Darby, MT

Day 36

75 miles

1628.6 total miles

We got up early, got packed and headed south back into Missoula to run a quick errand at the post office.  We then made our way around the block to the home of Adventure Cycling Association. Adventure Cycling is the organization that made the maps we used for our travels up the coast, and whose maps we will be using for other sections of our trip.  They are in many ways the leaders in all thing bike touring, not just for their great maps, but for campaigning for better biking facilities and routes.  It was great to stop by their headquarters, get our picture added to the wall, get some free drink and snacks, and chat with one of their main map builders about our own route and ideas.

From Missoula we headed south along Adventure Cycling’s Trans America route.  75 miles is no longer a long day, until you realize it’s into the wind and uphill.  The prevailing winds in this part of the country are unfortunately going to be headwinds, luckily we’ve been training. 

As we headed south from Missoula the landscape in many ways was meh.  We were told the ride through the Bitterroot valley would be pretty, maybe we’ve just seen too much of spectacular that it takes more than some trees, hills and water to put me in awe.  The gentlemen at ACA however said it was his favorite part of the Trans Am route.  Maybe there is more to see as we get further south. 

We finished the day in Darby, a very nice little town, where we were staying with our host for this night Patrick, Haley and their daughter, Aubrin.  When we got to their house we were greeted by Patrick cooking fresh venison burgers on the grill and Aubrin, just shy of four years of spit fire, running around and showing us how she can ride her bike without training wheels.  We got settled and I was asked to go to the garden and grab some lettuce for dinner.  I agreed immediately and confidently, but secretly as I headed into the relatively large garden just kept thinking, “ok Matt you can do this, lettuce”.  “Nope those are definitely tomatoes, not sure what that is, ok this looks like it could be lettuce, here gores nothing”.  I indeed picked the lettuce!

We sat down and had a great dinner including a large shandy (stella and lemonade) which was delicious.  After words we got ready for bed and Haley put Aubrin to sleep.  At this point the three of us got to sit down and chat with Patrick more about Hidden Legend Meadery, where he and his family make award winning mead.  Below are my cliff notes from that moment.  But to start, mead is alcohol made from honey and its amazing.

Logo is Torbo the dwarf

Bee’s make different honey based on the plants they use to make honey (light, Dark, etc)

Light Mead (pure honey Mead, only honey but has complexities, like white wine), Dark Mead, Spicy Mead. These are contemporary meads, composed of knapweed, hearty and bitey, 2-4% sugar. Subtly of honey, marketed toward wine drinkers.

Not necessary to swirl

We tried in order, Elder berry mead, Huckleberry mead, Chokecherry mead, Maple Mead, Peach Mead all tailored to be like drinking wine.

Don’t need to clean glass.

Honey is its own stabilizer

Traditional Mead next

Kings Mead - honey, clover honey, 7% sugar.  Gives the nectar flavor.  This is amazing!!

Cyser - Honey and apples

Pyment – Kings mead blended with Merlot and Cab red wines

Melomel – Cherries right behind mead distillery.

Home Made

Buckwheat honey

Needless to say we tried a lot of mead that night and I was definitely feeling it the next morning.  It was wonderful to share the experience with Patrick though.  His passion for his work is evident in a way that makes you realize it’s the best way to live.  My favorite was the Kings Mead, it’s remarkable how smooth it is and most certainly will be added to the bar when I get home.

Check them out at and do yourself a favor and order a bottle.

Miss you Muppet,