Day 40: The Bike Hostel, some Alpacas and Swedish History in MN

June 29, 2014

Milaca, MN to Shafer, MN

Day: 64 miles; Total: 2,044 miles

 

Today the sky was blue with puffy white clouds so the colors all around us were just vibrant. The winds were still in evidence but not quite as in our face. Early on in the ride this morning we arrived at the Olson’s Bicyclists’ Bunkhouse, a bikers hostel on the road to Dalbo. Donn and his wife have set up a great place at their farm for touring cyclists to spend the night and he also is a great source of biking info for the area. He talked with us about the best routes into Minneapolis-St. Paul and had copies of maps for us to take. When we learned that Donn had a 30 yr career as an Army helicopter pilot, I somehow wasn’t surprised since the bunkhouse operation seems so well organized and supportive of cyclists. He’s done this service for cyclists for years and it was fun to look at his photos of visitors over the years. It was really a treat to meet these two generous hosts!
Back on the road, we continued biking with Marty from Portland. We stopped for lunch at the Kaffe Stuga in little Harris and joined the locals for traditional Sunday noon “dinner” or in our case, chef salads.
The afternoon’s ride brought us past a beautiful lake full of families fishing off small boats, a llama farm and eventually to the Country B&B, where our host Sally grew up in what is now a 140 yr old farm house set amongst adjoining farms. Marty decided to end the day here too and Sally made us a delicious dinner which we all enjoyed sitting out on the veranda overlooking the countryside. Sally also leads tours of the Swedish American history of this local area which was the home for many Swedish immigrants. It was really a fun dinner with lots of shared stories before we all turned in. Tomorrow Bill and I are heading a bit “off route” to see Minneapolis for a few days.

Traveler meets Donn at the "Bunkhouse"

Traveler meets Donn at the “Bunkhouse”


Lunch in a little bit of Sweden!

Lunch in a little bit of Sweden and you can see from the wild hair that it’s pretty windy!

Our wifi is slow tonight so we will add more photos tomorrow.
 

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Day 39: Humidity and Headwinds in the MN farmlands

 

June  28, 2014

Albany, MN to Milaca, MN

Day: 62 miles; Total: 1,980 miles

 

Storms were forecast so we started our day early, back on the bike trail for the first 17 miles. We met Marty, going east from Portland, and we all took photos at some interesting metals sculptures along the trail.
The route then returned us to the roads, this time a pretty, quiet county road with little traffic and many close-in farms to pass by. The weather was pretty muggy ( the threatened rain storms held off) and our friend the wind was still blowing pretty hard in our face, hence the title of this post. Headwinds are just a part of all this, but these repeated days unexpectedly into the wind was making me kind of grumpy.
For the farmers, the constant rains are what is bothering them because their fields are so wet. To the drought-trained CA eye, the fields do look very lush and green.
We stopped for a break at the Grub and Pub in a tiny town and learned from some of the folks there a bit more about what we’d been seeing. This is a chicken producing area and I’d assume the giant two level barns mean it’s not a free range life. I did see an article posted about a local farmer who previously worked as a Chem E and now farms in what the article referred to as the “traditional” ways; ie, pasture raising her animals, etc. One of the guys at the bar ( the sun must have been over the yardarm somewhere) told us where to look for the farm so we stopped to watch as a darling herd of all sorts of sheep and goats came into a pasture near where yak were grazing. Pretty cool!
As always, these nice people in the bar/cafe were friendly, answered our questions about life here and they were interested in what we’d been seeing. Fueled up and cooled off from the A/C, we headed out under very mixed skies. A few hours later we pulled into our motel just as the black clouds started to dump. Perfect timing!

Back on the Lake Wobegon Trail

Back on the Lake Wobegon Trail

A covered bridge

A covered bridge

A quiet train...

A quiet train…

Marty, with Traveler and some  local art

Marty, with Traveler and some local art

Traveler practices hie "lap" on a friend

Traveler practices hie “lap” on a friend

No sign of Garrison yet...

No sign of Garrison yet…

Crossing the Mississippi River

Crossing the Mississippi River

One of the many big chicken coops we passed

One of the many big chicken coops we passed

Farms...

Farms…

More farms

More farms

Birdhouses every where

Birdhouses every where

Longhorns looking at us

Longhorns looking at us

 

Cute, cute sheep

Cute, cute sheep

Wild skies!

Wild skies!

 

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Day 38: On the Lake Wobegon Trail

June 27, 2014

Alexandria, MN to Albany, MN

Day: 48 miles; Total: 1,918 miles

 

After our long day yesterday, we had a very restful night at the Lake L’Homme Dieu B&B. This morning we enjoyed a great breakfast and conversation with our hostess Judy and fellow guests. We rolled out to a late start at about 11:30 AM. We were riding rails-to-trails bike paths all day. At Osakis the Central Lakes State Trail transitioned into the Lake Wobegon Trail. All day we were passing tidy looking farms and small towns. Most of the day we rode into headwinds under threatening gray clouds, but the only real rain occurred in the afternoon while we were inside having coffee and sandwiches in Sauk Centre. We finished the day under sunny skies at a motel in Albany.

