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There’s Always Another Hill

Date: Monday, June 05, 2000 7:18 PM  Day 11  

Well it has been a busy 24 hrs. I have ridden a total of 139 miles, become a grandfather again (mother and baby doing well, thank you) and finally tracked down my wife who was flying to Colorado Springs on business. The right engine on her plane quit so they diverted to Denver and then bussed them to Colo. Springs, 13 hrs from door to door. Shoot, all I had to do was ride a bike. And I did. I left WA. state at about 7:00 AM and wheeled into Idaho.  

Date: Monday, June 05, 2000 7:18 PM  Day 11

Then a 30-mile ride to Sandpoint, the town where the first set of maps finishes! Rather anticlimactic after all those miles to ride past an imaginary point and say, “right there." Anyway I had a huge double bacon cheeseburger and a root beer float at A&W to celebrate and then decided that it was too early to quit so I rode on to Clark Fork, Another 31 miles. Not much in the town but the getting here was fine. I rode along the shore of one of the huge glacier era lakes, Pend Orelle is the name, and it looked more like pictures from Alaska. Tall sheer cliffs and dense pine forests, wetland areas and birds by the thousands. Down below the road is a train track and the whole thing looks like a toy land for giants. Out in the middle is an island, one of several large ones. The forest there is so dense you can't see into the trees, you just look at them, like one of those Japanese screen paints where everything is suggested instead of shown. This is almost a surreal place, but quite calming. I don't know enough about the different types of birds to recognize any, but there were lots. The temp was very cool this AM, I had to ride in shorts, tights, two pull over shirts and a nylon shell until after lunch. All continues to go well and I will be heading for Libby, Montana in the morning. It looks like about a 70-mile ride. What they don't show you is how much of it is straight up. All for now. PG  

Date: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 10:04 PM  Day 12

Today was one of the finest days of bicycle riding I've ever had. I didn't even get started until nearly 8:00 AM and stopped for lunch and still rode 70.5 miles and had great fun doing it. I started the day in Clark Fork, Idaho, a town so small it only has one motel and one so culturally deprived it actually had a flashing sign to announce the impending construction of the town's first "laundry mat". While out on my evening stroll, hunting the elusive ice cream bar, I met some locals who had driven in to see the site of the soon-to-be attraction. They seemed to be somewhat conflicted over whether the new facility was a sign of life for their town or a deathblow by "outsiders". I hope they work it out. I headed off down the road in the morning; secure in the knowledge I needed only to ride all day to fulfill my dreams and immediately found the road had been removed. This is disconcerting when one is relying on fairly narrow tires. The county is resurfacing this particular road and neglected to post signs as "no one uses it" said the young man on the earthmover. They had stripped it down to loose rock already. So, I walked/crawled/pushed and muttered for five miles before I got my reward-nearly 20 miles of paved road thru the Montana high country with absolutely no one there but me! I now know where God goes for vacation. Stunning views relieved only by more stunning views, rivers and creeks and pastures full of horses running and rolling in sweetgrass. Just too much. Follow this with lunch at the PANTRY DELI, an Amish place on the side of the road with home made bread sandwiches about two inches thick, real mayonnaise made yesterday and cheese from the guy next door. $2.25 (the .25 was for the bread). I ALMOST COULDN'T DO THE NEXT 40-MILES. Anyway I did and am in Libby Montana, Here's the numbers: total=635.2, Today=70.5, Ave. speed was 11 mph and riding time was 7 hrs. Hope all is well with everyone.  

Date: Thursday, June 08, 2000 11:30 PM   Day 13

Marsha & Lucien and Glacier ParkHello to all. This is the dang near every day report of the trials and tribulations encountered on the bike tour. Except there ain't been any trials and too many tribulations to tell. I didn't send a note yesterday so no, you didn't miss anything. Today I got up 6:00AM in Eureka, MT and set out to see if I could get to my friends Marsha and Lucien in West Glacier Park, about 80 miles up the road. The day was cool and windy but no rain. I made it to Whitefish with only one incident. I was nearly run off the road by a trucker pulling two full size trailers. There was no one coming toward no shoulder and us but he/she declined to allow me any space at all. Just roared past approximately 4” away. I thought this was the end of the trip! I was afraid to look, as the tendency is to pull in to what you look at. This was not a fun moment.  Sort of gives you the shakes. So I stopped in a local Deli and had the "mudslide special".  Pastrami and cheese and sauerkraut on RYE. Guess they never heard of a Rueben? Anyway, the instructions were just a bit muddled so of course I ended up taking the scenic route (read Lost) around the town, then rode for thirty more miles before I un-lost my self while accidentally going in the right direction. Met a local who set me on the path. All this time Lucien has decided that I might need some help so he is out driving down the road looking for me and of course I ain't there. The route left the main road and the local logging trucks, heading straight North up toward Glacier Park, then sideways for five miles over a quaint little gravel road from Hell. It had just been oiled.  A local tradition where they take a terrible, rough road and spray used oil on it to cut the dust. Just picture trying to ride a heavily laden bike with a tried rider down a washboard that has been sprayed with PAM. Neat, huh? Anyway, finally emerged from the woods and there across the road was the sign, KOA in 1/3 mile. Safe at last! Rolled into the park just as a torrential downpour, complete with hail in the marble to larger size comes pouring down. I shall stay here for a couple of days and rest my weary sit upon. Y'all enjoy the break and I will be back when I have new scenery to share. Remind me to tell you the one about he deer that wanted to race with me in the forest and the voice form above that wanted to share my peaches. See, you knew it wasn't gonna be dull! Nite, Nite. PG

