Jun 18, 2009

A Day at the Museum

Pun intended, get over it.

Third day out and I’m up and cruising by 6AM. At first, I thought about going north to Bismarck and hanging in the big city for a day. Some of the “ghost towns” were disappointing and I wasn’t up for more of that. It was drizzling as I got out of the tent and everything was soaked outside of the tent and bike cover. More motivation for city life, but I decided to head south and west, skipping the three ghost towns on that leg of my trip plan and getting as close to the Missouri River as possible. That turned out to be a killer plan.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

Ah, beautiful downtown Linton. A city with one stop sign and a full-time cop watching over it to make sure no motorcycles try “something fancy” and make a stop without putting both feet on the ground. The car in front of me didn’t even slow down for the sign, but the cop whipped around behind me and fired off his lights because I made an “unsafe” stop without touching a foot to the ground. In the end, he seemed satisfied with screwing up my rhythm and let me go with a brilliant, well-informed warning about motorcycle safety.

Every encounter I've ever had with a cop reminds me of Junior and Senior High School. Does every school bully eventually end up with a badge? It's too easy to stereotype these guys, but stereotypes are often easy to believe because they turn up in reality so often.

The river valley was wet and spectacular. My camera seemed to be stuck on blue overtones, but it was probably accurate. There was a lot of blue on the horizon, on the water, and in the air.

At the end of my north-bound route, I came to Bismarck. I spent the afternoon checking out ND history at the ND Heritage Center and the original Govenor’s mansion. At 4:30, I met Lee Klapprodt at the capitol and we went for a 180 mile ride north of Bismarck.

Most of his favorite roads are a little “stressed” by the 14” of rain the Bismarck area had received during the last 3 days, so we stayed on pavement for most of the ride. Lee is on a new KTM Adventure and he cuts a pretty quick pace, which I don’t work hard to maintain. I have to make my back tire and the rest of the bike last another 1,500 miles, so I’m not as excitable as Lee. I keep him in sight, though, and we stop often for him to explain the topography, economy, development, and history of the area. He’s a committed North Dakota booster and gives me some insight as to why people live where winters often drop below -40oF.

North Dakota’s economy is clearly not echoing the rest of the country. The state has a lot of energy; coal, oil, wind power, hydroelectric, and biofuel. At least for the next couple of decades, the rest of the country is going to be depending on those resources and that puts the state in a pretty good position. Oil rich places tend to end up being wastelands when the oil is gone. It would be nice to believe that North Dakota can avoid the mistakes of the past. To do that, they better get serious about teaching history to avoid repeating it. I wonder if any state money is going that direction?

At the end of our ride, we came back to Mandam, a Bismarck suburb. Lee took me by his favorite bike shop, the CycleHutt (http://www.cyclehutt.com/). The shop is a KTM-only dealer with a huge lot surrounding the building. They hold events right at the shop; supermoto races, stunter events, and they are building a super-enduro track behind the shop.
Lee ferried me to the Abraham Lincoln Fort State Park where I camped for the night. My first opportunity to set up camp in the dark. A real thrill. It was hot and muggy and the tent was still wet from the past two nights. I haven’t gone to sleep hot for almost a year and don’t know if I can do it, but it cools off fast and I’m out like a light.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I tried to do a little correcting myself today. I went up to the shop and, for the first time in a long while, tackled a problem on one of these silly aircraft engines that I have. I quite happily wrenched away for about three hours, suceeding in removing another cylinder. It is such a relief, once the 16 base fasteners are removed, to find that the cylinder slides off its piston routinely. These things were outdoors for 20 years.

How do we humans sucker ourselves into believing we can operate at such a level of complexity? It was the airlines who finally brought sanity - they had to pay someone to set 56 valve clearances to .010", change 56 spark plugs, and set seven magnetos to 20-deg BTDC. And they decided it was all just TOO MUCH. So mainly the armed forces operated the R-4360, servicing them with "slave labor".