SEA TO SHINING SEA: The big M, Grizzlies and Adventure Cycling

Adventure Cycling Association headquarters at the corner of Pine and Pattee in Missoula reside in a contemporary building part of which was once a church.  Promoting bicycle touring in the US, Adventure Cycling is supported by more than 45,000 members. BY DENNIS FORNEY
June 11, 2013

DAY 28 - Haircutting and egoing our way across America. The nice lady named Paula in the ManCave in downtown Missoula trimmed my hair and beard this morning. Anything to get weight off. At Adventure Cycling Association a few blocks way, another nice lady mentioned that she has been reading the blog and told Becky her hair looked nice.  "Day 26," she said.  Proved herself.  But she didn't mention Paula's nice handiwork on my hair.  A blow to my ego eventhough I don't normally have enough hair to blow dry.

At the Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks from the Bitterroot River, the waiter said Missoula stays busy in the summer eventhough University of Montana (mascot Grizzlies) students go home for a few months.

"People think the town gets quiet but it doesn't.  There are little festivals all summer long and people start tubing down the river. So we stay busy, at least until the middle of August when the town gets so smoky people stay away.  By then either Washington or Idaho is on fire and the smoke settles here in our valley.  There are days when I can look out the window and not even see the mountain out there."

The mountain rises up behind the Grizzly campus, bordered by the Bitterroot.  Halfway up the mountain, at the end of a well-worn zig-zag path, is a giant capital M.  That's what they do out here in the west where so many towns have mountains and big hills as their backdrops.  They put the first initial of the town on the hillside. BIG.  Sometimes graduating seniors with a little energy left over take lime or some other white substance up the hills and put their class year beneath the big letter.  In Missoula, the big M gets double duty for the town and the university.

One of our British friends told us he will remember the US for its nice people and cinnamon. "People really love their cinnamon in this country."  He showed us a photograph of himself about to devour a cinnamon bun the size of the catcher mitts used to receive the fluttering pitches of knuckleballers. (Or if that's too esoteric, the size of a giant sunflower blossom.)

Tomorrow we saddle up and start pedaling southeast across Montana.  We're about 360 miles from West Yellowstone in the northwest corner of Wyoming.  With any luck, without tornadoes, and with more favorable tailwinds, we should make it there in about a week.

(We asked Trevor what advice he had for when we were confronted with a tornado.  "We were told two things in the midwest," he said.  "You can put your head between your legs and kiss your butt goodbye.  Or, if you're near train tracks and you see a culvert where the tracks cross a stream or something, you can crawl in there.  Thankfully we never had to do either."

I saw tornado warnings up for Sussex County Monday night.  I hope none struck.

Night all.

PS - Sorry to put up two in such rapid succession.  I meant to pull the trigger on one this morning but forgot.

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