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North Dakota

Leaving Little Falls this morning, I decided to skip going farther north to Bemidji so as not to have to double back and instead headed directly to Fargo, shaving a day off my planned schedule. It was a very overcast, drizzly, cool morning that made me glad I had my Indian windbreaker. 

One thing that I have come to know without doubt is that America is just one huge farm. Miles and miles and miles and miles and miles...and miles of corn and grain... enough to feed the world. It's awe inspiring to see. Families working the land to keep us all fed. Just amazing. 

Today I rode through about six hours of beautiful rolling farms crossing the continental divide. In places it seemed I could see forever. What a beautiful country! 

There was a time mid-morning that it began to rain pretty hard, so I stopped at a little town and was given directions to the best restaurant in town, the Whistle Stop, near the railroad tracks. 

I decided to order some breakfast and see if the rain might blow by. It was a Sunday morning and the locals had taken time off from their farms for a day of worship and relaxation with their families. As I sat in the little cafe, families came in dressed in their modest Sunday best. The TV on the back wall wasn't tuned in to the news or ESPN, but rather, the locally televised church service. I thought about how arrogant it was for politicians to refer to this as "flyover country." There was an American flag in the corner, and pictures of the local heroes from different wars, pictures of the local basketball team, a Minnesota Vikings flag...this was America's heartland at it's best. 

By the afternoon I had crossed into North Dakota at the city of Fargo (they made a strange movie about to Fargo some years back). The city's slogan is "North of Normal."

I kept going, headed toward Bismarck, the state capitol. 

About midday, I stopped in Jamestown, North Dakota, home of the National Buffalo Museum.

Here they tell the ugly story of the slaughter of the Buffalo and the later work to rescue them from the brink of extinction. They have a herd of them here, although they didn't appear to be very interested in posing for any pictures.

I went inside the museum and had better luck getting near one and getting him to stand still.

The buffalo was the mainstay of the way of life for the plains Indians. It provided food, clothing, shelter, and had many other uses as well. 

A buffalo coat and mittens.

A buffalo hide shirt and moccasins.

A teepee made from buffalo hides.

This is White Cloud, an albino buffalo, considered sacred by the Indians. Albino buffalo are so rare that the odds of there being another have yet to be calculated. This one was a pet and died of natural causes after a long life. 

The world's largest buffalo next to the world's largest... whatever.

They have a little frontier village here with a stagecoach.

General store selling snacks and souvenirs.

Here's the heater in the one room schoolhouse. I was told that the kids would bring potatoes and put them in the bottom of the stove in the morning so as to have them baked by midday for their lunch.

Here's the school.

A frontier church.

The inside of the church.

The inside minus the kid.

The main street.

And across the street.

The inside of the saloon. The sign saying Grain Belt Beer was a lie. A dirty lie. 

And the outside of the saloon.

Farther up the street. The jail was conveniently right next door to the saloon.

This was the jail. They we're evidently serious.

One bad hombre...if ugly were a crime...

The dentist's office. No, thank you. 

After leaving Jamestown, the weather was again threatening, so I ducked into a restaurant for lunch and just as I did, the bottom dropped out. While inside, the place collected about a dozen bikers, all waiting it out. We were there about an hour. Afterwards, the clouds blew over and it was blue skies the rest of the way. 

I stopped at a little farmers co-op to refuel and there a little boy aged about nine or so complemented me on how cool my bike was. I told him I was riding it to Seattle and he said "wow, I guess that's why you needed to get more gas!" 

I guess so! God bless!

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Post Script

The ride home from Murrell's Inlet was an easy run right down US 17. For the first time, I didn't need a GPS. It was also the first time since Vermont that I wasn't cold. Finally, I was able to ditch

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