Judy, our hostess at Lake L'Homme Dieu B&B

Judy, our hostess at Lake L’Homme Dieu B&B, meets Traveler

Where's Garrison Keillor?

Where’s Garrison Keillor?

These shady stretches are our favorite parts of the trails

These shady stretches are our favorite parts of the trails

Vincent heading to San Francisco from Montreal

Vincent heading to San Francisco from Montreal

There are many old trestles crossing the trails

There are many old trestles crossing the trails

Threatening skies

Threatening skies


Along the trail...

Along the trail…


More giant feed mills by the trail

More giant feed mills by the trail


This was part of an outdoor display called "Memoryville

This was part of an outdoor display called “Memoryville

 

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Day 37: Farms, a Long Bike Trail and New Friends

June 26, 2014

Pelican Rapids, MN to Alexandria, MN

Day: 75 miles; Total: 1,870 miles

 

Really yummy breakfast at Pelican Rapids’ Muddy Moose Cafe got us fueled to start our day into a mild headwind that later built to a pretty strong drag on our speed. However, our early riding through pretty farmlands dotted with lakes had us stopping for photos often. By noon, we picked up the Central Lakes State Trail, a biking and snowmobiling route on a former R/R bed. Other than the headwind, it was a nice place to ride, away from traffic and the typical glass and gravel strewn shoulders of many roads.
We stopped for a late lunch at a gas station( putting together options that filled “the tank” and gave us the wherewithal to go back out in the wind.) We had a B&B reservation for the night in Alexandria ( aka Alex) and earlier in the day, we’d connected with friends of my sister who happen to live in Alexandria! So, we were hoping to get there in time to meet them.
Our B&B host kindly talked with me several times to clarify directions as we were going along and as we got closer, our slow progress into the wind was enlivened by a sudden dumping rain shower that left us sodden. Finally, we found ourselves at our destination in a beautiful home on Lake L’Homme Dieu and once we had cleaned up, our new friends Jim and Lana brought us to their house for pizza and great conversation. What a treat to meet them and enjoy their warm hospitality! They were probably impressed with how much pizza two ravenous cyclists can eat!
Back at our B&B, our very accommodating host presented us with our freshly washed biking clothes and we got to meet her cute dog Gus. How nice! Time to collapse now…

Pelicans !

Pelicans !


Best muffins ever!

Best muffins ever!


Along the morning's ride

Along the morning’s ride


And more...

And more…


Our route

Our route


Ye olde 7-up at Ye olde school

Ye olde 7-up at Ye olde school


This does not look like a Marin sign!

This does not look like a Marin sign!


A really big otter

A really big otter


Lots of lakes!

Lots of lakes!


The bike trail we will be on for a while

The bike trail we will be on for a while


Lana and Jim gave us a wonderful evening! Thank you so much

Lana and Jim gave us a wonderful evening! Thank you so much


 

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Day 36: Trees! Hills! Lakes!

June 25, 2014

Fargo, ND to Pelican Rapids, MN

Day: 57 miles; Total: 1,795 miles

Today we rolled out from Fargo on an overcast morning. After a few flat miles we crossed the Red River into Minnesota. As we continued east into Minnesota, the flat farmlands began to round into low hills and trees which were often scarce in North Dakota became more frequent. Soon we were riding over rolling hills past small forests. Farmhouses which were often far from the road in North Dakota were much closer here so you got a much stronger sense that the area was actually inhabited. In the afternoon we started passing a series of large lakes surrounded by vacation homes and crisscrossed by jet skis and pontoon boats. We realized that this was the first time we had seen large numbers of people recreating since leaving Glacier back on June 7. Since then almost everyone we saw was working hard usually by driving trucks, trains or farm machinery. Around 2 PM we thought we were hallucinating when we saw an attractive cafe offering coffee drinks and sandwiches. It proved not to be a mirage and we enjoyed a great late lunch with delicious iced lattes at Ella Marie’s Cafe-n-Collectibles in Lake Park, MN. We enjoyed talking with the owner Claudia and getting her recommendations on what to do and where to stay when we visit Minneapolis. After a refreshing break at the cafe we rode the last few miles to Pelican Rapids, a pleasant small town with many large pelican statues.

Art buffalo in Fargo

Art buffalo in Fargo

Minnesota barn

Minnesota barn

A light-up stop sign

A light-up stop sign

We finally see real buffalo - in Minnesota!

