Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 22 - Lake Bistineau, Louisiana


On wheeled machine, maximally efficient,
A wheedler, a creeper, a crawler, a dawdler,
Across and to whatever willed.
Long with us, long valued, with us still,
And proudly had as choice fulfilled.

A pack horse, a conveyance simple,
For some, a flying machine,
Though this by all be not easily seen,
As with those of the slanted gaze
The more by motors amazed.

A slowing machine;
This wheedler, this creeper, crawler, dawdler,
And it is slow we need,
Let’s collectively concede.

We have the fast, the plenty, the many,
Our usual choices and constant change.
We’re pointed, we prefer, we push, we plan.
Harried we be, many the man .
We go and go, more of the same
The best available, we often claim.
Possibly, though, a limited where, a limited there!
This pattern perceived, none nurturing fare.

Pass that person with friendly wave,
Or sober visage grave,
Never will you them know, though,
Until slower, each of you go.

Run in falling rain
Get only slightly wet,
From this water, only frontally met.

A simple thing, touring,
On a wheeled machine so efficient,
Wheedling, creeping, crawling, dawdling,
Across and to whatever willed.
Fleshing, threshing for this missed more;
A willed, wheeled trip deeper possible
For those so postured,
Both in and out.

Pat Sewell

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15, Wednesday, Lake Bistineau

I’m home, hard by the A/C, breathing deeply trying to pull in some cool. It’s 102 degrees outside. The sun beats down, palpably hot to the touch, cooking plants and small animals instantly. Heat rises from the dusty earth, shimmering, simmering, setting this place on uninhabitable for the sentinent and the sensible. And I wonder, can I include this consequence in my insurance settlement? “He was sent back to Louisiana in July and August, your Honor, against his will and intent, ripped from a containing coolness on the open road and thrust protesting into that furnace without time to prepare.” Should be worth at least a multiple of that for a leg lost.

Most important body parts returned with me. I did leave some basic trust behind at the crash site but, while important, it is weightless. The kindness of people at the scene, at the hospital and of those since have restored much of the basic trust lost. Sherrie’s cousin, Zondra, and her husband, Wally Gunneck, came for us, retrieving broken bike and body, then fed and cared, taking us ultimately to my daughter, Sauny’s, father-in-law, Jim McWethy, and Robin’s home in Minneapolis. They finished the good works towards us with their food and kindness, and we made it home July 14, bike and gear to follow.

The trip is over as shockingly quick as it is hot here. My mind hasn’t shifted all the way back yet, that “here but not here totally yet” thing, the very thing touring on a bike is antidote to. I’m recovering quickly with increased ability to walk and move each day. Looks to be true that the broken collarbone is the only enduring consequence I’ll have. Not bad for a 60+ mph collision with a car. I’ll take it. Plan to see if my clavicle needs plating surgically to speed recovery and rehab. Lance Armstrong had his plated. We both ride bikes, and I did pass him one day when I had a tailwind, though he’ll tell you he was in France that day.

The trip was a grab bad containing many delights, an accordion played with sweet and sour notes, a rodeo to be read on many levels.

It was worth it in every sense. Dave and I had a great time together. We’re both more fit and have added immeasurably to our trove of memories together. We met and enjoyed many people of similar mind and inclinations. We went as deep and slow as long as allowed and feel the better for it. Our appetite has been stimulated, not quenched - despite its ending. We’ll tour again, and we will communicate with some of those we’ve met. Hopefully, we will retain our fitness and our optimism and trust. We will be more careful if we can figure out how to be. I’m thinking a circumnavigation of Ireland next summer. Stay tuned.

Pat Sewell

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 12, McGregor, Minnesota

Now I can say today for sure, despite the overuse of the phrase, this be another case of best laid plans gone awry.

Dave and I were eastbound on Hwy. 2, four miles east of Fosston, Minnesota, riding to the extreme right side, right lane of the four-lane highway. It was a clear day, visibility unlimited, dry road surface. We were humming along with a major tailwind, feeling the power and claiming it as our own. Life was good and obstacles non-existent. Then things got curiouser and curiouser right quick. An automobile traveling 60 mph or so slammed into the rear of my bicycle throwing me ultimately to the pavement after a few important in-between interactions with that automobile. It was driven by a woman my age - so she was certainly not old - who had not seen us until the last moment at which time she swerved to miss us, too late to miss us but soon enough to not run right over us. Subsequent to striking me, she spun a few times and ended up facing west in the median, while Dave and I ended up in a tangle of bodies and bikes.

