"A bicycle does get you there and more.... And there is always the thin edge of danger to keep you alert and comfortably apprehensive. Dogs become dogs again and snap at your raincoat; potholes become personal. And getting there is all the fun."
-Bill Emerson, Saturday Evening Post, 29 July 1967
"You never have the wind with you -- it's either against you or you're having a good day."
-Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles
"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest."
-Mark Twain, texted to me by Ericka Warren
Long, flat, and windy!
Today was a windy, windy day all the way from Williston to Stanley. From 7:00 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. We dealt with a mixture of headwinds and crosswinds all of the morning. When we finally pedaled a total of thirty-four miles we found ourselves in Ray, North Dakota. We noticed on the "Welcome to Ray" sign that the local high school mascot is the Jay. If Ray Finger lived there it wouldn't be Ray's Jays but Ray's Roos! Imagine that!
Since we came into Ray around lunch time our hunger sensing radar zoomed in on Snow White. Inside was seating for eleven so we decided to dine-in. The service was friendly and good and the food was good as well. While we were inside I talked with two truckers who stopped for milkshakes. I was thanking them for the treatment we have received from truckers thus far on the ride when one of them said to the other, "Them's the two guys we saw outside of Williston this morning." I told him he was right and also told him that the wind was wild this morning and we sure wished it had been a tailwind. He then told me, "The wind will be a tailwind after you get down the road a few miles." Fat chance! As they left to get into their rigs and head back to Williston we shook hands and I thanked them again.
Outside Snow White we met and talked to Merlin. He grew up in Ray and had just come from the cemetery where he had put flags on the veterans' graves including one of his brothers, his dad, and his step-dad. He had been in the Navy for ten years, drove a transfer trucks across the country, was an alcoholic, and has been clean for twenty years. "I've been bad. I've been married twice and divorced twice . . . married cousins," he said, " . . . and their moms, who were sisters, were my mother's-in-law."
Merlin asked me how old I was and I told him I was sixty-six.
He said, "Gotcha beat! Sixty-seven. Born in '41."
"You should be riding with us then if you're only sixty-seven," I said.
He rubbed his belly, smiled, and said, "Now I only chase wild women. We're gettin' our picture taken, look over there." Margaret had the camera aimed our direction so I introduced her, "Merlin, that's Margaret, my wild woman." He laughed and we headed for the car for an afternoon thirty minute siesta before heading into the wind again.
A few miles down the road we hitched a ride on the tailwind. The truckers were right. Move over Weather Channel guessers, the eighteen-wheelers are showing you how to do this weather stuff!
The rest of the seventy-two mile trip to Stanley was a breeze (literally). We are now in Minot because there were no rooms in Stanley. Tomorrow we will return to Stanley and ride back to Minot for the weekend. All three of us are looking forward to our rest day on Sunday.
Margaret and I are at the Sleep Inn in Minot. Jonathan is at the Roughrider Campground, four miles from here. This Sleep Inn is connected to a mall! How strange is that? We just ate supper at Grizzly's where Margaret had a salad with a bad hair day! I, of course, ate a healthy, well-balanced meal. After supper we walked to Barnes & Noble and walked back to our room. All in the same place!
Along the ride today we saw lots of abandoned houses and barns. Jonathan and I talked about some of them. Mostly we wondered who had lived there, what they were like, how big their families were, where they went to church, why they one day just packed up and left, and how long they stayed. If only walls could talk . . . there sure would be some very interesting stories out there on those plains.
When you think about it though, those are just empty buildings. Houses are simply places we put homes. It has always bothered me when realtors advertise "Home For Sale." Houses should be sold, not homes. Many homes are sold today and the price is often success, money, prestige, power, and greed. Home should be the greatest place on earth. It should be heaven on earth for each family member. It should be the safest and bestest place on earth.
I heard once about a man who was teaching a group of third grade boys. This particular Sunday he was teaching on heaven and hell. While he was teaching he said, "I bet none of you can tell me where hell is." At that challenge, a little guy sitting in the back of the class raised his hand and said, "I can. It's at 133 South Main Street!"
"133 South Main Street," replied the teacher, "Why do you say that?"
"I know . . . because that's where I live," said the boy. Reminds me of another realtor sign I see from time to time, "Home Sold."
You can abandon your house. Don't abandon your home!