July 2006

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 38

07/24/2006 15:53:08 by Administrator

From: Culbertson, Montana
To: Glasgow, Montana
Mileage: 103

Today we earned our keep. Based on cyclist's journal entries and a lot of local advice from Montana and North Dakota residents; we had been cautioned to be careful crossing the Fort Peck Indian reservation. We were told not to spend the night in Wolf Point, and be careful in the small towns along the way. Our plan was to cross the reservation with minimal stops making for a very long day, throw in temperatures in the high 90's and it makes for one tough day. We're not sure if the advice we received was somewhat prejudgiced or maybe we're just lucky but our trip though the reservation was just fine. We stopped in two towns and met nothing but pleasant folks.

We left early, knowing it was going to reach 97 by 3:00. Had breakfast at the Wild West Cafe in beautiful downtown Culbertson.

We rode through Brockton (the first town on the reservation) then stopped in Poplar at a convenience store / casino. All the windows and doors on the building were covered with metal, but inside was a typical modern convenience store (minus the slot machines) and the people were very nice. We rode into Wolf Point (they have a McDonalds! a rare Montana sighting on this route) and had lunch at the Diner/Drive In on Route 2. There were more non Native Americans (10 to 1 ratio) then Native Americans, and we had a conversation with an elderly white lady who 6 years ago moved back to Wolf Point because of the California's high crime rate. In Wolf Point they have a couple of very nice (modern) looking hotels, we should have stopped.

Almost all the drivers waved, or honked their horns, or gave us thumbs up as we rode. We were tired and hot, and in need of shade. We made it to Nashua and entered the bar for free cigarette smoke, shade, and ice water. We talked to the bartender until our bodies were ready for the last 15 miles into Glasgow. Montana sun is pretty strong the best way to handle these warmer days is to simply wrap it up by 1 or 2. For some reason the hottest time of day is between 2 and 5. That's when it's time to find some shade.

We only had one day on the Fort Peck Indian reservation, our experience was best summed up by what an Canadian couple told us this evening. "We think people forget that it not the 1890's anymore".

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 37

07/23/2006 15:51:21 by Administrator

From: Williston, North Dakota
To: Culbertson, Montana
Mileage: 45

Eerily we rode the 25 miles out of North Dakota without any wind? We didn't think it was possible to be in North Dakota, and have no wind!

Short day today, we wanted to get in early because the temperature will hit 100. Our riding distances per day are based on riding conditions (wind, rain, temperature, climbing or descending), accommodations, food, and attractions. Tomorrow might be a long ride because we are heading through the Fort Peck Indian reservation, and have been told by many locals to be careful. [Mary] I've quizzed Noel repeatedly about the need for concern while crossing some of the Indian Reservations, he is not really sure but he has read journals of cyclist that have had bad experiences. So tomorrow we will hopefully ride our 100 + miles with positive energy and our journal entry will be one of a good experience.

As we were leaving North Dakota, we spotted our first Pronghorn Antelope. He was fascinated with SeeMore, first having a stare down contest then running along side (he was running, we were crawling up from a valley). We also encountered our first buggy area on this trip. It seems like there are not enough birds to control the insect population in the most eastern part of Montana.

We will be in Montana for a long time; the mileage marker as we entered the state said 672 (? I think, but I wasn't paying attention). For many miles, our landscape will not change. So far we are finding it very fascinating, and not boring at all. This is cattle/grass/train country. Long trains go by us with the engineers waving and sounding their train whistles. SeeMore is quite a hit; we have been waving to so many people passing us. The most common wave by a North Dakotan is 3 to 4 fingers raised of the top of the steering wheel. We get peace signs from motorcycles, and thumbs up from truckers! All these just add to the enjoyment of the ride!

We passed another group of eastbound cyclist, six riders. We did not stop, just waved and shouted our greetings in passing. We were pretty sure the group and just come from a rest break and were gaining momentum up a hill. We didn't want to bring them to a stop to chat especially the two guys at the back who looked to be the "Chuck Wagon" carrying the most weight.

