Last night we made it into Bismarck! We again had a wicked tailwind and rolled in at around 7:30 and were greeted by the smells of DiDonna's Italian cooking. We had a hearty meal of penne & pizza and went to the campground, where we searched for the bathhouse for a half an hour before giving up and taking Baby Wipe baths and going to bed...
but let me back up!
Pierre (or as the Dakotans pronounce it Peer): We left the library after being kicked off the computer (nicely kicked off) and went to the grocery store. After the grocery store we were crossing on the crosswalk because we were too afraid of the road, when an imbecil redneck in a big car thing PLOWED INTO US ON PURPOSE!!!!!!!!! We must have looked like easy targets and he must have just been itching for the chance to run his car into a couple of cyclists. He clipped me on the left side of the bumper, Dan on the right side, and somehow we both managed to stay upright. It was absolutely without question on purpose. We couldn't believe it. We were okay, just majorly peeved. More than peeved...we just couldn't believe that someone would actually do that! Pierre officially goes down as the most bike unfriendly city we've visited. We were also cut off numerous times; it's obvious that Peirreians just don't have a clue that cyclists exist.
Pierre isn't all bad though! We stayed in the city park, where the local park dwellers (who may or may not have been drinking Steel Reserve from sun-up to sundown) were kind enough to warn us about the sprinklers that go off at 1:00 am so we could move our tent, and who saved our friends' tent from being blown away, and who told us about the hot shower located "past the crick". Pierre is where we met our friends Manda and Billy, from Madison, WI. They pulled up about the time we did. They had been on the road about the same time as we had. They were pretty much just like us! It was wonderful to meet a couple of other travelers, especially so late in the season (everyone thinks it's so weird that we are travelling so late in the season). We hung out on our day off in Pierre and made burritos at night. We even travelled with them the next couple of days, until yesterday evening when we wanted to take advantage of the tailwind into Bismarck and they wanted to call it a day 30 miles south of town. We are staying at the same campground tonight though, and making veggie burgers (they are vegetarian!) and s'mores. It's fun to have friends. We'll see how travelling together goes. Oh sidenote: Manda went to the Aveda cosmetology school and she gave me a super cute haircut. Score.
Pierre is also where we met our friend Carl (or Karl?). He approached us as we were coming back from a just okay Mexican dinner out and said he had seen us come into town earlier. He used to own the bike shop in Pierre, but has since sold it. He brought us a care package! It had a couple of peaches, a couple of apples, and cookies in it. It was really only a glimmer of what was to come... The next day we went to his house and Dan used his trueing stand. Carl gave us a few more peaches and some ears of corn... and then he showed us his orchard. Down the street from his house he had fruit trees, grape vines, raspberries, corn and tomatoes. He had a few different varieties of each plums, nectarines, peaches, apples, berries, grapes... it was amazing !!!!! We sampled doughnut peaches and other peaches and even different other peaches; he knew what variety they were and where they were from. He knew when each tree would ripen. All the trees were so carefully tended...it was an art really. I was pretty impressed (can you tell?) !!!!! Dan and I sampled until we couldn't eat any more. I think it was the first time Dan actually enjoyed a peach by itself with the skin on just from the tree whout being cut or anything; he was double fisting peaches! Carl gave us a bag of apples and some peaches, grapes, corn, and a tomato for the road. Thank you Carl for finding us !!!!!
We left Pierre Wednesday morning. That day was cloudy and overcast, but it never rained. We missed the sun though. We (Dan, Billy, Manda & I) rode to a campground about 60 miles away without seeing one town or gas station. We had a nice stay and headed out the next overcast morning for an 85 mile day. Again, it didn't rain on us! We had a slight tailwind. Toward the end of the day we spotted a little burger shack/ice cream stop..and we stopped. I had another fried fish sammitch and ...a chocolate cone. Yum. I think it was the first stop all day. There's really not a whole lot of anything in South Dakota. Actully, there seem to be a lot of abandoned leaning wooden houses in the middle of fields. And a lot of corn, soybeans and cows. Oh, the COWS! As we pass a field, all of the cows turn to look at us! They watch us! It's the funniest thing! And sometimes they run with us! They will start running and run with us until the end of their pasture. Sometimes they run away. Horses do the same thing. It is wild entertainment if you ask me. So anyways, after the ice cream joint, we rode through a town whose streets were completely under construction. The state highway turned into all dirt road. It was weird. We stayed in Pollock, SD that night. When we got to camp, we cleaned up with wet wipes and set up camp and went out to the Sandbar. Everyone knew everyone at the sandbar, and I guess Billy and Manda, who arrived before us, got some funny looks when they walked in. By the time Dan and I arrived everyone knew what we were doing and was already calling us crazy. They all had a good few laughs about our bike trip. They also cleared up a few of our questions: Are all the cows in the pasture girl cows? They don't have horns, and the bulls are separate...so? We learned about steers. (Duh, I knew this..I'm from Southern Illinois.) We also learned that the corny-but-not-corn-because-its shorter-and-has-no-ears plant we are seeing is sorghum. I use that to make energy goo a la the E. Ponder recipe. The bar was the place to go to talk about how many mule deer you've been seeing and if you saw a porcupine in town before and what the pheasants are up to. It was a lot of fun.
Yesterday morn we had another lovely tailwind. The terrain has gotten a lot more interesting since South Dakota, and now we've got fun rolling hills and more landforms to look at. We also saw a porcupine! Dead of course, but his guts weren't spilling so we took a picture. It was sunny again yesterday finally. Billy and Manda, like I said, stopped at a campground 30 miles out of Bismarck. Dan and I couldn't stand the thought of a) wasting the tailwind and b) not having a shower so we went on to Bismarck. It actually took us just under 2 hours to get here, which is excellent time for us. Now we are running errends: laundromat and library down, bike shop, stove fuel, and food left to go. It takes us all day to do stuff. So far, Bismarck is a far nicer town than Pierre, mainly because we havn't had any near-accidents with idiot drivers.
Tomorrow we go north, toward Williston. I think that's about as far north as we go. Everyone is predicting an early fall this year, and some mountain pass somewhere in the Rockies has already gotten their first snow. We have warm clothing, but we'll see how it goes. There is an Amtrak route that runs right through Montana that we are going to use as a backup plan. I think that the colder it is, the more epic it is, but at the same time, I would like to arrive in Portland without losing all of my appendages to frostbite.
Oh, by the way, Dan and I are getting along wonderfully. We ride at about the same pace all the time, which makes it a lot of fun! Sometimes he goes a bit faster downhill, but that's about it. We agree on all major decisions, like "Should we eat first or find the campground first?" It's great. Oh, and we've only had three or four flats--one on Dan's BOB the day we saw the car accident, and then THREE the morning we woke up in Pierre.
Now we are going to figure out how to upload our pictures.