Some patter of rain again last night but the Nemo tent performed nicely. The state park had been sufficiently quiet for a good sleep, but not a very good camping value. Besides the high cost, the restrooms were distant, the trash bins were distant, and the RVs (and their occasional accompanying nitwits) were not welcome campmates.
At least the park had a nearby siphon water tap. I approached the tap with toothbrush in hand, lifted the handle and started pumping. To my dismay, I got no water, and trudged back to our breakfast table. Randy informed me that one simply lifts the handle – no pumping required. I felt like a goof until he told me he made this same mistake last year while learning the ropes.
Another gruel-like Cream of Wheat breakfast. Again, it hit the spot, but I really needed to score some salt packets somewhere.
We hit the road by 9:15am. Turning south on ND200, the scenery was simply gorgeous. Pale blue flax, brilliant yellow canola, stunning green wheat, tranquil duck ponds, corralled horses and cattle. Aided by a NNW wind, we sailed up and down long rollers, mostly heading south, but then turned east onto county road 37 and ND31, back toward the river. Easy beautiful miles, some of the best so far.
For inexplicable reasons, I began dreaming about French toast. Blame it on my breakfast gruel, or my growing appetite from cycling. Thick slices with crisp edges. Warm maple syrup and butter dripping off them.
Somewhat ahead of Randy, I soon descended into the idyllic little town named Stanton, ND, population 345, stopped, and parked my bike by the roadside so he’d see it. A lone business exists there, a Sinclair station, but a small appendage on her right side posted a sign that read “Café Du Mond.”
I entered to the smell of fresh coffee, and my eyes quickly scanned their menu. There it was! French toast! Here I was in this gorgeous place in this tiny town with only one business, and they had French toast. Felt like I’d found an oasis.
Randy joined me minutes later and soon we were seated at a table. I was actually feeling a cold coming on, and ordered a big glass of OJ that tasted just great. Do I need to mention how good the French toast was? Randy also found a wi-fi signal and worked for a while with it. A very good stop.
Our route took a decided turn to the east, and the tailwinds turned into moderate crosswinds. From Stanton, it was a 22 mile slog in to the town of Washburn. The final few miles were a grind since Washburn is perched on top of a bluff by the river. Even the bridge across the Missouri seemed to be uphill. I switched onto my little chainring for the first time thusfar on the trip, although Randy seemed to motor through this section easily.
Since our turn off ND1804 just below the lake, we’d ridden almost 60 miles through Riverdale, Pick City, and Stanton following the Lewis&Clark AC map to get back to Washburn. We noticed that if we’d stayed on ND1804, the distance was only 16 miles. Granted, we’d been afforded some very nice riding, but we couldn’t ignore the 44 mile detour.
Our goal for this afternoon was to find a bar and catch some or all of the World Cup final match between the Netherlands and Spain. We rode down a hill near the river bank to old town Washburn and found an old bar, the Lewis & Clark Saloon, on the southwest side of the road.
I ducked in to find a smoke-filled room with 6 or 8 old guys sitting around the bar. There was no bartender to be seen, and they all gave a good suspicious stare at me in my cycling jersey. Finally one of the guys stood up and headed behind the bar, asking me what I wanted. I asked if they were going to watch the World Cup match, and he gruffly replied that were plenty of TVs and we could switch to any channel we wanted.
I popped back outside and reported to Randy, but we decided that the smoke was a bad element. Instead we headed further up the Main Avenue and eventually found a local deputy just exiting from a patrol car. This was probably the youngest deputy I’d ever seen, couldn’t have been more than 17 or so, packing a big black revolver, too. We asked him where a good bar with cold beer was, and he pointed us up the hill. Very friendly kid. He suggested that they might not be open since it was Sunday.
We found the Captain’s Cabin Bar and Casino open and doing a fine business. Best of all, the game was already on one of the TVs, albeit without volume (that was reserved for the Nascar race). We sat and ordered lunch and I was jealous that Randy enjoyed 3 Killian’s with his, while I simply drank Coke due to my cold symptoms. The game was exciting, going into 2 OTs before Spain pulled it out. For lunch I enjoyed 4 pieces of broasted chicken, curly fires, and a salad with 1000 island dressing, while Randy had a burger. OK, not that nutritious, but when you’re riding it all tastes great.
The bar appeared mostly to be a Harley hangout, and occasionally one or a few leather-clad guys would saunter in. I took particular note of one guy playing an arcade game at the end of the bar. It appeared that 2 copies of a picture of a naked woman would appear on the screen side by side, and that the challenge was to identify differences between them. The game was timed against a clock, and it was apparently some kind of gambling machine. I suppose the other benefit was that you got to touch the breasts of the naked women, etc., even though I’m betting that they probably felt like smooth glass.
After the long soccer game, we crossed the street to Kresge’s supermarket. Our destination tonight was a remote campground with no towns nearby, so we stocked up on dinner provisions. We hopped on the bikes and managed another 15 miles down ND1804, where the AC map led us to the Don Steckel Boat Landing. No bathrooms or water, but a simple roof and picnic table, trash bin, and a million dollar view over the Missouri River.
Our campsite was located on a short bluff above the river, a very serene spot with no one else around. Randy lost no time in scrambling down the bank to check out the water. This was a really primitive but idyllic spot – easily the prettiest spot we’d camped so far.
A group of friendly Harley riders soon rolled in. We talked with them for a while, up from Mandan (a suburb of Bismarck). Afterwards, I made my way down to the water as well, took off my shoes and waded in, taking a splash bath in the process. Felt great – the water temps were around 70F.
We enjoyed dinner, mine consisting of pre-made ham sandwiches, grapes, water, and a delicious tray of 6 deviled eggs. Randy was tired and turned in quite early. I tried but couldn’t manage it. The sun was still fairly high in the sky, so instead I roamed around the landing with my camera, along the bluff and down along the water, taking a few photos, fighting some mosquitoes, but mostly just enjoying the serenity.
After a while, I decided that I really needed to stay up for the sunset over the river, since we were perfectly positioned for it.
- Miles ridden today: 61
- Cumulative miles this tour: 275