We finally see real buffalo – in Minnesota!

Traveler enjoys Ella Marie's Cafe

Traveler enjoys Ella Marie’s Cafe

A lake!

A lake!

One of Pelican Rapids' many pelicans

One of Pelican Rapids’ many pelicans

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Day 35: Fargo is Cool!

June 24, 2014

Enderlin, ND to Fargo, ND

Day: 56 miles; Total: 1,738 miles

 

Our last ND day was flat and more flat, through the fields of baby corn, wheat and sunflower plants, with some big Ag co-ops along the road. We met several tourists riding from the East, and we got their input on a couple of options we have coming up as we come into Minn. It’s always fun to chat with the other riders and hear where they are going.
We zigged and zagged on the country roads approaching Fargo and then got on a few miles of bike path that led into nice leafy suburbs along a series of parks on the the river that creates the border with Minn to the south, the Red River of the North. We saw some flooded areas but fortunately we haven’t see lots of rain so not sure what creates the high water.
Fargo turns out to have much more to recommend it than just being the location of a very good Coen brothers movie- though that was a great movie! We are staying at a hotel near the downtown and with the adjacent NDSU campus, the numerous art galleries and theaters plus a number of good places to eat, we found the Fargo downtown area charming. The great bike shop in town worked on some mechanical issues for us, and directed us to the best coffee place which turned out to be a pastry/lunch shop that we know would be a big hit in any locale. Yum!
Dinner at Mezzaluna was delicious and we are well fueled for our first day in Minn tomorrow.

Fields of green

Fields of green


Jane and Pete, heading west, meet Traveler

Jane and Pete, heading west, meet Traveler


Check out the size of this complex!

Check out the size of this complex!


The town sign for Kindred, ND, and some farm machinery in the background

The town sign for Kindred, ND, and some farm machinery in the background


Leafy residential streets of Fargo

Leafy residential streets of Fargo


Memorial to WWII sub Robalo, lost at sea

Memorial to WWII sub Robalo, lost at sea


One of the sidewalk tiles in the downtown

One of the sidewalk tiles in the downtown


The Great Northern bike shop in the train station

The Great Northern bike shop in the train station


Downtown Fargo

Downtown Fargo


 

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Day 34: Impressions of Rural North Dakota

June 23, 2014

Gackle, ND to Enderlin, ND

Day: 73 miles; Total: 1,682 miles

 

Refreshed after our night at the Miller’s Honey Hub Cyclists’ “Respite” ( a quick aside: ND is the biggest producer of honey in the US, in part because of its extensive fields of wild flowers and flowering crops) we stopped for breakfast at the town cafe where a table full of local gentlemen asked about our ride and told us about the road ahead and the several pretty river valleys we were going to ride through. Fueled up, we set off on a mostly flat, straight road passing many farms and cattle operations. We did cruise down and then up again through several river valleys, with their pretty trees and surrounding grassy fields. There are very few towns of any size in this stretch and mainly what we saw were the farms, the sloughs full of bird life and acres and acres of corn, hay and other crops.
Yesterday at our late lunch, and last night at the hostel, we were told about the sense of old fashioned small town spirit that residents enjoy in these quiet towns. I think I’d mostly thought of North Dakota in terms of the harsh (certainly by Calif standards) winters but didn’t also think of the appeal of the quiet rural or small town life that we have been seeing as we go slowly by in this temperate time of year. Oil production and the boom towns in the Northwest of the state are another matter but for the most part our ride has deliberately avoided that area because it’s not suitable for cycle touring.
We broke up our ride with a lunch stop at a gas station/ cafe where we got salads (!) and lots of water since it’s warming up at bit. We met some Seattle area folks and I realized that to my wind-blown brain and saddle weary seat bones, Anacortes seems like a long away from here!

The drive in, or in our case , bike in from yesterday

The drive in, or in our case , bike in from yesterday

Traveler met Tracy and Brian yesterday

Traveler met Tracy and Brian yesterday

Sloughs everywhere in the fields

Sloughs everywhere in the fields

This is hard to see, but we passed this amazing sight, titled "Dinosaurs of the prairie" . It was a parade of old threshing machines that looked to be marching over the hill

This is hard to see, but we passed this amazing sight, titled “Dinosaurs of the prairie” . It was a parade of old threshing machines that looked to be marching over the hill

Farm along the way

Farm along the way

My kind of convenience store; selling saddles along with snacks and food. This was today's lunch stop

My kind of convenience store; selling saddles along with snacks and food. This was today’s lunch stop

One of the rivers we crossed today

One of the rivers we crossed today

Looking upstream

Looking upstream

Typical roadside rest stop, snacking on the bike as a truck comes by and Traveler reads ahead on the map

Typical roadside rest stop, snacking on the bike as a truck comes by and Traveler reads ahead on the map

