It’s a sloggy wakeup on Day 33 (aka June 24th). The boys at the Pollock Lodge sure stayed up late drinkin’ and yakkin’, and I’m no champion sleeper, so… not a restful night. However! Today is a State Line Crossing Day. Always a reason to kum n git it and go, yo!
Especially after the RealBonk just two days prior, I’m troubled by the lack of feed I have tucked away: a few bars, an apple and orange I’d been carrying for a few days, nuts. Between Pollock and Mandan on Route 1804, North Dakota, there are a total of zero towns, only a couple of recreation areas that may have a small C-store or a place to eat. It’s not going to be hot today again; rain and cool and such is what’s predicted. Hmm, I need to ask Diego if the 40gs of carbs requirement is an any-and-all-weather one. There is a grocery store in Pollock, but according to Rick at the Lodge, they only open for a couple hours in the morning on weekends. He’s not sure what time. And of course I don’t want to wait.
I dawdle on the empty street, not least because I don’t have caffeine to consume. I could have grabbed a coke at the Lodge and thrown a buck on the table (honor system!) but I’m not a soda drinker and bleh anyway… I take a few pics of B Avenue, Pollock’s one and only drag. The morning is silver.
As I’m about to gamble my future hunger to the bike touring gods, I glance at the Prairie Market and the lights are on! It’s a sweet little store. The couple (I think) who own it or run it or are just working there are friendly. I grab a couple yogurts, another orange, bananas, pretzels, and a bottle of local cold brew!!!! I drink the coffee and I’m more happily OFF!!
A little while later, at mile 15 or so, I am crossing into North Dakota. Immediately, I spot a butte.
At least I’m 99% sure it’s a butte, as I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one in person. “Hello, butte-iful!” I am giddy. “I’m in fucking North Dakota!” How crazy is this? Entering North Dakota represents something to me. It just seems so remote, I guess, all the way up here near Canada. It is home to fewer than 700,000 people. That’s not so much less than South Dakota. But an hour later I haven’t seen a single person in the state, even driving by in a car. (Well, to be fair, I’m not near any towns and it’s early Sunday morning.) I don’t believe I know anyone from North Dakota. Maybe ever? The movie Fargo (which is, what, 20 years old already?) is the only touchstone I can think of. Oh, and the many articles I’ve read and news stories and the documentary I’ve watched about the oil boom there (that peaked during the Great Recession when ND had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and McDonald’s workers were earning $18/hour), and Standing Rock of course. But the ND I’m experiencing now is me, Whitey, a butte, a rainbow and a cemetary [sic] from 1906.
At about 30 miles, I need to refill water bottles. Sun’s in and out of clouds; temp is rising, and it’s 60 miles until I reach my warmshowers host, Mark, in Mandan just outside of Bismarck, ND’s capital. Oh, and head-/crosswinds abound. There’s a campground, Beaver Creek Recreation Area, off the road that supposedly has a store and a place to eat. And I need to take a leak. I turn left/south and which gives me a tailwind for about a quarter-mile downhill into the campground. I ride around for a few minutes. Don’t see anything resembling a place where I can pee. I stop alongside a curb. A row strange contraptions with a sign “drinking water” stand before me. They are like no other water removal apparatuses I’ve ever encountered. I try behaving as if I am confident and have drawn water from these…pole/hose things a million times. The ground isn’t even wet at my feet. Is there even water to be had? Well, the sign says so! But what is the extraction method? The contraptions are about 6 or 7 feet tall. Each is a thin rubber hose attached to a metal pole that’s connected to a sort of Slinky™-esque coil. And that’s it. There’s something I’m missing regarding how this works.I try tugging the hose and the entire pole bends down precariously. A pumping motion, maybe? I pull the pole several times. I look around to see if anyone is witnessing my folly. No witnesses. No assistance. Just as I am about to surrender, an SUV pulls up to the same curb. A young woman is sorting her recycling and garbage and placing them in the dumpsters.
“Excuse me?” I say, not loudly enough, half-hoping she won’t hear me. Oh, fuck it. “Hey, there! Do you know how these things work?”
I startle her, I think, with my directness and volume. “Oh, sorry,” she responds, “Hmm, I don’t. I have no idea. We brought our own.”
