Thursday, June 30, 2011

6/30 - Day 27

Knowing of the hot temperatures for the day to come (up to 98F, 102 heat index), I made a best effort to leave early morning and hammer out some miles before the sun grew strong.
I had never seen a sign like this before, for a rest area along SR281.  This perhaps best captures the reality of North + South Dakota's major roads, and the day's ride.  Shade is scarce.
Gradient filament.  These prairie grasses are exquisitely beautiful.  Like fiber optic cables as they illuminate in the sun and change from a lime green to a indian corn purple.
Golden rod as viewed through sunglasses.
North Dakota through 'Mike's eyes'.
This barn's siding exhibited an incredible pattern of red + gray striations, accrued through years of re-coatings, and the natural weathering of its wooden composition. 
Buried old truck.  Still in great condition!?
It was a wild day in terms of animals.  These cattle across the road provided a great mid-morning inspiration, running swiftly along on the opposite side of the road.  It was like I was riding a horse in the open fields!  I happily absorbed their playful energy.
Wild day situation #2.  Horses just grazing.  I stop for a photo.  They are turn and pose.  Perhaps curiosity?  Perhaps natural born beer commercial ponies?
Road ridges.  Great as a warning for oncoming traffic while on the shoulder (thanks to God for no need of their use yet); very rough on the hands/bike/setup when needing to cross them and/or getting carried away while taking in the surrounding atmosphere.
Some 200oz of fluids (water/Powerade mix), and still thirsting. 
A solution.  These high schoolers from Ellendale, ND were doing a carwash for Relay for Life.  I shared shade with them for a little while before embarking on the final leg of the day, Ellendale, ND to Aberdeen, SD.  They too were braving the extreme temperatures, in the hottest parts from 12-6pm.  Good stuff for a great cause.  Thanks for the hose-down!
Hay bales dotting the horizon.
South Dakota!  Last state before Wyoming! 
Detail.  Fireworks store along SR281 southbound.
Red, white and blue.  Another fireworks store.
Small town 23 miles north of Aberdeen.  The top sign reads 'Tervetuloa' --> Finnish for 'Welcome'.  Moi moi Frederick!
See the bend in these marsh reeds?  That suggests the southern winds experienced during the day's ride.  While considerably slowing the day's pace, the wind also functioned as a personal fan under the hot sun.  First time I was actually thankful for the headwind.  Very fortunate to have it today.
Almost to Aberdeen!
Shadows on the curve.
These were laundered yesterday.  NaCL.
Tied as a close second to the canola oil processing facility for stench.
After getting some ice cream to cool off after the day's ride, I tried out this coffee shop, Red Rooster, in downtown Aberdeen.  It was a really awesome spot with incredible coffee.  The 'Runner's High' was my personal favorite, and the comfortable atmosphere made for some good post-ride relaxation.
The big comfy couch was especially welcomed after the hours on the saddle.  While sitting here and soaking it all in, I was approached by the owner's wife, Angie, who kindly asked if I'd like a place to stay for the night, as she and her husband Dan commonly host travelers, including bands/performers from the shop, among others.  I accepted and am super grateful for all the kindness she showed in hosting me for the night.  Thank you so much Angie!
The evening at Dan + Angie's consisted of loads of good conversation.  Pictured here are (left to right) Rosanne (housemate), Angie (Dan's wife), and Jeremy (soon-to-be housemate).  Rosanne had actually spent some time in Xela, Guatemala; and all three are heavily involved in a fantastic project called the 'Fallout Creative Community', a non-profit which advocates the use of arts in all forms and in a wide range of capacities.  For me the highlight of the night's conversation (hard to pick) was a comment made by Jeremy regarding creative force/potential, wherein he described each person as having a creative potential to share, and related that the Fallout's goal is to 'tease that out' of people.  Keep up the great work guys! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