Date: Sunday, June 11, 2000 5:10 PM  Day 14

Hello to all. Even though I didn't ride yesterday I will just keep the numbering going. Had a wonderful time with my friends in West Glacier. Again, these are the folks that Helen and I met last fall in Estes Park Colo. Today I made the decision to ride through Glacier Park, especially the Going-to-the Sun road in the car. This is a very narrow/no shoulder park road built by the CCC in 1939. If you ride it on a bike the rule is you have to be at the top by 11:00 AM or they make you go back down! It was also about 37 degrees up there today. I was afraid that all I would see was the white line. So off we went in Lucien's Suzuki, the three of us, my bike and all the assorted paraphernalia. Looked like one of the clown cars from the circus when we unloaded. My goodness! The park is not to be believed. I kept expecting someone from Disney to pop up and say, "doesn't it look real?" Mountains lost in the clouds, snow drifts twenty feet high with runoff water undercutting them so all you could see was the hollowed out drift with a waterfall in it. The road is so very narrow and twisty I have no regrets about not riding it. Of course I only got two photos at the top before I ran out of film.  

At the top of Going to the Sun Road. Early June, 2000.  

After driving to St. Mary’s, the town on the other side of the Park, I reassembled the bike and started riding for Canada. It is NOT all downhill after crossing the Continental divide. I took nearly 5 hrs to make the forty odd miles to the Border with Canada and then on to Belly Creek Park. Got a campsite just as the rain started back in but it only lasted about an hour. Fixed dinner and wrote this, now got to go hang all the food and utensils from a tree so the BEARS won't get it. No kidding! I don't think any self respecting bear would eat the junk I carry but I'm not gonna chance it. After trying unsuccessfully for about an hour to hoist the food bag up into a tree, I realized that none of the accessible branches would be strong enough to hold the bag. The best I could do was suspend the bag right next to the trunk which didn’t seem like much better. I went to the next set of campers, a pair of ladies with multiple dogs, and asked what they would do as they too were in tents. “Oh, she said, we just put it all in the car. Just toss your stuff in the back. It well be fine.” So much for rude, disinterested Canadians. Drat, another stereotype bites the dust.  All for now it is too cold to sit outside any more. Philip  

Date: Monday, June 12, 2000 11:41 PM  Day 15

This is the 18th day since I left Seattle. I have covered 959.3 miles (with a day and a half off in West Glacier) So far the trip has been great if not a bit more strenuous than I planned. Last year's tour up the East coast lulled me into a false sense of my ability. Oh well.... Rode 83.5 miles today, strictly out of necessity, as there wasn't anywhere to stop in between Magrath, Alberta and Cut Bank Montana. I did find a cup of coffee at the small shop there but no cafe so no breakfast. Then about 40 miles to Del Bonita, a misnamed hole in the wall of a crossroads still in Canada. After a delightful lunch of Cracker Jacks and a pint of chocolate milk, I met two more road riders, Jeff and Mary from Seattle. They have just started the ride in East Glacier but have ridden the first part before plus a Southern Tour a few years back coupled with a trip around Nova Scotia. So they seem to understand the basics. We rode together for a while and then met up when we both chose the best restaurant in Cut Bank. Also the only one. After going far too far on Power Bars and a Snickers bar, I feasted on the Monday Special; Ham and Bacon meatloaf with mashed potatoes, cream peas, light rolls and butter. then for desert a slab of blueberry-peach pie with a crust that had a nodding acquaintance with some lard. Yum. The scenery wasn't much today, first Canadian and then American prairie, miles and miles of it. I did pass a horse ranch with five new colts in the front pasture. They were playing some kind of horsy games. Several very large and well kept Mormon and Amish farms too. Wheat fields as far as you could see. Made me want to go get some local flour and start baking again. Maybe next time. Other than the colts and being dive bombed by a pair of snipes who must have had a nest nearby the day was mostly what a friend of mine used to call a "discipline" day. Just put your head down and turn the pedals. Then, just as we all rolled in to Cut Bank, the winds quit, the low gray sky split asunder and the cleanest blue I have ever seen was offered for our inspection. Very fine indeed. Made it all worth while and I think I will do it again. Tomorrow I start the third full map, will break a thousand miles and better do some serious pedaling to work off the Cherry Garcia ice cream and Cool Mountain Gourmet Black Cherry Soda I just ate. Roughing it is really hard. Off to bed. PG

