Day Five - September 7, 1997

The Long and Narrow Road

Williston, North Dakota - Grand Forks, North Dakota

366 miles -- 6:10 driving time   Williston - Grand Forks (57217 bytes)

Before I relate the day's events, I'd like to clarify a few points. Some of you have asked if we've been camping out under the stars, or if we are wimping out and taking advantage of paid accommodations each evening. The answer is that we have been staying in motels, for a number of reasons. First, they have showers and we need showers. Second, they have phone lines and in order to send these messages, we need phone lines. Third, and perhaps most important, motels usually have copious amounts of ice, fundamental to the creation of a well-made martini. Motels and martinis, just the right combination at the end of a long, hard day on the trail. I have had the pleasure of introducing Mark to a number of different martinis during this trip. So far, the favorite is Absolut Peppar straight up, dry, very cold, with olives. Mmmm.

This morning we agreed to start earlier so we could catch the sunrise. As much as we were whining about cold weather a few days ago, now the problem is hot afternoons. So we're trying to get as many miles in as early in the day as possible. I set the alarm for 0-dark-hundred which comes all too soon. I take my first load of luggage out to the bike and it is black outside, I mean dark black (not unlike my Vivid Black Harley Davidson Road King). I'm thinking, did I mess up the time zone change? Did I set the alarm to the wrong time? Well, it doesn't really matter, because we're ready to leave. Sunday sunrise(4703 bytes)Now remember, it's Sunday morning, 6:30am in lovely Williston. There ain't much happening. Even the casinos are closed. So we pull out in 55 degrees, bundled up, and immediately we know we've done the right thing. Check out the sunrise:

We head to downtown Williston to pick up highway 1804 instead of 2, which is part of the Lewis and Clark trail. The road is not marked, and my GPS Moving Map (9722 bytes)comes to the rescue - it shows us exactly where we are, and where 1804 is. Yea technology! I promised a shot of the display, here's what it looks like. The airplane is our current location on 1804, heading east. The map moves underneath the airplane as we drive, so you can always see where you are and where you're going.

1804 is a beautiful 2-lane road, totally isolated, no commerce, nothing except wildlife and water views of Lake Sakakawea. We take it all the way to New Town. The lake is the result of damming up the Missouri River; New Town (10225 bytes)New Town is the result of three small towns that were relocated and combined, with the original sites flooded to make the lake - hence "New Town". Here's what the flooded site of the original towns looks like:

For breakfast, we decide to head for Minot. Charlie's (17882 bytes)There are really only two choices for an authentic local breakfast in Minot. Charlie's Main Street Cafe is known for its pink vinyl booths full of gossiping Minot ladies, while Gladys's is known for its brown vinyl booths full of gossiping Minot men. We opt for Charlies, with no regrets.

One of the great things about riding a motorcycle is the smells. The variety of smells is staggering, and sometimes overwhelming. There are familiar smells, unfamiliar smells, but they all evoke some reaction. Every day I enjoy this aspect of riding, and really look forward to it.


Today's Q&A has to do with insects.

Q: Let's say, hypothetically, that you're traveling at 70mph on Highway 2 eastbound near Towner, ND, and a semi-soft insect smacks into your sunglasses, completely obliterating the vision in your left eye. You attempt to wipe off the bug guts with your gloved finger, but that only smears the mess even worse and you still can't see with that eye. Let's say that you don't want to stop, so you take the glasses off and try to wipe them on your pants, and then you put them back on, and it's still no better. Finally, in an act of desperation, let's say that you do the only possible thing left to try and clean the lens, you lick it. So here's the question. When licking the lens to clean it, is it possible to tell what kind of insect it was?

A: Yes. It was a honeybee.

Q: Mark doesn't seem to be having as many problems with insects as you are, Greg. Why is this?

A: He has a red imported motorcycle.


In the afternoon, the heat is up over 80 degrees, the sun is hot hot hot, and we are fighting 25mph crosswinds. This means the riding is hard, as you are constantly being moved around in the lane by the wind, and countersteering to keep it all straight. We stop in Devil's Lake at the Dairy Queen for an afternoon snack. There is a sign on the front door "Closing Sept.9th for the season." Yow. Do they know something we don't know?

Center of North America (13800 bytes)Rugby ND is the geographic center of the North American continent (including Canada, eh?) There is a monument declaring this fact. See for yourself.

As we were riding today, I was reminded of the Pony Express riders. Pony Express riders rode through barren desert as quickly as they could to deliver their parcels. The ads soliciting Pony Express riders were nothing if not honest: "WANTED: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred."

Tomorrow we span Minnesota in a single bound, landing in Ashland WI.

Until then,

Signature.jpg (1492 bytes)                                  I'm smiling! (11334 bytes)


Janis Riker, my lovely wife, participated in a 'poker run' yesterday in the Seattle Area. This is an event sponsored by local Harley dealers, where riders go around to each of the dealer sites and pick up a playing card. There are seven dealers in the area, so you can get up to seven cards. At the end of the day, the riders return to their starting location, and the rider with the best poker hand wins a prize. Hundreds of Harleys were thundering around Puget Sound yesterday, from Olympia to Bellingham. The winning hand was four 6's, held by none other than ... Janis Riker! The prize is a cool Harley jacket with a list of the various Harley engines listed (panhead, shovelhead, knucklehead, etc) and a big beautiful picture of a Harley on the back.