us out of it. They are relocating 700 (?) grizzlies. True or false? I don’t know but I did see one twice my size and a bit taller than me cross the road ahead of us and disappear. It is quite a road. One of my favorite in the country. One I always call "the road to nowhere", which of course is not as it loops back down to 287 unless in a high clearance four wheel drive and only then it just might be going nowhere. Photos do not make justice. One has to ride or drive it to appreciate the vastness and the pleasant loneliness the space offers. Maybe next time we come back they will be done with the bears. If I remember well, it was the same scenario a couple years past.
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Ara and Spirit