Date: Tuesday June 13, 2000  Day 16

(Sorry this is late. The town I stopped in last night had only one Pay phone and it wouldn't work with the PocketMail.) Hello to all. What a great day of bicycling and seeing Montana this was. I set out from Cut Bank MT. this AM after eating breakfast with the couple I met yesterday. Then hit the road at 9:00 and picked up the mother of all tailwinds! This coupled with basically a steady more down hill than up made possible a 96-mile day (1055.3 total) in only about 7.5 hrs of riding today. What fun! There is nothing to see, unless you start looking. The sky is almost painfully blue, clouds of spun silver and pristine white lambs wool. Had to quit watching for shapes in the clouds, as it was too hard to watch the traffic too. Stopped in the abandoned town of Lothair. Sort of on the side of the road to nowhere. Ate my lunch of peanut butter and crackers, followed by a can of peaches and a quart of water. At about 2:00 PM I got to where we had all talked about staying for the night. Too early to stop. I waited for nearly an hour for the other riders to catch up but they never did. So onward, town after town, mile after mile of rolling field with waves of grass undulating smoothly. Once while I was riding I suddenly became aware of the beginning rumble of some giant beast. It sounded like something in need of food. Before I could place the sound, a massive train burst into the stillness, like an attacking army at full charge. I started counting cars, 25, then 50, 75 then 100 then 125 then too many moving too fast to count. All full of coal and heading East. At one point the train was stretched out in a curve and I could not see beginning or end. Finally decided to call it a day at 6 PM and settled on the town of Hingham, using the City Park for a camp site. Quite lovely. Looks like something from New England with the manicured lawn and neatly painted slides and swings. Of course the Chevron gas station/RV Park/casino/cafe across the road sort a spoils the tranquility. Can't win 'em all. That's it for now, gotta cook dinner. Philip

Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2000 9:03 PM  Day 17

Well this has been a good day here in Havre, MT. I only rode 40 miles this AM and then decided that after last night I needed a day of rest. You see, last night has to qualify as really special. I rode nicely for 96 miles, managed to lose two more touring partners in the process and ended up in the geographic center of all known emptiness. I mean, the country around here makes Amarillo, Texas look like a booming, frenzied  metropolis. After investigating and rejecting the two previous town parks I settled on the town on Hingham, Mt. The park, as I have noted was immaculate and green. Well about midnight I discovered why as the automatic sprinkler system actuated and began to assault the area. Have you ever heard the sound of water sprayed against a metal building? Sprayed against a metal building with enough force to arc out fifty feet at a time? Sprayed against a metal building in some sort of preprogrammed but sure as Hell NOT rhythmically? I would lay there and wait, afraid to go back to sleep and be jolted awake. Nothing. (one minute nothing, three minutes nothing BAM! the most incredible blast of water in the West. This delightful cacophony went on until about three AM. Then peace, right? Wrong locomotive breath! The glories of hearing the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe described in earlier Notes are vastly diminished when the train runs 50 from your bed and passes by about ever fifteen seconds, often stopping by to back-up and try again. Then there were the birds. Did I tell you about the birds? Tell you what, they don't all go to sleep at dusk and they don't all sing melodies to make the poets swoon. Wish I'd had my shotgun! So I got up and rode to Havre MT. and got a room and ate at the Pancake house and went to a book store and ate ice cream and went to a Diner and now I'm gonna take ANOTHER long hot bath and do it again tomorrow. See ya down the road. PG

Date: Thursday, June 15, 2000 10:25 PM  Day 18

Hello to all. I found the "lost" travelers today. I was pedaling down the road and espied a lone biker. He introduced himself as “Carl from North Dakota” and when I said my name he said I was expected and that Jeff and Mary were in front. So all is well and we are five tonight for dinner at Dairy Queen. Yum Yum. Today has been one of those true contrast days, cold and rain and hail and much more of the same coupled with forty mile an hour tail winds. I just sailed! Didn't even get on the road until 9am and then stopped for a great breakfast of pancakes that were bigger than the plates! Anyway we still got into Malta by five o'clock and did 92.5 miles.  We are all sitting around telling war stories about our jobs. We are now one doctor, one nurse, one biologist, one firefighter, and one newspaperman. What a delightful group. I am going to stop for now; it is cold and time for bed. Tomorrow we head for Glasgow, 87 hopefully windy miles down the road. Later, PG  

The Usual Suspects….  

Carl from N. Dakota  





Mary from Seattle  





The Author





Date: Saturday, June 17, 2000 12:03 AM  Day 19

Hello to all. I can't seem to find the report I wrote earlier so this the short version. I rode with Ron, the firefighter, today, better yet I rode behind Ron today as he is a much stronger rider than I. At any rate we were successively rained on and hailed on and the wind was pretty much from the side all day. Except for when it was head on! We did manage to get to Glasgow and later in the PM went to the home of Mary's cousin for delightful dinner and conversation. Such gracious folks, opening their home to not only strangers but "strange folks" too. After a dinner of BBQ chicken, fresh corn-on-the-cob and a pasta salad, desert came after our hostess went to her garden and picked fresh strawberries for shortcake. Going back to Ramen Noodles and peanut butter is going to be tough. Mary and Jeff are going to stay here for at least one day and then put her on the train back to Seattle. Carl has gotten lost for tonight but we assume he is camping out and will surface tomorrow. Ron and I will head out in the AM as he stays on the route for two more days before pedaling off to his 32 High School Reunion. Speaking of school - went by the one room school where Chet Huntly attended. Neato. Jeff is going to try and catch up over the next few days. There is a "pow-wow" being held down the road a bit. I met a Lakota Sioux fellow in the ‘washateria’ and he invited us to come by for Indian Tacos. Can't wait! I had my first flat today, at the Dairy Queen. Not bad for 1,256.9 miles! Today was 73.5 miles but it took from 8:OO Am to 3:30 PM because of the wind. All for now. PG