The car’s front right fender was pushed in, the headlight smashed and, likewise, the windshield as if it had struck a large deer. The rear rack of my bike was crushed, left side pannier ruptured, the left axle on the rear wheel sheered off and a significant dent put in the aluminum cross tube. The rear tire blew out spontaneously 20 minutes later. The frame was bent. Reconstructing the impact from the damage to the car and bike, it appears that the rack put the light out, my buttocks bent the fender and my shoulder smashed the windshield. The car also struck my left calf muscle, knocking my foot out of the toe clip and tearing some ligaments in my left ankle. Extensive bruising and swelling is the chief result of this run-in. Couldn’t have picked a better body part to encounter the car. When the windshield was struck, my left collarbone was broken - the only bone damage. Can hardly object to this outcome; no head and no spine damage. David was brought low by the cannonball I had become, bouncing off the car and suffering some loss of skin. His bicycle was not damaged. He landed on top of me. I’m glad I was able to cushion his fall, being ever the sacrificial one.

It is a cautionary tale. We had become complacent in retrospect. So many miles, so many cars behind us, and we had been missed every time until then. We had ridden narrow shoulders with heavy traffic many times without incident. But it is clearly a gamble, obvious to anyone thinking clearly; a roll of the dice! One motorist looking down or talking on their cell or just drowsy and inattentive and bam! Sobering! I don’t have the final conclusion yet, but I do feel very fortunate to be here writing this.

We hate it that we are not able to complete the trip. And Dave’s family and Cristina will not allow him to go on now, so it’s home soon and for me, rehab. I think the mule is totaled but maybe rehab for it, too.

Pat Sewell

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 10, 6:30 p.m., Mentor, Minnesota

As the sign says, we’re in Mentor. Dairy Queen, grocery store, bar and bank. A complete, modern town; with a campground without a shower but with a toilet that only the jointly fearless and desperate would enter, much less experience the actual use of. They say every tooth has its own ecology, its own bacterial flora, that they have established a homeostasis there, and I figure if that’s true then the toilets in these little towns have their bacterial homeostasis as well and there well might be previously unidentified bacteria that could take hold of those of us from a different climate and whop us around intoto or in isolated body areas worse than Tacy did in Wolf Point with that deep screamer massage. She took us by the feet and slammed us on the floor and against the wall and called it a good thing, and I suppose she was right because we are here today. Got us used to continuous intractable, no-solution pain, if nothing else. Bike ride as continuous child birth.

We rode 75 - 80 miles today and have penetrated deep into the flanks of Minnesota. So far, there have been no National Guard units to oppose our advance. We are spending money at the convenience stores and bars to pacify the locals and so far, so good.

A flat tire was had by Dave today. A small wire from tire road debris laid his tire low. It took tweezers to remove it. Why we had tweezers cannot be explained as we had off-loaded all heavy items while crossing the Cascades. It may be a case, again, of the unlikely falling on the undeserving which is why we flagelate each day to keep this type of outcome coming. Why leave things up to chance with so much at stake everyday you roll out of your tent. Flagelation, incidentally, is much more likely to get results than rain dances unless you are a fillopino because they have worn that particular device out trying to twist the universe in their direction. Might still work for flat tires - I’m not sure. We did fix the tire - with much effort. I had, just earlier, remarked on how remarkable it was we had not had a flat. Now you tell me, was that related? Did my comment bring on the flat or was it the wire or did we get the flat because we voted democratic or have a fundraiser going for Slobodan Milosevic. There are slippery slopes everywhere. Enough to raise fear to tread, much less roll a tire across the country.
We pitched our tents but sheltered under a nearby tin-roofed pavilion
as we are partial to shade, and shelter in this climate unpredictable. It occurred to us, and maybe to you, that we have lived outside almost seven weeks now. That couldn’t happen in the south - in the summer, of course, we would have been well done - cooked through and through, our skin 100 percent melanoma or squamous cell cancer. Here it is possible and let me congratulate Dave - throw a bone to his fans, so to speak - on selecting our route. If you can tolerate hail, lightening, freezing temperatures and head winds, this route is a piece of cake. The rains came to the plains and do remain since our arrival. Didn’t keep us from a walk to the local pizza place - filled with locals. Saw a bunch of late thirtyish women drinking beer and oohing and aahing over cell phone pictures. Assumed children. Wrong! Dogs! Some things are forever.

