This morning we awoke to the sight of the sun rising through pink clouds. Beautiful, but as they say, “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning,” and sure enough, the western sky was the gunmetal grey that portended thundershowers. We decided to have what breakfast we could before it reached us, then wait it out in the tent. As it happened, the brunt of it passed south of us, and we watched the other side of the river getting it as we ate our oatmeal. But we still caught enough to be glad of the tent a little bit later.
Then we got on the bikes and chased the storm for the first hour or two, riding on progressively drier streets until all trace of it was gone, and the heat was returning again. We got sent onto a 20-mile detour by a massive section of road construction, but this finally took us out of the oil country, and at last we rode in peace on state highway 200 towards the east.
After another couple of hours of full sun we were starting to get that dazed feeling and started looking for a place to have lunch. We eventually found one in the hamlet of McClusky, and after considering our prospects for actually making our originally-planned campground now that the detour had thrown us as far off as it had, we ended up deciding to stay at a motel behind the restaurant. There were precious few places to camp in this part of North Dakota (it was all farms, no spare land for recreation), and not even many places that had motels. The bird in hand…
I regretted sorely that we were not camping, for this might be our last chance to sleep a night on the prairie. But I couldn’t say we weren’t experiencing North Dakota. This town that we were just outside of had a population of a few hundred, and it was surrounded by wheat fields scattered with the pond-lakes common in this section of North Dakota. These pond-lakes were surrounded by green rushes waving in the wind, and harbored numerous ducks and other birds. The people we met were friendly and straightforward, with the exception of our innkeeper, who was impatient and didn’t seem to enjoy her role. She was also a staunch conservative, with a “Defeat Obama” bumper plastered prominently on the side of her cash register.
We took naps and waited until the heat abated, which wasn’t really until just before sunset. Then we went for a run touching on a couple of the pond-lakes, breathing in the heavy grass smells permeating the air. Aside from the main highway and the couple of gravel sideroads we ran on there was nothing. We were in a small oasis amidst grass- and farmlands stretching for as far as we could walk or even ride in a day in every direction. North Dakota.