Date: Saturday, June 17, 2000 8:01 PM  Day 20

Hello to all. Today was the usual cross between wonderful and horrid. I left out of Glasgow at 8AM after the usual breakfast of plate-sized hotcakes, eggs swimming in butter and half a pound of bacon. Oh, did I mention that I have lost TEN pounds so far? I know, I know, not fair. Oh well... I was riding behind Ron, the firefighter from Washington.  He is a very strong rider so basically I only see him at breaks and dinner. Anyway, it was cool and windy and then about 9:30 the rains started in again so I stop and put on the rain suit-I look like a giant banana-and begin to sweat in the suit and then freeze going down the hills. This is the morning pattern. Then about one o'clock, after short break in Wolf Point, MT I am riding along looking at some really UGLY cows, when I came to my senses and realized they weren't cows, they were Buffalo! Hugh, powerful looking beasts, they were, rumbling along a separate fenced in area. They move rather ponderously, but one begins to get a sense of what the plains here were like when there were millions of them. Made my day!. I got into Poplar, MT about 4 PM and decided to get a room as the rain had followed me. Got the last room in the only motel in town-pop.881-and here comes Ron back from finding out the camping has no showers. So we are sharing the room. They are having Wild West Days here, plus a combined all classes reunion at the school. I do believe all 881 folks are here. Off to Lewiston tomorrow, that is in North Dakota. Yeah!! Happy Fathers Day y'all. PG  

Great legs for half a century of use and abuse, huh?  

Date: Sunday, June 18, 2000 11:46 PM  Day 21

Hello to all. I'm in North Dakota! Today’s ride was a bit tough, 80.3 miles, lots of hills and head wind all the way. We left out of Poplar, MT at 7:00 AM, no breakfast because THE cafe in Poplar decided not to open So, eat a banana and pedal down the road to Brockton. Tried the c-store and were told the lady at the laundry made breakfast sandwiches. She would be open at nine o'clock. So went up and waited. Now this was a real trip. The owner shows up at 9:15, invited us in and started cooking. This place had washer/dryers, thousands of videos for rental, a snack bar, video poker and a 'back room' I never got around to checking out. The sandwiches were sausage patties the size of a hamburger and fried egg with cheese slices, with a 20 oz. glass of chocolate milk and free coffee-3.00 dollars. That was the highlight of the day. From then on it was just head down and keep pedalin'.  We stopped for ice cream at every possible chance to celebrate Fathers Day. The scenery was just mile after of rolling hills and grasslands. I marvel at the folks that live here, far, far away from everybody and very independent. My favorite image so far was three real cowboys, rundown boots and curl brim hats, skin tight jeans and the ever-present wad of chewing tobacco. They were standing around a store when I rode up, conversation seemed to be limited to Yep and uh huh. What was so startling was when they got into their Ford Festiva-looking like a clown car at the circus- and drove off. Then a very tiny Indian lady came out of the same store and slowly climbed into a giant 4x4 pickup and left in a cloud of dust. Maybe the Indians won after all. Tomorrow is going to be another long one as we have a 75-mile ride thru areas with no services at all. We are carrying extra water and hoping the wind Gods are in a good mood. Later, PG.

Date: Monday, June 19, 2000 9:56 AM  Day 22

Hello to all. I am taking the day off so I thought I would send this out early. I am in Williston, North Dakota. The weather is about to get really bad and my sit upon has been sat upon too many times for now. I shall take a day off and partake of the hot tub here at the motel. If you are having a slow day I would love to get email from folks today. I will do some laundry and make a Wal-Mart run. Who says life isn't exciting out here on the road? Ron has gone on, as this is the point at which he turns south to get to his 32nd High School Reunion. Really a great guy to ride with. Wish I were as strong a rider. I am still waiting to see if Jeff is going to catch up before I head out again. When we finished breakfast this morning, Ron had a flat. So he was changing it as I left. He just came back by the room with my sunglasses-left them on the table-what he calls a "senior moment".  Oh well.... Of to Wal-Mart and then some heavy duty re-packing of all bags. This has to be done about once a week as stuff gets tossed into the wrong place when in a hurry and then I can't find it. All for now, Philip  

Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2000 7:55 PM  Day 23

Hello to all. Today was the first day in the Dakota "badlands". The only real bad part was the winds-50 mph plus all day. Luckily the worst of it was behind me but too much of the wind ended up coming from the side. I had to ride at such an angle that I was afraid I would fall over if I ran out of wind. This happens when a semi gets between you and the wind. Makes for an interesting five seconds while you try to keep from falling into the "hole" left by the passage of the truck. Aside from that there were a few more of those 'insignificant' hills that are about to kill this old flatlander. It did not however actually rain until after the ride was done and I was in the cafe gnawing on the second toughest steak I ever tried to eat. The first was prepared by my first ex-wife and I still think she cooked the saddle instead of the animal. The highlight of the day was Lake Sakakawea. I think the current political correctness spells it different but out here, where the Lady lived, they like this version. Good sized lake with an undulating coastline that is part meadow and part sharply rolling hills. The contrast between the placid water and the restrained violence of those broken hills is stunning. The areas that are planted-forage or hay I guess-really do look like "waves of grain". They just aren't amber yet, still multiple shades of green. Looks like one could swim through them. The ride was 75.5 miles today.  I didn't get on the road until 9:15 and got into New Town at 5:00 PM. I met two other folks, Denise and her husband Jim, last seen in Glasgow. They had split the ride in two, staying over at the Lewis and Clark State Park because the wind yesterday was too fierce to contend with. It is so neat to ride along here and retrace these giant steps taken by the men and women who pulled this country into one entity. Regardless of the current politically correct perspective, they WERE giants and they left big footprints. Off to Minot, N. Dak. tomorrow. PG  

