07/21/2006 15:46:01 by Administrator
From: Minot, North Dakota
To: Stanley, North Dakota
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.
07/22/2006 15:49:38 by Administrator
From: Stanley, North Dakota
To: Williston, North Dakota
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!
07/23/2006 15:51:21 by Administrator
From: Williston, North Dakota
To: Culbertson, Montana
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.
07/24/2006 15:53:08 by Administrator
From: Culbertson, Montana
To: Glasgow, Montana
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".
07/25/2006 15:55:01 by Administrator
From: Glasgow, Montana
To: Malta, Montana
Great ride today! Started off with the usual large breakfast, this time at the Oasis Cafe in downtown Glasgow. We thought it would be a short day, so we rode around Glasgow after breakfast and then started a leisurely ride west. We had head winds, but we were not in any rush so we eased up on the pedaling into the wind. We stopped at a roadside rest area, and we were greeted by Dexter, a golden retriever who wanted to ride on SeeMore for a while instead of getting back into his quarter million dollar RV. What can we say, that dog had taste!
Somewhere in the middle of Montana, on Highway 2, we met Susanne and Bob who are riding from Anacortes Washington to Boston. You can read more about their trip by clicking http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/journal/1344 This is their FIRST time touring on a bike! WOW!! Two of the nicest people you ever met. As cars drove by us, we shared our tales and adventures. They checked out SeeMore pretty good and we assured them that numb hands and butts are a thing of the past on this bike.
We rode into Hinsdale and had a picnic lunch in the park. It afforded us the view of main street and the hustle and bustle of Hinsdale (4 pick-up trucks, 2 cars). Prosperous is not an adjective you would use to describe Hinsdale, although they did have a nice school at the end of Main Street. We then rode towards Saco (pronounced Say co) our planned destination for today. About 5 miles outside of Saco, the mosquitoes hit, or should we say ambushed us on the hill. These suckers (pun intended) are mean and arrive in hordes. At first we couldn't believe it. They kept trying to attack us from the middle of nowhere (picture open grassland for miles and no trees), in broad daylight and especially on hills where we were easy prey. Thank you Roberta and Perry! For those Off bug repellant packets! Without missing a beat (or a pedal in this case) we were able to put on bug repellent without stopping.
We thought we could camp in Saco, but these mosquitoes changed our minds quickly. Then we thought we could lodge at the Saco Motel, the mosquitoes and camping would be a better option! So we spent time inside the Saco Library with the librarian, and in the town park where for some strange reason, the mosquitoes were not allowed in!
After our afternoon siesta we headed out for the 28 miles towards Malta. A very enjoyable ride with views of lakes and some first glimpses of mountains in the far off distance. As we rounded the bend into Malta we met another touring cyclist, 19 year old Jacob. This amazing young man is traveling solo from Anchorage, Alaska to western Pennsylvania where his home is. He has been on the road since June 27th and at this point didn't even have a map. He just came over the Canadian border today and hasn't picked up a Montana map yet. He did not use a map for most of Canada! He is averaging over 100 miles a day but noted that he may have to cut back as the days aren't quite as long as they are up north.
Another stellar day.
07/26/2006 03:53:03 by Administrator
From: Malta, Montana
To: Chinook, Montana
Math sometimes doesn't make sense. One day, two different rides.
After breakfast at the West End CafÈ in Malta we were ready for our morning ride, coated with bug repellant. Sacos claim to fame is the mosquito capital of the lower 48, and the mosquitoes pay little attention to trivial things, like town lines.
1 + 1 + 1 = 18. With a tailwind, mosquitoes penetrating our repellant, and the Rear Admiral's desire to use a powder room; we sailed into Dodson in under an hour (averaging 18mph)! From Dodson, we crossed into the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and slowly our multitudes of little traveling companions gave up their pursuit (a good thing because a loaded SeeMore is not the vehicle to ride at Tour de France speeds!).
While riding into Fort Belknap Agency, we noticed that the rear tire was slowly losing air. We stopped to pump it up, and it lasted until after lunch at Deb's Diner in Harlem. Under the shade of the diner, I removed the rear tire and the Rear Admiral found the piece of wire (from a retread tire) sticking out of the tube. With tire replaced, we ventured out onto Route 2 for our second half of the day.
1 + 1 + 2 = 18. All the cars in Montana, headwinds, and two hours of mashing the pedals brought us to rest here in Chinook. We have no idea were everyone is going, and when we find out, you will be the first to know. The road shoulder also disappeared about 4 miles outside of Harlem for added pleasure. Making is especially thrilling when RV, tractor-trailer and bicycle meet.
The scenery changed also, instead of the miles of grassland/cattle ranges, we have a green valley with lots of trees. The Bear Paw Mountains are getting larger!
07/27/2006 03:54:54 by Administrator
From: Chinook, Montana
To: Havre, Montana
We made it into Havre (pronounced hay ver) at 9:30 am and only 22 miles. Today is a short day because we are trying to set up our entry into Glacier National Park for a weekday. We might also take another day off in Cut Bank because of a very high westerly wind that are in the forecast for Sunday, but we are getting ahead of ourselves and we try not to do that!
Here is a warning to all fellow cyclists. Route 2 from Harlem to Havre has little (18 inches) to zero shoulder. The traffic is moderate, but when you toss in the wide loads (truckers hauling large farming equipment) and the RVs, it is not very pleasant. The posted speed limit is 70 mph for cars and 60 for trucks. You need to reread the word posted, because we have yet to see one driver pulled over for anything and we have seen one local and one state trooper in all the miles we have ridden so far in Montana. 95 percent of the drivers are thoughtful; it's the 5 percent that keep you on your pedals.
From Glasgow until Havre you ride in a valley that was carved out by the Missouri river (many, many moons ago). The valley is now the home to the Milk River, BNSF railway, Route 2, farmland, ranches, trees, and billions of mosquitoes. The valley is as wide as 5 miles in some areas but boxes in the closer you ride towards Havre. The edges are called the Missouri breaks that you can see in the photo below (we hope).
There is a nice little hill on the west side of Havre, so nice we did it twice! We rode around downtown (down in the valley) Havre, shopped uptown (on the Missouri breaks), and were just plain lazy today (read, napped, computer). If we could just have Route 2 for ourselves, the ride today would have been stellar!
Very tasty Broccoli Salad for lunch (Ingredients: Raw broccoli, Raisins, Sun dried cranberries, Spanish onion, Sunflower seeds, Coleslaw dressing) and it will become a staple when we return home!