We woke up late this morning at around 7:30, made breakfast and headed to the convenience store to refill on water. There we called Dick and Susan, the couple we met yesterday, and informed them that our plans had changed and we would in fact be in Billings tonight. They said they would be overjoyed to host us in Billings tonight. And there was much rejoicing.
Our first 25 miles outside of Big Timber was slightly downhill with a tailwind, so we were averaging 17 mph! About 15 miles outside of Big Timber, Travis got a phone call from a friend who is moving across the country. It turns out she had just driven past us. She and her friend turned around and we chatted on the I-90 shoulder before making plans to meet in Columbus for lunch at what has become the staple of our trip, Subway.
We made good time to Columbus but after lunch slowed down because we told Dick and Susan that we'd be there between 5 and 6 and we only had 40 miles to go. About 15 miles in, we noticed a storm building behind us. Without saying a word to each other, we both poured on the steam for the next hour and a half. The storm was of course drawing all of the air into it, so we were facing a brutal headwind and only averaging 14 mph or so. Those were the most grueling miles of the trip so far.
We started to feel drops about 5 miles from our exit but it looked like the storm was going to stay northwest of us, and it did. We arrived at the convenience store at our exit exhausted and hungry for some ice cream. We were once again in need of a bike shop and were directed to the Spoke Shop, which was downtown and mostly on the way to Dick and Susan's.
The people at the Spoke Shop were very friendly, letting Travis but is bike on the stand and helping him clean his drive train. For the past few days he has been struggling to clip in to his pedals and tried cleaning and adjusting his cleats. We promised the bike techs a six pack, "the darker the better," for their help before scurrying off to Dick and Susan's house whom we were a little bit late to meet. When I talked to them on the phone from the bike shop, I asked where a good place to eat would be and Dick said they had food for us at their house. What a deal!
We pulled up to the house, tucked our bikes away in the greenhouse and were shown to our rooms. Separate rooms. Incredible! Before sitting down to dinner with them, I hopped into the shower, since my hygiene was questionable at best without having showered in the past 6 days.
Dinner was delicious lemon chicken, spaghetti, homemade potato salad, bread, beans and tomatoes and of course beer. Travis and I ate two platefuls each while hearing about Dick and Susan's adventures in New Zealand. Dick is a retired physics professor with a keen interest in environmentalism and traveling, so naturally we hit it off well. Susan worked as a teacher on the Indian Reservation but had also spent time in China a few years back. She used to ride her bike to work all through the Montana winter too!
Over dinner, Dick spoke some true words to live by. "You should take the trip of a lifetime, at least every couple of years." It sounds like he and Susan have successfully done that. We wrapped up dinner with some damn good Moose Tracks ice cream, before we were given a computer to catch up on e-mails with. I sent out some feelers on warmshowers.org for places to stay in Rapid City on the Fourth of July, so hopefully somebody will be able to put us up and we can join in on a real American barbecue.
Susan is going to fix breakfast for us at 7, so we are living quite large here. I hand washed my biking clothes in the sink with the dish washing detergent we brought along before crawling into the warm and comfortable bed these wonderful strangers had provided.