There are 2 Indian Reservations in southeastern Montana that butt up next to each other, the Crow and the Northern Cheyenne, that span about 60 miles.  We had a 70-mile day planned from our starting point in Garryowen to a campground on National Forest land on the other side of the Reservation, a distance we should easily be able to cover in a day despite our late start.  But we were met with a headwind from hell and after 5 hours we had only covered 30 miles.  Pathetic.

Not only were we being challenged physically, but emotionally as well.  Crossing the Reservation was by far the most depressing day of riding we've had to date.  There was more garbage, baby diapers and beer cans littering those 60 miles than we've seen collectively throughout this entire trip.  The landscape was beautiful but it was like riding through a dump.  It was impossible to dodge the shattered glass scattered across the roadway - it was literally everywhere.  About half way across, the shards of glass finally took a toll on our tires.  Mike got a flat, which we had been plagued with over the past several days....just what we needed to make an already bad day worse.
We flagged down an ice cream truck to buy ourselves a treat as we changed the flat.  We needed something to lift our spirits on this miserable day!

Mike enjoying his ice cream treat.

We arrived in the town of Lame Deer as the sun was getting low in the sky.  We were only 2/3 of the way to our destination and there was no way we'd make it by dark.  We had 2 options, neither of which sounded good.  We could continue riding in the dark, but there's a major problem with violence and alcoholism here and riding this road at night was the very last place we wanted to be.  We didn't want to camp in town either; it felt like we were in a third world country and it was clear we weren't welcome by the countless cold shoulders and resentful glares we received from nearly everyone in town.  But staying there was the lesser of 2 evils and sometimes you just don't have any other options.  We knocked on the door of the police station (which also happened to be the jail) to ask if there was a place we could stay.  They directed us across the street to an open lot with some picnic tables saying we'd "probably be safe there."  What???  Probably be safe?  Not very reassuring but we went to bed hoping for the best.

We were awakened in the middle of the night by a blaring siren coming from the police station - the same siren as in the old movies whenever there was a jail break.  We both shot out of bed, hearts pounding, eyes bulging, going from a dead sleep to wide awake in a nanosecond.  I laid staring out the tent door for a long time wondering what was happening in the darkness surrounding us, but eventually the exhaustion from the day caught up to me and I fell asleep praying we'd make it through to morning.  It was not a good night and we were happy to get out of there early the next morning.

In a few weeks my sister is moving to New Mexico to work on a Reservation.  I know I would plummet into a massive state of depression if I had to be in a place like that everyday and I don't know of many people who would emotionally be able to handle it.  Amanda - you have a heart of gold and you truly are a saint!  I hope the place you're going is a happier and friendlier community than this.


Amanda said...

Did you tell the Schwan's man that you used to work at the plant that makes that ice cream?

Cari and Mike said...

Yes, I told him but he didn't seem very impressed :(

Anonymous said...

Hi! Sounds like another adventurous day...I just wanted to point out that not all Reservations are like that....

Cari and Mike said...

I realize not all Reservations are like that, nor did I ever imply that. I'm just writing about our own experiences.

Matthew said...

What's goin on man,

I am damn jealous of you out there. Been checkin with you guys on here now and then. Sounds like a blast and keep up the good work you crazy bastard. Well I'll be holdin down the blue blockers for now. hhaaaha. Take it easy man.


Mom said...

Your experience with the Reservations is close to what I remember from Water tank Hill in Alturas. When you return, I will tell you about that.
Love you bunches!