We have three days to get to McGregor where we will visit with Sherrie’s cousin, Zondra, She is avoiding my calls, but it will not work. She cannot stand the political and existential truth that I intend to bring to her and immerse her in. There’s hope for everybody. We just need to throw out the information we are and start completely over. Only good can come of it. And that includes “W” but you didn’t hear it from me. This is a politically-neutral journal, and I have better things to write about.

Pat Sewell

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 7 p.m., Turtle River Campground, North Dakota

Dave putters about with his buggy and gear while the sun sets in the grove of trees where we camp. We covered 100 miles today. Nine hours in the saddle - long enough to render an adolescent numb from the waste down - no problem, of course, for the non-secular celibate. The wind blew and blew today, in the correct direction, towards the east. This is how it is supposed to be, but hasn’t been, and we’ve struggled to not take it personal. We succeeded in this effort and today just see randomness restored and us, like in most things, just collateral beneficiaries or victims, as the case may be. It’s a powerful thing blowing by Lance Armstrong and him maybe they say on steroids, though I don’t want to believe it. We left him in our dust and all other pretenders to the throne. No doubt in us after today that we could turn and make it to Patagonia by September.

We rode through more prairie but a wet one with potholes and lakes and trees., There were breeding ducks of all types everywhere. I predict a particular good year for coots. I saw every specie - and black terns, Avocet and here once arrived, yellow warbler, American Redstart, eastern bluebird, and orchard oriole - without binoculars or effort.

The accents remain thick with a continued clear effort by most to sound like they were in that movie, Fargo. A state policeman stopped us - our first encounter with the law. His accent was so bad, and ours so foreign to him, that we had to use sign language to communicate. He was concerned for our safety and did not find the meth, the cocaine, the MJ and the opiates we’ve been selling to finance our trip and raise money to retire Slobodan Milosevic’s legal expenses. He let us go, expressing surprise that sensible people would do what we are doing but admiring it, nonetheless - not the trip but the willingness to share a traffic lane with 18 wheelers and make them blink first. We say no way they want the insurance premium from a double homicide, our position.

The road today leaving Devils Lake, a four-lane US highway, had a gate on it. Just like a cattle gate, and it was open. Imagine what such a gate would be needed for, then ask yourself why anyone would live in an area where four-lane highways get closed. Now ask which seems worse to you - living through winters that require roads to be closed or sharing a traffic lane with 18 wheelers. Each man to his own poison and you takes your chances.

Pat Sewell

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 7, Towner, North Dakota, 4 p.m.

The rains have come and stayed today. We remain camped in the small park in Towner, just off Hwy 2, 50 miles east of Minot. Our tents are pitched but we shelter, except for naps, under a tin-roofed enclosure where the rain sings. Around us the dove sing, as well, and a robin mother feeds her nesting young in the rafters above us; a peaceful marooning it is, a forced day off the bike - a “could be worse” situation made the most of. A gentle rain, a gentle day with gentle companions. We’ve played cards to pass the morning with Lindsay and Cormac; a not so gentle game of Hearts. I will not reveal the winner because it’s not important, but you should know it wasn’t any of the others. The game was in a spirit of ego ablation since they are both divinity students. No one seemed to achieve that higher state while pettiness, greed, deception and the formation of unholy alliances were much in evidence; the thin veneer of socialization stripped quickly in all, before the first card was dealt. Dave, in particular, flew his flag high and mighty until it came smashing down. “Pride goeth before the fall,” sayeth “W.”

Lindsay and Cormack (no relation to Cormac McCarthy, despite the similar first name) left us at 4 p.m. riding out in a small spot of sunshine, a brisk wind from the east and towards towering dark thunderheads - with the optimism of the newly married. Storms, like death, are for other people, and we shall overcome a tradition, anyway. Perhaps, they needed a break from the relentless interview we had subjected them to. I had to hold Dave back many times in many ways as he drilled into the center of their belief systems. They left knowing, at least, one of us can play Hearts and that we are interested in the song and mysteries of the universe. We’ve elected to make it a day off and cut back on the voluntary suffering. The involuntary being just that.

