Karla: Tomorrow we complete our route through North Dakota and as I look back I have one overriding memory – WIND. Every day, in every way, our experience was defined by how the wind was blowing. We faithfully checked the weather reports for which direction it would blow, drilling down to the hour by hour forecasts. Not just the night before for the next day, but throughout the day itself, as if we couldn’t just feel it on our faces or throw some grass up into the air and see which direction it was carried! We dreamed about a full day of the wind at our back and predicted how far we could ride if we hit the road early and rode ’til dinner. But, mainly we cursed the reality of it as it blew in our noses or angled across our shoulders or blasted us from the side. The wind could make or break how the day went and how we would feel at the end of it. In truth we had only two days of direct tail wind that we were able to utilize to extend the distance covered. The other days were a mixed bag due either to the constant change in direction of the route itself, or the fickleness of the wind as it defied the most in depth meteorological analysis. I recall one day in particular when we battled a 15 mph headwind for 13 miles before the route finally made a 90 degree turn, changing the force to an assault from the side. At the corner of the intersection we stopped at a convenience store to eat and rest, a surefire way to boost energy and bolster morale. I dragged myself off the bike and tugged the door open, feeling lucky to be able to do either, then semi-staggered to the sandwich counter. The cook was friendly so I asked her how hard did she think the wind was blowing. She looked directly at me with a slightly surprised expression and said, ” Oh, is the wind blowing today?” Then she laughed and added, “You should see it when it is windy!” Well that humbled me, but only for a minute. I was sure she was just exaggerating for the benefit of the stranger in town and I reverted to feeling quite self-satisfied at the Herculean job I was doing battling the forces of nature. That’s the other thing I remember from my time in ND, the terrific power of the forces of nature here. And as I’ve been riding, I’ve been afforded the time and circumstance to consider what it must have taken for the people to settle these parts. It’s such an incredible area of our country; beautiful, rugged and austere. Vast, wide open plains with wild winds constantly sweeping across the landscape. The beauty of the prairie subtle in its slight gradations of colors and contours, and simultaneously magnificent in its panoramic scope. Vistas of dried grasses and blue-grey shrubs, punctuated with the sweet, pungent scent of sagebrush for miles; then changing to grand fields of wheat, hay and sunflowers with the aromas of freshly mown grains and blooming seed heads. What incredible tenacity it must have taken to bend the land to the will of the white man.