Day 11: Missoula, MT to Billings, MT

We decided last night that we are just going to go ahead and head towards home. Pretty much everywhere we wanted to go from here was going to be miserably hot, so we might as well just save the rewards nights for a future trip, and go be hot at home, lol.

So today we went from Missoula to Billings. We decided this morning to take 2-lane instead of interstate because it was only a 40 minute difference. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

For some reason we decided when we left the hotel that we would just wait to gas up when we got off the interstate onto the 2-lane about 70 miles away. We realized as we exited the interstate that we had made a mistake, because there were no gas stations there. Helena was about 45 miles away, and our gas gauges said we had less than that til empty. Now, I know for a fact that our bikes usually have about another gallon or more left in them when our low fuel light comes on, so we were pretty confident we would make it there, but we became increasingly nervous about it the longer we rode and the lower the fuel gauge got. Imagine our relief when we came around a corner and there was a small little family owned gas station and convenience store there that hadn’t shown up on Google Maps. Dwayne told the lady that she was a life saver, and she said she gets that a lot, Haha!

After filling the bikes tanks and emptying our own, we got back on the road feeling MUCH better. Just after we left, the road climbed up and over a pass before going back down the hill, and we were even more thankful for that little gas station, because we would have lost gas mileage going up that hill. Then again, we could have coasted down the other side for about 5 miles no problem, so it may have been okay. I’m just so glad we didn’t have to find out. Lesson learned there.

After Helena our two lane route took us through some beautiful countryside, but it went a long time without ever going through another town. Each time we would see a sign telling how far to the next town, we would end up turning before we ever got to that town. After a while we were both in need of a restroom, and Dwayne was starting to become nervous about gas mileage again, because he knew we would be close making if to Billings if we never passed another gas station before then.

At one point I saw a town coming up on the map, but it turned out there was nothing there, it was just a blip on the map that probably used to be a bustling little town way back when, but now it was run down and not much there. As we left the town and headed on down the road, we saw the Charles M Bair family museum, so we stopped and Dwayne went in to see if they would let us use their facilities even though we weren’t paying customers, although at this point we would have gladly paid admission just to use their bathrooms! The lady at the desk was super sweet and was more than happy to oblige us, and we thanked her profusely for her kindness.

So we once again felt physically better, but we were still a little concerned about fuel. I looked on the map and saw there was a larger town 30 minutes away, so we figured they would have had and we would fill up there. About midway through the town we found a gas station and pulled in only to find that their pumps were all down, or perhaps they were out of fuel. I consulted the map again to see what our options were, and luckily I saw that there was one more station on the way out of town. If they didn’t have fuel we would have to head about 45 minutes south back to the interstate, out of our way, because there was a gas station there. Luckily, they did have gas, and we were thankful again.

From there we had another hour and a half to Billings, and the temperature was over 90 degrees. As we rode it continued to get hotter, and then the last 45 minutes it got super hazy, and we are pretty sure it was actually smoke from wildfires again. It made the already miserable ride even more miserable, and we were so thankful when we got to our hotel.

One of the cool things about today though, was the fact that we saw 5 bald eagles throughout our ride. Four sitting up on electric poles, and one flying above us. We see them occasionally at home, but never 5 in one day. Heck, I haven’t seen 5 in the last year before now. They are just so majestic and beautiful to see. I also saw a really gorgeous hawk, too. It was a good day for bird sightings!

Tomorrow we will be going to Rapid City, South Dakota, and the intention is to leave early again. I called the hotel and they said they could check us in at 1pm since I am a rewards member, and it is 5 hours ride time from here, so we will probably leave at 6 and get breakfast, and head that way, and if we get there too early we will just hang out in the lobby until the room is ready. 

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