Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dillon, MT

Day 36: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Wisdom to Dillon: 73 miles

We awoke to low-flying clouds and dew that had frozen into little globules, courtesy of the 28-degree fog that had settled in overnight. Most of the Wounded Warrior riders didn't wait for the fog to lift, but some of us decided to play it safe.

dew globules on tent
Frozen dew in the morning

Angus rides off
Angus rides off into the mist.

It was a short ride down the valley to Jackson, home to 45 people and to the Jackson Lodge and Hot Springs (which, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, we and other cyclists were squeezed out of). A couple of kids (maybe 20 years old) were hanging out on the porch of the cafe. They were quite interested in the cyclists, and me especially, because of my advanced age (!) and the amount of weight I'm carrying. They were very polite. It turned out that they had hitchhiked in, bringing 80 pounds of rice and beans, to be a part of the Rainbow Gathering. They went to pains to point out that they weren't Rainbow Kids (huh?), but were just curious and wanted to be a part of it as part of their life experience.

A sheriff's deputy pulled up, leaned out the window, and said, "I bet you're from Nova Scotia!" "Nope," I replied, "but there's another cyclist inside who might be the one you're after." It turned out that he was just keeping an eye on the Wounded Warrior riders.

After Jackson comes Big Hole Pass, the one that I cussed my way up back in 1981. Without the water jug, it wasn't really that bad a climb. In 1981, we had camped at the top of the pass, a little way off the road, and had a fantastic evening. Now, everything's fenced off. Oh, I suppose we could have found a place to set up tents, but it was only lunchtime.

mountain, homestead, gate
Gate, homestead, mountain

Back in 1981, I had photographed some interesting structures in the Big Hole. I had no idea what they were, but surmised that they had something to do with the huge haystacks we had seen. Yup. They're called beaver slides. See the contemporary pic below. Despite their size, they're actually portable, and can be moved anywhere a haystack is needed. Hay is loaded onto a platform at the bottom of the incline. Horses (or tractors, nowadays) pull the platform up the incline, and the hay is flopped onto the top of the stack. It was invented by a Big Hole rancher over 100 years ago, and I suppose you could call it a gigantic primitive front-end loader. For more (and interesting!) info, just do a web search for "beaver slide". Wikipedia has a good article on it.

beaver slides
Beaver slides are still used, although less frequently.
Although large haystacks are better at preserving nutritional content,
modern baling techniques are replacing them.

Dillon's an interesting town. It has a beautiful railroad station, which is now a museum, with an outdoor museum alongside it. When the Chicago Three, the New Hampshire Two, and I pulled into town, there was a vintage Chevrolet rally and show there. We wanted to check it out, but just didn't have time for it. Instead, we stocked up on supplies and headed for the KOA. (The Metlin Hotel also looked interesting, but not all of us are on hotel budgets.)

Dillon railroad station
The Dillon railroad station, now a museum

The Hotel Metlin
Dillon's Hotel Metlin looks like an interesting place to stay.

And now a good word for KOAs. Back in 1981, we used a few of them. But we tried to avoid them. They seemed to be pretty much a plot of dirt divided up into RV spots. Not very exciting at all.

This one wasn't like that at all. It's almost like a home away from home (at least for the RVers). Jovial Bald Bob takes pride in his KOA, and takes good care of it. And he gave us a good price. Even on Pepsi.

Bald Bob
Bald Bob hugs his bear

Chicago three at supper
The Chicago Three sit down to supper


  1. The beaverslide is exceptionally cool. Check it out:

  2. Hey Bret, according to my journal, I ate lunch at Skeets cafe and took a shower at Hotel Metlen when we were there in '81. So it's likely you did the same. Seems vaguely familiar. Funny that you were dodging thunderstorms up to Twin Bridges and doubling back toward Sheridan. That's exactly what we did through that area in '81.


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