Monday June 29: Rest Day in Billings

We liked downtown Billings -- but West Billings doesn't have enough shade!

That about sums it up -- overall it was a good day, but we don't want to spend our rest days doing errands anymore. It's not restful! Maybe we'll be able to mail order everything we don't need on an emergency basis.

The day started out great -- we took the shuttle from the school to downtown, where we found Broadway Cafe, an internet cafe which let us unplug one of their PCs and plug in the laptop to their T1 connection so we could upload our most recent www pages. We'd also looked for a place that sold accessories for digital cameras, but were out of luck within walking distance. We were told to go to a place called "Future Store". However, after uploading the pages I was really hungry so we ate lunch at the Montana Brew Pub, the most happenin' joint in town probably, if the number of riders there was any indication. They brew 6 kinds of beer, as well as their own root beer. And their food was really excellent too! It was sort of a real restaurant/pub combined.

We'd heard from our table neighbors at the MBP that the two bike shops who'd set up tents in camp didn't have any selection left at their stores, but that a place called "The Bike Shop" had decent selection, although being primarily geared towards mountain bikes. So, we took the 5P bus from downtown to 17th and Grant (where we'd been told it was). Turns out it's actually just past 19th and Grant, so we walked to it. At this point it was really hot, but not too bad yet. We did see one funny thing; a vacuum repair shop with a great parking-lot gimmick . They didn't have the tires Ro needed, though -- like everywhere else, they were out of 700x25Cs, and only had 23C and 20Cs left (I use 23Cs). They also only had men's pearl izumi skela-gel gloves (the men's smalls are gigantic on my hands), and no Terry seats (I'm seriously desiring one at this point). Oh well. So, we get some more squeaky plastic toys (a frog head and a dragon), some handlebar tape for Ro, and a crop top for me for the really hot days.

We leave, and head south towards Rimrock Mall, because the Future Shop is supposed to be a couple (long) blocks south of it. They are long blocks, and it's hot and the bugs are getting worse, too. The bus driver said we'd have to be back by 5:45pm to get back to downtown; that would be the last run for him. Well, we had an hour, but it took us quite a while to get the full distance to the Future Shop (as it turns out, it's kinda like Circuit City/The Good Guys). And, they sold the *other* kind of digital camera media, the compact-flash type (I am not sure if that's right, but it certainly wasn't the SmartMedia cards we were looking for!). However, they did have one thing I did get: an Avigo to match Ro's. He has the same make/model, and the store didn't have any of the software CDs or manuals that go with it (but Ro had them on his laptop) so I got the Avigo for below cost and Ro promptly put the games on it that night. *grin*.

We left, at 5:44pm according to the clock by the Costco across the street. This is a very shopping-oriented area, but not the window-shopping type. More like the power-guerrilla type shopping. We walked over to where the bus pullout was, but we weren't sure about whether or not we'd missed the last bus. So, we watched for taxis while waiting, but none came by either for 10 minutes! No worries -- we just went inside the Pier 1 Imports that the stop was next to so we could try to call a taxi direct.

We were greeted inside by Dorinda, a wonderful woman who not only called a taxi company for us, but gave us plenty of water and let us relax inside while waiting. 20 minutes later, the cab hasn't shown up, so she says that hey, she lives downtown, so if we don't mind waiting another 5 to 10 minutes, she'll give us a lift, and we should just tell the cab driver nevermind. Wow! She also confirmed that yes, the buses stop running at 6pm (why? we don't know) and that Billings is so small that the taxis don't really drive around; they're almost exclusively on an on-call basis (you can tell I've lived in LA for a long time; this is unheard of to me! *smile*). True to her word, she gave us a ride (the picture is a little dark, waaaah!) to her first suggested place to have dinner -- the Montana Brew Pub! Guess we did good at lunch! We did stay there for dinner, actually -- good food, and it was only 1 block away from our shuttle pick-up point. Inside, out of the heat, having just truly experienced a very friendly local, Billings was once again Good.

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