This morning in Glasgow MT was one of those mornings when nothing seemed to fit. Every morning, the hardest job I have to do is fitting my sleeping bag into its stuff sack. In order to make it work, I have to get angry with it, and I’m just never in the mood to do that. And then my tent wouldn’t go into the pannier. Jack sat waiting patiently, fully packed, while I struggled.
Of course, every morning, L.E. is actually the last one out of camp, which is actually admirable. In my mind, this tour is about staying and lingering and exploring and enjoying, not about getting it done.
I made a brief stop at the library again to download all the Adventure Cycling addenda pages. I later reviewed them with respect to our route decisions near or around Williston and Minot and found them to be useless. Unfortunately, my opinion of the Adventure Cycling operation goes down with each examination.
We rolled onto the highway, and I started out the day with a rendition of that tune from Dances With Wolves, you know, the one when Lieutentent Dunbar first rolls out into the prairie with Timmons on the supply wagon. Fourteen miles to Nashua MT and breakfast at a recommended place called Bergie’s. Some of the other guys were just leaving when we arrived. Good coffee and pancakes, and we even eyed the ice cream counter but stopped short of an order. Jack decided our cute waitress looked like Kate Hudson, or maybe even Melanie Griffith.
We explored Nashua, population 325, to see if we could find a North Dakota road map, to no avail. It seemed like a very friendly place that was barely clinging on to an existence. In the photo below, check out the business next to Vic’s Bar: a 4-lane bowling alley.
In Oswego MT, now on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, we stopped at a bar/café. Even though it was Sunday, the sign outside proclaimed: “Open 7 days a Week Noon til Closing.” I was looking for a Pepsi, and so went around the side, entered through the door, and found myself in the middle of a living room, with TV on and young child in a play pen. “Uh, I must not be in the café.” The mother came out from the kitchen and it turns out she was the bar owner, not open today. She even offered a can of Diet Coke from her own refigerator – how nice was that? Jack later proposed that they might be open 7 days a week, just not this week.
For the last 14 miles, Jack and I took the Adventure Cycling detour because we were once again feeling lucky, and the winds were behind us. This time it paid dividends, and we rolled along on a beautiful lonely road suitable for easy side-by-side riding. I’m sure that Jack asked me if it could get any better somewhere along this stretch, then started singing and humming (and eventually yawning) Two Tickets to Paradise (well, that’s what it sounded like to me).
Around one corner and I said, “This looks a good place for dogs.” Maybe I shouldn’t have jinxed us like that, because in the next ¼ mile we were run down by about eight of them, one of them really snarling and snapping. Nice doggie.
Finally to Wolf Point, MT, still on the reservation. It was easy to find the team – just find the McDonald’s. They were studying maps and taking information from locals about road information east of here. I’ve found that gleaning information from locals and fellow travelers can be very valuable, but sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt. Locals especially seem to enjoy sensationalizing what a wild and wooly place they live in…”Nobody can get through that way! The mosquitoes will pick you up and fly off with you!”
Still, with the idea of avoiding a) the booming oil business traffic around Williston and b) the flooding in Minot, we considered taking a southern route from here, eventually linking up with I-94 into Bismarck or US12 into northern South Dakota.
Jack and I left for a milkshake at a place called The Freez, and ended up ordering some lunch that was easily the worst food on tour so far. At least the milkshakes were passable.
Roger is an expert at canvassing towns and soon found a city campsite by the public pool, only $3.50 each, including restroom. We all really enjoyed several hours there at the picnic tables, joking and sharing stories. You know, I am lucky to be riding with such a good team.
Jack and I checked current ND DOT info and found our planned route open, even around Minot. We revised the plan to avoid staying in both Williston and Minot, with several contingency options if the weather does not cooperate. Jesse also stated an alternate plan to head south tomorrow and pick up I-94 heading east into Bismarck, and Frank decided to join him. I am very glad they are choosing a route they want to ride. Their route will likely be much shorter than ours, and will involve at least 2 full days of riding on the interstate. We think it is possible that we will link up inside a week or so in Bismarck, but they’ll likely get to Bismarck one or probably two days before us. We’ll see.
I ate four pieces of chicken for dinner, along with a cup of vanilla yogurt, a box of Wheat Thins, a stick of celery, and a Pepsi. It is hard to describe, but just walking around the grocery store with an enormous appetite is a one big pleasure. You feast your eyes on almost every item you see. There was just something about that stick celery that really appealed to me, and it tasted wonderful. Maybe some nutrient I’m lacking.
Some of us played on the playground for a while, too. Jesse and a little Indian kid had some fun on the swings. Pretty soon, though, the winds picked up a lot and it got surprisingly cold, forcing us all into our tents. And now, of course, it’s raining, to my contentment.
55 very pleasant miles today. Jack and I now have 1,473 miles under our wheels, and the mileage and schedule say we are about 30% done with our trip. Today was our 20th riding day in a row without a rest day – we are both looking forward to one in Culbertson.