 

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Day 33: A Long Day

June 22, 2014

Bismarck, ND to Gackle, ND

Day: 109 miles; Total: 1,609 miles

 

Wind and weather were good today so we decided to put in a long 100+ mile day across an area without much in the way of services. We set out from Bismarck about 8 AM. Progress stopped after about 15 miles when the sidewall of one of my supposedly super tough Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires blew out. Fortunately, I was carrying an old tire as a spare and used that as my “new” rear tire. After about half an hour we were moving again over miles of rolling green farmland. We stopped about 8 PM at a biker hostel in Gackle called the Honey Hub. It’s run by a very nice young family in the beekeeping business. They divide their time between Auburn, CA and Gackle. They just arrived here from CA  for the summer a few hours before we got to their place.

Rolling in the grasslands

Rolling in the grasslands

The folks at the Honey Hub

The folks at the Honey Hub

 

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Some of Traveler’s friends that you haven’t met yet

We’ve posted lots of Mr. T’s friends and here are some more…

 

Rhonda, who is traveling across to Maine. She's pulling a cute teardrop trailer and her husband Joe is biking unloaded. We met her in Medora out running.

Rhonda, who is traveling across to Maine. She’s pulling a cute teardrop trailer and her husband Joe is biking unloaded. We met her in Medora out running.


Ben, who we met when we stopped for coffee before the last push over Wauconda pass back in WA. The store was closed so no coffee but we had a nice visit with Ben

Ben, who we met when we stopped for coffee before the last push over Wauconda pass back in WA. The store was closed so no coffee but we had a nice visit with Ben


The nice receptionist at our Medora motel

The nice receptionist at our Medora motel


Really good sandwiches and nice people at Daarth's in Medora. Traveler checks out the wrap

Really good sandwiches and nice people at Daarth’s in Medora. Traveler checks out the wrap


If you are looking for any kind of nuts, the Chateau is the place and this gal knows where to find any sort!

If you are looking for any kind of nuts, the Chateau is the place and this gal knows where to find any sort!

Day 32: Exploring Bismarck

June 21, 2014

Bismarck, ND

Day: 0 miles; Total: 1,500 miles

 

Today was a day off the bikes in Bismarck. It’s the state capital but not the largest city. We did some bike maintenance chores, I got my hair cut (!) and we visited the Bismarck downtown area and the Heritage Center next to the capitol building. There are extensive displays of the culture and history of the local Native American tribes in this area plus a fun dinosaur gallery, as they once roamed these plains long ago.
We enjoyed some very nice dinners involving lots of fresh produce and enjoyed walking around the pretty historic part of town.
Off on the bikes again tomorrow!

The Capitol building

The Capitol building

Traveler meets a rebar bison sculpture on our way into the heritage Center

Traveler meets a rebar bison sculpture on our way into the heritage Center

 

A ground sloth in the gallery

A ground sloth in the gallery

The former mansion of the ND governor

The former mansion of the ND governor

Looking for property in Bismarck? This pretty home is for sale

Looking for property in Bismarck? This pretty home is for sale

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Day 31: Into a New Time Zone on a Beautiful Biking Day

June 20, 2014

Richardton, ND to Bismarck, ND

Day: 82 miles; Total: 1,500 miles

 

Up early in our little motel, picnicked our breakfast ( ack! No coffee!) and got a quick start to a long’ish day. It was a good thing too as at some point, we crossed into a new county and were suddenly one hour later, into Central time! The route today included about 12 miles on the interstate with odd rumble strips on the shoulder but the rest was on the absolutely beautiful and fun “Old Red/Old Ten Scenic Byway”. Scenic it was and really nice riding on this sunny day with wind from the west.
After about 50 miles, we entered New Salem and were told that the best lunch would be at the Muddy River Coffee House, which was in a charming old house on the Main Street. Great food and coffee and our nice hostess treated us to the drinks and part of our delicious lunch. Thank you and we’ll donate that discount to CCI. As we were leaving, we started talking with a friend of the owner who had been in the Marines and though formerly from FLA, now loves living in ND. The conversation turned to his son who had graduated last year from the USNA, as had our friend Liz. Since both of our kids also went there ( and are now in the Navy, thus our particular interest in the Wounded Veterans Initiative at CCI), we had fun talking about our favorite subject: our kids. We compared notes about how much we had enjoyed visiting our kids in Annapolis and watching their current careers and then finally we realized that we needed to get on to Bismarck. This chance encounter ( good food but even better, good conversation), energized us for the afternoon’s biking.
Barb

Our room at the motel last night; clean and comfy

Outside our room at the motel last night; clean and comfy

Across the raid...we're not sure what was going on there but it smelled like yeast.  Hmmm...not beer but what?

Across the road…we’re not sure what was going on there but it smelled like yeast. Hmmm…not beer but what?