This afternoon we visited the Montana museum at the visitor center here in Culbertson. It was a very interesting museum filled with artifacts, photos and memoriabilia from the town and surrounding areas since its founding back in the late 1800's. The ladies at the museum were super nice and made sure we had accommodations at the hotel before we did anything else in town (Thank you). Lunch at the cafe this Sunday was a repeat of last Sunday, it seems that when church gets out everyone heads for the cafe. So a word of advice for small town dining, try to beat the rush and get there before church lets out or you'll find that you only get the left-overs.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 36

07/22/2006 15:49:38 by Administrator

From: Stanley, North Dakota
To: Williston, North Dakota
Mileage: 71

Congratulations Allison and Chaz, just think in 25 years you might be on your own tandem heading on an adventure! We miss you, and wish you the very best!

Many people have asked us how easy is it to find a powder room for the Rear Admiral as we journey into the land of no services. I hope the above photo explains it all (it even matches the color of the SeeMore)!

For those of you reading along, Joyce's Cafe opens at 6:30 on Saturday morning, and we arrived with the first group of locals. Joyce is a very nice lady, but a tad bit deaf. I asked her what size her pancakes came in. She said she would cook them any size that I wanted. So I said two plate size would be nice. Ten minutes later I got two PLATTER size pancakes, the biggest pancakes I've ever seen! Yes they were delicious and no I did not finish them!

After sharing stories with the locals at Joyce's cafe we departed Stanley knowing that the wind would not be our friend today. 4.5 hours later we pulled into Ray North Dakota's town park for a picnic lunch under their pavilion. We had only traveled 32 miles, with 40 more to go. Route 2 had wide shoulders, the North Dakotan drivers are awesome, it was hilly, we climbed in and out of valleys all day, but the real kicker was the headwind.

You know it's blowing straight at you when the wind is blocking both ears, and your ability to communicate with the Rear Admiral. We pedaled on many down hills that we normally would have flown down. For some reason, our spirits remained high and we had bonus of a crosswind the last 15 miles into Williston as we turned south on route 2.

Laundry tonight, and we are going out to eat. . . .tonight the restaurant will lose money, if they have a buffet!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 35

07/21/2006 15:46:01 by Administrator

From: Minot, North Dakota
To: Stanley, North Dakota
Mileage: 57

Headwinds, but only 10mph so not that bad!

Minot was built on a hill, in the middle of hills, so this morning we had to climb out of the hills. These hills aren't bad at all. With the advice of the guys at Scheels, we stayed on Route 2 and will follow Route 2 into Montana. Adventure Cycling has you go south and then west on Route 1804 but there are even less services then staying on Route 2. The highway turns into a 2-lane road about 10 miles outside of Minot, but there is a wide shoulder and very little traffic. North Dakotans are very courteous drivers so we feel very safe.

We met Craig (traveling from Seattle to Akron Ohio) riding his bike when we were about 30 miles from Stanley. Another nice person, out for a long bike ride; he seemed to be in his late twenties. After trading road, weather, lodging, and general touring information (about 30 minutes) we said our goodbyes and good lucks and rode away. After our meeting with Craig, again, I thanked the Rear Admiral for coming with me on this journey. It must be hard to ride a long tour, solo.

Just outside of Minot, the landscaped changed. Very hilly grass lands with ranches. It really made us feel like we've finally arrived in the "west"! Today we saw only one field of corn. We have seen cornfields every day on this trip so we really must finally be leaving the farmland behind. This afternoon again the landscape changed to rolling hills with dryer grasslands, where horses, cattle and barbed wire rule the day. We are NOT in Montana yet, but we are definitely in Big Sky country. We can see for miles and miles and miles (just like song says).

During our afternoon, we toured downtown Stanley (population 982, maybe). Asked everyone we met the same two questions: 1. Were is the best place in town for breakfast? Everyone answer by saying Joyce's cafe. 2. What time do they open up? A varity of answers - 5:00, 7:00, 8:00, 5:30, 6:00, and I don't know.

Our luxurious accommodations this evening are at the Painted Horse Hotel. Another five star hotel which not only features orange carpeting but special towels to clean you guns, boots, knives, pots, pans, etc.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 34

07/20/2006 15:39:45 by Administrator

From: Rugby, North Dakota
To: Minot, North Dakota
Mileage: 74

Tailwinds!!!! SeeMore was a stallion today! The captain had a semi good day.

I was worried about SeeMore's front tire. It had done a Trojan job, and I cannot be more pleased with the Schwalbe tires. These tires are very heavy, but they are built very strong. The truth is that the tire should have been replaced in Fargo, but the bike store I went into did not have touring tires. Katelyn to the rescue, she mailed us a new tire and camping food via general delivery, to the Minot (pronounced My knot) post office.