A guy gets out of the SUV with a bottle of water for me. There are two giant very cute dogs in the back who are very happy to meet me. I am particularly enamored by the sleek Black Lab-looking one with the Husky blue eyes. Deena and Aaron are just about to return home to Grand Forks, ND after camping at Beaver Creek for the weekend. We spend an hour easily chatting right there by the mysterious water pump thingies while I polish off a yogurt, some almonds and a fucking Clif Bar. They’re engaged, having met in Atlanta and recently moved up to North Dakota for Aaron’s job (law enforcement). Deena is from a politically liberal but observant Jewish family. (Her dad is a rabbi, and her mom has worked her entire career in Judaism-focused nonprofits – and they are giving her passive-aggressive grief about her choice to marry outside their faith, which is so regrettable to hear.) Aaron is a former Army sniper from rural Minnesota. The t-shirt he was wearing outed him as a sniper, which he was kind of good-naturedly self-conscious about – “I need to do laundry. This one’s at the bottom of the pile. Don’t usually advertise.” I really like these two. Sometimes when I meet people along the way, it feels so normal and easy to be together for that moment that it almost seems like we planned it this way. I thank them for the water, we exchange numbers (and my blog info), I pet the dogs one more time, and head back into the wind.
Until I am about 10 miles from Bismarck, it’s just me and the cows. At the edge of the city, which certainly isn’t a giant metropolis but dwarfs Pierre for sure, I stop to text Mark that I’m about 5 miles away and plink his address into google maps. Though there wasn’t much precipitation on my head today, clearly Bismarck had its share. Despite the earlier rain, the air is still laden with humidity and the scent of damp wood and charcoal. Google Maps Joan takes me on a tour of the Bismarck’s ample bikeways, a paved path through a wooded park, past Sunday runners who didn’t get their chance earlier. It’s approaching evening on one of the longest days of the year, near to the end of the central time zone. It probably won’t get dark until nearly 10pm tonight. Loving North Dakota.
Unfortunately, Google Maps Joan has not been made aware of closures to the bike paths near to where I have to cross the Missouri from Bismarck into Mandan. I make the mistake of riding through what I think is a shallow puddle but is a deep trench. My right leg to the knees is completely soaked.
Mark (I regret that I forgot to take a picture of Mark) lives in a complex of newly constructed of apartments/townhouses not too far from the river and close to the route, so tomorrow morning (probably) won’t be a problem finding my way back to the Lewis and Clark Trail. He meets me outside and leads me up to the apartment, which is neat as a pin, and smartly deocrated. Erik, the Swedish bike traveler also crashing at Mark’s tonight, has not arrived from a more northern town about 40 miles away, so I get the pick of the two beds in the guestroom that Mark has available for cyclists.
Over water (me) and a beer (him), we discuss our touring history. Mark has also done a cross-country tour in the last few years. We both agree that camping while touring is a mixed bag. He prefers to do it very little. I am making my peace with that. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling like shit, I’m not camping enough, like somehow that diminishes the journey. As I’ve explained before, I have this idea or personality failing that I must make things as difficult or as uncomfortable as possible in order for them to be worthy or meaningful. I enjoy camping, but after riding a bicycle for 60, 80, 100 miles, or however long of a distance, I want to take a shower. I sleep just fine outside in a tent, but not if it’s not hot and humid or raining or really windy, or swarming with mosquitos, or at a campsite that’s no more than a parking lot for RVs. Why does ‘roughing it’ more equal more points on my scale? Who’s scale, exactly? I have to keep reminding myself that I get to decide what I want to do in life and how I want to do it. If I am in touch with what I want and am able to swing it (practically, I mean, e.g., health-wise or financially) – and I’m able to accept what I want and not keep questioning its authenticity or worthiness – I’ll be a happy camper, or non-camper. Run your race, Daniel. Do you, Danny. Get it, Getzoff.
Though daylight is long, I would prefer not to wait for Erik to show up to eat. Mark has insisted on treating both of us to a dinner out, a sort of pub place he suggests (anything, please!) While we talk and wait, Mark keeps checking his phone. Finally: “Oh, he says he’s still 40 minutes away.”