Date: Wednesday, June 21, 2000 7:43 PM  Day 24

Hello Everyone, today was one of the most challenging days I have had on this trip. That is the polite way to say ‘I woulda quit but there wasn't anywhere else to go’. The morning started well in Newtown, N. Dakota, breakfast at the Main Lanes Cafe (really is the front of a bowling alley) the usual, 10-inch pancake and two eggs and five strips of thick bacon and juice and coffee, then off to ride with a tailwind. First 57 miles fairly zipped by in just under four hours. Now if you hate to hear grown man whimper skip the next part. At some imaginary point on the map the road seems to veer left a tad. This like saying Clinton fibs a tad. Complete 90-degree turn from due east to due north.  Keep in mind that tailwind the weather folks were calling 24 to 36 MPH with gusts! So now it is blowing perpendicular to our only available route, and folks, there just isn't anything up here to stop the wind. Now we only had 16 measly miles to ride. It was just after noon. Quick day huh? THREE HOURS and some change later we crawled into Minot, N. Dak. I got blown off the bike twice-landed in the grass - and on more than one occasion simply stopped, as I could not make any headway. This was a wind to make West Texas proud. I do not want to do that ever again. The good news is tomorrow we head on East and the winds are maybe gonna die down. If not, I'm sure I can find inside work at the hotel here ‘cause I'M NOT GOING BACK OUT THERE IN THAT WIND! The good news is the first part of the day was nice and the rest is over. It is somehow thrilling to ride for miles past these rolling grasslands, trying to imagine what an impact it must have made on the first settlers. Think of living in some European village where all the land was owned and cultivated, and then being confronted with open land greater than your whole town that was there for whomever could take it. I think of the major cities and the constant clamor about "no room, too crowded" and gaze onto hundreds of square miles of "room" and I wonder with all our new toys like the Internet will people ever be willing to not live on top of one another? I'm still glad my house has wheels under it. All for now. I think tomorrow I will end up in Rugby, N. Dakota, and the geographic center on North America. Cool! Today was 83 miles for a total of 1,557.3. PG  

Date: Thursday, June 22, 2000 5:59 PM  Day 25

Well, if yesterday was the pits, today must have been a bowl of Cherries. Left the motel at 7:30 under a clear, brilliant blue sky. N wind to speak of, got right on to the right road and just sailed out across the N. Dak. prairie. Sunflowers! My God do these folks grow sunflowers up here. Miles and miles of then, still small but I would love to be here about the middle of July. The wheat they grow here is different from what I prefer for bread baking. It is called spring wheat because they have such a short growing season - about 100 days - so they harvest by Aug. What I like best is the hard Montana winter wheat. Anyway this is the flour most often used in cake mixes, etc. Again, miles and miles of it and I wish I still had my ovens so I could bake a few dozen loaves to carry me thru the rest of the trip. 

I rode to Rugby, N. Dak. which indeed is the Geographical Center of N. America. Small pyramid at the roadside and some Certificates is about it (pictured on right) 

Strange to think about isn’t it? I always thought Texas was the center of the known world and now I find out it is North Dakota. I sampled the chocolate covered cherries Blizzard at Dairy Queen and then got ready to ride on to the next town. I was just starting out when I decided I'd had enough for the day. Turned around and went to THE campground and Jim and Denise were riding in too. So we are here for the night, it is in fact clouding up rather seriously to the South of us. I am going to get a bite and sack out. Total for the day was 68.1 miles and trip total is now 1,625.4. Later. PG  

Jim and Denise in camp in Rugby, North Dakota.  

Date: Friday, June 23, 2000 8:10 PM  Day 26

Hello to all. It has been an incredible first month on this tour. After I finished the first day, when we struggled so hard to get out of Seattle and make it to Whidby Island, my thoughts were on the order of "What in the world have I gotten in to?" Today, riding across beautiful scenery in N. Dakota, trying to find a room for the night, my thoughts were about the same! Actually it was a great day of riding, even if we had to go to one extra town for a room. Ended up doing 108 miles today, a personal best on the tour for me. I saw a Red Fox out playing with some kits, and lots of muskrats, busily building what look like thatched roof houses on the lakes and ponds. Sadly, many of these animals have rabies and must be avoided. The county is trying to "contain" the infected animals. They do that by shooting everyone they see. Blue skies and gentle winds. That is the main impression here. Oh, I found another field of bright yellow and somehow it just didn't look right for sunflowers. So, I stopped and asked the nice man on the tractor, who obviously knew I was not from around there. Mustard!  

Miles and miles of it just as crisp and bright a yellow as you could ask for. Lovely smells on the wind too, from the mustard to freshly mown and baled clover and hay. I played tag for a bit with a dazzling bird, shiny black with bright red spots on both wings. Chases me down the road for a quarter mile. I let him win. All for today, I am off to seek the elusive double bacon cheeseburger. Philip

Date: Saturday, June 24, 2000 5:20 PM Day 27

Hello to all. Today was a great day for riding, temp maybe got into the 80's. Started out in Carrington, N. Dak. Had French toast and sausage and scrambled eggs with five different kinds of syrup and local honey, fresh butter too. ($3.95) at the Chieftain Casino and cafe. Then off for a shorter day, ended up at 70 miles. We ate lunch in Cooperstown, about as picturesque a place as I've seen. Went to a local chain called Pizza Ranch and hit the buffet. We had to choose between riding all the way to Fargo-130 miles-or camping in a city park in Hope, N. Dakota. There is no town for the entire distance with a motel. So, they are leaving the pool unlocked for us. After well earned (open air and COLD) showers, we are heading for the Roadrunner Cafe, sure to be a gustatory delight. All for now, off to Fargo tomorrow. Philip  