Our quiet Byway

Our quiet Byway

Check this out! Do we go under? Actually we just watched it go by from a side street

Check this out! Do we go under? Actually we just watched it go by from a side street

Peaceful and very green, thanks to recent very rainy weather ( before we got here!)

Peaceful and very green, thanks to recent very rainy weather ( before we got here!)

Silos in the sun

Silos in the sun

At this point, Traveler is ready for food and coffee.

At this point, Traveler is ready for food and coffee.

Good food and good spirit

Good food and good spirit

New Salem downtown

New Salem downtown

Back on the road

Back on the road

Enjoying the sun; one of the locals

Enjoying the sun; one of the locals

More locals...tonight we learned that ND has 3 times as many cows as people

More locals…tonight we learned that ND has 3 times as many cows as people

This is part of a bike path running past Mandan and into busy Bismarck

This is part of a bike path running past Mandan and into busy Bismarck

We are going to take tomorrow off the bikes to check out Bismarck.
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Day 30: We Learn More About North Dakota

June 19, 2014

Medora, ND to Richardton, ND

Day: 60 miles; Total: 1,418 miles

 

Bright sun and no wind greeted us as we left Medora heading ever east. We climbed through the interesting Badlands and stopped at the Painted Canyon overlook in the TR National Park. Wild horses and bison roam in this park and the water cut canyons are very spectacular.
Then it was on to more level travel through smaller farms and less wide open spaces. As we approached the town of Dickinson, the impact of the oil boom to the north was evident in the many crews digging utility trenches and grading for subdivisions and we saw both “man camps” ( really, that is what these large clusters of RVs and trailers are called) and large new housing units close to the interstate. Large construction trucks and dirt debris all over the roads gave a real sense of building everywhere.
More mellow road conditions through some pretty farmland led to our stop for the night, Richardton, a small town that is home to a monastery and beautiful church dating from 1916. Again, small town dinner option was either gas station deli or the local bar so we chose the bar. Because we are obviously not from here, several of the locals came over to chat and we learned more about their perspective on the changes that the oil boom has brought. Real estate is much more pricey now and making it hard for seniors on limited incomes and crime is more of an issue now, according to one long time resident from a small town nearby. We also talked about the weird recent weather ( tornadoes a bit south of here) but I am trying not to think about that issue. Good forecast for the next few days- yay!

Couldn't resist these sky shot through our window last night

Couldn’t resist these sky shot through our window last night


Biking along the Badlands

Biking along the Badlands


Traveler looks at the Painted Canyon

Traveler looks at the Painted Canyon


Smaller farms along the way

Smaller farms along the way


More Badlands

More Badlands


An odd formation...

An odd formation…


Grant, biking east to Ohio from Oregon

Grant, biking east to Ohio from Oregon


Look! The Blue Star Mom flag in Belfield

Look! The Blue Star Mom flag in Belfield


St Mary's church in Richardton

St Mary’s church in Richardton


 

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Day 29: Into North Dakota

June 18, 2014

Wibaux, MT to Medora, ND

Day: 35 miles; Total: 1,358 miles

 

Today was a pleasant relatively short ride to a true tourist town in North Dakota- yes, a new state! We have loved Montana but it was a nice milestone to cross its eastern border. The route included some time on the wide shouldered major interstate and then most of the rest of the ride was on an empty country road that rolled up and down through the green fields and formations of the Dakota Badlands. It rained most of the time but the happy aspect was that there was no wind!
Our destination today was Medora, a small town next to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. TR spent some years in his youth running cattle here while he sought to recover from the death of his first wife and his mother. A very successful local business man, Harold Schafer, ( some of you of a certain age may remember some of the products he sold: Glass Wax, Snowy Bleach and Mr. Bubbles) wanted to preserve this town and he set up a foundation to make it happen. The result is an attractive small tourist town that focuses on outdoor activities, an ongoing musical event and above all, Teddy Roosevelt. An excellent TR “reprisor” was a highlight of our visit. He spoke as TR for 90 minutes in a humorous and inspiring presentation.
Next we visited the Schafer museum and then the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame, and ended our tourist fun as the rain began again in the evening. A very entertaining day!

Our nice servers at the Shamrock in Wibeaux

Our nice servers at the Shamrock in Wibeaux


Yes, a new state!

Yes, a new state!


Traveler's very excited too even though he's not a real fan of the rain

Traveler’s very excited too even though he’s not a real fan of the rain


Along the road

Along the road


Red, red road

Red, red road


Rolling up and down

Rolling up and down


First stop, espresso drinks. Perfect after a rainy ride

First stop, espresso drinks. Perfect after a rainy ride


Look who  Traveler met! And the Colonel, as he prefers to be called, made a donation to CCI! How wonderful is that?