An hour and ten later, no Erik. It’s almost 9pm. Mark is stressed. I am stressed too, and I fear my hangry-ness might be oozing from my pores, no matter how many times I say, “No, no, it’s cool. Seriously.” The second Mark suggests leaving and letting Erik fend for himself until we get back, I’m like, “OKAY!!!” Of course, as soon as we arrive at the restaurant, Erik has shown up at Mark’s. I’m left to order while Mark fetches Erik. I’m halfway through a roast beef sandwich and a baked potato when the other guys arrive. Erik, it turns out, is funny and entertaining, quite eccentric, and game. Coincidentally (…or not…?!), Swedish meatballs are on the menu, and I suggest he order those to determine how they compare to mama’s back at home. He is a little worried that they might make him cry with homesickness. “Get them!” I command. I’m very invested in this experiment, whether Erik suffers or not. I kind of want them to be terrible! What are Swedish meatballs anyway? I look up the recipe on my phone. To me, their grayish-brown color is unappetizing, but to Erik, they are emotional comfort food. The meatballs turn out to pass muster for their authenticity but not have any emotive impact.
Erik’s somewhere in his 20s and has more or less biked around the world over the past 18 months, having started in Sweden, gone across Europe into Russia, then a couple of former Asian SSRs (e.g., Kazakhstan), and the Gobi Desert, through China to Hong Kong, where he flew to South Korea and spent two months there (in high school he was an exchange student in Seoul, so he has friends). Recently, he flew to Vancouver and rode his bike to Winnipeg and down to North Dakota. From here, he’s headed to the East Coast and then will fly home. Erik is taking a rest day tomorrow, and I’m taking off.
In the morning, I’m discussing with Mark a possible destination for the day. The Adventure Cycling map offers an alternative to the main route which saves about 40 miles overall. Instead of dealing with constant climbing away from the Missouri and dropping down toward it, I will choose this more straightforward diversion. Lewis and Clark can go fuck themselves for a few map panels. I’m taking the more direct shot from Mandan to Dickinson, stopping for the night in Richardton, where, Mark says, there’s an abbey of Benedictine monks who are known to take in cyclists. That sounds perfect. Mark thinks Richardton is 70 miles away. I’ve added up the mileage from the Adventure Cycling map panels several times, and I’ve come up with 80, then 70, then 80 again. Aarrgh! Some days I just have to let that be and leave without knowing for sure. Which I do. Stop at a C-store on the way out of town to grab some fruit and snacks and then pedal away on Old Highway 10. This road runs alongside of I-94, though not right next to it. The interstate is far enough away that I can’t always see it and I can’t hear it. I will have to hop on it for 12 miles later this afternoon, because there is no other rideable east-west road (Old Highway 10 becomes a dirt road in places) – and that’s the route.
A word about the way people speak in the Dakotas, particularly North: you betcha, it’s exactly like Frances McDormand in Fargo. It’s not an exaggeration.
Not much reportage from the ground on Day 34. Here in the post-ride-but-still-active-handlebar-confessional future, I have a few other resources in addition to my memory to consult for material for each post I write: (1) Notes app on my phone/laptop. I voice to text while riding. Sometimes this results in encrypted blather that’s impossible to decipher. Examples: (a) Mad because I had to turn around then Rogaine one because I’m OK with it then almost smell; (b) Thank you Diaz and Inga all these landscapers; and (c) The earth Crohn’s with therapist groans with thirst. See what I mean?! Extra points if you’re able to translate. (2) My photo stream. (3) The Adventure Cycling maps/the day’s route as communicated from my watch to MapMyFitness or GarminConnect: I always have at hand the one that encompasses the time period that I’m writing about to help remember names of places and elevation profiles. (4) Wikipedia and easily accessible online historical resources that sharpen and clarify my assumptions. (5) Text threads that I’ve had with friends where I’ve described people, places, events (especially the group texts I have with Alex and Samm and with Kate and Pierre. (6) And my Instagram. Now that you’ve read that paragraph, you’re like, Aha, that’s why it takes so long for him to write these. All this to say (again), after consultation of my various source materials, there still isn’t much to report from the ground on Day 34. Except…
…my visit to Assumption Abbey in Richardton, ND. When I exit I-94 near Glen Ullin and follow the route back to the next paved section of Old Highway 10, I call the visitors’ office at the abbey to enquire about the ‘rumor’ I’d heard that the monks are willing to host needy cyclists. I am transferred to Brother Odo who confirms the rumor and can accommodate me that evening. Free bed and shower, dinner and breakfast! I’m still 20 (or 30) miles away (haven’t cemented for certain whether the day’s mileage will be 70 or 80). Dinner is at 5:30. Shit, I may not make it in time, except guess what??? My favorite thing in the entire universe it about to happen: I am going to gain an hour of life! Richardton is in Mountain Time, and my watch and phone are going to automatically make the change sometime between where I’m at and where I’m headed. Glory be!