6/29 - Day 26

As beautifully as the sun sets (see 6/28 post), it rises.  Camping area.  Enderlin, ND.
Morning paint chips.  Tesoro Gas Station.  Enderlin, ND.
Morning 're-charge' at the Tesoro Gas Station.
While much of the water is due to flooding, some of it is naturally occurring, including this area and many others strewn along State Route 46W.  They render the sky in rippling reflections. 
The horizon is far-reaching on the lonely roads of North Dakota.
Most major + minor cities/towns (relatively speaking) are situated a good 3-10 miles from thoroughfares such as SR46.  Proper food + hydration are critical, just as much as early starts on the hot days, like today.
View of James River valley along SR46.  I believe these to be canola flowers.  The photos don't quite speak to the brilliant yellow they displayed in the sun.
Cruising SR46.  Westbound.
Yet another detour created a decision point.  Since I wasn't sure what this detour consisted of, and had little water left, I decided to head into Jamestown to re-group and re-route a bit.
This farm equipment supply store's front lot was covered with high waters.  Along SR218 northbound.
These cattle were far worse-off however, as they were literally surrounded by standing water, the depth of which I assume to be a min 2ft, given the following photos.
Half this horse pasture was under water.  Giving the horses little room to roam as well.  The minor fence posts that separate the typical cattle pasture from the roadway are covered up to 4" from their tops, and can't even be perceived in this image.
Frontier Fort.  Campground for the evening.  Apparently this souvenir shop + bar/grill is a replica of the typical frontier forts of the 1800's.  This campground is a hodgepodge of museum (National Buffalo Museum), tourist stop, camping area, and rather unique for this reason.
Evening paint chips.  Wagon Building.  Jamestown, ND.
Windmill.  Frontier Village (historic village part of campground).  Jamestown, ND.
Jamestown is alternatively known as the Buffalo City, so I'm told.
This is why.  Albino buffalo at bottom right (foreground); world's largest buffalo at top left (60 tons of concrete - 1959 sculpture).
Touching the whiskers of the concrete giant.

6/28 - Day 25

Leaving Wagner Park Campground.  Extremely well maintained with nicest bath house I've seen to date.  A gentleman all the way from Alaska agreed as we surveyed its cleanliness.
Texture.  Highlighter yellow jacket in early morning shadow.  Noticed + taken while journaling.
County Road headed into Fargo.  An almost continuous roadside swale which offered beautiful reflections of the saturated greens and blues.  This and the nicely finished road surface made for great morning riding.
Approach into North Dakota.  VAST country.
More smile propaganda :)  How can one not smile when seeing this?
I stopped at the Atomic Coffee (coffee, wine, beer bar, all-in-one) for a coffee and internet, and discovered they have Surly beer on tap.  This was meaningful to me mainly because I ride a Surly bike (Surly Long Haul Trucker), and had never seen the beer.  Given the need to cover plenty of mileage after this stop, I asked for just a sample.  The Atomic staff gladly obliged and served up the powerfully tasty Surly Furious.  If the joy of riding my bike could be poured into a glass, this is how good it would taste.  Wow.  Thanks Atomic Coffee! (oh yeah, the coffee was great too!)
Detail.  Expansion joint.  Veterans Memorial Bridge from Moorhead, MN into Fargo, ND.
I Fargo.
In spite of studying the NDDOT road closure map, just west of Fargo I encountered some high waters.  Thankfully for me none of the waters were entirely covering roads (note, entirely, see below), but my heart goes out to the many farmers and families suffering through these terrible floods.  Unreal.
Picture = 1000 words.  West Fargo, ND.
The high water levels, though not covering roads, did make for difficult (nearly impassable at times) road conditions, with saturated sand literally giving way under my tires.  This, coupled with an unexpected 'Dead End', changed the day's course, needless to say.  I made way quickly for some paved roads to gain speed/time, but North Dakota isn't exactly a highly paved state, so routes aren't quite as direct as in other states.  After finding a paved (and non-freeway) route, I began the detour, right into 17 miles of headwinds.  This meant having to face shorter mileage for the day.  The positive is that these challenges truly make one stronger.
Red, White, and Blue.  What an impressive nation we have.  I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity to soak in its beauty from the saddle each day. 
Detail.  Holding towers at Canola Oil Processing Plant (can you smell them?  this was the most intense olfactory experience to date --> and it wasn't particularly pleasant, haha).  The silver lining?  Getting to see a canola oil processing facility.  Apparently ND produces quite a lot of it.
Enderlin, ND.  Campsite for the night.  $Free.99!  The city allows travelers to come and camp on a lawn with free power + water.  I almost couldn't believe it either!?!  The townspeople were super kind and helpful, the benefit of the day's redirection.
Sunset from the camping area.  Enderlin, ND.