Look who
Traveler met! And the Colonel, as he prefers to be called, made a donation to CCI! How wonderful is that?


Scenes from Medora

Scenes from Medora


Medora honoring its veterans

Medora honoring its veterans


The 89 yr old owner of this little  store sells every sort of nut imaginable and since we are consuming lots of nuts and dried fruit as fuel on the road, this is a real find. Hmmm how many dark chocolate almonds can we carry in our stuffed bike bags??

The 89 yr old owner of this little store sells every sort of nut imaginable and since we are consuming lots of nuts and dried fruit as fuel on the road, this is a real find. Hmmm how many dark chocolate almonds can we carry in our stuffed bike bags??

 

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Day 28: Still in Montana

June 17, 2014

Glendive, MT to Wibaux, MT

Day: 29 miles; Total: 1,323 miles

 

Our goal for today had been to finally leave Montana and go on to Madora, ND, but the weather made us come up short. Since last night there have been strong winds from the east and warnings of severe thunderstorms in eastern Montana. Standing in our motel parking lot last night we saw two huge storm clouds. We set out this morning figuring we would bike as far as we could go safely, understanding that we might not get all the way to Madora. After almost five hours of creeping along into headwinds, we reached Wibaux, MT in the late morning. The next town on our route was Beach, ND about 11 miles east. Madora is about 25 miles beyond Beach. With the headwinds forecast to get stronger in the afternoon, it became clear we were not going to make Madora today. Beach has no camping and its two motels are fully booked with Bakken oilfield workers, so our choice was to call it a day at Wibaux where we found a comfortable motel with a vacancy. We’re sitting in our room watching, ironically, The Perfect StormEvery so often the Weather Service cuts in with warnings of severe storms in the area, but we haven’t seen any yet. Tomorrow we’ll push on again and should get into North Dakota.

A rapidly growing cloud

A rapidly growing cloud

A big thunderstorm

A big thunderstorm

Some hills we passed today

Some hills we passed today

On the road today

On the road today

 

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Day 27: We Visit Lindsay (Montana)

June 16, 2014

Circle, MT to Glendive, MT

Day: 50 miles; Total: 1,294 miles

 

Like the well trained puppy he is, Traveler stopped playing with my ipad and gave it up to me when I said ” drop” so I could write this. This morning, the only option for breakfast in Circle was at the gas station convenience store ( handily right next to our motel). They served coffee and hot foods ( biscuits and gravy, etc) and we ate at the communal table with a local rancher and our new friends O.B. and Linda. They are biking the NT in long sections each year and we had enjoyed dinner together in the local bar last night too.
Wind was forecast to be in our face, so we left early and biked along the rolling countryside waiting for the promised down hill after the climbs. The wind picked up so whatever downhills were there , we didn’t really notice with all the pushing. The highlight was coming to Lindsay, Montana, a very small berg with only one little store. We had to go in though ( in honor of our daughter Lindsay!)and we took a photo with the 5 guys hanging out in there and they gave us a oil co. cap saying ” Lindsay” as a momento- very nice!
Back into the cross/headwind we crept our way to Glendive, on the banks of the Yellowstone River. Montana’s largest state park is located here, but we are probably not going to get there as we are busy collapsing in our hotel room! Tomorrow we have a long day to one of North Dakota’s ( check it out! A new state!) small tourist towns so we are hoping for a more favorable wind direction…

Breakfast with Linda and O.B., from FLA, who are riding the Northern Tier in sections

Breakfast with Linda and O.B., from FLA, who are riding the Northern Tier in sections


Montana snow fence

Montana snow fence


Entering the tiny town of Lindsay

Entering the tiny town of Lindsay


Traveler making friends in Lindsay

Traveler making friends in Lindsay


The new oil company/Lindsay cap

The new oil company/Lindsay cap


The local oil company

The local oil company


Taking a break out of the wind

Taking a break out of the wind


Pretty ranch along the way

Pretty ranch along the way


The Yellowstone River, in Glendive MT

The Yellowstone River, in Glendive MT


 

