I am sitting in my tent on a lovely mown lawn at the Korean War Memorial, in Stodden Park, in Butte, Montana. It is Saturday, July 14, 7:50 p.m. Rain pecks at the tent walls. Thunder crackles in the distance. Butte is hosting the Montana Folk Music Festival. The town is full of music lovers. The parks are full too. This is an overflow site. It's free. There is a rest room about 200 hundred yards away. I can take a shower (which I need desperately) at the KOA campground about a mile away. It's $5, well worth it.
Now, lightening illuminates the tent walls and thunder cracks throughout the valley. This is the 5th or 6th major rain I've been in. I'm quite secure and happy in my tent.
Butte, Montana is a mining town. Copper. The open ore pit dominates the landscape to the west. It is carved out of a long sweeping mountain range. Copper used to be mined by digging holes in the ground. Now the entire mountain is removed. Along the mountainside above the city of Butte, there are many remaining mine shaft derricks. They moved miners, supplies, and copper ore in and out of the mines. They look like oil rigs, but they are bigger, sturdier, and have a wheel at the top for a large cable. Today, some of these derricks are stages for the Montana Folk Festival.
How did I get here? Where was I the last time I wrote? Days are blurry. Exact dates evaporate in the heat of travel and the cycling sun.
I remember writing in Red Lodge, Montana. A special town. Special people. I spent two days there after crossing the Beartooth Range. Being there felt like a reward. Did I not write about this before? Rolling into town, not finding a campground close by, deciding to stay in a motel? Selecting the most rundown one I could find? It was so rundown it was closed. Riding through the stoney driveway, coming out in an alley by a park? Did I not tell this story?
How did I get to Red Lodge, Montana before Yellowstone, Wyoming? How did I get from the Devil's Tower to Clara's yard? Where did I meet Jim and share so much? What fire did Nancy create to lure me in? How did Katie and Gary know I was a vegetarian and have dinner ready? Where is that kindred spirit Justin now? Will age be a factor when Clive returns to England? How long will the world have Grandpa Bill?
It's an hour later than when I started. The rain beats hard on my tent walls. I'm listening to Bob Dylan as I type. Each random song has deep meaning. I spend untold time pondering, thinking over the miles and people I've encountered in my journey.
Pragmatic me, feels the evening grow colder and considers something more than bicycle shorts and a tee shirt for evening dress. I brought along a cold weather duffle bag. Smart New Englander I am.
I listen to one more song then call it a night. Torrents of rain now pound the tent. I drift off quickly and dream.