A Stiff Wind


September 8, 2003

Bismarck, ND -
Miles City, MT

328 miles

4:50 driving time




You know it's going to be a good day when a neat photo opportunity pops up while loading up the scoots in the motel parking lot.  We're outside the Bismarck Fairfield Inn, and a car pulls up to the lobby entrance.  I glance over and do a double-take at the license plate.  It is so gratifying to have people responding to our work like this!  A W&G vanity plate!   

Gee Whiz, it's a W&G license plate!

Being happy and motivated on these tours is something we work hard at.  It's a combination of time-tested procedures and regular discussions about what's working and what's not.  At the conclusion of last year's Great Divide tour, we agreed that we would like to dial back the number of miles that we rode each day, allowing more time for picture-taking and soaking up what's going on around us.  This decision has worked out well, and we have the daily Photo Gallery to show for it.  As folks who take their photography seriously know, the best light is at dawn and dusk, when the sun is low in the sky.  Colors are richer, shadows are more interesting, and stuff just looks better.  Today's ride may have been the best at taking advantage of our plan - leaving just after sunrise, and stopping to take pictures of anything that looks vaguely interesting while the light's good.  We each shot over a hundred photos today.  Be sure to check out today's gallery and see if our efforts are bearing any fruit.

Whizmo in the morning sun

A recently mown hay field


Hay is for horses and an old school bus

Gizmo's shadow is getting ahead of himself

Many of the towns we pass through in western North Dakota have buildings that have been abandoned or repurposed.  In Mott ND, the Mott Museum is housed in what appears to be a former church.  Mott also features a combination liquor store, convenience store and brokerage.  Now that's convenience!

The Mott Museum, Mott ND

One-stop shopping
 and swapping

The typical challenges we face when riding are the weather elements we're always whining about.  You know, "it's too hot," "it's too cold," "it's too wet."  I admit that I have complained about all of these things.  Repeatedly.  Today we added a new nemesis in the weather category - wind.  We were dealing with a stiff 25 mph wind from the south that required us to lean the bikes to the left as we rode west.   Once in a while, the road would veer south for a while and we'd be riding directly into the wind, throttles buried and teeth clenched.  It can get pretty uncomfortable - my helmet was pushed back so far I couldn't move my chin enough to chew my gum.  Sure, I could have slowed down, but what fun would that be?  However, given a choice among the various weather conditions we deal with, the wind is better than the wet.

In spite of vast sweeps of prairies with no strip malls or WalMarts, the folks in this part of the country do have a sense of humor.  In Amidon, we passed this abandoned police car - we guessed that they had a benefit where you could beat on it with a nightstick for a charitable contribution.  A few miles later we saw this kitchen appliance in the middle of a field with a sign next to it 'Open Range'. 

Abandoned cop car in Amidon ND Prairie Humor - an 'Open Range'

We made some fine new friends over lunch at Big J's in Bowman ND.  As we entered the restaurant, Martin, Bob and George interrupted their game of Johnson Bar (like Crazy 8's, they explained) to make us feel welcome.  They wanted to know everything about our trip, and told us about two must-see local points of interest - the Bowman Museum, a block away, featuring dinosaur bones, and a site eight miles to the east of town where a pipeline company stockpiles 90' sections of 16" pipe for a big project being built.  We of course chose the pipes, and ended up riding about 20 miles out of our way without ever finding the big pipes.  Yep, we should have gone for the dinosaur bones, only a block away.  The good news is that our buddies taught us how to play 'Rap Poker' which seems to involve bustin' the rhymes while playing poker.  Hmmm.

Whiz, Martin, Bob, George and Gizmo discussing 'Rap Poker'

After lunch, it dawned on us that we were saddling up for the last time on our 2003 tour.  We filled the tanks one last time, and I suddenly realized how out of touch I've been with the news.  I spotted the headlines below in the newstand as I was paying for our fuel.  We do our best to stay up to date with everything that's going on in the world, but some things just manage to slip by.  I guess I'll just have to get caught up when we get back to Seattle.

Being on tour means falling behind with world news!

The last day of a tour is always bittersweet, and this year is no exception.  We've ridden about 2400 miles in the last two weeks without any problems.  We've executed to plan.  As we pull into the Miles City Holiday Inn Express, we high-five to celebrate closing the loop.  It's time to go home.

Tomorrow, we load up the trailer and hit the superslab for a leisurely 900 mile drive back to Seattle.  We'll post an epilog in a couple of days before shuttering the Traveling W&G Road Show for 2003.

Thanks for riding with us!

Contest #6, 'Name The Dominating Denomination' proved to be too easy!  Bob Seidensticker of Woodinville WA was the first to correctly answer ... LUTHERAN.  As many of our faithful readers pointed out, any regular listener to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion would know that one.  Other correct Denominational Denominators included Sean Brady, Brian Crist, Dawn Lahr, Steve Ellis, Tom Brady, Steve Wadsworth, Carl 'The Indiana Clipper' Griffin, Rob Shurtleff, Yvonne Dailey and Glenda Revelle.  Well done, folks! 

Well, it's time for the last contest of the W&G 2003 tour, and it's going to be another music contest.  This time, the subject matter deals with today's weather nemesis, The Wind. 

  Contest #7  

The Answer My Friend ...

W&G love to complain about the weather.  Today, we battled a stiff southerly wind,
which started us thinking "What kind of contest could we build around the wind?"
Listen closely to these tunes about the wind by clicking here.
List the song title and artist for each song.
The first fully correct answer will be declared the winner.

And for any of you whippersnappers out there who might complain about how young you and how old these songs are, let us point out that these tunes go from very new to relatively old, you know, like 50 years old.  Enlisting helpers who know their music is entirely fair - the first correct answer takes the prize!

We need your name and email address to uniquely identify the winning entry.  Whizmo & Gizmo swear on a stack of balding tires that we would never, ever share your email address with anyone for any purpose.  We just need to know who the winners are!