The campsite in Hope, N. Dakota. The delightful practice of allowing folks to camp out in the middle of the city park is one of the great things about being here. While nobody local can understand why the heck we are here, they are supportive of our wish to enjoy their towns. The parks can be a bit loud after dark but are still a bit of Americana not to be missed. What made this even more interesting is that the whole facility has no roof over it.  Great for summer tans but a bit tough on the toilet paper in the john. Now I know how paper-mache is made. Oh, there was a phone here and the young lady said.  Just don’t make long distance calls, OK? Complete trust that we would not abuse their hospitality. PG  

Date: Sunday, June 25, 2000 9:17 PM  Day 28

Hello to all. I have finished another Map and will open the next one later tonight. I am in Fargo, N. Dakota. A lovely town. Neat and trim, very well taken care of, it is home to the Univ. of N. Dakota. It has that feel, the way a college town feels, you know? Anyway we rode across much of the area getting to the hotel and I saw a few good book shops I may revisit. I am off the road tomorrow to rest all the various parts of my body. I rode 68 miles today, for a trip total of 1,820. The ride today from Hope was pretty "hopeless". It started raining this morn at about five o'clock and kept on until about two PM. This provided for a lovely event we call the SAUNA ride. You put on all the waterproof gear you can find and then sweat so much you feel like a sauna. Anyway it was fairly miserable. The bad news is the terrible devastation done by the flooding here. These folks have just about had it! The estimate today was $100 MILLION for flood damage, with at least 25 million dollars in damage to the college and library. What a mess. As I was riding in the rain today I noticed I was traversing a lake. Then I checked the map and , hmmm,  no lake. Way out in the middle, maybe 1/2 mile out I could see the top half of a tractor. The country is just getting hammered. When I rode in to Fargo the county road I was using had a CLOSED sign posted. I asked a couple of young men in a jeep if the road was still closed. They said, "if they could find the road they would close it permanently! One whole section, about 45 feet was just gone, nothing left but mud. I rode around by getting on the shoulder to I-29 for four miles. I met up with Jim and Denise there. They had decided it didn't REALLY mean closed. Wrong! they got to carry their bikes through six inch deep gumbo. We finally found a car wash for them and hosed off a few yards on N. Dak topsoil. I am taking the day off tomorrow-Monday- to rest the bones and visit a few bookshops. Will be looking forward to emails from all of you, especially you folks that DON'T EVER WRITE; you know who you are. All for now...Philip  

Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2000 6:26 PM  Day 29

I don't know if the song for today should be "on the road again" or "over the river and thru the woods". At any rate I am back on the road and I did go over the river. The Red River to be exact. Just a few blocks out of Fargo you encounter a toll bridge that leads to Minnesota. No charge to bicyclists plus an award winning smile from the attendant. Then a straight shot on a good divided road past towns like Moorhead, Dilworth, Watts, Glyndon, and Hawley. At this point you have to decide to take the main route or the Alt. Rte. Alt. is 125 miles less and you don't go to Great Falls. Guess which I took? So, turn right and start heading East and South. But wait, according to the map there are NO towns at all for thirty five miles...Better make a Dairy Queen run first, this being the Home State of the Dairy Queen organization. What, NO CORN DOGS??? NO " STEAK FINGERS??" It's a “commonist conspiracy”. Had to settle for a double bacon cheeseburger and choc. malted. Not bad. The real fun of the day came next. The change in scenery is quite dramatic. I assume it has to do with being on the East side of the river. Looks almost like the Amish country around Lancaster PA. Gentle hills and many small gardens, different types of crops. The small towns around each of the lakes are too fine. Immaculate, inviting and everybody is sitting outside waving. I keep expecting to see Norman Rockwell or Andy Griffith come strolling by. The rest of the day was more of the same. Soft wind, not too hot-I rode in tights and a long sleeve jersey all day. Minimal traffic and nice folks. Since my only previous experience in Minn. was St. Paul (not bad, just another big city) I am having great fun each day. My right leg continues to bother me, I think I have a touch of phlebitis or I have injured it and don't recall. Anyway, I shall take advantage of the Pelican Motel (as I can't find the City Park. Misprint I find out later, should be 2 blks EAST, not WEST of town) and go soak. Later. Only rode 67 miles today. Total is 1,860. Philip

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2000 12:24 AM  Day 30

Well hello to all. I had one Hell of a day and lived to tell about it! First off I overslept and didn't hit the road until 9:00. then the rains began to happen, not hard and not long but just enough to make me have to stop and put on the rain gear three or four times. Then the scenery. The Otter Tail Scenic Byway. Truly lovely if a bit more hilly than I would have planned. Stopped for lunch in one of the small resort towns on one of the many lakes and had the best Rueben Sandwich I've had on the trip. Spent too long there and realized a real storm was brewing now. Sky looked like it had been split in two-one half clear and blue, the other black angry clouds with flashing bursts of light. I got into the raingear just in time and decided that if I was gonna be wet I would enjoy it. Sat and watched the storm. Wild. I stopped at one farm and visited with a dairy farmer while waiting for it to pass. He had a part Australian Shepherd dog so we played, too. Got to town for the night at five and, whoops, motel is full and no place to off to the next town, 34 MORE miles and now it is 9:00 PM and 105.1 miles total and I am in Long Prairie, MN. I’m looking at the map for a place to stay and this guy rides up on his bike, Juergen Brunkhorst is his name, bike tourist from Germany, now running a bike shop in town and would I care to join him for dinner and a place to stay? All right!  

