Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29, Wolf Point

The names of the towns are running together in my mind - you would think they would stand out - stick - the high cost in effort to get to them. And some do.

Passed through Nashua. How did that get in Montana? Inverness,
Glasgow, Malta. Rumor has it that the railroad people charged with the duty of naming these towns simply spun the globe and pointed. Seems too loaded with Scottish names for this to be true.

We’re in Wolf Point. If it has a coyote, a raven, a buffalo, a wolf as part of its name, it’s Indian. It is 50 or so impossibly difficult miles from Glasgow. You could put down in a helicopter anywhere between the two and swear you’re in the same place, only thing changed was the intensity of the wind and the rising temperature. 101 degrees at 4:48 p.m. - a matter of record now. This temperature and wind will desiccate and preserve a run-over ground squirrel in less than one hour and does worse things to a bicyclist, but we are denied the final solution they are afforded - though we certainly contemplated it. We had thought, of course, that once cleared of the mountains it would all be music and roses. Turns out we have bicycle dumb ass syndrome. Riding in the plains is just another form of torture. I’m surprised Dick Cheney didn’t think of this. Today I would have told anything about me or anybody else, even violated HIPPA to get off that bicycle before the distance law allowed. The natives say they have two seasons here, “winter and July” and July has come early.

We did have some interesting stops enroute. I took the time to have a cup of coffee with four locals at a bar in Nashua. We had an extremely intense and non-fruitful exchange of ideas that left nobody changed nor more enlightened - about all the important subjects: global warming, global trade, corporate greed, failed regulation, lack of regulation, religion, the need or lack of for a third political party, the self-absorption and blindness of the scientists in the world who only want to perpetuate their careers: all this in 20 minutes and at mega decibel levels. This is getting to know the locals in surround sound. I left them with a strong sense that a guy on a bicycle may have different opinions than they and with the overt label, “You guys are blind idealogues, but it was fun talking to you all.” We parted friends, and they bought the coffee. Turns out, I found out later, the guys of the Bellingham 7 had stopped before me and prepped these guys to give me maximal hell when I showed up, and they were ready for me. It’s good to have friends who think ahead for you. This group is staying in Wolf Point, as are we, tonight. Everybody’s toasted! We will continue to leap frog with them another 100 miles to Williston, then they will turn south to Iowa. They’ve added a lot to our trip since the Issac Walton,

Wolf Point is on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and near the Missouri River which we now parallel. The Milk River, which we have followed for days, occupies the historical Missouri River watershed, the Missouri having been diverted by an ice dam thousands of years ago. I do not expect our quality of life to be improved by this eventually. There are many Indians here, all dressed as civilians, having lost their culture at Wounded Knee and to carbonated drinks.

We ate at a Chinese restaurant tonight - the only diners at the time. The proprietors were Chinese, whose ancestors pushed out of Africa 40,000 years ago, deviated north around the Hindu Kush, then south along the Pacific coast into China separating as they did from some fellow travelers, cousins actually, who ultimately crossed the Bearing Strait land bridge and ended up in, among other places, in the Americas - Wolf Point Mountain - having survived in the process a few pandemics, starvation and US government duplicity. The Chinese who fed us had ancestors who somehow survived their own trails and sent their progeny here against all odds to introduce tofu to their sugar-obsessed cousins. Such is the peculiar way the world sometimes tries to heal itself against all odds. David had some of the tofu and gave it a ten on a ten scale. I had the Mongolian beef and recommend it should you ever have no choice but to spend the night in Wolf Point, Montana. Hurry, though, because I’m not sure they’re going to make it.

Pat Sewell

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