Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vacation, Day 2: North Dakota to Montana

Grandma's 95th birthday wasn't until August 8, so we spent our first night not so far away in Belfield, North Dakota. I was feeling pretty ramped up in the morning, the start of a two week vacation and all, so I got up bright and early, just after sunrise, and headed out of the hotel on my bike to take the interstate to Medora. You heard that right, the interstate. I biked on I-94 between Belfield and Medora. My brother had told me this was the only road, although a subsequent inspection of Google maps tells me otherwise. I did do some web research first to see if I could pedal the interstate, and the answer was an absolute yes, although the information was incredibly sparse. I have this suspicion that very few people are willing to admit you can ride on the interstate because they think it's so stupid. For those of you who doubt, I refer you to the Federal Highway Administration, which doesn't tell you which states allow riding on the highway, but does assure you that if there isn't a big sign that says "no bicycles" (e.g. Minnesota), you're pretty much safe...perhaps allowed is a better word...to ride the big tar.

Despite everyone telling you you're pretty much a meat waffle (c'mon...name the movie!), it's not that bad. Wide shoulders, and if you go just after sun up, with the sun behind you so the drivers aren't blinded, you can be fairly assured a.) they've sobered up since 2 or 3 a.m., b.) they can see you because the sun isn't in their eyes, c.) they have to go really out of their way to cross over six feet of shoulder, and d.) you can hear them coming and get out of the way because in ND there's only about one car every 5-10 minutes at that time of the morning. It was absolutely gorgeous, fairly quiet, and a cool 65-70 in the sun-is-only-now-coming-up liminal. (flickr album).

I did slightly slower than the speed limit. Not because 75 is really fast for a bike, but because I was checking out the prairie dog town on the way into Medora.

I stopped at the first rest stop. Most of the people there had horses. I had an iron horse. Or a steel horse. Ooooo....it's all the same. Only the scenery changes. Every day. It seems like we're wasting away. Another place, where the roads they are so cold. I'd pedal all night, just to get back hom. On a steel horse I ride. I'm wanted. Dead or alive. Dead....or...alive! That's for Julie.

The wide version. Pretty cool if you click through. I like the bend I got in the panorama.

Proof I was at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Home of buffalo, snakes, and bicyclists!

I was going to go over here, and then it started crying.

I didn't see any wildlife. I'm glad. I hear they're bike thieves.

The wide angle without the bicycle, in case you're a bigot.

The womenfolk followed in my steps, three hours later. Eryn bought the dragon she's holding, "Puff", at the hotel in Belfield. She's still sleeping with it, despite grandma Ellen and Grandpa John giving her $100 to spend on vacation as she pleased, which was split evenly between stuffed animals and little golden guides (spiders, stars, minerals and more). We got an agreement earlier on that we could get rid of almost as many animals as she purchased during the trip.

A great picture of Eryn in North Dakota, home of dragons.

When I got to Medora, I ate breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe. Delicious. The smell of bacon and hashbrowns wafted into the street. There was a line by the time I ate and space was limited, so I offered to share my table with the three women in line behind me so I wasn't taking up space for four by myself. One of them was from the Twin Cities, but had brothers running the sheet metal shop in Sidney, Montana, which was where I was headed. We talked vacations, oil wells, housing booms, housing busts, and had a pretty good time sitting together.

Pooteewheet and Eryn were still quite a ways off after breakfast, so I decided I'd go look at the Maah Daah Hey mountain bike trail that was supposed to be in the neighborhood. It was outside of town and there was a sign, so I took off. Until that point, I'd ridden mostly long but manageable hills, but the road to the trail was up, up, up, up. Near the top I met a woman coming from the other direction who said, "Hey, the sign up to here said 8% and you made it! I hope you have another gear, because it's 9% from this direction!" Ugh. I headed down the hill anyway and took the dirt road to the Maah Daah Hey. As I was pulling up to the trail sign, I did a rolling dismount, only to have a rattlesnake slither under my tire, then under my foot, and into the weeds. Got my adrenalin going.

I looked at the sign, and it assured me I was an idiot for not watching out for snakes. Despite knowing a rattler was in the grass somewhere, I rolled down the trail to check it out. Some serious sand. I was tired after only half a mile. It would be cool to use Dakota Cyclery to do the trail ride where they drop off your food and water in lock boxes for overnight stays 2 or 3 times. If you had comfortable riding boots that came up to your ankles. Or could change a flat with a rattler embedded in it. Seriously...I'm tempted. I think I'd remember it the rest of my life. If you're a mountain biker and have an interest, let me know and maybe we can plan something a year or two out. I biked back up the 9% hill to town, my bike squeaking in an ominous way. I'll get to that in a later post. It started here.

We headed toward Sidney, with only a brief stop in Glendive to look for petrified wood and check out Glendisaurus, the triceratops who lives in Glendive, Montana (where I have/had relatives).

Here eyes burnt out quite a while ago, but otherwise she's holding up well. The park is a pleasant place to stop, although it felt like 100 in the sun.

Eryn and I inappropriately touching her. Isn't the cloaca somewhere near here?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Point Break!