Thursday, June 21, 2007

M - the dreaded crossing

4 days across the prairies were more eventful than I would have preferred.
First we left in constant rain in the hope that it would ease as we went east
(it didn't) and only got 200 miles to Medicine Hat where we went to Tim Horton's
for dinner as we were semi hypothermic. A Medicine Hat local
with a thick British accent told us where to find the town campsite, where we
went straight to bed and spent the next 3 hours huddled to warm up!

The next two days were better, we just ran into one shower which wasn't much, I
think it was also going east and we caught it up and rode through to the other side.

Yesterday we started in a little town in eastern North Dakota, and planned to
ride the whole way across Minnesota to Hudson. Various messing around in the
morning including filling up the oil in my bike, and then going to a town to buy
more oil as Josh's was also low. Riding at 75 mph for 3 days uses up oil. Just 4
miles down the road we turned off to take a wee diversion to see the tallest
structure in the world
, a huge radio tower. Stopped at a stop sign, Josh
noticed some clouds of smoke, no big deal, he figured it was coming from my
bike... but then I rode off and the smoke stayed with him... then he must have
looked down and oh dear. It turns out we had topped up his oil and then neither
of us had replaced the filler cap, and there was oil EVERYWHERE! All down
Josh's right hand leg, boot, the bike, his rear brake, and all over the rear
wheel. Quite scary as we had been doing 70 on the interstate just moments earlier.

We wiped most of it off with toilet paper and used dirt and sand to try and dry
the tire, then limped the 4 miles back to the town... can't think of the name
just now. We found a friendly mechanic who had a pressure washer, though sadly
it turned out to be broken and as much use as a garden hose, but he did have
some great degreaser soap which worked a charm, we managed to get Josh and his
bike roadworthy again.

After all that we were still 300 miles from Hudson, so a quick lunch at Burger
King (it's about 4pm by this time) and we slugged it out, through Fargo, onto
the I-94, the whole way across Minnesota and then as we were going through
Minneapolis, and thunderstorm was brewing... I knew we we close, and I was
praying hard that we could just get off the Interstate before the inevitable big
heavy rain drops began to fall. Crazy spaghetti junctions and trucks and
changing lanes later we finally got out of St Paul and crossed the bridge over
the river and the state line, I knew we were going to take the first exit, right
into Hudson. As we drove though town it was getting very dark, I was trying to
read the street signs though my visor, and the storm warning siren was going off
sounding a lot like the fire siren in Wainui. Thankfully Hudson isn't a big
place and we made it to Dave's house, he ran around the back and opened the
garage, we pulled in as the first rain drops fell - whew! It only rained for
about 1 minute, then it turned into hail, which went from pea size to marbles,
and almost to golf balls - now we were running around trying to find something
to put over Dave's car!

Now we are trying to figure out where to go next and when.
vague plan is Monroe, then Toronto, then either to Ottawa, Montreal and the
Maritimes or to Shawangunks for climbing first... not sure yet.

So I rode the whole way across North Dakota and no black and white cows - not a
single one! Guess what they are farming now? Corn. Plenty of ethanol
propaganda billboards sprouting up in the fields as well.

I'll see if I can get a good photo of Josh's right boot, now a decidedly different colour to the left one, due to having absorbed a quart of engine oil. He'll be washing his own socks from now on.

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