Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 4 or "This was supposed to be my short day."

Not finished, but I"ll publish the draft in case you're curious.  I gotta get on the road!  :)jw

Ah, the beautiful Northwest.  I hope I will not watch you go by through a rain spattered visor.

The outlook for the day.  Rain with a chance of rain.  Some flooding with more rain and be grateful for it, cuz the rest of the country is dealing with triple digit heat.  But this is the route.  Only one planned stop for the day: Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

 I go out to pack the bike and see that I was a stone's throw from a casino.  They are EVERYwhere.  Every state out here.  And I have resisted.  And, therefore, still have money for gas.

My goal for yesterday was 600 miles.  From the odo in the morning, that would have put me at 7000 miles.  I was actually short by about 10 miles when I got to Fargo last night, but I spent so much time running around on frontage roads and being lost, that I 'made it'.  Of course, the goal was to make actual *progress* Westward, but, hey, whadduhyagonnado?

So today's goal, again, is 600 miles.  This is the most boring superslab 600 miles EVER.  It seriously says, "587 miles, then make a right".  8 hours 18 minutes in Joanne MC time is really 12-13 hours, plus a park stop, make that 13-14 hours on the road today.

The sky is clear and beautiful.

But I know what the forecast looked like.

And I ain't havin' it.

I'm exploring my opportunities.

Doin' my research.

Cuz I see you out there, Sky.  And I know what you're doing...

Not trusting the weather, I decide that, even though I'm hungry, I'm going to run out as far as I can before the rain starts and wehn the rain starts I'll take a break.  The weather holds out longer than I do and I need gas anyway.  It takes me till North Dakota to have some Wisconsin cheese.  Yum, breakfast.

Because of the way the stickers are on the pump I ask about the gas here.  Indeed, the sticker is meaningfully placed.  Only one grade of gas in 'enriched' with ethanol.  Woot!  I get non-ethanol gas and know what to look for now.

Back on the road with some string cheese in my face, I'm still looking for the clouds.

It's a long and boring drive.  Not much to the scenery, though it's pretty, but it's the saaaaammme for a very long time.  So I notice other stuff.  Like the odometer.  Ok, so it's not just here.  I also got the 6666.6 odo yesterday. :)  I'm keeping an eye out for 7777.7 later, too.

And analyzing my possibilites.

As I watch the clouds develop.

Most of the underpasses are similar.  There are two primary types, as far as I'm concerned, with variations of each.

I definitely prefer one over the other. 

There's this one, where the slope is concrete from the road to the corner.  Now, it is unfortunate that there's no 'seat' on many of these, but at least I can park the bike and walk up there easily and it's fairly clean and straightforward.   Imperfect, but totally acceptable.

I prefer the paved to the dirt, weeds, gravel or rocky inclines.

She thinks I don't see her sneaking up on me?  Pfft.  Lady, been there, done that.  I see you and your water-holding particulates.

Thinks she's sly...  making them all pretty and everything.

Come on, even the cagers are getting suspicious...

Then Mother Nature gives up being subtle about it and the clouds start to take over.

I make a pit stop, but resist getting off the bike for photos, since the rain is clearly coming.  But from the bike I manage to pull over for two seconds to get these.


Evidence of the heavy rains and flooding that have been causing problems for several states recently.

The clouds continue to gather.

And I make sure the overpasses still appear at regular intervals.

The bag I got at Wendy's on Day 2 in Ohio has developed holes form being battered by the wind.

I've been plowing along, but my bum is not happy on this seat and I use a scenic pull-over to take a minute to restore circulation.

This, of course, means SUP!er Macroooooo....

Again, so many shots of not-what-I-was-aiming-at.

Still checking out the local accommodations.

So, clearly, something is going to happen.  It's just a matter of time.  I can't believe I've escaped it this far.  I watch the oncoming traffic for signs of what's ahead...

First, you'll see headlights in the middle of the day.  Very useful to notice when the skies aren't as obvious about your future as these.  Most cars forget about turning their headlights on, so when more than 50% of the cars coming your way have their headlights on and there doesn't seem to be a reason, well, there's a reason. 

Then you watch for wet cars.  Obvious, yes, if you're paying attention.  Dry road and wet cars = peek into your future.  Wet road and dry cars = peek into the not too distant past.

Wet cars, with or without lights, still running their windshield wipers = peek into your immediate future.

I see some cars with headlights, but none of them wet or running their wipers...  moving, moving, moving...

Not a whole lot of company out here.

A frequent reminder not to mess around with your fuel limits.  The no service sign is common and they ain't kidding.

A gas stop before the park.  12:30 and 71 degrees.  I stopped at Evil Mart right before this to get a voice recorder.  We'll see if that helps me keep track of things any better.  My usual note-taking strategy has been suffering.  12 hour days are hard to keep track of.

The clouds continue, but no rain.

And I continue to keep my eye out on my resources.

The park!!

This is the first of two VC's I'll hit.  The other is just 12 miles or so up the road on my way.

On the way in I pass a rider on an LD set up packed for the long haul.  I wonder again if any of the LD-looking folks I've been passing are on the Long Distance rider list or headed to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Rally that I know is happening soon.  Gotta check that out.

Some of the displays at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

I REALLY want to see the Bison.  I REALLY wanted to go through Wind or Jewel Caves, but there's definitely no time on this trip for that.  But, I got all giddy when I read online that Bison are in the TRNPark.

Didn't see any, though. 

Here's something cool that I won't be going to.

An excellent example of how the landscape changed in a blink from boring flat to 'broken', as Teddy apparently called it.

The sky still looks gloomy.

I'd had my rain jacket on from the start, since the forecast was calling for rain starting in the afternoon and it was cool in the morning.

