Saturday, August 20, 2011

Get Along, Little Doggie: Adventures in Cow Country ....Montana

Night is falling, and I am currently sitting in Helena, MT, listening to music from an outdoor concert somewhere.  I should go see what is going on, but to be honest, I am just too tired.  I rode a challenging 55 miles today out in cow country...just me, the cows, and the mountains.....3500 ft of climbing and too many cows. 

After climbing a long, steep ascent, I was just starting the well earned downhill, when I rounded a corner only to come face to face with a herd of big, black cattle, all sporting red ear tags. I slammed to a stop, and, of course, immediately started digging for my camera. The cows looked at me, and I at them. Just as I pulled my camera out, some dogs from a nearby fenced in house barreled out, barking and snarling. This set the cattle my direction. Eyes wide, I stood perfectly still straddling my bike. I really didn't know what else to do--I certainly didn't want to be on the bike; the risk of getting pushed over was too great. So I stood there, waved my arms and made a lot of noise. "Get along there, little doggie".....Poor cows--they veered away and scampered straight up a steep embankment, mooing all the way.  Just think, my first stampede!

After completing the ride, I stopped in a little cafe in Wolf Creek that seemed to be frequented by the locals.  The only people in the place was a table of four ladies in working western wear,  I asked them if the trailer of horses outside was theirs, to which they replied 'yes'.  They lived in Wolf Creek, and were returning from a week of trail riding in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  They inivited me to sit down, and we proceded to have a wonderful lunch and conversation.  Two were sisters and owned a ranch. They thought the story above was funny and confirmed that I had done the correct thing.  Then they tried to figure out whose cattle it was; It is common practice when moving cattle to let them roam as they usually now where to go.  It was surprising, however, that there was no one around.  Lunch ended, and the ladies left before I had finished.  Upon asking for my bill, I was informed that Peggy had paid for my lunch.  I was dumbfounded and touched by the kindness.
l-r  Sally (sister), Peggy, Kathy (sister) and Kathy
The kindness that has been shown to me on this trip has been amazing.  People I don't even know have opened their homes and shared their lives with me.  Accepting these invitations and traveling this way was initially a stretch for me;I was nervous about staying with people I didn't know and with such varied backgrounds.  What I have discovered is a world of wonder; each of  the people I stayed with has given me a gift and made my life richer.  And the only thing I had to do was be has been an incredible experience so far.
Barb, Couer d'Alene, ID; more about her later, but she told me some cool places to visit

Cindi Rauch, on the right, Brush Prairie, WA
Marilyn, Roseburg, OR
Drew and Rebecca Brown, Coeur D'Alene, ID  Becky rode solo, self-contained across the Southern Tier.


  1. That is what is so nice about MT, WY, ND and SD. That is why we chose to retire in western SD. Glad you are having a great trip.

  2. I love the cowgirls.. what an adventure you have had

    its your outgoing personality that draws people to you
    they enjoy you too..... for me Im glad you did this trip and can
    share how wonderful everyone is.... What a joy to be free
    and out on the road!