The last week has been a sustained upswing. The wind has largely been in our favor, the terrain has notably flattened, and we linked up with loving and generous people over the course of 8 consecutive days in the last week and a half. The presence and support of these people enabled many of our achievements and celebrations over the course of that time.
As mentioned in the previous post, Grandpa drove up to Bismarck to join us for a week. He ferried our load and helped facilitate our personal record for distance. We rode 104 miles in one day!!!
Being load-free, having a great tail wind, and Lil’ Mo hitching a ride with Grandpa at mile 40 afforded us this unexpected accomplishment (and her lack of fatigue at bedtime).
Covering that amount of ground also hastened our crossing of North Dakota, which we can now check off our list and begin counting how many of the 10,000 lakes we see.
The Seattle couple linked up with us the day that Grandpa left. They provided a party, complete with balloons, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and peanut butter and chocolate treats (oh my!), to celebrate Old Man’s 40th birthday. They brought games to play with the kids and collected a huge stack of books from our Seattle-based friends to refresh our travel library. The biggest gift of all was a date night for us. Old Man and I went to a restaurant, had adult conversation without interruption, and ate our meals without having to get up from the table for anyone or anything. After three months of no date nights, the time away from needs and antics was heavenly and restorative.
The Littles had their own little party inside a retired caboose at one of our campgrounds. Tango was fascinated by the toilet and desperately wanted to use it, but thankfully didn’t since he later dropped his sunglasses in it. He then asked to sleep in the caboose. No. To console himself, he asked to change for bed in the caboose. Okay. Lil’ Mo wasn’t about to be left out of Tango’s brilliant idea and was hot on his heels. I suggested they put on their shorts/skirt after changing, since they would still have to walk across the occupied campground upon leaving the caboose. That concern did not register with them at all. The setting sun was shining on the door of the caboose, which they dramatically opened, looking out upon the world with heads held high, puffed up chests, and smitten smiles, wearing only their skivvies and shoes, putting their profound farmer’s tans on full display. Old Man was setting up tents when I directed his attention to this scene, to which he responded, “My goodness, that’s quite the sight.” They proudly walked across the campground to us, with their dirty clothes under arm, in what can only be described as a swagger. Apparently, changing clothes in a decommissioned caboose can do that to you. The memory of it still makes me laugh.
Bike touring season is now in full-swing and we regularly run into other cyclists on our route, whether it be as they pass us, oncoming, or camping at night. It is interesting to hear their stories, motivations, and travel insights. The instant camaraderie with total strangers is a source of joy.
We appear to be disease-free now, and after struggling with those associated limitations for the duration of our North Dakota crossing, that is something worth celebrating!
Our statistical achievements: total miles so far: 2,150; daily average, including rest days: 25 miles per day; and we are quickly approaching the 3-month marker of this journey. Time flies and our bikes mosey.
I close this post with a heart filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the 40 healthy and able-bodied years that God has given Old Man; gratitude for the people God has placed in our path of life and on this particular adventure; gratitude for the beautiful Earth He leaves in our stewardship to explore; and gratitude for our four healthy children who can partake in this adventure with us (even if they seem to be going a bit feral in the process).