19 January 2011

Journey to the center of North America: Part 4

Way back in July 2010 the Man of 3 Names and I set out from Grand Forks, ND on bicycles to sojourn to the Center of North America (Rugby.) This is the continuing log of that eventful journey.
Part 3 left off  with 3 Names and I at a crowded campground in Wahalla on the evening of July 3rd.

I finally got to sleep after the pre-Independence Day racket died down in the wee hours of the morn.
We awoke, ate a little breakfast, filled up on water, then began our trek to the Pembina Gorge west of town. The wind was against us as we made our way up the first hill traveling out of Wahalla, but it was warm and I did not mind it much.
Now the Pembina Gorge is unlike any other place in North Dakota except perhaps the Badlands. Most of eastern North Dakota is flat prairie but the Pembina Gorge region is hilly and wooded. An ancient and much larger iteration of the Pembina River of today carved out the gorge.
Once the edge was reached we descended quickly reaching speeds of 40 MPH along the way. We stopped by the bridge to admire the scenery of the Pembina River. It looked like something from Colorado or New Mexico, not North Dakota. We loitered for another minute before tackling the most difficult ascent of our trip.
Descending was a piece of cake but pedaling ourselves up and out of the gorge became tedious. I think it took us about an hour before we reached the top of the west side. We tackled the incline in spurts to ensure we would not get totally worn out. However, we were very exhausted once we got to top. We stopped and looked out upon the scenery again, took a few photos, ate some energy bars, and drank Gatorade.
Did I mention the road thus far has been gravel?
We continued west on the gravel road and into a now relentless head wind. I forget what the planned destination was supposed to be but it would have been 40 more miles west on gravel. The time came to re-evaluate that choice at a lonely country church- Aspeland Free Lutheran Church to be exact.
The church building near Vang, ND had seen better days but it was a welcome respite from the wind and heat. It didn't look like it had been used much lately. The church yard was well overgrown with grass. We ate lunch under a tree that provided a good canopy.
I powered up the cell phone to call in a reference service ( The AKG)  to help us plan for our changes. I gave the AKG a few town names in the vicinity and he came up with some campground options.
After removal of ticks we were on our way to get on pavement. The head wind set us back quite a bit. Once reached Highway 31 we pedaled southbound towards Langdon. Along the way we smelled a most pleasing aroma. I thought it safflower but it turned out to be canola. Lots of canola out this direction. The tiny yellow flowers amongst the green field were a pleasant and common backdrop.

No comments: