Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30, Wolf Point Mountain, 6 a.m.

We are in the Plaines now - a word adapted from the original. To ride a bicycle is to ride in place. Do that for six to eight hours, and a town of the same description drops into place - not suddenly, though. You get to see the water tower for two of the eight hours as it recedes a pace with your approach. Much of this area is Indian reservation, and it is not hard to understand why the founders selected this land for them: 15 inches of rain; two seasons “winter and July”; no pesky trees to block a man’s view, nor hills; a mosquito population adapted to fly in the wind and attack in packs and a constant wind organized against you regardless of direction being traveled and so dry that all moisture within is sucked without at the same rate you’re losing blood to the mosquitoes.

Since the Indians came to settle in much of this area, things have improved a bit with the addition of casinos and bars. So that no one is inconvenienced as they search for one or more of these places, they have been put everywhere - in all buildings that are not a grain elevator or post office. A lot of these are lucky places because the name says so - “Lucky Lil’s, Lucky Bill’s, Lucky Bob’s or Montano Lucky Phil’s” - They get that “Lucky” in there somewhere because the Indians clearly are lucky to have so much opportunity to gamble and drink within any arms length. I can’t be sure if they are all actually lucky and winning a lot because there are no obvious expressions of wealth in view. There are a lot of cars on blocks in front of their trailers and deteriorating homes, but that could be their way of hiding their success so as not to arouse envy in their neighbors. I’ll keep you posted, literally.

June 30, Wolf Point Mountain, 7 a.m.

The American flag flies high and proudly over the Wolf Point Post Office this morning - pointing clearly to the west. We, in contrast, are heading east, into the sharp unrelenting teeth of this gale-force wind. The weather man has advised of the buildup of a system of thunderheads with hail - “up to one inch” - and gusts approaching from the southeast, advising caution - which for us bicyclists would mean keeping our helmet on as we get pelted and blown about into the traffic lanes. What is the better part of valor; battle it out with the elements or tuck tail and head for a lay-up, allowing the depleted vessel we be a restorative interval? Checking closely within ourselves for a need for further penance and self-flagellation - after two days of non-stop immersion in that type of thing, we have elected the latter, calling it, now that the decision has been made, an expression of wisdom extraordinaire. There are those who, no doubt, will see it as cowardly, -- a larger group approaching the infinite who will be indifferent to it, but we are not letting this interfere with our ability to imbue this decision and this our day with the significance ordinarily extended to a near-death experience - while out here totally anonymous. A talent pervasive among us humans.

Pat Sewell

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