I put the rest of the gear on at the other visitor center.

And now I'm HOT!

And still no rain.  But it looks nasty.

At least the land is interesting to look at now.  It was pretty before, but like Pop said of Nebraska, miles and miles of miles and miles.

Second VC coming up!

The town of Medora that the park is in.

Oooh, the Fudge and Ice Cream Depot.  I can totally see spending time there.  But I don't, cuz I have a schedule and need to keep moving!  NONE FOR YOU!

The park is where T. Roosevelt owned some land/ranches for many years after some deaths in his family, apparently.  This was before he was president.  He was a big hunter, but fell in love with the area.  It was a weird and sudden shift in the landscape from the flat, flat of East ND to here.  And then it turned into 'the badlands'!

Some cool stuff at the second visitors' center.

This looks like one of the birds I saw earlier swoop into one of those road lakes to join a group of others...  I thought 'Was that a pelican?', but I have no experience with pelicans and didn't know that they lived in this area, that they hung in groups and that they were so dang big!  But apparently I did see a bunch of these birds on the flooded roadside lakes earlier.  Cool.

Oh, my God, she's off the bike...which means??!!   SUP!er macroooo...

This is actually a large petrified tree trunk in the visitors' center.

Denise's Moto Guzzi, Fuzzy, is doing great on the road.

We're in Medora, ND.

Off the bike again...and messing with some Sage.  I love sage.  I rub my hands all in it and put it on my neck wrap.

Got this one while I was waiting for Courtney to get an answer from her boss about MC parking stickers to go with the Annual Pass I just picked up.

No luck on the sticker, but I grabbed a hang tag for now.  Maybe I can trade up at another park. :)

Back on the road and it still looks ominous.

I realize that  there's sage all over the roadside.  And I want some.

So I start looking for a 'good place' to stop and grab some from the side of the road.

Little rain drops spit at my windshield and knock on my visor...

But it only lasts a couple of minutes at most. And doesn't get any heavier.

And then the clouds start to develop form.

And diversify.

And... break up?

I start to think that I may have ridden under it.

That I escaped an impromptu underpass rest stop.

There's still the random construction to keep you hopping, though.  The 4 lane becomes 2 and somebody, East or West bound, has to jump over to split the lanes on the other guy's side.  This time, though, they just divert all of us to an exit and back on because they've dumped piles of dirt on the highway. 

I couldn't figure out why, but what do I know?

 I'll bet she's mad...but I think I dodged it.

Finally!  Montana!!  Big Sky Country is right.

I seem to have made it though without hitting significant rain.  I'm sure Mother Nature is planning her retaliation.  I've got a whole lot of time left to find out.

So, still cloudy, but getting nicer.

Many spots of construction, but not enough traffic to make it obnoxious.

What?  Bad Route Road?  Seriously?  Well, I have to pay homage to this exit, as I've been on this road so many times and had no idea that it was actually in Montana.

Which meant I got to see these cows.  And the cow saw me.

And I love this.

And back on the road.

Yellowstone river!  Oh, now I'm just aching to make a detour to Yellowstone.  I wanna see me some bison!

I love signs that say 'World Famous'. Really?  I mean I certainly don't know everything, but I'm often dubious.

Reasons I hate my GPS, continued:
GPS tells me to get off 94 to go on business route 94.  WHY?  I look at the gps and zoom out and can't figure out why.  But I stop here to have some water and try to figure out why it's routing me this way.  I decide that I know better and go back the mile I came to go back on 94 proper.  I didn't have as much water as I thought I did, so I'll be looking for an exit soon to take a break and hydrate.  This exit is 'business 94', but none of the businesses in sight or on the gps have food.  Stupid gps.

And it's hot!  I did get to take off my rain gear at the Pepsi sign, though.

So, the very next exit (of course) has fast food and gas and everything I need.  and a chinese buffet...

Wendy's/Chinese. Wendy's/Chinese.  I'm actually in need of some down time.  I need some time off the bike and out of the sun and some time to get some water back into my cells.  And this, I tell myself, is the perfect reason to break my road rules: never eat at one-offs!  Stay with chains.  Stay with what you know.  But do I listen?

Now, if I'd seen that it was $12, I would have turned around immediately and gone to the Wendy's .25 miles the other way, but I was already in when I saw the sign.

So, here's my$12 worth of 10 cnets of rice and some meat.  Waitress was ok, but I met Peter, who bought me a drink. (Took my soda off the bill) and had a great sense of humor.  He got me my white rice.  He took my check at the register and after many years of searching, I finally ask this guy from California who's here helping out the family restaurant:  I like 3 kinds of soy sauce.  All of them are to-go.  That panda one right there is one of them, but I can't find them in the store.  Do you know what brand they are?  He gives me a website to try and later brings a plastic bag full of to-go packets to the table.

Now, I'm still at the table because I broke my rule.  The food did not sit well and I was going to have to wait it out there.

So, I talked with Peter and texted my mom and talked to a boy who was fascinated by this frog.

The frog with the creepy flash-eyes.  Creepy, misunderstood albino frog.  We also watched the turtle race around and the fish that sometimes tried to eat the pennies that aren't supposed to go in there any more.

And then, an hour or so after breaking my rule, I head out again.

I pulled off at a scenic pull off for a little while.  Now that I hit the park, I have nothing specific planned except to make as much progress as I can before I call it a day.

SUPer Macroooooo!!!

Then, as the sun starts to set the clouds return.

The office.

The friendly, but not open, corner.

no photos for: flat tire car, bird, speed limit, Billings, flying J, Phil-not drunk, just tired, smelled like he trucks cows, hotels casino.

Oh, mah gawd, that was a long day.