25th Anniversary Tour - Day 31

07/17/2006 07:39:39 by Administrator

From: Cooperstown, North Dakota
To: Tolna, North Dakota
Mileage: 45

We had a short day today because of the headwinds and the fact that we wanted to get out of the afternoon sun. It was tougher riding today, more mentally then physically, due to the headwinds. At times we were pedaling hard, and only traveling 7 mph. By the time we got to Pekin and had lunch, the winds and Mother Nature were winning the battle.

North Dakota, so far, is beautiful! The acres of farmland are huge, 3500 to 7000 acres of crops per farm. We might have the strongest military and the richest banks, but we think our real treasure and strength is because of our agriculture. We have seen first hand the abundance of food resources we have in the US.

Met two eastbound riders today. Scott and Mike greeted us somewhere in the middle of county route 1. Scott is a fireman from Oregon who met up with Mike (a recent high school grad from New Jersey, taking this opportunity before heading off to college in the fall) in Montana. Both suffered yesterday with the headwind headed east, while we enjoyed the tailwinds. Today was payback; they had done 60 miles when they met up with us (we had done only 30). We traded war (bike touring) stories while the occasional North Dakota pickup truck passed us in the middle of nowhere.

We had lunch at Pekin (population 100, maybe). We entered the "Peek In Bar" and asked if they had any hamburgers. The lady barkeep grabbed a tub of frozen (microwave able) hamburgers and sandwiches from her freezer, and we picked a couple out (just like ordering live lobsters in Maine!). As we ate, she played cards with two local retired farmers.

We are camping tonight in Tolna (population 202, maybe), at the city park. We have the railroad tracks and a large (huge) grain elevator and silos to complete the scenery. The small towns in North Dakota are dying, which will make it harder for us to find simple things like bread. People are shopping in the larger towns, driving 50 miles to do one stop shopping so the in-town grocery stores are all closed up. Fortunately we planned ahead, and have spaghetti for tonight's dinner.

We visited the bar for a drink and to see if there was anyone to talk to. On the way in we met the "Peach Lady" (our name for her) who is a retired farmer's wife. She has given peaches to bicyclist on the road when she sees them. She told us how the grain coop works, and talked to us about how things used to be and how the small towns are changing due to people leaving for the bigger cities. Just a super lady and a pleasure to meet. [Mary] Ok let's be honest here, we really stopped at the bar to procure toilet paper and use the restroom (sorry to the bartender). The facilities at the town park are somewhat limited. They do have electricity but they haven't gotten the showers and restrooms in yet. Everyone in town has promised that there will be showers by the next time we visit. Oh well as one of the guys we spoke to earlier today made the remark "you just can't be picky" I think we have really been learning that lesson first hand the further west we head. This of course has had more of an impact on me then Noel who is truly in his element and gets happier the further we get from modern conveniences. We do have running water, a hand pump, so life is good and the people in this town and through out North Dakota have been super.