In the distance as I approach Richardton I can see Assumption Abbey, a Benedictine abbey established in 1893 by a Swiss monk of that particular order. The building is grand in comparison to the rest of the town which is a modest farming community of about 500, 80 (not 70) miles away from Mandan. When I arrive, the office is closed, and I poke around the main building looking for Brother Odo. No one is around. Are they already in their afternoon prayers? Have I missed my welcome window? A Prius pulls up, and a regularly-clothed man in his 50s gets out. This is Brother Bertrand who is returning from a family reunion in Idaho. His sister, Mary, who looks just like him, is visiting the abbey as well. Brother Bertrand takes me to the basement where the room for cyclists is located. It’s such an odd yet inviting place, done up in 1970s schoolhouse-institutional-ascetic aesthetic. White walls, single basement-perspective window covered with a mint-green hospital room curtain-like window treatment, hot pink, tan, and kelly acrylic blankets like those ones from childhood, brown shag rug, in-your-face three-dimensionally gruesome crucifix, sink and shower right there in the room (but no toilet). There’s a yeasty, ligneous basement smell that is somehow homey. I love it!
A while later, Brother Odo, who is very friendly and charming – and waggish (for a monk!) – comes to greet me and take me to the dining hall. In his mid-seventies, he’s been at the abbey for several decades after growing up right here in Richardton. Dinner is roast beef and mashed potatoes, peas, homemade bread (Is baking bread a monk thing across denominations and faiths? I’ve been to a couple of 12-step retreats – one Jesuit and one Buddhist monastery – and they all bake their own bread), pickled vegetables, and a banana pudding dessert which, under normal circumstances I would forego but I am starving. My desire, however, outsizes my appetite. I take too much food on my tray and feel I must consume it all, so as not to be rude. I end up uncomfortably overstuffed, but oh well. I chat with the monks at my table. There’s a youngish, kind of good-looking one from Minnesota, who also recently returned from a family reunion. I really want to ask them: What compelled you to consign your life over to God? Do you feel like you have a normal life, the one you wanted? Are you doing you? Are you a virgin? Oral and anal count. What do you wish for that you don’t have (that you could have, seriously)? Do monks vote? If so, did you vote for Trump? Do you think Pope Francis is cool? Wasn’t Benedict a creepy old Nazi Crypt Keeper, or what! Speaking of Nazis, if this were WWII Austria and I was a von Trapp family singer, would you hide me from the SS? More importantly, if I were working at achieving monk status but doubting my commitment to the quiet life of celibacy, would you all stand around and sing about how difficult it would be to catch a cloud (me) and pin it (me) down? I have to stop myself. Honestly, I don’t know what questions to ask beyond where are you from originally, and how long have you been here? It’s been a long day. Hot. I’m worn out and not entirely comfortable in my skin. I’m grateful, sure, but I’m uncertain about what sort of boundaries to have, and I don’t want to be rude by treating them like they have to satisfy my curiosities about their life choices. Of course, as the outsider, I am asked plenty of questions myself, including the customary where are your people from? I give my standard answer.
After dinner, Brother Odo guides me back to my haven in the basement and seems to want to stick around and chat more when a couple of other cyclists show up. He’s being almost (?) flirtatious with me in his humor and personal space invasion, but maybe I’m imagining that…? I’m relieved that the monk has to depart to find them leftovers. I’m comforted that he doesn’t offer the new arrivals the other cot and the floorspace in ‘my’ room, proposing a different sleeping arrangement for them in another wing of the basement. I introduce myself to Dan and Dave. They’re buddies from Connecticut, traveling west to east on the Northern Tier route. (Remember that route from back in the early days? I was on it from Cleveland to Muscatine, Iowa. It intersects with the Lewis and Clark Trail for a few hundred miles in North Dakota and eastern Montana.) They’d had bike trouble right outside of Richardton and luckily heard about the abbey from someone in town. Brother Odo tells me he’ll come back at 8am to bring me and the other guys to breakfast in the dining hall.