The accents of the people are thickening like the trees. This would have been a good area to make that movie, Fargo. We’ve seen no pregnant female deputies yet, so that part may have been made up. We have seen some male deputies who looked pregnant but maybe because we saw them from the side. I talked to one about crime which he said he didn’t know much about but there wasn’t much. He had the movie accent to tell me this which I appreciated since we’ve seen no movies since before Anacortes. There used to be meth labs in the county “but we got some boys who like to go after druggies, and we got eleven labs out of here last year.” I talked to him in a filling station in Granville. The station owner looked like Moby. I thought he was Moby, but he denied it in one of the movie accents which I know Moby doesn’t have, so now I believe him. Sooner or later, you’ve got to start believing in something. I don’t believe, however, David is ever going to win another bocce Frisbee chase game. Today’s results: Pat 8; Dave 3. He seems to lack something in these games, nerve, verve, imagination, coordination, gumption - I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out for him.

Pat Sewell

July 7, Towner, North Dakota , 8 p.m. (2nd entry)

If you want the low-down, go to the bar in Towner - that’s the Long Horn Bar downtown, cate corner to the Ranch House Restaurant and three blocks removed from Zion Luthern and St. Cecelia’s Catholic, both of which would do well to have as many attendees as Simon, the owner, has at the Long Horn. It was a low ceiling, low light, high smoking facility. Entering from the front, a long bar - Simon behind it - was to the right. Behind the bar, every kind of beer and whiskey. The walls elsewhere were covered with beer signs and pictures of scantily-clad women leaning or otherwise oogling cars or motorcycles. It wasn’t clear what it was that was causing them to oogle or why they couldn’t be fully clothed while doing so, but apparently there is a sub-specie of female in North Dakota that is desirous of having her picture taken this way. It doesn’t, at first glance, look like they would be warm enough dressed as they are in North Dakota most of the year, even though it is said these are hardy people around here. None of these women were actually in attendance so we, after making sure we had seen every picture so as to not show favoritism to one over the other, spent our time at the bar talking to Simon and a few of the locals.

Simon talked, even though he looked tired and didn’t like to look right at you when he did so. He didn’t smoke but was sharing the air with those who did, and the air was mostly smoke. So he shouldn’t be in the bar business too much longer if he is doing any breathing at work. We learned from him: the young are leaving, the farms are consolidating, the trains will not stop at the grain elevator unless a large minimal number of railcars are filled, he would rather live in Arizona, last winter was too long and too hard and that corporate farms are coming in and changing the way things are done.

Several patrons echoed these opinions and added information about: canola smelling bad, it taking seven round bales of hay to get a cow through winter, thirty million dollars worth of cows died during this hard last winter in the Minot area and the grain evac has made moving grain a whole lot easier. One of the friendlier chain-smoking patrons facing us and constantly enveloping David in smoke told us of his failed efforts to get his 16 year old daughter off meth. “It bothers me in a way and in another way, it don’t. I tried to help, kept her here for four months, didn’t let her run like her mama does, but she went home to her mama and got back on it. Done what I could. She’s got to want to quit.” He consumed six beers and 12 cigarettes while telling us this sad story of his fatigue and failure to help her get off drugs.

We bought the first two beers, and Simon gave us the second two. More friendly people. We didn’t offer advice to anybody about anything, just got the low-down while holding our breath. The pictures were not for sale. We didn’t want them anyway.

Dinner was at the Ranch House Restaurant. Hamburgers. You have to order the deluxe if you want something other than meat and bread. There is a lot to learn here.

Pat Sewell

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 6, Monday, Towner, North Dakota

Fifty miles east now of Minot. I’m buggyless now and using Panniers. Dave has a new tire and a repaired derailleur. We are ready for the second half of this contemplative crawl. A short distance east is the geographic center of North America - or advertised as such by the town of Rugby. Today marks six weeks on the road, as well, so we are half-way through the 12 weeks we allotted and on time. This is surprising, both that we are half-way at half-time and that we are here at all. The whole trip seems a lot more doable all of a sudden with this milestone.

The landscape is changing with our progress east. Birch trees, Ash, Chinese Elm - some large and even some forested areas are appearing. One’s gaze is interrupted - no longer are the crop and grasslands limitless. It’s very green and lush. And corn has made its first appearance along with soybeans. Clearly, there is moisture - perhaps, too much - according to some we have talked to. Lakes without river exits are expanding, and some of last year’s corn crops are gone unharvested. Climate models for global warming project more precipitation up north here and less in the south and west. Correct? Or is this just seasonal variation?

All the sports news worth reporting:

Pat 10 Dave 5 Bocce frisbee chase
July 6, 7 p.m. The crowds loved it
No horseshoe game since the first one
Dave phobic of rematch.