Last night, after looking at the tire, it didn't look like it had 74 miles left. So I didn't sleep well, truly silly of me, but things are going so well. . . you just want them to keep going!

[Mary] We rode route 2 all day and would like to send our sincere appreciation to all of the truck drivers who we have shared the road with. They are extremely courteous and go out of their way to get into the other lane when passing us. In fact 99.9 % of the drivers in North Dakota have been super. We did meet up with the one and only rude ND driver today but Noel managed to be equally rude back, so we're even.

Things went well, until the Adventure Cycling map directed us to ride on Broadway through Minot. It truly seemed like the whole state of North Dakota decided to use this road. In fact I'm sure a lot of ND residents are in Minot today as the State Fair is being held here this weekend. It was one of the very few times on this trip that I did not feel comfortable riding. Mary got to be "Frogger" crossing Broadway to and from the post office because we just couldn't get the bike across.

Things have improved! Katelyn's care packaged arrived, the Real Admiral has a new do, SeeMore is now sporting a new front tire; and thanks to Chris at Scheels, a new rear fender, and a tune-up (thank you Chris!). Our bellies are full and we've stocked up at the grocery, where we also received compliments on our amazing tan lines. Apparently those tell tale white stripes down the side of my face are a dead give away of a frequent helmet wearer.

The amazing part of today's ride was the amount of water areas (lakes, ponds, marshes, etc.) that are along route 2. In a car you miss all the birds and action going on, but on a bike (even SeeMore the stallion) life moves by you much slower.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 33

07/19/2006 08:12:09 by Administrator

From: Devils Lake, North Dakota
To: Rugby, North Dakota
Mileage: 63

Hello from the geographical center of North America, Rugby North Dakota! We rode Route 2 today, the whole time (except our riding around in beautiful downtown Rugby). This part of Route 2 is a 4 lane divided highway, but there is plenty of shoulder and truly very little traffic (for a 4 lane).

Today we saw a new bird, the yellow-headed blackbird, and we are beginning to see fields of yellow canola and blue flax.

We had a strong headwind (notice the flags in the bottom photo), which became stronger as morning turned to afternoon. Again, tough mentally but physically we did just fine. Let's face it, if you're riding in North or South Dakota, you going to have wind so you better deal with it. Even with the wind, the barely busy road; we had a great ride today!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 32

07/18/2006 07:46:42 by Administrator

From: Tolna, North Dakota
To: Devils Lake, North Dakota
Mileage: 44

Happy Birthday Dustin, we love you and truly wish you were here riding with us!

R&J's Cafe did not open until 8:00 today, so we took our time taking down the tent. Last night we heard coyotes howling, and this morning we had tumbleweeds cross our path. Add the prairie dog spotted in Devils Lake, we truly feel we are in the west!

We had a great time at R&J's. The small cafe held about 16 people, and there were 12 of us, all locals except you know who. We were treated to both a great meal, and the people made us feel like one of them. North Dakota is a VERY friendly state, so come and visit!

Yesterday, SeeMore moved like a plow horse tilling the back 40 acres. Today, SeeMore was a wild mustang, leading his pack. We had tailwinds, OH BOY did we have tailwinds; our average speed was 15 mph. Three hours and we were done riding. In hindsight, it was a bit of a shame. We traveled through some of the most beautiful country so far on this trip (and that is saying a lot!). This part of North Dakota is the lakes region, and since 1993, North Dakota lakes have increased and grew larger. Loons, osprey, cormorants, geese, pelicans, swans, and red tailed hawks were found in abundance.

So what do you do in Devil's Lake (population 8,000, plus) with a whole afternoon to spare? Walk downtown, visit the old sections of the town and then take in a movie. We saw the new Pirates of the Caribbean, which we recommend! Tomorrow it is forecasted for headwinds so we will be heading for Rugby, the geographical center of the North America (according to the map). [Mary] Another activity, when you have an afternoon to kill, which Noel did not mention is to visit the local grocery store to see what kind of meal you can create without using refrigeration, stove, or microwave. Tonight's dinner menu consists of Havarti cheese on Wasa crackers, a little wine, and watermelon. As everyone knows Noel and I are not the most creative of cooks (Although you gotta admit tuna on cinnamon bread is pretty creative) so if you have any ideas of meals that can be created right off the grocery shelf please send them along via email. We do have a jetboil and can boil up to 2 cups of water (woohoo). Last nights dinner was pasta and Ragu, yum.