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Day 26: Traveler Speaks

June 15, 2014
Wolf Point, MT to Circle, MT
Day: 53 miles; Total: 1,244 miles

Puppy in Training Traveler reporting for blogging duty. This iPad thing is cool. I just poke the glowing flat part with my nose and little squiggles pop up. I’m sure this will be a useful behavior for me. Anyway, my puppy raisers Bill and Barb took me for a bike ride today – AGAIN. I think that’s all these guys ever do. Before we really got on the road, we all went to a cool place for breakfast – the Old Town Grill. They have a phone at each table where you can speak your order. I tried it, but they told me Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food was not on the menu. It’s good I have a small appetite cuz then we started biking for hours up and down lots of rolling hills. My keen instincts told me we were headed south. The wind came from the side and made the bike wobble a little sometimes. It’s good I’m not one of those puppies who gets motion sickness. This morning we crossed the Missouri River and Barb let me out so I could see it. She said a lot of important people history happened along the river. Maybe they’ll teach me about that in advanced training. Later along the way we met Joe Thompson from a place called Iowa. He’s biking the Northern Tier too and his wife is coming along pulling a neat little trailer, kind of like my crate on wheels but with a lot more comfy stuff in side. I got to meet Joe and, as always, sat quietly while he petted me. After going up and down more hills past lots of green grassy fields we came to Circle, MT and stopped for the day at the Travelers Inn. Nice of them to name it after me. I met the owner and his granddaughter. That’s about it for today. Gee, I wonder what we’ll do tomorrow. Now I just have to figure out how to stick pictures on this thing, go outside to hurry and call it a day.

I speak my order

I speak my order

Barb and me at the Missouri River

Barb and me at the Missouri River

I greet Joe

I greet Joe

The humans take a break

The humans take a break

Are they testing me for fear issues with this thing?

Are they testing me for fear issues with this thing?

The nice people who named a motel after me

The nice people who named a motel after me

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Day 25: Hi-Line Express to Eastern MT

June 14, 2014

Saco, MT to Wolf Point, MT

Day: 91 miles; Total: 1,191 miles

 

After a night of little sleep by the train tracks, we crawled out of the tent into cold morning air and buzzing mosquitoes. We were ready to go a little after 6 AM. The one breakfast restaurant in Saco did not open until 7 AM so we found a spot sheltered from the wind and bugs, quickly munched some tortillas and cheese slices and headed east with a glorious tailwind. About twelve miles on we reached Hinsdale, MT with the Raiders Quick Stop Cafe which served up good hot coffee and friendly, interesting conversation with some local guys. One explained that the small sheds we have been seeing all over in grazing land and cultivated fields house natural gas wells. A farmer on his way to plant 30 acres talked about his family in Northern California and the places he has visited there. We headed back onto Hwy 2, the Hi-Line and rode the tailwind at speeds we normally achieve only on long downhills. We covered the 42 miles from Saco to Glasgow by 10:30, stopped there for sandwiches and elected to continue on the next 49 miles to Wolf Point. After averaging 15.5 mph all day we reached Wolf Point before 3 PM and checked into a nice motel. Showers for the first time in three days felt great and a quiet night’s sleep will be welcome too. We are now in northeastern Montana, known as Missouri River country. In the next couple of days our route may take us out of wifi and Verizon coverage, but we will catch up with our posts as soon as we can.

Montana morning

Montana morning

Go here for good coffee and conversation

Go here for good coffee and conversation

Riding the wind to Wolf Point

Riding the wind to Wolf Point

Traveler experiences Subway

Traveler experiences Subway

A barn with a face

A barn with a face

Dinosaur Hill outside Glasgow

Dinosaur Hill outside Glasgow

 

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Day 24: Lots of Plains and Trains

June 13, 2014

Harlem, MT to Saco, MT

Day: 76 miles; Total: 1,100 miles

 

Early morning in our tent brought booming thunder, lightning and rain. We packed up and the rain quit as we headed east, with the forecasted west wind unfortunately actually coming from the side. Our route took us off Hwy 2 for a while and we cruised on empty BIA back roads before rejoining 2. We had planned to stop for the night in Malta ( some of these towns have been named by the spin the globe and point approach- really!) but instead, fueled by lattes from the Crossroads Coffee shop, we decided to press on to little Saco, reputed to have a small motel and/ or camping. As we pushed thru the side wind, we enjoyed to truly wide open spaces that surround you as you go along.
The towns are generally far apart ( from a biker’s perspective ) and they often do not have services, so you have to think about how far you are planning to go each day ( and where the wind is coming from!) We arrived in Saco, pooped and ready to stop. Our friend John, a fellow cyclist going to Maine, was also there. We learned that the tiny motel in town was full, so we set up camp at the little grassy area across the highway from the few businesses in town. The mosquitoes were wild, and our camp sites were about 30 ft from the railroad tracks. ( there was a “rustic” bathroom for us to use, so Hey, who’s complaining?) We had put our tents up and were swatting at the bugs, when the driver of the very long train waiting on the track came by and said that we were camped in a horrible place. Since it was our only option, all we could do is ask why. Turns out that the town’s only perpendicular gravel road made it a “crossing”that required the trains to blow their horns, very loud and very long. Oh, well. Not much we could do about that, but we did have fun talking with the driver about all the stuff we’ve seen these long trains hauling across the plains.
Dinner was at the only game in town, the local bar, whose owner seemed to own most of the town’s old buildings. Local natural gas wells actually make the town well funded but most of the old buildings have seen better times. Anyway, we ate what it turns out the only meal that the health dept lets him serve at the bar ( we didn’t inquire too much about that) and then we retired to our cold water bathroom to clean up and hopped into our tent to escape the bugs. It’s hard to describe the effect of sleeping in a tent so close to the train tracks. I lost count of how many trains came by last night but over and over, we’d hear the long blast of the whistle, the ground underneath our tent would shake and the cars would clatter by for long minutes. Then, oddly, we’d go back to sleep and then it would happen all over again. When I finally looked at my watch it was 5:30, I felt amazingly ready to get up and John came out of his tent, we crawled out of ours and all we could do was laugh about how we probably never got to the REM sleep part of the night. Quite a camping experience. However odd this was, I must say that it is wonderful how many of these towns, big and tiny, make arrangements for cyclists to camp, often for free, in the park or patch of grass. Also, we later learned that Chet Huntley lived in Saco when he was a boy!