Pat Sewell

July 6, Monday, Towner, North Dakota (2nd entry)

We’ve met and visited with Cormac and Lindsay this evening. They are honeymooning on their bikes - Seattle to Boston. He is a hospital chaplain in training at Harvard, and she, in graduate divinity school there. They fit in the “young take a break before you get swallowed by career” group with a honeymoon twist. Cormac is quaker. Lindsay UCC and intends to be a minister with a congregation. We had a nice tread-softly discussion about theology, mythololgies, the difficulties of the minister’s role and the brief occupancy of man on the planet since its origin, touching softly on our possible short-term presence and more heavily on the clumsy and destructive nature of our presence until now, finishing at least from my side with a nod to the pessimistic. They proceed into their careers with a sober, but convicted, sense and hope they can be helpful. It will require a dogged contemplative crawl to do so.

Their blog: Lindsay and

They got bike gear and panniers for wedding presents- indicating a very positive, practical streak. Will serve well. Say hello to them from Pat and Dave. They travel east but sleep late - so maybe?

Pat Sewell

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 5, Minot, North Dakota, 9 p.m.

Noise seems to be our companion this trip. It’s not what you expect when you think about the great open spaces but how often do you get what you expect unless it is what you expect but don’t want. We’ve had the train since Whitefish, the road noise - crowding trucks blasting by - the obnoxious “screw you, get off the road honks.” We’ve had the thunder of the night as in two nights ago when the deities sat down on our tents unsatisfied with their own campsite and tonight we have race cars at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

It’s Sunday night, and we’re in Minot, North Dakota, camped at Riverside RV Land behind the Holiday Inn. Just across the road there is a continuous roar of racing machines designed to make the most noise possible while moving from A to B. Roar, actually, is inadequate as a term. Someone hearing this for the first time, say a virgin to the noise of the uncensored internal combustion engine, would have to go off planet to explain such a sound and would quickly exhaust their repertoire of demonic-related sounds. They have been running now for three hours and show no signs of abatement. Makes me wonder whether North Dakota is worth donating to the Palestinians to solve those pesky problems with the Middle East.

We rode 58 miles from Stanley today. Not a big day but respectable. Camped with us is Alan and Grace, reversing our course across the country. And Laurie, at 17 traveling alone until she met the other two - and headed to Anacortes, as well. She does not carry a gun but does have a knife. She only journals, having sent her books home. The world is largely flat to her, devoid of obstacles. Alan plans to enter grad school, Ph.D. after the trip, Ed. Sociology. Believes education only institution that gives an opportunity to offset other cultural failing. He has the optimism of the young - “not yet mortal yet,” as Michael Ondaatje, author of “The English Patient” would say. His educational landscape is as devoid of obstacles as the physical landscape looks to 17 year old Laurie.

Have gotten feedback from variety of sources that my editorial posture is possibly either neglectful or a bit negative to Dave - this from as far away as Holland. I shall strive to be better but will not bend the truth, everybody’s got their headwinds in life, and these gross misinterpretations of my reports will just be another one if they continue.

Frisbee bocce chase game
Minot July 5
Pat 7, Dave 2 - game ends with 5 point lead or when one player
reaches 10 points.
Not a bad showing for Dave.

To support Alan Wright
Grace Conrad
Look to links to see what they support:
Orphanage in Haiti
Bicycles for Kids in Africa
Environmental Group.

Laurie Angulo, 17, Trevor City, Michigan

Attended alternative school
Had male teacher that inspired her to “do something significant”
Her mother dropped her off at homeless shelter one year ago -
“Thought I would have a better life on my own”
“Have gained confidence and feel stronger - surprised myself”
already on this trip

Can communicate with her: Angulo

Pat Sewell

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4, Stanley, North Dakota, 7:30 p.m.

The sun bears down on us - slipping between the Stanley water tower and the domed Mountrail County courthouse as it slowly sets over this flat land. To my right, a gravel road with mud puddles to either side and stretching to its right, ten or so camp trailers - none newer than 1980, if I had to guess. We’re seated at a picnic table, our tents pitched against the scrub trees and bushes that provide the boundary for this city park. A small tin-sided lean-to is nearby that has within it, against all odds, a usable toilet and shower. Across the street beside the courthouse, trustees in orange wash the sheriff cars and to our left, our old friend since Whitefish Mountain, the BNSF railway, rattles and roars.

This was a no-choice campsite and not so bad for it. The town celebrated the 4th today. An old car show - main street blocked off. A bikini contest (we found out too late about it to go) and a cook-off in the city park. Later, there will be karaoke at the Draft Horse Pub which I will attend.