The monks eat breakfast in silence. I am all for that! The less small talk, the better. Once most of the monks have finished, Brother Odo roguishly defies that rule, and I learn that Dan has just finished a master’s degree in biology. I ask about his thesis, and he wrote about how tarantulas flip themselves over when molting. (I can assuredly claim that I will never type a sentence with that collection of words ever again.) “Nothing groundbreaking,” he said. Maybe not, but I’m fascinated. And he’s so cute. He’s going to make a handsome, bro-ish high school biology teacher. (Later I realize he looks like Alex, and I think, hmm, Alex would also make a handsome, formerly-bro bio teacher.)
“Can I take a picture of you guys?” Breakfast was great and plentiful and I’m enjoying the convo, but I want to get the show on the road – and a pic for the blog is an indispensable part of these experiences. We assemble for a photo. One of the kitchen workers offers to take a photo.
Now, I’ve examined my face very carefully the few shots that the helpful woman took in order to see if my expression clearly documents the moment that Brother Odo grabs my ass. Not sure if it’s that clear. (Please see Fig. 1.)
So that’s why they call it Assumption Abbey.
Yes. A Benedictine monk playfully accidentally/not-accidentally pointedly impulsively impishly WTF-ly thought that was kosher, or whatever the Latin word is. During the ride that morning, I had fretted about whether I’d include this juicy tidbit in the blog post about Day 35, and not unpredictably I found myself making excuses (e.g., oh, I must have vibed him somehow that it would be ok, and it’s not a big deal (which it isn’t) and I shouldn’t write about it because I don’t want him to feel bad if he discovers my blog and then it’s out there and what if there’s some sort of blowback? and I don’t want anyone to think I’m ungenerous or ungrateful or piling on the shaming of closeted servants of god OR inventing the story for laughs! and on and on).
But the reasons to include it are far more compelling: (1) it absolutely took me by surprise and, in a sense, defined that experience, (2) but it also didn’t shock me – it’s indicative perhaps of the thought that had been occurring to me the evening before (These monks just seem like a bunch of gay men in brown robes living communally) but I banished from my mind and my assessment of the evening because of the whole Come on, Daniel, don’t be so obvious, don’t make everything so gay, don’t be so Catholic-Church-sex-scandal low-hanging fruit about these guys, and (3) most importantly, it happened, big deal or not, the incident’s mine to tell, it’s fair game, and this is my confessional, damnit! Brother O’s got his own. Presumably.
Number (3) is so critical in this process. No matter how it may seem (!), I am not including every single thought, idea, quip and judgment that comes to mind here on handlebarconfessional.com. I am of course (like every writer, every word) writing through a lens, partially self-directed and partially unconscious. It’s a delicate balance: integrating my commitment to the avoidance of indelicacy (i.e., not being overly judgmental or wantonly hurtful in expressing my thoughts, feelings and observations on these pages) with my commitment to being as authentically responsive as possible about the people, places and situations that I encounter. As acerbic as I can be, I am no Oscar Wilde, nor would I desire to be. Someone recently told me on Facebook that I was being ‘Pollyanna’, not about anything related to this issue, but still it made me ponder… I think my semi-cautious lens of respect and kindness is correct (for lack of a better word) for this here project; it aligns with my behavior on the road and, I suppose, my person-, place-, situation-interdependent, mutable bicycle touring ‘persona’ (for lack of a better word). And as I said, I am striving to balance that with a near-whole-hog, unambiguous confessionalism. And I’m trying to remain vigilant of my tendency toward wanting to always be liked and to be perceived as openminded and generous and appreciative and not as an elitist or sarcastic dickwad. This desire to be unassailable as a person is a poor quality in a writer. Hypervigilance is counterproductive – and can have the unintended result of dumbing down the sweetest spots.
Like when a monk gets monkey with me at a safe-haven abbey in rural North Dakota.
RUN!!!!!! …or PEDAL!!!!!!!!!!
Day 35’s forecast is hot hot hot, hills rolling between 2,000 and 3,000 feet elevation, and I don’t know where I’m going. But I know I need out. I also need air in my tires, and there’s a bike shop in Dickinson (pop. 17,787), a reasonably large metropolis 21 miles from the abbey. I’ll decide where I’m going to end up once I get there. At the bike shop (Steffan Saw and Bike– yes, a shop that sells and repairs bicycles and chainsaws!), Steffan pumps up my tires and does a quick assessment. All good! People in the shop, including a very friendly woman bringing in her bicycle, assume I’m headed to Medora next. I’d seen it on the map, but it’s only 50 miles from Richardton.
