Thursday, September 6, 2012

How the West Was Won

Fargo felt like the West finally. After weeks in the East, New England, Canada, and the Midwest, it was a good feeling. For the first time we began to see a few things that reminded us of familiar places, like a Moxie Java, Pita Pit, a Seattle coffee house, and Walla Walla onions.

There is an elderly population of people who are so sweet, you mistake them for your own grandparents, and it gets you a bit nostalgic for home when the woman behind the counter adds an extra dollop of whipped cream to your pie, just for you. The younger population is also extremely welcoming and polite, not to mention incredibly proud of their hometown. We received numerous greetings and kind offers of help throughout our brief stay in Fargo.

It was a leisurely stay of sipping coffee, eating Pad Thai with NDSU students (Go Bisons!), wandering in parks and of course, catching up on errands. We even watched the NFL opening game while eating 10 different flavors of $0.25 wings and caught a flick at the Indie Theater, "The Fargo."

But of course, the answer to my original statement: How the West Was Won... For us, this time at least, the West will be won not by pedal, but by train. That's right, in Fargo, ND we boarded a 694 mile shortcut across North Dakota that will take us into Havre, MT this afternoon.

Cheating? Maybe. But a few weeks ago David and I had a decision to make. Our original goal of 80-100 miles a day was making us miserable, but so was the prospect of slowing down and being away from home and work for an extra 2 weeks beyond the 8 we had originally scheduled. We were killing ourselves on the bike to stay on schedule, meanwhile bypassing every unique place and quaint town we passed through. One particularly dark 100-mile day, David and I seperately began making unspoken plans on how to get to the nearest airport. This wasn't a vacation for us and it wasn't fun, and what would be the point of crossing the entire country by bike if we were going to loathe each passing moment more and more?

And so, somewhere in Ontario, we hatched a plan to skip what we had heard from other tourers was the worst part of the trip: North Dakota. Our plan would save us 600-700 miles and about 8 days cycling - just enough to let us reduce our daily miles to 70 instead of 85, giving us even more time to enjoy the wonderful country we are attempting to cross.

Besides, how were we supposed to know we were crossing the U.S. at the longest spot possible? Haha.

Anyway, our original goal and the amount we had pledged to bike to raise money for the well repair is 3000, and that is how long our new route will be, so no worries there!

Unfortunately, Amtrak wasn't so pleased with our tandem and trailer but David was able to spend an afternoon boxing our bike up (again) and we had everything ready to go for our 3:30am departure, the only one of the day. Allow me a quick note on God's blessing on this trip, because as of THIS COMING MONDAY, tandem bicycles will be completely prohibited on Amtrak trains - what amazing timing is that?! Anyway, we skipped the cost of a motel for the night and slept in the station and on the train as best as we could, but we're still glad not to be biking today once we arrive in Montana at 3pm. We'll need the afternoon to reassemble our bike and gear and stock up on a few supplies. Plus time to do exactly what we hoped to achieve with this shortcut: enjoy towns like Havre, MT!

Next stop is Great Falls, MT after a 110 mile day (possibbly a new record for us) where we hope to meet up with David's sister, Stacie, and our dog-niece Dori :)

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