We rode in from our campsite west of Raymond where we had taken refuge against the wind yesterday. Had a headwind out of the northwest today, so had a little assist. Our night camped on the prairie was memorable. I was hoping for stars but instead got storm. Towards 7 p.m. clouds accumulated to the east and north - thickened, then blackened, then layered up - looking ultimately as if everything in the neighborhood was to be eaten. I thought of those TV shows in which people chase storms and then when it gets close, they run away to safety in their cars. We had no cars. I thought about that, too. So we got in our tents, pushing the pegs deeper and hoping they would hold if and when whatever was, struck. Well, it was a big Was. Sort of like having artillery called in on your position. Three hours of thunder and lightening, driving rain and gusting winds. Our tents shook, rattled, bent, shuddered and held. Quite a show, really! Out there in the big open besieged by the worst of weather. Beat life in the motel watching TV. My tent that David had characterized as untested passed, earning his stamp of approval. We did learn the next morning in Ray - at breakfast - that a tornado was sighted to the east a bit and that two inches of snow had fallen just west of us. Another routine night camping on this dogged contemplative crawl. I can’t drop the “dogged” until the wind stops dogging us.
There was opportunity for a bocce ball frisbee chase game. Dave did not win this one. Dave did not get a point in this one. I report this in my role as sports editor. As such I have no investment in who won or lost.

Tomorrow, Minot

Questions: What’s the capitol of North Dakota?
Clue: It is not Toronto.

How many congressmen does North Dakota have?

Pat Sewell

Friday, July 3, 2009

July 3, Friday, Williston, North Dakota, 7:30 a.m.

A gap in the journal - filled with headwind and effort that emptied me of all but superficial considerations like for instance, survival. The wind beats you down, an unrelenting force unresponsive to any plea or promise. It’s exam week on the bike. You can run but you can’t hide, and nobody is coming for you. If you wish to move forward, you just grind and grind. And there is no top as with a mountain pass. You have to wait on the whims of the weather. No time out of the toilet bowl for the rat. There is analogy here, but I will let you make it.

We’re in Williston, North Dakota now - and at the moment, under a shelter in Harmony Park waiting out rain. We’re enjoying free coffee and donuts from the filling station across the street. “It’s on us, you guys have got a tough day.” Last night we were in this same park for a brass band concert by the city band. Free hamburgers then. Friendly people everywhere. Virgil Sypherson directed the band, was easily 80, the performance center they played under to a crowd on the green lawn named after him. John Phillip Sousa, an American medley, rousing patriotic music, flags flown of North Dakota, the US and Canada, a close neighbor here, just 40 miles north. Hamburgers by the Lions Club with grilled onions. Virgil, incidentally, was the band director at the local high school for over 40 years.

We camped in Davidson Park next to the ball park where we watched this year’s state champ, Williston High - now playing in the American Legion League whup up good on a hapless team from Fargo -- this after the band concert.

Bill Temple of camped with us as did Fred Lomas. ( We had met Bill in Glasgow and overlapped briefly with him until this visit. He has been riding since the mid 70’s and is unique in many ways to those we have encountered. Sleeps on the ground - no tent, no pad. Wanders a bit, says not clear which way will be going. Rides a bike he paid $60 for years ago, no clips, minimal useful gears, calls self “slowest guy on the road.” Friendly, open, self-effacing, white hair, white beard, smiles a lot. Calls himself an “odd duck” but we found him charming. “I love the open spaces, the prairie, the rural roads; I just go, then one day I say, ‘I’ve had enough’ and I quit - don’t really know why.” Loves the camaraderie he feels with people he meets and believes North Dakota is one of the friendliest places he’s been - loves going to the little towns and seeing what’s going on. “Pops up” in the morning - ready to roll within five minutes, and I saw this happen this morning.

Fred is semi-retired insurance person who rides “to get the cobwebs out” - calls riding a “mental enema - empties things out.” He’s headed west after starting on May 16. Loves the little towns and will stay here for the 4th of July festivals. Check both of these guys on the web and send them a “hello” from “Pat and Dave.”

Many impressions, many contrasts to assimilate. This is a rich soup - which we sip, sometimes thin but with little nuggets that can be fished out - that are intensely flavorful and nurturing.

We are abandoning the Northern Tier route and going with Hwy 2 - all the way to Duluth. It’s four-lanes with a shoulder - safer, hopefully quieter, fewer blasts by passing trucks. Everything subject to change, however, at anytime.

Pat Sewell