Jurgen, Owner of WheelWright Bicycle Shop in Long Prairie, MN.  

Too cool! Great time talking, his wife is the local German teacher, currently in Germany with 15 exchange students! She also is originally from the Lancaster, PA area.  I got an email from the other two riders; they are here and will meet in the AM. Good day, fabulous rainbow and fine company. Hard to top that. PG  

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2000 9:05 PM  Day 31

Hello to all. Today was just plain GREAT! No rain, no flats, not too hot, just 80 miles of recently paved black top and a light tailwind. Just doesn't get much better. I don't remember if I mentioned yesterday that I was having trouble keeping the rear tire up? Anyway by morning it was flat out flat. So off we go to the brand new bike shop, owned by my host, Jeurgen. The rear tire was basically lousy too but in the rain and wind yesterday I managed to lose my spare. So, swap the front and rear, new tube in the rear and while you're at it, why is the chain so loud? Hmmm... Measure and yep, major stretch here. So nice new chain, some derailleur adjustment and she runs NICE! Of course by now the other couple thinks I have left them so they are 45 min. down the road. But, the true joy of touring is not so much who you ride with, but what happens while you ride. I decided today that bicycle touring is most like swimming in that you are a part of the interaction, not just an observer. I stopped in Bolows, MN for lunch. Off route enough that they were kinda staring at the bike shorts and helmet. As I was paying-for a grand lunch of meatloaf, chicken and dumpling soup and "ho-made" Choc. pie, the cashier saw my drivers license and said, "Oh, you're from Texas!" I suppose this explained everything to them. When I admitted to being a Texan, she asked what I was doing 'way up here?' I said bike riding and she said, 'Right' and walked off. At least I'm still a Texan. The day was basically just riding and listening to the sounds of the world. Got chased by two Mama birds that thought I was too close to the nest and one old mongrel dog that couldn't put much heart in the effort. I rode slow so she could dignify the effort though. I found Jim and Denise at the other Motel so we shall meet up again at breakfast. Heard from Jeff that he is resting in Fargo and then off to Rochester. He said he was riding with Don, the young fellow from Boston that I rode over the mountains with. I thought he was days ahead of me, not two days behind me. Oh Well. All for now, off in search of ice cream. PG  

Date: Saturday, July 01, 2000 7:44 AM  Day 32

Hello to all. The song for today should be ON WISCONSIN. I know, I'm supposed to be in Minnesota. Well, here's how you do it. Start in Milaca, MN. Eat the basic huge breakfast-Cinnamon Roll French toast, eggs, bacon, juice and coffee $4.95 at a truck stop- then ride for 80.3 miles down two lane blacktop that had been recently been paved. The traditionally mentioned rolling hills, gentle tailwind, etc, just really fine riding. I told you about the flat and all, right? Well we detoured a tad to Cambridge MN. and I got two new tires-the only 38's in the store-and a suspension seat post and new gloves and a spare tube. Yea team! After that we rode another forty miles and the rte. takes you over the state line and in to Osceola, Wisconsin. Lovely small town, very old park with 90% tent campers. We are meeting with some of Jim's friends for a ride to Stillwater, MN and lunch then on Redwing, which is sort of in MN, but the camping may be back in Wisconsin. All for now. Philip  

Date: Saturday, July 01, 2000 6:48 PM  Day 33

Hello to all. Today was a bit of a tuffy. We left Osceola, WI about 8:30 AM and started riding toward Stillwater, MN. The headwinds and the hills damn near did us in! Continuous hills with a stiff enough wind we had to pedal DOWNHILL! Took all morning to make 30 miles to Stillwater. Stopped for lunch and contacted a friend of Jim and Denise who lives here and invited us to stay for the day. Done deal. Showers with hot water and laundry and Denise is cooking spaghetti. So we are goofing off this afternoon and tomorrow we hit it early. Kinda neat to cruise back and forth from Wisconsin to Minnesota. All continues to go well with the bike, the new tires are fine. The scenery today was field after field of my favorite food-corn. Just not high enough yet. I keep looking for a roadside stand with a hand made, cardboard sign that says, " sweet corn". I shall buy a half dozen ears, boil then for a few moments and then devour then with butter and salt. Oh my, what a treat. Hope everyone is having a good weekend. All for now. Philip  

