For the first time today, after more than 3,000 miles, I had my first view of the Rocky Mountains. I couldn't believe it. All this way, all this time pedalling, and there they were. Still 100 miles in the distance but a milestone nonetheless. But that didn't eclipse something that had happened just 10 miles before.
I had stopped on a remote section of highway 2 here in western Montana, about 20 miles east of Shelby, to film the passing of an Amtrak train, an American icon, a shot I'd been after for some time. Plenty of freight trains in the can but the Amtrak only passes through once per day, and never on time. I don't know why they bother to publish timetables to be honest. On this occasion it was 3 hours late!
Anyway, eventually, having waited for an hour in the blistering heat, it went passed and I captured the shot. Pauline had left me to get on with it some 45 minutes earlier, so I set off to catch her up on my own.
For company I decided to listen to some music on my iPod. I set it to random and what should play but a song by the Pet Shop Boys called, appropriately, Go West. The rhythm of the music had me cranking up a few gears and I was flying along the open road. It stretched out before me for miles in a perfectly straight line. It had clouded over, so the heat had subsided a few degrees and the headwind I had been fighting died down. As I ate up the miles, In the distance, I spotted the telltale sign of three lights in a triangle formation, the leading lights of a freight train locomotive approaching.
Just as it reached me the clouds parted, a shaft of sunlight beamed down onto the front of the freight train. I raised my arm and waved and the engineer sounded the trains horn in response, the music played, my bike grew wings and I flew through the vast emptiness of the beautiful Montana landscape.
And then it happened.
I found myself crying, and yet smiling from ear to ear. I felt at one with everything around me, all in perfect harmony. There it was. The perfect moment. After 3 months, 3 days and 3,000 miles, the perfect balanced moment of emotion and joy. I couldn't help the tears. All my troubles, frustrations and fears melted away, and dare I say it, I was happy. I pushed on to meet Pauline, my best friend and my soul mate, whom I owe so much to and have shared this journey and wonderful life experience with. And we're not finished yet.
Tomorrow we will start our pedal toward Glacier National Park to cycle over the Going-To-The-Sun road across the Rocky Mountains.
Bring it on.