Today: 94.57 miles Total: 676 miles 9.16.10
Today’s sign grew on me throughout the day because it has multiple meanings.
Today, I woke up early after nearly 12 hours of sleep.
Four Pop-Tarts, an apple, banana, all with peanut butter was my breakfast. I read more as I waited for my stuff to dry. At 8:45am-ish I hit the road. 20 miles out of Culbertson I hit Bainville, which was not a town but just a “welcome stop” shop. A nice mom-ish and grandma-ish pair of ladies highly suggested I continue on Rt. 2, even though Willy told me to take 200. So, I thanked the ladies for considering the traffic, bike conditions, and directness of Rt. 2, and told myself, “200 it is.”
5 miles later I hit my first state border! On the MT/ND border is only one thing: Stateline Casino.
Immediately, though, the shoulder turned into one that, for miles, had me convinced you could comfortably skateboard across North Dakota. Mentally, it was very nice to be in a new state. So, when some miles later I came to county road 5, which isn’t on the map but heads South to Buford, I stopped and looked at a map for a while, because then and there I’d decide if I was going 2 or 200.
The more I pondered, the more I realized that 2 was a main, 4-lane, cross-stater. I didn’t want that. AND I had to go 17 miles North to get to it. So, I took my first, and glorious, turn off of Highway 2 onto small, no shoulder, pretty, 2 lane county road 5. Semis started surrounding me…a lot. But, there was generally way less traffic.
It was on this road that I set a new record–41.9mph. yeeaaahh. Today involved a lot of singing. Loud singing.
Nothing was at the “town” of Buford, ND. I did get directions from a non-obese lady who was selling “yard art” (junk?) and trapping & fishing licenses from her trailer, and was also legitimately out of breath after walking 30 feet to me. I went 9 miles South on Rt. 58, then 2 miles West, out of my way, to a grocery store in Fairview, BACK in Montana, fearing it’d be last last I see. The headwinds to get there were atrocious for those 2 miles.
Me: “Is this the biggest grocery store in town?”
Gothic chick: “This is the only grocery store in town.”
Fairview MT. is really where I started to see the oil rush’s impact. Tons of semi trucks and road construction in a very, very small town. As I rolled back into ND on my way to Alexander, it was one oil truck after another. From there on out, it was either oil trucks or the men in the business, driving their big, lifted, dirty pickups. At 4pm, I entered Alexander, and it was absolutely filled with the exact same vehicles. Tons of road construction, full hotels, completely unsustainable for the area. Some road construction girls, when I asked how far it was until the next city, couldn’t help me because “we just moved here.” So did everyone else. All for the oil rush.
I decided to make it to Watford City. 20 miles away. It was after 4pm. I started to haul. Although the road was nonstop semis and pickups, I made the 20 miles in one hour, averaging–you guessed it–20mph.
The Tourist Information in Watford City was useless. The town was bumpin’ with guys in their dirty oil rigs, guys buying beer, guys patronizing the newly-built banks and grocery store, and guys putting gas in their gas hogs. It’s a little town that was recently built up, as evidenced by the brand new buildings everywhere, all trying to accommodate the recent influx of guys in trucks. What gives? you may ask. Talking to locals like Diane, who’s, “Trying to get buff for my cruise this winter,” by walking around the fairgrounds’ bleachers 3 times, I found out that, less than a year ago, a virtual gold rush began–an oil rush–in northwestern and western North Dakota. Evidently, they believe there is more oil here than in Saudi Arabia. So, what does that mean? As I’ve seen it: lots and lots of testosterone. And we all know what lots of testosterone means: lots of lifted pickups. This town is absolutely horrible and overrun, as it has been for 6-12 months, depending which local you ask. Campgrounds are full, dirty pickups are everywhere, gas stations are backed up into the street with semis, and RVs and mobile homes are everywhere. Tons of semis and LOTS of dudes walk around the town of brand new banks, casinos, etc. and I think that the locals hate it. It’s a gold rush town in the worst sense of the word.
All the roads here are apparently terrible, filled with trucks and construction. I’m sure the bars and liquor stores are making a killing. It’s honestly horrible, though. It’s full of (the worst?) people for the worst reason.
I found zero places to camp. The “tourist park” was full of oil workers staying there permanently, breaking the campground rules. I rode all around, hoping to find a backyard or something, but found nothing. I had the energy to ride further, but had no where to go and not much light remaining. And, continuing would require a major route decision–a route decision that I needed the night, to sleep on it, in order to make.
So, I found the fairgrounds, rode in, and found a small, out-of-the-way Knights of Columbus shelter. I made grilled cheese, set up my tent on the cement, and endured the remains of the day’s headwinds.
Before Diane left, we talked, and as she got in her car, she poked her head above her door to ask, “You don’t have any room for some chicken noodle soup, do ya?” I wish. It was a generous offer, regardless of my being vegetarian.
I’m charging my solar panel in a maintenance room that I found unlocked.
(ed note: here, my journal goes into detail about the following day’s routes. I will spare you, and instead give a brief summary.) There was 2 ways to go. According to the locals: one way was 15 miles longer, hillier, and had absolutely no shoulder. The other way is apparently all traffic and has extremely bad construction. Apparently, though, that may be the better way (tune in tomorrow to see how horribly that decision pans out for me).