A time zone change and a late night trying to get the computer to work (the battery wobbled loose) resulted in an inadequate night's sleep. Yesterday's dinner is also trying to get out. I feel like I've eaten one of the aliens from the Ridley Scott movies. I turn on the Farm Report at 6:00 AM but it doesn't help me to wake up. I make a late start and head out at 9:00 AM. The Adventure Cycling recommended route leaves US Highway 2. I decide to stick to their route as the maps describe the services at all the small towns along the way. This area is more desolate than Montana. I could really wind up stranded if I'm not careful.
I get on North Dakota Highway 1804. Why all the digits? Are there so many state highways they need four digits to contain them? ["Highways 1804 and 1806 were named after years that Lewis and Clark went through this area! Ha ha! Yep, we don't really have that many highways that we need to use four digits." firstname.lastname@example.org] The next town is 70 miles away with no services. I am on the northern edge of the badlands. The terrain is only semi-badlandish and there are more than enough thousand-acre wheat fields and ten thousand-acre ranches. More cows now than before. I see a small heard lined up single file next to a gate. There's a watering hole across the highway. I guess they are waiting for the light to change. The terrain varies from very hilly (30 seconds at 30 mph downhill then 5 minutes at 5 mph uphill) to moderately hilly (2 minutes at 20 mph downhill then 20 minutes at 6 mph uphill). Nice views, but the hills are killing me and I needed more sleep. Instead of jumping off this road to US 2 for a 120 mile day to Minot I decide to stick with ND 1804 for a 70 mile day to New Town. Big clumps of eroded soil typical of the badlands. Bluffs over the Missouri River. The river here is an artificial lake nearly 200 miles long. Lake Sakakawea. Like I said before, there are no services. No gas stations, no convenience stores, ranch houses every five to ten miles, vehicles on the highway once every five to ten minutes. I thought Montana was open, but this is truly the middle of nowhere.
I meet a cyclist heading the opposite direction. He's going from Chicago to Seattle. It's against the wind but he says he couldn't see riding to Chicago as a destination. He's from there and doesn't like it that much. I ask him about the headwinds. "It's a way of life" is his answer. He also tells me a funny story about having a low flying crop duster circling around him. It's a scene right out of North by Northwest. Turns out the crop duster was waiting for the cyclist to clear his runway: the road.
New Town is a dusty nowhere on the edge of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. I assume the old town is now under Lake Sakakawea. Pickup trucks full of idle youth cruise up and down the street. I find a motel not far from a Tastee Freeze. Didn't see any coffee shops, but there are plenty of bars, a video store, pawnshop, post office, domestic abuse center, and an official looking building that says "tourist info" on it. Tourists? What tourist wants to see the domestic abuse center? Of course, it is rather scenic, but I'm not sure what a non-cyclist would do out here.