Day 40: Glendive, Montana to Beach, North Dakota

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Montana is a very long state. A sign at the border crossing into North Dakota explained that riding the length of the state was the same as driving from New York City to Chicago, Illinois. No wonder it took me so long!

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No wonder they’re all driving at 80 mph around here!

I didn’t realize it yesterday, when I crossed the Yellowstone River in Glendive, MT, that they’re having a big “fish kill,” in the river. Nobody is quite certain as to how it got started, but I suspect it might have a drastic impact on the outdoor community around here. Our local paper in Sarasota, Florida, even had an article about it: Fish kill.

On my Day 39 post, I had some fun with making change. Today, in another restaurant, I enjoyed another scenario. The order came to something like $8.57. I gave the server a $10.00 bill and seven cents (a nickel and two pennies, there are those damn pennies again!). She too had that stunned look. “What to do with that change?” Alas, she was armed with better technology. With a sigh, she typed in the amount I gave her, confirming she could count, and lo and behold, the cash register told her to give me back $1.50. The relief on her face was indescribable. Sister Mary Hang-em-high would be so proud.

As soon as I crossed the border into North Dakota, the roads improved. They didn’t look that much differently, but the surfaces were smoother, there was far less loose gravel and those annoying joints in the road were filled. I figured the cracks or joints are caused by expansion/contraction and probably can’t be helped, but at least in ND they fill them level with the surface of the road. No more, “Bang, Bang, Bang,” every 30-50 feet.

The “roller-coaster” roads are improving as well. They still roll up-and-down, but the climbs are not as big and the grades are longer and more gradual.

As for the weather, no change there: hot, dry and a persistent  hot sun. I know in a few weeks I’ll be complaining about sunless skies, but I could do with less heat.

Fried, I rolled into Beach, North Dakota in the late afternoon. There was a motel right next to the highway exit, but I saw a sign that said there was also one in town, the Badlands Gateway Motel. It had a certain ring to it that I couldn’t resist. Visions of Jesse James and the Hole-in-the-Wall gang came to mind.

When I arrived there were a few folks sitting on the porch and they greeted me with friendly hello’s and banter. Shelby, the owner, immediately fired up the air conditioning in one of the rooms and I was in for the night. I did go out later for food, but I was spent. The local diner was closed, but there was a Subway restaurant back down by the highway.

The room was comfortable and traveling bicyclists will feel very at home, for a reasonable price. The shower was hot and the WiFi worked well.

I slept like the dead.

Day 36: Lewistown, Montana to Winnett, Montana

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Those items on the left are snowplows that mount on the front of locomotives. They’re about 12 feet (4 m) tall. I can’t imagine how much snow it takes for a plow like that.

I wimped out again today, only 57 miles(92 km), for a trip total of 1420 miles (2285 km). I left my Warmshowers.org host, “Brian,” at an early hour, around 07:00 to a sunshine filled morning. I rode down the hill into town and stopped at a coffee shop. The shop had a bunch of fans running in the door, trying to cool the dining room down as much as possible…their air-conditioning was on the blink and wouldn’t be repaired soon.

I had a fine cup of hot tea and a raisin bagel. I’ve found that I’d rather go light on breakfast, the “hearty” breakfast of eggs, bacon, homefries, and all the other things that they throw in, really kill any desire to get out and pedal. I just want to take a nap.

Further down the road, I stopped at a convenience store to pick up my daily ration of Gatorade; I’m using about two quarts a day. The owner was outside having a smoke and we talked for a while. He was complaining about the government, a popular theme in this area of the world. His complaint was that he was going to have to pay $300,000 in capital gains taxes this year. A few weeks back, in Lolo, MT, I talked with a casino owner and he was complaining about the government and how he had to pay $500,000 this year. I didn’t say anything to burst their bubble, but they should be thankful that they live in a country that they have to pay that much tax. Imagine how much money they are making! Poor people don’t pay those sorts of taxes, I wish I had to pay taxes like that. Then again, maybe I would just be a whiner too.

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For over 1400 miles now the cattle have been keeping a wary eye on me.They look ready to stampede at any second.

After an initial 9 mile (14 km) climb out of Lewistown, there was a glorious 20 mile (32 km) downhill ride. I was making really good time and then the sun came out in full force. I wilted and my forward progress became a struggle.

By the time I came to the road that turns off to Winnett, Montana, I was done. I went and looked at the George Ore Memorial Park, as shown on Google Maps and it was very uninviting. It was just an empty field. I opted for the only motel in town, it was just too hot to set up a tent in that open field. I found out later that the Google Map tool is incorrect, the park is at the other end of town (which is only about a third of a mile away).

It was so hot that I was thrilled to have a room and air conditioning. Later, I went to the Kozy Korner Cafe for lemonade and food. It was a simple menu, but the food was good and the lemonade exceptional. The owner’s daughter, Shelby, (12 years old?) waited on me and did a fine job. It was only mid-afternoon, so I went back to the room and took a rare nap.

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The Winnett courthouse suffered severe damage in the June 2016 hailstorm.

In early June of this year, a huge hailstorm tore through Montana. Winnett suffered lots of crop damage and building damage. They’re still putting things back together. I stopped and took a photo of the new courthouse and police station. The windows on the second floor are boarded over and the first floor still has broken glass. They had winds of 99 mph (159 km/h).

 

Later, after having cooled off, I returned to the cafe for a proper meal and met some local folks. We talked for far too long, so long that I didn’t go back to the room and put up a wire and operate my ham radio. My ham friends will be in revolt if I don’t show up on the air again soon. Besides, carrying all that equipment is difficult, I need to justify carrying it.

As usual, I drifted off to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.