“Oh, you have to go, it’s real fun and touristy. There’s a musical that’s performed in a natural amphitheater and they deep-fry steaks on pitchforks!”
Hmm. Me in a tourist destination in North Dakota? Wait…! There’s a tourist destination in North Dakota?! The woman from inside the bike shop (her name escapes me) finds me in the parking lot fiddling with my map and eating a snack that I don’t really want because I don’t want to die of heat exhaustion. She shoves a $20 bill into my hand. “This is toward a ticket to the show or whatever you want. Have fun in Medora.” Before I can even protest, she says: “Take it! I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” So, it’s decided: I’ll be a tourist today! The other option was a 95-mile day, crossing the Montana border (a more exciting demarcation) – but that’s for tomorrow.
The route is very similar to the previous day’s: Old Highway 10 mixed with a couple of I-94 entries and egresses. Similar except for the bicycle-themed sculpture. About 25 miles west of Dickinson, the landscape transforms completely from pastoral-agricultural fields of cattle and brilliant yellow canola (which has a smell that reminds me of cigars in a not-unpleasant way – a sentiment that heretofore has been inconceivable) to the gasp-/gape-worthy Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The painted canyons, badlands* and buttes arise out of nowhere. It’s like a message plastered on the landscape: Welcome to the West!
*Brief note about badlands: Just so you know because I sure didn’t, the word ‘badlands’ doesn’t only refer to Badlands National Park. I have only just figured this out (or, rather, looked it up). ‘Badlands’ refers to ‘a region marked by intricate erosional sculpturing, scanty vegetation, and fantastically formed hills —usually used in plural.’ Soooo many people had expressed their disappointment in my chosen route as it didn’t include the badlands of South Dakota. I’d been feeling like I was really missing out…until I realized that you don’t have to go to Badlands National Park to see some badlands! Who knew?! Score! (See Figs. 2-7 below)
Medora is a very crafted, commercially odd place, sort of a Teddy Roosevelt theme park but with no rides. Yet. It was unquestionably special to Teddy Roosevelt. He came here when his mother and wife died on the same day (or so – I might be fudging that detail) to find some peace and loved it, describing North Dakota (and what is now Medora specifically) as the “romance of his life” and that he “never would have been President had it not been for [his] days in North Dakota.” Hmm, tell that to President McKinley who was assassinated, leaving Vice President Roosevelt to ascend the presidency! Why Medora is odd is because it feels as if it’s the movie-set version faux Old Western town, like if you were to peek behind the building facades, you’d see that they were just that! (Medora reminds me of Cambria on California’s central coast – see here for H-bar C-fess 2009’s assessment of Cambria, so precious, so phony.)
Another strange aspect of Medora is that no one really lives there despite the existence of scores of businesses. Only 111 people. And there are no towns less then 30 miles away. The entire place seems to be staffed by college students and kids from other countries stationed there for a summer job. I asked a young woman whose nametag identified her as from Bulgaria how it all worked. She’s here on a visa through what sounds like a temp agency. She had a choice between Medora and somewhere in California. She chose ND because California was too expensive. Hmmm, Medora’s prices for everything seem pretty aligned with Los Angeles’s.
It’s 95 degrees in Medora. No way I’m camping. I find the least expensive option, and it’s a new place that’s still under construction, Elkhorn Quarters, named after Teddy Roosevelt’s ranch. I get the last room in town, supposedly. The young people in the motel office are very knowledgeable about Medora and share their facts with rehearsed effusive abandon. My sincere interest gets me a free ticket to the Medora Musical and a 25%-off coupon at the pitchfork-deep-fried-steak experience! I’m proud of myself at how game I am to be a total tourist and sample the fare. However, when I finally figure out how to squeeze Whitey into my tiny and sweet Elkhorn quarter with the false-/real-idol worship-worthy AC, I can’t imagine spending 4 more hours outside in the heat, first in front of a roaring oven and possibly a gargantuan cauldron of boiling oil and then at an outdoor musical celebrating the traditions of the American West, which are…? I’ll never know. It’s a struggle to return the ticket. I don’t want to be unappreciative – we’ve established that! But it’s the right thing for me to do. Get it, Getzoff. Or in this case, don’t get it.
I explore Medora, eat an overpriced, overcooked burger and an ice cream cone from the place recommended by Medora’s squadron of youth workers, and sleep.
Tomorrow I’ll be in Montana. Mon-fucking-tana! Yee-haw!