This morning came a bit early with Brad banging on my door. What an asshole. Ok, it was 9:30, so I guess it was time to get going. A quick crepe in town (yea, we’re pretty sophisticated), and we’re on our way. Not sure where to tonight, but Brad’s tire is getting pretty damn barren, so we gotta figure that out at some point.
This drive is pretty fantastic as we slide down the west side of Flathead Lake – a beautiful sea of blue surrounded by a touch of green and then brown tree-spotted hills. The only event was stopping so that Brad could get a bee out of his helmet before it stung him. Mission accomplished. Sting free.
A quick stop midday in Butte yielded no good coffee stop. I thought we were going to find one when a guy stopped us on the street to talk about our bikes. I asked him if he knew of a good coffee shop around, and he answered, “Ah, no, I don’t get out much. See, I’m locked up right now for doing some bad shit.” Gotcha. Later dude, and later Butte. Let’s just say that I hope I’m never forced to take a job that sends me to Butte, Montana. Cross your fingers for me.
Next was a stop for lunch in Missoula. Seems like a pretty cool town. Good, young, collegie vibe. But, Brad was unfortunately unable to find tires, so the ride to Billings was going to be a fairly slow one. At one point, I was going to go ahead and just meet him in Billings, but then I thought, “Wags, don’t be an ass. You’ll get there all of 20-30 minutes before him. That’s not worth leaving your wingman for. Have you learned nothing? Never leave your wingman.” And, as it turns out, it was all good, and the slow ride was great – we were running from the soft, blue, setting sun and chasing the emerging moon as the sun set in our mirrors the moon rose above the mountains in front of us. And our slow pace gave me the opportunity for some (very safely taken) photos.
Then we got to Billings. We were lucky because we got to overpay for a hotel that didn’t just smell like urine but cigarettes too! I think they must have charged us extra for that. And it’s Saturday night at 9:30 and NOTHING is open except the Maui Nites “Casino” next door to our palace. This depressing shithole was almost more than either of us could take after being in some of the most amazing land in the world. Think small, cramped space with bright lights and the constant blingblingdingdongbingbingbing of slot machines being caressed by people who had no business dumping their limited funds into money holes. I just wanted to tell them, “Dude, save your money for prostitutes. At least you’d be getting a sure thing.” Well, we felt lucky that we could get some terrible cardboard disguised as pizza and eavesdrop on what was going on around us.
I overheard one story of some crazy chick throwing shampoo bottles at a guy at Walmart for wearing a Red Sox shirt while she was looking at fish. Walmart sells fish. Huh. Then, this other couple was on their way out, and I’ll try to paint the picture. The woman was going for the Harley Goth Clown Look with lipstick applied by spray roller in the dark with her off hand, and the dude, well, think stereotype Harley, only nastier with less attention paid to hygiene. As they’re leaving, some wisecracker says, “Dude, ride ‘er like you stole ‘er,” and the red-lipped hot momma takes the bate hook, line, and sinker. “Oh he does. Like five times a day!” and they saunter out like Bradjolina on their way to make a raunchy sex film. Oh, Eric, go to your happy place. This never happened. Think unicorns and sunshine and chocolate chip cookies…
This was our Billings. I know you can’t win em all, but by morning, I was a shattered man ready to sell my soul to escape this heartless town. Perhaps the interior of Billings is great, and we didn’t see it, but the outskirts, well, it’s sometimes shocking to see how other people live… But also awesome to see at the same time.