The American Road Trip: Montana

Raft Guide (Spencer), MT
Gabriella’s friend Spencer was our host in Missoula and after showing us around the local bar scene (which is a happening one), he took us out on his raft the following day.

I-90 Overpass, Clark Fork, MT

Clark Fork, MT
We floated down the Clark Fork west of Missoula. Even for a weekday there were quite a few other rafters out.
Spencer and Gabriella Soaking, MT
It wasn’t Arizona hot, but the sun was shining hard that day. About halfway through we grounded the boat on a beach and took a dip in the cool waters.
Rafting Clark Fork, MT
This was our vessel. It’s fun to kind of try out these other sports besides cycling. One of these rafts costs about what a good quality mountain bike costs nowadays.

Gabriella, Clark Fork, MT

Clark Fork Beach, MT

50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, MT
On our way towards Idaho we stopped at the 50,000 Silver Dollar bar, which you guessed it, their bar is full of silver dollars.
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The American Road Trip: Arizona

Getting off the border from Tour Divide was a challenge. I ended up spending four hours waiting for any way out of the no-man town of Antelope Wells. I caught a ride with the daily shuttle from Janos, MX to Phoenix, AZ, but just took it to Lordsburgh as I needed a shower. I splurged on a hotel, a change of clothes, but not on food as Lordsburgh’s population was not much more than Antelope Wells and had few food options. I drank a six-pack watched some South Park and waited for the next day when Gabriella would pick me up in her Toyota pick-up, Carmelita, and we headed out for a month on the road.

We recharged in Silver City and the Gila first, before we set out on our journey. That first day would be a disaster. We had to drop off a bag for our buddy Morgan in Hatchita. His ride, a Hatchita local, recommended we head towards Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, MX. We agreed to go that way instead of backtracking. We hit the small town of Animas, as we passed the gas station Gabriella looked at the half empty meter and recommended we fill up. With half a tank, I thought we’d make it and disagreed. We headed towards what we thought was Coronado National Forest. The pavement ended and roughened. Then the sky opened up. On a dirt road, gas running out, not even sure if we were heading the right direction, we, not in the nicest manner, agreed to turn around. The gas station in Animas was closed, meaning the next closest gas station was back in Lordsburgh, where we started. A whole bunch of driving to finish where we started.

Thankfully, that wouldn’t set the tone of the trip. It was smooth sailing from then out.

Carmelita Vanlife
This was where we lived for most of the summer. Gabriella and I built a platform for the bed. The bed was made up of foam sheets as a mattress was too big for her Toyota. Most of our gear was stored underneath the platform.
Lake Roosevelt
This was our first stop in Arizona on Lake Roosevelt, a dammed lake. It would be over 100 degree and right before we went to sleep it rained making an extremely uncomfortable hot and humid sleep. At least the swimming was nice.
Carmelita at Night, Flagstaff
The nice thing about the camper setup in Gabriella’s truck is that we can spend the day in town and find a spot when the sun goes down. This was a stone’s throw from downtown Flagstaff.
Sedona, AZ
I didn’t do much riding while on the trip, but since we got a timeshare in Sedona I was able to hit some trails.
Carver Gnarvester Sedona, AZ
The Gnarvester setup with 2.35’s and missing all the bikepacking gear. I really wish I had run Blunt 35s so I could have gone straight back to 3″ tires for trail riding post-Divide.
Sedona, AZ
That’s the trail on the right. It was pretty rough going on a fully rigid bike.

  Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ

Fauna, Sedona, AZ

Trail, Sedona, AZ

Fauna, Sedona, AZ
Chapel of the Holy Cross Chapel of the Holy Cross.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Chapel interior.

Candles, Chapel of the Holy Cross

Grand Canyon NP
After Sedona we headed north to the Grand Canyon. We visited the South Rim, where I’d been before. I didn’t even think to visit the North Rim which might have been a nicer experience with fewer people. Tourists left in photo for scale.
Gabriella, Grand Canyon
My wonderful travel partner at the Grand Canyon. I’ll never get over the scale of this place, it feels like a photograph even when you’re standing on the ledge. It’s a surreal experience.
Carmelita, Coconino NF
We did our best to find free camping on our trip. This is our spot in Coconino National Forest, right outside the Grand Canyon and actually right along the Arizona Trail, a trail I’d like to race hopefully next year.
Grandview Lookout Tower
I’m not sure what it is, but I love firetowers. This one was right outside Grand Canyon National Park and it was legal to climb up!
Grandview Lookout Tower
Gabriella is terrified of heights, so she stayed down. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with heights, but even at the top I was a tad shaky. Since the tower is still in use the top was locked so I couldn’t get into the actual top.

Grandview Lookout Tower

Stairs at Desert View Watchtower
Stairs at Desert View Watchtower