Biking on the BIA road on the Fort Belknap Reservation

Biking on the BIA road on the Fort Belknap Reservation


Another "Crossroads" this time for coffee, in Malta. This town was also named by the spin the globe approach

Another “Crossroads” this time for coffee, in Malta. This town was also named by the spin the globe approach


Big big sky and big prairie!

Big big sky and big prairie!


Historic old gas station, turned camping bathroom and the tents were behind, near the tracks

Historic old gas station, turned camping bathroom and the tents were behind, near the tracks


Traveler is wondering why in the heck he's so close to the tracks!

Traveler is wondering why in the heck he’s so close to the tracks!


Our new friend, the train driver , finally got the go ahead to pull out and off east they went, waving from  the engine cab at us

Our new friend, the train driver , finally got the go ahead to pull out and off east they went, waving from the engine cab at us


Joe, local businessman and our host/ chef at the bar

Joe, local businessman and our host/ chef at the bar


Downtown Saco!

Downtown Saco!


 

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Day 23: Into the Wind

June  12, 2014
Havre, MT to Harlem, MT
Day: 42 miles; Total: 1,024 miles

Today we headed east down Hwy 2 into a headwind that grew stronger through the day. Although the terrain was flat, we could only make slow progress. We enjoyed the scenery along the way and a little before noon came to the town of Chinook. We were happy to find the Bikini Coffee drive-thru where we enjoyed our caffeine infusion and the barista met Traveler. While we were enjoying our coffees, two other Northern Tier riders, John and Martha, rode in and we had a good visit. Then we went back to dueling the headwind until we arrived in the friendly town of Harlem. They allow bike camping on the lawn by the town pool and the library with wifi stays open until 9 PM. Who could ask for more?

Traveler makes a new friend

Traveler makes a new friend

The local racing scene

The local racing scene

Downtown Chinook

Downtown Chinook

A rolling pipeline

A rolling pipeline

Camping in Harlem

Camping in Harlem

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Day 22: Visiting Ruth, Prada & Rocky in Havre

June 11, 2014

Hingham, MT to Havre, MT

Day: 35 miles; Total: 982 miles

 

After taking down the tent and packing up, we returned to Spencer’s Hi-Way where Mike gave us (literally!) great lattes and we were on our way. The road was totally straight, but undulated like a ribbon rolling over the terrain and the biking was smooth and pleasant. We arrived in Havre midday and took the bikes into Roger’s bike shop for some clean up and for Bill to get some super strong tires he’d ordered mounted. The multitalented Roger ( he’s also a CPA) got things all set and we went off to get cleaned up.
We then enjoyed a wonderful evening with our friend Ruth, her CCI Hearing dog Prada and her smart little cocker Rocky. Ms Perfect Prada joined us but was invisible as she should be at the restaurant and then later at Ruth’s home, she and cute Rocky played like the happy dogs they are. It was great to see Ruth and we really enjoyed our time together!

Traveler meets Alida, who is biking east with her friend Celeste, at the campground

Traveler meets Alida, who is biking east with her friend Celeste, at the campground


Mike, our host at the Hi-Way

Mike, our host at the Hi-Way


The road goes on, and on

The road goes on, and on

A grain elevator of a different color

A grain elevator of a different color


This is not "the" Kremlin, but still...

This is not “the” Kremlin, but still…


The view along to right side of the road

The view along to right side of the road


Wildlife in cammo in a wheat field

Wildlife in cammo in a wheat field


Traveler meets our great bike mechanic Roger

Traveler meets our great bike mechanic Roger


At dinner, with Ruth and Prada, and Traveler looks on, hoping some day he can be a graduate dog too!

At dinner, with Ruth and Prada, and Traveler looks on, hoping some day he can be a graduate dog too!


Rocky says Hi!

Rocky says Hi!


Prada smiles for the camera

Prada smiles for the camera


 

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