Date: Sunday, July 02, 2000 6:11 PM  Day 34

Hello to all. Today did not get off to the start we planned, it did not really end as we planned, but the middle was pretty darn slick. Here's what happened. Were supposed to leave at 0700 to join our host and a friend for the first part of the ride. Of course at 0700 it was raining, thundering and not cooperating. So, read the paper, work the puzzle and by about 0900 the situation looks good enough to start. Off via the back roads of Stillwater, MN. Our host and family are avid riders and saved us ten miles and two "serious" hills. He ended up riding all the way to Prescott, WI .a distance of about 34 miles. The vegetation is either more corn or dense, wild looking forest. Hard to imagine clearing this land to set in crops. Got to Prescott and picked the bikers choice for lunch-Subway- then sat and watched as the rains POURED. At first let up Dave-our host- heads out for home and we suited up and set out for Red Wing MN. Home of great work boots and some very popular pottery. You know those "rolling" hills we keep talking about? They don't really have anything like this in South Texas. Well they don't really roll, you do. As in roll down them at 35-37 mph, praying you don't hit a rock or a hole. But then we get to the rest of the physics lesson. What goes down must just as surely go up. Folks, I went up grades today as steep as anything I ever encountered in the mountains. I had to dismount and walk three different times. This hacks off the other riders 'cause they are riding but can't catch me when I walk. I do walk right swift! Anyway, rains gone, steady up hills, long winding down hills with cool winds, crossed the Mississippi River over a narrow bridge and heard somebody yelling-two guys on bikes with trailers heading the other way. They must have started from the East Coast about the same time I left Seattle. No place to stop so we just all yelled out and kept on riding. The only accommodations were at the Days Inn three miles out of town. High rate for a dump but it is holiday weekend. Soaked the bones and coated the appropriate areas with every salve known to man. Saddle sores are not fun. Tomorrow we will head for Winona, MN. Again Jim and Denise have friends there so they want to get there for dinner. As it is about 80 miles we will try to head out early, weather permitting. What is everybody doing for the Fourth? Last year I was in New Bern, N. Carolina, having just ridden up the East Coast from Ft. Lauderdale bit over a thousand miles. I should be at 2300 miles this year. Here are the numbers for today. 61.4 miles today, 2273 miles since the start. What a trip! Philip

Date: Monday, July 03, 2000 6:11 PM  Day 35

Hello to all. Today was just a great day for riding. We ran alongside the Mississippi River the whole day. Now I know everybody has some kind of river around but let me tell you, this IS the Father of Waters. I was reading one of those plaques that they put up and right there the river was 105 feet deep! And wide, man. I took photos but there is no way they will convey the impact of this thing. Boats by the hundreds, sailboats, a steamboat parade, powerboats, cabin cruisers, even honest-to-goodness yachts, the kind with helicopter pads. The coastline is quite rugged, reminds me more of Big Sur, Calif. than of any riverbank. We chose to stay on hwy 61 all day and skip the "scenic" rte. Too many hills that way. Just an eight-foot wide shoulder, courteous drivers and fair winds. Of course there were some more of those "insignificant" hills. 'Bout ten thousand of them. But, and I have no reason for it, I hit THE ZONE today. I pulled out in front and stayed there. Pedaled at 12-14-even 15mph for hours today. I went up hills in the second chainring instead of my usual third. I did 65 miles in less than 7 hrs., including a long lunch break. Not up to the Tour de France, those guys did 120 miles in 4 hr, 46 min yesterday. But they aren't nearly 53, carrying 65 pounds of gear, and none of them smoked for 35 years. So there! I like it. The roadside flowers could not decide what color to be today. First star shaped yellow, then purple, then blue, then white then red...literally 65 miles of flowers. Right in the middle of all this wildlife comes a sign that says, Lake City, location of the birthplace of water-skiing. Got to stop and read the signs.  Sure enough this fellow decided that if you could ski on snow, why not water? He started with barrel staves and eventually made skis from 8-foot long pine boards that he placed in boiling water to make the tips curl up. Gave exhibitions for years and then gave the money to the city for a park. Neat. We finished the trek from Red Wing, MN. to Winona, MN. and opted for a hotel for the night. The parks are all full with 4th of July folks, a bit raucous for me. Off to Marquette tomorrow. This looks like an 80-mile ride but you never know. Have a fun day. Philip

Date: Tuesday, July 04, 2000 7:16 PM  Day 36

Happy Fourth to all! I hope you all had a great day. I rode for 88.4 miles down the Mississippi riverbed, saw great stuff and ended up in Iowa. Quite a day. We left out of Winona about 8:00 and immediately began hill climbing. The sky was completely overcast all day so no sunburn and didn't even need sunglasses. We ate at the Perkins Restaurant in Winona so did not make the usual one hour break. Just riding down hwy 61 when it suddenly joined I-90 for a bit. No real problem except bicycles are NOT welcome on the Interstate system. Hmm, what to do now? The map does not show this so there must be another way. We are standing there looking around when we decided to just head the right way on a parallel road. Son of a gun! Two miles later we find a BICYCLY PATH. Need to talk to Adventure Cycling about this. Great ride, must have been the old highway. Sort of overgrown enough to feel like a tunnel. Ran for five or six miles then we popped out just where we could get back on the road. Lunch was at a roadside park, peanut butter and bagels and crackers and fruit cups and pudding cups and Hey, it is the 4th so how about Cracker Jacks to celebrate? Yeah! Then back to the serious business of looking at wildflowers and climbing hills. Tiger Lilies, Brown Eyed Susans and two different kinds of purple ones, It seems like somebody knew how slow I was gonna be so they ordered up extra flowers for me to look at. Starting to be a long day and two successive BAD hills and BONK!!! For you non-bikers, the bonk is when you suddenly exceed your available energy supply, get the shakes and need to fall down. I managed to get off the road, positioned the bike so it wouldn't fall, and started searching the bags. Found a pudding and some canned peaches, inhaled them and decided I might live. Rode on in to town and Jim was standing at a drive-in, shoving cookies down. Same problem. So they have gone to visit friends and I am going to the Casino Boat for the "free" (got a coupon) buffet and then sleep, hard. See y'all tomorrow. PG

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