Thursday, June 26, 2008

So Close to the Lightning...

...we could smell the ozone! Today was another crazy day. But let me start with yesterday.

We left Wolf Point early (by about 7:30 AM) to beat the heat and arrived in Culbertson, MT by mid-afternoon. The city park was fantastic -- a lot of space to set up tents, trees for shade, a bathroom, and a huge covered picnic area. On the way into town Gus and I spotted the city swimming pool...Alison and Sonia spotted the local ice cream place. What a great team; swimming and ice cream after climbing some monster hills that seemed to have no end made for a great combination.

After setting up tents we headed for Scoops (I had been thinking about a root beer float for about 20 miles) and then to the pool. We were all pretty happy after a long day of biking.

We got up today rather early as well and thought we would have a pretty easy ride. Whenever this thought pops into my head I need to tell Alison to smack me! About 15 miles from Culbertson we took a break at a little mini-mart in Bainville ("The first and last stop in Montana" - depending on your direction of travel, I guess!). We saw a massive storm approaching quickly from the west, which was odd because we battled a strong headwind for the entire 15 miles. We decided to let the storm pass over, which it did rather quickly. The sun came out and we hit the road again. Another storm, however, was nipping at our heels and we tried to pedal as quickly as we could. Unfortunately, the road to the border (another nine miles) was very hilly; the uphills were steep and the downhills were tempered by the strong headwind.

Just before reaching the boarder the storm hit. We got on our rain gear (except for Alison who has sworn off the stuff -- she'll explain it in her post) and pedaled to what looked like a restaurant at the top of the hill right at the Montana-North Dakota border. When we got there the rain was hitting full force. And the building wasn't a restaurant; it was a casino and no one under 21 could enter (we snuck the kids into the foyer while we tried to wait out the rest of the storm). There seemed to be no let-up in sight, so we decided to go on.

A few miles down the road stood three radio towers, seeming guards to the western part of North Dakota. By this point the lighting was getting closer. And then the towers seemed to be under a barrage of bolts from the sky. We saw all three towers hit at least twice each! The last hit was a tower about a fifth of a mile away. We could even smell the ozone from the lightning burning its way through the air. Quite amazing!

We pushed on to Wiliston where we are staying with Anna and Doug Hoffman, people from the group. Three cyclists from Washington state are also staying in their back yard tonight.

Tomorrow we are probably going to modify our plans a bit to cut some mileage to Minot. It might not be as scenic but our legs will thank us!

Thanks again for all the comments to our posts. We love hearing from all of you, even those of you we have never met!

~ Dan

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