Any Road Tour: Day 28 – Bury me not on the lone prairie

It turns out that Terri, my Warmshowers hostess, is my sister from another mother. She’s crazy about Brandi Carlile and loves everything bagels. We talked about the former last night and I had the latter for breakfast in her kitchen this morning. I lingered a long time, first chatting with Terri then with Drew, Scott, and Poppy.

I rolled out well after 8 and headed to the post office to mail back some maps.

Then I ride across the Red River of the North into Fargo. I was expecting a run down place with weathered buildings but I was pleasantly surprised. All the old buildings look like new. Flower baskets hang from street light poles. Trees and greenery abound. I even got stuck waiting for s couple of trains on my meander.

I am embarrassed that I didn’t recognize that the colorful bike racks below spell “Fargo” in ASL.

I headed south out of town with a nice tailwind and turned west near Horace. Drew told me that the big crops around here are barley (for beer) and sugar beets.

This is what I saw for the rest of the day.

I met Tim on the side of the road outside Kindred. He’s riding the Northern Tier in chunks because he’s otherwise busy running a couple of businesses in Sandpoint Idaho. He gave me lots of information about the roads out his way and invited me to stay at his place in Hope Idaho later in my tour.

Tim and I talked for a half hour. I rode into Kindred and had a noontime breakfast at the cafe he recommended.

The high plains are known for their abandoned buildings. This one caught my eye from the highway so I rode down a dirt road to get a better look.

The route took me straight west for miles and miles. The wind was pushing me along at 14 miles per hour.

Along the side of the road I saw a wild turkey just hanging out. Wildlife is random out here.

At Enderlin I stopped for a late lunch. The cafe was also a thrift shop. I had a hot roast beef sandwich that filled my tummy.

After my meal I stocked up on water and food at a gas station convenience store. My maps said there were limited services for the next 78 miles. (Mostly this meant there were no toilets.) I arrived at Little Yellowstone Park, a roadside state-run campground, around 4:30. It was clean and empty. I decided that I’d do something a little crazy. I was going to run the deck of the rest of those 78 miles!

First I had to climb a big hill in my granny gear. On the way up I startled a doe and she dashed from the tall grass along the side of the road. Ten yards later I spotted a fawn nestled in the grass checking me out.

Five miles later I came upon Emily and Jay who were riding Bruce Gordon bicycles from Bend Oregon to Boston. (

We talked for 20 minutes or so before parting. They had stayed the night before at the Honey Pot in Gackle. That was my destination. I expected to get there no later than 10.

Then the winds died. No tailwind. I just rode and admired the sound of the noisy critters on the prairie. Just before sunset they get LOUD. The birds made R2D2 sounds. There was one in particular with an orange head and splashed of white on its shoulders that stood out both visually and aurally.

Each time I stopped I was engulfed by swarms of mosquitoes. These and other flying bugs would get caught in the sunscreen and hair on my arms and legs . Emily had talked about ticks so I was clearing off the bugs constantly. Their distraction was slowing me to 9 miles per hour. I finally put on my sunsleeves and a hat for sanity sake.

The sun set to the north peeking through overcast skies.

Now it was dark. I toyed with the idea of riding without lights. The heavy truck traffic from the workaday world had ended and I was all but alone. I’d turn my lights on whenever I heard a car coming from behind or saw headlights up ahead. The headlights seemed to take forever to get to me.

After a while I just left my lights on. My ability to sense my environment was now confined to the white circle of my headlight beam. I could have been anywhere for all I could tell. Now and then I’d see a farmhouse’s lights in the far distance but that was all.

I was eating constantly but I was slowing down. I was riding uphill but could only tell when my pedaling became labored.

Then came the rain. It was light but added to the lunacy of the whole affair.

At one point I nearly ran over an owl who was sitting in the road admiring his dinner.

This was getting weirder by the mile. Because of the rolling terrain I didn’t see Gackle until the last half mile into town.

I arrived at the Honey Pot just after midnight. I woke up Martin, a Swiss cyclist bound for Seattle. He returned the favor by waking me in the morning.

Happy trails Martin.

Earlier in the day I learned that Tom Gjelten of NPR had begun a 70th birthday ride from the Oregon coast to Massachusetts. Around our house, Tom is known as Jake’s stepdad. Jake and our son went to high school together. I hope to see him in a couple of weeks.

Total mileage: 136.5 (smashing my personal record of 118)

Tour mileage: 2,092.5

Any Road Tour: Day 27 – Headwinds to Morehead

I survived Fergus Falls. Torrential rain and swirling winds were lit up by incessant lightning. I’m not at all sorry that I didn’t camp.

Main Street in Fergus Falls looked like s snapshot of my the 1950s.

The road northwest was, well, a road. No more bike trails just The Mule, me, some rolling hills, and 10,000 expansion joints. Did you know that Minnesota has more lakes than expansion joints? It’s true!

After 18 miles I pulled into a diner to top off my hotel breakfast. They were having a Father’s Day brunch by reservation only. Having not planned ahead for the repast I left.

More hills and lakes for 12 miles until I found Zorbaz, a local pizza and Mexican place. The parking lot was overflowing so I went in to see what the crowd was eating. I immediately grabbed a table and was eating a burrito with chips and salsa within five minutes. They must have heard I was coming.

In addition to rolling hills today featured the first headwinds in a week. And I got rained on which actually felt splendid even in the cool air of the north.

It gets much colder in the winter so people burn a little firewood.

I found a fine place to entomb my wife’s car.

The headwinds were wearing me out as I rolled through Downer. Then it was on to Sabin for some gas station junk food. I think I’m finally tiring of chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches.

As I was leaving two eastbound bike tourists pulled in. Anna and Keith are doing the full Northern Tier from Anacortes Washington to Bar Harbor Maine. We traded intel in the road ahead. I learned that Anna started riding in January. Unreal.

I left the Northern Tier which follows the road grid west then north the west to Fargo. Instead I took a highway diagonally to Morehead Minnesota across the Northern Snake River from Fargo. They have trains out their wazoos up here, many transporting oil from the Bakken oil fields.

I swallowed my introversion and arranged to stay with a Warmshowers hosts. The Trickle family. Terri immediately made me feel like family. Drew and I got into an ugly fight about politics and I started smashing things. Okay, I made that up. We sat around and drank wine in the cool evening breeze on their back patio. Son Scotty came home and poured me a glass of chocolate milk because nothing quite goes with a good Cabernet quite like some brown moo juice.

Their house dates to the postwar era. They even have an old pink built in range in which Terri bakes junk food. I have photographic proof!

Suffice it to say these are incredibly nice people who love hosting bicycle tourists from all over the world.

And so I end my days in Minnesota. On to Fargo, the land of the wood chipper.

Big thanks to Terri, Drew, Scott and Poppy the goldendoodle.

Miles to day: 82.5

Tour total: 1,958

I’m now about halfway.