The winds were out of the Southwest, so of course I had to ride south and west all day today. Started on North Dakota highways (200 east, 32 south, 38 southwest) and then switched to Cass County highways (26 east, 5 south, 4 east, 81 south). Like yesterday, the only hills I encountered were associated with the Sheyenne River, which I crossed only once. Virtually a hill-free day, but the wind was against me the entire way. The earth is exceptionally black out here. If you're looking to buy a farm may I suggest eastern North Dakota. There were numerous BNSF track crossings today. Other than that, it was just a lot of riding against the wind. Noticed more than one person gabbing on a cell phone on a lonesome county highway in the middle of farm country.
Heard two interesting reports on the radio today. One said that there are many farmers going out of business and another said that there would probably be a shortage of rail cars during harvest time this year. That seems contradictory. The big news out of Washington is the "Freedom to Farm" Act. It's more of a giveaway to agribusiness that's driving out family farmers.
My day ended in Fargo, which is a surprisingly big town out here on the prairie. (I've left the plains and entered the prairie.) The town starts abruptly at the edge of a cornfield where the airport is located. One of the roads I was on runs right up to the end of the major runway. The streetlights are hilariously short and the planes buzz right over the cars. There's a bike lane along the side of the road and I positioned myself directly under where I had just seen a plane land in hopes of getting a dramatic picture. Then I remembered where I was. I don't think they get many regularly scheduled flights to Fargo. I'd probably still be waiting if I hadn't wised up and left after five minutes of staring into the sky.
Headed down University Drive which, oddly enough, runs past North Dakota State University. It's a major street on the map, but I didn't see any motels. University intersects with Main Avenue. Headed west toward the Interstate where I was sure I would find something. No luck. Main is a commercial and light-manufacturing strip. Got close enough to the Interstate to see I was wasting my time. Turned around and headed back downtown. Saw a multistory Radisson on my left, but no motels. Crossed over the Red River into Moorhead Minnesota without fanfare. The Red River looks like a creek. It seems unlikely, but this little creek nearly wiped out the town on several occasions. As with the Lewiston-Clarkston Bridge the Fargo-Moorhead bridge is devoid of any of the usual state line signage. You know, "Thank you for visiting State X. Please come again." And, "Entering State Y. Fasten your seat belts." Fargo is the largest city I've been in since Portland.
Moorhead was over before it began. Ten blocks and it already looks like I've hit the city limits. I find a gas station and the guy gives me directions to a motel back in Fargo. I get there and they're booked solid. Turns out some insignificant little street fair I passed downtown has attracted so many visitors that nearly all the rooms in the area are occupied. It also turns out that nearly all the rooms are indeed near the interstate, but a couple miles south of Main Avenue. The day has already gone from a 90-mile day to a 100-mile day just looking around for lodging. And now for the oddest thing, the receptionist at the desk says she will call around to find me a place nearby. Imagine that. She's helping her competition to do their job. It's great to be out of New York.
The nearby motels are all full. My next option is to look for a place on the west side of town in the motel ghetto. I do not want to ride out there so she suggests the Radisson, which is pricey but only two blocks away. It's only $70. I think I can afford it after all the $30 motels. Might as well spring for room service. Now I'm eating walleye almondine and sipping domestic Chardonnay from the ServiBar with a fabulous fifth floor view of the Red River. I'll be sure to check out as late as possible tomorrow.