Today: 92.11 miles Total: 784.8 miles 9.18.10
Man, I BELT out the tunes when I’m riding. I sang all day today. Waking up in a random trailer in an RV park in Killdeer, ND on a huge bed with a tiger comforter and the TV still on in the “living room,” with the owners, whom I presume naked based on their arms and legs, in front of it on their tiny bed that they prefer, I quietly packed up and gave a high-five-thank-you to them as I left.
2 bananas, 2 puddings, a quick tent-drying session, pack up, and I was on the road at 8:45am. I enjoyed a “Slow Spanish News” podcast, which is exactly what it says: world news in a very slow, clearly spoken spanish. Really good practice, IF my mind could stay that focused.
It was a really cold morning of riding. Snow was on the grass, and it remained there for most of the day. I sang a lot. N.D. people wave more than Montana people did. Probably 20% of the cars wave to me, and it’s awesome.
Okay, maybe only 10%. But it’s amazing motivation.
I got “ran off” the road today by a big truck pulling an RV trailer as it passed an oncoming car. It was passing, accelerating downhill, and completely taking up my lane. If I wouldn’t have moved into the grass beside my shoulder lane, I probably would have been OK, but a foot away from a truck with a huge trailer bouncing 90mph towards me. I did as I tend to do with people that pass in the oncoming lane even though they see me coming towards them: make eye contact and shake my head. The worst part was that it was in the middle of a 1+ mile hill climb, and I was forced to stop completely. I’m alive, at least.
I arrived in Beulah after 30 or 40 miles. Then I went further. Next I was in Hazen, where a new grocery store attracted me. I got a huge (~3lb) bag of granola at the first “granola loading station” I’ve seen.
I kept eating food directly out of the bins in the store, like chocolate peanuts, raisins, and banana chips. NOTHING sounded better to me than this kind of food. I’m pretty sure that was stealing.
I also bought 2 boxes of cheap granola bars and a cooked baked potato that they sold at the counter, which I proceeded to microwave, smother in sour cream, and enjoy while sitting at a table outside. Many nice patrons talked to me out there. It was 2pm, and I decided to get to Washburn, directly across the Missouri River, tonight.
I hauled, especially considering the big increase in weight on my bike (from the food), and got there at 5:30pm.
There is finally COLOR in some of the trees I’ve seen. You know what that means? I’VE FINALLY SEEN SOME TREES.
I rode on a country rode, next to lots of trees, over big hills, overlooking the river, with no cars, at the beginning of dusk. It was pretty glorious, if you ask me. I actually enjoyed biking (and singing–a lot). I wonder if it’s actually autumn yet.
No one was on the ghost town’s mainstreet. Finally, I went up the hill and found a grocery store. A blonde highschooler was working outside, but was of no assistance to me. Two women were leaning against the store and talking in what sounded like nice voices. For me, nice voices are pretty much all it takes, so I approached and started putting myself out there. Earl (Earleen), the night manager, was one of them, and after a good conversation, she offered me food and a shower at her nearby house, but not until she got off work at 7pm. By now, I know that “food and shower” means “shower, dinner, bed, breakfast, parting gifts, and new friends.”
I really put myself out there, which is actually quite hard for me, and something that I rarely do. I tend to not have the “what’ve I got to lose?” attitude. But, like so many people tell me, why not try? I’m still not convinced that it works the same with girls as it works with strangers outside North Dakota grocery stores, though.
I ate 2 puddings, stretched, talked on the phone, and waited for 45 minutes. I followed her the 2 blocks (which she drives) home, where I met Bryan (aka Turk), her husband. They have 21- and 23-year-old daughters in Bismark. It took about 20 seconds of conversation to be invited to spend the night. I took a glorious hot shower to celebrate.
Now I don’t know what it is about me, or the position that I’m in, but people love to talk to me. We had a great big dinner (I ate 4 times more than both of them combined) and they, especially Turk, kept telling story after story. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing good stories and meeting wonderful new people. I really do, because everyone has such different stories to tell–and they probably continue to tell stories because they can tell that I genuinely care and enjoy hearing them. But try doing that after biking 100 miles in a day, and suddenly it’s a bit harder to listen acutely.
I couldn’t stop eating. 4 veggie cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard. 1 ear of corn. 1 homemade roll with butter. Tons of french fries. 2 glasses of OJ. 2 pieces of homemade apple pie, which turned into 1/4 of the pie. Soon thereafter, Earl made me puke in my mouth a little bit when she asked, “How many eggs would you like in your omelette?” I’m really, really full.
We looked at maps and I listened to story after story. I heard some really funny stories from their small (1000 person?) town. Many of these came from their weekly newspaper, which has a “snoop section” that consists of an old woman who finds her way into personal stories of house guests, dinner parties, and overnight guests of the community.
I finally had to give in and say that I needed some sleep. If all goes correctly, tomorrow evening will find me over 100 miles away, in Carrington. This is mainly because, well, according to the map, there is nothing between here and there.
I’m really, really full.
I keep coming across religion on this trip. Meals have been blessed by Ron in Glasgow (“oops, already took my first bite…”), Brian here in Washburn (“oops, same mistake”), and someone else, all in regard to the success of my trip. Eric, the Ranger in Theodore Roosevelt National Park was religious. Richard, who I hitchhiked with, was very religious and offered me a bible. Mark in Glacier National Park was religious and also offered me a bible. Interestingly, Brian here in Washburn dared me to, tomorrow, say, “God, if you are real, make these conditions, ____, ______, and ______ come true,” or something along those lines. I thought this was a pretty interesting concept.
I’m so full. I need to get to sleep. In my own bed 🙂