Today, we will be droned! This tiny insect camera-creature directed by the Drone brothers, Nick and Drew (not really brothers), will whirl around us, documenting the line of flags making our way through Paradise Valley, Montana, north of Yellowstone National Park, the first National Park in the U.S. But first we break bread and suit up on a stretch of trail hugging the side of Highway 89 South.
As we start out, just as Ginny is packing up the van and trailer, someone with much hair and much gesticulating and much to say comes out from their home to let us know how much we are trespassing. Private property vs. public domain.
We pedal away and onto the path. But the wind rises up behind us, catching the flags.
These usually docile floaty things are bucking formation. The wind tickled the flag underbellies, jerking them up, and slapping our backs. We tried biking on, but the flags ripped at their tethers wherever they could. Finally, each flag wriggled free, whipping around us, undoing its line.
Today, the wind and the flags were having none of our drone-ready 4 ½ ft formation. The wind pushed the bike line into a grove of trees, close to a rock face.
Bob, our flag whisperer, God bless him, tried to steady, then fix each flag, one by one. Like a clock tinkerer, he re-tied lines, reattached flags to poles, recouped all the jigsaw-maneuvering from whence we started. But the wild wind pushed us to stop and re-group again. His patience was unflagging but the wind made sure we knew it was in charge today. We limped along, trying to fight the flags bucking up over and over again. Finally, Captain L-Ray yelled ‘uncle’. We untethered the flags and the wind died down.
Here is an aspect of this 4 ½ ft Drawing 2 bike ride adventure. We all participate on this ride as if we are on a film shoot, especially today with our first drone film crew, trying to capture the line from above. All of us, all hands on deck, willing to do whatever it takes to capture the progression of the line in the landscape around us. Bob is our flag champion, wrangling with tangled lines, uneven and even broken rods, bent brackets, all the structural equipment which hold our flags in place. He and Dee and Cori took this on project like trainers dealing with exotic animals. And, calamity averted, flags refitted, drones set up, also bird spotting. Maya catches sight of a Cassiopeia.
Flags flying again, we proceed at a clip, with the buzzing drone tagging behind us like the red balloon. Rolling through a few bends and then into a vast valley of green, dotted with black cows. Somewhere in the near distance, we would pedal by a house belonging to the singer, John Mayer.