After a breakfast of leftover Tex-Mex food and a bit of weak coffee from the hotel, we started our 100-mile day with enthusiasm. Early in the day, we crossed the state line out of Montana and into North Dakota.
The winds were supposed to be fighting us, but they really weren’t so bad. It was fairly hilly, but in the fun way — not in the slow, agonizing, imperceptible way that the climbs felt in eastern Montana. The landscape was beautiful — red and beige hills and mesas, covered with buffalo grass, reminded us of a grassy New Mexico. The grasses were so tall that when we passed deer, we could just barely make out their ears.
We powered along until we reached Medora, a town between the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Painted Canyon park. While we didn’t have time to get into either of those parks, we saw quite a bit of the beautiful scenery from the road. Medora apparently has some real history involving Roosevelt, but now it’s a bit of a tourist trap designed to look like an old western town.
Despite this, we were happy to see multiple restaurants in one place, and we went out for pizza, followed by ice cream. Today was the most we’ve eaten restaurant food since we were in Seattle! Nick found a new set of cleats he needed at the bike shop in town, and we ran into a cyclist heading west, as well as our common sighting of Scott, Vince, and Ardi.
When we left Medora, we passed the gorgeous Painted Canyon, and headed back out into the plains, where we no longer had a wind block from the hills. We fought a head wind, a strong sun, and high temperatures for another 40 miles, reaching a campground on a lake near Dickinson, ND just before a severe thunderstorm was about to hit. We quickly set up our tent, ate a quick dinner of peanut butter sandwiches, took quick showers, and jumped in the tent just in time. The winds were frighteningly strong. About 20 minutes after we got in the tent, the campground manager came by to tell us that if there were a tornado, we should go to the showers building, which is about a 20 minute walk from our tent and disgusting. We asked him if he could give us a ride over, as the lightning already seemed quite close, but he would not. The weather apps on our phones did not warn us of tornadoes, but they did say that golf-ball-sized hail was on its way, along with 60-mile-per-hour winds. We made a run for the showers building, where we are now sitting on a bench, writing this blog post. Hopefully the severe part of the storm will pass soon so we can head back to our (hopefully not destroyed) tent for some sleep!
today’s distance: 101.3 miles
time in saddle: 8 hrs, 35 min
total distance: 1,556 miles