Into ND 7/25-26 posted 8/2

Scott: As described by Karla in her previous blog, we had turned south to Circle, MT from Wolf Point. This was a route change to the Northern Tier bike route, introduced this year by ACA to specifically avoid the dangerous truck traffic and mayhem of the Bakken oil fields of NE Montanna and W North Dakota. There has been such a huge influx of workers to an area with an insufficient infrastructure that this mass migration cannot be managed. So much so that workers are “living” many miles from their jobs. As a result, we were directly impacted on our trek. Cafes, stores, campgrounds, hotels and the roads are overloaded with these workers. The locals have named these campgrounds of Bakken workers “Man Camps”. Every campground we stayed in had a man camp and they were a mess. Overcrowded with tents and trailers of all kinds and sizes, garbage and filthy bathrooms were the rule. High prices too. Junky, filthy hotels were going for $150-$180 a night. We couldn’t walk into a cafe without 5-12 tan, exhausted, dirty workers chowing down. Great for the economy, I guess, but as Blue, a dude we met in a campground, put it, “They’re raping and destroying the state of North Dakota.”.  They, in this case, are the companies that are hiring the workers for  the fracking.

We rode 55 miles to Glendive, MT after after our rest day in Circle, and immediately set about to finding a place to camp. There were three options, 2 RV parks and a state park. We headed to the nearest RV park. It was a travesty. Situated next to a busy railroad,the place was a trailer court posing as an RV campground and was very depressing. We immediately high tailed it to Makoshika State Park for a look see. It only had primitive campsights, we had to ride 3 miles to get water, but it was beautifully nestled among the “badlands” of the park and we decided to stay. We had arrived so early, we decided to ride to town and eat at a Mexican restaurant. As we ate, a huge, black thunderstorm rumbled in and it began to rain. I certainly was relieved that I had closed the rainfly in our tent just as I had left camp but when I related this, David, one of our riding companions,  relaized that his tent was open. We last saw him that afternoon as he dissapeared on his bike into the curtains of fat rain drops. When we returned to camp, we discovered that we had pitched our tent in a depression and had put our groundcloth on backwards. Everything was soaked. David told us that our tent was in a little lake from all of the rain. Ah well, the thunderstorm had passed, the sun had returned and we were able to eventually dry everything out. Oh, we moved the tent, too.

After Glendive, we, at long last, rode into North Dakota. Whew, we had been in Montana for 18 days. That was one long state and I was glad to put it behind us. Over the next several days, the route followed I-94 and, unfortunately, put us directly on the interstate several times. This was probably the most dangerous segment of riding for us to date. The shoulder was huge but filled with rumble strips necessitating riding in the right lane of the highway.  We’d dive for the shoulder when a car was in our lane and got rattled to death as we rode the rumbles then dove back for the smooth road when traffic passed. Totally scary and stressful.

We landed in Medora after Glendive. The entrance to the south branch of Theodore Roosevelt National Park was here and Medora reflected that with a capital T and that stands for tourism. I have to sheepishly admit that after the desolation of Montana and the tiny farming communities, I found Medora very refreshing. Ok, there were a zillion t-shirt shops and stores filled with silly knick-knacks but there was also a real bike shop, 2 ice cream stores and a pub with good draft beer and burgers. I was most intrigued, though, by the national park. What the heck was it? Turns out Teddy Roosevelt had a cabin in the area before his stint as president and the area hosts unique grasslands and badlands. There is also the impressive 96 mi Maah Daah Hey MTB trail that I’d love to ride some day.

The next day, we rode to Dickinson, ND. We had high hopes for this town since at 17,787 it was the largest population that we’d seen for a long time. We were disappointed. It was a town dominated by the oil industry. Traffic was heavy and every third vehicle was oil related. There was even an oil derrick in town. We camped at a lake outside of town and it was a gross man camp. The highlight was receiving a general delivery package from our house sitters that contained a mirror to replace the one we had earlier broken. We also received our iPods that we had returned earlier in the trip. We just couldn’t exist without our music.

Thunderous rain from the Glendive thunderstorm.

The Makoshika badlands.

The magnificent grasslands of western North Dakota.

More Grasslands.

Yummy breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe in Medora.

Bad girl poses with the badlands.

How did this not flat? David’s tire that we figure he rode on like this for the entire previous day.

Our first flat and it was on the trailer.

5 thoughts on “Into ND 7/25-26 posted 8/2”

  1. I'm glad we experienced that stretch on Amtrak's Empire Builder train! Drinking beer and wine, watching the scenery. That said, we are totally in awe and admiration of your journey!
    Lis & Doug

  2. Hey, bike girl… Look at those quads! We look for your posts every day and thoroughly enjoy them. You two are amazing. Diane and Mick

  3. Hi Guys, you are both incredible. Love hearing about your adventures. Lots of love Sari x0x0x

  4. Yes, people can survive without a frying pan… but not without MUSIC! Now you guys can sing while you bike 🙂

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